Saturday, May 11, 2013

Stephen Stromberg doesn't know all he thinks he does

In "No, Benghazi won't hobble Hillary in 2006" (Washington Post), editorial writer Stephen Stromberg insists:

Clinton, on the other hand, continues to be one of the most-scrutinized people on earth, and, following her time as secretary of state, her reputation remains strong. Even after the attention the right has paid to Benghazi — including demanding she testify to Congress — her approval numbers remain in the 60s. If she runs for president, of course, they wouldn’t stay there. Any residual support among Republicans who have compared her favorably to President Obama will dry up. But that would have happened with or without Benghazi.

I love that the Post is now supplying staff with crystal balls.  I'm sorry but Benghazi has hobbled Hillary. The press failed to report on it.

The January hearing was covered by C.I. in "Iraq snapshot," "Iraq snapshot" and Ava reported on it in "20 are still at risk says Hillary in an aside (Ava),"  Wally with   "Facts matter, Hillary (Wally),"   Ruth with "Like watching Richard Nixon come back to life" and Kat with "Can she not answer even one damn question?" They covered it.

The press is a meek, declawed, neutered pet.  So when Hillary went ballastic with her screaming in the Senate hearing, the press lapped it up and sold it.  What they missed was that the Secretary of State failed to visit the wounded.  They were brought into the US from Benghazi and put up in Walter Reed.  They were under attack.  At least some tried to help Chris Stevens.

They were in Walter Reed -- not a great distance from the State Department but Hillary testified she didn't visit them for weeks and weeks.  Realizing how poorly that sounded, she quickly insisted she thinks she might have recently visited one.

Excuse me, you don't 'think you might' if you visited someone.  Point being, she never did.

Follow, that's what could harm her political chances.  Here's how it could play out.   Not what happened on the ground in Benghazi -- unless the White House feeds her to the wolves -- and, if you missed it, that's what the deep background briefing Friday was about.  Laying out the perimeters of the conversation to protect the White House.  That's what it was about. To protect the White House and to begin feeding Hillary to the wolves.  If it the focus continues, they'll feed more and begin to do so publicly.  (That's based on the remarks of 1 of the 14 who was at the briefing.  They're forbidden to report on the briefing.  They can't be forbidden to talk to friends or family.)

The press lapped up the screaming.  As if that was something new.  It wasn't.  They only applaud what they've already seen.

The issue was never did Hillary have strength.  Even her detractors didn't doubt that.  The 'nut crackers' of 2007, a sexist device, yes, went to the fact that they fear Hillary because she's strong.

Even her enemies know she's strong.

The eyes moistening was news (in New Hampshire where she teared up) to the press because it was a different side.  It humanized Hillary.

But now we've got Hillary confessing to not visiting the wounded.  Repeating, no one ever doubted her strength.

It has always been her humanity that was in question for the public beyond her support base.

The negatives on her were cold and ruthless.  The failure to visit the wounded and her failure to follow up with the family of Sean Smith, for example (his mother Pat Smith was very clear this week to Jake Tapper on CNN about that), play into that.

A grieving mother can be a real souring point for your public image.  Ask Bully Boy Bush because Cindy Sheehan's emerge did serious damage to his image.

Does the above mean it happens?

No.  The press could continue to cover for Hillary.  The GOP could continue to focus on her screaming moment in the hearing.  All the Karl Rove ad does is feed into the negative image that those who don't like her already had.  Going after the lack of humanity she's shown the wounded, the families of the dead?  That goes to the core of concern about Hillary that her enemies have always successfully stroked.  Wasn't Peggy Noonan's entire book about how Hillary wasn't 'like us'?  How she wasn't sincere? How she'd say anything to get your vote for student council but then would ignore you?

Hillary's strength has never been questioned.  From early on, her enemies knew she was strong.  Her weakness has always been the perception that she's cold and lacks humanity.

If the press were to report on her hearing remarks or the GOP were to emphasize them, that would most likely be it.  There doesn't need to be a smoking gun for Benghazi to rip Hillary apart.  Her own behavior has already set that up.

That's what I see.  Not with a crystal ball but with my degree in psychology.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, May 10, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, Turkey responds to Nouri's nonsense regarding the PKK, protests continue in Iraq, Ned Parker and Niqash take a look at realities on the ground post-Hawija, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani wants the government to speed up relief payments, Senator Patty Murray applauds Washington's governor's move to help veterans, Military Families Speak Out mourn the passing of Charlie Richardson, The Drone War continues and Benghazi causes further embarrassment for the administration.

Today Military Families Speak Out notes the passing of Charlie Richardson "on May 4th, 2012 at home after a six-year battle with cancer".  They note:

The seeds of MFSO were sown in the summer of 2002 when Charley’s son, a U.S. Marine, was being deployed and it became clear he would most likely be ending up in Iraq. As life-long peace and labor activists, Charley, and his wife Nancy Lessin, knew they couldn’t sit by silently while their son was being sent into harm’s way, to a war that should not be happening, an illegal and immoral war of aggression. They brought a sign to anti-war protests with their son’s picture on it that said, “Our Son Is A Marine – Don’t Send Him to War for Oil!” Charley and Nancy were overwhelmed by the response they received to the power of their voice as a military family protesting the war.
At one of these rallies they met another a father whose son was facing deployment to Kuwait. Together, they formed Military Families Speak Out to organize and amplify the voices of military families in opposition to an invasion of Iraq. Just months later, Nancy and Charley spoke at a press conference, offering their home phone number for MFSO; within days, two hundred families from around the country joined the organization.
In February, 2003 Charley and Nancy were lead plaintiffs in a lawsuit against then-President George W. Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, calling for a temporary restraining order that would prevent the U.S. from invading Iraq until there was a congressionally mandated declaration of war. Three active-duty service members, other MFSO members and twelve Members of Congress were part of that lawsuit. The case went two rounds in the First Circuit Court of Appeals, and finally failed on March 18, 2003. The bombs dropped on Baghdad the next day.
For the next two years MFSO existed in Charley and Nancy’s living room. On top of their day jobs as prominent labor activists, Nancy and Charley wrote grant proposals, helped members start chapters, trained families on how to speak to the media and pushed tirelessly to create a home for families like them, who had loved ones in the military and were opposed to the war. Families came to them with the same story. “Thank God I found you. I thought I was the only one! What can I do to be a part of this?”

Staying with the topic of peace, Yavuz Baydar (Al-Monitor) notes, "Sticking to its promises, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) appears to have started pulling out from Turkey as agreed with Ankara. At least 50 militants are said to have crossed into Iraqi Kurdistan since May 8." At her site last night, Betty continued the conversation about how ridiculous Nouri looked for declaring Thursday that the PKK could not come into Iraq.  World Bulletin News quotes Turkey's Foreign Ministry, "This announcement seems to result more from the contestations between Baghdad and Erbil.  It is obvious that the PKK withdrawing from Turkey will not be a threat to anyone, and that they will leave behind terror.  We are not sending terrorists to another country to organize attacks.  Therefore there is no reason to worry.  The PKK came from Iraq anyway and would enter and exit periodically.  Why are they now a problem?"

Background.  Turkey has been the part of many histroical empires -- including the Hittite, Byzantine and the Ottoman Empire.  From 1918 to 1922, Constantinople was occupied by the French, British and Italians.  The native population fought back, expelled the occupiers and the Republic of Turkey was created.  That's a very brief and incomplete history of 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."  May 8th saw the start of a process the two sides had spent some time negotiating.

While the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government in the north is where the PKK will go, it has been the central government out of Baghdad which has spent the week complaining.  Along with Nouri, you've had his Cabinet members launch various verbal attacks on Turkey.  How bad is it?  So bad that Nouri's government figured they better make nice with another neighbor.  Al-Shorfa reports, "Iraq has re-opened its land border crossing with Jordan two weeks after closing it for security reasons, Anbar's local government said Friday."

Jordan, like Turkey on Sunday and Syria previously, has been accused by Nouri and his Cabinet in the past of being responsible for the ongoing protests in Iraq which kicked off December 21st and continued today.  Iraqi Spring MC reports that a Reuters reporters has been detained in Anbar while attempting to cover a protest.  In related news, the National Iraqi News Agency reports, "Police forces prevented the media and journalists from entering the Mosque of Muhammad Rasoolollah in the city of Kirkuk to cover the unified Friday prayers."  Falluja is in Anbar and the sit-in continues thereIn this Iraqi Spring MC video, the speaker in Falluja rejects the division of Iraq.  Today's protests were about unity and dignity and a unified Iraq.  Alsumaria notes the Ramadi protest  saw tens of thousands turn out to celebrate dignity and choose peace.  They called on the United Nations and the religious authorities to curb Nouri's lust for power.   NINA reports that the Ramadi and Falluja protesters "demonstrated after Friday unified prayers on The international road condemned the double standard policy of Maliki government in dealing with Iraqi people component and demanded to bring down such a government."

