Friday, February 18, 2011

Katrina vanden Heuvel grow the hell up


This week, we’re proud to welcome renowned author and critic Laila Lalami, who will be blogging with us for the next two weeks. Born and raised in Morocco, Laila will be covering the uprisings sweeping the Middle East, US foreign policy, and double standards in how offensive speech is handled here at home. Be sure to check out her post, “The Attack on Lara Logan”, where she calls into question the media’s reaction to the egregious physical assault of the CBS Chief Foreign Correspondent.

Let me review The Nation for you. Lalami's article was the most read piece at the site for three days in a row. It was also written before Nir Rosen's assertion that Lara Logan had a sexual assault coming was known. So Laalmi's fine article does not include that. The only other article on it was written by Laura Flanders, for her own TV program, and reposted at The Nation.

Katrina vanden Hevuel, the mother of a young woman, never bothered to weigh in until now.


(CBSNews)

On Friday, Feb. 11, the day Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stepped down, CBS chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan was covering the jubilation in Tahrir Square for a "60 Minutes" story when she and her team and their security were surrounded by a dangerous element amidst the celebration. It was a mob of more than 200 people whipped into frenzy.

In the crush of the mob, she was separated from her crew. She was surrounded and suffered a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating before being saved by a group of women and an estimated 20 Egyptian soldiers. She reconnected with the CBS team, returned to her hotel and returned to the United States on the first flight the next morning. She is currently home recovering.

Update: Logan left the hospital on Wed. Feb. 16, to recover in her Washington, D.C. home. She received a call from President Obama expressing his concern.



A brutal sexual assault. What's missing from Katty-van-van's post? The sexual assault aspect. I've had we these liars. Katty-van-van chose to publish-publish Nir Rosen and not only has she had the ethics to call him out, she's now attempting to downgrade the sexual assault of Lara Logan.

In the first sentence of her article, Laila Lalami managed to note what Katty couldn't, ""A woman has been sexually assaulted—what should the reaction to such a heinous crime be? Blaming its victim? Disparaging the country she’s in? Looking for a scapegoat? "

Hell is too good of place for Katty-van-van. As a victim of rape, I pray that Katty's own daughter is never sexually assaulted. But Katty better grasp that it is her actions that fosters the climate in which women are sexually assaulted and raped.



