Friday, April 24, 2009

We need prosecution

"The Torture Commission Trap" (Michael Ratner, CounterPunch):
So at this moment, instead of human rights groups getting together and calling for a special prosecutor what do they do? Call for a commission. What this call does and it must be said strongly is take the pressure off what is the growing public push for prosecutions and deflects it into a commission. Outrage that could actually lead to prosecutions is now focused away and into a commission. Think if this list of human rights groups had demanded prosecutions. We would be closer and not farther from the goal.
I am sure some of these human rights groups will argue that a commission will or can be a first step to prosecutions. Sure, it is possible, but unlikely for the reasons I gave in a letter published in Harper's and available on my blog. The commission process will drag on, statutes of limitation will run and the conclusion of the commission is likely to be: the US should not have tortured, but it was an extraordinary and dangerous moment after 9/11 and the torturers were acting in our best interest to avoid another 9/11. Prosecutions are not recommended.

C.I. noted Ratner in Thursday's snapshot. As C.I. noted, "Michael Ratner, Dalia Hashad, Michael Smith and Heidi Boghosian co-host WBAI's Law and Disorder." I agree with Ratner, we don't need a 'commission.' Crimes were committed, we need investigations and we need trials.

The law is the law. You break it, you face a court. Maybe a jury of your peers will find you innocent. Maybe they won't. But if we have the rule of the law in this country and we honestly believe that everyone is created equal, than all law breakers must face the same process.

"Harsh Interrogations: Could There Be Prosecutions? Techniques Could Backfire and Might Violate U.S. and International Law" (Stephen Vladeck, Washington Post):
Atlanta, Ga.: What exactly does the Constitution say about torture, if anything?
Stephen Vladeck: The Constitution bars "cruel and unusual punishment" (in the Eighth Amendment), and the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment has also been understood to bar governmental conduct that "shocks the conscience" (in a Supreme Court decision called Rochin v. California).
But separate from the Constitution, federal law (specifically the anti-torture statute, 18 U.S.C. � 2340 and � 2340A) and the U.N. Convention Against Torture both make it a serious criminal offense to torture. Indeed, even the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which Congress enacted to authorize the trial of terrorism suspects in military tribunals, includes as one of its 28 specific offenses the crime of "torture."

Get it? Torture's illegal. The White House deciding it's not doesn't change that. Nixon deciding it was 'okay' to authorize the break-in at the Watergate didn't make that legal. Though his followers did try to argue that. They tried to claim that anything a president was legal by his very office. That's not reality. Nor is reality that you can break the law and get away with it.

"Defense Department To Release Prisoner Abuse Photos By May 28 In Response To ACLU Lawsuit" (ACLU):
Photos Depict Abuse Of Prisoners By U.S. Personnel In Iraq And Afghanistan
NEW YORK – In a letter addressed to a federal court today, the Department of Defense announced that it will make public by May 28 a "substantial number" of photos depicting the abuse of prisoners by U.S. personnel. The photos, which are being released in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union in 2004, include images from prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan at locations other than Abu Ghraib.
"These photographs provide visual proof that prisoner abuse by U.S. personnel was not aberrational but widespread, reaching far beyond the walls of Abu Ghraib," said Amrit Singh, staff attorney with the ACLU. "Their disclosure is critical for helping the public understand the scope and scale of prisoner abuse as well as for holding senior officials accountable for authorizing or permitting such abuse."
The letter follows a September 2008 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit requiring disclosure of the photos and the court's subsequent refusal in March 2009 to rehear the case. The Defense Department has indicated that it will not ask the Supreme Court to review the Second Circuit's ruling. Since the ACLU's FOIA request in 2003, the Bush administration had refused to disclose these images by attempting to radically expand the exemptions allowed under the FOIA for withholding records. The administration claimed that the public disclosure of such evidence would generate outrage and would violate U.S. obligations towards detainees under the Geneva Conventions.
However, a three judge panel of the appeals court in September 2008 rejected the Bush administration's attempt to use exemptions to the FOIA as "an all-purpose damper on global controversy" and recognized the "significant public interest in the disclosure of these photographs" in light of government misconduct. The court also recognized that releasing the photographs is likely to prevent "further abuse of prisoners." The Bush administration subsequently requested that the full Court of Appeals rehear the case. That request was denied on March 11, 2009.
"The disclosure of these photographs serves as a further reminder that abuse of prisoners in U.S.-administered detention centers was systemic," said Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU National Security Project. "Some of the abuse occurred because senior civilian and military officials created a culture of impunity in which abuse was tolerated, and some of the abuse was expressly authorized. It's imperative that senior officials who condoned or authorized abuse now be held accountable for their actions."
The Department of Defense letter is available online at:
To date, more than 100,000 pages of government documents have been released in response to the ACLU's FOIA lawsuit. They are available online at:
Many of these documents are also compiled and analyzed in "Administration of Torture," a book by Jaffer and Singh. More information is available online at:
In addition to Jaffer and Singh, attorneys on the case are Judy Rabinovitz of the national ACLU; Arthur Eisenberg and Beth Haroules of the New York Civil Liberties Union; Lawrence S. Lustberg and Jenny Brooke Condon of the New Jersey-based law firm Gibbons P.C.; and Shayana Kadidal and Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

That is the latest from the ACLU and, I repeat, it is the only domestic organization that is standing up and standing by what it espouses.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, April 24, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, Chris Hill breaks his first Iraq promise, Cliff Cornell's court-martial is set for next week, and more.

We're going to start by looking back. Six years ago, the New York Times [Sunday] Magazine featured Peter Maass' "
Good Kills" which demonstrated all that was wrong with war reporting (April 20, 2003, pp. 32 - 37). Predictions? Maass opened with them: "As the war in Iraq is debated and turned into history, the emphasis will be on the role of technology -- precision bombing, cruise missiles, decapitation strikes." Really? Is that what anyone talks about today? And did they really talk about it then? No and no. But that was what the first Gulf War was about and lazy reporters couldn't capture what they were seeing -- apparently the US education system has failed them and they lack the ability to put their observations into words -- so they tried to use a narrative from a previous war.

Six years ago, this story demonstrated how the embeds were a success . . . for the US military. Reporting on his 'buddies' in The Third Battalion, Fourth Marines, Maass smoothed over all the edges even when the edges were dead civilians. Especially when it was dead civilians. Entering Diyala Province (though Maass didn't use -- and probably didn't know -- the term), his 'buddies' were drgiving over a bridge. He calles this attempt to get across the Diyala River (by vehicle, over a bridge) "a signal event in the war" -- which indicates the other problem. The reporters were so jacked up on their own sense of being 'history' that they jerked off in print and the audiences back home were stuck with it. What were minor events were suddenly 'epic' just because a reporter was embedded.

"BATTLE IS CONFUSION." And you know Maass stood by it because it was in all caps. But REPORTING IS CONFUSION when reporters forget their role. As the marines attempt to travel (drive) over the bridge, things get, as Maass puts it, "complicated." We have wasted four pages on his War Porn when finally readers learn (in less than two pages) that civilians were being killed. This 'big battle'? Lt. Bryan McCoy is thrilled that people are dying. He utters a censored word -- the paper renders it "[expetives]" -- describing Iraqis and then self-strokes, "Boys are doing good. Brute force is going to prevail today." He adds, "We'll drill them." And indeed McCoy and the others did. But they were civilians attempting to cross the bridge from the other end. Civilians were attempting to drive across the bridge. Proving what a fool he was Maass -- even after it's known that civilians were killed -- is still writing about these precision shootings. A moving car's engine block is being taken out? Didn't we hear that one after the shooting on the car containing Giuliana Segrena? And those bullets were everywhere. Maass writes, "As the half-dozen vehicles approached, some shots were fired at the ground in front of the cars; others were fired, with great precision, at their tires or their engine blocks. Marine snipers can snipe." Can Maas gush over his 'buddies' any more foolishly and any less journalistically?

