Thursday, August 08, 2013

The US and the world

At Counterpunch, Dave Lindorff writes:

Like an obnoxious drunk harassing everyone and spilling drinks at a party, the US has continued to make itself both loathed and laughed at in the wake of the revelations about the National Security Agency’s global spying program as revealed by NSA leaker Edward Snowden.
The latest example of this was the report in Germany last week that the US had been massively spying on millions of German people based upon a tortured interpretation of a secret Cold War-era agreement foisted upon the then Bundesrepublik back in the early 1960s. That agreement gave the US and Britain the authority to surveil Soviet and East German spying activities inside what was commonly referred to as West Germany, and also to conduct spying operations to “protect” US troops based there. Obviously, spying on Soviet and East German spies is a far different thing from spying on Germans themselves, and clearly the Cold War is long gone. As for spying on Germans who might threaten the bases, that clearly could have been handled by police in Germany, and in any even would only involve a small and discrete program, not the monitoring of millions people’s electronic communications.
Angela Merkel, the conservative German Chancellor whose governing coalition is facing a critical national election in a few weeks, and who has been taking a lot of heat from Germans over disclosures that her government knew all along about the American spying program, has been trying to look proactive, and so the her government announced that it was canceling the spying agreement and ordering a halt to the NSA’s spying activities in the country.
The US response: nothing public, but unidentified “sources” in the US government made it clear that, agreement or no agreement, the NSA’s spying would continue (a German government official also stated that the supposed termination of the secret Cold War agreement would have “little effect” on continued spying by the US in Germany).

I would love to know how the people -- that includes Lindorff -- who swore Barack would give the US a new face on the international stage.

He has done that.

But not the way his cheerleaders had hoped.

Germans are bothered by us, we're in a pissing match with Russia, after Baarack ordered Evo Morales' plane down, Latin America is enraged.

Barack's managed the impossible: giving the country an even worse face than Bully Boy Bush.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, August 7, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, Canada and Australia make deals with Iraq, Kurds prepare for big meet-up this month, Barack has a snit-fit, new details emerge about The Drone War, the Green Shadow Cabinet calls for Barack to pardon Bradley Manning, and more.

Fresh from his couch tussles with Jay Leno, America's biggest little bitch Barack Obama has let the claws out -- as he does periodically when he's feeling blue and the claws come out -- and announced that he may do a little couch play but he's not putting out for Putin.  In what Susan Heavy and Mark Felsenrhal (Reuters) hail as "a stark low point, " Barack has cancelled a scheduled meet-up with Russian President Vladmir Putin "in retaliation for Russia' decision to grant" temporary asylum to NSA whistle-blower Ed Snowden.

Roger Runningen and Margaret Talev (Bloomberg News) explain, "Cancelling the one-on-one meeting with Putin in Moscow before the G-20 is a blow to administration efforts for a 'reset' in relations between the two countries that Obama has been seeking since he took office in 2009."

White House spokesperson Jay Carney babbeled on at length today but we'll boil it down to one sentence from Carney, "Russia's disappointing decision to grant Edward Snowden temporary asylum was also a factor that we considered in assessing the current state of our bilateral relationship."

Proving yet again that Barack's formative experience in the 80s was not anything political but, in fact, an obsession with Joan Collins' character Alexis on Dynasty, we learn from Runningen and Talev that 'big bad' (no giggles, please) Barack lacked the strength to even convey the cancellation personally ("The U.S. decision was conveyed to Russian officials through diplomatic channels, according to an administration official. Obama didn’t talk to Putin about the cancellation, according to the official, who asked for anonymity to discuss internal communications.").  What a sad attempt at leadership.  It was a lousy decision to begin with but if you're going to make it, have the guts to stand by it and convey it yourself.  As Zeke J. Miller (Time magazine) points out, Barack "is bailing on a planned summit."  Barack still plans to go to Russia for the G-20 meet-up, he just won't meet with Putin there.

