Saturday, May 28, 2011


In today's snapshot (posted in full at the end of my thoughts), C.I. notes a World Can't Wait audio segment-call-in on Bradley Manning. I share her critique of that.

It is past time that those identifying themselves as "supporters" of Bradley stop helping the government convict him.

Daniel Ellsberg is especially annoying as he insists that Bradley Manning is his modern day equivalent.

If and when Bradley Manning declares that he passed on the materials, then Ellsberg can make that statement. Unless and until he does, "supporters" don't need to. They are polluting the conversation and the potential pool as surely as Barack Obama and the government have.

For over a year now, Bradley has been imprisoned. During that time, at any point, the government could have launched an Article 32 hearing (Bradley's in the military) and held a trial. Their refusal to do so while continuing to keep him confined and imprisoned is outrageous.

War resister Ehren Watada was not confined or imprisoned (nor should he have been). His Article 32 hearing took place two months after he refused to deploy. Eight months later his trial (a kangaroo court, ruled over by Judge Toilet) began -- eight months after he refused to deploy in June of 2006. Not eight months after his Article 32 hearing. The military has refused to allow Bradley a hearing and has attempted to punish and 'break' him by imprisoning him. There's no excuse for it.

He should be immediately released.

The government should then review whether, in light of Barack publicly declaring Bradley guilty, or not Bradley can receive a fair trial. If they find, as I do, that Barack's remarks have prejudiced potential jurors, then they should drop all charges against Bradley immediately.

You can follow what I outlined above and I think it's a strong position.

You'll also notice that I can advocate for Bradley without ever insisting, "He's a hero!!!!"

He's a hero?

How is he a hero?

To be a hero, he would have had to do what the government has charged him with.

Maybe he did and maybe he didn't.

But it's not my job to make the government's case for them. It's not my job to have potential jurors, before they ever hear evidence, assume that 'even his supporters say he did it!'

As outrageous as Barack Obama's remarks were, so are the 'supporters' who insist upon convicting Bradley of charges that he's never stated are true.

People need to self-check and they need to grasp that Bradley's freedom is a lot more important -- a lot more -- than their need to have 'a modern day Dan Ellsberg!'

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Friday, May 27, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, Memorial Day leads an outlet to hop a high horse (a high horse that maybe needs to be shot), Bradley Manning is back in the news, protests take place in Baghdad, the canonization of Ali al-Lami continues, and more.
Today Michele Martin hops a high horse at NPR -- Memorial Day must be approaching. Although she writes of "two wars our nation is fighting right now," she herself has trouble mentioning the Iraq War and it doesn't pop up until a quote from Capt Vernice Armour and then again from journalist Brian Palmer. It takes nine paragraphs before Martin can mention the Iraq War herself -- typical NPR nonsense of late. (Writes? Audio won't be available until Memorial Day -- her written column is up now.) NPR can't find Iraq and hasn't been able to in some time. The Diane Rehm Show used to carve out seven or so minutes each Friday, during the second hour of the program, for the topic. Not anymore. Not since January, in fact. The Iraq War ended -- at least Diane Rehm's interest in it did. What is Kelly McEvers? Why she's NPR's Baghdad bureau chief. And NPR's moved her to where? Syria. Syria. Where US troops aren't on the ground. Syria. And you wonder why you get no reports on Iraq these days from your NPR station -- your NPR station that just got done using Iraq in its fundraiser, insisting during its pledge drive that it provided coverage of Iraq, coverage you couldn't get elsehwere. Apparently they meant on their blog The Two-Way? (Click here.)
Memorial Day is Monday, a day when the sacrifices of those in uniform are supposed to be acknowledged but NPR can't even make time to acknowledge an ongoing war. 'Oh, but it's so hard, after 8 years, to find a new way to talk about it.' That whine -- and I'm burning a bridge here -- came from a friend with Diane Rehm's show. I note that today that they had time to discuss Israel and Palestine. That conversation predates The Diane Rehm Show -- and since no one's really serious about solving the issue, it will likely still be discussed constantly on NPR (constantly, if unfairly) long after Diane Rehm and I am both dead and gone. It's not that they can't find new ways to discuss it, it's that the war doesn't get enough press attention for Diane and her gaggle of gas bags to breeze through a quick brush up to get informed on the topic in less than ten minutes. (That is what they do. Select the topics and all go online before they go to live to find their talking points. Woops, am I spilling trade secrets?) NPR's Michele Martin might not be standing on quick sand if her peers did their job. Instead, Michele's hopped a high horse with a lame leg and it's not going anywhere.
Memorial Day will come again this year, the US will still have troops stationed on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq, troops still in combat -- despite the lies of the White House as evidenced by the continued attacks on US troops in Iraq and the continued deaths. May 30, 2010 -- the day before Memorial Day -- the US military death toll in Iraq stood at 4400. Last night the count stood at 4457. That's 57 deaths that really haven't registered. That's [PDF format warning] 36 deaths, according to the Defense Dept, since the 'end' of combat operations announced by Barack Obama on August 31, 2010. Michele Martin's not aware of those facts. She's not aware of a lot. She should be aware that her own NPR program -- Tell Me More -- can't find Iraq. That war that takes her nine paragraphs to mention herself doesn't show up on her show. That would be the same show that 'informs' us of such important and life shattering stories as "O Magazine Staff Excited About Oprah Winfrey's Future," "O Magazine To Evolve, Collaborate With Oprah Winfrey Network" and "The Ups, Downs Between Iyania Vanzant And Oprah Winfrey" -- all of those 'reports' aired on Tell Me More's Wednesday broadcast. We'll be kind and call those "advertorials" -- they certainly weren't reporting. Prior to that 'reporting,' this week saw Suze Orman singing Oprah's praises for six of Tell me More's minutes while Dr. Phil was given over 12 minutes by the program to sing Oprah's praises.
I'm sorry, what war did Oprah die in? Battle of the Bulge? Charge of the TVQs? Memorial Day is one day in the year. And Michele Martin thought she could get on high horse for that. After a week of wasting her time and listners time over a faded TV personality (check the ratings, check O's circulation) packing it in before the ratings dropped further. Oprah's departure to cable was treated as more important than the country's ongoing wars and something requiring daily coverage and updates. Michele Martin and NPR owe the listeners a huge apology.
Lance Cpl Tim Horton: I have worked hard to ensure my injuries and other people's perceptions of them do not define my way of life or limit what I am able to accomplish. Receiving timely and quality prosthetics care is instrumental to maintaining my activity level. The quality of care I have received through the Oklahoma City VA Medical Center is outstanding. VA contracts with a number of prosthetic specialists who are familiar with cutting edge prosthetic technology and are able to outfit me with the devices I need to maintain a high level of physical activity. Most importantly, my prosthetics provider has really taken the time to understand who I am as a whole person -- not just a wounded warrior -- and how that shapes my medical needs. So while the quality of care I am receiving is very good, the process of going through the VA to receive those benefits takes far too long. When I need adjustments or replacement equipment, I must schedule an appointment with the medical center to be seen by a member of tehir prosthetics team who will then write the prescription to the provider, further delaying my ability to get an appointment and ultimately receive the adjustments or equipment I need. Why is this the case? I know other veterans who live in close proximity to Walter Reed who are able to walk in and out with the services and equipment they need within the same day, all without ever needing to go through their local VA. It would make sense to me if I were able to see my prosethetics specialist first, who could then communicate with VA about what I need and get the authorization, eliminating the wait time for an appointment. While waiting weeks for an appointment might seem like a minor inconvenicence, for a warrior like myself, spending weeks without the necessary prostehtics equipment, or sometimes even worse equipment that causes extreme discomfort and other medical issues, can be sholly disruptive to our daily lives. The timeliness and consistency of care should not be a function of where warriors happen to live. The most important thing I have learned in navigating my own transition and helping my peers through their own journey is that you must act as your own advocate. There are so many programs and benefits available to assist us, yet often we are never informed of these programs or the information is delivered in a time and place that is not conducive for wounded warriors to absorb it. We receive so much information at the time when we are newly injured. When I was brought to Behtesda, I was completely reliant on my mother as my caregiver. It took me two and a half months to regain the ability to feed myself. My sole focus was on my physical recovery. It was impossible for me to take in the vast amount of information coming at me during that time, I understand that since I have been injured the Federal Recovery Coordination Program has been put into place for severely wounded warriors to assist with this challenge. This is not a program I benefited from, nor did I know of its existence before preparing for my testimony here today. What I do know is that warriors need real help in discovering what benefits exist and how to utilize them so that they can thrive in their lives post-injury. Other veterans are out there spreading the word, but no one from VA is reaching out. That needs to change. I have spent the last several years sharing the knowledge I've gained through my own recovery and plan to continue that work as an outreach worker with the Wounded Warrior Project, but there must be a more systematic VA effort. My hope is that -- by coming before you today and testifying to some of my issues in navigating through the system -- things will continue to improve for the warriors coming behind me.
Iraq War veteran Tim Horton was testifying before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing Wednesday. We noted the hearing yesterday and are doing so today. Horton spoke of the assistance he received not from DoD or VA employees, but from Vietnam veterans who helped him navigate the system. This despite the fact that the US government pays for federal care coordinators, as Ava addressed in "Scott Brown, John Kerry, veterans clearing house" last night at Trina's site. As Ava reported, Senators Bernie Sanders and Johnny Isakson were among those wondering why there wasn't a national hotline, a clearing house, for wounded veterans to call and get help with their care?
May 7, 2008 -- over three years ago -- the VA issued a press release annoucing that their "new Federal Recovery Coordinator Program office is actively at work with dozens of severely injured patients acround the country" -- quoting then VA Secretary James Peake.
The release continued: "In coordination with the Department of Defense and the Department of Health and Human Services, the joint Federal Recovery Coordinator Program is designed to cut across bureaucratic lines and reach into the private sector as necessary to identify services needed for seriously wounded and ill service members, veterans and their families. A key recommendation of a presidential commission chaired by former Sen. Bob Dole and former Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala, the recovery coordinators do not directly provide care, but coordinates federal health care teams and private community resources to achieve the personal and professional goals of an indvidiualized 'life map' or recovery plan developed with the service members or veterans who qualify for the federal recovery coordinator program."
Yet neither Tim Horton nor Afghanistan War veteran Steven Bohn were provided with federal care coordinator. Ranking Member Richard Burr asked, "Steve, were you ever offered a federal care coordinator?" Bohn replied, "Negative. Me and my family -- I've never even heard of that unitl a couple of days ago." In last night's "Senate Veterans Affairs Committee," Kat reported on Burr's statements regarding DoD's refusal to submit their prepared (written) remarks in a timely manner. In his opening remarks, Burr wondered, "How much is enough time to prepare testimony before this committee?" He noted DoD was informed of this hearing on May 11th, yet 24 hours prior to the hearing, DoD still hadn't submitted -- as required -- their prepared remarks. There seems to be a great deal of problems with providing information. Maybe one answer is to, let's just take the federal care coordinators, for the federal government to post how many there are and how many veterans are utilizing them? In last night's "Senate Veterans Affairs Committee (Wally)," Wally gathers several strands from the hearing to make a strong case that the VA, DoD, etc are very happy to announce programs and get patted on the back but to actually provide these services to the veterans who need them seems to be another story. If, for example, the federal care coordinator program was required to be publicly posted -- how many are there, how many veterans are utilizing them, etc. -- maybe there would be more of a push by department heads to ensure that these programs are utilized? But this information, like so much other information, is difficult even for the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee to get. (VA estimates that they have assisted 1,300 veterans since the program started in 2008 and that there are around 660 veterans currently being assisted by their 22 federal care coordiantors.)
As Kat noted, Burr asked the DoD witness George Taylor (Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense) why his prepared remarks were not submitted to the Committee on time (prepared remarks are supposed to be submitted to the Committee or Subcomittee 48 hours in advance) and Taylor said he'd have to follow up on that. As Senator Bernie Sanders observed, "I think the pity is we spend a fortune and sometimes at the end of the road the care is excellent if people can get to it. And yet I suspect that there are thousands of young men and women who've returned to who don't even know what they're entitled to, what is available to them, how to access it." Again, Sanders went on to recommend that a 24-hour hotline be created for wounded veterans to call and speak to someone who could tell them of the services that are available. From the hearing:
Senator Johnny Isakson: It's my understanding, I know we've got well over 100,000 people deployed in the Middle East right now and we have 22 federal coordinators -- federal care coordinators, is that right? [Lorraine nods] That's 22 coordinators and we've got people coming home every day with the same needs that Tim and Steve have talked about.
Moving to the second panel, VA and DoD staff, the Committee was told that DoD has "approximately 150" federal care coordinators. Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Committee and she asked if there were enough federal care coordinators and the reply was that they've just hired more and "there are 28 in class today". When the Chair asked specifically, "Do we have more soldiers coming home than the infrastructure is prepared for?," DoD replied that they believed the infrastructure was in place. The VA's Deborah Amdur would state she was "extremely disturbed" to hear Horton and Bohn's testimony; however, she offered no apology to either. (Senator Burr made a point to apologize to Bohn for the treatment he experienced, noting that someone should have apologized on behalf to Bohn a long time ago.)
Committee Chair Patty Murray: I want to turn to an issue that I am deeply concerned about and that is the issue of suicide. The number of service members and new veterans we have lost to suicide is now on par with the number of those who've been killed in combat. That should be disturbing to everyone in this room. Last week, at this hearing, we talked about the very high rate of suicides among those participating in the Joint Disability Evaluation process. Those service members are actually under constant supervision of the Department and that occurred. We do know that there is progress being made in suicide prevention and mental health treatement. Dr. Kemp, your program has been outstanding, I've heard a lot of good reviews about that. But there is a lot of work that remains to be done. And I want to ask this Committee what do we need to do to address this problem?
Dr. Janet Kemp: Yeah. Uh, first Chairman Murray, I want to say the numbers are appalling. And we know that and recognize that and no one who serves their country and comes back alive should die by suicide ever. Uhm, and I think that we, uhm, have worked very hard in the past two years to put programs into place One of the things you mentioned earlier was the crisis line which we have opened up now to service members and families and friends of service members and continue to get calls from that population. But we need to continue to communicate its availability, we need to make sure that people know that there is someone there 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We need to work more closely with our DoD partners and we are in the process of doing this, to be able to communicate to our suicide prevention coordinators in the VA, sooner and earlier that someone may be released and someone needs services and we need to start that care ahead of time. We also need to do more work, and this is also in progress, in the area of training all providers and the people who do these disability examines to do screenings, to ask the right questions -- that just because someone's being evaluated for physical injury, we have to ask the emotional --
Committee Chair Patty Murray: How long will that take to train all the providers?
Dr. Janet Kemp: We've started the process with the providers who do the examines in the VA and we will start the process --
Committee Chair Patty Murray: At every facility across the country?
Dr. Janet Kemp: Yes. Yes. And we've also started training all of our primary care providers across the country to really work with emotional issues as well as regular mental issues. I anticipate that this is something we can do rather quickly and I will make a promise to you to, uhm, move that process along.
Committee Chair Patty Murray: Okay, we'll be following that and I want to know when those people have been trained.
Dr. Janet Kemp: Exactly.
Committee Chair Patty Murray: I -- You know, the data released at the end of April showed that the number of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who are now utilizing VA care for mental health needs is more than half of all Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who are using the VA care. In a way that's a more positive sign that more veterans are willing to come forward and ask for care. But I want to know if the system's adequately equipped now to handle those rising numbers and meet the criteria that we set out?
Antonette Zeiss: We are resourced to provide that care in mental health. Certainly, I can defer to other staff members here for some of the other physical health concerns that are also very much a part of what they bring to us. But, in terms of mental health, in 2004, VA recognized that there were gaps in staffing and services, developed a comprehensive mental health strategic plan, began to implement that in 2005 and, really, with a stronger pace in 2006. Since then, we have increased our staffing for mental health services to over 21,000 -- it's an increase of over 40% percent in our core mental health staff. As we track the number of veterans who are receiving mental health services, those also have increased during that time period but have not increased to the same proportion as the percent of staff that we have added and we think that's the right balance because, as I said, we had gaps when we started. So we've been able to fill gaps for those patients who were seeking VA care and intensive VA care earlier in this decade and to enhance our status in such that we can continue in a proactive way to meet the needs of returning service members who come to us as veterans while sustaining care for those veterans who are with us throughout their lifetimes. We will continue to track that very closely, of course, because we don't know when there may be significant numbers of additional service members returning. We look forward to working with you and keeping pace in terms of the data on are we adequeately resourced to provide care.
This was the second of a two-part hearing. The first-part of this series of hearings was held May 18th and for more on that you can refer to that day's snapshot as well as Ava's "Scott Brown questions DoD's concept of streamlining," Kat's "DoD embarrasses at Senate hearing" and Wally's "VA can't answer a basic service question." In addition, you can stream the hearing at the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee's hearing page or, if you're having problems with that page, you can stream audio of the hearing from this CSpan page. [For the second panel of Wednesday's hearing, I relied on the stream because I left to attend the House Foreign Affairs Committee -- see Wednesday's snapshot and Ava's report "Ron Paul (Ava)" (at Trina's site).] To stay on veterans issues for two more topics. At the airport today, we were talking about this hearing and a veteran approached. He's a Gulf War veteran and he wanted to note a problem with VA care that isn't covered in hearings. It's when a veteran needs care and is not taken to a VA facility. He had collapsed from the heat earlier in the week, an ambulance was called and instead of being taken to the nearest VA, he was taken to a for-profit hospital. He later learned that the VA hospital was just a mile away. He stated he was talking and able to sit up in the ambulance but they insisted that the VA hospital was too late. The care he received at the for-profit hospital was grossly inadequate. He arrived at noon. They gave him liquids three hours later. (Three hours later.) Prior to that he was sitting and waiting. He repeatedly had to provide an inventory of his medical history and any allergies (at the VA his records would have been on file). After he was given fluids, he was ignored for many hours. Finally at ten p.m. he was told he was being discharged. He complained about thirst and hunger (he'd been there since noon) and was told there were snack machines in the lobby. He won't be footing the bill, the VA will pick it up. But he argues (I think rightly) that the service was inadequate and that, at best, the for-profit hospital should be paid for an hour's care. (He suspects the VA will be charged for the entire duration and considers it an example of fraud and waste.) Second, Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chair Patty Murray will be touring the Portland VA Medical Center this coming Tuesday to hear from veterans and review the process at that VA:

(Washington, D.C.) – On Tuesday, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, will tour the Portland VA Medical Center and discuss her priorities as Chair of that critical committee charged with protecting the health care and benefits of our nation's veterans. The tour comes at a critical time for local veterans as more Iraq and Afghanistan veterans enter the VA in the Portland region. During the tour, press will get the opportunity to see the Portland VA's prosthetic and limb loss facility, including a demonstration of that facility's technology. There will also be a demonstration of adaptive vehicles used for disabled veterans and a tour of the women's veterans facility.

Following the tour, Senator Murray will discuss her priorities as Chair of the Veterans Committee including improving employment opportunities, health care coordination, and secure housing opportunities for homeless veterans.

WHO: U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee

WHAT: Tour of Portland VA Medical Center and Press Availability

WHEN: Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

2:00 PM PST

WHERE: Portland VA Medical Center

3710 SW U.S. Veterans Hospital Rd.
Portland, OR

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Matt McAlvanah

Communications Director

U.S. Senator Patty Murray

202-224-2834 - press office

202--224-0228 - direct

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Monday is Memorial Day. There may not be a snapshot that day. It will depend upon the news coming out of Iraq.
Turning to Iraq, where so much of the US press has rushed to canonize Ali al-Lami. Let's drop back to the January 22, 2010 New York Times' editorial "Sunnis and Iraq's Election"
The accountability commission is the successor to the destructive de-Baathification commission that sought to keep anyone with ties to Mr. Hussein out of government. Its chief, Ali Faisal al-Lami, is hardly an impartial judge. He is a candidate on the slate led by the Shiite leader Ahmed Chalabi, a relentlessly ambitious force in Iraqi politics who lured the Bush administration into the 2003 invasion and wants to be prime minister.
Both the accountability and the election commissions are part of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki's government, and he issued a statement supporting their decisions. But American officials say Mr. Chalabi is the main manipulator. Mr. Chalabi's absurd charge that the United States wants to return the Baath Party to power is typical of his divisive and destructive brand of politics.
Ali al-Lami's destructive decisions cannot be taken away or wiped away. They helped create and foster an undemocratic enviornment going into the elections. There is no excuse for what he did, no justification. He was a petty tyrant abusing an office and hurting Iraq in the process. Please note, the New York Times and McClatchy Newspapers are two US outlets who have refused to white wash Ali al-Lami. That's in stark contrast to Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) carefully asserting, "Lami, who lived in Sadr City, was a symbol of the battle against the former Baath Party." In real time (August 28, 2008), AP noted, "The military says the suspect is believed to be behind a June bombing in Baghdad that killed four Americans and six Iraqis, and that he is believed to be a senior leader of "special groups" — Iranian-backed rogue militiamen in Iraq." He was part of the League of Rightous -- admittedly part of it. When the mini-thug was released from the US prison, Rod Nordland and Sam Dagher (New York Times, August 17, 2009) reported, "Mr. Lami said his release was part of a government deal with the League, though he described himself as a 'supporter' of the group rather than a member." The League used their barganing skills to secure the release of their most important assets only. Lami was among the select few whose release they secured. He was more than a supporter. From the February 16, 2010 snapshot, here'sthe then-top US commander in Iraq, Gen Ray Odierno:

al-Lami is a Sadrist by trade. He was arrested after an operation in Sadr City where both Iraqi security forces, U.S. civilians, and U.S. soldiers were leaving a meeting that they had with the local government in Sadr City, and their vehicles were attacked with IEDs as they left the meeting. There were some accusations. We had some intelligence that said that al-Lami was the one who directed these attacks on these individuals. He was released in August of '09 as part of the drawdown of our detention facilities because we did not have the actual prosecutorial evidence in order to bring him in front of a court of law in Iraq. All we had was intelligence that linked him to this attack. So, as we had some others, we had to release him. He has been involved in very nefarious activities in Iraq for some time. It is disappointing that somebody like him was in fact put in charge or has been able to run this commission inside of Iraq, in my opinion.
He is -- him and Chalabi clearly are influenced by Iran. We have direct intelligence that tells us that. They've had several meetings in Iran, meeting with a man named Mohandas, which is an ex-council representative member -- still is a council representative member -- who was on the terrorist watch list for a bombing in Kuwait in the 1980s. They are tied to him. He sits at the right-hand side of the Quds Force commandant, Qassem Soleimani. And we believe they're absolutely involved in influencing the outcome of the election. And it's concerning that they've been able to do that over time.

Ali al-Lami was released as part of a deal that the White House authorized and, yes, oversaw. Ali al-Lami made it clear in his statements to the New York Times why he was being released. The deal was with the League of Righteous and it was supposed to mean that the five British hostages the League had were released. As part of that "special relationship," with England, Barack entered into negotiations with the League of Righteous to figure out what they wanted in order to release the British citizens they had kidnapped. From the June 9, 2009 snapshot:

This morning the New York Times' Alissa J. Rubin and Michael Gordon offered "U.S. Frees Suspect in Killing of 5 G.I.'s." Martin Chulov (Guardian) covered the same story, Kim Gamel (AP) reported on it, BBC offered "Kidnap hope after Shia's handover" and Deborah Haynes contributed "Hope for British hostages in Iraq after release of Shia militant" (Times of London). The basics of the story are this. 5 British citizens have been hostages since May 29, 2007. The US military had in their custody Laith al-Khazali. He is a member of Asa'ib al-Haq. He is also accused of murdering five US troops. The US military released him and allegedly did so because his organization was not going to release any of the five British hostages until he was released. This is a big story and the US military is attempting to state this is just diplomacy, has nothing to do with the British hostages and, besides, they just released him to Iraq. Sami al-askari told the New York Times, "This is a very sensitive topic because you know the position that the Iraqi government, the U.S. and British governments, and all the governments do not accept the idea of exchanging hostages for prisoners. So we put it in another format, and we told them that if they want to participate in the political process they cannot do so while they are holding hostages. And we mentioned to the American side that they cannot join the political process and release their hostages while their leaders are behind bars or imprisoned." In other words, a prisoner was traded for hostages and they attempted to not only make the trade but to lie to people about it. At the US State Dept, the tired and bored reporters were unable to even broach the subject. Poor declawed tabbies. Pentagon reporters did press the issue and got the standard line from the department's spokesperson, Bryan Whitman, that the US handed the prisoner to Iraq, the US didn't hand him over to any organization -- terrorist or otherwise. What Iraq did, Whitman wanted the press to know, was what Iraq did. A complete lie that really insults the intelligence of the American people. CNN reminds the five US soldiers killed "were: Capt. Brian S. Freeman, 31, of Temecula, California; 1st Lt. Jacob N. Fritz, 25, of Verdon, Nebraska; Spc. Johnathan B. Chism, 22, of Gonzales, Louisiana; Pfc. Shawn P. Falter, 25, of Cortland, New York; and Pfc. Johnathon M. Millican, 20, of Trafford, Alabama." Those are the five from January 2007 that al-Khazali and his brother Qais al-Khazali are supposed to be responsible for the deaths of. Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Robert H. Reid (AP) states that Jonathan B. Chism's father Danny Chism is outraged over the release and has declared, "They freed them? The American military did? Somebody needs to answer for it."

These realities are missing from the bulk of the US coverage. Missing is any violence today in Iraq. Reuters couldn't find any. Really? Aswat al-Iraq reports 2 corpses were discovered outside Mosul and, in Kut, a young boy accidentally shot dead his cousin "while playing with his father's pistol".,
It's Friday, protests are taking place in Baghdad. The Great Iraq Revolution reports, "TAHRIR BAGHDAD - 4 activists were arrested this morning while entering Tahrir - Security forces are using ambulances for arrest wagons!!!" Aswat al-Iraq adds, "They were within a 250 demonstrators criticizing the government for not providing suitable service and the deterioration in living standards, despite the near-end 100-day period given by Premier Nouri Al-Maliki to achieve better services." One protest sign read, "8 Years of Maliki's and the Occupation's Accomplishments -- Should you need to use electricity! Go and buy a Generator!" Following the arrest, Aswat al-Iraq notes that some of the protesters took the protest from the square to the Baghdad Provinncial Council where they staged a sit-in and one protester is quoted stating that "the demonstration will continue in the square, at a time other demonstrators are pouring despite security blockade around the area, unlike early morning precaution where the security forces are limited." Great Iraqi Revolution highlights this essay by Layla Anwar which includes the following:
They hang saints in Iraq, they lynch them at an early age, they penetrate their insides with words...and words become swords, daggers, knives...slashing, beheading, tiny anonymous faces with no names...the slaying of Saints...of little Saints...
She was found thrown away in one of the streets of Baghdad...her name is Rita, like Saint Rita, the Saint who answers your prayers...
She was abandoned in the streets of Baghdad, with her name written on a cardboard, attached to her neck like a dog who was once owned. A three years old dog, puppy, girl, blind...Rita is blind. Totally blind. You bastards, call it in your politically correct jargon - visually impaired - because you are so f[***]ing sensitive arent'you ?!
Well Rita is blind, and she is 3. She is not only blind, she has a severely deformed face, a cleft lip that goes up all the way to her nose...split in the middle, a mirror reflection of how you split us in the all ways. A small mirror of your own deformities, your soul deformities...
She was feeling her way around, blind, with a cardboard sign around her neck - my name is Rita.
The local police took her to a hospital, the doctors did not know what to do with Rita...the little Saint Rita...she was left in the corridors of a hospital, a hospital that looks and feels like a public toilet, because your whores stole the money, the money for the little Saints...

We really don't have room for the essay but we have to make room because it's important. As a result we'll pick up other things on Tuesday (or possibly Monday, if there's a snapshot that day). New Sabah reports Iraqiya's Ayad Allawi is calling for the issue of US troops staying in Iraq past 2011 to be discussed openly in an emergency and public meeting of Parliament. Allawi announced his call at a news conference and noted that they didn't know if an agreement had already been made with the US by Nouri. Allawi declared the issue needed to be put under the light. Aswat al-Iraq quotes National Alliance MP Fuad Al-Douraki stating that Allawi's call is "unrealistic." Al Mada reports that there is continued pressure on the political blocs to extend the agreement for US troops to remain in Iraq. They also quote Hussain al-Shahristani, Deputy Prime Minister for Energy, stating that there will be no extension and that Iraqi forces are sufficient to maintain the country's security. Dar Addustour reports that the study on the Iraqi military and its capabilities is due to be released shortly.

Lastly the topic of 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. In March, 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.
I was asked to note this nonsense from World Can't Wait. I support WCW. I don't support nonsense. They get their link. They also get critiqued.
Bradley Manning is innocent. He is innocent because he has not been found guilty of anything. When a trial does take place -- supposedly a court-martial will take place this summer and a trial in the fall -- the defense will enter a plea. No plea has been entered at present. The defense will not be able to argue he didn't do it but if he did that's okay. They will have to argue one way or the other. He did it or he didn't do it. (They can argue that he did it but argue that what he did was legal.)
The idiots who think they help Bradley have been idiots for some time. In this space, we have screamed and yelled that they needed to stop saying Bradley was guilty. I noted, several times, that in the 70s we didn't say, "Angela Davis did it! Leave her alone!" We argued Angela was innocent. We also didn't jump to a 'she did it' when she had not said she had.
After repeated screaming in this place and elsewhere, the 'supporters' finally grasped that they were hurting Bradley and prejudicing news consumers to believe that he had released materials -- at a time when he has not acknowledged doing that. So they started adding in their 'if he did this' b.s. The link goes to audio that's a joke. There are two speakers who make sense. Only two.
When a speaker says she turned "to my partner" in bed and told him that "We need our Daniel Ellsberg," not only has she given us too much information (we don't need to know your sex habits or possibly sex role play), she's getting at the problem and why she is the problem. Your need for a new Daniel Ellsberg does not trump Bradley Manning's right to have a fair trial. The same woman plans to be a teacher some day and shares that it's her "hope to invoke Bradley Manning" with Daniel Ellsberg some day.
Her hopes don't mean a damn thing. She needs to let go of her comfy life and grasp that Bradley Manning -- whether he pleades innocence or guilt -- is looking at very serious charges.
Kevin Zeese hails Bradley as a hero at one point and then wants to whine that Barack Obama has influenced the case by saying Bradley "broke the law." While Barack has more power and may have sunk any chances of Bradley receiving a fair trial (see Third's "Barack finds a way to cut costs!!!!" for some of our coverage of that in this community), we can object to what others do but we can control what we do. It's really a bit hypocrital for Kat's BFF Kevin Zeese to call out Barack for saying Bradley released materials when Kevin makes the case that Bradley did in every other statement.
The defense of Bradley until or unless he enters a plea of guilty is very basic: Bradley is innocent. He's been held for over a year. The government has not moved quickly. Bradley should be released. He is not a threat to the community. There is no good reason to imprison him prior to trial. The inability to move forward with charges speaks poorly of any potential case or evidence the government has against Bradley. The comments made by Barack Obama prejudice all potential jury pools. Bradley should not only be released, charges against him should be dropped.
It's that basic. Instead, the 'supporters' are now working overtime to portray him as a wounded bird who entered the military. Are we trying to get him placed on suicide watch again? He was a functioning adult. He entered the military. Quit victiimizing, quit infantilizing him, quit proclaiming his guilt while you insist you're trying to help.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Cindy and Libby

Casey Sheehan's birthday is approaching (May 29th) and Cindy Sheehan reflects at Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox:

One of the hardest things to do as a mother is to let your children grow up and make their own mistakes. Human beings usually don’t learn from the errors of others, but have to make their own. On Casey’s 21st birthday, he made a huge mistake: he joined Uncle Sam’s Army and 55 days before his 25th birthday, he was killed in Iraq in one of The Empire's Wars for Profit, Iraq.
Casey would be 32 on May 29th and it’s so hard to believe that his original birthday was 32 years ago! I can remember it like it was yesterday, but I can also remember his death day so vividly my heart hurts and my throat clenches up just to think about it. Tears are pouring down my cheeks and snot is flowing out of my nose as I write this. Burying a child is far more painful than giving birth to one (even with no pain medication).
For Casey’s birthday this year, I will be fasting in solidarity with Cindy Hickey and Laura Fattal, who are the mothers of Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal who were arrested by the Iranian government on July 31st in 2009 while they were hiking on the border of Iraq and Iran.

At Corrente, Libby Liberal has an interesting post.

She's talking about the costs Oprah must carry for selling Barack. While I agree with that aspect, I am also aware (though Libby leaves it out so she may not be) that Oprah also humanized Bush. She had him on her show in the lead up to the 2000 election and she found him funny and charming. There was even the famous photo-op from the show of Bush kissing her.

If you've forgotten that kiss, you can click here and here. The first link, CBS, tells you (in the photo caption) that the photo is from September 19, 2000.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Wednesday, May 25, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates states in a speech that he wants the US military to remain in Iraq, the US and Iraq are supposedly in secret talks to extend the SOFA, US House Rep Brad Sherman speaks out on the issues facing the country and the press (outlets, not reporters) ignores it and more,
US House Rep Lynn Woolsey writes a column for The Hill noting that the 60 day requirement of the 1973 War Powers Act requiring the president to receive a mandate from Congress to continue any unauthorized conflict which continues past 60 days has been ignored by the White House and that the House is debating altering the Constitutional -- as well as spitting on the founding fathers' intent -- in order to shirk their responsibility under the law to be the only body in the federal government who can delcare law. Woolsey notes:
I've had enough over the last decade of this state of permanent warfare. I have five grandchildren and not one of them knows what it's like to live in a country that's not at war with someone and killing someone else's grandchildren.
It's time to put the brakes on. It's time for Congress to draw some clear lines, and Libya is the perfect place to do so. That's why I am supporting Rep. John Conyers' (D-Mich.) amendment to the defense authorization bill specifically prohibiting the deployment of ground troops in Libya.
We cannot afford any further expansion of this engagement. We owe it to the American people who are footing the bill – and of course to our servicemen and women who are already fighting on two fronts – to keep this mission from mushrooming into a full-blown ground war and military occupation.
There were two major hearings today -- one in the Senate, one in the House. I'd planned on noting the Senate one today but we'll try to fit it in tomorrow's snapshot and, hopefully, touch on a number of veterans issues then. Instead we'll focus on the House hearing addressing issues Rep Woolsey noted in her column (to be clear, Woolsey is addressing HR 1540 and that legislation was not addressed in the hearing, the hearing was about war powers). The Constitution is explicit on who has the power to declare war: the Congress. Article One, Section Eight of the Constitution: "Congress shall have the power . . . To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Caputres on Land and Water; To raise and support Armies, bot no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years; To provide and maintain a Navy; To Make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces; To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions . . ."
This morning the House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing where the witnesses were all US House Representatives who had proposed legislation regarding war. The witnesses were US House Rep Justin Amash, US House Rep Christopher Gibson and US House Rep Thomas Rooney -- all three are Republicans. As is the Chair of the Committee, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. Democrat Howard Berman is the Ranking Member on the Committee. I missed opening statements -- and am told Ros-Lehtinen had an ab-lib joke about Rooney (both are from Florida) -- so this is from the Chair and the Ranking Member's prepared opening remarks (which may differ from how they were delivered).
Chair Illean Ros-Lehtinen: We meet today as part of our continuing oversight of the United States involvement in Libya, to hear from our non-Committee colleagues who have introduced legislation on War Powers and on authorities relating to the use of force to address the situation in Libya. The Committee will continue our efforts tomorrow morning at the House-wide Members briefing with legal experts. That briefing had to be rescheduled from May 12th, due to House floor votes. [. . .] The Administration has claimed that Congressional approval was not constitutionally required, and that the use of force in Libya was Constitutional because the President "could reasonably determine that such use of force was in the national interest" -- an extremely broad claim of war-making power. Even some who regard the President's actions as legal are concerned that the endorsement by the Arab League, the United Nations, and NATO seem to figure more prominently in his stated justifications than do clearly identified U.S. national security interests. [. . .] Mr. Rooney's resolution (H.Con.Res. 32) expresses the Sense of Congress that the President should obtain statutory authorization for the use of force pursuant to the War Powers Resolution. The bill introduced by Mr. Amash (H.R. 1212) would cut off funding for the use of force in Libya until it is authorized by Congress. And Mr. Gibson's bill (H.R. 1609) would revise the text of the War Powers Resolution replacing its current Congressional procedures with a shorter provision tied more directly to Congress's power of the purse."
US House Rep Howard Berman was apparently elected in order to serve Barack Obama because nothing in his minimizing and justifying statements acknowledged Berman had sworn an oath to the Constitution or that he is elected from a very small district that does not include Barack Obama as an inhabitant.
Ranking Member Howard Berman: I believe the efforts to either terminate funding for this effort or force an immediate withdrawal of forces would reverse, to disastrous effect, the very meaningful progress already made in Libya. It's time to end this stalemate, decisively. And that cannot be done by stopping now. I'd like to give the President limited time to pursue this mission. [. . .] Underlying this debate is a central legal question: the War Powers Resolution acknowledges the President may introduce forces into hostilities -- unilaterally -- for a period of up to 60 days. This may not be what the Constitution originally envisioned or consistent with a strict reading of congressional authority, but it quite clearly what Congress in 1973 presumed.
Berman went on to insist that "we can't argue theory here" -- as if the Constitution is mere theory? As if laws are mere theory? Let's see someone accused of murder explain, in a court of law, that the laws broken are "mere theory." US House Rep Donald Manzullo noted that "boots on the ground" weren't the test and that drones are assistance -- that a day after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton noted that the US would not supply Libya's so-called 'rebels' with weapons, Barack announced that the US would be using drones to attack Libya. Manzullo was very clear that drones are assistance and are participation. Via a friend's note (reporter), I'll note Democrat Brad Sherman's remarks in full (again, these are not my notes and I have no hard copy of Sherman's prepared remarks) because he refused to play partisan politics and stuck to the issues. (My comment is in reference to Howard Berman.)
US House Rep Brad Sherman: The State Dept is working hard to bring the blessings of democracy and the rule of law to every country . . . except ours. Rome was built with legislative decision making. Rome declined and fell under an imperial executive. We probably should authorize some action with regard to Libya -- although I've got a lot of questions the administration doesn't need to answer because they view us as irrelevant. But any authorization should be limited as to time and scope so that we can then pass additional resolutions with further review. Any authorization should be conditioned on the Libyan rebels expelling from their midst those with American blood on their hands, those who fought us in Afghanistan and Iraq and particularly the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group. And, finally, I would want to see any resolution require that this mission be funded by the assets that Ghadaffi was stupid enough to leave in the United States which have been seized by the US Treasury. The Administration takes the extremist view that the Executive can deploy any amount of American force anywhere, anytime for any purpose, for any duration, with any effect, with only the most cursory discussions with only a few members of Congress. Worse than that, they won't even articulate that view. They won't even acknowledge the 60th day and the day on which they began violating that law. But as the Ranking Member points out, the fault is also here with Congress. So many of us would like to evade the tough decisions. Democrats and Republicans know how to vote on contentious issues because we come from Democrat and Republican districts. But this is one that crosses party lines, this is one that divides every one of our districts and a lot of people would just as soon duck the issue. That's not our job. We should put in every appropriations bill that the expenditure of funds in violation of the War Powers Act constitutes a theft of tax payer money. I tried with a few to get Congressional approval of both parties to put in the CR that no money could be spent in violation of the War Powers Act. We got no response. It's time for Congress to step forward. It's time to stop shredding the US Constitution in a presumed effort to bring democracy and constitutional law to Libya.
If the above doesn't flow, this section was actually what the snapshot originally ended with. But the friend who passed on Sherman's remarks didn't think their outlet would run with them. That is the case. So since some of those remarks were included in a version of a report but an outlet refused to include it (supposedly they weren't 'pertinent' to the hearing itself), we've moved it up to the opening and we'll also close the snapshot with US House Rep Brad Sherman's remarks.
I arrived at the hearing as Howard Berman was finishing his line of questioning to represent the 26th district of Israel and Howard's constitutents should know he had their interests -- Oops. Israel has no district in the US Congress. Berman's from the 26th district of California and it's amazing that he continues to make Israel his foremost issue -- whether it's related to the main points or not -- and the 26th district -- which has a small Jewish population -- continues to elect him (since redistricting). It's past time Howard Berman learned to serve his constitutents but if they're not going to hold him accountable, no one can. We'll note this exchange between US House Rep Renee Ellmers and the witnesses.
US House Rep Renee Ellmers: This is a very important exchange of information on an issue that I would consider gray. I do want to ask you directly though -- I know we've talked about the Libyan situation and we've talked about other situations where the War Powers Act has been put forth, do you believe that the President had the authority to do what he did in Libya? And I'll ask both of you that question. Do you believe that the Libyan situation basically adhered to the War Act?
US House Rep Christopher Gibson: No, I do not. Not only on the front end but even now. Let's look at the specific language from Public Law 93148 which is the War Powers Act. It says this, because this is a matter of fine point precision, we're talking sixty days here. This is what Section B -- Section 5 B says, "Within sixty calendar days after report is submitted or is required to be submitted pursuant to section 1543 (a) (1) of this title, whichever is earlier, the President shall terminate any use of United States Armed Forces with respect to which such report was submitted (or required to be submitted), unless the Congress (1) had declared war or has enacted a specifiic authorization for such use of the United States Armed Forces, (2) has extended by law such sixty-day periord, or (3) is physically unable to meet as a result of an armed attack upon the United States." Okay. So it's not so much that the president came here on the sixtieth day, according to the letter of the law, if we don't act within 60 days, the president is to cease operations and we're not in compliance.
US House Rep Renee Ellmers: And we've already -- We've met that 60 day marker right now and yet we have nothing going forward. Is that right?
US House Rep Christopher Gibson: We have surpassed the sixty days and Congress has taken no action to authorize the force. To be in compliance with the War Powers Act, we would have to cease operations. Now if the president requests, we can then provide stipulations on that withdrawal, we can actually give 30, 60 -- We can authorize how many days we think are prudent to make an orderly withdrawal. Let me also just conclude by saying that this is the current law. I think we should move -- I think we should delete these portions. I think we should either have authorization -- the president either has authority to move or he doesn't. And if he doesn't have authority to move, he comes here if he thinks it's that important. He comes here and the American people give their blessing with stipulations that the Congress may see fit and then we go forward. But to not do so really leaves open this ambiguity. This is what Mr. Connelly is referring to -- that the current War Powers Act -- as written -- really provides so much ambiguity as to expand the powers of the president and that's why we need the reform act is to bring balance back to this situation in line with the way the founders intended for the legislative and the executive branch to interact on these solemn manners.
US House Rep Renee Ellmers: Thank you, Mr. Gibson. Mr. Rooney?
US House Rep Thomas Rooney: I too and am apprehensive of thinking that Libya was justifiable. But according to my resolution, I can be convinced that it was the greatest resolution in the world. But the problem is that we've never had the debate.
US House Rep Renee Ellmers: Right.
US House Rep Thomas Rooney: And the president and the administration needs to come here and say more than just we welcome your support. So my predisiposition is no. But I'm open to suggestion. But, you're right, the 60 days has come and gone and just to add on [gestures to Gibson] in the past, there have been members of Congress who have sued, gone to federal court to say 'you're in violation of the War Powers Resolution and the Constitution.' And it's made its way to the Supreme Court without being heard directly on point -- that we, or those members that did sue, lack standing. So that adds to your idea that we're operating in a world of gray and, you know, possibly legislation like Mr. Gibson's would clarify that. But all I'm saying is that if he really thought that Libya was important and he would have come here within the War Powers framework of sixty days, he may very well have gotten the support of the Congress, but he didn't do that.
US House Rep Renee Ellmers: Thank you very much. Yes, please, Mr. Gibson?

US House Rep Christopher Gibson: Thank you for the opportunity to just to follow up. I just want to agree with my colleague here that it's certainly an arguable point, the one that I made. I mean, that's my read of the current law. It has been debated in other places and there have been opinions and some court cases related to this. That is one of the reasons why I'm not asking today that we take sanctions against the president. I think it's our responsibility to fix this. The ambiguity that exists has been exploited by presidents on both sides of the political aisle. And in a time when we need to create jobs, balance the budget and protect freedoms, now is not the time to be diverting into other matters. Other matters in terms of any other proceedings on whether the president is in concert with the law -- that is not my purpose here today. What I want to do is fix this going forward so we don't end up back here at this very same place spot.
Actually, if a president -- any president -- is in violation, that is the issue. That is always the issue. He or she is the people's servant, not a king, not a queen. As the servant to the public, he is bound by the laws. The Courts and the law have made quite clear that no one is above the law. Ava's covering some of Ron Paul's remarks at Trina's site tonight.
Will the US ever leave Iraq? Al Rafidayn reports US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates gave a speech to the American Enterprise Institute in DC declaring that US forces should remain in Iraq beyond December 31, 2011. Julian E. Barnes and Ben Lando (Wall St. Journal) add that Gates notes the US would agree to any request from Iraq for US forces to remain. Elisabeth Bumiller (New York Times) observes that Gates is set to retire next month, that Gates noted Iran would be uncomfortable with the US staying (Gates: "And that's a good thing") and that his remarks came as AEI released a report by Frederck Kagan. The paper Bumiller refers to is [PDF format warning] "IRAQ THREAT ASSESSMENT: THE DANGERS TO THE UNITED STATES, IRAQ, AND MIDEAST STABILITY OF ABANDONING IRAQ AT THE END OF 2011" and it's released by Kagan and "The Critical Threats Project of the American Enterprise Institute" -- yet another group lacking both the harmony and the grace of Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes. Sadly for Frederick and AEI, we do know them by now, they are the War Cheerleaders, they are the ones who rushed the country into war with lies. And now they want to be seen as trusted voices?
They can't even be trusted with "Key findings." Declaring, "The Iraqi Security Forces will not be able to defend Iraq's sovereignty, maintain its independence from Iran, or ensure Iraq's internal stability without American assistance, including some ground forces in Iraq, for a number of years," is not a "key finding." It is a regurgitation of the remarks Nouri al-Maliki and others have been making to the press for over a year now. That's a bit like AEI 'scholars' camping out in fron of The Weather Channel for three hours and then releasing a "key finding" that the eastern seaboard may see rain this weekend.
Later on in the 'findings,' it argues the US has to extend the SOFA and Iraq has to agree in order for Iraq to survive. Those actually are "findings" but they're not really supported by any work in the paper. In fact, backing things up is apparently one of those 'extras' the bad economy has forced AEI to cut back on. The unsupported conclusion insists:
If Maliki allows the United States to leave Iraq, he is effectively declaring his intent to fall in line with Tehran's wishes, to subordinate Iraq's foreign policy to the Persians, and, possibly, to consolidate his own power as a sort of modern Persian satrap in Baghdad. If Iraq's leaders allow themselves to be daunted by fear of Maliki or Iran, they will be betraying their people, who have shed so much blood to establish a safe, independent, multiethnic, multisectarian, unitary Iraqi state with representative institutions of government.
When has post-invasion Iraq ever been "safe, independent, multiethnic, multisectarian" or unitary? Never. If Frederick Kagan and the others who pimped this war had any brains, they never would have pimped illegal war to begin. But if they had even the smallest ability to learn or think on their feet, they'd keep their mouths shut right now. Their plan was a disaster. It was always going to be a disaster (you cannot make or enforce democracy on another group of people). The last eight years have demonstrated the plan to be a disaster. Continuing it under Barack will only further underscore what a disaster is. The smart thing for the War Pimps is to just keep their mouths shut, let the US military leave Iraq (no, that's really not happening, I know) and lay low for a year or two, then emerge beating their chests and insisting 'victory' had almost been reached but Barack Obama stole it from them by refusing to stand up. It's not all that differnt from the revisionary history on Vietnam, for example.
But War Pimps are not known for their brains and they tend cry and rage at the thought of the plug being pulled on illegal wars. Far more interesting than the report is the "About The Author" on the last page which notes Frederick Kagan prefers to be called Freddie, has owned seven cats -- all of which ran away from home, states, if he had his life to do all over again, he would do so in angora and dreams of one day being asked to do the Vanity Fair Proust Questionnaire.
Okay, truth, "About The Author" doesn't actually say that (or even imply it), but wouldn't it have made the report more interesting if it had? Rezgar (Kurdish Aspect) ponders the prospects of the US pulling out all forces from Iraq:
Will the US honor that agreement? It is easier said than done, particularly after having exhausted billions of dollars in Iraq war so far. Cogitating that it the US will so simply bid farewell to Iraq for good is a pure misperception. The US has never had any such plans to dump Iraqi largest oil reserves in the hand of any other imperial major power, nor consent to the hostile Iran to bolster its hegemony in the majority Shiite populated Iraq. There might be another substantial reduction of troops in Southern and Central parts of Iraq to win over anti-American Shiite clerics such as Muqtada al-Sadr, but in its place, the US will reposition its troops to the North, mainly Kurdistan, where US Troops are much hailed.
Hundreds of CIA operatives have already spread out throughout the North (Kurdistan), monitoring neighboring Iranian military activities and accumulating intelligence, opening clandestine bureaus in building complexes such as Zakaria Apartment Complex.
Kurdish officials have long appealed to the US administration to maintain permanent military bases in Kurdistan. Masood Barzani, Kurdistan Government President, held talks with James F. Jeffrey US ambassador, US Ambassador to Iraq, and Frank Helmick, Deputy Commanding General of US Forces in Iraq General to put this vital blueprint into motion. Maintaining the level of current stability in Kurdistan is mutually par for the course for the US administration.
Dar Addustour notes today that sources say a coalition is emerging among Nouri's supporters and others in Parliament to push for an extension and an MP for the Liberal Party states that they will resist these efforts to keep US forces on the ground in Iraq. This follows Dar Addustour reporting yesterday that the US State Dept's Deputy for Democracy and Global Affairs Maria Otero arrived Monday in Baghdad and a Kurdish MP says there is movement towards extending the SOFA and keeping US forces in Iraq past 2011. Ayas Hossam Acommok (Al Mada) also reported that "a high political level" unnamed source with State Of Law (Nouri's political slate) was stating that the Iraqi government has decided to extend the current agreement and not seek a new one. The source states that between 20,000 and 25,000 US troops will remain in Iraq and that Iraq will declare they need 13,000 to help with logistics and training while at least 5,000 will be said to be needed by the US Embassy. These particulars, the source stated, will be reviewed with the political blocs over the next ten days. All this while,
Aswat al-Iraq reported, Muzhir Hassan, Anbar Province Council member, became the latest official to call for the US military to remain on the ground in Iraq beyond 2011. Hassan stated that "the extension of the U.S. troops presence in Iraq" was necessary because otherwise "a security vacuum" will emerge. At Press TV, Anthony Gregory observes:

Last year 559 American troops died in Iraq and Afghanistan . This is considerably more than the 469 during Bush's last year in office. There has also been an increase in the presence of contractors in both wars, as well as their casualties. Contractors can obscure the true extent of the wars. When Obama has gone on record touting the reduction in U.S. fatalities, he neglects to mention "the contractor personnel now dying in their place," says professor Steven Schooner of George Washington University Law School . In the first half of 2010, 250 civilian contractors died in Iraq and Afghanistan-more than the 235 soldiers who fell during the same period.

Obama ran on cutting money from the war budget, but overall the U.S. spends almost as much, deploys nearly as many troops, and is losing as many lives as when Obama took over. Last year's defense budget, at over $700 billion, was the largest ever. In fiscal year 2012 the defense budget will be at least $671 billion, far higher than the budgets under Bush, and much too high given the country's financial problems.

Overall, the U.S. is as belligerent under Obama as it was under Bush. Obama has widened the war into Pakistan . Drone attacks have multiplied, killing ten civilians for every militant, according to Daniel L. Byman at the Brookings Institution. Moreover, Obama has bombed Yemen and Somalia , as well as started a war with Libya without congressional approval.

Meanwhile, on the political front, Alsumaria TV reports, "A source close to Iraqiya leader Iyad Allawi revealed on Tuesday that certain political leaders some of which are present in southern councils will join on Thursday Iraqiya's coalition during a meeting of members to renew support to Allawi." But the big political news, New Sabah reports, is Nouri al-Maliki's assertion that Iraq's legislative branch, the Parliament, has no power to make laws. He is quoted, from a speech, stating that "the House of Representatives has no right to initiate legislation [. . . -- their edit, not mine] the legislation, the laws must come from the Council of Ministers or the Presidency exclusively." The Council is Nouri's Council and it and the presidency are part of the executive branch. For those who need a review, Iraq -- like the US -- has three branches of government, the judiciary, the legislative and the executive.

As Peter Lorre explains, while hurling knives in 1947's My Favorite Brunette (starring Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour), "The three branches of our government are? Hmm? The legislative, the executive and the judicial. What does the legislative branch of our government do? Hmm? Huh? It makes the laws. What does the executive branch of our government do? It carries out the laws."

Somehow that's too much for Nouri to grasp. And this is not just who the US government -- both the Bush administration and the Barack one -- has backed but the puppet they want US forces to remain in Iraq past 2011 in order to back. That's who AEI and the War Pimps have backed as well. Hint to AEI, next time you need a people's support to hail something as a success, try backing the people and not a puppet (though that does go against AEI's nature, I know).
But who supports the people? Each Friday, protests take place across Iraq. And the US press ignores them. Yet no one can stop trying to do a roll out for Moqtada al-Sadr, apparently. Maybe Karl Rove's freelancing for Moqtada? Tim Craig and Asaad Majeed (Washington Post) become the latest to 'report' on an event that hasn't taken place. Moqtada wants protests tomorrow in Iraq. This week alone, his desire for a protest has gotten more US press attention than all the protests of the people in Iraq that have taken place this month and last combined. What does that tell you?
Meanwhile Human Rights Watch has issued a release which includes the following:
Kurdistan regional government officials and security forces are carrying out a growing assault on the freedom of journalists to work in Iraqi Kurdistan, Human Rights Watch said today. Regional officials should stop repressing journalists through libel suits, beatings, detentions, and death threats, Human Rights Watch said.

Kurdistan authorities have repeatedly tried to silence Livin Magazine, one of Iraqi Kurdistan's leading independent publications, and other media. The international community should end its silence and condemn these widening attacks, Human Rights Watch said.

"The Kurdistan Regional Government promised a new era of freedom for Iraqi Kurds, but it seems no more respectful of Kurdish rights to free speech than the government that preceded it," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "In a time when the Middle East is erupting in demands to end repression, the Kurdish authorities are trying to stifle and intimidate critical journalism."

On May 17, 2011, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) of regional president Massud Barzani brought a defamation lawsuit against the Livin editor-in-chief, Ahmed Mira, for publishing an article about an alleged plot by the KDP and its ruling alliance partner, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), to assassinate opposition leaders. According to court documents obtained by Human Rights Watch, the KDP is seeking total damages of one billion dinars (US$864,000) and an order to shut down the magazine by revoking its license.

The court documents say the party is suing Mira because the Livin article "not only has no basis in truth but is a threat to national security [and] a violation to the dignity and glory and the great achievements" of Iraqi Kurdistan.

Earlier in May, the Iraqi president, Jalal Talabani, the PUK leader, filed his own lawsuit over the same article. Mira told Human Rights Watch that, as a result, police detained him and a Livin reporter, Zhyar Mohammed, for five hours on May 5.

"Such libel suits by Kurdistan government officials are nothing more than a thinly-veiled effort to punish critics and create an atmosphere of fear and self-censorship," Whitson said. "The attacks by Barzani and his colleagues on independent journalists do more to undermine Kurdish 'dignity' and 'glory' than anything in the media reports."

A Livin reporter told Human Rights Watch that when he called Sheikh Jaffar Mustafa, Minister of Peshmerga (Kurdistan security forces), on April 24, Mustafa threatened Livin's editor, Mira, with death. The reporter had called Mustafa and taped the conversation because he wanted to get an official comment on an unrelated matter. The reporter said that Mustafa was upset over an unflattering article in the magazine that compared Mustafa to the Israeli defense minister, Ehud Barak. Mira said he decided to report the threat to the regional government's prime minister rather than make it public or go to the police, which he believed would be ineffectual and put him at further risk.
Though they ignore the protests in Mousl and Baghdad, Tim Arango and Michael S. Schmidt (New York Times) did manage to cover the above region last week. And, to clarify, the New York Times will cover (breathlessly, if the pattern holds) Moqtada's protest. Just like Ahmed Chalabi's organized 'protests' get covered. It's only the actions of the people that the US press likes to ignore.
Turning to the topic of violence, Al Rafidayn notes that police chief Msderfi Anfjarabbop was killed in Kirkuk today and one of his bodyguards and a police officer were injured in a bombing. In related news. Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) notes, "There has been longstanding sectarian tension among Kurdish, Arab and Turkmen people in Kirkuk. Namat is Kurdish, but there was no immediate information on whether the bombing was tied to ethnic hostilities." Reuters notes a Baghdad sticky bombing injured one police officer, a Baghdad shooting injured an Interior Ministry colonel, 5 Baghdad construction workers were shot and wounded, a Baghdad car bombing injured five people, a police officer in Kirkuk was wounded in an attack and, dropping back to Tuesday for both of the last items, 1 corpse was discovered in Kirkuk and Baghdad's car bombing yesterday resulted in 3 deaths and fifteen people injured.

Turning to the US, a verdict was reached in Fort Stewart court-martial today. England's Daily Mail reported earlier this month on the court-martial taking place in Georgia with Army Sgt Joseph Bozicevich accused of killing two US soldiers -- Staff Sgt Darris Dawson and Sgt Wesley Durbin -- in cold blood while he claims self-defense. It was agreed that he was being criticized for his performance (though the accused questions the accuracy of the criticism) and after that? The Associated Press added that the accused was stating he was threatened by "The Black Masons," that the deceased admitted they were masons and claimed they could get away with killing him as a result. The defense offered Dr. Thomas Greiger as a witness to speak about the accused's delusions. Mary Hashemi (WSAV) reports that, "A military jury found Bozicevich guilty on two counts Wednesday of premeditated murder. Bozicevich faces a life sentence. Sentencing will begin on Thursday to decide whether the punishment is with or without parole."
One more time from today's House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, here are Brad Sherman's opening remarks:
US House Rep Brad Sherman: The State Dept is working hard to bring the blessings of democracy and the rule of law to every country . . . except ours. Rome was built with legislative decision making. Rome declined and fell under an imperial executive. We probably should authorize some action with regard to Libya -- although I've got a lot of questions the administration doesn't need to answer because they view us as irrelevant. But any authorization should be limited as to time and scope so that we can then pass additional resolutions with further review. Any authorization should be conditioned on the Libyan rebels expelling from their midst those with American blood on their hands, those who fought us in Afghanistan and Iraq and particularly the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group. And, finally, I would want to see any resolution require that this mission be funded by the assets that Ghadaffi was stupid enough to leave in the United States which have been seized by the US Treasury. The Administration takes the extremist view that the Executive can deploy any amount of American force anywhere, anytime for any purpose, for any duration, with any effect, with only the most cursory discussions with only a few members of Congress. Worse than that, they won't even articulate that view. They won't even acknowledge the 60th day and the day on which they began violating that law. But as the Ranking Member points out, the fault is also here with Congress. So many of us would like to evade the tough decisions. Democrats and Republicans know how to vote on contentious issues because we come from Democrat and Republican districts. But this is one that crosses party lines, this is one that divides every one of our districts and a lot of people would just as soon duck the issue. That's not our job. We should put in every appropriations bill that the expenditure of funds in violation of the War Powers Act constitutes a theft of tax payer money. I tried with a few to get Congressional approval of both parties to put in the CR that no money could be spent in violation of the War Powers Act. We got no response. It's time for Congress to step forward. It's time to stop shredding the US Constitution in a presumed effort to bring democracy and constitutional law to Libya.