Friday, April 12, 2013

Look what they're throwing at Bradley now . . .

Bradley Manning is a political prisoner because he was a whistle blower who blew the lid off counter-insurgency and a number of other things.

He is supposed to (finally) get his trial in June.

That doesn't mean it will be a fair trial.  In fact, it's becoming obvious that he won't get a fair trial.

Naomi Spencer (WSWS) reports:

During a pre-trial hearing for Army private Bradley Manning Wednesday, a military judge ruled that government prosecutors can call witnesses to testify anonymously and in secret against the accused whistleblower. The ruling exposes the case for the frame-up that it is.
Army colonel Denise Lind, the judge overseeing the hearings at Fort Meade in Maryland, cited national security in her decision to allow testimony in closed sessions during the court martial, scheduled to begin June 3. Prosecutors for the Obama administration are attempting to cobble together a case linking Private Manning and WikiLeaks to Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.

Secret testimony?  How very un-American.  They ought to be ashamed of themselves.

Clearly, even Barack knows he has no case so he's going to try every dirty trick, every betrayal of the Constitution to ensure he 'wins.'  Barack Obama has been a disaster for democracy.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, April 12, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue,  protests take place in Iraq, the UN reportedly tells the Electoral Commission a candidate cannot run in the April 20th elections, police and military forces gear up to early vote tomorrow, Turkey rejects Nouri's latest and weakest effort, and more. 

Last month, Banen al-Sheemary (Mondo Weiss) observed, "'The war in Iraq will soon belong to history' stated Barack Obama, in an address marking the supposed end of the occupation of Iraq.  America will remember it as history, but Iraqis live through it every day."  Masarat editor Saad Salloum offers at Niqash:

The war being fought in Iraq today pits Iraqis against one another. Today the people of Iraq are fighting over a ruined and divided country with no real national identity. Iraqis don’t know whether they have a theocracy, similar to that in neighbouring Iran, or whether they have a more secular democracy, complete with sectarian and ethnic quotas in leadership, similar to those used to rule Lebanon.   

After 2003 the US has played a similar role to that played by Great Britain in 1921, when they installed Faisal bin Hussein as the king of a new Iraq. Some say Iraq was never created by God; rather it was created by Winston Churchill, who was Colonial Secretary with special responsibility for the Middle East at the time.

Now, in 2013, Iraqis are still trying to formulate their identity – but they’re doing it in a way where they must challenge one another. On the ethnic level, they are Kurds, Arabs, Assyrians and Turkmen. On the religious level, they are Muslims, Christians and Yazidis as well as Sunnis and Shiites too.

It has become clear to many that the US only removed the lid to a melting pot containing a stew of many foul-smelling flavours. Those smells had been repressed during the short life of the Iraqi state.

This newly discovered pluralism makes Iraqis more afraid of each other than they are of missiles and weapons of mass destruction. It makes them more afraid of each other than of the Safawi [Shiite Muslim religious] state, an Ottoman Empire [out of Turkey] or the UK or US.

As noted in an Iraqi Spring MC video, Sheikh Ali Hamad spoke in Jalawla today at the protest there.   He asks a basic question in his speech: If the Constitution guarantees Iraqis the right to protest and demonstrate why are those who exercise the right being targeted, arrested and tortured?

The question lingers in the air with no answer forthcoming.

On one side of the Sheikh, a protester carries a sign that reads, "Obama, If you Cannot Hear Us Can you Not See Us?"  On the other side of the Sheikh, a protester carries a sign which reads, "IRAQ has become the Wild West, Land with NO LAW."  In Samarra, they burned flags of Israel and the US.  At the start of 2009, Iraqis had such hope for the US.  A new president was being sworn in, Barack Obama.  He'd make things so much better.  Instead, in 2010, when they voted Nouri out, Barack demanded he stay.  Barack went around the Constitution, having the US broker a contract, The Erbil Agreement, to give Nouri a second term.  As they've seen that the US government does not care about human rights, does not care about the torture and secret prisons Nouri runs, as they've seen that Barack is no better than Bully Boy Bush, they burn more and more American flags.

As a young Iraq male explains on this month's War News Radio, "We hope that Americans will help us or something like that.  But they did nothing. They just, I think, I not sure, they steal some oil or something.  Nothing's changed.  The government now is worse and worse."  A young Iraqi woman, Noor, tells War News Radio, "We like the people of America" but not "the power, the government."  The State Dept wants to pour over two billion into Iraq in the next fiscal year -- most of it to prop up Nouri.  It doesn't matter.  The Iraqi people can't be bought.  You can't ignore their 2010 vote and then bribe them with money.  Barack cannot buy away the bruises he has left on the dignity of the Iraqi people.

All Iraq News quotes MP Majida al-Timimi declaring, "The many government in Iraq after 2003 failed to improve the services and economic situation in Iraq."  She is with the Moqtada al-Sadr affiliated Ahrar bloc.

At the sit-in in Baiji, protesters declared that their biggest concern was the release of our men and women.  This goes to the point we've been making all week.  The Justice and Accountability Law and Commission -- not the big concern for the average Iraqi.  It's concerns for politicians and government officials.  The people are concerned with Article IV.  That's what allows innocent people to be arrested.  That's what the protesters mean when they say release the innocents.  It's not that complicated or difficult to follow unless you're paid by a western media outlet and then you're cluseless.  In Mosul, protesters delcare they will not relinquish their rightsIn Falluja, activists chanted, "We will not retreat.  We will not surrender.They turned out in Tikrit.

Alsumaria notes that thugs tried to infiltrate the Kirkuk protests and they were expelled by the activists.  (The reason they tried to infiltrate?  They were carrying the Iraq flag from the days of Saddam Hussein, hoping to pose as protesters and discredit the movement.)  NINA quotes Dr. Abdullah Jawala stating, "We continue our demonstration and sit-ins until our demands are met."

NINA reports, "Thousands of protesters and worshipers flocked from the early hours of the morning to the main squares of sit-ins north of Ramadi and west of Fallujah to participate in Friday prayers."  Alsumaria reports tens of thousands in Ramadi (and check out their photo). NINA also quotes Sheikh Qusai Zein of the Ramadi sit-in declaring, "We do not only demand to bring down Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, but we want to execute him from crimes committed against humanity that he tolerate." Al Mada reports that Nouri al-Maliki, prime minister and chief crooked thug of Iraq, was denounced by protesters in Ramadi and Falluja who said he only pretends to listen to the demands of the protesters.   Iraq Times reports that students demonstrated at the University of Basra.

For strong and varied coverage of the protests,  refer to the Iraqi Spring MC  -- here for Facebook, here for Twitter, here for Flickr.

Meanwhile Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports a Kanaan double bombing targeting Sunnis leaving a mosque which has claimed 7 lives and ldeft twenty-five injured.  Alsumaria has a photo of some of the wreckage hereXinhua notes the mosque was near Baquba.  Raheem Salman and Patrick Markey (Reuters) quote survivor Ahmed al-Karkhi stating, "We were about 250 worshippers, we were just leaving when the explosion went off.  Police were not protecting the mosque and people had to be taken to hospital in cars."  The Irish Independent notes, "The blasts struck as worshippers were leaving after midday prayers from the town's Omar Bin Abdul-Aziz mosque, said police officials in Diyala province, where Kanaan is located." DPA notes that the death toll has risen to 15 (twenty-six wounded) and that a third mosque bombing (Baquba) claimed 1 life and left five people injured. The United Nations issued the following statement today:

12 April 2013 – The top United Nations envoy in Iraq today condemned “in the strongest” terms a deadly attack on worshippers at a mosque in Diyala province and appealed for peaceful coexistence among all groups in the sensitive region.
According to published reports at least seven people were killed and 25 wounded in front of a Sunni Muslim mosque, as worshippers were leaving after Friday prayers in the town of Kanaan in Diyala where a surge of attacks by Sunni Islamists have targeted Shi'ite Muslims in growing sectarian confrontation.
“These brutal acts of violence, particularly in such sensitive areas, will not undermine the true and deep belief in peaceful coexistence among the people of Diyala,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative for Iraq Martin Kobler said in a statement.
He extended his deep sympathy and sincere condolences to the families of the victims and wished a speedy recovery for the wounded.

In other violence, All Iraq News notes a Shurqat bombing claimed the life of 1 Sahwa and left another injured. National Iraqi News Agency notes that 3 corpses were discovered in Hatra (south of Mousl, 2 police officers, 1 Iraqi soldier, all shot to death), an armed clash in Samarra left 5 people dead,  a sniper shot and wounded a police officer in Falluja, a Baghdad roadside bombing left three people injured,

On the topic of violence, Tuesday's "Iraq does executions, press doesn't do corrections" noted AFP's ridiculous claim of 271 violent deaths in Iraq for the month of March was disputed when UNAMI released a statement  Monday noting that they counted 456 violent deaths.  As noted Tuesday, AFP's way of dealing with that 'discomfort' was to ignore the UN release in its reporting but to mention it in a Tweet by journalist Prashant Rao.

It's bad enough they wouldn't do a correction -- and let's be clear Prashant left Iraq during that time period and no one kept up with the daily deaths until he was back so AFP knew their count was wrong (or 'incomplete') before they published it.  Today AFP repeats their lie, "Violence killed 271 Iraqis last month, the highest monthly figure since August, according to an AFP tally."

If you're not going to get the violence, don't pretend to cover it.  AKI, Iraq Body Count and the United Nations all have over 150 more deaths than AFP.

In eight days, 12 of Iraq's 18 provinces are scheduled to hold elections.  Anbar Province and Nineveh Provinces have seen the largest protests against Nouri.  Nouri's responded by declaring that they can't vote in the provincial elections.   Alsumaria notes that Iraqiya MP Salman Jumail declares that Nouri is doing this to isolate the two provinces and in an attempt to ensure that only his allies win in the elections.  Iraqiya came in first in the 2010 parliamentary elections, besting Nouri's State of Law.  NINA quotes Jumaili stating, "The postponement of the elections is used for political purposes, to ensure that the prime minister's allies get the required seats of the provincial council."

Alsumaria notes the Electoral Commission for elections in Basra announced that they had completed all steps necessary for Saturday voting (at 34 centers) by Minister of Defense and Minister of Interior employees.   Special, or early, voting takes place tomorrow and, All Iraq News explains, is only supposed to take place tomorrow.  Alsumaria notes that tomorrow voting will take place in Kirkuk by over 10,000 soldiers and officers at 27 polling station from seven in the morning until five in the evening.   Yesterday,  Alsumaria reported that the Electoral Commission notes 651,000 security forces will be voting in the provincial elections.  Dropping back to Tuesday's snapshot:

Still on the political, from the April 2nd snapshot, "Alsumaria reports that Salah al-Obeidi, spokesperson for the Sadr bloc, declared today that pressure is  being put upon police and military recruits to get them to vote for Nouri's State of Law slate."  Al Rafidayn reports today that Ammar al-Hakim, leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, has also called out the efforts to pressure police and army to vote for a specific list of candidate (Al Rafidayn notes that al-Hakim avoided naming the list in question).  

All Iraq News notes the electoral commission declares it has 110,000 vote observers to witness the special vote tomorrow and the regular vote April 20th -- the hope is that this will prevent voter fraud or voter intimidation.   Al Mada reports that the Electoral Commission has denied Mishan al-Jubouri the opportunity to participate in the elections due to his criminal record.  His party also won't appear on ballots.  This is seen as a serious "blow" for Nouri who had been publicly promising he would pardon him and publicly embracing al-Jubouri in an attempt to take support away from Iraqiya (al-Jubouri is Sunni).  State of Law (and Nouri) are seen as anti-Sunni.  Alsumaria adds that the Electoral Commission was told by the United Nations that al-Jubouri could not run due to his criminal record and that, if he ran, they would stop elections in all of Salahuddin Province.

In the last years, Nouri has repeatedly verbally attacked Iraq's northern neighbor.  This intensified in 2011 when Turkey offered Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi asylum.  Nouri has accused Turkey of funneling violence and weapons and sewing unrest and one thing after another.  Last week, Nouri suddenly declared that he wants better relations.  Trend AZ reports the reaction to Nouri's questionable statements:

"The words of the Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki about the country's desire to strengthen relations with Turkey do not seem convincing to us. This is al-Maliki's peculiar manoeuvre," Davutoglu said.
According to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Government of Iraq should first of all democratise the regime in the country and create the necessary conditions for the peaceful coexistence of all ethnic groups.

Turkey has no reason to suck up to Nouri.  He's dishonest and doesn't keep his word.  Meanwhile, they've established a strong relationship with the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government  in northern Iraq.  They have no need of Nouri or his drama at present.  As Daniel J. Graeber (Oil Price) explains:

Crude oil from the semiautonomous Kurdish region of Iraq has reached the international market for the first time. Oil was ferried by truck across the northern Iraqi border to Turkey from the Taq Taq oil field, operated by Turkish energy company Genel Energy. The central government considers unilateral oil trading from the Kurdish north illegal, highlighting a political row that's been festering for years. Iraq, however, is now the second largest crude oil producer among members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. Production is gaining steam 10 years after U.S. forces invaded the country, but its full potential is limited by a lack of export options. Baghdad says it has sole authority to determine Iraq's energy future, but developments in the Kurdish north may eventually undermine its confidence.

Good for AP, they discovered the Kurdish delegation in Iraq.  We noted it earlier this week and the silence from the media on it.  Today, AP reports, "The Kurdish Regional Government’s Energy Minister Ashti Hawrami was meeting with Obama administration officials Friday following recent talks with Turkey about completing pipelines over Baghdad’s objections that could vastly expand the Kurds’ ability to directly sell its oil and gas."  NINA reports today:

Kurdish delegation discussed in Washington with the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations developments in the Iraqi political arena and the Syrian crisis.

A Kurdish well informed source said : " Series of meetings with the Council on Foreign Relations and press organizations, intelectuals forums and friends of the people of Kurdistan in the United States of America.

The PKK has headquarters in the mountains of northern Iraq which had created problems for the KRG and Turkey.    Aaron Hess (International Socialist Review) described the PKK in 2008, "The PKK emerged in 1984 as a major force in response to Turkey's oppression of its Kurdish population. Since the late 1970s, Turkey has waged a relentless war of attrition that has killed tens of thousands of Kurds and driven millions from their homes. The Kurds are the world's largest stateless population -- whose main population concentration straddles Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria -- and have been the victims of imperialist wars and manipulation since the colonial period. While Turkey has granted limited rights to the Kurds in recent years in order to accommodate the European Union, which it seeks to join, even these are now at risk."  An uneasy peace may have been reached between the Turkish government and the PKK.  Last week, we noted an excerpt from Voices of the Middle East and North Africa discussing Turkey and the Kurds.  They continued the conversation this week.   You have until April 24th to stream the episode which aired on KPFA (each Wednesday, the show airs on KPFA at 7:00 pm PST).  We'll include an excerpt.

Malihe Razazan:  In his new year message on March 21st, the jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), Abdullah Ocalan, declared a cease-fire and called on armed militants to withdraw from Turkish territory.  He said, "Today we are waking up to a new Middle East, a new Turkey and a new future."  Ocalan's message was warmly welcomed by the million-strong crowd gathered in the city of Diyarbakir.  The next day, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan to apologize for "operational errors that led to loss of life" during a 2010 raid by Israeli soldiers on the Mavi Marmara ship.  Nine Turkish activists who were trying to attract the world's attention to the Israeli blockade of Gaza were murdered by Israel during that incident.  Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan officially accepted the apology and declared his intention to normalize relations with Israel.   In the second part of an interview partially aired last week,  Sharam Aghamir speaks tonight with US Berkeley sociologist Cihan Tugal about regional and US reactions to peace talks between Turkey and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

Cihan Tugal:  It's always a question of how are the other state actors  and the non-state actors going to react to this?

