Saturday, March 5, 2011

Fire the czars

Senate Democrats are willing to fight to keep President Barack Obama’s policy “czars” in the White House.

As they rolled out their stopgap 2011 fiscal spending plan Friday, Senate appropriators drew a line in the sand over a House attempt to oust Obama’s senior advisers on policy issues including energy and health care out.


That's from Robin Bravender's "Senate Democrats: Save the czars!" (Politico). I can't believe this crap. We're in a financial meltdown, NPR and PBS are looking at serious cuts, important social programs are taking hits and Democrats in Congress are worried about bull**it czars?

He's got a Cabinet. If he needs czars, let him pay for them out of his pocket.

And Barack may need them. I get it Boo-Boo Obama is an idiot. He needs tutors. Fine. Let him pay for them. I'm damn sick of seeing our money wasted. It's our money, not a bunch of whiny little members of Congress.

Fire the czars and do it immediately.



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


Friday, March 4, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, protests take place across Iraq, Iraqi forces attack journalists in Basra, Mosul demonstrators are threatened with a number forced back into their homes, the US government remains largely silent on the protests, the political situation in Iraq continues to resemble a square dance and more.
KUNA reports, "Thousands of Iraqi demonstrators are flowing to Baghdad and other Iraqi cities in what is called 'Friday of Dignity' in protest against poor services and boringly sluggish efforts against alleged corruption and fraud in Iraq." Prashant Rao (AFP) reports that, today, "a crowd of about 2,000 people had descended Baghdad's Tahrir Square by early afternoon, another 1,000 gathered i the southern city of Nasiriyah and about 300 were in the central city of Hilla." AGI notes, "The protesters mostly arrived on foot because of a ban on the movement of vehicles in the square." Bushra Juhi and Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) note Bahjat Talib had to stop at eight checkpoints to get from the Sadr City section of Baghdad to Tahrir Square and they quote him stating, "Our country is lost and for the last eight years the government has failed to offer services for people. Thousands of youths are without jobs." In Nineveh Province, the Dar Addustour live screen crawl noted, protesters have again demanded that the release of detainees and the expulsions of US forces from the country. Al Rafidayn adds security forces in Nineveh used water cannons and batons to disperse the crowd. American University Cairo's Firas al-Atraqchi Tweeted this observation about the Iraqi protests:
Thing about today's #Iraq protests is that they happened despite general curfew #Baghdad #karbala #Basra #Mosul #Najaf #Nasiriyah #diwaniya about 2 hours ago via web
The Day of Dignity follows last week's Day of Rage which saw protests across Iraq with demonstrators often attacked by police leaving less than 30 dead and hundreds injured. The attacks were not just on the demonstrators, Iraqi forces also attacked the press. Physically attacked the press. The groundwork for that physical attack was laid by Nouri who ordered forces to bust into news outlets and journalistic organizations in the days prior to last Friday's Day of Rage. In addition, Nouri also outlawed live broadcasts from Baghdad on that Friday. Through his actions, he sent the message that his government did not respect or support a free press and his thugs then acted accordingly -- in one instance, barging into a Baghdad restaurant and physically attacking four journalists who were eating lunch, beating them in the heads with the butts of their rifles and then arresting them. Stephanie McCrummen (Washington Post) reminds, "Witnesses in Baghdad and as far north as Kirkuk described watching last week as security forces in black uniforms, tracksuits and T-shirts roared up in trucks and Humvees, attacked protesters, rounded up others from cafes and homes and hauled them off, blindfolded, to army detention centers. Entire neighborhoods -- primarily Sunni Muslim areas where residnets are generally opposed to Maliki, a Shiite -- were blockaded to prevent residents from joining the demonstrations. Journalists were beaten." In an essay on last Friday's protest, Danial Anas Kaysi (Foreign Policy) observes:
After the March 2010 elections, the Iraqi people waited close to ten months for their political representatives to agree on a framework and form a government (which is yet to be truly completed due to disputes concerning the naming of security ministers). Those were months in which the population continued to live in the shadow of an occupation, in face of high unemployment levels and in deteriorating conditions -- from low levels of electricity and water to mismanaged sewage systems and ration card provisions.
When Maliki was chosen, the Iraqi people continued to patiently await the creation of a national unity government capable of addressing their needs. All along, Maliki led a protracted campaign to retain the premiership, arguing that was Iraq's best choice in guiding it away from its woes at a time of uncertainty. While services were not central to his coalition's campaign, Maliki concentrated on his capability to impose the rule of law and bring back stability and security so that the country might begin to truly rebuild. Security could be quite the convincing argument had terrorist attacks decreased rather than increased, and had the prime minister not been creating police forces outside the regular chain of command, such as the infamous Baghdad Brigades, which is feared by the residents of the city.
The prime minister's image can no longer be built on a mirage of security and stability. Worsening conditions, coupled with clear corruption and an increase in terrorist attacks, have led people to lose trust in their local, provincial, and federal representatives. Two months after government formation, it has become clear to the people that it is one of a starkly political nature, formed through backroom deals and the placating of various factions.
Al Mada notes that yesterday a vehicle ban was placed on Basra in anticipation of the protest (in anticipation of curbing the protest) and those violating the ban will not have their vehicles returned until some time after Friday. Basra is where 23-year-old Salem Garuq al-Dosari died last Friday, killed for the 'crime' of protesting. In reply to a question about violence from McClatchy's Hannah Allam, AFP's Prashant Rao Tweeted:
@HannahAllam We have reports of a cameraman injured in Basra, but its not clear how. No violence reported to us against journos in Baghdad about 1 hour ago via TweetDeck
Aref Mohammed (Reuters) informs of today's Basra protest, "A Reuters reporter at the scene said some journalists were also beaten by security forces. A vehicle ban was in effect." J. David Goodman (New York Times) also notes the attacks on journalists ("beaten by authorities there"). The Dar Addustour live screen crawl noted Diyala, Kirkuk, Tikrit and Samarra were also placed under curfew. Ammar Karim (AFP) adds, "Nasiriyah, in the south, barred anyone from entering. Complete vehicle bans were also placed on every non-Kurdish province north of the capital, with protesters not even allowed near provincial governorate offices in the city of Mosul, after five demonstrators were killed and one building set ablaze in rallies there a week ago."
While bans were put in place, Al Mada reveaks that the Iraqi Jurists Association announced they would be participating in today's protests and called on the "legitimate" reforms protesters have demanded to be implemented. They also saluted the protesters noting that they have shown strength, that all Iraqis are one people and one destiny. Al Rafidayn reports that the protesters in Baghdad today found Tahrir Square cordoned off by security forces and that blockades were utilized to close down roads and prevent access to areas including the Green Zone and the Sinak Republic Bridge. Osama Mahdi (Kitabat) reports that protesters in Baghdad chanted "Liar Liar Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi Liar Liar" and "Peaceful, Peaceful" while carrying flags and banners -- one banner read "Where did the people's money go?" Stephanie McCrummen (Washington Post) notes that "security was tight as police in riot gear faced the demonstrators, and it was unclear whether crowds would become larger following Friday prayers. Many protesters in the square said they were nervous about staying there considering violence that followed last week's nationwide demonstrations." The crowds did increase despite many obstacles, going from hundreds before ten this morning to, Aref Mohammed (Reuters) estimates, "around 3,000," Tahrir Square is now being called "Iraqi Liberation Square". But not all who wanted to take part in Baghdad were able to. Alice Fordham and Raheem Salman (Los Angeles Times) quote Hansa Hassan who says, "There were many people who wanted to participate but who were prevented; my husband insisted, and he managed to go in, but there were many barriers." NPR's Jonathan Blakley reported from Baghdad:
Most of the participants today were young people, waving Iraqi flags and plastic flowers. Many were college-age students, dressed in red and black caps and gowns, upset because, they say, they couldn't find work after graduation. Some demonstrators had walked for hours to get to Tahrir Square.
One Iraqi [home maker] said the protestors would "expose the thieves" -- referring to government corruption. She said people would march every Friday until their demands are met.
I've changed the term to "home maker." It's 2011 and I'd love to Alicia explain why NPR is using the term I'm not allowing at this site. Was today "Remember Glen Campbell Day"? I don't know. Reporting for Al Jazeera (link goes to Al Jazeera's YouTube page which provides a live feed) from Baghdad, Jane Arraf stood in front of a large crowd gathered in Tahrir Square explaining the thousands "have walked for hours to come to this square," that the government had put up conrecte blocks at the end of Sinak Republic Bridge and walled off the Green Zone and "despite this, thousands of people came to chant that they believe the government they elected are liars and they can do better." Iraqi Streets 4 Change has a photo essay of the Baghdad protest at the top of their web page.
The Dar Addustour live screen crawl noted so reports that Baghdad Operations have been ordered to evacuate the square of journalists and protesters. Al Rafidayn reports that Iraqi state television reported the protest in Baghdad was over and there were no incidents and that, after this was announced by state TV, Baghdad security forces in Tahrir Square dispersed the protesters --- still present, the protest hadn't ended despite the TV claims -- and did so with force and utilizing batons after one p.m. (Baghdad time). On this violence, Iraq Oil Report Tweeted a reply to AFP's Prashant Rao and McClatchy's Hannah Allam:
@prashantrao @HannahAllam we've got reports that those in baghdad who defied the 1pm "official" end to the protest were pushed away by ISF about 2 hours ago via web in reply to prashantrao
Alsumaria TV adds, "In Diwaniya, hundreds of citizens rallied against weak services in their province and called to dismiss the governor and dissolve the provincial council. Demonstrators criticized the government's delay in meeting their demands. Protestors called to dismiss governor Salem Alwan along with head of the provincial council and its members on account of their failure to provide their province with basic services, Alsumaria News reporter said." Dar Addustour live screen crawl noted protesters in Muthanna wants the provincial council and the governor removed. DPA reports Mosul protesters were repeatedly intimidated and quotes Mohamed Saadon stating, "Security forced me to return home though I was planning to join protests. They threatened to shoot me in the leg if [I] did not go back to myhome. They also prevented my three children from leaving home."
Al Rafidayn notes that MP Kamal Saadi has invited the protesters to meet with the Parliament on Saturday and discuss their demands according to Jalal Iipoidica who states that a call for this meet up with go out across Facebook.
In one of the saddest developments, Gilbert Mercier (News Junkie Post) observes, "The US media and most world news outlets (including the BBC) have been strangely silent over the situation in Iraq. Of course it can be explained by the fact that our current news cycle is on steroid. Tracking the Arab revolution's progress is overwhelming even for big news outlets. Libya and the armed revolution to finish off Gaddafi is the big headline, but not for long as it seems that the days of the mad man are counted. Egypt and Tunisia are still in mid-revolution limbo. Both are under military control, but the people are still putting pressure on their respective military to make sure that the revolution doesn't get hijacked by a military junta." Iraqis will most likely be gain ingored by the bulk of US media but with the White House refusing to support the protests, media lackeys will fall in line and declare it 'non-news'. Which is so very true. The outlet that's owned the story domestically would be the Washington Post. (CNN has done some very strong reports -- most of which didn't air on CNN but aired on CNN International.) Kelly McEvers (NPR) did some strong reporting but she left Iraq Tuesday. AP has done strong and consistent work. Monday morning we were noting how the New York Times couldn't be bothered mentioning the assault on Iraqi journalists.
Days later, they still had trouble despite the fact that by Monday evening, The Committee to Protect Journalists had called out the assaults, as had Simone Vecchiator (International Press Institute) and Reporters Without Borders released their open letter to KRG President Massoud Barzani while Nouri al-Maliki had apologized to one reporter, Wissam Ojji (Turkman Eli TV), publicly. Al Rafidayn reported Ojji accepted Nouri's apology. No report on that in the New York Times today. Alsumaria TV reported Tuesday that the White House National Security Council spokesperson Tommy Visor issued a statement which included: "We were also deeply troubled by reports that Iraqi Security Forces detained and beat Iraqi journalists and civil society leaders during Friday's demonstrations." Testifying to the US House Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton never mentioned it despite offering a media critique (for her appearance before the Committee, see Tuesday's snapshot, Kat covered it in "Is you're Congressional district in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem?," Wally covered it at Rebecca's site with "Pitching the State Dept. budget (Wally)" and Ava covered it at Trina's site with "Hillary's foreign policy aims (Ava).") US President Barack Obama hasn't said a word. March 1st, Marian Wang (ProPublica) reported:
As the Mideast protests and government crackdowns continue, one country to watch closely is Iraq, with whom the U.S. has a long-term partnership [1] and where clashes between protesters and government forces recently turned violent. Even as Iraqi security forces detained and abused hundreds of intellectuals and journalists [2], the U.S. government -- in keeping with a pattern of silence on Iraq's abuses -- has withheld criticism of its strategic ally. (Salon noticed this too [3].)
Asked generally about the violence against Iraqi demonstrators [4] on Friday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said only "the approach we've taken with regard to Iraq is the same that we've taken with regard to the region," which he said was to call on governments to respond to the protests peacefully. Neither the White House [5] nor the State Department seem to have mentioned the matter since. Yesterday's State Department briefing discussed Libya, Egypt, Iran, Oman, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, China, Pakistan, Argentina, South Africa and Haiti -- Iraq was never discussed [6].
Wednesday, Sami Ramadani (Guardian) reported on efforts to stop last Friday's protests (more protests are scheduled for this Friday) -- efforts by the US government to stop the protests:

For its part, the world's biggest US embassy -- the power behind the throne -- took the unprecedented step of broadcasting in Arabic, on state TV, a thinly veiled threat to protesters not to go too far in their demands. The US, it stressed, fully backed the "democratically elected" regime, while supporting the right to peaceful protest. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama must be pretty confused as to which dictatorship they should now abandon and which to prop up.

