Thursday, April 15, 2021

Michael Smith, Jonathan Turley, Ava and C.I.

First up a video to keep my promise about more content than just text.


That's Michael Smith. I looked for a video of Heidi Boghosian but couldn't find anything more recent than five years. I asked C.I. and she suggest I look up Michael's interview with Chris Hedges. They are discussing the late Michael Ratner. Michael Smith and Heidi are attorneys and Michael Ratner was one. Heidi and Michael continue to host LAW AND DISORDER radio (on WBAI, but it's not on YOUTUBE). They started the weekly radio program with the late Michael and Dalia Hashad. 

Staying with legal, here's Jonathan Turley:

We recently discussed the controversial commission created by President Joe Biden to discuss calls to pack the Supreme Court as well as a number of truly looney ideas for circumventing or reducing the authority of the Court’s conservative majority. Some members however decided not to wait even for a commission that is itself packed with liberal members.  House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler, D-NY, Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass, and others will be announcing their plan to immediately add four new justices to the Court. The number is calculated purely to give liberals a 7-6 majority on the Court. It is about a subtle as a B-52 run.

 Many of us have discussed the expansion of the Supreme Court through the years. Over 20 years ago, I recommended the expansion of the Court to 17 or 19 members. However, that recommendation would occur over many years and would not give advocates the short-term majority that they are seeking. That is the difference between reforming and packing the Court.

 The bill today strips away any pretense of principle. It is pure unadulterated court packing. It is the very proposal denounced by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before she died. Recently, Justice Stephen Breyer wanted against the move. One would think he would be immune from the mob as one of the most consistently liberal justices in our history. However, this week, Breyer 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.)

With the opposition of justices like Ginsburg and Breyer (and presumably the majority if not the unanimous Court), this is nothing short of a hostile takeover. It would reduce the Court to a glorified FCC with life tenure.

l agree that it is Court packing.  I am not opposed to reforms for the Supreme Court.  As part of that, I am fine with a gradual increase of Justices on the Court; however, gradual.  Otherwise, this just means that when a Republican gets back into the White House, they will do their court packing as well.  It betrays the integrity of the Court  When FDR tried to pack the Court, the Senate voted him down.

"Media: The failures of HBO and NPR" (Ava and C.I., THE THIRD ESTATE SUNDAY REVIEW):

We were hoping, with regards to HBO, that someone else would grab the issue and make the point. But no one has. We were hoping that because TINA is a documentary about Tina who we both know and one of us (C.I.) has known her since the end of the 60s.

It can be hard to write about someone you know. You might, for example, pull punches. As too many can attest, that's not really been a problem for us. In terms of Tina, do think we can be fair. In terms of HBO, maybe we can't?

HBO has promoted the documentary about the legendary Queen of Rock and Roll as being different than other vehicles -- such as the film WHAT'S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT in which Angela Bassett portrayed Tina and received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress in the process. HBO's documentary, the hype insisted and the so-called 'critics' repeated -- was rescuing the story. TINA was going to be a fully shaped documentary that was about so much more than her former husband Ike Turner terrorizing her.

Ike Turner, for those late to the party, died in 2007 and we noted it here:


We noted it because some pig boys were glorifying him and some were saying that surely Tina forgave him or that she needed to forgive him. No, she didn't.

We allowed that people could discuss the art of a person and set aside the personal life. But these weren't musical discussions. It was instead an attempt at shaming Tina into making some sort of an 'all is forgiven' statement. A lot of it had to do with hatred of women -- as was evidenced by Phil Spector ripping Tina apart at Ike's funeral -- a funeral he attended between murder trials. Like Ike, Phil abused women -- Lana Clarkson was his latest victim t the time and the one that got him sent to prison.

Tina attracted a lot of hate from men. TINA documents how an EMI executive referred to Tina as the n-word before her breakout success. It doesn't say one word about John Fogerty.


Are we not supposed to go there?

See that's what we always do, go where we're not supposed to go. It was so interesting to us to hear Fogerty pontificating in 2020 about Trump and racism because, for us, he'll forever be the guy who spent the mid-80s over and over using the n-word to describe Tina. He wasn't shy around the press. He'd usually blame it on another male artist and say that the other male artist stated that John was letting that n-word take away his song ("Proud Mary"). He thought it was cute. He thought it was funny.

No, it wasn't just some anonymous music exec, it was also her peer group.

Read the whole thing, it's incredible.

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

 Thursday, April 15, 2021.  Joe Biden speaks, will he deliver?

US President Joe Biden lied to the American people yet again in a speech broadcast last night.  Patrick Martin (WSWS) observes:

US President Joe Biden announced Wednesday afternoon that the remaining American troops in Afghanistan would begin pulling out on May 1 and that all of them would be withdrawn from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021.

The choice of a final withdrawal date was intended to reinforce the longstanding lie by Washington that its invasion and occupation of Afghanistan were in response to the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington on September 11, 2001. In reality, the attack on Afghanistan was in preparation well before that date, and the invasion was aimed at accomplishing long-term strategic aims for American imperialism.The televised statement from the White House and the accompanying media buildup, however, could not dispel the atmosphere of futility and failure that surrounds the withdrawal—if, indeed, the final pullout takes place on schedule.

Biden reportedly rejected pleas by Pentagon and CIA officials that any pullout should be “conditions-based,” i.e., conditional on some sort of agreement between the Taliban insurgents and the Kabul puppet regime established by the United States. By one account, citing an unnamed “senior administration official,” Biden viewed such an approach as “a recipe for staying in Afghanistan forever.”

While warning the Taliban not to attack American forces or their NATO allies during the withdrawal period, Biden indicated that there were no circumstances in which he would reverse his decision. He only left open the threat that US military force could be employed against any possible terrorist threat to the United States, a warning that applies to virtually every country in the world.

While there are officially 2,500 US troops in Afghanistan and another 6,500 from other NATO countries, press reports indicate that the actual number of American soldiers is 3,500. This does not count thousands of other American personnel, from CIA agents to mercenaries to Special Forces paratroopers, who are likely to continue operations in that country as long as Washington feels it necessary to prop up the Kabul regime, which has no other base of support.

[. . .]

In his remarks Wednesday, Biden referred to the 2,300 American soldiers killed in Afghanistan, the tens of thousands of wounded and $2 trillion expended on 20 years of war. He made no reference whatsoever to the catastrophic impact on the Afghan people and on Afghanistan as a society, one of many destroyed by American imperialism over the past two decades, along with Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen and large parts of northern Africa.

Similarly, there has been virtually no mention in the US media of the damage and the colossal loss of life inflicted by American forces. Instead, there were crocodile tears about the savagery of the Taliban and the likelihood of severe setbacks for women’s rights should the fundamentalist religious group come to power again in Kabul.

One of the most cynical efforts to portray Biden’s decision as a humanitarian and even progressive action came from David Sanger, the designated recipient of leaks from the CIA and Pentagon at the New York Times. He wrote that Biden was pulling out troops at least in part because “he wants the United States focused on a transformational economic and social agenda at home,” adding that in Biden’s view “the priorities are fighting poverty and racial inequities and increasing investment in broadband, semiconductors, artificial intelligence and 5G communications—not using the military to prop up the government of President Ashraf Ghani.” He concluded, “In the end, the argument that won the day is that the future of Kenosha is more important than defending Kabul.”

The resources squandered by American imperialism in Afghanistan will not go to rebuild deindustrialized cities in the Midwest, however. They will be redeployed against the major targets of Washington, in Russia and China.

The war on Afghanistan did not start because of 9/11.  The Taliban did not attack the United States on September 11, 2001.  They were asked to hand over Osama bin Laden and others in al Qaeda.  Their reply was they wanted to see some evidence of a connection to the crime.  That's really not uncommon.  When one country wants another country to hand someone over (think Julian Assange who continues to be persecuted by the US government), they present a case and some backing information that they believe justifies extradition.  The US government refused to provide any.  Bellicose and belligerent, the Bully Boy Bush regime conveyed through then-Secretary of State Collie The Blot Powell that they would provide their supporting evidence after -- after -- the extraditions took place.  Some will or have read that to mean that the US had no proof connecting Osama bin Laden to the 9/11 attack and that might be (FBI judgments in the early '00s would fuel that belief) but it also likely that the refusal to provide support for the demand was just the usual US government looking down on other countries and try to bully others into getting their way.

Joe connected it to 9/11 without explaining that the Taliban had stated they needed supporting evidence to do the deportation.  The refusal to deport is what led to the war on Afghanistan.

Like the Iraq War (and Iraq wars), the Afghanistan War accomplished nothing but death and destruction.  All these years later, there's still a non-functioning government in place, a corrupt government, an abusive government.  Again, just like Iraq.

