Friday, August 14, 2009

Kenneth J. Theisen and Stephanie Tang

"The Truth about Torture: Why John Yoo Should be Fired, Disbarred, and Prosecuted" (Kenneth J. Theisen and Stephanie Tang, World Can't Wait):
John Yoo’s name is no longer attached only to the crime of torture. Because of recent media revelations and legal actions, we have learned that Yoo the Torture Professor also played a key role writing other Bush Regime “legal” memos supporting illegal government surveillance and use of U.S. troops against people on American soil. All of this patently illegal advice flows from Yoo’s notorious theory of the “unitary executive” – better known as “If the President does it, it’s legal…..”
There is no middle ground - torture must be repudiated.

Think about that.

Last night, Betty wrote about what Bob Somerby talked about:

I laughed, not in a good way, when Bob typed this: "By the way: We’ve never seen Klein ridicule less-sophisticated working-class people. Could it be because she’s too smart?" No, but it could be because you've missed a lot of Naomi. I could go to where everyone in the community will (the speech) but Elaine was present for that 2008 garbage and I'll let her tell it tomorrow night. (She doesn't blog on Thursdays, usually because she has her vets group but on vacation because that's her pattern.)

Why is that funny?

I caught Naomi selling her softcover version. I caught her making jokes about people. Making jokes about people who supported Sarah Palin. This was shortly after she'd been announced. There was Naomi tearing her apart. Making jokes about how the two number one books on Amazon in politics were her own and a biography on Palin.

Naomi Klein is such a liar.

(Amazon ranks do not remain steady. They are fluid.)

She was also making fun of the people supporting Palin.

She was rude and crude and thought her audience would lap it up.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, August 14, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, the US military releases some suicide data, journalist protest in Iraq, Iraqi women get some press attention, and more.

Starting with US military suicides which are increasing by the DoD's own figures. The
June figures for the army were released July 9th and they were "no confirmed suicides and nine potential suicides." Yesterday, the Defense Department released the July figures and noted that "four of the nine potential suicides [for June] have been confirmed and five remain under investigation." For July they are investigating eight possible suicides. They also state, "There have been 96 reported active-duty Army suicides during the period Jan. 1, 2009 - July 31, 2009. Of these, 62 have been confirmed, and 34 are pending determination of manner of death. For the same period in 2008, there were 79 suicides among active-duty soldiers. During July 2009, among reserve component soldiers not an active duty, there were four potential suicides. During the period Jan. 1, 2009 -- July 31, 2009, among that same group, there have been 17 confirmed suicides and 28 potential suicides; the potential suicides are currently under investigation to determine the manner of death. For the same period in 2008, there were 32 suicides among reserve soldiers not on active duty."

Independent journalist
Dahr Jamail (at CounterCurrents) observes, "Soldiers are returning from the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan destroyed mentally, spiritually, and psychologically, to a general population that is, mostly, willfully ignorant of the occupations and the soldiers participating in them. Troops face a Department of Veterans Affairs that is either unwilling or unable to help them with their physical and psychological wounds and they are left to fend for themselves. It is a perfect storm of denial, neglect, violence, rage, suffering, and death." Dahr's latest book was released last month month and is The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan. July 31st on NPR's The Diane Rehm Show, a caller, Pamela, phoned to discuss a family member in the service who took his own life:

Yes. Good morning, how are you? Thank you for taking my call. I am responding to a comment I heard earlier and it really just like shot me in my heart. And the comment was that the suicide rates [in the US military] are skyrocketing and how this has to be addressed. And I literally like I said stopped dead in my tracks. I . . . lost my brother in service due to suicide. He was home on a leave and, uh, about to be, pardon me, to go back and to serve and, uh, was, uh -- the difficulty in getting the mental health services I believe that he needed -- I mean he was married with two children -- was most, most difficult and delayed and a long wait and this and that. And then the unfathomable happened and, uh, when I, uh, at times decided to share how he died rather than just say he died in the war and I would say he died by suicide the remark I would hear unfortunately was, "Oh my goodness, he didn't die a hero then." And-and I continually hear this and I guess I want to make a statement that how someone dies, um, should not be -- that -- that is not a definition of how they lived their lives. And here was a good man who gave and did so much for the community and yet because of how he died -- which you know is a mental illness health related, etc. etc. -- he is now being defined as -- not -- as a zero. And not being defined. And I think you know this-this suicide issue is getting way out of control and for every person that dies by suicide there are at least six to ten people that are horribly effected as well to the point where their mental health also, uh, you know, begins to fall apart and the whole mental health, how to get help, starts all over again. And I should say that the support groups for those that lose a loved one by suicide are now separated from regular grief groups and while attending one and sharing how my loved one died, people were going around the room, people said to me, "Oh my God, why is she here?" I've been asked to leave meetings because -- grief support meetings -- because of how my brother died and I don't think that's fair or correct or right and, um, so the issue goes far beyond the pain of losing a loved one and is extremely complicated. And, um, I wanted to share all that. And if ever anybody hears of someone that dies of a suicide please just say "I'm sorry for your loss" and ask about the person. And don't say anything cruel or unkind because, again, how one lives their entire life for 38 years should not be defined by a, you know, a irrational moment that effects -- that became a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

A caller named Mary also explained some of the stressors she sees (she's married to a service member) on that program (and there's transcripts of both calls in the
July 31st snapshot). Moving to today's broadcast of The Diane Rehm Show. The second hour found Diane discussing the international news with Aljazaeera's Abderrahim Foukara, CNN's Elise Labott and McClatchy Newspapers' Warren P. Strobel. We'll come in on the Iran section where Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal -- the three American citizens being held by Iran -- come up.

Diane Rehm: And Elise what is the fate of the Newsweek journalist who strayed apparently into Iran?

Elise Labott: Well you have a couple of detainees. You have a Newsweek journalist,
Maziar Bahari, whose been working in Iran, who's been licensed by the Iranian government to work and whose coverage frankly of the regime hasn't been all that critical and he's been caught up in this post-election crisis. He's-he's one of forty -- more than forty journalists that are being tried as part of hundreds of opposition leaders -- some of the most well respected people of the country like Shirin Ebadi, noted Nobel laureate. And there's been a large campaign by Newsweek to-to free him. And then you have three American hikers --

Diane Rehm: Hikers. Right.

Elise Labott: Three American hikers that were hiking in northern Iraq in the Kurdish area in the mountains and it seems as if they strayed into uh, strayed into Iran and were detained by the authorities. And after a kind of week or so of no news whatsoever, the Iranians finally confirmed that they do have them, they are in custody, there's been no consular access, no visits to them at all. What US officials are saying is it's prob -- they don't think that Iran is irrational in these situations and that eventually it will probably shake out like it did in 2007 when Iran picked up these three British -- several British soldiers, held them, milked them for all they were worth and then when the costs -- international outrage and costs of them were too high, they had this ceremony and let them go. So they kind of think that after these hikers, they find out that they've satisfied themselves that they really didn't pose any risks -- the Iraqi government now is getting involved saying, 'They were really just guests of our country and they strayed in, please let them go' -- that eventually, as they did with Roxana Saberi journalist, they will let them go.

Warren P. Strobel: Yeah I think that's probably the case You did have one sort of hardline -- I think it was a member of Parliament, I hope I'm not wrong on that -- say --

Elise Labott: No, it was a member of Parliament, yeah.

Warren P. Strobel: -- that the only reason these three people could have strayed across the border is because they are part of a Western plot to keep things unhinged in Iran. But by and large, I think Elise is probably right that they will be released.

Elise Labott: They just couldn't --

Warren P. Strobel: The costs are too high.

Elise Labott: -- have done it at a worse time. I mean there should be some sort of a warning on your passport not to go into these countries.

Diane Rehm: Yes, you bet. You bet.

Abderrahim Foukara: Yes, I mean regardless of this ball being kicked back and forth between the Iranian government and the United States government as to the nature of what actually happened when those hikers went into Iranian territory, I mean in these situations you inevitably have a new card to play if you're the Iranian government when it comes to negotiations. It just puts one added step on the road to negotiations between the Iranian government and the US government instead of cutting straight to the chase and talking about pressure regarding the nuclear issue, now the US government has this extra hurdle of the three hikers to actually clear before they can talk about any other substance.

Diane Rehm: And speaking of hurdles a new wave of violence in Iraq this week, Warren Strobel?

Warren P. Strobel: Yes, indeed. I think yesterday there was two suicide bombings in the Mosul area targeted against an ethnic minority -- religious minority called the Yazzidis, 21 people killed. That's the latest on a string of these ever since US combat troops left the cities June 30th.

Diane Rehm: So since last Friday, we've had 150 people killed.

Warren P. Strobel: It's, it's a lot. And it's -- though actually, you talk to American commanders they think -- they predicted even worse once -- in other words, it's terrible, I'm not trying to minimize it in any sense of the word but there was a concern that there would be an even larger wave of violence.

Diane Rehm: So how is the Iraqi security handling this?

Warren P. Strobel: You know they -- they're doing better. You had this
memo from the American colonel (Timothy Reese) that was published in the New York Times a couple of weeks ago saying the Iraqi security forces were just barely good enough and it's time for us to leave. Iraq is still very unstable and the big concern now is the fault line between the Kurdish areas and the Arab areas and the concern about a full scale ethnic conflict there which we have not seen yet, thank God, but it's a possibility.

Elise Labott: And also there-there, as Warren said, there really trying to fuel an already existing tension between the Arab and the Kurdish government in the north but also up until recently when we've seen these bombings in the north the bombing campaign has really been directed at the Shia and to -- and the bombings have just been horrific, they've been on food lines, you know, school buses, hospitals, funerals, really aimed at the Shia and trying to drag them back into a sectarian war. And the Shia by and large have been very patient. Their spiritual leaders like Grand Ayatollah Sistani have uh told them listen 'No retaliation, renounce violence' and this -- by and large they've been patient but I think people are waiting to see how long that patience will last and whether we'll see the militias come again.

It's really interesting how the media continues to congratulate the Shi'ite dominant population on not publicly going on a violence tear. I don't recall, do you, when the Iraqi Christians have been under attack -- pick any time, it never ends -- any congratulations to them for not responding with violence. What a sad media which repeatedly strokes the Shi'ites as so wonderful for not breaking the law. The same media, it should be noted, which treated the genocide as a civil war. One group controlled the Iraqi government, the Shias. One group had all the power, the Shias. But back then, 2007, it was a civil war -- they covered up for what the dominant group was doing to eradicate a minority. Now they praise that same group for 'restraint.' And what's so amazing is that Elise got close to reality for a moment and then decided to walk it back, "And also there-there, as Warren said, there really trying to fuel an already existing tension between the Arab and the Kurdish government in the north but also up until recently when we've seen these bombings in the north the bombing campaign has really been directed at the Shia". As everyone has yet again rushed to stroke and fawn over the dominant population in Iraq, no one's considered what's going on. Disputed areas erupt in violence? Disputed areas under Kurdish control?

