Saturday, August 17, 2013

Alex Cockburn

John V. Walsh has written many important pieces. Vijay Prashad has attacked the late Alexander Cockburn and Walsh has written a reply which includes:

This writer spent as much effort and money on the Ron Paul campaign in 2012 as I did with the Nader campaign in 2008 and earlier years.  I found not a single hint of racism or homophobia in the Paul campaign.   There was, however, more than one exhortation for women to become more involved as candidates and leaders, something we have seen in Massachusetts with the first libertarian elected to the legislature, a woman.  And the Paul campaign election night rally in NH was not only multi-racial but younger, much younger than the remnants of the New Left grown older which make up the thinning ranks of the progressive peace gatherings.  The cheers were loudest for Paul’s words that condemned war and Empire.
Let’s face it.  The point Prashad is making is that Alexander was on the road to the far right, a charge as outlandish as it is scurrilous.   Prashad continues on, trampling the corpse: “Alexander was saved from a Hitchens style volte-face by a few crucial elements.”   The 180 degree turn of Hitchens was not Alex’s direction, but clearly in Prashad’s view, Alex had taken a nasty trajectory, as evidenced by his positive views of Ron Paul.  But before Prashad ends, he is quick to note that Alex had not yet become a full blown racist, quickly citing a 2010 statement of Alex, ““Racism is drifting across America like mustard gas in the trenches of World War 1.”  (Does Prashad see that he contradicts his earlier condemnation of Alex?)  And with that the Rondel is yanked out, Prashad smiles again about Alex, and he is quickly on his way, the damage done.  Thus are Alex and his politics attacked when he is dead and gone, unable to respond which he surely would have done with force and well-deserved derision.
Alex was asked in an extended interview on C-Span a few years back why his father abandoned the Communist Party.  Alex’s reply was that “it was not going anywhere.”  One might suspect that is why Alex cut his ties with much of the “left” to whom he contemptuously referred as “pwogwessives” or “pwogs” for short, giving the name the tenor of Elmer Fudd impotence that they deserve.  Right now the pwogs, who are not genuine Leftists, are not going anywhere.  The waffling of many of them on the wars of Empire, their double standard on Bush and Obama, their praise for the coup in Egypt and their infatuation with humanitarian imperialism have exposed their not inconsiderable hypocrisy.  The libertarians at least are leading the antiwar, anti-Empire and civil libertarian movement in a principled way, sparing neither the Bushes or Clinton or Obama, which may get us somewhere.  We may at last have the beginnings of an anti-Empire movement with American characteristics.

I liked Alex but I didn't worship him.

I liked him less and less in his last years.

Was he turning rightward?

I don't believe so.

I remember him using CounterPunch during the 2008 primary season to destroy Hillary which meant setting up Barack.  (We don't hear from the whore Joanne anymore, do we?)

(For those who've forgotten, I voted for Mike Gravel in my state's Democratic Party primary.)

I found Alex's worship of Barack to be unseemly.  I don't see how you can accuse Alex of turning rightward, though.

After Barack was sworn in, Alex would sometimes gently attack Barack and sometimes not attack him.

Alex was basically defanged.  Worse, he was dull.

John Walsh won't like that any better than he did Prashad's take.

But that's my take as someone who read Cockburn in The Village Voice and never missed an issue of CounterPunch until 2008.

I do agree with Walsh's take, I hope that's clear.  I also frequently defended Alex's position on climate change while noting I disagreed with it.  But while I don't think he went rightward in his last years, I do think he went weak.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, August 18, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, Hoshyar Zebari speaks in DC, he ignores the Hawaija massacre and the Sunnis, Barack Obama is caught lying about his illegal spying on the American people, Colonel Denise Lind issues a report on Bradley Manning, Heidi Boghosian discusses government spying, and more.

"Ten years after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, the better future that we seek is still a goal, not a given," Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari declared today.  He arrived in DC to meet with US Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday.  Today, he delivered a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.  It was not a good speech.  It was often not a factual speech.  It was a speech that showed Zebari at his worst.  

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani is a Kurd as is Zebari.  Too often, both men are seen as refusing to stand up and lacking spine.  In small ways, Talabani has been able to deliver for the Kurds which is what has redeemed him with many in the Kurdistan Regional Government.  Last year,  Talabani suffered a stroke.  The incident took place late on December 17th (see the December 18th snapshot) and resulted in Jalal being admitted to Baghdad's Medical Center Hospital.    Thursday, December 20th, he was moved to Germany.  He remains in Germany currently.

Zebari attempted a move for the presidency in early 2013, angering not just just the Talabani family but many officials of both the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (Talabani's party) and of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (led by KRG President Massoud Barzani).  It was thought that Zebari was once again putting himself ahead of the Kurdish interests.  It was made clear to Zebari that should he attempt to grab the office, Hero Ibrahim Ahmed would announce she was filling the post and that she would have backing from leadership in the PUK as well as the blessing from the KDP.  Zebari's  work has too often been seen to benefit Nouri al-Maliki and not the Kurds.  His statements have too often seem to leave out Sunnis which especially became an issue when the Kurds began attempting to improve relations in 2011.  Most of all, an attempt to seize the post could remove the presidency from Kurdish control.  That is why the First Lady of Iraq reluctantly agreed with the leadership of the two major political parties in the KRG that if anyone should attempt to grab the post, she would announce she was assuming the role while her husband recovered.  Such a move would be popular with many Kurds but would also play well across Iraq due to the sympathies over Jalal's stroke.

Zebari's speech did nothing to redeem his image.

Minister Hoshyar Zebari: As Iraqis rebuild our own country, Iraq and the United States will benefit by building a longterm partnership. Together, we can and must develop what President Obama has described as "a normal relationship between sovereign nations, an equal partnership based on mutual interests and mutual respect."  With our political progress, our economic progress, and our diplomatic progress, Iraq is taking its place as a partner for the United States, for our neighbors, and for the family of nations. On the political front, we are building a multi-ethnic, multi-party democracy, with respect for the rule of law. Our democratic process is moving forward at a strong and steady pace. Our local elections took place in April of this year. In Iraqi Kurdistan, there would be regional elections in September this year.  

First major screw up.  Anbar and Nineveh were not allowed to vote in April.  The two provinces were penalized by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for their ongoing protests.  He said it was due to violence.  A lie.  Baghdad Province had more violence at that time.  He provided other excuses (such as voter theft), none were believed.  The so-called Independent High Electoral Commission was against the delay and was the only individual or body who could legally authorize it.  Allowing Nouri to get away with postponing elections set a dangerous precedent.  Anbar and Nineveh were finally allowed to vote in July.  To no one's surprise, Nouri's State of Law faired poorly in the elections.

Zebari may have been attempting to smooth over differences but to Sunnis it will appear that 'their' Foreign Minister (Sunnis are Iraqis too) has yet again sleighted them -- and this time on the international stage. 

Hoshyar Zebari:  And our legislative elections, generral elections will take place next year  -- which will determine our national leadership -- a very, very important date to watch. We have a government of national unity. Now all the communities participate in the working of the government and of the Parliament.  

No.  By "the working of the government," he means the Cabinet.  Iraqiya walked out this summer.  Do not point to Saleh al-Mutlaq or any other person.  The leader of Iraqiya is Ayad Allawi.  In June, Sarah Montague (BBC Hardtalk) did one of her hard hitting interviews where she takes an adversarial position.  This interview was with Ayad Allawi, leader of Iraqiya.  He noted Iraqiya walked out of the Cabinet and that any who remained were not Iraqiya members.  Zebari betrays many by refusing to acknowledge The Erbil Agreement or Nouri's failure to honor it.


Hoshyar Zebari:  Yes, we have differences of opinion, as all democracies do, but we are working together and slowly but surely our efforts are achieving results.  We are promoting human rights.  There has been violations, which we admit, but there are constant efforts to improve on that. and to be responsive to all codes and also the freedom of expression and the advancements of women.  There has been demonstrations and sit-ins in Iraq in many provinces, in western part of Iraq and some Sunni provinces in Iraq for the last eight months and they have kept [can't make out the word], they have sit-ins, they have obstructions, but the government have not resorted to the same methods the Egyptians recently used or deployed to disperse the demonstrators.

First off, don't e-mail that Zebari didn't say it.  He did.  It's not in prepared remarks.  I know that.  I was e-mailed the prepared remarks (as were many, I see, by looking at the cc).  Zebari went off script and did so without stumbling which indicates to me he didn't want Nouri to know he was mentioning the protests.

Second, what?

Nouri's thugs have intimidated, harassed and followed protesters.  In single digits, his forces have been responsible for deaths at protests several times in the last eight months.  That's not even allowing for the refusal to allow journalists near to cover the protests or his arrests of journalists who try to cover the protests.  

Third, the April 23rd massacre of a sit-in in Hawija resulted from  Nouri's federal forces storming in.  Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk)  announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault.   AFP reported the death toll rose to 53 dead.  UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured).

It is not a minor event.  The International Crisis Group noted this week

 After Hawija, Iraq is on the brink of a relapse into generalised conflict, confronted with a resurgence of Sunni militant operations, the strengthening of al-Qaeda’s Islamic State of Iraq and waves of attacks fuelling sectarian tensions. The government has tightened security measures even further, exacerbating the divide between Sunni constituents and central authorities.

Zebari lied and let's also remember the attack took place over the objection of the governor of Kirkuk.  Shalaw Mohammed (Niqash) interviewed Governor Najm al-Din Karim back in May:

NIQASH: Let’s talk about the controversial Tigris Operations Command. It’s caused several crises around here. What’s your opinion on this Iraqi military base?

Al-Din Karim: Neither I, as governor, nor the provincial council have changed our opinions on this issue. We don’t want the Tigris Operations Command here and we don’t accept their presence. Although we have agreed to form a committee in Baghdad to try and resolve this impasse.

NIQASH: The incidents in Hawija, where protestors were killed by the Iraqi military, also seems to have seen more Iraqi army forces enter Kirkuk.

Al-Din Karim: Actually those forces did not come through Kirkuk - they entered Hawija by helicopter. They tried to come through Kirkuk but we prevented them from doing so. I know the Prime Minister disapproved of this – he told me so last time we met.

Not exactly the rosy picture Zebari painted.

During the Q and A, Zebari got a little more honest, for a brief second.

Hoshyar Zebari: As I said before, really we have demonstrations, sit-ins, all over the country for the past eight months and the government never resorted to the kind of violence -- except in one or two incidences in Haiwja.  And I'm not here to justify this violations whatsoever.  But really the government has tolerated this so far to go on without any intimidations.

Back to his speech:

Hoshyar Zebari:  All the political parties have accepted election as a method of power-sharing and peaceful change. Iraqis want to decide our future with voting, not violence. On the economic front , we are growing and diversifying. We have one of the world’s ten fastest growing economies, expanding by 9.6 percent in 2011 and 10.5 percent in 2012. According to Bank of America Merrill Lynch, we will grow by 8.2 percent this year -- beating China for the third straight year. On the energy front, our oil production has increased by 50 percent since 2005. Iraq expects to increase oil production to 4.5 million barrels by the end of 2014 and nine million barrels a day by 2020. As the International Energy Agency has reported, Iraq is poised to double our output of oil by the decade of the 2030’s. We will emerge as the world’s second largest energy exporter. And we will ease a strained global oil market. In spite of this progress, we face serious economic problems. Ninety percent of our economy depends on oil. Our unemployment rate is 11 percent. Our poverty rate is 23 percent. Terrorism 3 contributes to the cycle of poverty, and young unemployed men can be ready recruits for terrorist groups. In order to diversify our economy beyond energy, Iraq is investing oil revenues in education and crucial development projects, incl uding restoring electrical power and rebuilding our transportation system. 

Most experts argue Iraq's unemployment rate is actually 21% or higher.  As for diversifying the economy, Nouri's been promising that since 2006.  Too bad for Nouri, the only high ranking official who worked on that was Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi.  As Sami Moubayed (Gulf News) reminds:

Iraqi Sunnis, for sure, are furious. Al Maliki has blamed them for the deteriorating security. Further, he has systematically purged leading Sunnis from his government, like Vice-President Tareq Al Hashemi, who was sent into exile, and Finance Minister Rafia Al Issawi, who barely escaped an assassination attempt in 2012. The Baathists are still taboo in Iraqi politics. Al Maliki is the man who single-handedly wrote off the execution of every single senior Sunni of the former regime, including Saddam himself.

Lara Jakes (AP) reports Zebari noted today that Iraq needed US "advisers, intellgence analysis and surveillance assets -- including lethal drones."    Jakes (AP) reported this morning on Iraq and how it is being shoved aside in the news cycle by other events.  It wouldn't have opened the snapshot were it not for Zebari's speech.  We would have opened with the illegal spying.  The plan was to include a new report on Iraq and to explore Nouri's 'leadership' and a third term.  That's getting shoved back to next week, hopefully Monday.  We will also likely return to Zebari's speech to note more from the questions and answer section.

There is no security in Iraq.  This is made especially clear by an incident today. NINA reports that Lt Col Wissam Korgi al-Dulaimi's home was invaded today.  The man holds the title of Director of the Division to Combat Terrorism.  Yet his Falluja home was invaded by a man wearing an explosive belt. The suicide bomber detonated his bomb and took his own life while taking the lives of 2 bodyguards and the Lt Col's brother and also injuring two people.  Also today, a police officer was shot dead outside his home near Mosul and his brother was left injured in this shooting.  Alsumaria adds that a Ramadi suicide bombing claimed 1 life and left two police officers injured, a Samarra bombing left six members of the police injured,  and a Mahmudiyah bombing claimed the 2 lives (military officer and a soldier) and left seven soldiers injured. AFP observes, "In Friday's deadliest attack, a roadside bomb exploded in the west Baghdad neighbourhood of Ghazaliyah, killing at least four people and wounding 14 others, while another blast on a commercial street in Saidiyah wounded six, officials said."  They also note a Muqdadiay home invasion in which the police chief was "shot dead in front of his family" and a Buhruz bombing which claimed 2 lives and left seven people injured.

Nouri al-Maliki is a failure.  In his second term as prime minister, he has turned out to be even worse than his first term.  He can't lead, he can't protect. He can, and does, blame mythical foreigners for the violence in Iraq.  Mohammad Akef Jamal (Gulf News) observes:

The Iraqi government, however, has failed in doing its political duty. Political failure means failure at all levels, including security. But Al Maliki does not want to look at failure from this perspective although many of his allies in the National Alliance disagree with him. He tries to justify his policies through blame and threats.
In a meeting with political and economic experts, Al Maliki hurled accusations at allies in different political blocs, such as the Al Muwatin Bloc headed by Ammar Al Hakim and the Sadrist movement headed by Muqtada Al Sadr. He also accused some of his ministers of being responsible for the deteriorating security situation. He forgot that as the prime minister, he shoulders the most responsibility.
Additionally, when Al Maliki accuses neighbouring countries of sponsoring terrorism in Iraq, he is only embarrassing himself. He ends up in a very awkward position because he becomes obliged to reveal the names of these countries — and bolster his accusations with proof. He also needs to tell his people how his government is dealing with these countries.
Iraqis have a right to know their real enemies and the government has no business hiding the truth.
If what Al Maliki is saying is true and he has evidence against countries sponsoring terrorism in Iraq, then he has a national and moral obligation to challenge these countries in an international court of law and the UN Security Council.
But the truth lies elsewhere. If we were to accuse those who destroyed Iraq, encouraged corruption, sectarianism, forgery, armed militias, and the killing of highly-qualified Iraqis, we will not find any group more liable than the Green Zone group, along with its establishments and institutions.

Kitabat notes Nouri is refusing to own up to his security failures and is again blaming the unnamed foreigners.  As the fingers point more and more to Nouri and he grows ever less popular.  Iraq Times notes a new poll finds 83% of Iraqis consider Nouri a failure as a prime minister.  Michael Jansen (Gulf News) points out, "Shias have also lost faith in the Maliki government’s ability to deliver safety from the bombers. Maliki’s credibility is plunging and with every bombing, his approval rating drops further."

Last week, US President Barack Obama held a press conference.  See last Friday's snapshot and Ava and my "Media: The weak press, the weak press conference." Today, Margaret Hartmann (New York magazine) reminds Barack insisted, "What you're hearing about is the prospect that these [programs] could be abused.  Now part of the reason they're not abused is because they're -- these checks are in place, and those abuses would be against the law and would be against the orders of the FISC."

Last night, Barton Gellman (Washington Post) reported:

The National Security Agency has broken privacy rules or overstepped its legal authority thousands of times each year since Congress granted the agency broad new powers in 2008, according to an internal audit and other top-secret documents.Most of the infractions involve unauthorized surveillance of Americans or foreign intelligence targets in the United States, both of which are restricted by statute and executive order. They range from significant violations of law to typographical errors that resulted in unintended interception of U.S. e-mails and telephone calls.

Yet again, NSA whistle-blower Ed Snowden is demonstrated to have been telling the truth while Barack's caught lying.   Charlie Savage (New York Times) notes, "The National Security Agency violated privacy rules protecting the communications of Americans and others on domestic soil 2,776 times over a one-year period, according to an internal audit leaked by the former N.S.A. contractor Edward J. Snowden and made public on Thursday night."  Savage also notes:

A brief article in an internal N.S.A. newsletter offered hints about a known but little-understood episode in which the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court found in 2011 that the N.S.A. had violated the Fourth Amendment. The newsletter said the court issued an 80-page ruling on Oct. 3, 2011, finding that something the N.S.A. was collecting involving "Multiple Communications Transactions" on data flowing through fiber-optic networks on domestic soil was "deficient on statutory and constitutional grounds."

Andrea Peterson (Washington Post) observes nicely, but he lied, he lied, he lied.

Obama said that wasn’t supposed to happen because it would be “against the orders of the FISC.” So why didn’t the judges on the court catch these abuses?
In another story broken by [Carol D. Leonnig of] The Post today, the chief of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court admits he doesn’t actually have the capability to investigate the compliance record of NSA surveillance programs:

The FISC is forced to rely upon the accuracy of the information that is provided to the Court [...] The FISC does not have the capacity to investigate issues of noncompliance, and in that respect the FISC is in the same position as any other court when it comes to enforcing [government] compliance with its orders.

Today, Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez (Democracy Now! -- link is text, audio and video) addressed the topic with the ACLU's Alex Abdo:

ALEX ABDO: It’s truly shocking that the NSA is violating these surveillance laws thousands of times every year—effectively, about seven times a day—in part because these laws are extraordinarily permissive. These aren’t laws that impose meaningful constrictions on the NSA. They essentially allow the NSA to collect vast quantities of information about Americans’ communications inside the United States and as we communicate internationally. So the fact that they’re violating these very permissive laws is truly shocking.
But I think, even more fundamentally, the disclosures really undermine the intelligence community’s primary defense of these programs, which is that they are heavily regulated and overseen. We now know that that’s simply not true. Congress has not been able to effectively oversee the NSA’s surveillance machinery. Now we know that the FISA court, the secret court that’s charged with overseeing the NSA, is not able to and, in its own words, doesn’t think it has the capacity to effectively oversee the NSA. So, for all of these years, the government has been claiming this is a regulated surveillance complex, and in fact the fox has been guarding the hen house for far too long, and it needs to stop.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, but even with these revelations, government officials seem to indicate that these are not deliberate violations but inadvertent problems in terms of how they’re gathering and sifting data, and that they’re relatively small compared to the huge volume of what they’re actually doing. Do you buy that argument?

ALEX ABDO: Well, the NSA has, for the past months in defending these programs, used word games when it talks about the consequences of these policies for Americans’ privacy. They use words like "targeted," "incidental" and "inadvertent" to really obscure what’s going on. And the fact of the matter is that these laws allow the government to listen in on Americans’ phone calls and to read Americans’ emails in an extraordinary number of circumstances, and the government has not been forthcoming about that authority, and they’re not being forthcoming now when they suggest that these violations are minimal. These are thousands of violations every year, and each violation could affect hundreds or even thousands of Americans. But we still don’t have the basic facts to have that debate.

Law and Disorder Radio  is a weekly, 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). National Lawyers Guild executive director Heidi has a new book  Spying on Democracy: Government Surveillance, Corporate Power and Public Resistance which was released last week.  She discusses it on FAIR's CounterSpin which began airing today.

Peter Hart: Now the book was obviously much in the works before Edward Snowden made these issues front page news but I see in the book a connection to his actions and one incident you recount in the book.  A group breaks into an FBI office to gain documents about spying on political groups which leads to policy changes that basically eliminate that spying program.  In so many ways, it seems like, reading through the book, Edward Snowden, his story, recalls lessons from the past.  Talk a little about that.

Heidi Boghosian:  That's true.  And although the context is different, I think the underlying principles are the same.  You're talking about the incident in the early seventies in which a group of concerned citizens broke into a local FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania and found a trove of files indicating that the government had been spying on lawful Americans -- notably outspoken activists.  People like Martin Luther King Jr., peace activists, anti-war activists.  But they took these files and mention of it to the media.  Immediately, the American people reacted with outrage.  And what happened was, we had a series of Congressional hearings called the Church Committee, headed by Frank Church, and the FBI ended COINTELPRO and set in place a series of protections that basically curbed the FBI from unlimitless surveillance and it laid out guidelines by  which agents would need probable cause that criminal activity might be afoot in order to open an investigation and put a bar against spying on religious, political, other leaders in social movements unless they could prove that there was something wrong.

Peter Hart:  Now we're talking about government spying and that's been the focus of so much one of the Snowden coverage.  One of the lessons of the book is that private companies are very much involved in this on a number of levels.  They're contractors with the federal government.  They're also hired guns on activist groups -- things that the government probably couldn't do legally but you can hire a private company to do these things.  Talk a little about the role of private companies and how they blur the distinction between government surveillance

Heidi Boghosian:  In many ways, private corporations have become the long arm of the government, doing -- as you say -- things that the government could not legally do because they're bound by the strictures of the US Constitution.  Our officials take an oath to protect the Constitution.  And, as we mentioned, some protections were set in place.  They've eroded over time but I think most Americans would be offended if they knew the level of surveillance and they're getting a hint of that now.  Corporations conduct approximately 70% of the US government's intelligence functions. We've seen a shift so that, in many cases, well trained staff move from the public sector into private jobs because they're much more lucrative.  What happens, however, is that there is no oversight and no accountability in a lot of these actions so that even members of Congress are largely in the dark about how these corporations act.  And, as you mentioned with activists, a large part of what corporations do is guard against any outside criticism of their policies so that, for example, in addition to entering into contracts with the government, they may have their own internal intelligence units that collect data, photographs, they spy on activists who are outspoken -- many times, successful activists who've actually changed policies of, say, Burger King or, you know, work that the group PETA has done to raise awareness about how we treat animals.  So environmental activists, animal rights have been deemed top domestic terrorist threats by the government and really, I think, playing into fears people have about another terrorist attack unfortunately by branding US citizens and other people who are merely exercising in most cases their First Amendment right to free speech and free activities, the right to assemble and take grievances to the government, they're being punished, labeled as terrorists, vilified and this has what we call a chilling effect on the exercise of free speech.

Again, Heidi Boghosian's new book is  Spying on Democracy: Government Surveillance, Corporate Power and Public Resistance -- it is a strong book and makes for a powerful read.  Moving to the US Senate, yesterday  Senator Patty Murray's office issued a joint-statement from Senator Murray and Senator Kelly Ayotte.  Murray, the former Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, now Chairs the Senate Budget Committee.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                            CONTACT: Murray Press Office
Thursday, August 15, 2013                                                                                   202-224-2834

Murray, Ayotte Statement on Secretary Hagel Directive on Military Sexual Assault
Hagel memorandum includes directive for immediate implementation of trained military lawyers to help victims of sexual assault take action against attackers
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) released the following statement after Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel directed immediate implementation of several measures to “gain greater consistency of effort and enhance oversight, investigative quality, pretrial investigations and victim support” in cases of military sexual assault. Among other measures, the directive includes implementation of trained lawyers to provide victims in all branches with guidance through the legal process, similar to legislation introduced by Senators Murray and Ayotte.
“I applaud the proactive steps Secretary Hagel is taking today to do right by our nation’s heroes and begin the process of tackling this scourge within the ranks,” said Senator Murray. “Our legislation to provide victims with a dedicated legal counsel absolutely gets to the heart of effectively addressing the tragic epidemic of sexual assault in our military and I was pleased to see Secretary Hagel has put priority on its implementation. Providing legal advocates for victims is a major step forward in reversing this awful trend and establishing the necessary means for these men and women to take action against their attackers through what is a deeply personal and painful process. While these measures are by no means a silver bullet, it is inexcusable for us to wait any longer to address this issue and I’m glad Secretary Hagel understands these actions are long overdue.”

“It’s encouraging that the Department of Defense is taking steps to implement these reforms immediately, rather than waiting for them to become law,” said Senator Ayotte.  "The actions announced today will provide greater protections to victims, increase reporting, and result in more prosecutions – and they represent a significant step forward as we continue efforts to stop sexual assault in the military.”

Last month, the Senate Defense Appropriations Committee approved $25 million to fully fund the Murray-Ayotte Special Victims Counsels (SVCs) program. The House of Representatives has also approved full funding for this program in their Department of Defense spending legislation. In May, Senators Murray and Ayotte introduced the bipartisan Combating Military Sexual Assault Act, which has been included in the pending National Defense Authorization Act. The SVC program is based on a successful pilot program currently implemented in the Air Force.
Meghan Roh
Press Secretary | New Media Director
Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray
Mobile: (202) 365-1235
Office: (202) 224-2834

RSS Feed for Senator Murray's office

Moving over to commentary on a military court-martial.

And yesterday was another highlight with Bradley Manning giving his statement and essentially reaching the point where he had been advised by his defense team that he had to -- for mercy from the judge -- that he had to convince her, hopefully, that she would see that he wouldn't be in prison for the next 90 years.  Obviously, he would end up dying in prison because he's 25-years-old.

That's Kevin Gosztola. He's speaking of Bradley's apology.  Like Ann, we'll note this from Thursday's Free Speech Radio News:

Pfc Bradley Manning apologizes during sentencing hearing
Private First Class Bradley Manning  addressed the court yesterday, during the sentencing phase of his military trial. Despite his acquittal on the most serious of the charges against him, aiding the enemy, Private Manning faces as much as 90 years in prison for releasing classified military information to the public. Manning spent  more than three years in pretrial detention, much of which he served in solitary confinement. Throughout the trial, he fought the charges against him. Yesterday, he shifted gears and apologized for his actions. David Swanson is Campaign Coordinator at and blogs at Swanson was in the courtroom when Manning made his statement, and described Manning's statement as “an apology for having acted without being able to think clearly.”
“That's not what Bradley Manning did. If you look back at the chat logs, he was thinking very, very clearly and he had clear and honorable intentions. There is a reason he is viewed as a hero around the world, why he is a four time Nobel Peace Prize nominee. And it just wasn't discussed by him or by the therapists or by his sister or his aunts, in all of yesterdays testimony.”
According to Swanson, the strategy to seek the mercy of the court was clear. Further, there was no mention of the mistreatment Manning suffered during his pretrial confinement,  no discussion of the relative merits of any particular sentencing outcome,
“... and no mention whatsoever at any time during the course of the day of the good that he did the world as the most significant whislteblower in U.S. History.”
The Court is expected to return its verdict early next week.

Yesterday on KPFA's Flashpoints, guest host Kevin Pina spoke with Kevin Gosztola about Bradley Manning and the apology he offered Wednesday in the military proceeding.

Kevin Pina:  Well you know the problem of course with taking that position is should they give him the 90 years anyway, then, of course, we will probably hear the truth again which is on behalf of the American people which many people applaud him for.  There's now a movement to award him the Nobel Peace Prize.  We've had Norman Solomon on this program telling us about that, that there's a grassroots movement to get him named Nobel Peace Prize for having done this on behalf of the American people.  But if he gets the 90 years anyway, having apologized for what he did, it's going to make it really difficult for people.  The right-wing is going to have a hey-day attacking his credibility with his second statement, aren't they?

Kevin Gosztola:  Sure.  I place the blame on the defense team for this one.  I don't blame Bradley Manning for doing what his defense team says is appropriate at this stage.   So clearly, David Coombs could have maintained a whistle-blower defense but decided that that was a risk that he was not willing to take.  He's not playing this like Bradley Manning is a political prisoner which, I think, there's a lot to indicate he is a political prisoner.  And, in fact, I would suggest to you that if he does get sentenced to whatever amount of time -- and I kind of think that the judge is probably going to sentence him to 30 or 40 years in prison -- and I say that a lot of people are going to be very upset and they're going to get down and they're going to think  how horrid this is but  I also say that there are a lot of supporters around the world and because he is a political prisoner in many respects, it could be 15 to 20 years and we will see his sentence commuted because of all of the activism around him and all of the support for his actions.  I just don't see him getting punished for that long period of time, being kept in prison.

While Kevin Gosztola can share honestly, Alexa O'Brien continues to insist that something else happened.  Marcia called O'Brien's nonsense out this morningGosztola reports today on findings released by Colonel Denise Lind who is presiding over the military proceeding against Bradley:

Manning was convicted of “wrongfully and wantonly causing publication of intelligence belonging to the United States on the Internet knowing the intelligence” would be “accessible to the enemy to the prejudice of the good order and discipline in the armed forces or of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces.”
What she found in relation to this charge was that he had clearly committed this offense when he released the information in the database containing Iraq war logs, information in the database containing Afghanistan war logs, the “Gitmo Files,” the reports on an investigation into the Granai air strike in the Farah province in Afghanistan, the 250,000-plus diplomatic cables, the Reykjavik cable and the report from the Army Counterintelligence Center (ACIC) on WikiLeaks as a “threat.”
The judge concluded, “At the time of the charged offense, al Qaeda and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula were enemies of the United States. Pfc. Manning knew that al Qaeda was an enemy of the United States.” His conduct was “of a heedless nature that made it actually and imminently dangerous to others.”


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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Gloria Steinem needs to turn down Medal of Freedom

From Betty's "Worthless Women's Media Center:"

At a time when Bradley Manning is being railroaded in a military procedure (like C.I., I'm not calling that a "trial" -- I'm not giving it that sort of credence), when Ed Snowden is being savaged by the White House for being a whistle blower, when the government is illegally spying on us, when The Drone War is killing hundreds, when the White House refuses to call out the military coup in Egypt or to cut off funds, Gloria Steinem is going to accept an award from this administration?

In the words of Saturday Night Live, "Bitch Please."

Not only is Gloria a disgrace, but so is Women's Media Center.  You want tp whine like a little bitch that women aren't brought on to be experts/gasbags by the media on all sorts of topics?  You want to bitch that women only get brought on for so-called 'women's issues' topics?

Then get off your old, tired asses and start letting women weigh in at your site on illegal spying and other issues that effect us all.  You are the problem with every article being about media portrayals and avoiding what's being done in America.

That some crap about Wimbeldon passes for hard hitting at WMC is embarrassing.

That you don't realize you are now the problem - unable to feature women taking on today's political issues at your political site -- is appalling.

Again, Robin, Gloria, you lied for years.  Like most Americans I didn't know you were Socialists.  If I had, it wouldn't have been a problem.  But to find out that you tricked and lied all those years?  I don't ever want to hear you during the Democratic primaries.  Just shut your mouths.  Democratic primaries are for Democrats so shut your mouths.

And Gloria, I'm going to get a lot more vocal here if you accept an award from Barack.  You damn well know the right thing to do, the only thing to do, is to turn it down on behalf of the Muslims who are targeted and killed around the world by Barack, on behalf of the whistle-blowers like Bradley Manning and Ed Snowden, on behalf of brave journalists like NYT's James Risen, on behalf of those condemned to Guantanamo.

Don't make me go all  Stacey Lattisaw on your ass, by which I mean "Nail It To The Wall."

Betty is 100$ right.

Barack's administration is known for persecuting and prosecuting whistle-blowers.  It also is known for going after James Rosen, for tapping the phones of The Associated Press, for going after Fox News' James Risen.

Barack is known for overseeing The Drone War that is killing many men, women and children.

He has refused to stop funding and backing those in control in Egypt despite the fact that leaders have been disposed of in a military coup.

As C.I. notes, Barack refuses to release Lynne Stewart from prison.  Despite the fact that she broke no law, despite the fact that she's 73-years-old, despite the fact that her cancer has returned and she's dying.  She is imprisoned in Fort Worth, Texas, this woman who lived her whole adult life in NYC.  She is far from her family and she is dying.

A compassionate release is a must.

(Lynne's been convicted and imprisoned for issuing a press release, I'm not joking.)

For Gloria to accept any award from this man, let alone a medal for "freedom"?

If Gloria wants to go out like that, she should put a tag on her ass explaining how much she's charging now that she's openly whoring.

There is no excuse for anyone to accept the award but does anyone think Oprah has ethics?  No.

But Gloria is supposed to stand for something.

I guess we'll find out whether she has ethics or just a need for attention.

I'm sure many will be watching.  Gloria better grasp that Kathie Sarachild will be watching and a whole new wave of critiques may be launched as well as Sarachild's earlier critiques which, you may remember, included that Gloria's vanity came before the movement.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Wednesday, August 14, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, Nouri makes a speech, calls continue for him to nominate people to head the security ministries, Ralph Poynter continues to fight for his wife US political prisoner Lynne Stewart,  awful attorney David Coombs explains whistle-blowing is a disorder linked to other 'disorders,' Bradley Manning says he damaged the US and was wrong, and more.

r him to nominate people to head the security ministries, Ralph Poynter continues to fight for his wife US political prisoner Lynne Stewart,  awful attorney David Coombs explains whistle-blowing is a disorder linked to other 'disorders,' Bradley Manning says he damaged the US and was wrong, and more.

Starting at Fort Meade in the US where whistle-blower and Iraq War veteran Bradley Manning has been subjected to a military proceeding.  The court-martial is now determining sentencing and Bradley's attorney rested the defense (or 'defense') today.  Selena Hill (Latinos Post) explains today's events/circus:

Cpt. Michael Worsley, who treated Manning from December 2009 to May 2010 during his deployment in Iraq, testified that Manning lived in a "hyper masculine environment" and had little support for his gender crisis.
[. . .]
Navy Cpt. David Moulton, a psychiatrist who interviewed the private for 21 hours at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. after his arrest, testified that Manning had a troubled childhood, was neglected and grew up with two alcoholic parents. Manning showed signs of narcissism, borderline personality disorder and obsessive compulsivity, Moulton said.

That was the least of today's events.  Bradley also spoke for the first time since February.

Before we get to what he said, let's go over what led up to today.
Monday April 5, 2010, WikiLeaks released  military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Monday June 7, 2010, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported in August 2010 that Manning had been charged -- "two charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The first encompasses four counts of violating Army regulations by transferring classified information to his personal computer between November and May and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system. The second comprises eight counts of violating federal laws governing the handling of classified information." In March, 2011, David S. Cloud (Los Angeles Times) reported that the military has added 22 additional counts to the charges including one that could be seen as "aiding the enemy" which could result in the death penalty if convicted. The Article 32 hearing took place in December. At the start of this year, there was an Article 32 hearing and, February 3rd, it was announced that the government would be moving forward with a court-martial. Bradley has yet to enter a plea. The court-martial was supposed to begin before the November 2012 election but it was postponed until after the election so that Barack wouldn't have to run on a record of his actual actions. adds, "A court martial is set to be held in June at Ford Meade in Maryland, with supporters treating him as a hero, but opponents describing him as a traitor."  February 28th, Bradley admitted he leaked to WikiLeaks.  And why.

Bradley Manning:   In attempting to conduct counter-terrorism or CT and counter-insurgency COIN operations we became obsessed with capturing and killing human targets on lists and not being suspicious of and avoiding cooperation with our Host Nation partners, and ignoring the second and third order effects of accomplishing short-term goals and missions. I believe that if the general public, especially the American public, had access to the information contained within the CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A tables this could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general as [missed word] as it related to Iraq and Afghanistan.
I also believed the detailed analysis of the data over a long period of time by different sectors of society might cause society to reevaluate the need or even the desire to even to engage in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations that ignore the complex dynamics of the people living in the effected environment everyday.

For truth telling, Brad was punished by the man who fears truth: Barack Obama.  A fraud, a fake, a 'brand,' anything but genuine, Barack is all marketing, all facade and, for that reason, must attack each and every whistle-blower.  David Delmar (Digital Journal) points out, "President Obama, while ostensibly a liberal advocate of transparency and openness in government, and of the 'courage' and 'patriotism' of whistleblowers who engage in conscientious leaks of classified information, is in reality something very different: a vindictive opponent of the free press willing to target journalists for doing their job and exposing government secrets to the public."

Today, John Fritze (Baltimore Sun) reports Bradley briefly spoke:

"I'm sorry that my actions hurt people. I'm sorry that I hurt the United States," Manning said in an unsworn statement, which meant he spoke from the witness stand but did not face cross-examination from prosecutors. "At the time of my decisions I was dealing with a lot of issues."
 Alexa O'Brien is an activist but not a journalist as she demonstrates with the following Tweets:

  1. Everything has done and seem to continue to do, make the USG actions starkly wanton and prejudice.
  2. Who has used rhetoric and spun the media? Who never spoke to the press outside of text based factual statements?
  3. Compare defense behavior to USG's? Who has shown candor to Court? Who has hidden the ball? Who has been tempered in speech? ...
  4. And, remaining real is what shines a light so much more fully on this prosecution and USG.

Here's a thought, how about you cover what took place and not your fantasies of what took place?

Bradley's defense failed him and betrayed him throughout.  Was that intentional?  Some think so.  I just think David Coombs is inept. 

Alexa looks like a real idiot with those Tweets, especially this one:

  1. Who has used rhetoric and spun the media? Who never spoke to the press outside of text based factual statements?

David Coombs was supposed to speak to the press.  I was among the many present at the awful DC event where he couldn't stop yacking about himself.  That December 3rd night event was covered in the December 4th snapshot:

Some notes.  I attended with a National Lawyers Guild friend.  I'm sure we weren't the only ones rolling our eyes as various 'political prisoners' got name checked and Lynne Stewart was ignored.  We didn't attend expecting to hear Lynne's name but when you've got time to name check others, you've got time for Lynne.  Lynne's always had time for everyone else and, yes, you owe Lynne Stewart.  You might also have included her on the 'great attorneys' of the past list -- but, of course, no women made that list either.
There was time to thank reporters, time to mention them by name, time to applaud them, time to weigh in on Subway and working lunches.   As that speech was finally winding down, my friend pointed out, "Now we know why they can't make a credible argument for Assange."  Indeed.  Does no one organize before speaking to an audience?  You're not there to tell the history of time.  You choose a few key points.  You make those points, you're done. It appears presentation has [beem] confused with filibuster.
At last came David Coombs, Bradley Manning's attorney, and I wrongly thought (yet again), "Okay, get ready to take notes."  Wrong.  Key moment from the speech?
Probably when Coombs was climbing the cross to praise himself -- the first time.  Now attorneys tend to have oversized egos, that's not surprising.  But what was surprising was hearing someone self-aggrandize to a packed room about how great they were because they turn down all interview requests.  ("I also avoid any interviews with the media.")  That's not great at all. 
You're in a media war, David Coombs, you need to be taking every interview request and then some.  Your failure to do so goes a long, long way towards explaining how Bradley has disappeared from the radar so often.
The failure to grasp that this was a press event and not an ABA convention further hurt Bradley.  Going on about how the pre-trial motions blah blah blah, Coombs suddenly declares, "I'm enjoying my opportunity to cross-examine those who had Bradley Manning in those conditions for so many months."  And like dutiful idiots, many of those applauded that crap.
Well, hey, then, let's let this trial go on for 30 years.  For those of us who are actually outraged that the US government has refused to provide Bradley Manning with a fair and speedy trial, the 'enjoyment' of the defense attorney really isn't our concern.
Here's another tip: "Those people."  No one gives a damn about some free floating, nebulous menace.  Even the idiot Bully Boy Bush knew he had to paint a face on what he dubbed the "axis of evil."  But there was Coombs pontificating endlessly about "those people" who knew Bradley was being wronged but did nothing, could see with their own eyes that Bradley was being wronged but did nothing.  Who are these people?  Do you mean guards?  If so, why can't you say that?
 "Change"?  Unless you're talking coins, stop using that empty phrase -- especially as a noun.  The 2008 election drained it of all value.  At one point, Coombs wanted to liken Bradley to Daniel Ellsberg.  I'm sorry but I was at rallies for Daniel Ellsberg -- actual rallies -- and this 'presentation' was more self-congratulatory then anything we had for Ellsberg.  Everything is not an applause line and people need to stop applauding themselves.  It's not only immodest, it's counterproductive.  A real discussion could have taken place if everyone hadn't decided that self-suck was more important than addressing reality.  After three solid minutes of various thanks (with no end in sight), my friend leaned over and asked if he did "the E-Z checks plan, will they give me my PBS mug so we can leave already?"

Alexa O'Brien is a Twitter genius.  She's clearly not a journalist or anyone who understands journalism.  When your client is targeted by the US government and can't speak for themselves, you take every media opportunity offered to tell your client's story.  That's basic and only an idiot named David Coombs could miss that.

As for  the defense that she can't stop praising?  Inept and stupid.  Earlier today, O'Brien was treating that this was about the military's inability to deal with gender and all this other crap that read like defense talking points.

Step away from the hookah and clear your brain for just one moment.

Don't Ask, Don't Tell was repealed.  That repeal allows gay men and lesbians to serve openly in the military.  It has nothing to do with a soldier enlisting while one gender and then stating he or she is actually another gender.

So what was the point of today?

The idiotic defense let the military off the hook.  They insinuate that Bradley's "gender disorder" was not addressed properly.  Wherein the UCMJ is transgender issues?

I'm not mocking transgender issues.  I'm talking about the law -- remember, that's all you can argue when you are an idiot who presents your case to a 'military judge' instead of insisting on a jury trial.  The law doesn't help that defense.

Does it create sympathy for Bradley?

For that to happen, the defense would need to spell it out and stop playing cutesy.

Is Brad a transgendered person?  Was he someone who only thought he was (due to stress, confusion or something else -- there's a reason that the process of biologically changing a gender is a process and not a one day visit -- because there can be surrounding issues that are masked and need to be addressed first before a determination can be made)?

Who did it create sympathy for?

How about the superior officer who gets an e-mail from Bradley that never states "gender disorder" but says this is his problem and "this" refers to a photo of himself in a wig and make up?

That superior officer has a photo of a young man wearing a wig and make up.  What's the problem?  Is the problem one of cross dressing?  If so, someone in the military needs to wear the uniform when on duty but off duty, in private life, a man can wear a wig.  Is the superior officer (who is as in the dark as anyone following Coombs' 'defense') supposed to think that Bradley is fighting dressing up, pretending to be a woman, becoming a woman, being gay?

We do get that those are various aspects and orientations, right?  Because throughout Coombs, who is paid to represent Bradley, has mingled them all under the heading of  'gay' -- that's incorrect.

But doing that creates sympathy for the military -- if Brad's attorney can't keep it straight, how could someone in the military?

Alexa O'Brien shares the contents of the e-mail:

"This is my problem. I've had signs of it for a very long time. It's caused
problems within my family. I thought a career in the military would get rid
of it. It's not something I seek out for attention, and I've been trying
very, very hard to get rid of it by placing myself in situations where it
would be impossible. But, it's not going away; it's haunting me more and
more as I get older. Now, the consequences of it are dire, at a time when
it's causing me great pain it itself.

As a result, I'm not sure what to do about it. It's destroyed my ties with
my family, caused me to lose several jobs, and it's currently affecting my
career and preventing me from developing as a person. It's the cause of my
pain and confusion, and turns even the most basic things in my life
extremely difficult.

I don't know what to do anymore, and the only "help" that seems to be
available is severe punishment and/or getting rid of me. All I do know, is
that fear of getting caught has caused me to go to great lengths to
consciously hide the problem. As a result, the problem and the constant
cover-up has worn me down to a point where it's always on my mind, making it
difficult to concentrate at work, difficult to pay attention to whatever is
going on, difficult to sleep, impossible to have any meaningful
conversations, and makes my entire life feel like a bad dream that won't

Like I said, I don't know what to do and I don't know what's going to
happen, but at this point, it feels like I'm not really *here* anymore, and
everyone's concerned about me and afraid of me. I'm sorry.

What the hell, if you received that e-mail (and the photo of Brad in the wig), would you think?  The letter identifies a non-identified issue as a "problem" and it has caused problems with the family and he is attempting to address it.  Bradley writes that he doesn't know what to do "and the only 'help' that seems to be available is severe punishment and/or getting rid of me."

If you read that, be honest, you might say, "I"m keeping this kid.  He's suffering with something, he's trying to address it, he fears talking about it is going to get him kicked out.  I'm not going to do that to him.  He's in pain and I'm not going to turn on him."

Coombs presented a defense that didn't indict the military, it actually made it possible to see keeping Brad in the military as potentially being his superiors' attempt to help him.

I would love for Alexa O'Brien's Tweets to be accurate but they're not.  She's in fantasy land with what she wishes would happen.  When we cover military proceedings or trials, we don't sugar coat or feed fantasies.  We talk about what actually happened.  And what happened here is Coombs' argument is that the superiors were wrong to deploy 'sick' Bradley but the arguments made don't make the superiors look uncaring.

Let's deal with the other damage today.  Brad's statements.  An attorney can't stop a client from speaking.  Brad may have wanted to speak and may have wanted to speak those words.  Guess what?  You scream and yell and try to get across to him not to.

Bradley stated today he was wrong, he should have tried military channels, he was sorry for the damage he had done.

What the f**k was that?

Is that statement supposed to help when the defense appeals?  Is that statement supposed to lead tons of people to gather with signs that "WE SUPPORT BRAD! HE WAS WRONG!"

Brad's been found guilty in the military proceedings.  Those statements should have been made before that ruling.  Are they sincere?  Who knows but if he was wrong and he did damage, why did the defense argue that damage was not proven?

As a defense attorney, your job is to save your client.  And you can say almost anything to do that and I will more than understand.  We went over that before Bradley admitted to being the leaker.  For three years, we pointed out he might maintain he was innocent or any number of things and that he had a right to do that or whatever was needed to save him.

The statement today will not save him and may just cost him legitimacy.  Coombs should have made that clear to him.  He should have said that the admission of guilt and being wrong should have been made during arguments of guilt or innocence.  Barring that, when the court-martial moved into the sentencing phase, if the statement had to be made, it should have been made at the start of defense arguments, not as they were concluding.

Colonel Denise Lind concluded Brad was guilty.  She and only she will determine the length of his sentence.  The statement will likely have little impact in decreasing the years she sentences Brad to.  They may make her sentence him to a longer sentence.  Why?  He's acknowledged guilt, he's bought into the prosecution's argument that he did great damage.  So if he feels that way, why does she need to consider that the prosecution was wrong or over zealous?  She doesn't.  Equally true, coming when it did, the statement can come off craven and Lind could see it as an attempt to manipulate her.

It was a huge mistake.

David Coombs is an awful attorney.  He's refused to address whatever Bradley's orientation is while arguing 'sickness' and now the client is stating his whistle-blowing was wrong and did damage?  If you're not getting how badly Coombs handled serious issues grasp that the e-mail noted in yesterday's hearing, which had a photo of Brad in a wig?  The military, which sits on the court transcripts, managed to release the photo of Brad in the wig today.  Coombs took serious issues, refused to address them and now the whole thing's basically a freak show.

Kevin Gosztola (FiredogLake) reports, "What came out is Manning was suffering from gender dysphoria or gender identity disorder (GID). His therapist in Iraq, Cpt. Michael Worsley, diagnosed him with GID after he opened up to him in May 2010. The sanity board that reviewed whether he was fit to stand trial diagnosed him with GID in April 2011. And the forensic psychologist, who was tasked with reviewing Manning’s records for the defense, Navy Captain David Moulton, diagnosed him with GID and found that to be the primary disorder of which he was suffering."  In that quote, Gosztola is reporting what witnesses said.  It doesn't tell us a damn thing about Brad.  That's not me dogging Kevin G.  He reported on the hearing in that quote.  It's got nothing to do with him.  But Brad was ruled competent to stand trial so Brad is competent enough to define himself and I don't know any LGBT groups that would argue the government gets to define who you are.  All Coombs did was tell you what government employees -- after the leak -- thought.  If you're going to make this defense an issue, you're going to need to speak for Brad on it or have Brad speak on it.  Sexuality, please pay attention here, can not be defined by others.  That's what creates sexual closets (and discrimination laws).  Sexuality can only be defined by the individual.  Coombs is an idiot and his arguments are honestly offensive -- the the transgendered, to the whistle-blowers, you name it.

So, no, Alexa O'Brien, that is not a win -- certainly not for other whistle-blowers.  David Coombs is a damn idiot who screwed up the case (I believe because he's so stupid but questions have been raised for months as to whether Coombs was part of an effort to railroad Brad).

Let's also be really clear that with this argument made by the defense, they could have made it in 2010 or 2011 or 2012.  Meaning Bradley's being locked away for all those years was for what?  Had the defense told the government that Brad intended to plead guilty and to admit he was wrong and had done damage, the military would have either immediately started the court-martial or drawn up a plea agreement for Brad to sign.

Years were wasted so that Brad could disown his actions and agree with the government's argument against him?

Don't portray that as a victory.

(I look forward to Brad having a different attorney in appeals.)

Betty's "Worthless Women's Media Center" notes Gloria Steinem is about to claim a Medal of Freedom from the White House:

At a time when Bradley Manning is being railroaded in a military procedure (like C.I., I'm not calling that a "trial" -- I'm not giving it that sort of credence), when Ed Snowden is being savaged by the White House for being a whistle blower, when the government is illegally spying on us, when The Drone War is killing hundreds, when the White House refuses to call out the military coup in Egypt or to cut off funds, Gloria Steinem is going to accept an award from this administration? In the words of Saturday Night Live, "Bitch Please." Not only is Gloria a disgrace, but so is Women's Media Center.  You want tp whine like a little bitch that women aren't brought on to be experts/gasbags by the media on all sorts of topics?  You want to bitch that women only get brought on for so-called 'women's issues' topics? Then get off your old, tired asses and start letting women weigh in at your site on illegal spying and other issues that effect us all.  You are the problem with every article being about media portrayals and avoiding what's being done in America. That some crap about Wimbeldon passes for hard hitting at WMC is embarrassing. That you don't realize you are now the problem - unable to feature women taking on today's political issues at your political site -- is appalling. Again, Robin, Gloria, you lied for years.  Like most Americans I didn't know you were Socialists.  If I had, it wouldn't have been a problem.  But to find out that you tricked and lied all those years?  I don't ever want to hear you during the Democratic primaries.  Just shut your mouths.  Democratic primaries are for Democrats so shut your mouths. And Gloria, I'm going to get a lot more vocal here if you accept an award from Barack.  You damn well know the right thing to do, the only thing to do, is to turn it down on behalf of the Muslims who are targeted and killed around the world by Barack, on behalf of the whistle-blowers like Bradley Manning and Ed Snowden, on behalf of brave journalists like NYT's James Risen, on behalf of those condemned to Guantanamo. Don't make me go all  Stacey Lattisaw on your ass, by which I mean "Nail It To The Wall."

Agreed.  And if Gloria accepts that award while Lynne Stewart remains dying in prison, may she face the full wrath of everyone.  There is no reason for a feminist or anyone concerned with social justice to accept the award from the administration.  But while Lynne remains dying in prison?

Shame on you, Gloria, shame on you.

Lynne Stewart is a US political prisoner.  For the 'crime' of issuing a press release, she was eventually tossed in prison.  The 'crime' happened on Attorney General Janet Reno's watch.  Reno has her detractors who think she was far too tough as Attorney General.  She also has her supporters who see her as a moderate.  No one saw her as 'soft.'  Reno had her Justice Department review what happened.  There was no talk of a trial because there was no crime.  No law was broken.  The Justice Department imposes guidelines -- not written by Congress, so not laws -- on attorneys.  Lynne was made to review the guidelines and told not to break it again.  That was her 'punishment' under Janet Reno.  Bully Boy Bush comes into office and the already decided incident becomes a way for Attorney General John Ashcroft to try to build a name for himself. He goes on David Letterman's show to announce, after 9-11, that they're prosecuting Lynne for terrorism.

Eventually tossed in prison?  Even Bully Boy Bush allowed Lynne to remain out on appeal.  It's only when Barack Obama becomes president that Lynne gets tossed in prison.  It's only under Barack that the US Justice Depart disputes the judge's sentence and demands a harsher one (under the original sentence Lynne would be out now).  Lynne's cancer has returned.

She needs to be home with her family.  Her time is limited and it needs to be spent with her loved ones.  Lynne's a threat to no one -- not today, not ten years ago.  She's a 73-year-old grandmother who has dedicated her life to being there for people who would otherwise have no defenders.  Even now in prison, she shows compassion towards those who have had none for her.  Barack Obama needs to order her immediate release.  If he fails to do so, then it should be a permanent stain on his record.

This week on Black Agenda Radio (airs each Monday at 4:00 pm EST on the Progressive Radio Network),  hosts Nellie Bailey and Glen Ford spoke to Lynne's husband Ralph Poynter.

Nellie Bailey: But first, supporters of Lynne Stewart, The People's Lawyer, serving a ten year sentence, who is suffering from Stage IV breast cancer got some bad news last week.  The judge who sent her to prison rejected her request for compassionate release saying he had no choice in the matter because the Obama administration had previously turned her down.  Ralph Poynter is Lynne Stewart's husband and lifelong comrade in struggle.  We asked him what's the next step?

Ralph Poynter:  What is next is what Lynne had expected.  She had urged her lawyers to file for compassionate release even if the papers were not finished.  And, as a matter of fact, three weeks ago she reapplied for compassionate release to be ready the moment that it was turned down by Judge [John] Koeltl.  He had said he would give it expeditious attention when it came from the Bureau of Prisons.  Now that is the letter of the law, that it has to come from the Bureau of Prisons, recommended by them.   Now under Lynne's first appeal for compassionate release, the warden at Carswell Federal Medical Center and the physicians there agreed that Lynne should have compassionate release and they filed for it as per the law.  And then, in an extraordinary situation, the Justice Dept, under Samuels who is the head of the national Federal Bureau of Prisons let it sit on his desk for eight weeks never answering it.  Now I will allow people to use their own judgment as to what happened there.   And along with this set of facts that the Bureau of Prisons, Samuels in Washington, DC didn't act on the warden's, from Carswell's, application for compassionate release for Lynne, as per law.   Then we find out that the Justice Dept has argued against Lynne's cert before the Supreme Court to have her case heard in another very unusual situation.  So we have the administration in Washington -- that is Obama, Holder -- to keep another whistle-blower, Lynne Stewart, in prison.

Glen Ford: They seem intent on keeping her there until she departs.

Ralph Poynter: Until death.

Glen Ford:  Now the judge, what do you read into his ruling?  The legal language is rather dry, but did you get the impression that he would have liked to have --

Ralph Poynter:  Yes, that is what he has been saying.  That if he were to grant Lynne's compassionate release, it would be breaking the law.  The law is very specific, that says that after a person applies for compassionate release, the warden has to look at that and then forward it on the behalf of the prisoner.  The prisoner cannot do it without the warden's consent.  The warden at Carswell consented.  He read the papers of the attending physician and they said Lynne has complied with all the necessary conditions for compassionate release and this is where the trouble continued, in Washington, with [Charles] Samuels, with the Justice Dept and I call it under the guise of President Obama who seems to enjoy doing the work of this oppressive, corporate juggernaut that is squeezing us all and keeping the truth from us all and continuing the oppression of the American people.  But the judge did question the prosecutor as to his understanding that Lynne was dying.  And the prosecutor answered that he was perfectly aware but he challenged the judge on the law.  This is where we are.  And I just want people to understand it is clear where this is coming from.  And you put that together with the government's opposition in a rare situation to challenge Lynne's right to go to the Supreme Court, it makes sense.  It begins to fit -- even for those who do not want to recognize who and what Mr. Obama is and who or where this government is going.  

Glen Ford: And now for Lynne's supporters, the pressure must be brought directly against Eric Holder and the President.

Ralph Poynter:  Exactly and we can no longer kid ourselves.  We must notice that the unions who have talked about bringing justice to their membership -- and if you don't have a lawyer, there can be no justice.  The unions have not participated as a group in Lynne Stewart, Bradley Manning, [Ed] Snowden or any of the other issues around the Bill of Rights, Freedom of Speech, etc. The ministers have not participated in this struggle.  And what I say to people of color who voted for Obama on the average of 90% must understand who is on their side. And if they understand that 35 years of service to our community by Lynne Stewart and then see what their president is doing to Lynne Stewart -- and I'm continuing my dance in front of the White House until Lynne is freed or until we pick her up in a box.

Law and Disorder Radio  has provided these numbers for people to call and demand Lynne be released:

Please call to push for Lynne’s release from prison.

  • U.S. Bureau of Prisons Director Charles E. Samuels – 202-307-3198  Ext. 3
  • U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder – 202-514-2001
  • President Barack Obama – 202-456-1111]

Ralph's fighting for his wife to be able to die at home among her loved ones and Gloria's planning to grab an award from the administration working to see that Lynne dies in prison?  Who was it that said: "Once we give up searching for approval we often find it easier to earn respect"?  That's right, Gloria Steinem.  It's time to walk it the way you talk it.

The US State Dept issued the following this afternoon:

Secretary Kerry to Deliver Remarks to Open U.S.-Iraq Diplomatic and Political JCC

Notice to the Press
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
August 14, 2013
On August 15, Secretary of State John Kerry and Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari will convene the fourth meeting of the Political and Diplomatic Joint Coordination Committee (JCC), under the U.S.-Iraq Strategic Framework Agreement (SFA). This JCC builds on the Secretary’s visit to Iraq in March and provides another opportunity for direct engagement on this important bilateral relationship.
The Strategic Framework Agreement – established in 2008 – is the foundation of the U.S.-Iraq relationship and the vehicle to strengthen our bilateral strategic partnership. Political and diplomatic engagement is one of the seven areas of cooperation under the SFA to strengthen coordination and cooperation in areas of critical interest to both countries. The last JCC was held in Baghdad in September 2012, and remains an important venue for advancing key bilateral priorities in support of Iraqi and regional stability.
The Secretary and Foreign Minister will deliver remarks to open the JCC at 11:15 a.m. at the Department of State.
The Secretary and Foreign Minister’s opening remarks will be open to the press.
Pre set for video cameras: 10:30 a.m. from the 23rd Street Lobby.
Final access time for journalists and still photographers: 11:00 a.m. from the 23rd Street Lobby.

Media representatives may attend this event upon presentation of one of the following: (1) A U.S. Government-issued identification card (Department of State, White House, Congress, Department of Defense or Foreign Press Center), (2) a media-issued photo identification card, or (3) a letter from their employer on letterhead verifying their employment as a journalist, accompanied by an official photo identification card (driver's license, passport).
For further information, please contact the Office of Press Relations at (202) 647-2492.

This was not addressed in today's State Dept press briefing but did come up in Monday's briefing spokesperson Marie Harf moderated:

QUESTION: Related to al-Qaida --

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: -- al-Qaida claimed responsibility for a very bloody weekend in Baghdad. Do you have any --

MS. HARF: In Iraq?

QUESTION: -- anything to say about that? Iraq.

MS. HARF: Yes. And we put out a statement over the weekend, so I’d encourage folks to take a look at it. We condemn in the absolute strongest possible terms the cowardly attacks that took place in Baghdad, especially the fact that they were targeting families celebrating the Eid holiday. These terrorists who committed these acts are enemies of Islam and a shared enemy of the United States, Iraq, and the international community.
We made clear in our statement that most of these attacks have been perpetrated by al-Qaida in Iraq. We put out some more information over the weekend about their leader and the reward that we have out there for his capture. But again, I would reiterate what we’ve said that a majority of Iraqi people have rejected this kind of terrorist violence and that the leaders of Iraq have been working together along with us in a supporting role to help fight this common enemy.

QUESTION: So you did express your desire or your intent to shore up Iraq’s ability to fight al-Qaida. What kind of new efforts that you are doing with the Iraqis to do that?

MS. HARF: Well, I don’t have anything new to announce for you, and as a general matter we often don’t discuss specifics about counterterrorism cooperation. I will say that we’ll continue to work with Iraq to both overcome the threat of terrorism but also to bring justice to those who continue to perpetrate these crimes. Obviously, these are a constant reminder of the challenges that Iraq faces, but we will continue to explore at the same time possible ways to increase our counterterrorism cooperation going forward.

QUESTION: Has the Iraqi security force been capable up until this recent wave of bombings of maintaining security inside the country? And along with that, why couldn’t it be argued that this might be a possible moment for the U.S. to revisit the question of a status of forces agreement with Iraq to help it stabilize and restore security particularly in Baghdad?

MS. HARF: Well, I’d make a couple points. I think the first is that we have seen an uptick in recent months in al-Qaida in Iraq and terrorist attacks in Iraq. So we will continue working with the security forces, with counterterrorism cooperation. As al-Qaida has perpetrated more attacks, clearly we will look for new ways to cooperate on counterterrorism. I don’t want to venture to guess, hypothetically, what that might look like. Clearly, we have a close relationship with the Government of Iraq and will continue working with them, again, to fight this shared enemy.

QUESTION: What sort of proposals might Secretary Kerry bring to the Foreign Minister, Mr. Zebari, when he visits here on Thursday?

MS. HARF: Well, I don’t have any specifics to preview for you. I will just give you a quick preview of Foreign Minister Zebari’s visit. He’ll be visiting this week to join Secretary Kerry in co-chairing a meeting of the Political and Diplomatic Joint Coordination Committee under the U.S-Iraqi Strategic Framework Agreement. This meeting will take place on Thursday morning at the State Department. Foreign Minister Zebari will also engage with a number of senior State Department officials who will participate in the committee meeting, and then there’s a lunch to follow. I’ll have more details on this specifically later in the week.

 Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 364 violent deaths so far this month.  And August's half-way mark still hasn't been reached.  That averages out to 28 violent deaths a day in the ongoing war.  But deaths aren't the only signs of violence.  There's being injured, there's being kidnapped.  Kidnappings have been on the rise in 2013 and National Iraqi News reports the latest is Mohsen al-Bayati, director of Oil Products Distribution, who was kidnapped today en route to Tuz Khurmatu.  In other violence, All Iraq News reports Ahmed al-Rahman, Baghdad Traffic Directorate Colonel, was assassinated by a sticky bombing.  NINA notes that a pharmacy in Tikrit has been blown up as has a military officer's home in Falluja. AFP reports 2 Baquba bombings have claimed 14 lives and left twenty-six people injured.  Xinhua adds, "Earlier in the day, a judge and his driver were shot dead by gunmen after he left a court in the town of Siniyah, some 210 km north of Baghdad, another police source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity."

Nouri al-Maliki has no answers so the failed prime minister resorts to mass arrests.  NINA notes 75 arrests in Kikruk during the early morning hours. Prior to that announcement, Alsumaria notes Nouri announced today that already there had been 800 mass arrests across Iraq so far this week.

 Back in July 2012, 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."  That remains true and that's on Nouri.  (It's also on Barack but we don't have time to review that today.)  As Ayad Allawi rightly noted in real time, this was a power grab and Nouri had no intention of appointing people to those posts.  (Nouri nominates, Parliament approves.  Once Parliament approves, the person has the appointment unless they step down -- or die -- or unless Parliament votes to strip them of the appointment.  Nouri cannot fire any Minister which is why he has refused to nominate people to head those ministries and instead created 'acting' ministers -- this allows him to control them -- and it is unconstitutional.) All Iraq News notes today:

 Mouaed al-Oubaidi, the leader within the National Reformation Trend headed by, Ibrahim al-Jaafary, called the government to expedite nominating the security ministers.
He stated to All Iraq News Agency (AIN) "The ministers of the Interior and Defense Ministries must be nominated, but the ministers must not be acting ones."

NINA notes that Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq's Ammar al-Hakim met with Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq today to address the breakdown in security.   National Iraqi News Agency reports:

The head of the Iraqiya coalition, the Secretary-General of the National Accord Movement, Iyad Allawi said "the commander in chief of the armed forces, Nouri al-Maliki shirks from responsibility trying to blame political partners, in managing the security file."
Allawi said in his personal account on / Twitter / that "after all these bombings al-Maliki Manipulates in words, trying to find justifications and shirks himself from responsibility and blame others."

All Iraq News notes the comments here.  With violence on the rise and criticism targeted at him, Alsumaria noted this morning Nouri planed to start delivering weekly speeches.  Reuters notes today's here.  It's ridiculous.  We may go over it tomorrow.  We don't have space or time today.

 Al Mada notes this Daily Beast commentary by Bruce Riedel about the latest version of al Qaeda.  Mark Thompson (Time magazine) observes, "The U.S. invaded Iraq 3,802 days -- and 4,486 American lives -- ago. As Iraq moves ever closer to civil war -- 1,057 died there last month, the highest toll in five years, with more than 100 perishing in nationwide bombings since last weekend --  the U.S. basically can do little to quell the violence its invasion a decade ago helped make possible."   John Defterios (CNN) notes the impact the violence is having on Iraq's oil output:

The latest figures from Iraq's ministry of energy illustrate the direct link between the violence and the country's oil output. In May, monthly production hit nearly 77 million barrels in the two major regions Basra and Kirkuk. That sunk, the ministry said, to fewer than 70 million in June as daily production tumbled to less than three million barrels a day.
According to the U.N., the death toll jumped from 595 killed in April to 963 in May -- and more than 1,000 were killed in July.
This is a quick turn of fortunes after Iraq surpassed neighboring Iran as the second largest oil producer within OPEC last year, hitting a peak of 3.4 million according to Standard Chartered Bank in its latest report on the country.

We're closing with this from Amy Davidson (New Yorker) on a day when whistle-blowers are attacked not only by the White House but also by a supposed defense attorney:

What has Edward Snowden done for Barack Obama? According to the President, who spoke at a press conference on Friday, all Snowden did was rush him; he was already going to look and see if “some bolts needed to be tightened up” on the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs before Snowden gave any documents to the Guardian or the Washington Post. Obama just would have done it quietly, getting a few things straight. Instead, here he was, coming out with a list of proposed reforms that somehow directly touched on programs and previous lies exposed by the leaks, and being asked by Chuck Todd if he considered Snowden a patriot.
“I don’t think Mr. Snowden was a patriot,” Obama said—quite a statement about a man he has never spoken to, and who has not yet been convicted of anything. “My preference—and I think the American people’s preference—would have been for a lawful, orderly examination of these laws; a thoughtful, fact-based debate that would then lead us to a better place.” Maybe “Mr. Snowden’s leaks triggered a much more rapid and passionate response,” and without him “it would have been less exciting and it would not have generated as much press.” But absent the passion, minus the risks, Obama was sure that if he had “sat down with Congress and we had worked this thing through,” the civil-liberties concerns would have been met in the same way—sometime or other.
What, one wonders, would have been the role of the public in this “fact-based debate,” given that so many of the facts were secret?

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