Thursday, September 16, 2021

Attacks on judges and erosions of privacy

Jonathan Turley:

Rep. IIhan Omar (D., Minn.) lashed out at Hennepin County District Judge Jamie Anderson for blocking a ballot measure that would replace with Minneapolis Police Department with a new department of public safety. Omar alleged that Anderson was part of a “network” working to frustrate “progress.” Underlying this dispute is an interesting question of the court’s role on the ballot question and, while she is wrong in her attack on the court, Omar may have a legitimate objection if the ballot question is blocked despite revisions.

I have previously noted how Democrats are now increasingly attacking judges in the same way that former president Donald Trump did during his term. I have criticized both sides for such attacks.

I don't know why the Democratic Party members of Congress continue to attack the courts.  Maybe because judges poll higher in trust among the people?  Maybe they're jealous?  Maybe they're just going for a scorched earth policy?  There will be fall out from this.  You can be sure of it.  

Neil Haggerty (INFORMATION CLEARING HOUSE) reports on a proposal Joe Biden's trying to push through:

Opposition is mounting to a Biden administration plan to require financial institutions to report customers’ account flow data to the Internal Revenue Service, with banks, credit unions and some consumer advocates warning it would be a massive invasion of consumer privacy.

The Treasury Department outlined a proposal in its recent budget request for a regime requiring banks and other financial institutions to report inflows and outflows in consumer accounts with more than $600. The goal is to crack down on tax evasion by high earners and narrow the so-called tax gap between what Americans pay and what they owe.

Financial institutions sounded the alarm over the new plan — meant to help the administration pay for the American Rescue Plan and infrastructure overhaul — before it was formally unveiled on May 20, noting the potential regulatory burden. But criticism has intensified from a broader array of stakeholders over concerns that consumers' private information could be compromised.

Is privacy just going to end up a relic of a forgotten time?  I fear it will.

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

 Thursday, September 16, 2021.  Elections gear up in Iraq, War Criminals get praised in the US.

Journalist, activist, theorist Glen Ford passed away recently.  BLACK AGENDA REPORT notes:

The memorial service for Glen Ford will be held on Saturday, September 18, 2021 at 2:00 p.m. eastern time. The event will be live streamed on Youtube.

Richard Medhurst notes BLACK AGENDA REPORT and Glen Ford this video from yesterday.

The opposite of truth telling?  Lying, whoring, the people working overtime to make War Criminals look better.  Whether it's throwing soft balls to War Criminal Condi No One Could Have Guess Rice like THE WASHINGTON POST did at the start of the week  or now NEWSDAY publishing Cathy Young's lunatic ravings entitled "Reconsidering Bush . . . for the better."  No link to a text version of the work of Leni Riefenstahl.

Jack Tajmajer (Brown's DAILY HERALD) notes a recent panel on the cost of war:

Discussing the costs of the war in Iraq, Nadje Al-Ali, director for the Center for Middle East Studies and professor of Anthropology and Middle East Studies at the Watson Institute, said Iraq had already been “decimated radically” through “thirteen years of the most comprehensive sanction system ever imposed on a country” by the time the U.S. invaded. 

That reality escapes Cathy Young.  She has no time to study.  She has no time to research.  But reconsider?

It sure is nice that Cathy Young can reconsider.  The dead in Iraq don't have that luxury, do they?  Nor do the ones who continue dying in the US.  An obit on a man under fifty that doesn't include the cause of death?  Six ran this week.  All men were single.  The youngest was in his 30s.  All were former US service members who served in Iraq.  

Did they all kill themselves?  I have no ida.  I know two did because I heard from family members about it.  Unlike Cathy Young, those two had to live with the effects of Bully Boy Bush's actions.  Cathy just has to reflect on how much she can get paid for whoring.  

There are people in need in this country -- in need in so many ways, but, don't worry America, Cathy Young's going to use her space in a daily newspaper to try to clean up the reputation of a War Criminal and to act as though he's someone society should embrace.

Condi, Colin, Bully Boy Bush and the rest are War Criminals.  They lie about their crimes and pretended they helped when all they did was hurt.  Tracy Keeling (THE CANARY) observes:

The International Witness Campaign is remembering the last 20 years of the “failed War on Terror”. This decades-long war has seen its fair share of illegality and incompetence by those who’ve waged it. As with all wars, it’s hawks also paid no regard to the huge environmental costs involved.

Now, after these decades of war, the Middle East is facing another security threat: the climate crisis. Indeed, authorities around the world are increasingly recognising the environmental emergency as the greatest security threat we face.

As In These Times recently contemplated, imagine if those who waged the War on Terror had spent the last 20 years fighting the climate crisis instead. The populations targeted in the failed war, and the global community as a whole, would undoubtedly be better equipped to deal with the crisis if they had.

Indeed, there might not be a crisis to speak of if the vast amounts of money spent on the war had been directed to tackling the climate crisis from the start of the millennium onwards.


Paul Antonopoulos (ANTIWAR.COM) notes the 'success' lying brings for some:

The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq saw entire infrastructures destroyed, hundreds of thousands of civilians killed, millions of refugees, and over $6 trillion of American taxpayer money wasted. Much of this devastation was caused by American soldiers, often with impunity. In fact, the Americans were not alone in such war crimes, with many British, Australian and other soldiers from partnered countries responsible for murder, rape, extortion and theft in Afghanistan and Iraq.

What is most concerning though is that the upper echelons of the US military had little to no concern for the war crimes perpetrated by NATO forces. Instead, they focused on creating a narrative, portraying the situation in Afghanistan and Iraq as constantly improving. Journalist Craig Whitlock’s new book, "The Afghanistan Papers," provides evidence that military leaders knew the war in Afghanistan was failing but lied about it. Colonel Bob Crowley claims in the book that "every data point was altered to present the best picture possible" and Whitlock described the military’s positive assessments as "unwarranted and baseless" that "amounted to a disinformation campaign."

The main question is why the top military leaders were adamant in their claims that the war situation in Afghanistan and Iraq was improving. It can be suggested that their lies about the situation in Afghanistan and Iraq was motivated by self-interest to advance their own careers and capital. They were certainly not going to allow the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as over 1.3 million cases of ill-discipline in the military, including rape, torture and murder, ruin their prospects.

Take for example the current US Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin. During the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Austin was the assistant commander of the 3rd Infantry Division. The Intercept recounts an exchange in May 2013, just weeks after the US captured Baghdad, between Austin and Dathar Khashab, director of the Daura oil refinery. No matter about Khashab’s insistence that Baghdad was more crime-ridden under US occupation then under Saddam Hussein’s rule, Austin could only say that "two months ago was a brutal dictator who killed thousands of people."

Austin, who from the very beginning of Iraq’s occupation insisted everything was fine, eventually became the commander of US forces in Iraq, then took charge of Central Command that covers all operations in the Middle East, retired with a $15,000 a month pension, and then joined several corporate boards, including the board of directors of United Technologies Corporation, the military contractor that merged with Raytheon in 2020. With these corporate gigs, he became a multimillionaire with a $2.6 million mansion that boasts seven bedrooms, a five-car garage, two kitchens and a pool house in the Washington D.C. area.

 People got rich off the ongoing war.  The Iraqi people suffered.  The people sent to Iraq to fight, invade and occupy suffered.  Iraq is a failed-state where secret prisons are once again on the rise.  Big rumor currently: State Of Law is considering airing that dirty laundry ahead of the planned October 10th elections but are concerned about the blowback -- Nouri al-Maliki is the head of the Sate of Law coalition.  He was a two-time prime minister of Iraq and ran secret prisons and torture centers during both terms.  

The current prime minister Mustafa al-Kahdimi is backed by the US government.  Turnout for the election is expected to be low.  Some have announced that they are boycotting the elections.  Others face obstacles to voting.  Human Rights Watch notes one such grouping:

People with disabilities in Iraq are facing significant obstacles to participating in upcoming parliamentary elections on October 10, 2021, due to discriminatory legislation and inaccessible polling places, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Without urgent changes, hundreds of thousands of people may not be able to vote.

The 36-page report, “‘No One Represents Us’: Lack of Access to Political Participation for People with Disabilities in Iraq,” documents that Iraqi authorities have failed to secure electoral rights for Iraqis with disabilities. People with disabilities are often effectively denied their right to vote due to discriminatory legislation and inaccessible polling places and significant legislative and political obstacles to running for office.

“The government should ensure that polling places are accessible to all voters,” said Belkis Wille, senior crisis and conflict researcher at Human Rights Watch. “While some steps will take time, like amending legislation, others are easy, and the Independent High Electoral Commission has no excuse to continue to fail to address accessibility.”

Between January and August, Human Rights Watch interviewed 14 people with disabilities as well as activists, authorities, and the staff of the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC).

While the Iraqi government has not collected any reliable statistics on the number of people with disabilities, in 2019, the United Nation’s Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities said that Iraq, plagued by decades of violence and war, including the battles against the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) from 2014-2017, has one of the world’s largest populations of people with disabilities.

Iraq’s Parliament acceded to the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in 2013. Article 12 requires state parties to “recognize that persons with disabilities enjoy legal capacity on an equal basis with others in all aspects of life” and article 29 calls on states to respect the political rights of people with disabilities. Iraq’s domestic law, however, falls short. The 1951 civil code does not recognize the right to legal capacity for people with disabilities, allowing the government to deprive people with intellectual, psychosocial (mental health), visual, and hearing disabilities of their legal capacity. People without legal capacity are not allowed to vote.

Article 29 of the covenant requires states to ensure that voting facilities and materials are “appropriate, accessible and easy to understand and use.” However, Iraqi authorities offer little to no accessible information to people with intellectual, visual, and hearing disabilities. Electoral materials are not presented in accessible formats such as audio, Braille, large print, sign language, and easy-to-read. Videos on the website are not accessible for people with hearing and visual disabilities. Because of the complete ban on operating vehicles on election day for security reasons, people who use mobility assistive devices can face difficulties reaching polling places.

The election commission almost exclusively uses school buildings, many of which are inaccessible, for polling places. It locates many ballot boxes on the second floor in buildings without elevators. It has no mobile voting stations, electronic voting, or postal voting, perhaps because of Iraq’s weakened postal system.

“Every election day is the most depressing day for me,” said Suha Khailil, 44, who uses a wheelchair and who has never participated in an election. “Everyone goes to vote and I am stuck at home waiting for the day to end,” she said.

People with disabilities said they sometimes must rely on assistance to reach the polling place. When that assistance comes from political party members, they sometimes try to influence how the person votes. The need for some people to get assistance to fill in their ballot or reach a ballot box raises concerns about privacy.

Ahmed al-Ghizzi, director of Voice of Iraqi Disabled Association, a Baghdad-based organization, said that his group’s survey of 2018 parliamentary elections found that only 200 members out of the about 5,000 who replied said they had been able to vote.

Available evidence suggests that people with disabilities also face significant obstacles to running for public office. Despite extensive research, Human Rights Watch was only able to identify eight people who had run for public office since 2005, including six in parliamentary elections and two in governorate elections. All candidates were men, and all had physical disabilities. The obstacles stem from discriminatory legislation, including provisions that require candidates to be “fully competent” or “fully qualified,” a lack of financial resources, and the unwillingness of political parties to seek out and support people with disabilities as candidates.

“It really makes me sad when I see all the members of parliament and there is no one to represent us,” said Naghim Khadir Elias, 47, who uses a wheelchair.

The commission has defended its policies. “Our institution is an executive one that is only concerned with implementing the electoral law that organizes all details of the electoral process,” the commission told the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs in December 2020, in response to critical findings from the UN’s Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. But the commission has the authority to select accessible voting sites and to offer transportation and disseminate accessible information.

For election day, the commission should ensure that transportation is available and that polling places are accessible. It should ensure that its election information materials are accessible and easy to understand for persons with intellectual, visual, and hearing disabilities. It should also ensure that assistance is available to those who need it and that it does not interfere with the right to cast a private and independent vote.

Iraq’s newly elected parliament should amend the relevant legislation to comply fully with the covenant. It should amend the civil code on legal capacity so the right to legal capacity is respected for anyone with a disability and that they have access to supported decision-making, if needed.

People with disabilities and their representative organizations should be consulted and included in all these efforts.

The United Nations and European Assistance Missions’ election monitoring bodies should include people with disabilities as expert monitors and include in their monitoring mandate documentation and reporting on discriminatory treatment and limitations that people with disabilities face.

“Countries financially supporting Iraq’s elections and monitoring missions, including those who have been part of the conflict, should ensure that they help make Iraq more accessible for people with disabilities, including its political system,” Wille said.

Meanwhile, there's a call to postpone the election in one oil-rich area of Iraq.  RUDAW reports:

Three members of the Iraqi parliament who identified themselves as representatives of the city’s Arab and Turkmen communities have called for the postponement of the Iraqi election for a week in the disputed city of Kirkuk.

Turkmen MP Ersat Salih and Sunni Arab MP Mohammed al-Tamimi held a press conference on Wednesday in Kirkuk, attended by a number of other politicians, including Hasan Turan, the head of the Turkmen front. 

A statement read by Khalid al-Mafraji, a Sunni Arab member of Iraqi parliament, claimed that Peshmerga forces are trying to move into Kirkuk territories under the guise of fighting remnants of the Islamic State in the disputed areas. It called on Iraqi forces to take on the ongoing threat posed by ISIS without the support of their Kurdish partners.

Dilan Sirwan (RUDAW) notes, "On July 8, the IHEC approved the final list of candidates eligible to contest the elections. There are a total of 3,249 candidates, including 951 women, competing for 329 seats. Nine seats are reserved by minorities and there are 67 candidates vying for these spots."

The following sites updated:

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Jonathan Turley, Michael Hudson

Jonathan Turley:

President Joe Biden has long pledged to “build back better” but in the last few months it has become clear that his transformative plans go beyond mere infrastructure and extend to our very structure of government.

From abortions to elections to rents, Biden is seeking to federalize huge areas to displace state law. Not since John Adams and his Federalist Party has the country faced such a fundamental challenge to our system of federalism.

Some of the claims made by Biden recently would make even Adams blush. What is most striking about these claims is that Biden and his aides have indicated that they know they are operating outside of constitutional limits

I'm highlighting this from a column by Michael Hudson (ICH):

Mr. Soros has thrown a public sissy fit over the fact that he can’t make the kind of easy money off China that he was able to make when the Soviet Union was carved up and privatized. On September 7, 2021, in his second mainstream editorial in a week, George Soros expressed his horror at the recommendation by BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, that financial managers should triple their investment in China. Claiming that such investment would imperil U.S. national security by helping China, Mr. Soros stepped up his advocacy of U.S. financial and trade sanctions.
China’s policy of shaping markets to promote overall prosperity, instead of letting the economic surplus be concentrated in the hands of corporate and foreign investors, is an existential threat to America’s neoliberal priorities, he spells out. President Xi’s “Common Prosperity” program “seeks to reduce inequality by distributing the wealth of the rich to the general population. That does not augur well for foreign investors.”[1] To neoliberals, that is heresy.
Criticizing China’s “abrupt cancellation of a new issue by Alibaba’s Ant group in November 2020,” and “banishment of U.S.-financed tutoring companies from China,” Mr. Soros singles out Blackstone’s co-founder Stephen Schwarzman (Note that Blackstone under Schwartzman is not to be confused with BlackRock under Larry Fink) and former Goldman Sachs President John L. Thornton for seeking to make financial returns for their investors instead of treating China as an enemy state and looming Cold War adversary:
The BlackRock initiative imperils the national security interests of the U.S. and other democracies because the money invested in China will help prop up President Xi’s regime … Congress should pass legislation empowering the Securities and Exchange Commission to limit the flow of funds to China. The effort ought to enjoy bipartisan support.
The New York Times published a prominent article defining the “Biden Doctrine” as seeing “China as America’s existential competitor; Russia as a disrupter; Iran and North Korea as nuclear proliferators, cyberthreats as ever-evolving and terrorism as spreading far beyond Afghanistan.” Against these threats, the article depicts U.S. strategy as representing “democracy,” the euphemism for countries with minimal governments leaving economic planning to Wall Street financial managers, and infrastructure in the hands of private investors, not provided at subsidized prices. Nations restrict monopolies and related rent-seeking are accused of being autocratic.

I'm highlighting that for two reasons. First off, it's an important column. Second off, this is what Ava and C.I. are referring to when they talk about Soros and blood money. They do not support Soros and they do not endorse him. He made his money off the pain of others. Danny Schechter ran MEDIA CHANNEL. From time to time, without their knowledge, Danny posted Ava and C.I.'s media commentaries in full at MEDIA CHANNEL. MEDIA CHANNEL was funded by George Soros. George Soros gave Danny Schechter money.

Ava and C.I. never got money from George Soros. They also never got money from Danny Schechter -- or from anyone who's reposted their work ever.

Because their work -- that shows up first at THIRD ESTATE SUNDAY REVIEW -- was up at MEDIA CHANNEL, they have been repeatedly accused over the years of having been paid by George Soros. No. Did not happen. A) They don't need the money. B) They have integrity and would not accept.

Let me be clear on that latter point. I went to college with C.I. (and Rebecca). She found out right before the semester started that her parents would only pay if she majored in journalism which she had no intention of majoring in. They knew her -- or thought they did. They clearly didn't know her. She took out a private loan and immediately got a job, then a second job, then a third job. She worked her way through college and grad school. During some of that, she was doing various things -- often with unions. She would never take a check from a union. Not because she didn't like their work but because she believed in their work. One Saturday, for example, they bussed her three hours away and she was speaking about some labor issue that would be coming to a vote. I went to pick her up at the end of the day. She was arguing with some man and I thought, "What's going on?" He was trying to pay her and telling her that everyone on that bus got paid. She said no and I told him, "You'll never win this fight." He never would have.

So the notion that she would refuse money from a union who's work she approved of but take money from George Soros whose work has harmed so many (currency speculation) is deeply offensive to her. That's the other reason I highlight Hudson's work.

By the way, Ava and C.I.'s latest is "Media: Movie survival?" Be sure to check that out.

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

 Tuesday, September 14, 2021.  War Criminal Condi Rice thinks she has wisdom to share.

Starting with a War Criminal.

Mad Maddie's gal Condi Rice wants to talk Iraq.  On her terms.  Kind of like she wanted to talk 9-11 on her terms.  Remember that?   Former US Senator Bob Kerrey was trying to get her to answer questions when she appeared before the 9/11 Commission and she repeatedly attempted to evade answering.  Remember?  Bob warned her not to try to filibuster.  She claimed no one could have guessed that planes would be used.  Remember?  He had to repeatedly insist that she 

In fact, because people may have forgotten, let's note some of that exchange:

KERREY: You've used the phrase a number of times, and I'm hoping with my question to disabuse you of using it in the future.

You said the president was tired of swatting flies.

KERREY: Can you tell me one example where the president swatted a fly when it came to al Qaeda prior to 9/11?

RICE: I think what the president was speaking to was...

KERREY: No, no. What fly had he swatted?

RICE: Well, the disruptions abroad was what he was really focusing on...

KERREY: No, no...

RICE: ... when the CIA would go after Abu Zubaydah...

KERREY: He hadn't swatted...

RICE: ... or go after this guy...

KERREY: Dr. Rice, we didn't...

RICE: That was what was meant.

KERREY: We only swatted a fly once on the 20th of August 1998. We didn't swat any flies afterwards. How the hell could he be tired?

RICE: We swatted at -- I think he felt that what the agency was doing was going after individual terrorists here and there, and that's what he meant by swatting flies. It was simply a figure of speech.

KERREY: Well, I think it's an unfortunate figure of speech because I think, especially after the attack on the Cole on the 12th of October, 2000, it would not have been swatting a fly. It would not have been -- we did not need to wait to get a strategic plan.

Dick Clarke had in his memo on the 20th of January overt military operations. He turned that memo around in 24 hours, Dr. Clarke. There were a lot of plans in place in the Clinton administration -- military plans in the Clinton administration.

In fact, since we're in the mood to declassify stuff, there was -- he included in his January 25 memo two appendices -- Appendix A: "Strategy for the elimination of the jihadist threat of al Qaeda," Appendix B: "Political military plan for al Qaeda."

So I just -- why didn't we respond to the Cole?

RICE: Well, we...

KERREY: Why didn't we swat that fly?

RICE: I believe that there's a question of whether or not you respond in a tactical sense or whether you respond in a strategic sense; whether or not you decide that you're going to respond to every attack with minimal use of military force and go after every -- on a kind of tit-for-tat basis.

By the way, in that memo, Dick Clarke talks about not doing this tit-for-tat, doing this on the time of our choosing.

I'm aware, Mr. Kerrey, of a speech that you gave at that time that said that perhaps the best thing that we could do to respond to the Cole and to the memories was to do something about the threat of Saddam Hussein.

That's a strategic view...

And we took a strategic view. We didn't take a tactical view. I mean, it was really -- quite frankly, I was blown away when I read the speech, because it's a brilliant speech. It talks about really...

... an asymmetric...

KERREY: I presume you read it in the last few days?

RICE: Oh no, I read it quite a bit before that. It's an asymmetric approach.

Now, you can decide that every time al Qaeda...

KERREY: So you're saying that you didn't have a military response against the Cole because of my speech?


KERREY: That had I not given that speech you would have attacked them?

RICE: No, I'm just saying that I think it was a brilliant way to think about it.

KERREY: I think it's...

RICE: It was a way of thinking about it strategically, not tactically. But if I may answer the question that you've asked me.

The issue of whether to respond -- or how to respond to the Cole -- I think Don Rumsfeld has also talked about this. Yes, the Cole had happened. We received, I think on January 25, the same assessment -- or roughly the same assessment -- of who was responsible for the Cole that Sandy Berger talked to you about.

It was preliminary. It was not clear. But that was not the reason that we felt that we did not want to, quote, "respond to the Cole."

We knew that the options that had been employed by the Clinton administration had been standoff options. The president had -- meaning missile strikes or perhaps bombers would have been possible, long-range bombers. Although getting in place the apparatus to use long-range bombers is even a matter of whether you have basing in the region.

RICE: We knew that Osama Bin Laden had been, in something that was provided to me, bragging that he was going to withstand any response and then he was going to emerge and come out stronger.

KERREY: But you're figuring this out. You've got to give a very long answer.

RICE: We simply believed that the best approach was to put in place a plan that was going to eliminate this threat, not respond to an attack.

KERREY: Let me say, I think you would have come in there if you said, "We screwed up. We made a lot of mistakes." You obviously don't want to use the M-word in here. And I would say fine, it's game, set, match. I understand that.

But this strategic and tactical, I mean, I just -- it sounds like something from a seminar. It doesn't...

RICE: I do not believe to this day that it would have been a good thing to respond to the Cole, given the kinds of options that we were going to have.

And with all due respect to Dick Clarke, if you're speaking about the Delenda plan, my understanding is that it was, A, never adopted, and that Dick Clarke himself has said that the military portion of this was not taken up by the Clinton administration.

KERREY: Let me move into another area.

RICE: So we were not presented -- I just want to be very clear on this, because it's been a source of controversy -- we were not presented with a plan.

KERREY: Well, that's not true. It is not...

RICE: We were not presented. We were presented with...

KERREY: I've heard you say that, Dr. Clarke, that 25 January, 2001, memo was declassified, I don't believe...

RICE: That January 25 memo has a series of actionable items having to do with Afghanistan, the Northern Alliance.

KERREY: Let me move to another area.

RICE: May I finish answering your question, though, because this is an important...

KERREY: I know it's important. Everything that's going on here is important. But I get 10 minutes.

RICE: But since we have a point of disagreement, I'd like to have a chance to address it.

KERREY: Well, no, no, actually, we have many points of disagreement, Dr. Clarke, but we'll have a chance to do in closed session. Please don't filibuster me. It's not fair. It is not fair. I have been polite. I have been courteous. It is not fair to me.

I understand that we have a disagreement.

RICE: Commissioner, I am here to answer questions. And you've asked me a question, and I'd like to have an opportunity to answer it.

The fact is that what we were presented on January the 25th was a set of ideas and a paper, most of which was about what the Clinton administration had done and something called the Delenda plan which had been considered in 1998 and never adopted. We decided to take a different track.

RICE: We decided to put together a strategic approach to this that would get the regional powers -- the problem wasn't that you didn't have a good counterterrorism person.

The problem was you didn't have an approach against al Qaeda because you didn't have an approach against Afghanistan. And you didn't have an approach against Afghanistan because you didn't have an approach against Pakistan. And until we could get that right, we didn't have a policy.

KERREY: Thank you for answering my question.

RICE: You're welcome.

KERREY: Let me ask you another question. Here's the problem that I have as I -- again, it's hindsight. I appreciate that. But here's the problem that a lot of people are having with this July 5th meeting.

You and Andy Card meet with Dick Clarke in the morning. You say you have a meeting, he meets in the afternoon. It's July 5th.

Kristen Breitweiser, who's a part of the families group, testified at the Joint Committee. She brings very painful testimony, I must say.

But here's what Agent Kenneth Williams said five days later. He said that the FBI should investigate whether al Qaeda operatives are training at U.S. flight schools. He posited that Osama bin Laden followers might be trying to infiltrate the civil aviation system as pilots, security guards and other personnel. He recommended a national program to track suspicious flight schools. Now, one of the first things that I learned when I came into this town was the FBI and the CIA don't talk. I mean, I don't need a catastrophic event to know that the CIA and the FBI don't do a very good job of communicating.

And the problem we've got with this and the Moussaoui facts, which were revealed on the 15th of August, all it had to do was to be put on Intelink. All it had to do is go out on Intelink, and the game's over. It ends. This conspiracy would have been rolled up.

KERREY: And so I...

RICE: Commissioner, with all due respect, I don't agree that we know that we had somehow a silver bullet here that was going to work.

What we do know is that we did have a systemic problem, a structural problem between the FBI and the CIA. It was a long time in coming into being. It was there because there were legal impediments, as well as bureaucratic impediments. Those needed to be overcome.

Obviously, the structure of the FBI that did not get information from the field offices up to FBI Central, in a way that FBI Central could react to the whole range of information reports, was a problem..

KERREY: But, Dr. Rice, everybody...

RICE: But the structure of the FBI, the restructuring of the FBI, was not going to be done in the 233 days in which we were in office...

KERREY: Dr. Rice, everybody who does national security in this town knows the FBI and the CIA don't talk. So if you have a meeting on the 5th of July, where you're trying to make certain that your domestic agencies are preparing a defense against a possible attack, you knew al Qaeda cells were in the United States, you've got to follow up.

And the question is, what was your follow-up? What's the paper trail that shows that you and Andy Card followed up from this meeting, and...

RICE: I followed...

KERREY: ... made certain that the FBI and the CIA were talking?

RICE: I followed up with Dick Clarke, who had in his group, and with him, the key counterterrorism person for the FBI. You have to remember that Louis Freeh was, by this time, gone. And so, the chief counterterrorism person was the second -- Louis Freeh had left in late June. And so the chief counterterrorism person for the FBI was working these issues, was working with Dick Clarke. I talked to Dick Clarke about this all the time.

RICE: But let's be very clear, the threat information that we were dealing with -- and when you have something that says, "something very big may happen," you have no time, you have no place, you have no how, the ability to somehow respond to that threat is just not there.

Now, you said...

KERREY: Dr. Clarke, in the spirit of further declassification...

RICE: Sir, with all...

KERREY: The spirit...

RICE: I don't think I look like Dick Clarke, but...

KERREY: Dr. Rice, excuse me.

RICE: Thank you.

KEAN: This is the last question, Senator.

KERREY: Actually it won't be a question.

In the spirit of further declassification, this is what the August 6 memo said to the president: that the FBI indicates patterns of suspicious activity in the United States consistent with preparations for hijacking.

That's the language of the memo that was briefed to the president on the 6 of August.

And let's watch the video of Condi trying to lie to Richard Ben-Veniste at the hearing.

Condi: "I believe the title was 'Bin Laden Determined To Strike In The United States'."

"Condi Lousy" -- that's what Fred Kaplan called her at SLATE due to that testimony:


One clear inference can be drawn from Condoleezza Rice’s testimony before the 9/11 commission this morning: She has been a bad national security adviser—passive, sluggish, and either unable or unwilling to tie the loose strands of the bureaucracy into a sensible vision or policy. In short, she has not done what national security advisers are supposed to do.

The key moment came an hour into the hearing, when former Watergate prosecutor Richard Ben-Veniste took his turn at asking questions. Up to this point, Rice had argued that the Bush administration could not have done much to stop the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Yes, the CIA’s sirens were sounding all summer of an impending strike by al-Qaida, but the warnings were of an attack overseas.

One clear inference can be drawn from Condoleezza Rice’s testimony before the 9/11 commission this morning: She has been a bad national security adviser—passive, sluggish, and either unable or unwilling to tie the loose strands of the bureaucracy into a sensible vision or policy. In short, she has not done what national security advisers are supposed to do.

The key moment came an hour into the hearing, when former Watergate prosecutor Richard Ben-Veniste took his turn at asking questions. Up to this point, Rice had argued that the Bush administration could not have done much to stop the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Yes, the CIA’s sirens were sounding all summer of an impending strike by al-Qaida, but the warnings were of an attack overseas

Ben-Veniste brought up the much-discussed PDB—the president’s daily briefing by CIA Director George Tenet—of Aug. 6, 2001. For the first time, he revealed the title of that briefing: “Bin Laden Determined To Strike in US.”*

Rice insisted this title meant nothing. The document consisted of merely “historical information” about al-Qaida—various plans and attacks of the past. “This was not a ‘threat report,’ ” she said. It “did not warn of any coming attack inside the United States.” Later in the hearing, she restated the point: “The PDB does not say the United States is going to be attacked. It says Bin Laden would like to attack the United States.”

To call this distinction “academic” would be an insult to academia.

Rice acknowledged that throughout the summer of 2001 the CIA was intercepting unusually high volumes of “chatter” about an impending terrorist strike. She quoted from some of this chatter: “attack in near future,” “unbelievable news coming in weeks,” “a very, very, very big uproar.” She said some “specific” intelligence indicated the attack would take place overseas. However, she noted that very little of this intelligence was specific; most of it was “frustratingly vague.” In other words (though she doesn’t say so), most of the chatter might have been about a foreign or a domestic attack—it wasn’t clear. 

This is who we now want input on Iraq from?

She's a War Criminal.  And she's a liar.  And she's lying about Iraq.  She's claiming that Iraq is "increasingly stable" and, no, it is not.  That's a damn liar from a damn lying War Criminal who should be hanging her head in shame but instead seem to think that anyone wants to hear from her.  If she offered to stand still while various Americans threw rotten fruit at her, she could fill a stadium.  But that's the only way she could ever attract a crowd.  

THE NEW ARAB reports:

While Basra governorate lies on an ocean of oil - receiving foreign investments to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars per year - local people live in grinding poverty and suffer high unemployment

They are also left vulnerable to the violent disputes which frequently erupt between armed tribes in a region where the state and security forces are almost absent.

Last year, Muhammed Al-Waeli and his family were forced to leave their home in Abu Sakhir, northern Basra, in fear of their lives due to ongoing clan disputes, Fadhil al-Gharawi, a member of the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR Iraq) told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, The New Arab's Arabic-language sister publication. Many fall victim to clashes they have no connection to.

General Amjad Qasim, who heads the Basra police force, confirms that 13 families have left their homes in the city for the same reasons. 

That's 'stability'?  Condi's a damn liar.

Next month, Iraqis are supposed to vote.  And yet RUDAW reports:

 Turnout for Iraq’s October 10 parliamentary election is expected to be a record low, with a recent poll predicting just 29 percent of eligible voters will cast ballots.

The random survey conducted by the Kulwatha Center polled 3,600 voters from all provinces. Twenty-nine percent of respondents said they intend to vote and 14 percent are still undecided.

The election was called ahead of schedule to meet the demand of anti-government protesters, but interest in the vote is low. Several parties from across the spectrum have announced they will not participate. Parties and voters are questioning the legitimacy of the vote in an environment where powerful militias operate outside of government control, activists and election candidates are threatened, and the electoral commission and political elites are accused of fraud.

The vote will take place with electronic voting and counting, but 74 percent of those surveyed by Kulwatha Center said they don't think new technology will reduce fraud and 64 percent said they support a manual recount of votes.

The survey was conducted between June 6 and August 14 and results were published on Sunday.

That's stability?  

Condi Rice is not a trusted source, she's nothing but a War Criminal and outlets that treat her like anything else are dirty jokes.

The following sites updated:


Tuesday, September 14, 2021

No to hypocrisy

 Jonathan Turley:

Justice Stephen Breyer has been a target of liberal groups for months as billboards and commentators call for his immediate resignation. It has backfired with Breyer pushing back on such pressure and reaffirming that he will stay on the Court so long as he is capable of carrying out his duties. Breyer has also opposed the same groups and a number of leading Democrats pushing for court packing.  Breyer just reaffirmed his position (and that of other justices like the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg) in opposition to court packing.


Breyer was asked by Fox News’ Chris Wallace in a Sunday interview about increasing the size of the Court and Breyer responded “One party could do it, I guess another party could do it. On the surface, it seems to me that you start changing these things around, and people will lose trust in the court.”

Breyer struck out at court packing in an interview on Friday with NPR, noting “What goes around comes around. And if the Democrats can do it, the Republicans can do it.”

The Court itself seemed to be sending a message with a serious of unanimous and heavy majorities in the last term that the claims of a rigidly divided Court are overblown. Most cases do not show such deep ideological divisions.

President Joe Biden has refused to state his position on court packing and has assembled a commission to make a recommendation on the subject.

Breyer previously warned against any move to expand the Supreme Court. He also rejected the characterization of the current Court as “conservative” or ideologically rigid. Breyer was swiftly denounced by figures like cable news host Mehdi Hasan who called him “naive” and called for his retirement. Demand Justice, a liberal group calling for court packing, had a billboard truck in Washington the next day in the streets of Washington warning “Breyer, retire. Don’t risk your legacy.” (Demand Justice once employed White House press secretary Jen Psaki as a communications consultant, and Psaki was on the advisory board of one of its voting projects.)

Court packing is unethical.  I don't support anything that we'd object to if the other party did it.  Can you imagine our outrage if Donald Trump had to tried to pack the courts.  We would have been crazed with anger.  I'm not a hypocrite.  It's a same so many others are encouraged to be.

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

 Monday, September 13, 2021.  Faucci, Iran, oh my.

Not a fan of RISING now that Krystal and Saager have left.  We haven't noted the show since then.  But an e-mail to the public account argued this video should be noted.

I streamed it.  I agree it does need to be included and I've noted it here in the entry right before this one.  I'm also including it in the snapshot at the top.  Here's Senator Ran Paul speaking with Megyn Kelly about the issue.

There are periodicals like WSWS who have staked their reputation on where COVID came from -- insisting that discussing China is akin to claiming WMD in Iraq.

If it is true that it came from China -- I have no idea nor am I the gatekeeper that WSWS has tried to be lately -- that's an issue.  And 'trust the science' has always been crap and I have called that out here.  I don't worship science.  Science gave us the atom bond.  Science gave us Tuskegee.  Science gave us the suicide of Frank Olson.  Trust the science?  I don't trust anything carried out in private.  

And my feelings are not uncommon.  I'm not unique in that.   You should have built your campaigns around doctors.  People trust their doctor -- those lucky enough to have one.  We know our doctors.  "Trust the science" was never an answer to concerns the people had.

It doesn't matter where it came from in terms of Dr. Anthony Faucci.  He's compromised in terms of trust because of the changes in policy that have been present since the start of the pandemic.  If you want to send a new tone, a message that your administration is different than Donald Trump's, the first thing you do is retire the troubled spokesperson.

B-b-b-but what if Faucci is not lying to Congress or what if his blunders were the blunders of the government and not his own (example: no point in wearing masks, everyone wear masks, etc)?  

I don't care.  Nor does America nor should they.  I don't believe in the 'greater good' theory -- that leads to so many being exploited.  But it's strange, isn't it, that the proponents of greater good never apply to it big money.

Faucci has become an issue.  A large segment of the American public does not trust him.  We are in the midst of a pandemic.  We have switched presidents from Donald Trump to Joe Biden.  It is perfectly natural for a succeeding president to 'shake up' the teams by putting in new people.  

The administration is having to spend too much time defending Donald Trump's Faucci.  He keeps the government off message.  It's time for him to go -- for the good of the country, for the good of the administration and to help everyone get on the same page regarding the pandemic.

That we're having to open the Iraq snapshot with Faucci goes to how much of a problem he has become.

Thank him for his service and send him packing.  When the spokesperson creates this much controversy, the spokesperson is the problem.  He needs to go.  The White House needs to be focused on COVID 19, not on defending Faucci.

The pandemic has not ended, not in the US, not elsewhere.  AFP reports:

Iraq on Sunday received a donation of more than 100,000 AstraZeneca doses against Covid-19 from Italy via vaccine-sharing facility Covax, the UN children's agency UNICEF said.

More than four million people in Iraq, or around 10 percent of its 40 million inhabitants, have received at least one coronavirus vaccine jab, according to the health ministry.

Healthcare workers say they are battling not just the coronavirus but also widespread scepticism over vaccines, as a result of misinformation and public mistrust in the state.

Anyone who's very presence (Faucci) sews mistrust needs to go.  That's in the US, that's anywhere.

In Iraq, the Kurdistan has continued to be attacked.  Last Thursday, Iran attacked the Kurdistan (northern area of Iraq) with bombs and drones (called "suicide drones" by the press for some reason).  Saturday, northern Iraq was attacked again.  ALJAZEERA reported:

Erbil International Airport in northern Iraq has been targeted in a drone attack, Kurdish security officials said, the latest in a series of similar incidents over the past year.

The internal security service for Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region, of which Erbil is the capital, initially said three rockets had hit near the airport. 

A second statement by the Kurdish counterterrorism force said the attack had been carried out by explosive-laden drones.

While the US media ignored the bombing on Thursday and the bombings that continued to take place, Dilan Sirwan (RUDAW) noted:

At least three blasts had been heard near the airport. According to initial reports from Rudaw reporters citing security forces, the blasts occurred outside the airport perimeter. 
[. . .]

This is the fourth time this year Erbil airport has come under attack. Previous attacks were blamed on Iranian-backed Iraqi militias who have demanded United States forces withdraw from Iraq. US forces are stationed at the airport.


Seth J. Frantzman (JERUSALEM POST) added, "The area has been targeted by drones frequently over the last eight months and also by rockets in the past. Pro-Iranian groups in Iraq are alleged to use drones and rockets to target US forces at Erbil airport or threaten the US consulate in Erbil. "

No one knew who's responsible for this attack at present but, yes, Iran has been bombing the Kurdistan region -- which is where the Erbil airport is -- since Thursday.  RUDAW reported:

Iranian forces bombed the mountains around a village in northeast Erbil province on Saturday, terrifying local residents, according to the head of the village. Kurdish forces say it was an airstrike on the third day of attacks by Iran on Kurdish opposition groups based in the Kurdistan Region.

“Since 4am, Iran has been regularly bombarding the mountains in the vicinity of Barbzin, creating fear among the villagers. The lives of people who own livestock and farmers are in danger,” Mohammed Majid, mukhtar (chieftain) of the village, told Rudaw. 

The village has been under fire since Thursday when Iran launched attacks against Kurdish opposition groups located within Kurdistan Region borders, sending warplanes, drones, and suicide drones across the border. Areas around Choman, Sidakan, and Haji Omran in northeastern Erbil province are the focus of the attacks. Barbzin is located in the Sidakan area. 

Yet it wasn't until Sunday that the US media took notice and then it was only one outlet.  Sunday, Kaelan Deese (WASHINGTON EXAMINER) reported:

The U.S. military struck down two Iranian drones attacking the Erbil airport in Kurdish-held Iraq on Saturday, defense officials said.

The late attack on the 20th anniversary of Sept. 11 did not come with any reports of casualties or damage, according to a spokesperson for the U.S.-led coalition in northern Iraq.

"Each attack against the GoI, KRI and the Coalition undermines the authority of Iraqi institutions, the rule of law and Iraqi National sovereignty," Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman Col. Wayne Marotto tweeted on Saturday. "These attacks endanger the lives of civilians and the partner forces from the ISF, Peshmerga and Coalition."

THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER covered it -- the story was then carried by YAHOO NEWS (which is where the link above goes).  MSN reposts Deese's report here.  And if you couldn't hide behind Deese, you didn't note the news because you were too busy pretending it never happened.


Multiple reasons.  In terms of Iraq, the US had stage crafted Mustafa al-Kahdimi's trip to Iran.  It came on Saturday and much to the US government's horror, that's when the latest attack took place.  The whole point was to show Mustafa as a leader in the US government's desperate bid to get Mr. Useless some votes in the October election.  Covering the bombing, Secretary of State Antony Blinkin himself told CNN was bad for ''optics'' and "off message.''  So that's how we determine what is and isn't news?  Based on what the US State Dept says can be covered and what it says can't be covered?

And Mustafa's visit to Iran on the same day only made it more news worthy.  CNN wonders why it's no longer the news outlet you can trust, well look no further than their taking orders on their coverage from Antony.

I'm so anti-State Dept these days -- that's what friends tell me.  Friends who are at the State Dept.  I don't think I'm anti-State Dept at all.  But if US tax dollars are being used to pay off Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and I know about it -- sorry about your slip up on the phone with me -- then I'm gong to note it.  And it is news and other sshould be noting it.  The US government paid off Moqtada to get him to come out in favor of the vote, this was last month.  We're the only ones with the guts to tell you.  RUDAW may deserve credit for, in recent days since we noted that pay out, tip-toeing around it.  But the US media has ignored this topic.  I don't mean, "How dare they not credit us!"  They don't have to.  The same State Dept person I was speaking to had already spoken to serveral members of the press and let slip about the pay off -- let slip?  Bragged about it.

So this is known and yet they cover it up instead of covering it.

It's amazing also because if you really want to end Moqtada al-Sadr, the easiest way is to expose him as a US-client.  That's what he is when he carries out the orders of the US government when they pay him off.

On Moqtada, to the blogger who keeps bothering me with his loud and angry e-mails telling me that I was wrong about the candidates aligned with Moqtada running for office . . .

In July or early August, I noted that a member of Moqtada's party had written at length to explain that despite Moqtada's public statements against the election, his candidates were running for office.  And since then, this blogger has bothered the public account repeatedly.

From a report RUDAW filed yesterday:

Sadr himself has never run for elected office, but he has been involved in the political scene since 2005 and his party is a current partner in the sectarian quota system. The movement secured 30 - 40 seats in each parliamentary election between 2006 and 2014. And it had no fewer than ten ministers between 2010 and 2014.

It has 90 candidates across Iraq competing in the October vote and is confident of victory, Sadrist member Hassan Faleh said in an interview with Rudaw.  

"The position of the next prime minister is the least that the Sadrist movement deserves, and we are certain that we will be the largest and strongest coalition in the next stage," Faleh said.

90 candidates.  Guess what?  August 27th, was too late for them to file to run.  That's the day Moqtada withdrew his objection to the elections.  

I'm sorry that you can't handle reality.  But, again, this member of Moqtada's political group has been e-mailing this site since 2007.  I've differed with some of his viewpoints but I've never had a problem with anything he said happened -- he's been proven right year after year.

 In other news,   Durrie Bouscaren (PRI) reports on the drought issues plaguing the region:

Muhammed Fouad, a cattle rancher, was just two years into a venture to bring affordable milk to his hometown in Iraq’s Anbar province, when — seemingly overnight — the cows started dying. 

“We brought in veterinarians from Erbil, because they were OK and suddenly dying the next day,” Fouad said in a phone call, through a translator.

The initiative left him with $350,000 in damages. Fouad had to lay off his employees and sell his home to pay his debts to the project’s investors. He now works in construction, back in Erbil.

Unprecedented drought — driven by climate change and exacerbated by upstream irrigation — is wreaking havoc on some of the world’s oldest river-fed farmlands in Iraq and Syria.

A dry winter has pushed water levels on the Tigris and Euphrates to record lows, disrupting hydroelectric power facilities and concentrating pollution in the river to undrinkable levels. Aid groups estimate that 12 million people are affected, in a crisis they warn could tip the balance of the food system and livelihoods for the entire region.

Kat's  "Kat's Korner: TREES OF THE AGES: LAURA NYRO LIVE IN JAPAN   " went up earlier today.  The following sites updated: