Friday, March 18, 2011

KPFT doesn't support peace

Let me suck up to some of our most dedicated community members, in Houston, Texas tomorrow, there will be a protest against the wars:

11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Bell Park at 4800 Montrose
An anti-war/pro-peace demonstration. BYOT (Bring your own theme). Speakers requested, bring your signs and banners.
Alfred Molison (832-638-5187 Cell, alfredm 123 at sbc

I'll be at the DC protest. If you're trying to find a protest in your area, you can visit A.N.S.W.E.R. for their list of protests. We have great Texas members which is one reason I'm noting the Houston event.

Another is that they've written in (to C.I.) to complain about KPFT. That is the Houston Pacifica station. Despite the fact that the station's main page is nothing but announcements, you will find nothing about the protest against the war.

I have just e-mailed KPFT's general manager (Duane Bradley, I'm not expecting a response) the following:

Having read a number of e-mails about the fact that KPFT is not publicizing the Houston event tomorrow (rally against the wars), I was seeking a comment from you -- public comment -- on why that is?
I was under the impression you were a Pacifica station and Lewis Hill started Pacifica for a reason, didn't he? I'm not sure it was for Gumbo Gator or whatever event you've got on your website's main page.
I will probably be among several bloggers calling for people not to donate to Pacifica during the national fundraising next month and it will be due to the fact that Pacifica can't make time for the Iraq War.
Thank you,

Again, I don't expect a reply (if I get one, I will note it). But I do think the issue needed to be raised.

Tomorrow you can join many Americans in standing up against the wars or you can be as useless as KPFT is and do nothing. Doing nothing will allow the wars to continue for even more years and isn't that what we want?


Then you better get up off your ass and make your voice heard. We have no 'leaders' on the left. They're all members of the Cult of St. Barack. They sold out Iraq and Iraqis, they sold out everyone and everything. You can be like them or you can reclaim the high ground and stand up for what matters.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Friday, March 18, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, The Diane Rehm Show self-embarrasses over the airwaves, Iraqi forces in Baghdad beat protesters, Iraqi forces in Falluja vow they will "hunt down" the protesters there, Americans with ethics gear up for tomorrow's protests against the wars, KPFK may be the only Pacifica station that remembers the wars, and much more.
A CBS news reporter was attacked and sexually assaulted while stationed in Egypt to cover the events there. We'll call her "Ms. Logan" for right now -- that's not an insult to Logan and you'll understand after an excerpt why we're doing that. The February 24th snapshot noted that Diane Rehm asked Al Jazeera's Abderrahim Foukara about the fact that "Al Jazeera Arabic did not cover" the assault on Logan. He begged off at the time and stated he'd be happy to address it at a future date, after he was able to pursue the topic and gather some information. On The Diane Rehm Show (NPR) this morning, that day finally arrived during the second hour.
Diane Rehm: Abderrahim, the last time you were on this program, we asked you about why the sexual assault of Laura Logan in Egypt was not reported by Al Jazeera You said you'd give us an answer the next time you came on.
Abderrahim Foukara: So, I mean, I'd be happy to report my findings, so to speak. What I've been told is that there was some debate about how the Laura Logan story should be reported and if it should be reported at all. For Al Jazeera English, there were people who wanted to, in one way or another, report the story. And there were others who thought that the focus should remain the revolution in Egypt rather than what happened to an individual journalist, although many other journalists had come under attack in Cairo. There are actually people who knew -- there's one particular individual who is the managing director of Al Jazeerra English, who knew Sarah Logan personally from his time at CBS. He knew her personally. She's a former collegue of his. And the decision eventaully was made that because Al Jazeera English broadcasts to 120 different countries, not just the United States, that they would go with the revolution at the focus not what happens to individual journalists.
Diane Rehm: Abderrahim Foukara. He's Washington bureau chief for Al Jazeera Arabic. When we come back, we'll open the phones, read our e-mail, look at our Facebook postings and your Tweets.
First, let's note that in the previous conversation -- which was now being 'updated' -- it was agreed by both that Al Jazeera English had reported on Logan's assault but Al Jazeera Arabic had not. Second, Al Jazeera -- either English or Arabic -- was not going to have an exclusive interview with Logan. All they were going to do was a 30-second headline in a series of headlines. That would not have changed the focus. Foukara's a damn liar and Diane's a damn fool. Al Jazeera was posting Nir Rosen's 'reporting' days after his apology tour. Don't pretend the two weren't connected.
And don't pretend that a "f**king fool" (ABC News correspondent) who refers to "Laura" and "Sarah" Logan did a damn bit of research on anything. L-A-R-A. Not "Laura." And that brings us to the idiot that is Diane Rehm (though at CBS News, she's being called worse than "idiot" right now). She made a point to raise the issue. And she didn't know the woman's name. Lara Logan's name was given three times on the third hour of The Diane Rehm Show and neither the host nor the guest knew Lara's name.
How stupid can you be? Diane's been all over the media in the last weeks, talking about how NPR needs tax payer money to continue the high quality journalism. Diane, you can't even get Lara Logan's name correctly. You want to pretend you're offering high quality journalism? Really, Diana Reeves?
What a stupid, stupid woman. Is it any wonder that as the Iraq War's eight anniversary arrives, Diane-Diane-Dana can't find Iraq for week five? Week six? Yet, as Ava and I noted at Third Sunday, last week Diane Rehm wanted to grand stand and present guests who claimed -- in a discussion of the costs of wars -- that the American people had forgotten the Iraq War. No, the American Gas Bags have forgotten Iraq.
March Forward! has not forgotten the Iraq War or avoided addressing the realities. Their latest includes the following:
On March 19, 2003, U.S.-led forces invaded Iraq in an attempt to force the oil-rich country to accept imperialist rule. "National defense" and "building democracy" were simply lies to mask the real aim of the war: the de-nationalization of Iraq's oil. Eight years later, over 1 million Iraqis are dead, millions are refugees and living conditions have deteriorated to the point that last year Baghdad was rated the least livable city in the world.

Although the invasion began in 2003, Iraq has been the target of U.S. aggression since 1991, when tens of thousands of civilians died in the "Gulf War." This was followed by genocidal sanctions that led to 1.5 million deaths, including half a million children under the age of 5.

This brutality, however, did not succeed in forcing the Iraqi people to surrender their sovereignty. Starting in 2002, the Bush administration began a racist, fear-mongering campaign to drum up support for an outright invasion. The claim that Iraq was harboring terrorists or developing weapons of mass destruction were obvious lies, but nevertheless politicians from both the Republican and Democratic parties overwhelmingly voted to authorize the war.

