Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Bionic Woman

"5 Best Super Hero Shows (Live Action) of All Time" (The Third Estate Sunday Review): "1bionic woman
2) The Bionic Woman (1976 - 1978). Jamie Sommers (Lindsay Wagner) was already featured in two Six Million Dollar Man two-parters (1975). The first one found her dead at the end but the character was too popular to kill off. So they brought her back the following and then they gave Jamie her own show. On a top twenty list, The Six Million Dollar Man (starring Lee Majors) would surely place. But The Bionic Woman was the far better show because it had storylines and moments that resonated. Majors and his character of Steve Austin could be rigid to the point of stiff whereas Wagner kept Jamie more fluid with reactions similar to what the audience might have. This is most obvious in the Bigfoot crossover storyline between the two shows. And while Steve thought nothing of killing various bad guys, Wagner didn't want that kind of show and insisted on more humor and a lighter touch. Jamie also had a sense of humanity that was missing in The Six Million Dollar Man. Confronted again with Lisa (con-artist and crook who is made to look like Jamie via plastic surgery) in the two-parter Deadly Ringer, Jamie stops Oscar from sending in agents, states "she's a human being" and enters the carriage house to confront (and hopefully reach) Lisa all by herself. This is a thread throughout the series and includes Jamie breaking Max (the bionic dog) out of the lab at the start of season three because he's gong to be put down as well as the entire last episode ("On the Run"). Some of us saw this show when it aired in real time, some of us caught it in syndication and learned of Jamie (and Steve) via the three bionic TV movies. But with season three of The Bionic Woman now on DVD, there's a whole new chance to appreciate the show and the amazingly real character Wagner created. In terms of the historic DC vs. Marvel approach to characters, you could call Jamie Sommers TV's first live action Marvel character.

This week, I gifted everyone that works on Third with The Bionic Woman Season 3 DVD set.  Why?  I want us to do another article on the show.

We did the above in February and I'm really proud of our whole list.  But this week, a nasty piece of work was trashing Lindsay Wagner for having won an Emmy.  She deserved an Emmy.

The Bionic Woman was not The Six Million Dollar Man.  Lee Majors' show was a nice action-adventure hour.  Nothing more, nothing less, just stunts and some middle of the road humor.  (That's not meant to insult Lee Majors.)  The Bionic Woman was Lindsay's project.

She didn't seek the role originally.  The idea of a spin-off was only going to happen on her terms and she didn't want to be Lee Majors in a dress.  Jamie Sommers would attempt to harm and distract the bad guys, not kill.  This was a huge step away from what was the norm on TV at the time.  She also insisted on more humor for the show and for real motivations for the characters (all of them, not just her own).  She also insisted that the all male cast of Majors' show was not going to be served up on The Bionic Woman.  For example, in three seasons and seven episodes of The Bionic Woman, Jennifer Darling got to do more as Peggy than she ever did on The Six Million Dollar Man.

The show had a soul.  This was not kill-kill-kill and Jamie was often taking approaches and encouraging approaches that reflected the peace movement the US had seen in the immediate years before the start of her show (1976).

It's not surprising that a priggish man would trash Wagner this week.  What she was going for in that series is all he's for: War, killing, destruction.  That priggish thinking was on display in the failed remake which wanted to have all the heart of a video game.

Wagner's acting was perfect the role and she's demonstrated a range in many other films and TV movies.  The idea that you're going to trash someone for winning an Emmy and the person is someone who said, "Enough with the violence"?  That really shows where your head is.

The Bionic Woman was a great show and I'm hoping we can do a piece on it soon at Third.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, March 30, 2012. Chaos and violence continue, camp cheerleaders try to find "success," Iraqis continue to suffer, US not so quick to sell Iraq high-tech enemy, the US Congress talks military sexual traum and military suicides, and more.
Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) wants you to know that, as Sly Stone once sang, everybody is a star, that we're all winners. Probably Charlotte Caffey and Jane Wiedlin were closer to the truth with, "We're all dreamers, we're all whores" ("This Town," first appears on the Go-Gos' Beauty and the Beat). Journalists are supposed to be critical thinkers not advance men for the company. The Arab League Summit was only a success if we're all toddlers and everyone gets a trophy for showing up. Or if you're stupid enough to think something's true just because a two-bit thug like Nouri al-Maliki says it is.
There are 22 countries in the Arab League. Hamza Hendawi and Lara Jakes (AP) put the number of Arab League leaders who attended at 10 and they pointed out that Qatar, Saudi Arabi, Morocco and Jordan were among those who sent lower-level officials to the summit. Patrick Martin (Globe & Mail) explains that Sheik Hamad Bin Jassem Bin Jabr Al Thani (Prime Minister of Qatar) declared on television that Qatar's "low level of representation" was meant to send "a 'message' to Iraq' majority Shiites to stop what he called the marginalization of its minority Sunnis." Yussef Hamza (The National) offers, "Iraq has looked to the summit, the first it has hosted in a generation, to signal its emergence from years of turmoil, American occupation and isolation. It wanted the summit to herald its return to the Arab fold. But the large number of absentees told a different story." That's reality.
Who's the liar pimping success? Why it's not just Nouri al-Maliki, it's Jane Arraf and Prashant Rao's Twitter buddy, the idiot Reider Visser. A fool not qualified to discuss legalities of the Erbil Agreement as evidenced by his dime store 'legal' 'analysis' that makes Elle Woods look, by comparison, like a legal giant along the lines of Thurgood Marshall. And of course Jane and Prashant and the others weren't trained in the law either so they idiotically retweet Reider's ignorance there by multiplying it as well as endorsing it. Reider's a Nouri al-Maliki groupie so he's hardly an impartial voice. He's also buddies with trash Nir Rosen. Though Nir's more famous right now for turning over the names of Western reporters to the Syrian government (that's what led to the recent charges that he was a spy), he of course became infamous for presenting the 'legal' 'analysis' that Lara Logan 'had it coming.' Nir really wasn't qualified for anything other than blowhard status but the Circle Jerk -- the same one that Jane and Prahsant employ on Reider's behalf -- ensured that a man was elevated and it didn't matter that he pisses on women or anything else. It's really past time that so-called professional journalists started examing their own ethics. At best, Reider is nothing but a whore for Nouri. There's no reason to treat him as impartial. There's no reason to treat his 'legal' renderings as worth passing on.
And to make his lack of value clear, he's pronounced the summit "a landmark achievement." (You sort of picture him panting that as he pulls on himself for a minute and ten seconds.) (Though I may be implying more endurance than he actually has.)
Only a whore for Nouri would pronounce the summit "a landmark achievement." It's cute the way he and Jane Arraf and Prashant Rao and the rest ignore the assault on the Communist Party in Baghdad this week. That took place in Baghdad. That took place as supposedly part of 'security sweep' on the neighborhood for the summit. 12 people were arrested and forced to sign papers they hadn't read. And that's not news? But what a little pig and prig named Reider Viseer thinks is supposed to carry weight?
Because like the 'professional journalists,' he ignores what was done to the Communist Party this week. It's really interesting and illuminating to see what gets covered and what gets ignored and, excuse the hell out of me, but let's also point that when we spent a week here covering the assault on Iraqi youth, Prashant, Jane and their beloved Reider couldn't be bothered with the story.
I guess it's easy to judge Iraq a success when you ignore all the people who suffer and die. I guess it's real damn easy -- real damn easy to lie.
And to whine. I seem to remember these 'professional journalists' and their whines about it took two hours or four hours or they didn't have phone service wah, wah, wah. Did any of those self-obsessed fools stop to write one damn article about the Iraqi journalists who were denied the right to cover the summit?
Did they note that printing presses were down?
Did they mention that outlets like Dar Addustour were basically forced into a holiday for the entire summit?
No, they didn't. But they did let you know that, golly, they ate their breakfast and it was digesting but now it was two hours later and their tummies were rumbling and goodness knows the bus they were on should be moving towards food a whole lot faster.
Everyone pimping the damn lie that the summit was a success should be ashamed of themselves. Not Reider Visser -- his kind is immune to shame. But so-called 'professional journalists,' I don't know what the hell you think you did this week but most of you didn't do reporting.
Not only did you ignore the threats to the Iraqi people, you ignored the staples you usually cover. Radical cleric and online tween advisor Moqtada al-Sadr takes questions from his followers and posts answers. These are usually the 'quotes' of Moqtada's that you see in the press. They love to cover this -- often forgetting to note it was written and it's an online exchange -- but they love to cover it. Strangely, they ignored what he said this week.
He said the US citizen that was released was a soldier. We're talking about Randy Michael Hills. He was in the news March 17th and 18th. The most fitting headline of all the coverage went was on Jack Healy's New York Times article: "Militans Free American No One Knew Was Missing." Randy Michael Hills, a 59-year-old American, former US military or current US military (take your pick) was released by forces once attached to Moqtada al-Sadr who explained that they had held the man for nine months (that he was held for nine months was confirmed by Victoria Nuland in a US State Dept press briefing).
Peter Graff (Reuters) reported that the man "was shown on telievision in a U.S. military univorm with no insignia, flanked by two members of parliament from Sadr's movement." Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reported:

Maha al-Douri, a lawmaker and a member of the al-Sadr movement, said Michael had been in captivity for nine months. A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad said officials were working "to verify the information regarding the alleged U.S. captive."
A Pentagon official said the Defense Department is also looking into the reports, but added that to the best of defense officials' knowledge, no active duty military person has been missing in Iraq.
The website of the Defense Prisoner Of War/ Missing Personnel Office on Saturday showed three Defense Department contractors as still missing from Operation Iraqi Freedom. Michael was not among them.

Al Mada's coverage made clear that the Sadr brigade considers him a soldier and states they captured a US soldier (not contractor) and they state he took part in the 2004 attack on Najaf and Sadr City as well as 2008 attacks in southern and Central Iraq -- what is known as the Charge of the Knights -- that begins March 25th and is a joint US-Iraq operation targeting Moqtada's forces. And this week, Moqtada answered a question about this released hostage and again stated he was US military, not former military, not a contractor. He may or may not be telling the truth or he may be telling what he thinks is the truth and be mistaken. But Moqtada al-Sadr does know the difference between a US soldier and a contractor. It's interesting that no one wanted to quote Moqtada this week. They usually break their necks trying to follow Moqtada. (Moqtada was a press created 'political figure.' Had it not been for the international press -- as well as Paul Bremer's demonization of Moqtada throughout 2004 -- he would not be the celebrity and power player he is today.)
There are many other stories that they ignored. I think they were highly foolish to ignore KRG President Massoud Barzani but there's a distaste for him among a certain element in the US press.
The summit was a failure and maybe pretending otherwise allows some people -- including those who didn't file a thing until after the summit -- to pretend that they weren't failures as well. But they were.
Some of the idiots want to tell you that the number of Arab heads of states who did not attend doesn't matter and that you should look at the ones who attended and decided to support Iraq.
That insanity (from Reider among others) comes from extreme whoring. It's the after effects of some sort of veneral mental disease turning them all into some sort of modern day Oswald Alving. Clearly Reider has not only never planned a large, successful function, he's never planned anything. It was not the "Iraq League." It was a summit for the Arab League. About half sent heads of state. That had little to do with Iraq and more to do with attempting to honor the organization. It was a failure. Iraq's neighbors are probably laughing at the turnout. They're surely laughing at the idiot claims Nouri made and at his repeated attempts to present himself as someone who has battled 'terrorism' and brought about 'peace.' That wasn't his only bone-head move. Youssef Hamza (The National) observes that, "Iraq's Shiit prime minister, Nouri Al Maliki, may have stunned his Arab guests when he told them his government's handling of Iraq's sectarian conflict 'can be an example to follow in other Arab Nations'."
Again, as Gulf News pointed out, "In addition, the idea that fortified areas such as the Green Zone can exist is also not the solution. As a matter of fact, the very existence of such isolated and protected enclaves proves that there is much to be done to ensure stability and peace."
To hold the disappointing summit, Baghdad had to go into lockdown. Airline traffic had to stop. Barricades had to go back up throughout Baghdad. A national holiday had to be declared for the week. Over 100,000 extra security forces had to be deployed. Supposedly a large amount of money was spent on armored vehicles for these forces -- these vehicles came from Jordan and the fact that the order was last minute and had to be rushed significantly increased the cost. If the Parliament were to explore that, people might question the planning and the vast cost overruns. Whether it's half-a-billion that was spent on the summit or a billion, that was money that has not been spent on the Iraqi people. And how the hell does that make for a success? We're not that many months away from the regular cholera outbreaks in Iraq. The main reason these happen every year is due to the fact that potable water isn't readily available. (Potable water is water that is safe to drink as is -- no boiling of the water is necessary nor purification tablets.)
UPI reports that, "Iraq is acquiring an array of missiles and other sophisticated systems for the 36 Lockheed Martin F-16s it's buying to build an air force but Washington is reluctant to provide Baghdad with the most advanced U.S. weapons." Somewhere Reider's Tweeting: "Landmark achievement" -- with Prashant and Jane rushing to retweet. And Reider's insisting that it's an achievement because, in 2002, the US wasn't selling Iraq F-16s!!!!!!
Al Mada noted yesterday morning that the Iraqi public and Parliament would be judging the summit a success or not based upon whether the leaders turned out for the summit. On that scale, it wasn't a success. In other words, attendence needs improvement and absences hinder progress. In addition to snubs and rebukes, Liz Sly, Aziz Alwan and Asaad Majeed (Washington Post) also note, "The blast at the Iranian Embassy undermined the government's boasts that it had managed to pull off the summit without incident, although it would have gone unheard in the conference room deep inside the vast palace. Zebari and Elaraby both seemed surprised when asked about it by a journalist." Not a success. Sam Dagher (Wall St. Journal) points out, "It spent almost $1 billion on preparations that included unprecedented security measures -- jamming cellphone networks and mobilizing 100,000 security-force members -- and rolling out a catered menu for dignitaries that featured a dessert of 24-carat-gold-laced dates."
Putting on the dog for visitors while the people went without?
One's left to wonder how Jane and the gang would cover Marie Antoinette? "A success by any standards. Today, October 16, 1793, the one-time Dauphine of France was beheaded via the guillotine . . . so that the many admirers throughout the land might have not just a corpse to remember her by but a corpse and a head! And La Veuve Capet looked simply gorgeous clad in a simple white shift as she approached the guillotine clearly having followed a strict diet in the last weeks allowing her to show off a sleaker and slimmer figure."
From the failed leadership of Nouri to the failed leadership of Tony. One time British prime minister and Bush family pet, Tony "The Poodle" Blair barged back into the news cycle. Richard Norton-Taylor (Guardian) reports that yesterday Clare Short accused Blair of distorting reality in order to start the Iraq War. Specifically, he lied when he asserted the French would nix any attempt at a second resolution from the UN Security Council.

Backing up. The UN authorized weapons inspectors to go into Iraq. The UN did not authorize the war. Many citizens of the US and UK felt their rulers (Bully Boy Bush and Toy Poodle Tony) were committed to and, in fact, required to get a second resolution from the UN Security Council if war was the next step.

Clare Short was a Labour MP serving in Blair's Cabinet in the lead up to the Iraq War. Richard Norton-Taylor reports Short told an international tribunal yesterday that Tony Blair deliberately distorted the French government's attitude towards a second resolution. Short states (this is correct) that Blair maintained that the French would veto any attempt at a second resolution. (This is correct? The second resolution was established in the Iraq Inquiry. We pointed this out when the Inquiry completed their public testimony. We also noted that based on the public testimony and documents, Blair was not the passive one led by the genius Bush but, in fact, the one steering Bush through technical waters.) From Norton-Taylor's article:

The Foreign Office is trying to overturn a decision by Christopher Graham, the information commissioner, to disclose records of a conversation between Tony Blair and George Bush about the UN and the French position, days before the invasion of Iraq in March 2003.
Disclosing that the evidence was "fantastically important for the people of Britain and the historical record", Short told the tribunal.
The tribunal heard that Blair claimed that in a television interview on 10 March 2003, the French president, Jacques Chirac, said France would veto any new UN resolution backing war. This enabled Blair to argue before his cabinet, parliament and the British public that the UK could go to war with no further UN backing because of French opposition.
The tribunal heard on Thursday that what Chirac actually said was that France would reject a new pro-war resolution at that particular moment since the UN weapons inspectors had not been given enough time to carry out their mission in Iraq.

In the June 29, 2010 snapshot, we addressed the resolution at length as a result of the British Ambassador to France (2001 - 2007) John Holmes' testimony to the Iraq Inquiry. A second resolution was not desired by the US or the UK. It would hem them in. Holmes testified as to the French government's position and to being baffled that Jeremy Greenstock was told by Blair that he could not ask the French government what their position on UN resolutions were. This was during the exchange with Committee Member Roderic Lyne. From that exchange, we'll note this:

Committee Member Roderic Lyne: If the second resolution had contained a longer deadline for Iraqi compliance, do you think that France would have considered supporting it?
Ambassador John Holmes: I think it is possible because that's what essentially they were suggesting. They were suggesting -- they didn't like the six tests or whatever they were called, but they said "If you give -- if you put in a period" -- I think 120 days was the period they wanted -- "for the inspectors to operate, so they can do their job properly without being put against impossible deadlines, then that's something we could contemplate", but of course, they were still wanting to say that-that a second resolution of that kind would also not have any automatic trigger in it. You would still need to come back at the end of that, the Security Council would need to come back at the end of that, and take a view on what the inspectors were saying to them. So you know, at that stage, you were into third resolution territory. So that is a reason why we weren't particularly attracted, perhaps, to that route, but in any case in those timescales it was simply not available.

Both Blair and Jack Straw misled the British people and, later, the Iraq Inquiry. This might be further underscored if the conversation between Bush and Blair was released (that Short was giving testimony on). Joel Shenton (Public Service) explains, "The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is fighting calls to release details of a 2003 phone call between Tony Blair and George Bush which was made just seven days before the Iraq War began."

While Labour continues to be stained by the shame Blair brought to them (and Gordon Brown as well), the member they expelled just had a surprise victory. Eddie Buckle and Robert Hutton (Bloomberg News) report that George Galloway won 56% of the vote and was re-elected despite predictions that he would lose. ITV offers an overview of his career here. Anindya Bhattacharyya (Great Britian's Socialist Worker) explains, "George Galloway has pulled off a spectacular political comeback by winning Thursday's Bradford West parliamentary by-election by a landslide." Nicholas Watt (Guardian) reports:
Ed Miliband was facing renewed criticism of his leadership of the Labour party after George Galloway swept back into parliament, achieving one of the greatest byelection upsets in recent history.
As Miliband said he would learn the lessons from the defeat in Bradford West, the shadow public health minister, Diane Abbott, said Labour had underestimated the popularity of Galloway and the Iraq war remained "unforgotten and unforgiven".
Now we're dropping back to Wednesday afternoon to note military sexual assault and suicides. The Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel was hearing about various programs the Pentagon was working on to address the needs of their uniformed and civilian personnel. We'll note this exchange between Senator Richard Blumenthal and Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Jo Ann Rooney.
Senator Richard Blumenthal: [. . .] I want to focus on one though that may not be directly related to the budget, I know the budget consumes a lot of time, but you've discussed in your testimony, Secretary Rooney, the issue of sexual assault which I know troubles you and the Secretary greatly, a great concern to you and there's a zero tolerance policy, it's a leadership issue. You say in your testimony that the estimates now are about 19,000 sexual assaults a year which is down from the estimate of 34,000 in 2006. Are you suggesting that the rates are numbers of sexual assaults has been reduced over the last six years.
Secretary Jo Ann Rooney: Sir, the way we get to that number is that we look at the number of reported sexual assaults as a percentage of the overall force and then actually multiply it. The number appears to come down but quite frankly, as you indicated, our concern is that there are any. And 19,000 is 19,000 too many or whatever the exact number is because, again, that was extrapolated from actual reported numbers. So while we believe that the attention being focused, the programs being put in place and, frankly, the leadership taking this on as such a critical area to be able to address because it goes right to the heart of what our military believes in terms of their work and their respect for each other, that that number will come down but we realize we have a lot of work to do.
Senator Richard Blumenthal: But it may not have come down in the last six years. Obviously, you're objective is to make it come down. But I'm just asking whether you have confidence in that number because, quite honestly, I'm not sure that I do.
Secretary Jo Ann Rooney: I believe that number indicates that we have a substantial problem yet. But, again, it's not a specific number. It's extrapolated from those reports we have.
Senator Richard Blumenthal: Of the defendants who reported and in those incidents 3,192 in FY '11, what percentage faced court-martial?
Secretary Jo Ann Rooney: Sir, I'll take that question for the record and get back to you on the specific.
Senator Richard Blumenthal: The information I have is fewer than 21% and I was going to ask you --
Secretary Jo Ann Rooney: That percentage is correct.
Senator Richard Blumenthal: What is the reason that they are not brought to court-martial?
Secretary Jo Ann Rooney: Often, sir, it's many of the same challenges that we see on the civilian side which is, in order to go through the court-martial, obviously we need to be able to get the evidence and make sure that our folks are trained to be able to prosecute those particular cases. Those are specific areas we are working on now -- to make sure people are trained in the specific areas of how to be able to not only get that evidence but be able to present that forward. And that's often the road block.
Senator Richard Blumenthal: So you're upgrading the procedures for collection of evidence. And what about retention of evidence?
Secretary Jo Ann Rooney: Uh, yes, sir. We actually are retaining the evidence at this point -- if it's an unrestricted report, for fifty years.
Senator Richard Blumenthal: And are you making efforts to speed the process? In one instance that has been reported to me -- and I can get you the name and perhaps you can give me more details -- there was a three year gap -- and, by the way, I'm very familiar with the defense in the civilian area since I was -- [Attorney General of the state of Connecticut from 1990 through 2010]
Secretary Jo Ann Rooney: I know you are, sir.
Senator Richard Blumenthal: -- involved in it so this is by no means to say you should use it as a model necessarily. But I know the military sets its own standards for what excellence is and you have your own goals. But that three year gap, as you know, makes evidence, even if it's collected -- that is the eye witness testimony that, if provided, may prove more difficult to get [three years after when memories are less fresh] and I just wonder what steps are being taken to make sure that these cases are brought to court-martial -- brought, in effect, to trial -- more quickly?
Secretary Jo Ann Rooney: Actually, we're working directly with the services on this and the Joint Chiefs [of Staff] have been actively involved in looking at how do we not only streamline the actual court process but also streamline from the point of reporting to -- we have such things in place now, as you know, as expedited transfers -- so all through the process making sure that we are able to protect due process, if you will, for the accused. But move that through the system from the first report through. So that's something that we're actually engaged right now with the services to do.
Senator Richard Blumenthal: Do you have numbers as to the median or average length of time it's taken and what percentage involves eventual findings of guilt, culpability? And also what the eventual penalities are in those cases?
Secretary Jo Ann Rooney: Sir, we do have those numbers but if I could take that for the record and give them to you as opposed to trying to get them from memory. But we do have them. I have seen them, sir.
Senator Richard Blumenthal: I would appreciate that.
Secretary Jo Ann Rooney: We will.
Senator Richard Blumenthal: And do you also -- Can you also provide percentages as to what numbers -- in what rate you give defendants the option of a discharge or a resignation in lieu of court-martial?
Secretary Jo Ann Rooney: I can get the information as to what the eventual resolution was. As to whether that was a negotiated plea or something in that regard, that will be a little harder. But I can certainly tell you Article 15 and various section penalties.
Senator Richard Blumenthal: And finally on this subject, can you tell me when [Defense] Secretary [Leon] Panetta is going to be releasing the recommendations? He's going to be having both administrative and legislative. Do you know?
Secretary Jo Ann Rooney: Actually, we've been working on the possible legislative proposals as recently as today. So I'm expecting those to be coming up soon and then, within the next three to six months, we'll also have some additional ways forward on specific recommendations coming out from the services as well as follow-up on the ones we mentioned -- the expedited transfer and the document retention.
Senator Richard Blumenthal: Thank you. On the issue, and you raise it in your testimony, concerning suicides, can you talk a little bit about what steps are being taken to address this issue?
Secretary Jo Ann Rooney: Absolutely. And you're right that the numbers right now -- despite many of our efforts -- have not shown a significant decrease. But what we have done in fact is -- taken the task force that had their report forward, one of their recommendations was to create a specific suicide office which we have done in the last few months. And the purpose of that office is not to create yet another layer but it's to look across all the services and actually be the conduit for what are our best practices, where are we missing some opportunities, getting rid of some of the redundancies. So that has, at this point, a temporary staff. But in the fiscal '13 budget, we have the full appropriations we're requesting on that to have that staff stand up. In addition to that, we're working directly with the services in each of their component areas to see what practices they have in place. The next thing, and I think you've seen it also from the medical side, we're embedding behavioral health not only within the units but also making it available to the families through a number of our family programs. And, again, we're continuing to monitor what has been the outreach and where have we seen some successes or not, as it were. So those are the steps at this point with many more coming forward. And, also, collecting data has been a big challenge that we've had. Contemporaneous data. So we're working closely with the VA, in particular, at this point to share information not only from the DoD side but also what the VA is getting. We're doing a lot of joint work with them. So we're getting data that is between thirty and sixty days old as opposed to a year or two -- which is what we had been getting because that's the way states are gathering it -- and sharing that information and trying to trend directly with the VA. So those are some of the ideas.

Etan gets the last word:
Groups Urge U.S. Not to Sell Attack Helicopters to IndonesiaContact: John M. Miller, +1-718-596-7668; mobile: +1-917-690-

Ed McWilliams, +1-575-648-2078,
March 30, 2012 - Ninety organizations today urged the U.S. government and Congress not to provide deadly attack helicopters to Indonesia. Indonesia
has announced that it plans to buy eight AH-64 Apache attack helicopters
from the United States.

The groups warned that the helicopters will escalate conflicts in Indonesia, especially in the rebellious region of West Papua: "Providing these
helicopters would pose a direct threat to Papuan civilians."

The Indonesian military (TNI) regularly conducts "sweep operations,"
involving attacks on villages where innocent villagers are forced from their homes. The groups write that "Papuan civilians either flee the attacks to neighboring villages or into the surrounding forests where many die or face starvation, cut off from access to their gardens, shelter, and medical care."
Sweep operations are now underway in the Central Highlands region of West Papua.

The letter was organized by the U.S.-based East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) and the West Papua Advocacy Team and signed by human
rights, religious, indigenous rights, disarmament and other organizations
based in 14 countries.

Signers include: Faith-based Network on West Papua, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Peace Action, International Lawyers for West Papua, Land
Is Life, KontrS (Indonesia), and Pax Christi Australia. A complete list of
signers can be found here:

The AH-64 is designed for air to ground attack. It can operate day or night
and is armed with high caliber chain guns and equipped to fire missiles.

ETAN was formed in 1991. It celebrated its 20th anniversary this December
10, advocates for democracy, justice and human rights for Timor-Leste and Indonesia. See ETAN's web site:

Text of letter.
As organizations concerned about human rights in Indonesia
and West Papua, we are writing to urge the U.S. government
and Congress not to allow the sale of AH-64 Apache attack helicopters to the Indonesian military (TNI). Providing these helicopters would pose a direct threat to Papuan civilians,
who have been the target of deadly TNI assaults for many
years.The sale of this weapons system to the TNI -- notwithstanding its long record
of disregard for civilian casualties, corruption, human rights violations and impunity in East Timor, Aceh and elsewhere -- would only increase the
suffering of the Papuan population.

Indonesia's Deputy Minister of Defense Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin
told the Antara news agency, that Indonesia intends to buy eight AH-64
Apache helicopter from the United States.

heavily-armed AH-64 is a highly lethal weapon which can be used to
escalate conflict within Indonesia and in West Papua. These aircraft will substantially augment the TNI's capacity to prosecute its "sweep operations"
in West Papua and thereby, almost certainly lead to increased suffering
among the civilian populations long victimized by such operations.

TNI "sweep operations," including several now underway in the Central
Highlands region of West Papua, involve attacks on villages. Homes are destroyed, along with churches and public buildings. These assaults,
purportedly to eliminate the poorly armed Papuan armed resistance, force innocent villagers from their homes. Papuan civilians either flee the attacks
to neighboring villages or into the surrounding forests where many die or
face starvation, cut off from access to their gardens, shelter, and medical

AH-64 is designed for air to ground attack. It can operate day or night
and is armed with high caliber chain guns . It is also equipped to fire

Congress must be notified of major weapons sales. We urge Congress to
oppose the sale of these helicopters.etanetanetanetanetanetanetanetanetanetanetanetan

Read about ETAN's 20 years of work for for human rights,
justice and democracy: ETAN needs you support in 2012. Follow ETAN on Facebook: M. Miller, National Coordinator
East Timor & Indonesia Action Network (ETAN)
PO Box 21873, Brooklyn, NY 11202-1873 USA
Phone: +1-718-596-7668 Mobile phone: +1-917-690-4391
Email: Skype: john.m.miller



Wednesday, March 28, 2012


POLITICO reports that James Carville is insisting that ObamaCare going under will be a gift for Democrats:

“You know what the Democrats are going to say - and it is completely justified: ‘We tried, we did something, go see a 5-4 Supreme Court majority,’” Carville added. “The public has these guys figured out. Our polls show that half think this whole thing is political.”

Actually, that's not true.  But I will wait for a verdict before weighing in.  C.I. and I have been talking about this.  ObamaCare goes under, it's bad news for Barack. 

I told C.I. about Carville's remarks (C.I. knows Carville) and she said, "Actually, he's right.  Think about it.  ObamaCare is not what its supporters think it is.  It will be very unpopular if it is implemented.  So James is right that the best thing for Barack would be for ObamaCare to fail at the Supreme Court."

(Yes, she knows that's not what he was saying.)

"Would you pay to support sexism? (Ava and C.I.)" (Ava and C.I., The Third Estate Sunday Review):
At their website, they have a little faux Platonic dialogue going on, asking why anyone should donate money to KXT and then answering, "KXT 91.7 is listener-supported public radio. 100% of the station’s financial support comes from listeners and businesses who pledge their support and make a tax-free donation to keep the station on the air. Make your contribution today to support the musical diversity and discovery that KXT 91.7 provides every day."

Musical diversity? There's no diversity in the solo artists or front men they play -- mainly men. And we question the notion of diversity as much as we do their claim (see illustration at the top) that donating to KXT is a way to "SUPPORT INDEPENDENT MUSIC." Bruce Springsteen's new album and his back catalogue are heavily featured on KXT and he's not an independent artist. He's a big money maker for the Sony corporation. Other staples of the station's programming -- Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, U2, Coldplay and Adele -- aren't exactly selling CDs out of a trailer they pull from show to show behind their Chevy Aveo.

We mentioned creepy Paul Slavens earlier. He deserves special notice for claiming on air to be playing requested songs. No, he's playing the requested songs he likes. He ignores the rest. Especially true if you're suggesting a woman be played. Slavens doesn't like the ladies. And seems to take it as a point of pride that he's never played Carly Simon on KXT (he's been heard on KXT since November 2009). He'll play the Monkees, he'll play Porter Wagoner, he just won't play Carly. He doesn't play many women. It's not uncommon to hear one each hour or just one for both hours. Again, this is commercial free radio. They should have plenty of airtime.

As 1999 was winding down, Elysa Gardner (Billboard, December 18, 1999) would speak with radio consultant Dennis Constantine who explained "that as recently as the mid-90s, radio programmers would generally aim not to play two songs by female artists consecutively" and how, "Of course, they never had the same rule for men. Only in the past few years has that barried broken down, so that now you hear women back to back on radio stations. I think a lot of that has to do with Lilith [Fair]." That was commercial radio. And the problem there wasn't one woman an hour, but dee jays afraid of playing two women in a row. And Constantine and Billboard were thrilled that fear had been put to rest.

Except, over a decade later, KXT wants to bring it back and then some. Their playlist isn't just pre-Lillith Fair, it's pre-1960s. That should cause them embarrassment and shame but instead they think they've earned the right to your money. It's 2012 and there's no excuse for the programming KXT has been offering.

In honor of Women's History Month (and to wipe the stench of KXT off your bodies), you can check out WOS Radio (Women of Substance Radio) which broadcasts online and explains, "We broadcast 24/7 on the Live365 Network and iTunes Radio garnering fans from all over the world. WOSRadio plays the BEST female artists, both label and Indie, in all genres. We hand-pick all of our music starting with icons of the past like Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon, Fleetwood Mac, Heart, Tracy Chapman, Mariah Carey, No Doubt, Tori Amos, Sarah McLachlan, Jewel, Michelle Branch, Kelly Clarkson, Sara Bareilles, Colbie Caillat, Adele, Carrie Underwood, Amy Winehouse, Feist, Christina Perri and so many more." And you can check out Girls Rock Radio (you can also stream it here if you have plug-in problems).

There is a public radio station in Dallas, Texas.  It plays nothing but music.  And can barely manage to play one woman an hour most hours.  Still it begs people for money.  What's wrong with this picture?

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Wednesday, March 28, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue, Congress hears excuses from VA and DoD, Baghdad continues on lockdown, Nouri goes after another political rival, and more.
US House Rep Jerry McNerney: I think the goal is to make it seemless for the service member to go from -- obviously, that's the goal.  Are there technical issues like communication between computers or any of that a problem at all? Or can we just put that one to bed now or do we need to talk about that for a little while?
John Medve: [. . . Microhphone not on at the start of remarks] the question, we're working on that.  You're familiar that we're trying to develop or have on the boards developing an integrated lifetime health record which once that comes into fruition will be, I think, a great asset for us.  In terms of the Integrated Disability Evaluation System and moving people through that process, we have one system called the Veterans Tracking Information that we use to manage where people are in the process so that we have the metrics and understand where they're at.  We monitor those things every two weeks at the VA.  The VA chief of staff holds a bi-weekly performance, uh, meeting with every single executive that manages a part of  that process down to the local level. As part of those discussions, if there are issues that we're having in terms of transmissions of data or any of that, he immediately calls our office of information technology to bore in on the problem and to fix it.
Ranking Member Jerry McNerney: Well that sounds good.  Is there a -- except for -- I want to get an idea of when these medical records are going to be standardized so that we can get this transition, that part of it, out of the way. So do you have an idea about when that can be expected to be finished?
John Medve:  Sir, I know the two Secretaries, as Mr. Neabors alluded to, meet every quarter.  At the last meeting, at the end of February 27th, one of the marks on the wall is that we're putting the integrated health record at the James A. Lovell Federal Level Health Care Center, that's the pilot site for it.  They have required that there be two additional sites be in place by 2014 in order to build this and so it's going to be a growing development over the next several years.
Ranking Member Jerry McNerney: That's -- that's not good enough. That's not even good enough.
McNerny was question the VA's John Medve (Office of VA-DoD Collaboration) this morning.  The House veterans Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs was addressing a number of issues.  Subcommittee Chair Jon Runyan noted at the start of the hearing, "This is my hope that this oversight hearing will shed some light on some of the problems that we have encountered in the implementation of IDES so we may work together to find the best solution possible."
Medve and DoD's Jim Neighbors made up the first panel.  The second panel was Project HOPE's Dr. Gail Wilensky, Fisher House Foundation's Ken Fisher and the Advisory Committee on Disability Compensation's retired-LTG James Terry Scott. The third panel was Disabled American Veterans' John Wilson, Wounded Warrior Project's Phil Riley and The Mission Continues' Eric Greitens.
There have been too many problems for service members and veterans in the system.This includes the transition of a service member to a veteran.  Congress has been asking for this to be fixed, Congress has generously funded all techonology requests on this issue and Congress has repeatedly asked both DoD and VA if additional funding was needed.  One of the most basic problems was that DoD used one computer system and VA another and the two couldn't communicate.  This was eye rolling -- some might say typical -- six years ago when we first started hearing about it in hearings we attended (and it may have been addressed prior to 2006).  It's no longer excusable.  Too much money has been spent, too many years have passed.  This issue should have been completely dealt with some time ago. Two years from now, VA testified, there will be a pilot site to test these things that were identified over six years ago?  Eight years after identification and after all the funds Congress has provided to fix this issue, a pilot program will take place.  ("At least eight years" -- again, we've only been attending the veterans committee hearings since 2006.)
In the section we were quoting at the start, Ranking Member Jerry McNerney was informing the first panel that it wasn't good enough.  That describes the first panel:  Not good enough.  They would go on and attempt to mislead as McNerney's questioning continued.
Jim Neighbors:  Sir, if I could chime in -- thank you for your question.  DoD and VA are actually sharing more information right now than any two organizations in the nation.  Now if I could just give you some statistics, please, on what that sharing is. Service members' data, again, that has been shared with VA is over a million times already and what that turns into as far as laboratory results is we've shared 23 million of them to date and this is in IT form, this is machine readable, things we've pushed for.  So they're not paper. Radiology 3.6 million reports, pharmacy 24 million records and patients have engaged on their medication and allergy recommendation from what was about 27,000 to now 1.2 million which is significantly improving patient safety.  Those are just some areas, it's not an entire IDE chart.  So between our organizations, we are actually are doing some of the sharing already.  And, if I could, there are actually four locations pilot wise, which we're including private providers such as Kaiser Permanente or something.  Where we would bring them into the fold here too. So between government entitites, we have that actually going on right now.  So you're right. We're not where we need to be.  We're not completely there.  Absolutely.  But there is stuff going on that is servicing our veterans.  And the second thing I'd like to say, sir, if I could please, that's entity to entity.  As far as giving of VA -- excuse me, a veteran or service member their records, we can do that right now.  We're working very closely with VA to enroll our service members as they come in the door into a platform, an IT platform, called the E-Benefits Platform.  That will then allow -- or that allows -- and we've got 1.4 million of them already signed up now.  But then at any point in time after that, from anywhere in the world, 24-7, they can actually download their medical records and hand them off to a private provider or anybody that they are involved with through that continuum right now.  And that's called the Blue Button Capability.  Maybe you've heard that or not.
And if I can jump in, DoD and VA were sharing information -- as he's decribing -- some time ago.  This isn't expected progress, this is more of the same.  And to be even more clear on this, DoD and VA were always supposed to be 'sharing.'  That's transporting the medical records from DoD to VA as the service members switches to the status of veteran.  Neighbors repeatedly misleads. We could fill three more snapshots with examples.  Instead, we'll just note two here.
Ranking Member Jerry McNerney: I haven't heard that.  One of the things that Mr. Medve was saying is that you can track an individual through the process.  But is there an advocate for that individual?  Or does that get passed on and the individual finds himself or herself  calling in and getting the run around?  I mean, what we need is an advocate.  Whether it's DoD or VA or the joint-effort, Mr. McDonnell, sort of going into that, an ombudsman, an advocate or some coordinator that that person can go to when they are in trouble from start to finish. 
John Medve:  Sir, yes, thank you for the question again, Congressman, in IDES, when someone is enrolled in it, there's the PEBLO, Physical Evaluation Board Liason Officer, that when that invidual is referred is who greets them at the entrance to that process.  That is the single point of contact that will shepherd them through IDES -- as they are in each different stage, they are briefed by that person where they stand, where their medical evaluation schedules are done when they're supposed to appear before any boards and all that.  Once we get to a point where they are going to be determined to be separated, we the VA sitting with the DoD PEBLO have what we call Military Service Coordinators that then sit down with the individual as a team and explain to that individual what their VA benefits.  So that's what happens inside the IDES.  Now also --
Ranking Member Jerry McNerney: Does the service member of former service member get to check off on that and say that they're okay with that transition at that point?
John Medve: I'll defer to Mr. Neighbor since that gets into the military administrative process.
Jim Neighbors: Absolutely, sir.  At any point in time when an evaluation takes place, that service member has reclima capabilities at a number of venues.  Each one of the services has a number of boards that does the exactly what we're talking about here which is the evaluation of their disability and the rating. They can then take that to a department wide -- Excuse me, let me say that again the service wide board that is more of a formal activity where they make sure that the rulings have been applied equally across from the local board itself.  If the service member doesn't believe that is equitable, they actually can go to another level and they can actually go to what's called the Board of Correction for Military Records level also.  So there are a number of points where the person can say, "You know what? This wasn't fair. I need another look." And they can be reversed or they can be upheld as any board can do.  But, yes, sir, there is.
And now Neighbors misleads again.  The question was about an advocate originally -- does the service member have an advocate with him or her throughout the process and then they were asked what about if the service member didn't feel ready for the switch: "Does the service member of former service member get to check off on that and say that they're okay with that transition at that point?"
Neighbors did not answer that question.  He deliberately misled about an appeal process that was in place prior to the need for a seemless transition becoming a talking point of DoD. You are a service member.  You have a PEBLO assisting you throughout your various processes.  Now you're being informed you're about to discharge and transition from service member to veteran and you're not ready -- this was McNerney's question, remember? -- are you able to speak to someone or slow the process or get additional assistance with the change?  That's never answered.  (So the answer is probably no.) Instead, Neighbors attempts to distract by going into great detail about the appeals process that's been in place for decades and has nothing to do with seemless transition or efforts in the last six years (or even the last decade) to improve and simplify the process for today's service members and veterans.
But before we get to that, we're going to note the strong objection US House Rep Timothy Walz registerd.
US House Rep Tim Walz:  But I'm going to highlight this issue of the discharges from DoD on personality disorder.  I'm truly troubled about this.  If this is truly about honoring the commitment to care, this is the third hearing I've sat here where we've talked about something like this.  In 2007 we were going to get this fixed, we were going to get it fixed in 2010, September 15th.  And there's a report today, my friends over at the Vietnam Veterans of American, through a Freedom of Information Act, we're at it again.  So we've got soldiers, they go to war, they come back and they're being diagnosed with adjustment disorder or personality disorder.  It gets stamped on their discharge papers "Discharged for Personality Disorder," they're denied VA benefits and that's on their permanent record to follow them for employment.  So, Mr. Neighbors, I know this is not your area of expertise, if I could say, I'm not putting you on the spot for the entire Department of Defense, but I would like you to . . . What do you think when you hear this again? Because all the issues you're talking about -- and I don't want to distract us from this very broader issue, but I do feel like I need to speak up for these 31,000.  I do need to try and figure out how we right this wrong. Because the idea that you would be diagnosed with an adjustment disorder after being in Afghanistan?  I don't know. If I could just turn it over, I know it's very general but --
Jim Neighbors:  I really appreciate the question and it is an important issue.  I'm going to go out on a limb here and try to narrow it a little bit.  I think what you're referring to is the reports of what's happening at Madigan and out on the West Coast? Am I correct on that or is it?
US House Rep Tim Walz: Well there was a new, I had the thing. We just had a new Freedom of Information request and the study was put together on this from Vietnam Veterans of America, I'll make sure we get a copy to you to make sure you see that.
And I'm stopping Walz there.
No, it's not the same thing.  Walz didn't say it was.  But there's no excuse for a VA or DoD official going before the Congress this morning not to know what VVA released.  Madigan is about PTSD diagnoses being changed for active duty service members (it may be happening to other groups as well but that's what is known about Madigan at present).  What Walz was asking about was service members returning to the US and being discharged.  And their discharge is a PD (personality disorder) and it is done that way not to deny PTSD benefits but to deny all benefits.  A PD discharge leaves a service member with the news that he or she will be paying out of their own pocket for all health care they may need. Just from what Walz described, Neighbors should have known this wasn't the same issue.  And if Neighbors honestly doesn't know the difference between a PTSD diagnosis and a PD diagnosis, that's really scary.  More likely, this was yet another attempt to distract and mislead.
Some idiot -- and I use that word intentionally and after careful consideration -- from DoD was called up by Jim Neighbors and began talking.  Subcommittee Chair Jon Runyun instructed to speak into the microphone at which point he decided he was a race with his tongue and the losers were the listeners.  Whatever his name was, he began talking about PTSD as well and continued doing so.  As Walz was trying to get across, a PD discharge is based upon the belief that these service members came into the service with a mental issue or problem and it wasn't discovered until late in the service.  That's how you do a personality discharge.  We've covered War Criminal Steven D. Green repeatedly here.  He got a personality disorder discharge and deserved it.  It was a mistake to let him into the military (and he was one of those recruits who had a choice between doing time or joining the military -- had he not joined, the judge would have sentenced him to time behind bars).
Steven Green was a good case.  What Vietnam Veterans of America is highlighting is using citizens to fight your wars and then, after you've used them (and often as they're ready to leave the military), 'discovering' a personality disorder that makes them unfit to serve and allows you to give them a PD discharge which means that they have no medical benefits which, for the government, means they don't have to pay out money for treatment.  VVA's argument is that once again PD discharges are being used to deny those who have the benefits they have earned.
Here's VVA's press release in full:
(Washington, D.C.)– Since 2008, the Department of Defense (DoD) has illegally discharged hundreds of veterans on the alleged basis of personality disorder (PD), denying them veterans' benefits, according to a Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) analysis of newly disclosed records released today. The analysis further concludes that since Fiscal Year (FY) 2002, the Navy has discharged the most service members on this basis in absolute terms (7735), and in FY 2006 the Air Force set a military record for the Afghanistan and Iraq era when PD discharges accounted for 3.7 percent of all airmen being discharged (1114 of 29,498 service members).
The VVA report, Casting Troops Aside: The United States Military's Illegal Personality Disorder Discharge Problem, is based on records obtained by VVA in federal Freedom of Information Act litigation. The report found that, since 2008, internal DoD reviews discovered hundreds of illegal PD discharges, and since FY 2001, the military has discharged over 31,000 service members on the alleged basis of PD.
PD can be used as the illegal basis for incorrectly discharging veterans suffering from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). The DoD considers PD a preexisting condition, and a PD diagnosis renders veterans ineligible for several benefits.
"On a veteran's discharge paperwork it states clearly, 'discharged for personality disorder,' and not only does it keep veterans from benefits they may have earned, but it is one of the first things that prospective employers see. Anyone who sees the veteran's DD-214 can determine the reason for discharge. " said Paul Barry, President of VVA Chapter 120, Hartford, Connecticut.
"Shame on the Department of Defense," said Dr. Thomas J. Berger, VVA Executive Director for the Veterans Health Council. "It acknowledged the widespread illegality of these discharges and changed its rules going forward but has left 31,000 wounded warriors alone to fend for themselves, denied even basic medical care for their injuries."
In 2008, Congress directed the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to investigate illegal personality discharges. The Congressional pressure prompted new DoD regulations, but VVA has found that illegal personality disorders continued through FY 2010, and that since 2007, the total number of PD discharges has increased at least 20 percent, according to documents released under one of two pending VVA Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits.
In a document obtained by the FOIA lawsuit, a Navy report on 2008-2009 PD discharges noted that only "8.9 percent [of PD discharges] were processed properly. …This does not paint a pretty picture."
Additionally, VVA analysis of DoD documents uncovered a two-fold rise in Adjustment Disorder (AD) discharges in the United States Air Force from FY 2008 to FY 2010 that may signal that AD discharges have now become a surrogate for PD discharges.
"Everyone agrees that illegal personality disorder discharges occurred," said Robert Cuthbert, Jr., a student intern with the Veterans Legal Services Clinic at Yale Law School representing VVA in the FOIA litigation. "Some of these veterans may suffer from undiagnosed PSTD or TBI. The Department of Defense must act justly, responsibly, and promptly to help them heal."
The report is available online at:
Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) is the nation's only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated to the needs of Vietnam-era veterans and their families.  VVA's founding principle is "Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another." The report was prepared for VVA by Melissa Ader, Robert Cuthbert Jr., Kendall Hoechst, Eliza H. Simon, Zachary Strassburger, and Prof. Michael Wishnie of the Veterans Legal Services Clinic at Yale Law School.
Let's go to the Madigan issue now.  The Madigan Army Medical Center on Joint Base Lewis-McChor is in the state of Washington.  One of their two US Senators is Patty Murray who is also the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  Madigan raised flags when it was learned (a) the costs of PTSD treatment had been discussed/lamented at an administration level and that (b) after this discussion/lament, service members diagnosed with PTSD had their diagnoses changed.  This morning at the Defnese Appropriations Subcommittee hearing, Senator Murray questioned the Army Surgeon General Lt General Patricia Horoho.  I was at the House hearing, Wally attended this hearing and took notes on it. 
Senator Patty Murray:  General Horoho, you and I have had a number of discussions about the invisible wounds of war and the challenges soldiers are facing seeking behavioral health care and, as you well know, Madigan Army Medical Center in my home state of Washington is dealing now with how to handle these wounds and provide our soldiers quality consistent care -- especially for our soldiers who are going through the Integrated Disability Evaluation System.  Now I think that some of the issues that have been raised at Madigan are unique to that facility but I do continue to have a number of concerns not only about the situation at Madigan today but the implication for our soldiers really across the Army who may have also struggled to get a proper diagnosis, adequate care and an honest evaluation during the Integrated Disability Evaluation System process. I wanted to ask you today, prior to 2007, Madigan did not use the forensic psychiatry to evalate soldiers in the medical evaluation process.  And wanted to ask you today, why was that system changed in 2007.
Army Surgeon Gen Lt Gen Patricia Horoho: Thank you, Senator, for the question. The first thing I'd like to do is just pick up on the word, when you said "invisible wounds." I know it has been said during this war that the signature wound is an invisble wound, I would submit that it is not invisible to the family nor is it invisible to the soldier that's undergoing that -- those, uhm, challenges, behavioral health challenges.  The reason -- and I'm-I'm guessing on this, ma'am, because I wasn't there prior to -- but, uh, prior to 2007, we were a nation that entered into war in about 2001 when we were attacked in 2002 timeframe.  And we had a very old system.  That was the Methold -- a methold system, which was two separate systems, how we managed those service members, active and reserve component, and that was a system which has been in place for many, many years. And what we've found with the large number of deployments and service members that were exposed to physical wounds as well as behavioral health wounds is that we found that the Army system was overwhelmed.  And that really is what was found in the 2007 timeframe -- is that we didn't have the administrative capability as well as the logistical support that needed to be there and that's why we stood up our Warrior Transition Units.  So we had a large volume going through the disability process that was an old, antiquated process and we had an overwhelming demand on our army that we needed to restructure to be able to support and sustain.
Senator Patty Murray: But prior to 2007, there wasn't a forensic psychiatry that added an additional level of scrutiny.
Army Surgeon Gen Lt Gen Patricia Horoho:  It's --
Senator Patty Murray:  Correct? Is that correct?
Army Surgeon Gen Lt Gen Patricia Horoho: It's -- I honestly will need to take that for the record because I don't know in 2006 if they had forensics or not.  So I can't answer that question for you.  I would like to give you a correct answer, so if I could take that one for the record.
Senator Patty Murray:  I would appreciate that.  And, as I mentioned, I am really concerned that soldiers, Army wide, have been improperly diagnosed and treated by the Army.  What have you found under your investigation of soldiers getting incorrect MEPB evaluations at other facilities?
Army Surgeon Gen Lt Gen Patricia Horoho: Ma'am, if I could just, uh, When soldiers are getting diagnoses of PTS or PTSD, we use the same diagnostic tool within the Army, Navy and the Air Force which is the same tool that is used in the civilian sector. So it is one standard diagnostic tool that is very well delineated on the types of symptoms that you need to have in order to get a diagnosis of PTS or PTSD. So we are using that standard across the board and we have been using that standard across the board so --
Senator Patty Murray: But we do know now at Madigan there were soldiers were incorrectly diagnosed.  And we're going back through.  There were investigations going on to re-evaluate and my question is: There's been a lot of focus at Madigan, I'm concerned about that system-wide.  And you're doing an investigation system-wide to see if other soldiers have been incorrectly diagnosed, correct?
Army Surgeon Gen Lt Gen Patricia Horoho: Yes, ma'am. So if I can just lay things out and reiterate some of our past conversations.  We have one investigation that is ongoing.  Actually, it completed and it's with the lawers that's being reviewed.  The Deputy Surgeon General, General Stone, initiated that investigation and that was to look into --
Senator Patty Murray: System-wide?
Army Surgeon Gen Lt Gen Patricia Horoho: No, ma'am, that is the one at Madigan that's looking at the forensics.  Then there's another investigation that was launched by the Western Region Medical Command into the command climate at Madigan Army Medical Center. And then what I initiated was an IG assessment that looked at every single one of our medical treatment facilites and the provision of care to see whether or not we had this practice of using forensic psychiatric and psychological medical evaluation process.
Senator Patty Murray:  Okay, well my question was whether you had found other facilities with incorrect diagnosis and I want you to know that I have asked my Veterans Affairs staff to begin reviewing cases from throughout the country of service members involved in this process.  And we are just beginning our review right now but we have already encountered cases in which a service member was treated for PTSD during their military service, entered the disability evaluation process and the military determined that the service member's PTSD was not an unfitting condition.  So my concern is the significant discrepancy now between the Army's determination and the VA's finding that the soldier had a much more severe case of PTSD. Now our review on my Committee's ongoing but besides bringing individual cases to your attention, I wanted to ask you what specific measures do you look at to evaluate whether soldiers are receiving the proper diagnoses and care and honest evaluation?
Army Surgeon Gen Lt Gen Patricia Horoho: It's, uh, we are within the Army, our role as the physician is to evaluate the patient not-not to determine a disability.  So they evaluate and identify a diagnoses and a treatment plan and then once that is done during the treatment and if they are determined where they need to go into the disability system, then once they're in the disability system, now because of IDES that occurred in 2010, they now have that evaluation done by the VA, the compensation examp, that's the C and P that's done by the VA.  And then they are brought back into the disability systems.  But the physical evaluation board, the PEB, is actually where the determination for disability is made. That is not a medical, that is an administrative action that falls under our G1.  So I just want to make sure that we don't mix what we do within the medical community in treating and evaluating and what gets done in the disability process that's an administrative process that is reviewing the evaluation from the VA and then the evaluation from the medical to determine disability.
Senator Patty Murray: My concern is that every single soldier who has mental health disability, PTSD, gets the care that they need and that they get the support that they need and they're adequately cared for whether they leave the service or are sent back overseas or whatever.  So we're going to continue to look at the system-wide and, as you know, the problems at Madigan were allowed to go on for years and I'm really concerned that lack of oversight over the disability evaluation system is much more broad. And we're going to be following to see what steps you take to ensure that this process is maintained not just at Madigan where there's a severe focus right now but nation-wide.
And, again, thank you to Wally for that.  It's interesting that Horoho referred repeatedly to a concluded study but didn't note the findings.  That's probably best since it's not yet been released; however, it's interesting because, Greg Barnes (Fayetteville Observer) reports that yesterday John McHugh was at Fort Bragg and discussing the not yet released study at a press conference.
The Council on Foreign Relations Meghan L. O'Sullivan observes this afternoon, "The meeting offers the Baghdad government its first real opportunity to demonstrate how it intends to orient itself as a regional actor. Iraq has understandably been consumed by internal challenges over the past nine years. This inward focus has led to a foreign policy focused on alleviating Iraq's debt burden, getting out from under United Nations Chapter VII sanctions, gathering support for the fight against terrorism and extremism, and urging greater acceptance of the new Iraq."

