Friday, April 16, 2010

Military Personnel Subcommittee

Wally here. Filling in for Ann so she can have the night off.

Thursday afternoon we were at the Rayburn House Office Building for the Military Personnel Subcommittee. Susan Davis is the Chair. Joe Wilson is the ranking member. Dennis McCarthy was one of the witnesses and he is the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs. This hearing focused on the Reserve and the Guard.

There are three things I'm going to emphasize. One good manners, two mentioning someone who was receiving an honor and three bringing it back to the whole point of it.

First, I want to note McCarthy because he did something really important and that prevents me from even being in the mood to criticize him negatively. He thanked the Congress and said it was an honor to testify before them because of all the work they do. He said that in his opening statement. I never hear that from the witnesses, especially the ones at DoD or one of the military related ones. They, the witnesses, always expect to be thanked (and they get thanked) but he made a point to thank the Congress and note their work. At another hearing, another witness doing that? I'll probably just think, "He's copying McCarthy." But it was unexpected and seemed genuine and good manners do make impressions. (And spare you my 'wit'.)

Second, there was someone in DC to receive an honor and a member of Congress from her home state made a point to recognize her.

US House Rep. Vic Snyder: We have an Army Reserve Master Sgt. in town from Arkansas, Master Sgt. Verlean Brown -- V-e-r-l-e-a-n. She's from Sherwood, Arkansas. She spent 34 years in the Army Reserve including a 400 day tour in 2008 - 2009 in Iraq where she worked as an advocate for victims of sexual assault. She's in town because she's one of the ten national award winners of the Attorney General's office but that all grew out of her work. But that all grew out of her work in the Army Reserve.

Her award comes from the Department of Justice's Office for Victims of Crime and they receive their honors at the National Crime Victims' Service Awards. The awards were handed out today and (click here and hunt around -- this site does not have individual addresses for web pages) they noted that Brown "has been responsible for providing information, counsel, and assistance to more than 100 individual service members and has performed all of her duties at an exceptional level. MSG Brown has single-handedly supervised and trained 200 victim advocates, and conducted more than 40 education and training classes for 2,000 soldiers, airmen, and civilians located at JBB. She is responsible for implementation of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) program in a combat environment, and for establishing a mutually supportive relationship with the United States Air Force (USAF) Sexual Assault Response Coordinators (SARC) located on JBB. So good for her and congratulations on her award.

As the hearing was winding down, Chair Susan Davis declared, "There's nothing more heartbreaking -- and I'm always remembering Mr. [Walter] Jones' comment about the little boy and his concern that his daddy's not dead yet. Our kids are suffering, our families are suffering, despite the tremendous, tremendous resilience that we see in them and I think we need to applaud them and applaud their leadership for that [resilience]. " I think it's always important to remember the context. And I'd bet more men and women in the Guard and the Reserve are parents just due to the nature of the service and the down time resulting in an older population than in active duty. I think C.I. did a thing recently, a report that included a breakdown and the average age of --

Wait. I was right. C.I. saw me looking at her (we're at Trina's and she's explaining something about a hearing to one of Trina's friends) and walked over to ask what the deal was with my puzzled face? :D I explained and she said, "Oh, that's the snapshot from April 1st" and it is:

Though weak on solutions, the study does provide interesting raw data such as the fact that 1.9 million members of the service have been deployed to either Afghanistan or Iraq for over 30 days since 2001. That these 1.9 million have been deployed "in 3 million tours of duty". 7,944 women served in Vietnam while "over 200,000 women" have served and are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan (accounting for 11% of the personnel). Non-reserve personnel? Nearly half the officers "are over 35 years old" compared to the reserve officers figure of 73.6% "are over 35 years old." Well over half the reserve, non-officer members are 30 or less while in the non-reserve category, 85% are under the age of 35 with the greatest number being between the ages of 20 and 24. That group makes up 43.9% of the Army (non-officers, remember), 45.9% of the Navy, 39.1% of the Air Force and 65.6% of the Marine Corps. For the non-officers in the reserves, there is no one age group that consistently tracks across the branches. In the Army national Guard, the largest portion (30%) are between the ages of 20 and 24 and that is true also for the Army Reserve (32.1%) and the Marine Corps Reserve (58.1%); however, for the Navy Reserve, most members (24.3%) are between the ages of 35 and 39 (with the second highest being the ages 40 to 44), ages 40 to 44 make up the largest percent of the Air Force Reserve (18.4%). That's all the reserve branches except for the Air National Guard and their highest percentage is 16.6% which is the percentage of their deployed members ages 20 to 24 but it is also the percentage of their deployed members age 35 to 39.

So, at least in terms of non-officers, they are an older group. Which means they are probably more likely to be parents.

I'm reading further down in that snapshot. Hold on here, 55.2% active duty are married and only 49% of reserves are; however, that may just be the normal (for US) life cycle of a marriage -- meaning they're divorced. Only 43% of active duty are parents. And the study didn't track how many members of the Reserve were parents. But I would argue it would be more due to them being an older grouping.

Now, she said "My Daddy's not dead yet." If you're not aware of what she's referring to, this is from Tom Shine (ABC News):

North Carolina Republican Walter Jones' conscience is really bothering him! Back in 2002, he enthusiastically voted for and supported Bush's call to invade Iraq. Not only that, he also ridiculed France for not supporting the U.S. effort. Remember "Freedom Fries?" Jones and fellow Republican Bob Ney waged a successful campaign to have "French Fries" renamed "Freedom Fries" on all the House cafeteria menus. But that all changed when he attended a funeral for a young sergeant killed in Iraq and listened to the fallen soldier's last letter to his family which was read at the service. Jones began to write his own letters to the families of those killed in Iraq and came to strongly regret his 2002 vote.
Now Jones is writing a book called "My Daddy's Not Dead Yet" as he ponders yet another vote on another war, he will soon have to cast. Jones talked to George C. Wilson who wrote a very moving article for Congressdaily.com called "Atonement." In his article Wilson explains how Jones chose the title for his book. Jones was reading Dr. Seuss to some kids at the Johnson Elementary School at camp Lejeune, which is located in his district and when he finished he asked for questions. "My Daddy's Not Dead Yet," said a little boy. "My Daddy's Not Dead Yet," the little boy repeated. Wilson said that statement devastated the congressman because he knew that he "had played go-along politics with the life of that little boy's father instead of listening to God" and voting against the resolution. "I profess to be a man of faith, Jones said, but I didn't vote my conscience."


And that's it from me. Ann will be back with you on Monday. Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, April 16, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, the census may take place this year (or not), the US Congress hears about issues effecting the Guard and the Reserve, Iraqi refugees continue to travel to Syria (and continue to be denied entry to the US), and more.


In Iraq, a census was supposed to have taken place in 2007. It has not. Nor in 2008, nor in 2009. It's now supposed to take place in October of this year. However, if it's delayed, it wouldn't be shocking and would, in fact, continue the pattern. Swathmore College's
War News Radio featured a report last week on the Iraqi census that was taped in November of last year:


Gabriel Ramirez: Nuha Yousef is the executive director of the census in Iraq. She has been working on the Central Organization for Statistics and Information Technology for 34 years and has helped conduct three censuses.

Nuha Yousef: In 1977, 1987 and 1997 -- in those three censuses, I was working in the Census Operation Room.

Gabriel Ramirez: Yousef says that Iraq has traditionally conducted a census every ten years. She took part in organizing the census for 2007 but things didn't go as planned.

Nuha Yousef: We started preparing for the 2007 census in 2006. But the security situation was the obstacle to holding a census in 2007 and it was postponed until 2009. So the security situation was the reason for canceling the 2007 census.

Gabriel Ramirez: In 2009, it seemed as if Iraq was ready to undergo a census. But in August, only two months before the census was to take place, Ali Baban, the Minister of Planning, made an announcement.

Ali Baban: We are fully ready to conduct the census technically and we have completed all the requirements. But we have also listened to some of the fears and reservations expressed by Iraqi constituents, especially in the cities of Kirkuk and Nineveh due to political reasons and relations between the known ethnic groups. These objections and reservations might drive us to reconsider doing the census and postponing it to another time.

Gabriel Ramirez: Two weeks after the minister made this announcement, the Kurdistan Regional Government released an official statement. The statement criticized Baghdad for postponing the census based on politically motivated reasons related to the federal budget law and Kirkuk Province. Liam Anderson, a senior honorary research fellow at the Center for Ethno Political Research Studies at the University of Exner, tells us why some Arabs and Turkmen in the city are threatened by the census.

Liam Anderson: What they claim is that all of these Kurds that have come back in are not legitimately former residents of Kirkuk and so, if you hold a census, and you come up with a figure of 500,000 Kurds for the Kurds in Kirkuk, Turkmen and Arabs would say that's a false figure. So from that point of view, if you count the actual number of Kurds right now and you end up with something like a majority, then that sort of legitimizes Kurds and the Arab and the Turkmen don't want that fact established.

Gabriel Ramirez: Youssef, the executive director of the census, notes that Kirkuk is a contentious issue. But she says that there's more to the story. She points out that the problem comes from an overlap of authority.

Nuha Yousef: Currently, there are overlapping local governments between the provinces -- mainly between the Kurdish provinces and other provinces -- like Nineveh Salah ad-Din and Diyala Province. There is interference between the local governments. So it is not acceptable for a local government to be counted as part of a Kurdish province and again be counted as part of other non-Kurdish provinces. There are areas under dispute between the provinces.

Gabriel Ramirez: Regardless of the political controversies, the census is a necessary administrative tool for the Iraqi government. Youssef explains.

Nuha Yousef: The census provides a massive data base concerning population and housing. That includes all the social, economic, educational and immigration issues. In addition to housing and utilities -- such as water, electricity, telephones and other services including the environment in addition to religion and nationality.

Gabriel Ramirez: She also adds that the upcoming 2010 census is especially important because it will be the first post-war census conducted in Iraq

Nuha Yousef: There has been a big dramatic change in the Iraqi social structure. Only the census can tell us the size of the change in this social structure and the changing demographics. During the former regime there was a campaign of forced migration in both southern and northern provinces. The population movement has now changed and the people have returned to their home provinces so this has changed things socially. The census will provide us with a new database in regard to the changes in the social structure.

Gabriel Ramirez: Although the census has already been postponed twice, Youssef is optimistic about the 2010 census.

Nuha Yousef: The census is now due to be held in October of 2010. We were fully prepared to do the census this year [2009] but I think any postponement will be in the interest of doing a good census. What I am most interested in is covering every part of the country without repetition or excluding any administrative unit. So I think the postponement will be for the interest of the work.

Gabriel Ramirez: Youssef realizes that the census can and has been used for political purposes. But for her, conducting the census is a civil service. For War News Radio, I'm Gabriel Ramirez.

A census focused only within the Iraqi borders will not take into account the huge number of external refugees.
War News Radio this week reports, among other things, on Iraqi refugees in the US. The bulk of the refugees remain in Iraq's neighboring countries -- such as Syria, Jordan and Lebanon. Carolien Roelants (NRC Handelsblad) reports on Iraqi refugees in Syria such as Burud who lost one foot and one hand in a Baghdad bombing and, as soon as she recovered, she went to Syria and became "one of the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees who have been living in Syria for years. Most of them do not live in refugee camps but have found a place amongst the Syrians. About 163,000 refugees are currently registered with the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, but it is estimated that an additional 400,000 to 800,000 have not." Violence has not vanished in Iraq but the height of the violence is thought to have been 2006 and 2007 and Roelants reports that those who fled to Syria during that do not plan to return and, in addition, Syria is still getting Iraqi refugees on a daily basis, "Ever day, some 20 to 30 families, 150 a week, still check in here [UNHCR]. Approximately 60 percent are fresh from Iraq." At the start of the week, Catholic News Service reported Iraqi women in Damascus made a point to speak with North American Catholic leaders who were in Syria to tour the Melkite Catholic Church The women wanted to know, "What can be done for Christians who are being uprooted from Iraq?" Monsignor Robert Stern replied, "I think the most important thing we can do, first of all, is to be here and to see you and to let you know that you are in our hearts. We are not politicians. Even though we live in Western countries, we cannot control the policies of the countries or the United Nations." Later in the conversation, New York Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan stated, "But many people in America don't even know there are Christians in Iraq or Syria. We bishops know that, and we try our best to help. But what we must do after having our hearts touched by you is remind our people that they have brother and sister Christians in Iraq and Syria."

Very few of the refugees have made it to the US.
James Denselow (Guardian) notes, "During his election campaign he promised $2bn to expand services available to Iraqi refugees and in last August he appointed Samantha Power (who during the election campaign famously described Hilary Clinton as a monster) as senior director for multilateral affairs and human rights, responsible for 'co-ordinating the efforts of the many parts of the US government on Iraqi refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs)'. However, delivering on this has been delayed somewhat, especially now that the American administration has postponed 'until further notice' the appointment of Robert Ford as ambassador to Damascus, following recent information about trucks bearing advanced weaponry that passed from Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon." Meribah Knight (Chicago News Cooperative for the New York Times) observes, "Iraqi refugees, according to the United States Office of Refugee Resettlement, went from zero to 1,298 from 2006 to 2009, making Chicago home to the second-largest Iraqi population in the country after Detroit." The refugee population is composed of the targeted. For example, Christians are a small minority in Iraq; however, they make up a significant number of the refugee population. Religious minorities are in the refugee population. Women are targeted, they also figure highly in the refugee population. And Iraq's gay community is targeted leading many men and women to attempt to be granted refugee status. David Taffet (Dallas Voice) offers an update on two gay males who did make it to the US:

The story of Yousif Ali and Nawfal Muhamed first appeared in
Dallas Voice when they were here for the Creating Change conference.
Since the article appeared, the Houston GLBT Community Center and a gay Muslim support group have been helping them navigate the U.S. system and get services normally provided to refugees. The problem has been Catholic Charities, the organization that provides many of the federally funded refugee services, that has been unresponsive to the two gay men.
Now, the
Emerson Unitarian Universalist Church has taken them under their wing to make sure they have enough money for food and other necessities. They have set up a fund to help them. Mark and Becky Edmiston-Lange, the church's ministers, have kicked the fund off with a donation from their discretionary fund.

Any who would like to donate can send checks or money orders to Emerson UU Church, 1900 Bering Dr., Houston, Texas 77057.

Another targeted population is the press.
Bram Vermeulen (NRC Handelsblad) reports on the editor-in-chief of Alhurra TV, Fallah al-Dahabi:

He has decorated the walls with pictures of his TV appearances, he purchased a microwave and a fitness machine, he has a barbecue on the balcony and a flat-screen television no other guest at the hotel has. But it is still a hotel room, a refuge with room service. Home is somewhere else. This chief editor and his station were supposed to become the face of freedom and democracy in the Arab world after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.
Alhurra, 'the Free One', had to become a station where everything could be said, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, without commercial interruptions. The US government set it up in 2004 and has since invested 500 million dollars of taxpayers' money. It hoped to create the Arab equivalent of Radio Free Europe, the anti-communist station that broadcast information across the Iron Curtain during the Cold War. But Alhurra has proved no match for giants like Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya. Less than 2 percent of viewers watch it occasionally. Most deem it too pro-Western, too biased and unreliable. In Iraq, the channel and its chief editor have become targets for blind hatred.

Monday,
Human Rights Watch released the following on press freedoms (or the lack of them ) in Iraq:
The Iraqi government should suspend media regulations that impose tight restrictions on the country's broadcast media and revise them to comply with international standards, Human Rights Watch said in a
letter today to the official Communication and Media Commission (CMC).
The Commission began enforcing the regulations ahead of the March 7, 2010, parliamentary elections ostensibly to silence broadcasters who encourage sectarian violence, but the regulations are vague and susceptible to abuse. The regulations should be revised to define in detail all restrictions on and give meaningful guidance to broadcasters by clearly delineating their responsibilities, Human Rights Watch said. While the government can prohibit and punish speech that constitutes direct incitement of violence, the broad and vague wording of the regulations, such as prohibiting "incitement of sectarianism," falls short of international norms governing freedom of expression. "These broadcast regulations are a real setback for media freedom in Iraq," said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "These restrictions open the door to politically motivated discrimination in the regulation and licensing of broadcasters." Over the months leading to the parliamentary elections, the government restricted freedom of expression in a number of ways. It clamped down on scrutiny of public officials, denied media accreditation to journalists, and sued media outlets that criticized government officials. In addition, police and security forces have harassed, arrested, and assaulted numerous journalists.
The regulations appear to give the CMC unfettered power to halt broadcast transmissions, close offices, seize equipment, revoke licenses, and levy fines on broadcasters. The rules empower the agency to cancel licenses even after the first minor violation of the licensing terms. In its
letter, Human Rights Watch asked the agency to ensure that punishments are proportionate to the offense, increasing only in step with the severity and repetition of offenses. The rules should also give license applicants a clear and expeditious path to appeal denied applications.
Human Rights Watch also urged the agency to stop requiring broadcasters to provide it with a list of employees, as this poses an unacceptable security threat to media workers. Iraqi journalists already operate in an extraordinarily unsafe environment. Since 2003, at least 141 journalists have died in Iraq, some in politically motivated murders. Muaid al-Lami, head of the Iraqi Journalists' Syndicate, has been the subject of two assassination attempts, including one last month. Journalists in Iraq who wish to stay anonymous should be able to do so, Human Rights Watch said.
"Not only do the regulations give this agency enormous power to shut down broadcasters for minor and first-time transgressions, but they place the lives of Iraqi journalists at greater risk," Stork said. "The Media Commission should suspend the regulations until it fixes them."

While the press is curtailed, attempts at the tag sale on Iraq's assets continue unfettered.
Dow Jones reports the country's Ministry of Oil is no longer looking for "recoverable five-year soft loans" but instead "signature bonuses." Hey, maybe like a certain actor who priced himself out of any worthy part, they could start demanding $500,000 just to consider an offer? Ahmed Rasheed, Michael Christie and Keiron Henderson (Reuters) note that the signature bonuses are being cut and provide the example of how $300 million was supposed to be the fees paid by "Italy's Eni and its partners Occidental Petroleum Corp and South Korea's KOGAS" has been dropped to $100 million. AP notes that the Ministry of Oil plans to allow bidding on three natural gas fields. The fields have not yet been identified but they are expected to be later this year. Tamsin Carlisle (UAE's National Newspaper) adds, "Royal Dutch Shell, Total and Korea Gas Corporation (KOGAS) are favoured bidders, said Sabah Abdul Kadhim, the head of the oil ministry's petroleum contracts and licensing directorate." Along with the favored, the Ministry Oil plans to pick the remaining bidders (for a total of 15) "from the 44 that qualified to bid in Iraq's first two post-war auctions of oil and gas licences last year." And Russel Gold (Wall St. Journal) notes that Paris-based Schlumberg Ltd is currently beefing up its staff with the intent of stationing 300 employees in Iraq by this summer and twice that amount by December 2010. War is big business which is why countries wage it -- even over the objections of its citizens.

Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .

Bombings?

Reuters notes a Baghdad sticky bombing which injured one person and a Tuz Khurmato sticky bombing which left six people injured.

Shootings?

Reuters notes 1 person shot dead in Baghdad and 1 'suspect' killed in Mosul by Iraqi forces.

Corpses?

Reuters notes 2 corpses discovered in Baaj.

"The attacks on September 11, 2001 set in motion the sustained increased use and heavier reliance on the reserves with over 761,000 reservists and guardsman mobilized to date, one third of whom have been activated two times or more," declared US House Rep Susan David yesterday. "The Department of Defense and the services have begun a transformation of the Guard and Reserve to an operational force with greater strategic capability and depth. This includes an equipping strategy to ensure the reserve components have the same equipment as their respective active component and an effective force management strategy to ensure the reserves are not over utilized. In response to the continued reliance on the reserves, Congress took some key steps to address the concerns that emerged. First it established the Commission on the National Guard and Reserves to provide a comprehensive independent assessment of the Guard and Reserves and its potential future roles. Secondly, as part of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2008, Congress: (1) elevated the Chief of the National Guard Bureau to the grade of 4-star general, (2) made the National Gurad Bureau a joint organization and (3) required specific actions with regards to equipping the Guard and Reserves. Congress also mandated the establishment of the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program to assist Guard and Reserve members and their families' transition back to their communities after deployment."

She was speaking at the opening of a the Military Personnel Subcommittee hearing. Davis chairs the Subcommittee and, as they explored issues of interest to the Guard and Reserve, they received testimony from Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs Dennis McCarthy, Lt Gen Jack Stultz (Chief of Army Reserve), Vice Adm Dick Debbink (Chief of Naval Reserve), Lt Gen John Kelly (Commander, Marine Force Reserve), Lt Gen Charles Stenner (Chief of Air Force Reserve), Lt Gen Harry Wyatt (Director Air National Guard) and Maj Gen Raymond Carpenter (Acting Director Army National Guard). We'll note this exchange between Ranking Member Joe Wilson and Dennis McCarthy.


Ranking Member Joe Wilson: [. . .] With that, another fact, Secretary McCarthy, is that it's so difficult to distinguish between Guard, Reserve, Active Duty except on the issue of retirement. And so I certainly hope that we can make some changes. In particular, current law allows a mobilized Reserve component member to earn three months credit toward retirement for every 90 days of aggregate service on active duty. Congress intended for those to be counted as active duty regardless of whether the active duty period occurred across fiscal years. But the Department has somehow implemented this that if it is across the fiscal years that it doesn't count at all. What is DoD going to do to fix this or what should we do to clarify? But there's no question that we certainly meant to disregard fiscal year.

Dennis M. McCarthy: Congressman Wilson, I'm well aware of that anomaly. I think everyone understands that it's not what either the Congress intended and it's not what -- uh -- is -- uh -- it's not the right thing to do. So it is going to take a fix. I'm not sure whether it will be a legislative or a directive fix. I suspect it will be the latter. I'm sorry -- I suspect it will be the former and that we will have to come to Congress on that. But I know that it's on the agenda to be -- to be resolved.

Ranking Member Joe Wilson: And I hope it will be resolved as quickly as possible. Additionally, we have a circumstance where we have mobilized Reserve component members who can earn retirement as Reservists or Guard members wounded or injured if they're placed in a Wounded Warrior Unit under the orders of the Wounded Warrior. Again, they don't receive credit for the period of time recovering from the wounds and, again, I just know my colleagues and I did not mean for that to be. So I hope that's corrected or please give us advice how we can correct it.

Dennis McCarthy: The change of a Wounded Warrior's status -- when they're mobilized, wounded and then have their status changed -- is purely a directive issue. It's something that was done a couple of years ago and I think that the result that you've described was an unintended consequence. But it's got to be fixed and I know that the people in Personnel and Readiness have that for action.

Ranking Member Joe Wilson: And I appreciate the effort because, uhm, we-we know that these troops are so dedicated, they want to be operational, they want to serve, but it's also very important for their families that there be proper protection.

We'll also note this exchange between US House Rep Joe Wilson and Carpenter:

US House Rep Walter Jones: I have -- this has been kind of an ongoing issue with a father of a National Guardsman in eastern North Carolina who was deployed on active duty, fought in Iraq and this father has met with me two or three times wanting to know why that a Guardsman who has fought for this country, active duty, called upon, that they do not qualify as an active duty Soldier or Marine with the GI Bill for educational benefits. Is this an issue that you hear quite a bit about? I think that Senator [Jim] Webb was at one time trying to put legislation in on the Senate side that would deal with this. And does this ring a bell with you?

Maj Gen Raymond Carpenter: Sir, I'm not aware of the specific case that you cite. But I do know that one of the things we hear from National Guardsmen and from states out there is the GI Bill -- what we call the new GI Bill -- applies to soldiers who deploy but does not necessarily apply to soldiers who are in a [. . .] Title 32 status. And a lot of the soldiers that I talk to see that as an inequity and so they raise that issue with us. I am not sure about the specific instance you talk about where somebody who was mobilized and deployed to the theater was not eligible for the GI Bill but if you'll give me the details, I'll certainly look into it.

The hearing addressed many other issues.
Ava will continue the Walter Jones coverage at Trina's site tonight, Kat will cover a portion of Don't Ask, Don't Tell at her site and Wally's grabbing an aspect of the hearing (possibly an overview but it may be a specific testimony) at Ann's site tonight.


As noted
yesterday, Binghamton, New York is getting a counter at City Hall which will count the financial costs to US tax payers of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Post-Standard's editorial board explains:Binghamton Mayor Matt Ryan made a startling discovery a while back: By this September, Binghamton residents will have contributed $138.6 million to help pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan -- or rather, that's their share of the debt piled up by these military engagements. And that's not counting any supplemental billions requested by President Barack Obama and approved by Congress later this year.And they explain that people can check the costs to their own communities by visiting Cost Of War. George Basler (Press & Sun-Bulletin) reports:The counter is being funded entirely by private contributions from the Broome County Cost of War Project, a local grassroots organization.At Wednesday's event, Ryan said, he believes he has the authority as mayor to hang the sign.Legal questions surrounding the sign could soon be moot. Councilman Sean Massey, D-5th District, plans to introduce a resolution at Monday's council work session to have the council support the sign. He thinks a majority of the seven-member council - all Democrats, like the mayor - will support it.But, Massey said, he doesn't think the council has to approve the sign. He said Ryan, as mayor, has control over the physical site of city hall.WBNG News quotes the mayor stating, "That's where all the money comes from and we need up paying all the unfunded mandates. We end up not having the money to and that's where the national priorities come in they have to change."

Turning to peace news. Last
Friday's snapshot noted 12-year-old Frankie Hughes who peacefully protested the Iraq War in Senator Tom Harkin's office and was arrested for protesting. On top of that, her mother, Renee Espeland, was charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) reported on it Saturday and updated it mid-week to note that the charge against Frankie's mother was dropped with Polk County Attorney John Sarcone telling Rothschild, "Looking at all the circumstances, what happened didn't need to be addressed with a criminal charge. It was never an appropriate thing to begin with. They were just wrong-spirited." Yesterday, mother and daughter appeared on Democracy Now! (link has text, audio and video):

FRANKIE HUGHES: Well, I went to -- I went to, I think -- OK, so I went to Tom Harkin's office to protest how he is funding the war. I think it was a Wednesday. And it's just -- it's not OK what he's doing. And he has a way to make -- he has a way to be a hero and just not fund it. Yet he needs a push.

AMY GOODMAN: So when you went into the office -- and I know you have to turn up and down your computer as I'm talking and then turn it off when I'm not -- as you went into the office, tell us what you did.

FRANKIE HUGHES: I just walked in the office, and then I started -- I sat down. Chris Gaunt was on the floor. After like a minute, I went up and I talked to the man that was sitting at the desk. I told him to tell Tom Harkin a couple of things, like how I want to know the real reason why we're in there, and not the fake one, and how I want to know, like --and then I asked him why he thought we were there. And he said, "Well, my opinion doesn't matter." And I said, "Well, it matters to me." And then he said, "My opinion doesn't matter," repeatedly. And I just couldn't believe that somebody would think their opinion just didn't matter.

AMY GOODMAN: Renee, were you there?

RENEE ESPELAND: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: And were you participating in this action, as well?

RENEE ESPELAND: Well, we've been spending, either on a Wednesday or a Thursday --we have a Thursday vigil that we do in sort of downtown Des Moines, and then we go up to the federal building. And both Senator Grassley and Harkin's offices are all -- both on the seventh floor. So we've been making visits once a week since October. And so, this was just a day -- this was an extra day that we had gone, because Chris was going to be there. And yeah, we were just trying to go and kind of keep also some relationship building with the staff in the office, so that it's not, you know, just an intermittent thing, that they actually expect us and they know us and we can learn names, that kind of thing.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain who Chris is.

RENEE ESPELAND: Chris Gaunt has been just -- she has just been a champ, as far as making a really heartfelt, quiet, prayerful, oftentimes silent presence repeatedly and then staying. And so when Frankie said she was on the floor, she has been doing -- like at 4:00, she's been laying on the floor and kind of turning it from a sit-in into a die-in. And, for instance, about a month ago, they decided not to just give her a federal citation, but also state charges, and they took her to jail. But our state is broke, and so we have all these furlough days. So then the next day was a furlough day, so she had to stay in jail an extra day before she could see the judge. And in Pope County, where we live, they charge jail rent. And so, they most certainly -- I mean, they charged her the jail rent on the furlough day, which was interesting. But she was there doing a die-in, and then Frankie joined her.
TV notes,
Washington Week begins airing on many PBS stations tonight (and throughout the weekend, check local listings) and joining Gwen around the table this week are Peter Baker (NYT), Gloria Borger (CNN), John Dickerson (CBS News and Slate), and David Wessel (Wall St. Journal). And Gwen's column this week is "Debating the Debate" which is worth reading (I'm recommending it). Remember that the show podcasts in video and audio format -- and a number of people sign up for each (audio is thought to be so popular due to the fact that it downloads so much quicker). If you podcast the show, remember there is the Web Extra where Gwen and the guests weigh in on topics viewers e-mail about. And also remember that usually by Monday afternoon you can go to the show's website and stream it there (including Web Extra) as well as read the transcripts and more. Meanwhile Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Debra Carnahan, Avis Jones-DeWeever, Sabrina Schaeffer, Tara Setmayer and Jessica Vaughan on the latest broadcast of PBS' To The Contrary to discuss the week's events. And at the website each week, there's an extra just for the web from the previous week's show and this week's it's on the announced retirement of Justice John Paul Stevens. For the broadcast program, check local listings, on many stations, it begins airing tonight. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes:
21st Century Snake Oil"60 Minutes" hidden cameras expose medical conmen who prey on dying victims by using pitches that capitalize on the promise of stem cells to cure almost any disease. Scott Pelley reports. (This is a double-length segment.)
PacinoIn a rare sit-down interview, Oscar-winning actor Al Pacino talks to Katie Couric about his films and how he prepares for them, including his upcoming movie in which he stars as Dr. Jack Kevorkian.
60 Minutes, Sunday, April 18, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.


iraq
the guardian
james denselowbram vermeulennrc handelsbladdow jonesassociated pressthe national newspapertamsin carlislereuters
ahmed rasheedmichael christiekeiron hendersonthe wall street journalrussell goldthe press and sun-bulletinwbng news



60 minutescbs newsto the contrarybonnie erbe
washington week

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Terry finds a woman!

Yesterday, Terry Gross (NPR's Fresh Air) finally found a woman writer: Barbara Strauch who wrote The Secret of the Grown-Up Brain. She was very smart and Terry had to struggle to keep up.

Of course since Barbara was interviewed, we know not to expect another woman guest this week and it will probably be five to eight episodes before we get another one.

Book critic Maureen Corrigan made one of her rare apperances with a review and the over exposed Ken Tucker offered an album review.

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, April 15, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, rumors swirl about alliances in building Iraq's next government, a Congressional hearing demonstrates how institutionally screwed up (by all means, use a stronger word) the US government is, and more.

This morning the US House Armed Services Committee held a hearing. They were taking testimony from an "independent" panel on the Quadrennial Defense Review. Chair Ike Skelton called the hearing to order and moved to welcome members of the 'independent' panel who were present but would not be giving testimony. He declared, "Congress created the independent panel in the Fiscal Year 2007 National Defense Authorization Act. It was charged with conducting an assessment of the QDR [Quadrennial Defense Review] and presenting its findings to Congress. Last year, we expanded the panel by adding eight additional members appointed by the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committee."

And behind the curtain, waiting to provide testimony were William J. Perry and -- drum roll and possibly serial killer theme from a slasher movie -- Stephen J. Hadley.

Can someone explain that? Nancy Pelosi, you took impeachment "off the table." The country, the world didn't get the needed impeachment of Bully Boy Bush. You were a coward and put your own personal interests ahead of what the country and the Constitution needed -- what the Constitution demanded. But did you have to allow the criminals to be appointed by Congress to 'independent' panels?

Hadley's not the only one. In fact, the gossip girl Hadley's partner in crime in outing CIA agent Valerie Plame's on the panel. Explain HOW THE HELL THAT HAPPENS?

It happens because we have an INEFFECTIVE and INEPT Congress. They created this panel in 2007. If you're mind's functioning, you grasp that Democrats controlled both houses of Congress then (and now). There are 20 members on the panel. Congress only appoitns 8. They forked over 12 to the Secretary of Defense. With him/her selecting the majority of the members, it will never be independent and Congress needs to stop insulting the American people.

Nancy can at least take comfort in the fact that Stephen Hadley and his roll dog weren't appointed by Congress. Robert Gates appointed Hadley. He's also the one who appointed Richard Armitage. (
Click here for DoD press release.)

Richard Armitage. The Hedda Hopper of the DC set stepped forward, for those who don't remember or never knew, after an investigation was opened into the outing of CIA undercover agent
Valerie Plame. Dick revealed he was a real Chatty Cathy and, WOOPSIE!, he's the one who told journalist Robert Novak that Valerie Plame was CIA. After that, you really should be off the government payroll, after that you really are done. You shouldn't be trusted with any information at all. It's as though Dick burned down the White House while playing with matches and, shortly afterward, the US government decided to make him a ranger in charge of Sequoia National Forest.
Why does the country have so many problems? Your answer is found in that 'independen't panel. Be a government employee who outs a CIA agent and you get to continue doing government work, being paid for by the government? Congress creates an 'independent' panel but gives the Secretary of Defense the power to select the bulk of the committee members. It's nonsense and it's why DC runs in circles chasing its own tail. There is no accountability and you can do the most vile and disgusting thing and continue to receive the US tax payer money instead of having to get a real job. And that's Dick Armitage and Stephen Hadley both. Throughout 2005, at this site and at Third, we were noting Hadley's role in the outing (
click here for a July 2005 piece at Third). From SourceWatch:

National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley was "the senior administration official" who told Washington Post Assistant Managing Editor
Bob Woodward that Valerie Plame Wilson was a CIA officer, attorneys close to the investigation and intelligence officials" told Raw Story reporters Larisa Alexandrovna and Jason Leopold November 16, 2005.
Identified by the Washington Post as Rice's "top lieutenant", Hadley, "along with
CIA Director George J. Tenet -- took responsibility for allowing into Bush's State of the Union 2003 address a dubious and ultimately inaccurate claim about Saddam Hussein's efforts to obtain nuclear materials." [2]

Hadley not only outed Valerie Plame, he also couldn't properly vet a speech? And he's chairing a panel today -- with his salary paid for by the US tax payers?

There's no accountability and Congress rushes to turn over their own powers to flunkies in the executive branch. And it's there in the fact that Robert Gates remains Secretary of Defense when he should have been replaced long ago. How many scandals do you get to have on your watch before you are asked to step down? At the end of January,
Kevin Baron (Stars & Stripes' Stripes Central blog) called out the 'independent' panel:

Independent? In this town? You can't throw a lobbyist into DC without hitting a former government official somewhere. Last week the president of the left-leaning Center for a New American Security trumpeted his own selection to the panel. By the way, the Pentagon's policy chief in charge of the QDR, Michele Flournoy, was the last president of CNAS.
Maybe "bipartisan revolving door panel" is a better term.

"Prevailing in today's wars will also help our military prepare to defeat adversaries and succeed in a wide range of contingencies," Hadley prattled on after noting that losing "today's wars" would create further conflict. Could it? If so, maybe Hadley doesn't need to be on the panel?

If you sold the Iraq War, should you really be advising anything at this point? Hadley served on the White House Iraq Group.
From SourceWatch:



The White House Iraq Group (aka, White House Information Group or WHIG) was the marketing arm of the White House whose purpose was to sell the 2003
invasion of Iraq to the public.
[. . .]
Barton Gellman and Walter Pincus, in the
August 10, 2003 Washington Post, seem to have broken the story of the White House Iraq Group, [. . .]:
The escalation of nuclear rhetoric a year ago, including the introduction of the term "mushroom cloud" into the debate, coincided with the formation of a White House Iraq Group, or WHIG, a task force assigned to "educate the public" about the
threat from Saddam Hussein, as a participant put it.
Systematic coordination began in August 2002, when Chief of Staff
Andrew H. Card, Jr. formed the White House Iraq Group, or WHIG, to set strategy for each stage of the confrontation with Baghdad. A senior official who participated in its work called it "an internal working group, like many formed for priority issues, to make sure each part of the White House was fulfilling its responsibilities."
"In September 2002, the White House was beginning a major press offensive designed to prove that Iraq had a robust
nuclear weapons program. That campaign was meant to culminate in the president's Oct. 7 speech in Cincinnati." [1]

Why are we allowing anyone with these issues to advise -- on the tax payer dime -- what's needed and not needed?

I know Ike Skelton and like him, but he made a real fool of himself today patting himself and the Committee on the back as he claimed that they worked really hard to be not just bi-partisan but non-partisan. While appointing criminals to a panel? You want to brag about that? In fairness, repeating, Congress itself did not appoint Hadley and Armitage; however, when it surrendered the right to appoint all the members, they invited it, when they surrendered their own powers, they courted it. It's on them.

And Hadley couldn't stop mentioning Iran and he was far from the only one bringing it up in the hearing. That too is on the Democratically controlled Congress.

Today
Hannah Allam (McClatchy's Miami Herald) reports that the last five months have seen at least $4 million counterfeit US dollars circulating in Iraq: "In recent weeks, the officers said, Iraqi and U.S. forces have launched an anti-counterfeiting push that involves educating merchants and bankers, as well as gathering intelligence on whether the money is linked to Iran's attempt to influence Iraq's March 7 parliamentary elections and to launder money for militia activity in Iraq's southern Shiite heartland." It is thought (or spun) by unnamed US officials that the fake money entered as a way to influence the March 7th elections and that Iran was in some way involved. (Thought, not sourced, not backed up.) Today Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported on her interview with Ayad Allawi who declared he is warning other Iraqi political groups:

I told them, 'Don't embark on this course. It's going to be very dangerous, it's going to be counterproductive, and the backlash will be severe. The whole foundation of whatever infant democracy we've built will be ruined.

Allawi's political slate came out with 91 seats in the Parliament. The second biggest seat winner was Nouri al-Maliki's slate. Nouri continues to insist that there was voter fraud. Fadel reports that Allawi (rightly) points out that none of the benchmarks have been met. Those benchmarks were set by the White House with the US Congress and Nouri al-Maliki signing off. Bully Boy Bush's gone. Those benchmarks are still the Congress' duty and they're Barack's now as well. For those who've forgotten, 'tough talking' Nance Pelosi and others were going to pull war funding if Iraq didn't show 'progress' by meeting 'benchmarks.' Never met and the illegal war is still fully funded. I guess Nancy took benchmarks "off the table." Fadel offers that Allawi could be shut out if the National Alliance teams with State Of Law. Yeah, if that happens. If. But that's not the big rumor coming out of Iraq these days regarding the next prime minister. Yesterday, the biggest was that Irbrahim al-Jaafari has secured some sort of guarantee from a number of groups including the Kurds. That's a rumor. And it's one the US State Dept has heard. If true, it'll be known soon enough since the Kurdish delegation goes into Baghdad next week to start official talks.
Waleed Ibrahim (Reuters) reports:

President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, said the Kurdistan list consisting of his Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and Kurdish President Masoud Barzani's Kurdistan Democratic Party, stood ready to back a tie-up between Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's State of Law bloc and the Iraqi National Alliance (INA).
Talabani made his comments after a meeting on Wednesday night with former Iraqi prime minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, whose faction is part of the INA.


Rahmat al-Salaam (Asharq Alawsat Newspaper) reports that the alliance is just waiting for the big announcement and:

As to choosing the next prime minister, the SLC spokesman said "the method will be within the framework of a mechanism that the two sides agree on and this allows all the parties inside this alliance to present their candidates. The person who will lead the next government will be chosen under this mechanism." Regarding the INA's conditions for having an alliance with the SLC, Al-Husni said "no conditions were imposed. The talk is about the government program, the mechanism for forming it, and making the decisions through it", adding that "there are no conditions and no concessions between the parties that will forge an alliance to form the largest parliamentary bloc."

Alsumaria TV reports, "Al Iraqiya LIst spokeman Haidar Al Mulla affirmed that the alliance between the State of Law Coalition and Iraq's National alliance is not clear yet. Al Iraqiya List has many chances to ally with other parties, Al Mulla noted. The Federal Court stipulates that to form a new government, both coalitions should be merged not allied, he argued. Al Iraqiya List will withdraw from the political process if the State of Law Coalition and Iraqi National Alliance merges." If the alliance takes place and if all members of both blocs are in the reported alliance, that would bring Nouri, et al 2 seats short of the needed 163. As noted some time ago, Iraq's religious minorities could end up being "king makers." Should they announce their merger and have no additional seats (or have a few from their two blocs bail), Allawi's slate could still be a winner. There are 325 people who were elected to Parliament. 161 (or less) going to the new alliance would still leave 164 seats.

82 of those seats,
Quil Lawrence (NPR's Morning Edition) reported today, are held by women.


Quil Lawrence: Afaf Abdel-Razzak would only be interviewed by phone. She's effectively gone into hiding since she won. Groups like al-Qaida still operate in Anbar and might target a female politician. She's been moving between Anbar and Baghdad, until the new parliament opens and she gets her official guard detail. Afaf is a teacher, and as a lawmaker, she's hoping to promote education along with women's rights. At the beginning, it wasn't conceivable that a woman could run, she says. But now, even in Anbar province, people will get used to the idea of having women be their voice in parliament.

An
online poll at Aswat Al Iraq asks: "How far did the Independent High Electoral Commision (IHEC) succeed in organizing and guaranteeing the integrity of the legislative elections?" The biggest vote getter is "No success" with 61% (1,220 votes), followed by (29%, 584 votes) "Great success," then "Medium Success" (7%, 149 votes) and "Limited succes" (3%, 52 votes). That is a non-scientific poll and is 'limited' to anyone who visits their website.

"Iraqi politicians insist they're forming a coalition government through a truly Iraqi process of consulation. It may seem strange then that the most substanitive meetings should happen in neighboring countries,"
declared NPR's Quil Lawrence (All Things Considered). Lawrence noted Nouri's strong criticism of 'outsiders' and states it was clear that Nouri was referring to Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, he reports that Nouri wasn't invited to visit Riyadh and that this was seen by some as a "snub" to Nouri. Meanwhile Alsumaria TV reports that Rafea al-Isaawi represented Iraqiya in Tehran yesterday while meeting with Ali Larijani, Speaker of Iran's Parliament, and with Saeed Jalili, Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council and they note that he was "expected as well to meet with Sayyed Moqtada Al Sadr over government formation talks and the possibility of new alliances" according to Iranian television.

Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .

Shootings?

Reuters notes a Baghdad drive by in which 1 Iraqi soldier was wounded and 3 suspected assailants were killed, 1 person was shot dead in a Mosul drive-by and a Mosul home invasion left 4 people shot dead (three were women).
Corpses?

Reuters notes 14 corpses were discovered in Samarra. Aswat Al Iraq reports that 1 corpse was discovered in Kut, a "decaying body, belongs to a 20-year-old man, bore signs of torture".

Salah Hemeid offers a think piece at Al-Ahram Weekly which includes the following:

US president Barack Obama, who swept into office on an anti-Iraq war ticket and has since claimed that the war is winding down, has signaled his determination to pull all US forces out of the country by the end of 2011. Commentators are nevertheless sceptical that Obama's pledge to remove "combat troops" by 1 September, leaving about 50,000 troops in "non-combat" roles, will bring about a real end to the war. If the violence in the country continues to soar, as has been threatened by last week's bombings, and goes on to spark another sectarian chain reaction, then, they argue, the United States will be forced to keep its troops in the country longer than has been promised.
In recent weeks there has been much speculation in the US media that the military might indeed try to slow down the withdrawal. Head of the US Central Command, General David Petraeus, had said the US may leave stronger-than-expected forces in northern Iraq if the situation requires it, even as it acts to reduce troops elsewhere in the country to targeted levels. Testifying before a Senate panel, Petraeus confirmed plans to meet Obama's target of 50,000 US troops in the country by the end of August, down from about 97,000 today. He also noted that the situation in Iraq remains fragile, despite declining levels of violence and the high turnout in the recent national elections, and said that the US military was still tinkering with plans on how best to administer the drawdown.
Last month General Ray Odierno, the top US general in Iraq, made international headlines when his request to keep a military combat unit in the contentious northern city of Kirkuk after next September was leaked to the media. Pentagon officials have made clear that US troops remaining in Iraq after 1 September, although technically on an "advise and assist" mission, will still be capable of conducting military operations.
And even as regular forces are withdrawn, many observers expect that the level of Special Operations forces will remain constant. Some have also argued that the designation of non-combat status is "a false dichotomy," since it implies that "everyone in the military is a combat soldier."
No matter what detailed conclusions one might draw, it remains clear that the US is in a serious situation that might force the Obama administration into rethinking its plans in Iraq. Is it time to start bringing the troops home, or is more time needed to complete US goals in the country?

Though vague while playing the rainmaker in those tent revivals throughout 2007 and 2008, Barack was very clear to the press that if things got 'worse' in Iraq, he wasn't opposed to halting a withdrawal schedule (which was then 1 brigade a month -- a broken promise) or sending in MORE troops.

In
yesterday's snapshot, this appeared: Earlier this week, Nouri al-Maliki was throwing public fits over the fact that Iraq's neighbors were expressing interest. Thankfully few listen to him. (We're not noting his "I stopped a major bombing!" spin.) At the time 'terrorism plot foiled!' was the story being pushed hard. Many gladly embraced it and made fools of themselves. Nouri the hero! Preventing terrorist attacks! Foiling plots to attack with planes! 9-11 style! Prima facie, it was laughable. But, again, some ran with it. 'Najaf! And maybe Baghdad! Almost the targets of planes!' CNN reports today: "Sheikh Fayyad al-Shimari, head of the Najaf provincial council, and other officials downplayed reports of a security threat. 'There were talks concerning some security threats in Najaf,' he said. 'Those threats are not new to the province'." Reuters notes, "A Defence Ministry spokesman today denied reports a plot to crash a passenger jet into the Imam Ali shrine in Najaf, in southern Iraq, had been foiled while local Iraqi officials said reports like that had circulated for up to a year." It then goes on to cite a US official insisting it is true. And like most 'truth tellers,' the US official goes . . . unnamed.

Monday April 5th, WikiLeaks released US military video of an assault in Iraq. Lamar W. Hankins (San Marcos Mercury) weighs in: As a longtime member of Military Families Speak Out, I don't write about war atrocities easily. But I believe that the American people as a whole have an unrealistic view about war and an unwillingness to accept that committing atrocities during war is inevitable. My conclusion is that engaging in war is morally justified only in self-defense or defense of another. Neither the Iraq nor Afghan war qualifies as justified under that standard. The US military (like virtually all other militaries in the world) train our troops using propaganda and psychological techniques from the ancient to the modern. We use these techniques to manipulate our troops into becoming a part of an operation whose primary purpose is to kill other human beings for purposes fancied by our political leaders. We tell our soldiers that they are serving their country, that they are protecting it, but too often they are merely carrying out some politically inspired or economically desired purpose that has nothing to do with serving and protecting the American people. Teba Mohammad (Independent Florida Alligator) also weighs in: I was outraged by the video -- not necessarily shocked -- because the U.S. Army has a history of slaying innocents and has always labeled it as "collateral damage." Since the war started in Iraq, civilians -- including journalists, farmers, doctors and children, to name a few -- have been ambushed and caught in the line of fire by military forces. Among the 12 Iraqis killed on that tragic day was Namir Noor-Eldeen, a prominent photojournalist who worked for Reuters. Though he was only 22 when he was killed, friends and coworkers describe him as a well-respected, brave human being who left behind an incredible body of work that documents the reality of war in Iraq. Another victim was Saeed Chmagh, a Reuters driver and assistant. He was 40 years old and left behind a wife and four children. Along with the dozen deceased Iraqis, two children were wounded.I could not help but think about these two human beings who had nothing to do with insurgency and did not even have weapons. They were normal, hardworking men with families, values and passion for their profession. How come these acts of murder are not covered by the U.S. media? Why do so many Iraqi victims get killed this way and their stories go untold?


In the US, Binghamton, New York may be getting a counter/cost ticker at City Hall which would detail the financial costs of the wars in real time. WBNG reports that the counter is scheduled to go up next week and that the city's mayor, Matt Ryan, "says it's needed so people realize the toll federal spending is taking on local budgets."
George Basler (Press & Sun-Bulletin) adds, "Ryan emphasized not one penny of taxpayer money is going to pay for the electronic sign, which will go up next week. The cost, set at about $6,000, is being funded entirely by private contributions from the Broome County Cost of War (COW) Project, a local peace action group that has been demonstrating against the two wars. The group also will pay for the sign's upkeep." USMC Combat veteran Nicholas Legos writes the Press & Sun-Bulletin to remind that the cost of war includes the dead and wounded as well as the financial cost. IPA issued the following press release yesterday: The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote Tuesday: "A group called the National Priorities Project has a popular web site that keeps a running tally of the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It even breaks down the cost per city and suggests what could have been purchased in a year with that tax money. ... "Matt Ryan, the mayor of Binghamton, N.Y., population 47,000, was so impressed with the numbers for his town that he plans to attach a digital cost-of-war counter to the facade of City Hall. By September, Binghamton taxpayers will have contributed $138 million to fund the wars." SUE McANANAMAA member of the Broome County Cost of War Project, McAnanama is speaking at a news conference Wednesday with Mayor Ryan. McAnanama said today: "People need to be aware of the simple facts about where our money is going. This year our Pentagon budget is $700 billion while our community and so many others around the nation are facing cutbacks and crises. ... "Binghamton taxpayers have spent $140 million for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars since 2001, which is more than enough to cover ALL local property tax bills for the next FOUR years. ... New York taxpayers have already spent $67 billion for the seven years of war in Iraq. Compare that to New York State's 2009 High Speed Rail Plan, announced in March of 2009, which aims to spend $10.7 billion to 'transform' and upgrade our transportation systems -- over the next 20 years. ... Private sources paid for the sign and even the electricity for it; no taxpayer funds were used for this project." For further information, see the Binghamton Bridge web site. JO COMERFORD CHRIS HELLMAN Comerford is executive director and Hellman is communications liaison for the National Priorities Project. This year their web site has a tax calculator where taxpayers can put in the amount of federal taxes they paid in 2009 (or 2008) and take stock of how the federal government spent each of their income tax dollars. It also provides localized information that community groups are using to create flyers that some are passing out in front of post offices as many people mail their tax forms tomorrow. Comerford wrote the piece "Tax Day and America's Wars: What the Mayor of One Community Hard Hit by War Spending Is Doing," which states: "A construction crew will soon arrive to install Binghamton's 'cost of war' counter which will overlook the city's busiest intersection and spur conversation around tax day. During the three minutes local motorists wait at the nearby traffic light, they can join Mayor Ryan in waving good-bye to $100. And Binghamton as a whole can grapple with spending $49,650 in war costs every day of 2010." For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy: Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Time and space won't permit more than a link to
Zeina Khodr (Al Jaezeera) on Iraqi security (link has text and video) but hopefully we can pick it up tomorrow and we may cover another hearing from today in tomorrow's snapshot.

iraq
mcclatchy newspapershannah allam
the washington postleila fadel
the san marcos mercurylamar w. hankinsthe independent florida alligatorteba mohammad
nprmorning editionquil lawrence
alsumaria tv
wbngipapress and sun bulletingeorge basler
all things considered

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Terry Gross can't find a woman writer

Does Terry Gross just hate other women?

Another book interview yesterday on NPR's Fresh Air. Seems women don't write books. It was Terry and a man. Then for the critic, it was music review time . . . by a man.

You sort of picture Mama Gross telling Baby Terry, "Hon, you're nothing to look at. You make sure you never stand too close to a pretty girl 'cause, if you do, no one will look twice at you."

"Yes, Mama," Terry quickly agreed and turned it into her mantra.

Now a very sweet woman e-mails to ask me if I've ticked off C.I.? She hasn't noted me, the woman informs, at TCI this week. That's right and it's wrong. Yesterday's snapshot included a quote from a piece Ava and C.I. wrote and C.I. threw in an extra paragraph because it linked to me. I know that and should say thank you ("Thank you, C.I.!"). Every morning Tuesday through Saturday, C.I. links to all of our Monday through Friday night posts. I haven't been linked Monday or today. I didn't even notice.

Nor did C.I. until this evening when she called me to say, "I'm so sorry." Don't be. A) C.I. always links to me and if she intentionally didn't want to that's her right. B) It was an accident. When we got off the phone this evening, I copied and pasted this into this post and then hit save. (Because I wanted to eat dinner and also relax for a bit with my husband -- which didn't have a link yesterday and might not tonight but that doesn't mean I'm mad at Cedric, just that I might forget to link to him before I post.)

When C.I. does the links in the morning, she grabs the links from last night:



Mikey Likes It!
24, the Surpeme Court, Chuck, DPC (e-mails)
20 hours ago

SICKOFITRADLZ
Elizabeth Taylor not getting married
20 hours ago

Trina's Kitchen
The economy and Carole King
20 hours ago

Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills)
It's supposed to be hormonal
20 hours ago

Like Maria Said Paz
Connect the Dots with Lila Garrett
20 hours ago

Ruth's Report
Space
20 hours ago

Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude
bob somerby, rachel maddow
20 hours ago

Thomas Friedman is a Great Man
Crimes and war
20 hours ago

Oh Boy It Never Ends
Blackmail, movies, Bette Davis and more
20 hours ago

And that's it unless Cedric and Wally didn't post last night. If they didn't, the two are on the phone while I'm eating breakfast as they frantically put together their humor post. That happened this morning so C.I. knew (Wally's on the road with C.I.) to grab from the morning for those two:



The Daily Jot
THIS JUST IN! LEAVE IT TO A SPACE CADET!
11 hours ago

Cedric's Big Mix
The final frontier
11 hours ago

Okay, you say, that makes sense but why didn't she include you this morning with the others?

Because I'm not listed with them. I'm going to do the same copy and paste but go down lower until we get to mine. Watch closely.



Mikey Likes It!
24, the Surpeme Court, Chuck, DPC (e-mails)
20 hours ago

SICKOFITRADLZ
Elizabeth Taylor not getting married
20 hours ago

Trina's Kitchen
The economy and Carole King
20 hours ago

Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills)
It's supposed to be hormonal
20 hours ago

Like Maria Said Paz
Connect the Dots with Lila Garrett
20 hours ago

Ruth's Report
Space
20 hours ago

Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude
bob somerby, rachel maddow
20 hours ago

Thomas Friedman is a Great Man
Crimes and war
20 hours ago

Oh Boy It Never Ends
Blackmail, movies, Bette Davis and more
20 hours ago

Iraq Veterans Against the War -
Second Member of Company Involved in Wikileaks Incident Speaks Out
21 hours ago

C-SPAN Recent Video
Senate HELP Cmte. Hearing on the Elementary and Secondary Education Act
23 hours ago

Center for Constitutional Rights -
U.S. Census Bureau Sued for Hiring Discrimination, According to Outten & Golden LLP and Co-Counsel
1 day ago

The Latest from the Institute for Policy Studies
The Really Really Long War
1 day ago

Inside Iraq
Who cares about Iraqis
1 day ago

Ann's Mega Dub
Movie post
1 day ago


See that. That's my Monday post. My post from last night -- even now -- is not showing up. It's not listed. And C.I. didn't know to go through and look for me. When she got an e-mail (maybe also from the woman who e-mailed me) and heard about it, she called to apologize. There's no reason. If my post from Monday is listed as most current instead of my Tuesday post, I'm sure that on Tuesday morning, I was listed from Friday.

C.I.'s grabbing that with a copy and paste and she's juggling the phones and often fixing her hair while she flips through papers and computer screens trying to pull together those morning entries. She just goes and grabs them in order and doesn't sit there and count them to make sure everyone's there. If it worked, I would have been there with my post from last night.

Does that make sense?

I appreciate that someone was concerned I was being omitted and wanted to speak up but there's no reason to be upset. (A) It was accidental and (B) it could have been on purpose and I'd have no right to whine. C.I. links to me all the time. And I do appreciate that and I appreciate all the work she and Marcia did for me in the last three or so months. If you're late to the party, another site started up and was using "Ann's Mega Dub" as it's name. (I use that in a 'response' to my husband's site: Cedric's Big Mix.) And Marcia wasn't going to let it pull ahead of me so she and C.I. got together and came up with a number of things. So thank you them for that as well.



This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Wednesday, April 14, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, Gates attacks WikiLinks and 'independent media' is there to provide him an assist or at least a reach around, soldiers in the unit come forward to share their stories, despite Nouri's drama Iraqis continue seeking out their neighbors, and more.

Yesterday's snapshot noted Robert Gates, US Defense Secretary, and his embarrassing attempts to lash out WikiLeaks. We'll start there today with this from Tuesday's
Pacifica Evening News (airs on KPFA and KPFK each weekday -- as well as other stations).John Hamilton: US Defense Secretary Robert Gates criticized the internet group WikiLeaks today over its release of a video showing a 2007 US helicopter attack that killed a dozen people in Baghdad including civilians and two news employees of the Reuters news agency. Gates said the group -- which says it promotes leaks to fight government and corporate corruption -- released the video without providing any context explaining the situation. Speaking with reporters on route to South America, Gates said, "These people can put out anything they want and they're never held accountable for it, there's no before and there's no after." The stark helicopter gunsight video of the July 12, 2007 attack has been widely viewed around the world on the internet since its release by WikiLeaks on April 5th.Male voice [from the clip]: Line 'em all up.Second male voice [from the clip]: Come on fire.[sound of gunfire]John Hamilton: Many international law and human rights experts say the Apache helicopter crew in the footage may have acted illegally. The video includes an audio track of a helicopter crew conversation many have been shocked by the images and some of the fliers' comments like this response to injuries to two Iraqi children.Male voice: Well it's their fault for bringing their kids to a battle.Male voice 2: That's right.John Hamilton: The US military said an investigation shortly after the incident found US forces were unaware of the presence of news staff and thought they were engaging armed insurgents, mistaking a camera for a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. Among the dead civilians in the attack were Reuters photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen and his assistant and driver Saeed Chmagh . WikiLeaks disputed Gates' contention that the video failed to provide context. In an e-mail, the group accused the US military of making numerous false or misleading statements including the contention that there was an active firefight between US forces and those killed. Meanwhile the Telegraph newspaper of London is reporting that WikiLeaks is preparing to make public another US military video, this time showing airstrikes that resulted in the deaths of Afghan civilians. The Telegraph reports the video shows previously classified footage showing a bomb attack on a village in Farah Province. The Afghan government initially said the May 4, 2009 airstrike killed 147 civilians and independent Afghan inquiry later revised that figure to 86 dea. The US military later estimated only 26 civilians were killed in that attack. A NATO spokesperson confirmed to the Telegraph that WikieLeaks plans to release the footage but a spokesperson for WikiLeaks declined to comment.Gates really needs to stop blaming WikiLeaks and start expressing some form of remorse in public. Barack, Biden, Clinton, et al can say, "That happened in 2007." That doesn't mean that they shouldn't express remorse or sadness for the dead. But they were not a part of the Bush administration. Robert Gates, in 2007, was the Secretary of Defense. He needs to stop lashing out and start expressing some sense of regret for the deaths. He should also avoid statements like, "These people can put out anything they want and they're never held accountable for it, there's no before and there's no after." When civilians have been killed -- again -- by the US military and you've been the Secretary of Defense for four years, do you really want to be saying that others -- OTHERS -- can get away with "anything they want and they're never held accountable for it"? Really?

Iraq Veterans Against the War notes Ethan McCord and Josh Stieber who served in Bravo Company 2-16 were interviewed yesterday on The Marc Steiner Show:

Marc Steiner: Ethan McCord, welcome to the program, good to have you with us.

Ethan McCord: Thank you sir.

Marc Steiner: And you have served this country in the armed services for a long time. You went from the Navy to the Army.

Ethan McCord: Correct.

Marc Steiner: And you and I had a really interesting conversation this afternoon. You're seen in this video coming up after the American military had opened fire, both on the eight men and then on the van.

Ethan McCord: Right.

Marc Steiner: And you were seen carrying these children away. Your perspective on it, I thought, was pretty profound and I think -- I'd just like you tell your story as you did this afternoon.

Ethan McCord: Okay. Well we were in a firefight a few blocks away when this incident happened. We heard the gunships opening fire. Us on the ground didn't know what was going on at the time but when we were told to move now to get to this position, we went down to that position. And what we came across was actually quite horrifying in a sense but it didn't seem real. Even in real life, it didn't seem real. It seemed like something you would see out of maybe a movie or something like that. The first thing I did was run up to the van and I saw a little girl sitting on the seat and a little boy half-way on the floorboard with his head laying on the seat next to his sister and the father slumped over. I originaly thought that the boy had passed. And the little girl had a wound to the stomach and had glass in her hair and eyes and my immediate response was to grab this child and I grabbed the medic and we went into the back and there were houses behind where the van was and I took the girl there and we worked on her as much as possible making sure that there was no exit wounds or anything because we really didn't know what had exactly happened at that time. And, uhm, handed the girl to the medic who then ran her to the Bradley. I in turn went back to the van and that's when I saw the boy somewhat take a breath. And I started yelling out that the boy was still alive, the boy's alive. I grabbed him and started running him towards the Bradley myself and I placed him in the Bradley which I got yelled at aftewards for doing that.

Marc Steiner: Talk about that, why were you yelled at by your platoon commander?


Ethan McCord: Because I -- my main focus wasn't on pulling security, going to a rooftop and pulling security. My main focus was to pull those children out. The first thing I thought of when I saw those children were my children at home. And, uh, I can't stand to see children like that, so that was my main priority and I didn't care what anybody said at that time.

[. . .]

Marc Steiner: [. . .] let's talk about the language and what happens in these situations and I think, Ethan, Josh -- Josh, you wrote an interesting piece kind of reflecting on that and, Ethan, you were talking today about what actually happens in this battle, that people who have not experienced this don't understand and, Josh, let me start with you. You really kind of articulated well in your article that even though you became against killing and are now a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War that that notwithstanding you're also trying to make people understand things they just don't understand unless they've been through this.


Josh Stieber: Right, yeah. I mean one of my major points is saying that, again, this is an indication of the system as a whole and just seeing the public outcry about the video directed at individual soldiers I think is wrong. I think there should be outcry about it because obviously a lot of things that the video show are very intense things but again they were not out of the ordinary and this weekend Secretary of Defense Gates gave his stamp of approval and said pretty much that the soldiers were doing what they were supposed to. Again, this is what the military looks like and this is what war looks like and if people don't try to understand that and try to understand the context in which all this happened from the context of that day to the context of what our military training looks like then we're missing a much needed conversation about the nature of this entire war in general. And again just focusing on a few people and to try to put it into an analogy, the saying "the nature of the beast," what is shown in this video is the nature of the beast and I feel like directing all our outcries to what the stains look like then we're not going to ask the questions in our own society of what the rest of the beast looks like and how we put people in this situation where a lot of guys thought that they were doing good things and that they were serving their country or defending the weak through their actions and obviously ended up doing something a lot different than they expected.

Marc Steiner: Ethan, I'd like you to pick up from there. You -- you -- we were talking. You said some things to me this afternoon that really touched me pretty deeply and you were talking about how the person you went over there -- the person who joined the army was a different person than came out of the army.

Ethan McCord: Of course, yes. Before I joined the military -- even when I was in the Navy -- I was a different person and I didn't go to Iraq, I didn't actually fight in any battles, serving my country. I joined the Army, I switched over to the Army and from -- from the very git-go in basic training they're telling you -- everything is about killing this person -- from the cadences that we marched to to as they call muscle memory of firing. You know it's your instinct to just fire -- don't think about it, just fire, it's muscle memory. To what you become in Iraq . . . When I first went to Iraq, I -- I thought I was going to help the people of Iraq and maybe I was living in a fairy tale world but I thought that we were going to help these people and when we get there and, almost on a daily basis, we're getting blown up and shot at -- and this is before we even did anything there, we were just out riding around. We hadn't had any contacts or anything. But then we started getting blown up or shot at for the mere presence of us there. You tend to get a little angry and have a little ill will towards the people who are doing this because you're like "I'm here to help you and you're doing this to me? You're trying to take my life." And when you're going into a situation of it's my life or their's and, I don't care who you are, you're going to choose your life. And if that means turning yourself into something that you're not, then you're going to do that because you have to become mentally tough in the situation and even -- You turn into a very hateful person while you're there. But yeah, you're like -- I came out of the Army a much angrier person than I was before I went in. And I have a lot of problems stemming from the Army that I didn't have before. .

Robert Gates is now attacking WikiLeaks. It needs to be strongly noted that Robert Gates was Secretary of Defense when the assault took place in 2007. It needs to be noted that he was Secretary of Defense when Reuters was requesting the video for over two years. It needs to be noted that he had the authority to release the video and refused to do so. When the incident became something a news agency filed regular and repeated requests, as Secretary of Defense, he should have familiarized himself with the incident. There should be a report that exists -- one he should have requested -- other than the after-action report filed sometime around July 19, 2007. Robert Gates knows that it's in Robert Gates best interests to attack WikiLeaks and defocus. But it is not in the country's best interests. As for the President of the United States? He should have been having several talks with Gates about this since the video was released online. The fact that the administration has refused to express regret over the loss of life is inexcusable and saying it happened under Bush is no excuse -- not when US troops are in Iraq still.

As most people should know, should damn well know if they were paying attention, soldiers in the Army are being trained before deploying to Iraq or Afghanistan on how to say they are sorry in the event of loss of life. Why is that soldiers are being trained in this but the Secretary of Defense doesn't have to be? Or the president for that matter? This is not about a legal admission of guilt. This is about expressing remorse over what you could term a "tragic inciddent." And since the US government continues to maintain that there were no War Crimes that took place in the incident, they should have no fears about expressing remorse.

Again, soldiers are being trained on how to handle civilian and Iraq/Afghanistan troop deaths, how to express regret when the US military accidentally kills someone. If we're expecting the women and men on the ground to do that, why don't we expect -- why don't we demand -- the same from the Secretary of Defense and the Commander in Chief?

But in the world we live in today, no demands are made on the president and hypocrites rush to see who can be the biggest fool.
Justin Rainmondo (Antiwar.com) calls outsome of this nonsense of the faux left attacking WikiLeaks and founder Justin Assange:


First up is Mother Jones magazine, a citadel of Bay Area high liberalism and the left-wing of the Obama cult, with a long article by one David Kushner. The piece is essentially a critical profile of Assange, who is described as an egotist in the first few paragraphs, and it goes downhill from there. Most of the article is a collection of dishy quotes from various "experts" – including from the apparently quite jealous (and obviously demented) editor of Cryptome.org, a similar site, who says Wikileaks is CIA front. Steven Aftergood, author of the Federation of American Scientists' Secrecy News blog, "says he wasn't impressed with WikiLeaks' 'conveyor-belt approach' to publishing anything it came across. 'To me, transparency is a means to an end, and that end is an invigorated political life, accountable institutions, opportunities for public engagement. For them, transparency and exposure seem to be ends in themselves,' says Aftergood. He declined to get involved."

To begin with, quite obviously Assange and the Wikileaks group have a political goal in, say, publishing
the Iraq massacre video – which is to stop the war, end the atrocities, and expose the war crimes of this government to the light of day. Surely the video, and the ones to come, will continue to "invigorate" our political life – perhaps a bit more than the Aftergoods of this world would like.
Kushner contacted a few members of the Wikileaks advisory board who claim they never agreed to serve – and gets one of them, computer expert
Ben Laurie, to call Assange "weird." Kushner adds his own description: "paranoid: – and yet Laurie's own paranoia comes through loud and clear when he avers:
"WikiLeaks allegedly has an advisory board, and allegedly I'm a member of it. I don't know who runs it. One of the things I've tried to avoid is knowing what's going on there, because that's probably safest for all concerned."

This is really the goal of harassing and pursuing government critics: pure intimidation. With US government agents stalking Assange as he flies to a conference in Norway, and one attempted
physical attack in Nairobi, Assange is hated by governments and their shills worldwide. And Mother Jones certainly is a shill for the Obama administration, a virtual house organ of the Obama cult designed specifically for Bay Area limousine liberals who'll gladly turn a blind eye to their idol's war crimes – and cheer on the Feds as they track Assange's every move and plot to take him down.

Kushner asks "Can WikiLeaks be trusted with sensitive, and possibly life-threatening, documents when it is less than transparent itself?" Oh, what a good question: why shouldn't Wikileaks make itself "transparent" to the US government, and all the other governments whose oxen have been viciously gored by documents posted on the site? Stop drinking the bong water, Kushner, and get a clue.


Hillary supporters, you saw Mother Jones LIE non-stop to help gift Barack with the nomination. You shouldn't be surprised that the same LIARS who never did an accurate correction (mealy-mouthed insults to the person you lied about discredit your so-called 'correction'). The same hatred they aimed at Hillary they now aim at everyone who threatens their Christ-child. So goes it in the Cult of St. Barack. Mother Jones needs to get their act together or take their final bow. And they aren't getting the support they used to but let's see if we can cut off even more of their funds.

They should be ashamed of themselves -- and read Raimondo's article, they're not the only ones who should be. This is right-wing Bush love. This isn't the way the left is supposed to behave. But that's the Cult of St. Barack, endlessly singing "Let the circle jerk be unbroken . . ."

Earlier this week, Nouri al-Maliki was throwing public fits over the fact that Iraq's neighbors were expressing interest. Thankfully few listen to him. (We're not noting his "I stopped a major bombing!" spin.) Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq leader Ammar al-Hakim met up with Saudi leaders,
AFP notes, "Hakim's visit follows similar trips to Riyadh to meet the king by President Jalal Talabani last week and representatives of the Sadrist movement loyal to radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in late March. In addition, leaders of Iraq's Kurdish minority have also met the king in the past week." al-Hakim has finished his visits and left but AFP reports that Iraq's Sunni Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi is in Saudi Arabia in "talks with King Abdulla of Saudi Arabia". In an editorial, Gulf News advocates for more visits and stronger diplomatic ties:Saudi Arabia had boycotted the Iraqi government for the past five years. It is believed that Riyadh blames the Nouri Al Maliki government for the sectarian strife that engulfed Iraq in the past five years, as well as the marginalisation of Sunnis. Now, the Saudis seem to see an opportunity to re-engage Iraq. This is because of the results of Iraq's national election, in which Al Maliki came in second to the Iraqiya bloc led by Eyad Allawi, who is widely perceived as pro-Saudi and who advocates closer ties with the Arab world. And this is not really a bad thing. The close involvement of Saudi Arabia, as well as other Arab countries for that matter, would bring Iraq back into the Arab fold, secure better security co-operation with neighbouring states to prevent terrorists from infiltrating, and encourage Arab business people to invest in the rebuilding of the war-ravaged country.
Alsumaria TV notes that the Kurdistan Alliance has announced it will be in "Baghdad next week for official talks with political parties on the formation of a new government." The Kurdish Herald interviews Dr. Najmaldin Karim who was elected to the Parliament in the March 7th elections. Excerpt:
Kurdish Herald: Many people expected that you would announce some sort of candidacy for the Kurdistani elections last year. What influenced your decision to leave your home in the U.S. to run as a candidate in the Iraqi elections, and particularly, to run to represent Kirkuk?
Najmaldin Karim: In the United States for many years, the Kurdistan issue – in all parts of Kurdistan – has been the focus of our activities. However, in the past few years, the challenges in Iraqi Kurdistan have become more pressing for all of us; particularly, the situation in Kirkuk.
As you know, the Anfal campaign and ethnic cleansing really all started in Kirkuk and the aim was to create demographic changes so that Kurds would no longer be able to claim Kirkuk and have it join the Kurdistan Region. The [current Iraqi] constitution was drafted and voted upon and Article 140 specifically laid out a roadmap for the return of all territories that have been cut off from Kurdistan. However, by the way of the actions of the government in Baghdad, and also lack of enthusiasm and push from the Kurdish side and our own deficiencies, the article has not been implemented. [Article 140] has 3 stages: Normalization, Census and the Referendum. We have not even started the first stage.
I felt that returning [to Iraq] would allow me to work to bring all the different communities in Kirkuk together, work toward having Article 140 implemented, and also address the many needs in Kirkuk with regards to services provided to the city. The best way to accomplish these goals and serve the people of Kirkuk and all its communities is to be there on the ground and work through the parliament and through any other position that allows me to address the needs of the people of Kirkuk and the other territories for that matter.

In some of today's reported violence . . .

Bombings?

Reuters notes a Baghdad sportswear store bombing which claimed 1 life and injured five more, a Hawija roadside bombing targeting Sahwa members which injured a leader and three bodyguards and when police arrived another bomb went off injuring two of them, and a Baghdad sticky bombing which claimed the life of the Interior Ministry's counter-terrorism guru Brig Arkan Mohammed Ali.

Shootings?


Reuters notes a Mosul drive-by which claimed the lives of 2 Iraqi soldiers and one Iman shot dead by his home in Baghdad.

In other news, Keiffer Wilhelm took his own life August 4, 2009 while serving in Iraq after being targeted with bullying and hazing.
Robert L. Smith (Cleveland Plain Dealer) reports the last 'action' against the four who tormented Keiffer has taken place and no one received "serious punishment" for their actions towards Keiffer. Keffier's step-mother, Shelly Wilhelm, is quoted stating, "All he did was get a slap on the wrist. We don't know what to say because we just don't understand. He was the platoon sargent. He was Kieffer's direct command. It doesn't make sense. I feel like the Army has let us down again." She's referring to Staff Sgt Bob Clements and the Mansfield News Journal reports he could have been sentenced to 25 years in prison; however, he "has been reprimanded and demoted" after being found guilty "of obstructing justice". The military pretends it wants to take suicide seriously. If it wanted to send the message that it does, it would not only have to make serious efforts to help those suffering, it would have to take suicide seriously when it happens and not rush to sweep it under the rug -- especially in such a way that appears to blame the victim. Chris Roberts (El Paso Times) adds:
Clements "just walks away," Shane Wilhelm, the private's father, said in an interview Tuesday. "I feel completely let down by the Army."Wilhelm said he still hoped the general in the chain of command overseeing the court-martial would throw out the verdict.Clements remains with the brigade, Caggins said. The 4-1 Armored is returning from a 12-month deployment in Iraq, where it was training Iraqi security forces.The court-martial was held at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait. Caggins, contacted late Tuesday in Iraq, did not know when the verdict was delivered. Wilhelm said it was Sunday.Two of the other accused soldiers were convicted on cruelty charges. The fourth offered to leave the military instead of facing a court-martial and was discharged.

Turning to the Congress, the
Senate Democratic Policy Committee. has done some outstanding work with regards to toxic exposure of service members and contractors serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and outgoing Chair Byron Dorgan deserves a great deal of credit for his strong leadership on those issues (Senator Dorgan has decided not run for re-election to the Senate). When Congress is in session, Monday through Friday, there are usually daily vidoes at the DPC video page. The DPC issued the following:


Who is really on the side of middle-class Americans?
Democrats: On the Side of Middle-Class Americans
98 percent - The percentage of all working families and individuals in America who got a tax cut in 2009 thanks to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. [Citizens for Tax Justice,
4/13/10]
$3,000 - The record average tax refund taxpayers are seeing this tax season thanks to the tax cuts in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. [White House,
4/12/10]
40 million – The number of American families with incomes up to $88,000 (for a family of four) that will receive a tax credit to help pay for health care coverage in the exchange, thanks to health insurance reform. [House Majority Leader Hoyer,
4/12/10]
Republicans: On the Side of the Wealthy
$120,000 – The average amount that the richest 0.3 percent of households with incomes above $1 million received in 2007 from the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts [CBPP,
5/9/08] (To put this number in context, sending your child to a private college for 4 years costs, on average, $105,000 in tuition and fees alone. [College Board, 2010])
$46 million – Average tax cut per filer received by the 400 wealthiest taxpayers in the entire country in 2007. [CBPP,
2/23/10] (To put this number in context, a person earning $50,300 per year, or the median income in the U.S. , would have to work 914 years to earn as much. [US Census data for 2008])
$18 billion – Total tax cuts for the 400 richest households in the U.S. in 2007. [CBPP,
2/23/10] (To put this number in context, $18 billion is the economic output of the entire nation of Bolivia . [CIA World Factbook])
2 percent - The percent of total benefits of the capital gains and dividend rate reductions in 2010 that went to the middle 20 percent of taxpayers, compared to 89 percent of the total benefits that went to the wealthiest 20 percent of taxpayers and 58 percent to the wealthiest one percent of taxpayers. [CBPP,
8/7/08]
1 – Number of years President Bush took to turn the budget surplus he inherited from President Clinton into a budget deficit. [
OMB Data]
http://dpc.senate.gov/dpcpress.cfm?doc_name=fs-111-2-52



Finally,
David Bacon's latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which won the CLR James Award. Bacon can be heard on KPFA's The Morning Show (over the airwaves in the Bay Area, streaming online) each Wednesday morning (begins airing at 7:00 am PST). He has an essay (text and photos) entitled "The People of the Central Valley" (21stcenturymanifesto):Dozens of dairies in California's Central Valley, in Tulare and Kern Counties, produce milk in industrial conditions. Wages are low and workers complain of injuries caused by pressure to work fast, and mistreatment. Most workers are immigrants from Mexico. Some dairies have unions, organized by Local 5 of the United Food and Commercial Workers. Many have had complaints against them filed by California Rural Legal Assistance.


iraqthe pacifica evening newsjohn hamiltonkpfkkpfa
antiwar.comjustin raimondo
david bacon
the cleveland plain dealerrobert l. smiththe el paso timeschris robertsiraq veterans against the war
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Posted by Common Ills at
4:16 PM Links to this post

Gates whines others are "never held accountable"
Starting with this from yesterday's
Pacifica Evening News (airs on KPFA and KPFK each weekday -- as well as other stations).John Hamilton: US Defense Secretary Robert Gates criticized the internet group WikiLeaks today over its release of a video showing a 2007 US helicopter attack that killed a dozen people in Baghdad including civilians and two news employees of the Reuters news agency. Gates said the group -- which says it promotes leaks to fight government and corporate corruption -- released the video without providing any context explaining the situation. Speaking with reporters on route to South America, Gates said, "These people can put out anything they want and they're never held accountable for it, there's no before and there's no after." The stark helicopter gunsight video of the July 12, 2007 attack has been widely viewed around the world on the internet since its release by WikiLeaks on April 5th.Male voice [from the clip]: Line 'em all up.Second male voice [from the clip]: Come on fire.[sound of gunfire]John Hamilton: Many international law and human rights experts say the Apache helicopter crew in the footage may have acted illegally. The video includes an audio track of a helicopter crew conversation many have been shocked by the images and some of the fliers' comments like this response to injuries to two Iraqi children.Male voice: Well it's their fault for bringing their kids to a battle.Male voice 2: That's right.John Hamilton: The US military said an investigation shortly after the incident found US forces were unaware of the presence of news staff and thought they were engaging armed insurgents, mistaking a camera for a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. Among the dead civilians in the attack were Reuters photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen and his assistant and driver Saeed Chmagh . WikiLeaks disputed Gates' contention that the video failed to provide context. In an e-mail, the group accused the US military of making numerous false or misleading statements including the contention that there was an active firefight between US forces and those killed. Meanwhile the Telegraph newspaper of London is reporting that WikiLeaks is preparing to make public another US military video, this time showing airstrikes that resulted in the deaths of Afghan civilians. The Telegraph reports the video shows previously classified footage showing a bomb attack on a village in Farah Province. The Afghan government initially said the May 4, 2009 airstrike killed 147 civilians and independent Afghan inquiry later revised that figure to 86 dea. The US military later estimated only 26 civilians were killed in that attack. A NATO spokesperson confirmed to the Telegraph that WikieLeaks plans to release the footage but a spokesperson for WikiLeaks declined to comment.Gates really needs to stop blaming WikiLeaks and start expressing some form of remorse in public. Barack, Biden, Clinton, et al can say, "That happened in 2007." That doesn't mean that they shouldn't express remorse or sadness for the dead. But they were not a part of the Bush administration. Robert Gates, in 2007, was the Secretary of Defense. He needs to stop lashing out and start expressing some sense of regret for the deaths. He should also avoid statements like, "These people can put out anything they want and they're never held accountable for it, there's no before and there's no after." When civilians have been killed -- again -- by the US military and you've been the Secretary of Defense for four years, do you really want to be saying that others -- OTHERS -- can get away with "anything they want and they're never held accountable for it"? Really?Alsumaria TV reports, "Head of Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) Sayyed Ammar Al Hakim returned to Iraq from Saudi Arabia where he met with Saudi King Abdullah Ben Abdul Aziz." This following Nouri al-Maliki's most recent 'cautionary' tantrum. Yesterday's snaphshot noted Monday's Pacifica Evening News:
John Hamilton: Iraq's prime minister accused neighboring states today of meddling in his country's internal affairs in efforts to influence government building after March 7th elections produced no clear winner. Nouri al-Maliki told a government committee meeting he was upset to hear representatives of neighboring states talking on television as if they were Iraq's "guardians." "Our message is clear, do not interfere in our affairs," al-Maliki said. He didn't specify which of Iraq's six neighbors he was referring to. The March election left al-Maliki's State of Law Commision trailing former prime minister Ayad Allawi's Iraqyia by two seats. Neither side won enough to govern alone and has been scrambling to cobble together a coalition. Both coalitions, as well as other parties, have been rallying neighboring countries for support. al-Maliki has led a government dominated by devout Shi'ites for the past four years while Allawi, a secular Shi'ite, drew most of his support from the country's Sunni minority on a campaign pledge that he was looking to transcend ethnic and sectarian divides. Both coalitons as well as other political parties have been holding talks with neighbors in the wake of balloting. Tehran's ambassador in Baghdad said Saturday that all political blocs, including Sunnis, should play a role in the new Iraqi government. The statement was unusual for a representative of Iran which traditionally backs fellow Shi'ites in Iraq. al-Maliki has tried to dispel fears that Sunnis would be neglected by a Shi'ite led government. He spoke today at a meeting of the Committee for National Reconciliation with former Sunni fighters known as Sons Of Iraq who sided with American forces against al Qaeda. al-Maliki's charges of foreign interference come a day after his political party called for a recount of election results in five of Iraq's provinces, saying that thousands of votes were tainted by fraud.Not only did al-Hakim meet up with Saudi leaders,
AFP notes, "Hakim's visit follows similar trips to Riyadh to meet the king by President Jalal Talabani last week and representatives of the Sadrist movement loyal to radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in late March. In addition, leaders of Iraq's Kurdish minority have also met the king in the past week." In an editorial, Gulf News advocates for more visits and stronger diplomatic ties:Saudi Arabia had boycotted the Iraqi government for the past five years. It is believed that Riyadh blames the Nouri Al Maliki government for the sectarian strife that engulfed Iraq in the past five years, as well as the marginalisation of Sunnis.Now, the Saudis seem to see an opportunity to re-engage Iraq. This is because of the results of Iraq's national election, in which Al Maliki came in second to the Iraqiya bloc led by Eyad Allawi, who is widely perceived as pro-Saudi and who advocates closer ties with the Arab world.And this is not really a bad thing. The close involvement of Saudi Arabia, as well as other Arab countries for that matter, would bring Iraq back into the Arab fold, secure better security co-operation with neighbouring states to prevent terrorists from infiltrating, and encourage Arab business people to invest in the rebuilding of the war-ravaged country.Middle East Online's analysis includes this:"There is a feverish racing towards Saudi and Iran," said Hamid Fadhil, a professor of political sciences at Baghdad University.The approval of Tehran and Riyadh remains vital, he said."There will be no Iraqi prime minister without fingerprints from Iran or Saudi on him," Fadhil added. "The Saudi view differs from the Iranian view and Iraqi politicians are now concerned about how they reconcile their demands."Alsumaria TV notes that the Kurdistan Alliance has announced it will be in "Baghdad next week for official talks with political parties on the formation of a new government." The Kurdish Herald interviews Dr. Najmaldin Karim who was elected to the Parliament in the March 7th elections. Excerpt:Kurdish Herald: Many people expected that you would announce some sort of candidacy for the Kurdistani elections last year. What influenced your decision to leave your home in the U.S. to run as a candidate in the Iraqi elections, and particularly, to run to represent Kirkuk?Najmaldin Karim: In the United States for many years, the Kurdistan issue – in all parts of Kurdistan – has been the focus of our activities. However, in the past few years, the challenges in Iraqi Kurdistan have become more pressing for all of us; particularly, the situation in Kirkuk.As you know, the Anfal campaign and ethnic cleansing really all started in Kirkuk and the aim was to create demographic changes so that Kurds would no longer be able to claim Kirkuk and have it join the Kurdistan Region. The [current Iraqi] constitution was drafted and voted upon and Article 140 specifically laid out a roadmap for the return of all territories that have been cut off from Kurdistan. However, by the way of the actions of the government in Baghdad, and also lack of enthusiasm and push from the Kurdish side and our own deficiencies, the article has not been implemented. [Article 140] has 3 stages: Normalization, Census and the Referendum. We have not even started the first stage.I felt that returning [to Iraq] would allow me to work to bring all the different communities in Kirkuk together, work toward having Article 140 implemented, and also address the many needs in Kirkuk with regards to services provided to the city. The best way to accomplish these goals and serve the people of Kirkuk and all its communities is to be there on the ground and work through the parliament and through any other position that allows me to address the needs of the people of Kirkuk and the other territories for that matter.Kurdish Herald: What are some of the immediate plans of the Kurdistani Alliance for the disputed areas, and particularly the issue of Kirkuk, that will be done differently from that which has been done in the last 4 years?Najmaldin Karim: I think, firstly, we need to organize ourselves as Kurds to speak as one voice and we need to have a strategy. I believe that there was a lack of strategy in the past with regards to the pressing issues. We have basically reacted to events rather than having a roadmap on how to reach our goals. Our strategy begins with our position and with who we will make an alliance with to form the new government in Iraq. Also, I believe that Article 140 and other disagreements that remain between governments in Baghdad and in Kurdistan should be the key matters in our discussions about the possible alliances with different groups that are trying to form the government in Baghdad.In other post-election news, it was a nail biter (that's saracasm) but State of Law has endorsed for prime minister: Nouri al-Maliki. Meanwhile Tim Arango (New York Times) examines Iraq's security and security forces:Nerves were set on edge here right after the March 7 elections when Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki raised the specter of violence and invoked his role as commander in chief in calling for a manual recount. Many opponents were already worried that he would use the security forces for his own ends, something he has denied doing.But Ayad Allawi, the former interim prime minister, whose Iraqiya coalition won the most seats, said that if he led the next government, he would overhaul the army and the police, contending they were still “riddled” with terrorists, despite continuing efforts to rid them of sectarianism."After eight years since the downfall of Saddam Hussein, the people say, 'We want to be safe,'" Mr. Allawi said in an interview. "The law enforcement agencies are not available to make them safe."At least two winning candidates from Mr. Allawi's coalition have gone into hiding after learning they were targets for arrest, including one who has had a long relationship with the Iraqi government and the United States military in trying to reconcile divisions between Shiites and Sunnis.Turning to travel advisories, this is from Sherwood Ross' "Tourists Urged to Skip Morocco" (Veterans Today):Moroccan tourist officials may well boast of their luxury hotels designed to lure European and North American tourists but the regime of King Mohammed VI has much less to say about the hell-on-earth that is his prison system and of the torture of those inside.As the letters from United Nations officials urging his government to stop arresting and torturing innocent men fail to induce any change, maybe this appeal to travelers to seek other destinations will have some impact. Apart from your own personal safety if you run afoul (shudder!) of the Moroccan authorities, here are some reasons for avoiding this popular tourist destination.To begin with, Morocco has shown its disrespect for international law by illegally occupying the western Sahara and also by forging a pact with the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency to receive kidnapped terror suspects upon whom Morocco’s secret police inflict grotesque tortures. If Rabat will accept a prisoner kidnapped from another country without a prior legal hearing, how safe are you going to be?James Wilson, 67, a Des Plaines, Ill., commercial airlines pilot, found out when the plane in which he was a passenger made an emergency landing in Morocco in May, 2008, and he spent 13 months in prison, from which, his family said, he emerged “in bad shape.” According to the Arlington Heights, Ill., Herald, a family member complained they “felt neglected by the American government, wondering why it would allow one of its citizens to fester in a foreign prison for a crime (drug trafficking) he did not commit.” (Could it be because the U.S. government itself is helping fill Morocco’s prisons with innocent men?)In the US, Senator Byron Dorgan is the chair of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee. which has done some outstanding work with regards to toxic exposure of service members and contractors serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Dorgan will not be running for re-election to the Senate and it is a big loss. Click here to be taken to the DPC video page. And we'll include Senator Dorgan speaking of unemployment insurance.
Finally,
David Bacon's latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which won the CLR James Award. Bacon can be heard on KPFA's The Morning Show (over the airwaves in the Bay Area, streaming online) each Wednesday morning (begins airing at 7:00 am PST). He has an essay (text and photos) entitled "The People of the Central Valley" (21stcenturymanifesto):Dozens of dairies in California’s Central Valley, in Tulare and Kern Counties, produce milk in industrial conditions. Wages are low and workers complain of injuries caused by pressure to work fast, and mistreatment. Most workers are immigrants from Mexico. Some dairies have unions, organized by Local 5 of the United Food and Commercial Workers. Many have had complaints against them filed by California Rural Legal Assistance. The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.kpfkkpfa Sphere: Related Content
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Suicides, PTSD and the fallen
From the invasion of Afghanistan until last summer, the U.S. military had lost 761 soldiers in combat there. But a higher number in the service — 817 — had taken their own lives over the same period. The surge in suicides, which have risen five years in a row, has become a vexing problem for which the Army's highest levels of command have yet to find a solution despite deploying hundreds of mental-health experts and investing millions of dollars. And the elephant in the room in much of the formal discussion of the problem is the burden of repeated tours of combat duty on a soldier's battered psyche.The above is the opening paragraph to Mark Thompson's "
Is the U.S. Army Losing Its War on Suicide?" (Time magazine) and also exploring the story are Bob Woodruff and Michael Murray (ABC News) who move beyond the statistics to zoom in on families:The stories of these two families, seemingly on the same path, diverged at the depths of despair. One soldier reached out for help, the other reached for a trigger."I never thought it would come to this," Shannon Galloway said.Six weeks after coming home to Michigan, Chris Galloway stepped outside the family home and fired a single shot."Daddy got very sick in Afghanistan, which he did," Shannon Galloway said she told her son. "We said it was Afghanistan sickness ... and it made his heart stop. And he went to heaven."Cherry-Haus said she knows how close her family came to a similar fate."I almost committed suicide," her husband said. "I had a plan and everything."Keiffer Wilhelm took his own life August 4, 2009 while serving in Iraq after being targeted with bullying and hazing. Robert L. Smith (Cleveland Plain Dealer) reports the last 'action' against the four who tormented Keiffer has taken place and no one received "serious punishment" for their actions towards Keiffer. Keffier's step-mother, Shelly Wilhelm, is quoted stating, "All he did was get a slap on the wrist. We don't know what to say because we just don't understand. He was the platoon sargent. He was Kieffer's direct command. It doesn't make sense. I feel like the Army has let us down again." She's referring to Staff Sgt Bob Clements and the Mansfield News Journal reports he could have been sentenced to 25 years in prison; however, he "has been reprimanded and demoted" after being found guilty "of obstructing justice". The military pretends it wants to take suicide seriously. If it wanted to send the message that it does, it would not only have to make serious efforts to help those suffering, it would have to take suicide seriously when it happens and not rush to sweep it under the rug -- especially in such a way that appears to blame the victim. Chris Roberts (El Paso Times) adds:Clements "just walks away," Shane Wilhelm, the private's father, said in an interview Tuesday. "I feel completely let down by the Army."Wilhelm said he still hoped the general in the chain of command overseeing the court-martial would throw out the verdict.Clements remains with the brigade, Caggins said. The 4-1 Armored is returning from a 12-month deployment in Iraq, where it was training Iraqi security forces.The court-martial was held at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait. Caggins, contacted late Tuesday in Iraq, did not know when the verdict was delivered. Wilhelm said it was Sunday.Two of the other accused soldiers were convicted on cruelty charges. The fourth offered to leave the military instead of facing a court-martial and was discharged.Meanwhile the Albany Times Union notes that GE has received a government grant of $2.7 million to study PTSD. Wow. Sell the illegal war via MSNBC, be a defense contractor on top of that and then have the US government ask you to help find solutions to a problem from the war you 'brought to life.' Excuse me, "ask you to help"? Pay. Pay, you to help.Wednesday, April 7th, Lt Robert W. Collins and Spc William Anthony Blout died serving in Iraq. John Munford (The Citizen) reports that the 24-year-old Collins will have a procession in Tyrone on Thursday and outlines the route and notes:Lt. Collins is survived by his parents, Lt. Col. (ret.) Burkitt “Deacon” Collins and Lt. Col. (ret.) Sharon L.G. Collins along with Nicole Williams, his childhood sweetheart and girlfriend of eight years among other extended family members. The family’s church is Hopewell United Methodist in Tyrone.The family will receive friends Friday evening from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Parrott Funeral Home and Crematory in Fairburn, and online condolences may be made at www.parrottfuneralhome.com.There will be an opportunity for citizens to honor Lt. Collins during the procession following the funeral. The procession will leave New Hope Baptist Church in Fayetteville on New Hope Road; south on Ga. Highway 85 through Fayetteville; and west on Ga. Highway 54 west through Peachtree City. Once in Coweta County the procession will continue on Ga. Highway 34, then the Hwy. 34 bypass to the gravesite on Roscoe Road.Lt. Collins will be escorted at all processions by motorcycles from the Patriot Guard of Georgia, a group dedicated to honoring fallen American heroes.The family is asking donations in Lt. Collins’ memory to be made to the 1LT Robert Wilson Collins Patriot Spirit Scholarship, c/o Bank of Georgia, 100 Westpark Drive, Peachtree City, Ga. 30269.WDAM notes that 21-year-old Anthony Blout will have a procession tomorrow from Pinebelt Regional Airport to the Moore Funeral Home in Petal MS and that: "The funeral will be Saturday at 11:30 a.m. at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Oak Grove. Burial will follow at Highland Cemetery in Hattiesburg." The Clarion-Ledger adds, "Family members said Blount was three weeks away from a short leave that would bring him home for the birth of his child - a daughter - to be named Avery." Tim Doherty (Hattiesburg American) explains, "Along with his parents and two sisters, Blount is survived by his wife, Amanda, who is eight months pregnant with a daughter the couple decided to name Avery."The following community sites have updated since yesterday evening:

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From IVAW, we'll note this:
Second Member of Company Involved in Wikileaks Incident Speaks Out
Cross posted from
CivSol.org
BREAKING NEWS
A second veteran of Bravo Company 2-16, Ethan McCord, has spoken out about the incident shown in the Wikileaks video "Collateral Murder". Ethan is seen in the video rushing a wounded child (pictured Right) to a medical vehicle.
Sajad Mutashar and his sister were both injured in the attack that killed their father in 2007.
HEAR INTERVIEW WITH ETHAN AND JOSH HERE
We have been working with Ethan and Josh to help them take their message to a larger audience. Stay tuned here for updates.The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.thomas friedman is a great manoh boy it never ends Sphere: Related Content
Posted by Common Ills at
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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Iraq snapshot
Tuesday, April 13, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, Robert Gates lashes out at WikiLeaks, Nouri lashes out at Iraq's neighbors, Chris Hill needs a math tutor, here comes that wave of revisionary history, and more.

Monday April 5th, WikiLeaks released US military video of an assault in Iraq. At The Nation today, Robert Dreyfuss weighs in and apparently, by his judgment, the worst offender in the assault is . . . Washington Post reporter David Finkel. For unknown reasons, he steers to PolitFact which quotes from Finkel but doesn't note where the conversation took place. Dreyfuss characterizes Finekl's comments as "blase defense of the slaughter" and states he "cavelierly dismisses the deaths of a dozen Iraqis as something that happens in the 'real-time blurriness of those moments'." First off, the online chat took place at the Washington Post April 6th. Second of all, comments by participants are left out in PolitFact's version. Third of all, Dreyfuss, where were you?

It's a little late to be wading in, isn't it? April 6th is when the online chat took place and we ignored it because we had an audio link to note instead: "Today,
Neal Conan spoke to the Washington Post's David Finkel (who's written about the incident in The Good Soldiers and link has an exerpt of the book) on NPR's Talk of the Nation." If you read the chat in full or listen to Talk of the Nation, you find (as noted in that day's snapshot), "Finkel did not weigh in on responsibility and noted specifically that he was not villifying anyone or justifying anyone. He repeated this point more than once." That also comes through in the full online chat. Possibly if PolitFact had linked to it or noted where it took place, Dreyfuss would be less focused on Finkel? Maybe not. A right-wing talking point -- one Diane Rehm shamefully refused to counter and let stand as "the last word" -- is that the Reuters reporters killed in the assault -- Namir Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh -- were with the 'terrorists' or "embedded" with them or some other nonsense. Again, on NPR, Diane Rehm allowed that false charge to stand. Maybe Dreyfuss can take on Diane Rehm?

During the online chat, this talking point was repeated constantly and Finkel repeatedly refuted it. One example:

Washington DC: I don't think anyone has done anything wrong here. I think Reuters had every right to embed their reporters with an enemy unit.
Do you think that Reuters should have let the US know specifically which insurgent group it had reportes with? Should US forces have withheld shooting at enemy units known to be accompanied by hostile reporters?
David Finkel: There's an assumption here I'm concerned about -- that Reuters embedded its staff with "an enemy unit." I know of no basis for that. What I was told that day, and subsequently, is that the two heard of something going on and went to check it out. That's just journalists being journalists.

Mike Lahaye (Collegiate Times) weighs in:

Before the video was secretly leaked, a request by Reuters for it to be released was unfulfilled for two and a half years. Now the military is refusing to investigate the matter to determine whether or not any wrongdoing did occur in either the event or its aftermath.
Twelve innocent civilians died because of bullets that came out of guns fired by members of the U.S. Military. The soldiers acted with a casualness that is shocking to someone who does not regularly see images of war. They refer to the victims as "dead bastards." Clearly, effective soldiers cannot mourn the lives of those they kill in the midst of battle. Still, these "dead bastards" were posing no immediate threat.
Those soldiers represent me. They represent most of you.
We sent them to war.
It is on our behalf that they killed those 12 people.
It is on our behalf that 4,386 U.S. service members and 244 U.S. contractors have died.
Really terrible things happen in war, like a soldier shooting and killing a journalist because he mistook a camera for a rocket-propelled grenade. What is unfortunate to me is that our military was unwilling to admit to you, me and the families of the fallen how they died.


As noted in yesterday's snapshot, when Jake Tapper raised the issue with US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates (who was Secretary of Defense when the assault took place in 2007), Gates offered no apology, offered no remorse, offered no consoliation to the families who lost loved ones. He could have made such a statement. He could have made it without admitting to guilt (which is a fear of some) but he chose not to. He chose to disrespect the dead and now what generally happens to someone like that is happening to Gates: He's lashing out.
Jason Ditz (Antiwar.com) reports, "Gates insisted it was "irresponsible" of Wikileaks to release the classified video and that it showed only a "soda straw" view of the overall war. He also lamented that Wikileaks 'can put out anything they want and not be held accountable'." Grasp that Gates can "lament" WIkiLeaks' actions -- which killed no one -- but can express no regrets (not even by terming it a "horrible accident") for the assault. KPFK's Leo Paz filed a report (LA Indymedia has text and audio) where he spoke with Iraq War veteran Cameron Wood about the Rules of Engagement:

Leo Paz: Marine Corporal Cameron Woods, from Minnesota, was part of a tank unit in the invasion in 2003 and took part in the siege of Falluja in 2004. He talked about how US army Officers gave orders to fire on any Iraq opposing the invasion.


Cameron Woods: As part of the invasion there would be a lot of times when they would have what they called a free-fire zone when we were told to shoot at anybody that we saw, whether they were shooting at us or not, they were supposed to be considered enemies because apparently they had been told to go inside or whatever. And on the second deployment, because a lot of incidents had happened and they were trying to keep things under wraps they were trying to implement what they called rules of engagement, was what they call 'em, but it was basically if you see someone firing at you or what you think is a gun then we engaged them.

Leo Paz: Corporal Woods also spoke of the nightmare soldiers have to live with after firing on civilians.

Cameron Woods: What I experienced was seeing civilinas that had been fired upon mostly in vehicles.

Leo Paz: Tell me more about that.

Cameron Woods: Set up checkpoints and you see vehicles approaching, and the vehicles don't stop and so they would fire on vehicles, we fired on buses, buses full of civilians and -- and I think part of the reason that happens is because you're essentially sending teenagers to go fight in a war, and these kids are scared and they will indiscriminately fire their weapons.. . . so you see the aftermath of that and those are the kind of images that you carry with you and those are the kind of things that haunt you. It's those types of situations that cause post traumatic stress.


Monday, the
Kansas City Star editorialized on the topic:

But the real horror from the 2007 incident should come from the policy that led to that moment. It's clear in the video those in the helicopter arrived with a mind-set, amid a highly dangerous insurgency, that Iraqis were enemies. They did not come to this conclusion on their own. In fact, it reflects both U.S. policy and the incredible difficulty of successfully even defining, much less carrying out, a mission such as the one this nation faced in Iraq, and now faces in Afghanistan.
Given the attitude these men had when their helicopters arrived on the scene, in fact, the outcome was inevitable. Beyond mourning American involvement in a truly horrible moment, beyond what has to be a shared and deep regret for those who died and their families, lessons must be drawn from this video. They must be applied in Afghanistan, and beyond (if the United States is to continue nation-building).


Why is "continue nation-building" assumed and not questioned? Why, after all that's gone on and gone wrong in Iraq, does a McClatchy Newspaper accept the premise of the 'goodness' behind the illegal war? A McClatchy Newspaper?

You couldn't wait for answers
You just had to try those wings
And all your happy-ever-afters . . .
They didn't mean a thing
So I'm not gonna try at all
To keep you from the flame
Just remember not to call . . . my name . . .
When you cry wolf
Once too often
You cry wolf
No, I won't come knockin'
You cry wolf
I won't hear you anymore
-- "Cry Wolf," written by Jude Johnstone, recorded by
Stevie Nicks on her album The Other Side of the Mirror

Walter Rodgers (Christian Science Monitor) is puzzled that "a major architect of the wra in Iraq," Douglas Feith, would argue that Washington (the administration) was tricked. Hmm. That is a shocker, isn't it? And no one could have seen that coming . . . if they were comatose. Matt Damon is a bad actor with buch teeth, no neck and some of the worst skin (it takes a lot of foundation to get him 'camera ready'). But damned if a number of idiots on the left didn't treat him as if he were The Widow Zinn and rush to prop up his offensive and appalling movie Green Zone. A number of idiots did. The whole left didn't. Ava and I pointed out last month of that bad, bad movie:

The argument the (fictional) film makes is that an Iraqi exile General Al-Rawi is the bad guy and the reason for the illegal war. He is the cause of the Iraq War because he tricked people in DC. Do you get how offensive to history that is? Karl Rove may dispute "Bush lied and people died" (
as he did last week on NPR's Fresh Air) but that's reality. (See Ann's post for how Terry Gross avoided one of the best known examples of Bush lying.) And it's really distressing to see some lefties rush to applaud this film. D-cup celeb Michael Moore gushes but he's not a man known for taste or intellect. Others are supposed to be a little smarter -- including a critic we'll be kind and not name but who sees the film as having a "message" that neocons were responsible. Did he miss the scene where General Al-Rawi brags to Matt Damon's character about tricking Washington?

At the Socialist Worker,
Richard Seymour also caught on to the revisionary bulls**t in Green Zone and called it out ("Here neocon trickery took the US to war while the occupation failed due to bad planning, ideological zealotry, and an over-emphasis on democracy."). Excuse me, Seymour did that at Great Britain's Socialist Worker. At the US Socialist Worker, they were too busy eating Matt Damon's ass out and let's just hope it was as good for them as it was for Matt.

The Widow Zinn made a bad, bad movie that trafficked in revisionary history. And too many idiots on the left applauded that crap. Feith's now doing a variation on it? Not a damn surprise. The left set itself up for this when they decided that some punk ass actor who never did a damn thing for anyone was more important than the truth about the Iraq War. Actions have consequences and some people on the left better start grasping that and damn well better start owning their actions. They are encouraging revisionary history and there is no excuse for it. Some of the same idiots applauded the 'documentary' -- which I disclosed in real time I campaigned against and voted against and loved it when it didn't win Best Documentary -- which argued the problem with the Iraq War -- THE PROBLEM -- was that there wasn't better planning. People were applauding that s**t even though the 'film maker' was a War Hawk who not only advocated strongly for the Iraq War before it started but still advocated for it while promoting that piece of filth film. Maybe film criticism is just beyond the abilities of, for example, the US Socialist Worker? Maybe those idiots who don't know a damn thing but somehow seem to repeatedly endorse Iraq films that contain revisionary 'lessons' should do the world a favor and find another way to ply their bad writing? I'm not in the mood. Or as Stevie sings in "Cry Wolf:"

You can try but you can't get me . . .
Into the fire
'Cause I'm all out of sympathy . . .
And, baby, I can't walk this wire

While the US refuses to open an investigation into the July 12, 2007 assault in the wake of world condemnation, Iran calls for a different investigation.
Xiong Tong (Xinhua) reports Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, president of Iran, called yesterday for "a UN probe into the presecne of Western powers in Afghanistan and Iraq." Alusmaria TV adds, "In a letter to the UN Secretary General, the Iranian President said that the manners used by the USA and NATO troops in dealing with terrorism in the region were doomed to fail. Ahmadinejad called the UN Secretary General to launch an investigation the results of which shall be submitted to the UN General Assembly. As a consequence of the western presence in Iraq and Afghanistan millions of people were killed, wounded or became homeless to that the cultivation of poppy plants, from which opium is extracted, increased. To that, people in these regions are still living under threats, Iranian President added."

Iran? From yesterday's
Pacifica Evening News (airs on KPFA and KPFK each weekday -- as well as other stations).

John Hamilton: Iraq's prime minister accused neighboring states today of meddling in his country's internal affairs in efforts to influence government building after March 7th elections produced no clear winner. Nouri al-Maliki told a government committee meeting he was upset to hear representatives of neighboring states talking on television as if they were Iraq's "guardians." "Our message is clear, do not interfere in our affairs," al-Maliki said. He didn't specify which of Iraq's six neighbors he was referring to. The March election left al-Maliki's State of Law Commision trailing former prime minister Ayad Allawi's Iraqyia by two seats. Neither side won enough to govern alone and has been scrambling to cobble together a coalition. Both coalitions, as well as other parties, have been rallying neighboring countries for support. al-Maliki has led a government dominated by devout Shi'ites for the past four years while Allawi, a secular Shi'ite, drew most of his support from the country's Sunni minority on a campaign pledge that he was looking to transcend ethnic and sectarian divides. Both coalitons as well as other political parties have been holding talks with neighbors in the wake of balloting. Tehran's ambassador in Baghdad said Saturday that all political blocs, including Sunnis, should play a role in the new Iraqi government. The statement was unusual for a representative of Iran which traditionally backs fellow Shi'ites in Iraq. al-Maliki has tried to dispel fears that Sunnis would be neglected by a Shi'ite led government. He spoke today at a meeting of the Committee for National Reconciliation with former Sunni fighters known as Sons Of Iraq who sided with American forces against al Qaeda. al-Maliki's charges of foreign interference come a day after his political party called for a recount of election results in five of Iraq's provinces, saying that thousands of votes were tainted by fraud.


At McClatchy's Inside Iraq, an Iraqi correspondent weighs in:

More than one month passed since Iraqi parliamentary election had been conducted. Yet, no final results had been certified and no government was formed. The discussions about forming new alliances are still ongoing. The security situation is getting worse. In less than one week, more than 100 were killed and other hundreds were wounded in three separated attacks. Services in general became so bad. During the election day, we had electricity for the whole day and night. Now, we have it only for five or seven hours a day.
Our politicians are still talking about negotiations and discussions while the people who voted for them die everyday. One of the abnormal issues is the trips to the neighboring countries Many Iraqi politicians and officials visited Iran and Saudi Arab and more will do other visits to other neighboring countries during the coming days. Iraqis know the nature of these visits as they realize the role of these countries in stability of Iraq.

Over the weekend,
Allawi appeared on Frost Over The World (Al Jazeera) where, among other topics, Frost wondered how Iraq moves forward?David Frost: What are the key compromises that have to be made by somebody?Ayad Allawi: I think the compromises really should start with the negotiations. What we need to see is that there is a success for the political process, there's a victory for the democracy as much as we can. I think we ought to look at what we can do to Iraq. We need to address the issue of security and this should be in capable hands. We need to restructure our security forces. I think everybody now acknowledges this fact -- that the security, the current security of the institutions are not ready to face the -- the threats that are facing us in Iraq. And it needs to be more active -- more structured to be able to face much more of the responsibility. I believe that there would be compromises along the line of security and on the formation and on the major positions in the country. We are trying now to find other substitutes where people can be and should be involved because we are still as we see it, all of us, we are still transitioning. And definitely this year is going to be a forecast for the transition of getting the American forces starting the drawdown and getting the Iraq forces to replace the American forces and securing this country. So everybody, I think, is ready for compromises, David.Everybody? Including Nouri?Normally Monday's snapshot notes Inside Iraq but yesterday there were too many problems (which is why the snapshot went up so late yesterday). On the most recent Inside Iraq (Al Jazeera), which began airing Friday, US Ambassador to Iraq Chris Hill was the guest.Jasim Azawi: But the results of those elections are in jeopardy. Right now we just said that probably Ayad Allawi will not be called upon. There is -- I don't know what you'd call it. Call it conspiracy, call it an allegiance of forces, to cheat him out of his winning. So -- And that is going to throw the country into a dangerous zone. So I don't understand why would you be optimistic.Chris Hill: Well, first of all, what those elections did was to establish which coalitions had which seats in the -- the Parliament, the Council of Representatives. So Ayad Allawi's coalition had 91 but you realize he needs another 64 seats if he's going to acheive a majority there. He needs to get to 163 and he only has 91 so he has 91, Maliki has 89, Maliki needs another 65. So the real question will be who's able to form a government, who's able to reach out to other coalitions. So -- uh -- Allawi can start with 91, but he's got a long way to go. Actually, the real question is who the hell taught Chris Hill math. He is correct that 163 is the magic number. He's incorrect that 91 plus 64 reaches 163 (that would be 155) and he's incorrect that 89 plus 65 equal 163 (that would be 154). Who picked this lousy man to be the US Ambassador to Iraq? He can't even add simple figures. He's so stupid he can't even grasp that. If you think that's too harsh, grasp that whatever figure he thought he was adding to, Allawi has 91 seats and al-Maliki 89. He's saying to reach X (the same number for both men), Allawi needs 64 and al-Maliki need 65. If Nouri got 2 seats less than Allawi, it doesn't take a genius to realize that he would need 2 seats more than Allawi would need to reach magic number X -- whatever X is. (And, yes, 163 is the magic number.) Back to the program.Jasim Azawi: And right now probably he is horse trading with other parties to come into a coalition and to form that government.Chris Hill: Horse trading and everything else. I tell you, there's going to be a lot of cups of tea, a lot of cigarettes smoked by the time that process gets done. Jasim Azawi: But one thing he did not do the others did and that is go to Tehran. It is ironic that Jalal Talabani, the president of Iraq as well as the representative from al-Maliki's coalitions State of Law, a represenative from Iraqi National Alliance headed by Amar al-Hakim and a few other junior members they went to Tehran and most probably they were summoned by the commander of Iran's Revolutionary Quds Force to come and listen and get the orders from Tehran to form the government. You, the US, you no longer call the shots.Chris Hill chuckled at that and then deflected the question about US influence. To his credit, he did get the name of the Justice and Accountability Committee correct. That's more than many news outlets can manage. (Western outlets tend to call it the "Accountability and Justice Committee.") And the plan is to note more of it today, however, there's an update to a point Jasim was making, Andrew England (Financial Times of London) reports that Allawi's slate has plans to meet with leaders in Iran on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, as Jasim noted, the US has less and less influence (at least out in the open) and
Joao Silva (New York Times) contributes a photo essay of a Najaf protest where US President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden were burned in effigy and, prior to that, where they were hanged.

Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .

Bombings?
Reuters notes a Ramadi roadside bombing which injured three police officers, a Baghdad roadside bombing which wounded two people, a Mahmudiya sticky bombing claimed the life of a Lt Col in the police and left five people wounded, a Basra roadside bombing claimed 2 lives, a Baghdad roadside bombing targeting a liquor store and a Baghdad bombing attack on Al-Rasheed TV's public relations officer -- he and five more people were wounded.

Shootings?

Reuters notes 1 suspect was shot dead in Mosul by the Iraq forces and another injured

Iraqi refugees make up the largest refugee crisis in the world. In that population is a large number of LGBT members because Nouri's government has allowed them to be persecuted. Though we can all shake our heads, roll our eyes and mutter "Iraq," the reality is things aren't so good around the world. From Paul Canning's "
Damning report says practically all UK LGBT asylum claims are being refused; Border Agency "cruel and discriminatory":"

According to the UK's lesbian and gay asylum and immigration charity the
UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group (UKLGIG) the British government is refusing 98-99% of claims made by LGBT compared to 73% for claims made on other grounds. The astonishing figure is the result of work revealed in a new report 'Failing the grade' released by UKLGIG 8 April. It is based on a review of 50 Home Office Reason for Refusal letters (refusal letters) issued from 2005 to 2009 to claimants from 19 different countries who claimed asylum on the basis of their sexual identity. The report does not purport to be a definitive piece of research but rather a study that indicates trends emerging from the Home Office's consideration of LGBT asylum claims. Asylum applicants reviewed were from Belarus, Cameroon, Dominica, Congo, Gambia, Ghana, Iran, Jamaica, Kenya, Libya, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Syria, Tanzania, Uganda, Yemen and Zimbabwe. The UK-based leader of Iraqi LGBT, Ali Hili, told LGBT Asylum News that every Iraqi gay asylum seeker in the UK his group was aware of had been first refused asylum, including cases in the past two years (that is, since the situation for gays in Iraq, which includes militias systematically hunting them down and killing them, became widely publicised). In 2008 the Scottish activist Robert McDowell asked the Home Office in a Freedom Of Information request how many LGBT asylum claims had been made the previous year. He was told that information wasn't collected and it would be too expensive to retrieve. The definitive numbers are not known but evidence from overseas shows that LGBT asylum claims form a tiny component of overall numbers - even in countries understood to have 'liberal' policies.


Turning to the US and the subject of the Supreme Court, Francis A. Boyle is a law professor and expert in the field of international relations and rights.
At the Institute for Public Acuracy, he shares his thoughts on the woman many say will be Barack's nominee for the Supreme Court, Elena Kagan:


"As dean of the Harvard Law School, Kagan hired Bush's outgoing director of the Officeof Legal Counsel, Jack Goldsmith, as a law professor. Goldsmith isregarded by myself and many others in the field as a war criminal. Hewrote some of the memos that attempted to make violations of the GenevaConventions appear legal. Kagan actually bragged about 'how proud' shewas to have hired Goldsmith after one of his criminal Department ofJustice memoranda was written up in the Washington Post. "During the course of her Senate confirmation hearings as SolicitorGeneral, Kagan explicitly endorsed the Bush administration's boguscategory of 'enemy combatant,' whose implementation has been a war crimein its own right. Now in her current job as U.S. Solicitor General,Kagan is quarterbacking the continuation of the Bush administration'sillegal and unconstitutional positions in U.S. federal court litigationaround the country, including in the U.S. Supreme Court. For example,early this month, the Obama administration lost an illegal wiretappingcase. One of the lawyers in the case who won, Jon Eisenberg, said theObama administration is as bad or worse than the Bush administrationwhen it comes to issues like state secrets and wiretapping. "Kagan is apparently being backed by several people who are indebtedto her from her time at Harvard. [Professors Laurence] Tribe, [Charles]Ogletree and [Alan] Dershowitz all had plagiarism scandals while Kaganheaded up the law school -- and she in effect bailed them all out. Tribeand Ogletree were teachers/mentors to Obama and still advise him today,Tribe recently taking a job in the Department of Justice along withKagan. She was named dean at Harvard by Larry Summers, who helpedderegulate much of Wall Street in the Clinton administration andorganize much of its bailout under Obama. "Kagan has said 'I love the Federalist Society.' This is aright-wing group; almost all of the Bush administration lawyersresponsible for its war and torture memos are members of the FederalistSociety. Many members of the Federalist Society say that Brown v. Boardof Education [which struck down 'separate but equal'] was decidedwrongly. "Five currently on the U.S. Supreme Court were or are members of theFederalist Society: Harvard Law graduate Roberts; Harvard Law graduateScalia; Harvard Law graduate Kennedy; Yale Law graduate Thomas; and YaleLaw graduate Alito. A narrow elite is imposing itself through the legalsystem, and ordinary Americans need to start asserting themselves."

Kagan, it should be remembered, ran interference (as did Cass Sustein) for Roberts. She lobbied Senators and also did a lot of non-public wrangling on Roberts' behalf. She is not of the left (nor is Sustein). There are many people who are worthy. Kagan is not one of them. Boyle wouldn't endorse Hillary Clinton, but others have.
Caro of MakeThemAccountable notes:
The
denials have been pretty weak.
Hillary for the court
by Brent Budowsky
Secretary of State Clinton would be the Super Bowl choice for Supreme Court justice. Like [retiring Justice John Paul] Stevens, she would almost certainly evolve into a kind of shadow chief justice. She would be a leader and pivot point for court liberals in the same way Stevens is, while Chief Justice John Roberts appears determined to move the court to the right, and reject judicial precedent that conservatives disapprove of, instead of shaping consensus among justices.
Secretary Clinton possesses an exceptionally rare combination of qualities for a Supreme Court justice. She is a legal authority in her own right on various areas of the law, both domestic and international. She has very high-level experience in both the legislative and executive branches. She has a very diverse set of life experiences, and the breadth of having reached out to the full range of people and cultures that constitute the American people and the American experience.
While gender should not be dispositive, it would be a plus for the court to have a third female justice. While religion should not be dispositive, her Protestant faith would offer diversity and depth to the court.
Above all, Secretary Clinton offers the kind of interpersonal skills and political savvy that make Justice Stevens such an important justice, and so hard to replace.




Also advocating for nominating Hillary to the Supreme Court are Ruth ("
The Supreme Court") and Rebecca ("the supreme court").


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