Sharam Aghamir: Nearly three years after a raid by US soldiers on the Mavi Marmara ship that killed nine activists who were trying to attract the world's attention to the Israeli blockade on Gaza and break that blockade with humanitarian aid, on March 22nd, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan to apologize for "operational errors that led to loss of life" during the incident and agreed to complete agreement on compensation for the families of the victims.  Act I is March 21st, Ocalan's statement.  

Cihan Tugal:  Mmm-hmm.

Sharam Aghamir:  Act II is Netanyahu's call to Erdogan as President Obama's watching him making this phone call --

Cihan Tugal:  Mmm-hmm.  Mmm-hmm.

Sharam Aghamir:  So what is Act III?  Obviously, there is some sort of a plan laid out that involves the Israelis, the United States and Turkey -- and possibly a fourth actor added to this play which is the Kurdish part.  So how is that whole thing going to play out

Cihan Tugal:  Of course, these are really major changes.  We don't know Act III yet, but I think these two are big enough.  So what's happening is all of this talk about Turkey being the major resistance against Israel, Turkey being the leader of the Palestinian cause has now evaporated.  And all of this talk about a change of access in Turkey?  You know, the western press had also made a big deal of this.  A change of access, is Turkey shifting east and it's becoming anti-American?  Of course not.  That was not happening.  This was all very smart game on the part of Erdogan's government to gain more ground in its dealings with Israel and the US.  And, at the same time,  the attack against Mavi Marmara on Israel's part was not an attack to destroy its relations with Turkey but to compete better with Turkey within an alliance.  So the triple alliance has not gone away.

Sharam Aghamir:  That's Israel, United States and Turkey?

Cihan Tugal:  Yes, exactly.  And I've been talking about Turkish tutelage over the Kurds but the real big brother in the room is, no question, the US.  So this call has happened, almost completely it seems, as to Mr. Obama's dealings.  It seems that he has arranged and overseen the talk.  This is the way it is constructed in the Turkish press as well as the Arab press. 

Sharam Aghamir:  Mmm-hmm.

Cihan Tugal:  So it seems this is too much of a coincidence -- this thaw coming at the same time with the peace process with the Kurds.  It seems that this is being coordinated internationally.  But, of course, these are speculations.  We lack the solid proof.  But if you look at both anti-government and pro-government journalists in Turkey, this is the way they talk about it.  And so from the critical side, the point is obvious if you want to really simplify it: The critical side is saying the US is arranging all of this -- in the very bluntest terms. But even when you look at the pro-government journalists, what they are saying is, "Oh, through these wonderful maneuvers, what is happening is, we are no longer enemies with Israel, we are no longer having problems with the west,  so now we can rule the whole region.

Sharam Aghamir:  Israeli - Turkey trade had increased by nearly 50% since Turkey severed its diplomatic links with Israel.  And there were reports of how Turkish trucks were carrying Turkish products and Turkish commodities because they can no longer go through Syria and Jordan to the Gulf, now what they do is go through the Port of Haifa in Israel and from there they go on to Jordan and then they make their way to the Gulf.  It is a volume of, they say, 100 trucks going through that route every day.

Cihan Tugal:  Yes, what is really important is that these business ties are not really severable between Israel and Turkey because a big part of the ties is formed by the new conservative big bourgeois in Turkey, one of the solid forces behind the new regime in Turkey.  So they would lose a lot -- they would lose a lot of business, a lot of business.

Sharam Aghamir:  The economic plan of AKP -- Justice and Development Party -- is essentially following the New Liberal paradigm.

Cihan Tugal:  Yeah, they're a free market party.  They worked very closely with the IMF [International Money Fund] in the beginning -- but at this point the IMF no longer needs to monitor them. I mean, they trust them so much.  They are probably the most neo-liberal party the whole region has ever seen -- not only in terms of their policies, but the public support they get for their policies.  So their empowerment also came with the silencing of protests against neo-liberalism in Turkey. 

Sharam Aghamir:  So one of the things Erdogan's government sees in its favor is the so-called Turkish economic boom.  They're promising the same thing for Diyarbakir and Anatolia region -- where the Kurdish population is -- in the event that a peace accord is signed.

Cihan Tugal:  Yes, exactly.  And there is actually an economic boom and a business boom in northern Iraq.  So the point is, 'Well, since your Iraqi brothers are benefiting from it, why wouldn't you?'  And the pro-government talk going on in Turkey at this point is that this peace process with the Kurds in Turkey is moving Turkey even closer to northern Iraqi oil.  So Turkey's going to have a bigger share of the pie.  In terms of overall business, Turkey is big in construction especially in northern Iraq.  But it hasn't played its hands very well on oil. And there is now going to be more and more Turkish involvement in southern Kurdistan's oil.  I mean, that's the governmental hope. 

Sharam Aghamir:  So talking about this, sort of, grand US plan for the region as envisioned by the Turkish AKP-led government, a question of Iran and it's role in the region?  How is that accommodated in this plan?  How is that being dealt with?

Cihan Tugal:  Well this is all being done with Iran in mind.  So it's not always being explicitly brought up but, as I'm saying, even the pro-ggovernment journalists at their most earnest, they do mention Iran and see this peace process with the Kurds and the thaw with the Israelis a way to further corner Iran in the region.  I mean, that --that's the whole plan.  But, of course, they don't see this as adding up -- adding up to the ultimate marginalization of Iran.  I mean, step-by-step.  First of all, Syria is really high on the agenda.  So the first set is getting rid of the [Syrian President Bashir al-]Assad regime.  So that's the first blow they envision, thanks to this thaw with Israel and the peace with the Kurds.

On the topic of re-routing due to issues in Syria, Meris Lutz (Daily Star) reports, "Deteriorating security in Syria is forcing Lebanese truckers carrying regional exports to abandon the Damascus road altogether, crossing instead through Homs and Iraq before entering Jordan."

Prensa Latina notes, "Syria has requested again that the United Nations include the so-called Al-Nusra Front in its list of terrorist organizations, a request that has been disregarded by the U.N. Security Council and Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon."  Al-Nusra Front, as noted by  Patrick Cockburn (CounterPunch), Tom A. Peter (Christian Science Monitor) and  Jason Ditz (, this week, includes al Qaeda in Iraq which fought against the US military and was declared a terrorist organization by the US State Dept.  Now the US government funds the same group.  Still on Syria, Doctors Without Borders notes:

The number of Syrians registering as refugees at the Domeez camp, near the city of Dohuk in the Kurdish region of Iraq, continues to climb, but there are not enough services in the camps to keep pace with the increased demand.
Of late, as many as 1,000 people have been crossing from Syria into this part of Iraq every day.
“We left because of war,” says one woman. “We came from Qamishli. The city is completely besieged. There’s no fuel for heaters, no water, no electricity. The trip was really difficult and long because we went through the mountains. I have five very young children and they all had to walk. We had to go through much suffering to get here but thank god we arrived.”
Domeez camp was established in Dohuk province in April 2012 and was initially designed to host 1,000 families. However, the population in the camp has now risen above 35,000 people. Despite the efforts of local authorities, the camp is stretched to its full capacity, the level of assistance is clearly insufficient, and aid workers are struggling to keep up with the needs of all the residents.
At present, the lack of shelter for newcomers is especially critical. Most of the newly arrived refugees must share tents, blankets, mattresses, and even their food with other families.

On the second half of this week's  Voices of the Middle East and North Africa, the show includes a conversation with journalist Henry Norr who expands on his printed critique of NPR.   Henry Norr used to work for the San Francisco Chronicle.  March 20, 2003, he participated in a protest against the Iraq War (which had just started) and was fired as a result.  The paper maintained that he used a sick day for the protest which was wrong and why he was fired.  The paper maintained that if he had used a vacation day, it would have been fine.  By using a sick day, they claim a record (time card) was falsified.  Even they began to see how ridiculous that claim appeared which is why, less than a year later, they reached a settlement with Norr. 