At THE AMERICAN PROPSECT, Sarah Leah Whitson offers:

Thirty years ago, some classmates and I took a break from our studies at Harvard and set out on a self-appointed mission. We traveled to Iraq to investigate the true devastation caused by the U.S.-led coalition’s bombardment. Little did we know that the 1991 war would be remembered as a blip in America’s Iraq adventures, now merely called the First Gulf War, to be followed by decades of far greater devastation: 22 years of sanctions and air strikes, a Second Gulf War, military occupation, and what’s now just another one of our global endless wars.

Today, the country remains in shambles, and the Iraqi people are left holding the bag. Purveyors of American empire and Iraqi desperation never tire of offering up fresh justifications to give the U.S. just one more go at a fix. But it really is time for the U.S. to step aside, as it’s been promising to do for far too long. For those focused on the welfare of the people of Iraq, but still driven, despite the overwhelming evidence of three decades, to seek help from the U.S. government, it’s past time to come to terms with the reality that U.S. policies have never helped the Iraqi people.

[. . .]

And so again, our group returned to Iraq, just before the war in January 2003, this time in a bid to bring Nobel Peace Prize laureates Nelson Mandela and Jimmy Carter to the country to negotiate a last-ditch resolution to the conflict. We failed. Instead, Bush pursued the calamity of the U.S. war, with strong bipartisan support, as prominent Democrats fell over themselves to establish their war-hawk credentials: Then-Sen. Joe Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, voted for the war, as did then-Sen. Hillary Clinton, with stacked-deck hearings lasting less than two days, engineered by then–Senate Foreign Relations Committee Director Tony Blinken. The war soon became laden with even creepier mission creep than the prior Iraq war: the overthrow of Hussein and calamitous dismantling of Iraqi government institutions, a two-year occupation replete with notorious torture prisons and military contractors run amok, and the installation of a hand-picked Shia-dominated, Iran-influenced government facing ever-emergent Sunni resistance militias. The war and the government system established by the U.S. solidified the notion of the country as split between Sunnis and Shias.

One corrupt and brutal sectarian administration after another tried to quash new uprisings by Iraqis aggrieved by their rule, particularly in the Sunni provinces, bolstered with what became permanent U.S. military forces providing “essential” military support for their survival. The U.S. spent tens of billions more on advisers to new Iraqi governments, providing advice on constitution drafting, governance, and reconstruction, even, of course, rebuilding the electrical plants we destroyed in 1991; estimates of the cost of the war and its aftermath run to $2 trillion. Much if not most of the money was spent in military aid to bolster Iraq’s security forces. Even after the formal “withdrawal” of U.S troops in 2011 under President Obama, over 5,000 defense contractors and 20,000 embassy and consulate personnel, all with diplomatic immunity, remained in the country to service over $10 billion in arms deals and “train and advise” Iraqi security forces. The U.S. also continued to determine fateful political outcomes for the country, most disastrously with then–Vice President Joe Biden tipping the scales to ensure Nouri Al-Maliki’s re-election as prime minister, despite warning bells that Maliki had become increasingly sectarian, violent, and authoritarian.

Sadly, the post-occupation Iraqi security forces emerged as unjust and brutal as their predecessors, as mountains of human rights reports attest. There was a time when an Iraqi or Kurdish security official would be embarrassed when confronted with evidence of torture, mass executions, massacres, burning of homes, and razing of villages, unfavorably comparing them to the tyrant under whom they themselves had suffered. But with time, the shame faded and only the repression remained. By 2013, following the Maliki government’s multiple massacres of Sunni protesters, I warned that a civil war was imminent.

Read in full.   Wonder why the US remains in Iraq.  

B-b-b-ut Joe said troops were coming out of Afghanistan!!!!

He says a lot of things  Donald Trump said some things from time to time.  He promised to end the Iraq War when campaigning in 2016.  But he didn't.  He did (finally) reduce the troop level a little.  Take a look at how we covered it -- with skepticism and noting it wasn't what was promised or what was needed.  

We didn't fall for Barack Obama's lies either.  

Joe's lies?  As Vice President, he was over Iraq.  Sarah's condensing a huge time period in her article because it's a huge time period to cover.  Most of the sentences in her essay could be developed into three to four paragraphs or even individual papers.  

But let's note two things Joe-related.

