Friday, June 25, 2010

Tom Hayden and KBR: War Whores

Swiping from C.I., community note, Cedric's "Tanks for the memories" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! TANKING!" address Barack's public opinion polls while Isaiah dipped into his archives for "Bully Boy Poster" from 2006. The others did a theme post about what they wanted to be when they were kids so see Mike's "The spy who played pro ball," Marcia's "Reporter," Ann's "Hair stylist," Trina's "Native American or Cher," Ruth's "Nurse," Kat's "Lead singer of the Rolling Stones," Rebecca's "still a witch," Betty's "After sports star fades . . ." and Stan's "Rapper." They did theme posts last night and I thought they were all special.

I do not think everything is special. For example, I do not think Whores are special.

No, whores are a dime a dozen. In fact, throw a dime at them and they'll drop their pants.

Then you'll really regret it.

Tom Hayden is probably the biggest whore on the left. In any given year, someone probably beats him for that year, that specific year. But when you examine the totality of his whoring over the years, you realize he easily wins the lifetime prize.

Not that he's grown complacent. In fact, being the biggest whore on the left appears to make him, these days, even more eager to prove his lack of worth.

These days, he also favors photos that make him look like an aged, gay trick. You can see that at ZNet where he offers his 'writing' entitled "Petraeus And the Politics of Afghanistan:"

Perhaps the most important thing we know about Petraeus is not that he was the author of the Iraq surge, but that he is a political general, who openly pays attention to two "clocks"--that of events on the ground and that of domestic public opinion as well. The Iraq surge strategy was meant to speed up the Iraq clock [throwing more troops into battle] while slowing the American clock [convincing elites and voters alike that the war was ending, more gradually than peace advocates wanted, but with a timetable that was opposed by the Bush-Cheney administration and neo-con believers in the Long War].

Read the above, read the whole article. Find anywhere in it a point that Tom Hayden makes clear that the Iraq War still drags on. You won't find it. You'll never find it.

He's so full of s**t.

Remember that he used the Iraq War to sell himself. Remember he wrote a book (a really bad one) about how we could end the Iraq War. Remember he took money for speeches on that topic. Remember he got booked on programs to discuss that topic.

He took all that money -- whores always do -- and yet the Iraq War continues but Tom Hayden can't call that out.

In other words, it's not just KBR that needs to rot in hell. No, save a space for others who made money off the illegal war and that would include Tom Hayden.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Friday, June 25, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, a mass grave is discovered in Iraq, Chris Hill is shown the door (in part, because he'd be unable to otherwise find it), Sunday is PTSD Awareness Day, the Green Zone loses a few perks, corruption gets some press and more.
This Sunday is PTSD Awareness Day. US Senator Kent Conrad's office issued the following:
Washington -- In an effort to bring greater attention to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), the United States Senate last night passed a resolution authored by Senator Kent Conrad designating June 27 as National PTSD Awareness Day.

"The stress of war can take a toll on one's heart, mind and soul. While these wounds may be less visible than others, they are no less real," Senator Conrad said. "All too many of our service men and women are returning from battle with PTSD symptoms like anxiety, anger, and depression. More must be done to educate our troops, veterans, families and communities about this illness and the resources and treatments available to them."

The Senator developed the idea for a National PTSD Awareness Day after learning of the efforts of North Dakota National Guardsmen to draw attention to PTSD and pay tribute to Staff Sgt. Joe Biel, a friend and member of the 164th Engineer Combat Battalion. Biel suffered from PTSD and took his life in April 2007 after returning to North Dakota following his second tour in Iraq.

Earlier this month, Senator Conrad visited the Fargo VA Medical Center and met with physicians and social workers to discuss their capabilities for helping those suffering from PTSD. He also met with friends of Sgt. Biel and presented them a copy of the resolution designating June 27 -- Biel's birthday -- as National PTSD Awareness Day.

According to the National Institute for Mental Health, PTSD is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened. Traumatic events that may trigger PTSD include violent personal assaults, accidents, and military combat. From 2000 to 2009, approximately 76,000 Department of Defense patients were diagnosed with PTSD.

"This effort is about awareness, assuring our troops -- past and present -- that it's okay to come forward and say they need help. We want to erase any stigma associated with PTSD. Our troops need to know it's a sign of strength, not weakness, to seek assistance," Senator Conrad said.

To learn more about PTSD and locate facilities offering assistance, visit the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' National Center for PTSD at

Veterans in need of immediate assistance can call the VHA Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 and press 1.

That is this Sunday, June 27th. Toady, on The Diane Rehm Show (NPR), second hour, the caller did what the host and guests couldn't: Raise the issue of Iraq. Henry from Florida was the only one aware that Iraq was the locale of an ongoing war. Others were aware of it as a 'fixed' reference point for Afghanistan.
Henry: Yes, thank you for taking my call. I have a simple question. Did George [W.] Bush not ask his generals when we would be getting out of these stupid wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? Or did the generals not ask him, "Sir, when will we be getting out of this war that you started?" Because essentially that Republicans find it okay for us to be spending whole millions and billions on this war but it's not okay with them to spend on our poor people in this country.
Diane Rehm: Lots of folks have raised those kinds of issues.
Elise Labot: Well Henry raises an issue that's felt about a lot of Americans around the world about how much money we're spending on wars in Iraq, in Afghanistan. We look at the world economy. A lot of the US economy is in the toilet and we're continuing to spend on both these wars. However, both President Bush and President Obama spent many weeks and months talking with the generals about how to win the strategy in Iraq, in Afghanistan. The problem is that these wars might not be winnable. The US can leave the situation in a better place than it found it but maybe not win.
That was Elise Labot from CNN. That was all that was worth hearing. And sometimes, when it's pointed out how pathetic it is that Iraq's not covered on Diane's show, a little whiner will show up in the e-mails. (Friends with that show know not to. I'm not in the mood for this show right now.) And it will be, boo hoo, they have so many topics and they're winging it and blah blah blah. Since the Idiot Kevin Whitelaw outed Diane today, let me as well. On air, he says, "I forgot what you wanted me to say, Diane," in reference to what he was supposed to say. Diane curtly called on Moises Naim to take over. Point? That show's worked out in advance. Only real surprises are the calls -- and they generally know what the call's about before it goes on air (though some callers don't stick to the topic they say they're calling in about). Here's reality on how the show works on Fridays. Diane divies up topics and the guests begin searching (the web) for the topic. Then they speak into the mike on air and act like they did something wonderful. Ask any guest -- ask Roy Gutman -- and they'll tell you that's how it goes. Diane determines the topics ahead of time, assigns aspects of the topics ahead of time, and then the 'non-scripted' conversation takes place. And if you missed it Sunday, read "Only 30% of Diane Rehm's guests are women (Ava and C.I.)." And any whine Diane freaks, grasp that while Iraq was not a topic during the international news hour, Diane WASTED the international news hour with approximately seven minutes of talk about tennis. Apparently, Diane is hoping to move to ESPN in her tarnished years. No time for Iraq. 7 US service members have died there so far this month but Diane's not interested. Tennis? She's mad for it. It's all about priorities.
Priorities was the question. And isn't it curious that no one -- not the host, not her guests -- while talking about the money spent on the wars -- bothered to mention the numbers? Isn't that rather telling. Diane says a lot of people are talking about this. But apparently not on her show. Not even today. From Monday's snapshot:
Moving over to the finanical cost of war, at the start of this month, the Institute for Public Accuracy offered a dollar amount for the financial costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars: $1 trillion dollars. BBC notes that the costs for the UK government in fighting the two wars has surpassed the 20 billion pound mark -- which would be approximately 29.7 billion US dollars. They go on to note, "Critics questioned why the UK was spending so much on conflict when public finances were in a dire state." The US has spent much, much more than that but ask yourself when you ever heard the anchor of the ABC, CBS or NBC news note that anyone might wonder why, when the US' economy is "in a dire state," the government was spending so much money on war? Carl Ramey (North Carolina's Pilot) notes, "Amazing, isn't it? We can talk endlessly about the nation's debt crisis and rampant spending, but nary a word about two wars that are costing us more than $12 billion every single month, and whose cumulative costs, over the past eight years, have already surpassed $1 trillion."
One trillion dollars. The dollar amount that was ignored by Diane and company today.
At McClatchy's Inside Iraq, an Iraqi correspondent remembers Yasser Slaihee, "In June 2005 there was supposed to be a sovereign government on June 30, Yasser's birthday, but Yasser didn't live long enough to see the date changed to June 28, they deprived Yasser from a wish that didn't come true even after his death, off course I blame no one for it doesn't matter, the ceremony and the announcement was everything but true on the ground." Yaseer was shot dead by a US sniper June 24, 2005. NPR's Jacki Lyden noted of the journalist, "Yasser was hip: blue eyes, wire rims and a buzz cut, average height, endless smile. He invited me for coffee to meet his wife and baby daughter, and our coffee klatch never ended. When NPR producer Tom Bullock turned ashen, feverish and couldn't get out of bed, Yasser hooked him up to an IV bag hoisted on a camera tripod before he even told Tom who he was." In real time, Ron Brynaert (at Why Are We Back In Iraq) blogged about Yasser's death and, in the excerpt below, he's citing a report by McClatchy's Tom Lasseter:

Once again, the Pentagon initially lied about the murder of a journalist in Iraq.

"An early report said Salihee was shot by a passing U.S. convoy when he failed to heed hand signals or shouts from soldiers. That later turned out to be untrue."

But there are conflicting accounts.

"Most of the witnesses told another Knight Ridder Iraqi special correspondent that no warning shots were fired. But the front right tire of Salihee's car, a white Daewoo Espero, was pierced by a bullet, presumably meant to stop him from advancing."

FYI, Ron's now with Raw Story. Yesterday's violence included assaults on Sahwa with four members of one family kidnapped in a home invasion and later found dead. Lourdes Garcia-Navarro (NPR's All Things Considered) reported yesterday that the month of June has seen a minimum of 19 Sahwa killed. Sahwa, also known as "Awakenings" and "Sons Of Iraq" are largely Sunni fighters that the US put on the payroll to stop them from attacking US military equipment and US service members, numbered over 91,000 and Nouri al-Maliki agreed to take them and fold them into government jobs, putting them on the Iraqi payroll. That really didn't happen. Targeting has happened, repeatedly. These are Iraqi citizens. Nouri has an obligation to protect them. His refusal to do so goes to the fact that he's not a leader. He can't protect the people and he has refused to call out the killings. Doing so wouldn't violate his attempts to continue sectarian tensions. Nouri's caught in the past and Iraq will never be able to move forward with him as prime minister. Back to Lourdes Garcia-Navarro who reports:

Now, the exit of American troops is under way. In 2009, the fate of the Sons of Iraq was left in the hands of Iraq's Shiite-dominated coalition government, which agreed to pay the men and eventually either integrate them into the armed forces or give them civilian jobs.
But scores have been arrested over the past year by the government, says Hussam, while others have fled the country, leaving a sense of bitterness among the remaining Sons of Iraq.

Turning to some of today's violence . . .
Reuters notes a Baghdad bombing injured an Iraqi military officer, a Mosul roadside bombing injured four people, a Muqdadiya roadside bombing injured two people, a Khaldiya suicide bomber took his own life (but no one else's) in Khaldiya and, dropping back to Thursday for the rest, a Baghdad sticky bombing injured five people, a Baghdad roadside bombing injured two people and a Baghdad roadside bombing injured four people. In addition, the Times of India reports, "A bomb on Friday damaged the perimeter wall of the Nabi Yunes mosque in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, revered by Christians as the burial place of the Biblical prophet Jonah, police said."
Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that Bassim Hussein (an engineer in Kirkuk who was working for the government) was kidnapped yesterday.
AFP reports a mass grave was discovered in Samarra today with 11 skeltons and they are thought to be from the ethnic cleansing of 2006 and 2007.

