Saturday, May 18, 2013

CounterPunch's attacks on Angelina Jolie

It wasn't enough that CounterPunch printed the rantings of a failed 'screenwriter' from England, having been criticized for that and for the way the marketed the article, they now have reposted an old and embarrassing article by Jeffrey St. Clair and thankfully dead Alexander Cockburn.  It shows the worst of Alex.  The sexism -- attacks on Angelina -- and the desire to run with any crap he and Joffy attack her via tabloids. 

Well that's about the level of CounterPunch, I guess, sewer tabloid.

The Brit trash has had a hard week.  Though largely ignored online for her attack on Angelina, she's found out that not only are studios really cold to her but it's awful hard to get her agent on the phone.  Life could be worse and probably will be for her next week when C.I. really gets started on making sure the witch knows just how unwelcome she is in the American film industry.

If you missed it, Angelina Jolie revealed this week that she a double mastectomy.  Why?

She had the cancer gene. 

More importantly, she lost her mother to cancer.  That was the hardest thing in her life. 

She didn't need to go public.  It had already taken place and people didn't even know. 

But she did it because it might help someone else.

So a witch from England who's trying to be a screenwriter in America (kiss that dream, goodbye) attacks her at CounterPunch. 

It was beyond low blows.

It was truly gutter journalism.  If you can even call it journalism.

Reeling from the fallout, Joffy St. Clair digs up his idiotic piece with Alexander Cockburn where they wrote about Jolie's breasts.

There's no excuse for what CounterPunch did.  It wasn't just rude, it was mean, it was mean-spirited, it was cruel and it was hateful.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills): 

Friday, May 17, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, today is said to have the highest death toll in eight months, a new protest takes place in Baghdad, Ammar al-Hakim visits the First Lady, the war on the AP continues, the House Ways and Means Committee holds a surreal hearing on the IRS scandal, and more. 

Today, Danny Schecter the-so-called 'News Dissector' writes, "It turns out there is much more to the story about the government investigating leaks to the AP. It turns out the news and the government had been negotiating, about when to release the story, and the AP had held its story for five days and was wrangling with the White House over who would break it suggesting that there may be questionable practices on both sides." Don't you just hate stupid?

Does it turn out that way?  Today?  Friday, it turns out that way?

The scandal broke Monday.  Check Monday's snapshot -- it's in there. "It turns out there is much more to the story," Danny huffs, breathless from waddling back from the fridge.  Not only did we, and anyone else with a brain, note that the AP had been in discussions with the government, but the article from a year ago (which prompted the investigation) noted it as well -- we pointed that out in Monday's snapshot: "As Goldman and Apuzzo noted in their original report, the White House and the CIA knew AP would be reporting this and AP delayed the story for a week at their request."

This is not new information.  Danny Schechter is a deeply disturbed individual. Failed careers at CNN and ABC (as well as online) clearly have a lot to do with his inability to register the world around him.  In 1979, The Progressive published Howard Moreland's landmark article "The H-bomb Secret: How we got it and why we're telling it.The Progressive was in talks with the government.  They couldn't reach an agreement and that's why there was a lawsuit.  (The magazine rightly prevailed in the case.)  Woodward and Bernstein's Watergate stories?  The articles needed responses from the government for the paper to publish them.  That can be seen as negotiations as well.

He's a deeply stupid man, deeply.  I don't know the full extent of the conversations AP and the government had.  I don't really care.  I know that what happened was wrong and that you call it out.  Just like with the IRS scandal (which we'll address later in the snapshot).  Danny wants to poop on it because "Did the right-wingers now crying bloody murder ever speak up when the IRS harassed its enemies?"  Oh, heaven help us all.  That's the criteria for outrage from a media watchdog?  Because it sounds like the 'critique' offered by a three-year-old in the midst of a tantrum.

Did little Danny miss his afternoon nap?  Whether or not the other side spoke out about ___?  Who the hell cares?  I am not responsible for the actions of Generic Republican. I am responsible for my actions.  I can't control whether someone else is ethical, I can control whether I am.  What happened was outrageous. So you call it out.  Danny wants to go off on soft money.  Soft money corrupting elections? Yeah, we called out the IRS targeting on Monday and also managed called out the influence of soft money.  We've already been there.  For someone who writes a daily dissection, he sure is behind the times

On Benghazi, Danny dumps, "Former CIA analyst Melvin Goodman has come forward to question whether this office in Benghazi was really a consulate as we have been but an 'intelligence platform'  for use in a covert war that the sacking of the embassy became part of. "  Did Mel Goodman do that?  Wow.  What a genius.  Of course we noted that back in October when we attended the first hearing on Benghazi. See, US House Rep Jason Chaffetz kept saying during that hearing that things were being revealed in questions that shouldn't be and calling for the Chair to stop the revelations.  If you hadn't figure it out by then, when Chaffetz walked over to the Chair and neither appeared to know that people could hear them speaking, you should have grasped it then. If you didn't know it was a CIA outpost in October, I don't know what to tell you because I'm afraid you're brain dead.  It was also a 'consulate.'  It was a consulate that would, per Hillary Clinton's wishes, open before the end of 2012.  Maybe in six months when someone in the echo chamber Danny gets his spin from mentions that, suddenly he'll again be proclaiming, breathlessly, "it looks like there's much more to the story." Danny Schechter, stop dancing from foot to foot, go sit back on your potty chair, take care of your business and let the grown ups talk.

In peace news, the world's a little better today.  Eliana Raszewski (Bloomberg News) reports Jorge Videla has died in an Argentine prison ("from natural causes") where he was serving out his life sentence for running "the country's military junta from 1976 to 1981" -- The Dirty War which claimed the lives of thousands.  Raszewksi quotes  Ricard Gil Lavedra ("one of the judges who passed the [life] sentences in 1985") stating, "Videla will be remembered as a dictator whoplaneted death in Argentina.  He led the most bloody dictatorship that we ever had."  Adam Bernstein (Washington Post) observes of the dead despot, "He had spent his final decades consumed by legal battles stemming from the dictatorship and, in recent years, was convicted of human rights abuses such as the systematic abduction of infants from suspected left-wing radicals."  The Buenos Aires Herald also quotes Ricardo Gil Lavedra (who now serves in the Parliament) stating that "democracy judged him and gave him the opportunity for defense, an opportunity he refused to give to thousands of people. Unfortunately, he never showed remorse for what he did.  He is top responsible for a plan which ended the lives of thousands of Argentineans." In 1976, then-Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger visited the regime and declared that the thug "is a very dedicated, very intelligent man who is doing what is best for his country."  When does Kissinger go to prison?   The Buenos Aires Herald explains:

Rights groups say up to 30,000 people were "disappeared" - a euphemism for kidnapped and murdered - during the dictatorship, which began in March 1976 when Videla and two other military leaders staged a coup against President Maria Estela Martinez de Peron, the widow of former leader Juan Domingo Peron.
Argentina's left-wing guerrilla groups such as the Montoneros had been weakened by the time Videla came to power. He targeted union organizers, students, journalists and anyone else perceived to be associated with communism.

Human Rights Watch issued the following statement on the death:

Jorge Rafael Videla participated in the March 24, 1976 coup d’etat, and acted as de facto president of Argentina until 1981. According to local human rights groups, approximately 30,000 people were “disappeared,” thousands were tortured and arbitrarily detained, and hundreds of babies were stolen and illegally appropriated by other families during the military dictatorship that ended in 1983.
“Videla will be remembered as the man who headed the cruelest dictatorship in Argentine history,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch. “Fortunately, the Argentine judicial system did its job and held him accountable, allowing victims of his atrocities to have access to justice.”
In 1985, Videla was one of the first Latin American dictators to be convicted of crimes against humanity in the emblematic “Trial of the Military Juntas.” He was sentenced to life in prison.
Several important human rights cases were reopened after Congress annulled Argentina’s amnesty laws in 2003 and the Supreme Court confirmed that they were unconstitutional in 2005. Starting in 2005, federal judges struck down pardons that then-President Carlos Menem issued between 1989 and 1990 to former officials, including Videla, convicted of, or facing trial for, human rights violations.
Videla was convicted in a total of three trials, one in 1985, one in 2010, and a third in 2012 for his participation in human rights violations committed during the dictatorship, including torture, kidnappings, homicide, and illegal appropriation of babies. Videla died in prison, where he was serving his sentences.

Australia's ABC reports:

Videla showed little remorse for the systematic abuses that occurred during his presidency, a traumatic five-year upheaval still being felt today.
"Let's say there were 7,000 or 8,000 people who had to die to win the war against subversion," Videla said recently in a prison interview, according to journalist Ceferino Reato.
"We couldn't execute them by firing squad. Neither could we take them to court," Videla was quoted as saying.

In a 1995 piece entitled "Friendly Dictators" (Third World Traveler), Dennis Bernstein and Laura Sydell compiled a list of US-backed dictators

Soon after the coup that brought him to power in 1976 General Jorge Rafael Videla began Argentina's dirty war. All political and union activities were suspended, wages were reduced by 60%, and dissidents were tortured by Nazi and US-trained military and police. Survivors say the torture rooms contained swastikas and pictures of Hitler, Mussolini and Franco. One year after Videla's coup, Amnesty International estimated 15,000 people had disappeared and many were in secret detention camps, but although the U.S. press admitted human rights abuses occurred in Argentina, Videla was often described as a "moderate' who revitalized his nation's troubled economy. Videla had a good public relations firm in the U.S., Deaver and Hannaford, the same firm used by Ronald Reagan, Taiwan, and Guatemala. Videla also received aid from the World Anti-Communist League (WACL), through its affiliate, CAL (Confederation AntiCommunists Latinoamericana). CAL sent millions of dollars to Argentina from the US, including old anti-communist organizations with alliances with the Italian drug mafia. As part of its WACL affiliation, Argentina trained Nicaraguan contras for the US. Videla left office in 1981, and after the Falklands Crisis of 1982, he and his cohorts were tried for human rights abuses by the new government.

Since Reagan is mentioned, we should note Ronald Reagan (a president I didn't care for, to put it mildly) was sworn in as President in January 1981.  Point?  Videla left office later that year.  Point?  1976 is the last year of Gerald Ford's administration and, most importantly, Videla's human rights abuses -- ignored by the United States government -- take place mainly during the four year term (January 1977 to December 1980) of then-President Jimmy Carter.  With regards to Argentina, Reagan would basically embrace them but the Dirty War was largely over in Argentina, he embraced them and used them to fund his contras.  This would grow and grow until the illegal operation became public and was known as Iran-Contra which is considered the biggest blight on his presidency.

When the Dirty War was in full swing, Jimmy Carter was the US President.  Here's 'human rights saint' Carter vouching for the tyrant on September 9, 1977 after he entertained the War Criminal at the White House:

We discussed several items, but the two that we discussed at most length were, first, the question of nonproliferation of nuclear explosives. We are very hopeful that Argentina, which has been in the nuclear field for 25 years in the production of power, will join with other nations in this hemisphere in signing the Treaty of Tlatelolco to prevent any development of explosives. And I was very encouraged by what President Videla had to say.
The other item that we discussed at length was the question of human rights--the number of people who are incarcerated or imprisoned in Argentina, the need for rapid trial of these cases, and the need for Argentina to let the world know the status of the prisoners.
President Videla was very frank with me about pointing out the problems that have existed in Argentina and his commitment to make very rapid progress in the next few months. He wants Argentina to be judged not on his words alone, but on the demonstrable progress that he stated would be made.
We had a thorough discussion, and I think it was one of the most productive and most frank discussions that I've had with any leader.
I've had a chance to visit Argentina in the past and know the tremendous strength of your people and of your economy, the beauty of your nation, and the serious problem that presently exists in the opinion of the world about Argentina because of the repression of human rights and the terrorism that has existed there.
But we have great hopes that rapid progress might be made in alleviating this problem. And I was encouraged by what President Videla had to say.

Does Carter still think it was a good meeting with the despot, does he still "think it was one of the most productive and most frank discussions that I've had with any leader"?  Two years later (when there was no progress made) Carter did send an Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to Argentina September 6, 1979 -- nearly three years after he took office.  Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs Patricia Derian headed that commission.  That was merely an investigation, a compiling.  The US government did nothing with the results.  Patricia Derian, however, returned to Argentina in 1985 to testify at the trials.

 Nothing changed.  You know who else gathered information?  Adolfo Perez Esquivel.   He was arrested for doing that in August 1977 and thrown into a prison where he was tortured.  His plight and his courage provided the spotlight from the world -- he was honored by, among others Pope John XXIII while he was imprisoned.  This is before Carter ever sends any commission to Argentina.  In May of 1978, he is finally released from the prison.  That's the same year, 1978 -- still before Carter's done anything other than entertain the despot at the White House, Amnesty International names Adolfo Perez Esquivel Political Prisoner of the year.  We're not done.  For his work, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1980Telesur TV catches up with him today.  He notes what was done went beyond Jorge Rafael Videla, that it was part of Operation Condor, a terror campaign implemented by right wing dictators in the Southern Cone of Latin America from 1976 to 1980 (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguqy and Uruguay).   The CIA, the FBI and the US Embassy were helpers in various countries.  In Argentina, in particular, Henry Kissinger was quick to convey, "The quicker you succeed the better. [. . .] If you can finish before Congress gets back, the better."  Click here for the National Security Archive for Kissinger October 1976 visit to Argentina (that's when he conveys the message quoted).

In Juan Mandelbaum's documentary Nuestros Desaparecidos (Our Disappeared), Patricia Derian asks:

What are the principles of this country?  Will we do anything to get what we want?  And the answer has always been yes, that's the sad fact of it.  We've done some wonderful things and helpful and saved people, restored governments.  But we have also -- also had a very dark side.

To be clear, she's not criticizing Carter.  She is criticizing others including Henry Kissinger.  She remains an ardent defender of Carter.  I'm the one pointing out Carter entertained the despot, made nice with him, and over half-way into his first and only presidential term, he sent an exploratory committee.  In the documentary, she notes that she was being given a tour of the Escuela de Mecaninica de la Armada and she states that she tells the officials she's knows they're torturing people on the floors below. She tells them, "I have a map, I know what's happening in every room."  Good for her.  Good for her for calling it out.  But, here's the thing, if Pat had the map and the knowledge, so did Jimmy Carter.  Unlike Pat, Carter had the power to do something.  He did nothing.  Sent a committee.  Wow.  The bravery.  (That's sarcasm.)  In the film, Pat talks about the torture which includes a woman being tortured and they put a rat into her vagina and then stitched it up.  That's what the committee could find and document.  In the fall of 1977.  And Carter did nothing.  Sent a committee which confirmed what was already known.  Did nothing after.

A lot of people do nothing.  Like today with regards to Little Saddam, Nouri al-Maliki, the prime minister and chief thug of Iraq who was installed by Bully Boy Bush in 2006 (the Iraqi Parliament -- who are supposed to be 'the deciders' on this -- wanted Ibrahiam al-Jafaari) and whom the Iraqi people thought they had rid themselves of in 2010 when they voted Iraqiya into first place in parliamentary elections (Barack backed the loser and had the US-goverment broker The Erbil Agreement to go around the country's constitution and the will of the people to give Nouri a second term).

In Iraq, Fridays mean protests -- this wave has been going on since December 21st.  More and more, peaceful protests in Iraq also mean a wave of attacks on participants by Nouri's forces. 

In Ramadi and Falluja, NINA notes that security measures were "tightened" and a security source tells them, "The security services have taken preventive measures to protect the worshipers in the unified prayer which are held in Baquba capital of the province, Balad Ruz, Mandali, Jalawla, and Qaratappa districts."  NINA reports thousands of protesters turned out in Ramadi and Falluja and quotes sit-in organizer Sheikh Mohammed Fayyad stating that the protesters are gathered to send a message to Baghdad that the protests are peaceful and are supported by the Iraqi people.

Nouri's forces did not protect in Baquba.  Iraqi Spring MC reports a Baquba bombing has left many dead.  Protesters and bystanders who attempted to help the wounded to the hospital were attacked and beaten by Nouri's SWAT forces.   SWAT forces also surrounded Baquba General Hospital to prevent people from donating bloodNouri's Tigris Operation Command forces ordered the hospital not to reveal the number of dead and wounded they are receiving.  Why is the Iraqi military being used against citizens, why is being used to harass medical providers?

In addition to the bombing, his SWAT forces began firing at protesters.  At least 1 man was killedAlsumaria reports 40 are dead from the bombing and 46 injured.  Fang Yang (Xinhua) reports it was two bombs "which hit almost simultaneously."  Matt Brown (Australia's ABC) also reports two bombings.  Citing security and medical sources, AFP goes with 41 dead and fifty-seven injured.  Duraid Adnan (New York Times) explains, "The Saraya mosque, where the blasts took place, is one of the main mosques where Sunnis in Baquba pray and hear speeches to support protests in Anbar and other Sunni provinces calling for change in the Shiite-dominated government." The violence is part of what Deutsche Welle has hailed as, "The deadliest day in Iraq in eight months."  Mohammad Tawfeeq (CNN) reports Baghdad bombings, one which left 12 people dead and thrity injured and one in the Baghdad home of Iraqiya MP Ahmed al-Massari whic left two of his bodyguards injured.  Tawfeeq notes, "Al-Massari's brother was shot dead near his house in the Baghdad neighborhood of al-Bayaa on Thursday."  RT adds, "Another explosion struck a cafe in Fallujah, which killed two people and wounded nine." Al-Arabiya notes (link is text and video), "In Madain, south of Baghdad, a roadside bomb exploded near a funeral procession for a Sunni man, killing eight people and wounding at least 25, security and medical officials said, according to AFP." In addition, National Iraqi News Agency reports a Kirkuk inspection department employee was shot dead and his relative injured in KirkukAll Iraq News reports 1 woman's corpse was discovered in Mosul.  Jason Ditz ( looks at today's violence as well as Wednesday's and Thursday's and counts more than 160 deaths and more then 400 injured.  Dominic Kane (Al Jazeera -- in the video, not the text) reports that over 300 violent deaths have already taken place this month.
Various opinions make the rounds regarding the violence.  William Clarke (Telegraph of London) offers, "The burst of violence raises the spectre of the tit-for-tat killings that killed tens of thousands of people during the height of sectarian tensions."  Omar al-Saleh (Al Jazeera -- from text) observes of the violence, "It's an indication that security conditions are really going downhill in this country. There is a huge and growing sense of fear among Iraqis."

The Washington Institute's Michael Knights argued a few days ago at Foreign Policy that the problem is de-centralization was put into the Iraqi Constitution but then ignored:

But starting in 2008, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki re-centralized power, leaning on an increasingly narrow circle of Shia opponents of the previous dictatorship. And like all successful revolutionaries, this clique is paranoid about counterrevolution and has set about rebuilding a version of the authoritarian system it sought for decades to overthrow. Maliki’s inner circle dominates the selection of military commanders down to brigade level, controls the federal court, and has seized control of the central bank. The executive branch is rapidly eclipsing all checks and balances that were put in place to guarantee a new autocracy did not emerge.
 The root of Iraq’s violence is thus not ancient hatreds between Sunni and Shia or Kurd and Arab, but between decentralizers and recentralizers – and between those who wish to put Iraq’s violent past behind them, and those determined to continually refight it. The demands that have been consistently stated by the Kurdish and Sunni Arab anti-Maliki opposition could not be clearer. First, the opposition demands devolution of fiscal authority to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the provinces, encapsulated in a revenue-sharing law that will provide a formula for the proportion of the budget allocated to the KRG and provinces. Second, it demands the implementation of the system of checks and balances on the executive branch – particularly by empowering parliament and ensuring an independent judiciary. Third, it calls for a comprehensive truth and reconciliation process that provides justice for those damaged by Saddam’s regime, but stops short of collectively punishing Sunnis.

Did the world turn its back on Iraq?  Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari tells Aleem Maqbool (BBC News -- link is text and video, quotes are from video),  "We've been several times to hell and back. But Iraq still needs the engagement the commitment of the international community to work out its recent difficulties."  Aleem Maqbool observes, "What Iraqis are asking is why there's not the urgency here and abroad to try to avert what many see as almost invetiable civil war?"  Aziz Alwan (Los Angeles Times) points out, "Sectarian tension among Iraq’s Shiite and Sunni elite have soared in the absence of compromise on the issues raised by Sunni protesters, including resolving the fate of thousands of Sunni detainees and addressing the continued marginalization of those who served in late dictator Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party."  Today the UN News Centre noted:


17 May 2013 – The top United Nations official in Iraq today urged Iraqi leaders to protect civilians following a wave of bombings over the past few days which have claimed more innocent lives.
“It is the responsibility of all leaders to stop the bloodshed in this country and to protect their citizens,” said the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Iraq, Martin Kobler.
“Small children are burned alive in cars. Worshippers are cut down outside their own mosques. This is beyond unacceptable. It is the politicians’ responsibility to act immediately and to engage in dialogue to resolve the political impasse and put an end to this.”
According to media reports, two bombs near a Sunni mosque north of Baghdad killed at least 43 people and wounded more than 80 on Friday. One bomb reportedly exploded as worshippers were departing a mosque in the city of Baquba, while a second went off after people gathered at the scene of the first blast.
Hundreds of people have been killed or wounded in recent clashes across the country, including in Hawija, north of Baghdad, where government helicopters shot at militants hiding in the village, resulting in dozens of people killed or injured.
Mr. Kobler has repeatedly called on Iraqi authorities to take decisive measures to stop the escalating violence. Earlier this month, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged all Iraqis to come together and engage in inclusive dialogue to overcome the “deep political crisis” facing the country.
“Peace must come to this country now. The people of Iraq have suffered enough,” Mr. Kobler said. “We will continue to remind the leaders of Iraq that the country will slide backwards into a dangerous unknown if they do not take action.”

Returning to the topic of protests, Baghdad saw another target of a protest today.  All Iraq News notes that Moqtada al-Sadr is calling for the Bahraini Embassy in Baghdad be closed.  Alsumaria notes that "hundreds" of followers of cleric and movement leader Moqtada attempted to protest outside the embassy today in western Baghdad but were prevented from getting in front of the building by Nouri's forces.

Meanwhile All Iraq News reports Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq leader Ammar al-Hakim met today with First Lady of Iraq Hero Ibrahim Ahmed at her official residence in Sulaimaniya.  There, the First Lady "reassured" al-Hakim "on the health of President Talabani" and al-Hakim stressed that Jalal Talabani was both "a personal and national symbol for all Iraqis, not just the Kurds."  Last December,  Iraqi President Jalal 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.  Last week, questions arose regarding Jalal's health.  Friday,  All Iraq News noted that the PUK's Najm al-Din Karim declared that the rumors were false and that "Talabani enjoys good health and has continuous improvement" and "Talabani's health continues to improve day after day."  Monday morning, Nouri launched an effort to replace Jalal as president and by Monday evening it was being announced (by Kurdistan Alliance MP Muhsin al-Sadoun) that Jalal would be doing media appearances "shortly" -- though "shortly" was not defined as hours, weeks or months.    Al-Hayat (translation by Al-Monitor) reports that, in the disputed province of oil-rich Kirkuk, Arab tribes and political parties are saying replacing Jalal Talabani now would send the country further into crisis:

Sheikh Abdul Rahman Monshed al-Assi, a leader in the Arab Political Council, has called upon all related parties "not to lead the country and political forces toward a new conflict through the election of an alternative to Talabani.” He stressed the need to "refer to the constitution and not to exceed its content." The sheikh also demanded that "the nomination be done away from quotas and repartition of positions on a nationalist and sectarian basis, as this would harm the political process and cause crises."
Meanwhile, Arab tribal leaders have criticized "[the parties] for being ungrateful towards Talabani, who has been unbiased and patriotic. Throughout his presidency, Talabani has not dealt with issues on a sectarian basis."
In a statement to Al-Hayat, Sheikh Farhan al-Saadi said, "It is too soon for political blocs to talk about an alternative to President Talabani, as he is still in a difficult health condition."
Muqtada al-Sadr, on the other hand, has declared his support for the nomination of a replacement for Talabani and has called to speed up the measures in this regard. The United Nations Office in Iraq’s Kurdistan region has mentioned several reasons that would hinder the nomination of any alternative. In a statement issued by the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), Sokol Conde, head of the UN Office, said that the "no party alone can take the place of president Talabani. Governance in Iraq was built on the basis of consensus and partnership between political blocs and components, which imposes the attainment of national consensus on various issues."

Yesterday, the US State Dept issued the following:

Press Statement

Jen Psaki
Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
May 16, 2013
On May 15 the first 14 Camp Hurriya residents departed Iraq for permanent relocation in Albania.
The United States expresses its appreciation to the Government of Albania for its generous humanitarian gesture to accept 210 former Camp Hurriya residents. Albania has been a strong partner of the United States in bringing peace and stability to Iraq.
The United States urges the Mujahedin-e Khalq leadership to cooperate fully with the UNHCR relocation process and to facilitate access by United Nations monitors to Camp Hurriya residents. The relocation of Camp Hurriya residents outside of Iraq is vital to their safety and security. It is the responsibility of the MEK leadership to facilitate for the residents of Camp Hurriya free and unfettered access to UN human rights monitors.
The United States reiterates its strong support for the efforts of UNHCR, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), and the Special Representative of the Secretary General Martin Kobler. We continue to emphasize that the camp and its residents must be secured in accordance with the December 25, 2011 Memorandum of Understanding between the United Nations and the Government of Iraq, and urge all involved parties to work together effectively on this.
There are over 3000 residents who need to be relocated.  These are the people who were housed in Camp Ashraf.  We call them Camp Ashraf residents because that is their history.  Moving them to Camp Liberty (Hurriya) was, in part, an attempt to strip them of their history.

US House Rep Kenny Marchant:  On July 25th, we had another Oversight Committee hearing  in which Commissioner Miller and I had an extended conversation about this very subject.  And that conversation is in this transcript, anyone can get it on the internet and read the questions but the questions were very specifically about Tea Party groups and their difficulties in getting their tax exempt status, the lengthy conversations that they were having, the questionaires that they were having to answer.  And, again, Mr. Miller in that exchange that you and I had, I came away with that, I felt, with the assurances by you and your office that there were no extraordinary circumstances taking place and that this was just a backlog and there was nothing going on.  Mr. Miller, was that your impression of the hearing that day?

Acting Commissioner Steve Miller:  Uhm, no sir.  What I said there and what I understood your question to be was -- again, we divide this world in two, there's a question of this selection process and there was a question of what was going on at the time of your question.  At the time of your question, what was out in the public domain and what I thought we were discussing was the letter.  As you called them, the questionaire.  Those were the overbroad letters that had been referred to continuously here. Uhm, again, I stand by my answer there. Uh, there was not, uh-h-h-h-h-h, I-I-I-I did talk about the fact that we had centeralized -- I believe, I'd have to take a look at it. But I was talking about the fact that we had fixed that problem.

Kenny Marchant:  But-but at that time, you knew, by that time, that there were lists being made, there were deliniations, there was discrimination going on and that there were steps being taken to try to correct it.  But you knew that it was going on at that time.

Acting Commissioner Steve Miller:  We had corrected it.  TIGTA was taking a look.  At that time, my assumption is TIGTA was going to be done with their report that summer. I was not going to go there because I did not have full possessions of all the facts, sir.

Any member of Congress who finds that 'answer' acceptable is an embarrassment.  A government official appeared before Congress to testify at a hearing and was asked about potential abuses.  He knew about abuses that the Congress didn't with regard to this subject and did not reveal them.  His lousy excuse about a report coming out? No.  He said (see above) that he had addressed it.  But report or no report, you don't conceal from Congress.  He played words games and he was dishonest.  As USA Today's Susan Page observed on the first hour of The Diane Rehm Show today, "Well, we have to go back and look at that, but he certainly left a misimpression among everyone who heard his answers. People heard him as denying it. Now, maybe it will turn out to be some turn of phrase that gives him an exit hatch. But I think it is hard for him to argue that he did not mislead."

That took place this morning in the House Ways and Means Committee hearing.  The Committee Chair is Dave Camp and the Ranking Member is Sander Levin.  Appearing before the Committee were J. Russell George and Steve Miller.  J. Russell George is an Inspector General for the Treasury Department while Steve Miller is the Acting Commissioner of the IRS.  The Acting Commission.  Wednesday, we carried in full the remarks from US President Barack Obama about the 'firing' of Miller.  Miller is not fired.  As was established in the hearing, he remains on the government payroll, he remains Acting Commissioner of the IRS.  He stated so himself today when questioned.

US House Rep Vern Buchanan: Were you terminated or fired?  What happened there?  Or are you getting ready to retire?

Steve Miller:  I was asked to resign and I will retire.

US House Rep Vern Buchanan:  Okay.

Steve Miller: Under the civil service rules.

[. . .]

US House Rep Tom Reed:  As you sit here today, you were not fired from your job.  And I can tell you, in my private experience, you would have been fired on the spot.  And all you were allowed to do is resign and retire?  And now you come here and try to say I did the honorable thing by falling on my sword' when nothing bad is going to happen to you.  You're going to get your full benefits.  You're going to get everything that's associated with your retirement as an IRS employee.

Steve Miller: [Laughing] Nohting bad is happening to me, Congressman?

US House Rep Tom Reed:  Financially.  You're allowed to retire.  That's the level of accountability in Washington, DC now. You're still acting [Commissioner].  You came here on the taxpayer dollar today. You're getting a paycheck for being here today.  Correct?  Correct?

Steve Miller:  [Pause]  Correct.

There is no accountability.  And he laughed.  He found the exchange funny.  He had many 'cute' moments.

US House Rep Peter Roskam: Why did you say you have notes if you don't have notes?

Steve Miller:  Sir, please.

US House Rep Peter Roskam:  Do you have notes or don't you have notes?

Steve Miller: (voice dripping with sarcasm) I don't know.

US House Rep Lynne Jenkins stated at one point during the hearing,  "I'm sad and I'm sick to my stomach that Americans could be targeted by a government agency based on their political beliefs."  Miller was not sick, he laughed, he found things amusing.  But why wouldn't it.  He's getting away with everything he wanted.
There's no reason to believe Miller was being honest or knows what's going on.  One of the people 'disciplined,' the press has noted this week, received an oral warning.  Oops.  Miller asked about that stated, "The oral counseling that was provided?  It turns out that that person might not have been involved."  This is a huge scandal. He is the official in charge -- still in charge, still on the job -- and he knew he was appearing before Congress but he still doesn't know who was at fault?

Is there any accountability at all?  By his testimony, not at all.  In the most outrageous moment, in response to questions asked by US House Rep Ron Kind, Miller declared, "We now have possession of the facts with respect to the TIGTA report.  Now is the time we should be looking at that, now that we have the facts."   What?  No, actually, the time to look was before the TIGTA report.  By the time the Inspector General of the Department is finding fault, you've failed at your job.  You should have corrected it and, as we know, the IRS knew long before the TIGTA report.  But, Miller insisted to Kind, that now is the time, now that the Inspector General's report has been released.  No, supervisors -- including Miller -- should have addressed it, should have found out the problems, should have found out who was involved.  Other signs of incompetence?  He didn't know that, in addition to political groups, churches were targeted.  He appeared before the Committee, after the report was released, to 'answer' questions and he didn't even know that churches were among the targeted.  What does he do all day?  He also made clear that though he doesn't "believe it should happen," he doesn't believe it's illegal.  Maybe he had been fired, as we were led to believe he was, he might have cared a little damn more.

And let's also be clear, this isn't the only IRS problem.  The IG has released one report.  As IG Russell George's remarks made clear, there are other ongoing investigations about the IRS and this issue.  Those investigations cannot be discussed because they are ongoing.  Again, this was established in George's exchange with US House Rep Tom Reed. ("That is an accurate statement, sir," George agreed.)

US House Rep Aaaron Schock had a number of issues to raise about what the IRS did. A pro-life was group was asked about the content of their prayers and Miller couldn't weigh in on wehter or not that was an appropriate question for the IRS to ask.  Another pro-life group was asked if they taught "both sides of the issue."  As anyone knows, I'm firmly pro-choice.  That does not mitigate my offense at these questions the IRS asked and, especially with regard to prayer, they crossed a line.  It's a damn shame Steve Miller didn't know how to respond but a clear indication he was never up for the job. Schock noted another pro-life group was asked to reveal what writing would be on signs they carried at a protest?  Again, Miller had no comment.

Popular responses from Miller included: "I don't know," "I don't believe so," "I have no reason to believe . . .," "I don't think so," "I don't have exact knowledge on that," "I'm really not sure" and "I'd have to go back and check."  He wasn't sure if he had notes.  He wasn't sure about timelines.  He was sure about this or about that. 

Tonight, Marcia will cover the hearing at her site, Kat at her site, Wally will cover it at Ann's site and Ava will cover it at Trina's site.

 the washington post

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Chris Hedges Defends Rape

(This piece was written by Ann, Betty, Dona, Ruth and Elaine with help from C.I. in the form of an unpublished draft about Hedges' October 2001 NYT piece.)

Chris Hedges is a journalist with blood on his hands.  The Iraq War wouldn't have happened without Hedges.  It's a story he always hopes people will forget.  It's not forgotten.

C.I. led the charge on this until Hedges, in 2008, was going to endorse Ralph Nader publicly.  C.I. heard a number of people mocking Hedges for what he was about to do.  C.I. asked all of us with sites then to consider laying off Hedges because he was about to be vilified.  It was a short term measure, not a forever.  And we weren't obligated to say "yes."  But we all did and we all backed off.  And we've cringed repeatedly as he's insulted women in his books, as he's insulted women in his comments.

Chris is a Priss, let's be honest.  The only 'defense' of women he can muster is with regards to pornography and that's got to do with his religion, not women's rights.

Here he is on Democracy Now! today and we offer no link to trash:

CHRIS HEDGES: Well, I mean, I have tremendous respect for Julian Assange and what he’s done. Again, even within the liberal intelligentsia, who should know better, they’ve turned their back on him. You know, whatever the sexual misconduct charges in Sweden were, it certainly wasn’t rape, but there was something. But that has been used—

Setting aside whether Julian Assange is guilty of rape or not, "it certainly wasn't rape"?

Chris Hedges believes in hell so we wish him well when Satan takes him in his sleep. When he whines that he was raped, we'll simply reply, "Chris Priss, you swore that 'wasn't rape'."

Rape is against's someone's will.  In the case of one woman, the story is she was alseep and woke up after he was in her.  She then begged him to put on a rubber at least when he wouldn't pull out.

Now we haven't attacked little Julie.

But the reality is, and everyone knows this, he's wanted for questioning, he split the country to avoid being questioned, his attorney was called out in a UK court for lying about this, called out by the judge.

So stop your whoring, Chris Priss.

Even now, we're not weighing in on whether Little Julie is guilty or not.  

But a Prick Named Chrissy doesn't grasp that you can't attack two women who are saying they were raped.

IF they're lying it'll come out in court.
You certainly don't take part in a character assassination on the two women or reveal the women's names (so that they have to go into hiding) or mock what was done to them.

But that's what Little Julie's Cheerleaders did -- Fat Ass Naomi Wolfe and the rest of them. 

That's what turned people off.  Most people on the left are like us, willing to wait and see on a verdict.  But what we wait on, is you little vicious pricks attacking women who may have been raped.

You turned people off Little Julie (as did Little Julie's own attacks on the women -- which are included in his book). 

You thought it was a great strategy.  You were wrong.

Not the first time, not the last.

But get it through your stupid head, Prick Face, you don't get to re-define rape.

And that's before we get into the fact, Chris Priss, you're nothing but a f**king liar.  You are responsible for the dead in Iraq, you have their blood on your hands.  And you've never taken accountability.

Chris Hedges.  The hero of the anti-war movement, the honest journalist. 

Okay, so the Iraq War.  Sold to us by the New York Times.  They didn't question Bully Boy Bush, they pushed fake WMD stories.  They let him get away with falsely linking 9-11 to Iraq. 

How come?

Maybe because the New York Times falsely linked Iraq to 9-11.  A front page cover story in October of 2001.  There were two names on that front page article.

Neither of which was Judith Miller.

One was Chris Hedges.

After he was fired from the New York Times, various outlets -- Democracy Now! and FAIR most prominently -- were in a quandary because that was a historically important article -- not just because of the topic but because a source for it was hugely discredited.  Do they cover the emerging story or stay silent?

Like good little hookers in a rush, they did a half-and-half.  The covered the story but knotted themselves into pretzels avoiding Chris' role in the article.  

Chris Hedges co-wrote an article which falsely linked Iraq to 9-11. This report ran the month after the September 11th attacks.

If you read the article, you were aware there were two sources and only one was outed.  You were aware that the 'crazy' Iraqi got outed but who was the other source?  Are you bound by ethics with regards to a source?  No.  Only if the source has been honest.  If a source deliberately lies?  Most ethics classes take the position that the trust was broken the moment you were fed knowingly false information.  So why can't Chris tell us the other source?

And why has Chris himself never written about this?  Seems to us, if I was the first to falsely link 9-11 and Iraq on the front page of a major US newspaper, if  you co-wrote an article about Iraq being behind 9-11?  Seems to us,  you'd have something to say on that topic, some accountability to take.  
If you need your memory jogged,  Chris Hedges and Christopher Buchanan's front page story on the Times in October of 2001 was ' "A Nation Challenged: The School; Defectors Cite Iraqis Training For Terrorism."  Excerpt.

Two defectors from Iraqi intelligence said yesterday that they had worked for several years at a secret Iraqi government camp that had trained Islamic terrorists in rotations of five or six months since 1995.
They said the training in the camp, south of Baghdad, was aimed at carrying out attacks against neighboring countries and possibly Europe and the United States.
The defectors, one of whom was a lieutenant general and once one of the most senior officers in the Iraqi intelligence service, the Mukhabarat, said they did not know if the Islamic militants being trained at the camp, known as Salman Pak, were linked to Osama bin Laden.
They also said they had no knowledge of specific attacks carried out by the militants. But they insisted that those being trained as recently as last year were Islamic radicals from across the Middle East. An interview of the two men was set up by an Iraqi group that seeks the overthrow of President Saddam Hussein.

Everything in the article quoted above is pretty much a lie.  If that article's behind the paywall for you, you can also refer to Jack Fairweather's "Heroes in Error" for Mother Jones in 2006 which debunks the 2001 story.

But Hedges co-authored it.  And Fairweather found out who one of the sources were.  Hedges didn't tell him.  Hedges has also refused to name the other source.  Both sources were liars which means they 'burned' Hedges and when a source does that, when they lie, they're not guaranteed any protection and you're supposed to out them.

Hedges won't write about this.  He'll never tell you who the other source was.

But he was happy, in October, 2001, to falsely link Iraq and 9-11 on the front page of the New York Times.  He's got so much to say -- and has over the years -- about Judith Miller's reporting.

But Judith wasn't the one on the front page providing the first false link.

That was Hedges. 

And there was no 'hedging' in the 'report' that treated the word of two defectors as truth.  Any journalist should know that defectors come with an agenda.

Hedges has also failed to tell who set that interview up because, believe it or not, the US government set it up.  (We know who, we know this whole story, we've heard it from C.I. and a reporter for the New York Times.)  

Yep.  Hedges interviewed two defectors from Iraq that he knew the US government was supplying the paper with and he co-wrote a story falsely linking Iraq to 9-11.

That's Chris Priss.

That's the prick.

Now we went silent in 2008.  We might never have spoken of it again.

But then Chris Hedges decided that, regardless of what the legal definition of rape is, he can rewrite it, he can lie to get what he wants.

But didn't he do that in October 2001?  Didn't he lie then too?

So when under stress, remember, Chris Hedges lies.  Repeatedly.  It's a pattern.

As much as we hate Hedges -- and we do hate all rape deniers -- we haven't said, "Julian Assange is guilty!"  Nor do we plan to.  But then we have higher standards than Chris Hedges does.

And, Chris Priss, this right here, your attack from Democracy Now! today?  That's what turns people against WikiLeaks.

Because people keep seeing liars like you defending it with lies.  And that makes it appear WikiLeaks and Julian Assange are liars by association.

You're the problem.  

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, May 15, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, US Gen Lloyd Austin visits Iraq, the Hawija massacre is not going away, the House Judiciary Committee takes testimony from US Attorney Gen Eric Holder on the AP scandal, the Benghazi scandal and the IRS scandal, the White House dumps e-mails, the new information does not change Victoria Nuland's actions or the need for them to be addressed, US President Barack Obama speaks to the IRS scandal, and more.

This afternoon,  House Judiciary Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte  noted that "just two days ago, it was revealed that the Justice Dept obtained telephone records for more than 20  Associated Press reporters and editors over a two month period. These requests appear to be very broad and intersect important First Amendment protections. Any abridgment of the First Amendment right to the Freedom of the Press is very concerning and members of the Committee want to hear an explanation today."   Ranking Member John Conyers noted, "I'm bothered by that our government would pursue such a broad range of media phone records over such a long period of time."  Conyers used the occasion to call for the passage of his Federal Press Shield bill.  Appearing before the Commitee today, Attorney General Eric Holder stated he supported such a law ("I continue to think that it should be passed") in response to questions from US House Rep Sheila Jackson Lee.

Monday came the shocking news that the Associated Press had been targeting the AP, secretly obtaining phone records for the months of April and May 2012.  Lynn Oberlander (The New Yorker) observed:

The cowardly move by the Justice Department to subpoena two months of the A.P.’s phone records, both of its office lines and of the home phones of individual reporters, is potentially a breach of the Justice Department’s own guidelines. Even more important, it prevented the A.P. from seeking a judicial review of the action. Some months ago, apparently, the government sent a subpoena (or subpoenas) for the records to the phone companies that serve those offices and individuals, and the companies provided the records without any notice to the A.P. If subpoenas had been served directly on the A.P. or its individual reporters, they would have had an opportunity to go to court to file a motion to quash the subpoenas. What would have happened in court is anybody’s guess—there is no federal shield law that would protect reporters from having to testify before a criminal grand jury—but the Justice Department avoided the issue altogether by not notifying the A.P. that it even wanted this information. Even beyond the outrageous and overreaching action against the journalists, this is a blatant attempt to avoid the oversight function of the courts.

From this afternoon's hearing, we'll note this section.

Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte:  It was recently reported that the Justice Dept obtained more than two months of phone records of more than 20 reporters and editors with the Associated Press -- including both work and personal phone lines. There's been a lot of criticism raised about the scope of this investigation.  Including why the Dept needed to subpoena records for 20 different people over a lengthy two month period?  Why was such a broad scope approved?

Attorney General Eric Holder:  Yeah, I mean, there's been a lot of criticism, the staff of the RNC called for my resignation in spite of the fact that I was not the person who was involved in that decision.  But be that as it may.  I was recused in that matter as I described in a press conference that I held yesterday, the decision to issue this subpoena was made by the people who are presently involved in the case, the matter is being supervised by the Deputy Attorney General.  I am not familiar with the ca[se] -- with the way the subpoena was constructed in the way that it was because I'm simply not a part of the, uh, of the case. 

Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte:  It's my understanding that one of the requirements before compelling process from the media outlet is to give the media outlet notice.  Do you know why that was not done?

Attorney General Eric Holder:  There are exceptions to that rule.  I do not know, however, with regard to that particular case, why that was or was not done.  I simply don't have a factual basis to answer that question.

Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte:  And it's also been reported that the Associated Press refrained from releasing this story for a week until the department confirmed that doing so would not jeopardize national security interests.  That indicates that the AP was amenable to working with you on this matter.  If that is the case, why was it necessary to subpoena the telephone records?  Did you seek the AP's assistance in the first place? And, if not, why not?

Attorney General Eric Holder:  Again, Mr. Chairman, I-I don't know what happened there with the, uh, interaction between the AP and the Justice Dept, I was recused from the case.

Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte:  I take it that you or others in the Justice Dept will be forthcoming with those answers to those questions as you explore why this was handled in what appears to be contrary to the law and standard procedure.

Attorney General Eric Holder:  Uh, well, again, there are exceptions to some of the rules that you pointed out.  And I have faith in the people who actually were responsible for this case that they were responsible for the rules and that they followed them.  But I don't have a factual basis to answer the questions that you have asked because I was recused. I don't know what has happened in this matter.

As disclosed before, I know Eric Holder. I like Eric.  That doesn't mean he gets a pass here.  We didn't cover Fast and Furious -- it didn't strike me as story nor was it part of our scope, sorry.  Rebecca did cover it and when it was tossed out -- I believe by one of her readers -- that it was probably making me mad, she asked me for a comment and I told her she needed to cover what she believed was important and that there was no problem.  (Rebecca and I are friends from college, nothing will harm that friendship.)

With that out of the way, on the above, not acceptable.  Holder isn't there to be cute or funny or political or angry.  He had no reason to bring up the RNC.  His job is to sit there, shut his mouth until he's asked to speak and then answer the question.  That is his job.  And it is Congress' time, not his.  So if they ask a question in the midst of a reply, he needs to be silent.  He is not elected to office and he is before Congress -- before The People's House, in fact.  These are the people citizens elected to represent them.  So when he's insulting or silly or anything but professional, it's unacceptable.  If he were a private citizen, fine and dandy.  But he's unelected official appearing before Congress to answer questions.  His behavior was unacceptable.  (Marcia will cover more of this at her site tonight.)  I don't care for Condi Rice.  I don't believe half of what she told Congress at hearings that I've attended.  But she's the one to hold up as the example of an official in front of Congress for the way she carried herself.  No member of that administration was treated as hostilely as Rice was.  That's in part because she's a woman and in part because people like Donald Rumsfeld and John Ashcroft only served one term while Condi was there the full 8 years.  But while I rarely felt she was fully honest, I never faulted her for the way she conducted herself before the Committee. And she was treated rudely.  I have no problem saying that.  What Senator Barbara Boxer did to her in a hearing was the rudest thing I've ever seen.

Holder's behavior also includes his press conference that he noted.  But, more importantly, the interview he did with Carrie Johnson (Morning Edition, NPR) that aired this morning.

Carrie Johnson: And Holder only raised more questions when he told reporters he had seen a draft of Cole's letter beforehand.  And is that normal practice when you're recused from a case?

Eric Holder: Well, no.  I just wanted to see the letter.  I saw the draft letter this morning and I just wanted to have an opportunity to see what it looked like so I'd have at least some sense of the case, in case there were things in the letter that [I] could talk about with the press.

Regardless, once you're recused, you stay out of it.  That means you don't read a letter because, in your kind, beautiful heart, you want to help the press.  I don't care.  You recused yourself, you stay out of it.  Recusing means you wall yourself off.  You don't get to choose which parts you have access to and which parts your review.  If you are recused from the matter, you are out of it.

The wall is not porous.  Out of it means out of it.  That also means you don't make statements of 'faith' about employees.  You are out of it. You cannot offer judgments, you can offer facts.  You are out of it.  Eric Holder's actions are appalling because he is over executing the laws for the Executive Branch and he fails to follow the recusal.

He did clear up that when the Attorney General is recused from a case, the Deputy Attorney General becomes Acting Attorney General on that case.  This goes to the issue of the law requiring Holder to sign off on the subpoena.  As he explained it to US House Rep Jim Sensebrenner,  Deputy Attorney General James Cole would have signed off.  (There's more on that which Kat will cover at her site tonight.)

As Attorney General, he is over the Justice Dept and that means he needs to know what's going on.  So when he explains that he was recused  because he had been interviewed on this case, that's allowed.  [Holder knew the information leaked.  He was interviewed to determine whether or not he was the leak.  For this reason he recused himself.]  That's expected.  When he's asked by Sensebrenner if Cole was also interviewed in the investigation that caused your recusal" and Holder responds, "Uh, I don't know. I don't know. I assume he was, but I don't know," you've got a problem.

He is the Attorney General.  Part of recusing himself was ensuring that whomever took over also had no appearance of a conflict of interest.  I have no idea whether Cole was interviewed or not.  But I'm not Attorney General.  That is something Holder should know.  If the answer was "yes," Cole shouldn't have been put in charge?  Correct.  But Cole shouldn't have been put in charge -- yes or no -- before it was determined whether or not he too was questioned for the investigation.  It was Holder's job to not only ensure that he had no appearance of conflicted interests but that the person who the case was handed off to did not have a conflict of interest.  Eric Holder didn't do that part of his job.

Nor did he put his recusal in writing.  This is an issue.  It's not minor.  Holder is under the opinion that all he needs to do is say, "Tag, you're it."  No.  He cannot just tell his Deputy AG that he is recusing himself and the Deputy AG is in charge.  It needs to be formal.  It wasn't.  Under questioning from US House Rep Spencer Bachus, he admitted that it was not done in writing.  Did he inform the White House?  No, he said because it was an ongoing investigation.  I'm sorry but the White House nominated Holder for the post.  He reports directly to the White House, he should have informed the White House that he was recusing himself and he should have done so in writing.  Holder disagrees.  He does allow that it might have been helpful to have put it in writing.  Bachus pointed out, "Well it would be in this case becuase you don't know when you recused yourself."  To which, he replied, "Well I don't know precisely but I have said that it was at the beginning of the investigation."  He also testified that he put two people in charge of the investigation as part of his recusal.  Why is he staffing the investigation if he's recused?  If he turned power over to the Deputy Attorney General than the DAG should be the one appointing people to lead the investigation.

We'll note more of the hearing throughout the snapshot.  Wally's tackling an issue the hearing raises about Congress (he'll be writing at Rebecca's site tonight) and, at Trina's site, Ava's covering nonsense from a member and the member's failure to redeem himself.

Turning to Iraq. All Iraq News reported earlier today that Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi issued a statement expressing his concern of the continued deterioration in security throughout Iraq, "the surge of assassinations, murders and bombings in Baghdad and the provinces" and that there have been no concrete measures to address the security weaknesses.  Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 218 violent deaths so far this month -- and there are still 16 days left in the month (and 17 for IBC to count).

At the time al-Nujafi's statement was being reported on, the  National Iraqi News Agency was noting mortar attack on any army station in Anbar Province has left 1 Iraqi soldier dead, and a Mosul roadside bombing claimed the lives of 2 bodyguards for the 7th Regiment Commander (three more were left injured)Alsumaria reports an armed Mosul attack has left 1 police officer dead. T
 Xin Since then?  Xinhua reports, "A total of 23 people were killed and 110 others wounded as nine car bombs struck Baghdad on Wednesday evening, an Interior Ministry source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity."  The outlet also notes 2 Kirkuk car bombings which claimed 10 lives and left thirteen injured and a bombing just outside of Kirkuk injured two police officers.  Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) offers this point of reference, "More people died violently in Iraq in April than in any other month since June 2008, the United Nations said. A total of 712 people died and 1,633 more sustained injuries" UN figures showed for the month of April.  
Human Rights Watch's Sarah Leah Whitson pens a column (New York Times) on the topic of Iraq today and the ongoing protests and Nouri's failure to meet the demands of the protesters:
The government has failed to address any of the major grievances of the Sunni — and even some Shia — communities. Those include ongoing exclusion from the political process, with regular delays in elections; no real reforms in the punitive, wildly overbroad “De-Baathification” and antiterrorism laws; increasingly centralized power in the hands of the prime minister; and brutal policing, with mass arrests, unfair trials and endemic torture in Iraqi prisons. But since early 2012, Sunnis have challenged the status quo with persistent, overwhelmingly peaceful protests, despite violent incursions by the state authorities.
It is in this environment that Maliki’s SWAT security forces, along with army and federal police, carried out an armed attack on one of the longest-running protest camps, in the Sunni village of Hawija. A parliamentary committee’s preliminary findings were that 44 people were killed and 104 injured, with the government saying 3 police officers were killed. Remarkably, the attack came after several days of negotiations with the protesters, whom the government accused of harboring militants who had killed a soldier, and taking weapons from a nearby checkpoint.
The government has not made public any finding of weapons or killers. In an apparent acknowledgement that the attack had gone too far, Maliki announced the appointment of a ministerial committee, headed by the Sunni deputy prime minister, Saleh al-Mutlaq, to investigate. But the committee seems designed to placate the Sunni community with compensation for the victims, with no intent to identify what really happened or who ordered the attack, much less punish those responsible. The committee has no actual investigators or resources to gather evidence, relying only on the ministers themselves to conduct the inquiry.
The April 23rd massacre by Nouri's forces storming a sit-in in Hawija resulted in massive deaths and injuries.  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. UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured).
Today CENTCOM Tweeted:

  1. Gary Sinise visited U.S. Central Command during a recent trip to Tampa:

So they can Tweet.  No offense to Gary Sinise, good for him, but that 'news' really isn't.  News is where CENTCOM Commander Gen Lloyd Austin was today.
To check the Twitter feeds, Facebook pages and official websites of the Defense Dept, CENTCOM and the US Embassy in Baghdad is to learn nothing.
You have to go to the Iraqi news outlet  Alsumaria to find the report on Gen Austin in Iraq where he and US Ambassador Stephen Beecroft met with Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq in Baghdad to discuss the "moral obligation" the US has to Iraq and the security situation and agreements between the two countries about security. The agreements?  That's the Strategic Framework Agreement and the agreement that was signed at the end of last year.  From the April 30th Iraq snapshot:

December 6, 2012, the Memorandum of Understanding For Defense Cooperation Between the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Iraq and the Department Defense of the United States of America was signed.  We covered it in the December 10th and December 11th snapshots -- lots of luck finding coverage elsewhere including in media outlets -- apparently there was some unstated agreement that everyone would look the other way.  It was similar to the silence that greeted Tim Arango's September 25th New York Times report which noted, "Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions.  At the request of the Iraqi government, according to [US] General [Robert L.] Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence."

The MoU wasn't news either.  All the US news outlets looked the other.  You won't find a major network or newspaper reporting on it last December.  It is mentioned  in the US Congressional Research Service report from last month by Kenneth Katzman  entitled "Iraq: Politics, Governance, and Human Rights."  It's really interesting that the US press which can't stop following the US military brass around has no reports on Austin's visit.  The silence is, in effect, telling.

Let's move to Benghazi.  The attack last fall left four Americans dead: Glen Doherty, Sean Smith, Chris Stevens and Tyrone Woods.  Today, there are no known arrests in the case of terrorism.  The FBI is leading the investigation.   Appearing before the House Judiciary Committee today, Attorney General Eric Holder replied to US House Rep Howard Coble's question about the status of the investigation stating that "the investigation is ongoing and we have taken steps that are definitive, concrete, and we will be prepared shortly, I think, to reveal all that we have done."

The White House did an e-mail dump of what appears to be all of the e-mails on the talking points of the September 11, 2012 attack that would be given to Congress (to tell the people) and to US Ambassador Susan Rice to use on a White House-planned media blitz when she appeared live on five Sunday programs.

Jake Tapper (CNN) had a report on his program The Lead with Jake Tapper yesterday.  Jake Tapper's a solid reporter, we've praised him before.  After his report aired, e-mails began coming into the public account about how I was wrong about Ben Rhodes.   Click here for Jonathan Karl's ABC News report.

That's last week, Friday and Saturday.  The "State Dept . . ." deals with Karl's report.  So does the snapshot, so does "I Hate The War."  Karl appears to have gotten a quote from Rhodes wrong.  A mistake if so.  But check the entries and, so sorry Cult of St. Barack, I never mentioned Ben Rhodes.  I believe he's only been mentioned once at this site and that was in 2010 when I quoted a Reuters article.  I actually know Ben Rhodes, I didn't include him because I didn't feel the quote in Karl's report was pertinent.  As quoted (and apparently it was a misquote), I read it as Ben trying to keep the conversation going and not breaking off.  Maybe because I know him, the comment didn't stand out as important to me?  I don't know.  You can assume that I didn't mention him to cover for him but that's not the case, but you can assume that.  But what you know, if you use your brain and the links above or a Google search engine, I never mentioned Ben in relation to Karl's report.

Like Eric Wemple (idiot at the Washington Post), the e-mailers don't understand what Jake Tapper reported or what's in the e-mails the White House released today: Victoria Nuland.  That was accurate in Karl's reporting.  Is Eric Wemple really that stupid or does he not realize that the issue was Victoria Nuland?  To read his blog post, you're falsely told that Karl's report was wrong.  No, one section of it may have been wrong.  The serious charge about the talking points is that Victoria Nuland, writing that she was speaking for her building, wanted changes because she didn't want Congress fed information that she felt would lead to questioning of the State Dept.

Before the wave of attack e-mails insisting I was wrong about the e-mails because of my comments about Ben Rhodes (I made no comments about Ben and didn't mention him), the big complaint was that I was ignoring Ben Rhodes -- these appeared to be from the right wing -- and doing so because of his brother who heads CBS News.  Anyone who's read for any length of time should know I'm not biting my tongue about most people.  There's one friend who has made herself an embarrassment (she's in entertainment) that I'm biting my tongue on but that's it.  And if there's a reason to call her out -- if the news cycle should warrant it -- I will call her out here.  To those who e-mailed that, they got a generic reply noting that I knew Ben Rhodes and if the media wasn't 'attacking' him, it probably had less to do with who his brother was and more to do with the passage reading innocuous.

Michael D. Shear and Mark Lander (New York Times) note,  "White House aides have said the excerpts used by Republicans -- and heavily reported by the news media -- were an inaccurate representation of their involvement. On Tuesday, CNN obtained one of the e-mails in question that appeared to minimize the White House involvement."  That doesn't surprise me.  Read last week's entries (from the links offered earlier).  Did I call out the White House?  No.  I called out Nuland, Hillary Clinton and the State Dept.  And I noted my conversation with a friend at the White House who wanted my input Friday morning.  My input was stop protecting Hillary, save your own ass.  That appears to be what today's document drop did.  Shear and Lander remark on the "intensive jostling among top intelligence and diplomatic officials."  This was State fighting the CIA.  That's what the e-mails revealed.  State did not want the Congress -- or the American people -- to know what went down. Nuland fought to strip things out.

Which is why the lie about 'national security' that some Cult of St. Barackers have felt the need to repeat never got traction.  The CIA was saying it was okay for the American people to know about the terrorism.  State was the one saying, 'Oh, no, this might make us look bad.'

Nedra Pickler (AP) reports today that the e-mail dump by the White House reveals David Petreaus (CIA Director at the time) lodged a complaint about the talking points "becuase he wanted to see more detail publicly released, including a warning issued from the CIA about plans for an embassy attack"  Again, the issue on the talking points was and is Victoria Nuland.

CBS News' Mark Knoller Tweeted on the e-mail dump.  He Tweets on the White House in the e-mails, Ben Rhodes in the e-mails and more.  I'm emphasizing Nuland:

  1. At 932pm 9/14, another State Dept official emails Nuland and says "we can make edits" in the Talking Points.
  2. At 923pm, 9/14, Nuland said revisions still "don't resolve all my issues or those of" State Dept leadership.
  3. Latest version on 9/14 spoke only of "indications that Islamic extremists participated" in the Benghazi attacks. No mention of al-Qaida.
  4. At 915pm on 9/14, CIA e-mails about State Dept having "major reservations" about the Talking Points document & sends another edited version.
  5. Still later on 9/14, another State Dept official raises concerns: "some of the statements below are new by me." Asks for reconsideration.
  6. Nuland worries that members of Congress might "beat the State Dept for not paying attention" to CIA warnings about Benghazi.
  7. Still later on 9/14, State Dept spkswmn Victoria Nuland raises concerns about Talking Points reference to prior CIA warnings about Benghazi.
  8. Another edited version on 9/14 shows "investigation is on-going as to who is responsible for the violence" in Benghazi.

To read his Twitter feed, you can click here.  Again, he's covering all the e-mails released today.
Eugene Kiely and Lori Robertson ( did a fact check prior to the White House dumping (presumably all of the) e-mails.  Their fact check doesn't mention Ben Rhodes either.  Probably because to most people reading the quote (that apparently was false) of Rhodes last Friday, it didn't seem damning.  It reads like a parent telling two squabbling children, "Okay, okay.  Let's talk this out.  One at a time." Their fact check focuses on Nuland and Jay Carney.  Carney's the only one at the White House that currently needs to issue an apology -- in my opinion.  You can feel differently.  He misled the American people.  Because he was told wrong or because he chose to?  I don't know.  But he is the public voice of the White House and he made some errors.  If they were errors and not lies, he should be apologizing.  If they were lies, he should turn his resignation.

And when I write something like that, the e-mails pour in that I'm minimizing the White House's actions.  And I'm attacked for giving Barack a pass.  You can feel that way, it's your call.  I think friends at the White House would roll with laughter at the idea that I give Barack a pass. But what I shared was a view.  It was a view I felt a number of people would have.

That appears to have been the case.  Here's how it went at the White House on Monday.  A ton of responses were sent starting Friday -- on the White House contact form.   They expressed support for Barack.  Some included blessing him and his family.  But they were concerned, overwhelmingly, with Barack going down for what the writers saw as Hillary's action.  One that was read to me in full was from a woman who stated she supported Barack in the primaries because she didn't trust Hillary.  The woman appealed to Barack not to let Hillary pull him down.

This was the general tone of the bulk of the e-mails.  I wasn't surprised that, after being asked, Barack went on to comment on Benghazi this week.  (I was surprised he didn't mention the four killed -- Glen Doherty, Sean Smith, Chris Stevens and Tyrone Woods by name because I did stress over the phone that if he was going to speak of it, he needed to name the dead, he needed to show that respect.  So that shows you how little my sought-out opinion is listened to.)

What the White House is done is taken another step towards letting Hillary fight her own battles.  Those White House 'letters' (using the contact form)?  About 29% were calling for Barack to publicly state what the State Dept did was wrong.  If that number increases, you're going to get a statement on that too.

Let's repeat what's known.  The CIA was for giving the American people more information than the State Dept wanted.  It was Nuland who wrote she had "serious concerns" -- about what?  "Arming members of Congress" and providing information for "Members to beat the State Department for not paying attention to AGency warnings so why do we want to feed that either?"

I didn't let Ben Rhodes skate or give Barack a pass.  They weren't the news in Jonathan Karl's report and they really aren't the news today.  Victoria Nuland is the news.  In her own words, she has been caught attempting to deceive the American people.  Guess what?  You can't do that in a democracy.  The news value of the e-mails has always been Nuland.  Now people can extrapolate above, chain of command and administrative issues.  To me, those roads lead to Hillary who was Nuland's immediate supervisor.  If others want to say they reflect on Barack, that's fine, they're entitled to their opinon.  But we have gone there yet.  What Nuland was outrageous and anti-democratic.  She attempted to deceive the American people to make her agency look better.

That, pay attention, is what qualifies for a "cover up."  That is what demands government attention and response.  Now you can disagree with that, that's fine.  And I could be wrong and so often am.  But stop the volley of e-mails about how I was "wrong" when I called out Ben Rhodes because I never mentioned him.  I get what's going on.  I was actually part of this in 2004.  So it's fitting that it's causing me a problem now (although the ones being put out are the ones reading the e-mails). I was part of a group that worked very hard to see that there would not be another stolen election.  With Al Gore, I felt our (Democratic Party) biggest problem was that we lost the media.  Why did we lose the media?  Because the right wing was astroturfing them.  I could make that argument because I knew a number of the columnists and reporters and editors and producers.  They were overwhelmed in 2000 with e-mails -- supposedly spontaneous public reaction.  And that did influence the outcome of the coverage.  So in March of 2004, I was part of a group that made it a point to start educating on the media and setting up people who would do nothing but e-mail (they believed in but they were paid) columnists and reporters on nights of debate, on days where things went seriously wrong for either campaign (for the Democrats to defend them, for the Republicans to demand coverage of the outrage).  To be clear, the operation I was working on was not about spin or lies.  It was about pushback with truth.  The argument being that we should have demanded that the lying about Al Gore stop.  (Lying by the press in 2000.)   Media Matters for Stupidity is a completely different animal.  Click here for their latest garbage. They spin like crazy and avoid Nuland except to offer a non-important quote.  They ignore the Petraeus e-mail that the AP is reporting on.  They spin with lies.  I stressed that the 2004 operation had to be about truth because if anyone was caught lying (the ones working the refs) that meant finding and training someone new and putting the whole operation at risk.  It was used in 2008 (I don't know about 2012) for Barack's campaign.  (I did not participate in 2008.)

It's working the ref, I understand that completely. But the thing is, I'm not a sports gal, you can't work me.  Not only was I part of that, but I'm not influenced by it.  (Other than I am seriously considering closing the public account so that everyone working the account can focus instead on the private account for community members.)

The IRS attack on political groups attempting to utilize their free speech rights was raised repeatedly in the House Judiciary Committee hearing today.  Here's one example.

US House Rep David Scott: On the Internal Revenue situation, I think we can all agree that the published reports which suggest that IRS agents were denying people their proper consideration based on politics, that's the allegation.  I assume you haven't completed your investigation but I think there's bi-partisan agreement that you shouldn't be able to do that.  Now you've publicly said that you're having a criminal investigation.  There are obviously criminal laws against denial of Civil Rights under 1983.  There's also a specific IRS code that's says, "Any officer or employee of the United States acting in connection with any revenue law of the United States who with the intent to defeat the application of any provision of this title files to perform any of the duties of his office or employment" -- and then goes on to show that's -- if you violate that -- that's a five year felony. Are there any gaps in the criminal code that would make it difficult for you to pursue criminal sanctions if you find that IRS agents were denying benefits under the Internal Revenue Code based on politics?

Attorney General Eric Holder:  That actually is a good question and I'm not sure what the answer is.  I think the provisions that you have noted are the ones that we are looking at.  There are Civil Rights provisions, IRS provisions,  potentially The Hatch Act.  And I think we're going to have to get into the investigation before I can answer that question more intelligently.  But to the extent that there are enforcement gaps that we find, we will let this Committee know and hopefully work with this Committee to make sure that what happened and was outrageous -- as I've said -- and if we have to bring criminal actions so that that kind of action that kind of activity doesn't happen again.

US House Rep David Scott:  I understand that certain individuals in the IRS have apologized.  Does an apology immunize you from criminal prosecution?

Attorney General Eric Holder:  Uh, no.

Today, President Barack Obama addressed the IRS scandal.  We'll close with his remarks in full.

THE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon, everybody.  I just finished speaking with Secretary Lew and senior officials at the Treasury Department to discuss the investigation into IRS personnel who improperly screened conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.  And I look forward to taking some questions at tomorrow’s press conference, but today, I wanted to make sure to get out to all of you some information about what we’re doing about this, and where we go from here.
I’ve reviewed the Treasury Department watchdog’s report, and the misconduct that it uncovered is inexcusable.  It’s inexcusable, and Americans are right to be angry about it, and I am angry about it.  I will not tolerate this kind of behavior in any agency, but especially in the IRS, given the power that it has and the reach that it has into all of our lives.  And as I said earlier, it should not matter what political stripe you’re from -- the fact of the matter is, is that the IRS has to operate with absolute integrity.  The government generally has to conduct itself in a way that is true to the public trust. That’s especially true for the IRS.
So here’s what we’re going to do.
First, we’re going to hold the responsible parties accountable.  Yesterday, I directed Secretary Lew to follow up on the IG audit to see how this happened and who is responsible, and to make sure that we understand all the facts.  Today, Secretary Lew took the first step by requesting and accepting the resignation of the acting commissioner of the IRS, because given the controversy surrounding this audit, it’s important to institute new leadership that can help restore confidence going forward.
Second, we’re going to put in place new safeguards to make sure this kind of behavior cannot happen again.  And I’ve directed Secretary Lew to ensure the IRS begins implementing the IG’s recommendations right away.
Third, we will work with Congress as it performs its oversight role.  And our administration has to make sure that we are working hand in hand with Congress to get this thing fixed.  Congress, Democrats and Republicans, owe it to the American people to treat that authority with the responsibility it deserves and in a way that doesn’t smack of politics or partisan agendas.  Because I think one thing that you’ve seen is, across the board, everybody believes what happened in -- as reported in the IG report is an outrage.  The good news is it’s fixable, and it’s in everyone’s best interest to work together to fix it.
I’ll do everything in my power to make sure nothing like this happens again by holding the responsible parties accountable, by putting in place new checks and new safeguards, and going forward, by making sure that the law is applied as it should be -- in a fair and impartial way.  And we’re going to have to make sure that the laws are clear so that we can have confidence that they are enforced in a fair and impartial way, and that there’s not too much ambiguity surrounding these laws. 
So that's what I expect.  That's what the American people deserve.  And that's what we’re going to do.
Thank you very much.