In 2010, Iraq held elections.  She notes Joe backed Nouri al-Maliki:

The U.S. also continued to determine fateful political outcomes for the country, most disastrously with then–Vice President Joe Biden tipping the scales to ensure Nouri Al-Maliki’s re-election as prime minister, despite warning bells that Maliki had become increasingly sectarian, violent, and authoritarian.

Again, that's 2010.  And Nouri's thuggish ways were already well known.  For years.  In fact, Joe Biden was in charge of Iraq because Nouri's ways were well known.


Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State in 2010.  The drawdown (passed off as a "withdrawal") would see the State Dept put over Iraq -- DoD handed off to them.  But Joe would continue to be the one over Iraq.


Because in an open hearing in 2008 (April of 2008, we covered it) ,Hillary Clinton noted that Nouri was a thug.  She used the term "thug."  It was an accurate description.  But it was a very well covered hearing, the press was out in full force.  You had David Petraeus and Ryan Crocker spending the week appearing before various Congressional committees to resell the Iraq War.  They brought press attention.  Also bringing press attention?  Senators Hillary and Barack.  They were both running for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.  So the press was out in full force.

Well -- not full force.  Spencer Ackerman had decided that 'reporting' meant lying for his candidate of choice (Barack) and refusing to cover Hillary in the hearing where she was so much stronger and more forceful than Barack who arrived late but got to jump ahead of the line because Chair John Kerry always thought Barack was cute and dreamy -- bromance?  More like brolust.  Spencer was watching the hearing via TV or internet and 'live blogging' it but he missed out on Hillary's 20-plus minutes and insisted he had lost his signal.  No, he'd lost his marbles and was reaching around in his briefs in desperation because Hillary outshined Barack in that hearing.  

So in that hearing, Hillary called Nouri a thug.  Which he is. She wasn't the only one to make that call.  Among the others making the call that week?  Then-Senator Barbara Boxer.  

Because of that moment, Hillary could not be over Iraq, not when Nouri was prime minister (2006 through 2014).  So Barack put Joe over Iraq.  

What few realized was that Joe called Nouri a thug as well.  But it was the least reported on hearing that week (we covered it).  The press was apparently exhausted from the weeks worth of House and Senate hearings on Iraq and they didn't even show for the hearing.  It was a good hearing and both Joe and Senator Russ Feingold made important points in it.  

Nouri lost the 2010 election.  It was a shock to many -- including a lying male reporter' on NPR who called the election for Nouri -- stated he won, not that he was calling it, but that Nouri won -- the day after the election when they didn't even have a third of the votes counted or figures released.

It shouldn't have been a shock.  Joe was tight with Chris Hill -- because idiots run in packs?  Chris was US Ambassador to Iraq at the time.  Ahead of the 2010 election, Chrissy had a hissy.  The press was covering Gen Ray Odierno and not Chrissy!!!!  Chrissy was a pompous ass who said nothing of news value whereas Odierno offered quotes that the press loved to run with.  Odierno also didn't put on airs.  In addition, he was accessible to the media (while Chrissy was famous for being unavailable during working hours because he was napping -- on the job, on the American taxpayers' dime).

So Chrissy whined to Joe and Joe ran to Barack and Ray Odiero was told not to be speaking to the press because Chrissy never got enough validation as a child and this was a trigger incident for him -- why, oh why, couldn't Iraq just be a safe space for Chrissy!

This pulled Ray out of the decision making he should have been in on.  Ahead of the elections, he saw that it was likely Nouri would lose the election (we did too) because bribing people with ice and water right before the elections really doesn't make up for the terror you have inflicted upon them with sectret prisons and torture centers.  Ray stated there was a good chance Nouri would lose and his fear was that Nouri would then refuse to step down.

Which, please remember, is exactly what happened.

He would have to be looped back into the conversation by Hillary and Secretary of Defense Bob Gates.  And Chrissy would leave Iraq before the year was out and leave in disgrace.


Joe said troops out of Afghanistan!  

And he also said, in 2010, that the US would respect the will of the Iraqi people in the election.  But they didn't.  Nouri lost to Ayad Allawi.  And the democratic process should have been bye-bye Nouri.  But then Joe and others (including Samantha Power) decided that the US needed Nouri for 'stability' and because if he was in place, he would agree to troops remaining in Iraq, and because . . .

Votes didn't matter.  The Iraqi people didn't matter.  All that mattered was keeping Nouri in place.  

