Friday, July 30, 2010

Peter Hart's a liar

Peter Hart's a damn liar. And a prick.

He's with the so-called FAIR which is supposed to be a media watchdog. When Hillary was being trashed throughout the Democratic Party primaries with sexism, did FAIR bark?

Hell no.

FAIR promoted their buddy David The Bald Spot Shuster (MSNBC). See Davy said that Hillary was pimping her daughter. So FAIR decided to re-release their fawning of one time Fox 'reporter' Shuster. (Fawning? He'd left the right wing embrace and wanted to tattle.)

Pressured by many (including Ava and C.I.), FAIR finally issued a single sentence as the primaries drew to a close (last week of May 2008) noting Hillary was called a bitch on CNN. The rest of the item was about poor little Barack.

So Peter Hart's a damn liar. He's a bald headed freak who can't work in a real job so he works with the other freaks at FAIR.

That's your preface.

Here's Peter the Damn Liar:

For those of you not following right-wing non-stories, there is a mini-scandal brewing over something called JournoList, a now defunct private email list started by a liberal blogger named Ezra Klein. It came to include something like 400 members, many of whom were other liberal bloggers, academics and pundits.

Someone leaked many of the emails on the list to the conservative Daily Caller website, which has since run several stories alleging that the messages on the list amounted to a liberal media plot to coordinate their coverage in support of Barack Obama. The only problem is that the messages don't show that ever happening, unless you happen to think that political opinions expressed by politically opinionated people are the stuff of conspiracy.


No link to his garbage. If he's 'written' it, you can be sure he said it on FAIR's crappy show CounterSpin where all three hosts think they sound witty but they all come like little prissy bitches.

The e-mails do show coordination. They show a desire for one. It's voiced and poor little Peter Hart he should have kept reading because it was when the posts about Sarah Palin came out that we saw how it worked.

He can lie all he wants, it doesn't matter. He's a tired whore who's whored himself out once too often.

I want to thank FAIR for making their sexism very clear in 2008. As well as the fact that they live to serve the Democratic Party.


I always knew the latter but it was cute to watch them ignore Ralph Nader (I voted for Ralph in 2000, in 2004 and in 2008). They're nothing but fakes and whores.


I especially love how Janeane Jackson tries to play Blacker Than Thou when Jackson married a White man -- a White man who provides her with a job.


Which really doesn't make her a whore, it's just makes her a plantation slave.

May they all rot in hell. And soon.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, July 30, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, Nancy A. Youssef continues to LIE about Bradley Manning, WikiLeaks' Julian Assange tells US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, "We will not be suppressed. We will continue to expose abuses of this administration and others," the Army releases a report on the increased number of suicides, and more.
Starting in the US, Elisabeth Bumiller (New York Times) reports, "At a time of record-high military suicides, commanders are ignoring the mental health problems of American soldiers and not winnowing out enough of those with records of substance abuse and crime, a United States Army report has concluded." The report is 234 pages of text entitled [PDF format warning] "ARMY: Health Promotion Risk Reduction Suicide Prevention REPORT 2010." The report opens with a note from Gen Peter W. Chiarelli which explains Fiscal Year 2009 saw 160 suicides among active duty soldiers and 239 suicides in the Army Reserves. Page i conveys that the Army wants to appear alarmed: "This is tragic!" It's very rare you encounter an exclamation point in a government report. So what has the Army been doing -- and the report covers only that branch of the military, the Army and Army reserves -- to address the problem?
Concrete steps taken by the Army may included the following (list is from page 126 of the report):
* June 2009, accessions waivers were reduced for adult felony (major misconduct) convictions; and drug/alcohol positive tests; misconduct (misdemeanor)/major misconduct for drug ues; possession; or drug paraphernalia, to include marijuana. This means over 4,000 recruits were not accepted into the Army compared to 2008.
* Revised legacy protocols for investigating and reporting suicide.
* Standardized a council at every post, camp and station to integrate all aspects of health promotion, risk reduction and suicide prevention into the community.
May? The list continues on subsequent pages and also insists that they have "Reduced the stigma associated with counseling services and maintained continuity of care by requiring all Soldiers to be in- and out-process through Behavior Health (BH), Social Work Services and ASAP." No, they haven't reduced the stigma.
And it's so stupid for them to continue to claim that. There are officers -- high-ranking ones -- who have sought counseling. They need to be encouraged to step forward and put a face on the issue. The stigma doesn't vanish from saying "There's nothing wrong with it."
over and over. The stigma vanishes when General Joe or Joanne Martin steps forward and says, "I went through a period where I was feeling really low. I couldn't understand that period or my mood, so I sought help. It made me a better soldier, it made me a better commander." That's what ends the stigma. When the enlisted can see that it helped someone high ranking and can see that there's no punishment or fall out for them seeking help. When a general stands up and makes such a statement, the thoughts no longer are a sign of 'weakness' but are natural thoughts that anyone could have and seeking help for them becomes a duty a soldier has to those he/she serves with and to his/her self. Until those in leadership start speaking out, serving as the Army's own personal PSA, nothing's going to change. And it's going to require men and women speaking out in the officers ranks because there are men and women serving. But it's especially going to require men coming forward because the stigma is there and 15 women generals, majors and lieutenants can come forward and it will not make a difference for a number of male soldiers because they will dismiss it with something like, "Well women are better in touch with their feelings."
The report does have objections and criticisms. Gen Peter Chiarelli shared with NPR last night that he feels that there are a number of factors at play including repeat deployments. He's probably correct on about the factors because the three he gave are interelated. Finances and family life and, if you're doing repeat deployments, you are limited in how far you can get ahead in a job that i not the US military due to the fact that you're constantly deployed. Constant deployments also affect your family. So the three are interrelated. And all three can wear on anyone and cause grief, shock, sadness, any number of emotions in the normal -- perfectly normal -- human range. The report focused on the Army. Today on Morning Edition (NPR -- link has text and audio), Wade Goodwyn reported on Mary Gallagher who has had to survive and live with her husband James Gallagher's decision to take his own life. James Gallagher was an Iraq War veterna, a Marine.
Mary Gallagher: Most Marines were not ones to really talk at all. Jim always said he'd placed it right in his heart and he said I'll carry it forward because that's what I have to do and that's how I'll get through it. I'm sure he saw a lot of ugly things, but I just don't know, you know, all the ugly he did see. [. . .] To me, he just seemed sad. You know, he was, you know, not quite himself but, you know, again -- I just had no idea that he was really struggling as bad as he was. And obviously he was struggling a lot. And that's the hardest part for me, you know? It's something I carry with myself every day -- that I didn't notice, that I didn't realize how much he was hurting.
Mary Gallagher is a member of Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) -- an organization for the loved ones of service members who have taken their own lives and which explains at their web site, "We are here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, whether it is just to talk, or meet others with shared experiences and understanding, or to find support and information from our professional network of resources."
From service members to veterans, we noted in yesterday's snapshot there was a press release from a Republican member of Congress but we didn't have room for it. Steve Buyer is from Indiana and serves on the House Veterans Affairs Committee where he is Ranking Member. His office released the following:
Continuing in his efforts to improve the lives of veterans and the Department of Veterans' Affairs, Congressman Steve Buyer (IN-04), Ranking Member of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee, offered three amendments during the House consideration of the Military Construction and Veterans' Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (MILCON VA) on Wednesday. Congressman Buyer offered five amendments to the House Committee on Rules, though only three of the amendments were accepted by the committee. Of the Congressman's accepted amendments, the House passed all three by a voice vote.
The first amendment offered by Congressman Buyer would require that $10 million of the $2.6 billion appropriated for VA General Operating Expenses be used to increase the number of VA employees available to provided vocational training and rehabilitation to veterans with service-connected disabilities. The goal of VA's Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) program is to put disabled veterans back to work, or for the most severely disabled, to live as independently as possible.
The Congressman explained that the VA's counselors currently have an average caseload of over 130 disabled veterans. Because of the heavy workload which includes a significant amount of case management and regular interaction with their clients, the wait time for a disabled veteran to actually enter vocational training is nearly six months. That is on top of the average of the 6 months it takes to receive a disability rating needed to even become eligible for this benefit.
"The $10 million included in my amendment would fund one hundred additional professional level staff and reduce the caseload to a more manageable average of one hundred cases per counselor thereby shortening the time it takes for a veteran to begin their training. For many veterans and servicemembers VR&E training is the bridge to meaningful and productive employment," stated the Congressman.
The second amendment offered by the Congressman would require $162 million of the $508 million appropriated for VA construction of minor projects be used for renewable energy projects at the VA's medical facility campuses. Congressman Buyer for the past three years has worked with the Department to increase the VA's use of renewable energy. In 2009, the Congressman was responsible for securing funding to allow VA's renewable energy projects to continue in fiscal year 2010 -- and the amendment would continue this work.
"As the second largest Federal department operating the largest health care system in the nation, the VA is uniquely positioned to advance the use of alternative sources of energy," noted Buyer. "Savings accrued from an increased reliance on alternative energy, would allow additional resources to be devoted to improving the care and services offered to our veterans and reducing the rising budget deficit."
The last amendment offered by Congressman Buyer requires that $8 million of the $2.6 billion appropriated for VA General Operating Expenses be used to fund the adaptive sports grant program and that an additional $2 million be used to provide supplementary funding for the Office of National Veterans Sports Programs and Special Events. The Congressman notes the $10 million would be used to fund the second year of the VA/U.S. Paralympics Adaptive Sports Program for disabled veterans.
"Several years ago I had the opportunity to visit the U.S. Olympic training center in San Diego. I was inspired by the attitude and positive example of our Olympians that train there, which they continue to set for all Americans. It truly was a remarkable place, and as I have said before, I learned that there is never a 'bad' day at the Olympic training center," expressed Buyer.
The Congressman went on to explain the amendment's purpose, "The US Paralympic program establishes partnerships with local adaptive sports programs. US Paralympics currently has over 100 of these partnerships in place across the nation. These local programs submit a proposal describing how they intend to attract disabled veterans to their adaptive sports programs. The types of programs run the gamut of sports from track and field to marksmanship, water sports, volleyball, and wheelchair team games like basketball, soccer and rugby. In short, there is a sport for any disabled veteran. The US Paralympics then chooses the best proposals and submits a funding proposal to VA. My amendment would provide $10 million to fund the second year of a 4-year program."
That's the US Congress. Iraq really has no Congress currently. It's met once, for less than twenty minutes in that last four months with no plans to meet again anytime soon. What's going on? The political stalemate. March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. Three months and two days later, still no government. 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. They are claiming they have the right to form the government. It's four months and five days and, in 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. It's now 4 months and 23 days. Today Andrew England and Anna Fifield (Financial Times of London) report that a US diplomatic mission is planned for August -- by which point, the current nominee for US Ambassador to Baghdad, James Jeffrey, may have been confirmed.
In today's violence, Reuters reports a Baaj roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier last night and left three more injured while a Buhriz roadside bombing today targeted Sahwa and killed 4 family members. Asia News reports Yonan Daniel Mammo, a Chalean Christian, was kidnapped in Kirkuk as he left work: "After he was abducted, he called his wife by phone, saying that he had been taken. Since then, there have been no news from him. Many believe he was kidnapped for ransom."
Moving to the US, we'll note this exchange from the second hour of today's The Diane Rehm Show (NPR) with guest host Susan Page of USA Today.
Susan Page: You had Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, on the Today Show this morning, on NBC, saying -- imploring WikiLeaks not to post more of those documents from the Afghan War. What is the White House concern here, Nancy?
Nancy A. Youssef: Well WikiLeaks has said that it has an additional 50,000 documents that have yet to be published. These documents are believed to be State Dept cables and to be a little bit more detailed -- some would argue damaging -- than the 75,000 that have already come out. And I think the real concern is in the 75,000 that have been released so far there are names of Afghan informants and families who have come forward, who have done things as innocuous as handing over weapons to providing useful tips to American soldiers. The Taliban has said, through their spokesman, that they're going through those documents now and there's a real worry that those Afghans will be killed for-for working with the allies. And the reality is the US doesn't have the resources to protect these Afghans who are living in remote villages and parts where we might not have the right resources to give them the kind of protection that they need?
"We"?
Before we deal with Nancy, let's deal with some facts. Monday April 5th, WikiLeaks released US military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Monday June 7th, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video. Philip Shenon (Daily Beast) reported last month that the US government is attempting to track down WikiLeaks' Julian Assange. This month, the military charged Manning. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported he had been charged -- "two charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The first encompasses four counts of violating Army regulations by transferring classified information to his personal computer between November and May and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system. The second comprises eight counts of violating federal laws governing the handling of classified information." Manning has been convicted in the public square despite the fact that he's been convicted in no state and has made no public statements -- despite any claims otherwise, he has made no public statements.
Back to Nance. I thought Nancy Youssef was a member of the press. She's a member of the military now? What is that "we"? It certainly explains that piece of garbage explanation. A war is going on. WikiLeaks isn't enlisted. It's not its job to take sides. How stupid of Nancy to feel that "we" have a right to ask an independent body to do what is best for, presumably, "us." WikiLeaks exists to release information. There's nothing puzzling about it unless you're so simple-minded that you confuse yourself with the US military when you are allegedly a reporter. "We"?
Nancy went on to spread rumors about Bradley Manning again. We'll get to who he is in a moment. Nancy, the rumors from Iraq in 2006 were about you. Do we need to go into those? We can. We can treat them as fact if you like. There is a list. We can treat it as fact, if you like. I assumed it was jealousy on the part of your male colleagues but maybe it wasn't? Maybe we should WikiLeak your ass? What do you think, Nance?
Nancy A. Youssef: One of the key suspects of the leak is a Private by the name of Bradley Manning who has said that he leaked 287 documents to WikiLeaks, that he did it while humming to Lady Gaga's "Telephone."
Nancy, Bradley Manning has not said a damn thing. You need to quit lying. If you can't, you better believe that list floating around -- made by your male colleagues when you were in Iraq -- will be widely circulated. Repeating, I believed it was a lie by men jealous of your scoops. But if you're going to lie about Bradley Manning, if you're going to present rumors as truth, well we can turn the spotlight on your glass house, Nancy. Later in the program, Nancy Youssef won't "want to conjecture" about the military but she's more than happy to try and convict Bradley Manning despite the fact that he has thus far never spoken in public and has admitted to nothing that anyone's aware of.
Nancy's basing her 'Bradley said' on claims put forward by Felon and Drama Queen Adrian Lamo. Felon Lamo has trashed Bradley in public and launched a behind the scenes whisper campaign which the press should have walked the hell away from after the repeated press embarrassments of the 90s. But they're just as eager to convict as they were when they 'just knew' Richard Jewel was guilty. (He wasn't.) Ashley Fantz (CNN) is the latest to participate in backdoor gossip that is not passed on to the news consumer but which is influencing the way this story plays -- and check out the Joan Crawford-style portrait Lamo supplies CNN with.

In a regular court of law, convicted felon Lamo would make for a questionable witness at best. Somehow the press has embraced him fully and you have to wonder if that isn't part of selling the prosecution's case? Making the case for the prosecution? Well Julian E. Barnes really couldn't hack it at the Los Angeles Times so now he pairs with Miguel Bustillo and Christopher Rhoads to 'report' for the Wall St. Journal. What does the prosecution offer? They try their case in public via the apparent legal aid provided by the press. Oh look, here's CBS News trying the case for the prosecution. Why is the press reporting on what the prosecution claims -- outside of court -- to have?

While Manning is kept from the press -- and has just been transferred out of Kuwait to Virginia -- the government continues to attempt to sway public opinion and the press just goes along with it. Does no one remember innocent until proven guilty? Does no one remember that the press is supposed to be objective.

On the word of a deranged felon -- Adrian Lamo -- Bradley's been drug through the mud and the press has never stopped to question that nor has it bothered to point out to its audience that the government is trying the case in public while maintaining a lockdown on Bradley. They say whatever they want -- and the press runs with it as fact -- while Bradley Manning is not allowed to make any statement. This is justice? It's not reporting, that's damn sure, but it's also not justice.

Is the WikiLeaks whistle blowing like the Pentagon Papers? Daniel Ellsberg tells BBC World Service, "Oh very much so. There's a fundamental, very strong comparison here." So, in other words, David Sanger's an idiot. The New York Times reporter or 'reporter' was on The Diane Rehm Show today and blathering on about how the WikiLeaks papers were not the Pentagon Papers. Scott Horton interviewed Julian Assange of WikiLeaks Wednesday (link has audio and transcript) on Antiwar Radio:

Horton: Is it true that -- I guess there was a CNN report that said that WikiLeaks has received, I guess especially since the "Collateral Murder" video was published, a deluge of new high-level leaks from people inside the U.S. government?

Assange: Yes, that is true. And we are, as an organization, suffering, if you like, under this enormous backlog of material we're trying to get through. It will cause substantial reform when that material is released. Bar a catastrophe, that's going to go ahead, not just from the U.S. -- we have a six months' backlog to go through because we were busy fundraising and reengineering for this period of intense public interest. So it'll be interesting days ahead.

Horton: Yeah, it sounds like it. So I'm interested -- one of the things we like to cover on the show a lot here is American involvement in the war in Somalia since Christmastime 2006, and --

Assange: Well, that's good, that's good. That's very underreported. The first leak that we ever did was about Somalia.

Horton: Well, I'd read that, and I wonder whether you have any information about the renditions going on there, CIA, JSOC intervention inside Somalia on behalf of the Ethiopians and African Union forces there?

Assange: We have a little, although nothing -- I don't know in the queue, how much material there is there relates [sic]. But certainly there are some classified orders and policy material related to that. We also released a rendition log from Kenya -- where most of the Somalis end up passing through -- for about 103 people were -- I have to be careful on this number actually -- but somewhere between 50 and 150 people were renditioned through Kenya, most of them from Somalia, and we have the flight logs, which we put up about a year ago.

We are disappointed in what was left out of Secretary Gates' comments. Secretary Gates spoke about hypothetical blood but the grounds of Iraq and Afghanistan are covered in real blood. Secretary Gates has overseen the killings of thousands of children and adults in these two countries. Secretary Gates could have used his time, as other nations have done, to announce a broad inquiry into these killings. He could have announced specific criminal investigations into the deaths we have exposed. He could have announced a panel to hear the heartfelt dissent of US soliders who know this war from the ground. He could have apologized to the Afghani people. But he did none of these things. He decided to treat these issues and the countries effected by them with contempt. Instead of explaining how he would address these issues, he decided to announce how he would suppress them. This behavior is unacceptable. We will not be suppressed. We will continue to expose abuses of this administration and others.
"But it wasn't the Iraq War that did the Labour Party in, since the British people, like their American counterparts, are keen to forget that fiasco," scribbled eternal dumb ass Amitabh Pal at The Progressive in May. (Rebecca called him out here.) And that bag gas baggery just keeps on giving. Gas baggery, for the uninitatied, is what takes place on the Sunday chat & chews where woefully underinformed 'journalists' weigh in on every topic under the sun despite being immensely unqualified to offer anything even adjacent to an informed opinion. We're really not supposed to get gas baggery from so-called independent media; however, it's cheap to produce so it swams 'independent' media the same way it does the yack-fests. And Amitabh Pal's gas baggery is worth calling out so frequently because -- as Labour polls ahead and following the election demonstrated -- the Iraq War did have a huge impact on the elections and the Iraq War continues to be a significant topic in England.
Ed Balls: I was in Parliament at the time. I took a decision. It was the most agonizing process I have ever been through in my life. I have been over it and over it ever since. The reason I voted for the war was because the leader of the Iraqi Kurds pleaded with backbench Labour MPs to vote for the war because he said his people had no chance ever of being free from Saddam. The weapons inspectors, if they'd done their job and then eventually come to the conclusion that there were no weapons, that probably would have been a very bloody civil war in Iraq. With hindsight we look back. You know I look back at the lack of post-war planning and it horrifies me. But when I go back to that vote, did I do the right thing for the right reasons? And I believe I did and I'm not going to change that position just because I'm standing for the leadership position.
Victoria Derbyshire: Okay, would you --
Ed Miliband: First of all, first of all, I did tell people at the time that I was against the war -- you asked me. But secondly --
Ed Balls: Well you didn't tell me.
Ed Miliband: -- it's a really, it's a really fundamental --

Victoria Derbyshire: Sorry, what was that Ed Balls?
Ed Balls: Well I, you know I have to say, in 2005, the Times [of London] newspaper asked us whether we would have voted for the war? I said in 2005, I would have voted for the war. Ed didn't answer the question of the Times' newspaper --
Ed Miliband: I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I --
[cross-talk]
Ed Miliband: -- when I was standing for selection, my constitencuency party asked me if I was against the war and I said I was. But look, but look, the real issue here is not some great claim of moral superiority in 2003, the real issue is do you recognize the mistakes that were made and do you recognize the fact that we hitched our wagon to the United States on foreign policy in a way that was a profound mistake. And-and it's not just about the loss of trust that there weren't WMD, it is a profound issue about our foreign policy and about whether we're willing to say that actually there are times when we can't just go along with what the US says.
Victoria Derbyshire: So if you were to become leader, you would apologize, would you?
Ed Miliband: Yes, I would.
As disclosed many times before, I know and like both Miliband brothers.The Press Trust of India reports on the latest polling which has David Miliband in the lead with 37% of respondents, followed by his brother Ed Miliband with 29%, Diane Abbot with 12% and Ed Balls with 11%. In the May election, Labour suffered huge losses and a power-sharing coalition between the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats is now in charge. The latest poll leads Mehdi Hasan to declare, "The next Labour leader will be called Miliband" (New Statesman). And click here for an analysis of the race by Hasan that was written before the latest polling.
Staying in England where the Iraq Inquiry heard testimony today from Deputy Prime Minister (May 2, 1997 to June 27, 2007) John Prescott (link goes to text and transcript options). Taking time away from his very busy days of non-stop tweeting via his BlackBerry, Prescott mourned the loss of those who died in Iraq -- except for the Iraqis. He then whined about the Middle East process (he wanted 9-11 to mean Palestinians received "social justice" -- a term he didn't define). He blathered away about the intelligence. He felt it was spotty and incomplete. Did he vote for the Iraq War? Yes, he did. Which makes his judgment of the evidence today and his actions puzzling.
Committee Memeber Roderic Lyne: Did it [intel] convince you that Iraq posed a serious and growing threat to the region and to UK and western interests? YOU way it wasn't very substantial.
John Prescott: I think you are right, there was a threat to the region anyway by its actions whether it was an invasion of Kuwait or whether it was primarily this war between Iran and Iraq. It was obviously not a very stable situation there. I didn't need JIC to tell me that. Where we were concerned with the intelligence on JIC was to whether he was coopearting with the resolutions from UN in giving information as to whether he was actively involved in weapons of mass destruction. So to be fair to the intelligence agency, when they said in our report which led, in fact, to the information produced on the document, that there might be something happening in 45 minutes, they have this ability, they have these missiles, you do tend to accept that's the judgment and there must be something in it. I didn't totally dismiss it. I didn't have any evidence to feel that they were wrong, but I just felt a little bit nervous about the conclusions on what I thought seemed to be pretty limited intelligence.
And yet still he went along with the war. Okay. With this round closing, John Chilcot, who chairs the Inquiry, made some closing remarks which included:
Chair John Chilcot: Ove the coming months we will be analysing and integrating all this evidence and information as we begin to write our report. as we do his, we may find conflicts or gaps within the evidence. If we do this, we will need to consider how best to get to the bottom of what actually happened. This may be through seeking additional written evidence or, where we wish to probe more deeply, through holding further hearings, possible recalling witnesses from whom we have heard before. If, and I stress the word "if," we decid to do this, these hearings will probably take place in the late autumn. The Inquriy also hopes to visit Iraq. We want to see for ourselves the consequences of UK involvement, to hear Iraqi perspectives and to understand the prospects for Iraq today. For security both of the Inquiry team and those we wish to meet, we shall not publish any further details in advance of a visit. If we are able to visit Iraq, we shall provide a summary afterwards, as with all our other oveseas visits.
But Chilcot doesn't get the last word. It goes instead to Michigan's Green Party:
** News Advisory **
** ------------- **
July 30, 2010


For more information . . .
==========================
About the meeting:
-----------------
Lynn Meadows -- Meeting Manager <
lynnmeadows@provide.net>
(734) 476-7101

About the agenda:
----------------
Fred Vitale -- Co-Chair <
freddetroit@sbcglobal.net>
(313) 580-4905

About the candidates:
--------------------
John Anthony La Pietra -- Elections Coordinator <
jalp@triton.net>
(269) 781-9478



Michigan Greens Hold Convention This Weekend
============================================
Nominating at All Levels for November 2 Ballot;
Will File Papers Monday to Make Candidates Official



Who: GPMI members from all over the state.

What: GPMI state nominating convention

When: Saturday, July 31 -- 9am to 5pm;
and
Sunday, August 1 --- 9am to 4pm

Where: Meeting Room, Great Wall Chinese Restaurant
4832 West Saginaw Highway, #1
Lansing, MI 48917

(Saginaw Highway is M-43 and Business I-69;
the restaurant is about 2-1/2 miles east
of Exit 93 off I-69/I-96)
517-327-9500

Why: To nominate Green candidates for Federal,
state, and local office to appear on the
November 2, 2010 general-election ballot.
GPMI will file the appropriate nomination
paperwork with the Bureau of Elections
(and county clerks as necessary) on Monday,
August 2 to certify the convention results.



For information on the issues, values, and candidates of the Green Party of Michigan, please visit the party's homepage:

http://www.MIGreens.org

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Covert Affairs

If you click here, you can go to Hulu and the latest episode of USA's Covert Affairs.

Ava and C.I. covered it in "TV: Everybody is a spy" Sunday but I'd never seen the show.

I was mainly interested in the lead actress' hair. It is greenish. They need to get her to a salon and get her hair fixed immediately. I don't think she's blond naturally (not even light blond) and that the bad bleaching is giving her hair that greenish cast. In their review, Ava and C.I. note:

Into that offensive mix, comes bumbling, stumbling Annie who -- in a throw back to Honey West -- is forever flirting and using feminine wiles to get her way while undercover. Playing a hooker, was it really necessary to stage the scene so that she kneels down at the crotch of the cop questioning her? (Seconds later, viewers and the cop will realize she did that to pick up a pair of discarded shoes.)
There's nothing sexually empowering about her, she's just one more whore slinging her ass around in an attempt to get it to accomplish what her brain apparently can't.

That was equally true. I've now watched Covert Affairs once. I never plan on doing so again.
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, July 29, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, the political stalemate continues, the Congress explores the education and employment processes for veterans, Spain puts out warrants for three US service members, and more.



"I am glad to see we are joined by representatives from the Department of Defense which is responsible for training our men and women in uniform to meet the demands of their respective military career," declared US House Rep Stephanie Herseth Sandlin this afternoon bringing to order the House Veterans Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity. "I am also glad to see the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Labor who both oversee these unique benefits and programs that may help our nation's veterans gain meaningful employment after their military service." She explained that the Subcomittee was continuing their work on the issue of the unemployment rate for veterans (21.6% in 2009). Stephanie Herseth Sandlin is the Chair of the Subcommittee, US House Rep Gus Bilirakis is the Ranking Member. In his opening remarks, Bilrakis noted, "Too often our men and women are required to repeat education already gained in military service. To me, that means that states need to be more flexible in recognizing military training and skills. I'm disappointed that the National Governor's Associated declined once again to join us here today. To me, the states hold the key to solving this dilemma."

The first panel was composed of
Veterans of Foreign Wars' Eric Hillerman, the American Legion's Joseph C. Shapre Jr., the Blinded Veterans Association's Thomas Zampieri and Military.com/ Monster Worldwide's Vince Patton. We'll note this exchange from it.

Chair Stephanie Herseth Sandlin: From all of Military.com's transition career tools, which ones have been in the greatest demand by service members and veterans? Is it the mentor network?

Vince Patton: Yes, ma'am. The mentor network definitely is one of the best demand because what we have found is by not just having the technology itself, but our veterans would like to have somebody to connect with one another. And this is probably one of the successes of the internet as a whole, that people are connecting with one another. By using our veteran career network where the veterans are connecting and talking to each other, helping them with writing resumes, it's been very, very helpful.

Chair Stephanie Herseth Sandlin: For Mr. Hilleman and Mr. Shapre, you had both stated in your testimony -- I think one of the recommendations, Mr. Hilleman, was to fund a study of all MOSs [Military Occupational Specialty]. And Mr. Shapre you had stated that it would be helpful to have a system that could be devised to translate the full nature of a service members' skills and abilities. Do you think that having a study that would look at all MOSs and having a system designed in that way is -- would provide something that Military.com either currently isn't providing or is not capable of providing at this point?

Eric Hilleman: Um, Madame Chairwoman, currently ACE [American Council on Education] does study specific school houses and specific MOSs with the exception of the air force because the air force has their own junior college or community college within the air force. That gives transferrable credit for education. But the contract between DoD and ACE is at the request of DoD so it does not study every single MOSs or every single course, it's just what DoD is contracted with ACE to study. That and ACE currently only has partners with our credit reciprocity or credit acceptance of 30 -- excuse me, 2300 universities nation wide. So quite a few universities. But that -- The list is not fully encompassing so I think we'd like to see if we could improve that through the academic sphere.

Chair Stephanie Herseth Sandlin: Yes, so your focused on the study so that it would look at the transfer of credits into colleges and universities versus the career transition into direct employment.

Eric Hilleman: I think there needs to be a wall between two studies. The focus on what's going on with ACE and currently with DoD and then take a look at also -- and I think unfortunately this-this has to go on an industry-industry basis and state by state. The Army Nursing Program that we mentioned in our testimony. Nowhere on the sight does it say that Air Force, Navy or Coast Guard nurses are excepted from the same tests that the Army Nurses are expected to sit for. So there's high degrees of variances from state to state. And I think that is the largest challenge to developing some agreement where credits transfer the military into the private sector.

Chair Stephanie Herseth Sandlin: Mr. Shapre?

John Shapre: I agree with everything that Mr. Hilleman has stated but we also -- The other thing we're really focusing on is we would like to see a lot of this done prior to the person's transition out of the military.

Chair Stephanie Herseth Sandlin: Mm-hmm.

John Shapre: They should know exactly what their MOS training will allow them to do once they leave.

Chair Stephanie Herseth Sandlin: Well that raises another very important question on TAP. I know Secretary Jefferson's commited to reforming TAP. But I think Dr. Patton, you had some testimony as it relates to your perspective on how TAP doesn't always provide service members with what they need. I have had a mixed bag of responses from my constituents. Most recentlly two different members of 20-years plus of different branches of the armed forces who separated from military service. One thought TAP was fabulous, and the other thought it was completely useless. And they didn't take the program in the same place. Otherwise I would think we would have had more consistent response. What are your thoughts as it relates to TAP, any of you, how do we restructure this if necessary?

Vince Patton: Madame Chairwoman, I'll use my own personal experience when I went through TAP two years before I retired. I'm going through my TAP class and my needs are a little bit different than some of the other people that were sitting in that TAP class. Sitting next to me was a young man with three-years in the Coast Guard, a paygrade E4. He's got a total different focus on what's going to happen to him at the end of his time as what's going to happen to mine? I'm getting a retirement, my resume is a little bit more padded than his is. He's focused on trying to get into using education. So what happens in the TAP class is -- I have no problem with the content and I don't think anyone does. The problem is that it's not a one size fits all. But the system has kind of set that to be by virtue of getting everybody with different military walks of life into one setting and trying to come out with something of a commonality. What probably needs to happen, in my opinion, is more of looking at how we can reinforce that information before TAP, during TAP, as well as after TAP. So-so the whole TAP process is something that's evolving that should continue on well past the individual leaving the service.

Chair Stephanie Herseth Sandlin: Any other comments on TAP? I'm over time but I'm going to recognize the Ranking Member and come back for time. Any other comments on TAP?

John Sharpe: Well we know that the Dept of Labor is in the midst of redoing their entire TAP program. They're modernizing the program, something that we strongly agree with. A lot of the recommendations that are going into this new program is coming from the businesses that set on their veteran advisory board. A couple of years ago, we all went to a number of TAP programs across the country and looked to see how it could be improved. And a lot of the recommendations that came from various business owners -- we just -- we do think they're on the right road. We're still concerned with the fact that many service members are still not getting access to the TAP program.



The second panel was composed of the Dept of Labor's Assistant Secretary for Veterans Employment and Training Service's Raymond M. Jefferson, DoD's John Campbell accompanied by DoD's Ron Horne and the VA's Margarita Cocker. We'll note this exchange.

Chair Stephanie Herseth Sandlin: Now according to your written testimony and I think you touched on it just now as well, the VA provides certification preparation tests. Can you specify for which specialities and how you determine if the veterans eligible for participation in the preparation tests.

Margarita Cocker: Yes, ma'am. Preparation tests can be provided to any service member or veteran that requires it in order to be able to pass the exam. The process will involve the VRC -- the Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor -- sitting down with the veteran and preparing the rehabilitation plan including any preparation test that might be needed. Depending on the industry standard for those types of exams and whether a preparation exam is typically expected to help the individual pass, that could be a given in the rehabilitation plan that the preparation test would be written in. However, if during the progress of the plan -- If it had not been written into the plan, it can be added later if the veteran feels that they're not confident enough to pass the test without a preparation course.

Chair Stephanie Herseth: And then on average, how long would it take for a service member or veteran to complete a transferable skills assessment from the point where they go through the vocational exploration phase, then receive an individualized and comprehensive plan until they're employed in their chosen field? Do you have a rough average?

Margarita Cocker: I do not have an average. I can take that question for the record. However, what I can say is that that is very individualized and dependent upon the level of education that that veteran will need to complete to get to the point of licensing and certification if it's required for that occupation. The evaluation process, the comprehensive assessment which includes the transferable skills assessment is conducted during the initial phase and I can certainly provide average numbers for the evaluation and planning phase. I can take that question for the record.

Chair Stephanie Herseth: Okay, I appreciate that. And can you give any examples from different career fields where it's been particularly challenging to secure licensing or certification?

Margarita Cocker: I don't have any specific occupations where I can say it's been challenging to achieve that?

Chair Stephanie Herseth: Any states?

Margarita Cocker: I can take that for the record though and research it further.



Rick Maze (Air Force Times) covered yesterday's House Veterans Committee hearing and is probably at the largest news outlet that did cover the hearing. It's rather surprising -- especially in the current poor economy, that billions of unaccountable dollars is not a story to other outlets. If you're late to the party, see yesterday's "Iraq snapshot" and Kat's "The House Veterans Affairs Committee was pissed." And very quickly noting a few highlights of yesterday's hearing.

The GAO repeatedly outlines the problems and the VA refuses to address them. US House Rep Cliff Stearns established this with his line of questioning and established that the VA has repeatedly been asked to get with the program but never can seem to do that. The same conclusions over and over by the GAO and each year billions go missing from the VA. As Ranking Member Steve Buyer observed, "I mean, right now, you could look back and the last three or four [VA] Secretaries -- I mean, they have, since 2000, increased these directives without execution."Maybe the press ignored the story because there was consensus on both sides of the aisle?* US House Rep Ann Kirkpatrick: "And Mr. Chairman, I share the sentiment of the other members of this Committee, that this is a very serious problem that we really need to stay on top of."* Chair Bob Filner: "I would not underestimate the anger that my colleagues feel on this on both sides of the aisle."If it was a lack of conflict that had them see it as a non-story, they missed it when the VA showed up for the second panel: The Deputy Assistant Secretary for Finance Edward Murray, the Chief Financial Officer W. Paul Kearns III and Chief Procurement and Logistics Officer Frederick Downs, Jr.How much money is missing/unaccounted for? According to testimony from the VA to the Committee yesterday (specifically from Kearns):2007: $6.9 billion 2008: $11 bilion 2009: $12 billion 2010: $12 billion* 2010 is an estimate from Kearns ("We're on track this year to be right at about the same level."). So add that up and the VA can't account for $41.9 billion.$41.9 billion is missing/unaccounted for and that's not a story? This week a much, much smaller amount of unaccounted for US tax payer money has dominated the news cycle (money that was supposed to go to Iraqi reconstruction efforts and may or may not have -- no one knows where the $9.1 billion went). $41.9 billion isn't a story?
We have a Republican press release that will be noted tomorrow. It's on veterans issues -- and I'm not opposed to noting press releases from Republican Congress members; however, there's just not space for it in today's snapshot. The hearing today was interesting and there were a large number of visitors that e-mailed about the hearing earlier this week noting what would be helpful to them in the coverage. (These are veterans and veterans spouses.) So that's what I based the excerpts on. And since that's based on input, I really can't cut any of those excerpts. We'll note the press release, in full, tomorrow.

One thing we have to note, on the issue of service members is stop-loss. That's the back door draft, where you've served your time but your 'stopped' from leaving because the US military is suffering too many losses (from discharges, recruitment, demand, etc). There's a new development for thos who have been stop-lossed.
Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff If you are a service member or veteran who was involuntarily extended under Stop Loss between Sept. 11, 2001, and September 30, 2009, you are eligible for Stop Loss Special Pay. Be sure to send in your claim form before the Oct. 21 deadline; the average benefit is $3,700. See www.defense.gov/stoploss for more informa...tion. If you know someone who may be eligible, tell a friend!
See More
Retroactive Stop Loss Special Pay
www.defense.gov
Defense.gov - The official website of the United States Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Defense, DoD, Defense, Defence, Military

Let's move over to
Democracy Now! to note Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez' interview with Patrick Cockburn today:


JUAN GONZALEZ: Patrick, I'd like to ask you about this whole other issue of the report on -- by Chris Busby and some other epidemiologists about the situation in Fallujah and the enormous increases in leukemias and cancers in Fallujah after the US soldiers' attack on that city. Could you talk about that?

PATRICK COCKBURN: Sure. I think what's significant, very significant, about this study is that it confirms lots of anecdotal evidence that there had been a serious increase in cancer, in babies being born deformed, I mean, sometimes with -- grotesquely so, babies -- you know, a baby girl born with two heads, you know, people born without limbs, then a whole range of cancers increased enormously. That this was --when I was in Fallujah, doctors would talk about this, but, you know one couldn't -- one could write about this, but one couldn't really prove it from anecdotal evidence. Now this is a study, a scientific study, based on interviews with 4,800 people, which gives -- proves that this was in fact happening and is happening. And, of course, it took -- you know, it has taken place so much later than the siege of Fallujah, when it was heavily bombarded in 2004 by the US military, because previously, you know, Fallujah is such a dangerous place to this day, difficult to carry out a survey, but it's been finally done, and the results are pretty extraordinary.

AMY GOODMAN: What were the various weapons that were used in the bombing of Fallujah in 2004?

PATRICK COCKBURN: Well, primarily, it was sort of, you know, artillery and bombing. Initially it was denied that white phosphorus had been used, but later this was confirmed.


We're stopping Cockburn because he's leaving out an important fact (did you catch it?). First Democracy Now!'s coverage of white phosphorus includes the November 8, 2005 "
U.S. Broadcast Exclusive - "Fallujah: The Hidden Massacre" on the U.S. Use of Napalm-Like White Phosphorus Bombs" -- they've covered the topic many times. November 2005 was an important month because while Scott Shane and the New York Times were sneering (and mocking the documentary), DN! also aired "A Debate: Did the U.S. Military Attack Iraqi Civilians With White Phosphorous Bombs in Violation of the Geneva Conventions?" (November 8, 2005).

That second story, broadcast November 8, 2005, is what needs to be noted. It was on that broadcast -- not in the pages of NYT -- that the US military finally confirmed the use of white phosophorus in Iraq. Excerpt:

AMY GOODMAN: So are you confirming that you used white phosphorus in Fallujah, but saying that it's simply not illegal?
LT. COL. STEVE BOYLAN: White phosphorus has been used. I do not recall it was used as an offensive weapon. White phosphorus is used for marking targets for both air and ground forces. White phosphorus is used to destroy equipment and other types of things. It is used to destroy weapons caches. And it is used to produce a white smoke which can obscure the enemy's vision of what we are doing.
AMY GOODMAN: And you're using it in Iraq?
LT. COL. STEVE BOYLAN: We have used it in the past. It is a perfectly legal weapon to use.
AMY GOODMAN: Maurizio Torrealta, news editor for the Italian state broadcaster, RAI 24. Your response?
MAURIZIO TORREALTA: Well, the United States, as the UK and Italy, signed the convention about prohibition of chemical weapons. And the convention define precisely that what make forbidden an agent, a chemical agent, is not the chemical agent itself. Because as Lieutenant said, the white phosphorus can be used to light the scene of a battle. And in that case, it's acceptable. But what make a chemical agent forbidden is the use that is done with it. If you use white phosphorus to kill the people, to burn and to block them, people and animals, even animals say the convention that we all sign, Italy, United States and UK, this is a forbidden chemical agent. And we are full of picture that show bodies of young people, of children, of women which have strange -- particular, they are dead with a big corruption of the skin and show even the bone. And the clothes are intact, untouched. And that shows there has been an aggressive agent like white phosphorus that has done that. And we have all the number of those bodies and the place where they have been buried. So any international organization that wanted to inquire about that has all the tools and information to do it. And even the witness -- the U.S. military that we interview confirmed that the use of white phosphorus was against the population. And we have even picture of the fact that has been told by the helicopter down to the city, not by the ground up in the air to light the scene. Also the images, they spoke by themselves.
Cockburn states today, "Initially it was denied that white phosphorus had been used, but later this was confirmed." It requires noting that "later this was confirmed" took place on Democracy Now! Back to today's report:

PATRICK COCKBURN: I think one shouldn't lose sight of the fact, in this case, that before one thinks about was depleted uranium used and other things, that just simply the use of high -- large quantities of high explosives in a city filled with civilians and people packed into houses -- often you find, you know, whole families living in one room -- was, in itself, going to create, lead to very, very high civilian casualties. But that's not what we're talking about here. We're talking about the increase in cancers and so forth, and the suspicion that maybe depleted uranium, maybe some other weapon, which we don't know about -- this is not my speculation, but of one of the professors who carried out the study -- might have been employed in Fallujah, and that would be an explanation for results which parallel, in fact exceed, the illnesses subsequently suffered by survivors of Hiroshima.

AMY GOODMAN: You know, it's interesting, under President Bush, Afghanistan was the forgotten war; under President Obama, Iraq is the forgotten war. Patrick?

PATRICK COCKBURN: Yeah, it's interesting, and it's very depressing, I think, you know, that -- I suppose the great success of the surge wasn't really militarily, but to get Iraq off the front pages and leading television news in the United States. And, you know, people speak of Iraq being better. I suppose it is better. You know, we only have about 300 people murdered every month rather than the 3,000 a month we had a few years ago. But it's still extremely bad. But, you know, it's sort of -- it is very strange that, you know, last weekend we had forty pilgrims killed in a southern Iraqi city by a bomb, and really you would have to hunt through the media to find any mention of this at all. And this is, you know, continually happening. But it was as if Iraq had returned to some sort of peace. Well, actually, it remains one of the most violent countries in the world. Maybe Somalia is worse, but not many other places.

Let's stay with the violence.

Bombings?

Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Falluja roadside bombing which wounded four police officers, a second Falluja roadside bombing which claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier and left five more wounded and, dropping back to Wednesday for the rest, a Falluja roadside bombing which claimed 3 lives (including Imam Ehsan Abdul Lateef Al Duri) and a Zimmar roadside bombing wounded one woman.

Shootings?

Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 Iraqi soldiers were "tied-up" and then shot dead in Baghdad " Iraqi police, army and firemen were heading to the site as another four roadside bombs exploded in different routes in a quick secession about 15 minutes for all roadside bombs, targeting the first responders. 16 were killed including 7 civilians and 14 were injured including seven civilians," and, dropping back to Wednesday for the rest, a Mosul home invasion in which 1 woman and her son were killed and 1 Iraqi soldier shot dead in Mosul.

The violence continues, so does the political stalemate. March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. Three months and two days later, still no government. 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. They are claiming they have the right to form the government. It's four months and five days and,
in 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. It's now 4 months and 22 days. Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari greeted Shoji Ogawa today in Baghdad (Japan's Ambassador to Iraq). Prashant Rao (AFP) reports that Zebari called the stalemate "embarrassing" and quotes him stating, "It's embarrassing to be honest with you, for me, and I have avoided a number of foreign visits."

Turning to England, Brendan O'Neill offers "
Hans Blix's Stalinist rewriting of history" (Spiked):

Blix put Iraq in a no-win situation. Before setting off to inspect it in 2002/early 2003,
he told a reporter that 'not seeing something, not seeing an indication of something, does not lead automatically to the conclusion that there is nothing'. So if he found weapons there would be war, and if he didn't find weapons, well, there might still be war. The pro-war lobby saw what it wanted to see in Blix's suspicions-filled final report to the UN in January 2003, with one account rightly arguing that it 'greatly strengthened the American and British case for war'. Far from trying to prevent war, the weapons inspectors -- with their demented scaremongering between 1998 and 2003 -- provided Washington and London with the perfect justification for their military venture. Only a fool would idolise Blix. The spat between him and the US and the UK is no principled stand-off between anti-war and pro-war camps. Rather it is a struggle amongst clashing invading forces, with Blix defending the right of his people to occupy and blackmail the 'moral lepers' of Iraq for the rest of time, while Bush and Blair preferred to launch all-out war against those 'moral lepers'.


Former UN weapons inspector Blix testified
Tuesday to the Iraq Inquiry -- here for a critique of it -- and offered a bunch of self-grandizing statements, a bunch of inconsistent remarks and a lot of justifications for the illegal war. O'Neill is correct, "Only a fool would idolise Blix." Blix has made a semi-name for himself by basically coming over to Margie's house and trashing everyone and then going over to Sally's house and when people object to his remarks at Margie's, Blix immediately disowns them -- even going so far as to claim he was misquoted. He has offered conflicting tales over and over for the last seven years. His testimony was in keeping with his desire to reinvent 'reality' and aided no one. Meanwhile Chris Ames (Iraq Inquiry Digest) takes issue with recent coverage from the Independent of London which he feels misreads the testimonies and the documents, "Again, this is to confuse what the Inquiry has done in its public hearings with what it has found out behind the scenes. Given that the Independent has done so much to highlight the unpublished documents, this is surprising. If the Inquiry is not able to publish any further information and thus confront witnesses with the contradictions, it may as well draw its public hearings to a close. But Chilcot's options are not constrained by the lack of decisive new evidence, just limits on what he is able and willing to make public."

In England today, Iraq was a topic as two brothers each sought to be the leader of the Labour Party.
Patrick Wintour (Guardian) reports:

In a two-hour Radio 5 hustings,
David Miliband claimed that his brother Ed was in the same position over the Iraq war as all the other candidates save Diane Abbott, since she alone had vocally opposed the conflict at the time.
[. . .]
The pointed exchanges started when Ed Miliband sought to distinguish himself from his brother, saying: "One of the differences between David and myself is I think I am more critical of some of the things we did in government, and more willing to move on from some of the mistakes that we made, not just on
foreign policy, like Iraq, but on the economy and the fact that we have left lots of people on low wages."
David Miliband countered: "I do not believe we lost the 2010 election because of Iraq and we fool ourselves if we think [we lost] places like Stevenage -- that we won in 2005 -- because of Iraq."

As noted before, I know and like both David and Ed Miliband and I hope the above excerpt was balanced to give each a word. In legal news,
Emma Ross-Thomas (Bloomberg News) reports that Spanish Judge Santiago Pedraz has issued arrest warrants for US service members Sgt Thomas Gibson, Capt Philip Wolford and Lt Col Philip de Camp over the April 8, 2003 death of journalist Jose Couso who was killed in an US assault on the Palestine Hotel. We'll close with this -- on the US -- from David Swanson's "Peace Movement Adopts New Comprehensive Strategy" (War Is Not A Crime):


Last week 700 leading peace activists from around the United States met and strategized in Albany, N.Y. (
http://nationalpeaceconference.org ). They discussed, debated, and voted for a comprehensive new plan for the coming months. The plan includes a new focus and some promising proposals for building a coalition that includes the labor movement, civil rights groups, students, and other sectors of the activist world that have an interest in ending wars and/or shifting our financial resources from wars to where they're actually needed. The full plan, including a preface, is available online.The plan includes endorsements and commitments to participate in events planned for Detroit on August 28th, and Washington, D.C., on August 28th and October 2nd, as well as a national day of actions led by students on October 7th, and a week of anti-war actions around the country marking the start of Year 10 in Afghanistan on October 7-16. Dates to put on your calendar now for 2011 include mid-March nationally coordinated teach-ins to mark the eighth year of the Iraq War and to prepare for bi-coastal spring demonstrations the following month, New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles mobilizations on April 9, 2011, and blocking of ports on May Day.Here is the full list of actions agreed upon: 1.The Rainbow PUSH Coalition and the United Auto Workers (UAW) have invited peace organizations to endorse and participate in a campaign for Jobs, Justice, and Peace. We endorse this campaign and plan to be a part of it. On August 28, 2010, in Detroit, we will march on the anniversary of that day in 1963 when Walter Reuther, president of UAW, Martin Luther King, Jr., and other civil rights leaders joined with hundreds of thousands of Americans for the March on Washington. In Detroit, prior to the March on Washington, 125,000 marchers participated in the Freedom Walk led by Dr. King. At the march, King delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech for the first time before sharing it with the world in Washington. This year, a massive march has been called for October 2 in Washington. We will begin to build momentum again in Detroit on August 28th. We also endorse the August 28, 2010 Reclaim the Dream Rally and March called by Rev. Al Sharpton and the National Action Network to begin at 11 a.m.. at Dunbar High School, 1301 New Jersey Avenue Northwest.2.Endorse, promote and mobilize for the Saturday, October 2nd "One Nation" march on Washington, DC initiated by 1199SEIU and the NAACP, now being promoted by a growing coalition, which includes the AFL-CIO and U.S. Labor Against the War, and civil rights, peace and other social justice forces in support of the demand for jobs, redirection of national resources from militarism and war to meeting human needs, fully funding vital social programs, and addressing the fiscal crisis of state and local governments. Organize and build an antiwar contingent to participate in the march. Launch a full-scale campaign to get endorsements for the October 2 march on Washington commencing with the final plenary session of this conference.3.Endorse the call issued by a range of student groups for Thursday, October 7, as a national day of action to defend education from the horrendous budget cuts that are laying off teachers, closing schools, raising tuition and limiting access to education, especially for working and low income people. Demand "Money for Education, not U.S. Occupations" and otherwise link the cuts in spending for education to the astronomical costs of U.S. wars and occupations.4.Devote October 7-16 to organizing local and regional protests to commemorate the ninth anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan through demonstrations, marches, rallies, vigils, teach-ins, cultural events and other actions to demand an immediate end to the wars and occupations in both Iraq and Afghanistan and complete withdrawal of all military forces and private security contractors and other mercenaries. The nature and scheduling of these events will reflect the needs of local sponsors and should be designed to attract broad co-sponsorship and diverse participation of antiwar forces with other social justice organizations and progressive constituencies.5.Support and build Remember Fallujah Week November 15-19.

Full list? Use the link to read in full.





amy goodman

the guardian
the telegraph of londonpatrick wintour

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Roger Simon weighs in on the Journolist scandal

In any case, the hubbub is now virtually over. The buzz is done buzzing, and the media have moved on from Journolist to WikiLeaks.
And yet some are still troubled.
Chuck Todd, political director and chief White House correspondent for NBC News, who was not part of Journolist, told me this:
“I am sure Ezra had good intentions when he created it, but I am offended the right is using this as a sledgehammer against those of us who don’t practice activist journalism.
“Journolist was pretty offensive. Those of us who are mainstream journalists got mixed in with journalists with an agenda. Those folks who thought they were improving journalism are destroying the credibility of journalism.
“This has kept me up nights. I try to be fair. It’s very depressing.”

The above is from Roger Simon's "Journolist veers out of bounds" (Politico). And I agree with Chuck Todd.

Now I want to note this morning and last night's posts:



The Daily Jot
THIS JUST IN! SOLD TO WHOM!!!!
2 hours ago

Cedric's Big Mix
If he was selling, who was buying
2 hours ago

Mikey Likes It!
Dems vote for more war
10 hours ago

SICKOFITRADLZ
Laura Rozen: Conspiracy Nut
10 hours ago

Ann's Mega Dub
Catty gossips
10 hours ago

Trina's Kitchen
There's only one term for Laura Rozen
10 hours ago

Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills)
Fat Ass Katha Pollitt
10 hours ago

Like Maria Said Paz
Bloomberg News' Ryan Donmoyer is a 'birther'
10 hours ago

Ruth's Report
Ryan Donmoyer is a gossipy little girl
10 hours ago

Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude
thank you to maggie mahar
10 hours ago

Thomas Friedman is a Great Man
The Ford Pinto
10 hours ago

Oh Boy It Never Ends
They're kidding themselves
10 hours ago

I grabbed that list from C.I.'s site if you're wondering why her entries aren't up. What I'm wanting to emphasize is that a lot of us blogged on the Journolist last night. (And if I don't include Wally and my husband when they include all of us, I will hear about it! From readers, not from Wally or Cedric. Stan and Mike blogged on other topics. So four aren't on Journolist.)

And we were all talking about the topic last night. When Elaine said, of the 'reporter' she wrote about, "My God, he's a birther!'' Well, I just knew she had a great post and all of them were great. This isn't a minor topic.

I'm so glad Roger Simon took it seriously. I wish others could get the point but I doubt they ever will.


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

Wednesday, July 28, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, the political stalemate continues, the VA can't account for millions, Congress wants to know why that is, and more.

"The US Dept of Veterans Affairs is the second largest agency in our system of government," declared US House Rep Bob Filner this morning as he called to order the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, "and each year, they are authorized billions of dollars to care for our nation's veterans. Miscellaneous obligations are used by the VA to obligate funds in circumstances where the amount to be spent is uncertain. They are used to reduce administrative workload and to facilitate payment for contracted goods and services when quantities and delivery dates are unknown." Bob Fliner is the Chair of the Committee and Steve Buyer is the Ranking Member. In his opening remarks, Buyer noted that, "The hearing today is very timely in light of the VA's announcement to our offices that they plan to halt the development of what the Chairman just talked about -- our integrated financial accounting system [pilot program entitled Financial and Logistics Integrated Technology Enterprise]. I, franky, was surprised the VA would take this step with the supposed blessing of OMB but without any plan for the real future other than to limp along. That's what surprised me the most." The main issue for the hearing was the VA's inability to track millions of dollars filed under "miscellaneous."

The Committee heard from three panels. The first was made up of the GAO's Susan Ragland, the second by the VA's Edward Murry and the third by the VA's Jan Frye. The first two witnesses were accompanied by others, Ragland was accompanied by the GAO's Glenn Slocum. After Ragland finished her opening statement, she was asked a question.

Chair Bob Filner: If you had to give a grade between your initial report and now, what would you give?

Susan Ragland: Oh.

Chair Bob Filner: I'm a teacher, so.

Susan Ragland: Oh, I guess I'd say somewhere between a C+ or a B-. Somewhere in there.

Chair Bob Filner: Sounded like an F to me, but what do I know?

And we're opening with that because it's a call everyone can follow -- whether they agree with it or not (I agree with the call). We're jumping ahead to US House Rep Cliff Stearns who picked up on the grade later in the hearing.

US House Rep Cliff Stearns: Ms. Ragland, you gave this exercise a B-. Now the report in 2008 was roughly 5.7 billion miscellaneous obligations that were unable to be identified as how they were spent and now it's 12 billion in 2009. I mean, so it looks like it's jumped twice. So the problem has gotten . . .

Susan Ragland: Twice as big.

US House Rep Cliff Stearns: Twice as big. And wouldn't that mean that they flunked? I mean, wouldn't you have to be honest to yourself and say, "It appears to me that nothing's been done"? I mean if this had, if you couldn't get $6 billion -- find out where it was spent in 2008 and now it's 12, following this extrapolation, it will be 24, 25 billion when you come back here again with your GAO report. At what point don't you think that there -- How can you say that they're passing?

Susan Ragland: Well you're making a really good point and really the thinking that I had behind my response was that I do think VA is making efforts in these areas and so --

US House Rep Cliff Stearns: So they get a B- because they're making efforts when it doubles?

Susan Ragland: Well.

US House Rep Cliff Stearns: Would you -- would you have a student that --

Susan Ragland: They do-they do have the policies and procedures in place and they are taking actions to monitor them and that's the information that we got from the MQAS [Management Quality Assurance Service] service, that they are doing inspections and finding these things which is what we would look for any agency. That they are looking --

US House Rep Cliff Stearns: I, I understand you're being diplomatic. In reading the summary in your report, you say there are "serious longstanding deficiencies we identifed that are continuing." So here, 2008, 2009, you say these deficiencies -- serious long-standing deficiencies are continuing and that's not very optimistic to me. And then you went on to say that "serious weaknesses continue to raise questions concerning whether VA management has established the appropriate tone at the top necessary to ensure that these matters receive the full sustained attention." So in both the statements I gave you, it appears that the management's not connecting, that you've identified long-standing deficiencies that continue and these serious weaknesses raise further questions. So I think you've done your job. I think you have to be woman enough to say these folks are flunking and you've got to be a little bit more draconian in your statement. Now let me ask you this question, you mention in your report they have outdated systems. Does the VA have the technilogical capabilities to do this? What do you mean by outdated systems?

Susan Ragland: You can take that.

Glenn Slocum: There are -- VA systems sometimes revert to manual processes in order to produce its year-end finan --

US House Rep Cliff Stearns: So they haven't used computers? They haven't use the internet?

Glenn Slocum: No-no, they do have -- they do have all that. But some of the reconciliations that they may need to do at year-end, uh, they have a MinX system which is used to, uhm, produce their year-end statements.

US House Rep Cliff Stearns: It's done manually then?

Glenn Slocum: It's not manually -- it's not totally manually. But there are, uh, reconciliations that take place that, in a better world, would be more automated. And it effects their inventory systems at pharmacies and that's what we're talking about.

US House Rep Cliff Stearns: In 2008, did you bring that to their attention with the same statement that they had outdated systems?

Glenn Slocum: Well -- well there are two reports. You know, there's one with miscellaneous obligation and I think that's the one that Ms. Ragland gave them a B- on. The other report dealt with the financial report deficiencies and those are the problems that have been around since 2000 or longer. And maybe there would be uh -- [looks at Ragland] maybe you would give them a lower grade on that? I'm not sure.

US House Rep Cliff Stearns: Okay, well then the statement says "a lack of sufficient personnel." Uhm, have you found that the personnel is one of the serious problems that they have? Personnel that either don't have the appropriate knowledge or skills or they just don't have the personnel?

Susan Ragland: That's been one of the independent public auditors' findings in the financial reports. And that's been over-over years.

US House Rep Cliff Stearns: Was that true in 2008? That same conclusion?

Susan Ragland: I'm not positive, I believe so.

US House Rep Jerry McNerney noted that fraud seemed very likely in the conditions Ragland described in her opening remarks (at "a level that would be scandalous") and voiced the belief that they should ''bring that to light before the press does, before outside activities do." McNerney also noted that the VA's plan for solving the problems, "those seem a little bit far off" (2011 and 2012). Ragland noted that announcements by the VA in 2008 of deadlines to be met have not been kept by the VA and have been extended.

US House Rep David Roe: I would think that when you have a -- Obviously $12 billion is a lot of money and it's a lot to look after, but there should be a plan that when this isn't implemented and you don't find it, someone ought to be held accountable and-and-and heads ought to roll. And clearly what Congressman Buyer said in the private sector [you get fired], that's clearly what happens. People get fired.

Susan Ragland: Yeah.

US House Rep David Roe: Is that what happens here? Or do we just don't do anything or what do we do?

Susan Ragland: Uh, I don't know if that --

Glenn Slocum: I would just say that OMB Circular A-50 addresses this point. You know, one of the things it talks about is holding people accountable for the remediation of these problems. But we have not looked at the extent to which that's actually taken place. It's part of a monitoring mechanism that should be there. But we haven't looked at that.

US House Rep David Roe: And I think -- and I agree with Congressman McNerney, my colleague, is that it reflects poorly on the VA which they don't want to be -- I mean, I understand that they want to do a good job -- and this Committee if we allow that to happen and if we come back a year or two years from now and the same thing's going on, what happens? Is there any corrective action that can be taken in your recommendation, Ms. Ragland.

Susan Ragland: I think that the only thing that we have is to come back to you all and-and point that out. That's-that's our role. Yeah.

If it reads like the Committee had a consenus building, you're not mistaken. US House Rep Ann Kirkpatrick would note, "And Mr. Chairman, I share the sentiment of the other members of this Committee, that this is a very serious problem that we really need to stay on top of." Following that the Ranking Member would weigh in on a pattern, "I mean, right now, you could look back and the last three or four [VA] Secretaries -- I mean, they have, since 2000, increased these directives without execution." He also wondered that "the VA's own audits showed a continued disregard for your recommendations."

Welcoming the second panel, Chair Bob Filner offered a warning: "I would not underestimate the anger that my colleagues feel on this on both sides of the aisle." And for the second panel, refer to
Kat who is reporting on that at her site tonight.


A few decades on down the line, history will probably include all the many helicopter crashes in Iraq that crashed due to rebel/resistance attacks. Today, we instead get 'hard landings' (that was hugely popular for years with the press) and 'sandstorms.'
Sinah Salaheddin (AP) wants to share this morning that 6 people are dead from an Iraqi helicopter crash due to, yes, "a sandstorm." ("A sandstorm downed an Iraqi military helicopter . . .") Could it have been a sandstorm? Yes, it could have. I wasn't there. (Though I did have the weirdest dream last night/this morning about Jane Arraf being in Mosul and having difficulty taking photos of an explosion.) So what's the problem. I'd say this is the problem (from the same report): "The crash is under investigation, and no other details were immediately available, al-Askari said." When a crash is under investigation, the reasons for the crash are not known. Reasons may be suspected, but they aren't known -- hence the need for an investigation. Repeating, decades from now we'll no doubt learn just how many helicopters were downed during the Iraq War by something other than 'sandstorms' and 'hard landings due to mechanical failure'. Reuters notes 4 died in the crash and, unlike AP, don't attempt to pin a cause on a crash which is "under investigation." They also note 5 people are dead from a Baghdad bombing with twelve more injured. BBC News also notes 5 dead in the helicopter crash

As noted, Mullen was on a whirlwind trip and we'll blame jet lag for many of his more dubious statements.
Dan De Luce (AFP) reports he hailed what he termed "stunning" progress (only on security and only by cheating the scale and referring to the last three years -- if you can't use 2007 as your benchmark, you can't claim 'success' -- stunning or otherwise). While Mullen praised the 'stunning' progress, it was left to his underlings to note the week's violence and to US Deputy Sec of State Jacob Lew to explain, "The events of the last few days are horrific, and they are sobering, but they don't deter us from the process that we're in." Which would be the drawdown. But interesting that the main speaker declares "stunning" while the lesser lights have to deal with reality. Tang Danlu (Xinhua) reports on Mullen's meeting with Nouri al-Maliki and Nouri's laughable claim that, "The regional interference is the reason behind hampering a new government, and we have repeatedly demanded such interference in our internal affairs be halted. We are going forward in the formation of the new government as soon as possible." Jet lag doesn't excuse Nouri's lies. But Mullen was under the weather. Press TV offers a quote, see if you catch it, ""We're still on track to reduce the number of troops to 50,000 by the end of August and to have all combat troops out of Iraq by 2011." Combat troops -- a laughable designation -- are supposed to be out at the end of next month, not "by 2011."
March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. Three months and two days later, still no government. 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. They are claiming they have the right to form the government. It's four months and five days and,
in 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. It's now 4 months and 20 days. No government.Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) offers, "Nearly five months after elections in March ended without a decisive winner, Mr. Maliki and the leaders of the other political blocs are divided over his efforts to stay in power for a second term. With no clear resolution in sight, many politicians now say that the impasse could extend after the United States officially ends its combat mission here after more than seven years of war and reduces the number of troops to fewer than 50,000 by the end of August." Ross Colvin (Reuters) notes that US Vice President Joe Biden has asked that the politicians "get on with the business of governing." The International Crisis Group's Joost Hiltermann weighs in with thoughts on the stalemate in an essay for the New York Review of Books:

What is holding things up, however, is the fear among many Iraqis that whatever party wins the right to form the government and appoint the prime minister will proceed to concentrate power around itself, using gaps and ambiguities in Iraq's new constitution to its advantage. Maliki's detractors point to his record during the past four years -- he has done little by way of concrete governance, but instead has spent much effort to carve out a power base, including setting up security agencies that have no basis in the constitution. In addition to Iyad Allawi and his mainly Sunni constituency, Maliki's critics and competitors include the Kurds and his Shiite rivals in the Iraqi National Alliance (INA). This last is a loose grouping that includes the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, the Sadrist movement, and a variety of smaller parties and independents, among them the US's erstwhile friend and current nemesis, Ahmed Chalabi. Moreover, Allawi asserts that since his list won the most seats -- ninety-one, compared to Maliki's eighty-nine -- he has the right to take the first stab at forming a government.
Maliki has questioned the election results, hinting in not so unambiguous terms that a "foreign power" -- understood to be the United States -- has defrauded him by manipulating the vote, the count, and the recount in Baghdad. Even now, while resigning himself to the decision by the federal Supreme Court to certify the original results in early June, he continues to challenge Allawi's bid to form the government. His main tactic has been to pursue an alliance with his Shiite rivals in the INA, in order to become the largest bloc in parliament, gain the right to form a government, and thus deprive Allawi of his presumptive right to become prime minister.
Whatever their opinion of Maliki and his autocratic tendencies, Shiite politicians fear most of all losing the position of prime minister, and they are convinced that although Allawi would have a hard time collecting by himself the necessary number of seats (a simple majority of 163 in Iraq's 325-member legislature), a hidden hand -- again, the United States -- will somehow assist him and through trickery and deceit cheat the Shiites out of the dominant position they have acquired since 2003, after what they see as the long years of Sunni oppression.
What is striking about the Obama administration's current approach to Iraqi politics, however, is not its presumed preference for one party, Allawi's, but its unexplained lack of will to push for a solution, something much noted by politicians of all parties.

Moving to London where the
Iraq Inquiry continued public testimony today with Gen Richard Dannatt and Gen Mike Jackson appearing before the Inquiry (link goes to video and transcript options). Chris Ames notes that the remarks by Dannut about the British military was stretched to the point where it was on the verge of breaking in 2006. The helicopter issue (specifically yesterday's testimony) was rejected, by the way.

As noted this morning, Hans Blix's testimony
yesterday to the Iraq Inquiry was a joke. Chris Ames, writing at the Guardian, feels differently and feels it said a great deal about David Miliband:

That is Miliband in a nutshell. Too clever for his own good. There are the usual weasel words about voting "to support the government" rather than for war. He wanted to show that he had done his homework but has ended up saying that he supported the invasion on the basis of Saddam's behaviour in the 90s and was thus seeking regime change rather than peaceful disarmament.

Chris does great work at
Iraq Inquiry Digest and is always worth reading on this subject. (And Chris has been working this story before anyone.) But I strongly disagree with his take (a) that there was much of value in Blix's idiotic testimony, (b) that the testimony said that about David and (c) that Ames would ever know what was or wasn't "Miliband in a nutshell." As disclosed before I have known David and Ed Miliband forever and a day. That is not David Miliban in a nutshell. Let's move to Blixie. (And for qualifiers/disclosures on my opinion, click here.) Hans Blix was, as usual, all over the map with his ridiculous testimony yesterday. His half-baked testimony provided a little for everyone and nothing of substance for anyone. Should inspections have continued? In retrospect, he believes they should have. And in real time? He wanted them to go on through April. At one point in his testimony. He wanted them to go on for months, at another point. He wanted armed inspectors to roam through Iraq for years, he offered at another point.With his meandering and ever changing opinions, Bush could well argue that what Blix did find (no WMD, no real violations but some small issues) and Blix' refusal to clear Iraq and say they had no WMD, his move was forced. Was he forced? Of course not. It's an illegal war. And it's a war of choice. It's in violation of the UN charter and every international law -- including those the US has signed on to. But if your argument is based on Blix, Bush can shoot back, "Blix supported me!" Because Blix' wishy-washy b.s. does just that. Blix is forever inconsistent. Giving a broadcast interview, he tosses charges around freely only to then walk it back after the interview airs. He was asked about some statements from a print interview yesterday and explained that he wasn't responsible for any remarks in an article unless he authored it.

Hans Blix was the white-wash witness and you have to wonder if, in fact, that's why he was called. Hans Blix appeared before the Inquiry and told a pleasing (for British ears) fairytale. "Sleep easy, England, Tony Blair is not a bad person." That's Blix' testimony in a nut shell. The US, apparently led by Condi Rice (whom Blix is obsessed with), controlled everything and pushed the poor British around. The British, Blix insisted, wanted to follow the UN rules. Really? That's in direct contrast to every British official in the legal department. Are we supposed to forget that? But it was a runaway train on the railroad and the US was driving while the poor British officials were stuck in the caboose unable to disconnect from the rest of the train.Hans Blix is one of the main reason the illegal war started. That shined through in his testimony. He hedged every statement. No government official would have taken him seriously. (Except for his constant repeating that he believed Iraq had WMD. He repeated that to everyone. And this is our hero? This is who the peace movement wants to support?) He was a joke and he was an idiot. Doubt it? Go to page 30 of the testimony and read him insisting he believed (up until after the war started) that Iraq had anthrax ("we were very suspicous") and "I came out right from September 2002 on to the very end when I said, 'Yes, there might be weapons of mass destruction'." The idea that he was a calm voice or one not echoing the stove-piped intell is really a joke.
Caroline Crampton (New Statesman) offers a selective reading of his testimony and attempts to rescue Blix:

He felt that once his team began reporting back that no evidence had been found at any sites, the US and UK should have changed their policy -- that, he feels, is the main lesson that should be drawn from the situation. His only regret, he says, is the "harsh tones" he used in the January document, which consituted a warning to Iraq to improve co-operation, which it then did.

His job was to find WMD or to clear Iraq. He failed at both. That's reality. He did not clear it ahead of the war. Nor did he find WMD -- he couldn't because there was no WMD in Iraq. And yet he felt they had it. That's reality, that's what he testified to. His enablers and rescuers can pretty it up as much as they want but Blix is as much at fault as Bush and Blair for the illegal war. And it was a damn shame that someone who knew SO DAMN LITTLE was allowed to testify about so much. If you don't get that, you missed his white washing of all crimes. There are no more war crimes today, Blix wanted to insist. The stupid idiot declared that the US back then "was high on military" but "this has changed with Obama." What the hell does that piece of s**t know about what "changed" or didn't "change"? Is he unaware that he's supposed to be testifying only to what he has witnessed. Is he unaware of what's going on in Afghanistan? Or Pakistan? Or what continues in Iraq? "Obama says yes, they will retain the rights to -- they reserve the possibility to take unilateral action but they will try to follow international rules."

If that statement shocks you (page 28 of the testimony, lines 1 through 4), that may be due to the fact that a number of outlets have 'improved' it to make it say something else. Stream the video, that's what he said. And Blix is praising Barack for that crap? Where's the 'change'? Barack "says yes, they will still retain the right to -- they reserve the possibility to take unilateral action but they will try to follow international rules." That's not a change? That's exactly what Bush said before the Iraq War for months and months.

His entire testimony exists to whitewash reality, to insist that the problem was George W. Bush (via Condi Rice) and that, with Bush out of office, the threat is gone. It's the sort of fairytale that exists to keep people ignorant of their governments' actions and motives. It's the sort of fairytale that reduces everything to a simple cartoon. There was no honesty in the garbage. And, if you were British, you may have been thrilled that sweet and cute Tony Blair really wasn't at fault after all. It was Bush . . . led by Condi.

John F. Burns (New York Times) reports on Blix's testimony
here. And, yes, if Burns -- Mr. Establishment -- is reporting on it (and not questioning it) then Blix exists to Whitewash and give Empire a pearly smile.

Jalal Ghazi (New America Media) notes that WikiLeaks' latest revelations echo earlier reports by Arab media:In many cases, Arab media used testimony by American soldiers themselves to validate their reports about U.S. responsibility for civilian casualties. For example, Al Jazeera English reported on March 15, 2008 that hundreds of U.S. veterans of the war in Iraq say the American military has been covering up widespread civilian killings in Iraq. The soldiers who testified said that there have been routine cover-ups of indiscriminate killings of Iraqi civilians.Former U.S. Marine Jason Washburn, for example, told Al Jazeera English: "We would carry these weapons and shovels so in case we accidentally shot a civilian we would toss the weapon on the body and we would say that he was an insurgent." U.S. Army veteran Jason Hurd said, "We would fire indiscriminately and unnecessarily at this building. We never got a body count and we never got a casualty count afterward." He added, "These things happen every day in Iraq." The veterans also showed videos supporting their claims. The testimony of the U.S. veterans also highlights the mental state of soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan that may have led to acts of violence against civilians. Al Jazeera English journalist Omar Chatriwala wrote in a blog ("WikiLeaks vs. the Pentagon") that the WikiLeaks documents are supported by reports from the ground by Al Jazeera English.
Today,
Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) continued her coverage of the WikiLeaks Afghanistan revelations and spent the hour with WikiLeaks' Julian Assange. We'll note him on Bradley Manning (a suspect who has never issued a public statement on whether or not he leaked to WikiLeaks) and on Iraq. On Bradley:

JULIAN ASSANGE: In relation to a military source, alleged military source, Bradley Manning, who has been charged with supplying --the charges don't say to us, but supplying to someone the helicopter video showing the killing of two Reuters journalists in Baghdad in July 2007, he is now being held in Kuwait itself. A bit of a problem. Why isn't he being held in the United States? Is it to keep him away from effective legal representation? Is it to keep him away from the press? We're not sure. But there doesn't seem to be any reason why he could not be transferred to the United States. We obviously cannot say whether he is our source. We in fact specialize in not knowing the names of our sources. But nonetheless, he is a young man being held in dire circumstances on the allegation that he supplied this material to the press, and we were the initial publisher of that Iraq video. So we are trying to raise money for his legal representation. We have committed $50,000 of our own funds, that if the general public could contribute or other people could contribute, I know that his military counsel would find that of significant value. The lawyers that we have spoken to say that his representation will cost $200,000, assuming that it's a regular sort of trial, it goes ahead. People can go to
bradleymanning.org, where there is a grassroots campaign that his friends and family and some internet activists have become involved to try and support him.

On Iraq:


AMY GOODMAN: And do you have more documents to release on Iraq?

JULIAN ASSANGE: We have an enormous backlog of documents, stemming all the way back to January. During the past six months, we have been concentrating on raising funds and dealing with just a few of our leaks and upgrading our infrastructure to deal with the worldwide demand. So that huge backlog is something that we are just starting to get through, and this latest Afghan leak is an example of that.

Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan gets the last word on she contemplates the meaning of these continued, illegal wars:

Deep down inside of me, there is the Cindy who is raging against the Democratic Congress's passage of the recent war-funding bill, but so I don't explode, I am outwardly calm. Pissed off Cindy has to be in here, or I wouldn't be writing this piece--but the rhetoric that I have written hundreds of times is now having the feeling of "been there, done that." Well, I am numb, I think, because I have visited this topic continually and words are just not cutting it. How many words are there for: murder, death, destruction, slaughter, starvation, predatory Capitalism, war profiteering, war, illegal, immoral, war crimes, callous, greedy, rape, pillage, plunder, blah, blah, blah!
We live in an Empire that on a daily basis murders dozens of people without blinking even before I drink my first cup of coffee and which always ignores the basic needs of its own citizens. But its citizens are quietly complacent and materially complicit in these crimes. Slaves of, and to, The Empire.
I am numb, I think.



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