Although Baghdad fell just a few weeks after the invasion, popular Iraqi resistance bogged down occupation forces and challenged the U.S.-backed regime. The fighting escalated and in 2007 the Bush administration announced the "surge," involving increased troop levels and cash payments to buy off the formerly anti-occupation Awakening Movement. Violence declined but the Iraqi people never fully accepted foreign rule.

The war continues today, by virtue of both the physical presence of U.S. forces and the economic and social devastation caused by nearly a decade of occupation. Although combat operations have officially been declared "over," 50,000 U.S. troops remain in the country.

While the withdrawal from Iraq is supposed to be completed by the end of 2011, Defense Secretary Robert Gates has strongly hinted that the deadline will be ignored. Rep. Adam Smith, a high-ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, said that the number of troops still in Iraq after the end of this year "could be 20,000." Permanent U.S. bases and compounds are set to remain.

Occupation brings death and suffering

The Iraq war has led to a staggering number of deaths. According to the results of a 2008 study by the UK-based Opinion Research Business, 1,033,000 people have died as a result of the war. This is consistent with the findings of a study conducted by The Lancet, one of the oldest and most respected scientific journals in the world.

But even this figure does not truly convey the magnitude of the human suffering caused by the invasion and occupation. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 4.7 million Iraqis, about 15 percent of the population, have been forced to flee their homes. 2.7 million are internally displaced and 2 million have left the country entirely; 5 million Iraqi children are orphans.

Corruption is rampant at all levels of the illegitimate Iraqi government. A 2009 document issued by the Iraqi Commission on Public Integrity reported 5,031 complaints of corruption the previous year. However, out of over 3,000 cases sent to courts, only 97 officials, less than 3 percent, were convicted. Iraq was ranked the fourth most corrupt country in the world in 2010.

Excluding Baghdad, about 30 percent of the population does not have access to potable water. In the capital the figure is slightly lower, around 25 percent, but much higher in some rural areas, at roughly 50 percent. Iraq is only capable of producing slightly more than half of the electricity it needs, leaving most Iraqis without power on a regular basis.

Outright unemployment stands at 15 percent, but rises to 43 percent if the underemployed are included. Young people are especially affected by joblessness and 23 percent of the population lives on less than $2.20 a day.

Iraq is now poisoned with the remnants of depleted uranium and chemical weapons. Staggering levels of birth defects, cancer, and infant mortality has labeled parts of Iraq with a fallout "worse than Hiroshima" -- or, worse than the worst fallout in history.

Those who fantasized that somehow U.S. intervention would create a better life for the Iraqi people than under the government of Saddam Hussein are left looking at the biggest humanitarian crisis in the Middle East and civilian casualties at genocidal proportions.

You could have turned the above into five hours of discussion easily if you gave a damn about the Iraq War but, clearly, Diane Rehm doesn't. Tomorrow A.N.S.W.E.R. and March Forward! and others will be taking part in these action:

March 19 is the 8th anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Iraq today remains occupied by 50,000 U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of foreign mercenaries.

The war in Afghanistan is raging. The U.S. is invading and bombing Pakistan. The U.S. is financing endless atrocities against the people of Palestine, relentlessly threatening Iran and bringing Korea to the brink of a new war.

While the United States will spend $1 trillion for war, occupation and weapons in 2011, 30 million people in the United States remain unemployed or severely underemployed, and cuts in education, housing and healthcare are imposing a huge toll on the people.

Actions of civil resistance are spreading.

On Dec. 16, 2010, a veterans-led civil resistance at the White House played an important role in bringing the anti-war movement from protest to resistance. Enduring hours of heavy snow, 131 veterans and other anti-war activists lined the White House fence and were arrested. Some of those arrested will be going to trial, which will be scheduled soon in Washington, D.C.

Saturday, March 19, 2011, the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, will be an international day of action against the war machine.

Protest and resistance actions will take place in cities and towns across the United States. Scores of organizations are coming together. Demonstrations are scheduled for San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and more.