It was another bad day for prime minister and chief thug Nouri al-Maliki.  Alsumaria reports that cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr declared his sympathy for the Iraqis who've lost family members as a result of the purchase and use by Nouri's government of 'magic' wands -- which have been known not to work since 2009.  Moqtada urged the families who lost loved ones and those who were injured as a result to sue the person who purchased the items. (That would be Nouri.)  April 23rd (see the  April 24, 2013 snapshot), James McCormick, the man who made and sold the wands, who was on trial for those wands, was pronounced guilty on three counts of fraud.  And still Nouri has allowed -- no, insisted that the wands be used.   May 2nd, McCormick was sentenced to a maxium of 10 years.  Jake Ryan (Sun) quoted Judge Richard Hone stating, "The device was useless, the profit outrageous and your culpability as a fraudster has to be placed in the highest category.  Your profits were obscene.  You have neither insight, shame or any sense of remorse." And yet last Friday, Ammar Karim (AFP) reported that the 'magic'  wands to 'detect' bombs (and drugs and, no doubt, spirits from the other world) are still being used in Iraq.  He spoke with a police officer in Baghdad who admits that everyone knows that they don't work but that the police are under orders to use the wands.

Last Saturday,   NINA reported,  "Leader of the Sadrist Trend, Muqtada al-Sadr, demanded Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to apologize and stand before Parliament to answer about the deal of the explosives detection instruments."  Moqtada suspects some Iraqis were bribed in this deal and wants names he also demands that the 'magic' wands stop being used immediately stating that they are "an insult to the Iraqis' intelligence."  Moqtada and Iraqiya have called for Nouri to appear before Parliament and explain why the wands were purchased, who profited from them and the various details of the deal that was made for them.

Al Mada reports that the Ministry of the Interior claimed today that they would recover all the money spent on the magic wands.  Ministry of the Interior Inspector General Aqeel Turaihi states that they have known and acknowledged since October 2010 that the magic wands do not work.

Regardless of whether money is recovered for the purchase, as Moqtada al-Sadr points out, lives have been lost and people have been injured.  The violence continues today.  National Iraqi News Agency reports Mohammed al-Rawi (Director of the Statutes Civil Dept in al-Qaim) was shot dead in Anbar Province, a Diyala Province car bombing left a wife and husband injured, and a Babil Province sticky bombing claimed 1 life and left another person injured.   All Iraq News reports an armed clash in Mosul that left 1 police officer and 3 rebels dead and, in southern Mosul, police shot dead 1 rebelAl Jazeera notes a bombing targeting the al-Sultan mosque in Mahaweel.  Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) reports 3 people were killed in the bombing and seven more injured.

Alsumaria reports that Sayed Ahmed Safi, speaking on behalf of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, called for the government to speed up the release of monetary compensation to those victims of the ongoing floods.  Yesterday,  Alsumaria noted that the dams in Gazzanh and Mandall are reaching their max with an estimated two million cubic meters of water having been added in the last days.  Also yesterday a helicopter attempting to evacuate families trpped by the floods has crashed in Wasit ProvinceKUNA noted that the helicopter "hit a communication tower." Wednesday the Iraqi Red Crescent Society announced that in addition to food, over 1200 hot meals, and other forms of relief including putting up 650 tents for families in the provinces of Maysan and WasitIn this video, Alsumaria reports on the flooding and that fifteen villages are trapped by the floods.  Dhi Qar's government announced that 300 homes have been destroyed.

Along with the immediate impact of the floods, there are other impacts that we'll be felt in the coming weeks and months.  Alsumaria notes that Diwaniyah Province asserts that the floods are leading to the loss of 150,000 acres of wheat and barley.  All Iraq News explains Iraiqya MP Raad al-Dahlaki is stating that all sides of the government are responsible, "All sides hold the responsibility over damaging the crops due to the lack of the real infrastructures. The floods are expected to happen and their should be plans to face such a disaster."

Wednesday All Iraq News reported that Iraqi President Jalal Talabani's medical team insists that there has been no change in his condition.  Talabani suffered a stroke.  The incident took place late on December 17th (see the December 18th snapshot) and resulted in Jalal being admitted to Baghdad's Medical Center Hospital.    Thursday, December 20th, he was moved to Germany.  He remains in Germany currently.  As I stated earlier this week, I had no idea what the medical team's announcement ment.  Generally, when a statement like that is issued, it's to quell talk (real or false rumors) that a patient has taken a turn for the worse.  The Iraqi press has not had any such rumors about Jalal.  Why the medical team has elected to issue a statement that Jalal's condition remains the same is a mystery.  That was Wednesday.  Today in Iraq there are rumors that Talabani has passed away.  All Iraq News notes that the PUK's Najm al-Din Karim declared today that the rumors are false and that "Talabani enjoys good health and has continuous improvement" and "Talabani's health continues to improve day after day."

Monday, All Iraq News reports, "The delegation of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, headed by the Iraqi President's wife Hero  Ibrahim Ahmed Talabani, met with the Secretary General of the Iranian National Security, Saeed Jalili,  [to discuss] the latest political developments in Iraq."  Wednesday, ,  National Iraqi News Agency reported that she has no designs on the presidency and that there was no "talk, during her visit to Tehran, about replacement for the presidency of the Republic of Iraq" or even for someone else to head the PUK (Jalal currently is the Secretary General of the party).  She stated that her visit was nothing more than honoring a formal request for a meeting which the Islamic Republic of Iran had made.

In the months Jalal has been out of Iraq, the political crises have only worsened and tensions increased further.  Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) reports:

Usama Nujaifi, a Sunni who is speaker of the parliament, said the government was pushing Sunnis to the brink. "The conditions for a civil war are present now," Nujaifi said. "The first person responsible is the prime minister."
A former Sunni fighter who goes by the name Abu Selim said Hawija and subsequent violence had given new life to armed groups that had been less active in recent years, including the Iraqi affiliate of Al Qaeda, the Baathist-inspired Naqshbandi Army and the Salafist-led Islamic Army.
"The Islamic insurgent groups had lost their mission … they were just waiting for an instance to take over again under an attractive banner," he said. "Hawija was the zero hour they were waiting for."


The site of a massacre last month.  Dropping back to the May 7th snapshot:

The Australian carries a wire service report which quotes UNICEF's Iraq representative Marzio Babille stating that  "all boys between the ages of 14 and 17 -- several were said to have received severe gunshot wounds."  What's Babille speaking of?  The April 23rd massacre of a sit-in in Hawija when Nouri's federal forces stormed it.  Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk)  announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault.   AFP has been reporting 53 dead for several days now -- indicating that some of the wounded did not recover. Over the weekend, UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured)AKI notes that the youngest killed at the protest was a 13-year-old and that all who were killed died from gunshot wounds.  Yassin al-Sabawi (Kirkuk Now) reports, "The administration council of Hawija has halted their duties as a tribute to the violence but the schools and service establishments are open."  Ali Abel Sadah (Al-Monitor) notes another response, youths are arming themselves in Anbar, Kirkuk and Mosul "to protect protesters, should they be subjected to an attack similar to the one that occured in Hawija."  Sadah adds that "carrying weapons is necessary, according to tribal traditions in Iraq.  After tribal members are killed, their relatives believe they have to avenge their death and defend their peers."

Shalaw Mohammed (Niqash) reports on the realities in Iraq post-Hawija:

Tensions spread into other provinces but after some further fighting, the conflict is officially supposed to be at an end. This may be so but according to confidential documents sighted by NIQASH, significant numbers of well-equipped peshmerga forces have moved into troubled areas like Hawija, Tikrit and Yayji. Many of these places are part of Iraq’s disputed territories here – that is, terrain that Iraqi Kurdistan says belongs to its semi-autonomous state but that the government in Baghdad believes is part of Iraq proper. The peshmerga appear to have taken the opportunity afforded them by incidents in Hawija to move into some of these areas.

Meanwhile the commander of the controversial Tigris Operation Command, part of the Iraqi army here, wants the peshmerga to withdraw. And his memos appear to indicate that he is ready to confront the peshmerga if they do not move out of areas that he feels his Tigris Operation Command is supposed to oversee. The documents sighted by NIQASH say that the Iraqi army’s 12th brigade was instructed to watch what the peshmerga were doing and that if they did anything out of the ordinary, the brigade was to stop them.

Speaking anonymously, one officer from the Tigris Operations Command told NIQASH that, “we asked the peshmerga to withdraw from where they’ve recently deployed to, in order to ease tensions. We’ve received information that peshmerga have come into areas like Tikrit, Hawija and Yayji, dressed as local police and with the cooperation of local security forces,” he explained. “And that concerned us because it means they’ve exceeded their powers.”

Since it was formed in July last year, the Tigris Operations Command has been controversial, as Iraqi Kurdish forces accused it of being another way that the Iraqi government was trying to take power in disputed territories like Kirkuk.

