Friday, February 18, 2011

The sexism of the press

The time since CBS News has made public that Lara Logan was sexually assaulted in Egypt has been very revealing. Thomas E. Ricks is only one of the sexist pigs that have outed themselves and then some.

Logan was attacked and assaulted while reporting. Yesterday, C.I. made a point in the snapshot that I wanted to highlight:

That a grown man (Thomas E. Ricks) can't grasp that today is rather amazing. That he once claimed to be a reporter and that he can't issue a strong denoucement of what Nir Rosen did is flat out offensive. There are some things you just do not do. On the left, many of us may not have agreed with Micheal Kelly. He died while reporting (in Iraq, April 3, 2003). His opinion on the war (he was pro war -- I am certainly not) didn't matter. He died doing his job. And members of the press showed him the respect his profession deserved. Lara Logan was attacked and sexually assaulted while doing her job and Thomas E. Ricks can't show her respect? Can't call out Nir Rosen for not showing her respect? Do we not get that? If Bob Woodruff is again injured while doing his job (ABC News, he was reporting in Iraq at the start of 2006 when he was seriously injured by a roadside bombing) is it okay for Nir Rosen to gleefully cackle and take joy in that? The same year, CBS News' Kimberly Dozier (now with AP) was injured in May by a car bombing in Iraq. If Nir doesn't like her career or her looks or whatever is it okay for him to publicly post comments taking joy in her pain, wishing her pain on others? Miguel Martinez was just assaulted in Bahrain -- is Nir Rosen preparing stand up material on that? There is supposed to be a modicum of respect for any journalist attacked while doing their job.
I'm offended on many levels but if Thomas E. Ricks doesn't have any respect for his profession, he can continue to pretend that what Nir Rosen did was no big deal. We have focused on the sexual assault aspect. But Ricks better grasp for one damn minute that the press is not supposed to trivialize attacks on their own while they are doing their job.

You should grasp right now that if a man was shot while reporting in a foreign country and jokes were made about the man by someone considered a journalist, that journalist would be blackballed. There would be no discussion about it other than how outrageous it was for a journalist to mock another journalist injured while doing their job.

But it goes to the fact that Thomas E. Ricks and others do not consider sexual assault to be that 'bad.' Nir Rosen says that Lara Logan deserved it and Thomas E. Ricks is in a quandary about what he should do. If Luke Logan had been shot and Nir Rosen had mocked him, Thomas E. Ricks would be done with Nir Rosen, as would the entire established press corps.

What we are seeing is sexism on so many levels including, most importantly, that women's pain and suffering -- like women themselves -- do not carry much weight in our society.

There is nothing to debate. Nir Rosen is ghastly and no thinking person can support him. Ashleigh Banfield, I hope you work out at ABC. If you don't, you're back on the unemployment line. None of us, not a single one, who went to bat for you before you exposed your hypocrtical ass on Anderson Cooper's program Wednesday will ever do so again.

May you and Nir Rosen form an even tighter bond, Ashleigh, the two of you are both on your own now.