This could very well be a Shi'ite effort to destabalize the area in order to weaken any claim the Kurds may have on the territory. We saw that before. Repeatedly. We saw it with the attacks on Iraqi Christians from the summer of 2008 through November 2008. And we saw, if we paid attention, that the ones blamed originally were the Kurdish peshmerga. The Shi'ites started a whisper campaign that the always-eager-to-please press ran with. But the peshmerga wasn't responsible for the attacks nor would it ever make sense for them to be responsible for the attacks on Iraqi Christians. It was the Shi'ites in that region with indicators that they were being fed/fueled from elsewhere in Iraq.

The Yazidis are not Shi'ite. If they were Shi'ite, they'd be part of the dominant culture and not a minority. More importantly, as per usual, the press can only see the big attacks. There have been attacks for the last two weeks. And those attacks have included attacks, again, on Iraqi Christians in that region. It's interesting how the press only seems to give a damn when the victims are Shia. It's interesting that they then pretend they give a damn because of the violence when the reality appears to be that Shia thugs controlling the government get press appeasement. Out of fear? I have no idea. I only know that Shia thugs have conducted genocide and not been called out by our allegedly free press and now when violence is being conducted in nothern Iraq against Yazidis, Iraqi Christians, Kurds and a host of others, the press can only see Shi'ite victims. It's very strange and very telling. Notice how
Mayada Al Askari (Gulf News) covers the hundreds of deaths: "Kurdish villages, with mixed populations of Sunnis and Shiites, were targeted heavily. Nearly 3,000 kilogrammes of explosives went off near a small coffee shop in the forgotten village of Khazna, where poor labourers were killed." And the Shia are not monolythic. Frequently here we refer to the Shi'ite thugs (or the Sunni ones). We're referring to the government and militias. (Which are often the same thing for the Shi'ites.) And within the Shi'ite thug grouping, you have various divisions that can and do go to war with one another. A point that the Western media forgets as it renders the division it's helped to create (Shia v. Sunni) as a hard line that easily divides and which finds only one of two groupings.

Last Friday, Abderrahim Foukara hosted a discussion on the United States exiting Iraq on Aljazeera's Inside Iraq (link is video). The panelists were Thomas E. Ricks, Rend al-Rahim and Scott Carpenter. Rahim is an Iraqi and an American and she was the US ambassador to Iraq immediately after the Iraq War. Rahim was a very loyal supporter of George W. Bush and she got in some attacks on Joe Biden. Not a surprise. Rahim was among the exiles agitating for the illegal war. Long gone are the days when she could sit with Laura Bush at State of the Union addresses. Carpenter is with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Abderrahim Foukara: Tom, is President Obama in a pickle now having promised that -- during his campaign -- that he would end the war and withdraw US military forces from that country at a time when, on the ground, the situation seems to be somewhat deteriorating?

Thomas E. Ricks: I think it is deteriorating. I think security will worsen throughout this year and probably into next year. The fewer American troops you have, the less influence you have. The American troops have been pulled out of the easier parts first. Later, when the troop numbers start coming down -- they really haven't come down much at all, we're really at the same level the Bush administration had for most of the last six years -- when you start pulling troops out of the difficult areas that are less secure or where Iraqi forces are considered less reliable, I think you're going to see even more violence, more of an unraveling of the security situation.

Ricks went on to note that Barack "threw out a major campaign promise," noting that Barack promised to take a brigade of troops out a month from the time he took office and "if that were the case, he would have taken out 40,000 troops already. He hasn't. So he's thrown away a major promise and he's paid no political cost for that." Of Barack's alleged 'withdrawal' plan (it's not withdrawal and it's George W. Bush's plan), Ricks it wasn't the first one he'd covered, it was "the sixth one."

What will happen in the near future in Iraq?
Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) notes one development, "The 1920 Revolution Brigades issued a statement on Thursday in response to a Babylon and Beyond blog item last month about two meetings in Istanbul, Turkey, last spring between U.S. officials and a coalition of Sunni insurgent groups in Istanbul. In the group's statement Thursday, the 1920 Revolution Brigades said that it had not participated in the Political Council for the Iraqi Resistance's talks with the Americans and described the previous blog post as 'mistaken'." They feel their goal is to expell the foreign forces (US) from Iraq.

Today on
Aljazeera's Inside Iraq devotes the program to the status of Iraqi women. The program misidentifies Zainab Salbi's organization. She is not with Women to Women (a health organization for women). She is with Women for Women.

Zainab Salbi: I would say when it comes to the marginalized population -- and it is a huge percentage of the population -- this can be generalized. I was in other provinces, for example. Interviewing women in Karbala and Najaf and Hilla, the gist of it is what they're saying. They're saying, "America gave us freedom but took away from us security. And if we have to choose between freedom and security, we would choose security." But then the question became when I asked them about the freedom they're-they're talking about. Can you criticize Moqtada al-Sadr? Can you criticize [Abdul Aziz] al-Hakim? No. Can you criticize militia so-and-so? No. And so eventually that -- even that freedom shrank back into the old patterns of behavior. We're afraid of saying anything. So that's very much actually and not only with the marginalized population. I would say still very much among the whole population. There is still a level of fear. Both from the backgrounnd, the history of the country. Remember this is only seven years ago people were very scared of Saddam Hussein's regime but also because this is a real fact: Militias as well as governments are taking revenge and this is a fact that people are afraid of expressing their political opinions because they don't know what's going to happen to them.

Abderrahim Foukara: Well obviously a lot of people were afraid of expressing their opinions even after Saddam Hussein, to what extent do they feel marginalized today post-2003 and how does that compare with this situation prior to 2003?

Zainab Salbi: So let me ask -- answer it this way, Saddam Hussein's regime, or Saddam Hussein's time, gave and took away from Iraqi women, gave them massive campaign of illiteracy [C.I. note, she means a literacy campaign] for example, education access was very much promoted among women, promotion in the public sector as working women very much was promoted particularly in the seventies and the eighties. Took away from them the sense of security in a government controlled way in other words any woman was vulnerable to government torture or rape or whatever but it was what I call a vertical violence by the government against the population. Took away from them many other issues for example multiple marriages were encouraged by Saddam particularly the nineties. Took away from them mobility to travel the country without a companion. So it gave and it took away.

Asked what most surprised her in her visits and interviews with Iraqi women, Zainab Salbi responded, "They are very strong."

Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a bombing outside Falluja which claimed 1 life, a bombing outside Baquba which left three Iraqi soldiers wounded and a Mosul mortar attack which injured three police officers.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 merchant shot dead in Mosul (had "received threats by phone few days ago").

From the physical violence to attacks on the Iraqi press. Yesterday, Billie noted a story written up in the Dallas Morning News' "
Update: War report" which is an AP item about the $87,000 judgment against Al-Sharqiya by Iraqi 'courts' which, the item says, was "falsely reporting that orders had been issued to arrest ex-detainees released by the United States." I haven't read the verdict -- has anyone? I know AP hasn't. And I know that's not AP's understanding of the verdict or wasn't yesterday. I think, in squashing things into news briefs, something got lost. The case was over an Iraqi official speaking on the record to the TV station for their report. They quoted him. In addition, they spoke with other officials who did not go on the record. One such official's statements were wrongly -- according to the TV station -- credited to the one who went on the record. The lawsuit was over that issue: Who made the statement with the official who went on the record stating he had not done so (the TV station admitted that) and stating his name had been defamed by the broadcast. The court was not being aske to rule on the report itself. Nor was the court in the position to. The verdict is yet another assault on journalistic freedom in Iraq. And the sum is outrageous for a country that repeatedly tries to scrap their meager rations programs for citizens and thinks a few hundred dollars given to the (small number) of returnees should be enough to tide them over for a full year. Today the International Press Institute released the following:

Just days after the Iraqi government published a draft law that appears to pave the way for government interference in the media, a 100 million Iraqi dinar (€60,000) fine levied on Wednesday against Iraqi satellite broadcaster Al-Sharqiya for "misquoting" a top military spokesperson is another ominous signal that press freedom in Iraq is deteriorating, the International Press Institute (IPI) warned on Friday. An Iraqi court ordered the fine against Al-Sharqiya for slander, according to media reports, following a complaint filed in April by Major-General Qassim al-Moussawi, the Iraqi military's main spokesperson in Baghdad. Al-Moussawi claimed that the broadcaster misrepresented him by quoting him as stating that ex-detainees released by the United States would be rearrested by Iraqi authorities. The major-general claims to have said only that ex-detainee files would be reviewed as part of an investigation into complicity in recent bombings. The court decision comes amid growing fears of an increase in state pressure on the media in Iraq. On 31 July, the Iraqi government presented a draft law ostensibly aimed at protecting journalists, but containing as well worrying provisions that could have a negative impact on media freedom. Vague wording in the draft prohibiting journalists from "compromising the security and stability of the country" could be used to stifle criticism, and the right to protect sources is annulled if "the law requires the source to be revealed." The bill also stipulates that freedom of the press can be suspended if a publication threatens citizens or makes "provocative or aggressive statements." Local Iraqi media freedom organisations, such as the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory (JFO), have expressed concern over the draft law, which they see as "the beginning of the imposition of restrictions on journalists, as well as the government's reorganising control over information." "Whatever this law gives in the left hand it seizes back with the right," Ziad al Ajili, JFO manager, told IPI. "Best for us as journalists is to have the right of access to information, and laws guaranteeing freedom of expression, not laws surrounding us with any kind of restriction." IPI Deputy Director Michael Kudlak warned Iraq against taking a step backwards by restricting media freedoms.
"We again urge Iraq's judiciary and legislature to be mindful of the vital role played by media freedom while nurturing democracy," he said. "Legislation that pushes journalists into self-censorship is a step backwards, not forwards. At this stage, it appears as though the Iraq government is taking a step backwards." IPI's latest warning came as Iraqis including journalists, writers and booksellers demonstrated in Baghdad on Friday against what they allege is state censorship.

Today in Baghdad, thousands of demonstrators marched through the streets carrying banners and protesting. BBC has video
here. Aljazeera explains they were protesting "against government censorship and intimidation" and notes a threatened law suit, "Jalal Eddin Saghir, a leader of the SIIC, has threatened to sue Ahmed Abdul-Hussein, a journalist with the state-run Al-Sabah newspaper, for suggesting that the party could have staged the robbery to raise money for national elections in January 2010." The SIIC, returning to our earlier conversation, would be "thugs." AFP notes journalist Emad al-Khafaji speaking at the demonstration, "Journalists and media workers have lost 247 of their colleagues over the past six years because of attacks and violations. The participants in this demonstration have confirmed they will not back down in the face of intimidation and threats."

British citizen Danny Fitzsimons is facing a trial in Iraq and could be sentenced to death. He served in the British military for eight years and was stationed in Afghanistan and Kosovo. He is
accused of being the shooter in a Sunday Green Zone incident in which 1 British contractor, Paul McGuigan, and 1 Australian contractor, Darren Hoare, died and one Iraqi, Arkhan Madhi, was injured. Eric and Liz Fitzsimons spoke to the BBC (link has video) and noted that they are not asking for Danny to 'walk.' They stated that he has to take responsibility. But they want a fair trial and do not believe that is possible in Iraq. His legal defense team doesn't believe he can get a fair trial either stating today that the British military's presence in Iraq during the war means that Fitzsimons will be used as scapegoat. Haroon Siddique (Guardian) spoke with the family and reports on Danny's PTSD and reports, "His borther Michael said Fitzsimons would cray as he told of finding a child's head in Kosovo, picking up bits of his friend's brain in Iraq, and the faces of enemies he had killed in combat." Terri Judd (Independent of London) quotes Danny's father Eric stating that his son is a victim in the shooting as well, "We do feel very, very sorry for these two men and their families. But Daniel is also a victim." Liz Fitzsimons, Danny's step-mother, has made similar remarks and noted the pain those two families are going through is immense and natural and their own efforts, the Fitzsimons' efforts, are not about preventing accountability for Danny but about getting him to stand trial in a country (England) that has a working legal system as opposed to Iraq which does not.
In the US
Zachary Abrahamson and Eamon Javers (Politico) report: "He may be presiding over two wars and facing a terror threat at home and abroad, but you'd hardly know it from listening to President Barack Obama speak.Obama has uttered more than a half-million words in public since taking office Jan. 20 -- and a POLITICO analysis of nearly every word in this vast public record shows that domestic topics dominate, so much so that Obama sounds more like a peacetime president than a commander in chief with more than 100,000 troops in the field." Yes, Barack has avoided Iraq in his speeches, the reporters are correct. Guess what though? The press has avoided it too. Following a March press conference, Steve Padilla (Los Angeles Times) pointed out that 13 reporters asked Barack questions and Iraq "Never came up. Isn't there a war going on?" The the New York Times' live blogged that press conference:

Helene Cooper 9:01 p.m. I'm still slackjawed over the shocking lack of national security issues raised. This is a new world we're living in, after seven years of Al Qaeda, Iraq and Afghanistan. Hard to imagine a Bush press conference focusing so singularly on the economy, but then, these are clearly different times.Jeff Zeleny 9:00 p.m. The second prime-time press conference for Mr. Obama is in the books. Thirteen questions, but not one about Iraq or Afghanistan. That would have been impossible to imagine during his presidential campaign. So what's the headline? "Hang on Americans, We'll Get Through This."
The Washington Post live blogged as well (Ben Pershing, Alec MacGillis, Glenn Kessler, Frank Ahrens and Michael Fletcher live blogged for the Post).

TV notes.
NOW on PBS rebroadcasts a show from March of this year on what happens to your health care if you lose your job? You can go on COBRA . . . if you can afford it. (A community member writes in today's gina & krista round-robin about paying approximately $250 a month and now, to get COBRA, she'll have to pay over $750 a month -- and you have to decide in the very brief window of time.) The program examines Las Vegas where "the only public hospital" closed the doors on "cancer patients and pregnant women". On Washington Week, Gwen sits around the table with Michael Duffy (Time magazine), Janet Hook (Los Angeles Times), James Kitfield (National Journal) and Janine Zacharia (Bloomberg News). Bonnie Erbe and her guestsEleanor Holmes Norton, Melinda Henneberger, Leslie Sanchez and Sabrina Schaeffer explore population growth on this week's edition of PBS' To The Contrary. Check local listings, all four PBS shows begin airing tonight on many PBS stations. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:
Coming Up On 60 Minutes
Michael Vick The former pro quarterback speaks in his first interview since he admitted to participating in the illegal dogfighting that resulted in a prison sentence and his suspension from the NFL. James Brown is the correspondent. Watch Video
America's New Air Force Increasingly, the U.S. military is relying on un-manned, often armed aircraft to track and destroy the enemy - sometimes controlled from bases thousands of miles away from the battlefront. Lara Logan reports. Watch Video
Coldplay The British rock group that has taken its place among the most popular bands in the world gives 60 Minutes a rare look inside its world that includes a candid interview with frontman Chris Martin. Steve Kroft reports. Watch Video
60 Minutes Sunday, Aug. 16, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

dahr jamail
nprthe diane rehm show

60 minutescbs newspbsto the contrarybonnie erbenow on pbs

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Abuses of science

"UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Urges American Psychological Association Act on Own Policies" (Center for Constitutional Rights):
Rapporteur Says Guantanamo Conditions Continue to Violate International Law
August 7, 2009, New York – The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) responded today to a letter made public from the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture to the American Psychological Association (APA) stating that the conditions of the men held at Guantánamo violate international law and requesting that all psychologists be removed from the base and no longer participate actively or tacitly in interrogations.The letter came the day after CCR and the Canadian Centre for International Justice (CCIJ) requested the Canadian Government open a war crimes investigation into Dr. Larry James, a former high-ranking psychologist at Guantánamo who is in Toronto for the annual APA convention.The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Manfred Nowak, called attention to the fact that Guantanamo detainees are still arbitrarily detained, cruelly force-fed and isolated. He expressed his concern about the mental conditions of some of the long term detainees. The current conditions, combined with “the rough physical treatment and past practice of torture” led him to declare that the men and children detained in Guantanamo continue to be held “in violation of international law.”Mr. Novak officially affirmed what CCR and its allies have been saying and the SASC report and OLC memos documented, that psychologists have been involved “in the design, supervision, implementation, and legitimization of a regime of physical and psychological torture at US military and intelligence facilities, including Guantánamo.”Mr. Nowak urged the American Psychological Association to follow its own policies and requested the removal of all psychologists from Guantanamo and from all other detention sites where violations of human rights continue. The APA has seen internal strife and controversy these last years over the participation of some military and intelligence psychologists in torture and other abuses of detainees at U.S. detention facilities at Guantanamo and elsewhere.
Said Center for Constitutional Rights fellow Deborah Popowski, “We call on the APA to officially condemn the participation of its members in abusive interrogations in violation of their professional ethics. Psychologists were central to the design and implementation of abusive interrogation policies. When health professionals do harm, we all suffer.”For more information on the involvement of health professionals in torture and abuse visit the Center for Constitutional Rights website CCR has led the legal battle over Guantanamo for the last six years – sending the first ever habeas attorney to the base and sending the first attorney to meet with a former CIA “ghost detainee” there. CCR has been responsible for organizing and coordinating more than 500 pro bono lawyers across the country in order to represent the men at Guantanamo, ensuring that nearly all have the option of legal representation. In addition, CCR has been working to resettle the approximately 60 men who remain at Guantánamo because they cannot return to their country of origin for fear of persecution and torture.The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change. Visit
The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.

If doctors hadn't given the cover for Guantanamo, it's doubtful it would have taken place. It's doubtful that turning a civilian population against itself, as the counter-insurgency programs in Iraq and Afghanistan are doing, would be taking place if social scientists like Montgomery McFate and 'respectable' voices (idiots) like Sarah Sewall weren't providing a veneer of normalcy.

That is what happens when science is abused.

A number of people were calling out the co-operation in real time at Guantanamo.

Few would listen.

So let's grasp that we cannot undue what has been done. Punishment can take place and needs to. But if we want to learn a thing from this, the first thing to do is to grasp that we need to prevent the abuses of science and that includes those using knowledge to undermine a civilian population. Counter-insurgency is sadistic and unethical and we knew that during Vietnam. Apparently, we're going to have to relearn that now.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, August 12, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, the Geneva Conventions should be in the news, Iraqi refugees struggle in Syria, the US and around the globe, Danny Fitzsimons' attorneys advocate for moving his trial from Iraq to England, and more.

Today is the 60th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions.
Jakob Kellenberger, the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, marked the occassion with a speech noting the importance then and now of the Geneva Conventions. We'll note this section on International Humanitarian Law which applies to many regions including Iraq:

So what are some of the ongoing challenges to IHL? The first relates to the conduct of hostilities. I referred earlier to the changing nature of armed conflict and the increasingly blurred lines between combatants and civilians. Civilians have progressively become more involved in activities closely related to actual combat. At the same time, combatants do not always clearly distinguish themselves from civilians, neither wearing uniforms nor openly carrying arms. They mingle with the civilian population. Civilians are also used as human shields. To add to the confusion, in some conflicts, traditional military functions have been outsourced to private contractors or other civilians working for State armed forces or for organised armed groups. These trends are, if anything, likely to increase in the years ahead. The result of this, in a nutshell, is that civilians are more likely to be targeted – either mistakenly or arbitrarily. Military personnel are also at increased risk: since they cannot properly identify their adversary, they are vulnerable to attack by individuals who to all appearances are civilians. IHL stipulates that those involved in fighting must make a basic distinction between combatants on the one hand, who may lawfully be attacked, and civilians on the other hand, who are protected against attack unless and for such time as they directly participate in hostilities. The problem is that neither the Geneva Conventions nor their Additional Protocols spell out what precisely constitutes "direct participation in hostilities". To put it bluntly, this lack of clarity has been costing lives. This is simply unjustifiable. In an effort to help remedy this situation, the ICRC worked for six years with a group of more than 50 international legal experts from military, academic, governmental and non-governmental backgrounds. The end result of this long and intense process, published just two months ago, was a substantial guidance document. This document serves to shed light firstly on who is considered a civilian for the purpose of conducting hostilities, what conduct amounts to direct participation in hostilities, and which particular rules and principles govern the loss of civilian protection against direct attack. Without changing existing law, the
ICRC's Interpretative Guidance document provides our recommendations on how IHL relating to the notion of direct participation in hostilities should be interpreted in contemporary armed conflict. It constitutes much more than an academic exercise. The aim is that these recommendations will enjoy practical application where it matters, in the midst of armed conflict, and better protect the victims of those conflicts. Direct participation in hostilities is not the only concept relating to the conduct of hostilities that could benefit from further clarification. Differences exist over the interpretation of other key notions such as "military objective", the "principle of proportionality" and "precaution". The debate has been prompted in part by the growing number of military operations conducted in densely populated urban areas, often using heavy or highly explosive weapons, which have devastating humanitarian consequences for civilian populations. The media images of death, injury and destruction -- of terrible suffering -- in such situations of conflict in different parts of the world are surely all too familiar to everyone here today. Another key issue here is the increasingly asymmetric nature of modern armed conflicts. Differences between belligerents, especially in terms of technological and military capacities have become ever more pronounced. Compliance with the rules of IHL may be perceived as beneficial to one side of the conflict only, while detrimental to the other. At worst, a militarily weak party -- faced with a much more powerful opponent -- will contravene fundamental rules of IHL in an attempt to even out the imbalance. If one side repeatedly breaks the rules, there is a risk that the situation quickly deteriorates into a free-for-all. Such a downward spiral would defy the fundamental purpose of IHL -- to alleviate suffering in times of war. We must explore every avenue to prevent this from happening. I would also like to briefly address the humanitarian and legal challenges related to the protection of internally displaced people. In terms of numbers, this is perhaps one of the most daunting humanitarian challenges arising in armed conflicts around the world today, from Colombia to Sri Lanka and from Pakistan to Sudan. This problem not only affects the many millions of IDPs, but also countless host families and resident communities.
Violations of IHL are the most common causes of internal displacement in armed conflict. Preventing violations is therefore, logically, the best means of preventing displacement from occurring in the first place. On the other hand, people are sometimes forcibly prevented from fleeing when they wish to do so. During displacement, IDPs are often exposed to further abuses and have wide-ranging subsistence needs. Even when IDPs want to return to their place of origin, or settle elsewhere, they are often faced with obstacles. Their property may have been destroyed or taken by others, the land might be occupied or unusable after the hostilities, or returnees may fear reprisals if they return. As part of the civilian population, IDPs are protected as civilians in armed conflicts. If parties to conflicts respected the basic rules of IHL, much of the displacement and suffering caused to IDPs could be prevented. Nevertheless, there are some aspects of IHL concerning displacement that could be clarified or improved. These include in particular questions of freedom of movement, the need to preserve family unity, the prohibition of forced return or forced resettlement, and the right to voluntary return.

The Iraq War has created the largest humanitarian crisis. No number fudging necessary, the largest.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates the at risk population residing in Iraq to be 3,140,345. That includes the 2,647,251 Internally Displaced Persons and the 230,000 Stateless Persons (such as the Palestinians trapped on Iraq's border with Syria). Outside of Iraq, the at risk Iraqi population is 4,797,979 which includes the 1,903,519 external refugees. These at risk populations are at risk due to the Iraq War. Syria and Jordan continue to house the largest numbers of Iraqi refugees. The most recent estimates (January 2009 -- and based on registration which a number of refugees avoid for various reasons) places 1,200,000 Iraqi refugees in Syria, 450,000 in Jordan, 150,000 in Gulf States, 58,000 in Iran, 50,000 in Lebanon, 40,000 in Egypt and 7,000 in Turkey.

In all those numbers, it's easy to lose track of the individuals.
Philip Jacobson (Huffington Post) reports on Iraqi refugee Ahlam Ahmed Mahmoud's journey. She was featured in Deborah Campbell's 2008 "Exodus: Where will Iraq go next?" (Harper's Magazine) which found her in Syria assisting other Iraqis. Campbell was visiting her in May of 2008 when Mahmoud was rounded up by Syrian police, told she would have to spy for Syira on journalists, refused to do so and locked away in a prison for over five months. After finally being release, Mahmoud arrived in Chicago and Iraqi refugees who had made it to the United States (a very small number -- Western nations have done an appalling job in granting asylum to Iraqi refugees) expected that the "fixer" Mahmoud would again be able to assist them and help them navigate the complicated and confusing system. Mahmoud attempted to beg off but ended up starting Iraqi Mutual Aid Society with Beth Ann Toupin. That's the bare bones of her story, Philip Jacobson sketches it out in detail (and with skill) so make the time to read his article. Last month, Mary Owen (Chicago Tribune) reported that Chicago's Edgewater and Rogers Park house approximately 3,000 Iraqis.

Meanwhile the
New York Times continues to INSULTINGLY describe Mudhafer al-Husaini as "a former translator with" the paper. This attitude is why the bulk of stringers the paper had early on, hated, HATED, the paper. It's why most of them moved as quickly as possible to work for other outlets. And at other outlets, they got bylines a lot quicker. But Muhafer al-Husaini got bylines (slowly) at the New York Times and it's a little insulting to readers of the paper and a lot insulting to the work Mudhafer al-Husaini did. In June of 2008, Alissa J. Rubin and Mudhafer al-Husaini wrote "Baghdad Blast Kills Four Americans," January of this year Sam Dagher and Mudhafer al-Husaini wrote "Bomber at Iraqi Shrine Kills 40, Including 16 Iranian Pilgrims," November of last year Katherine Zoepf and Mudhafer al-Husaini make the front page with their "Militants Turn to Small Bombs in Iraq Attacks" -- we can go and on. I know bylines -- even if the paper doesn't. And bylines aren't given out of kindness. Anyone who thinks that doesn't grasp the egos on most reporters. Mudhafer al-Husaini earned his many bylines. He is a journalist. Don't insult him by referring to him as a translator. (Nothing wrong with being a translator. I have many friends who are. But, at the paper, he was a 'media worker' who became a journalist. Give him his earned credit for being a journalist.) Mudhafar al-Husseini was granted asylum in the US and he reports on the last months at the Committee to Protect Journalists:

I now live in Tucson , Arizona , a quiet city and a good place to start over and get a wider view of America . I am one of many Iraqis who have come to Tucson . When I talk to fellow Iraqi immigrants, they are also surprised to find such a quiet city in America , but most say that this city is a good fit for them. There are others who are not satisfied with it, and I think that is because they're jobless, which is the same problem in many parts of the U.S. now.
I was astonished by several things I never imagined about life in America . Life is very serious and practical here, and people don't have much time to talk on the street, in markets, or even in public places. It seems everyone is busy with his or her own business and daily concerns. Sometimes I feel that it's good this way, and other times I hate it because in Baghdad you would never feel alone or neglected. People in Baghdad would stay up late and forget about their long workday by hanging out with friends or going out. The day would go until midnight, or even beyond. Many things have changed since the invasion, and the deterioration of the security situation has kept most Iraqis indoors.
I was also surprised that most Americans know nothing about the reality of the war in Iraq . I sometimes find it hard to explain, because Iraq is a complicated place. I think it's the history, the civilization, and the old sand of that country that makes it harder than others to be understood. These aspects were not considered at all before the war. You have to study Iraqi history well and get to know the culture more before dealing with the people on a long-term basis.

This afternoon
Kirk Semple (New York Times) reports on Iraqi refugees in the US and finds in New York what is going on across the country -- Iraqi refugees struggle to find work, depend on assistance to pay bills and worry about the meager government benefits running out (which they do -- they run out very quickly). Uday al-Ghanimi and his wife and their three children live in New York and all but Uday speak of a desire to go back to Iraq. Lumping "special visas" and those granted asylum, Semple is reporting that the US has only taken in 45,000 Iraqi refugees since the start of the illegal war. For context, that's 5,000 less than Lebanon is currently officially housing. That's shameful -- both due to the riches of the United States (yes, even in this economic crisis) and for the US government's responsibility in starting the illegal war.

Not all Iraqi refugees are Christians but they make a large percentage of the refugee population (especially considering their percentage in the overall Iraqi population).
AINA reports US House Rep Jan Schakowsky has released an open letter to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the issue of Iraq's refugees. The [PDF format warning] August 7th letter reads:

I am writing to you today to urge you to develop a comprehensive strategy for the protection of ethno-religious minorities in Iraq. As you are aware, Iraqi minorities continue to face persistent persecution and danger. In particular, I am extremely concerned about the ongoing ethno-religious cleansing of Iraq's Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac Christian community.
Iraqi Christians have faced relentless persecution, threats, and violence since the commencement of United States operations in Iraq, and the danger has accelerated dramatically since 2004. In fact, 2008 represented one of the most devastating years for Iraqi ethno-religious minorities, especially the Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac Christians. Because of the ongoing crisis facing minority groups, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has now formally designated Iraq a 'Country of Particular Concern.'
Despite this ongoing crisis, the United States has consistently failed to develop a comprehensive policy to address this serious situation. However, I believe that we now have an opportunity to encourage widespread recognition of this crisis and work together to find a solution. Any successful diplomatic policy must consider security, development, and governance dimensions, and must recognize the centrality of the Nineveh Plains to the future of these people. It must also include the full implementation of Article 125 of the Iraqi constitution.
I strongly urge you to develop a meaningful policy outlining concrete steps that the U.S. can take towards a sustainable solution. As you begin this process, I would encourage you to meet with representatives of the Assyrian community to discuss the situation.

Please note that Joe Biden, vice president of the United States, has been designated as the point person on Iraq. This designation came about after Barack's unannounced go to on the region proved to be a failure. (That person was not Hillary. Hillary was never the point-person on Iraq.) Nineveh was in the news on
Monday with the twin truck bombings attacking the Shabak community. Article 125 of Iraq's Constitution deals with local administration [PDF format warning, click here] and states, "This Constitution shall guarantee the administrative, political, cultural and educational rights of the variou snationalities, such as Turkomen, Chaldeans, Assyrians, and all other constituents, and this shall be regulated by law." Meanwhile Stockholm News notes Sveriges Radio reporting "Christian Iraqi refugees have been sent back to Iraq. This has raised upset reactions both from within Sweden and from foreign human rights experts." In Syria, Susan Irvine (Financial Times of London) reports on Iraqi refugees, "Besma didn't rush to tell me about Iraq and the war, and I was reticent to ask. But over time she told me about the early days of 'shock and awe'. Communications were down, and the area where her mother lived was being heavily bombed. Besma persuaded a neighbor to drive her through Baghdad -- an incredibly dangerous journey -- to check on her. They got as far as the river, but the bridges were blown up. She told me about the first time she looked out of her window and saw Americans 'coming down the street in their big Hummers as if they owned the place'. She told me how her brother was murdered in the sectarian violence that followed. Her mother -- 'thanks be to God' -- was unharmed."