 In the past, these flashpoints between Nouri's forces have been difficult to resolve, to say the least. 
  We're dropping back to the July 26, 2011 snapshot for more on this issue:
Of greater interest to us (and something's no one's reported on) is the RAND Corporation's  report entitled "Managing Arab-Kurd Tensions in Northern Iraq After the Withdrawal of U.S. Troops."  The 22-page report, authored by Larry Hanauer, Jeffrey Martini and Omar al-Shahery, markets "CBMs" -- "confidence-building measures" -- while arguing this is the answer.  If it strikes you as dangerously simplistic and requiring the the Kurdish region exist in a vacuum where nothing else happens, you may have read the already read the report.  CBMs may strike some as what the US military was engaged in after the Iraqi forces from the central government and the Kurdish peshmerga were constantly at one another's throats and the US military entered into a patrol program with the two where they acted as buffer or marriage counselor.  (And the report admits CBMs are based on that.)  Sunday Prashant Rao (AFP) reported US Col Michael Bowers has announced that, on August 1st, the US military will no longer be patrolling in northern Iraq with the Kurdish forces and forces controlled by Baghdad. That took years.  And had outside actors.  The authors acknowledge:
Continuing to contain Arab-Kurd tensions will require a neutral third-party arbitrator that can facilitate local CMBs, push for national-level negotiations, and prevent armed conflict between Iraqi and Kurdish troops.  While U.S. civilian entities could help implement CMBs and mediate political talks, the continued presence of U.S. military forces within the disputed internal boundaries would be the most effective way to prevent violent conflict between Arabs and Kurds.
As you read over the report, you may be struck by its failure to state the obvious: If the US government really wanted the issue solved, it would have been solved in the early years of the illegal war.  They don't want it solved.  The Kurds have been the most loyal ally the US has had in the country and, due to that, they don't want to upset them.  However, they're not going to pay back the loyalty with actual support, not when there's so much oil at stake.  So the Kurds were and will continue to be told their interests matter but the US will continue to blow the Kurdish issues off over and over.  Greed trumps loyalty is the message.  (If you doubt it, the Constitution guaranteed a census and referendum on Kirkuk by December 31, 2007.  Not only did the US government install Nouri al-Maliki as prime minister in 2006, they continued to back him for a second term in 2010 despite his failure to follow the Constitution.)
Along with avoiding that reality, the report seems rather small-minded or, at least, "niche driven."  Again, the authors acknowledge that as well noting that they're not presenting a solution to the problems or ways to reach a solution, just ways to kick the can further down the road and, hopefully, there won't be an explosion that forces the issue any time soon. ("Regional and local CBMs have the potential to keep a lid on inter-communal tensions that will, without question, boil beneath the surface for a long time.  They cannot, however, resolve what is, at its heart, a strategic political dispute that must be resolved at the national level.") Hopefully? Page nine of the report notes that the consensus of US military, officials, analysts, etc. who have worked on the issue is that -- "given enough time -- Arab and Kurdish participants will eventually have a dispute that leads to violence, which will cause the mechanism to degrade or collapse."
The report notes that, in late 2009, Gen Ray Odierno (top US commander in Iraq at that point) had declared the tensions between Arabs and Kurds to be "the greatest single driver of instability in Iraq."  It doesn't note how the US Ambassador to Iraq when Odierno made those remarks was Chris Hill who dismissed talk of tensions as well as the issue of the oil rich and disputed Kirkuk.

When that report was written, it should be noted, the Tigris Operation Command did not exist.  Nouri created it last year -- and did so without the approval of Parliament.

As Ann noted last night, this week's reports from Niqash also include an in-depth look at the provincial elections last month in 12 of Iraq's 18 provinces. Daoud al-Ali explains:

The results of Iraq’s provincial elections are in – and they are far from conclusive. While the ruling State of Law bloc still leads, it’s clearly not as popular as it was. And various alliances are being built to challenge it further.

The initial results of Iraq’s recent provincial elections were announced by the country’s Independent High Electoral Commission or IHEC, the body responsible for conducting and overseeing the elections, on May 4.

And while the actual voting involved a fairly lacklustre polling day it seems the results may make for more interesting politics as major parties must seek coalition partners for local government. 

The results have yet to be finalized as various appeals have yet to be heard. But it seems clear that there will some changes ahead in provincial government. Provincial authorities are influential in their own areas, having some control over security, economic development – and thereby, jobs – and how federal funds are used.

Let's move over to the US.  Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Budget Committee.  Her office issued the following today:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                      
Friday, May 10, 2013      
CONTACT: Murray Press Office
(202) 224-2834
Senator Murray’s Statement on Governor Inslee’s Executive Order to Support Veterans
(Washington D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, former Chair of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, released the following statement applauding Governor Jay Inslee’s Executive Order promoting the hiring of veterans in Washington state.
“Far too many of the brave men and women who have served our country return home without receiving the benefits and help they deserve, so I applaud Governor Inslee for his leadership to support veterans here in Washington state.
“Veterans have the leadership ability, discipline, and technical skills to thrive in our 21st century workforce, but too many remain unemployed for months and years after they return home.
“This Executive Order will ensure that our state agencies support the hiring of veterans for key positions, and thanks to the newly formed Washington Military Transition Council, veterans in Washington state will have better access to the federal resources available to them.
“Governor Inslee has taken the lead to support our veterans, and I encourage businesses across our state to take advantage of the incredible skills that these brave men and women have to offer.”
Sean Coit
Press Secretary
Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray
RSS Feed for Senator Murray's office

There will be a lot of veterans in the coming years and not just because of the drawdown in Iraq (not withdrawal) and the expected drawdown in Afghanistan.  There are a lot of wars the US is engaged in including The Drone War.

Sherwood Ross (Veterans Today) reported on The Drone War this week explaining:

U.S. drone strikes are creating cadres of anti-American fighters, furious over the killing and wounding of thousands of civilians.

Far from the drone attacks being “on a very tight leash,” as President Obama claimed, they have generated widespread terror across Muslim populations in the attack regions as they disrupt civilian lives and activities, literally driving people mad, reliable authorities state.

According to an article in the UK Guardian, the Pakistani ambassador to the UN Zamir Akram charged that more than 1,000 Pakistani civilians have been killed by U.S. drone strikes. The use of drones, he said, “leads to greater levels of terror rather than reducing them.” Other estimates put the Pakistan death toll from drone attacks as much higher---between 2,000 and 3,500 killed.

Author Gregory Johnsen told McClatchy News Service the drones attacks in Yemen are “exacerbating and expanding” resistance. “We have seen AQAP (al-Qaida on the Arabian Peninsula) expanding from 200-300 fighters in 2009, when the U.S. bombing campaign began, to more than 1,000 fighters today.” Johnsen is author of The Last Refuge, a new book on Yemen and al-Qaida.

And retired Marine General James Cartwright told The Nation magazine the drones cause anger, bitterness, and resentment among Muslim populations and predicted their use will cause “blowback” attacks against America.

Today on Morning Edition, listeners got a chance to sort of hear former Air Force pilot Brendan Bryant talk about The Drone War:

We fired the missile, and 1.2 seconds after the missile fires, it sonic booms. And so the sonic boom gets there before the missile does. And the guy in the rear hears this, and he runs forward to the two guys in the front, and then the missile hits. And after the smoke clears, there's a crater there. You can see body parts of the people. But the guy who was running from rear to the front, his left leg had been taken off above the knee, and I watched him bleed out. The blood rapidly cooled to become the same color as the ground, because we were watching this in infrared. Then I eventually watched the guy become the same color as the ground that he died on. In my own mind, I thought these guys could've been local people that had to protect themselves, and I think we jumped the gun.

Sort of hear? While you can understand and follow the above very easily, on the broadcast it -- and every other remark from Bryant -- was repeatedly broken up with 'commentary' from David Greene and Kelly McEvers.

No one interrupted Kelly -- or corrected her -- when she offered this false information as a 'conclusion' to the 'report', "I think if you ask people, well, would you rather have boots on the ground or would you rather have something that does it with such low risk, they would probably choose the latter."

It's a false choice.  It's as if saying that we can address a crime by killing the person with the electric chair or by killing the person with lethal injection.  There are many other options.  And that's true of The Drone War as well.  It can be -- and should be -- ended.  But Kelly McEvers sells war.  She sells war on Syria, she sells The Drone War.  And that's what got her the current audition spot to be a weekend anchor on NPR.

Early today Jonathan Karl (Good Morning America, ABC News -- link is text and video) revealed that despite White House Press Secretary Jay Carney insisting that the talking points Susan Rice would use on five different Sunday morning programs came from the CIA, this is not true.  The talking points were regarding the Benghazi attack on September 11, 2012 which claimed the lives of Glen Doherty, Sean Smith, Chris Stevens and Tyrone Woods.  Karl reports ABC has 12 different drafts of the talking points and that it appears that "edits were made with extensive input from the State Department."  These including deleting references to terrorists including past threats on Benghazi.

It's worth now dropping back to the House Oversight Committee hearing on Benghazi Wednesday.  The hearing was covered in  that day's snapshotAva covered it with "Crazies on the Committee (Ava)," Kat with "If today were a movie . . .,"  Wally with "Biggest Coward at today's Committee hearing" and Ruth, who's owned this topic from the beginning in this community, covered it with "An order to stand down." The biggest coward in the hearing, according to Waly, was US House Rep John Tierney who was not only cowardly but dishonest as he insisted that "The Fact Checker" (the Washington Post's Glenn Kessler) had named Committee Chair Issa "The Whopper." No, that didn't happen but honesty and facts aren't John Tierney's strong suit.  Let's drop back to Wednesday's hearing.  Gregory Hicks is the Foreign Service Officer.  James Clapper is the Director of National Intelligence.  Though Princess John Tierney insists upon calling him "General," he's not a general.  He was one.  He's retired.  He's taken the job of Director of National Intelligence and if that job -- and its title -- is beneath him, he needs to resign.  Barring that, his title is Director (not general). 

US House Rep John Tierney:  But the mention of the demonstration was put into talking points by the intelligence committee -- not the White House or the State Department.  So I want to play a little video here if we can of General Clapper where he specifically addresses the attacks on Ambassador Rice.  We have that cued up.

Footage of Senator Carl Levin: And when she was highly for following them what was your feeling inside?  Your own personal belief.  Did you think it was fair that she was criticized --

Footage of  Director James Clapper:  Well I thought it was, uh, I thought it was unfair because, uh, uhm, you know the hits she took, I-I didn't think that was, uh, appropriate and-and she was going on what we had given her and, uhm, the -- that was our-our best judgment at the time of what-what should have been said.