So it's not silence -- bad enough -- it's also actively attempt to scare Iraqis from protests. The US is supposed to be a democracy and shame on any White House that uses tax payer money in another country to encourage people not to utizlize the right to assembly and the right to free speech. Shame on the White House.
From the shameful games of US politics, to the circle game that is Iraqi politics, American University Cairo's Firas al-Atraqchi Tweeted:
An older looking Muqtada Sadr meets with Iyad Allawi - both say they support #iraq peaceful protests 31 minutes ago via web
EuroNews notes, "Earlier, former Iraqi premier Iyad Allawi and Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr held talks to discuss the protests. Last week, al-Sadr asked his supporters to give the government six months to try to address their demands." UPI notes, "Allawi conducted a joint news conference in Najaf with his one-time enemy, Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr, calling on his followers to protest in support of the Libyan people and against U.S. intervention. Sadr did not directly call on his followers to join the demonstrations." Relationships may be shifting in Iraq. From yesterday's snapshot:
In political news, the big news may be Ayad Allawi's announcement. Al Rafidayn reports the Iraqiya leader has given a TV interview in which he has declared he will have no part of the National Council on Supreme Policies. He termed his decision "final" and said Iraqiya could nominate or back someone else for that post if they want to. Iraiqy won the most votes in the March 7th elections which should have meant Ayad Allawi had first crack at forming a government but the Constitution wasn't followed. To end the stalemate, the US government increased the pressure on various parties resulting in an agreement largely brokered by the Kurds which gave Nouri the prime minister poster and would make Allawi head of the National Council on Supreme Polcies; however, that body has still not been created. For those who can remember, after the agreement there was much fan fair in Parliament the next day . . . except for Iraqiya walking out as it became obvious that their rewards in the agreement were not priority. Among those who walked away then was Allawi. It probably would have been smart for others in Iraqiya to have taken a stand back then when it might have made a difference. Dar Addustour reports the assertion that the National Council wil lbe formed. When? Iraq still doesn't have a full Cabinet. In related news, New Sabah reports that Iraqiya is stating Nouri is using his '100 days' (a time of review Nouri's given himself) not to reform, but to stall. Arab News reports: "The Chairman of the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council (SIIC), Ammar al-Hakin, and the Leader of al-Iraqiya Coalition, Iyad Allawi, have discussed on Wednesday the activiation of the agreements, reached among different Iraqi political parties, to activiate the national partnership to respond to the people's demands, an SIIC statement said on Thursday. In further related news, Alsumaria TV reports, "Al Sadr Front threatened to stop supporting the government of Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki if he keeps on his weak performance and failures. The front even hinted about allying with Iraqiya leader Iyad Allawi to form a parliamentary majority in case the government fails to provide its people the needed services within the six month deadline set by Sadr's referendum." UPI notes, "The party loyal to Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr could rally against the country's prime minister if he doesn't address national woes."
Alice Fordham (Los Angeles Times) reports "In an interview on Iraqi TV, Allawi alleged that he was being watched by intelligence services and said that he would not head the proposed National Council for Strategic Policies. The council, backed by the United States, was conceived as a counterweight to the power of the prime minister to end the months-long deadlock on forming a government." Meanwhile Michael S. Schmidt and Jack Healy (New York Times) note the fact that (Nouri's) Supreme Court gave him the power over the Electoral Commission and other independent bodies at the start of the year, that -- following Ned Parker's secret prisons report for the Los Angeles Times -- Human Rights Watch and Amnesty both released reports on the secret prisons in Iraq under Nouri's command: "And in July, Iraq's high court ruled that members of Parliament no longer had the power to propose legislation. Instead, all new laws would have to be proposed by Mr. Maliki's cabinet or the president and then passed to the Parliament for a veto. Political experts said they knew of no other parliamentary democracy that had such restrictions." Iraqiya's Aliya Nasif tells the reporters, "This is the beginning of dictatorship. We are regressing by centuries."
Regressing? Standing still on the issue of Kirkuk to be sure, the oil rich, disputed territory in Iraq. The central government or 'government' in Baghdad claims it has the right to it while the KRG claims it belongs to them. Both lay claims about this period of time where their own was most discriminated against and forced out. The issue was supposed to have been addressed sometime ago. Supposed? The Constitution mandated that it be addressed. The US White House's 2007 benchmarks -- signed off on by the US Congress and Nouri al-Maliki -- demanded that progress be made on the issue or US funds would be cut off. That didn't happen -- it didn't get addressed and US tax payer dollars continued to flow like honey to Nouri. The issue has been postponed repeatedly. More recently, the Constitutionally mandated census -- long pushed back -- was supposed to finally take place in December. That got 'postponed'. It's an issue that's been kicked down the road repeatedly.

Wednesday's snapshot noted, "Al Rafidayn reports Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani held a press conference yesterday where he said the KRG would weigh reforms while noting that he had ordered the pesh merga into Kirkuk. Dar Addustour reports that Kirkuk's curfew was removed yesterday in part due to the influx of additional pesh merga forces."

Today, Al Rafidayn reports that a source close to Nouri al-Maliki is stating that Nouri is demanding the KRG remove the thousands of pesh merga they've deployed to Kirkuk without his permission. Nidhal al-Laithi (Azzaman) reports KRG President "Massoud Barzani, in comments on his decision to send in his militias, said he wanted to protect the Kurds in the city. However, he did not say from whom. The presence of the Kurdish militia has ignited harsh criticism from both Arab and Turkmen communities in Kirkuk who charge that the Kurds are intent to resort to force to annex the city." Wednesday, Wisam al-Bayati (Press TV -- link has text and video) filed a report noting, "Turkmen lawmakers and officials described the presence of these troops as unconstitutional. They say Iraqi security forces have the capability of dealing with the situation by themselves, and that the Kurds have the ambition to take over the city." The report (video) also notes Mohammed al-Juburi, of the Kirkuk Provincial Council, who asserts "that the US presence in Kirkuk is one of the main obstacles to stability. He claims that the US is creating instability by supporting the Kurds against the Arabs and the Turkemen." He is quoted stating, "An active role has been played by the US troops in the city and allowing US troops to commit violations against the Arabs means that they are supporting these violations." What to do about Kirkuk? This week, American intellectual Noam Chomskey observed, "Look how hard it is just to try to settle the issue of Kirkuk," when speaking with Namo Abdulla (Rudaw):
NA: Talking about the issue of Kirkuk and other disputed regions, some people here believe that as soon as the American forces are withdrawn from Iraq, there could be an Arab-Kurd war over those issues. How possible is that?

CHOMSKY: You know better than I do. I don't think anyone really knows. For another thing, I don't really think that it's very likely that the American forces will be completely withdrawn. It doesn't look like it, but it is a hard problem. I have not seen a sensible proposal about Kirkuk. I am not in a position to make any sensible prediction about it.
Staying in the US, Wednesday's snapshot covered the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing on the VA's refusal to implement the caregivers law Congress passed. Kat covered it in "Burr promises VA 'one hell of a fight'" and Ava covered it at Trina's site with "The VA still can't get it together." Also Wally covered yesterday's Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing at Rebecca's site with "No one gives a damn about your money (Wally)." Kimberly Hefling (AP) reported on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing and noted, "President Obama on May 5 signed a law instructing the VA to provide a monthly stipend, health insurance, mental health help and other aid directly to caregivers to help keep wounded veterans out of nursing homes. But the VA missed a Jan. 31 deadline for implementation. And the Associated Press reported last month that while the VA did announce plans soon after that to help caregivers, aid was available to fewer families than Congress intended." Which is why, see Wednesday's snapshot, Committee Chair Patty Murray wanted VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to explain how that happened.
Chair Patty Murray: I've already discussed the caregiver issue with you, I've talked about it with Jack Woo, I've talked with senior staff at the White House and I have spoken directly with the president of the United States. VA's plan on the caregivers issue was overdue and once submitted it hardly resembled the bill that unanimously cleared this Congress. Three weeks ago, my Committee staff requested information on how that plan was developed and to date no information has been provided. Rather than following the law, the administration set forth some overly stringent rules bureaucratic hurdles that would essentially deny help to caregivers. Sarah and Ted Wade who were staunch advocates and worked hard with us to get this passed were invited by the president to attend the bill signing at the White House, they won't be eligible for the program under the plan that the department submitted. We're also hearing a lot from veterans and caregivers from across the country who fall outside of this new line in the sand the VA has drawn, who have been left in limbo and now don't know if this benefit that they advocated and worked so hard for will support them. Mr. Secretary, it appears your that department is not complying with the law as we have written. Can you please tell this Committee why?
We included Shinseki's non-response in full in Wednesday's snapshot. The short answer is: He doesn't know but he sure used a lot of words to say that. Rob Hotakainen (McClatchy Newspapers) reported, " According to Murray, Congress wanted the law to serve at least 3,500 caregivers, at a cost of $1.7 billion over five years. The VA's plan, which calls for covering only 840 caregivers, "is simply not good enough," she said." Richard Burr is the Ranking Member on the Committee (most senior Republican) and Kat covered his comments to Shinseki which included promising "one hell of a fight" with the Committee if the law they passed was not properly implemented. Rick Maze (Army Times) explained, "The Obama administration's narrow interpretation of a new law granting benefits and support to the caregivers of severely injured Iraq and Afghanistan veterans has sparked bipartisan outrage in Congress, with a key senator warning of a 'hell of a fight' if the administration moves ahead with its pending regulations." There weren't a lot of strong reports on the national level (and I'm sure I missed some strong local reporting). There wasn't room to note the coverage of Wednesday's hearing in Thursday's snapshot so we're noting it today and we'll close (today) this topic out with this from the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs (also on yesterday's hearing):

(Washington, D.C.) -- Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chairman of the Veterans' Affairs Committee, heard testimony from Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki and representatives from veterans groups and the American Federation of Government Employees on next year's budget for the Department of Veterans Affairs.
"On balance, and given that other agencies are facing budget cuts, this VA
budget is a very good starting place from which to work," said Senator Murray. "The President has requested an overall increase for VA funding during a very difficult budget year, but we must ensure that the cuts he also proposed do not hurt the veterans who have sacrificed so much for this nation. Going forward, I will work to add funding that is necessary for programs vital to veterans, such as for research and the operation of VA's Inspector General which helps root out fraud and other problems with existing programs."

The President's budget request includes an overall increase of $1.8 billion in discretionary spending over Fiscal Year 2011 levels. It also includes various proposed funding cuts, however, including a reduction in spending for construction and non-recurring maintenance, and a proposed $72 million cut for VA research funding.

Following today's hearing, Members of the Veterans' Affairs Committee will provide the Senate Budget Committee with their views and estimates for VA's budget. Views and estimates are a formal part of the federal budget process, in which Congressional Committees recommend funding levels for programs and activities under their legislative jurisdiction. (For the Veterans' Affairs Committee's jurisdiction, click here.) The House and Senate Budget Committees review these recommendations when formulating the proposed Budget Resolution for the coming fiscal year.

The Chairman's opening statement is available in audio form here. For the full witness list and the witnesses' written testimony, please visit http://veterans.senate.gov.

Meanwhile as protests rocked Iraq today, the question is whether a planned demonstration against the ongoing war will rock the US? 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.

Hard Times Generation
For some children, socializing and learning in school are being cruelly complicated by homelessness, as Scott Pelley reports from Florida, where school buses now stop at budget motels for children who've lost their homes. | Watch Video

Hitchens
Steve Kroft profiles Vanity Fair columnist, author and public intellectual Christopher Hitchens, for whom nothing is off-limits when making his wry and often outrageous observations, including the cancer he is suffering from. |
Watch Video

Spy on the Ice
Bob Simon reports on the latest "spy-cam" techniques used by wildlife filmmakers to show animals - in this case, polar bears - up-close and in a way audiences have never seen them before. |
Watch Video

"60 Minutes," Sunday, March 6, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

And finally, David Bacon's latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which won the CLR James Award. Bacon has a new report for In These Times entitled "Divide and Deport: On Immigration, Thom Hartmann and Lou Dobbs Have Much in Common:"

