Friday, September 17, 2010

The sick mind of Terry Gross and other things

Yesterday on Fresh Air, Terry Gross wasted another hour with a man you may not have heard of. Jon Hamm. The so-so actor (did you see his wooden 30 Rock stint) who stars in the sexist Mad Men (critically praised because they love sexism) and who has a bit part in Ben Affleck's new film.

I'm feeling under the weather tonight. I thought I'd blog about that because sometimes when I read sites, I'll wonder, "Are they ever sick?" That's true of C.I. for many reasons including that she's not ever missed a day of posting to The Common Ills since she started the site approximately six years ago. Can you believe that? She posts Sunday through Saturday.

And I know she posts when she's sick. I know she posts when she's tired.

But I know that because I know her. (And, at some point, Mike wrote a piece -- 2006? -- when C.I. was over at his place in the morning and was sick as a dog, she kept throwing up, and how even so, she forced herself to do the two Friday morning entries.)

So I just thought I'd share. I'm in the living room on the laptop. My husband (Cedric -- who writes humor posts with Wally at their sites) is asleep on the couch. We were watching Meg Ryan earlier. We had a mini Meg Ryan film festival. I wanted to see Joe Versus The Volcano because I love it when she says, "The fine tangles of his hair filled my empty hand. Would you like to hear it again?" But we didn't have it at the video store. Cedric had gone to get it for me because I was feeling sick and my eyes were watery. So he ended up getting six Meg Ryan films in place of Joe. And we watched three of them while eating pop corn and a little bit of chicken. (He hates Popeyes but it's my favorite -- his is KFC -- so he picked that up as well.) And now he's crashed out on the couch while I'm sitting on it. I actually fell asleep though during Prelude To A Kiss (not meant as an insult to the film, I love it, but I was just so tired). Now my left eye is watering and I've got a blanket wrapped around the top of my body and yawning.

I was awake for about an hour before I grabbed the laptop. I was just sitting on the couch rubbing my eyes and thinking how I needed to blog an really wishing that I didn't have to because I was so tired. And also because I really didn't have anything to blog about.

And I knew I was way too tired to start reading news online and figuring out what to write about besides tracking Fresh Air.

And then I pulled the blanket closer as I got colder and realized that at some point while I was out of it and asleep, Cedric had washed my favorite blanket for me. It smells so fresh and clean. And I wanted to wake him up and tell him how sweet that was but it really wouldn't have been very sweet of me to have woken him up.

So that's when I grabbed the laptop.

And that was a nice evening in my life, just to give you a little insight. It would have been nicer if we could have both been awake at the same time or if I wasn't sick. But it was still nice. And what a sweetie of a guy I was lucky enough to marry? I'm sick and he asks what I want to do and I tell him all I want to do is watch Joe Versus The Volcano. He goes to get it, can't find it, so rents a whole host of Meg Ryan films. He stops off to get something to eat because he already knows I'm not going to be cooking. And he gets the chicken I like, not the one that's his favorite. And then on top of that, I wake up from my long, long nap with my favorite blanket on me and he's also washed it while I was asleep. He really is a catch and I am pretty lucky
.
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, September 17, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, support mounts for Bradley Manning, the US military announces yet another death in Iraq, reports insist the political stalemate is about to be a thing of the past, and more.

Starting with Bradley Manning. 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. This month, the military charged Manning. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported in August that Manning had been charged -- "two charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The first encompasses four counts of violating Army regulations by transferring classified information to his personal computer between November and May and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system. The second comprises eight counts of violating federal laws governing the handling of classified information." 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. Manning is now in Virginia, under military lock and key and still not allowed to speak to the press. As Daniel Ellsberg reminded from the stage in Oakland last night, "We don't know all the facts." But we know, as Ellsberg pointed out, that the US military is attempting to prosecute Bradley.

Daniel Ellsberg was a RAND Corporation military analyst alarmed by the Pentagon Papers charting the government's continuation of a lost and illegal war. He copied the papers to pass to the press (the press feared receiving the originals would be receiving stolen property and leave them open to prosecution). Lengthy court battles ensued via Richard Nixon and his so-called Justice Dept but the press -- for a change -- didn't buckle. Ellsberg was targeted by Tricky Dick with various efforts to smear him and to harm him. He also faced imprisonment. Back then, fundraisers were held. Barbra Streisand, for example, sang to a group of people -- including Joni Mitchell, John Lennon, Yoko Ono and David Geffen -- present, singing their requests for donations to the defense fund and she also took requests over the phone at the event (Carl Reiner was among those calling in and making a request). Nixon kept an enemies list and Barbra ended up on it for fundraising (over $50,000 was raised from Barbra's event if I remember correctly) on behalf of Daniel Ellsberg's defense. We'll note some of Daniel Ellsberg's remarks from last night:

Thank you very much, Let me echo what you just heard, my wife, when I set out for this, said how many people do you think will be out there? I said "who knows? Half a dozen? A dozen? What will it be?" It's wonderful to see this place filled, standing room only. And I was thinking who would like to see this? And I thought of a way to do it. I was just talking an hour ago to Bradley's aunt, Deborah van Alstyne, who was possibly his relative who was closest to him, mother's sister and who's seen him several times in jail. And she did want to say -- I told her what was happening tonight -- and she said, "Let people know how much he appreciates the support thaty he's getting. It means a tremendous amount to him. He was in prison, you know, in Kuwait for a long time, a couple of months. No communication with anybody. I don't even think he was seeing military lawyers at that point. Who knows what was happening? But no news whatever. And until he got to Quantico, he had no news of what happened, how anything had been received. He didn't know how well, actually, the [New York] Times, der Spiegel, the Guardian had dealt with the early disclosuers -- which I think would probably be very important for him to know. Or the reaction to the video and so forth. So, when she sees him, it's through heavy glass with somebody listening at the side at all times -- which brings back memories of what I expected to happen to me. People have asked me why I had my children help me copy papers for a couple of nights? Seemed very strange to them and I can understand that. But there was a reason. At that point in the fall of '69, when I was copying these 7,00 pages of top secret documents, I reallly expected them to come out shortly to Senator [James Willism] Fullbright, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, within a couple of weeks, and I expected to be in prison almost surely. Oh, I'm sorry, where do you want me? Oh, sorry, okay. Okay. Do I have to be behind this [podium]? Just in the light, right? [Laughter.] Okay. Third degree here, right? I knew that what they'd be hearing then within weeks was that their father had gone crazy. Just what Bradley Manning's friends and relatives are hearing right now. And what I suppose he's getting. He's heard that I'm sure. And that he was a traitor. But that he 'snapped,' that he'd gone crazy. And I wanted my children to see before I started a lifetime, perhaps of talking to them through glass that I'd done this because I thought it was the right thing to do, in a business like way, just something that I thought had to be done. And that I hadn't gone crazy. I wanted them to see me doing it. And so it just occured to me, of course, Bradley had a technology here that I didn't have, that I'm very jealous of, I must say, if he did what he's accused of. It does imply, by the way, that the possibility of telling the truth about a policy that's reckless, criminal, murderous, disasterous, of various kinds. The power to change that by telling the truth is literally at the finger tips of hundreds, perhaps thousands of people. Just a few key strokes can actually -- the policy is vulnerable to that. They have to rely -- "they," the ones who are running this policy -- have to rely on the trustworthiness or what they call the loyalty, the faithfulness, the patriotism -- in their eyes. Of the thousand people, even more who know what's happening, but the thousand who know that its wrong and who could change it if they told the truth but they have to count on those people. And they do. And on the whole, I'm sorry to say, they're right to rely on those people keeping their mouths shut. The three of us here, you saw before, two in the army, one in the Marine corps, were all in the service. We share a number of things in common and one of them is that there were times when there were truths that we could have told but didn't. And could have made a real difference. And we've learned to be real regretful of that and to want to use our lives differently and to urge other people to do the same. And okay, it finally, when I first spoke to Deborah van Alstyne a month ago after she'd just seen him. She said he'd finally learned of his support. The Guardian article a while ago on the support that was quite good. And he'll be learning of this. I asked her whether he knew that Michael Moore was campaigning for him, was supporting. She said that she didn't know directly but that one of the lawyers had mentioned it to her so she was pretty sure he had discussed it with Bradley. And that's very good. But as I say with all this new technology in the world here, I can now get your pictures to Bradley in a matter of days because Debraorah going to see him this weekend. And it just occured to me, I have her e-mail. So those of you who wish to hide your faces because this is going over e-mail -- that means copied to NSA and the FBI and who knows who ever else. But there were 25,000 people who contributed to my trial and so I have learned to appreciate that and I have been doing fundraisers for other people every since -- never more enthusiastically than tonight. So another way to use that technology -- You may not have had much cash here, you may not even have had your checkbook with you, but at home, if you have computers, the Bradley Manning -- what is it? Dot org? BradleyMannning.org will give you a chance with Paypal to send as much as you can possibly send. And the people who are watching on the internet should now turn to your computers and don't bother watching me. It's much more important to send a contribution right now before you forget. while you have the impulse to this because it really is essential. And so here we go, I can actually send Bradley a video. Thank you for standing up for me, how about standing up for Bradley? [Cheers and applause.] Okay. Now. Great. Okay and as I say that's very good. That's virtually as important as I say of going to your computers and doing your own e-mail and getting it all to him. What are we doing? We're honoring an American hero. I'm glad that Ray [McGovern] made the point here, let's no go through locution, we don't know the facts. We don't know the facts and, in particular, as I know, it's up to the government to prove their case beyond a reaonsable doubt, and we can't hand it to them anyway. We don't know anymore than they do or less. But let's just assume that for once the army is telling the truth about what they accuse him of. [Laughter.] They're hardly the last word on any subject but maybe on this one. Whoever was the source, and let's call him Bradley Manning, deserves our thanks and deserves honor. Not everybody, of course, honors him. I actually am very happy to see this room fuli -- If not in Oakland and Berkeley, then where? But I am glad to see it. And he'll be glad to see it. But there are a lot of people who see him differently, obviously and in terms, by the way, that are not very well grounded in American history, in America principals., I was just a few days ago in New York on a show called The Dylan Ratigan Show on MSNBC and he quoted at me in his brief interview, an article by a guy Marc Thiessen who is a former George W. Bush speechwriter -- obviously deserving of indictment himself. And I'll explain why a minute. He's now a Washington Post columnist, of course. And so Ratigan quoted him saying to me, "WikiLeaks is a criminal enterprise." Well interesting that Thiessen would say that since he's just retired from a very large criminal enterprise, I would say, the George W. Bush administration. And I must say that the, let me give you a little piece of current history probably most people here don't know. Barack Obama, who said that he doesn't want to look back at the crimes -- or the alleged crimes -- of the George W. Bush administration, wants to look forward and move forward and, in effect, has decriminalized torture, a war of agression, warantless wiretapping -- obviously criminal under both the Fourth Amendment and American domestic law at that time -- years of criminal activity. Renditions, kidnappings, indefinite detention, the suspension of Habeaus Corpus in effect meaning, which most people really don't have a very clear idea of that, meaning detention without charges indefinitely. We now have a president actually who has declared the right to keep detained people indefinately that he suspects should not be out, even if they've been acquitted, he can keep them. In other words, as well as before without charges, following in the foot steps of George W. Bush in virtually all those respects. He claims that torture has ended but there is lots of evidence that it has not ended in Bagram and probably other secret sites at various places. The rendention, the kidnapping. Still. He's gone actually further than Bush in terms of open claims, the claim of the right -- through his intelligence chief at that time, Dennis Blair, who announced that the president had a hit list of American citizens and others that he felt -- that he'd given orders to kill, to assasinate, to execute, to murder abroad American citizens basically. But I just happened to read the words of the Magna Carta of 1215 today. I'd seen it before, I looked it up, but somebody else was referring to it. And the words are: "No free man shall be deprived -- shall be harmed, shall be destroyed or deprived of freedom except by a jury of his peers." In other words, this is a wiping out of rights that go back to 1215 -- almost 800 years right now. In short, in these Constitutional matters, we have an administration -- and in the foreign affairs matters, we have an administration that is a third term of George W. Bush. I'm not saying that's true in every respect. I'm not saying that the Republicans are not much, much worse. Actually they are in domestic matters. Actually Obama has not been strikingly better or different in matters of foreign affairs or Constitutional policy. In fact, we thought we were getting something here with a Constituational lawyer, a teacher of Constitutional law, Barack Obama, I haven't seen any opinions his Dept of Justice has been putting out [with] any difference in the opinion of Berkeley tenured professor John Yoo.

