Wednesday, May 25, 2011

7 men, four women

A number of e-mails are asking about Facebook?

Why am I not posting?

I really wasn't in the mood Monday or yesterday or today. How come?

An article passed around about how when you're in Facebook, even when you close it, it's still tracking your movements on the internet.

I wasn't aware of that. And two people I have friended shared the article with me and that really soured me on it. But I'll try to do something on there tomorrow.

Yesterday on The Diane Rehm Show, the first hour was politics. And Diane just couldn't think of a single woman who had anything to say about politics so she presented Stan Brand, Dan Eggen and Trevor Potter. The second hour was William Cohan (author). So a whole show, two hours, with no female guests. Four men.

Today on The Diane Rehm Show, the first hour she wanted to talk prisons. Her guests were: Joan Biskupic, Amy Fettig, Carter Phillips and Kent Schneidegger. The second hour was discussing a book and the guests were Lisa Page, Neely Tucker and Mark Athitakis which may seem great unless you factor in that women were brought on to fawn over a male author's work (Paul Auster). Three men, four women.


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

Wednesday, May 25, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates states in a speech that he wants the US military to remain in Iraq, the US and Iraq are supposedly in secret talks to extend the SOFA, US House Rep Brad Sherman speaks out on the issues facing the country and the press (outlets, not reporters) ignores it and more,
US House Rep Lynn Woolsey writes a column for The Hill noting that the 60 day requirement of the 1973 War Powers Act requiring the president to receive a mandate from Congress to continue any unauthorized conflict which continues past 60 days has been ignored by the White House and that the House is debating altering the Constitutional -- as well as spitting on the founding fathers' intent -- in order to shirk their responsibility under the law to be the only body in the federal government who can delcare law. Woolsey notes:
I've had enough over the last decade of this state of permanent warfare. I have five grandchildren and not one of them knows what it's like to live in a country that's not at war with someone and killing someone else's grandchildren.
It's time to put the brakes on. It's time for Congress to draw some clear lines, and Libya is the perfect place to do so. That's why I am supporting Rep. John Conyers' (D-Mich.) amendment to the defense authorization bill specifically prohibiting the deployment of ground troops in Libya.
We cannot afford any further expansion of this engagement. We owe it to the American people who are footing the bill – and of course to our servicemen and women who are already fighting on two fronts – to keep this mission from mushrooming into a full-blown ground war and military occupation.
There were two major hearings today -- one in the Senate, one in the House. I'd planned on noting the Senate one today but we'll try to fit it in tomorrow's snapshot and, hopefully, touch on a number of veterans issues then. Instead we'll focus on the House hearing addressing issues Rep Woolsey noted in her column (to be clear, Woolsey is addressing HR 1540 and that legislation was not addressed in the hearing, the hearing was about war powers). The Constitution is explicit on who has the power to declare war: the Congress. Article One, Section Eight of the Constitution: "Congress shall have the power . . . To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Caputres on Land and Water; To raise and support Armies, bot no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years; To provide and maintain a Navy; To Make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces; To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions . . ."
This morning the House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing where the witnesses were all US House Representatives who had proposed legislation regarding war. The witnesses were US House Rep Justin Amash, US House Rep Christopher Gibson and US House Rep Thomas Rooney -- all three are Republicans. As is the Chair of the Committee, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. Democrat Howard Berman is the Ranking Member on the Committee. I missed opening statements -- and am told Ros-Lehtinen had an ab-lib joke about Rooney (both are from Florida) -- so this is from the Chair and the Ranking Member's prepared opening remarks (which may differ from how they were delivered).
Chair Illean Ros-Lehtinen: We meet today as part of our continuing oversight of the United States involvement in Libya, to hear from our non-Committee colleagues who have introduced legislation on War Powers and on authorities relating to the use of force to address the situation in Libya. The Committee will continue our efforts tomorrow morning at the House-wide Members briefing with legal experts. That briefing had to be rescheduled from May 12th, due to House floor votes. [. . .] The Administration has claimed that Congressional approval was not constitutionally required, and that the use of force in Libya was Constitutional because the President "could reasonably determine that such use of force was in the national interest" -- an extremely broad claim of war-making power. Even some who regard the President's actions as legal are concerned that the endorsement by the Arab League, the United Nations, and NATO seem to figure more prominently in his stated justifications than do clearly identified U.S. national security interests. [. . .] Mr. Rooney's resolution (H.Con.Res. 32) expresses the Sense of Congress that the President should obtain statutory authorization for the use of force pursuant to the War Powers Resolution. The bill introduced by Mr. Amash (H.R. 1212) would cut off funding for the use of force in Libya until it is authorized by Congress. And Mr. Gibson's bill (H.R. 1609) would revise the text of the War Powers Resolution replacing its current Congressional procedures with a shorter provision tied more directly to Congress's power of the purse."
US House Rep Howard Berman was apparently elected in order to serve Barack Obama because nothing in his minimizing and justifying statements acknowledged Berman had sworn an oath to the Constitution or that he is elected from a very small district that does not include Barack Obama as an inhabitant.
Ranking Member Howard Berman: I believe the efforts to either terminate funding for this effort or force an immediate withdrawal of forces would reverse, to disastrous effect, the very meaningful progress already made in Libya. It's time to end this stalemate, decisively. And that cannot be done by stopping now. I'd like to give the President limited time to pursue this mission. [. . .] Underlying this debate is a central legal question: the War Powers Resolution acknowledges the President may introduce forces into hostilities -- unilaterally -- for a period of up to 60 days. This may not be what the Constitution originally envisioned or consistent with a strict reading of congressional authority, but it quite clearly what Congress in 1973 presumed.
Berman went on to insist that "we can't argue theory here" -- as if the Constitution is mere theory? As if laws are mere theory? Let's see someone accused of murder explain, in a court of law, that the laws broken are "mere theory." US House Rep Donald Manzullo noted that "boots on the ground" weren't the test and that drones are assistance -- that a day after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton noted that the US would not supply Libya's so-called 'rebels' with weapons, Barack announced that the US would be using drones to attack Libya. Manzullo was very clear that drones are assistance and are participation. Via a friend's note (reporter), I'll note Democrat Brad Sherman's remarks in full (again, these are not my notes and I have no hard copy of Sherman's prepared remarks) because he refused to play partisan politics and stuck to the issues. (My comment is in reference to Howard Berman.)
US House Rep Brad Sherman: The State Dept is working hard to bring the blessings of democracy and the rule of law to every country . . . except ours. Rome was built with legislative decision making. Rome declined and fell under an imperial executive. We probably should authorize some action with regard to Libya -- although I've got a lot of questions the administration doesn't need to answer because they view us as irrelevant. But any authorization should be limited as to time and scope so that we can then pass additional resolutions with further review. Any authorization should be conditioned on the Libyan rebels expelling from their midst those with American blood on their hands, those who fought us in Afghanistan and Iraq and particularly the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group. And, finally, I would want to see any resolution require that this mission be funded by the assets that Ghadaffi was stupid enough to leave in the United States which have been seized by the US Treasury. The Administration takes the extremist view that the Executive can deploy any amount of American force anywhere, anytime for any purpose, for any duration, with any effect, with only the most cursory discussions with only a few members of Congress. Worse than that, they won't even articulate that view. They won't even acknowledge the 60th day and the day on which they began violating that law. But as the Ranking Member points out, the fault is also here with Congress. So many of us would like to evade the tough decisions. Democrats and Republicans know how to vote on contentious issues because we come from Democrat and Republican districts. But this is one that crosses party lines, this is one that divides every one of our districts and a lot of people would just as soon duck the issue. That's not our job. We should put in every appropriations bill that the expenditure of funds in violation of the War Powers Act constitutes a theft of tax payer money. I tried with a few to get Congressional approval of both parties to put in the CR that no money could be spent in violation of the War Powers Act. We got no response. It's time for Congress to step forward. It's time to stop shredding the US Constitution in a presumed effort to bring democracy and constitutional law to Libya.
If the above doesn't flow, this section was actually what the snapshot originally ended with. But the friend who passed on Sherman's remarks didn't think their outlet would run with them. That is the case. So since some of those remarks were included in a version of a report but an outlet refused to include it (supposedly they weren't 'pertinent' to the hearing itself), we've moved it up to the opening and we'll also close the snapshot with US House Rep Brad Sherman's remarks.
I arrived at the hearing as Howard Berman was finishing his line of questioning to represent the 26th district of Israel and Howard's constitutents should know he had their interests -- Oops. Israel has no district in the US Congress. Berman's from the 26th district of California and it's amazing that he continues to make Israel his foremost issue -- whether it's related to the main points or not -- and the 26th district -- which has a small Jewish population -- continues to elect him (since redistricting). It's past time Howard Berman learned to serve his constitutents but if they're not going to hold him accountable, no one can. We'll note this exchange between US House Rep Renee Ellmers and the witnesses.
US House Rep Renee Ellmers: This is a very important exchange of information on an issue that I would consider gray. I do want to ask you directly though -- I know we've talked about the Libyan situation and we've talked about other situations where the War Powers Act has been put forth, do you believe that the President had the authority to do what he did in Libya? And I'll ask both of you that question. Do you believe that the Libyan situation basically adhered to the War Act?
US House Rep Christopher Gibson: No, I do not. Not only on the front end but even now. Let's look at the specific language from Public Law 93148 which is the War Powers Act. It says this, because this is a matter of fine point precision, we're talking sixty days here. This is what Section B -- Section 5 B says, "Within sixty calendar days after report is submitted or is required to be submitted pursuant to section 1543 (a) (1) of this title, whichever is earlier, the President shall terminate any use of United States Armed Forces with respect to which such report was submitted (or required to be submitted), unless the Congress (1) had declared war or has enacted a specifiic authorization for such use of the United States Armed Forces, (2) has extended by law such sixty-day periord, or (3) is physically unable to meet as a result of an armed attack upon the United States." Okay. So it's not so much that the president came here on the sixtieth day, according to the letter of the law, if we don't act within 60 days, the president is to cease operations and we're not in compliance.
US House Rep Renee Ellmers: And we've already -- We've met that 60 day marker right now and yet we have nothing going forward. Is that right?
US House Rep Christopher Gibson: We have surpassed the sixty days and Congress has taken no action to authorize the force. To be in compliance with the War Powers Act, we would have to cease operations. Now if the president requests, we can then provide stipulations on that withdrawal, we can actually give 30, 60 -- We can authorize how many days we think are prudent to make an orderly withdrawal. Let me also just conclude by saying that this is the current law. I think we should move -- I think we should delete these portions. I think we should either have authorization -- the president either has authority to move or he doesn't. And if he doesn't have authority to move, he comes here if he thinks it's that important. He comes here and the American people give their blessing with stipulations that the Congress may see fit and then we go forward. But to not do so really leaves open this ambiguity. This is what Mr. Connelly is referring to -- that the current War Powers Act -- as written -- really provides so much ambiguity as to expand the powers of the president and that's why we need the reform act is to bring balance back to this situation in line with the way the founders intended for the legislative and the executive branch to interact on these solemn manners.
US House Rep Renee Ellmers: Thank you, Mr. Gibson. Mr. Rooney?
US House Rep Thomas Rooney: I too and am apprehensive of thinking that Libya was justifiable. But according to my resolution, I can be convinced that it was the greatest resolution in the world. But the problem is that we've never had the debate.
US House Rep Renee Ellmers: Right.
US House Rep Thomas Rooney: And the president and the administration needs to come here and say more than just we welcome your support. So my predisiposition is no. But I'm open to suggestion. But, you're right, the 60 days has come and gone and just to add on [gestures to Gibson] in the past, there have been members of Congress who have sued, gone to federal court to say 'you're in violation of the War Powers Resolution and the Constitution.' And it's made its way to the Supreme Court without being heard directly on point -- that we, or those members that did sue, lack standing. So that adds to your idea that we're operating in a world of gray and, you know, possibly legislation like Mr. Gibson's would clarify that. But all I'm saying is that if he really thought that Libya was important and he would have come here within the War Powers framework of sixty days, he may very well have gotten the support of the Congress, but he didn't do that.
US House Rep Renee Ellmers: Thank you very much. Yes, please, Mr. Gibson?

US House Rep Christopher Gibson: Thank you for the opportunity to just to follow up. I just want to agree with my colleague here that it's certainly an arguable point, the one that I made. I mean, that's my read of the current law. It has been debated in other places and there have been opinions and some court cases related to this. That is one of the reasons why I'm not asking today that we take sanctions against the president. I think it's our responsibility to fix this. The ambiguity that exists has been exploited by presidents on both sides of the political aisle. And in a time when we need to create jobs, balance the budget and protect freedoms, now is not the time to be diverting into other matters. Other matters in terms of any other proceedings on whether the president is in concert with the law -- that is not my purpose here today. What I want to do is fix this going forward so we don't end up back here at this very same place spot.
Actually, if a president -- any president -- is in violation, that is the issue. That is always the issue. He or she is the people's servant, not a king, not a queen. As the servant to the public, he is bound by the laws. The Courts and the law have made quite clear that no one is above the law. Ava's covering some of Ron Paul's remarks at Trina's site tonight.
Will the US ever leave Iraq? Al Rafidayn reports US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates gave a speech to the American Enterprise Institute in DC declaring that US forces should remain in Iraq beyond December 31, 2011. Julian E. Barnes and Ben Lando (Wall St. Journal) add that Gates notes the US would agree to any request from Iraq for US forces to remain. Elisabeth Bumiller (New York Times) observes that Gates is set to retire next month, that Gates noted Iran would be uncomfortable with the US staying (Gates: "And that's a good thing") and that his remarks came as AEI released a report by Frederck Kagan. The paper Bumiller refers to is [PDF format warning] "IRAQ THREAT ASSESSMENT: THE DANGERS TO THE UNITED STATES, IRAQ, AND MIDEAST STABILITY OF ABANDONING IRAQ AT THE END OF 2011" and it's released by Kagan and "The Critical Threats Project of the American Enterprise Institute" -- yet another group lacking both the harmony and the grace of Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes. Sadly for Frederick and AEI, we do know them by now, they are the War Cheerleaders, they are the ones who rushed the country into war with lies. And now they want to be seen as trusted voices?
They can't even be trusted with "Key findings." Declaring, "The Iraqi Security Forces will not be able to defend Iraq's sovereignty, maintain its independence from Iran, or ensure Iraq's internal stability without American assistance, including some ground forces in Iraq, for a number of years," is not a "key finding." It is a regurgitation of the remarks Nouri al-Maliki and others have been making to the press for over a year now. That's a bit like AEI 'scholars' camping out in fron of The Weather Channel for three hours and then releasing a "key finding" that the eastern seaboard may see rain this weekend.
Later on in the 'findings,' it argues the US has to extend the SOFA and Iraq has to agree in order for Iraq to survive. Those actually are "findings" but they're not really supported by any work in the paper. In fact, backing things up is apparently one of those 'extras' the bad economy has forced AEI to cut back on. The unsupported conclusion insists:
If Maliki allows the United States to leave Iraq, he is effectively declaring his intent to fall in line with Tehran's wishes, to subordinate Iraq's foreign policy to the Persians, and, possibly, to consolidate his own power as a sort of modern Persian satrap in Baghdad. If Iraq's leaders allow themselves to be daunted by fear of Maliki or Iran, they will be betraying their people, who have shed so much blood to establish a safe, independent, multiethnic, multisectarian, unitary Iraqi state with representative institutions of government.
When has post-invasion Iraq ever been "safe, independent, multiethnic, multisectarian" or unitary? Never. If Frederick Kagan and the others who pimped this war had any brains, they never would have pimped illegal war to begin. But if they had even the smallest ability to learn or think on their feet, they'd keep their mouths shut right now. Their plan was a disaster. It was always going to be a disaster (you cannot make or enforce democracy on another group of people). The last eight years have demonstrated the plan to be a disaster. Continuing it under Barack will only further underscore what a disaster is. The smart thing for the War Pimps is to just keep their mouths shut, let the US military leave Iraq (no, that's really not happening, I know) and lay low for a year or two, then emerge beating their chests and insisting 'victory' had almost been reached but Barack Obama stole it from them by refusing to stand up. It's not all that differnt from the revisionary history on Vietnam, for example.
But War Pimps are not known for their brains and they tend cry and rage at the thought of the plug being pulled on illegal wars. Far more interesting than the report is the "About The Author" on the last page which notes Frederick Kagan prefers to be called Freddie, has owned seven cats -- all of which ran away from home, states, if he had his life to do all over again, he would do so in angora and dreams of one day being asked to do the Vanity Fair Proust Questionnaire.
Okay, truth, "About The Author" doesn't actually say that (or even imply it), but wouldn't it have made the report more interesting if it had? Rezgar (Kurdish Aspect) ponders the prospects of the US pulling out all forces from Iraq:
Will the US honor that agreement? It is easier said than done, particularly after having exhausted billions of dollars in Iraq war so far. Cogitating that it the US will so simply bid farewell to Iraq for good is a pure misperception. The US has never had any such plans to dump Iraqi largest oil reserves in the hand of any other imperial major power, nor consent to the hostile Iran to bolster its hegemony in the majority Shiite populated Iraq. There might be another substantial reduction of troops in Southern and Central parts of Iraq to win over anti-American Shiite clerics such as Muqtada al-Sadr, but in its place, the US will reposition its troops to the North, mainly Kurdistan, where US Troops are much hailed.
Hundreds of CIA operatives have already spread out throughout the North (Kurdistan), monitoring neighboring Iranian military activities and accumulating intelligence, opening clandestine bureaus in building complexes such as Zakaria Apartment Complex.
Kurdish officials have long appealed to the US administration to maintain permanent military bases in Kurdistan. Masood Barzani, Kurdistan Government President, held talks with James F. Jeffrey US ambassador, US Ambassador to Iraq, and Frank Helmick, Deputy Commanding General of US Forces in Iraq General to put this vital blueprint into motion. Maintaining the level of current stability in Kurdistan is mutually par for the course for the US administration.
Dar Addustour notes today that sources say a coalition is emerging among Nouri's supporters and others in Parliament to push for an extension and an MP for the Liberal Party states that they will resist these efforts to keep US forces on the ground in Iraq. This follows Dar Addustour reporting yesterday that the US State Dept's Deputy for Democracy and Global Affairs Maria Otero arrived Monday in Baghdad and a Kurdish MP says there is movement towards extending the SOFA and keeping US forces in Iraq past 2011. Ayas Hossam Acommok (Al Mada) also reported that "a high political level" unnamed source with State Of Law (Nouri's political slate) was stating that the Iraqi government has decided to extend the current agreement and not seek a new one. The source states that between 20,000 and 25,000 US troops will remain in Iraq and that Iraq will declare they need 13,000 to help with logistics and training while at least 5,000 will be said to be needed by the US Embassy. These particulars, the source stated, will be reviewed with the political blocs over the next ten days. All this while,
Aswat al-Iraq reported, Muzhir Hassan, Anbar Province Council member, became the latest official to call for the US military to remain on the ground in Iraq beyond 2011. Hassan stated that "the extension of the U.S. troops presence in Iraq" was necessary because otherwise "a security vacuum" will emerge. At Press TV, Anthony Gregory observes:

Last year 559 American troops died in Iraq and Afghanistan . This is considerably more than the 469 during Bush's last year in office. There has also been an increase in the presence of contractors in both wars, as well as their casualties. Contractors can obscure the true extent of the wars. When Obama has gone on record touting the reduction in U.S. fatalities, he neglects to mention "the contractor personnel now dying in their place," says professor Steven Schooner of George Washington University Law School . In the first half of 2010, 250 civilian contractors died in Iraq and Afghanistan-more than the 235 soldiers who fell during the same period.

Obama ran on cutting money from the war budget, but overall the U.S. spends almost as much, deploys nearly as many troops, and is losing as many lives as when Obama took over. Last year's defense budget, at over $700 billion, was the largest ever. In fiscal year 2012 the defense budget will be at least $671 billion, far higher than the budgets under Bush, and much too high given the country's financial problems.

Overall, the U.S. is as belligerent under Obama as it was under Bush. Obama has widened the war into Pakistan . Drone attacks have multiplied, killing ten civilians for every militant, according to Daniel L. Byman at the Brookings Institution. Moreover, Obama has bombed Yemen and Somalia , as well as started a war with Libya without congressional approval.

Meanwhile, on the political front, Alsumaria TV reports, "A source close to Iraqiya leader Iyad Allawi revealed on Tuesday that certain political leaders some of which are present in southern councils will join on Thursday Iraqiya's coalition during a meeting of members to renew support to Allawi." But the big political news, New Sabah reports, is Nouri al-Maliki's assertion that Iraq's legislative branch, the Parliament, has no power to make laws. He is quoted, from a speech, stating that "the House of Representatives has no right to initiate legislation [. . . -- their edit, not mine] the legislation, the laws must come from the Council of Ministers or the Presidency exclusively." The Council is Nouri's Council and it and the presidency are part of the executive branch. For those who need a review, Iraq -- like the US -- has three branches of government, the judiciary, the legislative and the executive.

As Peter Lorre explains, while hurling knives in 1947's My Favorite Brunette (starring Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour), "The three branches of our government are? Hmm? The legislative, the executive and the judicial. What does the legislative branch of our government do? Hmm? Huh? It makes the laws. What does the executive branch of our government do? It carries out the laws."

Somehow that's too much for Nouri to grasp. And this is not just who the US government -- both the Bush administration and the Barack one -- has backed but the puppet they want US forces to remain in Iraq past 2011 in order to back. That's who AEI and the War Pimps have backed as well. Hint to AEI, next time you need a people's support to hail something as a success, try backing the people and not a puppet (though that does go against AEI's nature, I know).
But who supports the people? Each Friday, protests take place across Iraq. And the US press ignores them. Yet no one can stop trying to do a roll out for Moqtada al-Sadr, apparently. Maybe Karl Rove's freelancing for Moqtada? Tim Craig and Asaad Majeed (Washington Post) become the latest to 'report' on an event that hasn't taken place. Moqtada wants protests tomorrow in Iraq. This week alone, his desire for a protest has gotten more US press attention than all the protests of the people in Iraq that have taken place this month and last combined. What does that tell you?
Meanwhile Human Rights Watch has issued a release which includes the following:
Kurdistan regional government officials and security forces are carrying out a growing assault on the freedom of journalists to work in Iraqi Kurdistan, Human Rights Watch said today. Regional officials should stop repressing journalists through libel suits, beatings, detentions, and death threats, Human Rights Watch said.

Kurdistan authorities have repeatedly tried to silence Livin Magazine, one of Iraqi Kurdistan's leading independent publications, and other media. The international community should end its silence and condemn these widening attacks, Human Rights Watch said.

"The Kurdistan Regional Government promised a new era of freedom for Iraqi Kurds, but it seems no more respectful of Kurdish rights to free speech than the government that preceded it," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "In a time when the Middle East is erupting in demands to end repression, the Kurdish authorities are trying to stifle and intimidate critical journalism."

On May 17, 2011, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) of regional president Massud Barzani brought a defamation lawsuit against the Livin editor-in-chief, Ahmed Mira, for publishing an article about an alleged plot by the KDP and its ruling alliance partner, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), to assassinate opposition leaders. According to court documents obtained by Human Rights Watch, the KDP is seeking total damages of one billion dinars (US$864,000) and an order to shut down the magazine by revoking its license.

The court documents say the party is suing Mira because the Livin article "not only has no basis in truth but is a threat to national security [and] a violation to the dignity and glory and the great achievements" of Iraqi Kurdistan.

Earlier in May, the Iraqi president, Jalal Talabani, the PUK leader, filed his own lawsuit over the same article. Mira told Human Rights Watch that, as a result, police detained him and a Livin reporter, Zhyar Mohammed, for five hours on May 5.

"Such libel suits by Kurdistan government officials are nothing more than a thinly-veiled effort to punish critics and create an atmosphere of fear and self-censorship," Whitson said. "The attacks by Barzani and his colleagues on independent journalists do more to undermine Kurdish 'dignity' and 'glory' than anything in the media reports."

A Livin reporter told Human Rights Watch that when he called Sheikh Jaffar Mustafa, Minister of Peshmerga (Kurdistan security forces), on April 24, Mustafa threatened Livin's editor, Mira, with death. The reporter had called Mustafa and taped the conversation because he wanted to get an official comment on an unrelated matter. The reporter said that Mustafa was upset over an unflattering article in the magazine that compared Mustafa to the Israeli defense minister, Ehud Barak. Mira said he decided to report the threat to the regional government's prime minister rather than make it public or go to the police, which he believed would be ineffectual and put him at further risk.
Though they ignore the protests in Mousl and Baghdad, Tim Arango and Michael S. Schmidt (New York Times) did manage to cover the above region last week. And, to clarify, the New York Times will cover (breathlessly, if the pattern holds) Moqtada's protest. Just like Ahmed Chalabi's organized 'protests' get covered. It's only the actions of the people that the US press likes to ignore.
Turning to the topic of violence, Al Rafidayn notes that police chief Msderfi Anfjarabbop was killed in Kirkuk today and one of his bodyguards and a police officer were injured in a bombing. In related news. Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) notes, "There has been longstanding sectarian tension among Kurdish, Arab and Turkmen people in Kirkuk. Namat is Kurdish, but there was no immediate information on whether the bombing was tied to ethnic hostilities." Reuters notes a Baghdad sticky bombing injured one police officer, a Baghdad shooting injured an Interior Ministry colonel, 5 Baghdad construction workers were shot and wounded, a Baghdad car bombing injured five people, a police officer in Kirkuk was wounded in an attack and, dropping back to Tuesday for both of the last items, 1 corpse was discovered in Kirkuk and Baghdad's car bombing yesterday resulted in 3 deaths and fifteen people injured.

Turning to the US, a verdict was reached in Fort Stewart court-martial today. England's Daily Mail reported earlier this month on the court-martial taking place in Georgia with Army Sgt Joseph Bozicevich accused of killing two US soldiers -- Staff Sgt Darris Dawson and Sgt Wesley Durbin -- in cold blood while he claims self-defense. It was agreed that he was being criticized for his performance (though the accused questions the accuracy of the criticism) and after that? The Associated Press added that the accused was stating he was threatened by "The Black Masons," that the deceased admitted they were masons and claimed they could get away with killing him as a result. The defense offered Dr. Thomas Greiger as a witness to speak about the accused's delusions. Mary Hashemi (WSAV) reports that, "A military jury found Bozicevich guilty on two counts Wednesday of premeditated murder. Bozicevich faces a life sentence. Sentencing will begin on Thursday to decide whether the punishment is with or without parole."
One more time from today's House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, here are Brad Sherman's opening remarks:
US House Rep Brad Sherman: The State Dept is working hard to bring the blessings of democracy and the rule of law to every country . . . except ours. Rome was built with legislative decision making. Rome declined and fell under an imperial executive. We probably should authorize some action with regard to Libya -- although I've got a lot of questions the administration doesn't need to answer because they view us as irrelevant. But any authorization should be limited as to time and scope so that we can then pass additional resolutions with further review. Any authorization should be conditioned on the Libyan rebels expelling from their midst those with American blood on their hands, those who fought us in Afghanistan and Iraq and particularly the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group. And, finally, I would want to see any resolution require that this mission be funded by the assets that Ghadaffi was stupid enough to leave in the United States which have been seized by the US Treasury. The Administration takes the extremist view that the Executive can deploy any amount of American force anywhere, anytime for any purpose, for any duration, with any effect, with only the most cursory discussions with only a few members of Congress. Worse than that, they won't even articulate that view. They won't even acknowledge the 60th day and the day on which they began violating that law. But as the Ranking Member points out, the fault is also here with Congress. So many of us would like to evade the tough decisions. Democrats and Republicans know how to vote on contentious issues because we come from Democrat and Republican districts. But this is one that crosses party lines, this is one that divides every one of our districts and a lot of people would just as soon duck the issue. That's not our job. We should put in every appropriations bill that the expenditure of funds in violation of the War Powers Act constitutes a theft of tax payer money. I tried with a few to get Congressional approval of both parties to put in the CR that no money could be spent in violation of the War Powers Act. We got no response. It's time for Congress to step forward. It's time to stop shredding the US Constitution in a presumed effort to bring democracy and constitutional law to Libya.

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