As he tries to tick off the Russian government, one's left to wonder what would happen if Russia forced his departing plane down the way Barack had Bolivian President Evo Morales' plane forced down?  Turnabout, Barack, is fair play.

All this over Ed Snowden?

 Ed Snowden is an American citizen and whistle-blower who had been employed by the CIA and by the NSA before leaving government employment for the more lucrative world of contracting.  At the time he blew the whistle, he was working for Booz Allen Hamilton doing NSA work.  Glenn Greenwald (Guardian) had the first scoop (and many that followed) on Snowden's revelations that the US government was spying on American citizens, keeping the data on every phone call made in the United States (and in Europe as well) while also spying on internet use via PRISM and Tempora.  US Senator Bernie Sanders decried the fact that a "secret court order" had been used to collect information on American citizens "whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing."  Sanders went on to say, "That is not what democracy is about.  That is not what freedom is about. [. . .] While we must aggressively pursue international terrorists and all of those who would do us harm, we must do it in a way that protects the Constitution and civil liberties which make us proud to be Americans."  The immediate response of the White House, as Dan Roberts and Spencer Ackerman (Guardian) reported,  was to insist that there was nothing unusual and to get creaky and compromised Senator Dianne Feinstein to insist, in her best Third Reich voice, "People want to keep the homeland safe."  The spin included statements from Barack himself.   Anita Kumar (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, "Obama described the uproar this week over the programs as “hype” and sought to ensure Americans that Big Brother is not watching their every move."  Josh Richman (San Jose Mercury News) quoted Barack insisting that "we have established a process and a procedure that the American people should feel comfortable about."  Apparently not feeling the gratitude, the New York Times editorial board weighed in on the White House efforts at spin, noting that "the Obama administration issued the same platitude it has offered every time President Obama has been caught overreaching in the use of his powers: Terrorists are a real menace and you should just trust us to deal with them because we have internal mechanisms (that we are not going to tell you about) to make sure we do not violate your rights."  Former US President Jimmy Carter told CNN, "I think that the secrecy that has been surrounding this invasion of privacy has been excessive, so I think that the bringing of it to the public notice has probably been, in the long term, beneficial."

The more Barack attempted to defend the spying, the more ridiculous he came off.  Mike Masnick (TechDirt) reviewed Barack's appearance on The Charlie Rose Show and observed of the 'explanations' offered, "None of that actually explains why this program is necessary. If there's a phone number that the NSA or the FBI gets that is of interest, then they should be able to get a warrant or a court order and request information on that number from the telcos. None of that means they should be able to hoover up everything."  As US House Rep John Conyers noted, "But I maintain that the Fourth Amendment to be free from unreasonable search and seizure to mean that this mega data collected in such a super aggregated fashion can amount to a Fourth Amendment violation before you do anything else.  You've already violated the law, as far as I am concerned."  Barack couldn't deal with that reality but did insist, in the middle of June, that this was an opportunity for "a national conversation."  He's always calling for that because, when it doesn't happen, he can blame the nation.  It's so much easier to call for "a national conversation" than for he himself to get honest with the American people. And if Barack really believes this has kicked off "a national conversation" then demonizing Ed Snowden is a really strange way to say "thank you."

Meanwhile Paul Lewis (Guardian) reports today:

John Lewis, one of America's most revered civil rights leaders, says the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was continuing the tradition of civil disobedience by revealing details of classified US surveillance programs.
Lewis, a 73-year-old congressman and one of the last surviving lieutenants of Martin Luther King, said Snowden could claim he was appealing to "a higher law" when he disclosed top secret documents showing the extent of NSA surveillance of both Americans and foreigners.

While Lewis provided context and wisdom, on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno last night, Barack came off as unhinged as Gloria Swanson at the end.  What a proud moment for him, what a historical moment.  Exactly 30 years ago, Sally Struthers and Dom DeLuise sat on the same set yucking it up with guest host John Davidson.  That's called perspective.