Timothy Williams and Duraid Adnan (New York Times) note some of the violence yesterday including the Sahwa attack and they note the demonstrations over lack of electricity (which they call "riots" -- a word choice/characterization I strongly disagree with). The National Turk reports that temperatures have gotten close to 120 degrees F and "Hussain al-Shahristani, the current electricity minister spoke of the shortages and said that there was no 'magic wand' to stop the outages on Friday as Iraqi protesters massed in the capital Baghdad over the government's inability to provide essential services in the war ridden country." al-Shahristani is the acting minister and he goes on to state Iraqis should "limit" their use of AC. Maybe he can work on "limiting" the number of 100-degree-plus days. The average Iraqis may get a little more electricity. AFP reports that al-Shahristani has just "revoked electricity privileges enjoyed by government officials as he took temporary control of the power portfolio amid public fury over rationing" -- something you would assume would have been dealt with long ago. Something that never really should have happened to begin with -- directing additional energy to the Green Zone. Nadeem Hami and Liz Sly (Los Angeles Times) add, "Until now, government officials who live in the fortified Green Zone and other specially guarded compounds for VIPs have enjoyed up to 24 hours of electricity a day, while ordinary Iraqis swelter in the heat with only 2-6 hours of power." Rania El Gamal, Muhanad Mohammed, Khalid al-Ansary, Matt Robinson, Raloph Boulton (Reuters) note, "The power protests have emboldened rivals of Maliki who hope to form a government with his mainly Shi'ite State of Law alliance but deny him a second term as prime minister. Talks will likely yet drag on for weeks, possibly months."
The forming of the new government? March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. Three months and two days later, still no government. 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance. Together, the two still lack four seats necessary (or so it is thought) to form the government. Jim Muir (BBC News) went to the British Embassy in Baghdad for a ceremony and:
As I flitted from one to another, I made a point of asking them all the same question: So who's going to be the next Iraqi prime minister?
Here we were, well over three months after general elections, and the amazing thing was, not a single person had a clear answer.
It wasn't as though they were trying to hide some secret to which they were privy.
They genuinely didn't know, because nobody does.
No one does. But chances are they could guess better than the US Manic Depressive in Iraq. Or US Manic Depressive in Iraq For Now. The long awaited news was finally officially announced by the White House today:
James Franklin Jeffrey is a career member of the U.S. Foreign Service, grade of Career Minister. He began his current assignment as Ambassador to Turkey in November 2008. Ambassador Jeffrey has previously served in Washington as Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Near Eastern Bureau, and Special Advisor to the Secretary of State for Iraq. From 2004 to 2005, Mr. Jeffrey served in Baghdad as Deputy Chief of Mission and later Charge d'Affaires. His previous assignments have involved the Balkans, as Ambassador to Albania and Deputy Special Representative for Bosnia Implementation, and Deputy Chief of Mission in both Turkey and Kuwait. Ambassador Jeffrey earlier held a variety of assignments in Washington and abroad in the European and Near Eastern Bureaus, including postings in Munich, Adana, Ankara, Sofia, and Tunis. Ambassador Jeffrey served in the US Army as an infantry branch officer from 1969 to 1976, with service in Germany and Vietnam. He has a B.A. from Northeastern University and a M.S.B.A. from Boston University.
Jeffrey's in. And, yes, Chris Hill's out -- as we've noted for two months now. The napping ambassador. At random, let's just pull up a snapshot. November 23, 2009:
At the White House today, a bunch of trained yammers (with few exceptions) stroked and fondled Robert Gibbs with questions of such easy nature as could he explain "diplomatic entertaining" and State dinners. They had plenty of time to make like In Style magazine but damn little time to make like actual reporters. It was the usual embarrassment everyone's come to expect and that can be blamed only partly on Robert Gibbs. Blame? Hillary mentioned Chris Hill, US Ambassador to Iraq, in her comments and this may have been the first time his name has come up in the last few days. For example, the New York Times' awful editorial last week didn't mention him when it called out Iraq for the delay. Shouldn't Hill have been on this issue from day one? Yes, he should have. And who picked Hill? Who picked Hill over qualified people -- many, many other qualified people? Barack Obama. So the candy ass White House press corps should have pressed on the issue of Iraq. Instead they wasted everyone's time and, with few exceptions, better hope their editors and producers don't study that transcript. And on Chris Hill, let's remember one more time that the Republicans in the Senate structured their objections to Hill very carefully and very precisely. They knew he could be the anchor that could hang around Barack's neck. But no one wanted to pay attention back then and now it appears it may be too late. If Iraq falls to pieces, Republicans running for office will not blame military generals. They will, however, go to town on a US civilian like Hill. And they laid the groundwork for that back in his confirmation hearing.
To clarify, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, that day, was speaking at the US State Dept and AFP's Lachlan Carmichael asked her about Iraq. She wasn't speaking with Gibbs at the White House press briefing. But that was November. When Iraq had again missed a deadline for the election law. And that's what pushed the election back to much. It was actually supposed to be held at the end of 2009 but Nouri insisted he needed more time. So it got pushed back to January 2010. But there was no movement on the election laws necessary. This went on for months. With the United Nations publicly warning about these delays. And Chris Hill did nothing. He showed no leadership, he offered nothing. And the elections got pushed back two months (to March) and now the elections have been held and, almost four months later, still no prime minister. Remember the drawdown is going on right now and US forces in Iraq are supposed to drop to 50,000 by the end of August. It's July next week. Chris Hill did nothing.
Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) reports Iraqi officials feel the United States has all but forgotten Iraq and, "Iraqi officials cite instances that they say showed the Americans being caught by surprise: A veto by the country's Sunni vice president last fall delayed elections by two months, and an attempt by Shiite politician Ahmad Chalabi, once a U.S. favorite, to bar more than 500 candidates from running in parliamentary elections that reignited sectarian tensions." An Iraqi official goes on to praise Chris Hill for his work and state that it's not Hill ("bright man") but the White House which hasn't been doing the job. I'm no groupie or fan of Barack Obama but that's not why I included that in this. You better grasp what's being said and why. Hill's been doing -- and this is known, lower levels under him have reported this back to DC and to visiting State Dept staff -- what McCrystal was fired for: Bad mouthing his superiors. He's been doing that forever. And, again, check out that personnel file, he did in nearly every post. He blames his superiors for everything. He sucks up to whomever happens to be standing in front of him at the moment. If that's an Iraqi official who's unhappy (as many are), then it's time for Hill to agree (fine) and then go on to trash his bosses (not so fine).
Chris Hill is an idiot. Chris Hill was always an idiot. We covered the confirmation hearing and it was obvious then -- refer to the March 25, 2009 snapshot and the March 26th snapshot -- the hearing was the 25th, we spent two days on it. You can also refer to Third's "Chris Hill sings 'Much More'" (March 29, 2009). He's an idiot. He showed up for his confirmation hearing knowing nothing. He had food stains on his shirt, his hair was uncombed and this was when he was trying to make a good impression and get the job. See Isaiah's "The Pig-Pen Ambassador." Right now, as deals are being made to try to end the political stalemate, the Kurds are quite clear what they want from the horse trading: Kirkuk. They'd like it outright but they'll settle on the vote that the 2005 Constitution promised them (the vote Nouri never allowed). This is not a minor issue. Even now, it's not a minor issue. And if it were minor to everyone but the Kurds, Nouri (or Allawi or whomever) could tell the KRG, "Give me your bloc of votes and you've got Kirkuk." "Just an old fashioned land dispute," Hill dubbed Kirkuk in his Senate confirmation hearing -- oil-rich Kirkuk. He understood nothing. He had no background in the region. He didn't even have language skills. He never should have been nominated, let alone confirmed. And the alleged brain trust in the White House missed the boat completely, ignoring the Republican objection and what the really signified. From April 5, 2009:
The GOP senators were offering carefully worded questions, delivered very carefully. Why was that? That doesn't happen in most hearings. No one comes off rehearsed (mainly because few have the time to be). So what was going on there? Turns out, they were preparing for clips that they can air if Iraq goes straight to hell between now and the 2010 elections. Chris Hill is unqualified and has no MidEast experience. Iraq is among the most important diplomatic posts at this point due to the perception that violence is down (and some say gone -- it's not gone, it hasn't even ceased).

It is a good guess that Iraq will yet again slap the Operation Happy Talkers in the face and this time the GOP's the one prepared to benefit from such an event. They're going to attack if that happens (I think it will happen) and they're not MoveOn. Meaning? They're not attacking Ray Odierno. They're going to point to Chris Hill. They're going to point to his ambassadorship. They also know that the 2007 benchmarks were never met. Three years later and they're not met. The GOP line of attack is going to be: "Hill had the progress that Peteraues and Crocker built and created and he wasted it. He is completely unqualified and we raised these issues when he appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee." (I don't know Sam Brownback and I have been told his objection is very real to Hill's appointment. I'm not stating or inferring he participated in political theater. I am saying that those Republicans on the committee did.)

I think Hill's going to be confirmed. I believe he's unqualified for the post and, based on Iraq events since the start of the illegal war, Iraq will be the same quagmire where nothing is accomplished. The GOP's going to hang that on Hill.
[. . .]

