Tuesday, November 1, 2011.Chaos and violence continue, Nouri's attacks on journalism continue, Tom Hayden's excuses and spin do as well, Falluja's failed water project demonstrates no 'humanitarian' good from the illegal war, and more.
Tom Hayden announces at The Nation that he has a blocked carotid artery while his blocked brain is to be inferred from the column itself. Here's how it goes, little boys like Tom Hayden always want to be in the mix. The 8 years of Bush were sheer torture for Tommy because he had to stand up and speak out. Now a Democrat's in the White House and he can lie to himself and everyone else that things are great. There's no whore like an old whore. Hayden describes a recent gathering he'd hoped to testify at but it didn't turn out to be the Cult of St. Barack he was hoping for:
A certain jadedness has affected our consciousness after this very bad decade. Some people in the room didn't believe Obama was actually going to pull out of Iraq. He would sneak in 5,000 manipulative mercenaries to take over from the last of the American troops. And what about those other wars? Wasn't he worse than Bush? Yada yada yada, ad nauseam.
[. . .]
Yes, the other wars ill continue, corporate power will continue, global warming will continue, but the lessons of the campaign against the Iraq War may be helpful as we face these other challenges.
They might be helpful, lessons, if we could be honest. But Tom Hayden can't be honest. Reality, I put in the time and I'd love to be able to say, "Success!" I'm not even talking about the fact that US troops and contractors will remain in Iraq. I'm saying there was no "success" at all from the US peace movement. And if we're honest, we can learn things. Failure's the far better teacher than success. But when we lie to ourselves, we learn nothing.
Honesty requires character. There are lessons to be learned from the last years. To learn them we'd have to be honest and people like Tom seldom are. Remember when he embraced Cindy Sheehan? As he used her to beat up Republicans? Remember when Cindy ran against Nancy Pelosi for the 8th District? I certainly do because, damn, suddenly everyone was apparently in my zip code and, trust me, most can't afford it. You had Cindy being told by The Nation not to run, then being attacked in The Nation for objecting to being told not to run. There's a lesson there and it's not the lesson Tom wants to impart. It's an ugly reality about the way the peace movement was co-opted and how 'leaders' worked overtime to whore it out. It's a story of Naomi Klein's personal distaste for John Kerry allowing her to take on Todd Gitlian and others in 2004 but, in 2008, using a book tour to promote Barack Obama. In 2004 and after the election, Naomi would insist that the peace movement should never allow itself to be hijacked by the Democratic Party but in 2008 she'd be one of the hijackers. It wasn't just her. In 2005, Sharon Smith was rather savage with Naomi. In 2008, Smith's outlet (US Socialist Worker) couldn't whore itself out fast enough as it became a house organ for the Cult of St. Barack.
In this space, I had earlier encouraged Danny Schechter to explore why so many got taken in by Barack. He never did and it now appears his 'realization' about Barack was a temporary one. Well the money's made by spinning for the Democratic Party and Danny's got as much right as anyone else to that money and can certainly offer better writing than Tom Hayden and most.
But don't b.s. America. Those of us truly against the wars, are truly against them and we don't believe a Tom Hayden when he shows up to whore. Yes, Barack is worse than Bush. Bush detained people without going through the courts. Barack does that, yes, but he also has claimed the right to use drones to kill US citizens with himself as judge and jury. He's decided that the War Powers Act -- something Tom Hayden used to give huge lip service too and, in fact, was claiming (as late as 1976) was a victory for the earlier peace movement -- doesn't matter. With Libya, Barack trashed the War Powers Act. Suddenly, Tom Hayden no longer cares about the War Powers Act. Which goes to the most extreme way Barack is worse than Bush: When Bush was in office, we freely called him out. Loudly. Publicly. These days Tom Hayden's exist solely to provide excuses and cover for War Hawk Barack.
The lessons were never learned because few people were willing to be honest. Danny tried, I give him credit for that. But I am aware a lot of people have to make money and if you go against the Democratic Party -- as Naderites discovered following the 2000 elections -- you will be punished. As Nader himself discovered, in fact.
Tom wants to impart 'lessons' because Tom wants to be in a position of leadership. But what's he leading? A glorified pep rally and as his age that's a damn embarrassment.
Today Al Mada reports State Of Law (Nouri's political slate) is confirming that the US Air Force will remain in charge of Iraqi skies beyond December 31, 2011. The article notes it will take years for Iraq to be able to patrol its own skies. Dar Addustour notes those recently order F-16s will be arriving in 2013. Prashant Rao (AFP) sketches out an absurd vision of Iraq without help when "they will lack their own modern radar systems" and, in the words of one air force lieutenant, "you have to visualise the aircraft, where they are." Yeah, that seems logical and do-able. Maybe they can just grab some flashlights and stand out on the runway? Dar Addustour noted yesterday that Gen Babakir Zebari, Chief of Staff of the Iraqi Army, has declared, in the latest SIGIR report, that Iraq will be unable to protect its own air space or national borders until 2020. Fang Yang (Xinhua) quoted the report, "General Zebari suggested that the MOD (Ministry of Defense) will be unable to execute the full spectrum of external-defense missions until sometime between 2020 and 2024, citing GOI ( Government of Iraq) funding shortfalls as the main reason for the delay." Reuters quotes Zebari stating, "While we have no enemies, we also have no real friends."
For Immediate Release October 29, 2011 Statement by the Press Secretary on the Iraqi National Security Advisor al-Fayyadh visit with National Security Advisory Donilon National Security Advisor Tom Donilon hosted Iraqi National Security Advisor Falah al-Fayyadh at the White House today. They held discussions to follow up on the productive Secure Video Teleconference last week between President Obama and Prime Minister Maliki. The two national security advisors reaffirmed the common vision of a broad, deep strategic partnership between the United States and Iraq as embodied in the Strategic Framework Agreement. The two held a far-reaching discussion of the elements of a fully normalized relationship between Iraq and the United States, including education, investment, and security. And they committed to develop additional mechanisms to establish a continuous strategic dialogue between the United States and Iraq.
Following the ongoing negotiations is Moqtada al-Sadr. Dar Addustour reports Moqtada declared online this weekend that Nouri al-Maliki should not go to DC in December where he is to take part in face-to-face discussions about 'trainers' and other issues. Moqtada insisted that Iraqi forces need no assistance in maintaining security. Meanwhile Today's Zaman reports today, "Turkey has told Iraq that it is ready to provide training for Iraqi security forces if the Iraqi and US governments fail to agree on a deal for US training of Iraqi security personnel [. . .] The offer was made by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip ERdogan during a meeting with Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, who visited Ankara on Friday, the Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) reported, citing a statement from the Iraqi Presidency on Sunday." AFP quotes an anonymous source "in the prime minister's office" declaring that Turkey's offer has been turned down as has an offer from the Iranian government.
US House Rep Ron Paul is running for the GOP presidential nomination. He is opposed to the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and other illegal wars of choice. Texas Straight Talk is a weekly feature he does. In his latest, he notes Barack's recent speech declaring all US troops are coming home:
Better late than never, but, examining the fine print, is there really much here to get excited about? Are all of our men and women really coming home, and is Iraq now to regain its sovereignty? And in this time of economic crisis, are we going to stop hemorrhaging money in Iraq? Sadly, it doesn't look that way.
First and foremost, any form of withdrawal that is happening is not simply because the administration realized it was the right thing to do. This is not the fulfillment of a campaign promise, or because suddenly the training of their police and military is complete and Iraq is now safe and secure, but because of disagreements with the new government over a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). The current agreement was set up by the previous administration to expire at the end of 2011. Apparently the Iraqis refused to allow continued immunity from prosecution for our forces for any crimes our soldiers might commit on Iraqi soil. Can you imagine having foreign soldiers here, with immunity from our laws and Constitution, with access to your neighborhood?
Some 39,000 American troops will supposedly be headed home by the end of the year. However, the US embassy in Iraq, which is the largest and most expensive in the world, is not being abandoned. Upwards of 17,000 military personnel and private security contractors will remain in Iraq to guard diplomatic personnel, continue training Iraqi forces, maintain "situational awareness" and other functions. This is still a significant American footprint in the country. And considering that a private security contractor costs the US taxpayer about three times as much as a soldier, we're not going to see any real cost savings. Sadly, these contractors are covered under diplomatic immunity, meaning the Iraqi people will not get the accountability that they were hoping for.
While I applaud the spirit of this announcement -- since all our troops should come home from overseas -- I have strong reservations about any actual improvements in the situation in Iraq, since plans are already being made to increase the number of troops in surrounding regions. What we really need is a new foreign policy and there is no indication that that is what we have gotten. On the contrary, the administration fully intends to keep troops in Iraq, indefinitely, under a new agreement, while the Iraqis are doing their best to assert their sovereignty and kick us out. Neither are we going to be saving any significant amount of money. My greatest fear, however, is that this troop withdrawal from Iraq will simply pave the way for more endless, wasteful, needless wars.
The Obama administration and the Pentagon are preparing for a major military buildup in the Persian Gulf to offset the troop withdrawal from Iraq and prepare for new wars in the region.
US officials, diplomats and military commanders cited by the New York Times in an article published Sunday indicated that the new deployments could include the stationing of combat brigades in Kuwait, across the border from Iraq and within easy striking distance of Iran, as well as "sending more naval warships through international waters to the region."
The existence of these plans have surfaced in the wake of President Barack Obama's October 21 announcement that all US troops occupying Iraq will be withdrawn from the country before the end of this year.
While the Obama administration and its apologists have presented this planned withdrawal as the fulfillment of the Democratic president's campaign promises about ending the Iraq war, and even as a turn toward peace in the region, it is nothing of the kind.
The Obama administration and the Pentagon are preparing for a major military buildup in the Persian Gulf to offset the troop withdrawal from Iraq and prepare for new wars in the region.
Cindy Sheehan refused to whore. Don't think she didn't know which road was easier. As people were piling on her for declaring her run for Congress, she knew -- as most women do -- that to give up will always lead to praise. (Women who do are always a threat in this society. Women who give up are 'good sports.') And she could have been beloved and all the radars just by announcing, "Nancy's so cool! I don't want to run against her! What was I thinking?" Instead, Cindy took the tougher road, the truth path. By truly being for peace -- as opposed to using peace as a tool for partisan results, Cindy sacrificed a great deal. But she also won a lot of respect because there's no denying the way she's been punished or ostracized for being a truth teller. She continued that Sunday on Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox where she and guest Chris Floyd explored realities and truths about Iraq and Barack's announcement. Excerpt.
Cindy Sheehan: And also, Barack Obama had a big speech the other day saying all the troops were coming home from Iraq and that's not even -- that's just a lie. That doesn't have any basis in reality, does it?
Chris Floyd: No, it doesn't have any. It's not even -- You're right. I mean, it's an overt lie. It's not even like some of them where they sort of shift around a little bit. It's like they're leaving thousands and thousands. I saw it just the other day. They admit that they're leaving thousands and thousands of armed men there under the one thing of the State Department security forces and they're also talking about the 'trainers' they're going to leave behind, the advisers they're going to leave behind. They're negotiating to do that. I mean, all of this is open-ended and it doesn't even begin to mention -- Glenn Greenwald wrote about this the other day -- all these Special Forces that we have operating in other countries anyway. You think they're not going to be operating in Iraq? So as I said the other day, at the very least, at the very least you'll have thousands and thousands of and maybe tens of thousands of troops in Iraq at the end of next year -- or let's say "armed men under US control" -- whether they're wearing an actual uniforms and have Pizza Huts in their bases or they're just walking the streets and killing people or they're helping the Iraqi forces kill people. It's just -- it's just as plain as the sun rising and setting. It's remarkable that not only can he say all of that with a straight face -- maybe he went back and laughed about it afterwards, I don't know how straight his face was -- but it's just again you'll have people accept it at face value, you'll have all these earnest debates and these long columns "What does it mean about the pull out of Obama?" and it's just not reality. It's like a hallucination or something.
The illegal war was sold on lies. And the lies forever shifted. Today, WMD is tossed to the side and largely forgotten while the new lie -- the new told lie -- is that the war was for Iraqis and that they are better off. No, they're not. What a large number are is dead. What another large number of Iraqis are is wounded. What all in Iraq are is under the boot of Little Nouri the exile who returned to Iraq finally after the US invaded. Even on the most basic issues, the US provided nothing for Iraq. Sewage? Sunday Charley Keyes (CNN) reported that the office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction has released another report and Keyes emphasizes the findings on the Falluja Waste Water System project:
After seven years of work, deadly insurgent attacks amidst some of the heaviest fighting in Iraq, cost overruns and other problems, the system opened in May. But rather than a rush of success, the effect has been just a drip. By last month, only 6,000 houses were connected to the system. The initial cost estimate was $35 million but the actual cost so far has reached $100 million and may take much more before completion.During construction, workers were continually under attack and stretches of pipeline repeatedly were blown up. Three U.S.reconstruction officials returning from the site were killed by an improvised roadside bomb in 2009, among other deadly incidents related to the project.
The report is entitled [PDF format warning] "Falluja Waste Water Treatment System: A Case Study In Wartime Contracting." The SIGIR finds the project difficult to grade because it began as poorly ("Little planning went into the project, and there was minimal understanding of site conditions, no skilled workforce available, and no clear idea about how much the new system would cost") as it finished ("The absence of information or analysis on whether progress was made toward achieveing any of the secondary goals makes an assessment of this project's worth or wisdom quite difficult"). To provide context, the SIGIR cites a 2003 UNICEF report which found that Falluja's sewage flowing into the streets and the Euphrates River was putting health at risk -- espeically with regards to children since, in 2003, "diseases associated with poor water and sanitation were the cause of 25% of all child deaths in Iraq." From the SIGIR report:
As noted, at the time of this report, the U.S. government had invested, or planned to invest, $107.9 million to construct the Falluja Swerage Network System and connect it to 9,116 homes. The GOI has committed to spend at least $87 million more to complete the project as originally conceived. However, the enire network collection system will not be completed until at least 2014. SIGIR identified multiple reasons for the current status of the project, including that the program or project management offices failed to:
* appreciate the volatile security environment
* realistically estimate total project costs and completion time frames
* identify adequate funding
* apply a consistent contracting strategy
* communicate with the appropriate GOI reconstruction officials
* recognize Falluja's tribal customs
There was no benefit to Iraqis from this illegal war.
But Little Nouri, the US-backed despot, is firmly in place. Andrew E. Kramer (New York Times) reports arrests continue in what Nouri insists is a crackdown on 'Ba'athists' and, citing 'intel' from Libya, that these 'Ba'athists' were plotting a coup. Kramer notes that the arrests could fuel further sectarian strife and that Sunnis especially are feeling targeted. Haji Abu Ahmed is quoted stating, "Frankly, I am very scared and expect to be arrested at any moment. The current practices are the same as the practices of Saddam. There seems to be no difference between the two systems. Saddam was chasing Dawa, and now Dawa is chasing Baathists."
As the arrests continued last week, Salahuddin Province's council voted to become semi-autonomous. (Per the Constitution the next, and final, step is for the issue to be put to the residents of Salahuddin Province.) Alsumaria TV reports Nouri has ordered the Iraq Army 4th division to arrest any protestors in Salahuddin Province. Any? Well those who get permission from Nouri to protest can (specifically his Ministry of Interior which has no permanent minister). For those wondering, any regulating of protests are supposed to be up to the province itself. And the protesters who turned out throughout Salhuddin on Friday were demonstrating in support of the Salhuddin provincial council. Dar Addustour reports that Nineveh Province is now contemplating holding a referendum on becoming semi-autonomous. Khaled Waleed (niqash) quotes the governor of the province, Atheel al-Nujaifi, stating, "Ninawa will follow in the footsteps of Salahaddin and will not abide by the decision of the ministry in Baghdad. The ministry's decision is sectarian in nature." Nouri and Atheel al-Nujaifi have been at logger heads for some time. Atheel al-Nujaifi is also the brother of the Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi. Currently only the three provinces of the KRG are semi-autonomous. In addition, leader of the Sahwa ("Awakening," "Sons Of Iraq"), Sheikh Ahmad al-Risha talks about the desires of some in Anbar Province to follow suit. And the report notes that "thousands" poured into the streets of Salahuddin yesterday to denounce Nouri al-Maliki's remarks. He's so popular. Andrew E. Kramer notes that Anbar leaders are stating they will take a vote to become semi-autonomous if those arrested in Nouri's latest crackdown are not released.
Meanwhile file it under "They think everyone is as stupid as they are," the Minister of Justice is making claims. Al Mada reports that Minister Hassam Shammari has declared that all those arrested in the crackdown have confessed. Yes, over 600 people have all confessed, that's believable. Especially when you consider that Iraqi forces are infamous for the use of torture to coerce confessions. These 'confessions' do more to undermine Nouri's claims of intel than anything else and they demonstrate that Little Nouri is the new Saddam. In other Little Nouri news, Aswat al-Iraq reports that a female journalist attempting to cover a protest at the University of Baghdad yesterday was detained by Iraqi forces "for several hours."Dar Addustour notes many other journalists attempting to cover the protests were also harassed by security forces. The students were calling for more autonomy including rebuking the university president's decision that they will wear uniforms.
Glen Ford: The Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations emerged two years ago -- partly to show that there were organizations on the Black left that had no been seduced by the Obama presidency. The Black Is Back Coalition holds its national conference November 5th in Philadelphia and had planned a march and rally but the Philly police initially refused to grant a parade permit. Just as suddenly, the police relented and issued a permit according to Black Is Back conference organizer Diop Olugbala --
Diop Olugbala: So the initial excuse was that all the city's resources were tied up in Occupy Philly itself. You should understand that we had submitted our application for the permit on September 22nd which was several days before there was ever even a discussion about the Occupy Philly. And somehow miracuously the city found the resources to grant the permit or to allow for Occupy Philly to happen while they could not find the resources to get the permit for Black Is Back's march.
Glen Ford: Basically what you were maintaining is that the city was using funds or a lack of funds to deny Black is Back it's right to express itself politically.
Diop Olugbala: That's exactly the message that we got, that's how it has to be interpreted politically. To my knowledge and I'm pretty sure that this is common knowledge, budgetary constraints have never been some type of condition to determine the right to free speech for anybody in this country.
Glen Ford: So they were saying, 'We don't have the money so you can't march'?
Diop Olugbala: Yeah, well all the sudden they found the money. I guess a militant demonstration and press conference give them the ability to find the money quickly.
November 5th in Philadelphia, the rally will start at noon (Broad St. & Susquehanna) and, same day, in London one p.m. at the American Embassy.
Ending with the topic of burn pits. Burn pits have resulted in many service members and contractors being exposed to chemicals and toxins that have seriously harmed their bodies. The Senate Democratic Policy Committee held hearings on this issue when Byron Dorgan was the Chair of the DPC. Click here to go to the hearing archives page. A registry is something that Leroy and Rosita Lopez-Torres are now working on. It should be noted that were it not for US Senator Jim Webb, the nation would already have such a registery. In October 21, 2009, then-Senator Evan Bayh appeared before the US Senate Veterans Affairs Committee explaining the bill for a registry he was sponsoring, advocating for it.
I am here today to testify about a tragedy that took place in 2003 on the outskirts of Basra in Iraq. I am here on behalf of Lt Col James Gentry and the brave men and women who served under his command in the First Battalion, 152nd Infantry of the Indiana National Guard. I spoke with Lt Col Gentry by phone just this last week. Unfortunately, he is at home with his wife, Luanne, waging a vliant fight against terminal cancer. The Lt Col was a healthy man when he left for Iraq. Today, he is fighting for his life. Tragically, many of his men are facing their own bleak prognosis as a result of their exposure to sodium dichromate, one of the most lethal carcinogens in existence. The chemical is used as an anti-corrosive for pipes. It was strewn all over the water treatment facility guarded by the 152nd Infantry. More than 600 soldiers from Indiana, Oregon, West Virginia and South Carolina were exposed. One Indiana Guardsman has already died from lung disease and the Army has classified it as a service-related death. Dozens of the others have come forward with a range of serious-respiratory symptoms. [. . .] Mr. Chairman, today I would like to tell this Committee about S1779. It is legislation that I have written to ensure that we provide full and timely medical care to soldiers exposed to hazardous chemicals during wartime military service like those on the outskirts of Basra. The Health Care for Veterans Exposed to Chemical Hazards Act of 2009 is bipartisan legislation that has already been co-sponsored by Senators Lugar, Dorgan, Rockefeller, Byrd, Wyden and Merkley. With a CBO score of just $10 million, it is a bill with a modest cost but a critical objective: To enusre that we do right by America's soldiers exposed to toxic chemicals while defending our country. This bill is modeled after similar legislation that Congress approved in 1978 following the Agent Orange exposure in the Vietnam conflict.
An important bill but one that never got out of Committee. Iraq War veteran Leroy Torres and his wife Rosie Torres have continued to battle on behalf of veterans exposed to burn pits and contiuned to educate the nation on the issue. The Torres have a website entitled BURNPITS 360. They are also on Facebook. It's a personal issue, Capt Leroy Torres was exposed to the burn pit on Balad Airbase. They note that a member of Congress is working on the issue.
From: The Honorable W. Todd Akin
Please sign on to be an original cosponsor to legislation that is important to our veterans. Numerous veterans have suffered serious health problems after exposure to open burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan. This legislation will establish a registry, similar to the Agent Orange Registry and the Gulf War Syndrome Registry. This is the first step toward providing better care for veterans who have been affected by open burn pits.
This bill will also be introduced in a bipartisan/bicameral fashion with companion legislation being introduced by Senator Tom Udall (D-NM)
This bill is scheduled to be introduced on November 3rd, so please contact my office soon to become an original cosponsor.
W. Todd Akin
Member of Congress
Rep. W. Todd Akin
Open Burn Pit Registry Act of 2011
Department of Veterans Affairs
Based on recent accounts of health maladies of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and a possible link to toxic fumes released in open burn pits it has become necessary to voluntarily track and account for these individuals.
This registry will ensure that members of the Armed Forces who may have been exposed to toxic chemicals and fumes while serving overseas can be better informed regarding exposure and possible effects. This legislation
is modeled after legislation that created the Agent Orange Registry and the Gulf War Syndrome Registry.
• Establish and maintain an open burn pit registry for those individuals who
may have been exposed during their military service;
• Include information in this registry that the Secretary of the VA determines applicable to possible health effects of this exposure;
• Develop a public information campaign to inform individuals about the
• Periodically notify members of the registry of significant developments associated with burn pit exposure.
In order to ensure that the Veterans Administration conducts the registry in the most effective manner, the legislation:
• Requires an assessment and report to Congress by an independent
• This report contains an assessment of the effectiveness of the Secretary
of the VA to collect and maintain information as well as recommendations
to improve the collection and maintenance of this information;
• The report will also include recommendations regarding the most effective
means of addressing medical needs due to exposure;
• This report will be due to Congress no later than 18 months after the date
which the registry is established.
• CBO states that this registry would cost $2 million over 5 years
We learned from this country's issues with Agent Orange that the need to get
ahead of this issue is of paramount importance.
The establishment of a burn pit registry will help the VA determine not only to what extent the ramifications of burn pits may have on service members but can also be of great use in information dissemination.
If you have any questions please contact Rep. Akin's office at 5-2561 and speak