Saturday, July 13, 2013

Ginny Brown calls Pilger out

"Leftist Men Aren't Born to Lead Radical Struggles:  A critical analysis of John Pilger's article on feminism" (Ginny Brown, ICH):

July 12, 2013 "Information Clearing House -  What do women hit by the latest austerity and misogynist attacks need? Not another reminder by men that feminists are white with middle-class politics, as John Pilger's piece seemed to imply. Nor do women need being set up as aloof, proletariat-dividing essentialists who think men are inherently violent.
We don't need a chip-on-the-shoulderish, misplaced complaint that 'there is a war on ordinary people and feminists are needed at the front', as Pilger's response went to the recent media commentary – ranging from misogynist violence, to greater male suicidality and criminality, to derision of TV dads - about a 'crisis of masculinity'. Any generals worth their salt see the entire terrain of war and don't dismiss half of it as either privileged or nonexistent. Nor do they reduce specific attacks – waged on half ‘their own side’ and participated in by others ‘on their side’ - to the general conditions experienced by all soldiers.
Women worldwide lack sexual and reproductive autonomy and perform most unpaid care tasks, despite neoliberal rhetoric about ‘choice’ and ‘empowerment’.
The current social and political attacks we face are not simply the attacks borne by male workers, but attacks that exacerbate this female-specific pattern of oppression – centered on the family unit - so vital to capitalism.
This is not helped by a leftist man stepping in to write off global rape culture as 'a rash of dreadful murder and kidnap cases', even with the dismissive addendum that 'simultaneous war and "austerity" policies have exacerbated all kinds of abuse, including domestic violence' and the racial impoverishment of women. It is not good enough to mention that women have it bad, while failing to say why these attacks target and impact women the most, as if women were simply unlucky.

Are you surprised?

You know I'm not.  C.I. and I have been calling out Pilger for his sexism.

We've also been fair and not acted as though sexism is all he has to offer.  When he's been right, we've noted it.

I'm not aiming that at Ginny who wrote a great column.

I am aiming that at John Pilger who can be very petty and work a grudge until a new one comes along.

He needs to take a look at that and he needs to really let go of the hatred towards women.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, July 12, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, Ed Snowden speaks in Russia, the State Dept attacks him for speaking, Matthew Lee and Elise Labott press the State Dept,  violence slams Iraq, Victoria Nuland mislead the Senate on Benghazi, and more.

This morning, the world waited to hear from NSA whistle-blower Ed Snowden as media poured into the Moscow airport in anticipation of what the person who has influenced a global dialogue might say next.  Ahead of his appearing, BBC News notes, "The American is believed to have been stuck in transit since arriving in Moscow from Hong Kong on 23 June, even though no pictures of his stay there have emerged."

Lidia Kelly and Alessandra Prentice (Reuters) report, "Former intelligence agency contractor Edward Snowden asked to meet human rights groups at a Moscow airport on Friday to discuss what he called 'threatening behaviour' by the United States to prevent him gaining asylum."

Ed Snowden:  My name is Ed Snowden. A little over one month ago, I had family, a home in paradise, and I lived in great comfort. I also had the capability without any warrant to search for, seize, and read your communications. Anyone’s communications at any time. That is the power to change people’s fates.
It is also a serious violation of the law. The 4th and 5th Amendments to the Constitution of my country, Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and numerous statutes and treaties forbid such systems of massive, pervasive surveillance. While the US Constitution marks these programs as illegal, my government argues that secret court rulings, which the world is not permitted to see, somehow legitimize an illegal affair. These rulings simply corrupt the most basic notion of justice – that it must be seen to be done. The immoral cannot be made moral through the use of secret law.
I believe in the principle declared at Nuremberg in 1945: "Individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience. Therefore individual citizens have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity from occurring."
Accordingly, I did what I believed right and began a campaign to correct this wrongdoing. I did not seek to enrich myself. I did not seek to sell US secrets. I did not partner with any foreign government to guarantee my safety. Instead, I took what I knew to the public, so what affects all of us can be discussed by all of us in the light of day, and I asked the world for justice.
That moral decision to tell the public about spying that affects all of us has been costly, but it was the right thing to do and I have no regrets.
Since that time, the government and intelligence services of the United States of America have attempted to make an example of me, a warning to all others who might speak out as I have. I have been made stateless and hounded for my act of political expression. The United States Government has placed me on no-fly lists. It demanded Hong Kong return me outside of the framework of its laws, in direct violation of the principle of non-refoulement – the Law of Nations. It has threatened with sanctions countries who would stand up for my human rights and the UN asylum system. It has even taken the unprecedented step of ordering military allies to ground a Latin American president’s plane in search for a political refugee. These dangerous escalations represent a threat not just to the dignity of Latin America, but to the basic rights shared by every person, every nation, to live free from persecution, and to seek and enjoy asylum.
Yet even in the face of this historically disproportionate aggression, countries around the world have offered support and asylum. These nations, including Russia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Ecuador have my gratitude and respect for being the first to stand against human rights violations carried out by the powerful rather than the powerless. By refusing to compromise their principles in the face of intimidation, they have earned the respect of the world. It is my intention to travel to each of these countries to extend my personal thanks to their people and leaders.
I announce today my formal acceptance of all offers of support or asylum I have been extended and all others that may be offered in the future. With, for example, the grant of asylum provided by Venezuela’s President Maduro, my asylee status is now formal, and no state has a basis by which to limit or interfere with my right to enjoy that asylum. As we have seen, however, some governments in Western European and North American states have demonstrated a willingness to act outside the law, and this behavior persists today. This unlawful threat makes it impossible for me to travel to Latin America and enjoy the asylum granted there in accordance with our shared rights.
This willingness by powerful states to act extra-legally represents a threat to all of us, and must not be allowed to succeed. Accordingly, I ask for your assistance in requesting guarantees of safe passage from the relevant nations in securing my travel to Latin America, as well as requesting asylum in Russia until such time as these states accede to law and my legal travel is permitted. I will be submitting my request to Russia today, and hope it will be accepted favorably.

On the above, it's cute to watch the reaction of the press.  Michael Hirsh (National Journal) wrote a ridiculous article blaming Ed for the circus that surrounds him -- that would be the press circus and Hirsh needs to learn to hold his own industry accountable or stop pointing the fingers at others.  If he's not getting how useless the press is being, he can examine how they covered the above with so many focusing on Ed's name.  Telegraph of London, "Snowden, apparently wants to be called Ed, not Edward." Forbes: "[. . .] letting them know that 1) he prefers to be called Ed, and 2) he's ready to get out of there" -- and we could go on and on.

So, Michael Hirsh, who's causing the circus?  Not Ed.  And the press can't even be honest about the issue of the name.

We never called Ed Snowden anything but "Ed Snowden."  Dropping back to the June 11th snapshot:

Strange times in Portland, Maine
Lobsters dancing on the docks
Switzerland's been weird since they unplugged the clocks
Man and a woman in Brooklyn Heights
Each convinced the other's in the wrong
While last year the divorce rate tripled in Hong Kong
If through all the madness
We can stick together
We're safe and sound
The world's just inside out and upside down
-- "Safe and Sound," written by Jacob Brackman and Carly Simon, first appears on Carly's Hotcakes

The world is inside out and upside down these days.  In even the most basic ways.  Take Ed Snowden, the whistle-blower who exposed the programs Barack and Clapper are currently defending, and take Nashwan Abdulrazaq Abdulbagi.  By the 'press rule,' Ed Snowden's name is "Edward Snowden."  Stan wrote last night about how the press stripped Glen King of his name and insisted he be called Rodney King.  Ed Snowden is very clear in the Guardian video interview that his name is Ed Snowden.  That is how he identifies himself.  The New York Times identifying him as "Edward Snowden" is not surprising to me.  That people on the left go along with it surprises me. 

How much more clear is it than someone identifying themselves on video as the NSA whistle-blower and stating their name as "Ed Snowden"?  The press has refused to call him by his name.  Today, he again stated his name.  And the press wants to pretend this is something new or novel -- as opposed to the reality that they got it wrong for over a month now.

There was a great deal to address.  At the State Dept press briefing today, Associated Press' Matthew Lee  and CNN's Elise Labott attempted to address the issues.  It was not a proud moment for Jen  Psaki or for the State Dept.

Matthew Lee: Can we start in Russia –

Jen Psaki:  Mm-hmm.

Matthew Lee: -- with Mr. Snowden? I’m wondering if, since he has now asked the Russians for asylum, there has been any contact between this building and the Russians about your feelings about his status.