The administration has no clue what a huge mistake they're making. The Republicans are not going to stick with Iraq forever. We've noted that here in 2007 and 2008. But by naming someone with no MidEast experience as ambassador to that country, the Democratic administration just gave the Republican Party their out on Iraq. It becomes, "We supported it. We supported the work Crocker and Petraeus did. And we stood firm and managed to get the violence down. And then President Obama appointed someone completely unqualified and all the progress vanished." That will be the argument and that will be how Republicans begin walking away from the Iraq War which is now Barack Obama's. And if the GOP plays this well, it takes the only card that Dems have had for the last few election cycles: That they're right on Iraq and the Republicans are wrong.
Doubt that's possible? Spencer Kornhaber (OC Weekly) reports today on claims made by (Ret) Judge Andrew Napolitano states this week's Freedom Watch (Fox Business channel), which he hosts, features US House Rep Dana Rohrabacher (Republican) stating that (Napoloitano allegedly quoting Rohrabacher) "almost all Republicans in the House of Representatives now believe that the war in Iraq was a mistake, that it was unlawful, that it was immoral, that it wasn't worth the lives lost or the trillions that will be spent." Like Kornhaber, I don't know about the "unlawful" remark -- I consider the Iraq War to be an illegal war, I have not, however, heard any Republican member of Congress say that. I did hear the strategy to hang the Iraq War on Barack via Chris Hill from two Republican senators who stated back in April of 2009 that the Republican Party was going to walk away from the Iraq War and do so publicly on the grounds that Barack screwed it up. (The illegal war was screwed up from the beginning. That is not an excuse for Barack who screwed things up by continuing it. But it is noting that two parties share the blame for this illegal war.)
Laura Rozen (Politico) notes the announcement regarding Jeffrey but is too modest to note she broke the news of his appointment. (We noted Hill was on his way out. I did not know who was being brought in until Rozen's article broke. That was her scoop and she deserves credit for it. Even if she's too modest to grab it herself, she still deserves credit.)
From Chris Hill to the topic of Female Genital Mutilation in the KRG. I was asked to note this on Tuesday (by a PRI friend) and didn't have space. I thought it had aired on Monday or Tuesday. It aired last week when Human Rights Watch released "They Took Me and Told Me Nothing: Female Genital Mutilation in Iraqi Kurdistan" (link goes to HTML overview, report is in PDF format). The 80-page report documents the continued and widespread practice of FGM in the KRG. (For more on the report see the June 16th and June 17th snapshots.) For The World (PRI, link has audio and text), Marco Werman interviewed HRW's Jessie Graham about the report. Excerpt:
MARCO WERMAN: I'm Marco Werman and this is The World, a co-production of the BBC World Service, PRI and WBGH Boston. Human Rights Watch has found a disturbing trend in northern Iraq. In a report issued today, the rights group says a significant number of Kurdish women in the self-ruled region has undergone female genital mutilation. That's the name given to a medically risky and emotionally painful procedure, often performed on very young girls. It involves the removal of the clitoris and sometimes other genital parts. Human Rights Watch is now calling on Kurdish authorities in northern Iraq to ban the practice. Jessie Graham is with Human Rights Watch; she's also a former reporter for this program and in fact, did some reporting for us on female genital mutilation in northern Iraq. Jessie, how did Human Rights Watch come to the conclusion that so many women in the Kurdish region of Iraq have undergone FGM?
JESSIE GRAHAM: They interviewed women in villages in northern Iraq and actually have worked with an NGO that's been doing work on this for many years that's done some surveys and found that in some places it is almost every woman in a village will be subjected to this. The government itself has done some surveys and found numbers as high as 40% in one district and it's pretty clear that this is a very common practice.
WERMAN: One of the disturbing conclusions of the Human Rights Watch report is that for many girls in Iraqi Kurdistan, FGM is an unavoidable procedure, and we're talking often very young girls between the ages of three and twelve. Now you reported on FGM in northern Iraq for our program back in 2006. Is there a typical way that this occurs to a young girl? Does the mother take her to someone? Is a girl even warned beforehand what's going to happen?
GRAHAM: No, the girls aren't warned and the report is called "They Took Me and Told Me Nothing", which I think is very telling. What this report does is it really does tell that story of how unexpected, surprising and really harrowing this experience is for these little girls. Sometimes it's also adult women who are subjected to this. And in almost every case that we heard about, the women are taken to a relative's house or someone, a midwife, comes to the house, they are held down by a female relative and the woman that performs the cutting is using a razor blade. There's no anesthesia. They have to be very stoic because every woman in the community or many women in the community have gone through this procedure. And the understanding is that they have to go through it in order to get married, in order to serve food, in order to be a woman in the community.
Meanwhile, you can't have an illegal war without a lot of corruption. On that beat, David Beasley and William McQuillen (Bloomberg News) report that Public Warehousing Co (now Agility), which was supposed to be providing food and other services to the US military in Iraq (one the tax payer's dime) is allegedly still overbilling and Asst. US Attorney Barbara Nelan told the judge, "We feel very strongly and have evidence that the fraud has continued." AP reports Agility's attorney is stating that the charges are destroying his client's company. In addition, Guillermo Contreras (San Antonio Express) reports that US Army Capt Faustino L. Gonzales (a purchasing officer) "pleaded guilty Thursday to receiving $25,000 in bribes in exchange for awarding Iraq reconstruction contracts to a company that charged inflated prices."
Non-Iraq. At Third, at Third "DVD: Plunder (Ava and C.I.)" was a review of Danny Schechter's latest documentary Plunder. Along with the DVD release of the film, he's also got The Crimes Of Our Times, Danny's companion book to the documentary. He has a new website for the film -- this is about the economic collapse -- and you can click here. Community note, Cedric's "Tanks for the memories" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! TANKING!" address Barack's public opinion polls while Isaiah dipped into his archives for "Bully Boy Poster" from 2006. The others did a theme post about what they wanted to be when they were kids so see Mike's "The spy who played pro ball," Marcia's "Reporter," Ann's "Hair stylist," Trina's "Native American or Cher," Ruth's "Nurse," Kat's "Lead singer of the Rolling Stones," Rebecca's "still a witch," Betty's "After sports star fades . . ." and Stan's "Rapper."
TV notes. On PBS' Washington Week, James Barnes (National Journal), Michael Duffy (Time magazine), Eamon Javers (CNBC) and Martha Raddatz (ABC News) join Gwen around the table. Gwen now has a weekly column at Washington Week and the current one is "General McChrystal and the Gift of 20/20 Hindsight." This week, Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Debra Carnahan, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Anne Manetas and Genevieve Wood on the latest broadcast of PBS' To The Contrary to discuss the week's events. And at the website each week, there's an extra just for the web from the previous week's show and this week's online bonus is a discussion about a new birth control pill which would prevent pregnancy for up to 5 days after intercourse. this week's online bonus is a discussion on the press' latest attempt to start Mommy Wars. Need To Know is PBS' new program covering current events. This week's hour long broadcast (Fridays on most PBS stations -- but check local listings) features Andrew Bacevich on the topic of the Afghanistan War and Hooman Majd on Iran. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:

Blackwater 61
"Blackwater 61" is the call sign of a plane flown by the embattled government contractor Blackwater that crashed into a mountain in Afghanistan killing all onboard. The widow of one of the soldiers killed - a pilot herself - says the firm was negligent in the way it operated the flight. Steve Kroft reports. | Watch Video

Fighting For A Cure
More Americans are suffering from epilepsy than Parkinson's, cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis combined. Katie Couric reports on a disease that may not be getting the attention it deserves. | Watch Video

Cameron's Avatar
Morley Safer gets the first look at how "Titanic" Director James Cameron created his $400 million 3-D fantasy "Avatar." | Watch Video

60 Minutes, Sunday, June 27, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The talking entry

Yesterday, C.I. shared some thoughts on TBI, PTSD and other issues in the "Iraq snapshot" and a few e-mails wanted to know what I thought?