There has always been a conflict in U.S. labor about immigration. Conservatives historically sought to restrict unions and jobs to the native born, to whites and to men, and saw immigrants as job competitors-the enemy.
This was part of an overall perspective that saw unions as businesses or insurance programs, in which workers paid dues and got benefits in return. Labor's radicals, however, from the IWW through the CIO to those in many unions today, see the labor movement as inclusive, with a responsibility to organize all workers, immigrant and native-born alike. They see unions as part of a broader movement for social change in general.
In 1986, the AFL-CIO supported the Immigration Reform and Control Act, because it contained employer sanctions. This provision said employers could only hire people with legal immigration status. In effect, the law made it a federal crime for an undocumented person to hold a job. Since passage of the law, immigration raids have led to firings and deportations of thousands of people in workplaces across the country. In many cases employers have used the law as a way to intimidate immigrant workers, and rid themselves of those trying to organize unions and protest bad wages and conditions.
Transnational corporations invest in developing countries like Mexico, moving production to wherever wages are lowest. Treaties like the North American Free Trade Agreement promote low wages, privatization, the dumping of agricultural products, and other conditions that increase corporate profits. But those measures also impoverish and displace people, forcing them to migrate to survive.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The creep and layoffs

Private Eye editor Ian Hislop has written that he received a rambling phone call from Wikileak's boss Julian Assange, claiming that British journalists, including the editor of The Guardian, were engaged in a Jewish-led conspiracy to smear WikiLeaks. The Guardian reports on it here.
Hislop said that Assange was especially angry about a Private Eye report that Israel Shamir was a Holocaust denier, and complained the article was part of a campaign by Jewish reporters in London to smear WikiLeaks.
Assange told Hislop he should be ashamed of himself for joining in the international conspiracy to smear WikiLeaks.
He claimed that the article was an obvious attempt to deprive him and his organisation of Jewish support and donations.


That's from Nick Farrell's "Wikileaks boss sees Jewish plots everywhere" (Tech Eye). People like that, they're just disgusting. And notice that while he loathes Jewish people, he's pissed that he might not get their money.

He's such a user. I'm so sick of Julian Assange, aren't you?

Every other week we're supposed to feel sorry for the little princess. I think he's worn out his welcome. In fact, I would gladly chip in towards airfare home to Australia if he'd promise to stay there.

I would love to tell you I got everything unpacked today. I didn't. I ended up hiding at least five boxes in closets. If I were smart, I would have taken tomorrow off as well.

Oh, good news (sarcasm), a friend called from work today to pass on that we've just been informed that staff's going to be cut 20% this summer.

We just had massive layoffs.

I'm so sick of it and I think that's the way most people in my position are. We work for companies where they keep cutting back and cutting back and we can't do it anymore, we can't do the panic of 'Oh not my job! Please let me be safe!' After three years basically of this, you just can't care anymore. You can't live in fear.

So I'm not worrying about my job.

In fact, I think it'll be worse for the ones who still have jobs. We're already grossly overworked due to the latest round of layoffs. Can you imagine what another round of layoffs will mean?



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


Thursday, March 3, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, protests are planned in Iraq for tomorrow, crackdowns go into effect, Nouri's ground appears shakier, Bradley Manning faces new charges, and more.
This week on Raising Hope (episode "Snip, Snip," written by Mike Mariano, Fox, Tuesday nights, streams online), Virginia (Martha Plimpton) and Burt (Garret Dillahunt) have a pregnancy scare. When their adult son Jimmy (Lucas Neff) finds out, he holds a family meeting in the living room. Also present is Maw Maw (Cloris Leachman), Virginia's grandmother, who appears off in her own little world as she examines a remote control.
Jimmy: How could you be so irresponsible?
Virginia: We're responsible. We're also passionate and spontaneous.
Burt: Those would be our gladiator names if we were on American Gladiator. Which we still might do!
Virginia: Because we're spontaneous.
Jimmy: Okay, first of all, Gladiator sounds awesome. But no babies. One of you has to get fixed or spayed.
Burt: No way.
Virginia: You cannot decide that, Jimmy. That is a personal decision.
Burt: She's right. I think we should take a family vote. All those in favor of everyone keeping their original plumbing?
Virginia and Burt raise their hands.
Virginia: Sorry, Jimmy, you're out voted two to one.
Maw Maw: I vote with Jimmy!
Jimmy: Hold on! Two to two!
Burt: Only if she's lucid! She's only allowed to vote if she's lucid!
Virginia: Maw Maw, we are currently at war with what country?
Maw Maw: Iraq and Afghanistan.
Jimmy: Is she right?
Burt: I think so but I'm not sure.
Maw Maw: It's right, you morons. One more reason why you shouldn't have another baby.
Burt and Jimmy aren't the only ones who appear to have forgotten the wars. Yesterday the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan issued a [PDF format warning] press release
Asking if Iraq is "a forgotten mission," the bipartisan Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan has released a special report to Congress warning that the U.S. Department of State faces large funding and contract-management challenges in Iraq once the U.S. military completes its agreed-upon withdrawal by the end of 2011.
To deal with Iraq's long-standing ethnic, religious, and regional rivalries, the State Department is working to set up two permanent and two temporary stations remote from the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. The department is also working with the Department of Defnse to deal with hundreds of functions currently provided by the U.S. military in Iraq.
State's taking on security, facilities management, air transport, and other tasks will require thousands of contractor employees. "Yet State is short of needed funding and program-management staff," the report says. "Very little time remains for State to develop requirements, conduct negotiations, and award competititve contracts for work that must begin at once. Inadequate support risks waste of funds and failure for U.S. policy objectives in Iraq and the region."
The report recommends that:
"1. Congress ensure adequate funding to sustain State Department operations in critical area of Iraq, including its greatly increased needs for operational contract support."
"2. The Department of State expand its organic capability to meet heightened needs for acquistion personnel, contract management, and contractor oversight."
"3. The Secretaries of State and Defense extend and intensify their collaborative planning for the transition, including executing an agreement to establish a single, sneior-level coordinator and decision-maker to guide progress and promptly address major issues whose resolution may exceed the authorities of departmental working groups."
Nathan Hodge's article in today's Wall St. Journal opens, "U.S. officials are beginning to talk about the possibility of keeping some troops in Iraq beyond 2011, complicating the Pentagon's plans to rein in military spending." Hodge also notes the new report from the Commission on Wartime Contracting which Mark Bruce (ABC News) covers as well as the hearing:

The State Department is not ready to assume leadership for the U.S. role in Iraq as the military draws down its mission there, Commissioners Grant Green and Michael Thibault of the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan argued before lawmakers today.
"Is the State Department ready? The short answer is 'no,' and the short reason for that answer is that establishing and sustaining an expanded U.S. diplomatic presence in Iraq will require State to take on thousands of additional contractor employees that it has neither funds to pay nor resources to manage," Green testified before the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Mike Kellerman (Press TV -- link has text and video) adds: "Another couple hundred billion is estimated to pay for diplomats, CIA workers, para military advisors, embassy security, and tens of thousands of contractors. AT this Congressional hearing, several lawmakers balked at the projected price for Obama's long-term scheme to keep the American presence strong in Iraq indicating the government can no longer afford it. The US special inspector general for Iraq testified not only will it cost a lot at a time when budget cutters in Congress are slashing the State Department's budget but also the State Department is far from ready to take over the occupation of the country from the US military." If you want to end something, you work to end it. You don't, a few days after an election -- say, one in 2008 -- post a pathetic message on your supposed peace website that all is well and you're off. The Iraq War continues. Those of us who said "Out of Iraq Now!" need to figure out whether we meant it or not -- specifically "NOW!" -- or whether we were just lying to try to help Democrats do better in elections. I'm not sure what conclusion most will form but I was opposed to the Iraq War and meant it which is why I remain opposed to the Iraq War. Opposed -- not posing. There's a difference. Non-posers will gather across the country this month on the anniversary of the Iraq War with the biggest protest planned for DC. 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.