On the topic of reporters, Al Tompkins (Poynter) notes this years list of honorees by the Investigative Reporters and Editors includes Carl Prine:

That award went to Carl Prine at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review for his project “Rules of Engagement” – an honor that caught the reporter by surprise. Prine said he hadn’t known the work had been entered in a contest, and his goal was never to win an award. In a phone interview, Prine told me his goal was to hold somebody accountable for what happened in a remote Iraqi village on March 6, 2007. That was the day U.S. soldiers shot three unarmed deaf Iraqi boys.
Prine’s search to find out what happened in a cattle field in northern Iraq would lead him on a two-year search. He conducted interviews in five states and eventually made an illegal journey into Iraq. (See one of those interviews here.)

Yesterday the House Veterans Affairs Committee held a hearing on the budget and took testimony from VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, among others.  For coverage, see yesterday's snapshotAva 's "Shinseki tries to present 134% increase as a gift for women,"  Wally's "How the VA and DoD waste your tax dollars (Wally)"  and Kat's "DAV calls for Congress to reject 'chained CPI'."

In the hearing, the Committee Chair made a statement expressing how continued support for Shinseki was conditional.

Chair Jeff Miller: I'm proud of the efforts this Committee has made to protect VA's resources.  But the point of those efforts is to ensure improved benefits and services to America's veterans.  And, right now, I'm not seeing improvement in many key areas.  I'm seeing the opposite.  Mr. Secretary, we need to see results.  We need to see the outcomes the Administration promised with the resources Congress provided.   The excuses must stop.   I have supported you and your leadership up to this point.  I believe the Committee and the Congress has provided you with everything you have asked.  It's time to deliver.  

Yesterday the Washington Post ran a column co-authored by Concerned Veterans for America's Pete Hegseth and US House Rep Duncan Hunter entitled "Time to shake up the dysfunctional VA:"

It is painfully clear that VA leadership is not up to the task. Eric Shinseki is a patriot and an honorable man who has served this country faithfully in and out of uniform. We have the utmost respect for him and his service, but his tenure at the Department of Veterans Affairs has not produced results.
In other spheres, a leader who falters would be swiftly replaced. Can you imagine a battlefield commander failing yet staying in place? We cannot and therefore believe that new leadership at the VA -- from top to bottom, in Washington and across the country -- is necessary.

Lastly, whistle blower Bradley Manning is a political prisoner.    Monday April 5, 2010, WikiLeaks released US military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Monday June 7, 2010, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported in August 2010 that Manning had been charged -- "two charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The first encompasses four counts of violating Army regulations by transferring classified information to his personal computer between November and May and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system. The second comprises eight counts of violating federal laws governing the handling of classified information." In March, 2011, David S. Cloud (Los Angeles Times) reported that the military has added 22 additional counts to the charges including one that could be seen as "aiding the enemy" which could result in the death penalty if convicted. The Article 32 hearing took place in December. At the start of this year, there was an Article 32 hearing and, February 3rd, it was announced that the government would be moving forward with a court-martial. Bradley has yet to enter a plea. The court-martial was supposed to begin before the November 2012 election but it was postponed until after the election so that Barack wouldn't have to run on a record of his actual actions. adds, "A court martial is set to be held in June at Ford Meade in Maryland, with supporters treating him as a hero, but opponents describing him as a traitor."  February 28, Bradley stood up and publicly declared he had released the documents and stated, "I felt we were risking so much for people who seemed unwilling to cooperate with us, leading to frustration and hatred on both sides. I began to become depressed at the situation we found ourselves mired in year after year. In attempting counterinsurgency operations, we became obsessed with capturing and killing human targets on lists.  I wanted the public to know that not everyone living in Iraq were targets to be neutralized."

Today,  Media Channel notes:

Since our return, we have sought out the most informative perspectives, provocative critiques, and cogent news relating to the evolution of the worldwide media system with a clear subtext, that system needs more monitoring, dissecting, and dramatic improvement.

In keeping with that MO, we are very pleased to bring you the latest interview with the awesome Alexa O’Brien, one of only a handful of journalists covering the trial of Bradley Manning. It is no exaggeration to say that Alexa is responsible for the lion’s share of information we have about what may very well be the most important trial in a generation. Her work is simultaneously a stellar example of great journalism and a glaring indictment of our “established” media institutions.

You can read her reporting at the definitive Please pay her site a visit, learn about Bradley’s case, send a kind word and/or material support her way, and get involved to the extent that you are able.

Additionally, we have uploaded a TV report from a series I produced titled, Who Rules America. This installment, The Power of the Media, focuses on the unelected elite who rule the corporate media and how they shape how we interpret reality, constrain our civic debates, and manipulate public opinion in the service of narrow interests.

Over the coming weeks we will be posting many more interviews with people who are covering important issues, analyzing the veracity of mainstream content, and imagining the future possibilities of media.

However, the future of is totally dependent on your donations, so please consider making a one-time or monthly donation via PayPal or by sending a check to The Global Center, PO Box 677, New York l0035 (Please mark for A big THANK YOU to those of you who have already given, you make our work possible.


jason ditz

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Lynne Stewart

"Petition To Free Lynne Stewart" (Ralph Poynter, Z-Net):
Petition To Free Lynne Stewart: Save Her Life – Release Her Now!
The petition can be found online at the Justice for Lynne Stewart website: or at

Lynne Stewart has devoted her life to the oppressed – a constant advocate for the countless many deprived in the United States of their freedom and their rights.

Unjustly charged and convicted for the “crime” of providing her client with a fearless defense, the prosecution of Lynne Stewart is an assault upon the basic freedoms of us all.

After years of post-conviction freedom, her bail was revoked arbitrarily and her imprisonment ordered, precluding surgery she had scheduled in a major New York hospital.

The sinister meaning of the relentless persecution of Lynne Stewart is unmistakably clear. Given her age and precarious health, the ten-year sentence she is serving is a virtual death sentence.

Since her imprisonment in the Federal Prison in Carswell, Texas her urgent need for surgery was delayed 18 months – so long, that the operating physician pronounced the condition as “the worst he had seen.”

Now, breast cancer, which had been in remission prior to her imprisonment, has reached Stage Four. It has appeared in her lymph nodes, on her shoulder, in her bones and her lungs.

Her daughter, a physician, has sounded the alarm: “Under the best of circumstances, Lynne would be in a battle of the most serious consequences with dangerous odds. With cancer and cancer treatment, the complications can be as debilitating and as dangerous as the cancer itself.”

In her current setting, where trips to physicians involve attempting to walk with 10 pounds of shackles on her wrists and ankles, with connecting chains, Lynne Stewart has lacked ready access to physicians and specialists under conditions compatible with medical success.

Lynne Stewart is a political prisoner. She has spent her whole life trying to be there for those in need.  Now she's in need.

Lynne broke no law.  She broke an agreement with the Justice Dept.  This is when Bill Clinton was president and Attorney General Janet Reno didn't try to send her to prison for it.  (She issued a news release for a client, transferred it to Reuters.)  But then Bully Boy Bush and his AG John Ashcroft got into offices and they went after Lynne for the exact same incident that happened and that Reno had already ruled on.

Then along comes Barack and Lynne's tossed into prison despite her case being on appeal and her 28 month sentence gets turned into a 10 year one.

It's time to release Lynne.

She had breast cancer and the cancer has returned.  She needs treatment and she needs her family.

She does not need prison.

She has never physically harmed anyone.

Again, her whole life has been about helping those in need.  Now Lynne needs us.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills): 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, 12 (out of 18) provinces get ready for elections, Iraqi media complains that candidates don't want to deal with issues, western media grabs whatever narrative Nouri feeds them, crimes against women continue in Iraq, western media refuses to seriously address these crimes, the State Dept issues a statement on antiquities, and more.