From across the Atlantic, support is expressed by people who knew Bradley when he lived in Wales. BBC News quotes James Kirkpatrick stating, "He is an absolute hero, anybody who is going to bring up such injustices, you've got to consider them a hero. I found out the first week he was being held and was shocked. I couldn't believe it. I felt proud of him really, whistleblowing against such controversies, it's quite a heroic thing. I was shocked but really impressed by him as well."

A number of events are planned and A.N.S.W.E.R. offers this list:


United States

Los Angeles, California
Top of the Santa Monica Pier (Palisades Park, just north of the pier at the cannon)
Sunday, September 19, 1-3pm

Oakland, California
Forum
Thursday, September 16, 7-9pm
Humanist Hall, 390 27th Street, Oakland CA (Between Telegraph and Broadway)
Presented by Courage to Resist, with the help of National Lawyers Guild Bay Area Military Law Panel, Veterans for Peace-Bay Area Chapter, CodePink, War Resisters League-West, Iraq Veterans Against the War-Bay Area, and BAY-Peace.

San Diego, California
Rally and film showing
Sunday, September 19, 12-2 pm
Horton Plaza, 4th & Broadway
Sponsored by Activist San Diego, San Diego Peace and Justice Coalition

San Francisco, California
March and rally
Saturday, September 18
Rally at 2pm, march at 3pm, ending at 4pm at Union Square
in front of the SF War Memorial Building, 401 Van Ness Avenue
Organized by Courage to Resist, Veterans for Peace-SF Bay Area, ANSWER Coalition, Bay Area United for Peace and Justice, and CodePink

New Haven, Connecticut
Vigil
Friday September 17, 4 pm
59 Elm Street, New Haven, CT 06510. In front of Rosa DeLauro's office.
Sponsored by the Greater New Haven Peace Council

Cambridge, Massachusetts
Rally
Sunday, September 19, 4 pm
In front of 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA (MIT building with the dome.)
Sponsored in part by Veterans for Peace, Chapter 9, Smedley Butler Brigade

Minneapolis, Minnesota
Rally & Film Showing
Friday, September 17, 4:30-6 pm
Mayday Bookstore – 301 Cedar Avenue – Minneapolis

Rochester, Minnesota
Peace Happening
Thursday September 16, 5 pm
South Broadway & 2nd Street SW
Sponsored by the Southeastern Minnesota Peace Makers

Keene, New Hampshire
Vigil
Keene town commons
Saturday September 18, 11:00 am
NH Peace Action, in conjunction with the Free State Project

New York City, New York
Film showing and speakers
September 16th, 7pm
St. Mary's Church, 521 West 126th Street

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Demonstration
Sponsored by the Oklahoma Center for Conscience
Friday, September 17, 5-6 pm
SE Corner of S. 59th and Western Avenue

Corvallis, Oregon
Rally
Friday September 17, 5 pm
Benton Country Courthouse, Corvallis, OR, 97330
Supported by Veterans for Peace

Knoxville, Tennessee
Thursday, September 16th
University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Norfolk, Virginia
Vigil
Friday, September 17, 11:30 am-1 pm
Granby St. & City Hall Ave.
Sponsored by the Norfolk Catholic Worker

Quantico, Virginia
Rally followed by outreach
Sunday, September 19, 11:30 am
Town of Quantico Municipal Park (River Road and 4th Avenue)
Sponsored by IVAW, Code Pink, and other area activists

Seattle/Fort Lewis, Washington
Rally
Saturday, September 18, 2-4 pm
"Freedom Bridge" and gate area at I-5 exit 122 (Madigan Hospital exit).
Sponsored by Greater Seattle Veterans For Peace (VFP 92)

Spokane, Washington
Rally
Thursday, September 16, 12:00 noon
Corner of Wellesley and Division

International

Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Rally
Sunday, September 19, 12:00 noon
U.S. Consulate, University Avenue

Byron Bay, New South Wales, Australia
Speakers and cultural performances
Friday, September 17, 7-9pm
SCU Room, upstairs in the Byron Community and Cultural Centre



Last night World Can't Wait attempted an NYC web broadcast but due to problems substituted an August 1st webcast on Bradley. Elaine Brower and Debra Sweet anchored the webcast. Marcia notes Elaine: "She observed, 'In 1971 there was a very strong antiwar sentiment in the country and Nixon was frightened by the Pentagon Papers coming out. I believe that the White House is frightened because they don't want to see an anti-war movement like we had in the late sixties and early seventies'." To keep the webcast free of charge, commercials run every 20 minutes or so which can mean a break in streaming. Trina explained Debra asked people what the number one thing that needs to be carried to the general population is: "And what did the people say? My stream went to the commercial. But when the commercial was over, they were discussing Barack Obama's continuation of George W. Bush's crimes and wondering why do we support him and what's a war criminal and what does it mean when civilians get killed in war? (Debra's words.)" Ann had trouble with the stream and specifically when attempting to hear Ethan McCord speak: "I'm sure he was amazing. That's why I picked him. But I just couldn't hear what he was saying, sorry. Now there will be a DVD made of this event (to raise awareness of and money for Bradley Manning) that World Can't Wait will sell and I'm sure Ethan will be easier to understand on that because they'll probably have him plugged into the sound board. Whereas on the livestream, he's echoing and the connection is bad." Stan enjoyed Josh Steiber's remarks but disagreed with an aspect of them, "But I really think that in the movement there's been too much effort to glorify soldiers. I think Josh probably sees a lot of stuff and he speaks from that and that's great. But there's also the reality that either everyone's welcome or no one really is in which case, it's not a movement, it's a clique. I don't think he's trying to start a clique. I think he's trying to address serious problems and I believe him that he's seen these serious problems; however, I also believe there's a lot of group-think and a lot of 'let's hide behind soldiers' and other stuff like that." Kat covered Matthis Chiroux who stated, "Debra, you know me, and the type of messages I put out tend to be very direct. These things are resonating with folks, they are identifying Boldwith the truth. Which in our current situation are very radical." Ruth noted Matthis stated that people in the military he was in contact with were looking through their old videos to see if they have anything like the WikiLeaks vidoe and she quotes him stating: "We need you to hear this call to action. Whoever released this video didn't do it because they wanted to be a hero or whatever, they did it because the contents were so shocking and so disturbing." Rebecca did not enjoy Ray McGovern or McGovern's inability to call out Barack Obama while aiming 'jokes'/smears at Hillary Clinton and offered McGovern had issues: "no, cause he's a little, witty boy coward. still angry that mommy pulled him off her tits and going to take that out on every woman in the world. what a pig." Betty was so angered by McGovern's stunt that she stopped streaming and only turned it back on when Rebecca called her to say Dahr Jamail was on. Betty quotes Darh stating "I'm very excited about the WikiLeaks situation I think Julian Assange should get nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. I think it's the most important journalism this year." and "Someone put their butt on the line to get this information out there, taking huge, huge risks." Cedric and Wally offer a humor take on McGovern, focusing on a young McGovern playing football: "AS THE OPPOSING TEAM'S RUNNING BACK BARRELLED PAST HIM, YOUNG RAY-RAY MADE THE 'STRATEGIC' (COWARDLY) CHOICE TO IGNORE THE RUNNING BACK AND INSTEAD LAUNCHED A FLYING TACKLE AT 7-YEAR-OLD BOBBY MASON WHO WAS CHEERING FROM THE SIDELINES AND CONSIDERED 'SMALL FOR HIS AGE'." Isaiah wasn't planning on covering the stream but Cindy Sheehan came on and he quoted her stating, "We do have to realize that the traditional antiwar movement is mostly anti-Republican and they're not so antiwar when a Democrat is in power but Barack Obama owns the drone bombings, they've increased, they've more than tripled since he's been president." Mike also covered Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan who spoke about the weak turnout in opposition to the latest war funding. Mike outlines her points:

* Many people on the left on the so-called left on Tuesday they responded
like it was a victory because so many more Democrats voted against it this time
than last time.

* We have to decide what's the response of the so-called two-party system.

* As an antiwar movement we have to be more organized and we have to

be more outspoken now than we were when George Bush was president.




Today the DoD announced: "The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation New Dawn. Sgt. John F. Burner III, 32, of Baltimore, Md., died Sept. 16, in Iskandariya, Iraq, in a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 63rd Signal Battalion (Expeditionary), 35th Signal Brigade, Fort Gordon, Ga. For more information media may contact the Fort Gordon public affairs office at 706-791-6001 or 706-791-6839." Add today's death to the DoD count and that's [PDF format warning] 4425 Americans who have died serving in Iraq. USF (formerly MNF) did not issue a release on the death -- which is their job, they announce deaths, DoD issues releases identifying the fallen. Yet again, USF is caught still not doing their job but they work for a president who wants to lie that the Iraq War is over (it's not) so don't look for any discipline to take place as USF continues to earn tax payer dollars while failing to do the most basic of their jobs. John Burner III is the fourth US service member to die in Iraq since Barack announced the 'end' of 'combat operations' in Iraq August 31st.


In other news of deaths and injuries, Reuters notes a Hawija bike bombing claimed 2 lives and left nine people injured, a Baghdad sticky bombing claimed the life of 1 Ministry of Interior employee, a Baghdad roadside bombing injured two police officers, 1 Iraqi soldier shot dead in Mosul, 1 suspect killed in an Iraqi military raid in Mosul and 1 corpse discovered in Kirkuk.

Today Alsumaria TV reports that the leaders of Syria and Iran's governments -- Bashar Al Assad and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- will meet to discuss many issues including Iraq's government: "A well informed source in Damascus said last Saturday that Syria tends to nominate Syrian Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki for a second term stressing that Damascus currently wants to form an Iraqi government that encompasses all the components of the Iraqi society disregarding the candidates to Premiership." What's going on?

March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board noted last month, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality." 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. In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. It's six months and ten days with no government formed.

There Will Be War offers a timeline of Iraq which they believe illuminates the current political stalemate while Falah Mustafa Bakir (Washington Times) offers a series of questions:

However, if the situation remains at a standstill, other measures may be necessary. How long can a state hold out without a government, awaiting consensus? The lack of progress may force Iraq to take some difficult decisions to overcome this crisis and preserve the possibility of a democratic and pluralistic nation.
If all four blocs do not agree, should we consider a government formed by only three blocs? Should Iraq convene a caretaker government and hold a new election in a year's time? Should the Kurdistan Alliance itself consider identifying a compromise candidate?
If the three blocs will not budge and cannot move forward, does the bloc system any longer serve its purpose of representing the Iraqi people in a federal government? The principal blocs all contain a number of moderate parties. If the blocs are not capable of forming a government very soon, is it preferable to bring together the factions of each bloc genuinely interested in forming a government?


Last Friday, Marco Werman (The World, PRI -- link has audio and text) spoke with the New York Times' Anthony Shadid about the stalemate. Excerpt:


WERMAN: What is at stake for the US if something doesn't get sorted out with Iraq's civilian government?

SHADID: It's already embarrassing, the American government at this point,
that it's gone on as long as it has. We're talking about six months here and
the Americans they expected to have a government far before this August 31
deadline that they had set up as a turning point in this seven-year
experience there. So there is the issue of embarrassment. There's also the
issue of growing frustration in Iraq. Discontent across the board where you
think you're reaching a point where you may have the entire political system discredited. It's always struck me in [ Iraq that the country's still a lot like it
did in 2003 in some respects. And I don't want to overstate that comparison.
Back in 2003, as you have now, a country that's anxious, a country that has
an unclear political future. There's a question about American intentions
and there's a lot of ambiguity covering almost everything that goes on in
the country today. That's not to mention, of course, more practical issues. Electricity, water, sewage, lack of housing for education. It's an unsettled
place right now and it's probably going to stay that way for a little while.

Alsumaria TV reports today, "A well informed political source said that the Sadrist
bloc tends to work from within the Iraqi National Alliance in order to prevent State of
Law Coalition Leader, Nouri Al Maliki and Head of National Coalition Adel Abdul
Mahdi from winning Premiership position and aim at bringing another candidate for this position. The same source added that Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq might withdraw from the Iraqi National Alliance and form a parliamentary opposition bloc if Maliki wins
for a second term. In an interview with Alsumaria News the source uttered that the
Sadrist Bloc aims at complicating choosing a candidate for Premiership by
nominating Adel Abdul Mahdi which leads to undermining the candidature of both
Maliki and Abdul Mahdi because there is a mutual rejection between the two parties."
UPI adds, "Iraqi Vice President Adel Abdul-Mahdi, himself a candidate for prime
minister, said he was close to securing backing from a Shiite political alliance but
was blocked by former Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari." And, if DPA is correct,
that alliance might have been Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc, "Former prime minister Iyad
Allawi's Sunni-backed bloc on Friday backed Adel Abdul-Mahdi, Iraq's Shiite vice-president, to form a government, a blow to efforts by Shiite incumbent Premier Nuri
al-Maliki's to form a ruling coalition." UPI also reports that, "Aliya Nusseif, a key
figure in the secular Iraqiya slate, told the Voices of Iraq news agency that there
was an 'initial agreement' to give Iraqi Vice President Adel Abdul Mahdi the position
of prime minister and Iraqiya leader Iyad Allawi the position of president. A member
of a Kurdish alliance would get the position of the speaker of parliament."
Jason Ditz (Antiwar.com) adds, "Ayad Allawi, who led his secularist Iraqiya bloc
to the largest plurality in the election despite the notable handicap of having a
number of its members banned by the ruling party, is said to be tapped as the
next president replacing Jalal Talabani. The Kurdistan Alliance would get the
parliament chairmanship."

Turning to the US, Senator Daniel Akaka is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and his office notes:

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii) introduced a bill to extend the age limit for coverage of veterans' dependents through the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA) to the level set by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.



"Thanks to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, families with private health insurance coverage can keep their children on their plans


until age 26. Surely coverage for veterans' family members in need


should meet this new national standard," said Senator Akaka.



CHAMPVA was established in 1973 to provide health care services to dependents and survivors of certain veterans. CHAMPVA enrollment


has grown over the years, and now covers over 336,000 unique


beneficiaries. Under the current law, dependent children lose eligibility


for CHAMPVA at 23-years-old if they are full-time students, or 18-years-


old if they are not.



To read Senator Akaka's introductory remarks and the text of the bill (S. 3801) in the Congressional Record, click here: LINK



Yesterday's snapshot mentions Libbyliberal's post a Corrente but does't include a link. My apologies. And I noted the wisdom of her post here.


TV notes. On PBS' Washington Week, Jeanne Cummings (Politico), John Dickerson (CBS News, Slate) and John Harwood (New York Times, CNBC) join Gwen around the table while Dan Balz (Washington Post) files a report from Des Moines on the speech Sarah Palin makes to Iowa's GOP. Gwen now has a weekly column at Washington Week and the current one is "Who Exactly Are the Bums?" This week, Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Debra Carnahan, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Leslie Sanchez and Tara Setmayer on the latest broadcast of PBS' To The Contrary to discuss the week's events. And this week's To The Contrary online extra is on college tuition -- its cost and its worth is debated. Need To Know is PBS' new program covering current events. This week's hour long broadcast airs Fridays on most PBS stations -- but check local listings -- and it explores US combat in Afghanistan, the US role in institutionalizing Afghan corruption; abuse and mistreatment of US seniors at home-based senior centers, Jon Meacham discussing "superlativism" and more. Turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:


To understand how Bernard Madoff could have done what he did, listen to so-called "mini-Madoff" Ponzi schemer Marc Dreier tell Steve Kroft in his first television interview how he scammed $400 million. Watch Video


Jimmy Carter
Lesley Stahl speaks to the former president about his new book, "White House Diary," in which he admits mistakes and blames Ted Kennedy for delaying comprehensive health care. Watch Video



Football Island
"60 Minutes" goes to American Samoa to find out how a territory with a population less than the capacity of a pro-football stadium sends more players to the NFL than any similarly populated place in America. Scott Pelley reports. Watch Video



60 Minutes, Sunday, Sept. 19, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.











pri
the world

marco werman






jason ditz
60 minutes
cbs news
to the contrary
bonnie erbe

washington week
.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Unable to hear Ethan McCord

Wednesday on Fresh Air (NPR), Terry Gross continued her efforts to suck off every man in America -- adding two more, the bad novelist Scott Spencer and another man. Bad novelist?

Did you not read the book Endless Love?

The guy who does the narration throughout (and burns his girlfriend's house) talks about going down on his girlfriend, describes the scene, when she was having her period, and he gets a clump of blood (dried) and he chews on it and more.

I picked that book up when I was somewhere around 13 and did so because I love Diana Ross and I like Lionel Richie. They had the huge hit "Endless Love" (number one for nine weeks long before I was listening to the top 40) which is an endless classic. And so I was primed to the book for that reason. When I found the paperback at a second hand store, I grabbed it and didn't even know that it had been a movie (Diana and Lionel recorded the theme song for the movie -- Lionel wrote the song) starring Brooke Shields. But it is a bad book. Juvenile to the extreme and more of that 'man is victim' when, reality, he was the victimizer.

It was also like a big gob of spit on the sixties which is another reason I hated the book.

I did follow the livestream of the World Can't Wait event tonight. I had signed up to cover Ethan McCord. I can't.

I heard the questions Elaine B. and Debra S. asked him. But there was an echo when he spoke and also a sort of electronic squeal and I couldn't understand him.

I'm sure he was amazing. That's why I picked him. But I just couldn't hear what he was saying, sorry. Now there will be a DVD made of this event (to raise awareness of and money for Bradley Manning) that World Can't Wait will sell and I'm sure Ethan will be easier to understand on that because they'll probably have him plugged into the sound board. Whereas on the livestream, he's echoing and the connection is bad.

In my section, Debra Sweet made the statement that if Bradley Manning is successfully defended on these charges then it will encourage others to speak out.

And Ethan agreed and said something that sounded like free speech is dead or dying if we don't speak out. And then he started talking about being in Iraq. I wish I could have heard him. He also, I think, talked about Iraqis at another point and if I was able to, I would write what he said. But I think he wrote a letter to an Iraqi. In case I'm wrong, I'll leave it at that. But it was a pretty cool letter from the every few words I could hear.

Michael Moore's kissed Barack's ass one time too many for my tastes so I don't link to his site but I will link to Ethan's blog posts at his site so you can find out more about Ethan McCord if you don't know about him.

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

Thursday, September 16, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, another US service member dies in Iraq, violence continues, the political stalemate continues and the VA does the same song and dance before Congress as usual.

Today the House Veterans Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity met.to receive an update on the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The following exchange probably best captures the hearing between Subcommittee Chair Stephanie Herseth Sandlin and the VA's Mark Krause probably best captures the hearing..

Chair Stephanie Herseth Sandlin: So do you have any estimates of how many of those 150,801 [veterans] might have received overpayment?

Mark Krause: I don't have that information available but I would be happy to look at it for the record --

Chair Stephanie Herseth Sandlin: Or at least look at the trend of when we started this because, as we have discussed, this is a significant problem and we'd like to see an improvement as it relates to dealing with that problem. And that leads me to the question that came up from Ms. [Rosa] DeLauro and that is the issue of veterans who participated in a 35, an emergency payment last November. And then they entered a repayment plan and were automatically sent to debt management [. . .] and why is this happening and how are we going to fix this problem and when will these veterans accounts be cleared from the debt management center?

Mark Krause: They will be cleared. We are aware that there are situations where that is occurring when we're made aware of those situations we put those individuals directly in contact with the debt management center and we work it out manually on a case-by-case basis but it should not be happening as a category of cases and we are working hard on that.

If the overpayment issue seems familiar, it continues to pop up. If someone is overpaid it goes to the payee -- though the VA never claims fault -- and the student is then expected to quickly pay it back (unlike the VA which sends out a check whenever the mood strikes them). Then there is the issue of the emergency loans taken out by veterans who had to wait and wait for their checks to arrive. Though they had to wait and wait, note that they are expected to begin payments immediately. Why the hell did the VA set it up to turn this issue over to debt collection? The veterans who waited months and months did not for their overdue payments did not have the option of turning the VA over to a credit collection agency. How does the VA continue to manage to screw over the veteran? You'd think they'd work very hard about it; however, based on the testimony, incompetence is the answer.

Is the computer system up and running? Well . . . See those are basic questions and the VA can't answer basic questions. It can spend and waste a lot of money. The Subcomittee was informed that the computer system is still not integrated with some functions -- functions that 2009 and early 2010 hearings found the same witnesses (including VA's Keith Wilson) maintaining the system would interact with. Okay, well is everything functioning? Actually, the system purchased will require constant updates. And there's another update the current team is working on. Oh, and they're not under contract to work on it past this update.

Keith Wilson bored everyone with another of his bad slide shows -- sloppy and dull and overlong. If you're going to do a slide show, you should be able to do it in five minutes and when the Subcomittee Chair asks you to try to cut it down, you shouldn't expect to have ten minutes, especially after you've already wasted everyone's time reading your prepared remarks before, BEFORE, the slide show. Not only is this a time waster -- and there were a large number of breaks during this hearing -- but it also goes to the fact that the VA does no real prep before any hearing. They show up surprised that a question repeatedly asked of them in every hearing is again asked. They have to take issues involving the call centers -- still a problem -- for the record because they just don't come to the hearings prepared -- despite knowing they're supposed to testify. Does Eric Shinseki, Secretary of the VA, think this reflects well on him? It doesn't. And it indicates that there is no real leadership at VA.

Yesterday's snapshot covered another hearing, the House Veterans Affairs Committee (full committee) hearing that Steve Buyer stormed out of. Kat covered it at her site with "Steve Buyer's nuclear meltdown" and there were a few e-mails on the topic. First "acquisition reform" is the word that should be in this statement by Buyer, "You pass aquistion form and I will hug you. I will hug you!" The snapshots are dicated and I speak very fast. Typos are a given even in the morning entries that I usually type myself. In terms of Buyer's behavior -- short version, he attacked two witnesses on a panel and then stormed out of the hearing -- a few are worried it was included here by me to pump up Democratic turnout in the mid-terms. That was not the case. (Parenthetical, Libby Liberal at Corrente is correct and for those who can't see it, with it very likely that Dems will suffer in the mid-terms, it would be smart of the left to get out ahead of it and be able to say after See, we can go elsewhere, we don't have to vote for you, we can vote third party, we can vote Republican or we can just not vote. The alternative? Centrist Dems hectoring the Dem Party that they went 'too far' and 'too left.' Libby Liberal is correct and she's correct for a number of smart reasons.)

Could yesterday's behavior by Buyer be used to promote voting for Democrats? Absolutely. I don't buy the "party of no" as a GOP description but if a Dem wanted to illustrate that, they could just show Buyer attacking an Iraq War veteran and a reporter and then storming out of the hearing. Not only does that show "no,"they could add, "Not only do they just say no, they won't even listen." It could be used any number of ways. That's not my concern. I do understand that my noting I was a Democrat fed into some people's beliefs on this; however, I noted that because Buyer was a Republican and I was attempting to make very clear that I was speaking of my imprssions and someone else might have felt differently. I also attempted to be nicer about it than I normally would have just because I found it so shocking and so out of character for Buyer.

If a member of Congress makes angry statements and storms out of a hearing, that is news. My big concern in including it yesterday was that it might be seen as discrediting Chuck Luther. Chuck Luther was very believable and he has repeatedly told the same story . But I made a point to include Chuck Luther's response -- in full -- to Buyer's tantrum. Joshua Kors has been highlighted here many times and I was less concerned about getting every word of his response for that reason. I also noted /detailed his journalistic pursuit of this story so I thought that was clear. (He may have been short changed in that I feel like I am forever defending the profession of journalism -- if not the actual practice of it -- and grow bored with addressing that topic.)

Buyer threw a tantrum. Read Kat's post and note the walk through she provides. He threw a tantrum and, were he running for re-election, this might be a big deal to partisans. We didn't cover it due to partisanship. We covered it because it is news when a member of Congress launches into a tirade and then storms out of a Committee hearing. Many things that take place in Congress are not and will never qualify as news but that sort of behavior is news.

It was not covered to advance the Democratic Party or to help them in the mid-terms. It was covered because it was news.

On Democracy Now! today, Amy Goodman interviewed (link has text, audio and video) Johan Galtun'g


AMY GOODMAN: Professor Galtung, what about Iraq, where we stand today with Iraq, where Iraq stands?
JOHAN GALTUNG: I think the basic point about Iraq is that it is an artificial construction by two civil servants of the British Foreign Service in 1916. And I think they had the assignment of constructing a country out of the remnants of the Ottoman Empire, consisting—but it could, within the borders of one country, accommodate the oil in Kirkuk, Mosul, in the north, and Basra, in the south. And so they did. Now, that's not a rationale for a country. Mesopotamia, between the rivers, would have made sense. Iraq, I think, is doomed to disintegration. This is one reason why they still don't have a government, in spite of elections in March. They cannot agree on the formula for it. So I would say that it will disintegrate as either a very loose federation or a confederation.
There is some Iraq that has come into existence. I am quite willing to say that. But it is weak. And I don't think the capital can be in Baghdad, which is in one of the four Sunni provinces out of the eighteen provinces. And, you see, the Sunnis have been ruling this system not having oil. And the others are not quite willing to bail out the Sunnis. So I think it's a nonstarter. It was a nonstarter from the beginning, and Obama is now following in the footsteps of George Bush. I don't think there's anything new, actually, in Obama's proposal, and it doesn't look promising.

AMY GOODMAN: I mean, you have about 50,000 troops. You have the largest US embassy in the world there, something like eighty football fields in size.
JOHAN GALTUNG: Unbelievable, inside the Green Zone. Unbelievable. Are they going to dismantle that? Well, those bases, I guess, were inspired by the idea that there will be a war with China. That's always been the Anglo-American idea, that the biggest power, be that on the continent or be that in Eurasia, is our born enemy. It's always been the Anglo-American idea, some kind of paranoia. And totally unnecessary. So I guess the bases are essentially for that purpose, like the purpose of the Bagram base in Afghanistan, the same.
Yesterday, another US service member died in Iraq. Justin Hinkley (Battle Creek Enquirer) reports that the family of 25-year-old Senior Airman Jimmy Hansen's family was informed last night that their loved one died in Iraq yesterday "when 'something went wrong' while the airman was helping to detonate captured bombs." AP notes that, as of last night, the Pentagon still hadn't issued an announcement on the death. As of 8:00 a.m. EST this morning, they still had not issued an announcement -- USF is where the death announcement is supposed to come from (DoD is supposed to later identify the fallen in an announcement -- after the family has been notified). The death announcement is supposed to come from USF and it's yet another example of not only how they are not doing their job (repeatedly) but also how they keep getting away with it. But then when the White House doesn't want the focus to be on Iraq, USF can get away with not doing their job (repeatedly). Finally this morning, they issued a statement: "JOINT BASE BALAD -- One Airman was killed and a Soldier was injured during an on-base controlled detonation at Joint Base Balad, Iraq at approximately 9:40 a.m. Wednesday. The Airman was pronounced dead at the scene. The injured Soldier was rushed to the Air Force Theater Hospital here. The name of the deceased will be withheld until 24 hours after notification of next-of-kin. Controlled detonation is part of a regular process to dispose of unexploded ordnances. 'The hearts and minds of every servicemember at JBB go out to the families of the servicemembers involved in this incident,' said Maj. Gen. Craig Franklin, 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing commander. The cause of the incident is under investigation." The death brings to 4424 the number of Americans killed in Iraq while serving in the military.
Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .
Bombings?
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a roadside bombing outside Kirkuk which wounded one Iraqi police officer and Samarra suicide bomber who took his/her own life, claimed the lives of 2 Sahwa members and left three more injured.. Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) reports a roadside bombing just outside Baquba claimed 1 ilfe and left three injured, and two Kirkuk roadside bombing which left two police officer injured.
Shootings?
Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) reports a Abu Sayda home invasion in which 1 Sahwa and his wife were shot dead and a Mosul armed clash in which 2 suspects were killed
Corpses?
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 corpses were discovered in Baghdad.
Meanwhile David E. Miller (Media Line) reports that Iraqi Christians continue to be targeted, that they make up over 40% of the Iraqi refugees in Syria (the United Nations counts 19% among the Iraqi refugees in Syria who have registered with the UNHCR) and that a large number of the 1.5 million Christians the United Nations estimated were living in Baghdad before the start of the Iraq War fled due to threats, targeting and violence. IRIN notes that Iraqi Mandaeans are in the thousands in Syria, that approximately 3,500 to 5,000 remain in Iraq and, in Iraq, their roles have included "prominent goldsmiths, lawyers and doctors in Iraq, Mandaeans continue to be kidnapped, forced to convert to Islam or to leave the country, according to the Mandaean Human Rights Group in Damascus." Mandaens are Gnostics and they practice baptism in their religion (John the Baptist is among the Christian figures who are prominent in the practice of the religion). A functioning government in Iraq would have long ago worked to protect the refugee populations.
It would have also worked to address education issues and women's rights. Education is especially important because Iraq's population pyramid -- as a result of the illegal war and other factors -- means that Iraq has a very young population with most Iraqis being well under the age of 30. (You can find this diagrammed at Adam's Blog.) Now a new [PDF format warning] United Nations study has found: "One in five Iraqis, aged 10 - 49, cannot read or write. There are significant disparities in literacy rates across gender, age and urban versus rural areas. Illiteracy among Iraqi women (24%) is more than double that of Iraqi men (11%). Rural populations are more adversely affected by illiteracy (25%) than urban (14%) populations, and within rural areas the literacy divide between men and women is wider." Al Arabiya adds, "In the mid-1980s, Iraq was listed as an illiteracy-free country after the government launched an expansive campaign to eliminate illiteracy. The campaign involved enrolling illiterate Iraqi living in remote villages and towns in schools where they are obliged to study for six years." A functioning government should be able to today what was done earlier for education.
Xinhua reports that Ezzat al-Shahbandar, of State of Law, told them Tuesday that "the deadlock of government formation" had been overcome. Which would mean that the government was on the verge of being formed. Don't hold your breath.

March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board noted last month, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality." 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. In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. It's six months and nine days with no government formed.
The Iraqi National Alliance is a Shi'ite coalition. The two biggest components of the National Alliance are the ones headed by Moqtada al-Sadr and by Ammar al-Hakim. UPI reports that al-Hakim is currently conducting talks with Ayad Allawi. On Moqtada al-Sadr's group, Basim al-Shara (Middle East Online) reports:


The political movement of Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr is wielding increasing clout as the tortuous process of forming a new Iraqi government continues.
In recent days, the Sadrist party Al-Ahrar has indicated that it is backing Vice-President Adel Abdul Mahdi for the post of prime minister. Until now, the competition for the job has been seen as a straight fight between incumbent prime minister Nuri al-Maliki and Ayad Allawi, leader of the mostly secular Iraqiya coalition which includes top Sunni leaders.
The Sadrists' endorsement of a third candidate exposes cracks within the Shia coalition that consists of Maliki's State of Law party; the Iraqi National Alliance, INA, which is led by the Sadrists, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, ISCI, and a handful of smaller groups.

Alsumaria TV reports, "Al Sadr Front senior official Bahaa Al Araji announced that the national alliance will hold a meeting on Thursday or Friday to complete talks on the required mechanism to choose a candidate for Premiership." Whether the increased communication between the governments of Iraq and Syria result in a new government for Iraq, it has already resulted in something else. Kadhim Ajrash (Bloomberg News) reports that the two countries have "signed a memorandum of understanding to build two pipelines to export Iraqi crude oile through Syrian territory."
The Financial Times of London notes the 12 oil contracts Iraq signed last year and:

Iraq's oil reserves are the fourth largest in the world, after Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Iran, but production today is barely 2.5m barrels a day, making Iraq at best a middle-weight on the international stage. The new contracts should bring a substantial stream of investment in the country's neglected oil infrastructure, allowing production to rise to more than 10 mb/d by 2020 (the government's own target is 12 mb/d by 2016).

Sinan Salaheddin (AP) reports that Hussain al-Shahristani stated yesterday at a ceremony for the 50th anniversary of OPEC that Iraq could help meet the world need for oil "with an average of 10 million barrels a day." al-Shahristani is the Minister of Oil but, of course, in a fair world he wouldn't be. He was appointed by Nouri and approved by the Parliament. In a fair world, Nouri's term having long ago expired, the UN would have helped form a caretaker government -- that's not what Nouri has and the press should stop calling it that -- if Iraq was unable to form a government. Instead, al-Shahristani not only remains as Minister of Oil, he also holds the title of Minister of Electricity following the spring resignation of the man who held that post. But al-Shahristani was never approved, as the Constitution insists must take place, by the Parliament. That's how it works in the continuation government of Nouri al-Maliki, the Constitution and the laws are ignored over and over. Hassan Hafidh (Dow Jones) reports, "Iraq's crude oil exports fell 1.7% in August to 1.788 million barrels a day from 1.820 million barrels a day in July due to technical faults and sabotage on the country's northern pipeline, an Iraqi oil official said Tuesday."
Bradley Manning. 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. This month, the military charged Manning. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported in August that Manning had been charged -- "two charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The first encompasses four counts of violating Army regulations by transferring classified information to his personal computer between November and May and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system. The second comprises eight counts of violating federal laws governing the handling of classified information." 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. Manning is now in Virginia, under military lock and key and still not allowed to speak to the press. From World Can't Wait, we'll note "Bradley Manning Day of Action - New York City Webcast:"

See: Collateral Murder footage, leaked from within the US military, and showing the murder of 12 Iraqi civilians in July 2007

Hear: Supporters of Bradley Manning, including Ethan MCord, who was seen in the video carrying a wounded child and who with Josh Steiber wrote an Open Letter of Reconciliation to the Afghan People, and Matthis Chiroux, military resister.

Learn: What you can do to stop the unjust prosecution of a 22-year-old soldier and genuine hero.

As part of the International Days of Support for Bradley Manning, events are happening around the world September 16-19. The Army says he's responsible for leaking the video footage which was named "Collateral Murder" and sent around the world by wikileaks.org. They will likely court martial him. Needless to say, the soldiers in the video -- not to mention the commanders who trained the troops for and ordered the massacre -- are under no arrest, no scrutiny, not even investigation. But Bradley Manning is locked up, facing many possible years in prison.

Also! Tune in to the west coast webcast at 7pm Pacific / 10pm Eastern

Bradley Manning is accused of telling the truth.

He now faces decades in prison for letting Americans see the truth about our wars on Iraq and Afghanistan by allegedly leaking the "Collateral Murder" videos of a Reuter's cameraman being shot and killed by a US helicopter to Wikileaks. He is being investigated in the leaks of the"Afghan War Diary" documents that were also released by Wikileaks--in conjunction with the New York Times, The UK Guardian and the German magazine Der Spiegel-- exposing the war in Afghanistan as a costly quagmire that has cost countless civilian Afghan lives, as well as the lives of over 1,000 US soldiers.

Over the last seven year's Iraq has become the deadliest theater of war for journalists since World War II. The Wikileaks website posted on April 5, 2010, a video showing a US helicopter crew killing 12 Iraqi civilians including Reuters photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen, 22, and his driver Said Chmagh, 40. Wikileaks wrote that it had come from unspecified "military sources." Reuters had filed a formal request, under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), in 2007 to access documents that might explain the death of its media workers. FOIA requires federal government agencies to release documents to all persons requesting them unless specifically exempted by the law. Reuters received no documents. Reporters Without Borders, the international journalists association writes of Bradley Manning, "If this young soldier had not leaked the video, we would have had no evidence of what was clearly a serious abuse on the part of the US military."

Much of my military background concerns the law of warfare. Most Americans do not realize that our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have violated domestic and international law, violations that have been fully exposed in the Wikileaks documents that Manning is accused of releasing. When I joined the US military I, like Bradley Manning, took an oath to protect the constitution and the American people. This led me to resign my position when the US invaded Iraq in 2003. Protecting the constitution outweighs following orders and Manning should be lauded for choosing to do the right thing. Bradley Manning is a patriot of our democracy, who stayed loyal to what is right, risking his own security. His loyalty to the Constitution and the American people transcends partisan politics.

Just as Daniel Ellsberg blew the whistle on the lies of the US leaders of the Vietnam War, Manning is accused of blowing the whistle on the illegality of today's wars. What will our response to the information Manning is charged with releasing be? Can we make today's Pentagon Papers lead to an end to illegal and wasteful wars abroad and the return of our troops home?


Blog Archive