The Iraq War isn't over. BBC News reports that a Haditha suicide bomber has taken his own life today and the lives of many around him. NPR's Mike Shuster (on the hourly headlines) says that the death toll could rise and that most of the victims are "police or army personnel who gathered at a bank to receive their pay." Reuters counts 10 dead so far with twenty-six injured.
In political news, the big news may be Ayad Allawi's announcement. Al Rafidayn reports the Iraqiya leader has given a TV interview in which he has declared he will have no part of the National Council on Supreme Policies. He termed his decision "final" and said Iraqiya could nominate or back someone else for that post if they want to. Iraiqy won the most votes in the March 7th elections which should have meant Ayad Allawi had first crack at forming a government but the Constitution wasn't followed. To end the stalemate, the US government increased the pressure on various parties resulting in an agreement largely brokered by the Kurds which gave Nouri the prime minister poster and would make Allawi head of the National Council on Supreme Polcies; however, that body has still not been created. For those who can remember, after the agreement there was much fan fair in Parliament the next day . . . except for Iraqiya walking out as it became obvious that their rewards in the agreement were not priority. Among those who walked away then was Allawi. It probably would have been smart for others in Iraqiya to have taken a stand back then when it might have made a difference. Dar Addustour reports the assertion that the National Council wil lbe formed. When? Iraq still doesn't have a full Cabinet. In related news, New Sabah reports that Iraqiya is stating Nouri is using his '100 days' (a time of review Nouri's given himself) not to reform, but to stall. Arab News reports: "The Chairman of the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council (SIIC), Ammar al-Hakin, and the Leader of al-Iraqiya Coalition, Iyad Allawi, have discussed on Wednesday the activiation of the agreements, reached among different Iraqi political parties, to activiate the national partnership to respond to the people's demands, an SIIC statement said on Thursday. In further related news, Alsumaria TV reports, "Al Sadr Front threatened to stop supporting the government of Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki if he keeps on his weak performance and failures. The front even hinted about allying with Iraqiya leader Iyad Allawi to form a parliamentary majority in case the government fails to provide its people the needed services within the six month deadline set by Sadr's referendum." UPI notes, "The party loyal to Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr could rally against the country's prime minister if he doesn't address national woes." The Econimist notes, ". . . Mr Maliki is becoming still more authoritarian. In January a supreme federal court ruling allowed several independent institutions, including the central bank and various committees that are meant to oversee elections, fight graft and uphold human rights, to fall under the control of the executive. Mr Maliki has been trying to place his allies in several of these outfits. Qassim Aboudi, who heads the electoral committee, said he feared that Mr Maliki would interfere even more in the next election than he did in the past one. Worst of all, reports have been circulating that security forces loyal to Mr Maliki are again running secret prisons where detainees are being tortured." Mediate notes that US House Rep Ron Paul appeared on Judge Andrew Napolitano's Fox Business News program Freedom Watch and noted Nouri's crackdown on protesters before stating, "I would say that our success at providing a free society for Iraq is a total failure and they do not have freedom. There's less fredom of religion there -- the Christians have all been run out. Even under the horrible dictator Saddam Hussein -- he was more tolerant of Christianity than the current government is in Iraq." Iraqi Christians remain in Iraq, many have been run out of their homes -- some have moved to northern Iraq, some have left the country.

Protests are called for tomorrow in Iraq. Jack Healy and Michael S. Schmidt (New York Times) report, "On Thursday night, the authorities banned all cars and motorcycles from the streets of Baghdad, making it hard for protesters to reach the central square. Similar bans were announced in Samarra and Kirkuk." Daniel Serwer (Washington Post) notes, "Iraqis have been thinking about what they need to do to achieve national reconciliation: Redefine the relationship between citizens and the state, reform education at all levels, suppress incitement, limit foreign interference in domestic politics. Members of parliament I spoke with wondered what it would take to produce a 'culture of forgiveness.' There was a healthy debate." At the Council on Foreign Relations, Raad Alkadiri offers this take of the protests thus far:
These protests have not reached the scale of those witnessed in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia, and demonstrators have not demanded regime change per se. Nonetheless, the tight security measures taken to contain the "day of rage" protests in Baghdad -- including blocking access to the city and putting a tight military cordon around Tahrir Square, the focal point of the demonstrations -- and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's efforts to link the unrest to al Qaeda and Baathist provocateurs suggest that his government is rattled. And with good cause, because if Baghdad cannot respond effectively to popular demands, the current government's political survival is no less at stake than those in Cairo, Tripoli, and Tunis.
Although there is undoubtedly an element of contagion influencing events in Iraq, which began with small demonstrations in Baghdad led by intellectuals and professionals, the protests there are driven by local grievances. Popular anger at the persistent lack of services -- especially electricity -- has been rising steadily over the past few years. Demonstrations protesting power shortages occurred in Basra last summer, expressing a frustration common to Iraqis across the country; some parts of Baghdad, for example, received around two hours of electricity per day from the national grid in early February. Iraqis also share growing resentment toward pervasive government corruption, a factor that has been particularly important in driving demonstrations against the regional administration in Kurdistan. Iraq ranked 175 out of 178 countries on Transparency International's 2010 corruption index. Meanwhile, there is broad resentment of the high salaries and generous benefits that public officials have granted themselves, especially given the government's apparent ineptitude.
None of these grievances is new; Iraqis have complained about poor services and unresponsive government since the U.S. invasion in 2003. But in the bloody, chaotic years that followed Hussein's fall, security was the biggest popular concern. Now that levels of violence have diminished, Iraqis' patience with their government's inadequacies is wearing thin.