Last night The Lawyer's Guild (KPFK) devoted significant time to the Iraq War. (Click here for the archives, scroll down and you have 58 days from today to listen to it before it goes offline.) Public radio could use a lot more Jim Lafferty and a lot less Diane Rehm. Jim's guests included March Forward's Mike Prysner, an Iraq War veteran. Excerpt:
Jim Lafferty: Mike Prysner, let's get you into this discussion, my friend. Both you and Dick Becker [A.N.S.W.E.R.'s Richard Becker] of, as I mentioned, protests this coming Saturday against the US wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan -- And, by the way, listeners, I'm proud to say that here in LA, KPFK is the media sponsor for the March 19th antiwar protest. The war in Iraq's now eight years old, the war in Afghanistan ten -- the longest war of our country. I can't help but wonder, Mike, if these wars would have gone on for as long as they have or ever been started in the first place if so many of those Middle Eastern countries weren't run by governments beholden to the United States anyway. Do you have a thought on that?
Mike Prysner:Uhm, well, yeah. I mean basically the goal of the United States in the region, we know that the Middle East is home to the vast majority of oil and natural gas reserves. And the United States, whether it's through directly military intervention, whether it's through backing dictatorships or enacting sanctions to try to overthrow independent countries, the main goal in the region is controlling the oil and the natural gas reserves. And there's a variety of different tactics used to do that but that's the primary goal of US domination in the region. That's what its military is used for. That's the purpose of the wars. The purpose of every other client-state that it backs there.
Jim Lafferty: Sure. Well two-thirds, Mike, two-thirds of the American people, as you well know, think the war in Afghanistan is not worth fighting, that we should get out, that's been true for some time now. So a fair question for somebody dropping in from another planet might be, so why is it that in this supposed democracy the government of the people keeps on fighting the war they don't want?
Mike Prysner: Absolutely. We never really got to vote on whether or not we [should] invade Iraq. In fact, the actual voting was done in the streets when there was the largest anti-war demonstration in history, when there was the biggest outpouring of people ever to stop the war from happening. That's where the real was happening. But, you know, these decisions of who we bomb, who we go to war with -- you know, if we're going to bomb Libya, if we're going to stay in Afghanistan -- these are decisions that we have no say in at all. These are decisions that are made behind closed doors with virtually all the same people who were there during the Bush administration -- are retained through the Obama administration, all the generals and civilian advisors in the Pentagon. So essentially we don't really have a democracy. What we have is a rule of the rich, a government that serves the interests of those oil giants and those Wall Street CEOs that stand to gain billions of dollars in profits from having access.
Jim Lafferty: Mmm-hmm. And yet as we proved in Vietnam -- and I for one believe we can still prove again -- we can overcome that -- what we might call, that deficit of democracy or that lack of democracy -- overcome that with a long enough and a hard enough fight, a militant fight, a fight that finally builds enough of a massive movement both within the armed services themselves -- and certainly you're going to talk about that in a minute -- within the armed services themselves there's little stomach for these wars, build a massive, big enough movement in the streets over and over again so it finally becomes impossible. I noticed even today that in this new Congress, [Dennis] Kucinich was able to pick up another 22 or 26 votes to the 40 or 50 or whatever it was votes that he got last time for getting out of Afghanistan. So even there there's a certain weakening of will, if you will. Mike, I understand though that this year the protests focus a great deal on the sky rocketing cost of these wars at a time when so many Americans are out of work and social services are being so drastically cut. Will that be true of the demonstration here in LA, Mike Prysner?
Mike Prysner: Absolutely. And, you know, since the economic crisis in 2008 there's been a really accelerated attack on working people. You know, our rights and our benefits and our pay, these are things that were always under attack but, of course, when there's an economic crisis for the richest people in the country, that burden has to be shifted to the people who are the most vulnerable. So in the past two years or in the past three years, you know, unions, public sector workers, workers in general have lost their jobs, have lost their benefits, have lost their pay increases, have lost access to health care. Students, we know, we saw massive demonstrations last year, students are having tuition go up. Upwards of 40% in some places and this is really ridiculous.
Jim Lafferty: Yep.
Mike Prysner: And all the while, while things keep getting harder and harder at home, we're watching upwards of $700 million every single day being spent on the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan alone. You know, this doesn't even count the entire military budget to sustain this network of 800 military bases around the world. And so, absolutely, we have to make these connections. These issues are absolutely linked. They're inextricably linked. That all of the attacks against working people at home and all of the cuts to benefits, health care and education are coming because this government needs all this money to do other things -- to bail out the banks and to fund these criminal wars abroad.
Jim Lafferty: Yeah. Well in fact -- I know for a fact, I mean it's no secret -- that the entire deficit, the total deficit of all 50 states combined is about 127, 129, billion dollars. That's a tidy sum, to be sure, but chump change when compared with the one trillion dollars [$1,000,000,000,000.00] spent on Iraq and Afghanistan.
The LA protest starts at noon at Hollywood & Vine. And as Jim pointed out KPFK is the official media sponsor. They are the only, THE ONLY, Pacifica radio station to promote the protest all week long on the main page of their website. Ron Kovic will be among those participating in the LA action and you can find more details at the LA A.N.S.W.E.R. website. KPFA isn't promoting the Bay Area protest on their website, WBAI is not promoting the NYC event at their website (and someone needs to explain why the Left Forum thought this was the weekend to compete with the NYC event -- we'll again note the NYC event at the end of this snapshot). A KPFA friend has passed on numerous complaints that the station is receiving and Ava and I will probably include those in some way in a piece we write for Third on Sunday. KPFA's silence is not accidental and it has not gone unnoticed by the listeners whose money they are desperate for. Don't worry, there's always time for the Bay Area Entertainment calendar, just not time for peace news despite the fact that peace issues were the sole reason Pacifica Radio was created. KPFA and WBAI are about as far from their roots these days as a bottled blond.
Tomorrow's the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. Eight years ago, the illegal war began and it continues. Despite claims that it has ended (that was the press coverage that ended, not the war), despite claims that it ends at the end of the year. While so many are silent, the must-read report today is Lara Jakes (AP) report: "Despite a security agreement requiring a full U.S. military withdrawal by the year's end, hundreds if not thousands of American soldiers will continue to be in Iraq beyond 2012."
Alsumaria TV reports, "Hundreds of Fallujah residents demonstrated on Friday calling to release detainees who have not been charged. A police source in Diwaniya province reported on the other hand that two Katyusha missiles hit a US military base, western Diwaniya, without revealing the death toll or extent of damages." Aswat al-Iraq reports that protesters were forcibly dispersed and a curfew has been imposed. Al Mada reports that those rallying in Baghdad called for the release of detainees ahead of the protests on Facebook. This was how the 2011 protests in Iraq began, with families and friends of the imprisoned speaking out against the lack of trials, the secret prisons, the inability to meet with their loved ones. Al Mada also notes that the Anbar Salvation Council announced yesterday that they would be joining the Baghdad protests and ASC's Hamid al-Hayes explains that they joined with Baghdad because they want to raise attention of the issues in Anbar Province. David Ali (Al Mada) reports "hundreds" turned out in Baghdad's Liberation Square today calling for an end to corrpution and poor basic services as well as an end to torture, prison reform and the release of detainees. Iraqi forces cut off roads leading to the gathering with barbed wire and Iraqi forces and military vehicles. The Iraqi forces ordered the protesters to stop their demonstration and, when that did not happen, the forces began beating peaceful protesters with batons while firing bullets into the air and arresting many of them. Those arrested have been taken to detention centers where they will likely be tortured if the past experiences repeat. After being tortured, they'll be forced to sign a statement declaring that they weren't tortured and then released. That's how it goes in 'free' and 'liberated' Iraq under the US-installed puppet government.
Dar Addustour reports that in mosques Friday morning, religious clerics again stated their support for the protesters and peaceful demonstrations. Of the Baghdad protest, the paper notes Nouri al-Maliki's name came up in chants as did the governor of Baghdad's name in calls for people to resign. They quote a reporter present in Liberation Square stating, "The riot police called for the demonstrators in Tahrir Square to leave and then used batons on them and began arresting them." The paper notes that in Falluja, Iraqi forces are attempting to "hunt down" the people who organized today's Falluja demonstration. In Falluja, Iraqi forces prevented the reporters from having access to the protest and from speaking to the protesters. The assualts on journalism and a free press just never end in Nouri al-Maliki's Iraq.
Reuters must be related to Diane Rehm -- they file nothing from Iraq today. Poor little scared puppies. But violence took place in Baghdad as peaceful protesters were attacked, it took place around Iraq. Aswat al-Iraq notes a Kirkuk bombing claimed the lives of 2 children while leaving a third injured.

Falah Torch asks, "Why continue demonstrations?" (Kitabat) and answers because they force the realities to the surface, the truth about the corruption, the government that fails to perform for the people, the displacements, the killings, the denial of dignity, all of it is forced to the surface when the Iraqi people take to the streets and protest. In addition, it makes the government uncomfortable and forces resignations. The essay argues that these resignations will continue for as long as the protests do.

Apparently dispatched by the Iranian government, Moqtada al-Sadr returned to Iraq weeks ago, attempting to circumvent the protests. He has called on people not to protest but that tactic didn't work. Another delaying tactic was to insist that a refendum needed to be held first to detrmine what Iraqis wanted -- perhaps Moqtada was unable to read the banners the protesters were carrying? Al Mada reports that the results of the refernedum are now known, that 327,000 voted in Basra and that the voters support the right to protest. Yes, that is shocking. (That was sarcasm.) Alsumaria TV adds 3 million people across Iraq participated (Iraq's population is estimated to be 26 to 28 million) and that "Most participants believe the services in Iraq are deteriorating and stressed the necessity to protest in order to improve services in the country."

Moqtada declared this week that Iraqis should be protesting what's taking place in another country (Bahrain) and that plays like yet another attempt by Moqtada to derail the protests. In addition, yesterday the Parliament announced they'd take a ten day vacation -- pinning their sloth and inability to focus on Bahrain by declaring they were taking a ten day break to show solidarity with Bahrain. Gee, kind of thought the people of Bahrain were standing up and fighting, not hiding or going on holiday.

Of course, eight days prior, Parliament made a big to-do in announcing they wouldn't take a brief break in April but would instead work straight through May 14th. That was then. And what better time to take a break when Iraqis are decrying the government's refusal to govern and provide basic services? Or when the country is still without a Minister of Interior, a Minister of National Security or a Minister of Defense. The posts were supposed to be filled long ago. And the whispers were that Nouri would name them yesterday.

That didn't happen. Al Mada prints the latest round of whispers that Nouri was missing approval for one name and didn't want to announce two without the third.

A poem at Kitabat notes:

Barack, Barack, Barack
It is impossible to die, Iraq
It is impossible to die, Iraq
Do not back down

Robert Olson (Lexington Herald-Leader) observes, "While the Obama administration and the Pentagon have stated that U.S. combat troops will be withdrawn by the end of 2011, most Middle East analysts think up to 20,000 combat troops and other security personnel will remain. The State Department and Bureau of Diplomatic Security intend to employ another 10,000 to 12,000 security contractors. This indicates the U.S. plans to have a substantial presence in Iraq for the foreseeable future, including air bases."

Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan has a must read column -- no excerpt because it's humorous (and pointed) and I don't want to risk stepping on the laugh line in an excerpt. (We'll no doubt pick something from it to excerpt in a Truest at Third on Sunday.) Wait, we will do an excerpt. It'll give us a transition. Remember, Cindy's being sardonic, she's not become a cult member who is okay with anything done so long as it's done by a Democratic president:
I also must admit that I used to spend a lot of time worrying about Pfc Bradley Manning being incarcerated and tortured at Quantico for allegedly dumping info about US policy to Wikileaks. Now, I believe that if he did that to my wonderful president, he must deserve the treatment he is getting. Manning, that traitor, is lucky President Obama (D) hasn't just decided to drop a Hellfire missile on him from one of those righteous drones he loves to use! Additionally, if Obama (D) says that Manning's treatment is "appropriate," I believe him now. Worrying about Bradley was keeping me up at night and now I wish I had the money back that I incorrectly donated to his legal defense fund so I can send it to the Committee to Re-Elect the President.
Background on Bradley Manning. Monday April 5th, WikiLeaks released US military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Monday June 7th, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported in August that Manning had been charged -- "two charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The first encompasses four counts of violating Army regulations by transferring classified information to his personal computer between November and May and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system. The second comprises eight counts of violating federal laws governing the handling of classified information." Manning has been convicted in the public square despite the fact that he's been convicted in no state and has made no public statements -- despite any claims otherwise, he has made no public statements about the charges against him. Manning has been at Quantico in Virginia, under military lock and key, for months. Earlier this month, David S. Cloud (Los Angeles Times) reported that the military has added 22 additional counts to the charges including one that could be seen as "aiding the enemy" which could result in the death penalty if convicted. David E. Coombs is Bradley's attorney and he provided a walk through on Article 104. Like many, Sophie Elmhirst (New Statesman) emphasized the possibility of the death penalty.

Today the Center for Constitutional Rights issued the following statement:
Coalition of Human Rights Activists, Musicians, and Actors Send Letter to President, Sec. Gates Protesting Abuse of PFC Bradley Manning
Treatment of solider "brings back memories of the abuses committed in Abu-Ghraib"
Rallies to be held around the world this weekend
Washington, DC -- Top human rights organizations, actors, musicians and activists, including Viggo Mortensen, Roseanne Cash, Amnesty International and the Center for Constitutional Rights, sent a letter today to President Obama and Secretary Gates asking for immediate action into the inhumane treatment of PFC Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army private accused of disclosing classified materials.
The letter urges officials to "stop the cruel treatment of an American soldier." Full text of letter can be found here (link) and below.
This weekend, supporters from Washington to Berlin to Montreal and at Quantico are holding rallies protesting his abuse. Please find a complete list of locations here.
Top editorial boards around the country including The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Chronicle have also blasted Manning's treatment.
Signatories to the letter include: Rosanne Cash; Daniel Ellsberg; Shepard Fairey; Danny Glover; Jane Hamsher; Tom Morello; Viggo Morstensen; Jesselyn Radack, Government Accountability Project; Michael Ratner, Center for Constitutional Rights; Vince Warren, Center for Constitutional Rights; Angela Wright, Amnesty International.
To read the letter, click the PDF link below.

We'll close by again noting the NYC protest. If you are in NYC or the surrounding area, you might consider this one that Joan Wile is the founder of Grandmothers Against the War and has written the book Grandmothers Against the War: Getting Off Our Fannies and Standing Up for Peace. They will be taking part in the NYC demonstration:
It's encouraging to see the people uprisings abroad and in our own country. The Egypt revolt really sparked something, and, on its revolutionary heels, the workers of Wisconsin came to life and fought Gov. Walker's efforts to strip them of their rights. People in other states being subjected to the same onslaught rose into action, also. It seems as if we might be on the cusp of meaningful fightback in the U.S. against the new robber barons who don't give a damn about you and me but are only interested in swelling their over-bloated portfolios to even greater obscene proportions.
This is a supremely opportune time to apply this welcome surge of People Power to the anti-war movement. We in the peace movement who have been conducting our futile struggle for almost 8 years to prevent, then end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, must grab this moment to pursue our cause with greater force. This does not take anything away from the battle to protect workers rights -- to the contrary, it is a wonderful support. Bring the troops and the war dollars home, and fix our broken economy. Remove all justification that way for cutting benefits and salaries -- then, the greedy scoundrels would have no rationale for busting the unions.
Accordingly, I urge all those within travel distance of New York City who will not be going to the Washington rally on March 19 to attend our adjunct protest on the same day, coordinated by the local Chapter 34 of the Veterans for Peace and by Grandmothers Against the War. As we did on Dec. 16 in support of that day's protest at the White House, we will meet at the Times Square recruiting station at 5:00 pm. In December, 131 people were arrested in D.C. and 11 of us were arrested in New York. We will again carry out non-violent civil disobedience in our continuing efforts to thereby keep the issue alive and, hopefully, to nudge the sleeping citizenry with the urgent need to end these immoral and tragic wars.
Let's turn out in massive numbers in Washington and in the Big Apple. They are doing it in Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, and other locales. We can, we must, get out on the streets, too, and finally stop the killing!
DATE AND TIME: 5-6 pm, Sat., March 19
PLACE: Times Square recruiting station, Broadway at 44th St.
endorsed by
Big Apple Coffee Party; Brooklyn For Peace; Catholic Workers; Chelsea Neighbors United to End the War; Grandmothers Against
the War; Granny Peace Brigade; Gray Panthers; Pax Christie of
Metro New York; Peace Action Bay Ridge Interfaith Peace Coalition; Peace Action Manhattan; Raging Grannies; Veterans for Peace Chapter 34 (NYC);
War Resisters League

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


The State Department is whining about their money requests. Jason Ditz (( notes:

The claims must inevitably be doubted, of course, in the face of both continuing violence across the nation and the rising protest movement in Iraq. Indeed, one would assume that if the State Department had a $1 billion magic bullet they would’ve used it 8 years ago.

I really find it offensive that they think we're so stupid. Every year, they offer up some lame excuse about progress and how it's almost there. They're no where close to it.

They think they can just string us along -- like they're our drug pusher.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Wednesday, March 16, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, the US Congress continues to explore the White House's plan to gut the military's medical health care, more whining from the administration about their 'needs' to continue the illegal wars, more mistakes from the New York Times, more deaths from the war, the star witness against Bradley Manning continues to implode publicly, and more.
Aswat al-Iraq reports an IED targeted a US military patrol in Basra yesterday and quotes a security source stating, "An IED blew up against a U.S. Army Patrol on the Hamdan Road, 10 kms south of Basra on Tuesday, but caused no human or material damage." The Iraq War continues. US service members remain stationed in Iraq. They remain in danger. Barack didn't end the violence, let alone the war.
And they're looking at seeing their health care cut. Yesterday, the House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcomittee met to discuss the Military Health System and the Defense Health Cost Program for the Fiscal Year 2012. Subcommittee Chair Joe Wilson observed, "The proposed TRICARE Prime fee increase for Fiscal Year 2012, while appearing to be modest, is a 13% increase over the current rate. The Dept of Defense proposes increasing the fee in the out years based on an inflation index. You suggest 6.2% but it is unclear exactly which index you are using? You plan to reduce the rate that TRIACARE pays Sole Community hospitals for inpatience care provided to our active duty, family members and retirees. Several of these hospitals are located very close to military bases -- in fact, some are right outside the front gates -- especially important for 24-hour emergency care." We'll note these statements by Maine's Chellie Pingree.
US House Rep Chellie Pingree: I just want to say again, I understand how well you are all doing your job and the importance of all of you looking for cost efficiencies in what you do as we face a difficult time with the budget deficit and, uh, also where there's a lot of examination of the military budget and looking for places where we can cut. And maybe my first comment is more to my fellow Committee members then to all of you but I might see more places to cut the fat in the military budget than others of my colleagues but I am deeply concerned that we're going after medical care for both our active duty personnel and our retirees when I think there are other places to make more effective cuts. So I know you have to do your job and look for those cuts but almost everything that's before us today, either myself or one of my colleagues has mentioned a concern about, whether it's the changes to TRICARE, how we're going to deal with some of our Sole Community Hospitals I have two in my district, there are four in our state of only 1.2 million people, in a state where we have almost a fifth of our citizens are either active duty or retired military. So there's a very big dependance on this system in our state and I'm worried about that particular program. So for me, many of the efficiencies that you're talking about are going to reduce the level of medical care to people who have served us to whom we have made a huge promise. And there is going to be a -- I think -- a reduction in the services that they receive so I just -- I know you have to do your job but I don't like it and I don't think it's all necessarily good.
That was yesterday. This morning the Subcommittee met again. We need to start with remarks by Subcommittee Chair Wilson.
Chair Joe Wilson: Yesterday, we had an extraordinary hearing with Dr. Clifford Stanley and and Dr. Jonathan Woodson and Dr. Stanley is special to me, he's a graduate of South Carolina State University, one of the great universities of South Carolina and so I really am frustrated that with their capabilities that the president has named a health -- a military health care czar, the former governor of Maine, John Baldacci. I-I -- we don't need a health care czar. We've got veterans service organizations that can provide this information. And as stewards of the tax payers -- this is not government's money, this is tax payers' money -- $164,000 plus expenses, I think, are being diverted from the military health care system.
As he notes, he hit on that yesterday. I was thinking Kat might grab that. I know Baldacci and didn't grab it for that reason. Do we need czars? No, not in this economic climate. Is Wilson correct about $164,000?
No. Because Baldacci is not answering his own phones and doing his own filing and doing -- He has a staff. He is not a 'floater,' he has office space. John Baldacci's a hard worker and a nice person. As a czar, he would no doubt do a fine job. But when everything's under attack, the first thing that needs to go are the czars -- all of them. I avoided it because of conflict of interest but I do agree with Wilson that, at a time when needed programs are being cut, the White House needs to get rid of their czars. (All their czars, which may mean my position is more extreme than Wilson's. In yesterday and today's hearings, he only referenced the military health care czar.)
Having taken care of that, we'll now address today's hearing. Ranking Member Susan Davis explained, "Today we'll hear first hand from the folks who really make the most difference here, from those who are the beneficiaries of the system and the experience that they are having with the military health care system and their thoughts on the health care proposals put forth by the Dept of Defense. As you alll know, our country is facing difficult economic times and we are now faced with making some hard decisions that will -- that could -- impact the lives of those who are currently serving and those who have served. I know that our beneficiary representatives here today understand the challenges that we face."
The Subcommittee heard from Military Officers Association of America's Steve Strobridge, Fleet Reserve Association's Joseph Barnes, National Association of Uniformed Services' Rick Jones, Retired Enlisted Association's Deidre Parke Holleman, National Military Family Association's Kthy Moakler, Reserve Officers Association's Marshall Hanson and US Family Health Plan Alliance's Mary Cooke who attempted to convery the health care needs and how what was being proposed would hurt many, many people.
As Rick Jones explained, the Department of Defense plans "to collect $450 million over the next five years from the pockets of 'working age' retirees by raising TRICARE Prime enrollment fees in the first year by 13 percent and in following years by the rate of medical inflation, which is projected by economists to run several points higher than general inflation at a minimum annual pace of 6.2 percent and as high as 10 to 14 percent over the next five years." This is on top of the Defense Dept's plan to increase the costs of co-pay for prescription drugs (for example, an additional $2 for generic drugs, an additional $3 for brand names and an additional $3 for non-formulary medications). Jones pointed out, "While it is true costs for military health care have increased over the past decade, the cause is not, repeat, not military retirees using their earned benefits. The true accelerant for risings costs is the war." Jones noted that for nearly a decade, the US has been waging two costly wars. He pointed out, rightly, that this is a betrayal of a promise, that health care is really not a 'benefit' for the military, it is part of the promise the government makes to those who serve in the military. Attempting to balance the budget on the backs of service members, veterans, retirees and their families is changing the rules once the process has already started and it's not fair.
It's also, this is me -- not Jones, disgraceful. How dare you deploy people to war zones and talk your nonsense bumper sticker b.s. about 'support' when you turn around -- and, let's be clear, "you" is the Obama administration -- and then attempt to break the government's word. It's disgraceful and it's shameful and it certainly doesn't make for a good 'recruiting tool.'

NAUS' Rick Jones called the proposal "a breach of moral contract." MOAA's Steve Strobridge called for "some statement in law, where there is none presently, that states explicitly that military health care is one of the cruical offsets to the adverse conditions of service -- that it is, in fact, an upfront and very substantial premium payment. And that would help defefeat some of these arguments that people want to devalue the service and only compare cash to cash which, to us, is an apple to orange comparison."
We'll note this exchange from the hearing.
US House Rep Niki Tsongas: Yesterday in the first of this series of hearings I said that before Congress could increase TRICARE fees for working age retirees, any proposal on the table would have to be proven to minimize impact. It would be inexcusable in my mind to deprive our retired heroes of the health benefits they have earned. I also question the disparate impact of any increases on service members who accrue less annual retirement benefits than others. As you all know, retirement benefits vary greatly depending on a number of factors such as how long a person served and whether they were decorated for extraordinary heroism. The key metric, however, is the rank they hold or held. Retired generals can earn robust, six figure sums in annual retirement benefits whereas enlisted personnel may only earn benefits in the teens. Yesterday, in the first part of this series, I asked Under Secretary Stanley and Assistant Secretary Woodson if the Department had seriously reviewed any proposals for a stepped-increase of TRICARE fees for working age retirees determined on the basis of rank at the time of retirement and retirement benefits earned? Assistant Secretary Woodson answered that the Dept did not consider this proposal because it would be difficult to administer since the Dept would want to take into consideration retirees' other streams of revenue -- a statement I do not agree with. More importantly, though, he stated it was unnecessary in this case because the fee increases that are proposed are modest. But he stated that "if we were proposing large fee increases, I would agree with you strongly." My question then, to all of you, is do you agree or disagree with Dr. Woodson's assessment? And if we could begin with you, Mr. Strobidge.
Col Steve Strobridge: Yes, in fact, the Dept did propose tier-increases previously. The military coalition has been unanimus in opposing means-testing. of military benefits. We don't have that for federal civilian health care, the presidents pays the same as the lowest SGS employee One of the concerns, I think, is creating a situation where the longer you serve and the more successful you compete for promotion, the less your benefit is. And we don't think that's a good incentive. But more and more, as I said in my earlier statement, the military benefit package is considered the off-set for the adverse conditions of service. You earn the package mainly by your service. And I-I would have to agree with the answer that was given yesterday: Once you start trying to split, basically what you're saying is, "Who can afford to do what?" And I think they were accurate. Once you start to say, "Who can afford to do what?," you have to -- you have to look at all of your income and then it ultimately drives you to looking at last year's tax return. And to us, we don't think that ought to be based on what kind of job you get as a civilian, we don't think it ought to be based what your spouse's income, or how much you inherited from a parent. Your benefit derives from your service, not from your grade.
Regarding the discussion above, it would probably be wise to ask Robert Gates -- who is spear heading the White House's attempt to gut the military benefits -- exactly what his own are. If he's proposing -- and he and the White House are -- that some veterans going into civilian life should be on civilian health care instead of on military health care, the American tax payers have a right to know which benefits Gates is receiving? Is it from his time in the 'Air Force' (Gates didn't serve in the Air Force, he was CIA already when he got his wings -- in fact, Gates is another Chicken Hawk but no one is ever supposed to point that out), it is from his time at the CIA, from his current position, from his college administration positions? If he wants to go after military benefits, he needs to open his hand before the American people and explain exactly what tax payer money he is consuming and how.
When we first started noting the Obama administration's plan to gut veterans health care, a number of angry e-mails came in insisting it would never happen. Those e-mails continued even after the May 19, 2010 Senate Veterans Affairs Committee which should have put a rest to the denials from the Cult of St. Barack. Today's hearing was attended by a number of reporters and possibly it will finally get the coverage so that everyone can see just how the administration 'rewards' those who served. And maybe all those working their pet causes with online e-activism might try paying attention to some things actually do matter. NPR and PBS -- both of whom I support -- will get along. I'm a huge abortion rights supporter. Planned Parenthood will survive with cuts. You need to stop wasting your time and your fire on these little minor things. And if you're thinking, "I didn't serve so I don't have to worry," how this fight goes down is the test-run for how the attempt to gut Social Security will go down.
Meanwhile Lara Jakes (AP) reports that the State Dept's William Brownfield, visiting Iraq, is whining that the Department budget is being gutted. The $1 billion they want for Iraq's "police and legal system" next year may not be approved, that this was "one of the oddest budget years" he'd seen (boo-hoo!) and that making cuts will jeopardize security in Iraq -- what security? First off, what gains? There are no gains, there's just the US propping up an illegitmate puppet who attacks his own people. There are no gains. And at a time when the people of the United States are being asked to give up this and give up that, it's past damn time that the Obama administration grasped they better get a little damn skin in the game as well. They can start by ending the silly functions at the White House. In this economy, it is in poor taste to entertain in the manner they have. A lack of taste doesn't excuse their inability to grasp that they need to show a little more restraint. Restraint would mean giving up your czars, your fly-in-from-Chicago trainer and much, much more. Nancy Reagan was crucified for doing much less than Michelle Obama has done (and I remember because I was one of the loudest critics of Nancy Reagan).
Barack said he'd end the war (with footnotes but what Americans heard was he'd end the Iraq War). He hasn't done that. He wants to throw billions more to prop up the petty dicator first-installed by the Bush administration and now re-installed by Barack's. Why? Because Nouri will let the US stay. That was the agreement made.
If that's hard to grasp, it may be hard to grasp in part because so few can get their basic facts correct. For example, Jack Healy and Michael S. Schmidt (New York Times) offer,
"President Obama, Mr. Maliki and top American officials have consistently said that all American soldiers will be out of Iraq by the end of the year, a departure specified in a security agreement signed by both countries in 2008." Forget Barack, he doesn't do a damn thing with Iraq. He tasked it to Samantha Power a week after the 2008 elections. Within the White House, Joe Biden is his point-person. Joe Biden has stated publicly -- many times -- that the US would like a new agreement and like to stay. If the reporters (and editor) of the New York Times need help, they can start by searching the archives of The NewsHour (PBS). Robert Gates, James Jeffrey and many, many more have made public statements about the US military remaining in Iraq past 2011. If that's confusing to the reporters and their editor, they can search their own paper's archives. We've covered all that repeatedly. I don't have time to spoon feed.
We have spent less time covering Nouri on this. So let's get to Nouri. July 23, 2009, here's video of Nouri stating, "Nevertheless if the Iraqi forces require further training and support in the future we will examine that [US forces staying in Iraq past 2011] then based on the needs of Iraq. March 4, 2010, CNN reported:
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has left open the possibility of asking U.S. forces to stay in Iraq longer than planned, depending on the security situation and the readiness of Iraqi troops.
In an exclusive interview Thursday, CNN's Arwa Damon asked the prime minster whether he would ask the United States to extend any of its deadlines for withdrawing troops.
"This depends on the future, on whether the established Iraqi army and police would be enough or not," he said, "so this issue is depending on the developments of the circumstances, and regulated by the Strategic Framework Agreement between the United States and Iraq."
We can do this all damn day. In fact, let's drop back to the video statement. Need text of it? Then see Margaret Talev's "Iraq's Maliki raises possibility of asking U.S. to stay on" (McClatchy Newspapers) and Anne Gearan coverd al-Maliki's remarks for AP. From the July 23rd snapshot:
Does no one listen to Adm Mike Mullen, Gen Ray Odierno or even Secretary of Defense Robert Gates? Reading the articles today, it doesn't appear that anyone does. Uh-oh. Reality slaps them in the face. Aljazeera reports, "The Iraqi prime minister has admitted US troops could stay in the country beyond 2011." Yeah, he did it today and it's only a surprise if you've never grasped what the Status Of Forces Agrement does and does not do. The Washington Post, for example, has one person on staff who understands the SOFA completely. That's one more than the New York Times has. Drop back to real time coverage (Thanksgiving 2008) and you'll see the Washington Post could explain what it did and didn't do and get it right. No other US outlet can make that claim. (The Los Angeles Times hedged their bets but did appear to grasp it in an article co-written by Tina Susman.) McClatchy Newspapers? Oh goodness, Leila Fadel made an idiot of herself over the SOFA. Even more so than the New York Times (Elisabeth Bumiller -- in December and January -- offered some realities but they were lost on the other reporters at the paper). The Times just got it wrong. Fadel got it wrong and sang praises of it. It wasn't reporting, it was column writing passed off as such. Today, Nouri declared, "Nevertheless, if the Iraqis require further training and support we shall examine this at the time, based on the needs of Iraq." Sound familiar? It should. This month you should have heard Adm Mike Mullen make the same statement, you should have heard General Ray Odierno make it over and over beginning in May and US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has made it many times -- generally he's asked when he's visiting a foreign country because US reporters don't really seem to care.
So the Times reporters today are wrong, completely wrong, it's a gross factual error -- and not the only one in their report. That's what happens when you send your A-team out of Iraq. And I think the paper may be feeling, "Oops we shouldn't have done that." No, you shouldn't have. At the time of the annivesary of the Iraq War, there was no need or reason to send your strongest Iraq reporters currently to Libya. And, now that they're missing the paper may be grasping that.
The Vice President chaired a monthly Cabinet-level meeting today to discuss the current political, economic, and security situation in Iraq. Attendees included Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, Director of the Office of Management and Budget Jacob Lew, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency Leon Panetta, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen, and senior officials from the Departments of State, Treasury, Justice, Interior, Commerce, Health and Human Services, Energy, and Homeland Security; the Office of the Director of National Intelligence; the Office of the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations; and the U.S. Agency for International Development. Ambassador Jim Jeffrey and General Lloyd Austin participated by video conference.
The discussion included an update on the status of implementation of outstanding agreements related to government formation. The principals noted that the levels of violence remain at historic lows in Iraq and that Iraqi Security Forces are capably providing security for the country. They also discussed provision of U.S. technical and policy support for the economic and energy sectors pursuant to the Strategic Framework Agreement between the United States and Iraq.
Today Kirkuk has been slammed with a car bombing. AFP reports that at least twenty-two people are injured and 1 woman is dead. In an update, AFP quotes Kirkuk police Gen Adel Zinalabedine stating that the number wounded has risen to thirty-three and that, "The car bombing outside the hospital killed a 35-year-old mother and her baby daughter. She had given birth this morning and was leaving the hospital." Some reports (including Lara Jakes', state the baby was four months old.) Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) adds that the wounded includes seven police officers. Kirkuk is not only oil-rich, it is also disputed with the KRG claiming it is their land and the central government or 'government' out of Baghdad claiming it belongs to them. Aswat al-Iraq quotes Brigadier Sarhad Qader stating that the bomb was "targeted against the Director of Kirkuk's Water Office, Abdul-Qader Mohammed Amin." Just yesterday AFP reported that Kirkuk's provinical council head Rizkar Ali Hamma had announced he quit his post citing the "lack of solutions for Kirkuk" and that this was followed by the governor of Kirkuk, Abdul Rahman Mustapha, stating he would do the same in the coming days.

The issue of Kirkuk has long been divisive -- so much so, that the 2005 Constitution (which Iraq now operates under -- or is supposed to) addressed the issue. Per the Constitution, a census was supposed to be taken of the region and a referendum held. That was supposed to take place by 2007.

2007 came and went. Nouri al-Maliki was prime minister then. He became prime minister in the spring of 2006. He didn't meet the deadline. When the Democrats won control of both houses in the US Congress and began making noises about ending the war, the White House (Bush administration) came up with a list of benchmarks that Iraq would meet to show progress. If Iraq didn't meet those benchmarks, funding was supposed to cease. Nouri agreed to the benchmarks and then ignored them. Kirkuk was one of the benchmarks. Never met but the funding continued.

In the lead up to the last provincial elections, Nouri was promising the issue would be delt with (January 2009 was when those provincial elections were held). Didn't happen. Most recently, while attempting to secure the post of prime minister for more four years, Nouri was insisting that the census would be held in December 2010. Days before it was time for the census, and just a little while after he was named prime minister-designate, Nouri called off the census. It's 2011. The Constitutionally mandated census and referendum is four years overdue.

Meanwhile Iraq remains without a full Cabinet and the posts of Minister of the Interior, Minister of Defense and Minister of National Security remain empty. The March 7, 2010 elections were supposed to determine Iraq's next government and, over a year later, there's still no fully staffed Cabinet. Security positions might be considered important at a time when the violence is on the rise (31 people are said to have died last week). Aswat al-Iraq reports that MP Hussein al-Safi is stating Nouri will make his nominations for the empty posts to Parliament tomorrow and "the National Coalition had supported the nomination of Ahmed al-Chalaby for the Interior Minister's post and Riyadh Gharib for the National Security Minister's post, whilst al-Iraqiya Coalition (led by Iyad Allawi), had finalized its decision to nominate Khalid al-Obeidy for the Defense Minister's post." Maybe tomorrow will be the day? Equally true, that day has supposedly been coming over and over and over for months now. New Sabah also reports that al-Obeidi will be nominated for Minister of Defense. Dar Addustour reports all the same nominees -- not just al-Obeidi -- and notes that al-Obeidi was a commander in the Iraqi army and is now a professor at the University of Mosul.

While three may or may not be named tomorrow, Ayas Hossam Acommok (Al Mada) reports on what appears to be efforts to oust Mohammed Tamim as Minister of Education. News of the ration card system appears to be bad and David Ali (Al Mada) reports the biggest threat to the program is officials who do not know how to properly store the goods which is allowing much of it to spoil.
Turning to the US, the case against Bradley Manning may be getting even weaker. Attention seeking Adrian Lamo, the convicted felon, has given an interview with Al Jaeera (video only) where he comes off even more stupid than before and also as stoned. I'm not speaking of his Asperger's, that's not what's coming through in the video. What's coming through is someone struggling to maintain some limited connection with reality. If it goes to trial, Llamo's going to be hilarious on the stand, especially trying to defend statements made in interviews like this one. The US government has used convicted felon Llamo to make their case for them in the court of public opinion. Don't be surprised if they don't put him back in the institution for a little 'tune up' real soon because even the meds he's on -- and he's on a lot meds -- aren't allowing him to maintain at a functioning level. (I know what Asperger's is. I have not raised that issue with regards to Llamo. I'm not referring now to the fact that he has Asperger's. I'm referring to the fact that is drug cocktails -- unrelated to his Asperger's -- are no longer working. Lithium, for example, is not a treatment for Asperger's.)
An incoherent, clearly stoned, convicted felon rambles through a taped interview revealing extreme psychosis and that's what the government plans to put on the stand? Llamo's been unraveling in public for some time, but it's now undeniable and that interview may have sealed the deal on him coming across as unreliable witness as he stretches and stretches to meet his own self-delusions of grandeur. (The clinical term would be megalomania.)
When your case is weak, you try to scare the defendant, you try to frighten them, pressure them, force them. And when you're the federal government? Then that bullying goes far beyond a police interrogation room. Which is why Bradley's being tortured. As psychiatric expert Terry A. Kupers points out at CNN, what the federal government is doing to Bradley is torturing him:
Manning is a pretrial detainee. The Constitution requires that innocence be assumed until guilt is proved, and that the defendant in criminal proceedings be provided with the wherewithal to participate in his legal defense.
The Eighth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution bars cruel and unusual punishment, and repeatedly, U.S. courts have found that overly harsh conditions of isolation and the denial of mental health treatment to a needy prisoner are Eighth Amendment violations. In international circles, for example, according to the U.N. Convention Against Torture (the United States is a signatory), the same violations of human rights are termed torture.
Clearly, Manning's treatment violates these constitutional guarantees and international prohibitions against torture. Why? Have we permitted our government, under the cloak of security precautions, to set up a secret gulag where conditions known to cause severe psychiatric damage prevail? As a concerned psychiatrist, I strenuously object to this callousness about conditions of confinement that predictably cause such severe harm.
Ed Pilkington (Guardian) notes Physicans for Human Rights is speaking out against the way Bradley's being treated and military doctors participating in it. Dr. Susan McNamara is quoted stating of what's being done to Bradley, "That is a huge problem, as it is designed to break a person down psychologically. Solitary confinement is a form of sensory deprivtaion, and if you are depriving a person of the human contact they need that can amount to torture. In the US, if a patient was treated in a psychiatric hospital in the same way the military is treating Manning, the federal government would stamp all over it." The White House fired Philip J. Crowley, State Dept spokesperson, over the weekend because he spoke out against the treatment of Bradley. US House Rep Earl Blumenauer shared his opinion on Twitter, "Outrageous - PJ Crowley leaving State Department for saying the truth about treatment of Bradley Manning. Obama needs to fix this."
In the United States, the eighth anniversary will be marked with protests. A.N.S.W.E.R. and March Forward! and others will be taking part in these action:

March 19 is the 8th anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Iraq today remains occupied by 50,000 U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of foreign mercenaries.

The war in Afghanistan is raging. The U.S. is invading and bombing Pakistan. The U.S. is financing endless atrocities against the people of Palestine, relentlessly threatening Iran and bringing Korea to the brink of a new war.

While the United States will spend $1 trillion for war, occupation and weapons in 2011, 30 million people in the United States remain unemployed or severely underemployed, and cuts in education, housing and healthcare are imposing a huge toll on the people.

Actions of civil resistance are spreading.

On Dec. 16, 2010, a veterans-led civil resistance at the White House played an important role in bringing the anti-war movement from protest to resistance. Enduring hours of heavy snow, 131 veterans and other anti-war activists lined the White House fence and were arrested. Some of those arrested will be going to trial, which will be scheduled soon in Washington, D.C.

Saturday, March 19, 2011, the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, will be an international day of action against the war machine.

Protest and resistance actions will take place in cities and towns across the United States. Scores of organizations are coming together. Demonstrations are scheduled for San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and more.

And, I'm sorry, I was hoping to get to the topic of Iraqi women. But, like rushing to the joint-hearing of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committee this morning, after the House Armed Service Subcomittee Hearing ended, and thinking I'd be able to catch it as well, there just wasn't time. (I walked in as US House Rep Phil Roe was explaining he lived one mile away from a VA hospital so he got a lot of input on VA issues just in his neighborhood. And then he adjourned the hearing.) I'll try for it tomorrow. My apologies.