I agreed. It's a rare moment when one of us says anything online that the other doesn't agree with.

Not only have we been best friends since college, we're in touch repeatedly during the day via phone. We discuss pretty much everything and do so at length. We generally see each other each Friday night and Saturday morning.

In addition, PTSD is my alley, so to speak, but I'm far from the only health care provider C.I. knows or speaks with. She's usually in deep discussions on various treatments. In fact, she could probably shock you by writing about the various treatments for PTSD currently being utilized. She could easily come up with fifty and could evaluate them in terms of uniqueness, in terms of whether or not this is some earlier treatment now being recycled, in terms of success rate, etc. She knows this area and knows it because she's done the work for years now.

The difference between C.I. and I in terms of online is that I will have an idea and express it near immediately. C.I. doesn't do that. She gets information, then more information, then discusses it, tosses it around, more information and then issues an opinion. She is not a snap-judgment type person.

I'll go ahead and make an immediate comment on anything -- and do far less work than she does. She'll generally only make an immediate comment if someone needs defending. When someone needs defending, she just doesn't care. She'll go out on a limb for anyone she thinks is worthy.

That's an admirable trait. I defend but not at length the way she does. I'm probably more reserved on that. For example, I defended Helen Thomas and would again. But a lot of people thought, "Elaine's just getting started" (at least going by the e-mails). No. I said what I thought. I was done. That's not, "It's on you now, Helen." That's over the fact that I wanted to get back to the Gulf issue and I honestly didn't think much more was going to help.


Helen Thomas appreciates everyone who left a comments in support of her at a blog or news site, she appreciates everyone who defended her against those absurd charges. I know that about her. But I also know that if she wanted to dominate the news cycle for days, she would have done so. Her attitude was more along the lines of "I'm closing the door."

But C.I. doesn't weigh that. She weighs the attacks and, you may have noticed, when people are especially vicious, C.I. will turn their tactics on them. She really is strong and a strong defender. She also does not forget. People think she has but she files something away and, at a later date, when it's pertinent, she's bringing it back up. A lot of the ones who trashed Helen Thomas will learn that the hard way.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, June 23, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, the US Congress explores veterans issues in times of regional/national and international emergencies, the US military announces another death, Iraq's electric problems continue and more.

"On September 11, 2001," declared US House Rep Harry Mitchell this morning, "we witnessed one of the greatest tragedies in American history. Still today, we all remember the horrific scenes of these terrorist attacks. Four years later, in 2005, the Gulf Coast was hit by one of the biggest natural disasters the region has ever seen, as Hurricane Katrina swept through the region killing thousands and leaving many homeless and displaced. And sadly, again today, we see Gulf states struggling with yet another major disaster, as the oil continues to spill. These types of events highlight the critical need for federal agencies to proactively prepare to effectively execute their federal obligations -- especially when called upon during emergencies." Whether a national disaster, international or regional, how does the VA intend to ensure that veterans needs are met regardless?

Chair Mitchell was opening the House Committee on Veterans Affairs' Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. (He also recognized veteran Terry Araman for his work in Arizona with homeless veterans, Araman is the program director of the
Madison Street Veterans Association.) There were three panels. The American Red Cross' Neal Denton, the Healthcare Coalition's Darrell Henry, the American Legion's Barry A. Searle and BT Marketing's John Hennigan composed the first panel. The second panel was Capt D.W. Chen of the DoD, Christy Music (DoD), Kevin Yeskey (HHS) and Steven Woodard (Homeland Security). Panel three was VA's Jose Riojas with the VA's Kevin Hanretta and Gregg Parker. We'll note this exchange.

Chair Harry Mitchell: I have a question for anybody who would like to answer this. In reviewing the National Response plan, there's a myriad of federal resources called upon in response to a crisis. How do we determine if the agencies will be able to work together? Yes, just go ahead in any [order].

John N. Hennigan: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I can -- I can speak from experience in Montgomery County [Texas] when we had [Hurricane] Ike occur. We first had [Hurricane] Rita hit the Gulf Coast and it was truly total confusion. And what we found Contra[-Flow] Lanes in the freeway to try to - to try to evacuate people on the Gulf Coast was a disaster. It was done too late. Communications between EMS, fire stations, police, sheriff, state police was uh, was inappropriate. Since that time, prior to Ike, we all went on same frequencies. We developed a program where Contra-Flow Lanes were done well in advance versus-versus a uh 24 hour mandate, get-out-of-town. So I think a lot of it is, can-can communities -- in this case with the VA -- can the community officials communicate to the VAs and vice-versa on the same frequency -- whether it's radio, whether there's a set plan or one organization that coordinates all the entities as we're doing in Montgomery County right now. Can that happen? And when that happens, it just makes life a lot easier for everybody because you only have one source to go to and they'll do the -- they'll delegate the appropriate things to do.

Chair Harry Mitchell: You know there's a -- again -- a myriad of agencies involved in all of the emergency preparedness. And, again, let me just ask others, how do we determine if these agencies are able to work together? Sometimes I think there's miscommunication of who has what role to play. How can we determine that? Do we determine that?

Barry A. Searle: Well, sir, as far as the DoD - VA interaction, one of the things that we see as very positive is on a day-to-day basis now in the attempt to develop the lifetime virtual records has established communications between DoD, VA and the public sector actually as far as transferring public information on veterans. The hope by the American Legion is that that will have started the -- a crack in the dyke, if you will. There's no question that stove piping exists and it has to be broken down. Through the-the-the national framework -- response framework -- and people have assigned positions, jobs and responsibilities -- For example, American Legion is not telling VA how to do that but it would be reasonable that they would be under the ESF8 as a support function, that they would not be an elite function in this case. But there is a framework there for telling people what they should be doing and feeding into it. But I think that VA has taken some serious steps into making a coordination with other entities -- be it DoD and civilian doctors, for example -- which will eventually help with the system. It's not going to solve the whole thing, but at least it's a starting point.

Neal Denton: Mr. Chairman, if you don't mind, I'd like to say something to this too. So much of this builds on exercises -- the national level exercises -- that take place in the country where we bring these groups together and have a table-top exercise in advance so that we get to know who the players are and what their capacities are, what it is, they're going to bring to the table, what it is that they thought we were going to be bringing in and we discover, "Oh, no, that's actually something we need to resolve somewhere else." So much of this really happens on a local level. You know, I mentioned in my testimony, that the event we just had at we had out at Fort Belvoir where we had a preparedness event. At that parking lot there in the PX, all of the players who would respond to a disaster in Fort Belvoir were there. It was a bright sunny day and we were handing out preparedness kits but the other thing that was going on was we were who'd be responding to a disaster if something were to happen there. Having a chance to talk to each other, connect with other and talk a little about what our roles and responsibilities are if something were to happen. The more of these that happen on a local level, I think the more success that we're going to have.

Chair Harry Mitchell: I just was looking at the federal response plan and the VA has a support role with four different agencies that have the primary response. We have a support role with DoD. There's one with the American Red Cross. There's one with the GSA also HHS. And I just hope, that's what part of this hearing is about, is to make sure that everybody understands their role -- in a support or a primary role.

Does anyone feel like there's a plan? How about a plan to have plan? We're not wasting time on the second panel. For example, Capt Chen was and Chair Mitchell stopped him and informed him of the law -- actually made it clear (nicely) that he knew the law Chen was talking around -- and how it worked and asked specifically -- again -- what VA and DoD were coordinating on and instead of a direct answer, Chen wasted several more minutes offering a historical overview. An overview that it was very clear that the Subcommittee didn't need. (And, again, hadn't asked for.) "I understand about the wartime, again, but I'm asking about the natural disasters where DoD is part of the response team," Chair Mitchell attempted for a third time with Chen. Whether DoD didn't want the issue addressed or whether Chen didn't have the information is an unknown. But it was a waste of time and Mitchell's attempts to redirect were repeatedly ignored. Christy Music noted she'd grab it -- to everyone else on the panel before she made the statement to the Chair -- and she then ignored the question to offer yet another historical overview. Chair Mitchell wanted to know when the last time the two department -- VA and DoD -- cooridnated and no one could or would answer the very clear question. Over three minutes after she began 'answering' the Chair's question, Music stated, "So to answer your question more specifically, we coordinate with them daily, certainly two to three times a week." And, no, that didn't answer his question. Coordinate with them on what? On what Mitchell was asking about? Yesterday we heard about DoD and VA coordination on health care, for example (and we'll go back to that in a moment). That's not what the Chair was asking and his question was never answered. If the plan was to run out the clock, the witnesses were successful in that.

We're going to drop back to yesterday to note Tuesday's Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing. Committee Chair Carl Levin's initial questions were noted in
yesterday's snapshot. Today we'll note Senator Daniel Akaka's. Appearing before the Committee was Gen Peter Chiarelli (Army), Adm Jonathan Greenert (Navy), Gen James Amos (Marine Corps), Gen Carrol Chandler (Air Force), and the VA's Dr. Robert Jesse.

Senator Daniel Akaka: In continuing to work with you and my colleagues we can refine efforts to prevent military suicides and to look for better ways to treat the -- to detect and treat and care for those suffering from invisible wounds of war. General Chiarelli and General Amos, suicide prevention is difficult and challenging -- and for all of you on our panel, this has come about, of course, because of what we call combat stress. And as was mentioned, this includes PTSD, TBI and behavioral health issues that we are facing here. As was previously stated, the services have experienced a rise in the numbers of suicides since the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq started. And there is a need to understand suicide, look at the causes so we can understand it and prevent it. Generals Chiarelli and Amos and also Dr. Jesse, how can the VA and DoD better collaborate in the area of suicide research and prevention? This has been mentioned by General Chiarelli as a great need here and I'd like to have the three of you give your perspectives on this.

Gen Peter Chiarelli: Well I would argue --

Senator Daniel Akaka: General Chiarelli?

Gen Peter Chiarelli: -- the cooperation between the VA and the services, I believe, has never been better. I think the disability evaluation pilot that we're running at different installations is proving to be a great success for the United States Army. And the wonderful thing about this is is that when a soldier goes through the DES uh we ensure that if they're leaving the service that they're in the VA system. And this is something that has never happened before as far as I know. It is a wonderful benefit of this that when a soldier makes a decision to leave the service, he is in that VA system. Before we would in fact have soldiers separate and it would be their responsibility to work their way through the process to get in to receive both their medical benefits and other benefits through the VA system. I think that you've hit upon a key piece here and that is stressors but it's not only combat stress, it's individual soldier stress and family stress and when we look at those across a continuum. what we're seeing in the army with the high ops tempo that we're on today, that a soldier in the first six years that he or she spends in the United States Army has the cumulative stressors of an average American throughout their entire life. And that's when you combine high ops tempo, individual soldier stressors and family stressors. So this is an area we're looking at very, very hard. And when you realize that 79% of our suicides last year were soldiers in-in-in 60% in their first term, 79% one deployment or no deployment, I think it points to doing everything we possibly can to mitigate those stressors whenever possible and as we're working so hard to do in the Army, work to increase the resiliency of our soldiers -- particularly in their younger years.

Senator Daniel Akaka: Thank you. General Amos?

Gen James Amos: Senator, I'll be happy to talk about not only the relationship but the hand off between the military -- in my backyard, the Marine Corps -- and the Veterans Association. Like General Chiarelli, I have never seen it better. The entire organization is well led from the top down, from VA. They are compassionate, they are passionate about the care of our young men and women that enter their system. I've never seen it better. I'm fortunate to get to travel around and visit a lot of our VA hospitals and a lot of our wounded and I come away just completely wowed by what I see. There is a systematic handoff . In the Marine Corps, this is done by what we call our recovery care coordinators. We take some Marines -- we have them around the nation. They are not part of the federal recovery, but they are linked to it. They are US marines whose job it is in life to know everything they can about the VA system and so when a Marine transitions -- especially one of our wounded Marines -- transitions out into -- heading to VA Land, after his disability board and he's moving on to the next half of his life, that recovery care coordinator contacts the federal recovery care coordinator, the District Entrance Support Marines we have out there, our network of Marines for life, put our arms around this guy. But I've seen it first hand where the actual hand off for a needy Marine, in some cases two years after the injury, after the initial injury -- I just saw this last -- about last month down in Corpus Christie, Texas. A young Marine, TBI two years ago his life is unraveled right now and through the federal recovery coordinator and the VA in San Antonio and our care coordinator we were able to plug this Marine, get him back into a hospital right away for further care. So, I've never seen it better, Senator.

Senator Daniel Akaka: Let me ask Admiral Greenert for your comments as well as General Chandler after you.

Admiral Jonathan Greenert: Thank you, Senator. I think General Chiarelli and Amos hit the nail on the head. Cooperation is very good. In fact, we meet monthly-- with leadership of the VA and the leadership of the Dept of Defense to streamline the Defense -- the Disability -- excuse me -- Evaluation System. I would say that what we are finding in our study of suicides, the transitional period seems to be a spike in stressors and this is an area we need to watch very closely -- this transition period -- and be sure that our Sailors have the social support network that they've had as they've moved through their career in the Navy as long as it is. It's also a focus area to watch out for those stressors. Thank you.

Senator Daniel Akaka: General Chandler?

Gen Carrol Chandler: Senator, we have approximately 700 Airman in our wounded warrior program. These are young men and women whose lives have been changed forever and that we are dedicated to taking care of from the time they've been wounded until they no longer need our services in the Air Force and we make the transition to the federal system if, in fact, that's required and we're not able to bring them back to the Air Force. We use much the same system that General Amos described with recovery care coordinators that allow us to do that around the nation, to service the men and women that require that kind of treatment and that kind of handling. We're very comfortable with our relationship with the VA and the way that's working.

Senator Daniel Akaka: Well I'm glad that we've been working on what we call seemless transition and it appears that we're moving along in that. Dr. Jesse?

Dr. Robert Jesse: Thank you, sir. So as not to reiterate things that have already been said. I'd just like to point out a couple of areas where this level of integration has really become manifest. The first is in the post-deployment and health reassessment exercises. Uh, the VA generally has a presence at the exercises -- not to administer the exams but to be present to make sure that those service members are uh-uh aware of all of their benefits that the VA can provide. But also if there are immediate health and particularly mental health issues that arise, that they are there and can literally make an appointment on the spot. They can get them enrolled in VA, make an appointment and, if we need to take them into our care, we can do that. So that we participate in that -- The second is the poly-trauma networks uhm which really are while the VA has four going on five now poly-trauma centers of care those are really tightly integrated into the wounded war -- wounded warrior programs at Walter Reed and Bethesda. In fact, I had the real honor to accompany [VA] Deputy Secretary [W. Scott] Gould and Dr. Stanley on a tour of Walter Reed and them come directly down to Richmond and look at the seemless way that both patients and their information moved back and forth through those networks including the fact that VA represenatives stationed in the DoD facilities and DoD clinicians in the poly-trauma centers so that they ensure that any movement of a patient is a warm hand-off and not just being sent to another place. Finally, in the mental health area, I think there has just been an extraordinary collaboration uhm-uhm going on for some time now. There was a joint-conference in the fall of '09 that led to an integrated VA - DoD strategic plan and the real goal is to make sure that when, for instance, the -- there are evidence-based therapies for Post Traumatic Stress -- treatment of Post Traumatic Stress, the VA and the uh -- Dep -- the uh, services uh agree on how we treat those patients so that this treatment begins in the services and then transitions to the VA, we're not abruptly stopping one form of therapy and then herding them into another. And I think that is a hugely important point of collaboration that we've gotten that far.

How wonderful. There are no problems. Everyone said it worked wonderfully. So everything's perfect. And the service members have stopped taking their own lives, right? Suicide is now a thing of the past, right? Surely, it must be when it's being so wonderfully praised in a Senate hearing. Or maybe a lot of people just wanted to spin? Suicides didn't stop. And nothing raised in the above exchange really addresses the issue. Akaka clearly asked about military suicides and look at the responses.
Kat offered her impressions of this hearing last night.

From one legislative body (in the US) to another (in Iraq), March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. Three months and two days later, still no government. 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance. Together, the two still lack four seats necessary (or so it is thought) to form the government.
Mohamad Bazzi (National Newspaper) weighs in:Three months after it was elected, Iraq's new parliament convened on June 14 for a mere 18 minutes. Two men sat smiling in the front row: the prime minister Nouri al Maliki and Ayad Allawi, the former premier whose coalition won a narrow plurality of seats in the legislature. Each insists that he should lead the next government.But the man who might well be the kingmaker in forming a government and the selection of a new prime minister was not at the Baghdad convention centre for the swearing-in ceremony. Muqtada al Sadr, the anti-American Shiite cleric, was in the Iranian holy city of Qom, where he has lived in self-imposed exile since 2007.Meanwhile Heath Druzin (Stars & Stripes) reports Iraqiya's Hassan al-Alawi says that Ayad Allawi and Nouri al-Maliki will not come to an understanding or merge: "Not now and not ever, because the Shia and Kurdish parties will not allow it." Day Press reports that the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council leader Ammar al-Hakim was in Syria yesterday meeting with the country's President Bashar al-Assad and that the Syrian president "expressed the hope that the Iraqi political forces reach a unified stance to form a national unity government caring for the interests of the Iraqi people and serving as an introduction to the restoration of security and stability in Iraq and in the region in general." Xinhua notes, "Syria is currently hosting more than one million Iraqi refugees who have fled their home country since 2003." Alsumaria TV adds, "Sayyed Ammar Al Hakim for his part praised Syria's supportive and helpful stand towards Iraqi people's concerns and its keenness on preserving Iraq's unity, security, stability and territorial integrity."

Meanwhile an
Iraqi correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers writes at Inside Iraq about the speech given by the new acting Minister of Electricity which was appalling and useless. The correspondent observes, "If this speech was given even one year into the occupation – I would understand. But after seven years - and more that 17 billion dollars (according to Bahaa al Araji, head of the legal committee in the former parliament) -- No improvement at all in the electricity is just not acceptable. Where did all the money go??" Richard Spencer (Telegraph of London) reports:

Mr Maliki is promising this will change, though slowly, if he returns to office – he is currently a caretaker prime minister while the main political parties try to put together a working coalition.
"You should not expect to solve the power crisis soon," he said at a press conference on Tuesday. "It will take two years at least. We will give priority to the electricity sector in the next government."
The American embassy issued a statement saying that 40 per cent of all its reconstruction budget, or $4.6 billion (£3 billion) had been spent on power infrastructure. Siemens and GE are currently building new power stations.

Stalemate in the politics, stalemate in the electricity. But not everything's a stalemate. The targeting of Iraq's LGBT community continues.
Paul Canning (Guardian) explains:

Last week, 12 Iraqi police officers burst into a house in Karbala, beat up and blindfolded the six occupants and bundled them off in three vans, taking the computers they found with them. The house was then burned down by unknown people.The six included two gay men, one lesbian and two transgender people, and the house was a new "emergency shelter" run by the
Iraqi LGBT organisation.Two days later, one of the men turned up in hospital with a throat wound saying he'd been tortured. Iraqi LGBT has ordered those in its other two safe houses to move immediately.The group says the police action is consistent with other state attacks on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Iraq. It has information that the other five have been transported 100 miles north to the interior ministry in Baghdad, where they'll be interrogated (ie tortured) to find out more about the group. Then, going on past experience, they'll probably be handed to militias loyal to Shi'a clerics Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani and Muqtada al-Sadr (both of whom have called for homosexuals to be put to death) and their mutilated bodies will turn up later.But it is also clear from past experience that there is unlikely to be a sustained international outcry from gay people, governments or others about this latest incident.

Despite serious press attention and Congressional attention, the White House feels no pressure on the issue. For now US Ambassador to Iraq Chris Hill could care less and, when pressed, states it is not his job to tell Iraq what to do. What is Chris Hill's job, by the way? Iraq's LGBT community -- like the country itself -- is apparently on its own. All the people who once marched and rallied seemingly now have other things to do. The US went with thugs because thugs could intimidate the larger public and allow for the tag sale of Iraq's public goods. The thugs, once in power, have no desire to relinquish it. What has taken place in Iraq was no accident and the victims suffering today are not suffering through happenstance.
Kilian Melloy (EDGE Boston) has long covered this topic and notes today, "Media accounts suggest that the United States' invasion of Iraq not only precipitated a 'crisis' level of anti-gay violence, but that through inaction and a reliance on local strong-arms, the U.S. is complicit in the ongoing pursuit, torture, and murder of gay Iraqis." In DC yesterday, at the State Dept, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave a speech (link has text and video) on Pride Month. Heading the State Dept, Hillary's focus is on international issues. We'll note this from her speech:

And I'm very proud that the United States, and particularly the State Department, is taking the lead to confront the circumstances that LGBT people face in just going about their daily lives. So as we enjoy today's celebration and as we mark the progress that has been truly remarkable -- I know that when you're in the midst of a great movement of change it seems like it is glacial, but any fair assessment, from my perspective, having lived longer than at least more than 75 percent of you that I see in this room -- (laughter) -- is that it is extraordinary what has happened in such a short period of time.But think about what's happening to people as we speak today. Men and women are harassed, beaten, subjected to sexual violence, even killed, because of who they are and whom they love. Some are driven from their homes or countries, and many who become refugees confront new threats in their countries of asylum. In some places, violence against the LGBT community is permitted by law and inflamed by public calls to violence; in others, it persists insidiously behind closed doors. These dangers are not "gay" issues. This is a human rights issue. (Applause.) Just as I was very proud to say the obvious more than 15 years ago in Beijing that human rights are women's rights and women's rights are human rights, well, let me say today that human rights are gay rights and gay rights are human rights, once and for all. (Applause.) So here at the State Department, we will continue to advance a comprehensive human rights agenda that includes the elimination of violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. We are elevating our human rights dialogues with other governments and conducting public diplomacy to protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons.

Those are wonderful words. I have no doubt that Hillary means each and every one of them; however, it's going to take more than words and there is no leadership in the administration on the LGBT issue. The State Dept actually has engaged in conversations with Iraqi government officials on the targeting of Iraq's LGBT community. So why doesn't the State Dept take credit for that? Why don't they go public with it? More needs to be done -- much, much more -- but if the State Dept doesn't make known what it has done on the issue, it appears they've done nothing. (Care 2 Make a Difference's Steve Williams endorses the speech strongly

In today's violence,
Reuters notes 3 police officers shot dead in Mosul, a Mosul hand grenade attack which left two people injured, a Tuz Khurmato roadside bombing which injured two police officers and, dropping back to last night, a Baghdad sticky bombing which injured a man and a woman.

Yesterday, the
US military announced: "CONTINGENCY OPERATIONS BASE SPEICHER, Iraq – A U.S. Division – North Soldier died yesterday as a result of a non-combat related injury. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense. The names of service members are announced through the U.S. Department of Defense official website at The announcements are made on the Web site no earlier than 24 hours after notification of the service member's primary next of kin. The incident is under investigation." DoD issued the following: "The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Spc. Jacob P. Dohrenwend, 20, of Milford, Ohio, died June 21 at Balad, Iraq, of injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan. For more information, media may contact the Fort Riley public affairs office at 785-210-8867." The death brings to 4408 the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war.

In Detroit, the US Social Forum is taking place. Many people and organizations are participating including Iraq Veterans Against the War.
IVAW has activities scheduled tomorrow and Friday.

1) GI Resistance Workshop Event Date: Thu, 06/24/2010 - 3:30pm - 5:30pm Event Location: WSU Student Center: Hilberry C
Full Description: Members of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) who have refused deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan will give testimony to the struggle and the value of resisting modern day militarism. Additionally, they will argue that empowering, strengthening, and building the GI Resistance movement is the most effective way to end the occupations - for every soldier that withdraws their consent for the continued occupations is one less gear in the war machine. Furthermore, to build and empower GI Resistance IVAW is focused on fighting for GI and Veteran Rights, to include the right to refuse orders and to Conscientious Objection at any time if they so declare, based on moral, religious, ethical or political reasons. We hope to begin a discussion of what type of long haul commitment and support it will take to build the GI and Veterans Movement.
Participants will be engaged through testimony and a question and answer session with the panel following the presentations. Presenters include Camilo Mejia, the first combat veteran to publicly refuse re-deployment to Iraq; Travis Bishop and Victor Agosto, Iraq veterans who publicly refused deployment to Afghanistan; and Robin Long, the first soldier to ever be deported from Canada after seeking political asylum.
2) Building a Military Resistance Movement: Veterans, Service Members & Allies Organizing Together (co-presented with Civilian Soldier Alliance and Courage to Resist)Event Date: Thu, 06/24/2010 - 1:00pm - 5:30pm Event Location: Cobo Hall: DO-4C
Full Description: This is a workshop led by Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and civilian allies who are organizing within the military and veteran communities against the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.
We aim to provide participants with an introduction to past and current military resistance movements, with a focus on outlining a new organizing model based on campaign building and leadership development. Iraq Veterans Against the War, Civilian Soldier Alliance, and Courage to Resist will detail what our day-to-day organizing work actually looks like.
Part of the workshop will be popular education-style discussions to create a space for veteran and ally participants to dialogue about our relationships to, and experiences with, the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, militarism, and anti- war and social justice organizing.
Through interactive training exercises, participants will be provided with some tools for how to be strong and accountable allies to veterans and service members. Participants will leave with ideas about how they can directly plug into IVAW's recently launched GI and Veterans Bill of Rights campaign, and how to build solidarity amongst common struggles.
3) Veterans and Military Families: Impact of the Wars; Impact on Movements (co-presented with Veterans For Peace and Military Families Speak Out). Event Date: Fri, 06/25/2010 - 1:00pm - 3:00pm Event Location: Cobo Hall: D2-14
Full Description: A small fraction of this country is involved in the armed services as a veteran, service member or military family. As a result, the burden of war in this country is isolated to a small few, making it easier for those in power to continue the wars. Veterans and military families thus have a crucial role in providing the ground truth to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and leading/inspiring the movements to end them.
The workshop will explore three points: a. Veterans and military families using their unique voices and perspectives to end the current wars. b. What has been the personal cost of war: lives lost and destroyed. c. Intersections of veteran and military families' concerns with movements for progressive, political and social change and how veterans and military families can play a role.
Panelists will share their perspective as a veteran or military family member, followed by large group discussion. Participants will gain a better understanding of the important role that veterans and military families can and should play in anti-war/peace movements. We hope participants begin to see ways veterans and military families can build relationships with other organizations and begin to develop strategic alliances across issues.

Timothy Hsia (New York Times) attempts to note an ignored aspect of a report getting a great deal of attention, "The Rolling Stone profile on Gen. Stanley A. McChyrstal has made civil-military relations a national debate. But an equally important question raised by the article is the limitations of counterinsurgency, or COIN. The article by Michael Hastings article should not be read simply as a profile of a general but also as an indictment on counterinsurgency and the growing dissatisfaction inside the military with COIN theory and its practice in war (though General McChrystal's replacement on Wednesday, Gen. David H. Petraeus, the leading proponent of counterinsurgency, seemed to indicate there would be no immediate shift away from the strategy)."

iraqthe guardianpaul canning
kilian melloythe national newspapermohamad bazzistars and stripesheath druzinday pressxinhuaalsumaria tv
the telegraph of londonrichard spencer