Nayla Razzouk (Bloomberg News) notes that Saber al-Issawi, mayor of Baghdad, has tendered "his resignation [. . .] following street protests in the country to demand better living conditions and anti-corruption measures". The mayor of Falluja has resigned, Babil Province Governor Salman Nasser Hamidi has resigned and Basra Governor Shaltagh Abboud. In addition to the planned protests for tomorrow, Reuters notes that Moqtada al-Sadr has called for protests "against any possible US Military intervention in Libya, saying the US installed Gaddafi and now wants to remove him."
Late yesterday, new charges were lodged against Bradley Manning. The rest of the snapshot will be devoted to issues having to do with Iraq War veteran Bradley. Monday April 5th, WikiLeaks released US military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Monday June 7th, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported in August that Manning had been charged -- "two charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The first encompasses four counts of violating Army regulations by transferring classified information to his personal computer between November and May and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system. The second comprises eight counts of violating federal laws governing the handling of classified information." Manning has been convicted in the public square despite the fact that he's been convicted in no state and has made no public statements -- despite any claims otherwise, he has made no public statements. Manning has been at Quantico in Virginia, under military lock and key, for months. David S. Cloud (Los Angeles Times) reports that the military has added 22 additional counts to the charges including one that could be seen as "aiding the enemy" which could result in the death penalty if convicted. David E. Coombs is Bradley's attorney and provides a walk through on Article 104. Like many, Sophie Elmhirst (New Statesman) emphasizes the possibility of the death penalty. Elmhirst notes:

Last week, I met David House, the only person allowed to visit Manning at the Marine Corps Brig in Quantico, Virginia apart from his lawyer, David Coombs (the full article is in this week's magazine). Manning has been held there since 29 July 2010, and House has been visiting him since September, and has noticed his rapid deterioration. Manning, who is held under a Prevention Of Injury (POI) order, spends 23 hours a day alone in his cell, and is now unable to speak at any length or with coherence. He is allowed out for an hour to walk in circles around an empty room. For three days in January he was put on suicide watch, his glasses were removed and he was kept in his cell for 24 hours a day, although his psychological evaluations have stated that he is not a risk to himself. He has also gained weight and appears exhausted.

Most recently, House told me, he has appeared almost catatonic, barely able to communicate at all. "I can't really describe how bizarre it is to see a 110-pound, five-foot-three individual done up in chains from his hands to his feet, connected at the waist, so he can't really move," he said. Pentagon officials maintain that Manning receives the same treatment and privileges as all other prisoners held in what the military calls 'maximum custody' ". But House points out that Manning is the only maximum-custody detainee at Quantico, "so he is being treated like himself".

Could he face the death penalty? He could. If found guilty, he could even be put to death. How likely is that? It was less likely in 2005 because we had a movement against the Iraq War. But the reality is that it's an illegal war and that the 2002 authorization doesn't say go to war. That wouldn't be hard to establish in court -- you have various Democrats who voted for it in 2002 -- including some who ran for the party's presidential nomination -- and insisted after that this was not a vote for war, it was a vote for inspections and on and on. Meaning, if it is on record by the very people who voted for the authorization that the measure did not declare war, it would be very hard to establish that this was a legal war. (It's an illegal war by every international law. We're sticking to national issues due to the fact that this case, if prosecuted, would be in military courts at the start. On appeal, it would leave the confines of the military.)

Does the military want to be arguing -- with US soldiers still on the ground in Iraq -- that Bradley allegedly aided the enemy? No, they don't.

They don't want to because that opens up two defense avenues. The first is, where is the proof that anyone was aided -- burden of proof, even in the military court, would be on the prosecution to prove their charge. The second is the legality issue.

Reality: US troops aren't leaving Iraq at the end of 2011. You can accept that reality or not. But it's not happening. The US military cannot continue to hold Bradley as they have been doing. The outcry is building. So a trial of some form (or an agreement) had to start (or be reached) in the near future. The military does not want a legality issue on the war. We've seen that in case after case. Think of Camilo Mejia's case or anyone else's. The military doesn't want that but this charge invites that. You cannot claim that someone's actions have aided the enemy and not give them the right to respond as to "what legally defined enemy?" which is the issue of the (domestic) legality of the Iraq War.

It's a stupid charge on their part because it actually expands the case the defense could make -- even if the prosecution insists "We won't go for the death penalty," making that charge expands the scope. During Vietnam, case after case had to be dropped because of the legality issue -- I'm referring to cases which did include charges of 'aiding the enemy.' One of the reasons Jane Fonda was never charged with any crime was that the Justice Dept did not want to get into a court battle over the legality of what the US was doing in Vietnam. Charging her -- as some reactionary members of Congress wanted at the time -- with "aiding the enemy" or "treason" would require the Justice Dept explaining that the US was at war with what Congressional proclamation? (Only Congress can declare war legally in the US.) Putting the war on trial, especially when it is ongoing, is not something that any branch of the government seeks.

What may be happening is that this may be an effort to scare Bradley. The military may have reached a dead end or a wall and, with little to no additional options on ways to attempt to force something out of him, they may have decided to drop a number of new charges on him all at once in the hope that they can intimidate or scare him or his attorney.