Jen Psaki: Well, I can tell you – I hadn’t seen – or I don’t have independent confirmation, I guess I should say, about any request he’s made. I can tell you that we have been in touch, of course, with Russian officials. Our Embassy in Moscow has been in direct contact on the ground. We are disappointed that Russian officials and agencies facilitated this meeting today by allowing these activists and representatives into the Moscow airport’s transit zone to meet with Mr. Snowden despite the government’s declarations of Russia’s neutrality with respect to Mr. Snowden.

Matthew Lee: So I’m sorry. You’re disappointed that they let someone into their own airport?

Jen Psaki: Well –

Matthew Lee: I don’t get it.

Jen Psaki:  Well, that they facilitated this event, of course.

Matthew Lee:  Well, why?

Jen Psaki:  Because this gave a forum for –

Matthew Lee:  You don’t think that he should have a forum? Has he – he’s forfeited his right to freedom of speech as well?

Jen Psaki: Well, Matt, Mr. Snowden –

Matthew Lee:  All right.

Jen Psaki:  -- as we’ve talked about – let me just state this –

Matthew Lee: Okay.

Jen Psaki:  -- because I think it’s important. He’s not a whistleblower. He’s not a human rights activist. He’s wanted in a series of serious criminal charges brought in the eastern district of Virginia and the United States.

Matthew Lee:  Okay. I’m sorry. But I didn’t realize people who were wanted on charges forfeited their right to speech – to free speech. I also didn’t realize that people who were not whistleblowers or not human rights activists, as you say he is not, that they forfeited their rights to speak, so I don’t understand why you’re disappointed with the Russians, but neither that – leave that aside for a second.  The group WikiLeaks put out a transcript, I guess, essentially, of Mr. – what Mr. Snowden said at the airport. At the top of that transcript, it contained – it said that the Human Rights Watch representative from Human Rights Watch, researcher who went to this thing, while she was on her way to the airport, got a phone call from the American Ambassador asking her to relay a message to Mr. Snowden that – basically the message that you just gave here, that, one, he is not a whistleblower, and, two, that he is wanted in the United States. Is that correct?

Jen Psaki:  It is not correct. First, Ambassador McFaul did not call any representative from Human Rights Watch. An embassy officer did call to explain our position, certainly, that I just reiterated here for all of you today, but at no point did this official or any official from the U.S. Government ask anyone to convey a message to Mr. Snowden.

Matthew Lee:  Did anyone from the Embassy call any of the other groups – representatives of groups that were going to this meeting – that you understood were going to this meeting?

Jen Psaki: As I’m sure would be no surprise, and as you know because we even had a civil society event when the Secretary was there, we are in regular touch, as we have been today. I don’t have an update on the exact list of calls, though, for you.

Matthew Lee: But you can say pretty conclusively that this one call did happen, and that it wasn’t the Ambassador. So were there others? Do you know?

Jen Psaki: We have –

Matthew Lee:  Did calls go to other groups?

Jen Psaki:  -- been in touch with –

Matthew Lee: Okay.

Jen Psaki:   -- attendees.

Matthew Lee:  Yes.

Jen Psaki:  I don’t have any specifics for you, though.

Matthew Lee:  Okay. And the – and you have made no secret of the fact that any country or government that gives Mr. Snowden asylum or allows him to transit through, that there would be some serious consequences for – grave consequences in their relationship with the United States.

Jen Psaki:  Mm-hmm.

Matthew Lee:  Have you made the same – and presumably that would apply to individuals who would help him stay – help him avoid returning here to face justice. Is that – that’s correct?

Jen Psaki:  I’m not sure what that exactly means.

Matthew Lee:  Well, I’m – what I’m getting at is these groups, the human rights groups that are respected human rights groups –

Jen Psaki: : Mm-hmm.

Matthew Lee:  -- which you yourself, as well as previous spokespeople have quoted from –

Jen Psaki:  Mm-hmm.

Matthew Lee:  -- in relation to other situations, have taken a side in support of Mr. Snowden, and I’m wondering if there are any consequences for them if you – if they aid and abet Mr. Snowden in staying away – out of the reach of U.S. authorities.

Jen Psaki:  Well, we obviously don’t think this was a proper forum or a proper elevation of him. Beyond that, the way that I think it’s been asked, but also the way we’ve thought about it, is more about governments and our relationships with them and their aid or decisions to aid Mr. Snowden.

Matthew Lee:  Right, but I guess the question is: If you think this was an inappropriate forum, did you try to dissuade these groups from going there?

Jen Psaki:  From attending?

Matthew Lee:  Yeah.

Jen Psaki:  Not that I’m aware of, Matt. Obviously –

Matthew Lee:  Okay. So the call –

Jen Psaki:  -- they were invited to attend.

Matthew Lee: So the calls were just a reminder of your position. Did you say to Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International that if you guys help Mr. Snowden, support him in some way so that – to keep him from facing justice back in the United States, that there would be consequences for them?

Jen Psaki:  I don’t have any readouts of these calls. Our focus remains on –

Matthew Lee:  Okay. Well, then can you say –

Jen Psaki:  -- conveying to the Russian Government the fact that they have the ability to help return Mr. Snowden to the United States.

Matthew Lee:  Did you tell them in the calls that you did not think that Mr. Snowden should have the opportunity to express his view?

Jen Psaki:  Matt, I don’t have any readout for these – of these calls for you. We did --

Matthew Lee: Okay. Well, forget about the calls, then.

Jen Psaki:  We did convey the broad point that I’ve made.

Matthew Lee: Okay. Well, then forget about what you said or what the Embassy people said in these specific phone calls. Do you believe that Mr. Snowden should not have had the opportunity to express his views at the airport in Moscow today?

Jen Psaki: Well, Matt, I think we broadly believe in free speech, as you know.

Matthew Lee: Except when it comes to this.

Jen Psaki: But we cannot look at this as a – I know we like to ask about sweeping scenarios in here, but --

Matthew Lee: No, this is not sweeping at all. This is very specific, related to one guy in one place in one city, one airport, one time. So I just – do you think that it was inappropriate for Mr. Snowden to speak publicly? Do you – I mean, not that – whether you’re disappointed in the Russians. Do you think that he should not have had the opportunity to speak publicly?

Jen Psaki: Our focus, Matt, is on how our concern about how Russian authorities clearly helped assist the ability of attendees to participate in this.

Matthew Lee: Mm-hmm.

Jen Psaki:  That is of concern to us. Our focus is on returning Mr. Snowden to the United States. Beyond that, I just don’t have anything more.

Matthew Lee:  Okay. I’m just – I’m trying to get – you are saying that this essentially – it wasn’t a press conference, but it might as well have been. And you don’t think the Russians should have helped to facilitate a --

Jen Psaki:  Facilitated a propaganda platform for Mr. Snowden.

Matthew Lee:  -- a propaganda platform. Okay. So this is, to your mind, something like them bringing out a defected spy from the Cold War and putting him on a platform and having him rail against the United States. Is that what the Administration believes?

Jen Psaki:  I’m not going to draw comparisons along those lines. But let me say --

Matthew Lee:  “A propaganda platform” is close enough.

Jen Psaki: -- that Mr. Snowden could – should return to the United States to face these charges that – where he will be accorded a fair trial. That’s where our focus is.

Elise Labott: Well, is this a propaganda platform or is this kind of putting in train a process for asylum? Because last week, or two weeks ago, the Russians said that they would consider his request for asylum if Mr. Snowden would stop leaking material about – or leaking information about U.S. surveillance programs. Now, he wouldn’t do that before, and he tried some other areas for asylum.
Now, in this propaganda platform, as you call it, he said that he has decided to – not to leak any more information, or he doesn’t have any more information, but he’s done. So are you concerned now that this is him accepting conditions for Russian asylum publicly as opposed to just some kind of propaganda? I mean, is that your real concern here, that these are the conditions for asylum and now he’s publicly meeting them?

Jen Psaki:  Our concern here is that he’s been provided this opportunity to speak in a propaganda platform, as I mentioned a few seconds ago, that Russia has played a role in facilitating this, that others have helped elevate it. But we still believe that Russia has the opportunity to do the right thing and facilitate his return to the United States.

Elise Labott:  Well, but --

Jen Psaki:  I don’t have any independent knowledge, as would be no surprise, of what he has officially requested, what has officially been --

Elise Labott:  Well, it’s pretty public that Russia --

Jen Psaki:  -- accepted or not.

Elise Labott:  Okay, but it’s pretty public that Russia said that they would consider his asylum petition if he said that – if he would agree publicly to stop leaking information. Now he’s done that.

Jen Psaki:  Mm-hmm.

Elise Labott:  So is that propaganda, or is that publicly agreeing to Russia’s conditions and kind of moving the asylum petition along?

Jen Psaki:  I’m just not going to make an evaluation of what Russia’s conditions are and whether he meets --

Elise Labott:  Well, you don’t have to make an evaluation. They’ve said it publicly.

Jen Psaki:  -- let me finish – whether he meets them. That’s not the point here. The point is Russia helped facilitate this. They have the ability and the opportunity to do the right thing and help return Mr. Snowden to the United States. It’s not about what the conditions are.

Elise Labott:  But you don’t – I mean, is it – I mean, your concern now is that this is – that Russia’s – by facilitating – I mean, are you really upset that this is propaganda, or are you really upset that Russia is moving closer to accepting to this guy’s asylum?

Jen Psaki:  Well, we don’t know that. This is a step that was taken today. Obviously, we continue to call for his return. They have a role they can play in that. Beyond that, I’m not going to speculate what they are or aren’t going to do.

[. . .]

Matthew Lee: Can I just --

Jen Psaki: Mm-hmm.

Matthew Lee: In the conversations that the Ambassador, or whoever it was the Embassy had – not with the Human Rights people, but with the Russian Government --

Jen Psaki:  Mm-hmm.

Matthew Lee: -- did you tell them that facilitating this appearance by Mr. Snowden was problematic, that you thought that they shouldn’t do it?

Jen Psaki:  I --

Matthew Lee:  Did you ask them not to do it?

Jen Psaki:  We made our concerns and our view on Mr. Snowden clear.

Matthew Lee:  No, but I – specifically about giving him this propaganda platform, as you called it.

Jen Psaki:  I just – I don’t have any more to read out for you from the private phone calls, Matt, just that there – we have been in touch.

Matthew Lee:  Well, I mean, did you ask the Russians, please don’t do this, we think he’s a criminal and needs to come back? Did you – did – I mean, did you ask and they rejected the request?

Jen Psaki:  Well, Matt, we’ve been clear publicly --

Matthew Lee:  Yeah.

Jen Psaki:  -- countless times what our view is --

Matthew Lee: I understand that, but --

Jen Psaki: -- and we’ve consistently made the same points privately, today and any other day.

Matthew Lee: Right. But did you say that you would look negatively on them providing him a, quote-unquote, “propaganda platform?”

Jen Psaki:  I just don’t have any more on the specifics of the calls.

Matthew Lee:  Well, is the United States Government now in the business of trying to discourage people or governments from facilitating people having – meeting with human rights activists? I don’t get it.

Jen Psaki:  Matt, this is not a universal position of the United States. This is an individual --

Matthew Lee:  So it’s just in this one case.

Jen Psaki:  -- who has been accused of three – of felony charges.

Matthew Lee: But surely – Jen --

Jen Psaki: This is not a unique --

Matthew Lee: Okay. He’s been accused. Do you remember the old line that we’re supposed to all know – he has not been convicted of anything yet.

Jen Psaki:  And he can return to the United States and face the charges.

Matthew Lee:  But he can also surely – people who are accused of crimes are allowed their right of free speech, are they not?

Jen Psaki:  Matt, I think we’ve gone the round on this.

Elise Labott: No, I mean, it’s a legitimate question. I mean, you talk about even in Russia that journalists have been persecuted and political activists have been persecuted and you call for free speech around the world. But you’re not saying that Mr. Snowden has the right of free speech?
Jen Psaki: That’s not at all what I was saying. We believe, of course, broadly in free speech. Our concern here was that this was – there was obvious facilitation by the Russians in this case. We’ve conveyed that. We’ve conveyed our concerns. I’m saying them publicly.

Elise Labott: So you’re upset – you’re not upset about the press conference; you’re upset that the Russians facilitated it.

Jen Psaki: We certainly are upset that there was a platform for an individual who’s been accused of felony crimes.

Elise Labott: But what does that matter, really? I mean, people that are in jail or are on trial in the United States, they give press conferences or they speak out all the time. I mean, it sounds to me like what you’re not really upset with the act that he spoke; you’re upset with the fact that the Russians did something on his behalf.

Jen Psaki:  I think I’ve expressed what we’re upset about.

Elise Labott: I don’t --

Jen Psaki: And you keep saying what we’re upset about. But I think I’ve made clear what we’re upset about.

Free speech and the US government attempting to strong arm Human Rights Watch are not minor details.  Another major issue is the vast damage the US government is doing to the asylum.  This is an issue the ACLU is shining a spotlight on in an article by  Jamil Dakwar, Director, ACLU Human Rights Program & Chandra Bhatnagar, Senior Staff Attorney, ACLU Human Rights Program:

While it remains unclear where Mr. Snowden will ultimately end up and how he will be able to leave Russia, U.S. actions to secure his extradition must take place within an acceptable legal framework protecting his right to seek asylum.
Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) states that "[e]veryone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution. This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations." The American Convention on Human Rights explicitly provides for a right of an individual "to seek and be granted asylum in a foreign territory, in accordance with the legislation of the state and international conventions, in the event he is being pursued for political offenses or related common crimes."
In the case of Mr. Snowden, the United States has interfered with his right to seek asylum in two significant ways. First, the U.S. revoked Mr. Snowden's passport. While this action does not render Mr. Snowden "stateless" (because he is still a U.S. citizen), it does make it extremely difficult for him to travel or seek asylum, especially in countries that require asylees to be present in their territory at the time of the request. Second, while the United States is within its rights to seek Mr. Snowden's extradition to face charges in the United States, diplomatic and law enforcement efforts to extradite him must be consistent with international law. It appears that U.S. efforts have prevented Mr. Snowden from receiving fair and impartial consideration of his application for asylum in many of the countries to which he reportedly applied. These efforts allegedly led to an unprecedented event last week when Bolivian President Evo Morales' plane was denied the use of airspace by several European countries and forced to land in Austria. Once on the ground, the plane was reportedly searched because American intelligence officials believed that Mr. Snowden was on board.

Human Rights Watch also notes the issue of asylum:

The US may seek Snowden’s extradition to face charges in the US. While seeking extradition is within a state's discretion, the asylum claim should be heard first, before a decision on extradition is made. Washington’s actions appear to be aimed at preventing Snowden from gaining an opportunity to claim refuge, in violation of his right to seek asylum under international law. “There's a long history of countries forcing asylum seekers to live for extended periods in embassies rather than reach a place of refuge,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director at Human Rights Watch. “The US shouldn't place itself in that category.”

Human Rights Watch met with Ed today.  Another group that met with him is Amnesty International which issued the following:

Amnesty International met with US whistleblower Edward Snowden at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport on Friday. Sergei Nikitin, Head of Amnesty International's Moscow office, who was at the meeting said:
“Amnesty International was pleased to reiterate our support for Edward Snowden in person.  We will continue to pressure governments to ensure his rights are respected - this includes the unassailable right to claim asylum wherever he may choose.
“What he has disclosed is patently in the public interest and as a whistleblower his actions were justified. He has exposed unlawful sweeping surveillance programmes that unquestionably interfere with an individual’s right to privacy.
“States that attempt to stop a person from revealing such unlawful behaviour are flouting international law. Freedom of expression is a fundamental right.
“Instead of addressing or even owning up to these blatant breaches, the US government is more intent on persecuting him. Attempts to pressure governments to block his efforts to seek asylum are deplorable.”

Iran's Tehran Times notes the "hypocrisy" which it explains as "American secrets are sacred, but the United States has the right to know everybody else's."  The administration is a hypocrite and they embrace hypocrites which is how Nouri al-Maliki ended up prime minister of Iraq for a second term.

It's Friday, protests continue in Iraq, as they have since December 21st.  Iraqi Spring MC notes that a preacher in Falluja reminded the activists that they were one third of the country's population but Nouri refuses to listen to them.  NINA notes that, in Falluja, Nouri's forces raided the home of an Imam and arrested him.  NINA notes that thousands showed up to take part in the sit-ins in Ramadi and Falluja.    NINA covers Samarra, reporting, "Samarra preacher and the unified Fri-prayers Imam called in the sit-in yard of Samarra on the central government to release the innocent prisoners to express so the respect to the month of Ramadan."  That was Shiekh Samir Fouad  and Alsumaria reports he was calling for the release and he also pointed out that this is the absolute best time, during Ramadan, to demonstrate forgiveness.

Kirk H. Sowell (Foreign Policy) offers an analysis of Iraq which opens with the following:

 Iraq has now held provincial elections across the country, following those in the predominately Sunni provinces of Anbar and Ninawa that took place on June 20, and in 12 other Arab provinces on April 20. The government's decision to postpone elections in Anbar and Ninawa, though ostensibly for security reasons, more likely aimed to boost the performance of Sunni parties aligned with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Shiite-led government. Elections in the 10 Shiite-majority provinces were in large part a referendum on Maliki's State of Law Coalition, and Shiite voters reduced Maliki's seat total across the board. Whereas before Maliki and his allies dominated eight of these 10 provinces, Maliki now controls less than half.
 Paul McGeough (Hepburn Advocate) offers an analysis which includes:
 Analysts warn that a seeming thaw between Maliki and Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani, when they hugged and back-slapped for the cameras in June, has left many issues that could trigger conflict unresolved.
But Maliki is making nice because national elections are scheduled next year - a hiatus in the modern Iraqi political cycle in which the Kurds get to play kingmaker.
Maliki will go to the polls needing all the help he can muster after provincial elections earlier this year in which support for his party slipped, giving control of Baghdad and Basra, the country's two biggest cities, to rival parties.
Turning to the issue of violence,  Reuters reports a bombing targing a Kirkuk tea house left 31 people dead.  RT notes, "AFP spoke to a medical official who claimed the attack was caused by a suicide bomber. However, that has not been officially confirmed and no one has claimed responsibility for the bombing."  In addition,  NINA reports a Falluja mortar attack left two people injured, and a Baquba roadside bombing left 1 person dead and another injured.   All Iraq News adds that a Tikrit sticky bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer, 2 Sahwa and 2 suspects were shot dead in Tikrit, and a Misahraty was shot dead in Baghdad ("one of the oldest most deep-rooted traditions found during Ramadna. Misaharat is the name given to the person who walks and beats a drum in residential areas to wake people up"). Alsumaria notes 1 corpse was discovered in Tikrit (dead from gunshot wounds), a police officer was still going to be a joke.   Deutsche Welle reports:

Iraqi officials have said two overnight attacks against Shiites have killed at least 20 people and wounded dozens more. A string of bombings claimed dozens more lives across Iraq on Thursday.
The toll from a wave of attacks in Iraq, mainly targeting security forces and Shiites, has risen to at least 50 killed through Friday morning, security officials and doctors said.

AP covers the overnight violence here.  Also last night, All Iraq News reports, Vice President Joe Biden called Nouri al-Maliki to discuss the various problems in Iraq today and the issue with Syria.  In addition, Alsumaria adds that Biden also called KRG President

Yesterday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on the nominations of Douglas Edward Lute, Daniel Brooks Baer and Victoria Nuland.  Nuland's the controversial nominee due to her spinning on Benghazi.  September 11, 2012 an attack in Benghazi left four Americans dead: Glen Doherty, Sean Smith, Chris Stevens and Tyrone Woods.  A set of misleading talking points were created to mislead the public and Nuland took part in the creation of those talking points.

Senator Ron Johnson: The question I have is do you believe that in your role representing the United States government that the American people deserve the truth out of members of the administration?

Victoria Nuland:  Senator, the American people deserve the truth.  This body deserves the truth.  Those of us who were friends of the victims as I was deserve the truth, yes.

Senator Ron Johnson: In reviewing the change from the talking points, the original talking points and how they were sanitized -- it is pretty remarkable how they were sanitized.  I know you had some participation there and in your September 14th e-mail it states the changes made in the CIA talking points e-mail, the talking points still -- and I quote - "don't resolve  all of my issues or those of my building leadership."  Can you just tell me who that building leadership was?  Who you were referring to?

Victoria Nuland:  Senator, I very much appreciate the opportunity to talk about my role in the talking points issue.  Uh, with your forebearance, I'd like to give a little bit of background before I answer your specific question.  Uh, first, I just want to, uh, make clear that, uh, when I was reviewing these talking points  which was only on the Friday evening of September 14th, they were not for a member of the administration to use, they were talking points that the CIA was proposing to give to members of the House Intelligence Committee --

Senator Ron Johnson:  Correct.

Victoria Nuland: -- to use.  So that was the first thing.  Second, I was not in a policy role in this job, I was in a communications role so my, uh, my responsibilities were to ensure consistency of our public messaging but not to make policy.  [The entire sentence prior was read off a prepared note. In the rest of this segment of the testimony, while pretending to be open, she was visibly reading from pre-packaged notes.]  So I never edited these talking points, I never made changes.  I simply said that I thought policy  people needed to look at them. Also by way of background, by the time Friday came around, as spokesperson for the department, I had already given three uh public briefings on Benghazi.  The first was on uh Wednesday evening -- I gave a background briefing, uh, uh, in which I clearly said that this had been a complex attack, it was an attack by extremists. Then I gave two briefings at the podium.  My regular mid-dary briefing on Thursday and my mid-day briefing on Friday.  In those briefings, I was on agreed interagency tlaking points in which I noted again and again our firm commitment to investigate fully what had happened.  Uh, but I declined to give any more details, citing the need to have a full investigation and particularly the integrity of the CI -- the FBI's investigation.  So when I saw these talking points on Friday night, just a few hours after that had been my guidance, they, uh, indicated a significant evolution beyond what we had been saying at noon.  And it was on that basis that I raised, uhm, three questions in my communications role.  The first was -- and again, these were for members of the House to use, not for an administration official to use.  So my first question was with regard to consistency.  It struck me as strange that we were, uh, giving talking points to members of the House that went considerably further than what we in the administration had been saying at that point and I felt that if House members were going to say this, we government communicators too.  The second was that I had been under very tight guidance that we must do and say nothing that would prejudice the integrity of the FBI's investigation.  So I wanted to make sure that the CIA had actually checked with FBI and Justice and that they were comfortable with these talking points.  The third concern I had was with regard to the second to last paragraph of the talking points as I was looking at them which, uh, made reference to, uh, uh, past agency reporting about the situation in Begnhazi.  And frankly, Senator, I looked at them and they struck me as a partial rendering of some of the background information behind the situation and I was concerned that -- giving them them to -- to the -- out this way, would encourage members of Congress and members of the public to draw incorrect conclusions about our agency's respective role in the entirity of the Benghazi issue --

Senator Ron Johnson:  Okay --

Victoria Nuland: So I didn't change them --

Senator Ron Johnson:  I appreciate that but I think your -- your specific quote in your e-mail about that pentulmate point was that you were concerned that members of  Congress would beat the State Dept.  So you were a little more concerned about the State Dept getting beat up by members of Congress than getting the truth out to the American people.  That would be my concern in terms of intepretation of that.

Victoria Nuland:  Uh, sir, as I said, my concern was that this was not an accurate representation of the full picture.

Senator Ron Johnson:  But again, let's just get back to some facts.  Who would be the "building leadership" that weren't satisifed with the suggested changes of the talking points?  Who would those people be?

Victoria Nuland:  So after my first e-mail with the concerns, the agency came back with another draft but that draft continued to make reference to the past agency reporting that I thought was a prejudicial way of characterizing it.  So it was on that basis that I, uh, uh, raised objections again and here was --

Senator Ron Johnson:  Ambassador Nuland, I'm running out of time.  I just really wanted some facts.  Who were  the "building leadership" that you're referring to that wasn't satisfied  with the suggested changes?  Who would those individuals be?

Victoria Nuland:  Uh --

Senator Ron Johnson:  Because the next question will be who was at the deputies meeting -- who are those people?

Victoria Nuland:  With regard to "building leadership,"  I was concerned that all of my bosses at the policy level needed to look at these to see if they were --

Senator Ron Johnson:  Who are those individuals?

Victora  Nuland:  Well obviously as I  I reported to-to the full spectrum of under secretaries and deputies secretaries--

Senator Ron Johnson:  Were there -- were there particular people that were concerned about changes that weren't being made?

Victoria Nuland: The only, uh, person that I consulted with that night was my regular reporting channel with regard to issues that I was not able to solve at my level.   So my regular procedure when I, as spokesperson, can't  --

We don't have time for Nuland's lies.  She's stalling.  She's reading from prepared notes and she can't even do that right.  She's a damn liar.

You and I work at McDonalds.  You have an idea to streamline the drive through and are going to try it.  I don't want you trying it out.  We argue over it.  To make sure I win, I toss out that not only have I been arguing with you about this on this shift, I've already contacted our boss and s/he says it's not happening.

Who did she speak to?  Finally she would allow Jake Sullivan.  She's such a liar and the Republicans in the Senate are apparently clueless. Does no one actually read the e-mails before they question her?

As we noted May 21st, Victoria Nuland sent an e-mail September 14, 7:39 pm.  It's released.  It's in the batch.  But it refers to other communications which have not been released:

I just had a convo with [deleted] and now I understand that these are being prepared to give to Members of Congress to use with the media. 
On that basis, I have serious concerns about all the parts highlighted below, and arming members of Congress to start making assertions to the media that we ourselves are not mking because we don't want to prejudice the investigation.
In the same vein, why do we want Hill to be fingering Ansar al Sharia, when we aren't doing that ourselves until we have investigation results... and the penultimate point could be abused by Members to beat the State Department for not paying attention to Agency warnings so why do we want to feed that either?  Concerned.

And "deleted" is "CIA OCA."  She didn't think she was getting her way (or "the building"'s way) so without notifying the people she was dialoguing with, she did an end run around them by bringing CIA OCA.  But that's not enough for her as we noted:

If you read the e-mails, which apparently few actually did, you come across Victoria Nuland at 9:23 PM (September 14th) writing,   "These don't resolve my issues or those of us my building leadership.  They are consulting with NSS."
Where are the e-mails from State to NSS?
It's worth noting that the wording is rather chilling when you compare it to her lengthy e-mails.  In an e-mail chain with multiple agencies, Nuland wants changes and doesn't feel she's getting what she wants.  At some point she and others at the State Dept discuss this and decide to bring in NSS to override the ongoing process/exchange.  Nuland feels no need to offer, "We may involve NSS in this."  She waits until after the fact to declare that because her "issues" aren't resolved, her leadership is "consulting with NSS."

So she does an end run around the chain of communication twice.  And the NSS communication has not been released either.  That's nearly two hours after she last did an end run.  Two hours worth of communications before she felt she (and her "building") had gotten what they wanted and she could let the other group know they were being outvoted.

She's just a little liar and the Committee should have been prepared and when she tried to eat up time with her nonsense, she should have been stopped, she should have been told, "You had your opening statement to provide background or to clarify.  This is the questioning stage of the hearing, you need to answer the questions."  She knew she could eat up time and he let her get away with it.

Ruth and I both attended yesterday's hearing and she wrote about it last night in "Victoria Nuland indirectly confirms CIA arming 'rebels' out of Benghazi."  As her title makes clear, Nuland -- stupid Victoria -- gave a response that was a yes to something she felt needed to be discussed in a closed door hearing.  I would argue that someone so stupid that they would make that clear (that it was a yes, that the CIA was arming Syrian 'rebels' out of Benghanzi) isn't qualified to be an ambassador to anything.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

The cheap Chicago hustler

"The NSA spies and Democrats look away" (Julian Zelizer, CNN):

During the weeks of debates triggered by Edward Snowden and his release of information about a classified National Security Agency spying program, the story has moved further and further from the actual surveillance and centered instead on the international cat-and-mouse game to find him.
What has been remarkable is how Democrats have expressed little opposition to the surveillance program. Many Democrats have simply remained silent as these revelations have emerged while others, like California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, have openly defended the program.

President Barack Obama, while initially acknowledging the need for a proper balance between civil liberties and national security, has increasingly focused on defending the government and targeting Snowden. When former President George W. Bush offered comments that echoed much of the president's sentiment, some of his supporters couldn't help but cringe as these two one-time adversaries came together on the issue of counterterrorism.
The loss of a Democratic opposition to the framework of counterterrorism policy has been one of the most notable aspects of Obama's term in office. 

It really is something to watch people give up everything they believe in, every belief, every principle for a man.

As a woman and as a feminist, it honestly repulses me.

But I've been disgusted for several years now.

Remember when Ms. magazine put Barack on the cover in 2009 with the lie that 'this is what feminism looks like'?

So the press has whored and encouraged people to think Barack was their friend.

Barack is just another cheap, Chicago hustler.

Those who refuse to call him out are as guilty now as he is.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, July 10, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, new political alliances are formed in Baghdad, Bradley Manning's defense rests, the State Dept continues to obsess over Iraq, Iraq War veteran Adam Kokesh is targeted, and more.

AP reports today that the Pentagon is considering eliminating danger pay for many troops stationed around the world in order to save money.  The report notes, "Under the plans being discussed, troops would still receive the extra money if they serve in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Pakistan, Syria, Yemen and in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula. The U.S. does not have any military members now serving in Iran."

Moving over to Iraq War veteran Bradley Manning whose defense rested today. 

Monday April 5, 2010, WikiLeaks released  military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Monday June 7, 2010, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported in August 2010 that Manning had been charged -- "two charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The first encompasses four counts of violating Army regulations by transferring classified information to his personal computer between November and May and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system. The second comprises eight counts of violating federal laws governing the handling of classified information." In March, 2011, David S. Cloud (Los Angeles Times) reported that the military has added 22 additional counts to the charges including one that could be seen as "aiding the enemy" which could result in the death penalty if convicted. The Article 32 hearing took place in December. At the start of this year, there was an Article 32 hearing and, February 3rd, it was announced that the government would be moving forward with a court-martial. Bradley has yet to enter a plea. The court-martial was supposed to begin before the November 2012 election but it was postponed until after the election so that Barack wouldn't have to run on a record of his actual actions. adds, "A court martial is set to be held in June at Ford Meade in Maryland, with supporters treating him as a hero, but opponents describing him as a traitor."  February 28th, Bradley admitted he leaked to WikiLeaks.  And why.

Bradley Manning:   In attempting to conduct counter-terrorism or CT and counter-insurgency COIN operations we became obsessed with capturing and killing human targets on lists and not being suspicious of and avoiding cooperation with our Host Nation partners, and ignoring the second and third order effects of accomplishing short-term goals and missions. I believe that if the general public, especially the American public, had access to the information contained within the CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A tables this could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general as [missed word] as it related to Iraq and Afghanistan.
I also believed the detailed analysis of the data over a long period of time by different sectors of society might cause society to reevaluate the need or even the desire to even to engage in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations that ignore the complex dynamics of the people living in the effected environment everyday.

Had the US government shown the same concern, Bradley wouldn't have had to step up.  Instead, they gladly supported Nouri al-Maliki in torture and that's what Brad's exposures really prove.  This took place under Barack Obama's administration.  When the dots are connected, it's obvious what the White House has so feared for so long.

Thomas Gaist (WSWS) reports on Monday's proceedings:

While Manning’s defense team made arguments Monday presenting his decision to leak classified documents as motivated by concern for the well-being of the United States, its military, and the Iraqi people, Lind’s ruling prevents the defense from basing their case on the defendant’s principled opposition to US policies.
On Monday, the defense called Lauren McNamara, a woman who corresponded with Manning during the period when he made the leaks. She testified that he was “concerned with saving the lives of families in foreign countries” and that he “considered human life to be valuable above all.” McNamara quoted from her correspondence with Manning, reading his statement that was “concerned about making sure that everyone, soldiers, marines, contractors, even the local nationals, get home to their families.”
US Army sergeant David Sadtler, who oversaw Manning’s intelligence work, testified that Manning was angered by the jailing of 15 Iraqi civilians, with US approval, for distributing written material criticizing the government. “He was upset at the situation,” Sadtler said. Previously, Manning stated before the court that the Iraqis involved had no ties to the armed resistance against the US occupation, and that their materials contained a “scholarly critique” of the current regime.
Manning’s pre-trial statement shows that he was motivated by a growing consciousness of the criminal character of US foreign policy. In the statement, delivered to the military judge in February, the soldier asserted that his actions were intended to initiate a process of “worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms.”
Referring to politically motivated roundups carried out with full US support by the Iraqi regime, Manning said, “I knew that if I continued to assist the Baghdad Federal Police in identifying the political opponents of Prime Minister al-Maliki, those people would be arrested and in the custody of the Baghdad Federal Police and very likely tortured and not seen again for a very long time, if ever.”

As for today,   Xeni Jardin (BoingBoing) reports:


Manning has not, did not, and today told the court he will not testify in his court martial.
The defense rested its case today after having called a total of ten witnesses in the trial. The last was Yochai Benkler, a Harvard professor who is the author a widely-cited paper on the role WikiLeaks plays in what he terms "the networked fourth estate." In his testimony for the defense today, he described Wikileaks as having played a legitimate role in a new world of journalism; he argued that the government's characterization of the group as an Anti-American espionage front was inaccurate."   

Adam Klasfeld (Courthouse News)  explains, "The last witness to testify for the defense, Benkler is considered an academic authority in the evolution of media in the age of the Internet, and the most widely cited scholar on WikiLeaks."  Ian Simpson (Reuters) adds of Benkler's testimony:

 WikiLeaks is "a clear distinct component of what in the history of journalism we see as high points, where journalists are able to come in and say, 'Here's a system operating in a way that is obscure to the public and now we're able to shine the light,'" said Benkler, the co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society.

Brad Knickerbocker (Christian Science Monitor) observes, "The essence of Pfc. Bradley Manning’s defense in his military court martial is that, yes, he released a trove of classified data to the controversial whistle-blower organization WikiLeaks, but that information did not seriously harm US national security – and it certainly did not aid the enemy in the war on terrorism."  RT notes, "The soldier’s court-martial is now recessed until next week, at which point government prosecutors plan to offer a rebuttal. Col. Denise Lind, the presiding military judge in the case, also is expected to weigh in next week on the defense’s recent request that the government acquit Pfc. Manning on four of the more than 20 counts he has been charged with, including aiding the enemy."

 Moving over to Iraq, today was also when UNAMI issued the following:

 SRSG Martin Kobler's message to the Iraqi people for the holy month of Ramadan
Baghdad, 10 July 2013 - As Muslims around the world are observing the holy month of Ramadan, I would like to wish a blessed and peaceful month to all Iraqis on behalf of the entire UN family in Iraq.
 Ramadan is a time of devotion and harmony, a time of charity and forgiveness.
 The country has been struck by an increasing number of attacks and great violence during the past weeks and months. May the spirit of Ramadan bring peace and the hope for a better future to all Iraqi communities.
Ramadan Mubarak!

One of the big  stories in Iraq since last week has been the Under-20 World Cup.  Marcus Ghristenson (Guardian) reports:

On the Saturday night, Ali Yaseen was part of the Iraq squad that stunned Chile to reach the last 16 of the Under-20 World Cup in Turkey. On Sunday morning his club back in Iraq, Karbala, announced that their coach, Mohammed Abbas al-Jabouri, had died from the injuries suffered in an attack by anti-terrorism police during a match the previous weekend.
Yaseen, 19, had taken his place on the bench for the game in the knowledge that his coach was in a coma and that seven of his team-mates had been injured in the attack, several of them critically. He knew, too, that if he had not been selected for the Under-20 World Cup, he would most probably have been playing in the match against Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya and could, quite possibly, have ended up in hospital with life-threatening injuries.

AP explains the results of today's match with this headline "Uruguay spoils Iraq's fairy tale run after penalties, joining France in U-20 World Cup final."  Kevin McCauley (SB Nation) reports:

Ali Adnan, an experienced senior international for Iraq, netted the opening goal with an absolutely stunning free kick, scoring his second goal of the tournament. It appeared that he would attempt to play an in-swinging cross on a free kick from the right flank, 30 yards from goal, but instead he opted to rip a bending shot towards the top corner at the near post. Uruguay keeper Guillermo De Amores actually saw and reacted to the shot well, but it was so well placed and it with so much power that he had no chance to make a save.
Uruguay had a number of good chances throughout the match, but struggled to make the most of them. Iraq goalkeeper Mohammed Hameed was erratic, but ultimately very effective and made a number of big saves and clearances. However, he wasn't able to keep a clean sheet. In the 87th minute, Felipe Avenatti won a header in a crowd and nodded down to Gonzalo Bueno, who finished from 12 yards to level the match and force extra time.

All Iraq News notes that Ali Adnan and Mohamed Hamid were injured when they crashed into one another and that the game "was suspended to transport the two Iraqi players for treatment, then they returned to the field."

 Eric Willemsen (AP) explains, "Streets and cafes in Baghdad and other cities were the scene of jubilant celebrations after the wins over Paraguay and South Korea, but the streets remained calm on Wednesday.  Iraq also drew a lot of Turkish fans, who switched allegiance after the host team lost in the first knockout round."  This was the first time in 12 years that Iraq had qualified for the semi-finals so despite today's outcome, this was a historic victory for them.  In addition to having to compete in the match, they also had to deal today with rumors that sought to disqualify the team.  Eric Williemsen (AP) reports that FIFA cleared them today of charges that any member of their team was 21 or older (which would make them too old to compete).

NINA notes four football fields were closed in Diyala Province today after threats were received that they would be the latest football fields to bombed in Iraq. All Iraq News notes the British Embassy in Iraq issued a statement and quotes British Foreign Minister for the Middle East, Alistair Burt, stating, "I am sickened to hear of the recent attacks in Iraq targeting people playing and watching football and other sports. My prayers go out to the families of those who have been injured or lost their lives in these cowardly attacks." On violence, the United Nations' Francesco Motta told AFP today, "Iraq is really at a crossroads.  I wouldn't say we're at a civil war yet, but the figures are not looking good."

National Iraqi News Agency reports a Falluja sticky bombing claimed 1 life and left another person injured, 2 brothers who were currency exchange workers were shot dead in Kirkuk, 1 contractor was shot dead outside of his Mosul home., a Baghdad apartment invasion left 3 women dead, and  an Anbar Province suicide bomber claimed the life of 1 police officer and left three more injured. Alsumaria adds that an armed attack in Kirkuk left 1 member of the Tigris Operation Command dead and another injured. Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 219 violent deaths in Iraq so far this month.

On the political front, Hamza Mustafa (Asharq al-Awsat) reports:

Sadr Movement leader Moqtada Al-Sadr has announced a new alliance with the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) led by Ammar Al-Hakim, describing it as a “strategic” alliance.
In reply to a question from one of his followers about doubts in the alliance between the Sadrist Al-Ahrar Bloc and the ISCI’s Al-Muwatin Bloc, Sadr said: “Many people have tried to end this alliance and make it a failure in any way they could.”
He added: “This alliance strengthens the Iraqi, national, Islamic Shi’ite alliance,” and “makes the political arena fairer and removes domination and monopoly.”
This alliance brings together the two most important Shi’ite factions in Iraq following an experiment that seems to be somewhat of a success on the local level, namely the sharing of power in a number of Iraq’s governorates, particularly Baghdad. This experiment has seen a Sadrist-ISCI coalition defeat Iraqi prime minister Nuri Al-Maliki’s State of Law (SLC) coalition, which had monopolized the most important posts in the capital, including that of governor and head of the governorate council, for more than eight years.

All Iraq News notes that the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq's Adel Abdulmahdi met today with Kurdistan Regional Government Massoud Barzani in Erbil where the two discussed the political situation in Iraq.

A State Dept friend asked why I didn't note US Ambassador to Iraq Stephen Beecroft's July 4th speech?  Because I wasn't aware of it.  Six days ago, Beecroft delivered the following remarks:

Good afternoon and happy Fourth of July!  237 years ago, our Founding Fathers risked everything to embark on an unprecedented democratic experiment under which the United States of America put into practice the revolutionary concept that rulers “derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.”  The lofty ideals adopted in Independence Hall in Philadelphia in 1776 included one of the most recognized and important phrases ever penned: 
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
It is an ideal toward which we continuously strive.  Throughout these two hundred and thirty seven years of independence we have in practice sometimes fallen short of that ideal.  We have, however, never wavered in our commitment to the principles of liberty and equality enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, and our democracy has proven itself durable and resilient, able to correct its mistakes and stay true to the principle that all men – and women – are created equal.  For example, our nation, born accepting slavery, now has an African American president.  Our latest Congress has welcomed a record number of women into its ranks.   
And so, as President Obama has so eloquently stated:
“On this day, we celebrate our founding creed that what binds this Nation together is not the colors of our skin, the tenets of our faith, or the origins of our name.  What makes us American is our allegiance to an idea first declared in a spare hall in Philadelphia-that all of us are created equal.  This idea guides us still, and calls on us to carry into an uncertain future the precious light of freedom.”
Iraq is an ancient civilization and a young democracy.  And, like all democracies, Iraq faces challenges as it strives to take its rightful political and economic place.   Blessed with abundant natural resources, a smart and hard working population, and the will to be a nation, Iraq can overcome its challenges and obstacles and cement its singular national identity.   
In this respect, both Iraq and the United States, and indeed all democratic nations, are on the same quest to “form a more perfect union.”  God bless America, God bless Iraq, and God bless freedom and democracy.

The US State Dept hasn't had anything to say about Iraq since last month but they can't stop yacking and attacking NSA whistle-blower Ed Snowden.  From today's State Dept press briefing by spokesperson Jen Psaki:

QUESTION:  Yeah.  Just Snowden.  Just --
QUESTION:  -- yesterday, the Spanish Foreign Minister said that the United States had, in fact, alerted his country, or his government, to the suspicion that Mr. Snowden might be on the plane of the Bolivian President.  Is that – is he correct in saying that?
MS. PSAKI:  I don’t believe that was his exact quote, if I’m correct.  I believe he said "in part," or the Spanish version.
QUESTION:  He said "Inter alia," which means "among other things." 
MS. PSAKI:  So I just don’t have anything new --
QUESTION:  Is it --
MS. PSAKI:  -- or further for you on this.
QUESTION:  Okay.  So you don’t have any comment on whether he is accurate or not – that comment is accurate?
MS. PSAKI:  Just that we’ve had a range of conversations --
MS. PSAKI:  -- on a broad range of aspects of Mr. Snowden.
QUESTION:  Do you – but you do believe that the Administration has a solid legal case for the deportation and then prosecution of Mr. Snowden, correct?
MS. PSAKI:  Well, obviously --
QUESTION:  I mean, he has been charged, so --
MS. PSAKI:  He has been charged.
QUESTION:  And you believe that you are in the --
MS. PSAKI:  Obviously, there – well, this is a broader question, I think, that there are some countries where we have extradition treaties --
MS. PSAKI:  -- some we don’t, which you all know, and it’s all public information.
QUESTION:  Right.  But you think you have a – in a case where there’s no extradition treaty, you still think that you have the solid case to ask for him to be deported in return to the United States because he’s a fugitive from justice.  Is that correct?
MS. PSAKI:  And he does not have a valid U.S. passport.
QUESTION:  Okay.  Why don’t you have the guts then, to say – not you personally, but the Administration --
MS. PSAKI:  I may, you never know.  (Laughter.)
QUESTION:  -- to say – well, okay – why don’t you have the guts to admit that you have asked countries, or you have alerted countries to the fact – that you did alert countries to the fact that there were suspicions that Snowden was on this plane, and remind them that he’s wanted in the States?
MS. PSAKI:  Well, we certainly have had a broad range of conversations about him, about how we want his return, him to be returned, about communicating with countries where he may be in transit.  I’m just not going to get into all the specifics of those conversations.
QUESTION:  Yeah, but I don’t understand why it is that this is so taboo.  Why is it that it has got to be secret, as secretive as a FISA court decision, that you told countries that you thought he might be on this plane and ask them to take steps to comply with your wish that he be deported and returned to the United States?
MS. PSAKI:  Because we’re keeping our diplomatic --
QUESTION:  But that’s --
MS. PSAKI:  -- conversations private in this case.
QUESTION:  Well, I – if you really do have such a solid case and you think countries should – I mean, you should be happy to talk about it publicly.  Otherwise, it just reeks of this secrecy that you – that the Administration claims --
MS. PSAKI:  Well, Matt, we have --
QUESTION:  -- it isn’t involved in.
MS. PSAKI:  -- spoken – we have spoken quite extensively publicly about how we would like to see him returned and the reasons why.
QUESTION:  Yeah.  Fair enough, but in this specific instance which involved countries in Europe denying overflight rights to the plane of a head of state, I don’t understand why, if your case is strong, you’re not willing to come out and say, "Yeah, we asked for it."  Why?
MS. PSAKI:  We’re keeping our diplomatic conversations private. 
MS. PSAKI:  Let me just – can I do one more Snowden thing? 
QUESTION:  Yeah --
MS. PSAKI:  Because somebody asked about this yesterday.  In the question of passports, if a passport is revoked – so when the Department revokes a passport, that revocation affects all passports in the individual’s name.
QUESTION:  So the question was:  Is there a second – does he – is he in possession of a second passport?
MS. PSAKI:  I just can’t get into confirmation of that, but I can tell you that any – the revocation of a passport is applicable to any passport in any individual’s name.
QUESTION:  You can’t tell us if he has two, though?
MS. PSAKI:  I cannot.
QUESTION:  But it doesn’t matter, right?
MS. PSAKI:  It doesn’t matter.
QUESTION:  The point would be moot, yeah?
MS. PSAKI:  Because – exactly.  Go ahead in the back.

On this week's Law and Disorder Radio,  an hour long program that airs Monday mornings at 9:00 a.m. EST on WBAI and around the country throughout the week, hosted by attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights) topics addressed include political prisoner Lynne Stewart, spying, NSA whistle-blower Ed Snowden, Jim Lafferty on the militarization of the police and more.  We'll note Jim Lafferty:

Heidi Boghosian: Michael, I understand Jim Lafferty is with you to talk with us briefly about how the lines are continuing to blur between law enforcement and the military.

Michael Smith:  Jim Lafferty has The Lawyers Guild Show in Los Angeles [KPFK, Thursdays at 3:00 pm PST].  In fact, it was his show that inspired us.  Jim is the organizer of the National Lawyer's Guild in Los Angeles.  Jim, welcome to east coast Law and Disorder.  Jim, I wanted to ask you because I know you've interviewed somebody knowledgble about this and have read the provisions, there's a new United States military power grab that's gone into effect and can you tell our listeners what this means?

Jim Lafferty:  Yeah, let me just borrow your glasses for a moment if I may, Michael.  Yeah, it's -- Of course, the Civil Rights, civil liberties crowd have, for some decades now, has been concerned about the militarization of local policing.  It isn't just the style of policing that our local police do now that they've learned at the hands of the military but, of course, they also have the equipment as well -- the military equipment as well.  We've seen that used in various occasions at the times of protests around the Democratic Party or the Republican Party, for example, convention n New York.  Well, not satisfied with that, there is a new regulation that has been put into effect that essentially allows the military to intervene in contravention of decades of law and policy and practice to the contrary of intervening in domestic unrest, civil disputes, civil unrest.  And, in fact, what is says is that the federal military commanders now have the authority, in extraordinary circumstances, where prior authorization by the president is not possible and duly constructed local authorities are somehow deemed to be unable to control the situation, the military can engage in activities that are "necessary to quell large scale  unexpected civil disturbances.

That's worth remembering when you review what's happened to Adam Kokesh.  Adam is an Iraq War veteran and someone who spoke out against the war when he returned to the US.  He's taken part in many activities that the left and the faux left -- which is a much larger number of people but fakes usually outnumber the real in any given situation -- applauded.  Adam's home was raided by the police last night.  Presumably it has something to do with a July 4th action by Adam.  From the July 5th snapshot:

Iraq War veteran, talk show host and activist Adam Kokesh posted a 23 second video on YouTube yesterday that's getting attention from the clutch the pearls crowd.  In the video, he loads a rifle.  DC's Metropolitan Police Department issued this:

Statement from US Park Police and Metropolitan Police Department regarding Adam Kokesh video

The Metropolitan Police Department and US Park Police are aware that today Adam Kokesh posted a video that appears to have been taken in Freedom Plaza in Northwest, DC. We are in the process of determining the authenticity of the video.

RT reports:

Second Amendment activist Adam Kokesh was arrested Tuesday evening following an armed raid on his home in the Washington, D.C. area.
Police have charged Kokesh, 31, with possession of a Schedule I or Schedule II drug while also in possession of a firearm. According to the Washington Post, charging documents filed in court Wednesday morning said that hallucinogenic mushrooms, a Schedule I narcotic, were found in the raid. 

As for last night's raid, here's the press release Adam Vs. The Man sent out this morning:

AVTM Official Press Release
RE: Raid on ADAM VS THE MAN Studios 10JUL13
(HERNDON, VA 10 JULY 2013)— On the evening of Tuesday, 09JUL13, at approximately 7:45 PM, a combination of US Parks Police (an arm of the DHS) raided Adam Kokesh’s residence. Local Herndon police assisted in the armed invasion. The officers used a battering ram to knock in the door after two knocks, and did not announce that they had a warrant. Immediately after breaking down the door, a flash bang grenade was deployed in the foyer.

Numerous police vehicles, including a light armored vehicle and two low-flying helicopters barricaded Adam’s street. More than 20 armored SWAT team members surrounded the house, as well as a number of detectives, and plainclothes officers. Assault rifles were aimed on all members of the team as they were handcuffed without being told why they were detained. Masked and armored police in full “Storm Trooper” gear flooded in and ransacked the residence. The team was cordoned in a front room, while Adam was pulled aside for questioning.
Over the course of the next five hours, the police searched every corner of the house with canine units and blueprints to the house obtained prior to the search. All officers refused to speak to the crew while they we being detained. They confiscated cell phones and personal items with force. Throughout the ordeal, the police repeatedly showed a volatile desire to initiate aggressive, forceful conduct with detainees. At one point, Adam politely requested to use the restroom and was kicked by the officer forcing him to sit handcuffed on the floor. After hours of determined attempts, the safe was forced open and all items inside were confiscated. Adam was arrested and his crew were told he was being brought to the Herndon Police department overnight. Well after midnight, police officers cleared the house.
Fairfax County Adult Detention Center has stated that it has Adam in custody.
The ADAM VS THE MAN Team will be continuing production on the podcast and the Youtube channel as long as Adam remains imprisoned for an act of civil disobedience. We will continue to spread the message of liberty, self ownership, and the non-aggression principle regardless of the government’s relentless attacks on our operation. We will continue to combat its desperate attempts to crush a worldwide, revolutionary shift in the people’s understanding of the state’s illegitimacy—after all, good ideas don’t require force.
Media Contact: Lucas Jewell –

Apparently Gary Legum (Wonkette) has some super power most commenting don't -- that super power allows him to rightly term the police actions "excessive" and to note:

Far be it from us to believe a word out of Kokesh’s mouth without confirmation, and this is all from his own press release. But that said, one of the trends in law enforcement, particularly since 9/11 NEVAH FORGET!!!!, has been the increasing militarization of police forces all over the country. Salon has been excerpting Radley Balko’s new book on the subject, Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces and it is quite frightening. Go buy it and learn something, and give yr Wonkette some monies while you’re at it!

There are a number of issues here that should have those of us on the left (the real left) outraged.  The faux left is laughing at and attacking Adam Kokesh.  That's why efforts at bridge building fail repeatedly.  Useless people -- like Kat's BFF  Kevin Zeese -- repeatedly claim that they want to build bridges and put together a left-right coalition that can address issues like war and civil liberties.  But when they have the opportunity to lay the actual groundwork for such a bridge to be built, they're either silent when they should be speaking out or they're mocking the victim.

Adam has a public history of activism.  It does not include violence.  The way the police responded was outrageous.  It's the sort of response that Gore Vidal -- and usually only Gore -- would call out while others on the left remained silent.  There was nothing in Adam's history to indicate that he would respond in violence.  If the cowards -- and that's what the police involved were -- had been too scared to knock on Adam's door and wait for him to open it, they could have stayed at the curb and used a bullhorn.

I am not anti-police and I do understand fears peace officers can have.  But part of police work is information and any effort to be informed about Adam should have resulted in discovering the fact that he is not prone to violence -- even when he's being body slammed (as happened last year) by DC police.

It was cowardly and it may have been profiling.  I'm not joking about that.  It's a serious issue.  Here we usually note 1 in 10 of the heavily reported stories on a veteran who's done something violent.  We do that because I am not trying to create the image of 'crazy vet.'  I don't think the media is trying to (or that they tried to during Vietnam) but that image can set in and it can be dangerous -- for peace officers and veterans.

Adam served in Iraq.  Were these excessive and appalling measures -- breaking down the door, using a grenade, etc. -- used because, as a veteran, police feared he would go 'psycho'?

I don't know.  But that question needs to be asked because -- like every portion of the US population -- veterans interact with peace officers.  If law enforcement -- a portion, even just a small number -- are acting on delusional stereotypes that veteran equates crazy, that's an issue that effects the whole country.  (Many commenting on Media Matters' post about the arrest advance this false stereotype -- although at least a few seem to be more motivated by concern and compassion.  Even so, they should take a look at what they're suggesting.)

If this had nothing to do with such an image, then the police need to explain why such excessive force was used -- including two helicopters hovering over his home -- on a peaceful activist?

Molly Redden hops a high horse apparently forgetting that she has no credit to her name to be proud of despite all that time writing for Slate,  and she's writing for The New Republic.  The New Republic(an) was a cheerleader for the Iraq War.  It regularly and repeatedly smeared those who spoke out against the illegal war.  Molly Redden is cheap trash (with weird interests but we won't help spread the rumors) and yet she believes she's standing on a high ground from which she can attack Adam.

Molly, you may not approve of his 2007 DC action but it was street theater and the fact that you're ignorant of that or ignorant of the fact that a similar action took place in NYC during Vietnam or that the Supreme Court got dragged into it and ruled that street theater was Constitutionally protected speech does not excuse you but goes to how your gross ignorance should probably prevent you from writing about any topic -- other than your own personal problems.  Your ignorance, your gross stupidity, does not allow you to smear or attack the 2007 action.  But it is in keeping with The New Republic(an) and its never ending war on peace activists.  Not a lot of women manage to leave The New Republic for something better.  That's because most of the women at TNR over the last few decades have attempted to out 'macho' the men and created awful images for themselves.  Molly's doing that right now so don't expect her to have anywhere to go until she announces her conversion to Republican and goes to work for something like The American Spectator.  Then again, she probably can't make it at the Spectator either:

Thankfully, it's not a consequence-free publicity stunt. In the telling of a press release on Kokesh's website, last night, police used a battering ram to knock down his door and trained assault rifles on him as he was led out of his house in handcuffs. He could spend up to a year in prison. To Kokesh, it must feel like Christmas.

A 'reporter' who can't nail down basic facts isn't much of a reporter.  Forget that she's amused by what she should be calling out, the press release was posted to the site at 4:00 AM EST -- I know that because when it was e-mailed to this site, a few minutes later, it was noted that it had just been posted.  Her link goes to the website and though there is no time given there, a date is posted -- today's date.

How stupid do you have to be to not understand that today, July 10th, is not "last night"? 

By the way, Molly, I don't 'sing the hits' over and over.  As a result, The New Republic has fallen off my radar.  I've offered several years of criticism of that rag and, having done so, was ready for new songs to sing.  But thanks to Molly, I've discovered that the failed rag is now unintentionally seeking to go out of publication and we'll be covering that at Third (either this Sunday or next -- we have to do the summer read fiction edition and that may be this Sunday).   You and The New Republic(an) can thank yourself for the humiliation that's coming. Considering the fact that the already low circulation under Bully Boy Bush has only fallen further, I'm not sure how much more humiliation your rag can take.

The arrest prompts the readers of the DCist to launch an attack on Herndon which is not a bad city (my DC home is not in Herndon for any that wonder).  Why is it that when an incident occurs -- this or any other -- some people think they are being 'helpful' by spreading hate?  I have no idea.

 RT quotes Adam declaring earlier this week,  "I was here, and I loaded a shotgun on Independence Day, but I didn't kill anybody. I didn't drone any children. I didn't steal any children's future. I didn't sell this country into debt. I didn't do any of the crimes that the man two blocks over at the White House is responsible for."

I also don't know about Susan's post at On the Edge.  I can follow what she's saying.  I tried reading the article she linked to and it just made my migraine worse.  The author is referring to a reaction to an earlier article but can't tell us what that article said and is too busy reliving college instead of setting up the discussion.  I like Susan, I think she's an important writer on a great many topics (and I don't think anyone can match her -- blogger, reporter, journalist, whatever -- for the great work she's done writing about the US education system and the efforts to dismantle it).  But I disagree with her thoughts on transgender people -- thoughts that include:

I don't think people should be ostracized or condemned for being screwed up with identity issues, but I will damned if I am going to accept somebody living a lie as the truth. I simply don't think "reassignment" surgery to correct a psychological problem is ethical.

In fairness to Susan, some transgendered persons in the 70s were known for attacking feminism and she may or may be aware of that and it may have created bad blood.  (She doesn't need an excuse for how she feels but I do want to note that reality.)  I wish she hadn't written what she did.  Glad she was honest but it reminds me of the mid-seventies, after the DSM had changed their 'diagnosis' of gay people, when some otherwise very bright people wrote commentaries that were homophobic.

Transgender is not a passing emotion or a fleeting thought.  Gender reassignment surgery is not like getting a tattoo.  A very good friend (Shirley MacLaine) got into some minor hot water over her latest book by people who did not understand what she was writing.  They wrongly thought she was condemning gays, lesbians and transgendered people.  She was not.  She believes in reincarnation and she was exploring how you are born the way you are and that, for example, you may be carrying desires from a past life.  It was an interesting exercise she was proposing (and more than an exercise if you are spiritual and your faith includes embracing reincarnation) and because of her long support for LGBT issues (when most celebrities were running from the topic, Shirley's always been willing to call out homophobia -- we're going back to pre-Stonewall even) most were able to follow through on what she was writing and grasp that this was not intended as an attack on anyone but an exploration of reincarnation. (The book was I'm Over All Of That and Ava and I reviewed it here.)

From what Susan's written, I'm understanding (rightly or wrongly) her objection being that transgender reinforces gender stereotypes.  If that is correct, I would argue that a transgendered person who is a woman  -- as a number of famous transgendered persons who have had gender reassignment surgery to have the outside reflect the woman that they are inside -- has every right to want a frilly life.  By frilly life I'm referring to public stating that they just want to keep a home and to find a man to marry and let him take charge.

I don't subscribe to that as an ideal or desire.  Most women I know do not.  But some women do.  And some women that do were born with female anatomy.  They have the right to choose what they want -- they also have the right to be aware that whatever they choose there are a multitude of options for women in terms of the lives they lead.  That's what feminism has been about -- explaining the options women have.  It is not surprising that, just as a woman can get caught up in gender roles, a transgendered person can as well.  The movement always knew that informing women was only half the battle, you also had to inform men.  So the notion that transgendered persons would somehow escape that societal programming that targets everyone in our society seems unlikely.

Susan's a strong writer and a good writer but we disagree on this issue.  (That's in response to thirty-three e-mails asking if I'd comment on this.)  I would never seek out a partner to dominate me but if you are a woman and want that, if you are a man and want that, if you are a transgendered person and want that, your desires are as valid as mine and more power to you.  (Most transgendered persons are not into living extreme gender stereotypes; however, a number of 'macho' men who had gender reassignment surgery in the 70s and went public with interviews and/or books helped establish that stereotype.)  The only humanity crime I see is deliberately setting out to be unhappy in life and I don't need everyone to agree with me in order to see their lives as valid or fulfilling. 

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