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

Friday, February 18, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, DoD identifies one of the fallen, protests continue in Iraq, the military sexual assault lawsuit continues to be ignored but Joan Walsh tells America enough's been said about Nir Rosen declaring (rapist mentality) that Lara Logan's sexual assault was something she had coming, and more.
We start again on sexual assault and we start with Nir Rosen's attack on Lara Logan (who was assaulted while on assignment in Egypt). Other than noting this link to NYU Local's interview with Rosen -- mentioned and quoted from yesterday but the link was not included -- that wasn't the plan. Ava and I began taking notes on the various lies from Nir Rosen and his supporters on Thursday for a piece we'll be doing at Third Sunday and that was going to be it. But then there's Joan Walsh, the village idiot. Marcia praised Joan Walsh for her appearance on Anderson Cooper's show Wednesday night. Marcia's kinder than I am and also wants it noted that she thought she had seen all the Tweets Nir did. She had not seen them all. Joan Walsh either hasn't seen them all or she's lying.
Nir Rosen deleted them. Many were rescued. However, there are more than many people -- like Joan Walsh -- have addressed.
In 2008, Joan Walsh would sometimes call out a little of the sexism aimed at Hillary Clinton and then do one of her columns or TV appearances where she tried to soothe the hurt feelings of the pigs she'd called out. (Ava has critiqued Joan's insulting attitude towards Latinas in an Iraq snapshot. That criticism stands.) Ava and I would not praise Joan because we've learned you just can't trust her. (If that's news to you, head over to The Daily Howler and check the archives.)
At Salon today, she shows up to play shirts & skins. Because it's never about the violence against women for Joan, it's about left and right. She trashes the right wing and claims Nir's in the clear (he "has since apologed everywhere imaginable"). I'm not a right winger. I'm never surprised by anything the right wing does. Nor do I have any interest in following them. But on the left we're supposed to believe in equality. And yet we turn a blind eye when Amy Goodman and others elect to publish multiple columns in the most offensive of skin magazines that do far more than objectify women, that target them for violence. Of those who did that, only Noam Chomsky offered a public apology. Many on the left are still not aware of it. In the accusations against Julian Assange, we saw the two women attacked over and over. We saw them attacked -- from the left -- with the same sexist trash and lies that the right uses. And, of course, the Hillary attacks 'from the left' recyled all the right wing garbage as well.
The problem's not the right. The problem's the left. Recently people were surprised that The Daily Kos has an anti-choice ad. Why? Why are they surprised? That site and so many others have been pushing for abortion rights to be tossed aside. The problem's not the right. The problem for those of us on the left is the very real hatred towards women. And it flares up -- and has for decades -- whenever any woman won't go along and attack another who's speaking out about abuse towards women. You saw it on the Journolist. Harper's Luke Wilson rushing in to scream about leave Keith Olbermann alone, his sexism may be offensive, but he's talking about torture!
Well, Luke Wilson, rape is torture, sexual assault is torture, domestic abuse is torture. It's not in your little mind and as long as women like Joan Walsh exist, Luke Wilson will thrive on the left. Joan tells you that "everything there is to say" has been said. Really because I'm not remembering Salon tackling the homophobia in Nir Rosen's remarks. Did I miss it, Joan?
Now, how come you wanna leave me here
Is it something that I said
Or is it just your style that after a while
You've got to get up and get
Oh, now that everything's been said
Now that everything's been done
How come you wanna leave me here
To work it out all on my own
-- "Now That Everything's Been Said," written by Carole King and Toni Stern, first appears on the City's Now That Everything's Been Said
No, Joan didn't cover the homophobia nor did anyone at Salon. But she did allow Nir to rush in with yet another so-called apology. "And yet, in all the tweets, essays and interviews, Rosen has yet to come across and truly contrite and apologetic. Maybe he should use some of his new-found free time to work on that," Julie Gerstein (New York magazine) observed today and she's correct.
Everything's been said, Joan? If you mean blaming the victims of sexual assault, yeah, that's being said, Joan. One-time journalist Thomas E. Ricks' post about his friend Nir continues to gather comments about how Lara Logan (any woman) had it coming. Thomas E. Ricks has failed to jump into that thread and has failed to call it out in a post. So Foreign Policy is now on record as endorsing that women who are sexually assaulted had it coming.
Joan wants to fret about what it says about Muslims to some on the right. Not because she gives a damn but because it deflects from Nir Rosen (someone Salon's long published and plans to continue publishing). If Joan really gave a damn about that -- if Nir Rosen had -- they would have made the obvious point: Egyptian women came to Lara Logan's aid. That can't be minimized. Yes, some can minimize the Egyptian army's actions -- they were supposed to be protecting all the people and when they did step in they were doing that function. They were armed and what they did was their job. But Egyptian women, unarmed women, saw another woman being attacked and sexually assaulted and stood up and said no. If they hadn't, the assault would have continued.
Joan and Nir never find time to talk about that. (Nir because he has no respect for women. His Tweets mocked Egyptian women and his comments since then have been insulting towards Egyptian women.) If McDonalds brings back the McRib tomorrow, I'm sure there are some on the right who hate Muslims that will find a way to turn that into more reasons to hate Muslims. Joan wants to pretend there's some logic to be found. There is none to be found. But it does allow you to pretend like the hatred is all on the right, Joan. I don't really give a damn what some right wing blogger writes or someone says on Fox. It doesn't hugely effect my life.
But Nir Rosen said Lara Logan had it coming. That does effect my life. He's been promoted by the left -- he is still promoted by the left -- and the left refuses to call him out. Joan Walsh went on TV to call him out. She hasn't called him out at Salon, at Salon where she's written many checks to him. In other words, Joan Walsh, you've promoted him, you vouched for him in the past. Probably you're a little concerned about your own image if Nir goes down. That as charitable as I'll be towads you.
Joan Walsh wants to claim that Salon's one article critiquing Nir Rosen said all that needed to be said. We praised that column by Mary Elizabeth Williams. But not being Joan Walsh, I'm not stupid enough to think that 'says it all.' If it said it all, you wouldn't find people at Foreign Policy leaving comments that justify the sexual assault. If that one article said it all, Joan, Mark Memmott wouldn't have had to posted a column at NPR's The Two-Way explaining, "Many of the comments that have come in to our post about CBS News correspondent Lara Logan, who the network says was attacked and sexually assaulted last Friday while reporting in Cairo's Tahrir Square, have been flagged and removed because they violated NPR.org's discussion rules." Brad Phillips (Mr. Media Training) finds more to talk about, but then he examines the so-called apologies (don't miss his update at the end). Alice in Progress notes the attacks on Logan and the attacks on Senator Scott Brown (Brown just came forward about physical abuse from step-fathers and sexual abuse from a camp counselor) and points out of the attacks, "Both are similar in the sense that they show how an overwhelming majority of people in our society view rape and sexual abuse victimes: that they're not 'victims' at all and somehow got what they 'deserved', for either being too pretty or just standing in a certain location, or for a number of others really stupid reasons." Joan Walsh claims everything's been said and we all need to just MoveOn and, presumably, focus on a more important issue like saving the rain forest or, more likely, elections. Seriously? Duane Gundrum (Dreams of a Lego Spaceman) calls out Nir Rosen's disgusting Salon article (another 'apology') and explains:
But what bothers me about this is not just that it happened, which does, of course, bother me, but how I first found out about it. I follow news through a number of message boards, and it just so happens that there are a couple of computer gaming boards I follow where some of the more brilliant current events people hang out. I take great pleasure in debating all sorts of issues with these individuals, and it was on that particular day when I first read a thread of this event happening. However, what kept bothering me about the thread was not that the event had happened (which again, bothered me a great deal), but that almost all of the commentary was from people indicating that Lara Logan was the one who should be considered at fault, because she should have known better than to be in a place where she might possibly be raped by men.
I remember staring at the screen, thinking to myself, how could anyone even think something like that? In all of the years I've been arguing with these people, not once did I ever think of them as a bunch of Neanderthals who thought that women should be treated as sexual fodder to be used randomly because they're soft and cuddly, and men are going to do what men are going to do. Yet, in post after post, that's all I was reading.
So, I fired off a response in which I indicated that I was shocked that we still have people who think this way in this day and age. I was astonished at this behavior, and I couldn't believe they would EVER blame a woman for the simple crime of, well, being a woman in a man's world. I knew I was going to rile up some people, but right after I posted my response, the usual suspects started chiming in about how "you need to live in the real world" and that the world is a dangerous place, and if I can't handle the way things happen, then maybe I should stay inside and not dare to play with the big boys, because "your panties might get tussled."
And Joan Walsh thinks one column on the subject says everything? Seriously? Kelly McBride (Poynter) notes:
My first instinct, when a reporter told me about Logan's assault, was to be quiet. I thought about Logan's privacy and about how I knew some would respond, blaming her for what happened. I didn't want to add fuel to that fire.
But when we turn away from a sexual assault, we amplify the voices that would blame the victim or minimize the attack. Our instinct to avert our eyes leaves the victim to face a world of judgment on her own.
There is so much we can say about sexual assault. As a society, we rarely talk about it, until a particularly dramatic event. Then we talk about the circumstances of the event: Where was she? What happened? In asking those questions, we allow myths and suspicions to guide our conversations. But we forget to bring in all the facts that we do know.
So if we talk about Logan's ordeal, let's do so in the context of things we know to be true.
"Our instinct to aver our eyes"? So true. And Joan might want explain why she hasn't written about the lawsuit brought by service members and veterans? Feministing's "Military Sexual Trauma lawsuit -- the day after" is a report that everyone should be reading and linking to. The author (unnamed) offers a press survey at the start noting all the silences on this lawsuit from the press. Then it tackles what the Pentagon's been insisting is their latest 'assistance' effort to victims of sexual assault: A chat page! Where you can get help! The author went undercover as a victim of military sexual assault and if you think "Billy" telling her that "I really feel bad for you" qualifies as counseling, you're as crazy as Kaye Whitley.
I though we already noted Natalie Wilson's article but a friend at Ms. tells me we haven't. So we'll note it now to bring anyone up to speech who hasn't heard of the lawsuit yet:
Susan Burke wants to dramatically change this brutal, unjust state of affairs. The Washington, D.C., attorney, who heads the firm Burke PLLC, is preparing to file a class-action lawsuit this summer to revamp how the U.S. military deals with sexual violence and assault committed by its personnel. The suit, in which Burke will represent a number of plaintiffs, including Baker, will ask for damages as well as changes in the military's practices. As Burke puts it, "You shouldn't have to agree to be raped in order to sign up and serve your country."
Burke already has a well-deserved reputation as a crusader against violence by the military and its contractors. She spearheaded a series of lawsuits in 2004 against private security forces who allegedly committed torture and abuse on behalf of the U.S. military in Iraq's notorious Abu Ghraib prison. Later, she sued the infamous Blackwater firm on behalf of Iraqis killed and wounded in two allegedly unprovoked 2007 attacks on civilians in Baghdad. (The Blackwater suits were settled for a confidential amount; the Abu Ghraib ones are pending.)
The original plaintiff in her upcoming lawsuit discovered Burke on the Internet in connection with the Abu Ghraib torture suits. "I was really appalled by what she had suffered through," says Burke of the email she received from the woman. After doing more research, Burke decided, "I should just open this up in case others need help. [The military's] institutional tolerance is creating a culture where rape thrives."
Joan Walsh, since everything's been said, explain to where your column is on the topic above. And then, after you explain you haven't written one (though I'm sure you meant to), explain to me why Salon hasn't reported on the lawsuit? What's that sexist pig lawyer you've got writing for you, Joan? Oh, right, Glenn Greenwald. And he's written about the class action suit when? Oh, that's right, he hasn't. Avert our eyes? Oh, yeah, as a culture we do. Joan Walsh is a little uncomfortable because sexual assault was discussed this week and now she and Salon need to move on to the more 'important' issues like what an underage kid said about abortion. (Who cares, he's a child. Find a real story.)
Tuesday, some survivors of military sexual assault, their supporters and attorney Susan Burke held a press conference announcing their lawsuit against the Pentagon. Burke and military sexual assault survivors Rebekah Havrilla and Mary Gallagher were Diane Rehm's guests for the first hour of Thursday's The Diane Rehm Show (NPR). But Salon can't find the story? Even their attorney can't find the story? When Susan Burke's lead attorney on a case against Blackwater, Salon can't stop writing about the case. When she's lead attorney on a case regarding military sexual assault, Salon's too uncomfortable to cover it.
"Walking Wounded" gets the connection and post a comment at Thomas E. Ricks' blog which includes:
If female journalists (and soldiers) are being attacked and terrorized, and those acts excused even by members of the war correspondent fraternity, consider the individual woman in the war zone, trying to protect herself and her family.
Rosen adding insult to a star reporter's potentially lethal, terrifying injuries mostly hurt himself. But that's a distraction here. Tom, you took this in the wrong direction, imo.
Like Joan Walsh, Thomas E. Ricks hasn't found time to write about the law suit. Nor has he written about military sexual trauma. Despite claiming his focus is military issues. "Avert our eyes"? All the damn time, all the damn time.
Two non-stories came out of Iraq this week. No one wanted to examine them although many wanted to amplify them. In the first, an order of F16 jets was cancelled and the closest to examination was that US corporations would lose money. Straight faced, many reporters lied. Here's Stars & Stripes thinking they're being cutesy. And here's one of the many articles accepting the lie that the purchase was dropped because they wanted to put the money into the rations program. Nouri's spokesperson lies and claims it would have cost Iraq one billion dollars. They were buying 18 F16 jets, those are over a hundred million a piece. (Contracts do include some equipment service and training.) Iraq's going to put two billion into the rations program this year? Another popular and foolish report is the one that Iraq wants $1 billion in damages from the US. Nouri's puppet government wants one billion. They want one billion, they have to cancel a two billion contract. The money is not going into the rations program. Not only has that program been gutted and gutted, Nouri only promised a $15 dollar increase per month and, on top of that, they're looking to purge a large number of people from the rolls. Iraq is a war torn country. Children don't always go to school, adult children don't always go to college. If your family has a drop out, the proposal in Nouri's Cabinet currently is that your entire family will lose rations. That's going to target at risk groups especially. The Iraqi Christians, for example, stopped sending their children to school after the October 31st assault on Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad. But it's going to target a lot more. A friend at the United Nations says if the Cabinet pushes through the proposal, you could see the rations cut for half the people currently receiving them.
So let's stop kidding that Nouri's breaking a contract and demanding a billion from the US is about anything other than the reality that Iraq's leaders are continue to steal from the government. Currently $86.20 is the price of oil per barrel. Dow Jones reports today that from February 1st to February 17th, "Iraq has exported 2.163 million barrels a day of crude oil." Not exported 2.163 million barrels in that time frame, but exported 2.163 million barrels daily. Where's that money going?
As the protesters around Iraq know, it's not going into basic services. They still struggle for electricity and potable water and proper sanitation. So where's the money going and don't pretend it's going into the rations program. That's insulting everyone's intelligence.
Yesterday, the pesh merga opened fire on protesters in Sulaimaniyah. Tracey Shelton (Press TV -- link has text and video -- including video of the shooting) reports on the attack and counts four dead. The protest took place outside the KDP political party (headed by KRG President Massoud Barzani). Aljazeera reports that today the headquarters of Goran (emerging political party, backed by the CIA) were looted in Arbil and Dohuk. Al Arabiya News Channel adds, "Goran has denied any involvement in Thursday's demonstration, which left two dead, men aged 18 and 25, and 54 wounded, according to provincial health chief Raykot Hama Rashid, when security forces fired into the air to disperse crowds."

Protests went on and are going on throughout Iraq. Al Mada reports that yesterday in Kut (Wasit Province), demonstrators pitched tents to prepare for a sit-in calling for their demands to be met. Activist Abu Karar lists their demands starting with the governor stepping down and all detainees being immediately released before noting the unemployment situation and the ration card system. And Al Mada notes that protests over those demands and the lack of basic services have taken place in Baghdad, Karbala, Najaf, Maysan, Basra, Mosul, Diwaniya, Kirkuk, Babil and Muthanna. Aslumaria TV notes that protests are going on in Kut today, confirms that the governor fled the city yesterday and notes Nouri al-Maliki is supposed to visit the province. Al Mada notes Nouri has declared that "troublemakers" will be punished. Al Mada also reports a "campaign of arrests" is taking place in Kut. Carol J. Williams (Los Angeles Times) notes, "Iraqi protesters stepped up their challenges to provincial leaderships throughout the nation on Friday, with more than 1,000 demanding that the governor of Basra step down". CNN adds, "Roughly 200 Iraqi protesters hit the streets Friday in central Baghdad, the latest in a string of Middle East cities to be affected by the wave of unrest sweeping the region." Human Rights Watch issued a press release yesterday which included:
According to multiple news reports, on February 17, security guards reportedly opened fire on a crowd of protesters in Sulaimaniya, killing at least one person and wounding more than 33 others after the crowd threw rocks at the political headquarters of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), headed by Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). On February 16 Iraqi police in Kut, southeast of Baghdad, opened fire on angry demonstrators outside the governorate of Wasit province, killing three and wounding more than 50, according to various news reports and a protest organizer.
"Iraqi forces and their commanders have a lot of explaining to do to justify the use of live ammunition on demonstrators," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "Similar behavior by security forces in this tense time in the region has only ignited more powerful and angry popular reactions."
Al Mannarah reports that the Kurdistan Alliance has issued a warning to Nouri al-Maliki that unless fuel prices are reduced and new power stations set up, the Kut demonstrations will spread throughout the provinces and cities of Iraq. (Wednesday, the protesters were fired upon by guards and Iraqi forces -- after being fired upon, they stormed the provincial government building -- which ended up on fire -- and stormed the home of the governor.) Kitabat (link goes to main page, I'm not able to find an individual link, so scroll down for story) features an essay decrying false arrests on the pretext of inciting riots in Diwaniya, Kut, Nasiriyah and Sulaymaniyah and notes that the Iraqi people have been pushed into fighting for the nobel goals and demanding the gith to live free and that the right to protest is not given by any body or Constitution but is a natural right which does not require government approval or a paper from the Ministry of the Interior (with a sidebar note that Nouri hasn't appointed a minister for the ministry -- sidebar note by Kitabat). The essay argues that if Nouri can't make change happen, then he needs to step down and Parliament needs to provide leadership and follow the model of Jaafar al-Sadr (yesterday he noted his resignation in solidarity with the Iraqi people) because the Iraqi people are the legitimate rulers of Iraq.
In other violence, the Committee to Protect Journalists notes:

In Iraq, Hemin Latif, a journalist working for the Sulaimaniya-based Destur news website, was shot and injured today while covering against unemployment and corruption, Mariwan Hama-Saeed, director of local press freedom group Metro Center, told CPJ. Dozens of protesters attacked the building of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). Local journalists told CPJ that the guards for the building shot Latif while he was taking photos. Latif was briefly hospitalized and one of his fingers was broken. Guards also beat Rahman Gharib, who reports for Metro Center and Al-Sumaria News website, while he was covering the demonstration, Gharib told CPJ. He said three men from KDP's security forces in military uniforms beat him. "I demand an official apology from KDP and an investigation into what had happened," Gharib said.
Two other journalists have been injured, according to the independent biweekly Hawlati. One of them is Alan Mohamed, a photographer with the local photo agency Metrography. The newspaper did not identify the second journalist.
Two people were killed and 57 injured in the protests, according to local news reports.

In addition,
BBC reports 13 people died and over thirty were wounded in a Muqdadiyah car bombing on Thursday. Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) quotes police sources, "The attack occurred when a suicide bomber drove his explosive- laden car into a police checkpoint near the town of al-Maqdadiyah, some 100 km northeast of Baghdad, he said." Reuters notes other violence Thursday included the assassination of Sheikh Jassim al-Mutairi in Kerbala, journalist Hilal al-Ahmadi was assassinated in Mosul, a Taji roadside bombing claimed the lives of 7 people, a Baghdad guard was injured in a drive-by shooting outside an amusement park and 1 university professor's Baghdad home was invaded and he was hanged.
In the US, DoD has issued the following statement: "The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation New Dawn. Spc. Lashawn D. Evans, 24, of Columbia, S.C., died Feb. 15 in Baghdad province, Iraq, in a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 1st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Aviation Regiment, Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan. For more information the media may contact the 1st Infantry Division public affairs office at 785-239-3205." This is the death in the Tuesday snapshot. BNO News and only BNO News reported on it. Reuters didn't even include it in their 'factbox' summary. Last month, 3 US soldiers died in Iraq on the same day with a fourth wounded. The deaths received very little press coverage. Judi Gaston (WISTV) speaks with the grandmother of the fallen (whom Gaston doesn't name) and reports that he was due home and had been counting down the days and that he's survived by a wife (Cierra) who is deployed in Iraq and a brother who is deployed in Afghanistan.
The Iraq War continues and some don't want to end. The choices (in order to continue the illegal war) are weaponize diplomacy or get a new agreement. Walter Pincus (Washington Post) reports on Robert Gates' Congressional appearance yesterday: "In an impassioned plea during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on next year's Pentagon budget, Gates cited the loss of more than 4,000 American lives in Iraq and the expenditure of some $900 billion. He said it is 'a critically urgent concern' that a planned $5.2 billion allocation for fiscal 2012 be approved, so that the State Department can carry on the training of Iraqi police and other programs once handled by the Pentagon."

Robert Gates' sense of entitlement is a sure sign that he needs to leave government immediately. Asked in an opening hearing by a Republican Congress member on Wednesday about whether his Department had broken the law, Gates plead ignorance of the matter. Provided with documents in the hearing, Gates insisted he would need time to review them.

If you're so damn stupid that you don't know if the department you headed broke the law, you've got problems. And maybe part of them is that you're looking over the State Dept's shoulder when you should be doing your own damn job. Robert Gates is not the liason for the White House to the State Dept. He is the Secretary of Defense and should confine himself to those issues. You can't plead something is above your pay grade and then start playing expert on a department you don't head and you're not a part of. He needs to be instructed to close his mouth and to do immediately. Joe Biden is the person Barack Obama has placed in charge of overseeing Iraq. Biden can make the case that the State Dept needs the money. I'll still disagree and I will argue Joe is wrong; however, I will not argue that Joe has no business making the argument.

Wednesday, Robert Gates was asked about the Defense Dept's inability to prevent sexual assaults and he played dumb. He was asked about the lawsuit and he issued a self-serving statement. But now he thinks he can go before Congress and present himself as an expert on what the State Dept needs? Clearly, he has time to do everything but the job he was given. If the Secretary of Agriculture appeared before Congress and argued that another Department didn't need funds, we would all be offended. Our attitude would be that the Secretary needed to confine his or her testimony to his or her own department. Pretending Gates has a right to testify about another department's needs opens the door for the day when a Secretary has the right to testify that another department doesn't need funding. He needs to fccus on his own department. Since he's currently been named in a military sexual assault lawsuit, he should have plenty on his plate already.
In related news, Anna Mulrine (Christian Science Monitor) observes, "It is looking increasingly likely that American troops will stay in Iraq beyond December 2011 scheduled date of withdrawal for the US military – a prospect that appears to be gaining bipartisan support in Congress." A morning where we had more time would allow more on the article but it's built around Gates in the Wednesday hearing (that's covered in that day's snapshot with a full transcript of the exchange between Gates and Duncan Hunter) and yesterday's announcement by US House Rep Adam Smith (Democrat) that he thought Iraq would be asking the US to extend their military agreement. (The article also reflects a development which the editorial board noted months ago though few seemed to pay attention at the time.) The news isn't pretty. From the Democratic Party, there is silence. From the Republicans, there is silence. From the Green Party? Silence. At the libertarian think tank Cato Institute, Christopher Preble weighs in and his observations include:



This assumes that, first, U.S. troops can provide this stability, and second that our strategic interests in Iraq are on par with those in other parts of the world. But leaving U.S. troops in Iraq for another two, five, or seven years will not advance American security. It is not now, and should never have been, the responsibility of U.S. troops to create a functioning state in Iraq. That is the responsibility of the Iraqi people and their government. Likewise, our troops should not serve as Iraq's police force.
There is no doubt that there are political and security challenges in Iraq, but these concerns should not delay the withdrawal. There will always be excuses, especially from those who favored the war at the outset, for a continued presence. And these risks will persist no matter how long U.S. troops stay. The future of Iraq lies with the people of Iraq, and it is well past the time when they must take the reins.
A handover of security responsibilities to the Iraqi people is in America's strategic interest. As we are currently seeing with European defense budgets, the United States has been in the business of doing for other governments what they should be doing for themselves. Now would be a good time to start to change this pattern.

Reality about Iraq reaches US shores next week with this upcoming Iraq Veterans Against the War event:

February 25, 2011 9:30 - 10:30 am
Busboys & Poets, Langston room
14th & V st NW Washington DC
This report back will be to answer questions from media and the peace movement about the recent trip back to Iraq by members of Iraq Veterans Against the War. The war is not over but it is not the same as it was in years past. What is the humanitarian situation in Iraq?
How can we do reparations and reconciliation work?
Speakers are all returning from this delegation and include:
Geoff Millard (IVAW) Hart Viges (IVAW) Haider Al-Saedy (Iraqi Health Now)
Richard Rowely (Big Noise Films)

To make it clear that continued war is unacceptable and that you aren't a Democratic member of Congress, you can participate next month in the march A.N.S.W.E.R. and March Forward! and others will be taking part in this action:

March 19 is the 8th anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Iraq today remains occupied by 50,000 U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of foreign mercenaries.

The war in Afghanistan is raging. The U.S. is invading and bombing Pakistan. The U.S. is financing endless atrocities against the people of Palestine, relentlessly threatening Iran and bringing Korea to the brink of a new war.

While the United States will spend $1 trillion for war, occupation and weapons in 2011, 30 million people in the United States remain unemployed or severely underemployed, and cuts in education, housing and healthcare are imposing a huge toll on the people.

Actions of civil resistance are spreading.

On Dec. 16, 2010, a veterans-led civil resistance at the White House played an important role in bringing the anti-war movement from protest to resistance. Enduring hours of heavy snow, 131 veterans and other anti-war activists lined the White House fence and were arrested. Some of those arrested will be going to trial, which will be scheduled soon in Washington, D.C.

Saturday, March 19, 2011, the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, will be an international day of action against the war machine.

Protest and resistance actions will take place in cities and towns across the United States. Scores of organizations are coming together. Demonstrations are scheduled for San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and more.


TV notes. Washington Week begins airing on many PBS stations tonight (and throughout the weekend, check local listings) and joining Gwen are Jeanne Cummings (Politico), John Dickerson (CBS News, Slate), Doyle McManus (Los Angeles Times) and Jim Sciutto (ABC News). Gwen's latest column is "Meaning What You Say." Meanwhile Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Cari Dominguez, Barbara Lee, Irene Natividad and Genevieve Wood to discuss the week's events on PBS' To The Contrary. Check local listings, on many stations, it begins airing tonight. Sunday on CBS' 60 Minutes:

The Spark
Bob Simon reports from Tunisia, where protests against the repressive government not only toppled its autocratic ruler, but sparked the uprising in Egypt that forced President Hosni Mubarak to resign.


Scott Brown: Against All Odds
The Massachusetts senator describes his traumatic childhood, including revelations of sexual and physical abuse. Lesley Stahl reports.


The King's Speech
"60 Minutes" talks to its starring actor, Colin Firth, and reports on the historic find in an attic that helped make the "The King's Speech" an Oscar favorite. Scott Pelley reports.


"60 Minutes," Sunday, Feb. 20, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.


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