So Joe oversaw The Erbil Agreement.  This was a legal contract that the various political heads in Iraq signed off on.  It would give Nouri a second term -- something the voters didn't do.  In exchange, the contract gave the various political blocs things they wanted.

Joe put his stamp of approval on.  And it meant nothing -- Joe's word meant nothing.

Nouri used The Erbil Agreement to get his second term and then ignored it until a few months later his spokesperson announced the contract was illegal and Nouri would not be bound by it.  For any confused on the timeline, this is before Nouri's son gets involved in the corrupt Russia deal that requires Nouri turning on the same spokesperson and the spokesperson fleeing the country.

Now the day Nouri was named prime minister-designate -- over 8 months after the election -- Ayad Allawi walked out of the Parliament.  And guess who got on the phone with him?  

Barack Obama.

Most Americans don't even know the name Ayad Allawi.  But he was important enough for the president of the United States to call him.

On that phone call, Barack begged him to get his party back into the Parliament and swore that The Erbil Agreement had the full backing of the US government and would be implemented.

Iraqi leaders learned the hard way what the "full backing of the US government" means = nothing.

Not one damn thing.

Nouri refused to implement the provisions in the contract and the US government refused to pressure him to do so.

Joe said some words last night.  I'm not going to get overly excited.  I regularly shake my head hear at the Kurdish leaders who keep buying the US government's word and keep getting betrayed.  Not only has this happened throughout the ongoing Iraq War, referencing and quoting the Pike Report, we've traced that constant and intentional betrayal back to the administration of Richard Nixon.

Now if I castigate the Kurdish leaders for never learning, I damn well better learn.  And I have learned.  Words are very easy for the US government, action's a lot harder.

Kentucky's WAVE 3 offers the thoughts on local Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans on Joe's remarks.


New content at THIRD:

The following sites updated:

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Turley on the riot

This is Isaiah's THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS "Hunter Biden Crawls Out From Under His Rock"


Will we ever know the truth about the DC riot last January? It becomes harder and harder to get the media to supply even the most basic details - a fact that is obvious in numerous pieces of coverage these days. The basic facts of the riot -- and it was a riot as C.I. has repeatedly pointed out -- she studied riots, rebellions and revolutions as an undergrad and as a grad student and her analysis skills are why a big name professor helped the CIA try to recruit her (she was appalled and said no) so I test her skills. (She scored in the top 2% of the country on analytical.) So it is a riot. It meets the definition of a riot. It is not an insurrection.

General Studies majors, as she dismissed the press, don't know the first thing about reality and they also want to lie so they keep insisting it was an insurrection. We can't even get that basic correct from the press. It's outrageous.

Jonathan Turley's been covering the riot and, today, he notes:

 A new report from Capitol Police Inspector General Michael Bolton has sent congressional leaders scrambling after finding that Capitol police were told that they could not use critical riot materials and tactics in preparation for the Jan. 6th protests.  The finding challenges the narrative put forward in the second impeachment of former President Donald Trump. It also raises questions of whether congressional leaders (who repeatedly condemned Trump for the death and injuries of officers) share responsibility for the loss of control of Congress to the rioters. 

The report, “Review of the Events Surrounding the Jan. 6, 2021, Takeover of the U.S. Capitol,” raises additional questions over the responsibility of figures in Congress for the lack of sufficient forces and materials to deal with the protest. Previously, it was disclosed that offers of National Guard support were not accepted prior to the protests. The D.C. government under Mayor Muriel Bowser used only a small number of guardsmen in traffic positions 

The report magnifies suspicions over why House leadership refused to hold hearings with key witnesses before the second Trump impeachment. It also raises whether, after the controversial clearing of Lafayette Park in the prior summer, leaders in Congress hamstrung their own security force. 

Ultimately, over 140 law enforcement officers were injured during the riot, and Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick later died. Two other officers later died by suicide.

Bolton and his staff reportedly found in its 104-page report that, three days before the riot, officials were warned in an intelligence assessment that “Congress itself is the target” in the planned protests. Congress was further warned that “Stop the Steal’s propensity to attract white supremacists, militia members, and others who actively promote violence may lead to a significantly dangerous situation for law enforcement and the general public alike.”<br> 

That would seem more than sufficient reason to call for National Guard support and assemble the full force and resources available to the Capitol Police.  According to the Inspector General, that is not what happened. Instead, the plan stated that there were “no specific known threats related to the joint session of Congress.” More importantly, the Capitol Police’s Civil Disturbance Unit was ordered by supervisors not to deploy the department’s highest level resources and tactics in addressing any problems.  This including the use of “heavier, less-lethal weapons,” including stun grenades. The report states categorically that they “were not used that day because of orders from leadership.” Instead, 35-year-old Ashli Babbitt was fatally shot by a Capitol police officer inside the Capitol despite being unarmed and standing in a hallway.

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

 Wednesday, April 14, 2021.  An item in the news cycle means we walk through the possibilites.

What did or didn't happen in Iraq?  That's a news cycle any day but especially today due to claims regarding an alleged Israeli base in Iraq.  

Iran's MEHR NEWS AGENCY states:

A facility affiliated with the Israeli regime’s Mossad spy agency had been attacked by "unknown resistance forces" in the north of the country killing, Iraq's Sabereen News quoted sources late on Tuesday.

The Iraqi media said the attack resulted in the death and injury of a “number of Israeli forces,” dealing a “heavy blow” to the regime and its spy agency, Press TV reported.

The sources did not provide further details on the location of the attack and the extent of damage, however, Sabereen said, “Tomorrow, we’ll share some pictures of the operation.”

Russia's SPUTNIK offers:

Israel’s Mossad has long operated in nearby Iraq, including in a 1966 operation to steal a Soviet-built MiG-21 fighter jet for the United States and a plot in the 1970s to assassinate Iraqi nationalist leader Saddam Hussein with a bomb hidden inside a book.

According to unconfirmed reports, a safe house used by the Mossad, Israel’s spy agency, has been attacked in northern Iraq.

"’Unknown resistance forces’ target Mossad safe house in Northern Iraq,” Sabereen News Telegram reported Wednesday morning, adding that several “Israeli spies were killed” and promising to soon share photos of the operation.

The report did not say the city where the safe house was located, and only identified its source as an announcement from “a security source.”

Iraq's ABNA states:

Iraq's Sabereen News, citing security sources, reported late on Tuesday that a facility affiliated with Israel’s Mossad spy agency had been attacked by "unknown resistance forces" in the north of the country.

The Iraqi media said the attack resulted in the death and injury of a “number of Israeli forces,” dealing a “heavy blow” to the regime and its spy agency.

The sources fell short of providing details on the location of the attack and the extent of damage, however, Sabereen said, “Tomorrow, we’ll share some pictures of the operation.”

Reacting to the incident, a high-ranking Iraqi military commander said in an interview with Russian TV network RT that they had not so far received any news about the attack.

Media outlets in northern Iraq have yet to comment on the attack.

The incident came hours after an Israeli ship was attacked in the Emirati port of Fujairah, causing damage but no casualties.

Israel’s Channel 12 quoted unnamed regime officials as blaming Iran for the ship attack.

The vessel, called the Hyperion and sailing under the Bahamas flag, was associated with the Israeli Ray Shipping company, the same company that owns a vessel hit by an explosion in the Sea of Oman in February.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hastily accused at the time Iran of attacking the ship, with Iran categorically rejecting the charge.

Israeli media said the Tuesday’s attack on Hyperion was likely carried out with either a missile or a drone. 

David Israel (JEWISH PRESS) notes outlets covering this:

Iran’s Fars News on Tuesday cited Iraqi sources that reported an attack on the “intelligence and special operations center of the Zionist regime (Mossad) in northern Iraq (حمله به مرکز جاسوسی موساد رژیم صهیونیستی در شمال عراق)”

Saberin News and Al-Alam Al-Maqawam Center reported on Tuesday night, quoting a security source, that an unidentified group had attacked the Mossad-owned center, killing or wounding several “Israeli forces.”

Seth J. Frantzman (JERUSALEM POST) offers:

Sources in northern Iraq have denied claims by Iranian Press TV that there was an attack on “Mossad agents.” Earlier in the evening, outlets in Iraq and those linked to Iran, including Press TV, reported that “Israel’s Mossad spy agency has come under attack in Iraq.” The report was based on a claim in Sabereen News.  

However, four separate knowledgeable sources all denied that there was an attack in northern Iraq. There is no accurate information about the location, one source said. None of the Kurdish news outlets in northern Iraq had reported the event or were knowledgeable about it as of Tuesday evening.  
The sensitive nature of the claims paired with the lack of detail left many skeptical as to whether an attack had taken place. Pro-Iran militias in Iraq have fired rockets over the last two years at US forces there. These rockets have even targeted Erbil, the capital of the Kurdish autonomous region in northern Iraq. In addition, the rocket attacks have killed contractors working with US-led coalition forces.