Alsumaria TV reports Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari declared today that Arab states have sent 12 Foreign Ministers to Baghdad thus far for the Arab League Summit. KUNA adds that Zebari "announced its [Iraq's] full support of the effort exerted by the joint envoy of the United Nations and Arab League Kofi Annan to end crisis and violence in Syria, while stressing its opposition to foreign intervention in the Arab country." The Foreign Ministers are meeting today. Nouri is supposed to deliver a speech today.

AFP notes, "Iraqi President Jalal Talabani has accepted the credentials of the first Saudi ambassador to Baghdad since Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion of Kuwait, the president's office said on Wednesday." Al Jazeera splashes some reality by explaining:

For the first time since that conflict, Iraq also officially received an ambassador from Saudi Arabia, Fahd bin Abdul Mohsen al-Zaid, though he will function only as a "non-resident" ambassador and is already the Saudi envoy to Jordan.
The summit was not particularly well attended. At least five countries sent foreign ministers, including Bahrain, but both Qatar and Egypt did not send their top diplomats, and others were absent.
Who's meeting and greeting?  AFP's Prashant Rao Tweets:

Al Rafidayn notes that Nouri's reps began pressing other leaders yesterday on dropping Iraq's debt. Kurdish MP Mahmoud Othman Tweeted today: "We hope that the Arab summit will cancel the debts on Iraq&help it in investments, economic prosperity,as well as fighting terrorism."
Jane Arraf is a correspondent for Al Jazeera and the Christian Science Monitor.  She Tweeted on the summit today:
jane arraf
janearraf Our bus trip from the palace to our hotel is taking longer than the #ALIraq summit took to organiz e
jane arraf
janearraf Really lovely that #ALIraq summit being held in #Baghdad but did they really have to shut down the entire phone system for the city?
Also noting obstacles to reporting is AFP's WG Dunlop:
W.G. Dunlop
wgdunlop I also had to leave my watch & mobile, and thus didn't know how much later than scheduled the presser actually started #ALIraq
W.G. Dunlop
wgdunlop Was asked to check my notebook & pens at the entrance to the former Republican Palace ahead of presser there. Very dangerous items. #ALIraq
And NPR's Sean Carberry Tweets:
Sean Carberry
frankentele Security confiscated my Chapstick, sunglasses and pen when entering Arab league presser. At least they provided pens inside. #ALIraq #Iraq
Sean Carberry
frankentele Security wouldn't allow my credentialed translator into presser. Govt official told me "don't worry, it's all BS anyhow". #ALIraq #Iraq
Those are Tweets on the problems the press has encountered.  We'll try to include some reports on those problems from the Iraqi press in tomorrow's snapshot. 
We'll close by noting the disturbing news of the day and news that wasn't picked up and front paged but should have been.  Nouri al-Maliki is now going after Iraq's Communist Party. Al Mada reports that Nouri's security forces stormed the political party's headquarters and arrested 12 people who were arrested and questioned about protests. Ali Hussein (Al Mada) notes the Communist Party has a long history of fighting for Iraq, not against it. Hussein reports that Nouri's tanks have been sent to surround the homes of Communist Party members in Baghdad. Those who paid attention in December will remember that Nouri ordered tanks to circle the homes of Iraqiya members right before he demanded that Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq be stripped of his posts and ordered the arrest of Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi on charges of terrorism. Both al-Mutlaq and al-Hashemi are members of Iraqiya as well as Sunnis. Ali Hussein notes that Nouri also ordered tanks to circle the homes of Communist Party members last year.
al mada
ali hussein
alsumaria tv
al rafidayn
al jazeera
the washington post
liz sly