Footage of Senator Carl Levin: Thank you.

US House Rep John Tierney: So General Clapper says he thinks the attacks on, uhm, Ambassador Rice run fair, she was using exactly what the intelligence community gave her.  Mr. Hicks, do you have an argument with his veracity when he made those statements?

Gregory Hicks:  There was no report from the US mission in Libya of a demonstration --

US House Rep John Tierney:  The difficult question I have for you is, you're good enough to come forward, is do you contest General Clapper's veracity?   Is he lying or is he telling the truth of what information he gave Ambassador Rice?

Gregory Hicks:  I don't know anything about the development of those talking points.

US House Rep John Tierney:  So look, we-we haven't investigated this issue yet.  You know, it would be interesting to know.  But the House Intelligence Committee has.  They got all of the draft talking points.  They got the briefings and the testimonies from CIA officials.  According to Adam Schiff, one of the representatives that's on -- part of that investigation, he said, and I quote, "General Peteraeus, the former head of the CIA, made it clear that the change was made to protect classified sources of information, not to spin it, not to politicize it, and it wasn't done at the direction of the White House."

Tierney wanted to make Hicks look stupid.  Hicks doesn't look stupid today, does he.  He admitted he knew nothing about the talking points.

Tierney couldn't shut up about them.  Adam Schiff (who infamously didn't want then-CIA Director David Petraeus to testify before Congress about Benghazi) says that there was no effort to politicize it.  And that's good enough for Tierney.

Too bad Adm Schiff's 'evaluation skills' don't stand up to reality.

Jonathan Karl quotes from an e-mail State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland (who's supposed to be promoted shortly to be over Europe) e-mailed the White House that if the information was left in it "could be abused by members [of Congress] to beat up the State Department for not paying attention to warnings, so why would we want to feed that either?"

So the American people were lied to repeatedly because Victoria Nuland decided that the truth was embarrassing to the State Department.  How did US House Rep Adam Schiff miss that?

Tierney looks like a bigger idiot today than he did on Wednesday -- and who would have thought that was possible?

Kelly O'Donnell and Carrie Dann (NBC News) explain they've backed up ABC News' claims, "On Friday, NBC News confirmed that the White House, with input from State Department officials, had edited talking points about the Benghazi attacks 12 times in the hours following the incident. Those edits included a scrubbing of references to terrorist warnings as well as to the al Qaeda-affiliated group Ansar al-Sharia."   Oren Dorrell (USA Today) reports:

A top State Department official pressed the CIA and the White House to delete any mention of terrorism in public statements on the Benghazi terror attack to prevent critics from blaming lax security at the consulate, according to documents obtained by ABC News.
The information "goes right to the heart of what the White House continues to deny," Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, told USA TODAY. "For eight months they denied there's any manipulation, but this continues to shed light on something that was never true."

Donna Cassata (AP) explains, "Deleted from the final talking points were mention of al-Qaida, the experience of fighters in Libya and Islamic extremists, according to the congressional official, who spoke only on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak publicly about the emails that have not been released."  Sharyl Attkisson (CBS News) provides a detailed time line of the various drafts of the talking points.  It's worth pointing out that Susan Rice received the early versions so, yes, she lied when she went on TV.  Attkisson's story makes it clear that Rice wasn't the victim of bad information.  She was privy to the editing that was taking place and she still went on five networks and told a cute little story that wasn't accurate.  Ruth calls out one of the Rice apologists/excusers at her site tonight so look for that.  Jim Acosta, Jessica Yellin and Elise Labott (CNN) also note that Rice received the very first draft and was advised on Saturday about deletions.

"Why is this important?" asks Peter Grier (Christian Science Monitor).  "It’s important because the White House has long denied that administration officials made anything other than cosmetic changes to those talking points."  Or as Alex Koppelman (New Yorker) puts it:

It’s a cliche, of course, but it really is true: in Washington, every scandal has a crime and a coverup. The ongoing debate about the attack on the United States facility in Benghazi where four Americans were killed, and the Obama Administration’s response to it, is no exception. For a long time, it seemed like the idea of a coverup was just a Republican obsession. But now there is something to it.

Mark Mardell (BBC News) concludes:

As Ms Nuland puts it, such a report "could be abused by members [of Congress] to beat up the State Department for not paying attention to warnings, so why would we want to feed that either?"
However you read the motives, the state department and apparently the White House did get the CIA to change its story.
This is now very serious, and I suspect heads will roll. The White House will be on the defensive for a while.

As CBS News notes White House spokesperson Jay Carney insisted today that the White House wasn't hiding anything.  Of course that's not true.  For example, the White House press briefing today started over an hour late.  Why?  Because the White House was providing what was supposed to be an off the record background briefing.  They were telling reporters their 'version' of 'the truth' but doing so in a format that prevents reporters from quoting them. In other words, they were a creating a template for the press to use.  You only do that when you're hiding something or, as Justin Sink (The Hill) puts it, "Carney's efforts to assure reporters that the White House had nothing to hide were partially undercut by a background briefing conducted with just 14 news outlets earlier Friday afternoon."  David Martosko (Daily Mail) reports that 14 reporters were part of the off the record background briefing.   As Keith Koffler (White House Dossier) points out, the meeting was supposed to be a secret:

But the White House apparently also asked reporters to keep the meeting itself secret.
The White House should not hold large, secret meetings with reporters, and reporters should not agree to do them. The White House should not attempt to hide that it is trying to influence the press. And reporters should not be engaging in secret meetings at the White House. It’s just too contrary to the press’s mission of openness.

Lesley Clark (McClatchy Newspapers) notes the background briefing delayed the scheduled press briefing, "The White House has said it's editing was minimal, but the briefing was originally scheduled for 12:30 p.m. Then it was 1:45 p.m. -- and now, it's 3:15 p.m."  The revelations were raised at the US State Dept press briefing today.  We'll note part of the exchange CNN's Elise Labott had with State Dept spokesperson Patrick Ventrell.

Elise Labott: Just to finish that, to close the loop on the first question --

Patrick Ventrell: Yep.

Elise Labott: -- but when Victoria Nuland, in the email – and she said “leadership,” who does that refer to when she was, like, we need changes because of the leadership?

Patrick Ventrell: I mean, again, I can’t speak to every word that’s been cherry-picked from these emails, but I can tell you as a spokesperson myself and the way that we do interagency talking points --

Elise Labott: They’re full quotes; they’re not really necessarily words that are cherry-picked. I mean, the emails are out there themselves. I mean, it’s not --

Patrick Ventrell: Well, again, excerpts of various emails have been taken --

Elise Labott: And you feel that – do you feel that if we were able to read the emails in their entirety, they would show some kind of context that we would understand?

Patrick Ventrell: Well, of course, the emails were only one piece of the wider interagency discussion of this. And so when you take them, and snippets of them, it can be taken out of context.

Elise Labott:  Well, why don’t --

Patrick Ventrell: And let me clarify, Elise. The things that I made clear, and one of the things that doesn’t necessarily come across in the snippets that have been out there, is specifically that we in the Spokesperson’s Office were looking at them as talking points for members of the House at that time. There’s a wider interagency discussion about how they were developed and how the intelligence community makes their assessments. That’s a different question. So --

Elise Labott:  I mean, does it matter if they were for Ambassador Rice or if they were for Congress? I mean, talking points are pretty much just like your basic knowledge of the situation and how you want to message it, right?

Patrick Ventrell: Again, I think that’s part of the point of – in terms of us at the spokesperson’s level, some of the tactical assessments are made about who’s speaking and what’s been said prior, and when we’re preparing to go to the podium after we haven’t been for a weekend, sometimes what’s going to be said out there will affect how we’re going to brief later. So those are the kind of tactical concerns we raise at a Spokesperson’s Office, and when you say you’re raising it up, that means that some of the policy makers are also going to be taking a look at it.
I can’t speak in this specific case to the exact context of who’s being referred to, but in general terms, when we as public affairs officers or spokespeople inside of an organization are negotiating online, sometimes we make additional reference to other individuals or other policy makers. So that’s the context that I can provide in general terms about how we operate as press spokespeople. And we very frequently have discussions, whether it’s over email or other format, about what are the – not only the best language to use but the best tactics in terms of explaining what we’re talking about to journalists and to others and to the American people.

Elise Labott: You seem to suggest that the emails that – just reading snippets of the emails don’t really fully and accurately describe the concerns that you had. So why not just release the full emails, that the full emails will show that this wasn’t about some kind cover-up?

Patrick Ventrell: Well, first to say on that, Elise, we’ve shared these emails with the Congress --

Elise Labott: I know --

Patrick Ventrell: -- but let me finish – and that’s been part of their concern, was to see a number of these documents, which we’ve shared – thousands of documents, indeed, including these. In terms of any redaction that would be necessary in an entire email chain in terms of sensitive or personally identifiable information or other things that go through the standard redaction process to make public release, that’s a separate process that goes through the lawyers and I can’t speak to that on an individual document. But suffice it to say, to be transparent with the Congress who had – who wanted some of this information, we shared it with the Congress. Okay?

 more here:
So the takeaway from the State Dept press briefing?  To quote the e-mails is to "cherry pick" from them.  To release the e-mails?  The State Dept then insists that there were these conversations going on around the e-mails that aren't captured in the e-mails so even that wouldn't provide an accurate picture.  The State Dept appears to have a huge problem with accuracy.

Ed Pilkington (Guardian) points out, "The media swirl around the talking point emails puts Carney himself into a tight spot. In a press briefing last November, he told reporters that the extent of White House and State Department involvement in editing the talking points was a "single adjustment" to change the word 'consulate' to 'diplomatic facility' as the building in Benghazi that came under attack was not a US consulate."

Yesterday, John Glaser ( offered his guess on the cover-up:

I can only speculate, but my best guess is that they wanted to avoid the political costs of another terrorist attack on American interests that was only made possible because of the U.S.-NATO bombing war in Libya aimed at toppling the Gadhafi regime. The decision to change the regime in Libya and excite the civil war had long-ranging consequences, from destabilizing the entire north African region to bolstering the presence and influence of al-Qaeda affiliated groups.
According to a book written by former Navy SEAL Jack Murphy and former Army Ranger Brandon Webb, the Benghazi attack was retaliation for the secret raids Obama’s counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan directing on militias in Libya at the time.

Last night on Erin Burnett OutFront (CNN), US Senator Rand Paul told Erin:

I never have quite understood the cover up or if it was intentional or incompetence.  But something went on.  I mean they had talking points like they were trying to make it out to be about a movie when everybody seemed to be on the ground telling them it had nothing to do with a movie. I don't know if this was for political reasons.  I've always actually suspected although I have no evidence that maybe we were facilitating arms leaving Libya going through Turkey into Syria. In the week preceding this, the New York Times has reported that  there was a Turkish ship taking Libyan arms and giving them to Syrians. And they interviewed the commander of the boat, the captain of the boat talked about the supplies. I don't know were they trying to obscure that there was an arms operation going on the CIA annex? I'm not sure exactly what was going on but  I think the questions ought to be asked and answered.

the associated press
sameer n. yacoub 




Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Fred Mazelis begs on his knees

Little Fred Mazelis writes:

President Barack Obama has done nothing to carry out his promise to close Guantanamo. The diplomatic office charged with resettling detainees who had been cleared for release was closed several months ago. Military authorities have requested $200 million for renovating the prison camp, preparing for its use far into the future.
[. . .]
They are collateral damage in the effort of the Bush administration, supported by the Democrats and continued by Obama, to give human form to the enemy in the “war on terror.” The US government, both under Bush and Obama, continues to arrogate to itself the right to determine the fate of these men, in a method of imprisonment that recalls the Middle Ages.

He writes that at World Socialist Web Site.  Not at the pathetic Nation magazine.  I have to put that in because, just reading, you would assume it came from somewhere pathetic like The Nation.

I cannot believe what passes for calling out this administration.

The above is disgusting.  It reminds me of whatever that show is (probably that awful HBO show) and the clip that got on the news from it back in 2004 of Michael Moore on his knees begging Ralph Nader not to run.

Some men wallow in weakness.  If weakness is all Moore had to offer, he should have dropped to his knees before John Kerry and begged him to promise to the end the Iraq War.  (Such a promise might have gotten Kerry elected.)

Get off your knees, learn to stand up and learn how to call out a politician.  It's not that hard.

Guantanamo is still open because crap like Fred Mazelis' writing passes for "criticism" and "opposition."  It's so pathetic it could run in The Nation magazine.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
May 8, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, three people (including a nun) are found guilty of peace, Democrats on the House Oversight Committee embarrass themselves today on Benghazi, Adam Kokesh plans a DC action, Senator Patty Murry continues to call out rape and assault in the military, Turkey and the PKK have a historic day, and more.

In peace news, a nun and two activists have been convicted today.  Al Stefanelli (God Discussion) explains, "It is known as the 'Fort Knox' of nuclear storage facilities. Within is what is known as 'highly enriched uranium.' Located in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, the Y-12 National Security Complex is supposed to be an impenetrable fortress. It was breached by three senior citizens, armed with flashlights and a bolt cutter. One of these is an octogenarian nun.Sister Megan Rice, 83, along with 57-year-old Greg Boertje-Obed and Michael Walli, 63 [. . .]"  Tricia Escobedo (CNN -- link is text and video) adds, "Armed with flashlights and a bolt cutter, they cut their way through the fence, fully expecting to be arrested on the spot.  Instead, they walked nearly a mile, cutting through four fences in all, breaching what was supposed to be the most tightly secured uranium processing and storage facility in the country."

Dan Zak (Washington Post) reports the jury briefly deliberated today before finding the three "guilty [. . .] of intending to injured the national defense"  and of over $1,000 of property damage.  Preston Peeden, David Bailey, Scott Malone, Alden Bentley and Tim Dobbyn (Reuters) note, "Defense attorneys said the activists, who belong to a group called Transform Now Plowshares, had taken part in a symbolic break-in that did not harm the facility. They had no intent to harm the facility and the damage cost was overstated, they said.Eric Schelzig (AP) has the best reporting on the trial which includes some of the the defendants' testimony:

 Rice said she didn't feel obligated to ask the Catholic bishop in the area for permission to act at Y-12. Challenged by a prosecutor about whether it would have been a courtesy to inform superiors of her plans, Rice responded: "I've been guilty of many discourtesies in my life."

Transform Now Plowshares also notes Sister Megan Rice's testimony:

The stage was set for Sister Megan Rice.  Sister Megan took the stand after 5:00pm and spoke for almost an hour, and yet she commanded the attention of every last juror.  The whole room listened in rapt attention as she responded to Francis Lloyd’s questions, describing her early childhood realization of the horrors of nuclear weapons, her education in radiation biology in her master’s program at Boston College, and her missionary work in Africa, teaching science and building schools.  She spoke of the sacredness of the Nevada desert, taken from the Shoshone people ("illegally, breaking a treaty") and desecrated by the effects of nuclear testing; she spoke of the suffering of downwinders, the cancer caused in people and animals, and the $6 million apiece spent on each test.  She spoke of the transformative power of her participation in the Nevada Desert Experience.  Besides the "harmonious vibrations" emitted by the mountains and all the earth, Sister Megan also felt in Nevada “the culture of silence, the culture of secrecy” surrounding weapons testing and its consequences.  "It was extremely clarifying about the reality of the military industrial complex of this country."
Fast-forward to July 28, 2012.  As Megan, Greg, and Michael approached Y-12, Megan says they "prayed together, we were filled with love and compassion" for the people who had to work in such a dangerous facility.  "We wanted to bring love and healing."
She felt led by the Holy Spirit, and was more and more surprised to find herself reaching the heart of Y-12.  When Francis asked her about the surveillance tape footage and the way she bowed to Mr. Garland, Megan explained the Buddhist tradition of deeply reverencing each living being.  In response to questions about the extent of the damage she did, she said lightly, "I could have repaired it!"
As 6:00 approached, Sister Megan was still not quite finished answering Francis’s questions.  The judge dismissed the jury anyhow, and when he did, Megan stood, folded her hands in front of her, and bowed to the jurors as they filed past the witness box.

Last August, Scripps Interactive Newspapers Group posted a video by Adam Brimer (Knoxville News Sentinel) of an interview with Sister Megan Rice during which she declares of the action, "We were doing it because we knew we had to reveal the truth of the criminality which is there -- and that's our obligation."

Art Laffin is with the Catholic Worker Movement and with Transform Now Plowshares and he led a prayer this morning outside the courthouse:

Our prayer is that this trial can truly be an occasion to continue the transformation process that began at Y-12 on July 18th.  We pray for open hearts and minds and for the ongoing conversion of everyone involved in the trial to the way of love, nonviolence, and justice.
Let us be clear.  Sister Megan, Greg, and Michael have committed no crime.  Rather it was their intent to prevent a crime, and uphold God's law and international law.

Moving over to the body that makes laws in the US, the Congress, we'll note this from Senator Patty Murray's office:

Wednesday, May 8, 2013
CONTACT: Murray Press Office
(202) 224-2834
Murray Presses Air Force Officials on Military Sexual Assault
Murray: “We don't want to be sitting here 20 years from now with the same statistics in front of us.”
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, during a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) questioned Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley and Gen. Mark A Welsh III, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, on the issue of sexual assaults in the military, including recent allegations made against an Air Force official, and strongly urged them to revisit the current culture that fosters these attacks. Yesterday, Senator Murray and Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) introduced the Combating Military Sexual Assault Act of 2013, which would reduce sexual assaults within the military and address a number of gaps within current law and policy, building upon the positive steps the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has taken in recent years.
“The fact that the SAPRO report that was released yesterday says that 62 percent of servicemembers who report sexual assaults are retaliated against is really disconcerting,” said Senator Murray. “Because if people are retaliated against and there’s that fear of retaliation, we will never be able to stop this. So can you please address that issue and talk to us about how we need to make sure that the chain of command issue is not preventing these people from really being protected from ever having someone go after them if they commit one of these heinous acts?”
A key provision of the Combating MSA Act is the formation of a new category of legal advocates, called Special Victims Counsels (SVCs), who would be responsible for advocating on behalf of the interests of the victim as well as advise the victim on the range of legal issues they may face. The formation of the SVCs was modeled after a current Air Force pilot program, which General Welsh addressed during today’s hearing.
In the victim care arena, we believe one -- maybe the first game-changing thing we found, one of that collection of things we need to incorporate, is the special victims counsel program,” said General Welsh. “The initial returns on the special victims counsel program lead us to believe that victims are very happy with the legal advice they get from the time they're assigned to the time they complete their legal proceedings. We now have 265 victims from the last year assigned to the special victims counsel. That person's job is the represent that victim and guide them through the legal morass that goes along with prosecution of these cases. It's intimidating. It's scary. And if you don't understand the law, it is completely, completely baffling…So we think special victims counsel will help over time. And we think the results of the pilot program we're doing here will demonstrate that.
Last month, Senator Murray questioned the Honorable Ray Mabus, Secretary of the Navy, and General James Amos, Commandant of the Marine Corps, about the alarming rate of reported sexual assaults within the Marine Corps.
Meghan Roh
Press Secretary | New Media Director
Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray
Mobile: (202) 365-1235
Office: (202) 224-2834

Senator Murray is the Chair of the Senate Budget Committee.  She also serves on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee (which she was the Chair of until this year).  The issue is one that she has repeatedly raised and there may be more urgency for the Congress to address this issue as a result of the arrest that became public Monday of Air Force Lt Col Jeff Krusinski who is charged with assaulting a woman in a parking lot and who had been, as Jennifer Hlad (Stars and Stripes) noted, "the chief of the Air Force's sexual assault prevention and response branch."

