Friday, October 22, 2010

WikiLeaks is the cold sho

I thought I saw a new post by Libby Liberal at Corrente this morning. I guess I didn't because I can't find it now. I'll look again Monday.

WikiLeaks has released documents on Iraq. The press is calling it a "document dump" and I really think it is one of those derogatory terms meant to belittle.

This is the release of classified information hidden from the American people.

For me, the big things that is standing out from radio and TV coverage is the sodomizing.

For a nation that targets their LGBT community, these men in charge of jails sure do seem to think "Let's sodomize them!" a great deal. That thought might, in fact, be why they attack the LGBT community.

In Iraq, militias roam and try to kill gays (and people perceived to be gay).

In the US, we're so damn 'civil' that we don't target to that degree . . . we just deny equal rights. Then want to pretend there's something magical and wonderful about us, that we have done everything and are so wonderful.

We lie to ourselves.

WikiLeaks is the cold shower that faces you to awaken.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Friday, October 22, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, WikiLeaks releases documents, torture, rape, turning a blind eye and much more is documented, Lt Dan Choi continues standing up for equality, the political stalemate continues and more.
US service members serving in the Iraq War and Afghnistan War have been exposed to toxins that can prove as deadly as any roadside bombing or sniper attack, it'll just take longer for the effects to be felt. Those exposed to, for example, the burn pit in Balad are already experiencing symptoms such as breathing difficulty. A number of service members have attempted to find justice via the US court system and, thus far, they've had no luck. Senator Byron Dorgan has long addressed the burn pit issue. Sadly, Senator Dorgan is not running for re-election and will be leaving the Senate in the new year. Dorgan chairs Democratic Policy Committee and today his office released the following:
U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) said Friday a preliminary report of an investigation by the Department of Defense Inspector General confirms that the Pentagon dropped the ball in responding to the exposure of hundreds of U.S. troops to a deadly chemical in Iraq. Those failures left some exposed soldiers unaware that they had been exposed to the deadly chemical and without follow up health monitoring and treatment. Monitoring tests performed on other soldiers who were informed of their exposure were so inadequate that the agency that performed them now admits they have a "low level of confidence" in those tests.
A second and more detailed Inspector General's report, originally scheduled to be released this month, has now been moved back to the end of the year, a development Dorgan said he finds "disappointing."
The Senate Armed Services Committee and Dorgan requested IG investigations after he chaired hearings by the Senate Democratic Policy Committee (DPC), in June 2008 and August 2009. The hearings revealed that troops from Indiana, Oregon, South Carolina, and West Virginia were exposed to sodium dichromate, a known and highly potent carcinogen at the Qarmat Ali water treatment facility in Iraq. The DPC hearings revealed multiple failures by the contractor, KBR, and the Army's failure to adequately monitor, test, and notify soldiers who may have been exposed of the health risks they may now face.
The IG is releasing two reports on its investigation, The first report was released in September. The second, expected to be a more detailed response to specific DPC concerns, was originally slated for release by late October. But the Department of Defense Inspector General now states a draft of that report won't be available until the end of the year.
The first report provides no indication -- seven years after the exposure – that the Army ever notified seven soldiers from the Army's Third Infantry Division who secured the Qarmat Ali facility during hostilities that they had been exposed. It also confirms that the Army's assessment of the health risks associated with exposure to sodium dichromate for soldiers at Qarmat Ali are not very reliable. In fact, the organization that performed these assessments, the U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventative Medicine (CHPPM), now says it has a "low level of confidence" in its test results for the overwhelming majority of those exposed.
Equally troubling, Dorgan said, is the report's finding that the Department of Defense is refusing to provide information to Congress about the incident, because of a lawsuit to which it is not a party.
"I am very concerned about the findings we now have, and I am disappointed in the delayed release of Part II of this report. The IG's investigation and its findings are very important to the lives of U.S. soldiers and workers who were at the site. Details and definitive findings will help us ensure accountability for this exposure and flawed follow up, but even more importantly, they will help ensure that all exposed soldiers receive appropriate notice and medical attention," Dorgan said.
Senator Byron Dorgan addresses the issues in this video also released today.
Iraq was briefly touched on in the second hour of today's The Diane Rehm Show (NPR) and were it not for the fact that James Kitfield was strong on the topic, we'd probably skip it. But I've called him out so we'll note it to give him his due credit. Diane noted that Shaun had left a message on the program's Facebook page about the cuts in England which include military cuts: "It was the military spending necessary for England's participation in the Iraq War that put them in this predicament. The same is true here. The Bush administration could not deal with the simple fact that we couldn't afford to invade Iraq, either financially or morally."
James Kitfield (National Journal): I take the point and believe me our government is watching very closely what happens in Britain because, I mean, one thing that is interesting is that those cuts have majority support right now, we'll see if that holds, but there's a concern that if you cut back quickly, this very nascent economic recovery will be reversed and that's exactly what we don't want. So there's a big -- Britain is taking a very bold step. I think it's commendable. I hope it works but there is risk involved in it and I think we are watching it very closely.
Elise Labott (CNN): But there's also a huge concern by the United States about these defense cuts -- it's about a 7.5% defense cuts is that going to make Britain a less reliable partner? We have British troops in Iraq, you have British troops in Afghanistan. What about future conflicts, future areas that the US relies on its very special ally the Brits?
[. . .]
James Kitfield: Diane, can I just make a point? I just came back from London, working on this story. The-the fact is Britain no longer wants to be that ally to us. You know the Iraq War has really soured them on being America's, you know, ally of first resort. It's an aftermath, blowback from the Iraq War.
Diane Rehm: Who did you talk to?
James Kitfield: I talked to senior officials in the government, I talked to senior think tank people, all the same thing. They have investigations now, the whole Iraq War, where they are deposing Tony Blair and others, the Iraq War and how that went wrong and how Britian got --
Diane Rehm: Involved.
James Kitfield: -- brought up into it is very real to them right now, even today. And they have no interest in being the kind of ally of first resort, as I say.
Diane Rehm: But again, is that because of financial problems or is that also the question of moral responsibility?
James Kitfield: Well, I mean, it's partly -- The economic part plays into it. But it's primarily a feeling that they went to war that their own people did not support and they thought it was on false pretenses with the Weapons of Mass Destruction. You know, we got our election in 2008 and the Republicans lost and I think we went on, moved on from Iraq. The British have not moved on from Iraq. Their populace does not buy this argument anymore that we should stand by America's side, right or wrong.
Late today nearly 400,000 documents on the Iraq War. Phil Stewart (Reuters) reports that, at the Pentagon today, Col Dave Lapan declared that the Defense Dept did not "expect big surprises" from a rumored upcoming WikiLeaks release. On Democracy Now! this morning, Penatgon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg explained why the Pentagon would not be surprised by the release:
AMY GOODMAN: Now, in the last release of documents [on the Afghanistan War], there were 91,000 documents, but—
DANIEL ELLSBERG: Of which they've withheld so far one out of five, 15,000, for damage control. WikiLeaks has not yet released those. They're working over them to redact.
AMY GOODMAN: Which is the point I wanted to make, released around 75,000—
AMY GOODMAN: -- that WikiLeaks is withholding documents, concerned about issues of --
DANIEL ELLSBERG: Yes. And moreover, they let the Pentagon know what they were releasing. They gave them the files in code to them and asked them actually to identify people that they hoped to be redacted from those. Now, the Pentagon refused, meaning they prefer to bring charges into -- both in court and in the press, of -- endanger, rather than actually to protect these people, showing the usual amount of concern they have over other humans.
AMY GOODMAN: Has the same been done with these 400,000 documents?
DANIEL ELLSBERG: Yes. That's why they're going over them now. They know what's coming out. And they have every ability, if people are endangered -- which actually is in question to this point. The fact that there's been no damage up 'til now really strongly questions the claims that were made earlier and, as I say, passed on by most of the mainstream press, very uncritically, that there was danger. But if there was, it may well have been in those 15,000 which WikiLeaks is properly going over still.
JUAN GONZALEZ: So, what you're saying is that WikiLeaks has let the Pentagon know precisely what it is about to release?
DANIEL ELLSBERG: To my understanding, they have. I'm not in the process. But I understand that they've said that they did make them aware of what it is and have invited them to cooperate in protecting those names. But as I say, the Pentagon, if there are such names, has preferred to make charges.
Sabrina Tavernise and Andrew W. Lehren (New York Times) zoom in on the civilian death data: "The documents also reveal many previously unreported instances in which American soldiers killed civilians -- at checkpoints, from helicopters, in operations. Such killings are a central reason Iraqis turned against the American presence in their country, a situation that is now being repeated in Afghanistan. The archive contains reports on at least four cases of leathl shootings from helicopters. In the bloodiest, on July 16, w00, as many as 26 Iraqis were killed, about half of themcivilians. However, the tally was called in by two different people, and it is possible that the deaths were counted twice." Al Jazeera (link has video) zooms in on the torture revelations.
Al Jazeera: It was one of the stated aims of the war to end the torture chambers but the secret files reveal a very different story. In graphic detail, they record extensive abuse at Iraqi police stations, army bases and prison. On more than 1,300 occasions, US troops reported the allegations to their superiors.
Reading from a US service member's report: The detainee was blindfolded, beaten about the feet and legs with a blunt object, punched in the face and head. Electricity was used on his feet and genitals and he was sodomized with a water bottle.
Al Jazeera: The alleged torturers claim the victim had fallen off his motorbike but the Americans recall that this was
Reading from a US service member's report: Not consistent with the man's injuries.
Al Jazeera: There are many such reports. This one says that --
Reading from a US service member's report: A detainee was jabbed with a screwdriver, struck with cables in the arms, back and legs, electrocuted and sodomized with a hose.
The new logs detail how:
• US authorities failed to investigate hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape and even murder by Iraqi police and soldiers whose conduct appears to be systematic and normally unpunished.
• A US helicopter gunship involved in a notorious Baghdad incident had previously killed Iraqi insurgents after they tried to surrender.
• More than 15,000 civilians died in previously unknown incidents. US and UK officials have insisted that no official record of civilian casualties exists but the logs record 66,081 non-combatant deaths out of a total of 109,000 fatalities.
The numerous reports of detainee abuse, often supported by medical evidence, describe prisoners shackled, blindfolded and hung by wrists or ankles, and subjected to whipping, punching, kicking or electric shocks. Six reports end with a detainee's apparent death.
As recently as December the Americans were passed a video apparently showing Iraqi army officers executing a prisoner in Tal Afar, northern Iraq. The log states: "The footage shows approximately 12 Iraqi army soldiers. Ten IA soldiers were talking to one another while two soldiers held the detainee. The detainee had his hands bound … The footage shows the IA soldiers moving the detainee into the street, pushing him to the ground, punching him and shooting him."
The six years of reports include references to the deaths of at least six prisoners in Iraqi custody, most of them in recent years. Beatings, burnings and lashings surfaced in hundreds of reports, giving the impression that such treatment was not an exception. In one case, Americans suspected Iraqi Army officers of cutting off a detainee's fingers and burning him with acid. Two other cases produced accounts of the executions of bound detainees.
And while some abuse cases were investigated by the Americans, most noted in the archive seemed to have been ignored, with the equivalent of an institutional shrug: soldiers told their officers and asked the Iraqis to investigate.
As Al Jazeera notes (earlier link), at least two orders were issued on this to US soldiers. The first told them to ignore it and do nothing. The second told them to report it to their superiors and then do nothing unless ordered. The documents contain many reports -- by US troops -- of abuse but no orders for follow up actions from the command.
Jonathan Steele (Guardian) reports on three US spy balloons which drifted or 'drifted' into Iran after they came unmoored or 'unmoored' from April to October 2006. In all three cases, only the initial report is available and there appears to hae been no follow up. A lack of follow up for balloons the US military lost -- with spy equipment on them -- would appear to indicate the 'loss' was planned. Michael R. Gordon and Andrew W. Lehren (New York Times) focus on Iran as well -- in terms of US documents detailing allegations of Iran backing Shi'ite militias and that a plan was hatched to kidnap a US soldier. Gordon -- who repeatedly sounded the alarms on Iran's alleged involvement in the violence (as he had falsely tapped out the drumbeat in the march to war on Iraq) -- no doubt feels vindicated: "But the field reports disclosed by WikiLeaks, which were never intended to be made public, underscore the seriousnees with which Iran's role has been seen by the American military." Really? Really? It's the WikiLeaks files that "underscores" that and not all the constant daily brieifings at the Defense Dept and in Baghdad where military officials insisted Iran was up to no good?
Ignore Tom Gjletin and his ridiculous 'reporting' on NPR. As his actions repeatedly indicate, he's left the reporter role. Ava and I'll tackle it at Third on Sunday, we'll fold into a piece on the firing of Juan Williams.
Gulf Daily News reports that Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa met with Iraq's Sunni vice president and member of the Iraqiya slate Tareq al-Hashemi. The meeting took place yesterday, as Nouri concluded his regional tour.
March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board noted in August, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality." 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 -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. They are claiming they have the right to form the government. In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. It's seven months and fifteen days and counting.