Starting with politics.  First, Michele Kort (Ms. magazine's blog) notes British MP Glenda Jackson's speech today (link is text and video -- including a video of the speech and a video of Women in Love --  a film for which Glenda won one of her two Best Actress Academy Awards):

When I made my maiden speech in this chamber a little over two decades ago …. Thatcherism was still wreaking, as it had wreaked for the previous decade, the most heinous social, economic and spiritual upon this country, upon my constituency and my constituents. …
Our local hospitals were running on empty … I tremble to think what the death rate for pensioners would have been this winter if that version of Thatcherism had been fully up and running this year. ….
The plaster on our classroom walls were kept in place by pupils’ artwork and miles and miles of Sellotape ….  Our school libraries were dominated by empty shelves ….
But by far, by far, the most dramatic and heinous demonstration of Thatcherism … [was that] every single shop doorway, every single night, became the bedroom, the living room, the bathroom of the homeless. …

Still on politics but moving to the US Senate, Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Budget Committee, prior to January, she was the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  Her office issued the following statement today:

 April 10, 2013 
CONTACT: Murray Press Office
(202) 224-2834 

Senator Murray’s Statement on President Obama’s VA Budget 

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee and former Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, issued the following statement on the President’s Fiscal Year 2014, and Fiscal Year 2015 advance appropriation, budget request for the Department of Veterans Affairs. 
 “The budget request President Obama unveiled today provides reassurance for our veterans in an extremely difficult fiscal climate. It represents a more than 4% increase in discretionary spending over the VA budget request last year and it provides critical help in the areas of mental health care, veterans unemployment, and female veterans’ health care. With a major influx of veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan seeking care at the VA, there is no question that the investments this budget makes are sorely needed. 
“I was glad to see the President’s budget request mirrors many of the same protections for our veterans that were included in the Senate-passed budget last month. However, I will continue to work with the VA on the few areas of concern I have in this budget, including ending the shameful and unnecessary backlog of disability claims within the system. We must support our nation’s heroes not only with the benefits and care they deserve, but also with doing so in an efficient and timely manner.”
Meghan Roh
Press Secretary | New Media Director
Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray
Mobile: (202) 365-1235
Office: (202) 224-2834

There should be more on the topic above in tomorrow's snapshot when we cover a hearing on the topic.  Today, I attended a House Subcomittee hearing we may try to work in tomorrow.  At the request of a female Iraqi community member in Ramadi, we are focusing a good portion of this snapshot on crimes against women, sexism and the sexism of the western media.

Before we get there, still on elections, we move over to Iraq which is gearing up for elections -- or that's what the press insists.  Only 12 of Iraq's 18 provinces are scheduled to vote April 20th in provincial elections.

  1. Kurdistan Region presidential and parliamentary elections will be held before Sep 8th, 2013.

Barzani is the president of the Kurdistan Regional Government, the semi-autonomous region in northern Iraq. Erbil, Sulaymaniyah and Dohok Provinces make up the KRG.  That takes us from 12 to 15.  The other three provinces?

There's Kirkuk.

Kirkuk is disputed.  Baghdad and Erbil both claim the oil-rich province.  Chris Hill, failed US Ambassador to Iraq, infamously dismissed Kirkuk as an issue when appearing at his Senate confirmation hearing (see the March 25, 2009 snapshot and the March 26th one).  It's not 'a simple land dispute.'  A simple land dispute can be settled.

The Iraqi Constitution's Article 140 provided for the disputed regions.  It said that the prime minister would implement a census and hold a referendum and that would determine the fate.  Nouri is aware of that because he did participate in the writing of the Constitution.  He becomes prime minister in the spring of 2006.  The Constitution dictates that Article 140 be implemented by the end of 2007.  That was years ago.  It's never been implemented.  Nouri has failed to follow the Constitution.  And the result is that all this time later Kirkuk not only still remains in dispute, it also can't participate in provincial elections.

That takes us from 15 to 16 which still leaves 2 provinces not voting.  The other two?  Nouri has declared that Sunni strongholds Anbar Province and Nineveh Province will not vote.  He's declared them to violent, too prone to fraud, too this, too that.  Though the Electoral Commission is supposed to be independent and he doesn't sit on it, though the United Nations has said that the two provinces need to be included in the vote, Nouri says they won't vote.

As disturbing as that is, as huge an overstep as that is, what's even more alarming is how the western press whores for Nouri.  Alarming but not surprising.   March 8, 2010, we witnessed Quil Lawrence whoring for Nouri on NPR -- declaring Nouri got the most votes -- before even a third of the votes had been counted -- and, oh, by the way, Nouri's political slate State of Law didn't get the most votes, Iraqiya did.  But whoring is really all the press is good for.

Which is why they're running with the script he's supplying.  It's not reality but reality's never been a concern for the press.

The script Nouri's supplying is that the results of April 20th will demonstrate how popular he is.  Nouri will not win in the KRG.  That's three provinces.  Kirkuk's not voting.  That's four.  And the two provinces where Nouri is outright loathed?  He wouldn't carry Anbar or Nineveh.

Is Iraq made up of 18 provinces or not?  If it is, you can't judge popularity when you rig who gets to vote.  In addition, provincial elections can indicate national trends, they do not, however, reflect upon Nouri or anyone else who might be prime minister.  They're the equivalent, in the US, of election governors.  Barack Obama's popularity is not determined by who wins the governorship in Alaska or Alabama.  States are concerned with their own series of issues just as, in Iraq, provinces are concerned with their own issues.

Nouri tried to film this script in 2009 and the press was happy to greenlight it.  They ran with the nonsense -- all of them including the New York Times -- that it proved how Nouri was popular.  Yet the next year, as the same press was debating just how big of a win Nouri would have in the 2010 elections, Nouri didn't win.  His State of Law came in second.

It's amazing how damn lazy what passes for the western press is.  They can't think for themselves which is why they can't carry out the press corp role which is supposed to be skepticism.  They can't think for themselves so they swallow and spit back out any 'theme' someone feeds them.  If the 12 provincial elections this month are worth watching, they're worth watching only to see just how much whoring a lazy press can do.

And Iraqi media?  Al Hayat reports that TV stations in Iraq -- controlled by various political parties -- are pushing candidates but not informing their viewers of the candidate's platforms and Iraqi TV correspondents complain that it is difficult to get interviews with candidates, that when they do get interviews and difficult to hold candidates accountable -- and that's if you're state media and not technically controlled by a political party. 

The Kurdistan Region Presidency notes that KRG President Masoud Barzani met with the US State Dept's Brett McGurk this week to discuss tensions between Baghdad and Erbil: "President Barzani stressed the importance of genuine partnership and consensus-based decision-making in the Iraqi government and restated Kurdistan Regions position toward the political process in the country.  He added that a good start would be for the Iraqi government to undertake some concrete steps towards the resolution of the problems facing the country."  To empthasize the main point, Barzani Tweeted:

A good start would be for Iraqi gov to take some concrete steps to address problems facing country:

That would be a good step.  Such a step would require trust and Nouri's demonstrated that he is not to be trusted.  Last week, the ongoing protests in Iraq passed the 100-day remark.  Mustafa Habib (Niqash) reports:

Complaints have been being made for a while. But the demonstrations started seriously in late December 2012, after the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, arrested members of the country’s finance minister, Rafia al-Issawi’s body guards. Ten of them were accused of terrorism.  Al-Issawi is one of the country’s most senior Sunni Muslim officials and he comes from Anbar, where his tribe is very influential.

This comes on top of other arrests and attempted arrests of top Sunni Muslim politicians.

And the Sunni Muslim protestors have been taking to the streets ever since. Every Friday, they demonstrate and give the demonstration days similar names to those used by neighbouring countries as they went through their own revolutions during the so-called Arab spring.  

For example, among them, Fridays called: “no to a government of chaos”, “go” (as in, leave now al-Maliki) and “hand in hand to maintain our rights”.

In response, al-Maliki has formed several committees to look into protestors’ complaints. And the committees did issue a series of potential actions.

Al-Maliki has also continued to use a “carrot and stick” approach. His security forces continue to arrest people involved with the campaigns and imposing strict security regimes on Sunni Muslim-majority cities. This behaviour is in fact provoking the demonstrators even more.

On the other hand, the Prime Minister has also released some detainees, promised to re-appoint Sunni Muslim army officers who lost their jobs and cancelled several de-Baathification measures.

However the protestors say they do not trust other measures will be implemented, especially in regard to the government’s ongoing breach of trust.

“Unfortunately the protestors don’t trust al-Maliki because he is known for not keeping the promises he made to his opponents during the political process," said Ali Hatem Suleiman, a tribal leader and prime mover behind the protests in the Anbar province, who also played a large part in the US-founded initiative, the Awakening Movement, which was started to combat al-Qaeda in Iraq. 
Yesterday in London, Iraqis protested outside Parliament denouncing the tactics of Nouri's government.  One Iraqi woman carried a black sign with a large red "NO" and a large red "X."  Written on the sign in white -- in Arabic and in English were what she was saying "no" to:
to corruption
to Sectarianism
to Arbitrary Arrests
to Torture
to the Murders of Iraqis
to the Enemies of Iraq
These demands have been made against Nouri's government since the protests began.  Another poster, carried by a man, featured Tony Blair and billed him as "WORLD'S #2 TERRORIST & WAR CRIMINAL."

Two months ago, Iraqis also protested outside the British Parliament.  Signs carried at that demonstration had messages such as "END RAPES AGAINST WOMEN IN IRAQI PRISONS,"  "END THE POLITICISATION OF IRAQ'S JUDICIARY," "IN SOLIDARITY WITH THE POPULAR PROTEST MOVEMENT IN IRAQ AGAINST INJUSTICE, TYRANNY & THE LOSS OF RIGHTS" and "RELEASE THE INNOCENTS FROM MALIKI'S TORTURE PRISONS."  The protesters chanted, "1, 2, 3, 4, Maliki no more, 5, 6, 7, 8, stop the terror, stop the rape."

As DPA observed Friday, "Thousands of protesters have been holding protests for more than 100 days to demand that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki repeal laws they claim target a section of the population."  That is one aspect of it.  The least reported aspect of it has been what has scandalized so many Iraqis, the rape and torture of women and girls and Iraqi prisons and detention centers.  A protester in London could and did put it on a sign ("END RAPES AGAINST WOMEN IN IRAQI PRSIONS") but the western press has tried so hard to bury that part of the story.  Few outlets have even bothered to mention it and no western outlets has reported on it.  Reporting on it would require note the Parliamentary committees that backed up the reports Nouri spent the month of November denying.  It's funny how news that's negative about Nouri never really makes the Western press.

It's amazing how far the press will go to disguise the realities of life for Iraqi women.  Amazing?  No, change that to appalling.  That's what Rebecca was getting at last night in "when a woman is killed it's a 'personal matter'" -- a crime is a crime . . . unless the victim is a woman and then the crime becomes a 'personal matter' that must not be discussed.  Which is how you get crap like AFP's "The Iraqi government on Sunday unveiled sweeping reforms to a law banning members of late President Saddam Hussein’s Baath party from public life, following ongoing protests by the country’s Sunni minority."

You know, AFP has three men in Iraq -- no women.  You think that might have something to do with their failure to cover women?  You think that might have something to do with their silence on the issue of rape?

With their lies and distortions?

AFP is lying about the Justice and Accountability law and commission.

Prashant Rao, can you please stop lying?  Can you stop deceiving the public?  Just once?

Let's apply the logic that reveals what a liar AFP is being.

You live in a country we'll call Justica.  In Justica there's Law A which prevents you from running for public office or holding senior government positions.  There's also Law B which allows the government to arrest your family members for crimes  you are suspected of.

In Justica, does Law A or Law B matter the most to you?

Since most people don't run for public office and since most people don't hold senior government positions?  Law B.

And it's Article IV that has so outraged the protesters -- not the Justice and Accountability which has outraged politicians and would be politicians.  Stop the lies.

I'm sick of the damn lies.

I'm sick of the sexism of AFP.  I'm sick of Jane Arraf's desire to try to blend in as a man.  We're supposed to be grateful that in all of her reports in the last four  months -- for Al Jazeera, for the Christian Science Monitor, for PBS (NewsHour), for PRI -- in all those reports, in one she mentioned the issue of the rapes and how they fuel the protests.

We shouldn't be grateful.  In November, I said Iraqis would be taking to the streets.  Not because I'm a psychic but because the rape scandal is exactly what leads people to be outraged.  A solid protests movement (not a single day protest) needs an ethical basis.

But they won't tell you about it, these western reporters, or they'll be Jane Arraf and offer it in sotto voice in one report and we're supposed to be grateful.  I'm not grateful for gender traitors who try to blend with men.

Article IV allows the Iraqi government to arrest the children, spouses, parents, siblings and other family members of a suspect.  Arrest them because they're suspected of crimes?  No, arrest them even though they're not suspected of anything.  Article IV made legal what the US military was already doing in Iraq: Terrorizing the public.  They couldn't get a hold of Mark Banner, they arrest his wife and hold her (in some cases, torture her) and use her as a hostage to force her husband's hand.  It's kidnapping plain and simple and it was that when the US military was doing it and it's kidnapping when Nouri's government does it.  This is how so many women and girls are in prison for 'terror' related offenses.

Unlike Prashant Rao and the pigs of AFP and AP, the Iraqi media has never ignored the rape charges.  They've reported it.    Here's Dr. Souad Al-Azzawi (URUKNET) explaining what was on Iraqi TV:

Al Maliki, occupation appointed Prime Minister of Iraq, appeared on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013 on Arabia TV channel. The dialogue evolved around the protests of millions of Iraqis which have lasted more than 40 days. In this interview, Al Maliki emphasized that his government (occupation assigned) will not meet the demonstrators demands. He kept eluding and twisting facts about the humanitarian and justified demands the protesters. Nothing is unexpected in what he said or claimed because we all know in Iraq that he is an occupation puppet and would only serve American and Iranian occupation interests in Iraq.
What was disturbing and caught my attention was Maliki’s comments on the detention and torture of women in Iraqi prisons. He claimed that under law, a woman can be detained if she covers up the crimes of her husband. With this statement, Maliki claimed he had the answer to the angry protests all over Iraq calling for the release of all innocent women. Mothers, sisters, daughters and wives have been unjustly detained, tortured or raped, simply because they do not know the whereabouts of the men in their families. Thousands of women have been detained with no legal accusations. Some of them are imprisoned with their infants and children in unbearable prison conditions [1] just because Maliki claims that their husbands, brothers, or fathers have committed an act of terror.

Rape isn't a 'personal matter,' it's a crime.  And when western outlets look the other way, they're accomplices to rape.  I have no patience for this lying and this covering up.  Iraqi women damn well deserve better and how shameful that in all these months AFP has refused to report on rape.   Prashant Rao's immaturity is all over his Twitter feed.  It may even explain his inability to report on rape.  However, he's a paid journalist and immaturity doesn't excuse him or AFP.

Where's the western outlet that will tell the truth?  'We can't verify rape claims!'  Then report them as claims.

You know what else you couldn't verify?  Nouri's big releases of prisoners.  The provinces asked for a list of names of all these supposed releases.  Nouri's not given them one.  They originally said it would be late March.  It's been kicked back to May currently.  Without such a list, how does anyone who has been released or how many?  They don't know.  But the press was happy to run with Nouri's claims and assertions as facts.  It's a funny kind of one-sided world where despot Nouri's claims are treated as gospel but claims from Iraqi women -- claims verified by Parliamentary committees -- are ignored.

Last month, Dahr Jamail (Al Jazeera) reported:

Heba al-Shamary (name changed for security reasons) was released last week from an Iraqi prison where she spent the last four years.
“I was tortured and raped repeatedly by the Iraqi security forces,” she told Al Jazeera. “I want to tell the world what I and other Iraqi women in prison have had to go through these last years. It has been a hell.”
Heba was charged with terrorism, as so many Iraqis who are detained by the Iraqi security apparatus are charged.
“I now want to explain to people what is occurring in the prisons that [Prime Minister Nouri al-] Maliki and his gangs are running,” Heba added. “I was raped over and over again, I was kicked and beaten and insulted and spit upon.”
Heba’s story, horrific as it is, unfortunately is but one example of what a recent report from Amnesty International refers to as “a grim cycle of human rights abuses” in Iraq today.

We spent several snapshots covering that Amenesty report [see this March 11th entry aptly titled "Iraqi women and girls (and the silence on this topic)" and snapshots for March 11th, March 12th, and March 13th].  I'm very familiar with it.  So I'm aware that when Jane Arraf chose to report on it, it was really strange that she focused on a male prisoner saying they threatened to rape his wife in front of him -- as opposed to a woman in the report who was threatened herself.  Apparently, to Arraf, women are property and the thought of a rape in front of their 'owner' (husband) is appalling but their being raped outside of their 'owner' isn't outrageous.  That would explain this miserable she filed that refused to note actual rape noted in the Amnesty report.   This is from the Amnesty International report entitled [PDF format warning] "Iraq: A Decade of Abuses."

More than three years before, members of the Human Rights Committee of parliament who visited the earlier women’s prison that was then located in al-Kadhemiya told reporters in May 2009 that two women inmates they had seen had testified that they were repeatedly raped in detention after their arrest and before they were transferred to the prison. 
Sabah Hassan Hussein, 41, a journalist, was reportedly arrested on 29 February 2012 when she went to the offices of the army’s Fifth Brigade in Baghdad’s Saydiya district to collect a car belonging to one of her relatives that the authorities had confiscated. She was detained and told that she was a suspect in a murder investigation. She was then transferred to the Directorate of Major Crimes (Mudiriyat al-Jara’im al-Kubra) in Tikrit, where she was held incommunicado, for about two months during which, she alleges, she was tortured. According to a member of her family interviewed by Amnesty International, she alleges that her interrogators burnt her with cigarettes, doused her with icy cold water and forced to undress in front of male police officers. The Journalistic Freedoms Observatory (JFO) reported on 26 November that she had identified the police officers responsible for her alleged torture and that their names had been submitted to the Ministry of Interior. 
Sabah Hassan Hussein was returned to Baghdad from Tikrit in May 2012 and held at al- Sayid For detention centre she was acquitted by the Resafa Criminal Court at the first session of her trial on charges brought under the Anti-Terrorism Law on 23 January 2013. Another defendant charged with her, however, was convicted and sentenced to death. Despite her acquittal, Sabah Hassan Hussein remained in prison until 18 February 2013, when she was released and allowed to return to her family. She subsequently told Amnesty International that she filed a formal complaint with the authorities about her torture and other ill-treatment in detention. They were previously alerted to her torture allegations in November 2012; however, they are not known to have taken any steps to bring those responsible to justice.

That's just one story in the report.  Michele Lent Hirsch (Women's Media Center) noted of the report, "Female detainees are in a 'particularly vulnerable position,' Amnesty explains, given that any allegation they make of rape will be 'almost impossible to prove,' while interrogators can use threats of sexualized violence as a 'powerful inducement to force "confessions".'"  Again, Arraf ignored women.  Let's contrast that silence with a column at the end of February when Haifa Zangana (Guardian) wrote about the state of Iraqi women:

The plight of women detainees was the starting point for the mass protests that have spread through many Iraqi provinces since 25 December 2012. Their treatment by the security forces has been a bleeding wound – and one shrouded in secrecy, especially since 2003. Women have been routinely detained as hostages – a tactic to force their male loved ones to surrender to security forces, or confess to crimes ascribed to them. Banners and placards carried by hundreds of thousands of protesters portray images of women behind bars pleading for justice.

[. . .]

No wonder, ten years after the invasion, the Iraqi authorities are accused by US-based Human Rights Watch of "violating with impunity the rights of Iraq's most vulnerable citizens, especially women and detainees". HRW's account is echoed by a report by the Iraqi parliament's own human rights and women, family and children's committees, which found that there are 1,030 women detainees suffering from widespread abuse, including threats of rape.
Responding to these findings, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki threatened to "arrest those members of parliament who had discussed the violence against women detainees". Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Hussain al-Shahristani has acknowledged that there are 13,000 prisoners in custody accused of terror offences, but he only mentioned women detainees in passing:

"We transferred all women prisoners to prisons in their home provinces."
Al-Shahristani's statement is one in a long list of contradictory and misleading statements by the regime's most senior officials – from al-Maliki speaking of "not more than a handful of women terrorists", to his contradictory promise that he will pardon all "women detainees who have been arrested without a judicial order or in lieu of a crime committed by some of their male relatives". That assurance was followed by parading nine women, cloaked in black from head to toe, on the official state TV channel, al-Iraqiya, as a gesture of the regime's "good will".
Protesters and Iraqi human rights organizations estimate that there are as many as 5,000 female detainees. The truth is leaking out, drip by drip. A few weeks ago, 168 women detainees were released and there were promises of another 32 waiting to be released. No one accused of torture, rape or abuse has yet been brought to justice.

In February, Wijhat Nadhar (BRussells Tribunal) reported on what happens to Iraqi women when they're arrested -- based on the testimony of three national guard officers:

The first thing we do when an arrested woman is being transported to the detention location, is that every part of her body is touched by all the soldiers in the vehicle, while using dirty language. When we reach the detention facility, we leave her in the investigation room, supervised by the intelligence officer and his assistants. They directly take all her clothes off, blindfold her, handcuff her, then the intelligence officer starts to rape her with his assistant. And later they ask her some questions: if she’s guilty or innocent and so on. Then they blackmail her, saying that she should be cooperative and give important information about the District where she lives, otherwise they would distribute photos of her while she was naked and being raped. They would accuse her of false charges if she would file a complaint about harrassment and torture. If she receives a "guilty" verdict, she usually stays in the same location for a period of one to three months, in order to finish the procedures of her “case”, to be sent to the headquarters. During these months, every single intelligence officer and soldier in the Brigade will rape her. After that, she will be sent to Al Tasfeerat Prison in Shaab Stadium, or to Al-Muthanna Airport Prison. Sometimes the prisoner is transferred to the facility of the Chief Commander's Office in the Green Zone, which is a cellar under the building of the Baghdad Operations Headquarter, supervised by Major General Adnan Al-Musawi. This place is one of the most dangerous, dirtiest prisons of Al-Maliki.

 I'm sorry that crimes against women make so many men working for western outlets (and Jane Arraf) uncomfortable and they don't want to cover these crimes.  But they are crimes and they do take place and they are news.  I'm sorry that you're so damn miserable at your jobs that the average news consumer could read you every damn day and never know what Iraqi women face.  It's bad enough that they have to face it.  How horrifying that when they actually put themselves through sharing these brutal crimes, the western press doesn't care.  No, ir doesn't care, it just runs to avoid the topic.  That's disgusting and they should all be ashamed of themselves.

Crimes against women are not 'personal matters.'  They are crimes.  Anup Shah (Global Issues) has observed, "Women's rights around the world is an important indicator to understand global well-being."  He is correct.  But we should expand that.  How crimes against women are covered are an important indicator of the health -- or lack of it -- of our press corps.

What does it say about the western press that, not being functioning adults, they can't report on crimes against women?  

Caroline Jaine (Pakistan's Dawn) reported this week:

Shatha Al-Abosi is a smart woman. Her small frame and traditional dress do not mask her massive determination and passion for the liberation of women. The winner of the 2007 Woman of Courage Award claims to have survived five attempts on her life. Shatha is a women’s rights advocate – and one of a number of impressive, resilient women we met in Baghdad. Another woman all in black tells us she has lost a son and other family members and is committed to lobbying for human rights. Next to her, a lawyer with pink lipstick tells us of her commitment to change. A third, fourth and fifth woman tell us more. The delegation I am travelling with are visibly impressed and we all comment that the women appear as articulate, educated and informed (if not more) than many of their male counterparts.
And yet, all evidence suggests that despite being the givers of life in a country so familiar with death, despite being the source of comfort and nurture – Iraqi women are not cherished and valued in society. Any progress involving women in a future Iraq is undermined by the fact that she is being beaten at home.

 And Yanar Mohammed (Organisation of Women's Freedom in Iraq) observed last month:

 As for the women who were fortunate to be surrounded by some social protection or source of income, they still only enjoy a second class citizen status, under the valid laws of honor killing, wife battering, unequal inheritance, and unequal testimony in court. Moreover, ten years of occupation allowed and actually encouraged political Islam to poison and brainwash the society through tens of television stations into a  state of fanatic misogyny, promoting a life-style where women are merely servants, breeders, and home keepers with no mention of civil rights as full citizen. On the contrary, new fear of femmephobia was introduced into the society, where females will always be doubted as the source of sin and indecency, like a beast in need of taming to be domesticated and accept the life of slaves in prisons. Moreover, the same media outlets program females to defend their newly found slavery as a source of pride and a benefit which no other societies can offer.

Staying with the topic of violence,  National Iraqi News Agency reports a roadside bombing to the south of Mosul claimed the lives of 2 police officers,  a Baquba roadside bombing left a soldier and military officer injured, an armed attack in Baquba left a police officer injured, a Mosul armed attack claimed the life of 1 police officer, a second Mosul armed attack left 2 Iraqi soldiers and 1 military officer dead, and  a Falluja armed attack left 1 person dead.  In addition, NINA notes a bombing "targeting the oil pipeline on the main road linking Baghdad, Mosul near Shirqat district what led to the outbreak of a huge fire in the pipeline."

Today the US State Dept issued the following statement:

For ten years, the U.S. Department of State has been working closely with Iraqi counterparts and American academic and nonprofit institutions to protect, preserve, and display the rich cultural heritage of Iraq. Cultural heritage cooperation is a major pillar of the Iraq-U.S. Strategic Framework Agreement, reflecting the high value both nations place on this irreplaceable resource.
A major continuing effort has focused on the Iraq Museum in Baghdad, where looting in April 2003 left the facility physically damaged and an unsafe environment for both staff and the Museum’s collections. In summer 2003, State Department personnel were among the first responders to the museum’s needs, providing replacement photographic equipment, office furniture, and supplies. An assessment in autumn 2003 conducted by experts in museum security, environmental control, conservation, and information technology initiated a 2004 project of major improvements to the museum’s physical plant, IT capabilities, and security.
This assessment also laid the groundwork for the Iraq Cultural Heritage Project, a $12.9 million initiative developed and funded by the State Department, and implemented by the nonprofit International Relief and Development from 2008 to 2011. This project rehabilitated and furnished 11 of the museum’s public galleries, a 3-story collections storage facility, and the conservation labs, as well as providing a new roof and upgraded climate control systems.
Along with physical improvements to the building, the State Department sponsored and organized trainings for museum staff as part of its comprehensive approach to partnering with Iraqis in the preservation of their cultural heritage. In 2004, the Department funded a special five-week “Cultural Heritage Institute” through the Council of American Overseas Research Centers, to bring 22 Iraqi museum staff to the Smithsonian Institution for training in museum management, conservation, and curatorial practices. In 2009-2010, the Department’s Iraq Cultural Heritage Project also provided training for 20 museum professionals from throughout Iraq at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, covering topics from exhibit design and museum education to archaeological site excavation and stabilization.
Funding for these projects was provided through the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ Cultural Heritage Center and Office of Academic Exchanges, the U.S. Embassy Baghdad, and private foundations. Images and more information about other cultural heritage projects in Iraq can be found here.
Media contact: Susan Pittman,, (202) 632-6373.

Other big news today includes All Iraq News reporting Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi (above) has announced he will be returning to the Kurdistan Regional Government.  We covered that at length this morning, refer to this entry for more on it.  We also addressed the US funding Syrian 'rebels' which will now mean funding al Qaeda in Iraq -- for more on that topic, you can see this piece by Jason Ditz (  I'm not a fan of Robert Parry's.  In 2008, I lost all use for him.  I don't visit his site.  So the fact that I'm linking to this report (at his site) by William Boardman should attest to the fact that I feel it's a very important report.  Tomorrow or Friday, we'll link to it again and I'll provide a link to somewhere else for those who do not visit Consortium News.  I'd planned to address counter-insurgency today but that got put on hold due to the e-mail from the community member asking for the crimes against women and sexism to be covered.  Boardman's written a very strong article that deserves noting.

We're closing with this from the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee:

National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee (NWTRCC)
PO Box 150553, Brooklyn, NY11215 • 800-269-7464
Fax: 718-768-4388 • •


For Immediate Release: April 10, 2013
Contact: Ruth Benn, NWTRCC Coordinator
       800-269-7464 (718-768-3420) or

Refusing to Pay for Cruise Missiles and Drone Strikes:
30 Years of Tax Day Antiwar Protests

On April 15 people in communities across the United States will be
leafleting, marching, doing street theatre, committing civil disobedience,
and picketing at post offices, IRS offices, federal buildings, among other
public spaces, using materials calling attention to the harmful effects of
military spending. A list of U.S. Tax Day events with links to international
actions can be found at April 15 is also the
third annual Global Day of Action on Military Spending.

Thirty years ago, during his first term, President Ronald Reagan set off a
massive buildup in the U.S. armed forces that stands out on historical
graphs of U.S. military budgets since World War II. This motivated thousands
of taxpayers to resume the civil disobedience (begun during the Vietnam War)
by refusing to pay taxes to buy those weapons, and led to the 1982 formation
of the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee (NWTRCC). In that
same year Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen of Seattle, risking official
censure, withheld half his income tax to protest nuclear weapons, calling on
others to do the same.

The spike in military spending since 2001 surpasses that of the Reagan
years. Today U.S. taxpayers are buying even more expensive weapons systems,
new nuclear weapons plants, assassinations by unmanned drones, and soaring
interest payments on the national debt along with burgeoning health care
costs for thousands of wounded veterans.

On March 30, 1983, an ad placed in a Massachusetts weekly began, “We refuse
to pay taxes for the violence of war preparations and other military
expenditures including present military involvement in other countries. Over
half of the federal income taxes are used for military expenses.” Many of
the 120 signers still refuse today and still protest on tax day, joined by
newer activists who have been provoked into protesting taxes for the wars in
Afghanistan and Iraq as well as the endless war on terror.

Massachusetts residents Randy Kehler and Betsy Corner were signers of that
1983 ad. Despite a house seizure and other collection efforts by the IRS,
Kehler and Corner say, “With the federal government running up huge deficits
by spending trillions of taxpayer dollars on weapons and war, at the expense
of its own people (especially its soldiers) and the people of other
countries, we invite our fellow citizens to join us in saying 'No!' and to
begin re-directing their federal tax money to local projects that meet
genuine human needs.” 

On the evening of April 15 in Berkeley, California, members of Northern
California War Tax Resistance and the People's Life Fund will be taking this
advice and presenting grants of resisted war taxes totaling over $20,000 to
local social service, peace, and justice organizations. That event and
others from Maine to Kentucky to Washington are posted online with contacts

Contact NWTRCC to talk with individual war tax resisters and refusers.


Ruth Benn, Coordinator
National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee
PO Box 150553
Brooklyn, NY 11215


jason ditz