After he's done gushing, after approximately two-thirds of another page has been wasted, Maass finally informs, "The vehicles, it only later became clear, were full of Iraqi civilians." Now what reader would feel cheated? You got Maass playing Miss Cleo and offering predictions, you got pages and pages of rah-rah, you got everything but reporting and there's not a great deal in what remains of the article. Despite, for example, speaking to one survivor, Eman Alshamnery, who was shot, whose sister was shot dead along with two other people in one of the cars, he really doesn't have much to say. He speaks to another survivor who is digging graves to bury people and Maass doesn't have much to say. No one knows how many people were killed -- despite Maass and other journalists being present, Maass never feels the need to give a death toll. He estimates at least six cars with people and also one old man walking (with a cane) on the bridge were shot dead. But the number of dead isn't important to him. Nor is it important to give voice to the survivors.

But, naturally, he offers plenty of space for the marines such as Lance Cpl Santiago Venture who explodes when another journalist (unidentified) disputes a marine's assertion of "Better safe than sorry" and another's pant of "I wish I had been here" by noting that "the civilians should not have been shot." Why is that? That really is what a reporter using six oversize pages (the Sunday Magazine is the size of Rolling Stone until the recent 'downsize') in a magazine should be able to answer. Maass does note that maybe warning shots whipping through the air aren't readily heard or recognized by civilian populations. And maybe more so when the firing is coming from people in camo that the civilians can't see. Just idle observations that readers really have to fill in to grasp what's being inferred but not said: You don't grasp that these 'tink' sounds hitting your car are bullets being fired by people you can't see. And the US marines weren't trained to grasp that just because your instructor tells you someone under fire will stop doesn't mean that's what happens in the real world (as has been demonstrated in Iraq over and over).

But why did the journalist say the civilians should not have been shot? The journalist isn't quoted or even mentioned except for that sentence and another where "the journalist walked away". Hmm. Maybe because the Genever Conventions insists that those engaged in combat "distinguish themselves from the civilian population while they are engaged in an attack or in a military operation preparatory to an attack. Recognizing, however, that there are situations in armed conflicts where, owing to the nature of the hostilities an armed combatant cannot so distinugish himself, he shall retain his status as a combatant, provided that in such situations, he carries his arms openly; (a) during each military engagement, and (b) during such time as he is visble to the adversary while he is engaged in a miliary deployment preceding the launching of an attack in which he is to participate." That's the Geneva Convention. That's what Maass can't tell you about, what he wouldn't tell you about.

It's not just that it's 'bad' and 'sad' that these Iraqis were killed, it's that the way in which they were killed was, as described by Maass, a violation of the Geneva Convention. Maass can't be bothered with things such a the law. Much better to present the whole thing as if it were a traffic jam on some epic scale. No one's at fault, people died. Oh well. That is his 'angle.' It's embarrassing, it's not journalism. While he can't be bothered with explaining or citing the law, he does make time for the excussed. Ventura is quoted at length with a 'defense' that includes: "We've got to be concerned about our safety. We dropped pamphlets over these people weeks and weeks ago and told them to leave the city. You can't blame marines for what happened. It's bull. What are you doing getting in a taxi in the middle of a war zone?"

"Our safety"? Actually, as the invading force, you've got to be concerned with the civilian population and, are in fact, bound by law to protect the civilian population -- protect and not harm. "Dropped pamphlets" and people were supposed to leave their homes? And go where? And go why? Because another country told them to? Can't blame marines? Did the civilians shoot themselves? A taxi in the middle of a war zone? In the middle of Iraq, in the middle of their country, in the middle of their lives, in the middle of their homes. "Their" being the key term as in "theirs" not "ours."

Peter Maass, of course,
wrote about knowing Salam Pax -- an Iraqi blogger who worked for the New York Times though Maass' inflated self-opinion turned it into 'works for me'. The same ego that allowed him to think he had the right to disclose various details about Salam Pax without checking with Pax first. Talk about arrogance and a sense of entitlement. If you're missing it, note "working alongside -- no, employing --" Pax and "there were occasions when I stayed in my room and let Salam loose for several hours." Let him loose for several hours? Is he a dog? For all who whine about Devil Wears Prada type of employees, grasp that it's the pompous employers who write the most insulting 'memoirs.' Last month, at his own website (The Fear), Salam Pax noted AP's assertion that Baghdad' was "calm . . . in part because the city is now ethnically divided." To which Pax added, "No s**t! You're not telling me anything new here. This was government and US army policy. Who put up the walls cutting the Sunni districts from the rest of the city?" Pax also takes on the assertion that "Shia militiamen and death squads" are now "off the street":

Is the writer being wilfully naïve? I am sure he knows better. The militias might have disappeared but one of the main reasons why these Shia neighbourhoods are safer than other districts is because Shia political parties were allowed to have their own organised security and militia forces. Like the Kurdish parties no one was allowed to question the right of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq in having it's own militarised arm, the Badr Organisation. And al-Dawa under al-Maliki started their own security brigade, in the guise of a counter terrorism brigade.
The Sunnis on the other hand were left to fend for themselves. And between the Mahdi Militias with their ominous slogan 'Our regular programme will resume after this break' and the other Shia security forces the 'Awakening Groups' were too little and too late. The harm was done.

"Awakening," "Sons of Iraq" and Sahwa all refer to the same group and the
Boston Globe editorialized about it yesterday: "One sign of trouble is how Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government has been treating the so-called Awakening Movement. . . . The Awakening fighters were promsied that once Al Qaeda was crushed, they would get jobs in the police and other security forces. But the Shi'ite-dominated government appears to be breaking that promise. Not only has it been slow to hire former Sunni insurgents, but it has allowed several Awakening leaders to be arrested on the basis of flimsy allegations. If this sectarian behavior is not stopped, sooner or later it may result in a resumption of calamitous Sunni - Shi'ite violence." independent journalist Dahr Jamail observed this week (at ZNet) that the whole thing was "ripe with broken promises" and:

It is an easily predictable outcome. An occupying power (the US) sets up a 100,000-strong militia composed of former resistance fighters and even some members of al-Qaeda, pays them each $300 per month to not attack occupation forces, and attacks decrease dramatically. Then, stop paying most of them and tell them they will be incorporated into Iraqi government security forces. Proceed to leave them high and dry as the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki begins targeting them - assassinating leaders, detaining fighters and threatening their families. Allow this plan to continue for over six months, unabated.Not surprisingly, the Sahwa are fighting back against US forces and those of the Iraqi government.

Wayne White of the Middle East Institute in Washington told Tom A. Peter (Christian Science Monitor), "if you continue arresting and harassing, and shunning Awakening types -- many of whom were originally derived from the insurgency -- you're really playing wtih fire." Yesterday, Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reported a roadside bombing outside of Baquba which claimed the life of Sahwa leader Mubarak Hammad al Obadi and 3 of his aids while leaving two more aids wounded. Violence is increasing (again) in Iraq. James Hider (Times of London) adds that "Awakenings" "have been repeatedly targeted by militans, and complain they have not received support from the Shi government, which views them with deep distrust." Hider notes an investigation by his paper "revealed that widespread abuse of power and corruption among Iraq's sprawling new security forces are also stoking resentment among the population, stirring people to carry out attacks." Hider also reported on that investigation into Iraq's police and he notes, "In the desperate rush to drag Iraq back from civil war, sweeping powers were granted to its new security forces. Human rights workers, MPs and American officials now believe that they are all too often a law unto themselves: admired when they defeat terrorists but also feared for their widespread abuse of power." Hider also reports on a video of a woman being raped (video shot by a mobile phone) and ex-Falluja Mayor Jassim al-Bidawi identifies the man in the video "as an Iraqi police officer" and says the one filming the rape is as well: "They are thought to have drugged the woman as she visited her husband in a detention centre in Ramadi. Since the rapist's uncle is a senior policeman in the city the attacker is all but untouchable, Mr al-Bidawi says." Tina Susman and Caesar Ahmed (Los Angeles Times) reported Thursday on a woman, Dalal, who was in a Tikrit prison where she was "raped by prison guards," she informed her brother who visited her "drew a gun and shot his visibly pregnant sister dead." They explain how common assaults on women are and how easily buried. No one is imprisoned for either raping Dalal or for murdering her. No one was fired. Just another example of the ongoing femicide in Iraq.

Staying on the topic of Iraqi women the
Janan Collection is Iraqi women's arts and crafts. Megan Feldman (Dallas Observer) reports that the collection/colletive was started by Ty Reed who was a US soldier serving in Iraq when she encountered a young Iraqi widwo named Fatima who, like many other Iraqi women, was now the sole support for her family. Fatima explained that she and approximately 24 other widows "had artistic skills such as basket-making, painting or leather-working. Could Reed help them find a way to earn a living?" So Reed and Teresa Nguyen (Ty Reed's sister) started up the collective and there will be an online auction May 9th. Feldman notes, "The work on tour now includes traditional baskets, ornaments and jewelry made of leather, turquoise beads and gold, as well as paintings like Harvest Moon, a minaret-studded cityscape set against a glowing moon. . . . The proceeds from just one painting, Reed said, will support the painter's family for at least a month."

More widows and widowers and orphans in Iraq today as
yesterday's violent bombings with mass fatalities is echoed. This morning Ernesto Londono and Aziz Alwan (Washington Post) reported that at least 135 people have been killed in Iraq bombings today and yesterday with today seeing 55 dead and one-hundred-and-twenty-five wounded in a double bombings near a Shia mosque in Baghdad. Timothy Williams and Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) explain the double bombings were suicide bombers ("within five minutes of each other") outside "the shrine of Imam Musa al-Kadhim and his grandson." The Times link also has audio option where Myers says, "The bombers came up and mingled with the crowd while they were waiting to get into the shrine that you mentioned and blew themselves up nearly simultaneiously as near as we can figure." He also stated, "It seems very clear that the last few attacks have targeted the Shi'ites in Iraq particularly." Corey Flintoff (NPR) adds, "Until the country can reach power-sharing arrangements among its ethnic Kurdish and its Shiite and Sunni Arab communities, Iraq remains vulnerable to attacks by al-Qaida and other militant groups, analysts say." James Hider (Times of London) notes that the death toll hit 60. Aws Qusay, Zahra Hosseinian, Michael Christie and Louise Ireland (Reuters) observe: "The attack was the deadliest single incident in Iraq since 63 people died in a truck bomb blast in Baghdad on June 17 last year, and came amid growing concerns that a recent drop in violence might turn out to have been just a temporary lull." Laith Hammoudi and Corinne Reilly (McClatchy Newspapers) quote eye witness Hammad Faisel stating, "There were piles of bodies. I saw a man running after the explosions to get away, but he quickly fell. I watched him die."

There was other violence in Iraq today and we'll note that but the bombings and Iraq were a good portion of the second hour of
The Diane Rehm Show today so let's note this from Diane and her guests Karen DeYoung (Washington Post), Daniel Dombey (Finanical Times of London) and Yochi Dreazen (Wall St. Journal).

Diane Rehm: Daniel Dombey, let's talk about this latest violence in Iraq. Another explosion this morning, a suicide bomber killing perhaps as many as 125.

Daniel Dombey: These are obviously awful events with terrible human costs. I think, however, the key thing to bear in mind is this is a crucial year and any easy assumption that meant -- that went from the progress of last year in terms of safety and security to believing that this coming year would mean that Iraq would just go on getting better was always going to be a perilous one. There are lots of longterm political problems in Iraq. Maybe those have been papered over. Maybe we focus too much on the military side. And this is becoming ever more clear. It's a very important year in Iraq. There are an awful lot of tensions in the country.

Diane Rehm: What does this mean or what could this mean for US plans to reduce the military in Iraq, Karen?

Karen DeYoung: The statements that have been made as various withdrawals have been announced have been very careful to say 'We know it's not going to be totally peaceful in Iraq when we leave. We believe we have set up political and economic structures that are lasting and it's up to them to deal with it.' I think that you -- it's interesting that these attacks in -- over the past two days in Baghdad and Diyala are believed to have been Sunni groups against Shi'ites in at least two cases at mosques where people were worshiping [and] don't involve US troops. I think that we're concerned about the north where we believe al Qaeda still is around Mosul and we're concerned about Kirkuk which is the kind of oil center in the north which is being contested by the Kurds and the Arabs. Uh, it's been intimated that we might be asked to stay a bit in those cities but I think these kind of bombings -- Iraqi on Iraqi in Baghdad and father south -- I think are not going to hold up the plan to depart.

Diane Rehm: Yochi Dreazen, would you agree?

Yochi Dreazen: I think it depends on which part of the plan one is scrapping. US troops have already made clear that they're going to stay in bases that they consider to be 'joint bases.' So if there is -- pretty much all US bases now have Iraqis on them. The interpretation that US commanders have is that they're allowed to stay on those bases beyond summer of 2010. They can stay on those bases pretty much until all troops leave. So I think that the US footprint in major cities will shrink further but it's not going to be as if we disappear. I mean, we will still have a fairly large footprint in Baghdad, we'll still have one in Mosul. Falluja, which we've pulled out of entirely, has had a spate of bombings lately so now US troops at Ramadi and Taqaddum -- the two bases closest to Falluja -- have begun inching closer back to that city as well. I think the broader point is that if they're had been a broader political consensus that the US hoped would emerge from stability consensus wise and that consensus is very fragile in part because the decisions about Kirkuk, about Arab-Kurdish delineation of powers and oil money were never made. They've been kicked down the road, down the road, down the road. Now we're leaving so the vacuum is re-emerging and those questions still have to be answered.

Daniel Dombey: Yes, I would absolutely agree with that. I mean there are some very fundamental problems in Kirkuk where you have this Kurdish-Arab tension and, actually, US forces have increased in Kirkuk in recent months. You also have this basic critique that Obama always made of the Bush policy which was it didn't concentrate enough on the politics and, in fact, we don't really see a political initiative so far in terms of the US to try and push deals in Iraq. But you haven't had a US ambassador there so there is a US ambassador who is headed out this week. But it's an enormous struggle to reach any kind of an accord in Iraq. It's a very important year though as we've seen Maliki really try to consolidate his power and lots of tensions emerging as well.

Diane Rehm: But you know what's interesting? What's happened is that Iraq has completely knocked Afghanistan off the front pages. Now we see concentration on the suicide bombings in Iraq but also what's happening in Pakistan. We were planning to send more troops to Afghanistan, removing them from Iraq. Now how is all of this going to be effected, Karen?

Karen DeYoung: I think the, you know, this year, they've already settled on which troops are going to Afghanistan and the request from the commanders there is for another 10,000 next year which has not been authorized. I don't think that's going to seriously impinge on plans to withdrawal from Iraq. Right now those are the only requests. The 21,000 that were authorized, actually 21,000, for this year and a request that the president has not signed off on for an additional 10,000 next year. Right now there are not additional requests to send more troops to Afghanistan and, in fact, the Secretary of Defense, Bob Gates, has said many times, as have others, there's a limit to the number of troops you can send to Afghanistan.

Diane Rehm: Have Americans, with the exception of military families, stopped caring about Iraq, Yochi?

Yochi Dreazen: I think even in the military there's been a massive shift of military manpower and military mental power. Within the military the question now is how do you try to win Afghanistan and stabilize Pakistan. It's less Iraq. I think there was a bit of false complacency that came in when violence fell and Obama won and made clear his plan to leave. To the degree that anybody was still following Iraq, and I think many people had tuned it out, at least a year earlier if not longer, there's a belief that we won, that the war was over. Violence was down, we were going to leave. Things were not great but there was a somewhat functioning government and now we could do something else. And when that happened, I remember getting an e-mail from someone in Baghdad saying that we in the US could decide to leave and we could say we're done with our part of the fighting come 2010 or 2011 but there's another side and that side might want to keep fighting. And I think what you're seeing now is that there is another side, it does want to keep fighting and we're going to decide do we keep fighting to?

[. . .]

Yochi Dreazen: I think that the intent of those carrying out the attacks is precisely that issue. You're trying to stir up renewed Shia on Sunni violence and reprisals. To be honest, I don't think it's going to work -- in part because Shia political power is stronger and more stable across the Arab portions of Iraq then it's been at any point since 2003. Moqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi army which had been the main form for Shia reprisals is largely receded into the background. A lot of its members no longer affiliate themselves with him or his movement. I think the intent is clearly that if a Sunni group carries out an attack big enough or horrific enough, some Shia group will carry out a revenge attack. So the hope would be -- obviously, I use 'hope' not in the way we would use it -- the hope would be that if you kill 500 Shia at prayer one day, something bad will happen, Shia on Sunni. To be honest, I think that was what happened in '05, '06, '07. I think to a degree early '08. I think that has largely played out.

Diane Rehm: So do you all believe that what's happening in Iraq now is not going to effect US plans to draw down troops moving forward? Karen?

Karen DeYoung: Uh, not right now, I don't think it will.

Diane Rehm: Not right now.

Karen DeYoung: I think that what was said previously, that what we think of as a complete withdrawal eventually is not going to be a complete withdrawal as soon as we -- as we think it will.

Diane Rehm: And what happens to those large bases that the United States has built in Iraq?Karen DeYoung: They're supposed to be turned over to Iraq eventually --

Daniel Dombey: You've got. Oh, I'm sorry.

Karen DeYoung: No, go ahead.

Daniel Dombey: You've got to remember a three-stage process. By June of this year, the US is supposed to be out of major cities although with the conditions that Yochi mentioned before. By August 2010, it's supposed to cease combat operations which is an Obama phrase that probably doesn't mean anything very much. And by the end of 2011, it's supposed to be out completely. Now that's actually according to a deal negotiated with the Bush administration. Whether that's going to happen -- that's a long way off One criticism of Bush and a criticism of Obama is that you really need to get the politics right. The real priority, however, for the US, is for Iraq not to provoke a regional conflict.

Diane Rehm: Mmm-hmm.

Daniel Dombey: That's why something like Kirkuk, which is something that involves the Kurds, the Arabs and Turkey -- which does not want Kirkuk to fall under Kurdish control, is so sensitive. They do not want Iraq to be a source of instability in the region. I think that they're prepared for Iraq to be a less than wonderful place for Iraqis to live in.

Yochi Dreazen: If I -- if I was a betting man, which I would never publicly admit to being, I would put considerable money that there is absolutely no chance that we would be out of those big bases by the end of 2011. The bases are so beyond-belief enormous. I mean, the Victory compound out by Baghdad airport is roughly 50 square miles, it's huge. You have thousands and thousands of tons of equipment, tens of thousands of vehicles. So the idea that somehow in the next two years all of these bases will be dismantled is non-existant. Beyond the fact that US officials have made clear all along that, should the Iraqis request it, maybe we'd stay beyond 2011. And you can envision a 100 scenarios --

Diane Rehm: Of course

Yochi Dreazen: -- in which the Iraqi government says we need you.

Steven Lee Myers of NYT (audio link again): "The fact is that not many American troops have yet withdrawn so the numbers are still high." That's an important point and also one made in a Congressional hearing this week that Jim, Dona, Ava and I have already decided is part of an editorial for Third Sunday. There are parts you probably agree with above and parts you don't. Some you may strongly disagree with. What's interesting is how November 2007 is actually the crucial period if you want to talk US draw down. That was avoided. We may cover it at Third or here next week.

But right now, some of the other violence.
Hussein Kahim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad sticky bombing which killed police Maj Raad meki and left three people in his car injured and a Jalwlaa car bombing which claimed 2 lives and left twenty-six people injured. Reuters notes a Mosul roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier and injured another, a Sinjar sticky bombing claimed the life of "the son of a local sheikh" and, dropping back to Friday, a police major was shot dead in Kirkuk.

Today the
US military announced: "TIKRIT, Iraq -- A Multi-National Division - North Soldier died in a non-combat related incident in Salah ad Din province April 24. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense. The incident is under investigation." The announcement brings to 4277 the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war. This is the third death of a US service member announced this week and the 14th for the month thus far -- already putting April's death toll ahead of March's.

Tuesday Chris Hill was confirmed as US Ambassador to Iraq. AP reports Hill arrived in Baghdad today. And they seem on the point of gushing that it's only "three days after" his Senate confirmation. What the hell have they been drinking? Reality, the unqualified Hill has already broken his first promise. As John Kerry noted in the Senate Foreign Committee's hearing on Hill March 25th, Hill stated he would leave for Iraq "within a day of his Senate confirmation." Does it matter? Yeah it does. You say you'll do something, you better do it. This is another example of Hill telling the Congress one thing and then doing another. And it makes John Kerry look like an idiot because, in his opening remarks at that hearing, Kerry argued against any attempts to delay Hill's confirmation stating that it "would do a serious disservice to our efforts" in Iraq if senators attempted "holding up a vote on Ambassador Hill's nomination." Kerry said, "This is not a time for delay." He added, "The committee will move to quickly discharge Ambassador Hill, who has committed to depart for Iraq within a day of his Senate confirmation." Committed. And he already broke it. It's not a minor issue and one more sign that Hill's a little 'too casual' when it comes to job responsibilities.

Winding down on Iraq,
Mattis Chiroux faced a military board this week (see Tuesday and Wednesday's snapshots). The board has a recommendation. Yesterday, Matthis wrote a very intense and moving account of his life thus far. We've noted the process here and a few people have e-mailed to dispute where it stands now. In Tuesday's snapshot, I'm going by three officers I spoke to on the phone and one JAG attorney I spoke with in addition to a woman Jess spoke with and she typed up the process and e-mailed it. Here is that e-mail:

SGT Chiroux's duty status will not change today because his case is notcomplete. HRC-St. Louis will compile the board record and complete alegal review prior to forwarding the case through the Commander, HRC-STLto the Commanding General, Human Resources Command. Before he left today, SGT Chiroux was informed of the Board's findingsand recommendations. Due to Privacy Act constraints, I am not able todiscuss this with you. SGT Chiroux remains a member of the Individual Ready Reserve until theCommanding General takes final action. This is expected to occur inseveral weeks' time. Thank you, v/r, Maria Quon LTC, U.S. Army Public Affairs Officer U.S. Army Human Resources Command-St. Louis 1 Reserve Way St. Louis, MO 63132-5200 (314) 592-0726 [. . .] Classification: UNCLASSIFIED Caveats: NONE
Based on the conversations and the e-mail, the board made a recommendation or even a decision but it goes on up the chain of command. No one is attempting to insult Matthis in any way. Nor to, as two e-mails suggest, take something away from his victory. But I'm not Scott Horton. Translation, I can't know the truth and say something else. I can't say "Bush is going to be indicted!" when I don't know that's true. The e-mail published above is censored only to take out Quon's e-mail -- which is her business one but I'm not comfortable having that in there. I didn't speak to anyone in public affairs. Jess spoke to her and she e-mailed him. What she's stating in that e-mail is what I was told by three officers familiar with the procedure and by one JAG attorney who knows the drill. We met the three-source rule with two extra.
At Courage to Resist, a piece by Matthis Chiroux states he was awarded a recommendation by the board. I don't know where people are seeing something other than that but I've explained why we have worded it the way we have and, again, it's also the way Chiroux himself does. Also at Courage to Resist:

Cliff Cornell was denied sanctuary in Canada; will face general courts martial Tuesday, April 28 at Ft. Stewart, Georgia
Donate to Cliff's legal defense here ]56 people have given $2,270 as of April 22. Goal: $3,000
By Friends of Cliff Cornell. Updated April 22, 2009
The U.S. Army has charged Specialist Clifford Cornell, with desertion. Cornell, 28, surrendered himself to authorities at Fort Stewart, Georgia on February 17, after being denied refugee status in Canada. The Arkansas native left Fort Stewart four years ago, when his artillery unit was ordered to Iraq. According to family and friends, Cornell did not want to kill civilians, and said that Army trainers told him he must shoot any Iraqi who came near his vehicle.

That's this Tuesday. Turning to public television
NOW on PBS examines rape in "Justice Delayed:"A terrible statistic: one in six women will be a victim of rape or attempted rape in her lifetime. But an even more shocking reality: A backlog in processing rape kits--crucial evidence in arresting violent predators -- is delaying and sometimes denying justice for tens of thousands of American women. NOW travels to Los Angeles County to investigate why it has the largest known rape kit backlog in the country--over 12,000 kits are sitting untested in police storage facilities. An internal audit found that more than 50 of these cases have exceeded the 10-year statute of limitations on rape. "The evidence that we're talking about represents human lives," Los Angeles Controller Laura Chick tells NOW. "Those are lives stacked up on the shelves waiting for justice." NOW talks with courageous rape survivors and law enforcement experts for insight and answers in this disturbing but important report. Are these women being victimized twice?