Anything can happen, the future is not foretold. But based on past experiences in the US, this plays more like an intimidation tactic by the government -- and an incredibly desperate one at that. Ellen Nakashima (Washington Post) notes the military has stated they will not seek the death penalty. That only makes it more likely that this was a desperation move on the part of prosecutors who know they need to move forward on the case but apparently have little or no case at present. Although it has allowed for some to run around like chickens with their heads cut off and I'm sure the prosecutors are loving that. Meanwhile Glenn Greenwald's demonstrating yet again what a poor legal mind he has. Link here and provided just for the purpose of laughter. (Heads up came from three friends who are Constitutional lawyers.) At one point, GG's going on about military law while indicating that he doesn't understand it. The chief thing to remember with the military court is that it does have civilian oversight in the appeals process. (It was US District Court Judge Benjamin Settle, for example, who ruled in Ehren Watada's favor.) Even worse than GG's alarmist attitude is what he does when he realizes he hasn't a clue about the issues involved. US citizen Bradley Manning will supposedly face a (US) military court. Not sure of the issues (but too scared to admit it), GG looking for an expert and thinks he found one in an "international law professor." No, GG, no. That espeically is producing howls of laughter in the legal community. I know the small, online world tends to think GG's a brilliant legal mind up there with Atticus Finch but he repeatedly demonstrates that he's just not that smart -- neither when it comes to thinking on his feet or strategizing. (Which is how the White House managed to Rick-roll him on ObamaCare all those months.) The charges against Bradley are not "international law" charges. They are domestic military charges. He should have called any number of attorneys familiar with domestic law, especially military law, such as Eugene Fidell. Fidell's always popular with the press and, in fact, Charlie Savage (New York Times) has already spoken to him about the new charges:
Eugene Fidell, who teaches military law at Yale Law School, noted that several of the charges seemed to be describing the same basic act, but in different ways. He said that it was "typical for military prosecutors to draft charges in as many ways as possible," and he predicted that the defense would challenge the redundancies later in the process.
"We're potentially entering a new chapter with this set of charges," Mr. Fidell said.
That's one opinion. There are others. AP's David Disneau finds some -- unlike GG, to find out what could happen, Dishneau goes to military law experts. If you're presenting someone as an expert on a sujbect, they need to be not just an expert but an expert whose expertise applies to the issue at hand. Again, GG's a laugh-laugh. It's only the online world that thinks he's all that. If he hadn't tossed his lot in online with Democrats (he's not a Democrat), he wouldn't have his fame -- such as it is -- but if you tell blind partisans (of either party) just what they want to hear often enough, they'll hail you as a genuis. Of course, most of the praise comes from people who have never sat foot in courtroom, let alone taken even one legal course. You'd think even the mindless, reading today's column, would realize there's some sort of cognitive problem with GG -- presenting Bradley as guilty and then, in his final paragraph, noting Bradley's been convicted of nothing. Which is it?
And we bring it up not just because of GG -- we rarely mention him, he has no use to us. But we note him today because GG's part of the problem. 'What will sway the public!!!!!' Time and again, that's what GG's inflated nonsense is about. Now you can make an argument that attempts to persuade and is still coherent and factual. When you are unable to do that, you just keep upping the ante -- lying -- and end up like John Nichols, who, Bob Somerby points out today, helped start (another) huge lie on the left, it spread like wildfire and people had egg on their face. We don't need that. We all make enough mistakes on our own (and I'm sure I make more than anyone else) without relying on people who have record of stretching, bending, distorting and molesting the truth.
GG makes some idiotic claims -- and he's far from alone today -- how does that hurt anyone? I don't care about Glenn Greenwald and his cult will continue to fawn over him. But the reason we have screamed and pissed people off on the Bradley Manning issue is because I do give a damn about Bradley. I do care when Bill Quigley -- at the Center for Constitutional Rights website -- is calling Bradley the leaker. I do care that Bradley be able to enter a plea and not have one assigned to him -- either by the government stooges or by my fellow idiots on the left. The charges have always been serious ones against Bradley in terms of punishment. It is no one's business -- that includes Daniel Ellsberg who has pissed off the Manning family with some of his public statements -- but Bradley's to make a claim or assertion. He can -- and will -- do that through his attorney. He may be innocent. He may be guilty and want to plead innocent. He may want to plead guilty. But that's his plea. And that CCR would feature Quigley's crazy -- an attorney at a website for attorneys -- calling Bradley the leaker when Bradley's never identified himself as that is beyond crazy.
As is upping the ante. What Bradley's experiencing does qualify as torture. You don't have to add to it, you don't have to inflate it. What's going on is already bad enough. His attorney David E. Coombs notes the military felt the need to strip Bradley of all his clothing for over seven hours. Now if we wanted to live in Speculation City, I could rip them apart over that and what they may have been trying to do in terms of humiliation. But Bradley's never spoken of his sexuality to the press and we've left that out of the snapshots because Adrian Llamo is a liar and a convicted felon. We're not interested in the many lies that sewage mouth repeatedly spouts. (And as we noted long ago, a real prosecution does not let Llamo leak the way he has. Llamo's leaking long ago indicated he wasn't a witness in a future trial, he was part of the prosecution.) 7 hours without clothing. In his cold cell. For what reason? We don't know but we know that's not right. But some today will overlook that grave injustice -- which is a violation of military policy. Even if Bradley were to be put on suicide watch, he would be placed in scrubs. He would not be forced to be naked for hours. The military has violated their own guidelines. But, again, some today will overlook it. They'll hear about it and think, "Oh, well, that's minor! The US military wants to execute him!!!!"
What is being done to Bradley now is already outrageous. When your way of 'helping' him is to focus on what might happen as you let your horses run free (nod to Prince) all over Crazy Town, you make the outrageous actions of the US military seem far less than what they are. That's one reason why we don't docu-drama an ongoing legal case. Another reason is that once you start lying, there is the risk that your lie will be exposed. If and when that happens, that one lie goes to your entire presentation. "They lied about __ and if they would lie about ___, who knows what else they would lie about." So when Coombs responds to Pentagon flack Geoff Morrell's assertions, you're undercutting him (and Bradley) if you're forever 'improving' on the story.
Let's deal with another way some of the 'helpers' are harming. The Cult of St. Julian tries to tie Assange with Bradley. There's no reason to do that. Despite claims by Julian Assange that they would support Bradley (whom Assange has always stated may or may not be the whistle blower because WikiLeaks does not know the person who lead the data) and his legal defense, they didn't. Shamed on the national stage, WikiLeaks finally ponied up a small amount -- $15,000. From a review by Marcus Baram (Huffington Post) of Daniel Domscheit-Berg's Inside WikiLeaks: My Time With Julian Assange at the World's Most Dangerous Website:
The arrest of U.S. Army Private Bradley Manning for allegedly copying and leaking classified information represented the worst moment in the history of WikiLeaks, writes Domscheit-Berg. The arrest prompted the group to debate the effectiveness of its mechanism for protecting sources -- could a document be so dangerous for a source that WikiLeaks should not publish it? Domscheit-Berg also reveals that the organization let down Manning after promising to hire lawyers and raise $100,000 for his defense. By the end of 2010, only $15,000 had been transferred to Manning's support network. "I have to admit that we at WL, myself included, utterly failed on this score," he writes.
That's despicable. And there are reasons not to link them beyond that. While Julie plays martyr, Bradley's facing real hardships. And has been for months now. If Bradley is the leaker, he's the one who risked by leaking. He should be the focus. (If he's not the leaker, his being held is even more outrageous.)
And according to Julian Assange, the US government is trying to link him to Bradley. So why the cult of St. Julian wants to equate the two over and over is beyond me -- because they like doing the prosecutor's work or are they just that stupid?
If he's the leaker -- big if at this point -- the public record still would only (thus far) reflect a connection between Bradley and WikiLeaks -- no connection between him and Julian Assange would be established. If you really live in fear that St. Julie's going to be tried in the US, stop poisoning a potential jury pool by doing the government's work for them.
Equally true is Bradley's never received the support or attention his case warrants. Even World Can't Wait -- one of the few to truly work the Collateral Murder video -- refuses to treat him as his own important story and lumps him in with Julian Assange. As Assange grows more toxic, that's not a smart strategy for Bradley. It's not necessary to feel a damn thing towards non-reporter Julian Assange in order to support Bradley. But, as usual, the ego maniac Julie eats up all the left's attention.

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