The Toledo Blade editorial board weighs in: "Perhaps most troubling is the fact that, seven months after national elections were held, a government is still not in place. Former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's party finished first and incumbent Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's finished second, neither with a majority of seats in parliament. Mr. al-Maliki has declined to leave office and is still seeking support among other parties and abroad, including in Iran, to remain in power in spite of his electoral defeat. He added the party of anti-American cleric Moktada al-Sadr to his tentative coalition, but that still didn't give him enough seats in the 325-member parliament to form a government."
Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .
Reuters notes a Garma sticky bombing which claimed the life of 1 Sahwa and injured a woman, a Mosul roadside bombing which claimed the life of 1 person and left six more injured, a second Mosul roadside bombing which left 1 Iraqi soldier dead and a Badush roadside bombing which injured "a young girl".
Reuters notes an attack on a Baghdad chckpoint in which two police officers and one Iraqi soldier were left injured and an attack on a Mosul police checkpoint in which 1 police officer was killed and another was injured.
Turning to legal news, Dylan Welch (Age) reports that security/mercenary company Unity Resources Group 'forgot' to inform the Australian government (which uses them to guard Australian officials in Iraq) "that it has been fighting a US civil suit since 2008 regarding a Baghdad shooting death. [. . .] It was involved in two fatal shooting incidents in Baghdad in 2006 and 2007, which resulted in the death of an Australian professor and two local women." Andrew E. Kramer (New York Times) reported the 2 women killed in 2007 were part "of Iraq's Armenian Christian population" and speak with the family of one of the women, Marany Awanees, and they make it clear that, despite Unity's claims otherwise, they were not being contacted. The other woman was Geneva Jalal.
On September 24th, US Spc John Carrillo Jr. and Pfc Gebrah P. Noonan were shot dead while serving in Iraq. A third US soldier was injured in the shooting and he or she has not been identified at present. US Spc Neftaly Platero's name has been floated in the press as the shooter. Yesterday, USF issued the following:

BAGHDAD – A U.S. service member, Spc. Neftaly Platero, is in pre-trial confinement, in connection with the shooting and killing of two service members and injury of another here Thursday.
The incident remains under investigation.
"Our condolences go out to the families of those service members whose lives were lost. We are saddened by this tragic incident," said Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan.

"Not someone that you'd think would do this," Guy Womack tells Jessica Willey (ABC 13 out of Houston, Texas) of his client, Platero. Willey notes that Womack spent a couple of hours with the soldier "and none of it was asking his client whether he did it."

Womack maintains that there is no hard evidence against his client. He states that John Carrillo Jr. was shot dead on or near his bed with Gebrah P. Noonan shot dead on or near his bed. Between their two beds was a third bed. The third bed contained the soldier who was reported wounded and who has not been identified thus far. Womack states that the three were found in the room and that his client was found outside the room (after the shooting).

Womack also states, "Well I don't need to know what he thinks happened, I need to know what the government thinks happened and what the evidence suggests. And, right now, most of the scenarios you can come up with from looking at the evidence would exclude him as being a shooter."

Womack, a former Lt Col in the Marines, found infamy in some circles when, acting as Abu Ghraib criminal Charles Graner's defense, he stated, "Don't cheerleaders all over America form pyramids six to eight times a year. Is that torture?" Graner received a ten year sentence after being found guilty. Guy Womack & Associates is the firm Womack runs with his son Geoff Womack.
The story of America is a story of the quest for inclusion once travelers came to the occupied Native American land. (Some would rightly point out that, all these years, the original inhabitants -- Native Americans -- still have to struggle for inclusion.) Throughout the nation's history, various groups have had to fight for and win the recognition of their equality and of their natural born dignity. One group fighting for the full range of equality today is the LGBT community. One of the rights they are attempting to win is to be just like any straight person in the military: Able to talk about their significant other or their wild Saturday night. Able not to hide who they are or who they love. The 1993 policy of Don't Ask, Don't Tell (especially as executed which is different than as conceived) makes it impossible and forces lesibans and gay men to hide who they are.
US Judge Virginia Phillips rightly ruled that Don't Ask, Don't Tell was unconstitutional. The White House appealed the decision. She issued an injunction forbiddiing any discharges under Don't Ask, Don't Tell while the White House's appeal was awaiting a decision from a higher court. The White House didn't like that either. They got the injunction halted.
Here's how the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric handled it last night.

Katie Couric: An update on Don't Ask, Don't Tell. It is the law once again after a federal appeals court put a temporary hold on a judge's order that struck it down. So for now, gays are again barred from serving openly in the military. But today Defense Secretary Robert Gates put out new guidelines that will make it tougher to discharge gays who violate Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
And that was it. The report in full. As bad as that is -- and it's pretty bad -- note that neither ABC World News with Diane Sawyer nor NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams had time for the story. They had time for other things. A dog who has been taught 'to pray' on it's owners bare legs (it looked a lot like a tired male dog slolwy humping a leg). But they didn't have time for Don't Ask, Don't Tell, they didn't have time for the American story.
Katie mentioned Robert Gates. He did issue new orders -- as Katie and many others have noted. And that's significant that he finally issued new orders.
That's not me praising me because I'm not a complete idiot (foes would debate how much more I need to qualify for "complete") nor do I suffer from amnesia.
Meaning Robert Gates FINALLY issued new orders. Instead of applauding that, real news outlets should have been asking why?
They should have been asking why the delay?
Why didn't they ask that question?
Yes, yesterday Robert Gates finally issued new orders on Don't Ask, Don't Tell. But travel back with us to February via the February 2nd snapshot when we watched Robert Gates testify to the Senate Armed Services Committee. There was Bobby Gates, blathering away and all the sudden, after detailing the study he wanted, he offered this:
Simultaneous with launching this process, I have also directed the Department to quickly review the regulations used to implement the current Don't Ask, Don't Tell law and -- within 45 days -- present to me recommended changes to those regulations that, within existing law, will enforce this policy in a more humane and fiar manner. You may recall that I asked the Department's General Counsel to conduct a preliminary review of this matter last year. Based on that preliminary review, we believe that we have a degree of latitude within the existing law to change our internal procedures in a manner that is more appropriate and fair to our men and women in uniform.
When did those procedures get changed? This month! What happened to within 45 days? As Aimee Mann once sang:
But no one is watching you now
I know no one is watching you now
No one is watching you now
Like I did
-- "No One Is Watching You Now," written by Aimee Mann, first appears on 'Til Tuesday's Welcome Home
A number of people are trying to spin Gates' change into good news. But all it does, is lock in the discharge and try to cross all the Ts and dot all the Is. Mark Thompson didn't. He appeared on TV yesterday when PBS' The NewsHour did what the others couldn't or wouldn't, they treated the struggle for inclusion as the news story it is (link has text, video and audio options). They started with Kwame Holman reporting on what had changed in the last 24 hours. They zoomed in on Lt Dan Choi as one face in the struggle. They offered exclusionist Tony Perkins and his words on maintaining Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Then Margaret Warner spoke with Time magazine's Mark Thompson who had actually done the work required -- as had Margaret Warner. We'll note this section of the exchange:

MARGARET WARNER: So, on Dec. 1, which was the deadline, or at least when Secretary Gates told Congress he'd have something, will they have just the results of the poll and some sort of outlines, or are they going to have a full policy recommendation laid out about how exactly they'd implement it?

MARK THOMPSON: I think it will be a full menu of options, saying, this is the best way forward, this is how we should do it.

MARGARET WARNER: But, I mean, will they say, we can do it, or is there some pushback now from the service chiefs?

MARK THOMPSON: Well, no, their -- Well, the sense is, No. 1, their mission is not -- their mission is only how we should do it if the law changes, not should it be changed. So, they're going to look for the best path to undo don't ask, don't tell. There is some sense that the service chiefs, especially the Marines and the Army, the ground force guys, are slow-rolling this thing. They don't want it to move out fast. They want it to take a long time. I mean, it's interesting. The papers filed with the courts have said, we have to train everybody before we do this. Meanwhile, you talk to the generals in Afghanistan who are saying, my lord, we have more important things to worry about. This is the last thing on our minds. So, there is some sort of disconnect there.