NOW on PBS begins airing on many PBS stations tonight (check local listings) as does PBS' Washington Week which finds Gwen sitting around the table with Dan Balz (Washington Post), Joan Biskupic (USA Today), Jeanne Cummings (Rona Barrett's DC) and Mark Mazetti (New York Times). Also on PBS (and starts airing tonight on many PBS stations, check local listings), Bonnie Erbe sits down with Kim Gandy, Amanda Carpenter and Avis Jones-DeWeever to discuss this week's news on To The Contrary. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers: Vice President BidenIn this profile of Joe Biden, Lesley Stahl spends three days with the vice president and also interviews his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, and his boss, President Barack Obama. Watch Video
Powered By CoalCoal is America's most abundant and cheap fossil fuel, but burning it happens to be the biggest contributor to global warming. Scott Pelley reports. Watch Video
The OrphanageIvory is selling for nearly $1,000 a tusk, causing more elephants to be slaughtered and more orphaned babies in need of special care provided by an elephant orphanage in Kenya. Bob Simon reports. Watch Video

the boston globe
dahr jamail
mcclatchy newspaperssahar issa
tom a. peterthe christian science monitor
james hider
karen deyoungthe washington post
nprthe diane rehm show
the los angeles timestina susmancaesar ahmed
megan feldman
corey flintoff
ernesto londonoaziz alwan
laith hammoudi
corinne reillythe new york timestimothy williamssteven lee myers
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matthis chiroux
cliff cornell
the third estate sunday review

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Last night the following went up:

Cedric's Big Mix
The national embarrassment
9 hours ago

The Daily Jot
He'll say anything
9 hours ago

Thomas Friedman is a Great Man
Matthis Chiroux
10 hours ago

Mikey Likes It!
Clive Jones
10 hours ago

Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude
clive james
10 hours ago

Iraq & Clive James
10 hours ago

Ruth's Report
Clive Jones
10 hours ago

Oh Boy It Never Ends
The say anything Danny Schechter
10 hours ago

Like Maria Said Paz
War widows
10 hours ago

Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills)
4274 killed since the start of the illegal war

Cedric and Wally are at the top and they did their humor post. Everyone else highlighted a cutting from a Clive James' poem and wrote about Iraq.

"Congressional Report Reaffirms Involvement Of High Level Bush Officials In Torture Policies" (American Civil Liberties Union):
Armed Services Committee Report Furthers Case For Independent Prosecutor
WASHINGTON – A landmark congressional report released today sheds new light on the coordination among the Bush White House and other high level government officials in the creation and implementation of torture policies. The report was released by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) and Ranking Member John McCain (R-AZ) after being declassified by the government and is a result of the committee’s two-year long investigation into the Department of Defense’s (DOD) role in the treatment of detainees in U.S. custody.
“Once again, we are presented with clear-cut evidence that the Bush administration’s highest ranking officials were not only complicit in the use of torture, but were actively engaged in its implementation. It is now time to act on this evidence,” said Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “We can no longer pretend there is any doubt that crimes were committed and the Justice Department should respond accordingly. No one is above the law. An independent prosecutor must be appointed to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation.”
The American Civil Liberties Union welcomed the declassification of the report and Chairman Levin and Ranking Member McCain should be commended for initiating the investigation and making its findings public.
As part of its Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, the ACLU recently obtained four memos produced by the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel outlining the Bush administration’s legal framework for its torture policies. The ACLU has been calling for years for an independent criminal investigation into the interrogation techniques used by the federal government against detainees held by the United States. Based on documents obtained through Freedom of Information Act litigation brought by the ACLU, several congressional hearings and this latest committee report, it is clear that important decisions on the use of torture and abuse were made in the White House, at the Pentagon, and at the headquarters of the CIA and the Justice Department.
“This report makes frighteningly clear that some of the darkest moments in our country’s recent past were choreographed at the highest levels of government,” said Christopher Anders, ACLU Senior Legislative Counsel. “The days of privates and sergeants being the only people charged with torture or abuse crimes—while top government officials go free—should be over. The people who were at the very top of the Bush administration and those at the top of the chain of command must be held accountable. Just as any other American would be investigated by a prosecutor for crimes committed, so must our government officials. We must ensure that our laws are impartially enforced against everyone.”
To read the OLC memos obtained by the ACLU, go to:
To learn more about the ACLU’s work on torture issues, go to:

The ACLU may be the only organization that's not kissing Barack's ass these days. Maybe that's because the ACLU truly isn't partisan. All the others who claim they're independent and non-partisan have demonstrated repeatedly that they are anything but independent (or non-partisan).

The ACLU. Who would've guessed it? I would've bet on the Center for Constitutional Rights but they proved to be nothing but a front group for the Cult of St. Barack. Same with the National Lawyer's Guild. Both CCR and NLG are supposed to be radical organizations. The ACLU is more of a centrist organization (despite the right-wing smears) and that's been my biggest problem with it during this decade especially. However, the reality is that they act the same regardless of who is in the White House. They are non-partisan and they are independent. They are also one of the few domestic organizations that can make that claim.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, April 22, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, the 'surge' continues Congress is informed, a Marine general fears being 'emasculated', the price of oil flucuates, and more.

Yesterday Matthis Chiroux faced a military body. Today he shares:

I stood before the Army. I looked a board of officers in the eyes, and I told them I thought they were sending people off to participate in war crimes. And what did they say? Get out of here, Sergeant, and keep your damn G.I. Bill!!!
Indeed, folks! The Army awarded me a recommendation for a general discharge under honorable conditions from the Individual Ready Reserve for my refusal to deploy to Iraq last summer. This landmark decision means not only am I a free man, I'm free to continue school this fall with the "new" G.I. Bill that I earned while on active duty.
Though this discharge is identical to the one I refused in exchange for having this hearing, I can now rest easy knowing I never submitted, I never backed down and the Army has heard my story.
And not just my story, but the stories of those brave veterans at Winter Soldier and those who've participated in IVAW's Warrior Writers' program. Full texts of both books were submitted to the Army this morning, and I can only imagine the fun they're having transcribing them into the record.

So that was the board finding and congratulations to Matthis Chiroux. As noted yesterday, there is no change in his duty status yet. What happens next is the board's record is complied and a legal review takes place. Following that it's forwarded up the chain to, finally, the Commanding General of Human Resources Command. The Commanding General will issue a determination and that should take place before the end of next month.

And staying with war resistance,
Friday WLUK (Fox 11 -- link has text and video) provided the latest news on Kristoffer Walker:

Monica Landeros: Well, Laura [Smith], a spokesperson with the U.S. Army tells me Kristoffer Walker has been demoted several ranks from Specialist to Private, but that's just part of his punishment. The Army also said Walker will be fined in the form of docked pay. For two months he will get half of his usual paycheck. In addition, he will also be fined for a -- confined to an Army base for 45 days. That means he can't leave the base and might even have additional duties during that time. Though Army officials do not know when that confinement will actually start. That's because right now, Walker is on medical leave from Iraq though officials won't give details on his medical condition. Once he is healthy, Army officials said he will begin the base confinement. Now we were unable to speak to Kristoffer Walker today though his mother tells us her son was aware of the severity of his absence and that he was ready for any consequences handed down.

That was in
Monday's snapshot but the "n" was left out of Monica Landeros' name. My apologies.

Today the US Senate was where Marine General James F. Amos blurted out fears of 'emasculation'. Before that high drama came took place, the US Senate's Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support had to be called to order and chair Evan Bayh did that noting, "The purpose of today's hearing is to address the growing strain placed upon our Army and Marine Corps. We will receive testimony on the current readiness of ground forces with respect to deployed, deploying and non-deployed units. We will also discuss the Army and the Marine Corps' abilitiy to provide forces to meet combat commanders' requirements and to respond to unforseen contingincies. We're particularly interested in your assessment of the risks resulting from the continued committment of combat forces to Iraq and Afghanistan. Additionally the subcommittee would be interested to know your views on the current and projected readiness reporting systems used by the Department of Defense. Over the last several years, we have observed total force readiness decline as a result of combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere around the globe."

The witnesses appearing before the Subcommittee were the Army's General Peter W. Chiarelli and the Marines' General Amos. A surprise witness was Ranking Republican subcommittee member Richard Burr's tie which was a ghastly pink thing with silver and blue stripes that appeared to have just surfaced on his closet floor that morning after having gone underground at some point in 1975. The tie formed no words but somehow spoke volumes and may, in fact, have warded off Democrats which would explain why so few were present. On the Republican side, four serve on the committee and three showed up: Senators Burr, James Inhofe and John Thune took part in the hearing. Six Democrats are assigned to the committee. Bayh was present. We'll note a portion of Senator Roland Burris' opening remarks since he also showed up for the hearing.

Roland Burris: . . . I just want to thank our military personnel for all that they do for us, I will have a few questions. But my favorite saying -- and I want the military personnel to hear this statement: We are able to do what we do in America because of what you do across the world for our protection. Just keep that in mind. And we appreciate your committment, your effort and your dedication to making us the strongest country in the world. And every time I see one of you, whether you're a private or a four-star general, I saulte each and every one of you.

Democratic Senator Mark Udall joined the subcomittee near the end of the hearing (last third). Dropping back to the start, Gen Chiarelli paraphrased and summarized his [PDF format warning]
prepared statement and key point was that the army will respond on the budget when its released by the White House. Gen Amos read his [PDF format warning] prepared statement which used phrases such as "the Long War".

Evan Bayh (to Gen Chiarelli): You mentioned that we're consuming our readiness as fast as fast as we're rebuilding it, I think that's what you said what must be done to change that? So that we're no longer just kind of treading water, what needs to be done to actually improve our readiness so that we're not in this constant state of tearing it up while building it without really making long term progress?

Peter Chiarelli: Well two things I'd point out, senator, would be first of all we need to complete the grow the army plan and as you know that goes to the 45 brigade mark. We are doing that.

Evan Bayh: That would be the top of your priority list?

Peter Chiarelli: That would -- that is very, very important that we grow those 45 brigades because this is a question of supply and demand. I can't control the demand. And the demand right now shows that I have 26 combat brigades that are currently deployed. I have a total of 18 active component brigades and 8 reserve component brigades. And when I have that many brigades deployed, I have what's called friction. Best explained by kind of a Navy analogy that -- when you have a --

Evan Bayh: This is a first. The army referencing the Navy.
Peter Chiarelli: This is a first. But I have a rough time explaining friction if I don't call on my other services to help me out. When you have an air craft carrier that's sitting in the middle of the Persian Gulf and you want to go ahead and relieve it an air craft carrier casts off from some place in the United States and at that particular point and time you've got two air craft carriers doing the job of one. And the same thing happens with Army brigades. When I have 26 deployed, I've got normally six that are also doing another job so that total number goes up to 32.

Chiarelli explained this effects dwell time/reset time with soldiers spending 12 months deployed "and 1.3 years back at home." He also raised the issue of the 'surge,' "The surge for the United States Amry is not over. We on't get our last combat brigade off of a 15 month deployment until June of this year and I won't get my last combat service support or combat support unit back off a 15 month deployment until September."

He declared the Army had met their recruitment goals, in fact, "we even went a little bit over." Sunday
Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) reported that the US Army was now able to be "more selective" as a result of the (bad) economy in recruiting which has allowed them to cease "accepting felons and recent drug abusers into its ranks". Tyson added, "The Army annually granted hundreds of waivers for felons in recent years, reaching a high of 511 in 2007. Now, that category of waiver, for 'adult major misconduct,' is closed" according to Brig Gen Joseph Anderson.

You can't have a Congressional hearing these days without someone saying "Robbing Peter to pay Paul" and today that phrase was said by Bayh. This took place in his exchange with Gen Amos. Bayh noted that when people hear that the non-deployed forces aren't ready, they wonder "just how not ready are the non-deployed forces?"
"Sir, I think it would take probably several months I think it would take Global Sourcing for the Marine Corps [removing Marines from Western Pacific assignments]." The Congress has doled out $12 billion thus far for reset costs and Amos stated that the estimate of the total reset costs was $20 billion.

Senator Burr wanted to know about contractors and Amos referenced Honeywell in Iraq and how 100 of their "workers do the triage, they do the preliminary mainteance" on equpiment and vehicles and determine whether or not something can be salvaged. Senator Burris also wanted to know about contractors, the ones employed in the US to inspect the equipment, "determining that it's functional." Gen Amos replied that they not only ensure that and that "if you pick your nicest car that you have confidence in when you buy it, that's how" reliable the equipment that passes inspection and is sent out to the field is.

Senator Bayh made the point in the last third of the hearing, to General Chiarelli that, "I think the American people have a right to know that if something else comes along, we're going to have a hard time meeting the national security threat to the country, we'll do our best but it puts you folks in a very difficult position." Bayh brought Gen Amos into this topic and Amos agreed.

James Amos: I think it would be very challenging. Difficult, challenging, for me mean they mean the same thing. I don't think there's any question about it. You know this is not -- uh -uh

Evan Bayh: It's not an abstract. This is not an abstract problem we're dealing with here.

James Amos: It's not, sir. I think it's a very worthwhile question and in the case of the Marine Corps if something happened in Iran or Korea -- North Korea -- we would end up freezing the forces in place. You'd freeze the ones you had in Iraq and Afghanistan, hold them in there, and as we said earlier on in the testimony, you would bring together -- you would build a fighting force that you could deploy but you'd have to train it, you'd have to figure out how you're going to get the equipment. We would, in the case of the Marine Corps, would emasculate all of our strategic reserves which are in our Maritime Preposition Squardons whatever's left up in the caves of Norway. We would pull all of that together and uh and deploy that force but we'd have to train it, we'd have to figure out what we'd need to do in that environment that we're not training people for right now because we're predominately a counter-insurgency, a regular warfare focus Marine Corps right now. So all those other skills -- combined armed fire manuever forcefible entry -- those things -- we'd have to figure out, we'd have to figure out, "Okay, what do we need to do for this new -- this new contingency? Is it possible?" The answer is "yes." [General Chiarelli begins nodding his head in agreement.] Your military, both your Army and your Marine Corps and Navy and Air Force would come together and we'd make it happen just like we did prior to the onset of Korea. We did exactly the same thing. But it would be painful.

Even Bayh: As I recall in the beginning stages of Korea, it also meant that our performance suffered because we were just trying to make the best of a bad situation. And we shouldn't consciously put ourselves in that spot is that --

James Amos: Sir, that is absolutely correct. In the case, just instructive for me as I think about this, we went -- after the president and the Secretary of War -- after WWII and the great successes of WWII, emasculated the Marine Corps, even went public and said we don't even we're not even sure we need a Marine Corps anymore and for certain we'll never do an amphibious operation and yet in 1949 we took a Fifth Marine regiment from the West Coast which was down to about 15 to 20% of what it should have been cobbled together Marines from the East Coast, all across, brought 'em all together to Fifth Marine, blew that balloon up, trained 'em and then ships together and made the largest amphibious operation and certainly the most difficult one we've ever done shortly after so, sir, I think your concerns are very valid.

Evan Bayh: When a Marine uses a term like emasculate the situation must be fairly dire.

James Amos: I just -- well I just think it certainly was then.

But he didn't just use it when speaking of Korea back in 1949. He was speaking of today as well. Which doesn't make him correct. He may just suffer from castration fears. He also seems to forget that if the US used the military only when attacked, the costs would be much less. (And many would argue that a standing military isn't even used -- however, without one, what would US presidents have to play with?)

