Friday, April 22, 2011

CCR's case and, yeah, she was right

I lied. Wednesday in "CCR," I promised that I would provide links to stories on the opening arguments Thursday (and I assumed but didn't state, on any witnesses today). I can't. I can't find a single news report on the case. I've tried searching by the judge's name, by the plantiffs and more.

This is really important case and I suspect immigration officials overstepped. The arguments are important and, of course, the verdict will be important. I assume CCR will do updates from time to time on this. But I'm not seeing any press on the case.

Vincent Warren wrote about the case earlier this month at Huffington Post. I know there's really not anything in the article that wasn't in the CCR alert I posted Wednesday. (Vincent Warren is executive director of CCR -- the Center for Constitutional Rights. Michael Ratner is president.)

Again, I assumed this would be a case that the media would cover. I was so wrong. Let me pull a C.I.: "My mistake, my apologies." forever apologizing. She's been that way her whole life. There was a joke that she probably woke upin the morning apologizing. But people who wrongly think she has a problem admitting she's wrong don't know her. C.I.'s problem is admitting she's right. You saw that this week if you paid attention. It's really past time for her to just state the obvious: "I was right." She was right. No one got the SOFA right except for her on the left. A few could have, but they were too scared and cowardly. For over two years, she told the truth about the SOFA and was attacked for it. She was called a liar and far worse for noting it was a contract (it is) and that it could be followed to the letter (it could) or it could be extended or replaced with something news. That last "or"? Are you not catching the news? That's what the US government is attempting right now. C.I. saw it.

At her lowest on this issue -- due to being attacked nonstop -- she made a comment that I love and that was closest to "I told you so" that she's gotten on this issue. I believe she made it in a 2009 snapshot. But it went something like, "It is a contract. If you can't understand that, why are you pontificating? Here's what let's do. Everyone who has broken a seven-figure contract with a corporation and walked away without facing litigation keep talking. What's that? Oh, it's just me." She has broken contracts and walked away without any law suit being filed against her. She knows contract law and if she wants out of a contract, she's always known how to get out of it -- more so than anyone who represented her.

Since Thanksgiving 2008, she has explained that the SOFA doesn't have to mean all US troops leave Iraq at the end of 2011. That's because it's a contract that can be extended or replaced. But people didn't want to listen. She tried everything to explain it. She went over it and over it. She was right. I'll say what she won't. She was exactly correct.

People should have listened. We gave two and a half years -- gave up as a nation -- that we could have spent calling for an end to the Iraq War. Instead we accepted the lie. (I know community members didn't, of course I didn't -- I know C.I. too well and too long to ever question her on a legal ruling or finding or contract when she's 100% firm on what it means.) (When she's not 100% firm? She'll call her attorney and get an opinion, she'll seek out input from her circle of friends which includes several retired and several sitting federal judges.)

By not listening, we allowed the Iraq War to continue. I think all the people who lied about the SOFA or got it wrong because they were stupid and knew not what they were talking about need to make a public apology.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, April 22, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, the White House confirms talks are going on with Iraq re: US troops, protests continue in Iraq and continue to be largely ignored by the US media, and more.
Adam Entous and Julian E. Barnes (Wall St. Journal) report, "In Iraq, top U.S. military officials believe that leaving a sizeable force beyond this year could bolster Iraqi stability and serve as a check on Iran, the major American nemesis in the region, officials said. U.S. allies Saudi Arabia and Israel have echoed the concern that if the U.S. pulls out completely, Iran could extend its influence." The two note that the talks have been regarding ten thousand US forces remaining in Iraq and that a big sticking point appears to be concern that US forces remaining on the ground past December 31, 2011 may feed into the discontent already gripping the region. The reporters note, "Thousands of Iraqis have taken to the streets in recent months, demanding better basic services and an end to government corruption. Baghdad responded last week by imposing a ban on protests on the streets of the capital." Al Mada reports that Nouri al-Maliki insisted on Iraqi television that it's a "no" to a new security agreement (or an extension). Nouri's good about making those statements in public . . . and privately doing just the opposite. This may or may not be another example of that. Christopher Islam (CBS News) reports that Adm Mike Mullen stated today that if US forces are to remain beyond December 31, 2011, then the US will need to be planning "soon, very soon" and, Islam adds, "One senior Iraqi politician told CBS News that the Iraqi Security Forces are simply not ready to assume responsibility for security and that, in addition to the problems addressed by Mullen, they lacked sufficient command and control, surveillance and electronic counter-measures that have been instrumental in reducing the violence in the country during the past four years." Though some early reports today -- after Barnes and Entous' exclusive report -- insisted that there were no talks taking place on this issue, the White House confirmed that talks were underway. Nicholas Johnston (Bloomberg News) reports, "The U.S. is discussing with Iraq whether some U.S. troops will remain in the country to assist with security even though no requests for assistance have been made, White House press secretary Jay Carney said." Carney is quoted stated, "We are also in negotiations, discussions with the Iraqis about what their security needs are and will be in the future." Meanwhile Anne Johnson (WRAL) reports that next month Fort Bragg's 83nd Airborne Division deploys members of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team to Iraq.

It's Friday, protests continue in Iraq. The Great Iraqi Revolution notes, "A party from the Union of Fallujah Lawyers led by their Secretary General, Saeed Al - Fallahi have arrived in Ahrar." That's Ahrar Square in Mosul and click here for some photos of that protest. And they note, "My freinds, it seems that in spite of all the killing the demonstrators are still arriving in Ahrar and there are now over 100,000 people there!" and "Sahar Al Mawssawi is speaking live now - she is in Al Ahrar and describing the scene - she says that the numbers of troops sent from Baghdad are even more than the number of American troops when they first invaded Iraq - she says that they do not understand why the government is so frightened of peaceful unarmed demonstrators - she also says that they want the Occupation OUT and that anyone who asks for them to stay should be expelled. She also says that they hold the Al Iraqiya Satellite station responsible for all the disappearances from Tahrir Square."
The Great Iraqi Revolution reports, "Al Hurra Al Iraqiya spoke live to us, a few minutes ago, telling us how the women of Mosul were forced to walk through lakes of cess with their children to discourage them from going to Ahrar, this morning, but to these criminals' surprise, the women pressed on and got to Ah,rar! She continued saying they have forcd us to turn into ferocious animals for our rights and for our country." Ghannam's cronies attacked "a group of young men in Al Noor District," "Thousands of young revolutionaries at the 4th Bridge being attacked by Ghannam's troops and being barred from proceeding to Ahrar" and they "raided Shaikh Barzan Al Badrani's home in an attempt to arrest him, today, but failed to do so!" In addition, "largest Turkeman Tribe, al Lehaie Beq have joined the Vigil!" And they report:
Al Ahrar was joined by a large contingent of supporters from all of Baghdad's districts including the Thawra and in The Tahrir, Baghdad they were singing and chanting "from Baghdad to Mosul". Tahrir was sad as well as wonderful - sad and tragic - a mother with three missing lovely young men crying her eyes and heart out - a sister ...with five missing brothers who was lucky enough to have located one of her brothers in one of the prisons through the Rafidain Satellite Station - young men - young industrialists - it was awful - exhausting - they just want to get rid of the occupation and Maliki and his gang. They are no longer interested in electricity or food or employment - gthey just want him out and they want their men and women out of the secret prisons - a third and a fourth - all mothers and sisters - terrible..... terrible..... Listen to them - My God! when is this hell going to end for Iraqis?????
DPA reports, "Iraqi police and military forces fired shots in the air to disperse hundreds of people in a northern Iraqi city who gathered Friday to protest against the US presence in the country, witnesses said." In addition, they note that protesters were out in Baghdad including women carrying photos of their loved ones who've disappeared into the Iraqi 'justice' system. Dar Addustour reports on the protest in Baghdad today and banners calling for the release of detainees, improved public services, an end to corruption and an end to the US occupation of Iraq. Today Human Rights Watch issued an alert about the ongoing crackdown on protesters in Iraq and this is the section on Baghdad:
Iraqi security forces in Baghdad are detaining and abusing activists in connection with protests against the chronic lack of basic services and perceived widespread corruption. On April 8, security forces in a vehicle with markings from the 43rd Brigade of the Army's 11th Division, arrested Nabil at the end of a peaceful protest at Tahrir Square. He was immediately transferred to other security forces in civilian clothing, and held for a week.
Released on April 15, Nabil, an organizer of the February 25 Group - one of several groups planning demonstrations in the capital - told Human Rights Watch that he had been beaten repeatedly while his hands were held behind his back with plastic zip-ties, and often while blindfolded. He said his captors also used a stun gun on his arms, chest, and back.
"I heard them giving orders to shock us and hit us only below the neck, so there wouldn't be any marks. They shocked me and hit me on the arms and back and chest," he said. "I got a cut on my head that was bleeding, and one of the guards yelled at another who caused it. 'Why did you make him bleed? He is a son of a bitch and will make a scandal for us. Do not leave any marks. Hit him in places where there will be no marks.'"
Nabil said his captors went through his cell phone and told him, "We know all these numbers, and we are watching and listening to all your calls.'"
Nabil had previously been arrested on March 22, and Human Rights Watch witnessed signs of physical abuse immediately after his release from that detention. Human Rights Watch sent inquiries about Nabil's arrest and others to the offices of the prime minister and security officials but has received no response from authorities.
On April 13, security forces entered the adjoining offices of the Federation of Workers Councils and Unions in Iraq (FWCUI) and the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq (OWFI), where the February 25 Group has held meetings in Baghdad. The security forces arrested one of the group's members, Firas Ali, who has peacefully participated in several of the Tahrir Square demonstrations.
A protester detained in early April for taking part in demonstrations at Tahrir Square told Human Rights Watch upon his release that he saw Ali inside a prison in Baghdad's Old Muthanna Airport. The witness said Ali was being held with more than two dozen protesters, 20 of whom were detained on the day of the April 15 demonstration.
Human Rights Watch is also concerned about Haydar Shihab Ahmad, also from the February 25 Group, who has been missing since April 1, just after taking part in that day's demonstration in Baghdad's Tahrir Square. Members of his family told Human Rights Watch that they have made several inquiries at prisons in Baghdad in unsuccessful attempts to locate him, and have received no official reply about whether he has been detained.
"Iraqi authorities need to release any peaceful protester held incommunicado and without charge, and account for those it is charging with a criminal offense," Stork said.
Iraqi authorities have taken several steps to eliminate protests in the capital from public view. On April 13, officials issued new regulations barring street protests and allowing them only at three soccer stadiums.
"We have specified Al-Shaab, Kashafa and Zawraa stadiums as permitted sites for demonstrations in Baghdad instead of Ferdus or Tahrir squares," Baghdad's security spokesman, Major General Qassim Atta, said at a news conference televised by the state broadcaster, Iraqiyya TV. "Many shop owners and street vendors have called us and complained to us because demonstrations have affected their work and the movement of traffic."
In late February, Iraqi police allowed dozens of assailants to beat and stab peaceful protesters in Baghdad. In the early hours of February 21, dozens of men, some wielding knives and clubs, attacked about 50 protesters who had set up two tents in Tahrir Square. During nationwide February 25 protests, security forces killed at least 12 protesters across the country and injured more than 100. On that day, Human Rights Watch observed Baghdad security forces beating unarmed journalists and protesters, smashing cameras, and confiscating memory cards.
Mosul and Baghdad are only some of the areas protesting continue in. David Ignatius (Washington Post) explains, the KRG (northern Iraq) is also seeing continued protests:

Kurdish leaders, facing popular protest against corrupt and undemocratic government in Iraqi Kurdistan, on Wednesday turned to Baghdad for help in quelling demonstrations that have rocked the Kurdish capital of Sulaymaniyah. Jalal Talabani, the president of Iraq and also head of the old-line Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, is said to have requested help from Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki; a source in Sulaymaniyah said that Talabani depends on a 3,000-man "security force" that is largely Arab.
The Sulaymaniyah source said that when Talabani appeared there Monday in an effort to calm demonstrators, protesters began chanting: "Mu-bar-ak, Mu-bar-ak," in a reference to the deposed Egyptian president. Talabani's colleague in the PUK, Burham Salih, this week reportedly offered to resign as president of Iraqi Kurdistan to halt the protests.
"There have been mafia-style practices used against the free media in the region," said Salih's letter in an unusually blunt criticism of the Kurdish leadership, according to Agence France-Presse. The AFP said 95 people were wounded in clashes between police and security forces in Sulaymaniyah Sunday and Monday, and seven more on Tuesday.

Mohideen Mifthah (AFP via Sri Lanka Sunday Times) notes that the "near-daily demonstrations" in the region are contributing to the creation of a new image for the KRG. Mifthah also notes, "A poll conducted by the Washington-based International Republican Institute in December offered hints for the causes behind the anger in Sulaimaniyah. Some 62% of respondents in Sulaimaniyah said Kurdish MPs were not listening to their needs, and 35% said the economic situation in Kurdistan was either 'somewhat bad' or 'very bad,' both of which were the highest in the region." Frank Smyth (Committee to Protect Journalism) observes:

[. . .] in recent months more than 150 Iraqi Kurdish journalists have been injured or attacked, according to the local Metro Center to Defend Journalists. One journalist was murdered three years ago in Kirkuk after uncovering evidence of government corruption. But most of the journalists who find themselves more recently under siege have been covering violent clashes between the Kurdish security forces and protestors in Sulaymaniyah.
This rise in attacks against the press was the backdrop for the conference, aptly named "Safety for Press is Safety for All" and held Thursday in the Kurdish capital of Arbil. Sponsored by the non-governmental Independent Media Centre for Kurdistan, the conference brought together dozens of journalists, along with Iraqi Kurdish government officials such as the minister of culture and a number of mid-level police and security force commanders. I was asked to give a global perspective on how the situation for the press here compares with other parts of the world before we began discussing the issues along with possible solutions.
One thing that united everyone in the room and that unites almost everyone in Iraqi Kurdistan is the Kurdish-speaking population's long struggle for autonomy. The pesh merga or "those who die together" armed militias continue to dominate Kurdistan today after having fought for decades as guerrilla groups against various Iraqi governments based in Baghdad. Among the movement's most revered events is the "intifada" or attempted "shaking off" of Saddam Hussein's regime in 1991 after the Gulf War. Thousands were killed and far more became refugees after the attempted overthrow failed.
The conference came at a time when the KRG was receiving more and more criticism. Ibrahim Alsragey tweeted this week, "Demanded the Iraqi Association for Defending the rights of journalists, on Tuesday, Iraqi Council of Representatives to take immediate action to stop violence against journalists in Kurdistan." Human Rights Watch's alert today also covered the KRG:
In the afternoon of April 18 in Arbil, the Kurdistan capital, dozens of armed men in civilian clothes attacked students from the Kurdistan region's largest university, Salahadin, as they tried to hold a demonstration. Witnesses told Human Rights Watch that the assailants also attacked journalists and at least one member of parliament.
A third-year Salahadin student told Human Rights Watch that a large group of organized assailants wearing civilian clothes attacked the protesters with brute force.
"We chanted 'freedom, freedom,' and then security forces came and abolished the demonstration," the student said. "They were hitting people by knives and sticks ... and arrested 23 protesters."
The assailants beat Muhamad Kyani, a member of the Iraqi national parliament for the opposition party Goran (Change) List, and his bodyguard while they were walking away from the demonstration. "There was no violence from us, nothing happened from our side to incite them," Kyani told Human Rights Watch. "I was on my way to the car when the Asayish [the official security agency for the Kurdistan region] threw me to the ground and started to kick and beat me." Kyani had two black eyes and other minor injuries from the beating. "They just wanted to intimidate and insult me and those with me," he said. "During the beating they swore at us and called me a traitor."
Reporters without Borders documented attacks on at least 10 journalists covering the April 18 protest. The group said assailants also detained numerous journalists, including Awara Hamid of the newspaper Rozhnam, Bahman Omer of Civil Magazine, Hajar Anwar, bureau chief of the Kurdistan News Network, and Mariwan Mala Hassan, a KNN reporter, as well as two of the station's cameramen.
Shwan Sidiq of Civil Magazine was hospitalized after the assailants broke his hand. "My hand is broken, my head still hurts," he told Human Rights Watch. "What I saw was what in 1988 Saddam Hussein did against me and my family."
Security forces of the Kurdistan Regional Government and the two ruling parties there, the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, have used repressive measures against journalists since the start of the protests in Iraq on February 17. The local press freedom group Metro Center has documented more than 150 cases of attacks and harassment of Kurdish journalists since February 17. In March, Human Rights Watch interviewed more than 20 journalists covering the protests in Kurdistan.
"Time and again we found that security forces and their proxies violate journalists' freedom of expression through death threats, arbitrary arrests, beatings, harassment, and by confiscating and vandalizing their equipment," Stork said.
In Sulaimaniya, daily clashes since April 17 have injured more than 100 protesters, journalists, and security forces. Witnesses told Human Rights Watch that on April 17 security forces fired live ammunition into the air to clear protesters blocking a road, while others shot into the crowd indiscriminately, wounding at least seven demonstrators.
"Police and security forces used everything to attack us," one protester told Human Rights Watch. "They opened fire, threw stones, used sticks and their Kalashnikovs to keep us from demonstrating."
Protest organizers told Human Rights Watch that on April 18, security forces violently seized control of Sara Square, the center of daily protests in Sulaimaniya since February 17, and demolished the protesters' podium. Security forces have fanned out across the city and have refused to allow protesters back to the site - renamed Azadi (Freedom) Square by demonstrators - resulting in clashes on April 18 and 19.
From the Great Iraqi Revolution, we're noting this exchange:
Ahmad H Al-Shaibani
There is an obvious "blackout" in mainstream media and press on the freedom movement and revolution in Iraq. Even AlJazeera is shying away from giving true coverage of the events. Help break this scandelous silence . Support our sisters and brothers who are risking their lives for a truly free Iraq. Spread the word... Iraqis want to be free of the US imported and Iranian fostered "Democracy".
Lamya Källner where are the media? there is not one news channel wicht reports abut that.. wehre is the world..
Where is the world media? Not Al Jazeera of course. This week, the network gave us a lovely -- and I mean that with all the sarcasm I can muster -- report on the rowing team which can only row in Baghdad but that was kind of glossed over, wasn't it? But Al Jazeera isn't interested in the Iraqi protests. That comes from a British friend with the network. He told me Inside Iraq was about to be killed -- and it was -- because Nouri didn't care for it. Nouri was far from the only one complaining. His opinion mattered though -- for the same reason that the protests are down played. Al Jazeera wanted back into Iraq. So when Nouri complained, the decision was made to kill the program. Jasim al-Azzawi was not on vacation during the weeks after the decision was made when guest hosts filled in. If he were on vacation, he wouldn't have been writing all of those columns in the Arab media (a number of which we highlighted here in real time). The network was 'kind' enough to allow Jasim to return for the last episode of his show. And then Nouri got the only program Al Jazeera needed to air cancelled. Does anyone really believe the "America, what a freak show!" program (if you watch Al Jazeera, you know the one I'm talking about) is needed? Hell no. That program's a joke turning blips on the radar in the US into 'major trends'. And don't you find it strange that when Jasim's show was killed, with all the events going on in Iraq, only Riz managed to show any interest and not any sustained interest.
It's because the network suits made the deal to get Al Jazeera back in Iraq. Al Jazeera had a troubled time in Iraq and was almost thrown out in April 2003. It managed to hand onto its Baghdad office until August 7, 2004 at which point, then-prime minister Ayad Allawi announced in a press conference that the Baghdad office was being closed because 'an independent commission' had monitored the coverage from Al Jazeera and found bias and coverage that would 'incite.' (Hoshyar Zebari, the country's Foreign Minister since 2006 and it's interim foreign minister before that, began calling for its closure publicly in the summer of 2004.)
After six years of dialogue and many concessions on the part of Al Jazeera, last March Al Jazeera was finally again allowed to reopen the Baghdad bureau. And I'm not critizing the correspondents. I'm talking about the deal made by the executives. CNN correspondents, for example, weren't happy before the start of the illegal war with the deal CNN crafted to have a Baghdad office. And, of course, after the war started, Eason Jordan confessed from the op-ed pages of the New York Times in a column entitled "The News We Kept To Oursevles." That April 11, 2003 piece opened: "Over the last dozen years I made 13 trips to Baghdad to lobby the government to keep CNN's Baghdad bureau open and to arrange interviews with Iraqi leaders. Each time I visited, I became more distressed by what I saw and heard -- awful things that could not be reported because doing so would have jeopardized the lives of Iraqis, particularly those on our Baghdad staff." So, Jordan wrote, they couldn't report on torture and targeted murders -- although he did call King Hussein of Jordan to warn him his life was in danger. If you were royalty, you got a warning. Sadly, lower down the rung you got no warning and you got no coverage. He concluded with, "I felt awful having these stories bottled up inside me. Now that Saddam Hussein's regime is gone, I suspect we will hear many, many more gut-wrenching tales from Iraqis about the decades of torment. At last, these stories can be told freely."
And Eason is right. Today any story about Hussein's corruption or torture or any other crimes can be freely discussed by the media. However, Iraqis wanting to discuss what they're experiencing under Nouri al-Maliki or Massoud Barzani are finding they can talk all they want but the western media isn't going to cover it. Maybe in twenty years, after another illegal war, a new Eason will emerge? Or maybe we should say "a new Mohammed Jassem al-Ali"? That was the Al Jazeera chief executive, a few may remember, who had to step down from his post in May of 2003 when rumors -- coming from Ahmed Chalabi -- tied three Al Jazeera correspondents with the role of spinning for Saddam Hussein's government as official Al Jazeera policy under the orders of Mohammed Jassem al-Ali. Al Jazeera denied the rumors. But they did force al-Ali's resignation. Kim Sengupta filed an even handed report on the entire matter for the Independent of London. The NewsHour (PBS) devoted a segment to the controversy that followed Eason Jordan's column confessions and Franklin Foer offered, "Well it was certainly startling to hear Eason Jordan's admission that CNN had sat on some pretty major stories, stories of torture, murder, assassination plots, but I argued that this was merely symptomatic of a larger problem that western media has in covering dictatorships. In a place like Iraq in order to get your cameras in central locales, in order to get your reporters on the ground, you need to make incredible compromises to the government. You need to subject yourself to constant surveillance by government minders who . . . you need to negotiate with the information ministry to even obtain permission to shoot your camera at a specific angle." Or as George Michael once put it, much more succinctly and much more rhythmically, "There's little things you hide, and little things that you show, sometimes you think you're going to get it but you don't and that's just the way it goes."
Thug Nouri never tires of power-grabs. Al Mada reports Nazem Ferman Al Abboudi is out and Mohssen Rissan is in as the head of the Supreme Iraqi Criminal Tribunal. Nouri fired Abboudi. At issue is said to be 50 Land Cruisers which were purchased for twice the sticker price.
In today's violence, Reuters notes a burnt corpse was discovered in Kirkuk and that late yesterday a Ramadi roadside bombing claimed the lives of 3 police officers with two more injured. Aswat al-Iraq reports a Sahwa shot dead another Sahwa late yesterday in Kirkuk and an 11-year-old boy was kidnapped in Kirkuk yesterday.
Catholic Culture notes that Pope Benedict has taped a radio and TV special for Good Friday, to air on Vatican Radio, in which he takes questions "from listeners all around the world". BBC News adds, "Those selected to put their question include an Italian mother whose son was in a coma for many years and a young Japanese girl affected by the recent devastating earthquake and tsunami. Others reportedly putting questions include seven Christian students in Iraq and a Muslim mother from the conflict-torn Ivory Coast." Rachel Donadio (New York Times) reports, "In the television question-and-answer session on Friday, the pope urged Christians in wartorn Iraq 'to resist the temptation to emigrate, which is very understandable in the conditions they are living in'."
Yesterday's snapshot noted multiple instances of my disagreeing with Gareth Porter's take on Iraq. Cleary, (see opening paragraphs including White House confirmation), Gareth was wrong about the SOFA. In terms of Moqtada al-Sadr, we disagree. Gareth sees him as powerful and unstoppable. And I noted he does what Iran tells him to do with a long list of examples provided of Moqtada making a statement and then caving. Gareth may be right on Moqtada and I may be wrong (or we could be both be wrong). But an e-mail defending Gareth argued that if Moqtada does Iran's bidding (my assertion, not Gareth's) that would mean if US forces stayed on the ground in Iraq because of a deal Nouri made, Moqtada would go after Nouri with Iran's prompting.

I don't happen to agree with that. I feel that the US government has repeatedly used the Iranian government and the Iranian government has repeatedly used the US government. They're kind of like the Democratic and Republican parties. If the US leaves, Iran faces full on wrath. Now some Iraqis can be glad for Iran's influence. By the same token some are glad for the US influence (occupation) but when the US leaves (and it will leave at some point -- whether that's the start of 2012 or years from now), Iran will face more anger than it does currently. Both the US and Iran play their games with Iraq and benefit from one another. My opinion. (Among the benefits? Both sides repeatedly having the opportunity to bash and demonize the other. Often those speeches seem less for Iraqi audiences or even international ones and purely for domestic consumption in the US or Iran.)
Roshanank Taghavi (Time magazine) reports today on Iran's complicated relationship with its neighbor:
Iran has counted on the shortage of Iraqi oil production as a buffer against potential sanctions on purchases of Iranian crude, says the Tehran-based analyst. Although Iraq is currently excluded from OPEC's quota system, Iranian oil officials admit they are worried that the resurgence of its historical rival will affect Tehran's standing within the organization. (Baghdad and Tehran clashed over OPEC production targets before Iran's 1979 revolution and during the 1980s, when the two countries were engaged in an eight-year war.) While Iran has increased influence in Baghdad nowadays because of the country's Shi'ite-dominated government, that is not likely to diminish Iraq's determination to rehabilitate its war-hobbled petroleum industry.
The continued rise of Iraq's production capacity could, in the wake of an oil glut and international economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic, endanger Iran's standing as OPEC's second largest oil exporter. Already Iran has lost some of its market share to Iraq, which has better technology and can offer lower prices for similar grades of crude. "Some of Iraq's customers came to us after it occupied Kuwait and again in 2003 after Saddam Hussein fell with the U.S. invasion," says an official from Iran's national oil company, speaking from Tehran on condition of anonymity. "Now, because of Iran's political situation and difficulties with sanctions, those customers are going back to Iraq."
Lastly, Mohamed ElBaradei has a new book entitled The Age of Deception which comes out on Tuesday. And a large number of people are going to be aware of the book by the former UN chief nuclear inspector because, in the book, AP reports, he offers "that Bush administration officials should face international crime investigation for the shame of a needless war."
TV note, Sunday on CBS' 60 Minutes:
Mount Athos
Bob Simon steps back in time when he gets rare access to monks in ancient monasteries on a remote Greek peninsula who have lived a Spartan life of prayer in a tradition virtually unchanged for a thousand years. Cameras capture the monastic life, including chanting, prayers, rituals, and the priceless relics and icons from the Byzantine Empire stored on "The Holy Mountain," Mt. Athos. (This is a double-length segment.) | Watch Video

The Billionaire
Eli Broad sets the standard for philanthropy. He's given away over $2 billion and plans on leaving even more to charity before he dies. But along with the billionaire's name that most projects he funds must take, his advice and oftentimes his control are usually part of the deal. Morley Safer reports. |
Watch Video

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

Wednesday, April 20, 2011



April 20, 2011, New York – In an important test of open government, a federal court hearing is scheduled tomorrow in the Southern District of New York at which the Obama administration will seek to convince Judge Shira Scheindlin to issue a stay of her earlier ruling requiring the federal government to provide critical electronic information, known as metadata, in the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) case, NDLON v. United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). NDLON seeks public records from the government relating to the Secure Communities program, a controversial ICE initiative that enlists local and state police in enforcing federal immigration law.
In February, Judge Scheindlin ruled that metadata is an integral part of an electronic public record and issued two orders requiring four federal agencies – ICE, the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Office of Legal Counsel – to produce the requested FOIA documents including metadata in file formats that would make it easier for plaintiffs to review the thousands of pages of released records. The federal agencies then filed a Motion for a Stay pending appeal to the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
“It is essential for the public to obtain complete and accurate electronic records from the government in response to a FOIA request,” said Anthony Diana, who joined the plaintiffs’ legal team pro bono last fall and is co-leader of Mayer Brown’s Electronic Discovery and Records Management group. “The government demands such information from individuals and organizations, and it is only fair that the government is held to the same standard.”
Judge Scheindlin’s orders were the first recognition by a federal court that metadata is part of the record in a FOIA case, though it is recognized as such in both state FOIA or “sunshine” laws and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Metadata, often referred to as “data about data,” includes all of a document’s electronically stored information. Such data would provide plaintiffs with information in a searchable format on how production documents are organized and kept, their relationship to each other and who created or modified the documents and at what time.
“The Obama administration came into office with a promise of open and transparent government,” said Sunita Patel, a staff attorney of the Center for Constitutional Rights. “The government's appeal and stay is a thinly veiled attempt to block the public from essential information about Secure Communities. We have come to expect these types of delay games in this case, all because the agencies don’t want the public to know the truth about its immigration enforcement plans.”
“ICE’s decision to strip all files of metadata and convert them to the least usable format possible before turning them over is only one example of its resistance to publicly disclosing any information about the dangerous and misnamed Secure Communities program,” said Jessica Karp, NDLON staff attorney. “We are pleased the court has ruled in favor of disclosure of metadata. We are hopeful that any additional light that can be shed will only further reveal ICE’s Secure Communities program as a dangerous initiative that ensnares local police into federal immigration enforcement.”
“In the spirit of open government, FOIA requestors should be provided with records that can be easily reviewed, not massive PDF files that require requestors to find a needle in a haystack,” said James F. Horton of the Kathryn O. Greenberg Immigration Justice Clinic at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.
NDLON v. ICE litigates President Obama’s flagship “Secure Communities” biometrics program, currently operating in 1,188 jurisdictions in 41 states as of April 12, 2011. Rights groups say the program makes state and local policing central to the enforcement of federal immigration law. The program automatically runs fingerprints through immigration databases for all people arrested and targets them for detention and deportation even if their criminal charges are minor, eventually dismissed or the result of an unlawful arrest. The documents released as a result of the litigation have shown widespread internal agency confusion about the program’s voluntary nature as well as the government’s heavy-handed implementation strategy.
The lawsuit was originally brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), National Day Laborer Organization Network (NDLON) and Kathryn O. Greenberg Immigration Justice Clinic of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. Mayer Brown serves as co-counsel in the case.
For more information on NDLON v. ICE or to view documents produced by the government, visit the Center for Constitutional Right’s legal case page at

The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.

I was not even aware of the above case. Now tomorrow's supposed to be the ruling. I will not be blogging tomorrow (as usual) so I'll try to blog about it tomorrow.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, April 20, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, the Arab League summit next month in Baghdad is . . . off, protests continue in Iraq, the president of Turkey brags about his behind the scenes influence in Iraq, a Canadian War Hawk denies reality (but it is reality), US political prisoner Bradley Manning is moved to another prison, and more.
In Mosul, protests continue today. This is day 12 of the ongoing sit-in. The Great Iraqi Revolution notes that "Mosul university, faculty and students, have joined the Demonstrators in their vigil, in Al Ahrar square" and that "The Liwayziyeen, Mityout and Ubaid Tribes have joined the SITIN and Vigil in Mosul." Among the people participating in the sit-in, GIR notes, is a blind woman ""carrying the Holy Qura'an in her hands" who has been taking part since day one of the sit-in. GRI notes, "The Vigil in Mosul is the First Step towards Liberation." And it's noted of head counts (we used these counts in a snapshot earlier this week) "that as usual the number of demonstrators reported by the western press is incorrect once again -- it seems to me that the western press despite its alleged freedom of speech is very frightened of reporting the news as is because it has now wish to upset the American Administration."
Protests have been going on in Sulaimaniyah as well and the response to that? AFP reports that yesterday officials "slapped a ban on unauthorised protests". Ekklesia explains, "Following 62 days of continuous protest in Suleimaniya, Iraq, against corruption and trible rule within the Kurdistan Regional Government, legal permission for the protest has been revoked. A source within the armed Peshmerga Forces has now said that they have been given orders to shoot to kill any demonstrators. The otherwise nonviolent demonstrations in Suleimaniya at Azadi (Freedom) Square ended in major violence on 17 and 18 April 2011. On both days, security forces formed a ring around Azadi Square. Claiming they were provoked by groups of young men throwing rocks, the forces entered the square which has been filled with an average of 1,000 unarmed and noviolent demonstrators, shooting tear gas and live bullets, beating people with batons and clearing the square of all demonstrators." Aswat al-Iraq adds,Kamal Nouri of the Iranian Sahar channel states, "We ["two-people crew"] were beaten by Peshmerga and security forces, which confiscated our equipments and cameras." Press TV notes, "In an indication of how the unrest in Sulaymaniyah is affecting the confidence of the ruling party there, the PUK, regional Prime Minister Dr Barham Salih, wrote a letter to PUK leader and President of Iraq, Jalal Talabani, offering to tender his resignation. In the letter, leaked to the French press, Dr Salih complains of Mafia-like practices in his party being used against the press and protesters, and says that some of the leaders of the party are quote 'unable to go on'."
Shwan Mohammed (AFP) quotes Barham Saleh, "I am ready to resign from the leadership of the party in order to renew it and the political bureau." Salih belongs to the PUK -- Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, the same party as Iraqi President Jalal Talabani. The two major political parties in the KRG are the PUK and the Kurdistan Democratic Pary of Iraq which is the party of KRG President Massoud Barzani. A third political party, Goran, sees itself as a challenger. It has US-backing. Alsumaria TV reports, "Goran Kurdish Change Movement said on Monday that the USA is responsible for the people's blood in Suleimaniah and Irbil in Kurdistan. Change Movement pointed that the region's authorities are dealing in a hysteric way with the protesters."
The Archbishop of Kirkuk, Monsignor Louis Sako spoke with Asia News and declared:
Arab nations will not be stable or democratic unless they grant all their citizens the same citizenship. Arab nations are a mixture of various ethnic groups, cultures, languages, languages and doctrines. They include Arabs, Kurds, Assyro-Chaldeans, Turkmen, Shebeks, Copts, Armenians, Shias, Sunnis, and Christians of various denominations, Yazidis, Druses and more. Their traditional mindset is patriarchal, tribal and sectarian. Education and teaching programmes are usually imposed from above and are viewed as infallible. Thus, they do not stimulate thinking and analyses or kindle the quest for new knowledge or possibilities.
On the subject of Kirkuk, Harun Akyol (Today's Zaman) lays out the basics on the disputed territory of Kirkuk:
My primary aim was to assess the impact of Kurdish, Turkmen and Arab political discourse on the politics of Kirkuk. My secondary aim was to make some social and political observation about the people of Kirkuk. Initial interviews with representatives from each of these main ethnic groups established some common points in the construction of their discourses. Each group has its own narrative relating to their presence in Kirkuk, the number of their ethnic group present and their roots in the city.
Each group backs up their claims with historical, official and anecdotal evidence. For Kurds, Kirkuk is historically and geographically the center of Kurdistan; as a result, they are not prepared to negotiate under any circumstances. They believe that a political solution around Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution, which imposes normalization, census and referendum in Kirkuk, is how to decide its political fate. For the Turkmen and the Arabs, Kirkuk was not, is not and should not be part of Kurdistan; they view it as an ethnically mixed city. To these groups, Article 140 is dead and not applicable. Both groups are happy to acknowledge that the Kurds are victims of Saddam's iron fist policy. The difference is that these other groups claim that the Kurds used and abused this victimization by returning to Kirkuk many more Kurds than Saddam expelled from Kirkuk. One older Arab said, "Yesterday they were the victims [mazlum], but today they are the oppressors [zalim] of Kirkuk." Both groups fear that if the Kurds manage to annex Kirkuk into Kurdistan, they will then declare their independence.
Monday's snapshot noted Rawya Rageh's Al Jazeera report from Kirkukk on the Arab population. Yesterday she filed from the region on the Turkmen (link is video):
Rawya Rageh: In the yard of his Kirkuk home, Mohammed Raouf Saleh feels the space with folk tunes. They're called hoyrats [also spelled qoyrats] an ancient form of song and poetry unique to Iraqi Turkmen. It's difficult to tell exactly when it began but there's little doubt over where.
Mohammed Raouf Saleh: Centuries ago, hoyrats originated in Kirkuk. People in Azerbaijan and Turkey speak our language but they don't sing our horat.
Rawya Rageh: It's a steadily eroding art song, Saleh says, just like his community in the city that's claimed by several ethnic groups. Turkmen formed the third largest ethnicity in Iraq. There exact number is politically controversial though they believe that they make up up to 10% of the population. Here in the central Kikruk market, most of the merchants are Turkmen. Traditional crafts that were brought by their ancestors dating as far as the 9th century are no longer here. They've been replaced by modern goods instead. But, make no mistake, the sense of identiy here is clear. The older generations who lived through years of Saddam Hussein's assimilation policies still cling to their traditional dress. Many here will tell you their ancestoral heritage is an integral part of both Kirkuk's history and present day life. Unlike the Kurds, the Turkmen have not asked for an autonomous state in modern Iraq, nor did they take up arms over territory. But their involvement in running the country falls short of what they desire.
Sadeddin Ergech (Iraqi Turkmen Front leader): As long as key positions are being divided between the two ethnicities -- Arabs and Kurds, we, the third main group, have a right too. It's a national entitlement. We should get a vice president post too. We feel there are always attempts to get round Turkmen national rights.
Rawya Rageh: In the fight over Kirkuk, the Turkmen have sided with the Arabs in not wanting the city to be folded into semi-autounomous Kurdish Region. But in a recent political alliance, they were given a key post in the city's provincial government controlled for years by Kurdish parties. For this hoyrat master, though, the battle for a say in the new Iraq is pointless iIf not enough is done to stop their folklore, the corner stone of their identity, from slowly fading away. Rawya Rageh, Al Jazeera, Kirkuk.
This week Abullah Gul, president of Turkey, has made some interesting remarks. Abdul Qader al-Wendawi (Zawya) reports Gul claims, "Turkey discussed Kirkuk issue with NATO and with the European Union and the rest of the international parties interested in Iraq's situation and assured them that Kirkuk is a miniature of Iraq and our demand that its three spectra (Turkmen, Kurds and Arabs) would live with equality and justice." Gul also bragged that "if not for the Turkish positions, Iraq would be divided, but the problem in this country is the Shiaa-Sunni fighting".
This morning Nizar Latif (National Newspaper) weighed in on the proposed Baghdad summit for the Arab league, "The Iraqi government continues to insist the Arab League summit, scheduled for Baghdad next month, must go ahead. In reality however, few Iraqis expect their capital to host the meeting. Militant attacks, including recent car bombs in the heart of Baghdad, are a reminder of Iraq's persistent danger and the dogged insurgency that years of warfare and billions of dollars have failed to defeat." The summit was supposed to take place in March. It wasn't secure enough then. People pretend it is now. For how much longer or if the summit will be held next month in Baghdad is unknown. Press TV states Iraq may leave the Arab League. While that's in part, Iran's state media working off a grudge against its Arab neighbors, it's also true that Iran has a lot of pull in the puppet government out of Baghdad. AFP reports that the summit has been postponed -- again. It was supposed to be held March 29th but got delayed and then rescheduled to May 10th. The postponement was not a surprise to everyone. Aswat al-Iraq released their reader poll results this morning which found, "76.68% of the total 491 voters believed that the Arab Summit won't be held in Baghdad in its scheduled time, due to the current challenges facing the Arab Region." Alsumaria TV reports, "The Arab League has scheduled an urgent meeting for Arab Foreign Ministers on May 15 to set a new date for the Arab Summit and appoint a new Arab League Secretary General as a successor for Amro Moussa, [deputy secretary Ahmed] Ben Hill said." UPI explains, "The six-member Gulf Cooperation Council expressed outrage over Baghdad's criticism of the minority Sunni leadership in Bahrain, calling for the cancellation of an Arab League summit scheduled next month in Iraq. The tiny island kingdom is under scrutiny for its response to a Shiite uprising." Arab News adds that an unnamed Arab "League official said the summit will probably be held in September. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. [. . .] The Arab League summit was considered by many Iraqi officials as an opportunity to show off the strides the country has made since the height of the US-led war, and they have spent millions of dollars refurbishing buildings and hotels in anticipation of the meeting." Earlier this month, Al Mada reported that the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hoshyar Zebari, has declared holding the Arab Summitt in Baghdad (May 10th through 11th) will cost the country $450 million in US dollars. Lost money and lost prestige at a time when Iraq's puppet government is attempting to ignore the violence and pretend they are a democratic oasis in otherwise dry region. Ahmed Eleiba (Ahram) reports, "Iraq's Permanent Ambassador to the Arab League Qais Al-Azzawi said that his country respects the decision to delay the Arab summit, scheduled to be held in May in Baghdad, due to the current uprisings in Yemen, Bahrain and Syria."
On the realities of Iraq versus the illusion the US government and its puppet government in Baghdad would like to sell, Alsumaria TV reports:

Renowned Iraqi poet Saadi Youssof said on Tuesday he doesn't feel he belongs to Iraq anymore and added that Iraq is currently a US colony ruled by an Islamic regime. Youssof cherished the British nationality he holds and said that there's nothing that links him to Iraq but the memories of his childhood.
"I don't feel anymore that Iraq is my country. I used to remember Iraq a free and independent country and not a colony or an occupied territory, Youssof said during an interview with the Czech republic official Radio Station Cesky Rozhlas following an homage party in his honor after he won Spiros Vergos Prize for Freedom of Expression organized by Prague Writers Association. "Nowadays I feel that Iraq is a US colony", Youssof added.
"Iraq where I used to live was a secular and liberal country, but today it is ruled by an Islamic regime, it became an Islamic republic", the writer declared. "I cannot stand this fact and I cannot imagine myself as a part of this country anymore," he added.
Reuters notes a Baghdad bombing left three people injured, an attack on a Baghdad police patrol left one police officer injured, 1 high school student was shot dead in Mosul, a Mosul sticky bombing targeted an Independent High Electoral Commission employee, a Baghdad roadside bombing targeted a "deputy minister of construction and housing," two Baghdad bombings left 3 dead and another Baghdad bombing left two people injured. Fang Yang (Xinhua) adds, "In Salahudin province in the north of Baghdad, a booby-trapped car parked in central the provincial capital city of Tikrit detonated at about 7 a.m. (0400 GMT) near the convoy of Faisal al- Azzawi, chief judge in the Salahudin's Court of Appeal, a provincial police source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity. Azzawi escaped the attack unharmed despite damages to his vehicle, but four of his bodyguards were wounded by the blast, the source said."
Moving over to England, an editorial in today's Independent of London covers yesterday's revelations about the British government and the oil industry:

Prior to the invasion, Mr Blair said that the idea that the invasion was, in any way, motivated by Iraq's oil was "absurd". He argued in a debate hosted by BBC's Newsnight in February 2003 that if oil was the West's goal, it could just as easily have cut a deal with Saddam. Yet this does not serve to refute the argument that oil was a motivation behind toppling the Iraqi dictator. It is perfectly possible that Western powers anticipated getting access to Iraq's oil on favourable terms after the removal of Saddam. This is not fanciful speculation. The US was conspicuously slow to hand over power to an Iraqi civilian government in Iraq after the fall of Baghdad. Paul Bremer's Coalition Provisional Authority was only disbanded after protests by the dominant Shia community. The US gave every impression that it wanted to continue pulling the strings in Iraq, including over the awarding of energy contracts. Alan Greenspan, the former chairman of the US Federal Reserve, for one, has reached the conclusion that the Iraq war was "largely about oil". As for Mr Blair, the former Prime Minister was certainly not shy about championing the interests of British oil companies around the world. When he met Muammar Gaddafi in the Libyan desert in 2007, Mr Blair saw fit to take the then chairman of BP, Peter Sutherland, along with him. A few days later, BP signed a $900m exploration deal with the Libya Investment Corporation. Realpolitik was entwined with access to fossil fuels in Libya. It is no great stretch to imagine that there were similar motivations over Iraq. These documents do not prove that the British government's invasion was primarily motivated by a commercial desire to profit from Iraq's oil. Indeed, it is probably too simplistic to present any single factor as the decisive motivation for this calamitous misadventure. But they do make it clear that, contrary to ministerial denials, oil was something that ministers were thinking about in those months prior to the invasion.

And maybe somewhere there's the hope that, from across the Atlantic, the British can provide the leadership that the American government refuses to? If so, release that fantasy. If you're expecting to see leadership on the issue, vist the New Labour party organ: the Guardian. In fact, we can make it real simple, just click here and you go to all their Iraq coverage. They have none on the revelations. They are as silent as they were on the Downing Street Memos. Tony Blair was the man who turned Labour into New Labour (think DLC -- only worse -- in the US). The Guardian went along with him and now they continue to cheerlead him and to cover up for him. A newspaper, as opposed to a party organ, would have been reporting on the revelations.
Turning to the US and Canada and the intellectual War Hawk Mating Zoo that is the Carr Center. Harvard should have shut it down -- and even loss of donations hasn't led to a shut down because the Carr Center gets War Dollars. Trashy Sarah Sewall and Samantha Power -- both of whom promoted the Iraq War despite efforts by the press to lie otherwise -- and their little War Hawk Mini-Institute should have been shut down a long time ago. Instead, they threw their lot in with Barack. Brian Lilley (Toronto Sun) reports:

As a politician in Canada, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff has said that he was on the sidelines of the Iraq war, but new information reveals he was on the front lines of pre-invasion planning when he worked in the U.S. Ignatieff -- long known to be a supporter of the decision to invade -- was part of an academic advisory team that helped U.S. state department and American military officials conduct strategy sessions. The academic-turned-politician was singled out in a Pentagon briefing the day before the invasion started. One of the top officials in Air Command cited Ignatieff's work in helping the military ready comprehensive plans to mitigate collateral damage while preparing for the invasion. "I personally have been working with The Carr Center for Human Rights," said U.S. Col. Gary Crowder on March 19, 2003. "Michael Ignatieff and Sarah Sewell (another Carr Center employee) and their program are a wonderful program." Crowder told reporters that he was working with Ignatieff on how to best conduct the war while minimizing civilian deaths.

The Carr Center should have been shut down. In a functioning world, it would be and it's notables like Sewer and Power would be shunned. Toronto Life notes that the news "doesn't come off as too much of a surprise" considering Ignatieff's War Hawk support for the Iraq War. Bryn Weese (Toronto Sun) reports Ignatieff is denying the reports and claiming he did other work. Kind of like when Marianne (Elaine May) and Reva (Marlo Thomas) are speaking to Lureen (Melanie Griffith) in In The Spirit and Reva's embarrassed to pose as a form porn actress so she claims she didn't make porn per se, she made porn musicals. ("No, I wasn't in 20 Laps. I was in a musical.")
In the United States, a court-martial began today at Fort Stewart in Georgia. Greg Bluestein (AP) reports Sgt Joseph Bozicevich is accused of murdering Sgt Darris Dawson and Sgt Wesley Durbin while the three were serving in Iraq. Michelle Tan (Army Times) offers:

Sgt. Joseph C. Bozicevich was yelling as he lay facedown on the ground, restrained by at least two other soldiers at Patrol Base Jurf at Sahkr, Iraq.
Nearby, the two soldiers Bozicevich is accused of shooting lay bleeing at medics and fellow students worked furiously to save them.
Staff Sgt. Darris J. Dawson, a 24-year-old squad leader from Pensacola, Fla., and Sgt. Wesley R. Durbin, who, like Bozicevich, was a team leader, later died from their wounds. Durbin, 26, was from Hurst, Texas.
As Elaine noted last night, June 1st is the date scheduled for Bradley Manning's Article 32 hearing. The hearing will determine whether the military believes the charges against Bradley are worth pursuing. Bradley Manning? Monday April 5th, WikiLeaks released US military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Monday June 7th, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported in August that Manning had been charged -- "two charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The first encompasses four counts of violating Army regulations by transferring classified information to his personal computer between November and May and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system. The second comprises eight counts of violating federal laws governing the handling of classified information." Manning has been convicted in the public square despite the fact that he's been convicted in no state and has made no public statements -- despite any claims otherwise, he has made no public statements. Manning has been at Quantico in Virginia, under military lock and key, for months. Earlier this month, David S. Cloud (Los Angeles Times) reported that the military has added 22 additional counts to the charges including one that could be seen as "aiding the enemy" which could result in the death penalty if convicted. David E. Coombs is Bradley's attorney and he provided a walk through on Article 104. Like many, Sophie Elmhirst (New Statesman) emphasized the possibility of the death penalty. Philip J. Crowley was fired from the State Dept over the weekend (actually, he was asked for his resignation which he tendered). Why? Because he disagreed publicly with the treatment of Bradley Manning. US House Rep Dennis Kucinich has stated he wants to review the conditions under which Bradley is being held. Last month, he spoke with Scott Horton (Antiwar Radio -- link has audio and a transcript). Excerpt:
US House Rep Dennis Kucinich: That's right. I put in a request to the Secretary of Defense who referred me to the Secretary of the Army who referred me to the Secretary of the Navy who referred me to the Secretary of Defense and still not an answer on whether or not I can visit Private Manning.
Scott Horton: Unbelievable. I could see them giving the runaround like that to a reporter or something but you're a Congressman. They can't treat you that way, can they?
US House Rep Dennis Kucinich: Actually they shouldn't treat reporters that way but -- they shouldn't treat anyone that way. They should be accountable. But unfortunately, for whatever reason, the Pentagon doesn't have any accountability.
Laurence Tribe, the legendary constitutional law professor, is really ticked off with you. That should be some kind of wake up call. Because he was your constitutional law professor. One of the key backers of your 2008 presidential campaign. Even joined your justice department as a legal adviser in 2010 -- briefly.
This week Tribe and over 250 American legal scholars have a letter in the New York Review of Books. It's about Bradley Manning, the soldier charged with leaking US government documents to WikiLeaks. It calls Manning's reported treatment a violation of the US constitution. In particular, the eighth amendment, which forbids cruel and unusual punishment; and the fifth, which prevents punishment without trial.
Manning's had no trial yet; he's been found guilty of nothing. Still, he's been in military prison for nearly 10 months now in maximum security -- 23 hour a day solitary confinement, with the 24th reserved for pacing a different cell -- again, alone. Under the ruse that Manning's suicidal, which he disputes, his jailors ask if he's okay every five minutes, all day long, and he has to respond. At night, too, if he pulls the blankets over his head, or turns his back to the cell door.
Today Steve Cannane (Lateline, Australia's ABC) reports, "After intense criticism of the conditions of his 10-month-long stinkt in solitary confinement, the 23-year-old Army intelligence officer will be transferred from a marine base in Virginia to a new medium security facility in Kansas." Narayan Lakshman (The Hindu) points out, "The transfer will follow closely on intensifying criticism of the Pentagon for meting out harsh treatment to Mr. Manning, including allegations that he was kept in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day, allowed no contact whatsoever with other inmates, and that he was stripped naked every night and forced to sleep in only a smock. [. . .] Further, a top United Nations official, Special Rapporteur on torture Juan Mendez, said earlier this month that he was 'deeply disappointed and frustrated by the prevarications of the U.S. government,' after he was denied permission for unmonitored visits to Mr. Manning." Bradley's civilian attorney David E. Coombs notes:
The defense recently received reliable reports of a private meeting held on 13 January 2011, involving high-level Quantico officials where it was ordered that PFC Manning would remain in maximum custody and under prevention of injury watch indefinitely. The order to keep PFC Manning under these unduly harsh conditions was issued by a senior Quantico official who stated he would not risk anything happening "on his watch." When challenged by a Brig psychiatrist present at the meeting that there was no mental health justification for the decision, the senior Quantico official issuing the order responded, "We will do whatever we want to do." Based upon these statements and others, the defense was in the process of filing a writ of habeas corpus seeking a court ruling that the Quantico Brig violated PFC Manning's constitutional right to due process. See United States ex. rel. Accardi v. Shaughnessy, 74 S.Ct. 499 (1954) (violation of due process where result of board proceeding was predetermined); United States v. Anderson, 49 M.J. 575 (N.M. Ct. Crim. App. 1998) (illegal punishment where Marine Corps had an unwritten policy automatically placing certain detainees in MAX custody). The facts surrounding PFC Manning's pretrial confinement at Quantico make it clear that his detention was not "in compliance with legal and regulatory standards in all respects" as maintained at the Pentagon press briefing.
While the defense hopes that the move to Fort Leavenworth will result in the improvement of PFC Manning's conditions of confinement, it nonetheless intends to pursue redress at the appropriate time for the flagrant violations of his constitutional rights by the Quantico confinement facility.
And we'll close with this from Peter Cornett's "Devil's Advocate: Don't re-elect Obama" (Daily Titan):
Barack Obama supports military interventionism: A recent study by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute found that the United States alone accounts for 43 percent of global military expenditures (more than $687 billion). The people screaming about the military-industrial complex seem to be right. Obama has failed to withdraw troops from Iraq (nearly 50,000 troops still remain, according to CNN), and U.S. troops are still dying in Afghanistan. The recent military assault on oil-rich Libya has convinced me that Obama doesn't deserve the Nobel Peace Prize he was given for allegedly strengthening "international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples."
Barack Obama continues to break his promises: During his initial campaign, Barack Obama presented himself as a reform candidate and a constitutional scholar. The reality, however, doesn't live up to the fantasy. Obama has broken a vast array of campaign promises, from public negotiation of his health care policy to the immediate closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. We have not seen even minimal progress on the comprehensive immigration reform bill he guaranteed would surface in the first year of his presidency or on the cap and trade bill to limit carbon emissions. The campaign slogan of "Yes we can!" has become "No we didn't." Why would anyone believe his grandiose promises when this man begs for another four years?
Actually, no, we have one more thing. Peace activist, Civil Rights activist, ground breaking attorney, feminist and grandmother Lynne Stewart is also a US political prisoner. She doesn't get the attention that she or her case require. At the end of last month, an appeal was filed to reduce Lynne's current sentence (which you may remember was increased as a result of her refusal to put on a sack cloth and denounce her beliefs and historical actions on behalf of liberty, equality and democracy):
The Brief appealing the Draconian sentence of 120 months/10 years meted out to Lynne Stewart by Judge John Koeltl in July 2010,after he was reprimanded by the judges of her panel on the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, was served upon the Court and Government on 3/30/11. The same panel (Judges Walker, Calabrese and Simon) will hear this case in the fall of this year. Lynne had previously been convicted in 2005 along with two men of Egyptian origin, Ahmed Sattar,and Mohammed Yousry of material aid to terrorism based upon a public press release to Reuters from her client Dr. Abdel Rahman commenting on the long standing struggle in that country against the dictator/thief/torturer Hosni Mubarik.
The points made in the brief, are
I. In relying on Lynne Stewart's public statements to enhance the original sentence of 28 months, her First Amendment rights were abridged
II. The fourfold increase in the sentence was substantively unreasonable and failed to balance her lifetime of contribution to the community and country with the criminal act of which she was convicted.
III The Judge's findings of Perjury and Misuse of her position as an Attorney on which he also based the increase, were error.
She asked for a reversal and remand. Her team of Lawyers are Jill Shellow, 111 BRoadway, NY NY, Robert Boyle, 250 Broadway, NY NY and Herald Price Fahringer, E. 56 Street, NY NY, of counsel. Many lawyers and other supporters also helped in the preparation of the document which can be read in its entirety on the website Lynne, herself can be reached at Lynne Stewart, FMC Carswell, Box 27137, Fort Worth, Texas 76127. Ralph Poynter, her husband and spokesperson can be reached at 917 853 9759.

It was under Barack Obama that Lynne suffered even more greatly. It's under Barack that Bradley Manning joins Lynne as a political prisoner. Things are not getting better.