MARGARET WARNER: So, is that why you're saying it might take -- they might be saying it will take us a year to roll it out? Because there are so many things that would have to be changed, everything from partner benefits to training, sensitivity training?

MARK THOMPSON: Yes, that's the military's mindset. I mean, when RAND studied this issue in 1993, the think tank, they said the way to do this is to do it immediately and do it with leadership. Don't stretch it out. Don't turn it into a taffy pull, which is what it has become. And that's allowed all sorts of polarization to occur. And we're sort of reaping the fruits of that right now.

So the 'end' of Don't Ask, Don't Tell (this is the point being made in yesterday's snapshot, by the way) may be about as real as the Barack's 'end' of the Iraq War August 31st. Lt Dan Choi appeared on Democracy Now! (link has text, audio and video) today and discussed his reaction to the White House's assault on equality:

Lt Dan Choi: But still, when we found last week that Don't Ask, Don't Tell was struck down by the courts -- and as far as I know about American government, that's the judicial branch -- that's the judiciary branch's constitutional mandate. If there is an unconstitutional law, they strike it down. And for seven days, an entire week, there was no Don't Ask, Don't Tell. It was dead. There were no enormous consequences, like Secretary Gates mentioned. Nobody quit. Nobody protested. No homophobic harassments of gay soldiers happened, as all the fear mongering that happens in many parts of the country, in many political circles, surrounding the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, were just, on their face, invalidated.
And now that President Obama has asked for a stay on that ruling and the injunction, it was very saddening. It was hurtful to me and to people who were in the military that came out or wanted to have that full measure of integrity. It wasn't easy to join back up, go to that recruiting station. But when I realized that the real victims of Don't Ask, Don't Tell are not the gay soldiers that get kicked out, it's really all of America that's the victim of this policy, and when we signal to the rest of the world that our country, even though we say equal justice under the law, we're the land of the free and the home of the brave, that doesn't necessarily apply to some of our citizens.
AMY GOODMAN: So President Obama now, while he says he's against Don't Ask, Don't Tell, it's his government, it's his Justice Department, that has appealed this decision.
LT. DAN CHOI: That's right. And they don't need to. They fulfilled their mandate, the Department of Justice. All they needed to do was put on a court and trial. Many people, legal scholars, have shaken their heads, scratched their heads, wondering what this president is doing. His rhetoric indicates that he wants Don't Ask, Don't Tell repealed. He hasn't said that it's unconstitutional. Well, the courts have done that, and that's their job. President Obama, as a legal scholar, as a constitutional law professor, he should know better. The President has no obligation to defend, with such a full-throated effort, the discriminatory and unconstitutional policies. The courts have done the heavy lifting for him, and his policies, his desires to get rid of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, have essentially been done.

Dan Choi and every other American has the right to dignity and equality. It's really sad that, at this late stage in the country's history, people still have to fight for inclusion. But that is the American story the constant struggle for full equality for all.
.As well as being part of the larger history of American inclusion struggles, it's also the story of individuals who are punished for who they love or who they're suspected of loving. In Denver, Hendrik Sybrandy (KWGN -- link has text and video) reports on Luiza Fritz, a sergeant discharged from the army for being gay -- and not only was she thrown out of the army due to her sexuality, the army's billing her $15,000 -- a portion of her signing bonus. Or take Sara Story's KLTV (text and video) report from Tyler, Texas on Troy Carlyle who was also kicked out of the service and became "the first person to be court-martialed under Don't Ask, Don't Tell." He states, "Everything I had worked for was reduced in that one moment to the fact that I was gay. Not to my performance, not to my talent, not to my leadership skills, but that I was gay."

These are not isolated stories. And in the very near future, these American stories will be party of American history, you just apparently can't discover these stories on the network news. But again, a man who trains his dog to assume the prayer position on his pasty bare leg is news.
TV notes. On PBS' Washington Week, Charles Babington (AP), Doyle McManus (Los Angeles Times), Karen tumulty (Washington Post) and Kate Zernike (New York Times) join Gwen around the table. Gwen now has a weekly column at Washington Week and the current one is "Never Let Them See You Sweat: Notes from the Florida Campaign Trail." This week, Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Karen Czarnecki, Melinda Henneberger, Eleanor Holmes Norton and Tara Setmayer to discuss the week's news on the latest broadcast of PBS' To The Contrary. And this week's To The Contrary online extra is on sexual exploits. this week's To The Contrary online is extra is on cyber bullying. Need To Know is PBS' new program covering current events. This week's hour long broadcast airs Fridays on most PBS stations: "The business of third-party administrators who help employers process and challenge unemployment claims; the minerals that help fund the rebels in Congo. Also: journalist Michael Hudson ("The Monster") on the home-foreclosure fraud scandal." Turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:

The 99ers
Even after an extension of unemployment benefits to 99 weeks, many of those about to go off the program are in a quandary. Scott Pelley talks to some of them in California's Silicon Valley. | Watch Video

Jane Goodall
Jane Goodall brings Lara Logan and "60 Minutes" cameras back to the forests of Tanzania, where she began her love affair with chimpanzees 50 years ago, to remind the public that chimps are endangered. |
Watch Video

Top Gear
A quirky British television show about cars has become a hit almost everywhere but the U.S. Steve Kroft reports on "Top Gear," whose witty humor, outrageous speed, destructive vehicle stunts and car reviews attract an estimated weekly worldwide audience of 350 million according to the BBC. |
Watch Video

60 Minutes, Sunday, Oct. 24, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

michael r. gordon
amy goodman
democracy now
 juan gonzalez
the new york times
sabrina tavernise

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

We've already been here, that ground is tilled

Libbyliberal means well so I'm going to gently critique her column at Corrente.

First, there is no proof of foreign money in the campaigns. Barack has ridiculously made that claim and, as a result, has seen the press (finally) start to view him in a different way. David Axlerod was called out two weeks ago on Face The Nation for repeating that nonsense.

She is on stronger ground when she writes:

After so much betrayal, it is astonishing that even the so-called progressive media is cherry-picking issues that flatter the Dems and blacking-out issues that should not be ignored. They have stopped even asking for a token minimal degree of accountability for the policies of the not-new-anymore administration.

Where were you, Libbyliberal, in the fall of 2007 when Barack Obama was putting homophobes (plural) onstage for a South Carolina campaign event?

"2008: The Year of Living Hormonally (Year in Review)" (C.I., The Common Ills):
2008 was the year of living hormonally, the year of the prolonged and revisted adolescence. As 2007 wound down, clues were present. Voices were breaking, hairs were sprouting, pimples were erupting, rumor has it Norman Solomon finally got his first period. It was all so intense and heady, the 'kids' just couldn't find time to call out Barack Obama's use of homophobia as a campaign tactic in South Carolina to scare up voters.