As he continues to squander and debase the presidency, Barack elected to insist of Russia, "There have been times where they slip into Cold-War thinking and Cold-War mentality."  Do they?  Really?

Because Barack's the one who pretended the meet-up was still on last night when he knew it was about to be called off.  So what kind of mentality is that?

No word on whether Putin will now take to Jimmy Kimmel's ABC show to declare, "Real leaders cancel their own meetings personally."  However, Sergei L. Loko (Los Angeles Times) reports, "Russian officials said they were unhappy with President Obama's decision to cancel a summit meeting in the wake of the Kremlin's decision to grant temporary asylum to Edward Snowden, but that the Americans were largely hurting themselves."  And that's exactly right.

Every time Barack gets into a cat fight, he elevates whomever he's hissing at.  This time it's Putin.  As we noted August 2nd:

Reality, Putin's thrilled.
Why wouldn't he be?
He doesn't care for Barack.  He leads Russia today which isn't the USSR of yesteryear.
But it rises his profile to be clashing with Barack, as he fully knows.
In addition, it takes the focus off Russia's human rights abuses.  (The US has human rights abuses as well.  I'm neither picking on nor praising Russia.)
Russia goes from being beat up in the global public square to putting a spotlight on Barack's ridiculous efforts.
In addition, Putin now has leverage.  He can play the Snowden card for 12 months.
Putin hates this?  Oh, poor, foolish Daniel.
Ilya Arkhipov and Olga Tanas (Bloomberg News) report, "Russian President Vladimir Putin is showing his gamesmanship on a global stage by giving his voters what they want with the asylum granted to ex-U.S. contractor Edward Snowden, while leaving the White House flustered."
Joe Coscarelli (New York magazine) writes some garbage under the headline "Snowden Officially Making Things Awkward Between Obama and Putin."  Get off your knees, Coscarelli, you're embarrassing yourself.
That's really cute, isn't it?
Barack Obama has snubbed Russia and worse.  The US government has never had as bad relations with the Russian government as it currently does.
(I said with Russia -- I didn't say with the USSR.)
Where has Coscarelli been since 2009?
Scowcroft Center at the Atlantic Council's Barry Pavel tells Terry Atlas and Nichole Gaouette (Bloomberg News) states, "We're far apart on a lot of issues, we don't have a lot of leverage, and the Russians seem to like it this way.  This is part of the pattern of relations since the Obama administration began." At Investor's Business Daily, Andrew Malcolm not only notes how humiliated Barack and company now are, he also reviews the relationship between Barack and Russia over the last years.

That's my take from a week ago.  Click here for NBC News' Jim Maceda's analysis of the situation today.  Barack grows even smaller on the world stage -- our Drawf in DC.  And he makes Bully Boy Bush, by comparison, look like Nixon visiting China in the process.  That may be Barack's ultimate legacy in office, helping to redeem War Criminal Bully Boy Bush.

Barack looks petulant and childish -- especially when you remember that this is the 2008 candidate who said he would meet with the Iranian government without precondition.  In all of his foot stomping, hair pulling deama, Barack 'forgets' to call out James Clapper.  Clapper lied to Congress -- which is perjury -- and Barack has failed to say one word.

The American people are the boss of Clapper (and of Barack) but Barack is Clapper's supervisor and he's not said one word publicly to condemn Clapper's lying to Congress.

July 3rd, Paul D. Shinkman (US News and World Reports) reported:

The director of National Intelligence could be investigated for perjury, following news Tuesday that he gave false information to Congress in March.
The DNI published a letter on its website Tuesday that Director James Clapper sent to the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee. He admitted to giving "clearly erroneous" testimony before the committee in March when asked specifically whether an NSA program existed that monitored hundreds of millions of Americans. He answered "No."
One expert says these kinds of situations involve some gray area.