We're starting with Benghazi where a September 11, 2012 attack left dead four Americans: Glen Doherty, Sean Smith, Chris Stevens and Tyrone Woods. Today the House Oversight Committee held a hearing on the attack.  US House Rep Darrell Issa is the Chair, the witnesses were the State Dept's Mark Thompson (Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Counterterrorism), Gregory Hicks (Foreign Service Officer) and Eric Nordstrom (Diplomatic Security Officer).

At many blogs of late, there's an effort to trash questions about Benghazi (sometimes with insulting remarks that actually do insult the dead from Benghazi -- whether the person intended it that way or not).  Often this comes with a whine that insists that Republicans didn't care about the people who died in Iraq.  As one of the few people who covers Iraq every day, let me point out the hypocrisy in this trash that wants to hide behind Iraq:  They don't cover Iraq anymore.  They don't give a damn about it.  They don't care US Special-Ops have increased their number in Iraq since the drawdown.  They don't care about the birth defects in Iraqi children.  They demonstrate this by never covering it.

Equally true if people die in incident A and people die in incident B and people die in incident C, the fact that you don't feel enough attention was spent on A and B  is not a valid reason to attack questions about incident C.

Questions should always be asked because the American people are the ultimate oversight of the government.  What we're seeing with certain left bloggers and certain Democratic politicians is projection.  They're talking about what they feel Republicans did during the Iraq War -- they feel that was done and that feeling justifies (in their minds) there doing the same today.

Libya also a sore spot because it was an illegal war and Barack Obama's administration violated the War Powers Act -- and because Libya's currently a disaster.  So, please, these bloggers insist, speak of anything else.

Like the bloggers, the Democrats on the House Oversight Committee are an embarrassment.  We attended the hearings that started in October.  At that point, with an election looming, Dems on the Committee made statements repeatedly about 'let's not rush to judgment, let's find out what happened first and then we can have accountability.'  By January, after the election, there was no accountability.  Though the State Dept had claimed disciplinary actions including firings, no one lost a job.  Excuse me, 4 dead Americans lost their jobs and their lives.  Other than those four, no one lost a job.  By the January meeting Democrats on the Committee had a new tactic, 'we need to move forward.'  Their prormise of accountability was forgotten.

Three State Dept employees testified today.  They offered information that runs contrary to what the administration has repeatedly told Congress and told the American people.  Ruth and Mike linked to a CBS news story, Sharyl Attkisson's "Diplomat: U.S. Special Forces told 'you can't go' to Benghazi during attacks." That was the most commented on CBS News story at that time (914 comments currently). Currently Lindsey Boerma's "Benghazi 'whistleblowers' head to House committee" is the most viewed news story at CBS News with 242333 views.

Repeatedly, the American people are told there is no story here.  But that doesn't appear to be the belief of the American people.  That's not surprising when there are still so many questions unanswered. This reality was addressed in April when Secretary of State John Kerry appeared before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.  Ruth reported on the hearing in "Kerry pressed on Benghazi." In addition, in "Congress and Veterans" (Third Estate Sunday Review), Dona asked Ruth about the hearing.

Dona: But I'm going to go to Ruth.  September 11, 2012, there was an attack on a US compound -- compounds -- in Benghazi, Libya.  The attack left four Americans dead:  Glen Doherty, Tyrone Woods, Sean Smith and Chris Stevens.  Ruth's covered the issue from the start.  This was a very big issue at the hearing.  I read the coverage in the mainstream press and was surprised to learn that it was ridiculed and laughed at.  That was the impression the press gave about the hearing.  That's not what Ruth saw and reported.  Ruth?


 Ruth: I was wondering what I was going to be discussing.  Now I see.  Yes, the press reports of the hearing were that Secretary Kerry was upset or short or said that this was not an issue.  And he did do some of that.  Especially before it was conveyed to him that there was, for example, non-classified material that the members of Congress had to go to a room to review and could not remove or copy.  Secretary Kerry was visibly surprised to learn of this.  He stated he was unaware of it and he would address it.  This was not the only issue about Benghazi that was new to him.  He stated he would assign someone in the State Department to work with the Committee on obtaining what they need.  What I am talking about right now did not make it into the reporting.  That is a shame because it showed a side of Secretary Kerry that was cooperative and helpful.  But the media, with few exceptions, seems to have long ago determined that Benghazi is a story they will not cover; therefore, they tend to alter reality when reporting on hearings.

Ruth's correct.   I was there.  We covered that hearing in the  April 17th snapshot and our focus was Kerry's remarks on Iraq.  Wally covered the hearing with  "The budget hearing that avoided the budget,"  Kat  with "I'm sick of Democrats in Congress" and Ava's with "Secretary Kerry doesn't really support women's rights."  But Ruth is correct and you can read her entry where's she's quoting a key exchange.  You'll find Kerry responding that questions have been answered and information supplied -- which the press reported -- but then Chair Ed Royce raises another issue about access to documents and Kerry makes it very clear that he did not know this was taking place.   As Kerry would hear more from the Committee in the hearing on this, he would announce that he was assigning someone at the State Dept to interact with the Committee so that questions and issues could be resolved.   John Kerry was a Senator during Benghazi, he was not over the State Dept.  And let's be clear, it's not just that Benghazi got distorted in the press, the press avoided everything about that hearing.  Find me anyone else who reported what Ava did.  A Democratic member of the Committee asked Kerry to make a pledge regarding funding and the treatment of women and Kerry rejected it and ran from it.  As Ava reported, he did so less than 7 days after Kerry and the State Dept were trumpeting -- in multiple press releases -- the G8 pledge regarding women from the week before.

When there's an attack, I personally want answers.  I never knew of the attack on USS Liberty by the Israeli military in 1967 until I read this article by Jeffrey St. Clair at CounterPunch in 2003.  (There are many things I don't know of.)  I believe there should be an investigation into that.

At the end of the day, most Americans are not Democrats or Republicans -- and you can see that reflected in the large number of people who elect not to vote each cycle.  But most Americans do identify as Americans and they expect that that the government that takes money from them will be able to protect them.  When Americans die, there are questions.

Whoring may be good for certain bloggers/pundits right now but most Americans don't care about your partisan wars.  What they'll remember is four dead Americans and that you offered bitchy attempts at jokes when people had questions.  That's why most partisan pundits don't last long.  The media burns through them quickly because in a four year period what they present to the American people is a partisan whore, not an anlayst.  A partisan whore who pretends to care about X when it's their party but slams X when its the other party that's interested is someone that Americans quickly see as as untrustworthy.  The bulk of Americans don't applaud your partisan wars but you can be sure when there are dead Americans and you're not acknowledging that but you are making bitchy little jokes, this does register with Americans and they don't like it and they don't like you.

Not only does partisan whoring hurt their own self-interests, it hurts the larger issue of transparency in America.  For 12 years, the federal government has excelled in obscuring, to put it nicely.  Instead of trashing efforts at transparency, people should be insisting on greater transparency.

Of the Democratic Committee members, in some ways US House Rep Carolyn Maloney was the best, in other ways, she was the worst.  She was the rare Democrat who could speak seriously about the attack and asked real questions.  However, she's also did more than a little drama.  I'm not really sure that a Congressional hearing is like a prose reading or competition.  Meaning, there's no reason for Maloney to create a 'special voice' when quoting Darrell Issa.  She also ventured into rather strange territory when she wanted to talk about her view that the first response to Benghazi was "to attack" --  attack the president, attack the State Department, attack --

As she continued down her never-ending list, a woman in front of me whispered, "Is she drunk?"

Is she drunk?

The woman was serious.  That's a sure sign that you need to reign it in.  That's a sure sign that you've crossed a line.  When a spectator watching a public Congressional hearing is left wondering if a Congress member is drunk, consider that a sign that you went just a little too far.

And for the record, the first thing attacked was YouTube.  The first thing attacked was freedom of speech.  And, in the end, a YouTube video had nothing to do with the assault on Benghazi.

Maloney also wanted to waste time in public with bickering over how the House conducts business.

You are not the story.  Your hurt feelings are not the story.  Your miffed ego is not the story.  The story is what happened in Benghazi and if you have problems with the Committee, you should really try dealing with those in private.  You do not come off well when you take those kind of petty arguments public -- and certainly not when you do so in the midst of a hearing about how four Americans died. 