Well you know 'teenagers' and their fads. Always chasing one trend after another. Obviously, homophobia was no longer on their playlist, right? But then, March 7, 2008, eternal teen Amy Goodman served up "McCain Embraces Endorsement from Anti-Catholic, Anti-Gay, Anti-Muslim Televangelist John Hagee." Strange. As Ava and I observed in January:

Last week, she booked Kevin Alexander Gray. That January 15th segment was interesting for what it didn't go into.
Barack Obama put known homophobes on stage in South Carolina last October. Some gay groups protested ahead of time. Goodman never noted it. Homophobes went on to spew their homophobia from the stage of this Barack Obama campaign event. Still Amy Goodman didn't note it. "We got what we wanted," crowed the Bambi campaign in their only public statement and, you know this already, it never got noted on Democracy Now!
In the January issue of The Progressive, Kevin Alexander Gray contributes an article he co-wrote with Marshall Derks. The article, "Obama's Big Gay and Black Problem," was posted online at many websites. Despite the article now appearing in print in this month's The Progressive, Goodman never asked about it last week -- while speaking to its co-author. Is homophobia not an issue in Goodman's world? Is it not as important as racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination?

Wait. Homophobia doesn't matter in November and it doesn't matter in January but suddenly it matters in March? What gives?

Don't say nothin' bad about my baby
Oh, no
Don't say nothin' bad about my baby
I love him so
Don't say nothin' bad about my baby
Oh, don't you know
Don't say nothin' bad about my baby
-- "Don't Say Nothin' Bad About My Baby" written by Gerry Goffin & Carole King

Oh, of course, the difference was that they stayed silent when it was Barack. McCain they threw a fit over. Barack? They made like the Cookies singing "Don't Say Nothing Bad About My Baby."

John McCain picked up an endorsement from a homophobe and it was time for Amy Goodman and fellow bobby-soxer Sarah Posner to trash him but Barack puts homophobes (plural) onstage in South Carolina at an official campaign event allowing them to express their homophobia onstage at the campaign event and everyone acts like Barry just left his barn door open while they avert their eyes and pray someone leans in and whispers "XYZ" to him.

With John McCain, the left and 'left' maintained a standard (more or less) that they could point to after the election and say was perfectly in keeping with what they espouse. (That did not happen with Sarah Palin and they can't make the claim there.) But with Rockin' Barry? There were no standards and there were no attempts to maintain standards.

No, Libbyliberal, this isn't new. This was most noticeable in 2008. It continues. But C.I. called out and did so by name. Where were the rest?

"2007: The Year of Living Useless" (C.I., The Common Ills):

If independent media went out of their way to avoid Iraq and all Iraq related stories, what did they cover? 2007 was when the bulk of little media enlisted in the Barack Obama presidential campaign -- a Katrina coffee fetcher even went to work for it. Bambi would walk on his own and go to potty all by himself in 2008, indy media insisted, but right now he needed coaxing. And what better way to guarantee that than by lavishing him with non-stop praise.

As they crowded around the potty chair, they produced many embarrassing moments. To note only two of the really bad moments . . .

Out lesbian Laura Flanders took to The Nation's website to plead with Barack days after his South Carolina event that provided homophobes stage space to express their homophobia. Flanders chose to plead with Barack. To stop putting known homophobes on stage? No, to plead with him to dump Democratic king-maker Richard Daley over Daley's stance on torture. Forget themselves, Sisters Are Doing It For Barack.

Reality check would require noting that when you're personally insulted there's often a response of, "Am I making too much of this? Is it just me?" Point, Flanders isn't the only one who could have or should have called it out. In fact, as 'liberals,' progressives or whatever, it was incumbent upon all of us to stand up. Heterosexuals registering their offense would have sent a strong message that this wasn't acceptable. Instead all but the Black Agenda Report appeared to suffer from laryngitis. (And though we're not here to hand out lolly pops, it bears noting that Glen Ford, Bruce Dixon and Margaret Kimberley packed more life, more independence and more thought into any one week of 2007 than most 'independent media' could manage the whole year.)

In fact, as you can see, C.I. was calling it out in 2007 as well.

She was also, note, naming names.

What alleged 'independent' media outlet allowed someone working on the Barack campaign to come on and present themselves as an objective outsider?

Answer that question and then we'll talk. (There are actually two possible answers, but I am thinking of Lie Face.)

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Wednesday, October 20, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, Nouri claims he's about to be crowned Iraq's Biggest Loser (or at least prime minister), Iraqiya has an announcement of their own, Dan Choi stands up (Barack Obama cowers), former US ambassador Joe Wilson shares his thoughts on Dick Cheney, and more.
As AP reported this morning, Nouri al-Maliki is meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Murbarak today in Cairo as he attempts to woo the country's support and backing for him to continue as prime minister. AFP quotes him declaring that "we are now at the end of the tunnel, at the end of the road. If God allows, this government will emerge soon." So now Nouri's blaming a higher power for the political stalemate?
Among the issues Melkert was raising with al-Sistani was the political stalemate. March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board noted in August, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality." 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 -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. They are claiming they have the right to form the government. In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. It's seven months and thirteen days and counting.

Hurriyet Daily News notes Nouri continues his tour of neighboring countries with a trip to Turkey tomorrow in an attempt to garner the support of officials there (specifically President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan). Meanwhile Jason Ditz ( reports that Iraq's Sunni vice president, Tariq al-Hashemi, made an assertion yesterday, "According to Hashemi, Iraqiya had reached an agreement with the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC), the former dominant player in the INA, and said he believed those who would go along with SIIC would be enough for Iraqiya to form the government."
At the US State Dept yesterday, spokesperson Marc C. Toner was asked about the Iranian government announcing their support for Nouri to continue as prime minister and Toner replied, "We've said, as recently as yesterday, that our policy towards Iraqi Government formation is that we want them to move forward as quickly as possible to form an inclusive government. It's frankly, an Iraqi process and it needs to be an Iraqi-led process, and so we don't believe it's our place nor is it the Government of Iran's place to comment or to -- or in any way on that process. Our ultimate concern is that it be an inclusive government." Nussaibah Younis (Guardian) observes, "In what now feels like the distant past, the results of the March 2010 elections were hailed a great success for Iraq. Voters had thrown out the most sectarian parties in favour of al-Da'wah and Iraqiya, who had both campaigned on anti-sectarian, Iraqi nationalist platforms. But seven months on, Maliki's proposed coalition with the Sadrists sounds the death knell for Iraqi cross-communalism and the future of Iraq looks bleak." Xinhua offers a news analysis which opens with, "The re-election of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is still not certain despite the endorsement of Iran during his latest visit to neighboring countries to rally support. Other candidates in the race to form Iraq's new government have the support of other neighboring countries, after all, analysts say." So Nouri is again declaring that he will be prime minister 'soon' -- a declaration he's repeatedly made for over half a year. What is known is that he becmae prime minister in April of 2006. Maria Golovnina and Khalid al-Ansary (Reuters) report, "After years of war and neglect, clean water and electricity remain scarce, sewage pipes often overflow into streets, and access to good healthcare is limited." So who would those failures be on? I think they'd be on Nouri who has been prime minister for over four years.
Nouri came to power in April 2006. Iraq's Constitution mandated a census of and referendum on Kirkuk be held by the end of 2007. As usual with Nouri, nothing got done.
Today on Morning Edition (NPR), Peter Kenyon reported from Kirkuk on the census (which supposedly will take place this December). Kenyon (and Steve Inskeep in his intro to the report) sketch out the back-and-forth over the oil-rich Kirkuk and who has 'rights' to it. Kenyon reports that there is fear that the latest delay (kicking the census back two months) is an attempt to avoid the census.
Peter Kenyon: Kirkuk has thrived along the banks of the Khasa River for a long time. It's one of several places that claim to be the oldest continuously inhabited city on earth. Assyrians, Kurds, Turkmen and Arabs all have historical ties to Kirkuk. But over the centuries, the demographics have been dramatically and sometimes brutally transformed, both before and after large quantities of oil were discovered in 1927. In the 1980s, Saddam Hussein's forces uprooted thousands of Kurdish families and leveled their villages. Arab families were relocated to Kirkuk, often lured - like Abu Adel's family - by promises of jobs and inexpensive housing. After Saddam was toppled in 2003, the fate of Kirkuk became a sensitive issue. A three-step mechanism was devised. First, the Arabization of Kirkuk would be reversed, then a census would determine the relative sizes of the various communities, and finally a referendum would determine whether or not residents wanted to be part of the Kurdish-controlled northern territories.
Yesterday the United Nations Special Representative to Iraq, Ad Melkert, was targeted with a roadside bombing in Najaf. (The UN is dancing swiftly for public consumption with a we-don't-know-if-he-was-targeted but privately and off the record they know and discuss it in depth.) Serena Chaudhry (Reuters) interviews Melkert:
"For me, it's actually quite clear that this country, Iraq, needs a strong government to confront violence from all different sides for all different reasons," a still visibly shaken Melkert told Reuters in an interview. "As long as such a strong government with a clear mandate is not in place, there is a gap and the potential for those that don't like the constitutional, democratic development of this country to try to sabotage it."
Nouri didn't fix the violence either. In fact, since the downturn in violence coincides with (a) the refugee crisis and (b) the Sahwa movement (putting fighters on the US payroll so they will stop fighting) and since he's really refused to bring Sahwa into the government in civilian or security posts, you could argue he's been fostering the violence in Iraq,
Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports three Baghdad roadside bombings which wounded eight people. Reuters reports a Mosul bombing which injured two people.
Reuters notes a Mosul home invasion in which 1 boder guard, "his wife and three other relatives" were killed, a Kirkuk drive-by in which 1 district mayor was killed.
Reuters notes 1 corpse discovered in Daquq.
Yesterday on All Things Considered (NPR), Kelly McEvers reported on the practice of temporary marriage in Iraq which has made a comeback with the US invasion. Temporary marriage? It's sex. A man marries a woman for a brief period of time (months or hours) and then he's broken no codes, laws or cultural mores because they were married! The practice was outlawed under Saddam Hussein.

Kelly McEvers: This woman is so ashamed about what happened to her, she doesn't want to give her name. A mother of three, she says her husband abandoned her when she found out he preferred men. She had no way to support the family. A religious figure in the neighborhood promised to help, brought her to his home, locked the door and had sex with her. He offered her $15. For the man, at least, it was a brief moment of muta'a -- the Arabic word for pleasure and the Arabic word for temporary marriage. The woman said the man who had sex with her worked with leading Shi'ite religious clerics in the Iraqi city of Najaf. It's one of the most revered places in Shi'ite Islam.
McEvers speaks to "religious scholar" Aqil al-Shammari later in the report and he brags that he's used the practice "at least five" times and it's fine and dandy because he ended each 'marriage' after one month, the women "used birth control" and he paid them. What a prince. Poor women in the area endure rejection of public services because they aren't judged attractive or, if they're judged attractive, they're forced to have sex with men in 'temporary marriages' to receive the services.

Turning to the US, in July, Lt Dan Choi was discharged from the military for the 'crime' of being gay. With federal Judge Virginia Phillips issuing a halt to discharges under Don't Ask, Don't Tell and the Pentagon telling recruiters that while Phillips' injunction on discharges is in place, they must not discriminate in recruiting against gays or lesbians (see Rebecca's "don't ask barack because he will tell" from last night), Dan Choi took action yesterday.
I'm headed to the Times Square Recruiting Station. #DADT I'm gonna try to enlist in the Marines today. Anyone else can meet me at NYC Times Sq now. Walking through Chelsea about to enlist; reminded of our beautiful diversity. This is what makes America worth defending. In the recruiting station. Apparently I'm too old for the Marines! Just filled out the Army application. Joining AC360 tonite on my recruitment back to the Army! #DADT #itgetsbetter
Metro Weekly has video of Dan outside the recruiting station. As Dan Tweeted, he was on Anderson Cooper 360 (CNN) last night -- here for transcript, here for video (and you have to navigate on that page, go to TV, and then choose Anderson Cooper). Excerpt:
COOPER: There's breaking news on the Pentagon's don't ask, don't tell policy, which bars gays from serving openly in the military. Tonight, a federal judge in California denied the Obama administration's request that she suspend her own ruling, which struck down the policy as unconstitutional. Now, the administration will most certainly appeal the decision, but it comes on the same day that we learned of a stunning recruitment change by the Pentagon. For the first time in the history of this country, the U.S. military is now telling its recruiters that they can accept openly gay and lesbian applicants. They made the change because of the federal judge's ruling. Former Army Lieutenant Dan Choi went to a recruiting station in New York today to re-up. He's a veteran of the Iraq war, an Arab linguist, and a West Point graduate who was discharged earlier this year after announcing he was gay. A short time ago, I spoke to Dan Choi. I also spoke to Alex -- Alex Nicholson, founder and executive director of Servicemembers United, who was also discharged under the policy. He's a plaintiff in the case the judge ruled on. And our own Jeffrey Toobin, CNN senior legal analyst, joined in the discussion.


COOPER: Dan, you were discharged from the Army, what, a couple of months ago. Today, you actually went back to reenlist. What happened?

DAN CHOI, DISCHARGED UNDER DON'T ASK, DON'T TELL POLICY: They allowed me to reenlist. They allowed me to sign up.

We know that don't ask, don't tell has been dead for a week now, seven days. And they're allowing people to sign up and be openly gay.

COOPER: So -- so, I mean, you walked in to, what, the Times Square recruiting office today?

CHOI: That's right.

COOPER: And you -- you tried to join the Marine Corps, but you were too -- you're too old for that.

CHOI: A couple months too old. So...

COOPER: A couple months too old. So -- so, what did you sign up for?

CHOI: The Army took me. And they're processing my paperwork right now. I was an officer before. I graduated from West Point and served in Iraq, but now I get to follow my dreams. I want to be enlisted.

COOPER: Did you tell them today that you were gay?

CHOI: Yes. I said that I was discharged under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." I have no intention of keeping it secret. I want to sign up and serve with the full measure of integrity and honor and tell the truth of who I am. I don't intend to keep that part of my life silent.

COOPER: And what was the reaction in the office among the soldier you were talking with?

CHOI: Very professional, motivating and very inspirational. Told me all about what the Army is and...

COOPER: They gave you have the regular spiel? Really? That's kind of fascinating.

CHOI: Well...

COOPER: And did you kind of say like, "Yes, I know that part. I went to West Point."

CHOI: They were excited because it's rare to see people who have prior service to come back and particularly in a time of war. They need people of all different skills. And being able to speak Arabic and wanting to be a linguist, they also told me, you know, it's the needs of the Army. It's whatever the Army needs. I said, I've also been through airborne, air assault training, Rangers school and infantry training.
COOPER: By any traditional benchmark for the military you would be a great candidate. CHOI: That's right. So a week ago, even with all these qualifications, I would have been turned away if I would have said that I'm gay, and I intend to be honest about it. Today was very different.

COOPER: And they handed you a pamphlet, too.

CHOI: They said, "Stand up, stand out and stand Army strong." I was very excited.

COOPER: So your paperwork is going through?

CHOI: It's going through, and they're processing it. I'm very happy about it.

Feminist Wire Daily notes that "over 13,000" service members have been kicked out of the US military under the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. GetEQUAL issued the following this morning:
WASHINGTON -- Today, Robin McGehee, co-founder and director of GetEQUAL -- a national, direct action lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization -- issued the following statement in response to the ruling by a federal district court judge refusing to stay an earlier injunction in Log Cabin Republicans vs. United States of America. The stay was being sought by the Department of Justice against an earlier ruling ordering the U.S. military to immediately stop enforcement of the discriminatory "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law:
"This evening, Judge Phillips has once again shown the courage and leadership that has evaded so many of our political leaders -- including President Obama. We applaud Judge Phillips for this fair-minded, common sense ruling and continue to urge President Obama and the Department of Justice to immediately cease their unnecessary appeal of the Federal Court's ruling.
It is past time that President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder act in accordance with nearly 80 percent of the American people, distinguished military leaders, active-duty servicemembers, and courageous veterans to ensure that this ruling is carried out immediately. President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have the opportunity to act on the right side of history and to stop appeals of this decision."
GetEQUAL is a national, direct action lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization. Emphasizing direct action and people power, the mission of GetEQUAL is to empower the LGBT community and its allies to take action to demand full legal and social equality, and to hold accountable those who stand in the way. For more information on GetEQUAL, please visit: You can follow GetEQUAL on Twitter at, on Facebook at, or on YouTube at
Where there is an equality victory, there is Barack Obama trying to put the brakes on. AFP reports, "US Pesident Barack Obama's administration asked an appeals court Wednesday to immediately suspend a judge's decision to repeal a ban on gays serving openly in the military. [. . .] The Justice Department urged the appeals court in San Francisco to immediately suspend Phillips's repeal of the controversial 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' policy, while it considered a reversal of her stay decision." And, NO, there was no need to appeal it. And liars and whores who rush to rescue Barry better check themselves with the public record. They're insisting, as David G. Savage (Los Angeles Times) reports, "The Justice Department said it has a duty to defend the laws enacted by Congress, even though President Obama is urging Congress to repeal the law and to allow openly gay men and women to serve in the military.

Really?: Did they appeal an appeals-court ruling on the ban in 2009? No. Jess Bravin and Laura Meckler (Wall St. Journal) reported in real time (May 19, 2009), "The Obama administration has decided to accept an appeals-court ruling that could undermine the military's ban on service members found to be gay." This is the Margert Witt case. The same issue and they didn't appeal that ruling. Why was that? As Josh Gersein (Politico) explained earlier this week, Barack's concern then wasn't with the law it was with Elena Kagan:
In May 2009, the Obama administration faced a decision about whether to ask the Supreme Court to take up a 9th Circuit ruling that sharply limited the Pentagon's ability to discharge gay service members. The court's opinion in the case brought by Air Force Maj. Margaret Witt was clearly at odds with a 2008 ruling from the 1st Circuit that upheld "don't ask, don't tell."
The Witt case could have produced a definitive ruling from the Supreme Court on the constitutionality of "don't ask," but the case could also have put Solicitor General Elena Kagan in the exceedingly uncomfortable position of arguing in the nation's highest court in favor of a statute that she once excoriated as "a moral injustice of the highest order."

Oh, it might have made Elena Kagan uncomfortable? That's the difference? For the comfort level of a public servant who elected to accept a job, Barack will bend his so-called rules but for the millions of gays and lesbians in this country and around the world, they're on their own. For CNN, Jeffrey Toobin (link has text and video) offers this legal opinion, "They are in a very bizarre position, frankly, of their own making."
Like millions of Americans, I was terribly saddened to learn of the recent suicides of several teenagers across our country after being bullied because they were gay or because people thought they were gay. Children are particularly vulnerable to the hurt caused by discrimination and prejudice and we have lost many young people over the years to suicide. These most recent deaths are a reminder that all Americans have to work harder to overcome bigotry and hatred.
I have a message for all the young people out there who are being bullied, or who feel alone and find it hard to imagine a better future: First of all, hang in there and ask for help. Your life is so important -- to your family, your friends, and to your country. And there is so much waiting for you, both personally and professionally -- there are so many opportunities for you to develop your talents and make your contributions.
And these opportunities will only increase. Because the story of America is the story of people coming together to tear down barriers, stand up for rights, and insist on equality, not only for themselves but for all people. And in the process, they create a community of support and solidarity that endures. Just think of the progress made by women just during my lifetime by women, or ethnic, racial and religious minorities over the course of our history --- and by gays and lesbians, many of whom are now free to live their lives openly and proudly. Here at the State Department, I am grateful every day for the work of our LGBT employees who are serving the United States as foreign service officers and civil servants here and around the world. It wasn't long ago that these men and women would not have been able to serve openly, but today they can -- because it has gotten better. And it will get better for you.
So take heart, and have hope, and please remember that your life is valuable, and that you are not alone. Many people are standing with you and sending you their thoughts, their prayers and their strength. Count me among them.
Take care of yourself.
You have value to your friends and family, your community and your country. She's certainly the first in this administration to get that across and a far cry from Valerie Jarrett who was insisting this month that being gay was "a lifestyle choice." It's not just Val. Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense, is not the hero on this issue so many try to make him. We were at that hearing where he first gave testimony. Only NBC Nightly News got his testimony correctly. CBS, ABC and other outlets lumped him with Adm Mike Mullen. Mullen was speaking only for himself. And the fact that they weren't able to quote Gates or show a clip of him speaking passionately on the issue should have been a clue to all. What he said was, he would follow any order from the president. For those who are confused, Gates isn't in the military. He's in the presidential cabinet. Damn straight he will follow any order from Barack. If he doesn't, he'd be fired. What Gates advocated for -- and no one wants to pay attention to this -- is a study. Not, as Barack keeps saying, to determine how to repeal it but to determine whether to repeal it.
We've gone over this and yet last week you had a bunch of idiots making fools of themselves online at the New York Times praising Robert Gates for his strong support of the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. That's not his position. We're going to try to make that point one more time. No one in the social scene in DC is mistaken about what Gates' actual position is. He's hardly been silent semi-privately. But if you still don't get it, if the basic still elude you, former Lt Col Robert Maginnis is interviewed by Melissa Block on NPR's All Things Considered today. Listen to it. Listen to what he's saying, grasp that he knows Gates' postion (he knows Gates' position very well, the two know each other). Listen to what he's saying. And then you'll grasp why suddenly the Pentagon that was just supposed to be studying how to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell decided to start surveying the husbands and wives of straight (or straight-passing) service members. There was no point in that ever. Unless you were trying to game the study so as to continue Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
Administrations love and live to target their enemies (real or perceived). For the Bully Boy Bush administration, one of their biggest targets was former US Ambassador Joe Wilson who had been sent, in 2002, on a fact-finding mission to Niger to determine whether there was any evidence supporting rumors (from Iraq's thug community then in exile but soon to be ruling and ruining Iraq) that Saddam Hussein had attempted to acquire yellow cake uranium (as opposed to Betty Crocker's yellow cake mix) from Niger. Wilson investigated and found nothing to back up the baseless claim. He reported those facts back and was debriefed. It should have ben the end of it. But as much as administrations love to demonize, they also love to lie. So January 28, 2003, Bully Boy Bush gave his Constitutionally-mandated State of the Union speech and declared, "The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." Wilson thought at first that Bush was speaking of another African country but, when he found out it was Niger, he began speaking to reporters (including New York Times' columnist Nicholas Kristof) on background. And he wrote a column for the New York Times which they published July 6, 2003 entitled "What I Didn't Find in Africa."
The White House reaction was swift. They began shopping around to reporters that Joe Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, worked for the CIA. They weren't lying. She was a CIA agent and they blew her cover and all the overseas operations she'd worked on. Robert Novak was the first reporter to run with it. (Matt Cooper and Judith Miller were among those who also had the story shopped to them.) Plame's cover was blown, the cover of everyone she'd worked with was blown. And you might want to remember that Robert Gates never fretted over that. (A reference to his high drama over WikiLeaks.) What Novak did wasn't a crime. What the White House did was. (And Bully Boy Bush can thank his own father for that. Jake Tapper covered this in 2003, George H.W. Bush's Intelligence Identity Protection Act.) Naomi Watts plays Valerie Plame and Sean Penn plays Joe Wilson in the film Fair Game and the real Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson were on CNN's Situation Room today speaking with Wolf Blitzer (link has text and video):
BLITZER: Let's talk about some of the people involved. You mentioned some of them. And I want both of you to give me your quick reaction when I mention their names, what you think about them. Dick Cheney.
PLAME: I think he has an extremely dark view of the world. And his idea of the One Percent Doctrine, which was, you know, there - if there's a 1 percent chance of a terrorist attack or something affecting our national security, we're going to do everything to prevent it. And that sounds good, except what it really means is it undermines the very values that we as a country hold dear.
WILSON: Traitor.
BLITZER: "Scooter" Libby.
PLAME: I think he's someone who was doing everything he could to protect his boss, Vice President Cheney. And he was left out to dry.
WILSON: Traitor.
BLITZER: Well, you say that "Scooter" Libby is a traitor and - and Dick Cheney is a traitor. That's a serious word...
WILSON: Absolutely.
BLITZER: And you know, as a diplomat, what that means...
WILSON: Absolutely.
BLITZER: - betrayed...
WILSON: They betrayed...
BLITZER: - the United States...

WILSON: - the national security of our country.
Last week Larry Johnson (No Quarter) covered the outing (he's written of it before, many times) and you can use th elink for his take. Jesselyn Radack (Government Accountability Project) reports:
Last night I saw a premiere of the movie Fair Game, the story of how Bush administration officials ruined the CIA career of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, in retaliation for Ambassador Wilson blowing the whistle on the Bush administration's lies about Iraq obtaining yellow cake uranium from Niger - the reason we went to war in Iraq. At the end, Ambassador Wilson urges us, as American citizens, to "stand up and hold our government to account."
I wish everyone could heed Ambassador Wilson's advice, but the reality is, Obama - not Bush - has criminalized whistleblowing.
As Michael Isikoff so poignantly expressed yesterday, the Obama administration's policy dictates that picking the wrong issue to hold the government account for can land you in jail.
Isikoff's recent piece articulates the disturbing disparity - or as Isikoff puts it "double standard" - in the Obama administration's unprecedented criminal prosecution of whistleblowers. Compare, as Isikoff does, the massive disclosures of high-value national security information in Bob Woodward's new book (Obama's Wars) with the relatively minor disclosures of former State Department contractor Steven Kim and lawful disclosures of former National Security Agency (NSA) official Thomas Drake.
Turning to US elections. Mike explained last night that these efforts to get out the youth vote come a little too late and little too light because, so sorry, 18-year-olds who voted in the 2008 election? They're registered at home even though they may be in college. That's a significant chunk of people and for Dems to hold steady or even minimize the damage, they need all the youth voters from 2008 to turn out. Possibly if Barack Obama and his 'team' at the DNC weren't so damn stupid, didn't think they knew everything, they could have spent two months ago getting out the message on you need to register at your college address or be prepared to do a road trip home. (There are people who go to college in their home town. We're not talking about them. Equally true, conservative young people tend to already know this.) Two months ago, they also could have requested an absentee ballot. Those are basics in getting out the vote and the re-organized DNC under Barack doesn't know a damn thing as they prove and over. This isn't a minor issue, it's huge. And while all the useless gasbags have repeated buzz words and wasted our time on NPR and on Pacifica and on TV with their idiotic chatter, Mike's the one who caught the big fish, he's the one who reeled in the most important point. (Maybe Arianna can send buses to colleges across the country to ferry students back to their home voting districts?) Equally true some already in college elected to vote at home in the primaries (some voted at home in the primaries and in their college district -- and yes, that is a violation of the law) especially when the primaries were late in the process. Those Barack voters are going to have a task getting to the polls. The basics of get-out-the-vote? It's not, "Get a stage so Barack can offer some remarks!" It's, get registered and know where you going to vote. You need to know that in most states at least six weeks before the election. Those are the basics and they're beyond the current DNC.
On the first hour of today's The Diane Rehm Show, you heard the best discussion of these mid-terms, the voters and the issues. The topic was France and the protests taking place but Diane and her guests were able to tie it in to the US and they did a great job. Trina's going to cover that -- she hopes tonight at her site but that's if she can't stream the World Can't Wait event. (If she can stream it, she'll the DR show tomorrow.) If you're able to stream online, you should make a point to listen to the show's first hour. I believe it's really getting to the heart of the matter starting around 18 minutes into the show (I'm estimating, I heard the first half-hour live and it started around 23 minutes after, but the archived stream doesn't include the NPR news at the top of the hour).