"If you testify under oath before Congress and lie, you're at risk for being prosecuted for perjury," says Cary Feldman, who served as a lawyer in the Office of Independent Counsel in the late 1990s. "But that doesn't happen often."

Barack can repeatedly attack whistle-blower Ed Snowden and whistle-blower Bradley Manning but he can't condemn Clapper's lying to Congress?  Here's Barack raving about his boy pal Clapper on June 5, 2010:

As director of two critical organizations —- the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency —- and during a distinguished career in the Air Force, Jim developed an intimate understanding of our human and technical collection programs.  He possesses a quality that I value in all my advisors:  a willingness to tell leaders what we need to know, even if it’s not what we want to hear. 

"A willingness to tell leaders what we need to know, even if it’s not what we want to hear"? Does Barack want stand by that laughable assertion today?

On the issue of Russia-Snowden, it's worth remembering what Glenn Greenwald said on Democrcy Now! Monday (link is text, audio and video):

Well, first of all, it’s really kind of amazing if you try and count the number of countries at whom the United States has directed its fury and threatened over the last two months in connection with the Snowden affair. They began with the government of Hong Kong, followed that up with the government of China, then moved to Latin America and threatened countries including Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua over whether he would be granted asylum. They’ve threatened Cuba over giving him the right to refuel. So it seems like the list of countries that the United States is threatening and expressing their fury at, which now includes Russia, is almost getting to be longer than the list of countries at which they’re not. I mean, you can’t go around the world beating your chest and threatening everybody for very long without starting to appear rather ridiculous. And I think one of the things that the United States has done is really kind of showed the world what its character is in—over the last two months, through its really extreme and radical behavior. I mean, I can tell you here in Latin America what was really event-shifting was when they caused the plane Evo Morales to be downed in Austria by blocking airspace rights over their European allies.
You know, and I think the final point to note about this is, everyone in the world knows, probably except for Americans, that the United States routinely refuses to extradite all sorts of people accused of horrible crimes. I mean, in Bolivia, the ex-president, who’s accused of all sorts of war crimes and was protected and propped up by the CIA, is living comfortably in the United States, which refuses to turn him over. And that’s been true of other Latin Americans who have been accused of serious crimes of terrorism. So, I think when the United States pretends to be outraged that they don’t get what they want in extradition, everyone in the world knows that they frequently do the same thing in much more extreme cases.

Spencer Ackerman (Guardian) notes Michael Hayden's given what passes for thought on what might happen if Ed Snowden is seized by the US government:

The former director of the National Security Agency and the CIA speculated on Tuesday that hackers and transparency groups were likely to respond with cyber-terror attacks if the United States government apprehends whistleblower Edward Snowden.
"If and when our government grabs Edward Snowden, and brings him back here to the United States for trial, what does this group do?" said retired air force general Michael Hayden, who from 1999 to 2009 ran the NSA and then the CIA, referring to "nihilists, anarchists, activists, Lulzsec, Anonymous, twentysomethings who haven't talked to the opposite sex in five or six years". 

I have no idea why someone who looks like Michael Hayden would choose to ridicule the courtship behaviors of others.  But his example is telling of what he sees as the norm (opposite sex).

Returning to Barack fumbles,  Rudy Ruitenberg (Bloomberg News) reports, "Wheat fell in Chicago after Iraq and Egypt shunned U.S. grain in tenders yesterday, indicating prices may need to decline to be competitive in Middle East markets.  Egypt, the world’s largest wheat buyer, bought 60,000 metric tons of wheat each from Romania and Ukraine yesterday, while Iraq purchased 150,000 tons of Australian and Canadian wheat."  Barack can't even get Iraq to buy wheat from the US as the State Dept spends billions each year in Iraq, as the Pentagon makes one weapon deal after another with Iraq.  What a loser.  AFP informs today, "The Pentagon has notified the US of USD 2.7 billion in possible new sales to Iraq of air defense and communications systems.  The latest contracts would raise to nearly USD 5 billion the value of a series of US arms sales to Iraq that have been sent to Congress over the past two weeks."

And yet Barack's not even able to nail down a market for US farmers?

Meanwhile AFP reports 47 people were killed in Iraq yesterday. Through yesterday, August 6th, Iraq Body Count counts 156 violent deaths so far this month.  Today?  National Iraqi News Agency reports a Falluja roadside bombing left two people injured, Nouri's forces killed 2 suspects in Mosul1 person was shot dead in Baquba, 1 corpse was discovered dumped in Diyala River, a Mosul car bombing has claimed the lives of 4 police officers and left two more people injured, and a Musayyib car bombing claimed 1 life and left two people injured.

In the last 14 days, all the US government can point to is a phone call to Nouri from Joe Biden.  The death toll for July was the worst since 2008 and that's all they can offer.

Canada is working overtime to land business in Iraq.  Not only does their Ambassador Stephanie Duhaime work like crazy on these issues but Foreign Minister John Baird visits for the same reason.  When's John Kerry going to Iraq?  Possibly after Russia lands oil-rich Kirkuk?  The Voice of Russia reports, "Nouri al-Maliki, the Prime Minister of Iraq received a message from the Russian government that confirmed its interests in the Kirkuk field. According to some sources the message to the Iraqi government was written by Dmitry Medvedev, Russian Prime Minister. Other media reports suggest it was initiated by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Energy. The Lukoil officials couldn’t confirm the information however didn’t rule out possible participation in the project."

And let's note that the US State Dept has a billion dollar annual mission in Iraq.  It's not one they convey very well to the American people, but they sure do spend the money, don't they?

The violence is appalling and it's 'treated' with a phone call. And the call comes as Nouri has his forces beat up protesters and arrest them.

The whole thing's a nightmare and it's one the US government created and fuels.

Counting 17 dead today, Prashant Rao (AFP) notes, "In addition to worsening security, the government has largely failed to deliver on basic services such as electricity and clean water, and little in the way of landmark legislation has been passed since 2010 elections."

Dropping back to the July 31st snapshot:

 As a global representative of the KRG, [President Massoud] Barzani is also a leader to many Kurds across the world.  Arabic News Digest notes, "Mr Barzani called Kurdish political parties in Syria, Turkey and Iran to a "nationalist convention" to be held in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, in order to discuss the Kurdish situation in these countries and examine the possibility of establishing autonomous rule there, as a prelude to a future territorial unification."  Dr. Kemal Kirkuki (Rudaw) notes, "The idea of a National Conference was first initiated years ago by President Barzani, who also heads the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), Abdullah Ocalan, head of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), the late Idris Barzani, and Jalal Talabani, secretary general of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and Iraq’s president. But political turmoil and different regional and international factors always posed a barrier to making this goal a reality. What is happening now is the revival of the ideas of those four leaders."

Today, Aso Fishagi (Rudaw) reports:

As Kurdish leaders across the Middle East prepare for a National Conference due later this month, some Iraqi leaders have voiced concern about the true intentions of the meeting.

An official from Iraq’s ruling State of Law coalition says that Baghdad has no objection to such a conference as long as it does not debate the separation of Kurdistan, and that outcome of the talks do not mean  a threat to Iraq or the region.

“If a National Conference is to find a better life for Kurds in Iraq and the region, we have no issues with that,” State of Law spokesman Ali Shalla told Rudaw. “The era of dictatorship and marginalization is over and no one should be able to control what we want to do.”

However, if the intention is to separate Kurdistan from Iraq, then Baghdad will certainly take a stance, Shalla added. He said that the organizers should invite some Iraqi MPs to attend the event.

“We hope that some Iraqi MPs, especially those who are known to be friends of the Kurds, get invited to the conference so that Baghdad knows what is discussed there and avoids any suspicions,” he said.

The last thing the meet-up needs is anyone from Nouri's coalition (State of Law) attending -- especially since Nouri remains in violation of the Constitution (for six years and counting) as he refuses to implement Article 140 of the Constitution.

Still on the Kurds, Barack's decision to arm the so-called 'rebels' in Syria impacts the Kurds.  Karlos Zurutuza (IPS) reports:

“The Islamists’ announcement that god supported the killing of Kurds in Syria made us react,” recalls Farouk Aziz Khadir. This 60-year-old Iraqi Kurd is ready to take up arms to defend his kin in the neighbouring war-torn country. And there are many more like him.
Khadir, who spent nine years as a peshmerga (as armed Kurdish fighters are called), is also chair of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan Veterans Association. A mandatory requisite for membership is “to have fought the tyrant until 1991.” That was the date when Iraq’s Kurds managed to push Saddam Hussein’s troops from their territory and set the grounds of their own autonomous region.

At their headquarters in Suleymania, 260 kilometres northeast of Baghdad, IPS is briefed on the most urgent project for these almost retired members of the peshmerga – that translates into the Kurdish language as “those who face death”.
“We are around 2,300 members, half of who are willing to fight alongside the Syrian Kurds against al-Qaeda affiliates trying to invade their territory,” says Khadir at his office, with nine other volunteers alongside.

Turning to The Drone War, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) notes, "Yemeni officials claim to have foiled an al-Qaeda plot to blow up oil pipelines and seize control of key ports in Yemen. The news came as tanks roamed the capital Sana’a after the United States and Britain removed diplomatic personnel and urged citizens to leave over intercepted communications about an al-Qaeda threat. Officials in Yemen say the motive for the planned attack appears to be retaliation for the U.S. killing of Said al-Shihri, a deputy leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula whose death from a drone strike was confirmed by the group last month. Earlier today, a U.S. drone strike killed seven people in southern Yemen. Officials said the dead were al-Qaeda suspects, but witnesses who arrived at the scene found only charred bodies and the wreckage of two vehicles. It was the fifth drone strike in Yemen in less than two weeks."  There's a new development in Barack's Drone War.  Mike noted it Friday:

It's the weekend and more lies about The Drone War have been exposed.  Free Speech Radio News explained today:

A new investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism in the UK  has found that several US drone strikes in Pakistan deliberately targeted rescuers, by striking a location once, then striking it again minutes later when people came to care for the dead and wounded. The findings are based on interviews with eyewitnesses and data from Pakistani and international human rights groups. The revelations come the same week US officials are meeting with the leaders of the countries losing the most civilians to drone strikes: Pakistan and Yemen, to determine the future of so called counterterrorism collaboration with those nations

From Chris Woods (BIJ) report:

Congressional aides have previously been reported as describing to the Los Angeles Times reviewing a CIA video showing Yahya al-Libi alone being killed. But the Bureau’s field research appears to confirm what others reported at the time – that al-Libi’s death was part of a sequence of strikes on the same location that killed up to 16 people.
If correct, that would indicate that Congressional aides were not shown crucial additional video material.
The CIA has robustly rejected the charge. Spokesman Edward Price told the Bureau: ‘The CIA takes its commitment to Congressional oversight with the utmost seriousness. The Agency provides accurate and timely information consistent with our obligation to the oversight Committees. Any accusation alleging otherwise is baseless.’

Do you get what the CIA is doing? This is what the insurgents do in Iraq.  They set off a car bomb and, hearing the bomb, people rush to help and then a second bomb goes off.

It's really appalling that the CIA attacks people coming to offer aid but that reveals how disgusting the CIA really must be.

As Mike pointed out, Barack's now stealing moves from those he calls "criminals" and "terrorists" in Iraq.  What a proud moment for him.  Last week, Mark Mazetti and Mark Landler (New York Times) reported:

There were more drone strikes in Pakistan last month than any month since January. Three missile strikes were carried out in Yemen in the last week alone. And after Secretary of State John Kerry told Pakistanis on Thursday that the United States was winding down the drone wars there, officials back in Washington quickly contradicted him.
More than two months after President Obama signaled a sharp shift in America’s targeted-killing operations, there is little public evidence of change in a strategy that has come to define the administration’s approach to combating terrorism.
Howard LaFranchi (Christian Science Monitor) adds today:

The travel warning the State Department issued Tuesday calling on all Americans in the Gulf state of Yemen, including non-essential US government personnel, to leave the country immediately, reflects intercepted Al Qaeda communications urging terrorist actions against Western interests in the country.
But the evacuation of the Americans, including diplomats, may also suggest that the US is planning to intensify the sustained drone war it has been carrying out against Al Qaeda militants in Yemen.

On The Drone War, the always disgusting Senator Chuck Schumer appeared on CNN's New Day and declared The Drone War a success and a way Barack had topped Bully Boy Bush.  Let's say it again: Chuck Schumer.

It's a name the  Law and Disorder Radio hosts Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights) should learn.  Here's another name for them to learn: Barack Obama.  Iraq War veteran and whistle-blower Bradley Manning was discussed on this week's show and we covered it in:

  • Iraq snapshot

  • Iraq snapshot

  • The hosts couldn't say the name Barack Obama; however, they made plenty of time to trash Hillary Clinton who is no longer in either the administration or the Senate.

    At the end of last month, the Green Shadow Cabinet showed much more sense issuing the following:

    Today the Green Shadow Cabinet calls on President Obama to pardon Bradley Manning for his courageous work exposing U.S. war crimes and State Department deception. Thanks to Manning’s revelations of Iraqi deaths and human rights abuses by the American military, Iraq refused to renew immunity for U.S. soldiers, forcing President Obama to pull out at the end of 2011. Thus, Manning deserves much of the credit for ending the immoral, devastating, multi-trillion dollar U.S. occupation of Iraq. 
    Manning’s leaks also revealed corruption and betrayal in repressive Arab governments – including Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s secret deal with the U.S. allowing drone strikes within his country, and the financial excesses of Tunisian dictator Zine El Abidin Ben Ali. These disclosures helped trigger democracy movements of the Arab Spring that continue to this day.
    Though Manning has been accused of endangering national security and the safety of intelligence sources, no actual harm was established in court hearings. And in secret testimony previously revealed by Reuters, state department officials acknowledged that the leaks were embarrassing low level secrets but they did not actually damage U.S. interests. 
    Bradley Manning has already spent three years in jail and months enduring solitary confinement and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, according to the UN special rapporteur on torture. He should not have to spend another day being punished for revealing critical truths that the American people had a right to know. Now Mr. Manning is facing up to 136 years in prison for doing the work that the U.S. press should have been doing, had they not been missing in action on investigative reporting for the past decade. 
    In fact, Bradley Manning is a hero for telling the truth to the American people – that our government was committing war crimes in Iraq and betraying basic American values of honesty and respect for international law in routine state department operations. 
    We therefore call on President Obama to urgently pardon this courageous whistleblower. American democracy will be more secure, and the American people will be safer for it.
    ~ Dr. Jill Stein serves as President of the Green Shadow Cabinet of the United States.

    Dr. Stein's call should be echoed by all supporters of Brad.  Today, Dorian Merina (Free Speech Radio News) reports, "In the sentencing phase of the court martial for Army Private Bradley Manning, the military judge has granted two motions filed by Manning’s lawyer, which brings the maximum possible sentence down from 136 years to 90 years. The judge denied several other motions to combine charges, which could have further reduced the number of years Manning could spend in prison. He was convicted of multiple offenses last month in connection with leaking military and government documents to Wikileaks. As the hearing continues today, legal experts and advocates are preparing to appeal what is likely to be a lengthy sentence, arguing that Manning’s constitutional rights were violated, and the government has failed to prove the leaked material damaged the US."  As Marcia observed of the news, "I still wouldn'r call it a victory"

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