Chair Darrell Issa:   J. Christopher Stevens, US Ambassador to Libya.  Sean Patrick Smith, Information Management Specialist.  Tyrone Woods, Security Specialist and former Navy Seal.  Glen Doherty, Security Specialist and former Navy Seal.  Our goal in this investigation is to get answers because their families deserve answers.  They were promised answers at the highest levels when their [loved ones] bodies came home.  The President was there.  The Vice President was there.  The Secretary of Defense was there.  The Secretary of State was there.  We want to make certain those promises are kept on behalf of those individuals.  We also want to make certain that our government learns the proper lessons from this tragedy so that it never happens again and so that the right people are held accountable.

That's what the hearing was about.

Ranking Member Elijah Cummings insisted, "I want to be clear and I've said it over and over again there's no member of this Congress -- be they Republican or Democrat who -- fails to uphold the right of whistle blowers to come forward."  Really?

I'm having a real hard time remembering some widespread support of whistle blower Bradley Manning among US Congress members.  Elijah Cummings also stressed the importance of "facts."  To do so, he called out Darrell Issa based on Glenn Kessler's fact check for the Washington Post
and then he immediately went into praising  'poor Susan Rice'  and her honesty -- but didn't cite Glenn then, did he?   That's because Rice was given Two Pinocchios for her Sunday talk show presentations last September -- a fact check that Kessler again reminded readers of just yesterday.  So if Kessler's your standard, Kessler's called out Susan Rice's lies as well.  That's a fact.  Cummings insisted he was interested facts but clearly he wasn't as evidenced by his selective citation of Glenn Kessler.  In fairness to Cummings, Maloney had already cited the same Kessler article.

Cummings was forever grabbing his notes and reading from them.   He'd read a comment (lengthy) from Leon Panetta or someone and then ask the witnesses if they were calling Panetta a liar?  It was ridiculous.  So were the attempts at drama that Cummings repeatedly destroyed by getting his words mixed up, mispronouncing then, getting so worked up his throat didn't make a word but sounded instead like a gear grinding, and forever losing his place in his notes.  He can take comfort in the fact that no one wondered if he was drunk, at least as far as I know.  Ruth will be covering the hearing at her site tonight.

Free Speech Radio News developed in a struggle for Free Speech.  During the 2000 struggle of Pacifica Radio, the Pacifica Network News workers went on strike and they formed Free Speech Radio News.  They are attempting to raise $100,000 by the end of June to continue broadcasting.  If you're interested in donating, you can find paypal information and a snail mail address on the FSRN home page.

Free Speech Radio News reports today:

Dorian Merina: Today fighters from the militant Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, began withdrawing from their bases in Turkey and are now moving into northern Iraq.  The action is part of a peace deal being negotiated directly between the Turkish government and the group to end a conflict that's killed more than 40,000 since the 1980s.  FSRN's Jacob Resneck reports from Istanbul.

Jacob Resneck: The spring snow melt usually heralds what's known here as the "fighting season." Last year was especially bloody with about 500 people killed in summer clashes.  But the fighting has slackened since the Turkish government began negotiating with the PKK and its jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan called a ceasefire in March. Kurdish politicians say about 2,000 militants are now on the move following a withdrawal order.  There has been no confirmation from the Turkish government, which has said the military would not interfere. The PKK is demanding the right for Kurds to use their mother language in schools and public institutions.  The group also wants political autonomy.  But it's unclear how far the Turkish government is willing to go, and if a specific deal has been reached with the PKK, it remains a secret.  Gareth Jenkins, an Istanbul-based analyst with John Hopkins University's Silk Road Studies Program, says all eyes are on the Turkish government to show its hand.

Gareth Jenkins:  We need to see something concrete from the Turkish government about what it's going to give.  It's been saying that it's not a bargaining process and it won't make concessions.  In reality it is a bargaining process and it must make concessions.

Jacob Resneck:  Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is facing a backlash from opposition parties for negotiating directly with the PKK.  But a recent poll shows 90% of Turkish citizens approve of the peace process.  Jacob Resneck, FSRN, Istanbul.

What's going on, what's this struggle between the government of Turkey and the PKK? Turkey has been the part of many historical empires -- including the Hittite, Byzantine and the Ottoman Empire.  From 1918 to 1922, Constantinople was occupied by the French, British and Italians.  The native population fought back, expelled the occupiers and the Republic of Turkey was created.  That's a very brief and incomplete history of 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."

After many, many decades of conflict, the two sides are attempting a peace.  BBC News notes, "Kurdish rebel fighters have begun leaving south-eastern Turkey for their safe havens in Iraq under a ceasefire, Kurdish sources say."  Selcan Hacaoglu (Bloomberg News) explains, "The bulk of the militants will have gone by the end of June, Gultan Kisanak, co-leader of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, said by telephone today. They are withdrawing toward neighboring northern Iraq, taking precautions against possible attack, said Kisanak, citing villagers in rural areas of the country’s largely Kurdish southeast."   Radio New Zealand adds, "PKK spokesman Bakhtiyar Dogan told Hawlati, a Kurdish newspaper, that between 200 - 500 fighters would withdraw on Wednesday.
They would, he said, leave from the Semdinli and Sirnak areas of Turkey 'on three fronts'."  From Turkey, Roy Gutman (McClatchy Newspapers) files an article stating he can't verify anything.  Constanze Letsch (Guardian) reports, "The Kurdistan Workers' party (PKK) has begun the withdrawal of its fighters from Turkish territory, according to a Kurdish party leader, as part of peace negotiations that could spell the end to one of the world's longest-running ethnic conflicts."  Hurriyet Daily News quotes Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Annc stating, "What matters to us is the result, and it looks like we are getting there."

The Economist offers:

 If all goes according to plan the PKK’s 29-year armed campaign for Kurdish independence (an aim that was later scaled down to autonomy) will have come to a close. It remains a big if but the potential rewards are huge. Peace with the Kurds would remove one of the biggest obstacles to democratic reform and, in theory, ease Turkey’s membership of the European Union. An end to the war that has cost over $300 billion and 40,000 lives would bolster Turkey’s regional ambitions. It would boost the political fortunes of Recep Tayyip Erdogan (pictured above), the prime minister, who is hoping to become the country’s first popularly elected president next year.
 The decision to pull out by October crowns months of secret talks held between Hakan Fidan Turkey’s spy chief, and Abdullah Ocalan, the PKK’s leader who has been held in solitary confinement on a prison island near Istanbul following his capture in 1999. The precise terms of the bargain remain unclear prompting opposition parties to trot out tired conspiracy theories about American plans to carve out an independent Kurdish state from Turkey. The claims have wide currency in Turkey where anti-Americanism remains widespread. Members of a government appointed “council of the wise” who have been touring the country to assure citizens that, on the contrary, peace with the Kurds will cement unity have been heckled by outraged nationalists, and, in some instances, forced to flee.

The editorial board of the Guardian offers, "It is not often one can say without hesitation that conflicts are on their way to being resolved, but on Wednesday in one part of the world that is exactly what happened: as scripted in the peace process, PKK fighters began withdrawing from the mountains in south-eastern Turkey. It is not the first time in the last 30 years of warfare that this has happened. Ceasefires have fallen apart before with bloody consequences."

On the topic of Turkey, the editorial board of the Saudi Gazette notes how Nouri and his flunkies love to attack others -- including Turkey -- to divert attention from Nouri's many failures:

Earlier this week, Maliki’s acting defense minister  Saadoun Al-Dulaimi came up with the extraordinary accusation that Turkey was “controlling” anti-government protests among Iraq’s Sunni community. The allegation hardly bears scrutiny but it is worth examining why, at this time of growing crisis in the country, the Maliki administration should seek to “externalize” its troubles and try to blame part of its problems on another country. Dulaimi certainly chose the most provocative terms in which to depict what he says is Turkish interference in Iraq’s affairs which has allowed anti-government protests to become a haven for “terrorists and killers”. He said of areas where there has been rising Sunni unrest in the face of divisive government policies that it was as if “Anbar or Mosul or Samarra are part of the Ottoman empire”. Dulaimi’s intemperate remarks will undoubtedly have been prompted in part by Turkey’s granting of asylum to Iraq’s former vice-president Tariq Al-Hashemi, whose arraignment on charges of running death squads, subsequent trial in absentia, conviction and death sentence, have done so much to wreck Sunni confidence in the Maliki government. What is interesting is that the minister chose to link Turkey with Iraq’s Sunni community, when in reality Ankara’s ties are actually with the country’s Kurds.

 The comments smearing Turkey took place on Sunday.  All Iraq News reports that today Nouri "called the politicians to stop launching provocative sectarian statements."  Today, Al Shorfa notes that the Independent High Electoral Commission released the results of the provincial elections held in 12 of Iraq's provinces.  Despite earlier reports that Nouri's State of Law would win 8 provinces, AFP noted  it was only 7 provinces that State of Law won; "[h]owever, no list won a majority of seats in any of the provinces."  Al Mada noted the reality at the top.  In Baghdad, for example, Nouri's State of Law held 28 seats.  This election reduced it to 20.  The only immediate results are that State of Law is not very popular.  That doesn't mean Nouri isn't (or that he is).  These were local elections.  People who like Nouri (yes, they exist) might have hated the State of Law candidate that was running or they may have not voted for that candidate because they didn't like Nouri or . . .   There are too many variables.  Nouri wasn't on the ballots.  The results aren't a reflection on Nouri's standing or lack of it.

But for State of Law, these are poor results.  In a few months, the KRG will vote (three provinces).  State of Law has no support in the KRG.  That's be 15 of Iraq's 18 provinces.  Supposedly Nouri's going to allow Anbar Province and Nineveh Province to vote July 4th (this shouldn't even be Nouri's call and the two provinces should have voted last month).  State of Law will lose those as well.  Barring a miracle, the province of Kirkuk will not be voting.  So after Iraq's 17 provinces vote?  State of Law will be able to claim only 7 provinces.  That might be impressive if there were only, say, 10 provinces in Iraq.  But 7 isn't half of the total to vote.

 All Iraq News notes Ammar al-Hakim (head of the Supreme Islamic Council of Iraq) traveled to Najaf today to meet with cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr. Yesterday, the Iraq Times reported on a study by the University of Brussels which found that Nouri al-Maliki, chief thug and prime minister of Iraq, has a higher annual salary than any of the royals or heads of state around the world.  (Egypt's President Mohammed Morsi has the lowest salary according to the study.)  Alsumaria reports Nouri's spokesperson Ali al-Moussawi  insists that the report and study are innaccurate and that Nouri 'only' makes about 35 million dinars a month ($30,000 in US dollars).  That would place Nouri at $360,000 a year in US dollars. Whether it's true or not is debatable.  In February 2011, protesters were demanding Nouri release information about his salary. He gave them the run around and never managed to do so. $360,000 a year while so many Iraqis live in poverty?

Al Mada reports that KRG President Massoud Barzani called, on his Facebook page, for the Kurdish politicians to come together for the good of the Kurdish population as they attempt to secure more rights.  The KRG sent a delegation to meet with Nouri recently and the visit went very well for the Kurds.  Nouri al-Maliki is supposed to travel to Erbil in the coming weeks for another meeting.  National Iraqi News Agency reveals that the Kurdish blocs met today and agred upon the importance of "previous agreements" being implemented "especially the agreement of Arbil."

From the US Congressional Research Service recent  "Iraq: Politics, Governance, and Human Rights" (Kenneth Katzman is the author of the report):

Part of the difficulty forming a government after the election was the close result, and the dramatic implications of gaining or retaining power in Iraq, where politics is often seen as a "winner take all" proposition.  In accordance with timelines established in the Constitution, the newly elected COR [Council of Representatives, Parliament] convened on June 15, 2020, but the session ended after less than a half hour without electing a COR leadership team.  The various factions made little progress through August 2010, as Maliki insisted he remain prime minister for another term and remained in a caretaker role.  The United States stepped up its involvement in political talks, but it was Iraqi politics that led the factions out of an impasse.  On October 1, 2010, Maliki received the backing of most of the 40 COR Sadrist deputies.  The United States reportedly was concerned that Maliki might form a government with Sadrist support.  The Administration ultimately backed a second Maliki term, although continuing to demand that Maliki form a broad-based government inclusive of Sunni leaders.  Illustrating the degree to which the Kurds reclaimed their former role of "kingmakers," Maliki, Allawi, and other Iraqi leaders met in the capital of the Kurdistan Regional Government-administered region in Irbil on November 8, 2010, to continue to negotiate on a new government.  (Sadr did not attend the meeting in Irbil, but ISCI/Iraq National Alliance slate leader Ammar Al Hakim did.) 
 On November 10, 2010, with reported direct intervention by President Obama, the "Irbil Agreement" was reached in which (1) Allawi agreed to support Maliki and Talabani to remain in their offices for another term; (2) Iraqiyya would be extensively represented in government -- one of its figures would become COR Speaker, another would be defense minister, and another (presumably Allawi himself) would chair an oversight body called the "National Council for Strategic Policies," and (3) amending the de-Baathification laws that had barred some Iraqis, such as Saleh al-Mutlaq, from holding political positions.  Observers praised the agreement because it included all major factions and was signed with KRG President Masoud Barzani and then U.S. Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey in attendance. The agreement did not specify concessions to the Sadr faction.

The Erbil Agreement was a legal contract that went around the Constitution of Iraq, it gave Nouri a second term in exchange for agreed upon concessions from Nouri to the various political blocs.

Nouri used The Erbil Agreement to be named prime minister-designate in November 2010.  He then trashed the agreement.  At first, he insisted it would be a few weeks.  Then weeks became months and Nouri never said a word about it anymore.  The protesters raised the issue in February 2011.  By the summer of 2011, the Kurds, Moqtada al-Sadr and Iraqiya were all demanding Nouri implement the legal contract he'd signed in November of 2010.  That still has not happened.

This is not a minor issue to a large number of Iraqis and today's meet-up of Kurd politicians makes it clear that the Kurds are not about to drop this issue.  (Nor should they.)

Today the violence in Iraq continues and, currently, its with an emphasis on northern Iraq.  National Iraqi News Agency notes 2 Tikrit bombings left 10 people dead and five injured (among the dead was a child), a Baquba roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier and left three more injured, an armed clash in Falluja left 3 police officers and 1 rebel dead (two more rebels injured),  and car bombs in KirkukMohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) notes a Kirkuk car bombing claimed 1 life and left twenty-four injured. In addition, All Iraq News notes a Kirkuk car bombing targeting Peshmerga which left 1 dead and eight more injured.  Tikrit, Baquba and Kirkuk are considered part of northern Iraq.  Mustafa Mahmoud, Raheem Salman, Isabel Coles and Angus MacSwan (Reuters) explain they were suicide bombings and that a third one took place in Tuz Khurmato leaving 1 Peshmerga dead.   The Peshmerga are the elite Kurdish fighting force from the Kurdistan Regional Government.   Al Jazeera quotes their correspondent Omar al-Saleh declaring that the violence is "another sign of deteriorating security in Iraq."

Turning to the United States, Adam Kokesh is planning an upcoming action:

On the morning of July 4, 2013, Independence Day, we will muster at the National Cemetery & at noon we will step off to march across the Memorial Bridge, down Independence Avenue, around the Capitol, the Supreme Court, & the White House, then peacefully return to Virginia across the Memorial Bridge. This is an act of civil disobedience, not a permitted event. We will march with rifles loaded & slung across our backs to put the government on notice that we will not be intimidated & cower in submission to tyranny. We are marching to mark the high water mark of government & to turn the tide. This will be a non-violent event, unless the government chooses to make it violent. Should we meet physical resistance, we will peacefully turn back, having shown that free people are not welcome in Washington, & returning with the resolve that the politicians, bureaucrats, & enforcers of the federal government will not be welcome in the land of the free.
When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty. - Thomas Jefferson
Does the government fear the people? If not, something is wrong, and we aim to change it.
There's a remote chance that there will be violence as there has been from government before, and I think it should be clear that if anyone involved in this event is approached respectfully by agents of the state, they will submit to arrest without resisting. We are truly saying in the SUBTLEST way possible that we would rather die on our feet than live on our knees.
You are welcome to attend unarmed as a supporter, or armed with a recording device. We especially invite law enforcement officers to stand with us armed however they feel is appropriate. If any law enforcement officers would like to volunteer in any way, please email
If this page gets to 10,000 attendees by June 1st, & we have the critical mass necessary to pull this off, (1,000 actual attendees) we will march. Please spread the word, share this event, & invite all your friends.
If law enforcement policy for the public space in front of the National Cemetery prevents open carry there, we will rally at the next closest area where we can legally open carry.
UPDATE 130506 Now that it's undeniable that this is going to happen, allow me to make clear how. There will be coordination with DC law enforcement prior to the event. I will recommend that they do the best they can to honor their oaths and escort us on our route. Failing to provide that commitment to safety, we will either be informed that we will only be allowed up to a certain point where we would be arrested. If this is the case, we will approach that point as a group and if necessary, I will procede to volunteer myself to determine what their actual course of action with someone crossing the line will be at which point fellow marchers will have the choice of joining me one at a time in a peaceful, orderly manner, or turning back to the National Cemetery.
Thanks to everyone for the vibrant conversation, but we have decided to make the wall of this event page specifically just for announcements and important info for the event. Please feel free to comment, and continue the conversation as you like at:

I'm going to be honest because Adam believes in honesty, I read that and thought [unprintable].  Then I thought it really is the perfect Adam Kokesh action.  While everyone else toys with talk, he wants people to know their rights and stages actions that shine a light.  Is there a danger?  There's a danger with every protest -- more often that they will be attacked.  I wouldn't have known about this if Andrea Ayres-Deets (Policy Mic) hadn't attacked the action and Adam.  I'm glad she did.  I'm a feminist on the left and Adam's a Libertarian (he's also an Iraq War veteran).  We have supported his actions and statements and his right to make them.  And sometimes I'm asked about that and I say, "Why wouldn't we?"  And it turns out, we'll note this action as well.  Andrea Ayres-Deets would do well to learn about a topic before she writes about it.  She's got an idiotic lecture to Adam which only goes to the fact that she doesn't know a damn thing about him.  He's had encounters with law enforcement many times in DC already.  Her attack on Adam only succeeds in revealing how ignorant she is of the topic she's writing about.  We'll note the action and we'll wish Adam all the best with it.  As for Ayres-Deets, she should really learn about people before snidely insinuating that they are "the man" -- unless she's trying to confess some sexual attraction (which would be understandable, Adam's a sexy man).

 the washington post
dan zak