Saturday, April 09, 2011


"Oh, Bob, get off the road" is Kat's post from Wednesday and you really need to read it.

Bob Dylan performed in China. Refused to call out human rights abuses. Maybe not surprising. He's never been that brave. However, on top of that, he agreed to let the Chinese government determine which songs he performed.

"Clinton Has Tough Words For China On Human Rights" (Michele Kelemen, All Things Considered, NPR):

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had some tough words for China today — amid a crackdown on dissent there.

She unveiled the department's 35th annual human-rights report saying the struggle for human rights begins by telling the truth — and in China that means highlighting the plight of political prisoners, who are growing in number.

As he was putting the final touches on this year's human-rights report, the State Department's point person on the issue, Michael Posner, said that China is the country that keeps him awake at night.

"We are having a very rough and bad period in China, without a doubt," he said.

He says there's been a crackdown ever since the Nobel Prize went to jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo last year, and that crackdown intensified following the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia. Clinton expressed alarm today about this trend in China.

That's who Bob Dylan got in bed with this week to have a few more coins tossed his way. How very, very sad.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Friday, April 8, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, protests continue around Iraq, Nouri makes more power-grabbing efforts, today's dead includes a young girl who was killed when police fired randomly, will a shadow cabinet emerge, and more.
In Iraq, today is Departure Friday as protests took place around the country, the chant in Baghdad's Liberation Square was "OUT WITH THE OCCUPIERS!". The Great Iraqi Revolution notes, "Thousands , [F]riday Prayers - The Imam Shaikh Taha spoke frankly and critically - he was courageous and brave because he covered all the relevant points - he did not leave anything out and then the speeches, chants, slogans and thousands of people - women, old crippled men in wheelchairs and children - are all there now - Turn on Baghdad Satellite Station and you will see it all LIVE." The Great Iraqi Revolution notes: "All the roads to Tahrir are open at the moment so please all you Young Men and Women - all you Iraqi Brave Revolutionaries - Your God and Your Country demand your presence in Tahrir. Peacefully Peacfully - Dont allow them to force you to react - this is the price we have to pay to get rid of the Occupation and their stooge gang of a government." Trend notes the thousands "gathered in front of Abu Hanifa mosque in the Adhamiya areas carrying banners proclaiming 'Occupiers, get out!' and chanting slogans such as 'America leave leave, We want a free Baghdad'." Al Jazeera live blogged protests in the MidEast today and, on Iraq, they noted:
IRAQ - Protesters in Tahrir Square, Baghdad, have been talking to Al Jazeera's Jane Arraf. Many are angry about the continued oresence of US military troops in the country. One who preferred not to give their name said:
They have no credibility. They said, "By the end of 2011 we will be out of Iraq," and yesterday, Gates came here and said that there are hints about keeping the US forces, although they denied this before.
They are not going to leave Iraq, and if they don't leave Iraq by the end of 2011, then there will be no peaceful demonstrations, there will be something else.
The Great Iraqi Revolution has posted video of the protests and this one is good footage to start with. They note, "The Revolutionary Youth of A'adhamiya came out protesting with its nationalist patriotic identity after it saw the Council of Ulama's, another face of the Islamic Party, attempting to use this great revolution for its own political advantage and for its political agenda. The Great iraqi Revolution is Iraqi and refuses all the political parties brought in with and by the Occupation in its attempt to occupay Iraq and tare it apart under the guise of its false democracy." And they report, "We have just heard that at 13.05 hrs today 2 demosntrators were taken away and arrested by security forces attached to Regiment 11, from Tayaran Squarey were in Baghdad. The y were Alla'a Nabeel and Ahmed Hussain Hussain." Dar Addustour reports that students demonstrating in Baghdad were calling for a withdrawal of occupation forces as well as the press coverage of the demonstrations which have been taking place since February 25th." Mohammed Tafeeq (CNN) covers protests throughout Iraq but we'll note this on Baghdad:
Women carried pictures of their sons and husbands who are missing or were killed during the war.
"During this war, so many women lost sons and many others became widows, not only Iraqi women but also American women. We are the ones who paid the price of this war," said Shima Kareem, who was among the protesters.
In addition, the Great Iraqi Revolution notes that a protest took place in Sammarra with people demanding the occupying forces leave "and asking for the bringing to justice of all the corrupt officials." Dar Addustour reports "two thousand" demonstrated in Samarra
after Friday prayers" and called for an end to corruption (with punishment for the guilty) and for the US to leave. And they note, "Arrest of a number of demosntrators in A'adhamiya where protestors were calling for the IMMEDIATE DEPARTURE OF AMERICAN OCCUPATION TROOPS AND ALL RELATED PERSONNEL." Rana Haddad ( reports they also protested the secret prisons in Iraq and called for them to be closed and for all innocent prisoners to be released. While mosques and religious figures impacted many of the protests they were heavily represented in Adhamiya where Sheikh Sabah al-Obeidi called the protesters peaceful and stated their most important demands were the withdrawal of US forces and the release of innocent detainnes ("who do not have the blood of innocent people on their hands") -- both of which he hoped would be embraced by the Parliament and Cabinet. Sheikh Adnan al-Nuaimi also noted the detainees and stated that too many of them were unnaccounted for and they all needed to be released. Dar Addustour adds that the Aadhamiya protesters numbered in the thousands and were primarily students who called for the immediate departure of all US troops and no extensions to allow them to stay and that protesters demonstrated in downtown Falluja as well calling for the departure of all US troops and for those responsible for the 2004 Falluja attacks (when the US twice attacked Falluja) to be brought to justice before the International Court of Justice. Dar Addustour also notes that 200 buses were used to transport protesters to Basra and that the protesters there included 4 MPs. Protests are scheduled for tomorrow as well and The Great Iraqi Revolution notes, "TOMORROW - SATURDAY 9TH APRIL - The central collection and gathering point in Baghdad is Tahrir Square. Should Haliki's security forces cut off bridges and roads and cut off the Rassafa from Karkh, then people on Karch should gather in Nissour Square. Nissour Square is significant because it is the site of the Blackwater Massacre of Iraqis which has still gone unpunished." Edith M. Lederer (AP) reports that the United Nation Security-General's Special Envoy to Iraq, Ad Melkert, has "warned that unless the government tackles these demands [by protesters], Iraq's political and democratic gains so far 'may seem hollow to ordinary Iraqis'."

While protesters demonstrated peacefully, Iraqi security forces again made news for assaults again. Elisabeth Bumiller (New York Times) wouldn't be reporting, "Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates urged the Iraqi government to show restraint on Friday in the wake of an apparent attack by Iraqi security forces on a group of Iranian dissidents protected by the United States." Gates was referring to an apparent attack on Camp Ashraf. Marc Champion (Wall St. Journal) adds, "Iraq's armed forces moved against a camp holding thousands of members of an Iranian resistance movement that's based in Iraq Friday, killing dozens and wounding hundreds, according to a spokesman for the movement. It wasn't immediately possible to verify the claims of the People's Mujahedeen Organization of Iran, or MEK, of 31 dead and 300 wounded. Video clips sent out by the MEK's political wing showed armored personnel carriers and military Humvees breaching the perimeter of Camp Ashraf, apparently in the early hours of Friday morning. Five Iraqi soldiers also were reported injured." Aiden Mahler Levine and Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) note, "The U.S. embassy in Baghdad said it was 'monitoring the situation at Camp Ashraf and are in contact with the government of Iraq,' and urged 'all sides to exercise restraint'." UPI explains, "In e-mails received by UPI, the People's Mujahedeen said 20 people had been killed and 300 injured." Iraq4All News reports the names of three Camp Ashraf residents who were killed: Haneef Kafaee, Zuhair Thakiri and Hassan Awani. The assault may have legal implications for the US. Mark Tran, James Ball and Melanie Newman (Guardian) report:
The raid was the latest in a series of interventions at the camp since jurisdiction was passed from the US to the Iraqi government in 2009. A WikiLeaks cable identified by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism at City University in London shows the US was aware the Iraqi government planned to crack down on the MEK, with potentially grave humanitarian consequences.
"If the government of Iraq acts harshly against the MEK and provokes a reaction," warned the US deputy chief of mission in Iraq, Patricia Butenis, in a cable in March 2009, "the USG faces a challenging dilemma: we either protect members of a foreign terrorist organisation against actions of the Iraqi security forces and risk violating the US-Iraq security agreement, or we decline to protect the MEK in the face of a humanitarian crisis, thus leading to international condemnation of both the US government and the government of Iraq."
Phil Shiner of the UK law firm Public Interest Lawyers, which represents some Ashraf residents, said: "I have not seen these cables. However, from what I can gather their content is quite astonishing and shows that the US – and by implication the UK – knew Iraqis were treating residents inhumanely, foresaw the possibility of serious injuries in clashes at the camp, and knew what was happening at the time of the deaths but did absolutely nothing."
International law requires other states to take positive action to protect innocent civilians in these circumstances, he added.
Iraq4All News also notes that the 2500 security forces present at the assault are commanded by Nouri al-Maliki. Stephanie McCrummen (Washington Post) reports that Iraqi forces are saying one thing and Camp Ashraf spokespeople another while "Journalists were prevented from entering the sprawling settlement, known as Camp Ashraf, which is home to about 3,000 people and has polished representatives in Paris and lawyers and congressional allies in Washington."

Camp Ashraf? Since long before the start of the Iraq War, Iranian dissidents have lived in Iraq. Following the US invasion, the US made these MEK residents of Camp Ashraf -- Iranian refuees who had been in Iraq for decades -- surrender weapons and also put them under US protection. They also extracted a 'promise' from Nouri that he would not move against them. July 28, 2009 the world saw what Nouri's word was actually worth. Since that Nouri-ordered assault in which at least 11 residents died, he's continued to bully the residents. Iran's Fars News Agency reported Monday that the Iraqi military is denying allegations that it entered the camp. Specifically, Camp Ashraf residents state, "The forces of Iraq's Fifth Division invaded Camp Ashraf with columns of armored vehicles, occupying areas inside the camp, since midnight on Saturday." Of today's alleged attack, UPI notes, "Gates said no U.S. troops stationed near Camp Ashraf were involved in the clash, but may have offered medical assistance."
The Iraqi authorities must immediately launch an independent investigation into reports that Iraqi troops killed and injured residents of a camp for Iranian exiles north of Baghdad in an unprovoked attack, Amnesty International said today.
"Iraqi troops moved into the camp this morning and used excessive force against residents who tried to resist them, according to the information we have received," said Malcolm Smart, Director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Programme.
"This is the latest of a series of violent actions that the Iraqi government has taken against the Camp Ashraf residents, whose continuing presence in Iraq they oppose."
Clashes broke out this morning after Iraqi security forces took up positions in the camp using armoured personnel carriers and, apparently, live fire against residents who tried to resist them, resulting in multiple deaths and injuries. As yet, the number of casualties cannot be independently verified.
The camp in Diyala province around 60 km north of Baghdad is home to some 3,400 Iranian exiles and refugees, including members and supporters of the banned Iranian opposition group the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI).
PMOI officials told Amnesty International that due to restrictions imposed by the Iraqi government, Camp Ashraf's medical facility does not have adequate medicines or equipment with which to deal with those reported by the PMOI to have been injured in today's clashes.
"If true, this is very worrying," said Malcolm Smart. "Whether they like it or not, the Iraqi authorities are responsible for the security and well-being of Camp Ashraf's residents and this includes providing access to adequate and immediate medical treatment when needed."
Video clips of the clashes that the PMOI has uploaded to YouTube appear to show Iraqi soldiers firing indiscriminately into the crowds and using vehicles to try and run others down.
An Iraqi government spokesman said Camp Ashraf residents threw rocks at security forces in what he termed a "riot." Troops did not open fire, he said, but force was used to push residents back inside the camp.
Since the US ceded control of Camp Ashraf to Iraqi security forces in mid-2009, the PMOI has told Amnesty International that the constant military presence has made it difficult to access medical treatment inside and outside the camp.
An Iraqi security committee controls the influx of medical supplies into the camp and decides who can travel outside the camp for specialist treatment.
In July 2009 the Iraqi government stated that it had set up an investigation into the killing of six Iranian exiles during an Iraqi security force raid on the Camp Ashraf. The findings of this investigation have yet to be made public and no members of the security forces are known to have been held to account fir the killings.

Read More

Iraq: Iranian opposition group supporters must not be forcibly evicted, (Press release, 11 December 2009)

Iraq: Detainees held incommunicado risk torture, (Urgent action, 6 October 2009)

Which side is telling the truth? When Nouri's side began insisting today that there was no attack, they were just installing a new unit, they reveal themselves to be lying. That was the same excuse they gave for what took place Sunday. Saad Abdul-Kadir (Scotsman) explains, "The army stormed the camp [. . .] hurling smoke bombs at a crowd of about 100 masked people." For Al Jazeera, Jane Arraf reported on Camp Ashraf today (link is video):
Adrian Finighan: Now to Iraq and a crackdown by Iraqi security forces on an Iranian dissident camp has left 25 people dead and 320 wounded -- that's according to a representative of the camp. The Iraqi government said that five members of its security forces were injured in the incident at Camp Ashraf in Diyala Province which is about 90 kilometers north of Baghdad. Let's go live now to Baghdad. Our correspondent Jane Arraf joins us there. Tell us more about this dissident camp and why the Iraqi government wants to crack down on whatever's happening there.
Jane Arraf: Well, Adrian, this camp was really the last holdout of the major Iranian opposition group that was fostered here under Saddam. And it's a huge problem for the Iraqis. They simply refuse to leave. Many of them have European passports, many of them have ties to the United States. And in this latest clash, which took place overnight, Iraiq security forces moved in to bring in a new unit and were met with protesters throwing stones, according to officials. Now the casualty toll is in dispute but this is a base that the Iranian government has put heavy pressure on the Iraqi government to close. It's a continuing problem and the latest casualties Here in Baghdad, more protests --
Adrian Finighan: I'm sorry Jane, I was just going to ask you about the protests in Baghdad. Just as in the rest of the region, we've seen further protests there today. But slightly different from what we've seen elsewhere in the rest of the region
Jane Arraf: Well they're a little bit different because here they've gotten rid of their dictator. Saddam Husein The interesting thing about thess protest -- which take place against the backdrop of a visit by US Defense Secretary Robert Gates here is that they seem to be increasingly militant. And it's not just the burning of the US flags that we mean by that. It's that a lot of these people say it's not just the US military they want to leave, it's the US civilian presence. Now the United States has announced plans to double its embassy here to 18,000 people next year -- the biggest of its missions in the world. Protesters here say that's just not going to happen. And it will make it very difficult for the US to keep any sort of military presence here certainly after the end of this year.
Adrian Finighan: Jane, many thanks. Jane Arraf there live in Baghdad.
US staying? First, it's not as if they've left. As Nathan Hodge (Wall St. Journal) points out, "After all, the war here is not over. Over 47,000 U.S. troops remain on the ground, and the U.S. mission in Iraq, to quote a marvelously phrased memorandum sent yesterday by Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn, is not '"excepted" from cessation'." UPI reports State of Law's MP Saad Muttalibi (State of Law is Nouri al-Maliki's political slate) is giving interviews stating the US wants up to 20,000 troops in Iraq beyond 2011. Alsumaria TV notes, "Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki informed US Defense Secretary Robert Gates that the government refuses any US or foreign military presence in Iraq, Cabinet spokesman Ali Al Dabbagh said in a statement to Alsumaria." The US knows Nouri's hold on power is weak and possibly fading and have already agreed not to pressure him publicly. They did the same in the summer of 2006 and 2007 when they came to an agreement each year to extend the UN mandate -- and up until the UN announced the extensions, Nouri was denying them publicly. In other words, take it with a grain of salt. Gladkov Vladimir (Voice of Russia) reports that Sheikh Burhan Mizher (of Kirkuk's provincial goverment; heads the province's agricultural department) stating, "Of course, we want them to stay." Elisabeth Bumiller (New York Times) observes that "keeping troops in Iraq beyond the 2011 deadline would have political ramifcations in both Washington and Baghdad. President Obama promised to pull all American forces out of Iraq when he ran for the White House in 2008; Prime Minister Nouri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq is facing pressure from politicians loyal to the anti-American cleric Moktada al-Sadr to get all American troops out by the deadline." Gareth Porter (Dissident Voice) reports:
President Barack Obama has given his approval to a Pentagon plan to station U.S. combat troops in Iraq beyond 2011, provided that Iraqi Premier Nouri al-Maliki officially requests it, according to U.S. and Iraqi sources.
But both U.S. and Iraqi officials acknowledge that Maliki may now be reluctant to make the official request. Maliki faces severe political constraints at home, and his government is being forced by recent moves by Saudi Arabia to move even closer to Iran.
And it is no longer taken for granted by U.S. or Iraqi officials that Maliki can survive the rising tide of opposition through the summer.
As early as September 2010, the White House informed the Iraqi government that it was willing to consider keeping between 15,000 and 20,000 troops in Iraq, in addition to thousands of unacknowledged Special Operations Forces. But Obama insisted that it could only happen if Maliki requested it, according to a senior Iraqi intelligence official.
And the White House, which was worried about losing support from the Democratic Party's anti-war base as Congressional mid-term elections approached, insisted that the acknowledged troops would have to be put at least ostensibly under a State Department-run security force.
Nathan Hodge (Wall St. Journal) reports that Gates addressed US soldiers Friday and told them his three-day trip to Iraq was "all about" extending the US military presence in Iraq beyond the end of this year.
Nouri's attempt at seizing control of the government never ends. Al Rafidayn reported this week that Nouri's spokesperson Ali al-Dabbagh informed the press that from now on all official remarks will come from either a spokesperson for the Ministry of Government, a spokesperson for the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nouri or Nouri's spokesperson. Statements by any other government official or spokesperson, al-Dabbagh insisted, had "no value" from Wednesday forward. He noted that the Cabinet had adopted the measure -- the Cabinet Nouri controls. Power grabs are nothing to Nouri who has already insisted that the previously independent Independent High Electoral Commission was now under his supervision. Rumors swirl in Iraqi media that the head of the commission, Hadmiay al-Husseini, is resigning; however, Aswat al-Iraq reports that the Commission's Faraj al-Haydari states that the commission has received no resignation notice.
Nouri's efforts at control and inability to form a complete Cabinet all this time later is alarming many officials in Iraq. Al Rafidayn reports Ayad Allawi and Ahmad Chalabi are meeting and working on plans for the formation of a shadow government. England has a Shadow Cabinet which is the political party out of power forming a cabinet with alterntive members to the main cabinet -- hence "shadow," they mirror the larger cabinet. This is not a "take over the government" body in England (except via elections if the voters want it). It is an organized opposition prepared to make counter-arguments and policy proposals. The National Conference's Mohammed al-Moussawi explains that the need for the shadow government was registered when Nouri angered the leaders of many political blocs by talk of dissolving the current government (which he's found unruly) and replacing it with a "majority government" which he would pick. An amazing -- and Constitutionally non-existent -- power for someone whose political slate came in second in the March 7, 2010 elections. Dar Addustour reports today that Adel Abdul Mahdi is part of the team meeting on the shadow government issue. He is one of Iraq's two vice presidents (despite the fact that their terms expired), the Shi'ite one, and he's announced he will not seek the post in the 'new' government Nouri 'is forming' since November.
Tim Arango (New York Times) notes a move to ease tensions:

But just recently, to calm tensions in the northern part of the country near Kirkuk, the divided city whose control is disputed by three ethnic groups -- Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen -- a battalion of American forces has been patrolling and taking up positions on their own. "We went in as U.S., unilateral," said Maj. Gen. David G. Perkins, commander of United States forces in northern Iraq, in an interview this week. He stressed that everything was done in coordination with the Iraqi Army and the pesh merga, the security forces from the semiautonomous Kurdish area in the north.
Aswat al-Iraq notes that a struggle at Kirkuk's Technological Institute has left at least nine college students wounded. [. . .] Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports [. . .] on the Kirkuk struggle explains, "Dozens of Turkmen students had rallied at the institute to protest against corruption and bad management in Kirkuk. Some of the students, who carried flags and banners of the Turkmen party, chanted slogans that provoked Kurdish students, police said. Iraqi security forces entered the institute and brought the clashes to an end, according to Kirkuk police." Xinhua offers, "The clash occurred during a ceremony held by the Turkoman students to honor the Turkomans who were killed in the town of Elton Kubri, some 40 km north of Kirkuk City, during the Turkomans' uprising in 1991 against Saddam Hussein's regime, the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity." Reuters quotes 19-year-old Turkmen Aydin Mohammed stating, "A few days ago Kurds were marking the events of Halabja, and we did nothing to stop them. Today we have a day for Turkmen martyrs, and they prevented us from observing it because they are racist."
Today Dar Addustour reports that Turkmen and Kurdish students at the cafeteria of the same Technical Institute to Kirkuk fought again today -- this time over a video the Turkmen were showing (music video) which included images of a KRG flag being burned.
Reuters notes Taha Hamad Jaafar (al-Masar TV) and Abid Farhan (who belonged to a political prisoner advocacy group) were shot dead in Mahmudiya and, dropping back to yesterday for both that follow, a tribal leader was shot dead in Kirkuk and a Baghdad roadside bombing claimed 2 lives and left four more people injured. Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) notes al-Massar TV's Taha "Hammed was also a senior official with the governing Islamic Dawa Party -- Iraq Organization" (that's Nouri's political party -- not his political slate, his politcal party). Aswat al-Iraq reports 1 woman was shot dead in front of her al-Kut home, a Baghdad roadside bombing injured one person, a Baghdad bombing wounded Lt Col Basel Muhammad Hassan, and a Nasseriya clash over the corpse of a child found in al-Hollandi River resulted in police firing randomly at the citizens and killing 1 young child in the process along with injured 2 adults. Al Rafidayn adds that Baghdad landmine claimed the life of a young girl in Baghadad and left her sister injured.
April 9, 2003, US forces were in Baghdad and occupying government buildings. Which is why the date will see protests in Iraq and around the world. In the US, protests on the 9th will include NYC and San Francisco will be the staging area for an April 10th protest. At David Swanon's War Is a Crime, Maureen Baillargeon Aumand contributes an essay on the action which includes:
On April 9th in NYC and 10th in San Francisco, human rights, civil rights, and workers rights leaders and advocates - religious and secular - Jewish, Muslim, Christian, humanist - are linking arms in solidarity and common commitment with antiwar activists to take to the streets in the face of what Dr. King once called an "unfolding conundrum".
A true tempest is rising from the triple threat which Dr. King outlined so eloquently decades past of materialism, racism and militarism.
To be sure there is a tsunami fast approaching which is threatening by its erosion of foundational principles and their hard won incarnation over two centuries of struggle and evolution to tear the very moorings out from under all that has made the "American experiment" such a bearer of hope and promise for the human planetary community as a whole.
Materialism - because greed and possession rule. What is good for business is god and what is good for business is the bottom line- period and this religion has been franchised : in education, in health care, in fiscal policy and budgets, in statehouses, in boardrooms, in elections, in Congressional chambers, in the White House, in foreign policy. Though rhetoric may say otherwise (and even that is shifting and shifting blatantly, frighteningly) honest men all know this to be so.
Materialism because the worship of capital at the expense of all else fosters systemic myopia, self-interest, isolation, fragmentation, class division; materialism because its maintenance requires spiritual blindness, mindless group think, loss of idealism, cynicism, a retreat to hedonism or vapid disinterest.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Is Naomi Wolf's (air)head exploding?

Ben Smith (POLITICO) reports that attorney Bruce Fein has prepared a 15-page paper arguing that Barack's impeachable for the Libyan War.

I read that and could not stop laughing.

I agree with Fein, it is impeachable.

Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul have made the same points.

But coming from Bruce Fein? That's just amazing.

Bruce Fein's a right-winger, yes, but he is also Naomi Wolf's friend. Naomi, the Supreme Kool-Aid drinker.

Poor Naomi. She may finally have to face the truth that she got in bed with a War Hawk.

Remember when she was trashing Hillary in 2007 and insisting that, feminist that she was, she knew Barack and Barack would end Guantanamo. He didn't. He didn't do a damn thing.

Yet despie the fact that she refuses to take accountability, she really thinks the world still needs to hear from her.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Wednesday, April 6, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, Ban Ki-moon addresses some serious issues related to Iraq, Tom Brokaw covers Iraq for NBC, Robert Gates visits Iraq, there is no progress to be found there, the VA stalls a Congressional committee, and more.
Dar Addustour reports that United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted yesterday that the last two months have seen Iraqis killed as they protested for basic services, unemployment and against corruption. He stated 116 people have been injured in Baghdad, Erbil and Basra and that security forces had prevented Iraqis in Baghdad from access to the protests. Joe Sterling (CNN) quotes Ban Ki-moon stating, "Unless there is quick and concerted action by the Government of Iraq to address these concerns, the political and security gains that Iraq has made in recent years could be undermined." Alsumaria TV adds, "Presenting a report at the U.N. Security Council Ban Ki-moon said that his organization is concerned about the situation in Kirkuk and the deployment of five thousand Peshmargas in the past two months." From the [PDF format warning] UN report:
A number of demonstrations have taken place throughout the country during the reporting period, most notably in Basra, Kut, Baghdad, Mosul, Karbala, Diwaniyah, Anbar and Sulaymaniyah. While many protests have been peaceful there have been instances of violence in which some protesters or security forces have allegedly been killed. At least 20 people were reportedly killed since the beginning of the protests and 116 injured in shootings. UNAMI has received reports of arrests, unlawful detention and torture of demonstrators. Several journalists and media workers who were covering the protests were arrested, threatened and ill-treated by the police.
[. . .]
While mindful of the need to maintain security and order, and prevent forces opposed to Iraq's democratic transition from exploiting the situation, I am concerned at the use of force by Iraq's security forces in handling some of these protests and the consequent loss of life. Of grave concern also are reports of arbitrary arrests, detention and torture, and the ill-treatment of journalists and media personnel covering these events. I call on the Government of Iraq to conduct an independent investigation into these alleged violations and to ensure a measured approach in dealing with future protests by exercising maximum restraint and avoiding violence.
The UN Secretary-General has a report which includes the protests, the way protesters have been targeted and the way media has been targeted but the same topics have gotten little to no attention from the US media. The editorial board of the New York Times did offer "Mr. Maliki's Power Grab" followed the Washington Post's "The Arab uprising spreads to Iraq." The Post editorial would note, "Some worry that is where Mr. Maliki is headed. As The Post's Stephanie McCrummen reported , some of the repression has been carried out by black-suited special forces under his command. Thanks to a favorable court decision, the prime minister has been moving to take control of electoral authorities and other previously independent bodies. Mr. Allawi announced that he was withdrawing from a national policy council because Mr. Maliki had not followed through on promises to give it real authority." And Stephanie McCrummen was the one of the few print reporters for a US outlet covering the protests (Jane Arraf covered the issues for the Christian Science Monitor and AP had several reporters covering it). Even now, all this time later, most Americans have never heard from their news outlet of choice (exception being NBC, we'll get to it) about the events Ban Ki-moon is describing.
It's real to Iraqis. They face tremendous odds to protest. The Great Iraqi Revolution notes, "2 demonstrators were kidnapped by security forces in Tahrir Square last Friday. They are Sallah Muhsin and Haidar Shehab Ahmed." They also note:
No silence after today
4/9 is the day of every honorable Iraqi . . .
It is the day for everyone who lost a brother or a friend or a dear one . . .
It is a day for every mother who has lost a son, her very being . . .
It is the day of The Great Victory, Inshallah.
In London there will be solidarity demonstrations. April 8th, from one in the afternoon until 5:00 pm outside "The Embassy of Occupied Iraq" on 3 Elvaston Place. April 9th, from noon until three p.m. at the US Embassy, 24 Grosvenor Square. April 9th, there will be a protest in Washington state at Bellevue Square "the fountain area outside Macy's along Bellevue Way, NE" starting at 1:30 p.m. A solidarity demonstration will take place in Italy on the 9th as well.
Aswat al-Iraq notes that 71 detainees were released from jails in Sulaimaniya following last Friday's protests in which security forces turned on protesters resulting in 35 people being injured. Aswat al-Iraq also reports a demonstration today in Tikrit in which protesters demanded that Ammar Yousif Ali, the Province Council Chair, resign as a result of last week's attack. As many as 65 people were killed in Tikrit in an assault on the provincial government headquarters. Tim Arango (New York Times) notes the still reeling community:

"We were expecting something to happen, but not this big," said Noor al-Samari, a member of Parliament from Salahuddin Province, which includes Tikrit. "The security forces are very weak."
An interview with Mr. Samari on Sunday was cut short after he received a call summoning him and local security officials to Baghdad to appear before a parliamentary committee investigating the attack.
Echoing several local leaders, he was highly critical of American forces for not being directly involved in the fight. "They were close by but didn't do anything," he said.
US coverage of Iraq, yesterday on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams (click here for video), Tom Brokaw reported from Baghdad having spent the day prior in Jordan examing the protests taking place there and King Abdullah II's response.
Brian Williams: Meanwhile Defense Secretary Robert Gates is on his way to the Middle East for a tour of US military operations there. Tom Brokaw is in the region tonight, doing some reporting for a prime time special to air at a later date. Tonight Tom's in Baghdad where the US has expended so much blood and treasure and where there's been a real spike in violence in recent weeks. And, Tom, it's true, it has fallen from the news because of everything else going on elsewhere in the region.
Tom Brokaw: Brian, it has been a violent week here in Iraq. In Baghdad alone on Monday, there were three IED explosions north of Baghdad, gunmen stormed a home and killed 6 people, a police officer was shot at a security checkpoint, and, over the weekend, two more American soldiers were killed presumably by enemy fire. American forces are scheduled to leave this country by the end of the year but this week the American Ambassador [James Jeffrey] said that the Embassy staff will more than double from about 8,000 personnel to about 20,000. So Iraq is a reminder of just how difficult it is to establish a democracy in this part of the world. After all, we've been at war here for eight years now. Hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent and thousands and thousands of lives have been lost on both sides. So Secretary [Robert] Gates will face some tough questions in this region about the American intentions going on now with all this new turmoil -- especially in an area where the United States has such big stakes politically and economically. And a lot of those questions, presumably, will come from King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. I was told on the way in here that the Saudis are so unhappy with the Obama administration for the way it pushed out President [Hosni] Mubarak of Egypt that it sent high level emissaries to China and Russia to tell those two countries that Saudi Arabia now is prepared to do more business with them. Back here in Iraq, the political and the economic situation remains fragile, so fragile that the UN Secretary-General [Ban Ki-moon] is worried that this country could now see massive protests in the streets once again. One side of good news, however, Brian, on the way in from the airport today, we went through several checkpoints, they were all manned entirely by Iraqis, no Americans in sight. Brian?
Brian Williams: That is a big change. Tom Brokaw, back in a familiar spot for a lot of us tonight in Baghdad, Iraq. Tom, thanks.
As Williams and Brokaw noted, Gates is in Iraq. Kevin Baron (Stars and Stripes) reports, "With Iraq's security and the legacy of an eight-year war that has claimed more than 4,400 American lives hanging in the balance, Gates already has told Congress that the U.S. would consider Iraqi requests to extend the U.S. troop presence. But first, the Iraqis have to ask. In Baghdad, however, Iraqi leadership remains disjointed following last year's protracted post-election negotiations to form a government." From the Feb. 16th snapshot. exchange which took place during the House Armed Services Committee hearing on Defense Dept.'s budget:
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.
Missy Ryan, Caroline Drees and Sophie Hares (Reuters) quote an unnamed Dept of Defense official stating, "If they [Iraq] are going to ask for modifciation or anything else [regarding US troops remaining in Iraq past 2011], it would probably be in their interest to ask for it sooner rather than later because we're starting to run out of months. . . . The ball is in their court." CNN quotes "a senior defense official" (unnamed) stating "it is important for them [Iraq] to complete the government formation-process, particularly to get the security ministries dealt with." Dar Addustour explains that there are now four candidates for Minister of the Defense. That would be good news if this were April 2010 and not April 2011. But a year after the elections, this is yet another sign of how indecisive and ineffective Nouri al-Maliki truly is. Nouri had nominated Kahlid al-Obedi for the post of Minister of Defense; however, he could not muster the required votes in Parliament. Elisabeth Bumiller (New York Times) observes, "After arriving in Iraq on Wednesday, Mr. Gates took off his tie and sat outside on the lakeside terrace of one of Saddam Hussein's former palaces, now used by the American military, and talked to his aides in the relatively cool Baghdad air."
And there is no 'progress.' Al Rafidayn notes the municipal government of Baghdad is trumpeting the re-opening of 121 streets in the city. That may pass for 'progress' to some. But Grant Smith (Bloomberg News) reports that Adnan al-Janabi, Chair of the country's Oil andd Energy Parliamentary Committee announced yesterday that Iraq will not be able to pass the oil law "by this summer." For those paying attention, this has been an issue for some time. The White House put it in their benchmarks for success back at the start of 2007 -- and both the US Congress and Nouri al-Maliki signed off on the benchmarks. If the benchmarks were not achieved, the US funds were supposed to be cut off. And the assumption was that, by 2008, the benchmarks would be accomplished. Instead, four years later and nothing on the benchmarks including the theft of Iraqi oil. Some observers believe the US military will not leave Iraq until the theft of Iraqi oil legsilation is passed. In other Uh-oh-look-out-here-it-comes developments, Alsumaria TV reports that Mahmoud Othman, Kurdish MP, is stating he expects Nouri al-Maliki's (incomplete) Cabinet will "collapse."

Remember those benchmarks? One of them was reconciliation. Meaning to take Paul Bremer's de-Ba'athification program - outlawing Ba'athists from participation in the new government -- and making it a de-de-Ba'athification process. As part of that effort, a 2008 law was passed. However, as many noted in real time (including US House Rep Lloyd Doggett), it was not implemented and just sat there. Haider Ibrahim (AKnews) reports that Nouri's State of Law slate is now objecting to the law and, despite Parliament stating it needs to be enacted, Nouri's slate is saying it must not be.
Meanwhile Ayad Allawi continues discussing the deal. Allawi was the first one to explain in any substantive detail US Vice President Joe Biden's behind-the-scenes role in securing the prime minister post for Nouri. He has since declared a "coup" has taken place noting that the deal hammered out by various parties -- including Biden -- is not being followed. Al Mada reports that today he declared the deal had the written consent of Nouri al-Maliki's representative Hassan Sinead and, even with that, it is not being followed. For background, we'll drop back to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's report:
The new Government was formed on the basis of a power-sharing agreement, reached on 11 November 2010, between the main political blocs. Following the agreement, the Council of Representatives lifted de-Baathifciation charges against three key Iraqiya bloc leaders. One of the leaders, Saleh al-Mutlaq, was appointed as one of the three Deputy Prime Ministers. The other two Deputy Prime Ministers, Hussein Shahristani and Rowsch Shaways, were appointed from the National Alliance and the Kurdistan Alliance, respectively. Most ministerial posts were divided on the basis of the power-sharing agreement.
[. . .]
The formation of the proposed National Council for Strategic Policies, also agreed upon in the power-sharing agreement, has not taken place. Although a draft law for its establishment was presented in the Council of Representatives in late over its proposed competencies, composition and the mechanism for the election of its head. The leader of the Iraqiya bloc, Ayad Allawi, who was initially expected to assume a leadership role in the Council, stated in March 2011 that he would no longer seek a position on it.
In his observations, he declares, "I commend Iraq's political leaders for their commitment to dialogue and consensus building, which made the formation of a national partnership Government on 21 December 2010 possible. That transition from one elected Government to another was an historic accomplishment and brought an end to months of political uncertainty. However, further steps need to be taken to complete the Government formation process as soon as possible, including appointments to key security posts. In the interest of national reconciliation, I also call upon Iraqi political leaders to establish the National Council for Strategic Policies, which was agreed as part of the power-sharing agreement reached between the political parties."
Today UPI counts 9 dead and fourteen injured noting a Baaj suicide bombing which claimed the lives of 3 people (plus the bomber) and left seven injured, a police officer was shot dead in Mosul, a goldsmith was shot dead in Mosul, two Baghdad roadside bombings claimed 2 lives and left six people injured, 1 government worker was shot dead in Baghdad and 2 Babel bombings left 1 Sahwa dead and another injured. In addition, Aswat al-Iraq reports a brick plant collapsed in Missan Province leaving eight people dead.
Adel Fakher is an Iraqi journalist. He is now an award-winning journalist having won for Best Journalistic Material on Landmines in Iraq. Aswat al-Iraq, the news outlet he works for, reports that he was presented with his award Monday: "The reporter won the award for an interview he made last year with former environment minister Nermin Othman on statistics of minefields in Iraq and the ministry's efforts to remove and clear these mines in cooperation with the United Nations and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)." Monday we noted the attacks and assaults Iraqi journalists repeatedly face while attempting to do their jobs. That day the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory explained the latest journalist to be targeted is Morteza Aahtor who was arrested in Nasiriya by a "special security force sent from Baghdad" for articles he'd written. Attorney Ghassan Saleh states that Morteza was arrested not on a court order but on a government order. The Journalistic Freedoms Observatory is calling for the immediate release of Morteza. Though we noted several journalist organizations, I missed one. The Committee to Protect Journalists notes Monday:

In Iraq today, security forces arrested Murtadha al-Shahtour, media director of Al-Nasiriyya's police department and a regular contributor to the independent daily Azzaman and other news websites. On January 2, al-Shahtour published an article on the website Kitabat in which he criticized government policies related to security issues. Kitabat said that al-Shatour's detention stems from the January 2 article; the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory (JFO), a local press freedom group, concurred.
Security forces arrested Raya Hamma Karim, a correspondent for the independent weekly Hawlati and Niyaz Abdullah, a journalist and a board member of JFO, in Iraqi Kurdistan today, news reports said. Both were covering student protests at a university in Arbil.
Now we're going back to Ban Ki-moon's report one more time to note a topic that often gets very little attention:
Water remains a critical issue in Iraq. Drought in the northern areas, including Kirkuk, is a key concern despite recent rains, and transboundary water resource management is a priority. The Government of Iraq requested UNDP assistance to develop an integrated water resources management programme and a negotiation strategy for Euphrates-Tigris riparian rights with its neighbours. The International Organization for Migration (IOM), UNOPS and UNDP provided consultants and resources to support disaster risk reduction in vulnerable areas of Iraq, including support to the newly created Committee of Disaster Management in Council of Ministers. UNDP, UNICEF, the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) and WHO also supported water quality monitoring and access to safe water and sanitation, as well as the revision of policy and legislation for the decentralization of master planning of water and sanitation management. In addition, UNICEF supported the development of the water and sanitation policy for KRG, which is pending endorsement.
Turning to the US, Spc Morganne McBeth died while serving in Iraq. How? That's required a great deal of work to determine. Last January, John Ramsey (Fayettevile Observer) reported, "Spc. Morganne McBeth, 19, of Fredericksburg, Va., died July 2 a few hours after being stabbed in the heart while in a tent with two friends at Al Asad Air Base. By the time investigators arrived at the hospital, her condition was too severe for them to speak to her." However, she'd already stated, in her phone call requesting help, that "she was stabbed during a scuffle." Rusty Dennen (Free Lance-Star Publishing) explained an Article 32 hearing took place in January for Spc Nicholas Bailey who, along with Spc Tyler Cain, is accused in Morganne McBeth's death. Matthew Burns (WRAL) reports Cain has been "found guilty of conspiring to obstruct justice and two counts of giving false statements." Drew Brooks (Fayetteville Observer) explains that the jury returned their verdict after two hours of deliberation and he has been demoted to private and will spend 25 days. Rusty Dennen (Free Lance-Star) reports, "McBeth's parents, Leonard and Sylvia, who live in Stafford County and attended the proceeding, said afterward they were happy, for the most part, about the vedict." The father points out, "But it won't bring our daughter back." While Sylvia McBeth notes that Cain's family was allowed to speak during the punishment phase of the trial, "But we didn't. I think they should give us the opportunity. Yes, he joined [the Army] to be all he can be. But Morganne joined so she could serve our country. He came back home to meet his family; she came home in a wooden box." May 31st is when Nicholas Bailey's court martial starts -- he is the one who stabbed (accidentally or on purpose) Morganne McBeth according to testimony.
Boxer Oscar De La Hoya is an Olympic Gold Medal winner and a ten time World Champion. He retired from professional boxing in 2009. Right now, he's just returned from Iraq. He discusses what he saw with CNN (link has text and video):
Near the end of my USO tour, I was embedded with troops from the 1st Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment. Before my departure, the unit's commanding officer pulled me aside. He had a favor to ask.
Just months before, one of the soldiers in the unit had been killed by a homemade bomb while on patrol. The soldier was a native of California, where I was born, raised and live. He told me the soldier's grieving family had been forced to move on with their lives, and asked if I would consider contacting them directly to let them know I had been with their son's unit and had seen where he lived during his tour of duty.
I was honored. I'm working with USO and Army officials to arrange an introduction. When we hear about soldiers killed abroad, it does not hit home. We don't think about their families. It is important we take a moment to reflect each day about those serving our country.
Moving over to the US Congress, yesterday the House Veterans Affairs Committee held a hearing to explore the VA's plans for new construction and the cost. Jeff Miller is the Chair of the Committee, Bob Filner is the Ranking Member. The chief witness for panel one was the VA's Scott Gould. In his opening remarks, Filner expressed surprise because the VA was calling this their ten-year plan. But that plan was predicted to cost somewhere around $53 to $65 billion while VA was asking for half that amount.
Ranking Member Bob Filner: I guess, Mr. Gould, I want to figure out what is the clever bureaucratic thinking behind putting forward a 10-year plan and then asking for a budget appropriation that will take 20 years to meet the 10 year plan? So. There must be something really clever there that I'm missing. So. It looks like you're putting together a 20-year plan. I don't understand it. If you're going to come out with a 10-year plan and you say you need X-amount of dollars and then you ask for half of that, I'm not sure why we're . . . What the point is? Why have a plan if you're not even going to ask for it to be implemented.
Gould didn't have a direct answer. Perhaps he wasn't 'authorized' by the VA to answer the questions fully and honestly? In these cases, what's often going on (may or may not be true here) is that a department knows they can't get the budget needed so they ask for a lower sum and the department assumes that once the construction starts, it will be very difficult for Congress to say no to cost overruns because who wants the eye sore of stopped government construction all over town?
The closest Gould came to some sort of a response was this to Miller, "At the same time, every member here would frankly admit that we are in a tough situation in terms of the budget, our resources are constrained. We need to make sure that every dollar we have counts. And it was with those two needs in balance -- both the large ten-year demand and the near term constraint on our budget that we arrived at a total figure of $2.8 billion [. . .]"
Miller wanted to know why activation costs and operating expenses weren't being factored in?
Gould's reply was one for the record books, "It's very important and you'll note in the budget request we clearly identify that it is not included."
It's very important, but we didn't include it, but we did note prominently that we weren't including it. But it's important, in fact, very important. But we didn't include it.
Gould then made remarks to Miller that spun the morning into a new direction. He believes the Congress and the White House can avoid a shut down this Friday at midnight if a fiscal budget plan for this fiscal year (which started October 1st) isn't approved.
Ranking Member Bob Filner: I know that was not the subject of the hearing, Mr. Secretary, but I'm very disappointed in the answer. That is, we've got to know more. Some of us are going to argue it's necessary to avoid a shut down, some of us are going to argue no, it's doesn't matter. Every agency should tell us what the consequences are. I mean, again, is somebody's disability check going to be cut [if the government shuts down]? Is somebody's claim going to be adjudicated or not. Is -- Are contracts going to be let -- I mean, these are rather obvious questions and surely you've considered them. So, I mean you've got to answer some of them. Do we have to go down everything? The Chairman asked you about burials. So I'll ask you about Disability claims, or disability checks. Are they going to be paid or not going to be paid. Or the GI Bill. Are they going to get their checks on time? I mean, we can go on and on. But you've got to give us some specifics here.
VA Deputy Secretary Scott Gould: Well perhaps I can be helfpul on the disability claims, looking back to the '95 - '96 experience where government went through this very wrenching process in conjunction with the counsel and after reviewing the appropriations uh-uh language and impact those checks did flow during that time. So I just would ask the Committee to recognize that, with respect to our veterans, their health care will be continued by virtue of the fact that we have an advance appropriation about 86% of our budget is covered over that two year period. So, as you return to your constituents with obvious concern and care, if they are working in VHA -- the Health Administration, then clearly they fit into a sitution where funding has already been provided to them so --
Ranking Member Bob Filner: What percent of remaining employees will be considered essential or non-essential? Roughly?
VA Deputy Secretary Scott Gould: Uh, we don't know what that final number is.
And I think Filner's more than underscored his concerns. US House Rep Corrine Brown noted that "it is ill advised to be closing facilites or trying to balance the budget on the backs of those who've given so much to protect the freedom we hold so dearly. I have a couple of questions and I don't know if you have the answers right now." No, he didn't have the answers. But he did have a way to waste time. Repeatedly thanking the Committee for . . .? Whatever he had been asked, just taking the Congress members words and hurling them back at them and adding a "we thank Congress for" at the start of his statements and at the end. He was very good at running out the time clock. He wasted over an hour and a half of everyone's time. The second panel was the GAO's Lorelei St. James and Raymond Kelly of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. There was very little time left for the two. St. James noted in her opening remarks and in reply to Chair Miller's questions that the GAO recommended VA provide full results on projected costs. Miller noted, "But they did not add activation and operation costs so how serious a problem [. . . ] is it?" It would be better to have those costs, she stated. As to when the VA would follow this recommendation (which the GAO has made for several years now), St. James replied, "I don't know."
Meanwhile Phillip Faruggio suggests it's "Time for Move to Move On" (Dissident Voice) explaining:

For six plus years now, this writer has stood on the street corners of my town, with but a handful of fellow progressives, to oppose the invasions and occupations of Iraq & Afghanistan. We hold signs advocating cuts in the bloated military budget and closing the nearly 800 bases we have offshore (in over 100 countries) and using the savings to save our economy. When Bush and his crew were in power, we attracted a larger number of demonstrators. However, as soon as Barack Obama was a candidate for President, the numbers dwindled to what they are now. Move and Progress Florida chose to ignore our protests, and the countless others throughout America. Why? Well, look at what the Democratic leadership and most of its members in Congress (and now the White House) support and vote for. Yes, they support the continuance of our occupations and bases in those countries. Yes, they vote to increase, not to cut, the military spending… They refuse to hold hearings on the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, or on the illegal and immoral policy of torturing suspects.
Reminder: If you served in the US military and you were stop-lossed, you are owed additional money. That money needs to be claimed. DoD announces the date to file for that additional payment has been extended:

The deadline for eligible service members, veterans and their beneficiaries to apply for Retroactive Stop Loss Special Pay (RSLSP) has been extended to April 8, 2011, allowing personnel more time to apply for the benefits they've earned under the program guidelines.
The deadline extension is included in the continuing resolution signed by President Obama Friday, providing funding for federal government operations through April 8, 2011.
Retroactive Stop Loss Special Pay was established to compensate for the hardships military members encountered when their service was involuntarily extended under Stop Loss Authority between Sept. 11, 2001, and Sept. 30, 2009. Eligible members or their beneficiaries may submit a claim to their respective military service in order to receive the benefit of $500 for each full or partial month served in a Stop Loss status.
When RSLSP began on Oct. 21, 2009, the services estimated 145,000 service members, veterans and beneficiaries were eligible for this benefit. Because the majority of those eligible had separated from the military, the services have engaged in extensive and persistent outreach efforts to reach them and remind them to apply. Outreach efforts including direct mail, engaging military and veteran service organizations, social networks and media outlets, will continue through April 8, 2011.
To apply for more information, or to gather more information on RSLSP, including submission requirements and service-specific links, go to