At the end of last month, the UNHCR issued a report entitled "
Surviving in the city" focusing on cities in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria and dealing with the needs of "large populations of urban refugees." Among the problems faced, "the majority of Iraqis do not have any immediate prospect of finding a solution to their plight. Most of them consider that current conditions in Iraq prevent them from repatriating, while a significant number state that they have no intention of returning there under any circumstances." From page 49 (report is not PDF format, for any thinking that detail was forgotten):

A Jordanian scholar who was interviewed in the course of this review commented that "the decision to flee from your own country is always easier to make than the decision to return." This observation is certainly supported by the case of the Iraqi refugees, many of whom left their homes at short notice, threatened by escalating violence in their homeland and the very real threat that they would be targeted for attack because of their religious identity, their profession or their relative prosperity.
At the time of their sudden departure, the refugees hoped that the crisis would not persist very long, and that withing a reasonable amount of time they would be able to return to Iraq, reclaim their property and resume their previous life. But as time has passed, those expectations have faded and the refugees are left with few choices with regard to their future.
The majority do not want to repatriate now or in the near future. Only some of the refugees can expect to be admitted to a third country by means of resettlement. And those who remain in their countries of asylum have no opportunity to benefit from the solution of local integration have very limited prospect for self-reliance and are confronted with the prospect of a steady decline in their standard of living. In the words of an elderly refugee man living in the Syrian city of Aleppo "when we left Iraq, we simply didn't know that we would end up like this."

Today the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs released their [PDF format warning] 2nd Quarter report "
Humanitarian Funding Update" which shows huge shortfalls for all countries in terms of the monies needed for assistance. For Iraq, the UN was calling for $650 million and has seen $276 million in contributions this year leading to a shortfall of $374 million.

In Iraq today,
Chelsea J. Carter (AP) reports 67 US service members have been confirmed as having swine flu and when these cases are combined with Iraqi cases, you have 96 confirmed cases. Please note that the Iraqi tally is probably much higher. The health care system has broken down and the Health Ministry is not eager to count accurately after Nouri and his underlings began blaming US service members for the swine flu outbreak in Iraq. (The same swine flu outbreak that is global.) Also grasp that the World Health Organization's Iraq country Office issued an invitation to bid on H1N1 detection kits -- that's swine flu and swine flu is what it's known as -- July 12th. And when did the bidding process end? July 26th. So there's a shortage currently on swine flu detection kits in Iraq. They're short on swine flu tests but, Ned Parker and Caesar Ahmed (Los Angeles Times) report, they can bet on the horses. No word on whether the OTB allows people to bet on violence but violence continued in Iraq today.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing which left three people wounded, a Baaj grenade attack which claimed the life of 1 father, 1 guard, 2 sons who were police officers, 1 "little boy" as well as wounding three more people, a suicide car bombing in Ramadi which claimed the lives of the driver and 1 police officer and left two more police officers and a civilian wounded, and a Kirkuk car bombing which claimed the lives of 3 police officers and left four more wounded. Reuters notes a Mahmudiya roadside bombing which left three people wounded and a Kirkuk roadside bombing which claimed the life of 1 police officer and left five more injured.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Iraqi police officer Brig Gen Abdulhameed Khalaf Asfoor was shot dead as he returned from a funeral in Mosul. Reuters notes 1 "old man" was shot dead in Mosul and an armed clash in Ramadi in which one police officer was injured and 2 suspects were shot dead.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 4 people kidnapped since Monday, two were released by kidnappers, a third was rescued by police and no word on the fourth.

"They gave me a gun" he said
"They gave me a mission
For the power and the glory --
Propaganda -- piss on 'em
There's a war zone inside me --
I can feel things exploding --
I can't even hear the f**king music playing
For the beat of -- the beat of black wings."
[. . .]
"They want you -- they need you --
They train you to kill --
To be a pin on some map --
Some vicarious thrill --
The old hate the young
That's the whole heartless thing
The old pick the wars
We die in 'em
To the beat of -- the beat of black wings"
-- "The Beat of Black Wings," words and music by
Joni Mitchell, first appears on her Chalk Mark In A Rainstorm.

Neil Syson (The Sun) reports, "An ex-paratrooper accused of murdering two workmates in Baghdad could face the noose within WEEKS." He's referring to Danny Fitzsimons who served in the British military for eight years and was stationed in Afghanistan and Kosovo as well as Iraq. He is accused of being the shooter in a Sunday Green Zone incident in which 1 British contractor, Paul McGuigan, and 1 Australian contractor, Darren Hoare, died and one Iraqi, Arkhan Madhi, was injured. Eric and Liz Fitzsimons spoke to the BBC (link has video) and noted that they are not asking for Danny to 'walk.' They stated that he has to take responsibility. But they want a fair trial and do not believe that is possible in Iraq. Amnesty International issued the following yesterday:Responding to reports that a British employee of a security company working in Iraq may face a death sentence, Amnesty International UK Media Director Mike Blakemore said: 'It's right that private military and security company employees like Danny Fitzsimons are not placed above the law when they're working in places like Iraq and it's right that the Iraqi authorities are set to investigate this very serious incident. 'However, as with all capital cases, Amnesty would strenuously oppose the application of the death penalty if applied to Mr Fitzsimons in this case.'Iraq has a dreadful record of unfair capital trials and at least 34 people were hanged in the country last year alone. 'The important thing now is that if Danny Fitzsimons is put on trial he is allowed a fair trial process without resort to the cruelty of a death sentence.' Last year 34 criminals were hanged in Iraq. Private security guard Fitzsimons, employed by UK firm ArmorGroup, would be the first Westerner on trial since the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Steven Morris (Guardian) reports Danny's attorneys do not believe that he will receive a fair trail in Iraq with Trevor Linn fearful Danny will be "made an example of". Scotland's The Herald offers background on the two deceased contractors: Paul McGuigan served in the British military before becoming a contractor, his wife is pregnant, Darren Hoare had served in Australia's Air Force before becoming a contractor.

The International Press Institute issued "
As Threat of Violence Still Looms Large over the Media in Iraq, another Menace Emerges in Form of Draft Law to 'Protect' Journalists" yesterday:Iraq Still the Most Dangerous Country in the World for ReportersAs U.S. troops continue to hand power over to Iraqi authorities in Iraq, IPI calls on the Iraqi government to protect press freedom in the country. Iraq remains the most dangerous country in the world for journalists – who now face a new threat in the form of a draft law published in Iraq on Friday 31 July, according to news reports. Ostensibly designed to 'safeguard' journalists' rights, the draft law does contain some provisions that should help protect journalists in Iraq. It equates an attack on a reporter to an attack on a government employee, and maintains that journalists cannot be pressured into publishing material that is incompatible with their beliefs, opinions or conscience. However, the draft legislation also contains worrying provisions that could have a negative impact on media freedom. For example, vague wording prohibiting journalists from "compromising the security and stability of the country" may be used to stifle valid criticism. Such words are reminiscent of legislation in place in a host of countries with poor records on media freedom which broadly and unfairly interpret terms like 'compromising security' to snuff out and punish virtually any form of criticism of government and state interests. The draft law also contains a dispiriting message on the protection of sources, which would be guaranteed unless "the law requires the source to be revealed" -- in other words there is no guaranteed protection for sources. The bill also stipulates that freedom of the press can be suspended if a publication threatens citizens or makes "provocative or aggressive statements" -- again, a vaguely worded phrase leaving much room for interpretation. "While we welcome the positive aspects of this draft law, we call on the Iraqi parliament to remove those sections that could hinder media freedom in the country," said Michael Kudlak, IPI Deputy Director. "A free and unfettered press is one of the most vital elements in any fledgling democracy, so Iraqi politicians must ensure that the media is free to work with the minimum restraint."In recent years, Iraq has been one of the most dangerous countries for journalists, with at least 169 journalists killed in the line of duty over the last seven years, according to IPI's figures -- many of them Iraqis murdered in the sectarian violence that has ravaged the country. On Friday 7 August, Iraqi journalists expressed fear at again being targeted, following a fiery sermon by a prominent Shiite cleric, Jalal Eddin Saghir, allegedly inciting violence against a journalist. Eddin Saghar had apparently taken issue with the journalist linking his political party, the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council, to a July bank robbery in Baghdad.

Edward Cody (Washington Post) reports on yesterday's press conference in Paris where supporters of the residents of Camp Ashraf (under assault since July 28th) declared the US and the United Nations were shirking their responsibilities. Cody quotes French jurist Francois Serres stating, "We must underline that the responsiblity of the United States in this matter, moral as well as leagl, is overwhelming." The US did leave the residents to believe they would be safe (which is what Nouri led the US to believe). Under Geneva, 60th anniversary today, remember, the US and the United Nations have a responsibility to those residents -- both in terms of their safety and in terms of preventing their forced deportation to Iran.

McClatchy's Mike Tharp vows the Iraq War is the last war he will cover and he offers ten lessons he's learned -- we'll note this one, "Lesson No. 3 is that few of those leaders will ever have to pay the price of their folly. The 4,300-plus American dead, 31,000-plus American wounded, hundreds of thousands of dead and maimed Iraqis have paid the cost. But not the McNamaras or the Bundys or the Cheneys or the Wolfowitzes or the Johnsons or Nixons or Bushes. They get medals and money. The ones who made the ultimate sacrifice get lost in the pages of history. Five of their names are carved in granite at Courthouse Park in Merced."

And Ms. magazine notes, "Join Ms. in celebrating Gloria Steinem's 75th birthday.
As Gloria turns 75,
Ms. is providing supporters an opportunity to wish her a happy birthday in the magazine. That's right. Ms. will print the names of supporters who want to celebrate with Gloria this extraordinary landmark -- not only of years, but of her amazing achievements for women. To participate, we are asking you to make a special gift of $75 - or $15 - or $150 - or whatever multiple of $75 you can afford, to not only celebrate Gloria's birthday but to keep her legacy of Ms. strong for future generations. Whatever the size of your contribution, we will make sure your name is printed in Ms. wishing Gloria happy birthday." This will be in an entry tomorrow morning in greater length but we can squeeze that snippet into the snapshot right now. Trina did a wonderful job explaining how Congress and the White House are attempting to sell a plan that doesn't exist. Make a point to read her. Bob Somerby tackles Melissa Harris Lacewell today (I feel dirty just saying her name -- Lie Face) and Stan tackled her last night while Betty tried to go over the facts for those who seem immune to them and Marcia and Ruth also offered press critiques. (As did Elaine. We commented this morning but I just don't have it in me to deal with Rod Nordland and the Times nonsense this afternoon.) Finally, from ETAN:

August 12 - Members of the U.S.-based East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) will gather in Timor-Leste later this month to
commemorate the tenth anniversary of the country's historic vote for independence. "In Dili we will demonstrate our ongoing commitment to the Timorese people," said John M. Miller, ETAN's National Coordinator. "We will join with Timorese and international activists to look back at the East Timorese struggle for independence and to evaluate the new nation's course since those momentous events. We will explore with our Timorese friends how we can best support Timor-Leste in the future." "We will also strongly reaffirm our commitment to justice and accountability for the years of crimes against humanity committed by Indonesia with U.S. government backing," he added. "Our goal is to return home with a deeper understanding of today's Timor and a strengthened commitment and concrete plans for ongoing ties with the people of the still struggling nation," added Pam Sexton a member of ETAN's Executive Committee who has been living in Timor-Leste during the past year. "The anniversary should not serve only as platform for self-congratulatory speeches by the international community and politicians" said Charles Scheiner, an ETAN co-founder. "The United Nations and its members need to clearly understand the impact of their failure to help the Timorese people from Indonesian's invasion in 1975 through 1998. International support since then needs to be made more effective and responsive to Timorese needs," added Scheiner works with La'o Hamutuk, a local organization founded soon after the independence vote to monitor international institutions and foster grassroots participation in decision-making. Contact ETAN to arrange interviews from Timor-Leste. Background Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975 and illegally occupied the territory until October 1999, with backing from the United States and other powers. On August 30, 1999, the East Timorese people voted overwhelmingly for independence in a UN-organized referendum. Following the vote, Indonesian security forces and their militia laid waste to the territory, capping nearly two and half decades of brutal occupation with the destruction of 75% of the buildings and infrastructure. Timor-Leste's Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation (CAVR) estimates that up to 184,000 Timorese people were killed as a result of the occupation. Timor-Leste became independent in May 2002. ETAN was a major participant in the International Federation for East Timor's Observer Project, one of the largest international observer missions for the vote in 1999. ETAN members also served as observers with church and parliamentary delegations. ETAN was formed in 1991 to advocate for self-determination for the occupied country. The U.S.-based organization continues to advocate for democracy, justice and human rights for Timor-Leste and Indonesia. ETAN recently won the John Rumbiak Human Rights Defenders Award. For more information, see ETAN's web site: .

philip jacobson
the los angeles timesned parker
the new york timeskatherine zoepfmudhafer al-husaini
amnesty internationalneil sysonbbc news
chelsea j. carter
mike tharpmcclatchy newspapers
sahar issa
joni mitchell
gloria steinem magazine
the washington post

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

NYT not in the news business

The New York Times is whoring for Nouri's government, if you haven't noticed.

That's why they've been attacking the Kurds or else ignoring them. That's why they 'forget' (even when reminded by US government officials) what the Iraqi Constitution says about Kirkuk.

It's also why they run the garbage in tomorrow's paper.

Laying it on thick for Shi'ites.

Shi'ites are showing reserve and patience . . . unlike those Sunnis!

They really think they can get away with that s**t.

Now here's reality, 2006 the genocide began and the New York Times didn't tell you about it. They underplayed it. It continued through 2007. They covered it a little better but didn't use "ethnic cleansing," let alone genocide. But catch any of those reporters when they're giving their speeches in this country and listen as they explain to you that ethnic cleansing took place.

They just won't put that in the paper.

Tomorrow Rod Norland and the paper attack Sunnis. The same Sunnis they refused to defend during the genocide.

They really ought to be ashamed and they may need to go under. (Which isn't that difficult for the paper.)

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, August 11, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces a death, officials say Iraq's biggest threat to stability is the Kurds, unless officials say Iraq's biggest threat to stability is the PKK, and more.

Today the
US Dept of Defense announced a death in Iraq and i.d.ed the fallen, Spc Richard A. Walters Jr. who died in yesterday from "injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident." Currently, the link is not working. If it's still not working when the snapshot goes up, we'll note the passing in tomorrow's snapshot as well. We just said that DoD identified the fallen and that they announced the death. See a problem? MNF is supposed to announce the deaths. DoD is supposed to identify them (after the immediate family has been notified). So what happened? MNF 'forgot' to announce the death. That's the second time in two weeks that they've missed their key function. They're nothing but a press relations crew and one of their duties is to announce deaths. The DoD is only supposed to (later) provide the name. MNF gets away with this because the press has never once protested. The announcement brings to 4331 the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war.

From Friday through Monday, there were reports of 124 deaths and 624 injured from violence. Natalia Antelava (BBC News) analyzes these developments and postulates that instead of death tolls, "Looking at the nature of the attacks might provide better insight. As the US generals prepared for the June withdrawal of their troops from Iraqi cities, US military officials argued that the attacks had become much less organised and sophisticated. However, less than two months after the pull-out, this seems to be changing. The latest bombings resemble the well co-ordinated, well planned strikes of the earlier years of heightened violence." Antelava is correct and the only thing to add to that is that maybe newspaper headlines which read "Afghanistan bombs more deadly" can also be seen as a taunt in Iraq? How do you even measure that? Considering the differing landscapes and everything else and what is that sort of headline anyway, some war mongering reporting's notion of fantasy football? Equally true is that reporters have rarely grasped the ebb and flow of the Iraq attacks. Or maybe they just didn't care to detect a pattern? When's the next big attack coming? Press reports suggest one was just prevented. BBC News reports Kuwait is claiming that they have stopped a plan to attack a US military base in Iraq and arrested 6 of their own citizens who have "confessed to the crimes after they were arrested."

Whether the arrests and confessions are valid, violence didn't stop in Iraq today.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad sticky bombing which left four people wounded, a Baghdad car bombing which left nine people wounded, three Baghdad roadside bombings which claimed 3 lives and left ten injured ("police said that this figure was a preliminary") and a Falluja roadside bombing which left four people wounded. Reuters notes 2 Baghdad car bombings which claimed 8 lives and left thirty people injured.

That's today. In the future?
Adam Entous (Reuters) reports on the Pentagon briefing by Geoff Morrell today where he stated, "But we are very nervous, continue to be, about the overall Arab-Kurdish tensions. [. . .] We are going to remain vigilant. A certain number of U.S. forces are required in that country . . . in no small measure to try to assist . . . the Arabs and the Kurds solve some of these problems while we are still there." Kat covered the Kurdish issue last night, "AFP reports today that Maj Gen Jamal Taher Bakr, who is the police chief of Kirkuk, says 'It would be better' when asked if US troops should stay until 2012 or 2013. Remember that Kirkuk is disputed. In the country's constitution (ratified in 2005), it says a referendum will be held following a census and that will determine Kirkuk's fate. It's an oil-rich region and the central government wants it and so does the Kurdistan region. This was supposed to have been decided long, long ago. Instead of deciding, the issue has been a can that everyone's played kick the can with. It's not surprising that the issue alarms the police chief or any resident of Kirkuk and I'm not making fun of them or even saying, 'You're wrong!' I am saying that the longer the issue is put off, the worse it gets." Kirkuk is disputed by the Kurdistan Regional Government and the central government in Baghdad, both of which want it to be part of their region. Among those outside players attempting to influence events is the government of Turkey which fears Kurdish power and self-rule due to its own internal issues. Complicating the matter further are the PKK which is a labeled a terrorist organization by the US, England, the European Union, Turkey and many others. These are Kurdish fighters who support Kurdish independence within Turkey. They have set up bases in the mountains of northern Iraq to stage attacks. Jane Arraf (Christian Science Montior) reports that the foreign ministers of Iraq and Turkey -- Hoshyar Zebari and Ahmet Davutoglu -- held a press conference in Baghdad today where they revealed an offer of water for Iraq were it to crack down on the PKK. The water issue is an important one to Iraq. Anthony DiPaloa and Caroline Alexander (Bloomberg News) reported last week that the country was set to "have its worst harvest in a decade this year as an extended drought cuts its water supply, forcing the third-biggest OPEC producer to increase grain imports as oil revenue drops."

Will Nouri attack the PKK? Very likely. July 28th, he launched an attack on the residents of Camp Ashraf. With more on that,
this is from Amnesty International:

Thirty-six Iranian residents of Camp Ashraf in Iraq remain at risk of being forcibly returned to Iran where they could face torture or execution. The 36 have been detained since Iraqi security forces stormed the camp, about 60km north of Baghdad, on 28 July. At least eight Camp Ashraf residents were killed and many more injured during the raid. Most of the 36 are reported to have been beaten and tortured. At least seven are said to need urgent medical care. Camp Ashraf is home to about 3,500 members of the People's Mojahedeen Organization of Iran (PMOI), an Iranian opposition group which has been based in Iraq since 1986. Following the raid, the 36 were taken to a police station inside the camp. They were held there for an hour and are reported to have been tortured and beaten before being transferred to a police station in the town of al-Khalis, about 25 km south of Camp Ashraf. According to reports, the detainees were told to sign documents written in Arabic by those detaining them, but refused to do so. They have also sought access to lawyers, so far unsuccessfully. Of the seven reported to need medical treatment, Mehraban Balai sustained a gunshot injury to his leg and a broken arm after being beaten by Iraqi security forces. Habib Ghorab is said to suffer from internal bleeding and Ezat Latifi has serious chest pain. He is thought to have been run over by one of the military vehicles used by Iraqi forces in seizing control of the camp. The PMOI established itself in Iraq in 1986 (during the Iran-Iraq war, 1980-88), at the invitation of the then President Saddam Hussein. In 1988, from its base at Camp Ashraf, the PMOI attempted to invade Iran. The Iranian authorities summarily executed hundreds, if not thousands, of PMOI detainees in an event known in Iran as the "prison massacres". For a number of years it was listed as a "terrorist organization" by several Western governments. Following the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, the PMOI members disarmed and were accorded "protected persons" status under the Fourth Geneva Convention. This lapsed in 2009, when the Iraqi government started to exercise control over Iraq's internal affairs in accordance with the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), a security pact agreed by the governments of Iraq and the USA in November 2008 and which entered into force on 1 January this year. US forces in Iraq provided effective protection for Camp Ashraf until mid-2009, after which they completed their withdrawal to their bases from all Iraqi towns and cities. After they disarmed, the PMOI announced that they had renounced violence. There is no evidence that the PMOI has continued to engage in armed opposition to the Iranian government, though people associated with the PMOI still face human rights violations in Iran. Since mid-2008 the Iraqi government has repeatedly indicated that it wants to close Camp Ashraf, and that residents should leave Iraq or face being forcibly expelled from the country. Amnesty International has urged the authorities not to forcibly return any Camp Ashraf resident or other Iranians to Iran, where they would be at risk of torture and other serious human rights violations. The organization has called upon the Iraqi authorities to investigate all allegations of torture and beatings, and to bring the perpetrators to justice. The organization has also called on the authorities to provide appropriate medical care to the 36 detainees and to release them unless they are to be promptly charged with a recognizable offence and brought to trial according to international standards for fair trial.

Read More
Iraq: Concern for detained Camp Ashraf residents (Public statement, 4 August 2009) Eight reported killed as Iraqi forces attack Iranian residents of Camp Ashraf (News, 29 July 2009)

Press TV reports today that protestors gathered in Diyalah Province in a 'brave and dangerous' demonstration (that's sarcasm) to support the decision of Nouri al-Maliki to expell the residents of Camp Ashraf. In any country, the most pathetic thing is the lackeys who feel the need to pimp the government line. (As true in Iraq as it is in the US -- whether it comes from Barry O's astroturf friends or Bully Boy Bush's 'freedom rallies'.) Gordon Lubold (Christian Science Monitor) notes the human rights lawyers calling on the US government to protect the residents of Camp Ashraf. The US Committee for Camp Ashraf Residents sent "Documents Show Iraq, U.S. in Breach of Obligations to Protect Camp Ashraf Residents" to the public e-mail account (Betty noted it last night):

In a news briefing today at the National Press Club, international and U.S. lawyers of residents of Camp Ashraf presented documents of crimes against humanity perpetrated by the Iraqi government during the July 28 attack on Camp Ashraf. They also made public the agreements signed between the U.S. government and every resident of the Camp Ashraf for their protection. Camp Ashraf is home to members of the main Iranian opposition group, the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK). Its residents had signed an agreement with the Multi-National Force-Iraq in 2004, according to which the US agreed to protect them until their final disposition."The official U.S. government response to the events at Ashraf is that all issues concerning the Camp are now matters for the Iraqis to determine, as an exercise of their sovereignty. But that is a red herring: no one contests the sovereignty of the State of Iraq over Ashraf. Sovereignty does not provide an excuse for violating the human rights of the residents. Nor does it justify inaction on the part of the United States," said Steven Schneebaum, Counsel for U.S. families of Ashraf residents.He stressed: "The U.S. was the recipient of binding commitments by the Government of Iraq to treat the Ashraf residents humanely, and we know that has not happened. Moreover, it was the United States with whom each person at Ashraf reached agreement that protection would be provided until final decisions about their disposition have been made. And the United States remains bound also by principles of international humanitarian law and human rights law that make standing by during an armed attack on defenseless civilians unacceptable, and that impose an obligation to intervene to save innocent lives."Francois Serres, Executive Director of the International Committee of Jurists in Defense of Ashraf, which represents 8,500 lawyers and jurists in Europe and North America, added, "This [assault] is a manifest of crime against humanity by the Iraqi forces, attacking, with US-supplied weapons and armored vehicles, unarmed residents of Ashraf. The Iraqi government cannot be trusted in protecting the residents of Ashraf. The U.S. must undertake efforts to protect them until international protection is afforded to the residents." "We will pursue this matter before the International Criminal Court and courts in France and Belgium. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki is fully responsible for these atrocities and he will be held to account," he added. Zahra Amanpour, a human rights activist with the U.S. Committee for Camp Ashraf Residents also spoke at the news briefing. Ms. Amanpour, whose aunt is in Ashraf, said: "Why are the Department of State and the White House stone-walling us, the families of Camp Ashraf residents? Thirty-five people have been on a hunger strike outside the White House for 13 days, and we still don't have any reply by the administration."
Claude Salhani (Washington Times) reports on the press conference and notes, "French lawyer Francois Serres said at a news conference in Washington that he would be taking legal action against Mr. al-Maliki in European courts as well as in the International Court of Justice at The Hague. Other lawsuits would be filed in U.S. courts against the U.S."

"They gave me a gun" he said
"They gave me a mission
For the power and the glory --
Propaganda -- piss on 'em.
There's a war zone inside me --
I can feel things exploding --
I can't even hear the f**king music playing
For the beat of -- the beat of black wings."
[. . .]
"They went you -- they need you --
They train you to kill --
To be a pin on some map --
Some vicarous thrill --
The old hate the young
That's the whole heartless thing
The old pick the wars
We die in 'em
To the beat of -- the beat of black wings."
-- "The Beat of Black Wings," words and music by
Joni Mitchell, first appears on her Chalk Mark In A Rainstorm.

Danny Fitzsimons served in the British military for eight years and was stationed in Afghanistan and Kosovo as well as Iraq. He is in the news for his time in Iraq as a British contractor, or mercenary,
accused of being the shooter in a Sunday Green Zone incident in which 1 British contractor, Paul McGuigan, and 1 Australian contractor, Darren Hoare, died and one Iraqi, Arkhan Madhi, was injured. Damien McElroy (Telegraph of London) reports today that Fitzsimons' parents, Eric and Beverly, and stepmother, Liz, state their son, now potentially facing the death penalty in Iraq's 'justice' system, has PTSD: "We are seeking funding in order to get a fair trial for Daniel, who served his country in Afghanistan and Iraq and left the Army suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. This situation is every parent's worst nightmare. We have been unable to speak directly to Daniel and are currently in contract with the Foreign Office, Fair Trials Abroad and our local MP, Jim Dobbin." Eric and Liz Fitzsimons speak to the BBC (link has video):

Liz Fitzsimons: You see, when he came out of the army because the army had always been his life, it was then at a real crossroads in his life and where some people might be able to cope, unfortunately, Daniel didn't cope well because he did enjoy army life. It was all he ever wanted, he loved it. And you come out and you live Middleton, which is where he ended up, and he couldn't find a path that suited him, he couldn't find a job although he tried very hard. And a testament to Daniel is that he joined a gym and kept himself -- Daniel likes routine. Daniel goes to the gym every day almost, I would suggest, every day, goes jogging he's a very clean young man. You know, he's not sort of gone wayward and just gone to the dogs kind of thing. And he met a girl, like you want your children to do, but then he wanted the normal life and he wanted the money that would go with a normal life. How does he do that when he can't find a job? And unfortunately becoming a security --

Eric Fitzsimons: He went back into doing security.

Liz Fitzimons: -- person in Iraq. [. . .] Oh, awful. Awful. The situation in Iraq isn't good, is it? We all know it's not good. But he would be out in convoys I believe their main job is to escort to --

Eric Fitzsimons: Oil [workers? Second word isn't clear.]

Liz Fitzsimons : Yes but they do escort people to jobs. And they do ride shotgun basically. They ride around --

Eric Fitzsimons: He's told us quite a lot of --

Liz Fitzsimons: Yeah.

Eric Fitsimons: -- tales

Liz Fitzsimons: He saw some awful things. The person in the cab next to him was blown up.

Eric Fitzsimons: Yeah.

Liz Fitzsimons: Next to him. At the same he had a bullet in his foot.

Eric Fitzsimons: Bullet in his foot, yeah, he's seen all sorts of IEDs you know, sorts of explosions at the side of the road. Loads and loads of them. And seen lots and lots of his friends killed.

They're asked about whether or not they attempted to talk Danny out of being a mercenary ("mercenary" is the term Eric Fitzsimons uses) and his father notes that they had conversations with him going back many years but he is a grown up who makes his own decisions. They express their sympathies for the families of the two men who were killed. "We're not saying that Daniel doesn't have to face what he's done," Liz Fitzsimons explains. "He does. He does have to face that. And we know he does. But what we want is for it to be fair and unfortunately where he is now, we don't think it will be."

While Danny Fitzsimons' family is unable to speak to him,
Oliver August (Times of London) reports his paper has been able to and that Fitzsimons states the incident was self-defense: "I got into a fight with two colleagues and they had me pinned down. I received a real beating. They beat me and that's when I reached for my weapon. I was drunk and it happened very quickly."

The early morning shooting followed the consumption of alcohol.
Oliver August teams with Deborah Haynes to note that "private security guards [in Iraq] always carry weapons, even when drinking" and they note the various bars to be found in the Green Zone including the now closed "CIA Bar" and the "FBI Bar." Fitzsimons worked for ArmorGroup and Haynes gives an overview of the company here. August reports that "the investigators told the judge that they have all the evidence they need to proceed with a trial. The Foreign Office is checking options on how to help Mr Fitzsimons but there appears to be little chance that he could be handed over to British officials or stand trial in UK for the alleged murder of a British and an Australian security guard also on contract with ArmorGroup." Martin Chulov (Guardian) was not present in the Iraqi court yesterday but he quotes Maj Gen Abdul-Kareem Khalaf stating Fitzsimons "made admissions." Take it with a grain of salt and remember all the distortions Iraqi government officials made of what the shoe tosser had supposedly stated. Jamie Walker and Sarah Elks (The Australian) note, "Aged in his 20s, the Briton is set to become the first foreign security contractor to face Iraqi justice; he could receive the death penalty if he is found guilty of gunning down Mr Hoare and Mr McGuigan." The New Statesman explains, "Last night British Embassy staff were trying to secure access to Fitzsimons. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is looking into how it can help but there appears to be little chance that he will stand trial in Britain."

Turning to the US, Camilo Mejia is the author of
Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia and he's an Iraq War veteran, a war resister and a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War (the chair until they announce Jose Vaquez as the new chair). Costa Rica Hoy notes, "Camilo Mejia is the first American soldier that served in Iraq who publicly opposed the war. He was imprisoned for refusing to return. At present, he is in the process of appealing his bad conduct discharge." The Center for Constitutional Rights noted the appeal last week and quoted Camilo stating, "Increasingly I found that I could no longer tolerate my complicity in what I considered immoral occupation. I could not go back to an environment where torture and abuse were destroying the lives of the Iraqis and the soldiers who were ordered to engage in such acts. I knew that if I returned I would have been required to do things that violate the Geneva Conventions."

We're going to stay with this topic for a moment. I was hoping IVAW's recent conference, which ended Sunday, would result in Street Trash leaving the organization. Street Trash's name doesn't appear at this site because Street Trash went public and then had a meltdown when we picked up the news of Street Trash being public from another website. Though it was already over the net, Street Trash was in a panic. We had to remove Street Trash's name from the Iraq snapshot!!!!! Trina and I went into every community site and edited out Street Trash's name and asked, "What the ___ is ____'s problem?" At which point, we were no longer interested in Street Trash. I believe it was 13 sites back then, and we had to go into 13 sites to edit out Street Trash's name because Street Trash had gone highly public and was now worried? Now?

Street Trash has spent the last months threatening to quit IVAW. This follows Street Trash's 'resignation' (from a non-elected IVAW board spot). In that 'resignation,' Street Trash trashed Camilo with rumors and just gutter gossip. It was so awful that Street Trash (karma?) had to go and remove the post from Street Trash's website. What Street Trash wrote, however, is still being said online by Street Trash, ST just does it at right wing sites. ST has already (again) attacked Camilo this week.

I'm not in the mood for that piece of garbage. We wrote about some of this nonsense at Third and Ty started getting crazy e-mails from Street Trash -- who is still in the miltiary and, as an IVAW member pointed out to Ty when I suggest he call him, was writing these while 'serving.' In other words, Street Trash now has an office job and apparently spends all day -- on the tax payer's dime -- leaving comments at websites and writing angry e-mails. The article, by the way, was "
Who's duping who?" and Street Trash is not named or even referred to in that article. Mainly because we don't promote gutter trash, we take it to the curb. But that didn't stop Street Trash from lecturing Ty in repeated e-mails (all in one day -- seriously, Street Trash does no work for the military, just stays on the computer for eight hours each 'work' day) about journalism. Stupid ass, Street Trash, Ty has a degree in it. No one needs to interview you first before writing a story. Why would we? Because of your vanity? Because you think you're important? You're nothing but trash.

As outlined in the article, a number of trashy people had left the organization (since Street Trash refuses to leave, we obviously couldn't be referring to ST) and they're whispering and sometimes outright saying (Street Trash is saying it at right wing blogs) that IVAW is a Communist menace and a Communist front and blah, blah, blah. The real problem is that Street Trash and ST's cronies love 'em some Barack. They need to go to the vets group that's a front for the Democratic Party. That's the only way they'll be happy (and even then . . .). IVAW is Republicans, is Democrats, is Socialists, is Communists, is libertarians, is non-believes in any political theory or party. It's a diverse group. But say 'diverse' and Street Trash hears "Communist conspiracy!"
This week alone, Street Trash has repeatedly trashed Camilo and you have to wonder why ST doesn't just leave the group -- like ST promised would happen if ST didn't like the election results. (Considering that Jose publicly corrected ST when ST lied about Camilo, you'd assume ST wouldn't be thrilled with Jose's victory.) Beyond the world of the crazies, Camilo not only has every right to appeal, he should have a strong case. Camilo was not a US citizen. He was serving in Iraq and his contract ended. He was stop-lossed. However, only US citizens could be stop-lossed. This was pointed out to his command which chose to ignore it -- chose to ignore federal law. Camilo's discharge needs to be re-evaluated because he never should have been stop-lossed and once the government made clear they weren't going to respect the law, they stepped onto real weak ground.

Street Trash is screaming Communist menace! We'll come back to it because it's not isolated crazy. But, before we go further, let's talk about something that matter (we're about to talk about people making fools of themselves -- we're taking a musical detour before that)
Cass Elliot. Cass, of course, is known for her own strong solo work as well as for her work as a member of one of rock's first super groups: the Mamas and the Papas. Cass is on my thoughts a great deal lately and not just due to a letter I remembered and dug through the journals to re-read. But let's do that sidebar briefly: A woman who claims to be a feminist and claims she never wasn't a feminist and that people have distorted her on that blah blah blah. Reality? The woman was in the US long before she claims and she was trying to be famous even back then which is how she ended up on the daytime talk show with Cass and two other women and, yes, the Greek social climber was perfectly disgusting even then and, yes, Cass observed just how sad (and anti-woman) she was. In addition to being one of the country's finest singers, Cass also did a great deal of TV work. At the end of this month, The Mama Cass Television Program is released for the first time ever on DVD. Her guests on the TV special include Joni Mitchell, John Sebastian and Mary Travers (of Peter, Paul and Mary). Jeffrey Kauffman (DVD Talk) gives the release strong praise noting, "Cass is perfectly at ease (in fact, perhaps a bit too much so -- she fluffs a few lines here and there and isn't really 'formal' in the sense that most television variety show hosts and hostesses were back in the day) and makes a very appealing central figure. . . . I couldn't help but feel a little sad watching this special, and not just because of the weird writing of the skits. Mama Cass was a distinctive, warm hearted performer with a lush voice who left us far, far too early. At least we have her recordings (several of which have been surfacing on Lost), as well as her film and television performances to remind us that, as she states to [Buddy] Hackett at the top of this special, true beauty comes from within." We linked to Joni and, from her website, we'll note this: "For a new boxed set due out this November, Joni would like to invite the community to send in a statement of why they enjoy her music. It can be one sentence or a short paragraph and the best will be chosen for the liner notes for the project. It can be a personal experience with the music or why in general you like it. Joni feels it might be more interesting to hear from the people who truly like the music rather than from a critic or PR person. Submit your liner notes here."

Now back to the crazy. Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer embarrassed themselves and the positions they hold by charging US citizens with being "unAmerican." Search in vain for The Progressive or The Nation calling that b.s. out. There are brave voices, however. Once again,
Cindy Sheehan steps up to the plate and notes how dangerous it is and how it recalls the House Committee on Un-American Activities which helped lead the witch hunts:

It, apart from Senator Joseph McCarthy, investigated Bolsheviks and communists and many other "subversive" organizations and people. There is nothing in the Constitution, as far as I know, that prevents one from being a Communist, but people's lives were ruined because of this committee, and the committee even went as far as shaping the movie industry, and of course frightened many people into un-American silence.Today, an op-ed that was "co-written" by Nancy Pelosi (House Speaker) and Steny Hoyer (House Majority Leader), which was more than likely written by an overworked staffer, called anyone who is protesting at the Healthcare Town Hall meetings: "un-American." The person who advised this, should be summarily fired…with all due haste.I don't agree with a single word that is coming out of the right-winger's mouths. Obama is not a socialist and the Democrats are not socialists, they're fascists, and even though I think the Healthcare reforms are a bad idea for other reasons, I support the right of my fellow Americans to speak as loudly as they want and put forth their message any way they can.Even though I know that most of the Town Hall disrupters do not or did not support my right to do so---I have been escorted out of many hearings or meetings---but I support any American's right to expression, as long as it doesn't involve hate speech. Hanging a Congressperson in effigy is not hate speech---it's protected free speech---just like when Bush was hanged in effigy many times by the other side.

The Speaker of the House, whomever is in the position, is on dangerous grounds when she or he calls other US citizens "unAmerican." It's not just offensive, it's also historically dangerous. This is the Cliff Note version (Jim's called it for Third and we're also limited on space in this snapshot).
Take what Bob Somerby's covering today (very accurate, very sound). Among other things to grasp from his writing today is that, no, people don't listen to you when you call them names -- when you tar and feather and entire group of people, they're not going to listen to you. But also grasp the rage on Nancy Pelosi's side. Not just the people she's raging against, but the rage within her. What she did is appalling. It's shameful. And it is not playing in the Bay Area, she's in hot water again. It's stupid and it's dangerous. And ObamaCare may or may not pass. If it doesn't pass, you need to grasp the anger in people like Nancy already. And you need to grasp that they're also telling left critics of ObamaCare to stop speaking. You need to grasp how angry they are at those people. Then you need to grasp that a large number of those people aren't Democrats but posed as such. There's nothing wrong with being a Socialist or a Communist. It's leagal in this country and, in many cases, it's a strong ethical position to take. But Street Trash is a Democrat and Street Trash is attacking others as Communists. And what history has never really bothered to get right is that the McCarthy era witch hunt couldn't have happened without Democrats. Dems who were tired of the non-Dems posing as Dems, Dems who didn't like Communists to begin with, and many other groupings. When Nancy voices her rage, you better grasp how dangerous the situation is. Not for the right wing. They're her natural opponent. But when her frustration lets her make such a stupid and harmful comment ("un-American"), you need to grasp where it heads next if she can't control her own temper. One way of stopping it is for people to get honest. Matthew Rothschild finally did, after the election, when he finally fessed up to being a Socialist -- why a grown man felt the need to hide in a political closet is a question to ask. He's far from the only one. Take Robert McChesney. And let's get honest about the word "progressive." It doesn't mean a Democrat and it never did. When you lie (I'm referring to spokespeople and gas bags) you create the climate for your own backlash. Nancy's already made clear she's comfortable judging what is American and what is unAmerican. In the last century, that meant people like Matthew Rothschild, Robert McChesney and others would be targeted. So it's about time they started speaking out along with everyone else on the left. I grasp that some Democrats won't because they're pissed off that non-Democrats hijacked the party in 2008. (And some Dems won't speak out for other reasons including hatred for and fear of Communists and Socialists.) But we warned about this, Ava and I, all through 2008 and started sounding the alarm at the end of 2007. The ground is moving and you either call out Nancy or you accept that the Speaker of the House can judge what is and is not American. And you grasp how quickly her rage turns on the left and you grasp that people like Street Trash have already launched efforts to persecute people based on their political beliefs. This isn't the distant past, this is the beginning of a new period of McCarthyism unless people call out Nancy Pelosi. (It would also help if some would hop out of the political closets. A known face is usually a friendly face and personalizes the issue.) That's jumbled and we'll work it out at Third but the basics are: 1) Nancy Pelosi crossed the line and needs to be called out. 2) Her frustration and rage is going to whip over to the left if allowed to go unchecked. 3) People right now would do well to come out of the political closets because a known and friendly face is hard to demonize. 4) History repeats if you don't learn. 5) What needs to be learned from McCarthyism is that it was bi-partisan and you either stop it immediately or you accept and encourage a witch hunt.

bbc news
natalia antelava
jane arraf
caroline alexanderbloomberg news
joni mitchell
the times of londonoliver augustdeborah haynesmartin chulov
amnesty international
camilo mejia
iraq veterans against the war
cindy sheehan
cass elliot