Friday, April 19, 2013

Reuters lies about Iraq -- corporate media, what do you expect?

Reuters offers this nonsense on Iraq:

The vote will measure the political muscle of Maliki's Shi'ite coalition and his Sunni rivals who are jockeying for position before the 2014 parliamentary vote where the prime minister may seek a third term.

How will it do that? 

You can't tell us, you can't define that, because it's not true.

It's provincial elections, not parliamentary.  People are electing local councils and on up.  This isn't a national election.

Local ties will mean everything.  It's like saying that an election of a Mayor in Fresno will tell us who will likely win the 2016 US presidential election.

They just lie and lie.

That's before we get into "the prime minister may seek a third term."

May he?

Maybe you should provide the background which includes that in February 2011, Nouri promised he wouldn't seek a third term.  Or that the Parliament's passed a law limiting him to two terms. 

Maybe those are details to include.

But they're not really reporting, are they?

I think I'm taking on the Iraq liars here and doing so more often.


Mike did these two posts this week:

Which left me thinking a few things.

A) How hard it is for one person to be left doing everything.  That person is C.I. and she does a wonderful job, an excellent one. 

B) It shouldn't be just her.  In 2003, we had a whole web full of people who took on the corporate media's Iraq 'reporting.'  They're gone now.  It's just C.I. and maybe Media Lens.  That's it.

So the press lies and skirts the truth because they know they can get away with it.

So I'm going to be calling out bad reporting on Iraq at least once a week.  I should do it more but I only blog four times a week and one of those is on Smash. 

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills): 

Friday, April 19, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, protests continue in Iraq, Nouri's thugs attack the protesters (again),  a helicopter crashes in Anbar Province, Saturday elections mean curfews and border closings, we pick up on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing where Shinseki spins, Lynne Stewart remains a political prisoner in the United States, and more.

Protests continued today in Iraq.   They have been taking place now for over 118 days (April 1st, they reached the 100 day mark).  Key developments today?

They include harsh restrictions and targeting of the protesters.   Iraqi Spring MC notes that travel into Baghdad was cut off by government forces, the same was true in Hawija and in Samarra (where forces also shot at people trying to enter and they confiscated banners) and that protesters in Falluja are demanding the release of those Nouri's forces arrested for trying to enter the city. In Baiji, Nouri's forces lied about a bombing to clear the area.  Iraqi Spring MC reports that Sheikh Saad ami al-Assi has been arrested by security forces.  Iraqi Spring MC also reports that activists at the Hawija sit-in were targeted by Nouri's forces and three were injured.  National Iraqi News Agency adds that in addition to the three injured, 1 of the protestors was shot dead.

As the protesters were attacked and harassed by protesters violence took place.  Alsumaria notes 1 of Nouri's Tigris Operation Forces is dead in Hawija.  The forces attacked the protesters and some man (who may or may not have been part of the protests) darted into a home under construction, emerged with a gun and shot dead one of Nouri's forces as the protesters staging the sit-in were being attacked.  Again, the person may or may not have been part of the protests.  He may not have been and may have been a bystander, a criminal or a plant by the forces to create violence. 

 Iraqi Spring MC reports that Sheikh Adnan al-Hasanian spoke today to protesters in Amiriyah and was very critical of the government because of its hostility to the Iraqi people.  What's he talking about?  You'd need a functioning press in the west to know that and we don't have that.  Dropping back to yesterday's snapshot:

  Kitabat reports that tribal leaders in Dhi Qar have signed a letter apologizing to activists.  For what?  For Nouri's "abusive verbal attack" on them.  Nouri gave a little speech where he called the peaceful activists lawless rebels and threatened to use force against them.  Peaceful protests have been going on across Iraq, peaceful protests against Nouri, since December.
They aren't the only ones condemning Nouri for those remarks.  NINA notes that Osama al-Nujaifi's party has condemned the remarks and called for Nouri to stop verbally attacking demonstrators and return to Baghdad to oversea security issues.  Osama al-Nujaifi is part of the Iraqiya political slate but this was his Motahedoon Coalition issuing the condemnation.  Iraqiya also condemned the remarks.  Maysoun al-Damlouji, Iraqiya spokesperson, is quoted by NINA stating, "Describing our honorable people who peacefully demonstrate across Iraq demanding their legitimate rights as conspirators is the ugliest words you can use against the oppressed people." Iraqiya MP Ahmed al-Alwani added that Nouri's attacks on demonstrators "incite sectarian strife."

Even Nouri's new bride Saleh al-Mutlaq is calling out the remarks leading Kitabat to wonder if the honeymoon is over for Nouri and Saleh or if this is just more propaganda from Saleh in an attempt to boost the votes for the National Dialogue Front?

See, Iraqi outlets can report what's going on.  For some reason the BBC, AP, AFP, et al can't or just won't.  It's probably the latter.  I would assume if Barack Obama gave a speech and the audience began chanting "Liar! Liar!" -- that

That's demonstrators in Adhamiya today where the Minister of Justice was called out for his public statements that he will continue to carry out death sentences.   Reuters and AFP note that mortars claimed 7 lives and left twelve people injured in Khales.

 2012 saw Nouri al-Maliki's government in Iraq execute at least 129 peopleTuesday saw 3 men and 1 woman sentenced to death as well as 21 executions carried out.  Today United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has called out the executions:

GENEVA (19 April 2013) – The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Friday condemned the execution of 21 individuals in Iraq earlier in the week, which brought the total to 33 in the past month, and said she was appalled by reports that the Ministry of Justice has announced that a further 150 people may be executed in the coming days.
She stressed that the justice system in the country was “too seriously flawed to warrant even a limited application of the death penalty, let alone dozens of executions at a time.”
“Executing people in batches like this is obscene,” Pillay said. “It is like processing animals in a slaughterhouse. The criminal justice system in Iraq is still not functioning adequately, with numerous convictions based on confessions obtained under torture and ill-treatment, a weak judiciary and trial proceedings that fall short of international standards. The application of the death penalty in these circumstances is unconscionable, as any miscarriage of justice as a result of capital punishment cannot be undone.”
A total of 1,400 people are believed to be currently on death row in Iraq, and 129 people were executed in 2012 alone.
The Government of Iraq maintains that it only executes individuals who have committed terrorist acts or other serious crimes against civilians, and have been convicted under the Anti-Terrorism Law No. 13 of 2005.
The High Commissioner said she is concerned at the broad scope and wide application of article 4 of the Anti-Terrorism Law, which envisages the death penalty for a wide range of terrorism-related acts, not all of which can be considered to meet the threshold of “most serious crimes” allowing for the imposition of the death penalty under international law.
Pillay said she is also deeply concerned at Iraq’s lack of compliance with its international human rights obligations in relation to the imposition of the death penalty, in particular under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iraq has been a State Party for more than 40 years.
The High Commissioner emphasized the need for transparency and stringent respect of due process. She called on the Government “to halt executions, conduct a credible and independent review of all death row cases and disclose information on the number and identity of death row prisoners, the charges and judicial proceedings brought against them, and the outcome of the review of their cases.”
The High Commissioner also expressed concern at the apparent inability of prisoners convicted on terrorism-related charges to exercise the right to seek pardon or commutation of their sentences, as prescribed in article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and questioned why the presidential authority to pardon or commute death sentences (granted by article 286 of the Criminal Procedure Code) is hardly ever exercised.
Pillay said she was pleased to note that one part of Iraq – the Kurdistan Region – is already upholding an unofficial moratorium on the death penalty, and urged the central Government to follow suit and heed the repeated calls by the international community to establish a moratorium on all executions with a view to the abolition of the death penalty in accordance with repeated UN General Assembly Resolutions.* She pointed out that around 150 countries have now either abolished the death penalty in law or in practice, or introduced a moratorium.
“I am the first to argue there must never be impunity for serious crimes. But at least if someone is jailed for life, and it is subsequently discovered there was a miscarriage of justice, he or she can be released and compensated,” Pillay said.
*See GA resolutions 62/149 (2007), 63/168 (2009), 65/205 (2010) and 67/176 (2012).
For more information or media enquiries please contact Rupert Colville (+ 41 22 917 9767 or or Cécile Pouilly (+41 22 917 93 10 /
UN Human Rights, follow us on social media:

Check the Universal Human Rights Index:

KUNA covers the remarks at length here, AP offers a brief write up hereSky News noted yesterday that there had been 50 executions in Iraq so far this year.   Pravda also notes 50 executions so far this year.

Staying on the topic of violence, yesterday a Baghdad internet cafe with pool tables was attacked with a bomb.  Today AP notes the death toll has risen to 32 (sixty-five are injured).  Meanwhile National Iraqi News Agency reports an Iraqi military helicopter has crashed in Anbar Province leaving four people injured.  In addition, NINA notes a Hilla car bombing claimed 8 lives, a Kirkuk bombing claimed 1 life and left seventeen injured, a Baquba bombing claimed 6 lives and left seven people injured, security forces in Falluja shot dead a civilian "for unknown reasons,"

 Tomorrow, 12 of Iraq's 18 provinces are scheduled to vote in provincial elections.  Security forces voted last Saturday.  Nouri has refused to allow residents of Anbar Province and Nineveh Province to vote (he's hugely unpopular in those provinces where the protests against his government are the strongest).  His incompetence and inability to do his job means Kirkuk can't vote.   In 2006, the Bully Boy Bush administration refused the Iraqi Parliament's choice of Ibrahim al-Jaafari for prime minister and backed Nouri al-Maliki instead. By the spring of 2006, Nouri was prime minister.  He took an oath to uphold the Constitution.  That would include Article 140 which calls for a way to resolve the dispute over oil-rich Kirkuk (is it part of the Kurdistan Regional Government or part of the Iraqi central government out of Baghdad) -- a census and a referendum which must take place "by a date not to exceed the 31st of December 2007."  Clearly that never took place.  After voters failed to give Nouri a second term in the March 2010 elections (his State of Law came in second to Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya), the US-brokered an agreement to give their puppet (now Barack Obama's puppet) a second term as prime minister via an extra-Constitutional legal contract.  To get the Kurds to sign off on the contract, Nouri scheduled a census for the start of December 2010.  After the contract was signed, Nouri quickly cancelled that census.  There has been no attempt since then.

Deutsche Welle explores Kirkuk in "Iraq's Kirkuk remains in legal limbo"

Over the years as deadlines to meet these obligations come and go, both sides have dug in. Kurdish troops are deployed in the north of Kirkuk, while Baghdad has stationed a military contingent of exclusively Shiite Arabs in the south. "We have no other choice because Baghdad does not respect the constitutional agreements," says Khaled Shwani, an MP with the Kurdish Alliance that represents the main coalition of Kurdish parties.
 "Arab families are being given US$20,000 to move back to their native regions but they are still here," says Shwani. He also accuses Baghdad of "deliberately delaying" the constitutional requirement of addressing the demographic issues in Kirkuk. The Kurdish MP can hardly hide his dismay about the complex status quo. "Kirkuk is the black well in which Iraq finds its reflection. There is no political agreement, no dialogue and no confidence between the different communities."

The other three provinces not voting tomorrow?  They're in the semi-autonomous north where Nouri has no control.  The KRG's three provinces will vote September 21st. Those three provinces are Dohuk, Erbil and Suleimaniyah.  Had the Constitution been followed by the end of 2007 as it was supposed to be, the KRG might or might not include Kirkuk.  That's northern Iraq which shares a border with Turkey.

Eastern Iraq shares a border with Iran.  Southern Iraq shares a border with Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.  Saudi Arabia also borders Iraq from the west -- as do Jordan and Syria.  Petra reports, "Iraq has informed Jordan that it will close the 'Turaibeil' (Karama) border crossing for 24 hours to hold election."  KUNA continues, "They added in a statement that the borders would be closed against people and goods for 24 hours."  John Hannah (Foreign Policy) notes of tomorrow's elections:

[. . .]  in a highly controversial move, Maliki's cabinet decreed in March that balloting would be delayed by up to six months in Iraq's two most influential Sunni-majority provinces, Anbar and Nineveh -- both of which border Syria and have for months been the locus of large-scale (but mostly peaceful) anti-Maliki protests. Maliki claimed -- not entirely without justification, especially in Anbar -- that he was simply responding to the petition of local leaders worried that voters could not be adequately protected from growing collaboration between al Qaeda affiliates on either sides of the Iraq-Syria border. 
His opponents charge that the prime minister's real agenda is avoiding a massive anti-Maliki turnout that would further escalate opposition to his government. They correctly note that previous elections were conducted under far more threatening conditions. Both the U.S. and U.N. urged Maliki to reverse course, worried about the appearance of disenfranchising millions of Sunnis already agitated by claims that Maliki has been systematically moving to marginalize their community in the interests of establishing an Iranian-backed Shiite dictatorship. Maliki turned aside these criticisms, while suggesting the delayed elections might occur as early as May.

Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) offers:

Although overall attacks are at roughly similar levels as they were for the last provincial elections in 2009, at least 13 candidates and two political party officers have been killed in targeted attacks in the past few weeks – a record number.  Almost 150 candidates have so far been struck off the list of candidates, most of them for alleged ties to the banned Baath Party of Saddam Hussein.
“It’s a showdown,” says Iraqi political analyst Saad Eskander. “They use 'legal' methods – expelling the ones they don’t want or by force – physical liquidation. This is an extension of politics, not an extension of terrorism.”

It's 15.  That's what the Iraqi press has been reporting and that's what Tim Arango (New York Times) reported earlier this week.  The Times is notorious for erring on the side for figures being too small, not too large.  It's 15.  Tim Arango, "At least 15 candidates, all members of the minority Sunni community, have been assassinated -- some apparently by political opponents, others by radical Sunni militants."  And that's just the assassinated -- that doesn't include the attempted assassinations.  Nor does it include non-provincial candidates who are killed -- such as officials working the elections.  National Iraqi News Agency reports, "Police told NINA on Friday, Apr. 19, that gunmen opened fire from guns with silencers at Moshtaq Talib, the Deputy Director of Karkh II Education Department, while driving his car in Amil neighborhood, killing him instantly." 

Mayada al-Askari (Gulf News) reports on the efforts to have candidates listed on the ballot -- as per usual, the Justice and Accountability Commission has been gaming the election (which includes who they allow back on the ballot):

The ace card is with Al Maliki, who is also calling for a majority government -- something that will not please the majority of the political blocs in the country’s lame political process. However, it is something that will make Iraqis happy as they will know who exactly is responsible for all the corruption and failures in the country. Both Saleh Al Mutlag -- who returned to the government after calling Al Maliki a dictator -- and Osama Al Nujaifi have been more successful with their election pitch than Allawi’s Al Iraqiya list. The reinstatement of the top candidate of the Mutlag list in Baghdad and of the number three candidate of Al Nujayfi in Nineveh is positive news for the two men. Al Maliki only has problems with a single candidate (in Basra) who was reinstated.

 Niqash offers strong election coverage with Mustafa Habib's "voters look for something else: are iraq’s sectarian politics over?," Daoud al-Ali's "hot or not: epidemic of puppy love for female politicians strikes karbala," Mohammed Hamid al-Sawaf and Naba al-Dawalibi's "power, influence, money, god: which will iraqi voters choose?," and Christine van den Toorn's "special ballot: were iraqi military forced to vote for al-maliki?"--they have done the strongest reporting on the elections of any non-Iraqi newspaper or channel. 

Monday there was a Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing.  We attended the hearing that morning.  That afternoon, the attack in Boston took place and, like everyone else, we were trying to find out what was going on there.  Yesterday's snapshot covered the hearing and noted that we'd pick up on it today with regards to Senator Jay Rockefeller.  In addition, Ava offered "Sanders makes impression early in tenure as Committee Chair" on the hearing last night and Kat offered "I can always count on Senator Richard Burr."  The topic of the hearing was the VA's budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2014.  Appearing before the Committee was VA Secretary Eric Shinseki -- with Allison Hickey, Dr. Robert Petzel, Steve Muro, Stephen Warren and W. Todd Grams tagging along.

Senator Jay Rockefeller apparently is too old to grasp the term "multi-task."  He wasted everyone's time with nonsense such as this, "It's homelessness on the one side, suicides on the other, how do you pick the tragedy?"

Does he think he's Barbara Walters and this was an interview?  Those are the problems.  The VA Secretary, whomever it is, will have to address them and a lot more.

Also, Eric Shinseki's title is "Secretary."  It is not "General."  We applauded Michael Hayden for using the title "Director" when he was made "Director" of the CIA.  Eric Shinseki is the Secretary of the VA.  That is his current title.  If it's beneath him and he needs by some other title, then he needs to resign.  Watching Jay lick his lips and call him "General" repeatedly was sickening.  And we need to review that title because it's not "Doctor."

So this crap from Jay Rockefeller was also a waste of time and had nothing to do with the VA budget -- which was the topic of the hearing,  "How do you take someone who's on a suicide watch list, how do you try to break through?"  If he really gave a damn about that question, he should have directed it to the only doctor present, Dr. Robert Petzel. 

Of course, Shinseki couldn't answer that question but he used it to eat up time, run down the clock and be a glory hog.  "You know four years ago," he declared, "we weren't receiving suicide information, veteran suicide information from the states.  So we wrote, and the states have been very responsive."  And he went on and on and on.  And Rockefeller let him.

Wow, Eric Shinseki, you're quite the man aren't you.  You're just accomplishing so much and that's why you can't backlog, right?  Reality, Eric Shinseki did nothing on that.

That was the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee that repeatedly raised that issue and that was then-Chair of the Committee Patty Murray that did the heavy lifting.  August 2011, Adam Ashton reported on it for McClatchy's News Tribune and that article doesn't say a word about Eric's efforts -- because there were none.  It does however open with, "Washington Sen. Patty Murray on Wednesday encouraged state government to start tallying veteran suicides, as [the state of] Washington already does.  Her goal is to quantify an under-reported number that could help health agencies improve their outreach to service members who have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan."

Senator Jay Rockefeller:   I remember a couple of years ago the excitement when DoD and the Veterans Administration were planning to work together, I went to a number of common facilities, joint-facilities and everything was full of optimism and now all of the sudden, evidently, unless I'm wrong there's been a pull-back from electronic records, all things that flow from this cooperation, there's been a pull-back from DoD.  I'm curious about that.

Secretary Eric Shinseki:  We are both still committed to a seamless transition of service members into VA.  That has not changed.  We are also both committed to an electronic health record that we share in common and in the lnaguage that we have come to use in the past four years of growing the concept, it is a single, joint-common, integrated electronic health record -- open in architecture, non-proprietary in design.  And all of those terms are code to keep us focused on what we want in an electronic health record -- one that we share together and one that will be as good five years from now as it is on the day we first invest and purchase it as opposed to being faced -- over and over again -- with an aging electronic health record that we somehow have to refinance years down the road. So this is the concept that we have commit ourselves to and, uh, and I would say that, uh, my sense is that we have not backed away from that although Secretary Hagel who has just arrived is in the midst of, uh, getting into this issue and, uh, uh, I've agreed that, uh, he ought to have time to do that and -- 

Senator Jay Rockefeller: But you don't know of any back away? 

I noted in yesterday's snapshot that Jay's been saying he'd be leaving the Senate for years and that he never does.  A few e-mailed to note that he has declared he won't seek re-election in 2014.  I am aware of that.  I was also in DC all week so I'm also aware of certain individuals high in the Democratic Party structure entertaining at dinners -- including two I attended -- with tales of Jay's recent 'concern' that he might be really hard to replace and, if the numbers just aren't there, let him know, there's still time for him to run.  The laughter that greets those tales should have been greeting Jay's nonsense at the Senate hearing.

Shinseki should have been pressed hard on what he declared above.  He was not.  Last week, Shinseki appeared before the House Veterans Affairs Committee.  We covered it here with last Thursday's "Iraq snapshot" and "Seamless transition? Shinseki wasted the last four years," while Ava reported on it with "Shinseki tries to present 134% increase as a gift for women," Wally with  "How the VA and DoD waste your tax dollars (Wally)" and Kat with "DAV calls for Congress to reject 'chained CPI'."  In addition, Dona moderated a discussion of the hearing at Third "Congress and Veterans."

The shocker of that hearing was learning that nothing had been done on the electronic record.  Not one damn thing.  Let's be clear -- and let's be quick -- since 2005, Congress has been funding this and holding hearings on this.  Shineski became VA Secretary at the start of 2009.  He and the VA (under him) have reported progress to Congress repeatedly over the last four years.  The first step of progress is deciding who's operating system will be used -- because DoD and VA computers systems are not currently compatible.  In last week's hearing, Shinseki revealed that this hadn't been decided but he favored VA's system.  This is the first step.  You can't design a record until you know what system is going to be using it.  So for four years nothing has happened.  That was shocking news.

Now let's deal with his nonsense before the Senate.  Let's go slowly over what he told Rockefeller (already quoted above) about the electronic record.

Secretary Eric Shinseki:  We are both still committed to a seamless transition of service members into VA.  That has not changed.  We are also both committed to an electronic health record that we share in common and in the language that we have come to use in the past four years of growing the concept, it is a single, joint-common, integrated electronic health record -- open in architecture, non-proprietary in design. 

Repeating, to design that record, you need to know what system will be using it.  That's the first step.  If that's not been decided, nothing has. 

Secretary Eric Shinseki:  And all of those terms are code to keep us focused on what we want in an electronic health record -- one that we share together and one that will be as good five years from now as it is on the day we first invest and purchase it as opposed to being faced -- over and over again -- with an aging electronic health record that we somehow have to refinance years down the road. 

 Is he an idiot?  Or is he a liar?  I don't know but he's not qualified for his job.  I called and visited various records offices in DC and surrounding areas this week to ask about this.  Specifically, how often do you update?  How often do you switch?  One of my favorite and most helpful sources explained that she was about to retire after decades of service.  They have records on microfilm (rolls of film).  That predated her joining the office.  She could remember when they filmed records on micofiche.  They still had those.  Then she could remember the big push at the end of the seventies and start of the 80s for computers.  And they got this great computer system that they were never going to have to worry about again.  Everything would be entered and kept forever.  And then, in 1999, they got a new computer system which would communicate with the previous one saving the records.  That didn't in fact happen.  But then, in 2005, they got another new one and this one would pull from the 80s computer programs and the ones implemented in 1999.  Only it didn't.  See the old clunky terminal, she asked pointing to one lone terminal next to up to date computers?  They have to keep that in the office for those records from the 80s computer (records that span that decade through 1998).  The microfilm and microfiche are supposed to be digitized and converted over and maybe in five years that will be complete, the woman offered.

She and everyone else who works with records laughed at the notion that you can create something today and it will need no modifications to be used in the future.  If someone's having trouble grasping technology, then just think about music and how we've moved from vinyl, to cassette tape, to CDs and now MP3s.

Shinseki should be focused on providing an electronic record that works today.  He's not a pyschic, he's not a time traveler.  Focus on what's needed today and accept that the future will hold twists and turns that will surprise us all.

Secretary Eric Shinseki:  So this is the concept that we have commit ourselves to and, uh, and I would say that, uh, my sense is that we have not backed away from that although Secretary Hagel who has just arrived is in the midst of, uh, getting into this issue and, uh, uh, I've agreed that, uh, he ought to have time to do that and --

Forgetting that he told the House last week that he had already had discussions with Hagel (two, and possibly three, he thought -- see the snapshot from last week, it's in there, he's quoted in full on that), we're still left with the idea that Hagel needs time.  That's idiotic.  In fact, it's so idiotic we should say, "That's so Jay Rockefeller."

In 2012, I'm using the Washington Post here, Barack Obama received 62,611,250 votes for president, securing a second term.   Mitt Romney, the GOP challenger, received 59,134,475 votes.  "Others" was 1,968,682.  About 3.5 million votes decided that election.  The percentages?  Barack got 50.6% of the vote, Romney got 47.8%.  That's less than 3% difference.

As I noted before, Eric Shinseki is neither a psychic not a time traveler.  It was a close election in 2012 (except by the electoral map), it could have gone the other way.

What's my point here?

He has had four years as Secretary of the VA.  He was supposed to implement this.  He had no idea whether Barack would win re-election or not and no idea whether he (Shinseki) would be alive in 2013 or in the position of VA Secretary.  So let's pretend Mitt Romney won for just a minute and that he appointed someone else to be VA Secretary.

What would Shinseki excuse be then?  He had a full term, a full four years to work on this.  He failed to.  He didn't know he'd get a second term as VA.  He is inept and he lacks focus.

A ton of money has been spent on this, a ton of time by Congress.  He's supposed to have kick started this long ago.  Now he wants to use Hagel as his excuse.  Chuck Hagel is Secretary of the Defense.  In Barack's first term, Robert Gates served as Secretary of Defense and was then replaced with Leon Panetta.  Chuck Hagel may end up replaced, Shinseki may end up replaced.

This program was supposed to have been started four years ago.  It is exactly where it was when Shineski was sworn in.  That is unacceptable.  As I stated last week, Barack Obama needs to sit down with Hagel and Shinseki and say, "This (VA/DoD) is the system we will use.  That discussion is now over, you need to begin working on implementing this immediately."

Only Senator Richard Blumenthal appeared to grasp the significance of what Shinseki was telling the Senate this week.   "So you have no assurance right now from the Department of Defense as to when or whether it will go forward?"

I wish we had time and space to include Blumenthal's careful probing on this.  We don't.  But he nailed Shinseki (and did so politely, he's a very polite person) and established just how little has been done.  Applause for freshman Senator Blumenthal for doing the job veteran Senator Rockefeller should have done himself.

Tuesday, there was a Senate Budget Committee hearing on the VA budget.  Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of that Committee.  Her office issued the following:

CONTACT: Murray Press Office
Friday, April 19, 2013
(202) 224-2834

Murray will question VA Secretary on implementation of plan to cut down claims backlog at Budget Committee hearing next Tuesday
(Washington, D.C.) - Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, released the following statement on the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) plan to expedite processing of benefit claims that have been pending for a year or more, in order to reduce the claims backlog. Senator Murray plans to question VA Secretary Eric Shinseki on implementation of the program this Tuesday, April 23rd at a Senate Budget Committee hearing that she will chair.
“This is a problem that continues to confound the VA and frustrate veterans of all eras. I’m pleased that the VA is taking action to get benefits into the hands of veterans quickly, but this has never been a problem that lends itself to easy fixes and I have a number of questions about how this program will be implemented.”
Matt McAlvanah
Communications Director
U.S. Senator Patty Murray
202-224-2834 - press office
202--224-0228 - direct
Twitter: @mmcalvanah

I didn't attend that hearing.  I wish I had, I really wish I had.  Dona's planning to do one of the "Congress and Veterans" roundtables with us at Third Sunday.  I will try to watch the hearing on the plane ride home tomorrow so we can include some comments on it in Dona's roundtable.  Try.  Ava and I still don't know what we're covering TV wise at Third and we usually use the plane ride home to review scripts and discs.  We've got several discs of episodes we've already been sent by network friends.  Including CBS who needs a correction.  Ava and I wrote "TV: The Sewer Rises" Sunday.  We spoke with three people at NBC -- execs -- for that article.  In that article, we note that the hideous Hannibal came in second on a night when all the shows were repeats except CBS' Elementary.  A CBS friend corrected that this morning.  Elementary was a repeat.  Even as a repeat, it badly beat Hannibal.  We'll note that in the piece within 24 hours but I'm including it here because there just hasn't been time to do a correction.  That was our mistake and our bad.  We did not check it.  NBC told us it was a new episode (which may have been a simple mistake on their part or an attempt to make their Thursday night bomb seem like a hit) and we didn't check it.  A correction will go up on that piece within 24 hours and my apologies for the error.

The friend was a little upset because he'd gone through the public account on Wednesday to note the error.  And no change.  No correction.  He saw my note this morning about the problems there and called.  The problems there included a Yahoo outage on Wednesday ("scheduled maintenance" is what people displayed) and people e-mailing over and over and over to the public account.  We don't have time for those e-mails.  Martha and Shirley have been trying to cut back on those e-mails by replying to some.  The woman who wants gun control noted, for example, was informed that our primary focus here is Iraq.  There's no reason for gun control to be covered here.  I have no plans to ever cover it here.  We didn't cover Terry Schiavo here years ago.  There are a hundred-and-one 'hot button issues' that will never be covered here.  Martha and Shirley tried to cut back on these type of e-mails by informing those writing of our focus.  That has led some to send 20 and 30 and 40 e-mails in one day filled with arguments of why their 'hot button issue' must be included in the Iraq snapshot.

We're not doing that anymore.  If you're sending something and it doesn't belong here, it's trashed then.  If you start spamming us, we report you as spam.  I am furious -- not with Martha and Shirley or anyone else who works the e-mail accounts -- that I missed the Tuesday hearing.  I'm furious that we had an alert come in on it but we were drowning in nonsense in the inbox.  I'm also furious that we didn't know of the next thing I'm about to highlight until today and it came in yesterday afternoon:

Over 9,000 and counting!
“I shall refuse all solid food,” Dick Gregory declared on April 4, the date of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., “until Lynne Stewart is freed and receives medical treatment in the care of her family and with physicians of her choice without which she will die.”
Gregory, known for his social activism as much as his for comedic wit and political commentary, took this step to reinforce the worldwide petition in support of Stewart’s application for compassionate release.
Ed Asner, as committed to the struggle for social justice as he is to his acting career, issued a call to action on April 13, days before the April 19 anniversary of the 1776 battles of Concord and Lexington: “The fight to free Lynne Stewart is a front-line battle for basic rights secured through the American Revolution and is a measure of our will to reclaim a land of the free in the home of the brave.”
We can see the difference that your efforts make: as the Center for Constitutional Rights features the petition on its Facebook page, as individuals contact people they know, as journalists publish articles and conduct radio interviews, as organizations sponsor and reach out to their members. Now, let us ramp up our efforts – contact five more people this week and ask them to contact another five. The Bureau of Prisons and the Department of Justice are on notice: people of conscience worldwide are concerned and will continue to press on until Lynne Stewart is freed.
Visit the Justice for Lynne Stewart website for the full text of the declarations from Ed Asner and Dick Gregory and for the list of signers up to April 10.
View the petition  |  Reply to this message via

I can already hear the whines, 'Lynne's not Iraq!'   Lynne's someone I've known for years.  She's also a very brave woman and a very caring woman.  So she'll get an exception.  Equally true, she is Iraq related.  The Bully Boy Bush administration used 9-11 to scare the country into war with Iraq and did so by falsely linking Iraq to the 9-11 attacks.  The same administration scared up a conviction against Lynne -- who broke no law, there is no law that she broke -- by using 9-11 as a scare tactic, by falsely linking her (and her client) to 9-11.  There's no connection there.  There was never a connection.  But they played the same game with a bunch of jurors that they did with the American people.  They fooled a jury the same way they fooled a large number of Americans.

Lynne shouldn't have served one day in prison.  Barack Obama became president and I heard people swear to me that meant Lynne would be free.  I heard, "She's an activist, like his mother was!  She's a White woman who made a life with an African-American man!  Barack can relate!  She's a cancer survivor, his mother had cancer!"  I heard so many statements of nonsense.

And they were nonsense.  Under Barack, what happened was Lynne, who'd been receiving treatments for her cancer, was suddenly thrown in prison even though her appeal hadn't been decided.  As bad as Bush, Ashcroft and Gonzalez were, they didn't throw Lynne in prison while she was appealing.  And it's under Barack that her sentence goes from 28 months to 10 years.

Lynne is a lawyer.  She took on the clients who needed her and she fought to give them the best defense she could.  Anyone who faults that doesn't understand the American judicial system.  Which is why I have never been surprised to encounter conservative attorneys or judges who get that Lynne was made an example of by the government in an attempt to scare defense attorneys.  Even people on the right grasp that.  The attack on Lynne was an attack on the principles of defense that are part of the America legal system -- and that attack came from the government that acts as prosecutor.  They wanted to intimidate and they wanted to tip the scales.

Lynne's cancer has returned.  She's over seventy-years-old.  She's never been accused of being violent to anyone.  She's never been accused of breaking any law.  (She released a press release to Reuters in violation of an agreement the Justice Dept had her sign.  She did that when Bill Clinton was President.  Bill and Attorney General Janet Reno were aware of it.  They didn't consider it a crime.  They didn't let her see her client until they had her sign another agreement, but that was it.  And, it should be argued that when the Clinton administration had her sign another agreement, that was the 'judgment' on the press release.  Meaning what Ashcroft and Bush put her through was double jeopardy.)

Lynne's nowhere near completing ten years.  Most of us believe that if the government tries to make her continue to serve, she dies in prison.  She might have a chance at some good years, if she can get out of prison to return to her own doctor in New York (the government has sent her to a military prison in Fort Worth, Texas).  No offense to medical facilities in Fort Worth.  They have fine doctors there.  But -- as someone who went through her own cancer scare -- I know that it makes a big difference what your outlook is.  Lynne will be much happier and her treatment more effective if she can be home in New York with her family, her children and her husband Ralph.  I also remember the chemo and throwing up for hours in the toilet and crawling on the floor to the bed  because I was in so much pain from the treatment and my whole body ached.  I can't imagine trying to do that treatment while being put in and out of shackles or while being tossed into a prison cell where the bed's not soft, where the toilet's right there in the middle of the cell so I'm going to smelling my own vomit even after I've stopped vomiting?

I cannot believe what Lynne is being forced to endure.  And it doesn't have to be that way.  The petition calls for Lynne to receive a compassionate release.  That is doable.  That does happen.  And she deserves it.

On last week's Law and Disorder Radio,  an hour long program that airs Monday mornings at 9:00 a.m. EST on WBAI and around the country throughout the week, hosted by attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights) topics addressed include political prisoner Lynne Stewart.  We noted it last week and it's worth noting again -- plus it has all the information on the petition and on contacting the Bureau of Prisons.

Michael S. Smith:  Michael, we sorely miss our friend Lynne Stewart who's in prison serving a really unjust ten year sentence.  And, of course, as we've reminded our listeners over the last few weeks, Lynne has taken ill again.  And there's a petition for her and I know you want to talk about it and get as many active because we want to get Lynne out of prison on a compassionate release.  So tell our listeners how they can help and what the situation is now for Lynne.


Michael Ratner: Well we're going to link to how you can sign the petition.  Lynne's got Stage IV Cancer as a lot of you know.  That is, her initial cancer which was in remission when they put her in prison three years ago is now in full bloom.  It's spread to her bones.  It's spread to her legs. It's spread to her lungs.  It's spread to her lymph nodes.  And it really is fatal.  We all want to get her out and get her some better medical care that she can get.  She's in a seven person cell down in Fort Worth, Texas.  Get her up to New York, better medical care and be surrounded by her family and friends.  And in order to do that, the Bureau of Prisons, the people with the key have to make a motion to Judge Kotel to ask that she be given a compassionate release.  It's possible.  You can get that.  They don't do it very often.  But with all the friends and supporters that Lynne has, we're hopeful that we can accomplish that.  6,000 people have signed the petition so far.  And I want to read you what Lynne said in thank you to these people -- two of them were Dick Gregory and Desmond Tutu and I'll read you something that Tutu said also. But here's this from Lynne:  "I want you individually to know how grateful and happy it makes me to have your support.  It's uplifting to say the least.  And after a lifetime of organizing, it proves once again that the People can rise.  The acknowledgment of the life-political and solutions brought about by group unity and support, is important to all of us.  Equally, so is the courage to sign on to a demand for a person whom the Government has branded with the "T" word -- Terrorism.  Understanding that the attack on me is a subterfuge for an attack on all lawyers who advocate without fear of Government displeasure, with intellectual honesty guided by their knowledge and their client's desire for his or her case, I hope our effort can be a crack in the American bastion.  Thank you, Lynne."  Pete Seeger wrote her back and said, "Lynne Stewart should be out of jail."  And he signed the postcard "Old Pete Seeger" accompanied by a drawing of a banjo.  Bishop Desmond Tutu, this was his esprit de corps.  He said, "It is devastating.  Totally unbelievable.  In this democracy, the only superpower?  I am sad.  I will sign praying God's blessing on your reference. Desmond Tutu."  Let's hope Lynne gets out on compassionate release while she's still able to at least be part of her community.  And if you'll go to Law and, we'll put the link where you can sign the petition.  And if you'll grab a pencil, I'll give you the name and address of the Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons  because a well-aimed letter at him is not going to hurt.  His name is:

Charles E. Samuels Jr.
Federal Bureau of Prisons
320 First Street, NW
Washington, DC 20534

Please send a letter.  Go to Law and -- our website -- sign the petition. We'll be updating you every week on how Lynne is doing.


 the associated press



law and disorder radio
michael s. smith
heidi boghosian
michael ratner

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Lisa Savage, feminism will not miss you

Poor little Lisa Savage.  So old and yet so useless.  When you've got nothing but piss and s**t to offer, where do you take it?  Apparently to David Swanson's War Is A Crime.

Lisa's a Marxist who tries to pass that off as feminism.  It's not.  A Marxist with a vagina can be a feminist, yes.  However, a Marxist is not a feminist just because she has a vagina.

"Feminist War Hawks vs. Feminist Values" is Lisa's alert.

In the Marxist world of today, there is only 'my view.'  If you don't subscribe, these closeted Marxists attack.

I don't support The Drone War, I've written against it.

I assume that as I continue to, I will make more of an impact and persuade people.  I'd argue that Isaiah's done more than anyone with his comic series.  You can look at those comics and the weeks that followed and see that Isaiah forced the issue.

But if you support The Drone War, I don't see you as my enemy.  I see you as someone I have not been able to communicate with.  Hopefully, we can add "yet" to the end of that sentence.

Not so with Lisa Savage -- who apparently is the conjoined twin of Michael Savage.

In Lisa's mind, if you're not with her on drones and everything else right now, you never will be and you're not a feminist like she is.  In fact, she's so sick of all these people:

When women who work for the CIA on extrajudicial assassination, and women like Condi Rice, Madeleine Albright and Hillary Clinton are held up as role models for feminists, we need to call them what they are: feminist war hawks. For myself, from now on I am going to make sure and use the phrase "feminist values" to distinguish life-affirming from death-dealing. I no longer want to call myself a feminist if these women are the face of feminism.

Then don't.  Because no one cares anyway.  I've read your writing.  C.I. saw your crap yesterday and asked me if I had?  I wasn't aware of you -- and life was better that way.

But today, Sunny printed up all your writing online and I read it.  Didn't see anything to do with feminism.

I laughed at your Afghanistan writing.  You are aware your hero Jodi was a bundler for Barack, right?  You are aware that it was CODESTINK at the national level that whored for Barack in 2008 and ensured that he was seen as 'anti-war.'

Oh, that's strange, you don't mention Barack, do you, Lisa?

Barack's been promoted as a feminist.  He even made the cover of Ms.  But you don't call him out do you?

Because you're pathetic and ignorant and cowardly.

You're also pretty stupid.  Let's review.  Here's Lisa the Brain Dead:

At the Academy Awards this year, the First Lady lady "bizarrely showed up surrounded by military service personnel in dress uniforms" according to blogger Alison Kilkenny.

Michelle Obama said of the nominees for Best Picture: "They reminded us that we can overcome any obstacle if we dig deep enough and fight hard enough and find the courage within ourselves."

Commented Kilkenny, "Of course the nominees included Zero Dark Thirty and Argo, two propaganda films widely criticized for manipulating true events, and in the case of the former, outright lying by suggesting torture led to the capture of Osama bin Laden." Since that time, corporate media have been promoting the story that Osama was brought to justice by the CIA's so-called "Band of Sisters."

Logic's not her strong suit.  The Acadmey Awards were when?  February 24, 2013.  "Since that time" should go to a link from an article after that.  But her link goes to a January article.

Poor Lisa Savage, so stupid, so very, very stupid.

Michelle Obama chose to participate in the Academy Awards.  I don't believe anyone in this community slammed her for it.  I know Ava and C.I. didn't.  No one in this community is a Michelle fan.  But we didn't feel the need to slam her.

Why was she with the military.  Let's see, Michelle Obama has two causes as First Lady: Let's Move and the military.  Or is Lisa Savage ignorant of that as well.

Michelle Obama chose to participate, chose to be on national television and chose to let some members of the military be as well.

If that were Barack, I'd have a field day with the topic and the militarization.  It was a First Lady.  It was a First Lady who, along with Jill Biden, meets with military members and families all the time.

Since the wars started, C.I.'s attended these award shows with veterans.  (Sorry for outing you on that, C.I.)  Her only rule was, "I don't want publicity from this."  She did it because she's active in the anti-war movement and sometimes when she speaks, a veteran will say something about the Oscars or some other awards and she'll say, "You want to go?  You can go with me."  She'll then arrange transportation -- one time this happened while she was speaking in Florida -- for the veteran to California, put him up in her 'home' (in quotes because that's an estate), buy (not rent) him a tuxedo and attend the ceremony with him.  (She'd do the same for a female veteran but none have ever expressed interest to her.)

I don't like Michelle Obama.  But I don't think she's evil.  C.I. and Rebecca are my best friends since college.  When I saw Michelle on the Oscars, I didn't think, "How dare she! She's so awful!"  No, I thought, "Oh, I bet it's like with C.I.  She mentioned she was going to do it and some expressed interest and she said, 'Let's do it together'."

See, I'm willing to see Michelle as being as kind and sweet as one of my best friends.  I'm not always assuming the worst of people, the way Lisa Savage does.

I'm also aware that Argo and Zero Dark Thirty aren't "propaganda films" just because some idiot says so.  You get the idea Lisa Savage doesn't even know the lie about Zero Dark Thirty or that the lie and the attack was started by a 'reporter' who covered up for the November 2004 massacre of Falluja.

Poor Lisa, it must be hard to be so stupid.  I saw a photo of her, the bitterness of her unhappy life was heavily etched across her face.

The reality is that Hillary is a feminist.  Madeline Albright's a feminist.

They set out to help women and believe that they are.

Do I agree with their manner of helping?  No.

But I don't have to agree for them to be feminists.

They are trying to help women.  They are doing it in the way that they believe.

Lisa Savage, tired Marxist, wants apparently for no business opportunities and none of this and none of that but for everything to be torn down, a new world created where the worker owns the means of production and then she wants to call that feminism.

She doesn't know what she's writing about.

The litmus test for feminism isn't that hard.  But Lisa Savage manages to fail it.

How strange but telling that she can whine -- that's all she did -- about The Drone War but can't call out Barack -- yet she can mock Michelle Obama?

Why is that?

Because she's a Marxist with a vagina which doesn't mean she's a feminist.  She will always attack women first.

So Barack will be "he" and never "Barack Obama" or even "Barack."  But she will go to town on Michelle Obama by name.  Then she'll have the nerve to question other women about being feminist?

She's full of crap.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, April 17, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, at least 11 people are killed including Falluja's Attorney General, Nouri's paranoia gets some attention, Congress raises questions about Camp Ashraf and about the lack of oversight at the US State Dept, a think tank finds widespread use of torture by the US,  a country artist distorts Natalie Maines and the Dixie Chicks, and more.

We'll start in DC.

US House Rep Ed Royce:  And needless to say, given Washington's chronic budget deficit, wasteful spending is intolerable.  But even good programs must be subject to prioritization.  We can't do everything.  Along those lines, it is inexcusable that the State Department has been operating for four-plus-years without a presidentially-nominated, Senate-confirmed Inspector General.  This Committee is committed to its responsibility for overseeing the spending and other operations of the State Department -- and that is a bipartisan commitment I am pleased to join Mr. Engel in carrying out.

Ed Royce is the Chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and he was speaking at this morning's hearing  on the State Department's proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2014.  Appearing before him was Secretary of State John Kerry.   Engel is US House Rep Eliot Engel who is the Ranking Member.  Other than his remarks beating the drums on Iran -- and praising US President Barack Obama for the same ("Over the past four years, President Obama has unified the international community against this threat and signed into law the strongest-ever sanctions against the regime in Tehran."") -- his opening remarks really don't require noting here nor do even of his remarks during questioning.  If you believe a House members greatest duty is to serve Israel, then I've short changed you.  If you believe a US House member needs to be covering US issues, Eliot Engel has short changed you. 

The issue Royce raised is not a minor one.  We first noted it December 7, 2011 when US House Rep Jason Chaffetz raised it in a hearing.  We've noted this lack of oversight many times since including last month with "Media again misses story (lack of oversight)."  Maybe if the press had covered it, the position wouldn't have remained vacant for this record length.

Chair Ed Royce:  I'd also like to call your attention to the State Department's Inspector General's Office.  This is the key independent office looking at waste and fraud.  Mr. Secretary, as of today, there has been no permanent State Department Inspector General for over five years.  This includes President Obama's entire first term.   The Committee raised this issue in a bi-partisan letter sent to you in February and we would like to see an immediate appointment to this position.

Secretary John Kerry:  On the IG, you're absolutely correct.  We're -- we're trying to fill a number of positions right now, the IG among them.  The greatest difficulty that I'm finding now that I'm on the other side of the fence is frankly the vetting process.  And I've got some folks that I selected way back in February when I first came in and it's now April and I'm still waiting for the vetting to move.  I've talked to the White House.  They're totally on board.  They're trying to get it moved.  So I hope that within a very short span of time, you're going to see these slots filled.  They need to be.  And that's just the bottom line.  It's important and I commit to you, we will.

Chair Ed Royce:  I think this is the longest gap that we've had in the history of this position.  So if you could talk to the President about this in short order, we would very much appreciate it. 

Secretary John Kerry:  I don't need to talk to the President, we're going to get this done.  We know it and we're trying to get the right people.  Matching person to task and also clearing all the other hurdles, as I am finding, is not as easy as one always thinks.  But we'll get it done.  

For those obsessed with whether Hillary Clinton will run for president or not, right there's one hurdle for her.  She will either have to divorce herself -- a real break -- from Barack Obama or she'll have to tell the American people that there was no independent oversight -- oversight required by law -- of her entire four year term because she didn't want any.  If she choose the latter, it's going to be real hard for her to then assure people that she will have an open presidency.  If she fails to divorce herself from Barack, this feeds into the media's existing notions of her as secretive and controlling.  They will bring the health care fiasco, they will bring up everything.  The only answer for her is to put the blame where it goes: On Barack Obama.  And she'll need to do that before she announces her run.  The longer she would wait to do that, the more it would fall into the media narrative of "She'll say anything to be elected!"  In Monday's snapshot, I called the Green Party out for the sexist attack on Hillary.  And I will continue to call those things out.  I also noted that she's not above criticism and that, should she choose to run and should we be up and running still here, I'll be one of her harshest critics.  Not because I want to but because, unlike the press, I paid attention.  I know the issues from her time at State that could  cripple a run for the presidency.

With respect to John Kerry's remarks to the Committee?

The administration has a vetting problem?  Who could have ever guessed that?  Maybe Isaiah who, February 15, 2009, offered "The Rose Ceremony" featuring Judd Gregg, Nancy Killefer, Bill Richardson and Tom Daschle.  Yeah, it was obvious back then there was a vetting problem.  That's only become more obvious with recent examples including Brett McGurk (Barack's third nominee to be US Ambassador to Iraq who never made it out of the nomination process).

Forgetting that there was no independent oversight of State in Barack's entire first term, this position doesn't require a massive search.  If there's someone wanted for the post, then vet him or her.  However, for the last years, Harold W. Geisel (Deputy Inspector General) has done the job without the title and without the pay.  Also without the independence that having the title would grant him.  If there's no one in mind for this position, why isn't Geisel handed it?

Or is the White House saying that for four years, they've had someone doing that job that wasn't capable of doing it?

This is an important issue.  Another issue raised in the hearing was the Ashraf residents.  Background, approximately 3,400 people were at Camp Ashraf when the US invaded Iraq in 2003.  They were Iranian dissidents who were given asylum by Saddam Hussein decades ago.  The US government authorized the US military to negotiate with the residents.  The US military was able to get the residents to agree to disarm and they became protected persons under Geneva and under international law.

Despite that legal status and the the legal obligation on the part of the US government to protect the residents, since Barack Obama was sworn in as US president, Nouri has ordered not one but two attacks on Camp Ashraf resulting in multiple deaths.  Let's recap.  July 28, 2009 Nouri launched an attack (while then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was on the ground in Iraq). In a report released this summer entitled "Iraqi government must respect and protect rights of Camp Ashraf residents," Amnesty International described this assault, "Barely a month later, on 28-29 July 2009, Iraqi security forces stormed into the camp; at least nine residents were killed and many more were injured. Thirty-six residents who were detained were allegedly tortured and beaten. They were eventually released on 7 October 2009; by then they were in poor health after going on hunger strike." April 8, 2011, Nouri again ordered an assault on Camp Ashraf (then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was again on the ground in Iraq when the assault took place). Amnesty International described the assault this way, "Earlier this year, on 8 April, Iraqi troops took up positions within the camp using excessive, including lethal, force against residents who tried to resist them. Troops used live ammunition and by the end of the operation some 36 residents, including eight women, were dead and more than 300 others had been wounded. Following international and other protests, the Iraqi government announced that it had appointed a committee to investigate the attack and the killings; however, as on other occasions when the government has announced investigations into allegations of serious human rights violations by its forces, the authorities have yet to disclose the outcome, prompting questions whether any investigation was, in fact, carried out." Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observes that "since 2004, the United States has considered the residents of Camp Ashraf 'noncombatants' and 'protected persons' under the Geneva Conventions."

Under court order, the US State Dept evaluated their decision to place the MEK on the terrorist list and, September 28th, they issued the following.

Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
September 28, 2012
The Secretary of State has decided, consistent with the law, to revoke the designation of the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) and its aliases as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) under the Immigration and Nationality Act and to delist the MEK as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist under Executive Order 13224. These actions are effective today. Property and interests in property in the United States or within the possession or control of U.S. persons will no longer be blocked, and U.S. entities may engage in transactions with the MEK without obtaining a license. These actions will be published in the Federal Register.
With today's actions, the Department does not overlook or forget the MEK's past acts of terrorism, including its involvement in the killing of U.S. citizens in Iran in the 1970s and an attack on U.S. soil in 1992. The Department also has serious concerns about the MEK as an organization, particularly with regard to allegations of abuse committed against its own members.
The Secretary's decision today took into account the MEK's public renunciation of violence, the absence of confirmed acts of terrorism by the MEK for more than a decade, and their cooperation in the peaceful closure of Camp Ashraf, their historic paramilitary base.
The United States has consistently maintained a humanitarian interest in seeking the safe, secure, and humane resolution of the situation at Camp Ashraf, as well as in supporting the United Nations-led efforts to relocate eligible former Ashraf residents outside of Iraq.

February 9th of this year, the Ashraf residents were attacked at the new 'home' of Camp Liberty.

US House Rep Ileana Ros-Lehtinen: And lastly, Mr. Secretary, I have two questions for written reply to allow the Camp Liberty residents in Iraq to go back to Camp Ashraf.  The double-layered T-walls that were protecting the camp were removed and now the residents are vulnerable to armed attacks as they were on February 9th when 8 residents were killed.  Will the US ask the Iraqi government to adequately protect the residents in Camp Liberty?

Ros-Lehtinen had a series of questions.  We'll pick up Kerry's response in the middle, when he gets to Camp Ashraf.

Secretary John Kerry:  Was the Camp Ashraf for written [reply]?

US House Rep Ileana Ros-Lehtinen:  It was for written but if you'd like.

Secretary John Kerry:  Well I'll just tell you very quickly, I met with Prime Minister [Nouri al-] Maliki a few days ago.  This concern there about what's happening at Camp Liberty was very much on our minds in terms of security.  We are working with them now in terms of trying to do interviews.  We've actually run into some problems with that.  There was an Albanian offer to take some people.  That was turned down.  So we're working through a complicated situation.  I'll give you a full written answer on that.

US House Rep Dana Rohrabacher also noted the Camp Ashraf residents and the attack that killed eight people, how "the structures that were protecting them have been taken down.  Are we -- The question is, are we going to hold the Maliki government responsible for their safety and, if there is another attack, and more of them are murdered, are we going to -- will the administration withdraw its request for aid to a regime that's murdering innocent refugees in a camp that we helped put there?"

Secretary John Kerry: I raised this issue -- I raised this issue directly with the prime minister when I was there a couple of weeks ago.  We are deeply engaged in this.  I am very concerned about the potential of another attack.  We are trying very hard to find a place to resettle everybody.

US House Rep Dana Rohrabacher: Okay.

Secretary John Kerry: I'll tell you [cross-talk] the answer is we are looking for accountability and we are working very hard to provide safety.

US House Rep Dana Rohrabacher:  Accountability for the Iraqi government is important on this issue

Secretary John Kerry:  It's the Iranian government that I believe was behind the attacks.

US House Rep Dana Rohrabacher:  Well I would have --

Secretary John Kerry:  But we need the Iraqi government to provide security.

US House Rep Dana Rohrabacher:  Maliki's coziness to the mullahs in Iran is disturbing and this may reflect that.

Ruth will be covering an aspect of the hearing at her site tonight.  Ava will fill in for Trina tonight and cover another part of today's hearing.

Yesterday, the Constitution Project released a report that's over 500 pages.  The who?  The Constitution Project is a bi-partisan think tank created in 1997 by Virginia Sloan.
JSOC is Joint Special Operations Command.  Their report is entitled "Detainee Treatment." The task force for this issue was: Chair Asa Hutchinson, Chair James R. Jones, Sandy D'Alemberte, Richard Epstein, David P. Gushee, Azizah Y. al-Hibri, David R. Irvine, Claudia Kennedy, Thomas R. Pickering, William S. Sessions and Gerald E. Thomson.

The report finds widespread abuse.  Again, it's over 500 pages.  We're focusing on the Iraq section.

As early as June 2003, due to the work of the Iraq Survey Group, reports emerged of abuse of Iraqis carried out "by the JSOC task force or CIA."  What were a few reports at the start of that month quickly became much more and "[b]y the middle of June [. . .] the abuse reports had become 'a pattern'." A JSOC official insisted that these reports were false, "it's all untrue."

It was all true.  As the Abu Ghraib scandal would later reveal, it was all true.  Ibrahim Khalid Sami al-Ani could tell you it was false as well.  He was picked up by JSOC US forces July 2, 2003.  "Freedom" did come.  By that point, he had experienced "the partial amputation of his right thumb; the complete loss of use in his right forefinger, severe burns on both the palm and back of his left hand, resulting in the partial loss of use of his hand; and burns on both of his legs, feet and abdomen, requiring multiple surgeries.  His medical records and photographs corroborated these allegations, as did statements from U.S. troops stationed at Camp Cropper."  Why isn't JSCO being held accountable?  On the official documents, they "used pseudonyms."

The report also explains:

Some of JSOC task force’s harsh treatment was explicitly authorized. According to the DOD inspector general and the Senate Armed Services Committee, the JSOC task force's written standard operating procedures (SOP), dated July 15, 2003, authorized sleep deprivation, loud music, stress positions, light control, and the use of military dogs.13 Although not in the written SOP, nudity was also commonly used, reportedly with the knowledge of the JSOC task force's commander and legal advisor. The July 15, 2003, interrogation policy was unsigned, although the task force commander's name was on the signature block. The commander, Brigadier General Lyle Koenig, told Senate committee staff that he did not recall approving or even seeing an interrogation policy, though he did acknowledge that he knew about some of the harsh techniques in use. But two task force legal advisors -- one who served in July and August 2003, and another who arrived in late August -- said that they had repeatedly showed the policy to the commander and tried to get his signature on it. 17 The Senate committee reported that according to the second task force legal advisor, it got to the point where he would print out a fresh copy of the policy every night and give it to [redacted] aide. The Legal Advisor said that he knew the Commander had received copies of the policy from his aide, but that he had a habit of repeatedly "losing" the draft policy. He said the exercise became "laughable."  In addition to the specific authorization of abusive techniques, the JSOC task force took the position that, contrary to later official statements in the wake of Abu Ghraib, detainees in its custody were not protected by the Geneva Conventions because they were "unlawful combatants." In the summer of 2003, General Koenig, then the head of the JSOC task force, asked Colonel Randy Moulton, the commander of the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency (JPRA), for help with interrogation. Moulton later testified to Congress that "before I sent the team over, I talked to the task force commander and asked him what the legal status was. I was told they were DUCs [Detained Unlawful Combatants] and not covered under the Geneva Conventions." 

But they knew what they were doing was wrong and was illegal and must be kept hidden.  That was obvious when Lt Col Steven Kleinman was sent to Iraq and saw abuse taking place, objected to it and documented it. The response was to threaten him, attempt to steal his camera, sharpen knives in front of him while advising him "not to sleep too soundly," and other threats.

We are pressed for time and space so instead of going over Abu Ghraib -- which is noted in the report -- I'll refer you to Seymour Hersh's May 10, 2004 expose for The New Yorker.  

Let's move to after Abu Ghraib.  They found that US detention facilities continued to have 'issues.'
Detainees not only self-reported abuse, they revealed something very telling and disturbing.  To be released, they were forced to sign statements insisting that no abuse had taken place.  From the report:

 Each former detainee interviewed by Task Force staff said that before his release, he signed a paper attesting that he had not been mistreated. Translated from Arabic, the form reads: 

I know that one of my rights is to give notice of any mistreatment and I know that one of my rights is to complain about any mistreatment I got during the period of my arrest. And I understand that no one will punish me because of this notification. And I know also that any notification with regard to this issue will not have an effect on the order to release me. 
Choice 1: I did not suffer from any mistreatment. [check box] 
Choice 2: I suffered from mistreatment during my period of arrest. [check box] 

All those interviewed said they believed the assurances on the release form that they could report abuse without suffering any consequences were meaningless. They said that they had no choice but to say they had not been mistreated. To do otherwise, they believed, would have been foolish.

This is exactly what Nouri's goons forced people to sign in Iraq today.  And that's if they're lucky about singing.  If they're not lucky, they don't even get to see what they sign.  Hadi al-Mahdi was an Iraqi filled with the hope of a new Iraq.  He used his hope in his career as a journalist and in his calling as an activist.  September 8, 2011, this critic of Nouri al-Maliki was assassinated in his own home and no effort has ever been made to find the killer or killers.  Months before that happened, Hadi was covering the 2011 protests.  February 25, 2011, when they kicked off, he was there.  Afterwards, he was at a Baghdad cafe with journalism friends eating lunch.  That's when Nouri's goons with badges showed up, attacked them with the butts of gun rifles and abducted them in broad daylight.   NPR's Kelly McEvers (Morning Edition) interviewed Hadi for Morning Edition after he had been released and she noted he had been "beaten in the leg, eyes, and head." He explained that he was accused of attempting to "topple" Nouri al-Maliki's government -- accused by the soldiers under Nouri al-Maliki, the soldiers who beat him.  Excerpt:
Hadi al-Mahdi: I replied, I told the guy who was investigating me, I'm pretty sure that your brother is unemployed and the street in your area is unpaved and you know that this political regime is a very corrupt one.
Kelly McEvers: Mahdi was later put in a room with what he says were about 200 detainees, some of them journalists and intellectuals, many of them young protesters.
Hadi al-Mahdi: I started hearing voices of other people.  So, for instance, one guy was crying, another was saying, "Where's my brother?" And a third one was saying, "For the sake of God, help me."
Kelly McEvers: Mahdi was shown lists of names and asked to reveal people's addresses.  He was forced to sign documents while blindfolded.  Eventually he was released.  Mahdi says the experience was worse than the times he was detained under Saddam Hussein.  He says the regime that's taken Sadam's place is no improvement on the past. This, he says, should serve as a cautionary tale for other Arab countries trying to oust dictators. 
Hadi al-Mahdi: They toppled the regime, but they brought the worst -- they brought a bunch of thieves, thugs, killers and corrupt people, stealers.
This started under the US.  Nouri gets away with it today because the US government gave the go-ahead for at the start of the illegal war.

Violence continues in Iraq.  Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) counts four bombings today in Baghdad alone.  All Iraq News reports a western Baghdad car bombing has claimed the lives of 2 Iraqi soldiers and left six more injured.  Alsumaria adds a Baghdad roadside bombing killed 1 person, a Mosul roadside bombing has left one police officer injured, a Kirkuk shootings has left one police officer wounded, and overnight in Baghdad one person was shot deadAFP offers, "A roadside bomb targeted a convoy carrying an MP from the secular, Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc in Madain, south of Baghdad, wounding four people but not the politician, while a magnetic 'sticky bomb' on a civilian car wounded two people in Mansur in west Baghdad, they said." AFP also notes, "Gunmen armed with pistols shot dead Muthanna Shakir, a former translator for American forces, in his restaurant in Samarra, north of Baghdad, while a magnetic 'sticky bomb' killed a secondary school teacher in Ramadi, west of the capital, police and doctors said." So that's 6 reported dead and 14 reported injured today.   

But the violence didn't stop there.  NINA notes 4 suspects were shot dead in Tikrit, a Falluja car bombing has left three police officers injured,  and Marouf al-Kubaisi was shot dead in Falluja.  He was the Attorney General of Falluja.  That brings today's reported death toll to 11 dead and 17 injured.    National Iraqi News Agency reports 1 farmer and 1 Sahwa were kidnapped in Tikrit.  Iraq Body Count counts 82 deaths when the tolls of Monday and Tuesday are combined.  They count 269 violent deaths for the month so far through Tuesday.

UPI offers an analysis of what continued violence could result in:

Indeed, Oxford Analytica postulates that if the security crisis continues to worsen at the rate it is now, Maliki, a longtime ally of Iran, could face an intensified regional effort to topple his Shiite-dominated coalition.
Baghdad fears overlap between the fortunes of the Syrian rebels and protest movements in Iraq's predominantly Sunni provinces such as Anbar, Nineveh and Salaheddin," which border Sunni-majority Syria where the regime of President Bashar Assad is under growing threat, Oxford Analytica observed.
"Maliki's inner circle has a genuine and deep-seated fear of a coup attempt, which they believe will coincide with Assad's fall and will be backed by the region's Sunni states."

  Nouri's fear of a coup is long-standing and was documented as far back as 2006.  It's part of his paranoia.  Or maybe he's psychic?  Maybe in 2006, before he had managed to turn huge sections of the country against him, he knew that the day was coming.  It has arrived.  His failure to provide security only adds to that.

Back in July, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observed, "Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has struggled to forge a lasting power-sharing agreement and has yet to fill key Cabinet positions, including the ministers of defense, interior and national security, while his backers have also shown signs of wobbling support."  Violence has been increasing for the last two years.  As it has increased, positions that should have been filled by the end of 2010 have never been.  Nouri's refused to nominate people to head the security ministries.  That power-grab puts him in charge of all security.  He can't point to a Minister of Interior and say, "That's why the police are failing."  He is the Minister of Interior.  He can't point to a Defense Minister and say, "That's why the army is failing."  He is the Minister of Defense.  

The worsening security situation rests on his shoulders and no one else's.   Abdul Rahman al-Rashed (Eurasia Review) explains of Nouri:

We see an image of an Iraqi dictator who is consolidating his hold on power in a terrifying manner. Prime Minister Al-Maliki does not hesitate to use all means to stay in a position of authority, even with regard to local elections, like the provincial ones. There are several means adopted by Al-Maliki to eliminate his rivals, like using security detectives, courts and state institutions to pursue them, falsely accusing them of terror and corruption allegations. Al-Maliki also used money, which he has in plenty, in order to gain protection and sabotage the political life of the country. He has also not spared any of the state organs, like radio and television stations, in his bid to market his party and its candidates and to prevent competitors from gaining a foothold -- a move displaying flagrant violation of electoral laws. Above all, Al-Maliki previously confiscated all governmental seats, effectively becoming the entire Cabinet! A minister for defense, security, finance, intelligence and even the Central Bank governor. He established an administration in his office that falls under his command and that runs all ministries of sovereignty and he also allocated huge funds to the body.

Mustafa al-Kadhimi (Al-Monitor) explores recent violence:

The first development signified that al-Qaeda, which will probably have claimed responsiblity for the operation by the time this article goes to press, sent a very clear message that it was capable of reaching any target it wanted to strike. In this case, that target was a city in the extreme southern and Shiite dominated part of the country that seldom falls victim to major security attacks.
The message brings to the forefront the true nature of the support environment through which al-Qaeda operates. It raises questions of whether it is really centered in the Sunni part of Iraq, or rather spread in different environments where it infiltrates and exploits security weaknesses wherever they may be.
The significance of the second development, where a car bomb successfully reached Baghdad airport, lies in the fact that it had to cross at least three main checkpoints without being detected. And if the car originated far from the airport or from another province, as security communiqués seem to indicate, then it would have had to traverse at least 20 checkpoints to reach its target at the entrance to the airport!
This fact is appalling, and invites the same question that has followed every other bombing in Iraq: How can an organization which is supposedly “besieged,” as security reports indicate, whose members and leaders are apprehended by the dozens every day, execute all these attacks, simultaneously in wide-ranging areas of Iraq?
This question, in turn, leads to the third previously mentioned point as to why the security forces never were able to offer any justification for the lapses in security, and never announced the discovery of any facts, except to say, a day or hours even after each bomb attack, that the perpetrators had been apprehended.
It thus is only logical for the inhabitants of Baghdad, whose city was rocked by seven simultaneous car bomb explosions, and more than 40 such explosions since the beginning of the year, to ask: Why are the Iraqi security forces transforming our lives into a daily hell of waiting for hours at checkpoints that conduct perfunctory half-hearted searches on blocked-off streets, amid useless fortifications?

Katie Nguyen (AlertNet) explores the impact of violence on mental health today and reminds:

The only mental health survey of recent years, the Iraq Mental Health Survey carried out in 2006-2007, recorded the damaging effects of the violence on Iraqi people.
It showed that mental health disorders were prevalent in 13.6 percent of Iraqis aged 18 and above. Anxiety disorders were the most common type of mental disorder followed by mood disorders, which might manifest themselves as depression.
The survey showed that 56 percent of the population had been exposed to trauma. The most common causes were raids by police or the army, followed by shooting, internal displacement, being a witness to killing, exposure to bomb blasts and the death of a close relative or friend.

Someone should explore the impact of violence on the mental health of reporters because you have to wonder about those who insist upon using the extreme violence of 2006 and 2007 as the yardstick to measure violence in Iraq today.  It allows many to avoid noting that violence has been increasing in Iraq for the last two years.

Tomorrow, we'll try to cover a Monday Congressional hearing.  The events of Monday (Boston) sent me as reeling as anyone else.  We put together a snapshot as quickly as possible and I wasn't in the mood to review my notes on that day's hearing or to include it.  Tuesday?  Counter-insurgency had waited all last week and had to be included.  Today, we're noting Kerry and the torture report.  So hopefully, we'll be able to cover Monday's hearing tomorrow. If not, and the other reason I didn't fret over not including it Monday, Dona will quiz us on it Sunday at Third as she did last Sunday in "Congress and Veterans" -- the hearing was on the same topic.

Part of covering Iraq is correcting the record.  Repeatedly.  Today, for some unknown reason, someone takes a swipe at the Dixie Chicks.  "Backing other causes like global warming and mining practices, ____ says she has not suffered the 'Shut Up and Sing Syndrome' that visited the Dixie Chicks after lead singer Natalie Maines spoke out about the war in Iraq during a concert.  'The one choice I try to be clear about is that when I do my show, I do my show,' she said."  That's Kathy Mattea's whose career has all the life of Theda Bara's.  The whole angle of Gordon Glantz's article for Mainline Median News is that Mattea's 'back' because of her album Coal.  That album came out in 2008.  That's five years ago.  And the highest it made it was 64 on the country charts.  Last year, she released Calling Me Home, an album of bad covers, that made it to 54 on the country charts.  Neither indicates any real motion in the career.  Neither album was even certified gold (half a million sold -- the lowest certification for sales).  I've always felt she had terrible phrasing, poor breath control and a problem staying in tune -- details that make her cover of Nanci Griffith's "Love At The Five and Dime" painful for me to listen to.  But we've been here for almost nine years and I've never shared my thoughts on Mattea -- and not just because, like most of America, I forgot about her roughly 20 years ago.  If she hadn't lied I wouldn't be noting her today.

Natalie Maines did not stop a concert to lecture the audience on the Iraq War.  I'm sorry that Kathy Mattea's such an idiot.  Although I suspect it's less stupidity and more cowardice.  I've seen this dance from the 'big girl' before.  It's a lumbering and awkward dance but she's big boned.  The Dixie Chicks were performing in London.  Outside the venue and inside the venue were signs against the war -- brought by the audience.  It was March 10, 2003.  Natalie didn't bring some new topic into the room.  She acknowledged the audience -- as any real concert performer would -- and the signs they had.  "Just so you know, we're on the good side with y'all.  We do not want this war, this violence, and we're ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas."

So for Mattea to try to score points off the Dixie Chicks with a crappy, revisionist tale of,  "The one choice I try to be clear about is that when I do my show, I do my show"?  It's dishonest and so is she.  She needs to go back to her EZ-bake activism where she pretends she did a damn thing.  She plays in the article like she did something brave for AIDS, that she lost friends in the 80s and that got her active.  In 1992, she wore three red ribbons to the CMA Awards and gave the name of three friends.  Wow.  That's 'activism.'  (That was sarcasm.)  She recorded one song on Red Hot + Country, a 1994 charity album.   Like most of the Red Hot albums (there was a whole series), there was no major art to be found there but it was the era of charity albums -- jam once and get off the hook forever!  Kathy's bravery?  In 1994, Jack Hurst (Chicago Tribune) reported, "Another reason Mattea presumably has stayed low-key on the Red, Hot & Country album, whose proceeds go to the cause, is to prevent her Red, Hot & Country involvement from obscuring her current solo album, Walking Away a Winner. Walking Away has spawned a pronounced resurgence in her impact on the hit charts."   Low-key?  Silent. 

She's always been a coward.  And these days, when a reporter talks with pride of her 'activism,' Kathy gets a little nervous and has to make sure anyone reading knows she's not that active, she's not one of them crazy Dixie Chicks!  So she lies about them to try to make herself look better.

Natalie Maines spoke up.  I will always applaud her for that.  I do not put up with those who attacked her back then and I do not allow people to get away with lying about her today.  Kathy Mattea should be ashamed of herself.  Natalie's debuts her first solo album May 7th.  It's called Mother (after the Pink Floyd song which she covers).

Bradley Manning is a whistle blower and a political prisoner.  We noted this morning:

At the end of the month (April 30th), there will be an event about the importance of whistle blowing to a society at St. Joseph's College (starting at 6:30 pm) with Sarah Leonard (Dissent and New Inquiry)  and Chase Madar (author of The Passion of Bradley Manning: The Story Behind the WikiLeaks Whistleblower).  For Chase Madar's book, click here and link goes to Barnes and Noble.  Not Amazon?  Amazon shows the book as "out of print" -- even as a download.  (On the St. Joseph's College event, we'll note it in the snapshot.  A friend asked me to note it and I said sure but there's nothing at St. Joseph's College about it.  So I called him back and he said the event is on and scheduled and he'd e-mail me something later today.  We'll include that info in the snapshot.)

My friend e-mailed this press release for the event to be held at the college's Tuohy Hall from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm -- and you can read it online here:

Sarah Leonard and Chase Madar explore why whistleblowers are usually less popular than war criminals
On Tuesday, April 30th The New Inquiry, Verso and Brooklyn Voices present a discussion between The Passion of Bradley Manning: The Story Behind the Wikileaks Whistleblower author Chase Madar and Sarah Leonard, New Inquiry Editor and Associate Editor at Dissent. The discussion will be part of the Brooklyn Voices series, a program of St. Joseph's College, in partnership with Greenlight Bookstore and the Brooklyn Rail. In the past three years, Wikileaks has released thousands of classified documents about the Iraq War, the Afghan War and American statecraft in general, the basis for thousands of important stories in major media across the world. The source? A 25-year-old US Army Intelligence Private First Class from Crescent, Oklahoma by the name of Bradley Manning. After three years of pretrial detention, his court martial will begin June 3rd of this year. He faces 22 charges including espionage and Aiding the Enemy, carrying a possible life term.
The case of Bradley Manning is both a coda and a key to the long debacle of America's militarized response to the 9/11 attacks. What are the consequences of charging–and perhaps convicting–Pfc. Manning with the capital offense of “Aiding the Enemy”? Why aren't the New York Times and other Establishment media vigorously defending the source of so many of their important stories? What power does information have to change policy and halt wars? What power doesn't it have? And why are whistleblowers usually less popular than war criminals?

Chase Madar and Sarah Leonard will discuss.

This event is free and open to all.


CHASE MADAR is a civil rights attorney in New York who writes for The London Review of Books, Le Monde diplomatique, TomDispatch, CounterPunch, The Nation, The American Conservative (where he is a contributing editor), and the National Interest
SARAH LEONARD is an editor at The New Inquiry. She is also an editor at Dissent magazine, and a co-editor of Occupy!: Scenes from Occupied America (Verso, 2011).
THE NEW INQUIRY is a space for discussion that aspires to enrich cultural and public life by putting all available resources—both digital and material—toward the promotion and exploration of ideas. The New Inquiry is a 501(c)3 non-profit and is not affiliated with any political party, government agency, university, municipality, religious organization, cadre, or other cult. TNI was co-founded by Mary Borkowski, Jennifer Bernstein, and Rachel Rosenfelt.
BROOKLYN VOICES was created in collaboration with Saint Joseph's College, Greenlight Bookstore and the Brooklyn Rail. Its aim is to promote and enhance the creative vitality of these institutions' home neighborhoods of Fort Greene and Clinton Hill by providing local writers, artists and intellectuals with a forum in which to discuss and present their works to neighbors, patrons and students.