Oh, and one more thing Ashleigh, when you can't defend a woman from a man saying she deserved to be sexually assasulted? Shut your damn ass about what some right-wing lunatic said about you. I don't care if he called you a porn star or a slut. When you can't defend Lara Logan, no one needs your little whimpering over what some right wing idiot said about you. Just grow the hell up, Ashleigh, and do so knowing your on your own.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Friday, February 18, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, DoD identifies one of the fallen, protests continue in Iraq, the military sexual assault lawsuit continues to be ignored but Joan Walsh tells America enough's been said about Nir Rosen declaring (rapist mentality) that Lara Logan's sexual assault was something she had coming, and more.
We start again on sexual assault and we start with Nir Rosen's attack on Lara Logan (who was assaulted while on assignment in Egypt). Other than noting this link to NYU Local's interview with Rosen -- mentioned and quoted from yesterday but the link was not included -- that wasn't the plan. Ava and I began taking notes on the various lies from Nir Rosen and his supporters on Thursday for a piece we'll be doing at Third Sunday and that was going to be it. But then there's Joan Walsh, the village idiot. Marcia praised Joan Walsh for her appearance on Anderson Cooper's show Wednesday night. Marcia's kinder than I am and also wants it noted that she thought she had seen all the Tweets Nir did. She had not seen them all. Joan Walsh either hasn't seen them all or she's lying.
Nir Rosen deleted them. Many were rescued. However, there are more than many people -- like Joan Walsh -- have addressed.
In 2008, Joan Walsh would sometimes call out a little of the sexism aimed at Hillary Clinton and then do one of her columns or TV appearances where she tried to soothe the hurt feelings of the pigs she'd called out. (Ava has critiqued Joan's insulting attitude towards Latinas in an Iraq snapshot. That criticism stands.) Ava and I would not praise Joan because we've learned you just can't trust her. (If that's news to you, head over to The Daily Howler and check the archives.)
At Salon today, she shows up to play shirts & skins. Because it's never about the violence against women for Joan, it's about left and right. She trashes the right wing and claims Nir's in the clear (he "has since apologed everywhere imaginable"). I'm not a right winger. I'm never surprised by anything the right wing does. Nor do I have any interest in following them. But on the left we're supposed to believe in equality. And yet we turn a blind eye when Amy Goodman and others elect to publish multiple columns in the most offensive of skin magazines that do far more than objectify women, that target them for violence. Of those who did that, only Noam Chomsky offered a public apology. Many on the left are still not aware of it. In the accusations against Julian Assange, we saw the two women attacked over and over. We saw them attacked -- from the left -- with the same sexist trash and lies that the right uses. And, of course, the Hillary attacks 'from the left' recyled all the right wing garbage as well.
The problem's not the right. The problem's the left. Recently people were surprised that The Daily Kos has an anti-choice ad. Why? Why are they surprised? That site and so many others have been pushing for abortion rights to be tossed aside. The problem's not the right. The problem for those of us on the left is the very real hatred towards women. And it flares up -- and has for decades -- whenever any woman won't go along and attack another who's speaking out about abuse towards women. You saw it on the Journolist. Harper's Luke Wilson rushing in to scream about leave Keith Olbermann alone, his sexism may be offensive, but he's talking about torture!
Well, Luke Wilson, rape is torture, sexual assault is torture, domestic abuse is torture. It's not in your little mind and as long as women like Joan Walsh exist, Luke Wilson will thrive on the left. Joan tells you that "everything there is to say" has been said. Really because I'm not remembering Salon tackling the homophobia in Nir Rosen's remarks. Did I miss it, Joan?
Now, how come you wanna leave me here
Is it something that I said
Or is it just your style that after a while
You've got to get up and get
Oh, now that everything's been said
Now that everything's been done
How come you wanna leave me here
To work it out all on my own
-- "Now That Everything's Been Said," written by Carole King and Toni Stern, first appears on the City's Now That Everything's Been Said
No, Joan didn't cover the homophobia nor did anyone at Salon. But she did allow Nir to rush in with yet another so-called apology. "And yet, in all the tweets, essays and interviews, Rosen has yet to come across and truly contrite and apologetic. Maybe he should use some of his new-found free time to work on that," Julie Gerstein (New York magazine) observed today and she's correct.
Everything's been said, Joan? If you mean blaming the victims of sexual assault, yeah, that's being said, Joan. One-time journalist Thomas E. Ricks' post about his friend Nir continues to gather comments about how Lara Logan (any woman) had it coming. Thomas E. Ricks has failed to jump into that thread and has failed to call it out in a post. So Foreign Policy is now on record as endorsing that women who are sexually assaulted had it coming.
Joan wants to fret about what it says about Muslims to some on the right. Not because she gives a damn but because it deflects from Nir Rosen (someone Salon's long published and plans to continue publishing). If Joan really gave a damn about that -- if Nir Rosen had -- they would have made the obvious point: Egyptian women came to Lara Logan's aid. That can't be minimized. Yes, some can minimize the Egyptian army's actions -- they were supposed to be protecting all the people and when they did step in they were doing that function. They were armed and what they did was their job. But Egyptian women, unarmed women, saw another woman being attacked and sexually assaulted and stood up and said no. If they hadn't, the assault would have continued.
Joan and Nir never find time to talk about that. (Nir because he has no respect for women. His Tweets mocked Egyptian women and his comments since then have been insulting towards Egyptian women.) If McDonalds brings back the McRib tomorrow, I'm sure there are some on the right who hate Muslims that will find a way to turn that into more reasons to hate Muslims. Joan wants to pretend there's some logic to be found. There is none to be found. But it does allow you to pretend like the hatred is all on the right, Joan. I don't really give a damn what some right wing blogger writes or someone says on Fox. It doesn't hugely effect my life.
But Nir Rosen said Lara Logan had it coming. That does effect my life. He's been promoted by the left -- he is still promoted by the left -- and the left refuses to call him out. Joan Walsh went on TV to call him out. She hasn't called him out at Salon, at Salon where she's written many checks to him. In other words, Joan Walsh, you've promoted him, you vouched for him in the past. Probably you're a little concerned about your own image if Nir goes down. That as charitable as I'll be towads you.
Joan Walsh wants to claim that Salon's one article critiquing Nir Rosen said all that needed to be said. We praised that column by Mary Elizabeth Williams. But not being Joan Walsh, I'm not stupid enough to think that 'says it all.' If it said it all, you wouldn't find people at Foreign Policy leaving comments that justify the sexual assault. If that one article said it all, Joan, Mark Memmott wouldn't have had to posted a column at NPR's The Two-Way explaining, "Many of the comments that have come in to our post about CBS News correspondent Lara Logan, who the network says was attacked and sexually assaulted last Friday while reporting in Cairo's Tahrir Square, have been flagged and removed because they violated's discussion rules." Brad Phillips (Mr. Media Training) finds more to talk about, but then he examines the so-called apologies (don't miss his update at the end). Alice in Progress notes the attacks on Logan and the attacks on Senator Scott Brown (Brown just came forward about physical abuse from step-fathers and sexual abuse from a camp counselor) and points out of the attacks, "Both are similar in the sense that they show how an overwhelming majority of people in our society view rape and sexual abuse victimes: that they're not 'victims' at all and somehow got what they 'deserved', for either being too pretty or just standing in a certain location, or for a number of others really stupid reasons." Joan Walsh claims everything's been said and we all need to just MoveOn and, presumably, focus on a more important issue like saving the rain forest or, more likely, elections. Seriously? Duane Gundrum (Dreams of a Lego Spaceman) calls out Nir Rosen's disgusting Salon article (another 'apology') and explains:
But what bothers me about this is not just that it happened, which does, of course, bother me, but how I first found out about it. I follow news through a number of message boards, and it just so happens that there are a couple of computer gaming boards I follow where some of the more brilliant current events people hang out. I take great pleasure in debating all sorts of issues with these individuals, and it was on that particular day when I first read a thread of this event happening. However, what kept bothering me about the thread was not that the event had happened (which again, bothered me a great deal), but that almost all of the commentary was from people indicating that Lara Logan was the one who should be considered at fault, because she should have known better than to be in a place where she might possibly be raped by men.
I remember staring at the screen, thinking to myself, how could anyone even think something like that? In all of the years I've been arguing with these people, not once did I ever think of them as a bunch of Neanderthals who thought that women should be treated as sexual fodder to be used randomly because they're soft and cuddly, and men are going to do what men are going to do. Yet, in post after post, that's all I was reading.
So, I fired off a response in which I indicated that I was shocked that we still have people who think this way in this day and age. I was astonished at this behavior, and I couldn't believe they would EVER blame a woman for the simple crime of, well, being a woman in a man's world. I knew I was going to rile up some people, but right after I posted my response, the usual suspects started chiming in about how "you need to live in the real world" and that the world is a dangerous place, and if I can't handle the way things happen, then maybe I should stay inside and not dare to play with the big boys, because "your panties might get tussled."
And Joan Walsh thinks one column on the subject says everything? Seriously? Kelly McBride (Poynter) notes:
My first instinct, when a reporter told me about Logan's assault, was to be quiet. I thought about Logan's privacy and about how I knew some would respond, blaming her for what happened. I didn't want to add fuel to that fire.
But when we turn away from a sexual assault, we amplify the voices that would blame the victim or minimize the attack. Our instinct to avert our eyes leaves the victim to face a world of judgment on her own.
There is so much we can say about sexual assault. As a society, we rarely talk about it, until a particularly dramatic event. Then we talk about the circumstances of the event: Where was she? What happened? In asking those questions, we allow myths and suspicions to guide our conversations. But we forget to bring in all the facts that we do know.
So if we talk about Logan's ordeal, let's do so in the context of things we know to be true.
"Our instinct to aver our eyes"? So true. And Joan might want explain why she hasn't written about the lawsuit brought by service members and veterans? Feministing's "Military Sexual Trauma lawsuit -- the day after" is a report that everyone should be reading and linking to. The author (unnamed) offers a press survey at the start noting all the silences on this lawsuit from the press. Then it tackles what the Pentagon's been insisting is their latest 'assistance' effort to victims of sexual assault: A chat page! Where you can get help! The author went undercover as a victim of military sexual assault and if you think "Billy" telling her that "I really feel bad for you" qualifies as counseling, you're as crazy as Kaye Whitley.
I though we already noted Natalie Wilson's article but a friend at Ms. tells me we haven't. So we'll note it now to bring anyone up to speech who hasn't heard of the lawsuit yet:
Susan Burke wants to dramatically change this brutal, unjust state of affairs. The Washington, D.C., attorney, who heads the firm Burke PLLC, is preparing to file a class-action lawsuit this summer to revamp how the U.S. military deals with sexual violence and assault committed by its personnel. The suit, in which Burke will represent a number of plaintiffs, including Baker, will ask for damages as well as changes in the military's practices. As Burke puts it, "You shouldn't have to agree to be raped in order to sign up and serve your country."
Burke already has a well-deserved reputation as a crusader against violence by the military and its contractors. She spearheaded a series of lawsuits in 2004 against private security forces who allegedly committed torture and abuse on behalf of the U.S. military in Iraq's notorious Abu Ghraib prison. Later, she sued the infamous Blackwater firm on behalf of Iraqis killed and wounded in two allegedly unprovoked 2007 attacks on civilians in Baghdad. (The Blackwater suits were settled for a confidential amount; the Abu Ghraib ones are pending.)
The original plaintiff in her upcoming lawsuit discovered Burke on the Internet in connection with the Abu Ghraib torture suits. "I was really appalled by what she had suffered through," says Burke of the email she received from the woman. After doing more research, Burke decided, "I should just open this up in case others need help. [The military's] institutional tolerance is creating a culture where rape thrives."
Joan Walsh, since everything's been said, explain to where your column is on the topic above. And then, after you explain you haven't written one (though I'm sure you meant to), explain to me why Salon hasn't reported on the lawsuit? What's that sexist pig lawyer you've got writing for you, Joan? Oh, right, Glenn Greenwald. And he's written about the class action suit when? Oh, that's right, he hasn't. Avert our eyes? Oh, yeah, as a culture we do. Joan Walsh is a little uncomfortable because sexual assault was discussed this week and now she and Salon need to move on to the more 'important' issues like what an underage kid said about abortion. (Who cares, he's a child. Find a real story.)
Tuesday, some survivors of military sexual assault, their supporters and attorney Susan Burke held a press conference announcing their lawsuit against the Pentagon. Burke and military sexual assault survivors Rebekah Havrilla and Mary Gallagher were Diane Rehm's guests for the first hour of Thursday's The Diane Rehm Show (NPR). But Salon can't find the story? Even their attorney can't find the story? When Susan Burke's lead attorney on a case against Blackwater, Salon can't stop writing about the case. When she's lead attorney on a case regarding military sexual assault, Salon's too uncomfortable to cover it.
"Walking Wounded" gets the connection and post a comment at Thomas E. Ricks' blog which includes:
If female journalists (and soldiers) are being attacked and terrorized, and those acts excused even by members of the war correspondent fraternity, consider the individual woman in the war zone, trying to protect herself and her family.
Rosen adding insult to a star reporter's potentially lethal, terrifying injuries mostly hurt himself. But that's a distraction here. Tom, you took this in the wrong direction, imo.
Like Joan Walsh, Thomas E. Ricks hasn't found time to write about the law suit. Nor has he written about military sexual trauma. Despite claiming his focus is military issues. "Avert our eyes"? All the damn time, all the damn time.
Two non-stories came out of Iraq this week. No one wanted to examine them although many wanted to amplify them. In the first, an order of F16 jets was cancelled and the closest to examination was that US corporations would lose money. Straight faced, many reporters lied. Here's Stars & Stripes thinking they're being cutesy. And here's one of the many articles accepting the lie that the purchase was dropped because they wanted to put the money into the rations program. Nouri's spokesperson lies and claims it would have cost Iraq one billion dollars. They were buying 18 F16 jets, those are over a hundred million a piece. (Contracts do include some equipment service and training.) Iraq's going to put two billion into the rations program this year? Another popular and foolish report is the one that Iraq wants $1 billion in damages from the US. Nouri's puppet government wants one billion. They want one billion, they have to cancel a two billion contract. The money is not going into the rations program. Not only has that program been gutted and gutted, Nouri only promised a $15 dollar increase per month and, on top of that, they're looking to purge a large number of people from the rolls. Iraq is a war torn country. Children don't always go to school, adult children don't always go to college. If your family has a drop out, the proposal in Nouri's Cabinet currently is that your entire family will lose rations. That's going to target at risk groups especially. The Iraqi Christians, for example, stopped sending their children to school after the October 31st assault on Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad. But it's going to target a lot more. A friend at the United Nations says if the Cabinet pushes through the proposal, you could see the rations cut for half the people currently receiving them.
So let's stop kidding that Nouri's breaking a contract and demanding a billion from the US is about anything other than the reality that Iraq's leaders are continue to steal from the government. Currently $86.20 is the price of oil per barrel. Dow Jones reports today that from February 1st to February 17th, "Iraq has exported 2.163 million barrels a day of crude oil." Not exported 2.163 million barrels in that time frame, but exported 2.163 million barrels daily. Where's that money going?
As the protesters around Iraq know, it's not going into basic services. They still struggle for electricity and potable water and proper sanitation. So where's the money going and don't pretend it's going into the rations program. That's insulting everyone's intelligence.
Yesterday, the pesh merga opened fire on protesters in Sulaimaniyah. Tracey Shelton (Press TV -- link has text and video -- including video of the shooting) reports on the attack and counts four dead. The protest took place outside the KDP political party (headed by KRG President Massoud Barzani). Aljazeera reports that today the headquarters of Goran (emerging political party, backed by the CIA) were looted in Arbil and Dohuk. Al Arabiya News Channel adds, "Goran has denied any involvement in Thursday's demonstration, which left two dead, men aged 18 and 25, and 54 wounded, according to provincial health chief Raykot Hama Rashid, when security forces fired into the air to disperse crowds."

Protests went on and are going on throughout Iraq. Al Mada reports that yesterday in Kut (Wasit Province), demonstrators pitched tents to prepare for a sit-in calling for their demands to be met. Activist Abu Karar lists their demands starting with the governor stepping down and all detainees being immediately released before noting the unemployment situation and the ration card system. And Al Mada notes that protests over those demands and the lack of basic services have taken place in Baghdad, Karbala, Najaf, Maysan, Basra, Mosul, Diwaniya, Kirkuk, Babil and Muthanna. Aslumaria TV notes that protests are going on in Kut today, confirms that the governor fled the city yesterday and notes Nouri al-Maliki is supposed to visit the province. Al Mada notes Nouri has declared that "troublemakers" will be punished. Al Mada also reports a "campaign of arrests" is taking place in Kut. Carol J. Williams (Los Angeles Times) notes, "Iraqi protesters stepped up their challenges to provincial leaderships throughout the nation on Friday, with more than 1,000 demanding that the governor of Basra step down". CNN adds, "Roughly 200 Iraqi protesters hit the streets Friday in central Baghdad, the latest in a string of Middle East cities to be affected by the wave of unrest sweeping the region." Human Rights Watch issued a press release yesterday which included:
According to multiple news reports, on February 17, security guards reportedly opened fire on a crowd of protesters in Sulaimaniya, killing at least one person and wounding more than 33 others after the crowd threw rocks at the political headquarters of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), headed by Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). On February 16 Iraqi police in Kut, southeast of Baghdad, opened fire on angry demonstrators outside the governorate of Wasit province, killing three and wounding more than 50, according to various news reports and a protest organizer.
"Iraqi forces and their commanders have a lot of explaining to do to justify the use of live ammunition on demonstrators," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "Similar behavior by security forces in this tense time in the region has only ignited more powerful and angry popular reactions."
Al Mannarah reports that the Kurdistan Alliance has issued a warning to Nouri al-Maliki that unless fuel prices are reduced and new power stations set up, the Kut demonstrations will spread throughout the provinces and cities of Iraq. (Wednesday, the protesters were fired upon by guards and Iraqi forces -- after being fired upon, they stormed the provincial government building -- which ended up on fire -- and stormed the home of the governor.) Kitabat (link goes to main page, I'm not able to find an individual link, so scroll down for story) features an essay decrying false arrests on the pretext of inciting riots in Diwaniya, Kut, Nasiriyah and Sulaymaniyah and notes that the Iraqi people have been pushed into fighting for the nobel goals and demanding the gith to live free and that the right to protest is not given by any body or Constitution but is a natural right which does not require government approval or a paper from the Ministry of the Interior (with a sidebar note that Nouri hasn't appointed a minister for the ministry -- sidebar note by Kitabat). The essay argues that if Nouri can't make change happen, then he needs to step down and Parliament needs to provide leadership and follow the model of Jaafar al-Sadr (yesterday he noted his resignation in solidarity with the Iraqi people) because the Iraqi people are the legitimate rulers of Iraq.
In other violence, the Committee to Protect Journalists notes:

In Iraq, Hemin Latif, a journalist working for the Sulaimaniya-based Destur news website, was shot and injured today while covering against unemployment and corruption, Mariwan Hama-Saeed, director of local press freedom group Metro Center, told CPJ. Dozens of protesters attacked the building of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). Local journalists told CPJ that the guards for the building shot Latif while he was taking photos. Latif was briefly hospitalized and one of his fingers was broken. Guards also beat Rahman Gharib, who reports for Metro Center and Al-Sumaria News website, while he was covering the demonstration, Gharib told CPJ. He said three men from KDP's security forces in military uniforms beat him. "I demand an official apology from KDP and an investigation into what had happened," Gharib said.
Two other journalists have been injured, according to the independent biweekly Hawlati. One of them is Alan Mohamed, a photographer with the local photo agency Metrography. The newspaper did not identify the second journalist.
Two people were killed and 57 injured in the protests, according to local news reports.

In addition,
BBC reports 13 people died and over thirty were wounded in a Muqdadiyah car bombing on Thursday. Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) quotes police sources, "The attack occurred when a suicide bomber drove his explosive- laden car into a police checkpoint near the town of al-Maqdadiyah, some 100 km northeast of Baghdad, he said." Reuters notes other violence Thursday included the assassination of Sheikh Jassim al-Mutairi in Kerbala, journalist Hilal al-Ahmadi was assassinated in Mosul, a Taji roadside bombing claimed the lives of 7 people, a Baghdad guard was injured in a drive-by shooting outside an amusement park and 1 university professor's Baghdad home was invaded and he was hanged.
In the US, DoD has issued the following statement: "The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation New Dawn. Spc. Lashawn D. Evans, 24, of Columbia, S.C., died Feb. 15 in Baghdad province, Iraq, in a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 1st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Aviation Regiment, Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan. For more information the media may contact the 1st Infantry Division public affairs office at 785-239-3205." This is the death in the Tuesday snapshot. BNO News and only BNO News reported on it. Reuters didn't even include it in their 'factbox' summary. Last month, 3 US soldiers died in Iraq on the same day with a fourth wounded. The deaths received very little press coverage. Judi Gaston (WISTV) speaks with the grandmother of the fallen (whom Gaston doesn't name) and reports that he was due home and had been counting down the days and that he's survived by a wife (Cierra) who is deployed in Iraq and a brother who is deployed in Afghanistan.
The Iraq War continues and some don't want to end. The choices (in order to continue the illegal war) are weaponize diplomacy or get a new agreement. Walter Pincus (Washington Post) reports on Robert Gates' Congressional appearance yesterday: "In an impassioned plea during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on next year's Pentagon budget, Gates cited the loss of more than 4,000 American lives in Iraq and the expenditure of some $900 billion. He said it is 'a critically urgent concern' that a planned $5.2 billion allocation for fiscal 2012 be approved, so that the State Department can carry on the training of Iraqi police and other programs once handled by the Pentagon."

Robert Gates' sense of entitlement is a sure sign that he needs to leave government immediately. Asked in an opening hearing by a Republican Congress member on Wednesday about whether his Department had broken the law, Gates plead ignorance of the matter. Provided with documents in the hearing, Gates insisted he would need time to review them.

If you're so damn stupid that you don't know if the department you headed broke the law, you've got problems. And maybe part of them is that you're looking over the State Dept's shoulder when you should be doing your own damn job. Robert Gates is not the liason for the White House to the State Dept. He is the Secretary of Defense and should confine himself to those issues. You can't plead something is above your pay grade and then start playing expert on a department you don't head and you're not a part of. He needs to be instructed to close his mouth and to do immediately. Joe Biden is the person Barack Obama has placed in charge of overseeing Iraq. Biden can make the case that the State Dept needs the money. I'll still disagree and I will argue Joe is wrong; however, I will not argue that Joe has no business making the argument.

Wednesday, Robert Gates was asked about the Defense Dept's inability to prevent sexual assaults and he played dumb. He was asked about the lawsuit and he issued a self-serving statement. But now he thinks he can go before Congress and present himself as an expert on what the State Dept needs? Clearly, he has time to do everything but the job he was given. If the Secretary of Agriculture appeared before Congress and argued that another Department didn't need funds, we would all be offended. Our attitude would be that the Secretary needed to confine his or her testimony to his or her own department. Pretending Gates has a right to testify about another department's needs opens the door for the day when a Secretary has the right to testify that another department doesn't need funding. He needs to fccus on his own department. Since he's currently been named in a military sexual assault lawsuit, he should have plenty on his plate already.
In related news, Anna Mulrine (Christian Science Monitor) observes, "It is looking increasingly likely that American troops will stay in Iraq beyond December 2011 scheduled date of withdrawal for the US military – a prospect that appears to be gaining bipartisan support in Congress." A morning where we had more time would allow more on the article but it's built around Gates in the Wednesday hearing (that's covered in that day's snapshot with a full transcript of the exchange between Gates and Duncan Hunter) and yesterday's announcement by US House Rep Adam Smith (Democrat) that he thought Iraq would be asking the US to extend their military agreement. (The article also reflects a development which the editorial board noted months ago though few seemed to pay attention at the time.) The news isn't pretty. From the Democratic Party, there is silence. From the Republicans, there is silence. From the Green Party? Silence. At the libertarian think tank Cato Institute, Christopher Preble weighs in and his observations include:

This assumes that, first, U.S. troops can provide this stability, and second that our strategic interests in Iraq are on par with those in other parts of the world. But leaving U.S. troops in Iraq for another two, five, or seven years will not advance American security. It is not now, and should never have been, the responsibility of U.S. troops to create a functioning state in Iraq. That is the responsibility of the Iraqi people and their government. Likewise, our troops should not serve as Iraq's police force.
There is no doubt that there are political and security challenges in Iraq, but these concerns should not delay the withdrawal. There will always be excuses, especially from those who favored the war at the outset, for a continued presence. And these risks will persist no matter how long U.S. troops stay. The future of Iraq lies with the people of Iraq, and it is well past the time when they must take the reins.
A handover of security responsibilities to the Iraqi people is in America's strategic interest. As we are currently seeing with European defense budgets, the United States has been in the business of doing for other governments what they should be doing for themselves. Now would be a good time to start to change this pattern.

Reality about Iraq reaches US shores next week with this upcoming Iraq Veterans Against the War event:

February 25, 2011 9:30 - 10:30 am
Busboys & Poets, Langston room
14th & V st NW Washington DC
This report back will be to answer questions from media and the peace movement about the recent trip back to Iraq by members of Iraq Veterans Against the War. The war is not over but it is not the same as it was in years past. What is the humanitarian situation in Iraq?
How can we do reparations and reconciliation work?
Speakers are all returning from this delegation and include:
Geoff Millard (IVAW) Hart Viges (IVAW) Haider Al-Saedy (Iraqi Health Now)
Richard Rowely (
Big Noise Films)

To make it clear that continued war is unacceptable and that you aren't a Democratic member of Congress, you can participate next month in the march A.N.S.W.E.R. and March Forward! and others will be taking part in this action:

March 19 is the 8th anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Iraq today remains occupied by 50,000 U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of foreign mercenaries.

The war in Afghanistan is raging. The U.S. is invading and bombing Pakistan. The U.S. is financing endless atrocities against the people of Palestine, relentlessly threatening Iran and bringing Korea to the brink of a new war.

While the United States will spend $1 trillion for war, occupation and weapons in 2011, 30 million people in the United States remain unemployed or severely underemployed, and cuts in education, housing and healthcare are imposing a huge toll on the people.

Actions of civil resistance are spreading.

On Dec. 16, 2010, a veterans-led civil resistance at the White House played an important role in bringing the anti-war movement from protest to resistance. Enduring hours of heavy snow, 131 veterans and other anti-war activists lined the White House fence and were arrested. Some of those arrested will be going to trial, which will be scheduled soon in Washington, D.C.

Saturday, March 19, 2011, the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, will be an international day of action against the war machine.

Protest and resistance actions will take place in cities and towns across the United States. Scores of organizations are coming together. Demonstrations are scheduled for San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and more.

TV notes. Washington Week begins airing on many PBS stations tonight (and throughout the weekend, check local listings) and joining Gwen are Jeanne Cummings (Politico), John Dickerson (CBS News, Slate), Doyle McManus (Los Angeles Times) and Jim Sciutto (ABC News). Gwen's latest column is "Meaning What You Say." Meanwhile Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Cari Dominguez, Barbara Lee, Irene Natividad and Genevieve Wood to discuss the week's events on PBS' To The Contrary. Check local listings, on many stations, it begins airing tonight. Sunday on CBS' 60 Minutes:

The Spark
Bob Simon reports from Tunisia, where protests against the repressive government not only toppled its autocratic ruler, but sparked the uprising in Egypt that forced President Hosni Mubarak to resign.

Scott Brown: Against All Odds
The Massachusetts senator describes his traumatic childhood, including revelations of sexual and physical abuse. Lesley Stahl reports.

The King's Speech
"60 Minutes" talks to its starring actor, Colin Firth, and reports on the historic find in an attic that helped make the "The King's Speech" an Oscar favorite. Scott Pelley reports.

"60 Minutes," Sunday, Feb. 20, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The piggies

"TV: Mr. Tired And Dull" (Ava and C.I., The Third Estate Sunday Review):
We shared our concerns with two acquaintances working on the show and were told (repeatedly) that Janney is not playing a racist. No, she's playing someone who "stumbles over racial issues" and who "is racially insensitive." That is funny. Not the character they're describing but the fact that they think there's really such a difference. Here's a funny sitcom premise: Producers and bad writers convince themselves they can do racist jokes as long as they hide behind the claim that she's not really racist.

Want to laugh some more? They were unaware that Perry's character refers to Crystal (Janney) as "borderline racist" in the first episode. And that's when Ben is speaking to Crystal's son.

At the end of the first episode, Ben stops an underling who remembered his birthday to ask the underling's name and then mutters, "Already forgot it." We wouldn't be at all surprised if, in a few weeks, people feel the same way about this show.

A friend watched Mr. Sunshine tonight and called me to say Ava and C.I. weren't joking. (The friend also knows C.I.) He watched Mr. Sunshine on ABC just to see if it was as awful as Ava and C.I. had said it was. Having watched it, he now says Ava and C.I. were actually kind to the show.

Does anyone else find it stranger (or "telling") that CJR online has not weighed in on Nir Rosen's attack of Lara Logan and Anderson Cooper. He ridiculed her being sexually assaulted, said she deserved it and said it would have been great if it had happened to Anderson Cooper as well.

That's a media story for their little blog. But their blog stayed quiet all day. The better to ignore the offensive behavior of their friend Nir Rosen.

If you want to laugh, go to the PIG Danny Schechter's website. No link to his trashy ass. After running CBS' announcement about Lara Logan's sexual assault, Danny Pig feels the need to add: "Note: More than l00 journalists were attacke by forces loyal to Hosni Mubarak. Most work for foreign news outlets."

What's your point, Piggy?

Were they also sexually assaulted?

See for Danny he must lie and whore and cheat -- and that's why no one in my economic class will ever give a dime to his grubby little ass -- to make whomever he likes wonderful. Some Egyptians sexually assaulted Lara? Danny sticks his tongue and says, "100s were assaulted by Mubarak! Nya-nya-nya."

What an idiot. Talk about missing the point completely. No wonder so many women complained about sexual harassment and gender inequality at Media Channel. You know who one of them was? Danny's own girlfriend. (Now ex-girlfriend.) Yes, she loves to send out an e-mail documenting all the sexism and sexual harassment that took place there --allegedly took place there.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Wednesday, February 16, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, a US soldier has died in Iraq, protests continue in Iraq, protesters are fired upon and respond, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates explains the US would prefer to extend the SOFA, and more.
BNO News reports that 1 US service member died in Iraq yesterday. DoD doesn't make an announcement until the family has been contacted and the name can be released. So they have nothing. US-F? They use the tax payer dollars somehow. But it's not doing in their job. They didn't issue the announcement and haven't issued any annoucements at all since January 15th. The deaths continue because the war continues. From Monday's snapshot: "Saturday, Al Mada reported on the secret talks taking place to extend the Status Of Forces Agreement and cites Qassim Mohammed Jalal as the source for the extension meetings currently taking place between Nouri's reps and the US inside the Green Zone. Qassam Mohammed Jalal is part of the National Coalition. He is a member of Parliament's Commission on Security and Defense."
This morning the House Armed Services Committee held a hearing on the Defense Dept's budget. Chair Howard McKeon called the hearing to order. Appearing before the Committee were Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Adm Mike Mullen (Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff). We're jumping to the last half first.
US House Rep Dunan Hunter: Let's talk about Iraq for a minute. If the Status Of Forces Agreement is not changed or the Iraqis do not ask for our help and ask us to stay, what is our plan for 2012? At the end of this year, what's going to happen?
Secretary Robert Gates: We will have all of our forces out of Iraq. We will have an Office of Security Cooperation for Iraq that will have probably on the order of 150 to 160 Dept of Defense employees and several hundred contractors who are working FMS cases.
US House Rep Duncan Hunter: Do you think that represents the correct approach for this country after the blood and treasure that we spent in Iraq? My own personal time of two tours in Iraq. There's going to be fewer people there -- and that 150 -- than there are in Egypt right now. Somewhere around 600, 700 of those types of folks in Egypt. How can we maintain all of these gains that we've maintained through so much effort if we only have 150 people there and we don't have any military there whatsoever. We have more military in western European countries than we'd have in Iraq -- one of the most centralized states, as everybody knows, in the Middle East.
Secretary Robert Gates: Well I think that there is -- there is certainly on our part an interest in having an additional presence and the truth of the matter is the Iraqis are going to have some problems that they're going to have to deal with if we are not there in some numbers. They will not be able to do the kind of job and intelligence fusion. They won't be able to protect their own air space. They will not -- They will have problems with logistics and maintenance. But it's their country, it's a sovereign country. This is the agreement that was signed by President Bush and the Iraqi government and we will abide by the agreement unless the Iraqis ask us to have additional people there.
But Duncan Hunter and Robert Gates ignore the fact that the US military switches over to the State Dept if no new treaty replaces the SOFA and if the SOFA is not extended.
Gates was also playing games with regards to a lawsuit. Yesterday, Susan Burke and supporters of survivors of military sexual assaults and some of the survivors filing suit against the Pentagon held a press conference in DC. Congress noticed. We'll note two who raised the issue. First up was Silvestre Reyes.
US House Rep Silvestre Reyes: The other concern that I have is yesterday it became a national story about a lawsuit filed by former veteran women that are alleging what I think is a hostile work environment and sexual harassment and other things. I know you're probably not in a position to comment on that, Mr. Secretary, but I would like to work with your office to better understand exactly the circumstances that led to this lawsuit.
Secretary Robert Gates: If I may, let me just say, and obviously what I can say, is limited -- uhm, uhm, uhm by the fact of the lawsuit -- but let me just say a couple of things because this is a matter of-of great concern, I suspect, to everybody in the room. First of all, I have zero tolerance for sexual assault. And I've worked with Chairman Mullen and the Joint Chiefs and the service secretaries to see if we're doing all we can to prevent and respond to sexual assaults. I've had multiple meetings with, uh, the senior leadership of the Dept over the past four years, established four critical areas of Dept focus: Reducing stigma associated with reporting, ensuring sufficient commander training, ensuring investigator training and resources and ensuring trial council training and resources. We've hired dozens more investigators, field instructors, prosecutors and lab examiners. We've spent close to two million dollars over the last two years to train our prosecutors so that they're better able to be successful. We have expanded the sexual assault response coordinator and victim advocates ten-fold, from 300 to 3,000, and we now have those advocates at every base and installation in the world including in Iraq and Afghanistan. The court-martial percentages have increased from about 30% to 52%. So we are making headway. The fact is we aren't where we should be. It is a matter of grave concern and we will keep working at it.
Adm Mike Mullen: Sir, I uh would uh more than echo what the Secretary said. Zero tolerance. It's been -- actually over the course of the last six or seven years -- it has been an issue of great focus. And it is unacceptable that, uh, we haven't, uh, we haven't gotten to where we need to be on this. We know this is an extraordinarily difficult issue and, uh, I know both as a former service chief as well as knowing the current service chief, it's an area of focus. It wasn't that long ago it was a significant area both in the combat zone in Iraq, there still is enough anecodtal evidence coming out of Iraq and particularly in Afghanistan to certainly be of concern. What the Secretary said in terms of the, uh, investments in terms of improvements and education, the focus on leadership is exactly right. Uh, but we also have, I think, we have -- still have -- significant work to do and the leadership is focused on that.
You know what might help reduce sexual assaults? Gates and Mullen no longer saying "I have a zero tolerance" policy. Sexual assault is a crime. Of course there should be a zero tolerance policy just as they should have zero tolerance for some service member murdering another. Crimes are crimes. With their word choice -- forget what they think they're saying -- they repeatedly infer that there are crimes and then there is sexual assault which is this thing they just don't tolerate. That thing is a crime and it is against the law and anyone 'tolerating' it is subject to criminal charges.
Niki Tsongas asked last and we'll note her because she often addresses this issue. However, one thing to remember with Gates' responses above and below? He's out. He was bragging about it in his opening statements, when he ad-libbed from his prepared remarks (which he otherwise read word for word) to state this was "my fifth and final budget request." So this oversight that he's never provided but he wants to pretend he has? Someone should have asked him, "How much are you delegating to those immediately below you so that there can be a smooth transition when the new Secretary of Defense comes in?"
US House Rep Niki Tsongas: I'd like to come back to the issue of sexual assault in the military. It's obviously one that's much in the news today but really has been a longstanding issue and I think as Representative [Michael] Turner mentioned, something that this Committee has worked hard to deal with and find a way forward. But despite that -- and we've heard testimony from the various services as to all their efforts. But despite that, in 2010, there were 3,230 reported sexual assaults in the military. But by the Pentagon's own estimate, as few as 10% of sexual assaults were reported. And the VA estimates that 1-in-3 women veterans report experiencing some form of military sexual trauma. I can remember several years ago meeting with some people active in the VA in the state of Massachusetts and having a gentleman comment and say that was one of their dominant issues that they had to deal with. The Fiscal Year 2011 Defense Authorization Act required that the Department look into the feasibility of providing a military lawyer to all victims of sexual assault. While this is a good first step, I was disappointed that provisions which guarantee all victims the right to legal counsel and protect the confidentiality of conversations between victims and victim advocates were not included in the final version of the 2011 NDAA [National Defense Authorization Act] though they were in the House version. We would be shocked if conversations between their client or advocate were not privileged in the civilian world. And similar rights must be afforded to service members who may be the victim of a crime. Why would the Dept resist such a common sense measure? And I ask this of Secretary Gates.
Secretary Robert Gates: I hadn't realized the Dept had resisted it and, uh, I must say, uh, along with Mr. Turner's comments, these things sound to me like, uh, reasonable, uh, actions. And so I will take out of this hearing the charge to look into whether -- if we opposed it, why we opposed it and-and why we should not go forward on our own even without legislation.
US House Rep Niki Tsongas: And I would appreciate once you do that, getting back to me in some form so that I and others who felt this was very important. One of the things we have found is that despite all the good efforts on the parts of the services that the follow up procedures legally do not support -- undermine all the efforts you have made in preventing this in the first place, providing access to medical care. But if the follow up legal processes do not sufficiently protect the victim, make them feel comfortable in coming forward that it undermines all the good work you've done. They become suspect of the entire prospect, feel very much at risk. And this was one very common sense way, going forward, in the legal process alone that we felt we could better protect victims as they try to assert their rights.
Let's stay on sexual assault. CBS News' Lara Logan was sexually assaulted while reporting from Egypt. Mary Elizabeth Williams (Salon) gets right to the point: "Here's what you do say when something like this happens. Like countless women around the world, Lara Logan was attacked in the line of duty. She was assaulted doing her job. It was a crime of unspeakable violence. And your opinion of how she does that job, the religion her assailants share with a few million other people, or the color of her hair has nothing to do with it."
But, as Nicole Stockdale (Dallas Morning News) points out, some couldn't grasp that. One was Nir Rosen. Nir Rosen is toxic and that's why we've called him out repeatedly. He made disgusting comments about Lara Logan and Anderson Cooper. (National Review's Jim Geraghty has them here.) Rebecca's going to go into this topic tonight. I'm going to address it here in terms of Iraq.
Nir Rosen is toxic. That was obvious forever and a day. His disrespect for women is nothing new. We noted how he couldn't shut up in a Senate hearing when Senator Barbara Boxer -- on the same side as he was -- was speaking. When male senators were speaking, Nir was more than happy to wait to speak. With Barbara Boxer, he repeatedly cut her off over and over. And that was with a woman he agreed with it. He found the sexual assault on Lara Logan 'funny' because he doesn't like Lara Logan. He then goes on to suggest that more humor could have been found if men could have also sexually assaulted Anderson Cooper.
Nir Rosen is toxic. Rape and sexual assault are not funny. It's not 'great' when they happen -- even if the victim is your sworn enemy. We most recently called out Iraq 'expert' Nir for insisting -- in a guest post at his buddy Thomas E. Ricks' blog -- that, "Frankly this is a rare case where I hope Maliki violates the constitution, acts in some kind of authoritarian way to make sure he wins the elections, because the alternatives if . . ." Blah, blah, blah. When a person is bragging that they hope a country's constitution is broken, they have a problem. They are not about democracy, they are not about the process. The ends justify the means in their ethic-free universe. Now we just mentioned Thomas E. Ricks. In what world, Thomas E. Ricks, is acceptable for you to post nude photos of women to Foreign Policy? Little pin up photos? It's not acceptable. At that point, Nir Rosen's friend Thomas E. Ricks was still pretending to be interested and focused on Iraq. And then, suddenly, there's a T&A nude photo. How is that welcoming to women?
It's not. Nir Rosen, Thomas E. Ricks and other toxic players are not welcoming to women. And they haven't been held accountable. If Thomas E. Ricks wants to start his own version of Playboy, he can do so. But who gave him the right to smutty up Foreign Policy? Who gave him the right to run off readers who no longer felt welcomed knowing that Ricks was now posting nudies and encouraging a strip-club mentality in the comments? What the hell did any of that have to do with foreign policy? Not a damn thing.
But because women were the ones being exploited, the left was silent. Just as they were silent when it came to Scott Ritter. How many times does Scott Ritter have to be busted for seeking sexual encounters with underage females (girls, not women) before he's pulled from the left? In the final days of her Air America Radio program, Laura Flanders could call out some sports team for using a Gary Glitter song due to the statutory rape Glitter committed (14-year-old girl). And that might seem brave -- especially considering the rest of the left. However, Laura booked Scott Ritter for her program repeatedly. In January 2003, it was learned Ritter had been twice arrested for seeking sex with girls. And yet Amy Goodman continued to bring him on her show and treat him like a trusted guest. As we pointed out, was it going to take an underage girl getting assaulted for the left to walk away from Ritter? The whole time they (and he) insisted this was just the Bush administration going after him because he was speaking out against the illegal war. But in November 2009 -- when Barack's president -- he's busted again. For the same thing.
Why weren't the charges taken seriously by the left? Long after they were known, Laura Flanders had him on her show, Amy Goodman was interviewing him repeatedly, Seymour Hersh was touring the country with him, The Nation was publishing pieces by him, on and on it went. Known to be twice arrested for attempting to have sex with underage girls. And it was a-okay. It's toxic and it's past time the left started taking this sort of thing seriously.
You saw it in the St. Julian Assange nonsense as well. Two women may have been raped by Julian Assange. Immediately, it was time to tar and feather those women. They're liars, they're honey pots, they're this, they're that. And Ray McGovern, Dennis Bernstein, Naomi Wolf, John Pilger, Keith Olbermann, Naomi Klein and so many others got away with it because women are nearly the first thing that can be tossed out of the raft. Media Lens disgraced itself by attacking those who defended the women. We defended the women community wide. Defending them never required saying, "Julian Assange is a rapist!" I have no idea what happened, I wasn't present. But I know that if charges are brought, we don't attack victims. We wait for facts. (And, as we've seen this month, Julian Assange's male attorney is one of the biggest liars in the world.) For some time, Julian hid behind his attorney and allowed them to make attacks on women and feminists. Then Little Julie wanted to join in. And no one wanted to call that out either.
The comments of Naomi Wolf, Naomi Klein and all the rest (including the revisionary Nicole Colson) are exactly of the same toxic strain as Nir Rosen's. The two women didn't matter -- just like Lara Logan didn't matter -- because 'other things' were more important. And -- ends justifying the means -- the two women could be attacked, savaged and all victims and survivors of sexual assault could be as well in the process and it didn't matter because nothing mattered more than 1 man (Julian, in this case).
Women are nearly the first thing that can be tossed over the raft. Nearly? Gay males get tossed out by the left even quicker. (The right wing is far worse than the left on these issues, I don't pretend otherwise. But I'm not a right winger and my focus here is on the left and the way the left has damaged itself repeatedly in the last years.) Nir Rosen thought it would be funny if men sexually assaulted Anderson Cooper. He thought that was 'funny.' And he's allegedly an educated person -- apparently one educated at Jim Belushi University on an Andrew Dice Clay scholarship.
The left should have policed their own. They didn't. And that refusal to do so has consequences. If you're failing to grasp that, Amy Goodman pretends she's interested in abortion issues today because it allows her to interview Ann Richards' daughter. That's the only reason for that segment. If there was any segment required today by the news cycle, it was on the women and men who are suing the Pentagon over sexual assaults. (See yesterday's snapshot.) But that's reduced to a headline so that Ann Richards' daughter can speak. Maybe had she spoken in out in 2009, the current anti-choice culture would not be so determined? But speaking out, Cecile, would have required you calling out the White House and ObamaCare's assault on women's health. You weren't prepared to do that. Now that the attacks are coming from the right, Cecile's all ready to speak out. How very brave you are not.
Iraq. The story of Iraq's not been told by our brave leaders of the left. Not just because they all walked away but because look at all they ignored when they were covering Iraq. Naomi Klein is so offended that she got called out for attacking the two women who might have been raped and so offended that she can't hide behind feminist (she's not a feminist, she never was one). But what's really offensive is she supposedly covered Iraq and yet never found time for Iraqi women.
Never. Nir Rosen couldn't make time either. (In fact, of the most highlighted left voices covering Iraq, it's really been only Dahr Jamail and Patrick Cockburn who've covered women.) Manal Omar is the author Barefoot in Baghdad: A Story of Identity -- My Own and What it Means to be a Woman in Chaos. Starting in the 1990s, she has done humanitarian work in Iraq. NGO Coordination Committee in Iraq interviewed her about the status of women's rights in the new 'democratic' Iraq. Excerpt:

NCCI: As the former Regional Coordinator for Women for Women International in Iraq, what do you feel are some of the greatest obstacles facing NGOs which operate in the sector of women's rights?

Manal Omar: The biggest challenge is when women become the negotiating chip. One of the titles of my chapters in my book is "Negotiating Chip," because I witnessed too often how women's rights were used during political or social bargaining. For example, you may have high-level Kurdish representatives that believe 100% in women's rights. However, during political debates, or when it's time to vote on a resolution, they will not vote pro-women. When I would challenge them, they often would say that their primary issue is federalization, and as a result, they would strike a deal on a resolution for women if more conservative parties would vote on the resolution of federalization. The second challenge is what I call the "not now" argument. This argument usually states that because of overall violence and instability, it is not an appropriate time to discuss women's issues. I have witnessed how the "not now" easily becomes the "not ever." Women must maximize the window of opportunity to push their rights forward.

It's amazing that left publications haven't been interested in Manal Omar's book. Until you realize how the destruction of women's rights in Iraq remains the story the left ignored. What else got ignored? How about the assault on Iraq's LGBT community. At a time when you had three members of Congress addressing it, at a time when the Denver Post and New York Times were addressing it, The Progressive and The Nation and Democracy Now! couldn't be bothered. When it did pop up on Pacifica (KPFK), the guest brought it up and the host (Lila Garrett) expressed shock at the news she'd never heard of before. That did not, however, lead her to book someone to address the topic.
The left looks the other way at what Nir Rosen said and the reason is because his comments reflect their own attitude. A gay man being sexually assaulted is funny to them. A woman being sexually assaulted, to them, does have it coming if she's not their 'kind of woman.' And that's been reflected over and over in the coverage. Nir Rosen is toxic and his remarks were toxic but he existed and was encouraged in a toxic culture. Hopefully, he walks away from all of this with -- or develops -- a more inclusive scope than he had yesterday. It'd be really helpful if those who created and fostered the environment for such remarks could learn something.
I suppose both God and the March of Freedom work in mysterious ways. Prior to the past 20 years of U.S. assault on Iraq, there were gay bars and open homosexuality in Baghdad. Now the shiny new Iraqi Constitution sanctions the murder of unfaithful women and of homosexual men whether faithful or not. "Abu Qussay, an Iraqi father who killed his son after the son's homosexuality was revealed, is proud of the murder. 'I hanged him in my house in front of his brother to give an example to all of them and prevent them from doing the same.'" Between 2003 and 2009 at least 455 gay men were brutally murdered , many through a technique that glues the anus shut and then forces the victim to consume a drink that causes diarrhea. Videos of this have been proudly circulated.
Your tax dollars at work, my fellow Americans. You cannot destroy a nation and hire religious fanatics to attack other types of religious fanatics without creating hell on earth. And that is what we have done in Iraq. Meanwhile our own gay activist groups take some interest in advancing the rights to marry or work or obtain healthcare without discrimination, but primarily they have been obsessed with the goal of participating openly in the next sociocide.
Maybe others can follow David Swanson's lead? If not, we (on the left) will quickly become the very thing we once protested against.
Protests continued in Iraq today. David Ali (Al Mada) reports that the government in Baghdad is expressing concerns about the ongoing protests and Ali notes that "hundreds" have demonstrated in Baghad in the last days carrying banners which called for basic services (such as adeuqate sewage) and demanding change. Al Mannarah reveals that Tuesday the Baghdad security resorted to water cannons and batons in order to drive out the protesters and that many of the demonstrators were wounded. There was a sit-in in the Green Zone and that Baghdad army was deployed to surrounding streets and barbed wire and concrete barriers were quickly put up to prevent more people from joining the demonstration. The demonstrators called for many things including no more arrests without warrants, basic human rights, improved basic services, an end to corruption, an end to the pensions for former members of Parliament, jobs, improved electricity, improved ration card systems. Other protests are covered in the article as well but the new feature to these ongoing protests would have to be in Kut where a number of disabled and challenged persons participated in the protests as they called for jobs by marching in front of the Wasit Provincial Council. Alsumaria TV notes, "Hundreds of Falluja citizens took to the streets on Tuesday to voice their demands. Demonstrators called to stop arbitrary arrests, to resume conscription and to dismiss any foreign nationality holder from the government. They called as well to end the US deal." Dar Addustour notes yesterday celebrations were held to mark the anniversary of the birth of the Prophet Mohammad and that Iraq's Sunni Vice President, Tariq al-Hashemi, declared on the occasion that Iraq needs to reform and to do so quickly, to hear the voice of the country's people.

Baghdad's college age youth are calling for a large turnout February 25th in Baghdad. Dar Addustour reports Sheikh Qasim al-Tai has endorsed the students' protest and stated that they have the right to peacefully protest and that no one should attack them, that to attack any one of them is to attack the dignity of Iraq itself. Of the protest in Kirkuk yesterday, the paper notes that it originated with the complaints over the lack of basic services which led to meetings where residents discussed the services, the lack of jobs and the ration card system and then called a protest. Al Mada notes that arrests of protesters has been taking place in Baghdad and, in an editorial, they note reports of violence being used against protesters in Baghdad and call on the security forces to provide protection to the demonstrators, not to attack them.
And whispers of protesters being targeted with violence became reports as the day went on. Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports a protest in Kut resulted in deaths with at least fifty-five people wounded "when private security guards and Iraqi security forces opened fire on hundreds of demonstrators". Following the assault, Tawfeeq reports, "Dozens of protesters stormed the governor's office again and destroyed furniture inside, then set the building on fire. Another group of demonstrators went to the governor's house and set it on fire." Michael S. Schmidt and Duraid Adnan (New York Times) report 3 protesters were killed while demonstrating (and before they stormed the governor's office), that the Youth of Kut was behind the protest and that they hold the governor responsible for unemployment, lack of electricity and allegedly stealing governmental funds. The governor was not harmed in the protests. Liz Sly and Ali Qeis (Washington Post) explain, "The governor fled through a back door with his guards, as crowds swarmed into the compound, looting and ransacking the building and setting it on fire, [Police Captain Mahdi] Abbas said." Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) adds, "In the afternoon, the demonstrators attacked the house of Latif Hamad al-Turfah, the governor of Wasit province, which is located near the government compound and set it ablaze. An Iraqi local television of al-Sharqiyah aired footage showing dozens of protestors rallying around the Turfah's house as a column of thick black smoke was rising in the site, while bullets were resonating at the scene."
Turning to more reported violence, Alsumaria TV reports, "Iraqi authorities uncovered a mass grave north of Baghdad on Saturday with tens of bodies of Al-Qaeda victims, many of them women, children and members of the security forces, police said. Iraqi security forces uncovered a mass grave north of Baghdad on Saturday with 76 bodies killed by Al Qaeda, in the outskirts of Al Naher region in southern Baquba." Saturday's bodies were not victims of 'al Qaeda.' AFP reports 3 Turks were kidnapped from their home in Kirkuk. Al Rafidayn reports that a Karbala car bombing wounded 2 people and a security guard was shot dead in Baghdad and the paper reports Sheikh Ashairma and his brother was shot dead in their home today by unknown assailants dressed in Iraqi military uniforms. Reuters adds that Khawla al-Sebawi was shot dead in Mosul (he had been "head of the provincial government's property registery office"), a Tuz Khurmato roadside bombing injured a police chief, a guard and a person on the street and a Mussayab bombing injured two police officers.

On the political front, Dar Addustour reports that Ayad Allawi, head of the Iraqiya bloc, held a press conference in Baghdad yesterday and announced they are propsoing four nominees for the post of Minister of the Defence -- three soldiers and one civilian -- and that Allawi stated the agreement hammered out to allow Nouri al-Maliki to become prime minister gives Iraqiya the choice in who becomes Minister of the Defense. Al Mannarah reports that despite the fact that Parliament was supposed to review the laws regarding vice presidents yesterday, the Kurdish bloc refused to take part in the session. The President of Iraq, Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, has pushed for a fourth vice president and not the three previously decided upon. This was supposed to be addressed on Sunday; however, it wasn't. The vote is now said to take place "next week."
Shortly before the start of the Iraq War, Ellen Willis wrote the following for Dissent:
The Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz gang has seized on September 11 as an excuse and a cover for an agenda that long predated it: taking advantage of the power vacuum supposedly created by the fall of the Soviet Union to wage a forceful campaign for world domination.
To say that the Bush policy is one of preemptive war is misleading. If we have information that a country is preparing to launch an imminent attack on us, and we attack first, that is a preemptive strike-arguably an act of self-defense. Attacking a specific weapons cache or factory, as the Israelis did with their bombing of the Iraqi nuclear reactor (doing the world a favor, in my view), might also be justified on defensive grounds. But the Bush doctrine goes much further, claiming our right to make war on any nation we, in our sole judgment, perceive to be a threat to us or a hostile competitor for miltary power. It discards the principle that the only legitimate war is one that defends against aggression. While we as well as others have often honored that principle in the breach, openly flouting it invites others to do so and encourages wholesale contempt for internationa law.
The Bush doctrine is also a recipe for permanent war that threatens incalcuable devastation abroad while wrecking democracy at home.
Ellen Willis passed away in the fall of 2006. Her survivors included her husband Stanley Aronowitz and their daughter Nona Willis-Aronowitz. Nona is an author and writer herself and she's also compiled a number of her mother's writings online and is the editor of the forthcoming Out of the Vinyl Deeps: Ellen Willis on Rock Music which collects her mothers writing on rock music from The New Yorker, The Village Voice. The book comes out in May and, April 30th, there will be a conference at NYU entitled "Sex, Hope & Rock 'n Roll: The Music Writing of Ellen Willis" which will feature a large number of participants including Bikini Kill and Le Tigre's Kathleen Hanna, music journalist Richard Goldstein, Maxim's Joe Levy (formerly of Rolling Stone), the Los Angeles Times' Ann Powers, Rolling Stone's Rob Sheffield, Georgia and Robert Christgau, Elle's Karen Durbin, Donna Gaines, the New Yorker's Alex Ross, Billboard's Evie Nagy, NYU's Susie Linfield and music journalist Joan Morgan. Back to the excerpt, the point is that the Iraq War did not start and then, months after, people start, "Something is wrong here . . ." The war was built on lies. Larry Johnson (No Quarter) gets at that today reminding, that "a senior officer, Tyler Drumheller, warned CIA Director [George] Tenet and Deputy CIA Director [] McLaughlin that Curveball was a fabricator. Drumheller told the Deputy Director for Operations (i.e., the guy in charge of all the spies overseas) Jim Pavitt and his Assistant, Steve Kappes. Tyler lays everything out in detail in his book, On The Brink. This is improtant stuff. Senior Officers and Cabinet Officials had enough information to know that the case for going to war in Iraq was bulls**t, but very few had the courage to speak up and challenge authority. It is almost 8 years since the Bush Administration invaded Iraq and the memories of who said waht and when are rapidly fading." The Guardian has published many stories in the last 24 or so hours on Curveball. None have really been news. Let's drop back to November 1, 2007, Clara Jeffrey (Mother Jones) responding to the press release 60 minutes was issuing about their segment on Curveball:
Ok, his name is new. And that's big. But him being a liar, and a thief (and also, a sex offender) and a whole bunch of other things 60 Minutes is claiming to have uncovered have in actuality been known for years. You can read all about the Curve Ball sage in our Iraq War Timeline. And much of the original reporting on Curve Ball was done by the LA Times. And former CIA official Tyler Drumheller, the apparent big source for 60 Minutes, has been speaking out for years.
Which is not say that Bob Simon's two year investigation won't yield some great new stuff. I'm sure it will. But I just wish they'd give credit to the LAT and others who broke or championed the Curve Ball story back before it was fashionable to call out the Bush administration.
You can click here for 60 Minutes report (text and video) from 2007. You'll note the CIA was told (by German intelligence) that Curve Ball's claims could not be confirmed and told the CIA that in December 2002. April 3, 2005, Dafna Linzer (Washington Post) reported on the findings by the Charles S. Robb-led commission:
Blix's U.N. group tested evidence supplied by an Iraqi defector codenamed "Curveball," whose tales of mobile bioweapons laboratories turned out to be fabrications, according to the report. Among Curveball's claims was that an Iraqi facility had been redesigned, with a temporary wall, to allow mobile laboratories to slip in and out undetected.
"When United Nations Monitoring Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) inspectors visited the site on Feb. 9, 2003, they found that the wall was a permanent structure and could find nothing to corroborate Curveball's reporting," the commissioners wrote.
Repeated 'reports' from the Guardian have offered no news. Possibly if Curve Ball was announcing he regretted his actions, that might be worthy of a paragraph. He hasn't offered that. So what's the point of the Guardian's non-stop filings? Michael White's column clues you in -- New Labour Party organ the Guardian is working furiously to excuse and minimize Tony Blair's actions -- and of course doing so in hopes of effecting the final report the Iraq Inquiry is currently working on. While offering excuses and lies to make Tony Blair look better, Michael White has no problem asserting Iraq would have been better if the British military had only stayed longer and blaming the peace movement for England leaving: "I suppose I could interpolate the thought too that the anti-war movement's pressure for withdrawal and for delegitimising the invasion also contributed to the desire to scuttle, and emboldened the suicide bombers and sectarians."
And the 'coverage' from the Guardian isn't just distorting in England. Check out the headline to Helen Kennedy's New York Daily News piece, "Iraqi defector responsible for prompting Bush to invade Iraq admits he made up WMD claim" -- responsible for? No. And Kennedy's own article makes that clear (in the first paragraph, no less); however, more people will see the headline than read the article. On Curveball, Thomas Buonomo (IVAW) announces Iraq Veterans Against the War are calling for an investigation into the matter:

Tens and perhaps hundreds of thousands of deaths have resulted from the invasion and occupation of Iraq. According to UNHCR, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been internally displaced and hundreds of thousands more are forced to subsist as refugees. Human Rights Watch recently reported that torture in Iraqi prisons continues under the authority of elite military units reporting to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Thousands of American men and women have lost their lives and tens of thousands suffer from the wounds of war. Families and communities across the United States are now suffering from veteran suicides, homelessness, substance abuse and domestic violence. The long-term cost of this war, including the provision of VA support for our returning veterans, is estimated to run into the trillions.

There must be accountability. Mr. Janabi manipulated the United States government in a self-confessed effort to precipitate U.S. military action in Iraq. IVAW calls for the Justice Department to investigate whether he acted alone or in concert with others who now occupy senior positions in the Iraqi government.

Media Inquiries: T.J. Buonomo,

Curveball was known to be a liar and the Los Angeles Times was able to refute Collie Powell's testimony in real time. Michael White offered revisionary lies earlier today -- revisionary lies which depend upon people forgetting or not knowing a great deal. It wasn't a rush to believe that led the US government to steal from a student's paper and pass it off as 'intel,' after all. Ed Pilkington, Helen Pidd and Martin Chulov (Guardian) 'report' that Colin The Blot Powell is outraged over Curveball and wants an investigation. Collie actually believes the world is full of suckers he can play. Two days after Powell lied to the United Nations, the Institute for Public Accuracy issued "Powell Cited Sham 'Fine Paper'" (February 7, 2003):

"My colleagues, every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we are giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence...

"I would call my colleagues' attention to the fine paper that the United Kingdom distributed yesterday which describes in exquisite detail Iraqi deception activities."

-- Secretary of State Colin Powell to the United Nations Security Council, Feb. 5

Rangwala is a lecturer in politics at Cambridge University in Britain. He has written a report: "A First Response to Secretary Colin Powell's Presentation Concerning Iraq" which takes issue with many of Powell's assertions.

In his analysis of Powell's claims, Rangwala found that substantial portions of "the fine paper that the United Kingdom distributed yesterday" referred to by Powell on Wednesday before the Council (entitled "Iraq: Its Infrastructure Of Concealment, Deception And Intimidation") were plagiarized from pre-existing sources including a paper by a postgraduate student, Ibrahim Al-Marashi, in California. Rangwala noted: "It's quite striking that even Al-Marashi's typographical errors and anomalous uses of grammar are incorporated into the Blair government document. Al-Marashi has confirmed to me that his permission was not sought; in fact, he didn't even know about the British document until I mentioned it to him.... None of the sources [in the Blair government document] are acknowledged, leading the reader to believe it is a result of direct investigative work, rather than simply copied from pre-existing Internet sources."
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Collie's sudden interest is his sudden self-interest. He sees a way out of his lies, "Blame Curveball!" Other than saying he had no regrets, this has all been repeatedly reported for years. He wasn't interested then. Collie once told Barbara Walters he wanted to be remembered as, "A good public servant, somebody who truly believes in his country. [Long pause.] Somebody who cared, somebody who served." Powell destroyed any chance of that long ago -- and those who know his real record know he destroyed that during Vietnam.