Iraq's NRT goes with:

Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Spokesperson Jotiar Adil on Wednesday (April 14) strongly denied a report from a media outlet affiliated with the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) regarding an attack on an alleged Mossad installation in the Kurdistan Region.

“A number of local media outlets have falsely reported that an Israeli intelligence agency base had been targeted in the Kurdistan Region, leading to the death and injury of some of its employees,” Adil said in a statement.

“We hereby affirm, as we have several times in the past, that this is far from true and that there is no Israeli intelligence agency present in the Kurdistan Region,” he added.

The report from Sabereen News was picked up by a number of Iranian outlets, while the Israeli press cast doubt on its veracity.

And Lazar Berman (TIMES OF ISRAEL) offers:

The Kurdistan Regional Government released an official statement Wednesday denying reports in pro-Iranian media that “unknown forces” had attacked a Mossad facility and killed Israelis in northern Iraq.

“We can confirm that news reports about an attack on an Israeli intelligence facility in the region are false,” the KRG statement said.   

So what did or did not happen?

At this point, it's really not clear.

The attack, without details, does seem a little out there and a bit of wish fulfilment for those who don't care for the Israeli government (and//or the illegal occupation of Palestinian lands).  Is it possible?  It's very possible.

Many spy agencies are in Iraq.  Besides the base the CIA has in Turkey on the edge of Iraq -- a deal Bully Boy Bush made with the government of Turkey many years ago -- the CIA remains on the ground in Iraq.  The CIA is a US spy agency (not the only one).  At one point, after the drawdown, the CIA's presence on the ground in Iraq was greater than the US' military presence.  The UK's MI6 remains active in Iraq -- this despite the disaster they had during the second term of Bully Boy Bush when they got caught -- with one of them getting arrested -- posing as Iraqis in order to carry out attacks that would then create tensions and outrage.  (The response from the UK to this?  Deny -- oh, and attack the facility that was holding the MI6 agent.)  The Israeli spy agency is the Mossad.  It is very likely that they spy in Iraq -- it's a given in fact.  Do they do so via outsourcing?  Very likely but they also have agents on the ground.

Do they have a base?

When they say a base was attacked, we're picturing a big facility.  It could be more like a cut-out and most likely would be.  Something that three to five people would be in and out, not like a military base.  Again, that's very likely.

If the Mossad was to set up a base in Iraq, the Kurdistan Region would be the best place for it because they could depend upon the most support in that region.  The Kurdish Regional Government and the Israeli government have strong ties.  (Israel was one of the few nations not to condem the non-binding referendum that the KRG held on autonomy.)  

So is an attack possible?


But I'd be more concerned, if I was playing this out all the way, that, in fact, there was a base -- a cut-out facility -- and there was no attack.  Why?  Israel is now on record denying the attack, as is the KRG, how embarrassing if, days after this was denied, an attack was carried out allowing those in the region hostile to the government of Israel to say, "See, they lie.  They lie all the time."

Another potential concern?  

This could be a smoke-them-out move.  Meaning that the Iranian government -- and their spy agencies -- might think they know where the cut-out roughly is and may have initated claims and rumors to watch the area for movement to pinpoint the actual location.

And, then again, it might be there was no attack at all, it was a rumor that was accidentally started and spread quickly because it feeds into so much that is already known about the way spy agencies work and into the conflict that the government of Israel has with so many of their neighbors in the Middle East.

Changing topics, a friend at the Center for Constitutional Rights asked me to note this press release:


Emergency Motion Says Ashley Diamond’s Allegations of Assault Prompted Retaliation by Prison Staff

April 9, 2021, Atlanta – Today, Ashley Diamond, a Black transgender woman who is currently suing the Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC), asked a federal judge for an emergency order to protect her health and safety while in GDC custody. Since her re-incarceration in connection with a technical parole violation in October 2019, Ms. Diamond has been sexually assaulted and abused 16 times, including three times at the hands of GDC staff. She has also been denied life-saving gender-dysphoria care. Among other requests for relief, Ms. Diamond seeks a transfer to a women’s prison, where she will be safer. Ms. Diamond gained national recognition for her groundbreaking lawsuit against GDC six years ago. Rather than help her, in response to her efforts to be protected from sexual assault and receive adequate medical care for her gender dysphoria over the last year and a half, GDC has retaliated against her.  

“The message Georgia is sending trans people in custody is that our lives and existences simply do not matter,” said Ms. Diamond. “But I know better. Georgia’s actions toward me and other trans prisoners are a systemic abuse of power, authority, and moral decency.”

Shortly after Ms. Diamond filed a complaint under the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) implicating wardens for their failure to fulfill their duties and protect her in several sexual assaults against her at Coastal State Prison, the facility where she is currently held, GDC officials initiated what attorneys call a “smear campaign aimed at frustrating Ms. Diamond’s legal advocacy, punishing her for her lawsuit, and diminishing her chances of early release” on parole by papering her with rule violations and disciplinary infractions that were either plainly false, manufactured, or based on minutiae not enforced against others. 

GDC went so far as to pressure another incarcerated person to lie about Ms. Diamond and accuse her of sexual assault; when he refused, he was held in prolonged solitary confinement and then transferred to a housing unit widely considered more violent than the one where he had been. Ms. Diamond’s records have also been altered to make her less safe and to manufacture a reason GDC can use to defend their failure to protect her by changing her security designation from victim to perpetrator. The effects of this intentional campaign of retaliation not only expose her to being placed among other incarcerated people who may pose a grave threat to her, but have hurt Ms. Diamond’s parole eligibility, postponing it from March 2021 until April 2022.

Attorneys say an emergency court order is absolutely necessary to protect Ms. Diamond’s health and safety and to halt the retaliation against her and others. Ms. Diamond and her attorneys have made numerous attempts to end the daily sexual victimization and get her transferred to a women’s facility. Her attorneys have sent nine notices to GDC officials, attempting to resolve her health and safety issues without resorting to legal action. Not only have those officials not responded to the letters, but they have retaliated against Ms. Diamond. The motion filed today criticizes GDC for its practice of holding transgender women in men’s facilities despite the safety risks — and despite formal, written GDC policies and federal law allowing transgender women to be placed in female facilities.

“It goes without saying that a men’s prison is no place for a woman,” said SPLC Senior Attorney Beth Littrell. “Yet, Georgia insists on keeping Ashley housed in men’s prisons where, as any woman would be, she is exposed to repeated sexual victimization and daily sexual harassment. It’s not only unconstitutional – it’s unconscionable.”

Meanwhile, as recently as last month, Ms. Diamond experienced two more instances of sexual abuse in custody while GDC continues to punish her rather than protect her. GDC has refused to move Ms. Diamond out of the dorm where she has been repeatedly assaulted. She faces daily sexual harassment and frequent sexual victimization. And, despite having taken feminizing hormones to treat her gender dysphoria for more than two decades (except during her last period of incarceration, when her treatment was denied by GDC), she continues to be denied access to gender dysphoria care in accordance with medical standards. The motion filed today details the physical and psychological impact of denying medical care to Ms. Diamond, including repeated suicide and self-castration attempts.

“Ashley Diamond is fighting for her own survival, while also fighting to change a unjust system that discriminates against transgender people and leaves them to perish. Advocacy like this takes tremendous courage. Ashley Diamond is one of the bravest people I know,” said Chinyere Ezie, a senior staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Attorneys say GDC’s actions are especially egregious because Ms. Diamond already sued the Georgia prison system several years ago for the very same mistreatment: placing her in men’s prisons where she was sexually assaulted nearly a dozen times (resulting in a diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) and denying her medical care for gender dysphoria, including necessary hormones. The motions filed today ask that GDC take immediate steps to protect Ms. Diamond from physical and sexual violence, transfer her to a women’s facility for the remainder of her time in custody, provide her with medically necessary treatment for gender dysphoria, and protect her and witnesses from further retaliation. 

“I know this retaliation is meant to break me. And I confess, at times it’s difficult to remain hopeful,” Ms. Diamond said. “But I refuse to believe there is simply no reward to the risks that I have taken to obtain justice. No one deserves to go through what I have — I will continue to stand up for myself and for my community until we can all be safe and free.”

More information about the case can be found here and here.

The Southern Poverty Law Center is a catalyst for racial justice in the South and beyond, working in partnership with communities to dismantle white supremacy, strengthen intersectional movements, and advance the human rights of all people. For more information, visit: “SPLCenter” on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at


The following sites -- plus Rebecca's "the palestinians" -- updated: