Saturday, July 02, 2011

Nothing ever changes

"Kabul hotel attack shakes US occupation regime in Afghanistan" (Alex Lantier, WSWS):

The June 28-29 attack by Afghan insurgents on the luxury Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul has again exposed the ineffectiveness of US-backed Afghan security forces and the political isolation of the US occupation regime in Afghanistan.

On Tuesday night a group of nine fighters, apparently dressed in Afghan police or army uniforms, killed two guards at a side entrance to the hotel. Afterwards, they worked their way through the hotel, firing a machine gun at the swimming pool area and breaking into numerous rooms, apparently in a room-to-room search. Three fighters reached the roof of the hotel, where they were killed by fire from NATO helicopters.

Police at the hotel reportedly refused to fire on the attackers, and Special Forces from the US and New Zealand were brought in to attack the insurgents. Two New Zealander SAS troops were reportedly wounded. The hotel’s fifth and sixth floors were on fire after the assault was over.

The Taliban emailed a statement claiming the operation had led to 50 deaths, and implying that the raid targeted Afghan government and foreign diplomatic officials. They declared, “Our people have attacked the Intercontinental Hotel while a gathering of 300 foreigners and Afghan officials met. On each floor of the hotel, our fighters have broken down the door to each room, taking out guests and killing them. Most of them are foreigners.”

You really have to be lost inside the bell jar to not notice the ongoing wars. So many are o.d.-ing on infotainment. I do wonder if some of them overload on infotainment because they can't deal with the ugly reality?

That's certainly understandable.

But it doesn't end the wars.

It doesn't change anything.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Friday, July 1, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, protests continue in Baghdad, the US government continues to target an Iraq War veteran, Iraq scores poorly on the State Dept's report of human trafficking, and more.
Starting with Libya. Yesterday on Flashpoints (KPFA, Pacifica), guest host Kevin Pina spoke with Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya who has left Canada to report from Libya on the illegal war. Michael Birnbaum (Washington Post) reported, "French officials announced Wednesday that they had armed rebels in Libya, marking the first time a NATO country has said it was providing direct military aid to opponents of the government in a conflict that has lasted longer than many policymakers expected." Actually, they didn't just 'announce' it was taking place. Philippe Gelie (Le Figaro) reported that France was dropping weapons to the 'rebels.' Only after Gelie's report got traction and the pressure was on the French government to answer the charge did they 'announce' -- which most of us would call "admit" -- that this had happened. Nick Hopkins (Guardian) explained, "The revelation surprised officials in Nato's headquarters in Brussels and raised awkward questions about whether the French had broken international law -- UN resolution 1973 specifically allows Nato nations to protect civilians in Libya, but appears to stop short of permitting the provision weapons." This is the topic Kevin Pina and Madhi Nazemoroaya are discussing at the start of the excerpt.
Kevin Pina: So let's talk about this. Has the word reached there in Libya that France has openly flaunted the UN resolution?
Madhi Nazemroaya: Yes, yes, it has. And it's no surprise in Tripoli that the French have been involved with this breach of the United Nations resolution.
Kevin Pina: And so what has the reaction been? Has there been any official reaction from the Gaddafi government?
Madhi Nazemroaya: I was at the Rixos Hotel which as your listeners might know is the media center where the government spokesman is. There's been no official statements yet but speaking to the people there at the media center, as I said, they're not surprised. But they are outraged. I'm sure that tomorrow the manifestation of this outrage will appear in Triopli because there is a major protest -- a major protest that is going to take place.
Kevin Pina: And you're listening to Flashpoints on Pacifica Radio and that's the voice of Madhi Nazemroaya coming to us direct from Tripoli in Libya. Madhi, have there been any other sorties of NATO bombers within the last 24 hours?
Madhi Nazemroaya: Well in Tripoli there have been no bombings that I know of but I can tell you that NATO jets have been flying robustly over Tripoli and there noises can be heard to the point where at some points I think I've been woken up to this very moment by them. They've been flying a lot during the day. Most likely going south towards Fezzan bombing God knows what because there are no military sites south of here. But there have been robust flights, that's for sure.
Kevin Pina: And what about actual battles between the so-called rebels and the forces of the Libyan Army?
Madhi Nazemroaya: Well I could tell you this in regards to the front between -- between both sides, between the Benghazi based Transitional Council forces and the military of -- the Libyan miltary of Col Gaddafi . In regards to the front, it was announced yesterday that one city fell. Now I know this because I was witness to the official government spokesperson, Dr. Moussa Ibrahim --
Kevin Pina: This is a city that fell back to Gaddafi forces?
Madhi Nazemroaya: No, it was said to have fallen to the rebel forces. Now this is reported by the rebels and by the mainstream media but Dr. Moussa Ibrahim and the Libyan government, the Libyan regime, have contradicted it and denied it. And what they have dones is actually taken international press with them to this city to prove that it did not fall as was reported. Now I bared witness to them leaving on a shuttle towards the city and they returned this morning. I actually talked to some of the reporters before they left. They came from places such as France, Britian and Hong Kong. So we have misinformation being given about the front when one city's been reported to have fallen when, reality, it hasn't. So this I can tell you right now about the front.
Kevin Pina: Now you've also spoken about the psychological warfare that's been used by NATO and its allies against the people of Libya. Give us a sense of where that's at now. You said there were still fly-bys and they were making a lot of noise over the capitol. Obviously, that's got to make the people very nervous.
Madhi Nazemroaya: Yes, these flights -- these flights are a daily event here in Tripoli and in the districts around Tripoli. And it does make them -- it does make the citizens here think of NATO on a constant basis. This has become a part of their lives. Now I said before too that they're trying to live normal lives and I'm actually very impressed with their efforts to live normal lives here in Tripoli and the districts around Tripoli. But the facts are that these flights make one really nervous and especially at night. Even I myself have trouble sometimes sleeping at night because sometimes these noises wake you up and you might have a problem, like a fear and mistake even a car noise for these flights over Tripoli. It's very disturbing and I have to point out that I've come at a time where the bombings in this area have been reduced compared to what they were. The war is nothing like it was -- the bombings are nothing like it was prior to my arrival. Still, it's a very scary thing, Kevin, it's a very scary thing.
Kevin Pina: It seems like the bombings really fell off after it became clear that NATO was responsible for killing civilians -- that they were claiming they were bombing military targets but civilians were being killed at the same time. And there was an incident that happened about a week ago, right, where it was really clear and they could no longer deny it and it seems that they have fallen off since then. Right?
Madhi Nazemroaya: Well in Tripoli, like I've said, the bombings have been reduced, they're far less [unknown word] to the citizens than before but other places are being bombed. Like these planes are flying south of Tripoli. God knows where they are bombing because there's nothing of military value in Fezzan. And south of Tripoli, I can't imagine what they're bombing down there except for small cities and villages and the desert. But they are bombing south of here, they're bombing places. And we have reports of them bombing the areas in [. . .] south of here. These things are of no military value at all which actually is an indicator that this war is wrong and that NATO is involved in War Crimes, bombing civilian structures.
Kevin Pina: Now you had also said in a previous interview that there was evidence of depleted uranium in bombing -- in the bomb casings that were being dropped on the population. Where's that at now? I understand there's some evidence that's going to be released soon.
Madhi Nazemroaya: That evidence will come forward. It's something that's being waited on. The machinery here -- There is machinery here that's been ordered that will detect radioactivity levels. It's only a matter of time before it comes. I don't know exactly when it will come up but the machinery is here and there would have actually been more machinery had it not been for the disaster in east Asia, in Japan specifically, because a lot of this machinery ended up going there. But I spoke to an American gentlemen the other day about it and they will be using this machinery to prove to the world that depleted uranium has been used here. And not only have I mentioned this but so have others and so has the Stop the War coalition in the United Kingdom.
Kevin Pina: Well Madhi, this is the voice of Madhi Nazemroaya our special correspondent on the ground in Tripoli, Libya. This is Flashpoints on Pacifica Radio.
In related news, AFP reported this week that the 'rebels' (National Transitional Council) has received the equivalent of $100 million in "international donations" according to England's Foreign Secretary William Hague who was speaking to the House of Commons.
Former US house Rep Cynthia McKinney is attempting to raise awareness of the illegal war and this is from her "What America Stands For In Libya" (Information Clearing House):
At a time when the American people have been asked to tighten their belts, teachers are receiving pink slips, the vital statistics of the American people reveal a health care crisis in the making, and the U.S. government is in serious threat of default, our President and Congress have decided that a new war, this time against the people of Libya, is appropriate. This comes at a time when the U.S., by one estimate, spends approximately $3 billion per week for war against Iraq and Afghanistan.
Today protests continued in Iraq. This was "Grandchildren of the 1920 Rebels" -- a not to the Iraq Revolution of 1920 in which the Iraqis -- Shia and Sunni -- protested the British occupation and the policies put in place by British Bwana Arnold Wilson. It kicked off in May 1920 and saw 6,000 Iraqis and 500 British and Indian forces killed from May to October. To avoid further risk, the British handed control over to Faisal bin Hussein bin Ali al-Hashemi who ruled as the King of Iraq from August 1921 to September 1933. Revolution of Iraq features videos of the Baghdad protests filmed by Rami Hayali. During the demonstration, they burned to the United States flag to show their rejection of the occupation. A characteristic of the Baghdad protests are the women with photos of their loved ones who are missing -- some lost in the Iraqi 'justice' system and there are least two such women (plus other women as well) in this video. Families have no idea where their loved ones are. They just disappear one day. Maybe they're seen being hauled away by Iraqi forces, maybe that's not seen. But they disappear and the government is of no use to them, provides no assistance to find them. Southern Iraq protests in the last months have also noted the difficulties in visiting imprisoned/detained Iraqis that the system seems to practice intentionally by repeatedly swapping prisons and by keeping them far from their home base where family would be closer. In this video, the protesters wash their hands of Ayad Allawi and Nouri al-Maliki stating that both men are useless and two-of-a-kind, thieves unwilling to help Iraq. Alsumaria TV reports that they called for Nouri's government to be toppled and to end corruption and that they were joined by "employees from the branch centers of the Independent High Electoral Commission rallied for the second time in Tahrir Square calling to be employed as fixed term employees."
Protests have continued every Friday despite the attacks on the peaceful protesters. Dan Murphy (Christian Science Monitor) reports:

Human Rights Watch charges today that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki appears to have ordered the beating, stabbing, and sexual assault of protesters earlier this month.
"It's pretty worrying," says Joe Stork, the head of the Middle East department at Human Rights Watch. "There are a few things that we hadn't seen before, like the sexual molesting, that kind of thing. The pattern of using plain clothes people who to all appearances were working with the connivance of the security people, that's certainly not new … we saw that when the so-called Arab spring protests started in Baghdad in February. This use of 'thugs' who may or may not be security is itself not unique to Iraq; in fact, it seems to be right out of the Egyptian playbook."

In other news out of Iraq, Alaa Fadel (Dar Addustour) reports that Nouri's spokesperson, Ali al-Dabbagh, announced that the increase in oil prices (meaning more income for Iraq) will be used to increase the payment for wheat and barley to Iraqi farmers. The government is planning to spend trillions of dinars on these crops. While that takes place, Al Mada reports UNICEF is calling on Iraq's government to invest some of the money into a one billion a year fund to assist Iraq's disadvantaged children. There are an estimated 4 million severely disadvantaged children thought the number could be much higher and Iraq's estimated to have 15 million children. 15 million children is a large number by itself but especially when you consider that population estimates for Iraq are generally somewhere between 25 million and 30 million. Iraq is a young country, a country of widows and orphans thanks to the illegal war.

And the protests that take place in Iraq are about these issues, the war, the effects of the war, the occupied government's refusal to provide basic services such as potable water, the lack of jobs and much more. Iaq needs housing and every six months or so Nouri shows up at a newly built housing project for a photo-op. Iraq needs many things. So there should be more than enough jobs to go around. Somehow that's not the case. (Also true, a lot of the government funded projects never see the funds because someone uses the money to line their own pockets.)

Al Mada reports on the Iraqi government's reaction to the US State Dept's annual human rights report on human trafficking which finds being put on the "watchlist" good news. Hassan Rashed explains it's so much better to be on the watchlist than on the blacklist. They have no reason to be proud, the report notes:
The Iraqi government demonstrated minimal efforts to protect victims of trafficking during the reporting period. Government authorities continued to lack a formal procedure to identify victims of trafficking among vulnerable groups, such as women arrested for prostitution or foreign workers, and did not recognize that women in prostitution may be coerced. As a result, some victims of trafficking were incarcerated, fined, or otherwise penalized for acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked, such as prostitution. Some victims of forced labor, however, were reportedly not detained, fined, or jailed for immigration violations, but they were generally not provided protection services by the government. Some Iraqi police centers have specialists to assist women and children who are victims of trafficking and abuse; the number of victims assisted and the type of assistance provided is unclear. The government neither provided protection services to victims of trafficking nor funded or provided in-kind assistance to NGOs providing victim protection services. All available care was administered by NGOs, which ran victim-care facilities and shelters accessible to victims of trafficking. However, there were no signs that the government developed or implemented procedures by which government officials systematically referred victims to organizations providing legal, medical, or psychological services. Upon release from prison, female victims of forced prostitution had difficulty finding assistance, especially in cases where the victim's family had sold her into prostitution, thereby increasing their chances of being re-trafficked. Some child trafficking victims were placed in protective facilities, orphanages, and foster care, while others were placed in juvenile detention centers. Since trafficking is not established as a crime in Iraq, the government did not encourage victims to assist in investigations or prosecutions or provide legal assistance or legal alternatives to removal to countries in which they may face hardship or retribution for foreign victims of trafficking into Iraq.
The Government of Iraq did not report efforts to prevent trafficking in persons. The government has not conducted any public awareness or education campaigns to educate migrant workers, labor brokers, and employers of workers' rights against forced labor. There were also no reported efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts beyond enforcing anti-prostitution laws. The Iraqi government does not consistently monitor immigration and emigration patterns for evidence of trafficking, but there are reports of isolated instances in which Iraqi border security forces prevented older men and young girls traveling together from leaving Iraq using fake documents.

Their fallback position was to do nothing. When pressed, they did the "minimal." The report also notes:
Iraq is a source and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. Iraqi women and girls are subjected to conditions of trafficking within the country and in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Iran, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia for forced prostitution and sexual exploitation within households. Women are lured into forced prostitution through false promises of work. Women are also subjected to involuntary servitude through forced marriages, often as payment of a debt, and women who flee such marriages are often more vulnerable to being subjected to further forced labor or sexual servitude. One NGO reports that recruiters rape women and girls on film and blackmail them into prostitution or recruit them in prisons by posting bail and then holding them in situations of debt bondage in prostitution. Some women and children are forced by family members into prostitution to escape desperate economic circumstances, to pay debts, or to resolve disputes between families. NGOs report that these women are often prostituted in private residences, brothels, restaurants, and places of entertainment. Some women and girls are trafficked within Iraq for the purpose of sexual exploitation through the use of temporary marriages (muta'a), by which the family of the girl receives money in the form of a dowry in exchange for permission to marry the girl for a limited period of time. Some Iraqi parents have reportedly collaborated with traffickers to leave children at the Iraqi side of the border with Syria with the expectation that traffickers will arrange for them forged documents to enter Syria and employment in a nightclub. The large population of internally displaced persons and refugees moving within Iraq and across its borders are particularly at risk of being trafficked. Women from Iran, China, and the Philippines reportedly may be trafficked to or through Iraq for commercial sexual exploitation.
Iraq is also a destination country for men and women who migrate from Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nepal, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Pakistan, Georgia, Jordan, and Uganda and are subsequently subjected to involuntary servitude as construction workers, security guards, cleaners, handymen, and domestic workers. Such men and women face practices such as confiscation of passports and official documents, nonpayment of wages, long working hours, threats of deportation, and physical and sexual abuse as a means to keep them in a situation of forced labor. Some of these foreign migrants were recruited for work in other countries such as Jordan or the Gulf States, but were forced, coerced, or deceived into traveling to Iraq, where their passports were confiscated and their wages withheld, ostensibly to repay labor brokers for the costs of recruitment, transport, and food and lodging. Other foreign migrants were aware they were destined for Iraq, but once in-country, found the terms of employment were not what they expected or the jobs they were promised did not exist, and they faced coercion and serious harm, financial or otherwise, if they attempted to leave. In addition, some Iraqi boys from poor families are reportedly subjected to forced street begging and other nonconsensual labor exploitation and commercial sexual exploitation. Some women from Ethiopia, Indonesia, Nepal, and the Philippines who migrated to the area under the jurisdiction of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) experienced conditions of domestic servitude after being recruited with offers of different jobs. An Iraqi official revealed networks of women have been involved in the trafficking and sale of male and female children for the purposes of sex trafficking.
The Government of Iraq does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, but is making significant efforts to do so. The government did not demonstrate evidence of significant efforts to punish traffickers or proactively identify victims; therefore, Iraq is placed on Tier 2 Watch List for a third consecutive year. Iraq was not placed on Tier 3 per Section 107 of the 2008 Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, however, as the government has a written plan that, if implemented, would constitute making significant efforts to bring itself into compliance with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is devoting sufficient resources to implement that plan. Nonetheless, the government did not enact its draft anti-trafficking legislation and has reported no other efforts to prosecute or punish traffickers. The Government of Iraq continues to lack proactive victim identification procedures, persists in punishing victims of forced prostitution, and provides no systematic protection services to victims of trafficking.
Violence has increased in the last months in Iraq. Aswat al-Iraq reports that MP Hakim al-Zamili has declared, "The premier [Nouri al-Maliki] is the first responsible for the deterioration in the security situation. He has to solve this question by appointing the security miniters who should be specialized and knowledgeable."
Turning to some of today's reported violence, Reuters notes 2 police officers "and a Kurdish security force member" were shot dead in Mosul last night, that 1 "Iraqi oil police" killed a suspected smuggler last night outside Mosul and that, today, 1 Sahwa was shot dead in Khaldiya.On the Mosul attack, Aswat al-Iraq noted that the assailants wore military uniforms. They also note that a Baghdad attack led to the death last night of a police officer and an Iraqi officer.
Meanwhile the Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has issued a statement. Irina Bokova has called out the recent deaths of journalists in Iraq, Congo and Mexico. We'll note the Iraq aspect.
Ms. Bokova also deplored the death on 21 June of cameraman Alwan al-Ghorabi, who died in a car bomb explosion in the southern Iraqi city of Diwaniyya, becoming the fourth journalist to be killed in that country this year.
Mr. al-Ghorabi, who worked for the Afaq satellite television channel, was reportedly with several other journalists at the entrance of a Government building when the bomb exploded.
Ms. Bokova said this latest death is a reminder of how precarious the security situation still is in Iraq.
"Media professionals, working to keep citizens informed, are particularly exposed," she noted.
In other news of violence, Ed O'Keefe and Tim Craig (Washington Post via Boston Globe) note the US officials and military 'chatter' that Iran is behind June's deadly attacks on US soldiers: "Those weapons include powerful rockets, armor-piercing grenades, and jamming-resistant roadside bombs, military officials say. Officials caution that they do not have evidence that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran or his government is ordering Shi'ite militias to strike US forces in Iraq." Michael S. Schmidt (New York Times) reports the US military is happy that Nouri al-Maliki has "unleashed a sweeping crackdown on Iranian-based Shiite militias" and that they feared this wouldn't happen due to the fact that "[m]any of the militant groups have ties to the radical cleric Moktada al-Sadr" so it's relief to them that Nouri's sent soldiers and police officers into Maysan Province. Really? Moqtada didn't have a stronghold in the Maysan Province. The closest he is supposed to have had was a toe-hold in Amarah and that toe-hold fell apart during Basha'ar al-Salam in 2008 when Sadr's sole office in the province, in Amarah, was shut down. Now that's 2008. Two years prior to that, Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi milita was supposed to have seized control of the city of Amarah briefly (for one day in October). Where they do have control, Sadr supporters (militia or not) is in the province's government and that's due to Nouri al-Maliki who handed the province over to Moqtada to garner al-Sadr's support for his 2010 prime minister bid. Since Sadrists control the government in the province (including the post of governor) and since there were other militias in the province (going back for years and years) what might be taking place is that Moqtada al-Sadr is using his sway with Nouri to have Nouri take out rivals -- militia and political? -- in the province. Moqtada and his followers did't win control of the province via elections, they won it via a graft with Nouri. This may be an attempt at taking out enemies and 'purifying' the region. In which case, Nouri would be doing Moqtada's bidding and the US military brass would have jumped the gun in its praise for Nouri. If you're wondering what the other 'name' militia in the province is, it's the Badr Organization. If Moqtada was able to knock them out, he might neverhave to worry about control of the province or having to wrestle with Ammar al-Hakim over who's going to run it. He had to repeatedly wrestle with Ammar's father, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, over just that until Abdul Aziz al-Hakim passed away in 2009. Ammar al-Hakim being rather popular with US government officials, now would be the perfect time for Moqtada to work on weakening al-Hakim's support since a number of foreigners think, should Nouri be recalled or forced out, Ammar al-Hakim would be the perfect choice for prime minister.
15 US soldiers have died in the Iraq War during the month of June. Wednesday was the most recent deaths when a missile hit a US military vehicle killing three soldiers. The Intelligencer reports one of them was 29-year-old David VanCamp whose survivors include his wife Chelsea, his parents and his three brothers. David VanCamp first deployed to Iraq in the fall of 2005 and was awarded "the Purple Heart and Bronze Star after being injured in 2006 by a suicide bomber." The State Journal notes his passing and has a photo of him here.
Another of the 15 fallen for the month of June is Dylan Johnson. KJRH (link has text and video) speaks to his father Jeff Johnson who explains his son was known for his sense of humor, "I got a recent message from one of his buddies there and they're still finding remnants of practical jokes that he played on them, that was just the type of guy he was, he enjoyed life to it's fullest." Dylan Johnson was 20-years-old and on his 25th day in Iraq when he died in a bombing.

Staying with the United States, Elisha Dawkins is an Iraq War veteran. He remains a member of the military who was serving until the government recently decided that he had falsified a passport application by saying he'd never applied for one before when, a few years prior, he'd started an application but not finished it. On the basis of that, they have threatened and bullied Elisha. US Senator Bill Nelson has called the treatment outrageous. He's been offered the option of taking probation and the charges against him would be dropped. Probation would not be a felony conviction which would allow him to apply for citizenship. (There's confusion on citizenship. Elisha was raised believing he was a US citizen. He has a birth certificate from the state of Florida. But there's a deportation order from when he was a small child for him and for his mother.) Carol Rosenberg (Miami Herald) reports that his case has now caught US House Rep Federica Wilson's attention and that Wilson has written Janet Napolitano, US Homeland Security Secretary, asking for assistance and noting, "Mr. Dawkins is not someone who should find imself in a detention center. His situation is more than unfortunate, it is inexplicable. I am asking, earnestly, for your help. I am asking that Mr. Dawkins be allowed to continue to be the type of role model he has always been -- here, on American soil." US House Rep Federica Wilson's office has released the following statement:
Washington, DC -- Congresswoman Frederica Wilson (FL-17) today sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to request a removal of detainer on former Petty Officer 2nd Class, Elisha Leo Dawkins, who has been held for the past month in a Miami federal detention facility. Officer Dawkins was originally detained for an alleged passport violation. Even if he is released from detention, he is still at risk of deportation based on an order issued in 1992.
Mr. Dawkins was brought to the U.S. as a baby from The Bahamas and was raised believing he was a U.S. citizen, eventually rising to serve in our military with distinction. He grew up in the heart of Florida's 17th District, attending Poinciana Park Elementary and Miami Central Senior High School.
"This is a man we should be celebrating, not deporting," said Congresswoman Wilson. "He has bravely and heroically fought for our country and deserves our utmost gratitude. His situation is more than unfortunate; it is inexplicable. I am asking that Mr. Dawkins be allowed to continue to be the type of role model he has always been -- here, on American soil.
"This is precisely why we need to pass the DREAM Act. We need comprehensive immigration reform to fix our broken immigration system and ensure that incidents like this never happen again to our brave men and women who served in uniform."
In addition to awaiting a response from Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano, Congresswoman Wilson's district office is working closely with all relevant authorities to resolve the case.
Free Elisha Dawkins is a Facebook page which has been started by friends of Elisha who goes by "Leo" his friend and Jake Birchfield reveals to Ted Hall (11 Alive -- link has video and text) and.Birchfield explains of the friend he served with, "He has done more for this country than most people will in their lifetimes and he's a young man. The fact that he has gone to the front lines to fight for our country. The government needs to say this is a mistake."

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


"It's 'Kinetic,' So Don't Get Frenetic" (Justin Raimondo,

Explaining the Obama administration’s rationale for violating the War Powers Act by not asking Congress for authorization to attack Libya, the White House claims that what’s going on in Libya isn’t war, it’s a “kinetic military action.” This set off such a round of guffaws – even from Libya war supporters in the Democratic congressional caucus – that the administration felt compelled to send a government lawyer to Congress to elaborate on this exercise in Doublespeak. Harold Koh, the State Department’s lawyer-in-chief, explained to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that since there was no back-and-forth firing between American and Libyan forces, the Libyan intervention isn’t a real war – and therefore the President is not in violation of the War Powers Act. (No word yet on whether he’s in violation of the Constitution, which gives Congress, and not the President, the power to make war.)

This, by the way, is the same Harold Hongju Koh who once authored a legal brief [.pdf] challenging George Herbert Walker Bush’s authority to fight the first Iraq war, on the grounds that “the Constitution requires the president to consult with Congress and receive its affirmative authorization – not merely present it with faits accomplis – before engaging in war.”

Oh, but this isn’t a war – didn’t you hear me the first time? As Koh explained to the befuddled solons in his opening statement: the word “hostilities,” which “triggers” the 60-day time line imposed by the War Powers Act, is “an ambiguous term of art.” Translation: it can mean anything anyone wants it to mean – especially if that anyone is a sitting Democratic president. After all, Koh argued, the word wasn’t defined in the legislation, and there is no legislative precedent that would define it for us. Oh, and put down that dictionary – we don’t use them in ObamaWorld, which is in the same galaxy as Bizarro World. Instead, we must stick to “historical practice.”

C.I. covers the wars in the snapshot today and reading, for example, Michael Ratner discussing the Libyan War in the snapshot or Justin Raimondo discussing it above, it is obvious just what gifted liars are now in the administration.

They know what they're doing is wrong. But they have contempt for the law, contempt for democracy and contempt for citizens. George W. Bush was an idiot. Barack Obama has a law degree. I'd argue they are both War Criminals but Barack's worse because he knows better.

He is breaking the law.

As awful as that is, has anyone explained to you why the US went to war with Libya.

Excuse me, Barack doesn't call it war.

Has anyone explained to you why the US is heavy petting with Libya?

No, because there's no reason for the war.

Did Libya attack the US?


There's no reason for the war.

Barack wants their leader gone.

Well there are rulers who want Barack gone. If they attacked the US, we'd call it war and be outraged.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Wednesday, June 29, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, talk of Iraq developing a Sunni region is shot down, officials are repeatedly targeted in today's violence, Iraq is discussed in the US at a Senate Subcommittee, and more.
Starting with this on veterans employment from Senator Patty Murray's office:
Chairman Murray Applauds Committee Passage of Landmark Veterans Employment Legislation
Having unanimously passed the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, the bill will now go to the full Senate for consideration

(Washington, D.C.) -- Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, applauded the unanimous passage of her landmark veterans employment bill, the Hiring Heroes Act of 2011 (S. 951) through the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs. Chairman Murray's bill is the first of its kind to require broad job skills training for all service members returning home and comes at a time when more than one in four veterans aged 20-24 are unemployed. In addition to providing new job skills training to all service members, the bill will also create new direct federal hiring authority so that more service members have jobs waiting for them the day they leave the military, and will improve veteran mentorship programs in the working world.