Turning to the topic of oil,
Julianne Pepitone and Ben Rooney (CNN) reported this morning that oil has fallen from $48 per barrel to $45.88. This as Alsumaria explains Iraq "hopes to expand [its navy] by a third within two years to number 2,500 and expand its small fleet in the process. near the southern city of Basra" in order to protect their oil ports. Iraq's neighbor Iran wants the price of oil per barrel to double. Press TV reports Iran wants higher priced oil -- $80 per barrel -- and quotes Petroleum Minister Gholam Hossein Nozari stating, "Our aim is to increase crude oil price from the current $40-$50 per barrel to $80 a barrel." Which makes the oil-rich city of Kirkuk even more desirable to many surrounding players. The Kurdistan Regional Government believes Kirkuk belongs to their region and the centeral government in Baghdad claims it does not. For months, the UN, led by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Special Representative for Iraq Staffan de Mistura, has been attempting to broker potential resolutions and will release their report today. Reuters provides background on Kirkuk here and notes that the Iraqi government has been handed the report. Corinne Reilly (McClatchy Newspapers) explains the UN delivered "four options" (none of which have to be follwed) which have been seen by "Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki and Massoud Barzani, the president of the Kurdistan Regional Government" and none of which recommend splitting up Kirkuk. Missy Ryan (Reuters) notes that, along with Kirkuk, the United Nations has made recommendations for "14 other contested areas in northern Iraq". Citing an unnamed UN official, Ryan states, "Each option put forward by the United Nations would require a political agreement -- a monumental task -- followed by a confirmatory referendum."


Sahar Issa and Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) report a Nineveh Province car bombing in which a man killed himself in the bombing and two Peshmerga were injured in the attack as was one civilian who was walking by and was shot by Peshmerga, a Mosul roadside bombing left one Iraq soldier injured, a grenade attack on a Baghdad police chckpoint which claimed the life of 1 police officer, left another wounded and also injured two civilians, and a Salahuddin Province suicide bomber killed "himself among a crowd of prayers at Al-Khulafa mosque" and also took 5 other lives and left sixteen people injured.


Sahar Issa and Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) report 1 person shot dead in Mosul, Tariq Mustafa ("employee of Kirkuk municipality") was shot dead in Kirkuk


Sahar Issa and Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) report Kirkuk Judge Fayadh Yaseen was kidnapped "as he was leaving his home" in Kirkuk.

Friday the US military announced: "AL ANBAR PROVINCE, Iraq - A Multi National Force -West Marine died as the result of a non-combat related incident here April 16. The Marine's name is being withheld pending next-of-kin notification and release by the Department of Defense. The incident is under investigation." Yesterday the Department of Defense identifed the fallen: "The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Lance Cpl. Ray A. Spencer II, 20, of Ridgecrest, Calif., died April 16 as a result of a non-hostile incident in Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. The incident is currently under investigation." The Honolulu Star-Bulletin explains that he had previously served in Iraq for seven months beginning in August of 2007 and that Ray Spencer II's "awards include the National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, according to the Marines." KITV News adds that Spencer's second tour of duty in Iraq began "this month."Betsy Lambert, Bakersfield's Eyewitness News (link has text and video) explains Ray Spencer II attended Burrough High School ("2006 graduate") and the school "will be holding a memorial for Spencer on Thursday at the school during the lunch hour." Gregg K. Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) notes, "Spencer was the fifth serviceman with Hawaii ties to have died in a 'non-combat-related incident' this year. The Pentagon generally does not release details of these types of incidents." He also notes that Ray Spencer II's body is set to return to the US Sunday night (at Dover Air Force Base). Steven Mayer (Bakersfield Californian) quotes widow Athena Spencer stating "When I went to the door, I knew" and that the military "told us probably as much as they've told you. It was on base, so it wasn't combat." Mayer adds:Through her tears and confusion, she first thought it was some kind of terrible joke. "Anthony," as she called her husband, had dreamed of joining the Marines since he was a little boy. Not long before his death, he sent his wife a bouquet of white lilies for Easter. Dan Nakaso (Honolulu Advertiser) explains that Athena Spencer's husband "was shot in the chest and killed Thursday while on base in Anbar province". Monday saw the burial of William Bradley Blanton. "With full military honors," Robert Lee Long (Desoto Times Tribune) explains. Blanton was set "to leave next week for Camp Shelby and then Iraq" when he "died in a one-car accident near Tunica after his vehicle ran off the roadway." Robert Staley died over the weekend. Winston-Salem News reports (link has text and video) the funeral for the 39-year-old police officer took place today. He was set "to leave this week for his first deployment to Iraq with the National Guard"; however, he was hit by a truck while on his motorcyle.

Pulling this from the
April 13th snapshot because of a funeral tomorrow:

Sunday the 5 US soldiers killed on Friday arrived at Dover Air Force Base.
Jeff Montgomery (Delaware's News Journal) observes, "It was the heaviest loss of American lives in Iraq in 13 months, and the largest number of casualties returned to America in full sight of the public since the Defense Department opened the process to news coverage last week, after a 18-year blackout."
Defense Dept identified the five as: "Staff Sgt. Gary L. Woods Jr., 24, of Lebanon Junction, Ky., Staff Sgt. Bryan E. Hall, 32, of Elk Grove, Calif., Sgt. Edward W. Forrest Jr., 25, of St. Louis, Mo., Cpl. Jason G. Pautsch, 20, of Davenport, Iowa, and PV2 Bryce E. Gautier, 22, of Cypress, Calif." Sheryl Edelen (Courier-Journal) reports on Gary L. Woods Jr., "Woods' father, Gary Woods St., said that his son, who went by his middle name, Lee, was a talented musician who sang and played the trombone, drums, piano and guitar while a student at Bullitt Central High School. He was also a member of the school's football team. But after finding satisifation in ROTC classes, his son entered the military after high school, he said." Bob White (Lebanon Junction News Enterprise) adds, "Woods is surived by his parents, siblings and a wife, Christie, his father said." Tony Bizjak (Sacramento Bee) reports on Bryan Edward Hall, "Hall, 32, had served in the military for 14 years and had been deployed in Iraq since September. . . . Hall had received three Army commendation medals, according to military records, as well as several Army achievement, good conduct and war on terrorism medals." Dave Marquis (Sacramento's quotes Debbie Lords, who is a neighbor of the Bryan Edward Hall's parents, stating, "I don't know what I'm thinking. I just really feel for John and Betty right now. It was their oldest son, their oldest child." Paul Hampel (St. Louis Post-Dispatch) reports on Edward Forrest Jr., "Forrest was based at Fort Carson in Colorado and lived near the base with his wife and two sons, ages 2 and one month. Forrest was a 2003 graduate of Rockwood Summit High School. He was on his third tour of duty in Iraq." His sister Melissa Forrest-Pliner tells Hampel, "I asked him not to re-enlist. I told him I didn't want him to be a hero. I just wanted him to be my brother." South County Times adds, "In high school, Sgt. Forrest, known as 'Eddie,' was a long distance runner on the track team, and was also on the wrestling team" and quotes his coach Rolland Garrison stating, "He was a very enthusiastic member of the track and field program here at Rockwood Summit. He was a very good kid with a great smile." Molly Hottle (Des Monies Register) reports on Jason Graham Pautsch, "David Pautsch was informed of his son's death Friday night, just 12 hours after the two had spoken on the phone. 'He believed n what he was doing,' David Pautsch said. 'This is what he wanted to do'." Nicole Murphy (WAQD, link has text and video) spoke with David Pautsch who explained the call he received, "'On behalf of the Secretary of the Army I just want to let you know, give our condolences and notify you that your son was killed in Mosul." Pautsch continues, "You're stunned and you're shocked and you find it hard to believe that it could actually be happening but then it seeps and that's when the emotions hit." Pautsch goes on to explain that he believes his son was protecting the US from the "terrorists" in Iraq and he also shares, "I'm thrilled for Jason that he's in heaven." Eugene W. Fields (Orange County Register) reports on Bryce E. Gautier, "Gauier, a medic, joined the Army in January of 2008 and had been in Iraq since January of this year, according to Army documents. He received the National Defense Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal. Gautier graduated in 2005 from Rancho Alamitos High in Garden Grove, according to school district spokesman Alan Trudell." Tom Roeder and Maria St. Louis-Sanchez (Colorado Springs Gazette) note Gauier's MySpace page and add, "His sense of humor is evident from a posting on the site, which Gautier last updated three days before his death. 'Winners make the rules, losers just follow them,' Gautier wrote. 'In the Army now.' Gautier's brother, Even, left a simple eulogy on his Web page: 'My brother Bryce was one of the American soldiers killed in the suicide bombing in Iraq this morning. I love you bro. I will miss you'."

That was April 13th's snapshot.
CBS 13 reports that Brian Edward Hall's funeral will be Thursday: "The route of the procession will begin at the Sacramento Executive Airport, and will go to Highway 99, head southbound to Elk Grove Boulevard, and will end at the Elk Grove Funeral Chapel at 9101 Elk Grove Boulevard." KCRA notes, "His family is asking members of the community to show their support for the fallen soldier by lining the route." Jason Kobely ( -- link has text and video) reports that Brian Edward Hall's body arrived at Sacramento's Executive Airport yesterday and was greeted by "hundreds of mourners." Kobely quotes Kristi Hall, Brian's sister, stating, "My brother loved his job. He was proud of his job everyday. He never boasted about his accomplishments, or was arrogant. He did his job, and when he was done with his job, he came home and was a father, and a husband . . . and a son and a brother." The Bellingham Herald notes that Melloney Ward attended the funeral of her son Bryce Gautier today and quotes her stating, "He was just a kind and loving young man. He had a good heart." Jason Pauch's funeral was yesterday and Erin Jordan (Des Monines Register) notes that Iowa Governor Chet Culver attended the funeral and told the family, "Although no one will ever truly know your pain, you're not alone" while his older brother Jared spoke of their time stationed at Fort Benning together. Chris Minor (WQAD -- link has text plus video of Jason's sister Jenna remembering him) adds that Illinois Governor Pat Quinn also attended the hearing and spoke calling Jason Paucsh "a genuine hero". Barb Ickes (Quad City Times) explains she rode in the procession with Police Captain Dave Struckman:

We were on 53rd Street when we passed four men in matching green T-shirts, pouring a concrete sidewalk. They were sweating, and their cement needed their attention. But they all stopped what they were doing. They turned to the approaching hearse and placed their dirty hands over their hearts.
The somber expressions on the working men's faces made me cry, and I turned to Struckman to say I was sorry for going on the way I was. And I realized he was crying, too.
"How do you keep doing this, Captain?" I asked.
"Thank God for sunglasses," he answered.

WQAD also notes that Davenport Mayor Bill Gluba declared today Jason Pautsh Day.

Moving over to "If you're going to make an assertion about a book, you need to have read it." Either Vijay Prashad didn't read the book or
he lies to readers at CounterPunch:

A new book by The Washington Post reporter Thomas Ricks,
The Gamble: General David Petraeus and the American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2006-2008, claims that the great victory in Iraq is not far and that the credit for it should go to the Surge that began in 2007. This sort of account provides comfort that Obama's gradual withdrawal will now end what should never have begun in the first place.

That is a complete distortion of Ricks' book and the bad column has Vijay Prashad's name on it so he's either STUPID or a LIAR. Ricks argues no such thing. Ricks does believe -- in the book -- that the Iraq War is going to continue for many, many years (past 2012). He writes (and speaks) of the various phases the Iraq War has gone through thus far. Vijay may believe the war is winding down but don't pin that on
Thomas E. Ricks who wrote no such thing. The 'surge' distortion Vijay's pimping (like Tom Hayden before him) most likely is based on Joan Walsh's uninformed review. Joan's "like a staw in the wind" and needed to get 'on board' with the Iraq War now that Barack was in the White House. Lazy Asses like Hayden and Vijay don't bother to read. It's too much trouble for them. So they scan a few reviews and then pontificate in loud voices pretending that they're informed. Vijay Prashad discredits his entire column by revealing either how igorant or how deceptive he is. His column has an interesting theme and it's too bad that, throughout it, his skills and information gathering are so damn weak that they make his the most laughable column of the week thus far.

Example: Prashad writes: "On February 27, Obama made a cautious statement about drawndown from Iraq, promising to remove 142,000 troops and to end all combat operations by August 31, 2010." No, he did not. Is Prashad trying to lie? Is he careless? Is he really that stupid? Barack didn't promise to remove 142,000 troops by August 31, 2010. The 'promise' is meaningless but, regardless,
he didn't give the deadline for the removal of 142,000 US troops as August 31, 2010. And that 'promise' is meaningless. Barack laid the groundwork to weasel out on any draw down (when someone spells it "drawdown" they're doing the White House's bidding) in 2007, as Kat noted last night. He has repeatedly stated, for two years now, that he will send US troops back into Iraq in the midst of a 'withdrawal' if 'conditions on the ground' necessitate it. While offering pretty words on 'withdrawal' (and avoiding tell his adulation rallies about the fine prints), Barack still refused to promise all US troops would be out by the end of 2012 if he was elected president in 2008. Idiots like Vijay need to find a tutor who will assist them in the heavy lifting of thinking. When presenting himself as the end-the-war candidate, he refused to promise all US troops would be out in 2012. At the same time, while courting War Hawks like Michael Gordon in the press, Barack repeatedly insisted he would send troops back in if conditions on the ground changed. Put it together. Vijay can't. He tired himself out too much last year with mind reading (which apparently, for Vijay, beats book reading).

If Vijay didn't write the worst column thus far this week, it's only because Pledged Delegate for Barack Obama surfaced. Normy Solomon, slither on down, spineless. Barack consort and, yes, Pledged Delegate shows up around the web (
here for Dissident Voice) with more useless garbage. The words Normy's looking for are, "I apologize for WHORING myself for Barack. I hope that everyone, including the Iraqi people, can forgive me. I feel great shame for promoting a War Hawk." Until he can say those words, Norman Solomon looks (and acts) more and more like Norman Bates. And it takes a lot of crazy for the Normy (who spent the eighties and nineties calling out the likes of Michael Kinsley repeatedly for the claim that if both sides are calling you out you must be doing something right) to declare that there's a 'middle path' for dealing with a War Hawk. Read the garbage and grasp that Norman never pushed to let George W. Bush off the hook, never blamed the continuations of wars on the American people while Bush was in the White House. Norman's an embarrassment. He's like an Old Queen who thinks he's just a belly shirt and a blonde wig away from being Britney Spears. (Or maybe, like the other Norman, he wants to dress up as Mother?) Doesn't matter. He bores us with 675 words allegedly about the war . . . But never about Iraq. That was hasn't ended just because sex-starved cowards like Norman don't want to call their object de lust out. Grow the hell up, Norman, you're about to the cross the point of no return. (Not unlike you know who -- who lost his newspaper job because of the scene he made with his much younger trick who wanted him to bark in the hotel hallway, in his underwear, like a dog.)

Women's Voices, Women's Votes president Page S. Gardner notes:

Women didn't cause this economic crisis, but we sure are paying the price for the banks' mistakes. Many of us have lost our jobs - in fact, unmarried women faced a national unemployment rate of 9.6% in March 2009, compared to the rate of 8.5% for Americans as a whole (1). We are losing our healthcare coverage. And our pay still lags behind that of men. However, many CEOs of the biggest banks, which helped create this crisis, have not been held accountable for the mess that they helped create. One example is Ken Lewis of Bank of America. Bank of America, one of the biggest banks in America, took $45 billion in taxpayer bailouts, which means that we taxpayers have a big stake in that bank (2). So Service Employees International Union (SEIU), a big national union, and other progressive groups are forming a huge coalition to demand that Bank of America take action and fire Ken Lewis.
Sign a proxy card demanding that Ken Lewis be fired, and that Bank of America support a fair finance system for us all. Ken Lewis gave billions in bonuses for top bank executives, while announcing huge layoffs for employees, and taking a $35 million salary for himself over the past two years - even though he and his fellow executives had run Bank of America into the ground (3). If we convince Bank of America to fire Lewis and change its policies, we will be sending a message to Wall Street that women expect banks to use taxpayer money to help repair the economy, not to enrich the top management. Sign the petition to fire Bank of America's CEO and set a new direction for Wall Street.

iraqiraq veterans against the war
matthis chiroux
missy ryan
mcclatchy newspapershussein kadhimsahar issa
thomas e. ricks
jason kobely
gregg k. kakesakobetsy lambertsteven mayerjulianne pepitoneben rooneycnn