Friday, October 09, 2009

Jennifer Loven told too much truth

Providing a news analysis of Barack's insane winning of the Nobel Peace Prize, AP's Jennifer Loven wrote:

He said he would end the Iraq war. But he has been slow to bring the troops home and the real end of the U.S. military presence there won't come until at least 2012, and that's only if both the U.S. and Iraq stick to their current agreement about American troop withdrawals.

". . . and that's only if both the U.S. and Iraq stick to their current agreement about American troop withdrawals." Exactly right.

Apparently also too much truth.

You can find the above AP story quoted here (first link is Yahoo which will disappear it in about six weeks).

Disappeared was what had to happen to the reality Loven provided which is why by the end of the day, it read like this:

He said he would end the Iraq war. But he slowed the U.S. troop drawdown a bit. Meantime, he's running a second war in the Muslim world, in Afghanistan _ and is seriously considering ramping that one up.
He has pushed for new efforts to make peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. But there's been little cooperation so far.

Too much truth has to go down the rabbit hole. It's really important to not the let American people know what's coming.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, October 9, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, news of the US continuing the Iraq War on into 2012, the war against women continues and Sahar Issa documents it, where is the 'progress,' the US fails to meet the admission numbers for Iraqi refugees predicted in August by the State Dept, the US Army releases suicide data, and more.

Let's deal with realities and the first that the Iraq War has no end-date at present. Despite spin and lies and assertions, there is no end-date. In fact, if the SOFA truly eneded the Iraq War -- as the popular narrative and press fools claim -- then Bush couldn't have skipped the Congress. There would be no debating that it was a treaty if ended a war. That's what treaties historically have done. But let's deal in what is known.

Matthew D. LaPlante (Salt Lake Tribune), reporting on new deployments to Iraq for Utah units and, almost as a whispered aside, drops this explosive word-bomb: "And some Utah units have been told to anticipate deployments to Iraq as far off as 2012." As far off as 2012?

B-b-b-but my TV told me the Iraq War ends most certainly as 2011 draws to a close! My TV said so!!! Imagine that. A press that lied a nation into war might also lull a nation into a false belief that the Iraq War was ending. For the record, the press tried that during Vietnam as well. You can't learn about it in Norman Solomon's books because he always misses that point and fails to grasp the conflict between stateside editors and reporters stationed in Vietnam. It would be shocking that Norman might not know that . . . unless you grasped he's lied that the Iraq War ends in 2011 along with so many other gas bags. The pledged delegate for Barack Obama gave it up for his crush and was left with nothing but a wet spot and sullied reputation. Norman you kind of picture right about now peeing on a stick and waiting to see what color it turns.

The Dept of Defense released a statement on October 8th. AC W (Gather) examines the release, "The first thing to note is that all four elements mentioned in the press release are COMBAT forces. The three brigade combat teams (the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team from the 3rd Infantry Division, the 2nd Brigade Combat Team from the 25th Infantry Division, and the 4th Brigade Combat Team from the 1st Cavalry Division) are just what their names say they are: brigade COMBAT teams. They are made up of COMBAT troops with weapons designed for COMBAT. The armored cavalry regiment, the 3rd ACR, is a combat unit with tanks and infantry troops. How will all COMBAT troops be out of Iraq by mid-next year if we are sending COMBAT troops to Iraq in mid-next year?"

Today, filing a rare report from Iraq,
Marc Santora (New York Times) opens with, "There is no more visible sing that America is putting the Iraq war behind it . . ."

Is America putting Iraq behind it? That's not only factually incorrect, it's also highly insulting. Did we not hear
yesterday from Russell Powell, an Iraq War veteran, explaining to the Senate about how exposure to Sodium Dichromate in Iraq has seriously destroyed his health? Is Russell Powell "putting the Iraq war behind" him?No, the New York Times wants to put the war behind it.Why? Because they sold the illegal war. Little liars -- and it went far beyond Judith Miller who, for the record, was woefully misguided but did not lie because she honestly thought there were WMDs in Iraq and that's why she commandeered that squadron while in Iraq to 'discover' the non-existent WMDs -- sold that illegal war. And it wasn't just the Times but it was the Times which never got accountable for their actions. There was the mini-culpa, the meaningless tiny item that might as well have been a blind item for all the weight it carried. And the promise of a later investigation into their errors. Where's that later coverage? Oh, right, they never did it.The New York Times would love to put the Iraq War behind it. First of all, it damanged their reputation in ways Jayson Blair can only dream of. Second of all, they can't sell a new war -- and, make no mistake, the New York Times always sells wars -- effectively while the Iraq War is still on people's minds. Look at the pushback the current administration is experiencing on their desire for war with Iran. What keeps getting brought up? Iraq. The lies that led to that war. So, yeah, the paper wants to put the Iraq War behind it. And the media at large does.But shame on all of them for pimping that when you have people suffering (including Iraqis but as John F-ing Burns explained so long ago, the paper's only concerned with Americans) and so many dead. Shame on them. It's not just that they lied to sell an illegal war, it's that they never owned the consequences of their decision to do so, let alone taken accountability.Marc Santora and the New York Times want to put the Iraq War behind them. How sweet for them. In the real world? William Cole (Honolulu Advertiser) notes that an estimated 4,300 members of the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team at Schofield Barracks has received orders to deploy to Iraq "in the summer of 2010." Gregg K. Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) adds, "They are part of the three brigades and one armored cavalry regiment with 15,000 soldiers that the Pentagon said will be sent to Iraq next year." But don't worry, Marc Santora and the New York Times have put Iraq 'behind' them.Many Iraqi and American families don't have luxury of putting that (ongoing) illegal war behind them; however, the Times has never been known for having a sense of perspective. Among the many who won't be 'putting it behind them' so quickly will be Iraqi refugees. This week Human Rights Action and the Human Rights Institute at Georgetown Law Center issued [PDF format warning] a new report entitled "Refugee Crisis in America: Iraqis And Their Resettlement Experience." Behind them? "Across the United States, many resettled Iraqi refugees are wondering how, after fleeing persecution at home to seek refuge in a country that barely tolerated them, they have found themselves in 'the land of opportunity' with little hope of achieving a secure and decent life." Iraq is the MidEast refugee crisis with an estimated total of 4.7 million external and internal refugees (figure from the March 31st snapshot covering the Senate subcommittee hearing Senator Bob Casey Jr. chaired where the issue of the numbers was addressed at length). The report notes:

Under pressure from advocacy groups and increased reporting on the plight of Iraqi refugees, the United States ultimately began resettling more Iraqis. In the fall of 2007, Congress passed the Refugee Crisis in Iraq Act, providing admission for Iraqis that worked for the United States or its contractors in Iraq, and allowing in-country processing for at-risk Iraqis. In 2008, the United States appointed two Senior Coordinators for Iraqi Refugees, one at the Department of State and one at the DHS, to strengthen the American humanitarian commitment to refugees with a particular emphasis on resettlement. In FY [Fiscal Year] 2008, the United States resettled 13,822 Iraqi refugees. As of August 31, 2009, the United States has resettled 16,965 Iraqi refugees in FY 2009, totaling over 33,000 since the 2003 war.

Fiscal Year 2009 is over. It ended with the month of September. So the study tells us that by August 31st, only 16,965 Iraqi refugees were granted resettlement into the US? Let's drop back to the
August 19th snapshot and Eric Schwartz (Asst Sect of Population, Refugees and Migration) State Dept press conference. He asserted in that press conference, regarding Iraqi refugees being accepted by the US, "The numbers -- let me -- I think I may answer your next question. The numbers for fiscal year 2008, I think are on the order of about 13,000. I'm looking to my team here. And the numbers for fiscal year 2009 will get us -- will probably be up to about 20,000." Click here for transcript and video of the press conference. About 20,000? August 19th, he claimed that. In the last month of Fiscal Year 2009 (which would be September), did the US manage to resettle over 3,000 Iraqi refugees? Great . . . if they did. But it's highly unlikely. Following the November 2008 election, Sheri Fink (ProPublica) reported on the issue and noted, "A State Department official contacted by ProPublica said, 'We really do recognize a special responsibility.' The official said that resettling 17,000 Iraqi refugees in fiscal 2009 was a minimum target. 'We hope to bring in many more.' The U.S. will also be accepting Iraqis who worked for the US through special immigrant visas, a program [7] that resulted from legislation introduced by Senator Ted Kennedy (discussed [8] recently by Ambassador James Foley, the State Department's senior coordinator on Iraqi refugee issues)." They 'hope'd to bring in any more. 2009, when Americans learned the definition of "false hopes." So they most likely met the minimum target. What a proud, proud moment . . . for an under achiever.

The Georgetown study notes that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees created "11 resettlement elegibility criteria for Iraqi refugees" and that the US government signed off on them:

(1) Survivors of torture and violence, including sexual and gender based violence;
(2) Members of minority groups and persons targeted due to their ethnicity or sect;
(3) Women at risk in country of asylum;
(4) Unaccompanied or separate children;
(5) Dependents of refugees living in resettlement countries;
(6) Elderly refugees;
(7) Refugees with medical needs;
(8) High profile cases;
(9) Iraqis who fled due to their associations with U.S. or other foreign institutions;
(10) Stateless persons;
(11) Iraqis at risk of refoulement.

Despite the US government agreeing to these criteria, the study notes that "the USRAP [US Refugee Admissions Program] expects the most vulnerable refugees will find employment and become self-sufficient almost immediately. Thus, the United States offers resettlement to those refugees with particular vulnerabilities that can inhibit their ability to achieve self-sufficiency while expecting them to quickly become self-sufficient."

Avi Selk (Dallas Morning News) reports on the approximately 865 Iraqi refugees who are now in the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Texas. Selk notes a study on Iraqis who have experienced torture and how they "and their family members" are very likely to have "suffered post-traumatic stress disorder". They're not seeking treatment for PTSD in part because they don't know what resources are out there for them. That's really a shameful comment on the government process for Iraqi refugees.

Chris Hill, US Ambassador to Iraq, thinks he's Ann Wilson's lover talking to the refugees: "'Come on home, girl,' he said with a smile, 'You don't have to love me yet, Let's get high awhile'" ("Magic Man" written by Ann Wilson and Nancy Wilson and recorded by the Wilson sisters' band
Heart). But Chris Hill is apparently the one who needs to try to understand, try to understand, try, try, try to understand. On the subject of repatriation, the report notes that "international humanitarian groups agree that Iraq is still not safe enough to allow return. And though some are returning, there is 'still no big flow back into Iraq.' The International Commission of the Red Cross informally estimates the flow at close to one percent of the total refugee propulation and believes that 'most come in to look and see if it's safe, if their property is still there, [and so], then quickly [go] back [to countries of asylum].' There are no credible reports of Iraqi refugees returning home in significant numbers."
Twenty families -- a small number -- were in the news this week for returning to Iraq. But they're not the refugees the report is talking about (or that were sold as part of
the Myth of the Great Return). Chelsea J. Carter (AP) reported this week that the approximately 250 people were exiles . . . during Saddam Hussein's reign. They returned from Iran.

The external refugees of the current conflict settle in countries such as Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. The majority of the refugees in Jordan interviewed for Jordan's study want to move to the United States but "[w]hile the situation in Jordan is quite bad for many Iraqi refugees, the news of struggling friends and family in the United States is causing more and more Iraqi refugees to wonder whether choosing resettlement is really worth the risk."

Along with a lack of coordination among the government agencies helping refugees who arrive in the US, other issues include lack of vehicles and poor or no public transportation in the areas they are resettled in, difficulties with the maze of the DMV in order to get a driver's license and cash assistance being far too small. The study notes, "As it exists now, the totalk package of assistance to refugees amounts to between just seventeen to forty precent of the federal pvoerty line. Although a family of six may receive up to $2,500 in R&P assistance to cover living costs for the first ninety days, a single adult receives only $425, or less than $5 a day."

Those are only some of the problems facing Iraqi refugees resettling to the US. We'll go over more next week but we'll note the study's recommendations:

• Refugee resettlement should be decoupled from U.S. anti-poverty programs andtailored to the unique needs and experiences of refugees. Refugee assistance should be increased from eight to eighteen months, and programs designed to promote the long-term self-sufficiency and integration of refugees should be better funded. A stronger emphasis should be placed on the core barriers to self-sufficiency and integration, including lack of English language skills, lack of transportation, and lack of opportunities for education and recertification.
• Funding for employment and social services should be tailored to estimates ofincoming refugee arrivals and secondary migration, as well as the unique needs of these particular groups. Funding should not be based on the number of past refugee arrivals.
• All actors within the USRAP must improve planning and information sharingcapabilities. Planning should anticipate and prepare for the unique needs of eachrefugee group prior to arrival. In order to tailor services for refugees, actors musttake into account important information on refugees collected in the resettlementprocess, such as health status and professional background.

On today's NPR's
The Diane Rehm Show, the last two minutes raised the issue of Iraq. Had it been a longer segment, Paul Richter's assertions might have been explored by the panel. Along with the Los Angeles Times' Richter, panelists includes Karen DeYoung (Washington Post) and Hisham Melhem (Al-Arabiya TV and An-Nahar) with Susan Page guest hosting.

Susan Page: We've seen the campaign start in Iraq for the election of a new Parliament. Any surprises there, Paul?

Paul Richter: Well there's an interesting alignment that's taking place there. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who has been the dominant figure in Iraq for a couple of years obviously, he's put together a coalition that is largely Shia but includes some Sunnis, some Kurds and a few other -- a scattering of a few other small ethnic groups. That's lined up against another Shia coalition which is pretty much solidly Shia and has -- actually has some backing from Iran. And so the question is going to be which of the two coalitions is going to prevail in the elections? I think from the US standpoint, it would be better to have the Maliki coalition prevail because it is nationalist but it claims not to be sectarian. You know, the US goal obviously is to have power sharing.

Susan Page: So we'll see perhaps a debate on how secular the Iraqi government -- the next Iraqi government -- will be?

Karen DeYoung: Well, and I think that, so far at leas, from the American point of view, this is not all bad. You know Maliki was a compromise candidate to start with. He was nobody's first choice. He ended up being the choice several years ago that everyone could live with and the census that he's developed into a politician and is trying to gather these disparate groups.

So Iraq's holding elections in January. Hmm. Thing is, the elections were supposed to take place in December. Thing is, to hold elections at any time, certain things need to be done. Is everything in order for January elections in Iraq? Uh, no. Not at all.
Mike noted Michael Jansen (Irish Times) report this week which explained, "DISAGREEMENT OVER Iraq's election law and a spike in violence threaten dissent and death ahead of the January parliamentary poll." September 30th, the top US commander in Iraq offered testimony to the US House Armed Services Committee. During the hearing, he was asked to explain the voting in Iraq.

General Ray Odierno: I'll wal -- Congressman, I'll walk you through in general terms. First, the el - by the [Iraqi] Constitution, the election is supposed to occur no later than the 31st of January. Right now, it's scheduled for the 16th of January. Again, pending the passing of the election law.

We'll stop on that point. "Pending the passing of the election law." If discussing 'progress' in Iraq on public radio, might be a good idea to know something about the election law. The same week Paul didn't appear to, his paper runs Saad Khalaf's "
Hope survived one Iraq bombing, but not the second:"

Every day, I worry that someone will plant a bomb on my car or I will drive into a suicide attack on my way to work. The other night at a restaurant, a waiter dropped a cutting board and I jumped. One minute Iraq could be the best country in the world, and in the next minute it could be the worst. I don't know what to do do. All my thoughts are about leaving the country. If I stay here with my parents, there is a possibility that I will face another attack and die. If I leave Iraq, I will lose my job and my family but I will probably save my life.

Doesn't sound safe even with all the spin. The elections may or may not be held in January. That uncertainity remains the only consistent in Iraq.
Vivienne Walt (Time magazine) notes this uncertainity and this lack of defined progress:

Among the key "benchmarks" for progress in Iraq set by President George W. Bush in January of 2007 was the passage of a new Iraqi oil law. But almost three years on, the controversial legislation setting terms for foreign investment in the country's oil sector, and for distributing its revenues, remains stalled in the legislature. And Iraqi politicians admit it's unlikely to pass before the current parliament is replaced following Iraq's general elections next January.

So we've had a serious complaint about NYT, a complaint about a LAT reporter (who's not really knowledgable on Iraq, hate to break it to you) and now we move to McClatchy where a friend this morning passed on
an article and lamented it was presented as a blog post. And now you can find Nancy A. Youssef leaving a comment on the 'blog post' which does, at least, give Sahar Issa a byline. But someone should have looked at Sahar Issa's writing and said, "This isn't a blog post, this is an article." And it should have been run as such.
What's Sahar reporting on? Women in Iraq. Which is the subject of so few articles. She went to "The Crossed Swoards" symposium in Baghdad's Green Zone and heard a lot of patronizing comments about women and what they could and couldn't do. No surprise, Iraqi military women like Rasha Ahmed tell Sahar, "The problem is not the women themselves. Many are capable and willing. It's the men. They don't take us seriously as professionals. They don't even train us as they do other men -- 'What a waste, where will you practice fighting? In your homes? Ha ha ha.' That's their attitude." Rasha Ahmed also tells Sahar, "We are pioneers. We will pave the way for other women who wish to take this path. We may be a novel spectacle in our society today, but if we prevail, the next generation will not laugh when they see a woman in uniform." It's really appalling that Iraqi women have been dealt such a huge setback, such an overturning of their rights, due to the US government's desire to get 'stability' in Iraq by installing thugs. It's a shame that even when the US administration changed, women were still not important. The symbolic value, for example, of a qualified and capable woman in the post of US Ambassador to Iraq would have gone a long way towards helping Iraqi women. It's disgusting. And Rasha Ahmed's comments about the road she has to blaze? Inspiring. In the face of all the setbacks, it's women like Rasha who have to do the work and know they have to do the work and, most of all, grasp that it's not going to mean a great deal in their own lifetime but it's going to help the next generation. As
Holly Near sings (and she wrote the song -- she wrote the song women live) in "Somebody's Jail" (from Show Up):

And I feel the witch in my veins I feel the mother in my shoe I feel the scream in my soul The blood as I sing the ancient blue They burned by the millions I still smell the fire in my grandma's hair The war against women rages on Beware of the fairytale Somebody's mama, somebody's daughter Somebody's jail

Holly Near has a new album she's done with emma's revolution, We Came to Sing! which Kat praised here. If you will download from iTunes or purchase or oder the CD, it's an amazing album worth having. (See Kat's review. This community only recommends those two options due to issues members had attempting to obtain the album.)

From the war against women to the daily violence . . .


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Baghdad grenade attack left three people wounded, a Mosul roadside bombing wounded three people, a Mosul roadside bombing wounded three people and a Falluja car bombing claimed 3 lives -- an Imam and two of his bodyguards. Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) adds it was Sunni cleric Jamal Humadi who was "known for denouncing insurgents in Iraq". Reuters notes a Tikrit car bombing last night which left six people injured.


Reuters notes 1 corpse discovered in Kirkuk.

Yesterday the
US Dept of Defense issued the following:

The Army today released suicide data for the month of September. Among active-duty soldiers, there were seven potential suicides. One has been confirmed as a suicide, and six are pending determination of the manner of death. For August, the Army reported 11 potential suicides among active-duty soldiers. Since the release of that report, four have been confirmed as suicides and seven remain under investigation.
There were 117 reported active-duty Army suicides from January 2009 through September 2009. Of those, 81 have been confirmed, and 36 are pending determination of manner of death. For the same period in 2008, there were 103 suicides among active-duty soldiers.
During September 2009, among reserve component soldiers who were not on active duty, there were seven potential suicides. Among that same group, from January 2009 through September 2009, there were 35 confirmed suicides. Twenty-five potential suicides are currently under investigation to determine the manner of death. For the same period in 2008, there were 40 suicides among reserve soldiers who were not on active duty.
Over the past year, the Army has engaged in a sustained effort to reduce the rate of suicide within its ranks. This effort has included an Army-wide suicide prevention stand-down and chain teach for every soldier; the implementation of the Army Campaign Plan for Health Promotion, Risk Reduction and Suicide Prevention; the establishment of both a Suicide Prevention Task Force and Suicide Prevention Council; a long-term partnership with the National Institute of Mental Health to carry out the largest ever study of suicide and behavioral health among military personnel; and more than 160 specific improvements to Army suicide prevention policies, doctrine, training and resources.
"Whether it's additional resources, improved training or ensuring those in our Army community can readily identify the warning signs of suicidal behavior, all our efforts often come down to one soldier caring enough about another soldier to step in when they see something wrong, " said Brig. Gen. Colleen McGuire, Director, Army Suicide Prevention Task Force. "Soldiers will be willing to do that if they know help is available, if they believe there is no stigma attached to asking for that help, and if they are certain that Army leaders remain absolutely committed to the resiliency of our entire Army Family."
Soldiers and families in need of crisis assistance can contact Military OneSource or the Defense Center of Excellence (DCOE) for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury Outreach Center. Trained consultants are available from both organizations 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
The Military OneSource toll-free number for those residing in the continental U.S. is 1-800-342-9647, their Web site address is
Overseas personnel should refer to the Military OneSource Web site for dialing instructions for their specific location.
The DCOE Outreach Center can be contacted at 1-866-966-1020, via electronic mail at and at .
The Army's most current suicide prevention information is located at

Meanwhile Page Gardner,
Women's Voices, Women Vote, notes the traditional decline from the number of voters in a general election to those in the mid-terms. They're focusing on the Rising American Electorate (RAE): "The RAE is comprised of Unmarried women (the largest portion), African Americans, Latinos, other people of color and Youths (18-29 yr olds). [. . .] WVWV is committed to keeping the RAE engaged in the democratic process and is at the forefront of analyzing who will turn out to vote in the 2010 midterm elections. To see our work on drop-off voters and the composition of the 2010 electorate, as well as state by state analyses, you can click here and here or visit"

Caro (MakeThemAccountable) observes:I no longer have any respect whatsoever for the Nobel committee. Obama is continuing TWO wars, with no end in sight.How that can be considered giving hope for peace is simply beyond me. Obama no more deserves this prize than George Bush.The man never has to do a damn thing for people to shower him with praise and gifts.

iraqthe salt lake tribunematthew d. laplante
nprthe diane rehm show
mcclatchy newspaperssahar issa
nancy a. youssef
william colethe honolulu advertiserthe honolulu star-bulletingregg k. kakesakothe new york timesmarc santora
the dallas morning newsreuterszhang pengfei
the los angeles timessaad khalaf
holly near
make them accountable

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

J For Jules

Tonight we're doing theme posts. Aimee Mann is a singer-songwriter. In the 80s, she was in the band 'Til Tuesday where she played bass, sang lead and wrote and co-wrote songs. She has a very impressive list of song credits and is among the finest songwriters in the country.

So for me, it's very difficult to determine one favorite song.

I decided to go back to the early songs and find one that's remained on my favorites list for some time. "J for Jules." That appears on 'Til Tuesday's final album, Everything's Different Now.

I was
winding my clock
which was
waking us up
In the morning,
we were laughing away
like fools.

I was
saying my prayers.
He was
combing his hair.
In a country
that began with a J for Jules.

Now to me, that's just amazing. You may need to know the song to really appreciate it, to hear Aimee singing. But then the chorus kicks in

You know I'll miss you
And thus it begins
But I'll release you
And thus it continues
Someday we'll be happy again.

It's just an incredible song about a break up and how everything falls apart. "The dogs just want to sleep in the sun."

There are many newer songs by Aimee Mann that I love (such as "Stranger into Starman," "Freeway," "Little Tornado," "Video, "That's How I knew This Story Would Break My Heart" to name a few). But "J For Jules" has stayed a favorite since the album Everything's Different Now came out in 1988.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, October 7, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, information about a US prison in Iraq emerges, the inquiry into the death of Iraqi Baha Mousa while in British custody continues, Senator Byron Dorgan calls for accountability in the exposure of US troops serving in Iraq to sodium dichromate, DoD's Inspector General agrees to begin a formal investigation into the issue, 36 Iranians are finally released from an Iraqi prison, and more.
Monday on NPR's Morning Edition, Jonathan Blakley reported on what journalist Ali Omar al-Masshadani experienced while impisoned at Camp Bucca.

Jonathan Blakley: At it's peak it's prison housed over 22,000 detainees in separate camps at the sprawling facility. Ali Omar al-Mashhadani was one of them.

Ali Omar al-Mashhadani: Each camp had up to a thousand prisoners. Some of the camps have tents. Each one was air conditioned. Each camp had different kinds of prisoners like extremists or ex-regime officials from the Ba'ath Party.

Jonathan Blakley: Ali is a 40-year-old journalist. His voice drops when he recalls his detention at Bucca. All of his memories negative.

Ali Omar al-Mashhadani: We were isolated from everything. We didn't have a radio or anything. The Americans would sometimes bring us very bad news like a Sunni guy killing a Shi'ite or vice versa to make the prisoners hate each other.

Jonathan Blakley: Following the US invasion, Ali worked as a cameraman for the BBC and Reuters and as a stringer for NPR. In the summer of 2005, he was detained without charges while videotaping a clash between US forces and insurgents in Haditha. He was released after spending three months at Camp Bucca.

Ali Omar al-Mashhadani: We demonstrated inside because we heard about massacres or other bad news about the war, we'd throw apples and they'd respond with gunfire and dogs.

Jonathan Blakley: Over the course of six years, Ali was detained no fewer than seven more times by the US military -- essentially, he believes, for being in the wrong place at the wrong time while holding a camera near US forces. Like many other detainees, he has never been charged.

Today in England, the inquiry into the death of Iraqi Baha Mousa (while in British custody) continued. Baha died September 16, 2003, after being beaten so badly that he had at least 93 injuries. Iraqi witnesses who were prisoners at the same time Baha was (none of the prisoners were ever found guilty of anything) are listed with "D" and a series of numbers. There names are not given to protect them. D004 testified today. D004 testifed that Baha was being abused before they left the hotel that the British army hauled them away from.
D004: As for me, no, but I could see the late Baha. He was being beaten up.
Gerald Elias: That is Baha Mousa?
D004: Yes.
Gerald Elias: What did you see happen to him?
D004: I saw a soldier kicking him on the head.

Gerald Elias: How forceful or otherwise was that kick?

D004: It was enough to make him sound in pain.
Gerald Elias: Upon arriving at the detention center, D004 was hooded (at one point with multiple hoods) and the hooding continued for three days with the hoods removed once for a doctor's visit, once when they were given water and once when they were given food. He described the three days:
D004: The torture was beyond belief. All kinds of beating, swearing. They did it in an artistic -- they were trying to be creative in their beating of us. [. . .] They beat me directly on all my body. There were also kicks and punches and suffocating holds.
Richard Norton-Taylor (Guardian) reports on Tuesday's testimony which included an Iraqi prisoner explaining how "he was forced to drink the urine of British soldiers and described how his head was pushed down a toilet." This prisoner was the son of one of the owners of the hotel and is identifed as D005 and his father offered testimony earlier as D006. D005 explained what the British soldiers did to him (from inquiry transcript):
[. . .] he lowered my head to the opening of the toilet and asked me to stay as such, looking into the hole of the toilet. The smell was extremely bad because it had been an abandoned toilet, as far as I know. So I stayed in that position about an hour -- even more than an hour -- and it was such a scene, such an abominable scene and very improper. [. . . ] I felt I was not a human because a human who would be lowered to such a leave -- first of all, I felt inhuman. I felt a lack of respect, because the level of a man -- human being -- who was lowered to such an extent to foul -- to a foul level, this moved me a lot and affected me psychologically. [. . .] The stench was unbearable. When I lifted my head away from the smell, the soldier would hit me on the back with his feet because he was standing behind me. [. . .] This episode ended with beating by the soldiers and shouting, sleeplessness, I mean -- it was a very bad ending. [. . .] I was beaten by the soldiers whilst handcuffed, completely helpless, in pain, screaming, crying.

On Monday, Ali Aktash gave testimony to the inquiry via videolink from Iraq and he explained, "I was detailed to go to Battlegroup Main firstly to look after the radio equipment there that I had been trained on and also to man the brigade net, which just involved keeping a log of radio traffic that was sent to Battlegroup Main." While working in the Ops Room, he overheard a conversation.

Gerald Elias: All right. Let's see if we can just take a step back then and let me ask you about the conversation or conversations that you may have heard in that ops room which interested you. Who was present when these conversations took place?

Ali Aktash: Okay, there was Lieutenant Crawford and Major Peebles was called into the ops room when they detained these men. Also there was a --

Gerald Elias: Can I just ask you to pause a moment? Just pause a moment. When you were referring to a major a few minutes ago, was that Major Peebles or is that another major?

Ali Aktash: Oh, no, Major Peebles, but there was another major whose office was -- he was the 1QLR major. There was another major, yes, there was.

Gerald Elias: So when you were referring a few minutes ago to a major with an adjoining office, that is a different major to Major Peebles? Is that what you are saying?

Ali Aktash: Yes, sir, yes.

Gerald Elias: All right. So you are going to tell the Inquiry about something that happened when Lieutenant Crawford and Major Peebles were present in the ops room with you?

Ali Aktash: That's correct.

Gerald Elias: Yes, well tell us what happened please. What was the conversation that you heard?

Ali Aktash: At that time my network wasn't busy. It generally wasn't that busy and I happened to overhear on the battlegroup's network that they had detained some people and Major Peebles was called into the room, and at some point the soldier on the ground asked, "Shall we commence the shock of capture?", and Major Peebles then said something along the lines of, "Yes, but don't go as far as before" and that caught my attention.

Gerald Elias: Just pause there, if you will. Just pause. Major Peebles said "Don't go as far as before" or something like that. You say that he had been called into the room. Who called him into the room, do you remember?

Ali Aktash: I don't remember. I don't remember.

Gerald Elias: Did you hear any further conversation across the airwaves on this occasion?

Ali Aktash: I don't remember, no. But then I -- because Lieutenant Crawford was no longer manning the -- their network at that time, I turned and asked Lieutenant Crawford what he meant, because once the soldier on the ground has said, "Can we commence the shock of capture?", Lieutenant Crawford then said, "Well, that sounds a bit ominous", which got my attention, and I asked Lieutenant Crawford what he meant by that and then he explained about the shock of capture.

Gerald Elias: So what did Lieutenant Crawford say to you about the shock of capture?

Ali Aktash: Well it's when they -- there's a procedure to keep the shock of capture going which I believe is used to help with interrogation.

Gerald Elias: I'm going to stop you, Mr Aktash, because if you can listen to the question, I would be grateful. What was it, if anything, that Lieutenant Crawford said to you? You asked him what he meant by "That sounds a bit ominous", as I understand it. Correct?

Ali Aktash: Yes, that's correct.

At which point, they referred to Aktash's statement from May 7, 2004.

Gerald Elias: All right. What I want to ask you about is the second paragraph. You see in the second paragraph -- you refer to Major Peebles in the top line: "When [he] had finished on the net I asked him 'How did you mean, what happened before?' or words to this effect . . ." That's what you have just told us about, isn't it?

Ali Aktash: Yes, it is.

Gerald Elias: Then you said this: "He said, 'They went too far and beat him up, they were in a state', or words to this effect. I did not ask and Major Peebles did not clarify this comment." Is that true?

Ali Aktash: I don't recall exact words now --

Gerald Elias: All right.

Ali Aktash: -- but I can only rely on my statement.

Gerald Elias: I understand. What I do want to ask you about is that you are here reciting in those paragraphs what Major Peebles had said to you in the ops room. Do you see how the next paragraph begins: "Later that same day, the exact time I do not recall . . ."

Ali Aktash: Yes.

Gerald Elias: ". . . though it was still daylight, I completed my shift and together with Sergeant Hitchins I walked with him to the prisoner holding cell. I knew that prisoners were being held in the cells as I saw that there were members of the guard of 1QLR milling around the holding cells . . ." Do you see that?

Ali Aktash: Yes, I do. I understand what you're saying.

Gerald Elias: Can that be taken off the screen please? What I want to ask you about, Mr Aktash -- if you can't help us further, you say so -- you seemed to be saying in 2004 that the conversation, if I can call it that for the moment, that you had with Major Peebles was on the same day as your visit to the TDF holding cells.

Ali Aktash: When I gave my statement, it was in the context that -- the way the evidence came about was quite stressful for me and it -- at that time all I can put it down to is nerves and stress and I made a mistake. I'm quite clear now that it was the following day that I went to the TDF.

They then discussed what he saw there. Ali Aktash estimated he saw eight prisoners whom he testified "weren't in good condition."

Ali Aktash: Well, they -- firstly they were hooded with sandbags and they were making noises as if they were distressed. Also, I -- at one point one of the guards took off a hood and I noticed that they had bruising on their face. One of the detainees in the room to the left was falling over and having to be put back up again into their seated position.

Gerald Elias: Just pausing there, do you recall, were they all hooded with sandbags?

Ali Aktash: There was one guy closest to the door, the right-hand room, that didn't have a hood and was allowed to smoke a cigarette, and I asked about him too and one of the guards mentioned that he had already been through questioning. But I can't 100 per cent say if they were all hooded. All I can remember, the majority were hooded. [. . .] They were huffing and puffing a lot and groaning.

Gerald Elias: When you saw one with bruising, you say, to the face because his hood was taken off, where was the bruising do you remember?

Ali Aktash: It doesn't -- I can't remember specific. I just remember that there was bruising.

Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing claimed 1 life and left five people injured, two Zinjili roadside bombings wounded four people and a Mosul roadside bombing injured three people. Yesterday a truck bombing in Amiriya claimed multiple lives. Nawaf Jabbar and Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) report this morning that the death toll rose from 9 (listed in yesterday's snapshot) to 11.

Reuters drops back to yesterday to note 1 police officer shot dead in Samarra.
Reuters drops back to yesterday to note 3 corpses discovered in Shirqat.
Yesterday's snapshot included this: "Adam Lictenheld and Byron Moore (DC Bureau) are examining contractors and the way they US service members lives were risked in Iraq and a four-part series entitled 'No Contractor Left Behind.' Click here for part one." US Senator Byron Dorgan chairs the Senate Democratic Policy Committee ( I believe the August 4th snapshot was the last snapshot reporting on a hearing of the committee -- the committee's been mentioned since, but I believe the August 3rd hearing was the last one I attended). Dorgan's office has released the following statment from him:
There's an important development regarding the exposure of hundreds of U.S. troops to the deadly chemical compound sodium dichromate in Iraq. The Department of Defense's Inspector General has agreed to investigate the Army's response to that exposure. I requested such an investigation, in a ltter in August, along with six other Senators.
The reply we have now received is heartening. What happened to U.S. troops -- mostely National Guard men and women from Indiana, Oregon and West Virginia -- should never have happened and must not be allowed to happen again. They were exposed because of shoddy work by one of the largest military contractors, KBR, but the Army's deeply flawed response is just as troubling.
The exposure of troops to this deadly chemical compound was first revealed at a June 20, 2008 hearing by the Senate Democratic Policy Committee (DPC), which I chair. We found ample evidence that KBR dropped the ball multiple times with regard to the contract it held for assessing the site, cleaning it up, and getting it running again. It failed to inform the Army of the contamination until months after it knew there was a problem and after hundreds of U.S. soldiers had been exposed. It failed to clean up the site properly. KBR failed to warn even its own workers of the danger.
But the evidence suggests the Army's response was also highly inadequate and compounded the problem.
We found that when the Army finally got around to informing the soldiers, they consistently down played the seriousness of the exposure. When it finally got around to testing soldiers to determine the amoung of exposure they had experienced, too much time had passed. The test results were useless.
We found troops back home in the U.S. coping with illnesses consistent with exposure to sodium dichromate with no idea why they were sick. They did not know they had been exposed to sodium dichromate or that that exposure was life-threatening.
When I called the head of the Indiana National Guard after our 2008 hearing to tell him what we'd learned about the exposure of his troops in Iraq to the deadly chemical, he said it was the first he'd heard of it. No one at the Army thought to tell the Commander of the Indiana National Guard that his troops, while serving our country in Iraq, had been exposed to one of the most potent carcinogens in the world.
I asked the Army to review its response to the exposure.
The Army appointed a task force, which reported back, months later, that the Army had not only acted appropriately, but that its response had been exemplary!
We scheduled a second hearing to examine the Army's response ourselves. That hearing was held on August 3, 2009. We heard very little that was reassuring.
Following the hearing, Senators Evan Bayh (D-IN), Robert Byrd (D-W VA), John Rockefeller (D-W VA), Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) joined me in formally requesting an investigation by the Defense Department's Inspector General into the Army's handling of all this.
We now have a written request from the Inspector General's Office, agreeing to conduct an investigation and making clear it will get underway immediately.
Someone recently asked me what I hope will come out of the investigation. The answer is simple -- in a word, accountability. I want to know how all this happened, why it happened, and whose being held accountable for it. I want to know what is being done to make sure nothing like this ever happens again.
I also want every soldier exposed at Qarmat Ali to be accurately informed, first, that he or she was exposed, and second, that the exposure presents serious health risks. I want every exposed soldier to have access to on-going health monitoring and, if they should get sick, treatment, through the Veterans Affairs network of hospitals. I want this exposure made part of the service file of every soldier who was at Qarmat Ali during this time, so doctors can proactively look for sodium dichromate exposure related symptoms. Time is of the essence in treating illnesses that result from sodium dichromate exposure. Doctors need to know immediately, and up front, that the soldiers was exposed.
I also want there to be no question about whether illnesses that result from this exposure are service connected. They can take years, even decades, to show up. If every exposed soldier's service record includes information about what happened at Qarmat Ali, there will be no question about whether a resulting illness -- no matter when it appears -- is service connected, and therefore, eligible for treatment at a VA medical facility. If an illness develops, time is of the essence in treating it. I don't want anyone to have to waste time fighting to establish that the illness is service connected.
War is risky business. Soldiers know that when they sign up. But there is no excuse for any of that risk to come from sloppy work by a U.S. military contractor. Nor is acceptable for that risk to be increased because the Army dropped the ball in dealing with the aftermath of that contractor's failure.
I look forward to the Inspector General's report.
For those needing additional information, December 22nd Armen Keteyian (CBS Evening News with Katie Couric -- text and video) reported on James Gentry's developing lung cancer after serving at Iraq where he guarded KBR's water plant, "Now CBS News has obtained information that indicates KBR knew about the danger months before the soldiers were ever informed. Depositions from KBR employees detailed concerns about the toxin in one part of the plant as early as May of 2003. And KBR minutes, from a later meeting state 'that 60 percent of the people . . . exhibit symptoms of exposure,' including bloody noses and rashes." At the August 3rd hearing, Senator Dorgan spoke again (this isn't a new issue for him) about the need to document these illness now. That may confuse some people but during Vietnam, many veterans were left without the needed help and assistance because their illnesses and exposures were not documented. For example, those exposed to Agent Orange while serving n Vietnam? It wasn't until 1991 that Congress passed the Agent Orange Act. When Dorgan speaks of getting this in the files now and acknowledging it now, he's attempting to ensure that everyone is treated as quickly as possible and that no Iraq War veterans have to spend ten or twenty years lobbying Congress for a Sodium Dichromate Act. By that time, many people will be much sicker and many may have passed away. Many of the victims of Agent Orange were too badly damaged or dead by the time the Agent Orange Act was passed by Congress. The Senate's Democratic Policy Committee provides video archives of their hearings and you can click here to access that page. The issue goes before the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs tomorrow. NPR's Keri Brown (All Things Considered -- Brown is reporting from WVPB), reports on the issue today and among those she speaks with is Iraq War veteran Russel Powell who explains how his life has changed since exposure to the chemical, "And I was a very active person and now I can't even be active anymore And it's tough for my families also because my kids look up to me as a coach and I can't even do that anymore. It's sad." Powell also spoke with Adam Lichtenheld and Byron Moore (DC Bureau) for their article and explained to them, "My nose would bleed for 5 to 10 minutes."
Meanwhile Anthony Shadid (Washington Post) reports this morning on a September 28th Green Zone incident involving four contractors of DynCorp International and Iraq's Baghdad Brigade in which a scuffle allegedly took place when the Iraqis stopped the Americans, shots were allegedly fired, "security contractors refused to get out of their Suburban, and the [Iraqi] colonel ordered a tank to run over the vehicle," at which point the contractors allegedly exited their vhicle and they were allegedly "cuffed and beaten." The US military and Embassy quickly worked for their release and got the contractors out of the country. (See, they could do a lot more for Iraq's LGBT community.) It should be noted that the line drawn in the US between the military and the contractors is considered arbitrary in the countries they're stationed in. The incident's a reflection of the climate Nouri's remarks have created and may be a portent as well. Thomas E. Ricks (Foreign Policy) cites the Serious Incident Report (and notes he covered this story before today) to add the following details: "The four bodyguards were then arrested and their weapons confiscated. They were taken to the Iraqi brigade headquarters, where they were 'repeatedly assaulted.' 'One soldier used an Olympic Barbell (45 lbs in weight) to strike Brandon Sene in the abdomen and lower back.' He is listed in the report as suffering bruises and lacerations. His comrades were struck with the butts of AK-47 rifles."
Still on the topic of assaults, Camp Ashraf is where Iranian dissidents live in Iraq. They have lived in Iraq for decades. Welcomed by Saddam. After the US-invasion, the US government had the US military protect them. They were declared protected persons under the Geneva Conventions by the US government. Nouri al-Maliki swore he would respect their rights. Nouri's a damn liar. 2009 saw the US hand over protection of Camp Ashraf to Nouri who launched an assault on the camp in July. As noted in Monday's snapshot, for the third time in a row, an Iraqi judge ordered that the 36 Ashraf residents being held (and tortured -- according to the judge) by Iraqi forces be released. Nouri just ordered them moved to another prison. BBC News reports the 36 have been released and returned to Camp Ashraf: "A spokeswoman for the group told the BBC they had been tortured in custody and were now being treated in hospital." Anne Barker (Australia's ABC) notes "An Iraqi judge had ruled three times they must be released, but officials refused to comply" until today and that the US "The United States recently called for assurances that camp residents would be treated humanely and not sent back to Iran." Tim Cocks (Reuters) adds, "The camp's residents and the 36 arrested on rioting charges had said they were on hunger strike until they were released. PMOI spokesman Shahriar Kia, speaking by phone, said the detainees were critically ill because of their hunger strike, which he said had gone on for many days. It was impossible to verify this claim."
Keiffer Wilhelm apparently took his own life while serving in Iraq and allegedly due to repeated and non-stop abuse from those he was serving with. August 21st, the US military announced that Staff Sgt Enoch Chatman, Staff Sgt Bob Clements, Sgt Jarrett Taylor and Spc Daniel Weber are all "charged with cruelty and maltreatment of subordinates . . . The four Soliders are alleged to have treated Soldiers within their platoon inappropriately."
Chris Roberts (El Paso Times) has reported that Keiffer Wilhelm "was abused by his 'first-line supervisors,' Sgt. Brandon LeFlor wrote in an e-mail. He is a spokesman for Multi-National Division-South in Basra, Iraq." We noted the case most recently in the September 24th snapshot:

"A loss in any family is hard to take," Shane Wilhelm, father of Keiffer P. Wilhelm, tells Cary Ashby (Norwalk Reflector). Keiffer Wilhelm died of "a gunshot wound to the head" in Iraq August 4th. It is thought he took his own life and that this resulted from abuse he suffered from other soldiers. The US military has charged four soliders in the matter and the military states a date has been set for the hearing, however, it isn't giving out the date. Ashby explains, "Shane and Shelly Wilhelm, Keiffer's stepmother, want to attend the hearing. The couple said Sept. 14 they're not sure if the military will allow them to attend or testify, but they want the chance to share their side of the story and the impact Keiffer's death has had on them." Marcia noted earlier this month that the First Merit Bank of Willard has set up a Memorial Fund for Keiffer Wilhelm to raise money for the family to attend the hearing (419-935-0191, Cari McLendon for more information and donations can be sent by mail to First Merit Bank, 501 Ft. Ball Road, Willard, OH 44890).

Today Erik Shilling (Mansfield News Journal) reports that the military has deicded to toss out any murder charges which "means extended jail terms and dishonorable discharges are likely the stiffest penalties the accused will face." Shilling notes that Shane Wilhelm continues attempting to raise funds for the travel for himself, "his wife and an uncle" ($9,000 raised thus far)." The military states that if they paid for the father to attend, they'd have to pay for others to as well. But, point, Keiffer died while serving in Iraq and the US military made the decision to hold the inquest in Iraq. Once that decision was made, the government's next step should have been arranging for the flights to Iraq for the inquest for any members of Keiffer's family who wanted to attend. That is how you honor someone who served. Anything else is a slap in the face.
We'll close with Sherwood Ross' "Journalists Says Use of 'Embeds' In War Slants True Persepective" (Veteran's Today):

Television reporters embedded with the U.S. forces that invaded Iraq "didn't actually report" the news but provided "color commentary" instead, a Pulitzer Prize-winning war correspondent says.
Even though some 650 journalists were embedded with U.S. troops, "we actually learned less because there was less reporting and because these people, in essence, saw their role as providing color commentary," says Christopher Hedges, formerly a war correspondent for The New York Times.
"They said, 'Okay, we see that tank going over there. Oh, look, there's a puff of smoke,'" is how Hedges described their role. They "did precisely the same thing that (sports) commentators do when they broadcast a football game."
Hedges said that he is not against using embeds but "when you rely exclusively on embeds for your vision of the war, you see, as we have in Iraq, the occupation exclusively through the lens of the occupier, and this gives a very distorted vision of the conflict."
The war correspondent's remarks appear in the just issued "News Media In Crisis," (Doukathsan) from the Massachusetts School of Law at Andover. The work is the ver batim transcript of a conference held there last March on the changing profession of journalism.
Hedges went on to say that he does not allow himself to cover wars as an embed because "if you cannot report from among the vast majority of the powerless in a war zone (civilians) you end up unwittingly becoming a tool, however critical you may try and be of the occupation."
This happens, Hedges went on to say, "Because you humanize the occupiers and because you don't have any contact with those being occupied, you invariably stereotype or dehumanize those who are bearing the brunt of the violence."
Hedges said in the days preceding the U.S. invasion of Iraq, French intelligence experts tried unsuccessfully to get the New York Times to publish their findings "that there were no weapons of mass destruction, that Saddam Hussein was not reconstituting a nuclear weapons program, and that he had no links with Al-Qaeda."
The views of John Louis Brugier of French intelligence and Mohamed El-Baradei, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency of the United Nations, "were dismissed because they were not Americans," Hedges said, adding that at the time he was "intimately involved" with his paper's coverage of Iraq.
Even in the newsroom of the New York Times, "when I would come back from Paris…people would make jokes about the French, about their identity, their culture," Hedges said. "I think the New York Times was particularly susceptible to this because (the paper) looks at itself as a quasi-official organization, one which because of its power and influence, has been given the mandate to articulate the views of the elite."
Robert Rosenthal, director of Project Censored, and managing editor of the San Francisco Chronicle in the days preceding the Iraq invasion, said he did not believe the articles on Iraq written by reporter Judith Miller of The New York Times because "many of them were single-sourced, and it was just too carefully being put together." Miller, essentially, reflected the Bush administration's views about the military menace Hussein allegedly posed to the U.S.
Conference attendees in general agreed that the Knight Ridder Washington bureau -- which was skeptical of the government's charges -- did the best job of reporting on Iraq.
Transcripts of the conference at the law school are published in the book "News Media In Crisis" (Doukathsan) and are available by emailing
The Massachusetts School of Law at Andover is a 21-year-old law school whose pioneering mission is to inexpensively provide rigorous legal education, a pathway into the legal profession, and social mobility to members of the working class, minorities, people in midlife, and immigrants.

Through its television shows, videotaped conferences, an intellectual magazine, and internet postings, MSL - - uniquely for a law school - - also seeks to provide the public with information about crucial legal and non legal subjects facing the country.

The Massachusetts School of Law is an independent, non-profit law school purposefully dedicated to the education of minority students and those from low-income and immigrant backgrounds who would otherwise not be able to afford a legal education.
(For further information contact Sherwood Ross, media consultant to MSL at

Tuesday, October 06, 2009


"The Hunted" (Matt McAllester, New York Magazine):
It doesn’t help that gay people have virtually no allies in Iraqi society. Women, ethnic minorities, detainees, people who work for the Americans—just about everyone else in the country has some sort of representation. But there are no votes to be gained or power to be accrued in any Iraqi community—Shia, Sunni, Kurds, Christians, Turkmen—by supporting gay people. Gays in Iraq today are essentially a defenseless target.
When the purges began in February, the violence seemed to erupt in certain areas, specifically Sadr City and Karada. It was in Karada that a young Iraqi man named Nuri got caught up in the fury.
Nuri was riding in a taxi on a February afternoon when the cab was stopped by the commando unit of the Iraqi police at a checkpoint. To be stopped at a checkpoint was no big deal to Nuri, or any Iraqi. The police put up surprise roadblocks all over the city to catch insurgents and criminals. An officer asked for Nuri’s identification, then told him to step out of the car. The officer asked for Nuri’s cell phone, and Nuri handed it over. Then the officer threw Nuri against the car and handcuffed him.“What have I done?” Nuri asked.
The officer didn’t answer. He sniggered, put a hood over Nuri’s head, and shoved him into a police vehicle. In the car, Nuri heard the officer talking on his radio, telling someone that he had found Nuri and would put him in with “the others.”
Five other men were being held in the room Nuri was taken to. They were all gay, and several of them had friends in common. “Are we on a list or something?” they asked. “Why us?” The police took the men away and interrogated them individually. “Do you know where you are?” one of the men asked Nuri. “You’re in the Ministry of Interior. You’re in grave trouble.”
Nuri was told that $10,000 would buy his freedom. When he said he barely had any money, he was placed in a cell overnight. The following morning, his interrogators came back and asked if he was sure he didn’t have the money. Nuri said yes, he was sure. The men then handcuffed him, tied a rope around his ankles, threaded the rope through a hook in the ceiling, hoisted him upside down, and stripped him to his underwear. He passed out. When he woke up, he was still suspended in the air. In the evening, the men let Nuri down, and asked him again for the money.

You should read the above with shock. Your shock should not only be over what is being done to gay men in Iraq but also over the repeated silence from the US government which refuses to call these actions out.

It really is appalling. It goes to how little respect there is for human life and human rights. It also goes to a refusal to acknowledge that the US government set up and props up the thugs running Iraq today.

"Nouri releases more killers and kidnappers" (C.I., The Common Ills):
The only thing more shameful than the US government's 'response' to these events is the US press refusing to confront the issue. What was once supposed to be a mighty watchdog has instead become a battered co-dependent.

Mike and I are both noting that as a truest. I really think that sums up the press today. Where is the watchdog press? Long gone.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, October 6, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, the targeting of Iraq's LGBT population gets some press attention, Cindy Sheehan and others protest the continued wars, and more.

Earlier this year, four Iraqi gay males -- Fadi, Ahmed, Mazen and Namir -- discussed the targeting of Iraqi gays in a Baghdad cafe. Within a month, two of the four would be executed for the 'crime' of being gay.
Matt McAllester (New York Magazine) notes them in his report on the continued assault on Iraq's LGBT population which observes:

As virulent as the violence against gay people (men mostly) was, it operated at a kind of low hum for many years, overshadowed by the country's myriad other problems. But in February of this year, something changed. There was no announcement, no fatwa, no openly declared policy by a cleric or militia leader or politician, but a wave of anti-gay hysteria hit the country. An Iraqi TV station, with disapproving commentary, showed a video of a group of perhaps two dozen young men at a private dance party, wiggling their hips like female belly dancers. Terms like the third sex and puppies, a newly coined slur, began to appear in hostile news reports. Shia and Sunni clerics started to preach in their Friday sermons about the evils of homosexuality and "the people of Lot." Police officers stepped up their harassment of openly gay men. Families and tribes cast out their gay relatives. The bodies of gay men like Mazen and Namir, often mutilated, began turning up on the street. There is no way to verify the number of tortured or harassed, but the best available estimates place that figure in the thousands. Hundreds of men are believed to have been killed.

Yesterday on NPR's
Talk of the Nation (here for audio and transcript links) discussed the issue with Matt McAllester.

Neal Conan: As the conditions improved in Iraq, general security, the militias had time to start feeling that gay people were a real threat and punishing them.

Matt McAllester: Yeah. I'm not sure that they ever felt that they were a threat. I felt that there was, in a sense, there seemed to have been a lack of targets. American troops were armed, much less visible and much less numerous and really just aren't in the major cities in Iraq anymore. The government of Iraq is much stronger than military and police forces in Iraq. And the power of the militias has faded in terms of the civil war that was going on and really has been over for sometime. So some of the militias, one in particular, Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army, which had been extremely powerful, had lost their sort of raison d'etre in their power base, and, in a sense, needed someone to pick on. And there was no more hated and is no more hated group across just about every ethnic barrier that you can think of and social group in Iraq than gay people. And --

Neal Conan: Yeah. You just described them as being utterly defenseless. There is no --

Matt McAllester: Mm-hmm.

Neal Conan: -- political advantage to anyone in Iraq for standing up for the rights of homosexuals.

Matt McAllester: That's right. I mean, it's incredibly difficult to get any comment from the Iraqi government about this. They're just not even comfortable talking about it. It took me several weeks, I think it was - certainly many days to get any response from the Iraqi embassy in Washington, and none that I get at all from emails that I sent to Iraqi government spokesman in Baghdad. Other journalists have had this problem in the past. It's not even something they're happy talking about it.

Nor is it something that the US State Dept or White House is "happy talking about" which is why they avoid the topic and are aided in that avoidance by a domestic press corps that finds the issue too 'icky' to bring up. (The one time the issue was seriously raised in a State Dept briefing, the correspondent pressing the issue was with BBC News.)

Matt McAllester and Neal Conan discuss "Nouri" (not his real name) and how he was not only targeted, not only kidnapped, but it was done by the Interior Ministry and he was taken to one of their prisons (they have many -- most 'off the books') where he was shown five corpses and told that was his fate if his family didn't pay a ransom.

Kidnapping is just another way to raise additional funds apparently.
Richard Kerbaj (Times of London) reports how it "has overtaken burglaries, robberies, car theft and other crimes to become the biggest criminal activity in many areas of Baghdad, an investigation by The Times has discovered insurgents and gangsters are increasingly using abducted children to raise funds for terrorism operations and personal wealth." Kerbaj explains how posters of mmissing children have become common in Baghdad's richer neighborhoods while, in "unstable neighborhoods," "several children were found beheaded and dumped in the rubbish after their parents failed to come up with ransom payments." That was the fate of 11-year-old Muhsin Mohammed Muhsin whose parents were unable to raise "$100,000 in 48 hours".

That's 'liberated' and 'democratic' Iraq. Where children and the LGBT community (along with Iraqi Christians and many others) are targeted with nary a word from the US administration and little interest from the press. Grasp that despite all the money spent, it wasn't the Times of New York that reported on the kidnappings, it was the Times of London. The paper that sold the illegal war (Times of New York) seems to think that they deserve praise when they manage to do a violence brief once or twice a week -- the sort of thing Reuters does daily without breaking a sweat.

Though the US press largely lost interest in Iraq, US forces did not leave the country. And today the
US military announced: "A Soldier assigned to Multi-National Division-South died of a non-combat related injury October 6. The Soldier's name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin." The announcement brings the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 4349.

Since the start of the illegal war? Today US House Rep Dennis Kucinich observes, "Seven years ago this week the House of Representatives debated the Iraq War Resolution which was presented by President Bush. I made the case for NOT going to war. I analyzed the Bush war resolution, paragraph by paragraph, and pointed out 'Key Issues' which argued against Congress voting to go to war. I distributed the attached analysis, personally, to over 200 members of Congress from October 2, 2002 until October 10, 2002 when the vote occurred. When you hear people say: 'If only we had known then what we know now,' remember, some did know of the false case for war against Iraq. And since so many know now that we should not have gone to war against Iraq, then why are we still there?" A good question and we'll end the snapshot with Kucinich's list, but first.
As noted in
yesterday's snapshot, protests took place in DC yesterday against the Iraq War, the Afghanistan War, Guantanamo and US government torture policies. Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan was present, protesting outside the White House where she was arrested. Kelly Marshall (CNN) notes Cindy observed "that President Obama has been in office long enough to start working towards peace in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that his supporters want him to make those changes." Marshall then notes xenophobic fat-boy Robert Gibbs issued some prattle. Left unstated was that Robert Gibbs was a huge, huge cheerleader for an Iraq War in 2002 and 2003. Brian Montopoli (Political Hotsheet, CBS News) notes Cindy was arrested "dressed all in black with the words 'greed kills' printed on her chest" after she chained "herself to a White House fence as part of a protest against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq." Garance Franke-Ruta (Washington Post) reports on Monday's protests here. Cindy (Cindy Sheehan's Soap Box) observes, "I had just walked back into my hotel room yesterday after chaining myself to the White House fence and being arrested, when I saw White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs, say that removing troops from Afghanistan was 'not an option'. When I saw such a quick response to our protest, I was angry, of course, but I was also excited. First of all, when Obama said that we had to 'make him do it,' I knew Obama was just blowing smoke out of his hind end, like he blows cigarette smoke out of his mouth. Secondly, I know we are being heard and I have complete realistic hope that this is the time for US in the USA to make a difference." Yunji de Nies and Sunlen Miller (ABC News -- link has text and video) report on Cindy's announcement to move to DC and her protesting today and quote her stating, "We're going to create a movement that's going to demand a change of policy. It's going to be massive." How so? Cindy writes:

To that end, we are organizing the most ambitious anti-war, peace event ever. We are planning what we are calling, Peace of the Action which will be the largest, most aggressive and sustained action ever done in DC. We are calling for 5000 people to commit to come to this Nation's Capitol to participate in daily civil resistance to stop "business as usual," because "business as usual" in this town is so corrupt and disordered. We are not calling for this commitment for a day, a week, or a month. We are not even interested in making symbolic gestures. We are calling for this commitment until our demands of: All troops and para-military mercenaries, are ordered out of Iraq and Afghanistan, the drone bombings in the tribal regions of Af-Pak are discontinued and we get about the business of healing, reconciliation and REPARATIONS. I am going to move to DC to help coordinate these actions and I will be 100% committed with you to be: "all in it to win it." This time true change will happen, it must.
An Iraqi correspondent for McClatchy writes in "
Why U.S. shouldn't Give Iraq the Blind Eye?" (Inside Iraq):For all past years I have been against the presence of the U.S. troops in Iraq, and I still am. This war brought nothing but sorrow for families in both countries. But I think the U.S. government and the people of America shouldn't put Iraq in the dark far corner for good reasons, I believe. Let the soldiers leave Iraq, let the country restore its national unity. Let it have its problems and solve them internally; let the country find its own way -- but don't let the people down. Six years after the U.S. led invasion of Iraq, Iraqi civilians are still the biggest casualty of war. Six years after what was supposed to be an easy swift and welcomed liberation, Iraqi civilians and U.S. soldiers are dying because of that invasion.

And the dying continues today throughout Iraq -- with most attention on an Amiriyah bombing.
Anthony Shadid (Washington Post) reports 9 dead from the truck bombing "in front of a restaurant" in which "the explosion was so powerful that corpses were hurled onto the roofs of neighboring buildings. The victims appeared to be civilians, police and members of Sons of Iraq [Sahwa, "Awakenings"], a U.S.-backed militia that fought the insurgency in 2007 and 2008." Xinhua adds that thirty-one people were wounded. Fadhel al-Badrani, Tim Cocks and Andrew Dobbie (Reuters) provide this context: "It was the second big bomb in the large, desert province in as many days. On Monday, a suicide bomber walked into an Iraqi funeral tent and blew himself up in the western town of Haditha, killing at least six mourners."

That was far from the only violence today in Iraq. Bombings?

Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports two Baghdad roadside bombings which claimed 1 life and left six people injured, another Baghdad bombing (on a blast wall) which claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier and left four people injured, a Mosul roadside bombing which wounded two people and, dropping back to Monday, notes a Basra liquor store was bombed.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a robbery at a Basra currency exchange today in which 2 people (owner and employee) were killed, a third person was wounded and $150,000 was stolen.

We're low on space. Adam Lictenheld and Byron Moore (DC Bureau) are examining contractors and the way they US service members lives were risked in Iraq and a four-part series entitled "No Contractor Left Behind."
Click here for part one. DC Bureau notes:

Using videotaped depositions from KBR workers and internal company documents, No Contractor Left Behind shows KBR knew about the presence of sodium dichromate at Qarmat Ali early in 2003, but failed -- even after repeated warnings from its own safety managers -- to properly notify KBR employees and military personnel. When the company finally performed an environmental evaluation of Qarmat Ali it found extremely toxic levels of the chemical at the facility. Yet KBR has continued to deny that it recklessly exposed U.S. troops to the deadly poison.
The Defense Department also tried to downplay soldiers' concerns that their health problems are a direct result of their exposure at Qarmat Ali. The Army has relied on a faulty medical test performed on its National Guardsmen back in 2003 - a test that a leading sodium dichromate expert told was inadequate. The Department of Veterans Affairs has used these findings to deny health coverage to sick veterans.
Congress, meanwhile, has entrusted the Qarmat Ali probe -- and the slew of contracting scandals that have plagued the Pentagon over the past half-decade - to the Democratic Policy Committee (DPC). But the DPC lacks the power to subpoena documents and compel testimony, rendering it unable to conduct a full investigation. Despite Qarmat Ali being the most recent controversy in a string of accusations against KBR including contracting fraud, bribery, wrongful death, sexual assault, and shoddy work that has killed several soldiers, KBR remains the Army's largest war contractor.

Regarding the DPC, the point is valid and it's one
Kat's made her site repeatedly.
We'll close with US House Rep Dennis Kucinich's "Analysis of Joint Resolution on Iraq" from October 2, 2002 (a) because Dennis has a right to say "I was right" and (b) he appears to be the only one who remembers this took place seven years ago:

Whereas in 1990 in response to Iraq's war of aggression against and illegal occupation of Kuwait, the United States forged a coalition of nations to liberate Kuwait and its people in order to defend the national security of the United States and enforce United Nations Security Council resolutions relating to Iraq; KEY ISSUE: In the Persian Gulf War there was an international coalition. World support was for protecting Kuwait. There is no world support for invading Iraq. Whereas after the liberation of Kuwait in 1991, Iraq entered into a United Nations sponsored cease-fire agreement pursuant to which Iraq unequivocally agreed, among other things, to eliminate its nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons programs and the means to deliver and develop them, and to end its support for international terrorism; Whereas the efforts of international weapons inspectors, United States intelligence agencies, and Iraqi defectors led to the discovery that Iraq had large stockpiles of chemical weapons and a large scale biological weapons program, and that Iraq had an advanced nuclear weapons development program that was much closer to producing a nuclear weapon than intelligence reporting had previously indicated; KEY ISSUE: UN inspection teams identified and destroyed nearly all such weapons. A lead inspector, Scott Ritter, said that he believes that nearly all other weapons not found were destroyed in the Gulf War. Furthermore, according to a published report in the Washington Post, the Central Intelligence Agency has no up to date accurate report on Iraq's WMD capabilities. Whereas Iraq, in direct and flagrant violation of the cease-fire, attempted to thwart the efforts of weapons inspectors to identify and destroy Iraq's weapons of mass destruction stockpiles and development capabilities, which finally resulted in the withdrawal of inspectors from Iraq on October 31, 1998; KEY ISSUE: Iraqi deceptions always failed. The inspectors always figured out what Iraq was doing. It was the United States that withdrew from the inspections in 1998. And the United States then launched a cruise missile attack against Iraq 48 hours after the inspectors left. In advance of a military strike, the US continues to thwart (the Administration's word) weapons inspections. Whereas in 1998 Congress concluded that Iraq's continuing weapons of mass destruction programs threatened vital United States interests and international peace and security, declared Iraq to be in "material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations" and urged the President "to take appropriate action, in accordance with the Constitution and relevant laws of the United States, to bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations" (Public Law 105-235); Whereas Iraq both poses a continuing threat to the national security of the United States and international peace and security in the Persian Gulf region and remains in material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations by, among other things, continuing to possess and develop a significant chemical and biological weapons capability, actively seeking a nuclear weapons capability, and supporting and harboring terrorist organizations; KEY ISSUE: There is no proof that Iraq represents an imminent or immediate threat to the United States. A "continuing" threat does not constitute a sufficient cause for war. The Administration has refused to provide the Congress with credible intelligence that proves that Iraq is a serious threat to the United States and is continuing to possess and develop chemical and biological and nuclear weapons. Furthermore there is no credible intelligence connecting Iraq to Al Qaida and 9/11. Whereas Iraq persists in violating resolutions of the United Nations Security Council by continuing to engage in brutal repression of its civilian population thereby threatening international peace and security in the region, by refusing to release, repatriate, or account for non-Iraqi citizens wrongfully detained by Iraq, including an American serviceman, and by failing to return property wrongfully seized by Iraq from Kuwait; KEY ISSUE: This language is so broad that it would allow the President to order an attack against Iraq even when there is no material threat to the United States. Since this resolution authorizes the use of force for all Iraq related violations of the UN Security Council directives, and since the resolution cites Iraq's imprisonment of non-Iraqi prisoners, this resolution would authorize the President to attack Iraq in order to liberate Kuwaiti citizens who may or may not be in Iraqi prisons, even if Iraq met compliance with all requests to destroy any weapons of mass destruction. Though in 2002 at the Arab Summit, Iraq and Kuwait agreed to bilateral negotiations to work out all claims relating to stolen property and prisoners of war. This use-of-force resolution enables the President to commit US troops to recover Kuwaiti property. Whereas the current Iraqi regime has demonstrated its capability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction against other nations and its own people; Whereas the current Iraqi regime has demonstrated its continuing hostility toward, and willingness to attack, the United States, including by attempting in 1993 to assassinate former President Bush and by firing on many thousands of occasions on United States and Coalition Armed Forces engaged in enforcing the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council; KEY ISSUE: The Iraqi regime has never attacked nor does it have the capability to attack the United States. The "no fly" zone was not the result of a UN Security Council directive. It was illegally imposed by the United States, Great Britain and France and is not specifically sanctioned by any Security Council resolution. Whereas members of al Qaida, an organization bearing responsibility for attacks on the United States, its citizens, and interests, including the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, are known to be in Iraq; KEY ISSUE: There is no credible intelligence that connects Iraq to the events of 9/11 or to participation in those events by assisting Al Qaida. Whereas Iraq continues to aid and harbor other international terrorist organizations, including organizations that threaten the lives and safety of American citizens; KEY ISSUE: Any connection between Iraq support of terrorist groups in the Middle East, is an argument for focusing great resources on resolving the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. It is not sufficient reason for the US to launch a unilateral preemptive strike against Iraq. Whereas the attacks on the United States of September 11, 2001 underscored the gravity of the threat posed by the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction by international terrorist organizations; KEY ISSUE: There is no connection between Iraq and the events of 9/11. Whereas Iraq's demonstrated capability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction, the risk that the current Iraqi regime will either employ those weapons to launch a surprise attack against the United States or its Armed Forces or provide them to international terrorists who would do so, and the extreme magnitude of harm that would result to the United States and its citizens from such an attack, combine to justify action by the United States to defend itself; KEY ISSUE: There is no credible evidence that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction. If Iraq has successfully concealed the production of such weapons since 1998, there is no credible evidence that Iraq has the capability to reach the United States with such weapons. In the 1991 Gulf War, Iraq had a demonstrated capability of biological and chemical weapons, but did not have the willingness to use them against the United States Armed Forces. Congress has not been provided with any credible information, which proves that Iraq has provided international terrorists with weapons of mass destruction. Whereas United Nations Security Council Resolution 678 authorizes the use of all necessary means to enforce United Nations Security Council Resolution 660 and subsequent relevant resolutions and to compel Iraq to cease certain activities that threaten international peace and security, including the development of weapons of mass destruction and refusal or obstruction of United Nations weapons inspections in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 687, repression of its civilian population in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 688, and threatening its neighbors or United Nations operations in Iraq in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 949; KEY ISSUE: The UN Charter forbids all member nations, including the United States, from unilaterally enforcing UN resolutions. Whereas Congress in the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution (Public Law 102-1) has authorized the President "to use United States Armed Forces pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolution 678 (1990) in order to achieve implementation of Security Council Resolutions 660, 661, 662, 664, 665, 666, 667, 669, 670, 674, and 677"; KEY ISSUE: The UN Charter forbids all member nations, including the United States, from unilaterally enforcing UN resolutions with military force. Whereas in December 1991, Congress expressed its sense that it "supports the use of all necessary means to achieve the goals of United Nations Security Council Resolution 687 as being consistent with the Authorization of Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution (Public Law 102-1)," that Iraq's repression of its civilian population violates United Nations Security Council Resolution 688 and "constitutes a continuing threat to the peace, security, and stability of the Persian Gulf region," and that Congress, "supports the use of all necessary means to achieve the goals of United Nations Security Council Resolution 688"; KEY ISSUE: This clause demonstrates the proper chronology of the international process, and contrasts the current march to war. In 1991, the UN Security Council passed a resolution asking for enforcement of its resolution. Member countries authorized their troops to participate in a UN-led coalition to enforce the UN resolutions. Now the President is asking Congress to authorize a unilateral first strike before the UN Security Council has asked its member states to enforce UN resolutions. Whereas the Iraq Liberation Act (Public Law 105-338) expressed the sense of Congress that it should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove from power the current Iraqi regime and promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime; KEY ISSUE: This "Sense of Congress" resolution was not binding. Furthermore, while Congress supported democratic means of removing Saddam Hussein it clearly did not endorse the use of force contemplated in this resolution, nor did it endorse assassination as a policy. Whereas on September 12, 2002, President Bush committed the United States to "work with the United Nations Security Council to meet our common challenge" posed by Iraq and to "work for the necessary resolutions," while also making clear that "the Security Council resolutions will be enforced, and the just demands of peace and security will be met, or action will be unavoidable"; Whereas the United States is determined to prosecute the war on terrorism and Iraq's ongoing support for international terrorist groups combined with its development of weapons of mass destruction in direct violation of its obligations under the 1991 cease-fire and other United Nations Security Council resolutions make clear that it is in the national security interests of the United States and in furtherance of the war on terrorism that all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions be enforced, including through the use of force if necessary; KEY ISSUE: Unilateral action against Iraq will cost the United States the support of the world community, adversely affecting the war on terrorism. No credible intelligence exists which connects Iraq to the events of 9/11 or to those terrorists who perpetrated 9/11. Under international law, the United States does not have the authority to unilaterally order military action to enforce UN Security Council resolutions. Whereas Congress has taken steps to pursue vigorously the war on terrorism through the provision of authorities and funding requested by the President to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001 or harbored such persons or organizations; KEY ISSUE: The Administration has not provided Congress with any proof that Iraq is in any way connected to the events of 9/11. Whereas the President and Congress are determined to continue to take all appropriate actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such persons or organizations; KEY ISSUE: The Administration has not provided Congress with any proof that Iraq is in any way connected to the events of 9/11. Furthermore, there is no credible evidence that Iraq has harbored those who were responsible for planning, authorizing or committing the attacks of 9/11. Whereas the President has authority under the Constitution to take action in order to deter and prevent acts of international terrorism against the United States, as Congress recognized in the joint resolution on Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40); and KEY ISSUE: This resolution was specific to 9/11. It was limited to a response to 9/11. Whereas it is in the national security of the United States to restore international peace and security to the Persian Gulf region; KEY ISSUE: If by the "national security interests" of the United States, the Administration means oil, it ought to communicate such to the Congress. A unilateral attack on Iraq by the United States will cause instability and chaos in the region and sow the seeds of future conflicts all other the world. Now, therefore, be it Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, SEC. 1. SHORT TITLE. This joint resolution may be cited as the "Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against Iraq". SEC. 2. SUPPORT FOR UNITED STATES DIPLOMATIC EFFORTS The Congress of the United States supports the efforts by the President to- (a) strictly enforce through the United Nations Security Council all relevant Security Council resolutions applicable to Iraq and encourages him in those efforts; and (b) obtain prompt and decisive action by the Security Council to ensure that Iraq abandons its strategy of delay, evasion and noncompliance and promptly and strictly complies with all relevant Security Council resolutions. KEY ISSUE: Congress can and should support this clause. However Section 3 (which follows) undermines the effectiveness of this section. Any peaceful settlement requires Iraq compliance. The totality of this resolution indicates the Administration will wage war against Iraq no matter what. This undermines negotiations. SEC. 3. AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES. AUTHORIZATION. The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to (1)defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and (2)enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions regarding Iraq. KEY ISSUE: This clause is substantially similar to the authorization that the President originally sought. It gives authority to the President to act prior to and even without a UN resolution, and it authorizes the President to use US troops to enforce UN resolutions even without UN request for it. This is a violation of Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which reserves the ability to authorize force for that purpose to the Security Council, alone. Under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, "The Security Council shall determine the existence of any threat to the peace... and shall make recommendations to maintain or restore international peace and security." (Article 39). Only the Security Council can decide that military force would be necessary, "The Security Council may decide what measures... are to be employed to give effect to its decisions (Article 41) ... [and] it may take such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security." (Article 43). Furthermore, the resolution authorizes use of force illegally, since the UN Security Council has not requested it. According to the UN Charter, members of the UN, such as the US, are required to "make available to the Security Council, on its call and in accordance with a special agreement or agreements, armed forces..." (Article 43, emphasis added). The UN Security Council has not called upon its members to use military force against Iraq at the current time. Furthermore, changes to the language of the previous use-of-force resolution, drafted by the White House and objected to by many members of Congress, are cosmetic: In section (1), the word "continuing" was added to "the threat posed by Iraq". In section (2), the word "relevant" is added to "United Nations Security Council Resolutions" and the words "regarding "Iraq" were added to the end. While these changes are represented as a compromise or a new material development, the effects of this resolution are largely the same as the previous White House proposal. The UN resolutions, which could be cited by the President to justify sending US troops to Iraq, go far beyond addressing weapons of mass destruction. These could include, at the President's discretion, such "relevant" resolutions "regarding Iraq" including resolutions to enforce human rights and the recovery of Kuwaiti property. PRESIDENTIAL DETERMINATION. In connection with the exercise of the authority granted in subsection (a) to use force the President shall, prior to such exercise or as soon thereafter as may be feasible, but no later than 48 hours after exercising such authority, make available to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate his determination that (1) reliance by the United States on further diplomatic or other peaceful means alone either (A) will not adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq or (B) is not likely to lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq, and (2) acting pursuant to this resolution is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorists attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001. (c) WAR POWERS RESOLUTION REQUIREMENTS. - (1) SPECIFIC STATUTORY AUTHORIZATION. - Consistent with section 8(a)(1) of the War Powers Resolution, the Congress declares that this section is intended to constitute specific statutory authorization within the meaning of section 5(b) of the War Powers Resolution. (2) APPLICABILITY OF OTHER REQUIREMENTS. - Nothing in this resolution supersedes any requirement of the War Powers Resolution. SEC. 4. REPORTS TO CONGRESS (a) The President shall, at least once every 60 days, submit to the Congress a report on matters relevant to this joint resolution, including actions taken pursuant to the exercise of authority granted in section 2 and the status of planning for efforts that are expected to be required after such actions are completed, including those actions described in section 7 of Public Law 105-338 (the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998). (b) To the extent that the submission of any report described in subsection (a) coincides with the submission of any other report on matters relevant to this joint resolution otherwise required to be submitted to Congress pursuant to the reporting requirements of Public Law 93-148 (the War Powers Resolution), all such reports may be submitted as a single consolidated report to the Congress. (c) To the extent that the information required by section 3 of Public Law 102-1 is included in the report required by this section, such report shall be considered as meeting the requirements of section 3 of Public Law 102-1. Dennis J Kucinich

cindy sheehan
cbs newsbrian montopoli
abc newssunlen miller
the washington postanthony shadid
fadhil al-badranitim cocksangus mcswan
mcclatchy newspaperslaith hammoudi