Having unanimously passed the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, the bill will now go to the full Senate for consideration.
Read Senator Murray's statement about the passage below:
"With today's passage, this critical legislation moves one step closer to providing veterans with the broad job skills training and support they need to break down barriers to employment. For the first time, this comprehensive bill will require service members to learn how to translate the skills they learned in the military into the working world. It will also ensure that more veterans have jobs waiting for them when they leave the military by streamlining the path to private and federal employment.
"Our veterans sacrificed greatly to fight for our freedoms and they shouldn't have to fight for jobs when they return home. I'm hopeful that this legislation will quickly make its way before the full Senate, and I look forward to fighting for it when it does."
Senator Murray has long championed veterans and her bill should be passed quickly by the full Senate.
Turning now to the wars that produce the veterans (the wars also produce the fallen).
Cynthia McKinney: Congress must exercise its authority and reign in this president. [Applause.] If this president proceeds -- now we already know that this president is guilty of committing war crimes. [Applause.] We know that. Now if having oral sex is an impeachable crime certainly war crimes and crimes against humanity are also impeachable crimes. [Applause.] Ignoring the War Powers Act and the Constitution is an impeachable crime. If President Obama refuses to heed public opinion in the United States -- 60% of which is against the involvement against Libya -- if he is determined to violate the Constitution and violate the War Powers Act and defy Congress, I'm hoping that we will bring enough pressure to bear on our members of Congress that they will follow the House and, in the Senate, also vote to cut off the funding for this NATO operation. [Applause.] Because of what NATO is doing in Libya, what we're seeing is the Israel-ization of NATO policy against the people of Libya. Whether it's collective punishment -- NATO now is refusing to allow food, fuel and medicine to come in as they bomb people and hurt people, NATO is refusing to allow Libya to import the necessary medicine. That too is against international law. That makes our president's actions also criminal in the collective punishment that is being visited on the Libyan people. They can't even fish in their own territorial waters because NATO is stopping that. Sounds a lot like Gaza, doesn't it?
The Libyan War was also addressed this week on Law and Disorder Radio (began broadcasting at 9:00 am EST on WBAI and around the country throughout the week). Attorneys and hosts Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights) discussed Libya and other topics during the opening of the show. And, FYI, Michael Ratner and Margaret Ratner Kunstler are the authors of the new book Hell No, Your Right To Dissent. Also Michael Ratner and Heidi Boghosian read from the column that Michael Ratner and Margaret Ratner Kunstler have written (The Progressive) about the current war on protest and dissent in the US. Excerpt:
Michael S. Smith: Michael, Heidi, there's been a lot of ink spilled over Obama overstepping legal authority with the war in Libya. And Michael, you've litigated this question on the War Powers Act. What's your take on it?
Michael Ratner: We should first say that, as hosts, we're against this war to begin with, apart from the legality, that this is just another US imperialistic war in the Middle East. I mean, whatever we think about that. But, in addition, what's come out lately is that it's flatly illegal and the administration is fighting an illegal war. I wrote an op-ed on this way back at the end of March that this was an unconstitutional war because it was attacking another country and under the Constitution you have to get the consent of Congress. He didn't. Since then, of course, the War Powers Resolution has clicked in. That's the resolution that was passed in the wake of the Vietnam War. And it was passed for a particular reason: Congress was afraid that presidents would continue to go to war without their consent and so they built an automatic trigger into the War Powers Resoultion saying that 60 days after the president initiated a war, for whatever reason, whatever basis, if it didn't have explicit Congressional consent, the troops had to automatically be withdrawn. I say that again: automatically be withdrawn within 30 days after the 60-day time clock expires. So that's 90 days. There shouldn't be any attack on Libya going on that the United States is involved in at all -- not involved in coordination, not involved in helping with the radar, not involved in helping send its own missiles -- which it's still doing, not involved in bombing -- which it's still doing. So the 90 days are over. The war started over 90 days ago. And there's now been a big debate in the administration with Obama saying, 'I'm not violating the War Powers Resolution. There's no hostilities. We haven't entered into hostilities.' I mean, it doesn't pass the straight-face test. I mean, it's ridiculous. It's a total lie. And what's sad about it, of course, is that he got advice from the administration official lawyers at the Office of Legal Counsel --
Michael S. Smith: And the Pentagon.
Michael Ratner: And the Pentagon which -- the OLC actually is authoritative on the law with the president. Yes, he can override it, but it's authoritative. Very rarely over-ridden. Then he went to some other people at the State Dept and elsewhere -- including Harold Koh -- who I used to work with very closely. And they give him the opposite opinion. They said, 'Oh, no. There's no violation of the War Powers Resoultion here.' And Obama, to the American people, with a straight face, has the nerve to say, "We're not violating the War Powers Resolution." So now you see them scrambling around in Congress -- you know, [Dennis] Kuccinich and some Republicans -- saying 'let's cut off all the funding for this war.' They never actually funded the war. That's another interesting point. Obama took the money from some raw defense dept budget. He didn't even use specific funding for the war.
Michael S. Smith: That's utterly unconstitutional. The Constitution [says the Congress] is supposed to have the power of purse and since war is so important they're supposed to fund them or not fund them.
Michael Ratner: Right and I was asked this morning, about how do you compare Obama and Bush on the war? Well whatever you thought of the resolution authorizing -- 'authorizing' -- the war in Afghanistan or the war in Iraq, there was at least resolutions. I mean there isn't one for Libya. And now you see the great scene is to see [John] Kerry, our former presidential candidate who, you'll recall, when he ran for president saluted the Democratic Convention saying, "Reporting for duty" to show that even though he was against the Vietnam War after the fact, that he was still a figher. Well he proved he's still a fighter. He's now joined by [John] McCain at the hip to say, 'Now let's pass a resolution authorizing the war.' So here you go, the president does an unconstitutional war, he violates the War Powers Resolution and then, of course, exactly what the problem was in Vietnam, you're seeing with a war going on, Congress is saying, 'Well we can't abandon our troops in the field, we can't abandon our troops in the air, our credibility is at stake if we abandon NATO. The same BS we've heard forever. So underneath it, and it's the only analysis that counts, is this is one of a half-dozen imperial wars the US is fighting. And, as someone once said to me, "If you only have a hammer, everything looks like a nail." In the US, the world looks like a bunch of nails that it can just hit around when it gets into a problem.
Michael S. Smith: I think the other point is whether it's Bush or whether it's Obama, whether it's a Republican, whether it's a Democrat, that certain necessities of empire that these guys follow regardless of what party they're in or what promises they make when they're running for office.
Michael Ratner: I think that's right. I mean, you always tell me about there's two capitalist parties --
Michael S. Smith: One party with two wings.
Michael Ratner: Right, so this is, you know, we have one War Party really, the question is are there even two wings?
We'll stop there but I do love what Ratner says next. From the illegal Libyan War to the never-ending Afghanistan War, Bill Van Auken (WSWS) observes Barack and Richard Nixon:
In our response to the Obama speech, the World Socialist Web Site stated: "The plan announced by Obama will spell an escalation rather than a reduction in the bloodshed in Afghanistan. The aim is to carry out a military offensive over this summer and the next in an attempt to militarily crush the popular opposition to US occupation. To the extent that the withdrawal affects firepower available to US commanders, it will inevitably lead to the use of more air strikes and drone missile attacks and, as a result, an even greater number of civilian casualties."
The opinion piece drafted by Rose provides added confirmation to this assessment.
Both the author of this piece and the publication that he edits are worth examining. Foreign Affairs, the organ of the Council on Foreign Relations, has long served as a public forum for debating foreign policy issues within the US political establishment. It is the same magazine where Henry Kissinger, then a private citizen, first advanced views on Vietnam that would subsequently be embraced by Nixon after his 1969 inauguration.
As for Rose, he is described by the magazine as an expert on international conflict, terrorism and economic sanctions. He was a Middle East advisor on the National Security Council during the Clinton administration, helping craft the sanctions regime against Iraq estimated to have claimed the lives of over half a million Iraqi children.
And if Barack's Tricky Dick, Tom Hayden's Rose Mary Woods because his revisionary and 'creative' interpretation of Barack's speech creates its own highly edited response and we long to see him demonstrate the Rose Mary Wood stretch. David Walsh (WSWS) observes, "Hayden makes entirely unwarranted claims about the so-called withdrawal plan and then attributes the 'de-escalation' to pressure from a 'peace movement' that is largely the product of his imagination." Ivan Eland ( also sees Richard Nixon when he looks at Barack:
Richard Nixon faced the same dilemma presiding over the lost Vietnam War. In 1971, he wanted to withdraw U.S. forces from South Vietnam until Henry Kissinger reminded him that the place would likely fall apart in 1972, the year Nixon was up for reelection. To avoid this scenario, Nixon unconscionably delayed a peace settlement until 1973, thus trading more wasted American lives for his reelection.
Obama appears to be up to the same thing. A phased withdrawal of 33,000 U.S. troops before the election will push back at Republican candidates' demands for more rapid withdrawal and signal to the conflict-fatigued American public that he is solving the problem, while leaving 70,000 forces to make sure the country doesn't collapse before that election. Again, American lives will be needlessly lost so that a slick politician can look his best at election time.
WTVB reports on a new report from Brown University on the financial costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and the drone war in Pakistan which finds that $2.3 trillion dollars have already been spent in the last ten years on these wars. Reuters explains that the three wars have resulted in "between 224,475 and 257,655 deaths." Alex Sundby (CBS News) adds, "However, one of the project's co-directors told Reuters that the Pentagon's tally of troops who died from the wars should include those who come home and commit suicide or die in car accidents." And Tim Mak (POLITICO) offers that "the report asserts that conflict in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan will continue through the decade, adding to both financial and human costs." John Glaser ( provides another aspect of these costs, the return:
It's also worth contemplating what the return on the investment was. It has been helpful to the expansion of the American Empire and has put dough in the pockets of the military industry, but the notion that Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan are more stable countries than they were ten years ago is almost laughable. Iraq's "government, economy, legal systems, and basic services like electricity and water remain unstable," corruption is widespread, sectarian and insurgency-based violence is again on the rise, and governance there is slipping towards dictatorship with the Maliki government harassing media outlets who speak ill of him, harsh repression and crackdowns of Arab Spring protesters, and a closed political system. Afghanistan is in ruins: it is one of the poorest, most corrupt nations in the world, nation building efforts are failing, violence and civilian deaths keep hitting record-setting highs, and the U.S. is in an unending and dangerous quagmire there. Pakistan is increasingly unstable with rife poverty and corruption, pockets of extremists in the autonomous tribal regions are very strong, well over 1,000 civilians, and possibly a few thousand have been killed by Predator drones, and the dictatorial government relies on U.S. aid in the billions to even function at all.
With those kind of numbers, you might think people would be wisely pulling up and pulling out of these costly and deadly wars; however, Xinhua (link has text and audio) reports 55 soldiers from Fiji are being deployed to Iraq, increasing their total number in Iraq to 278. The Fiji Times cites a statement from the Ministry of Information stating that the deployment was made at the request of the United Nations.

Eight years after the start of the illegal war and the installation of exiles into a puppet government in occupied Iraq, there's little that can pass for 'progress' and "political stagnation" has become the watchword. Will US troops remain in Iraq? The issue, Al Mada reports, is little more than a "political pressure card" within Iraq used by various blocs in various ways. A political scientist at Baghdad University tells Al Mada that he fears that politicians are not factoring in what's best for Iraq but how to posture on the issue. Aswat al-Iraq adds that US Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani met and Talabani's office issued a statement which includes: "The bilateral relations between the Republic of Iraq and the United States were discussed in the meeting, and necessity for their expansion and development, especially the bilateral future cooperation, within the Strategic Agreement, concluded between the two friendly countries."
What the White House wants is an extension of the SOFA or a new agreement which would allow US troops to stay on the ground in Iraq beyond 2011 and under the US Defense Dept. If that is not possible, the plan is to take the troops remaining in Iraq and slide them under the umbrella of the US State Dept in which case their presence is covered under the Strategic Framework Agreement of 2008. Ed O'Keefe does the "Federal Eye" beat for the Washington Post. For the next several weeks, he is in Iraq. This morning, he Tweeted:
edatpost edatpost
In his article on this issue he explained that the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, in a GAO Office report, "acknowledged it is not designed to assume the military's mission in Iraq and will have to rely on its own resources and the assistance of the host country to protect the U.S. mission in the absence of the funding, personnel, equipment, and protection formerly provided by the U.S. military." He was referring to the report entitled [PDF format warning] "Expanded Missions and Inadequate Facilities Pose Critical Challenges to Training Efforts." The report stood as prepared remarks by GAO's Jess Ford as he appeared this afternoon before the Senate's Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, Federal Workforce and DC. Senator Daniel Akaka is the Subcomittee Chair. He noted, "This Subcommittee held a hearing in 2009 to examine staffing and management challenges at the State Dept's Diplomatic Security Bureau which protects State Dept employees and property worldwide. Today's hearing will build on the previous hearing, as well as examine the results of a Government Accountability Office (GAO) review of Diplomatic Security training challenges."
There were two panels. Ford was on the first panel with the State Dept's Eric J. Boswell. The second panel was Susan R. Johnson of the American Foreign Service Association. We'll excerpt this from the first panel.
Subcommittee Chair Daniel Akaka: My question to you, what planning is underway to make sure DS [State Dept's Diplomatic Security] will be able to be prepared to protect diplomats and US civilian personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan as the military withdraws?
Ambassador Eric Boswell: Mr. Chairman, thank you for that question. We are engaged -- we the Dept of State and DS -- are engaged in a marathon of planning. I think that's the right way to describe it. It's probably -- The planning for the transition in Iraq is probably the most complex planning effort ever undertaken by the State Dept and perhaps one of the most complicated civilian planning efforts ever undertaken by the US government. We've been working on it for years. We think we have a very good planning strategy and we think we have a good plan and the short answer to your question, sir, is that I think that we will be able to be in a position to provide the security for our people in Iraq after December 31st of this year when all US troops will be gone from the country. Having said that, as I said, it's a very, very complex and difficult task. We are going to be dramatically increasing the number of security personnel at post in Iraq. And we will be increasing also the use of contractors in part for some of the things you mentioned and Mr. Ford mentioned, certain functions and activities that are not mainstream State Dept functions and were we are taking over functions now provided by the US military. We think we've got the structure in place to do it. I'l -- I-I-I should make the point that combat operations in Iraq ceased over a year ago, US military combat operations in Iraq ceased over a year ago. We have been providing security to our very large US embassy in Baghdad for over a year without any assistance from the military beyond certain very specialized funtions and we expect to be able to continue to do so. You asked about Afghanistan also, sir. Obviously, we are not there yet, there is not a transition yet. The president has just announced the beginning of a drawdown in Afghanistan but I can assure you that we have learned a lot in the planning process for Iraq and we will apply those lessons in Afghanistan.
Subcommittee Chair Daniel Akaka: Thank you. Ambassador, as the military withdraws from Iraq and Afghanistan -- later Afghanistan -- DS will provide certain security and protective services that the military is performing now such as downed aircraft recovery and explosive ordinance disposal; however, the military provides many services such as intelligence collection and providing a visible deterrence in ways that DS cannot. How will the loss of these important capabilities effect the way DS provides security in Iraq and Afghanistan? And is DS equipped to handle all of the functions it will be asked to assume?
Ambassador Eric Boswell: Uhm, senator, Mr. Chairman, I was in Iraq several years ago and the security situation in Iraq now, I think it's fair to say, is infinitely better then it was at the worst of times: 2005 to 2007. You are right, sir, in saying that certain key functions of the US military will be absent. They can't be replaced by DS -- notably, uh -uh, counter-rocket fire. We are not an offensive unit in DS. Some intelligence functions as well. We are going -- As Iraq normalizes as a nation, we are going to rely as we do in most countries on the Iraqi forces and the Iraqi police for these functions to the maximum extent that we can.
Subcommittee Chair Daniel Akaka: Well, Mr. Ford, in 2009, GAO recommended that State conduct a security review of diplomatic security's mission, budget and personnel as part of State's Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review. While State agreed with the recommendation, the QDDR did not include this strategic review. Will you please discuss how inadequate the stategic planning may effect DS operations?
Jess Ford: Uh, yeah, Mr. Chairman, let me respond to that. First of all, I can say that we were disappointed that the QDDR did not take a more strategic look at DS operations. Our 2009 report suggested that DS has been required to expand a number of missions that it's asked to support by the Dept overall and that they're often put into what I would characterize as a reactionary posture which we don't think is good from a planning point of view and our goal of that 2009 was that the Dept would take a longer look at DS and come up with a more strategic way of asessing needs, resources and requirements. I think I can say that our current report which is focused on the training parts of DS suggests that there still seems in my mind to be a gap here.
Asked about the use of security contractors, Boswell insisted this was a must, that multiple studies demonstrated this and he cited his 2007 visit as somehow proof. He then suggested that at some point, as Iraq becomes more 'stable,' they might be able to replace the foreign security contractors with "nationals" (Iraqis) and stated that they currently use "nationals" in Erbil. He also claimed "about eighty" DS employees would be providing contract oversight to ensure that contractors were behaving properly (in his opening remarks, Subcommittee Chair Daniel Akaka noted the Nassar Square slaughter in September 2007 by Blackwater mercenaries guarding the State Dept). He noted there were two kinds of security contractors: contract guards and the bodyguards -- contract guards = static guards; bodyguards = protective security details, "the movement people who travel in the motorcades and who run the motorcades."
Meanwhile Iraq has a Kurdish region, some want it to now have a Sunni region. And, no, we're not talking about US Vice President Joe Biden. (Biden favored a federation system for Iraq made up of a Shi'ite region, a Sunni region and a Kurdish region.) Al Mada reports that while Osama al-Nujaifi (Speaker of Parliament) has long supported (that's their call, I have no idea whether he's long supporter it or not) a centralized Iraq, he's now begun talking about a Sunni region. The Secretary-General of the Justice and Reform Movement, Abdul Hamidi al-Yawar, finds the idea distressing and claims it will add to the tensions. Aswat al-Iraq quotes Hussein al-Muayad stating, "The Iraqi people, with all their fraternal components, strongly reject any step to ignore the national principles, mainly the unity of Iraq. Sunnis in Iraq understand well that their real and active existence can't be achieved through projects of secession and division, but through cohesion towards Iraq's unity." Alsumaria TV carries the response from Iraqiya:

"Al Iraqiya stands firmly against any attempt to strip down Iraq through despicable sectarian motives", Iraqiya official spokeswoman Maysoun Al Damlouji said in a statement which Alsumarianews obtained a copy of.
"Marginalizing citizens is not restricted to a specified province. Bad services, unemployment and poverty affect all people while the only beneficiaries of Iraq's wealth are a group that does not represent a sect or a rite", she said.

Aswat al-Iraq quotes the Iraqi Republican Gathering stating that this talk is "a dangerous turn that will open regional and international greed."

Why might some feel the need for a Sunni region? They might be concerned, bothered or threatened by the new political landscape in Iraq. From Rawya Rageh's Al Jazeera report (video):
Rawya Rageh: Sheikh Osama al-Tamimi recalls a time when he couldn't pray freely here. The Shi'ite cleric was imprisoned under Saddam for fourteen months for leading worshippers in this Baghdad shrine. But today the Sheikh calls the mosque named after a revered 8th Century Shi'ite figure has emerged into the light. He says thousands of visitors come here to pay their respect to an Imam whose life story exemplifies the suppression of Shia Islam with numbers swelling during an annual festival marking his death.
Sheikh Osama al-Tamimi: We found the freedom to hold our religious rites and rituals and, year on year, there's more creativity and development in commemorating these religious occasions.
Rawya Rageh: Scene like there would have ben unimaginable under Saddam Hussein. Iraq's Shia have been experiencing a renaissance that's enabled them to express their identity openly and proudly and has created a whole new political landscape. For the first time in modern history, Shia have come to power in an Arab country. Their various competing political parties have been predominantly shaping Iraqi politics differences between them at times advancing democracy, other times deadlock.
Turning to today's violence, Reuters notes a military officer with the Ministry of Interior was left wounded in a Baghdad shooting, an employee of the Hajj Commission was injured in a Baghdad shooting, Lt Col Mohammed Abdul Ridha with the Ministry of Defense was injured in a Baghdad shooting, a Baghdad roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer and left seven people injured, a Baghdad bombing injured two people and Ali al-Lami's brother Jamal Faisal was shot dead.
In the US, an Iraq War veteran is facing legal trouble. 26-year-old Elisha Leo Dawkins, Susannah Nesmith (New York Times) reported last week, has been "in federal lockup" for a month with the government planning to deport him because of a passport application and his apparently not being a citizen. His attorney explains that Elisha was raised in this country and led to believe he was a citizen. He was never informed he wasn't. The US military considered him a US citizen and gave him a very high security clearance. The State Dept issued him a passport. Kyle Munzenrieder (Miami New Times) added, "Dawkins applied for a passport in order to serve in Guantánamo. A question on the form asked if he'd ever applied for a passport before. He checked no. That wasn't entirely true. He had begun an application for a passport before deploying to Iraq but never finished the process. That single check on a box is why he now sits behind bars." Carol Rosenberg (Miami Herald) explained, " His lawyer says he grew up fatherless and estranged from his mother, staying with relatives in Miami, believing he was a U.S. citizen. He even obtained a Florida Birth Certificate to get a passport to travel to war as a soldier, with neither the Navy, the Army nor the state of Florida apparently aware of a two-decade-old immigration service removal order issued when he was 8 years old." Today Susannah Nesmith (New York Times) reported that an offer was on the table: Elisha takes an offer of probation and completes the probation, he can then apply for citizenship. (A felony conviction would interfere with the citizenship process. Probation would allow him to avoid a felony conviction.) The judge, Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga, thinks it's a strong offer. Marc Caputo (Miami Herald -- link is text and video) reports US Senator Bill Nelson raised the issue on the Senate floor today and his remarks included:
A federal indictment says the serviceman failed to acknowledge he'd once applied for a passport when filling out a new application - something prosceutors call passport fraud; something his public defender calls an innocent oversight.
Mr. Dawkins now faces up to 10 years in prison, if he's convicted.
All John Dillinger served in prison was 8 ½ years on a conviction for assault and battery with intent to rob and conspiracy to commit a felony.
According to his lawyer, he came to this country from the Bahamas when he was just a kid. His mother brought him here. And he's still not a U.S. citizen....
Mr. President, some have wonder whether passage of the Dream Act might have prevented something like this from happening in the first place. That legislation would grant legal status to some undocumented young people who came to the U.S. as children and who join the military. Let's finally pass it.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


If you never grasped how sick Barack is, you need to take notice of the excerpt that follows.

"Petraeus Says Torture An Option For US" (Ken Dilanian, Information Clearing House):
David Petraeus, Barack Obama's choice to be the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency, says the US should consider using special interrogation techniques when a captive is withholding information that is immediately needed to save lives.

In the vast majority of cases, General Petraeus said, the ''humane'' questioning standards mandated by the US Army field manual were sufficient to persuade detainees to talk. But while he did not use the word torture, General Petraeus said ''there should be discussion … by policy makers and by Congress'' of something ''more than the normal techniques''.

Speaking at his confirmation hearing before the Senate intelligence committee on Thursday, General Petraeus described an example of a detainee who knew how to disarm a nuclear device set to explode under the Empire State Building. Congress might want to give the President the option of taking extraordinary measures to extract that information, he said.

The Republican senator John McCain, who was tortured as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, endorsed the idea. ''I look forward to working with you on this ticking time bomb scenario,'' he said. ''I think the person responsible should be the President of the United States … I do agree with you.''

That should frighten you all by itself. But factor in that this jerk, this Petraeus, is the person Barack has nominated to head the CIA. That should frighten every American. The CIA's history meets Petraeus' desire to be a Frankenstein and everything goes to hell.

A smart person does not put a torture loving loon in charge of a government agency.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Tuesday, February 28, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, Sahwa and government officials remain targeted, political stagnation is the new term to describe the Iraqi government, the US Senate hears from Vice Adm William McRaven that US forces should stay in Iraq, CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley explores the subject of which families receive condolence letters and which ones don't when a loved one in the military dies, and more.
This morning Gen James Thurman, Vice Adm Wililam McRaven and Lt Gen John Allen appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee regarding promotions. For example, McRaven is nominated to become Commander of United Nations Command/ Combined Forces Command/United States Forces Korea. The issue of Iraq came up at length twice. The first time was near the start of the hearing when Senator John McCain asked his questions. (As Ranking Member, McCain asked directly after Chair Carl Levin finished his questions.)
Ranking Member John McCain: Adm McRaven, do you believe that the United States should have a residual force in Iraq in order to assist -- with particularly special operations, functions and intelligence?
Vice Adm William McRaven: Sir, I think that it would be mutually beneficial to us and the Iraqis if in fact that was the case. Obviously, remains to be seen whether the Iraqis will want us to stay past the intended drawdown time. But clearly there is still a threat in Iraq. And a small, soft presence there I think would be advisable.
Ranking Member John McCain: And if you look at recent US casulties, the situation -- at least in some respects -- politically as well as militarily has shown some deterioration. Would you agree?
Vice Adm William McRaven: Sir, I would. Statistically that appears to be the case, yes, sir.
The second time the issue arose was when Mark Udell felt the need to embrace, to wallow in counter-insurgency. Save the transcripts of his praise for the War Crimes Tribunal. It's really sad that (a) ethics are so unimportant in the Senate and (b) that with all that's going on in Iraq currently, anyone would think Iraq could be sold as a 'success.'
Senator Mark Udell: Gen Allen, if I could turn to you. I know that you've had some
Let me turn to the success that you had and we had in Anbar in Iraq. You reached out to a population that had been previously pretty hostile and then worked with them to turn their focus to al Qaeda and the elements of terrorism that had really created enormous chaos. In the process, the COIN doctrine was validated. I don't want to imply that the two countries are alike but could you talk about the primary lessons that we learned in Anbar and how we're going to apply those lessons in Afghanistan.
Lt Gen John Allen: Senator, much of what was accomplished in the Anbar Province, needless to say, much of it was accomplished on the shoulders of the sacrficie of many soldiers and marines and sailors and Airmen. We honor that service and their sacrifice. And having accomplished that really remarkable outcome. But what was accomplished in the Anbar Province was really the result of a comprehensive civil-military counter-insurgnecy strategy. It was a strategy that leveraged every aspect of military capacity that could be brought to bear in the battle space -- civil affairs, conventional military capabilities, advisory capacity to build the Iraqi police, the Iraqi security forces. the two divisions of Iraqi infantry that we had, special operators who worked both as advisors and mentors but also euphemistically the term "black soft" the strike forces that would enter the battle space to attack the insurgent network. We pressurized the insurgent network constantly. And while we were pressurizing and shredding the insurgent network and blunting their capabilities with the use of conventional forces, we worked very, very hard to build the capacity of the Iraqi security forces -- both the army -- those two divisions -- and we went from about 4,000 police to almost 30,000 police in the year that we were there in '07 and '08. All of that was complimented with a comprehensive plan with respect to civilian outreach as well. USAID resourced 3 embedded PRTs and resourced our PRT -- our provincial PRT in Ramadi. And I believe that the wise outreach to the sheiks in the tribe. The wise expenditure of tax dollars with respect to both
[. . .]
In addition to testimony, Vice Adm Willam McRaven was given a take home test by the Senate Armed Services Committee entitled [PDF format warning] "Advance Policy Questions for Vice Admiral William H. McRaven, USN Nominee for Commander, United States Special Operations Command." Page 17 contains the Iraq questions and his replies.
From your perspective as Commander, Joint Special Operations Command, what are the main "lessons learned" from Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn?
Both operations have provided us with many lessons learned which we have incorporated into our current operations. Some of these lessons include: the need for a unified U.S. government approach, active and integrated interagency coordination, the necessity for culturally attuned forces and the need to maximize combined operations. U.S. military and government efforts need to be synergized to provide a focused effort while reducing the likelihood of duplication and opposed efforts. Inter-agnecy integration is essential in our fight against violent extremism. Some of our greatest accomplishments would not have come to fruition without this coordinated effort. Our forces are now more culturally sensitive than ever before, greater language skills and incorporating female military personnel into our post operations activities have allowed out forces greater access and integration with the Iraqi and Afghan civilian populace. Lastly, we have maximized out combined operation efforts by working with and through the host nation forces. Every operation is coordinated with the Government of Iraq and Afghanistan and the Iraqi and Afghan Partnering Units. These combined operations are not only doing a tremendous job in accomplishing the mission but, also help enable and empower the Iraqi and Afghan special operations forces for future success.
What's McRaven saying?
Nothing really. He's using buzz words . . . from twenty years ago. He's demonstrating he can string together words . . . if not answer a question. The question was about Iraq and page 16 clearly indicates "IRAQ" And asked about "lessons learned'' in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn (September 1, 2010, the Iraq War is renamed "Operation New Dawn" -- you're soaking in it -- by the White House), McRaven attempts to run to Afghanistan ("Both operations . . .") immediately indicating that he has little to offer on the topic of Iraq.
Staying with the topic of US forces remaining in Iraq (under the umbrella of the Defense Dept), Al Jazeera reports today: "US troops are scheduled to withdraw completely from Iraq by year's end, though few observers expect they will fully meet that goal. Iraq, after all, has no viable air force; struggles to control its borders; and lacks sophisticated military intelligence and surveillance technology. So the Pentagon has long planned to leave a 'residual force', perhaps 10,000 to 12,000 troops, to perform those functions and to continue training Iraqi troops." Meanwhile using an unnamed source (presumably someone in Parliament or in the Cabinet), Al Mada reports that talks are ongoing between political blocs and US government representatives over US forces remaining in Iraq beyond 2011. The source states that there are the talks various blocs know of and that thee are also "secret talks" but insists that any deal reached will have to be approved by Parliament. Alsumaria TV reports, "A senior official from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) led by President Jalal Talabani stressed on Sunday the necessity for US Forces to stay in Iraq beyond the end of 2011. Iraq is still an inconsistent State, he said noting that the majority of political parties approve the extension of US troops term in Iraq." In another article, Al Mada speaks with political scientist Hussein al-Shammari who worries that conflicts between Al Iraqiya (led by Ayad Allawi) and State of Law (led by Nouri al-Maliki) may lead to a bloody physical conflict. If you look at all the fears, the continued stalemate or the Iraqi military's lack of readiness, you really don't see the 'success' that Bush, Barack and various others have painted the war to be. Meanwhile (more success?) Aswat al-Iraq notes that Jalal Talabani (president of Iraq) and Iraqiya's Saleh Mutlaq met today to discuss "political stagnation" and how to overcome it. Al Jazeera provides a brief backstory on the conflict between Iraqiya and State Of Law:
Maliki and Allawi agreed to set up a national strategy council as part of the power-sharing deal they reached in December. The council was meant to be a check on Maliki, who as prime minister enjoys wide authority over the Iraqi security forces.
But the agreement left key details unresolved, namely, the exact powers and responsibilities of the council.
Iraqiya signed the deal anyway; al-Maliki now claims that the council is unconstitutional; and without a concrete agreement, Iraqiya has found itself politically sidelined.
"Iraqiya keeps asking for the implementation of 'balance' in the ministries of state, as well as the creation of a strategy policy council," Reidar Visser, a senior research fellow at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, said.
"But if the details weren't hammered out at the time, Iraqiya's leverage is now greatly diminished."

Moqtada al-Sadr's having to calm his 'followers' who are eager to assault those who did not take place in the government organized faux protests on the last Fridays which attacked the real protesters in Baghdad. This comes as the Washington Post's Tim Craig reports that Sunnis in Iraq discuss "death calendar" -- how, every 7th day or so, a Sunni male is being executed in a northern Baghdad neighborhood and they see this as an intentional scare tactic and message. Saban Alwan speaks of living in this neighborhood where the assailants don't even feel the need to use silencers on the fire arms when they kill Sunnis. Since March, envelopes have been left outside homes -- envelopes containing insults and bullets as a threat.
AP notes "hundreds of thousands" are making the pilgrimage to the Kadhim shrine for Imam Moussa al-Kadhim and that some estimates put the number of visitors to the mosque at three million recently. Al Rafidayn adds that young children and all the way through the elderly are walking north of Baghdad on this annivesary of the Imam's death. He was persecuted, imprisoned and then poisoned, dying in 799 AD. The article notes that he was praying in the mosque when he was arrested (795 AD). The Great Iraqi Revolution notes, "Our Correspondent in Baghdad: Da'wa Party members taking advantage of the Anniversary of the death of the Imam Moussa Al Khadhim by carrying Maliki's pictures during the marches!" NTD television (link has text and video) quotes Kitab Shran stating, "The pilgrimage process is going well and the processions too, thank God. Police and army are at the service of the people and the pilgrims and the service is very good and beyond our expectations. The service is good and everything we need is available and if one has an emergency he will find assistance. Thank God, the pilgrimage is going smoothly and all the streets are open." Al Jazeera's Rawya Rageh shares these observations of the pilgrimage via her Twitter feed:
Rawya Rageh
RawyaRageh Rawya Rageh
Rawya Rageh
RawyaRageh Rawya Rageh
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Leo: (singing Jimmy Buffett's "Margaritaville") Nibble on sponge cake, watching the sun bake . . .
Jane Arraf: That's Leo. Now during the day he teaches music but at night you can find him in what has become my favorite restaurant. And Leo plays music, the most amazing music with that fantastic accent you just heard. And we have to remember this is a country where Iraqis are pretty much divided over American soldiers, American culture. He says that one thing that pretty much all of them agree on are American movies and music. They love it.
Leo: Two part of Iraqi people. One of them called them liberators, the other called them invadors. But most Iraqi people, as I saw in front of my eyes, like American culture.
Leo: (singing the Bee Gee's "To Love Somebody") You don't know what it's like, you don't know what it's like, to love somebody
Jane Arraf: I have to say that while Jimmy Buffett is a particular favorite of his, his real love is the Bee Gees. "Tragey," "Staying Alive" particularly suited to life in Iraq of course and this one.
Leo: (singing) You don't know what it's like, you don't know, you don't know what it's like, To love somebody . . .
Jane Arraf: It really is hard to describe how awful it was for Iraqis during the civil war when a lot of people basically just stayed home for those entire two, three years. And when the was on what they did when they were trapped in their homes was watch TV and like thousands of Iraqis, Leo is a huge fan of Dr. Phil. But his real love, his dream is to be on with Oprah.
Leo: If I sit in with Oprah, I want to tell Oprah one thing is people are people
Jane Arraf: Leo says one day he'd like to visit the United States again particularly, because of the songs, San Francisco and Boston. In the meantime though he sings about it
Leo: (singing the Bee Gees "Massachusetts") I'm going back to Massachusetts, something's telling me . . .
Staying on the cultural topic, Al-Mutanabbi Street in Baghdad was a cultural point for many years and remains so even now despite the bombings and other violence. (The area is known for its bookstores and even at the height of the ethnic cleansing, when the yearly book festivals take place, Iraqis turn out.) In San Francisco, poet Beau Beausoleil started to the Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here project to foster a sense of community with Iraq's lively and culturally rich Al-Muntanabbi Street. Sarah Browning (Foreign Policy In Focus) reports:

Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here grew as printers and poets responded to the call to build solidarity with the people of Iraq and, at the same time, remind Americans of the great toll the war is taking on Iraqi society. "I have come to feel that wherever someone sits down to read, or where someone takes up their pen and paper to write, it is there that al-Mutanabbi Street starts," says Beausoleil. The broadsides now number 130, one for each person killed or maimed in the attack. An anthology will be published in 2012 by PM Press.

The broadsides may present just a few words, such as "Books Not Bombs" by Nina Ardery of Carillion Press of Indianapolis, Indiana, in which the word BOMBS is slowly transformed into the word BOOKS. Or they may incorporate full poems by contemporary and historic poets writing in English or Arabic, poets such as Iraqis Buland al-Haydari and Saadi Yousef, Palestinian Americans Naomi Shihab Nye and Deema Shehabi, and Iranian Americans Persis Karim and Sholeh Wolpé. They are stark and bloody and beautiful, a great diversity of visual styles, and they can all be viewed on-line.

Beausoleil explains: "Some broadsides are kind of subtle. Some are really anti-war. Some address the idea of censorship and the idea of attacking a street that sold books, a place where ideas were exchanged, and how no matter the devastation, whoever had done it could not erase what was there, ultimately."

Turning to today's reported violence. Reuters notes a Baquba roadside bombing injured Baquba Mayor Abdulla al-Hayali and two bodyguards, an Abu Ghraib sticky bombing claimed the life of a Sahwa leader and 1 male corpse was discovered in Kirkuk. Aswat al-Iraq adds that Bayan Di'zai'i (former Minister of Reconstruction and Housing) was targeted today in Kirkuk when her convy was attacked and she was injured and "rushed to hospital, without any further details."
AFP reports that US forces caught three Iraqis -- Mohammed Salim Lafta, Munif Hashim Shinawa and Saeed Ubayd Sabir -- "on a highway south of Baghdad" March 14th where they were suspected of placing a roadside bomb. Today the 3 appeared before court for approximately 2 hours before they were let go without being charges with any crime. The time limit and being unable to provide testimony has angered the US military whose spokesperson, Col. Reginal Allen, states, "We are deeply disappointed in the court's decision."
Three US soldiers died in Iraq Sunday. L. Finch (Boston Globe) reports that one of the three is 22-year-old Sgt Matthew Gallagher who was on his deployment to Iraq and who was supposed to have a brief leave to return home next week for his 23rd birthday. James Ruggiero, Matthew Gallagher's step-father, states, "He loved the Army so much he was talking about reenlisting when the time was up." Sean Teehan (Cape Cod Times) adds a quote from Katie Gallagher, Matthew Gallagher's spouse, "He died a hero." In addition to his wife and his step-father, his survivors include his mother Cheryl Ruggiero and his biological father Peter Gallagher. His mother explains the military told her that he was doing "a house sweep" when he had been shot and she states, "I'm a gold star mother. But I'd give that gold star back if it could bring my baby back." WCVB offers a video report which includes Katie Gallger speaking of her late husband, "He's the most generous nice person that I've ever met in my life. He was everything to me. He was my best friend."

Manny Gamallo (Tulsa World) reports
20-year-old Pfc Dylan Jeffrey Johnson was killed by "a grenade attack in Iraq on Sunday, his father said" in Jalula and that another soldier (a sergeant) was killed as well. Jeff Johnson says of his son, "He knew they were going to Iraq, but he didn't know when. He was really excited about going over there."

The three deaths Sunday brought the number of US soldiers killed in Iraq this month to 12, with 11 of them dubbed combat deaths and 1 under investigation. Please note, if parents above are accurately remembering what they were told (and I'm sure they are), there are 12 combat deaths. The 1 under investigation is from Sunday and was a single soldier. Now we learn that soldier was shot dead while doing a house sweep? Unless it was by a fellow US soldier, that was combat or else there's another death that hasn't been acknowledged. This needs to be cleared up by the Pentagon and it needs to be cleared up very quickly.

June 6th there was an attack that resulted in the deaths of 6 soldiers (5 died that day, one of the wounded died after he had a medical transport back to the US). One of the six who died June 6th was buried yesterday, 27-year-old Spc Micahel Cook Jr. CBS3 Sprinfield provides a video report which includes, "While family members of Cook declined to go on camera, they tell us Cook leaves behind his wife Samantha and two young children. Even though Cook is not from Pioneer Valley, family and friends say it's special for him to be buried with full military honors at the Massachusetts Veterans Cemetery in Agawam because his uncle, who also served in the military, is buried there as well." I'm going to go ahead and be rude here and not give a damn about it. It's your job to know what you're saying. If you're on camera or you're in print, it's your damn job. You need to learn to do it. CBS 3 wrongly states June 5th was the worst attack (based on US deaths) in Iraq in 2 years. No. That was the week of June 6th. Go back to June 12th here and you will find "Another US soldier dead from the Iraq War" and the Defense Dept annoucement:

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation New Dawn.
Spc. Marcos A. Cintron, 32, of Orlando, Fla., died June 16 at a medical facility in Boston, Mass., of wounds suffered June 6 at Baghdad, Iraq, when insurgents attacked his unit with indirect fire. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan.
For more information, the media may contact 1st Infantry Division public affairs office at 785-240-6359 or 785-307-0641.

That took the number to six dead from that attack. June 12th. It's now June 28th. There's no excuse for not knowing about Marcos A. Cintron's death now. It's disrespectful to him and makes you look like a lazy ass when you can't get your facts straight. 6 US soldiers were killed in that attack, not 5. That is so disrespectful. It's not like DoD just announced the death yesterday. Nor is it like you're doing a podcast. You've got a whole newsroom behind you and you can't get your facts right.

Here's DoD's June 9th release on the 5 who died on June 6th:

DOD Identifies Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the deaths of five soldiers who were supporting Operation New Dawn.
They died June 6 in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their unit with indirect fire. They were assigned to the1st Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan.
Killed were:
Spc. Emilio J. Campo Jr., 20, of Madelia, Minn.;
Spc. Michael B. Cook Jr., 27, of Middletown, Ohio;
Spc. Christopher B. Fishbeck, 24, of Victorville, Calif.;
Spc. Robert P. Hartwick, 20, of Rockbridge, Ohio; and
Pfc. Michael C. Olivieri, 26, Chicago, Ill.
For more information, the media may contact the 1st Infantry Division public affairs office at 785-240-6359 or 785-307-0641.
Here's George Graham (The Republican) writing about Cook in a story published yesterday at 5:00 pm, "U.S. Army Spc. Michael Benjamin Cook Jr., one of five soldiers killed in action in Iraq earlier this month, was laid to rest here Monday at the Massachusetts Veterans Memorial Cemetery." But, as we've established, he wasn't "one of five," he was one of six. Again, there's no excuse for this. I am appalled.

Jake O'Donnell (Patch) notes, "During the funeral ceremony Cook was honored with several posthumous awards and medals, including the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart and the Good Conduct Medal. Cook has also been honored with the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Overseas Service Ribbon, the Iraqi Campaign Medal, the Combat Action Badge and the Army Service Ribbon." O'Donnell provides a photo essay of the service here. David Roback (The Republican) offers a photo essay here.

There are two who were seriously wounded this month. There are probably more than that but they aren't getting noted by the Pentagon. One lost both his legs, a 28-year-old soldier. June 11th, Ryan E. Little (The Ledger) reported that Spc Charles Lemon has arrived back in the US early after surviving a bombing ("improvised explosive device in An Najaf") June 8th. Lemon has "lost both legs and suffered other injuries including burns to his body" according to his sister Kimberly Lemon. June 18th, Matthew Pleasant (The Ledger) reported on the event (Clicks For Charles) Brianna Towns was doing to raise funds for her cousing Charles' immediate family who were at Walter Reed with Charles Lemon and Pleasant noted, "On Tuesday, he was strong enough for doctors to remove him from life support, but he is still undergoing surgeries." Updates can be found at Charlie's Change for Change where secure donations can also be made. Judy Zavalla (Alvin Sun) reports Joseph L. Finney was injured in the June 6th attack. Zawalla notes of the father of three and husband of Heather Kinsey Finney, "He is doing better at this time. His brain has experienced trauma and he still has serious injuries to his right shoulder. The last report said the doctors were keeping him sedated to let the brain swelling subside. When he is awake, he will not rest because he is constantly texting his family to assure them he is alright."
Yesterday on the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley, Pelley (link has text and video) introduced Bill Whitaker's latest investigative report, "On any given day in this country, more than 75,000 military veterans are homeless. So we were shocked to discover what's become of land in southern California that's meant to house homeless veterans and once did." Whitaker's report reveals how the city of Los Angeles is misusing land that was given to the city for veterans housing and how the city can't explain why they've misused the land for over a century or where the money has gone that they've charged various companies they've rented it out to in that time. Today CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley (link has text and video) reported on military families whose loved ones take their own lives receive no letter of condolence from the president of the United States. Elaine Quijano reports on Gregg and Jannett Keesling whose 25-year-old son, Spc Chance Keesling, took his own life while serving his second deployment in Iraq. In addition, the president sends no condolence letters to those like Jessica Conckling's family whose loved one dies "in stateside training accidents." Sara Conkling tells Elaine Quijano, "She was willing to put her life on the line and she did lose her life doing it. But it doesn't count as much to them."
Senator Patty Murray is Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. For some time she has been raising the issue of veterans employment -- young veterans of today's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from a very high unemployment rate -- as she's pointed out in hearings and in news conferences, many are worrying that listing their service is harming their employment chances. Tomorrow her Committee will address proposed legislation and her office notes:
(Washington, D.C.) -- Tomorrow, Wednesday, June 29th, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, will hold a hearing on pending legislation. During the hearing, the committee will vote on pending legislation. Included among the bills to be considered is Senator Murray's Hiring Heroes Act, a major veterans employment bill that make jobs skill training necessary for the separation of service members from the military and provides new pathways to federal and private sector employment. A full list of the bills the committee will vote on is available HERE.
WHO: U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee
WHAT: Markup on Pending Legislation

WHEN: TOMORROW - Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

3:00 PM ET

WHERE: Russell Senate Office Building
Room 418

Washington, D.C.