Saturday, June 18, 2011

4 men, 2 women




Michael Lerner (ML): You have made many excellent analyses of the power of global capital and its capacity to undermine ordinary citizens’ efforts to transform the global reality toward a more humane and generous world. If there were a serious movement in the U.S. ready to challenge global capital, what should such a movement do? Or is it, as many believe, hopeless, given the power of capital to control the media, undermine democratic movements, and use the police/military power and the co-optive power of mass entertainment, endless spectacle, and financial compensations for many of the smartest people coming up through working-class and middle-income routes? What path is rational for a movement seeking to build a world of environmental sanity, social justice, and peace, yet facing such a sophisticated, powerful, and well-organized social order?

Noam Chomsky (NC): There is no doubt that concentrated private capital closely linked to the state has substantial resources, but on the other hand we shouldn’t overlook the fact that quite a bit has been achieved through public struggles in the U.S. over the years. In many respects this remains an unusually free country. The state has limited power to coerce, compared with many other countries, which is a very good thing. Many rights have been won, even in the past generation, and that provides a legacy from which we can move on. Struggling for freedom and justice has never been easy, but it has achieved progress; I don’t think we should assume that there are any particular limits.

At the moment we can’t realistically talk about challenging global capital, because the movements that might undertake such a task are far too scattered and atomized and focused on particular issues. But we can try to confront directly what global capital is doing right now and, on the basis of that, move on to further achievements. For example, it’s no big secret that in the past thirty years there has been enormous concentration of wealth in a very tiny part of the population, 1 percent or even one-tenth of 1 percent, and that has conferred extraordinary political power on a very tiny minority, primarily [those who control] financial capital, but also more broadly on the executive and managerial classes. At the same time, for the majority of the population, incomes have pretty much stagnated, working hours have increased, benefits have declined — they were never very good — and people are angry, hostile, and very upset. Many people distrust institutions, all of them; it’s a volatile period, and it’s a period which could move in a very dangerous direction — there are analogues, after all — but it could also provide opportunities to educate and organize and carry things forward. One may have a long-term goal of confronting global capital, but there have to be small steps along the way before you could even think of undertaking a challenge of that magnitude in a realistic way.

Read it in full and ask yourself why Diane never has Noam on?

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


Friday, June 17, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, Iraqis take to the streets to protest, tensions continue to fester between Nouri and Allawi, in the US, Bob Filner wonders where the VA money is going, US mayors call for an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and more.
Today was Determination Friday in Iraq as activists take to the streets to demand a responsive government. Protests have been going on in Iraq this year since January. The college students and Iraqi youth began organizing around Friday's a designated day for protest each week. In Baghdad, citizens have turned out in strong numbers and I wish there was much coverage but there's not. For the coverage, we're pulling from Revolution of Iraq and The Great Iraqi Revolution -- so when you see a quoted statement that is linked, the link takes you to one of those two sources, We'll also be working in the rare coverage elsewhere that did take place.


Starting in Baghdad, where "activists flocked to Liberation Square despite government forces harassing them and the checkpoints set around the square" and where "A new game the biggest liar Nouri Al Haliki is playing now. Information indicating that his supporters (supporters of all that is false and lies; supporters of riobbery and corruption) have orders to come out to Tahrir and mix the cards. This is a double edged ploy, of course, that they are either going to give the impression that was Firas Al Jibourie's family who attacked the Rebels or that his supporters will infact again attack the Rebels in Tahrir. We say to Haliki and his supporters that we are ready for them - The heroes of all the Tahrirs in Iraq from the very northern tip to the very southern tip of Iraq will bring you down!"
KUNA reports that the protesters chanted "Friday after Friday, Al-Maliki out" and that, "A group of the protestors read a statement at the crowd, accusing the government of protecting 'the criminals and corrupt.' They also called for recognizing citizens' rights for protesting and abstention from resorting to violence against the demonstrators.
Moreover, they called for a new electoral law to secure equal legislative representation for all political parties." Last Friday, the activists were attacked by pro-government thugs who invaded the square to try to take it over and to stop the legitimate protest going on.

Today "Maliki sends his hooligans to demonstrate in Tahrir while security forces facilitate their route and entry into Tahrir! in the meantime making it difficult for the Rebelling Youth of Iraq to enter Tahrir." Despite those obstacles, "Growing numbers of the Rebel Youth demonstrating in Tahrir calling for the downfall of the government." The pro-government thugs sense they are losing so they attempt to enrage the actual activists. "Maliki's shakawat provoke the Rebels by shouting 'All the people are with you Nourie Al Maliki'!" The pro-government thugs "begin pretending they are demonstrating about the Dujail attack and Firas Al Jibourie - all in order to begin shouting slogans in support of Nouri al-Maliki." When that fails to derail the protests, "Maliki's shaqawat attempt to attack the Rebel Youth and the Rebels stop them, thus making them fail in their attmpt to cause injury and trouble," but the activists are Iraq and "Sunni and Shi'ite brothers" stand side by side.

Of US journalists, it would be hard to think of one that's spent more time covering Iraq than Jane Arraf whose coverage of the country goes back to CNN and long, long before the latest Iraq War. Today Arraf works for the Christian Science Monitor and Al Jazeera and frequently teams up with McClatchy Newspaper's journalists such as Laith Hammoudi and Sahar Issa. At her Twitter feed, Jane Arraf offered observations on the protests.
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Let's turn to some of today's reported violence. First up, The Great Iraqi Revolution reports, "2 members of the Movement to Liberate the South, have been kidnapped by Special Interior Ministry Forces in Basra." Reuters notes a Baghdad car bombing claimed 3 lives and left seven people injured, a Garma car bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer and left three more injured, a Baghdad roadside bombing claimed 1 life and left three people injured and, dropping back to Thursday night for the rest, 1 man was shot dead in Mosul as he left a mosque, 1 man was shot dead outside his Mosul home, 1 Ministry of Electricity employee was shot dead in Baghdad and a Baghdad roadside bombing left one police officer injured.
As the security situation continues to fall apart, the tensions increase between Nouri al-Maliki, prime minister, and other elements in the Iraqi government such as Ayad Allawi. Salah Nasrawi (Al-Ahram Weekly) reports:
The latest crisis was sparked by a spat between the leaders of the two main blocs in the country's "partnership" government, Shia Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki and the leader of the Sunni-backed Iraqia Coalition bloc, Iyad Allawi.
On Friday, Allawi charged Al-Maliki with "lying, hypocrisy and deception", saying that Al-Maliki had "depended on foreigners and Iran's support to become prime minister."
Allawi's remarks came hours after pro Al-Maliki demonstrators carried his picture when standing next to Firas Al-Jubouri, a man whom the government accuses of masterminding a massacre of some 70 Shias in 2006 while on their way to a wedding.
The gruesome crime, which included the raping of the women, including the bride, and the slaughtering of the men and children and the throwing of their bodies into the Tigris, was disclosed last month, infuriating many Shias who have demanded the public execution of the perpetrators.
But the incident also raises questions about why the government has waited so long to bring the assault to light and if it is now trying to implicate Allawi in it, especially following rumors that Al-Jubouri is a member of his National Accord Movement.
The disclosure came amid mounting criticism of Al-Maliki, who holds the portfolios of defense, interior and national security ministers in the Iraqi government, as well as that of intelligence chairman, and who has been accused of failing to stop the violence.
Some have suggested that Al-Maliki has filled these ministries and top security posts with his cronies and supporters who are inefficient or corrupt.
The editorial board of Gulf News also underscores the serious problems Nouri is facing:
Standards were set and consequences for failure were announced and yet when the time came for some stock-taking, Al Maliki's inaction has left him facing intense queries for which he would be hard- pressed to provide answers.
Admitting that the 100-day deadline hasn't worked would have been an easy way out. He could have always taken a fresh guard after that. With the Arab Spring touching new heights and with civil society sensing that they have made rapid breakthroughs across countries in the Middle East, Al Maliki can ill-afford to cloak his explanations in ambiguity.
This has been done by setting a fresh four-year plan for each ministry amid claims that 'massive progress' has been achieved in the stipulated 100 days. The opposition obviously does not agree. This is not the time for extreme long-term vision, especially when the route for the short term is littered with roadblocks.
Meanwhile Lara Jakes (AP) looks into the contract workers in Iraq and finds few make a solid living, let alone leave rich. She notes, "With 900,000 Iraqis unemployed, the government has little sympathy for foreigners who have flocked here to take menial jobs as housekeepers or restaurant workers. And, to get here, authorities say immigrants are routinely fleeced by employment agencies who charge thousands of dollars for flights and temporary visas for workers who wind up earning only a few hundred dollars each month." Today on The World (PRI), the issue was addressed. Excerpt:
MARCO WERMAN: I'm Marco Werman. This is the World, a co-production of the BBC World Service, PRI, and WGBH Boston. Some 35,000 private security contractors are thought to be working in Iraq these days. That number is expected to increase dramatically as U.S. troops withdraw at the end of this year. Many Iraqis are concerned about that. Contractors have been involved in some controversial, even deadly incidents in Iraq, but they also have legal immunity against prosecution for any crimes they may have committed before 2009. Reporter Jane Arraf joins us from Baghdad. So, Jane, a group from the U.N. was just in Baghdad to discuss the role of security contractors there. What were they looking at in particular?
JANE ARRAF: Well, they were really looking at what sort of rules should be implemented and how it's been going so far. It's actually called the U.N. Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries. Now, these people are not mercenaries they point out, they are private security contractors, but their ranks are really going to grow. As the U.S. military leaves, they're going to have to hire more security contractors to protect the Embassy. And, really what this group wanted to do was a bit of a fact-finding mission. It wanted to talk to security contractors, wanted to talk to the Iraqi government, didn't quite get all it wanted on that front. And, basically come up with some recommendations.
WERMAN: Well, interesting that you mentioned this euphemism as security contractor, they're really mercenaries according to the U.N. Does the U.N. see them as mercenaries?
ARRAF: Here in Iraq it's not so much mercenaries, because they are actually contracted employees. But, there are, as you point out, 35,000 of them, including 12,000 foreigners. The U.N. itself is in a bind, because it's going to have to rely on them after U.S. forces pull out. And, as the head of this working group, Jose Luis Gomez del Prado told us earlier today, there is really a gray area there in terms of immunity from prosecution.
In the US, a new call goes out to end the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. CNN reports that in Baltimore today at the Annual Conference of US Mayors, a resolution was passed which "urged Congress [. . .] to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and redirect money spent to support those conflicts to domestic interests." Alex Dominguez (AP) quotes Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa stating, "How did we get to a deficit and a debt larger than at any time not only in U.S. history but in human history? We got involved in two wars that, no matter what you think about those wars, we haven't paid for. That we would build bridges in Baghdad and Kandahar and not Baltimore and Kansas City, absolutely boggles the mind."
Daniel Hanson: So I joined the Marine Corps in 2003. Shortly after I was deployed to Ramadi Iraq in 2004. And it was a deployment that started with one of our Marines shooting himself in the head -- just kind of brushed that under the table. And then 34 marines we lost -- throughout the deployment. We had about 400, 450 Marines injured. Came back and, uh, went on leave and that was -- that was that. Started drinking pretty heavy, dealing with nightmares, dealing with things I wasn't really prepared to deal with, I would say. And I think one of the biggest reasons that I dealt with it myself was just because -- I mean, I was in a battalion with a thousand Marines, I don't think people wanted to hear, you know, my whining and complaining. So -- Then shortly after we went on antoher deployment, non-combat which, uhm, uh, just kept on drinking, kept masking my issues with whatever -- whatever would take away any of the pain. Came back and then about six months later my unit was deployed again to Iraq. This time I was in the remain-behind-element so I was kind of able to see the other side of things -- when we would get the casualty reports, we would get the KIAs in and have to notifiy and take beyond that end of things as well. I decided that I was going to get out of the Marine Corps and uh -- But I was persuaded by a good friend, Sgt Major JJ Ellis, to stay in but, on that deployment, he ended up getting killed. I went to his funeral over in Arlington National Cemetery. Then after that, a friend, also in 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, Jonathan Schulze, hanged himself in the basement of his home and that kind of got me twirling out of control just before I was going to get out of the Marine Corps. And then finally on March -- I got discharged in February, 2007. And then on March 23, 2007, my brother -- who is also in the Marine Corps -- he hung himself in the basement of his home. And at that point, I think I decided I was going to do everything I could to avoid pain, that I was going to do everything to deal with it myself as I had been doing for the last three or four years. And I got into drugs, I got into alcohol. I got into whatever it was that would mask the pain that day. Eventually, I tried to kill myself. I ended up in the St. Cloud VA Medical Center for about 48 hours in lock-up. And then I was released and off to do whatever it is that I wanted to do -- which was go back to work because that seemed like the normal thing to do after -- after something like that. And eventually I found myself in and out of jail. I'm not -- And I was getting treated on an outpatient basis for awhile at the VA Medical Center. But when you were as messed up as I was, it takes a lot more than, you know, one or two sessions a week to get through my issues. And so I eventually found my way into the dual diagnosis program to get help. It was mostly to avoid a longer stint in jail for my DUIs. Eventually, I got out after about 30 days. I think I started drinking the next day. About a year later I found myself in jail for, I don't know, the sixth or seventh time and I decided for myself that I was done hurting myself, I was done hurting my family, I was done hurting my children. And I checked into a 13 to 15 month faith-based program that was what changed my life. About a week after jail, I stopped going to work, stopped going to school and I decided that I wasn't going to be very productive unless I got help. And that's what I did at Minneapolis Teen Challenge. It was more of a holistic approach. It was -- I went to the VA once a week to get help in the combat and the military specific issues and then I would stay there, you know, seven days a week. I wasn't able to get any funding through the VA because it was not -- it was not a VA funded program. Therefore, I got backed up on bills, I wasn't able to pay things and eventually filed bankruptcy. So in my dealing with the VA Medical Center, I always felt like I was in control, I was running my own rehabilitation althought I couldn't even, you know, put my shoes and socks on correctly most days. I felt like it was "Whatever I wanted to do Mr. Hanson, whatever I wanted to do that I thought was best for me. Well I thought what was best for me to go and get drunk and get high and forget about all my troubles and forget about all my nightmares.
Iraq War veteran Daniel Hanson was testifying Tuesday to the House Veterans Affairs Committee in their hearing on mental health. A few notes about the above. This is the hearing that I was hoping to get room for all week. (Not the hearing that has a transcript, I wasn't interested in that hearing.) A veteran who also attended the hearing asked me if I wasn't covering it because of Daniel Hanson's attitude towards treatment? The only reason I hadn't covered it was we didn't have room.
But his treatment probably is as important as anything else in the hearing in many ways, so let's discuss that. What works for me is not going to work for you unless we're very similar. People are very different. There is no cookie cutter treatment to help someone towards recovery. For Dan Hanson, a faith-based program worked. That's most likely because he's living a faith-based life. If someone is liviing that sort of life and he or she has a very strong faith, that faith needs to be part of the therapy. It needs to be brought into it. What the VA couldn't provide him with for whatever reasons, he kept searching until it came to him. And good for him for that.
The thing that bothers me the most about his testimony -- and I thought he was very brave to have shared all he did -- is that he's talking about feeling like all the choices were up to him. In the civilian world there might be a likelihood of treatments -- at the start -- being like that. But not all are. And I'm especially surprised that one would be geared towards veterans like that. To use Dan Hanson's life as an example, he was in a lot of pain and he was spiraling out of control. He correctly identifies himself as not having the skills at that point to go beyond what was probably labeled "stinking thinking" in his treatment (the "stinking thinking" that led him into the situation). Especially for veterans, that seems misguided. Just listening to his story, Dan Hanson was managing -- maybe not coping -- and had to grab additional resources (alcohol, drugs) to continue to manage each day. This was in the military. His use of alcohol most likely increased out of the military because there are certain structures within the daily life of the military that would make it much more difficult for him to show up for duty drunk off his as.
And the military structure is something that's instilled in training. The point being, if you're a veteran and you're seeking treatment for some behaviours that are harmful and out of control, you need structure. You need to see that you are part of your treatment and you need to see that you can work your treatment or program. But before you can go anywhere, a sesne of structure has to be imposed upon you by the program.
That's what Dan Hanson did not get from the VA and what he's talking about when he refers to feeling like the VA attitude was: Do what you want, you know best. If you talk to Elaine generically about this sort of topic (she keeps patient confidentiality and never discusses specifics), she would tell you that your life needs some structure and she'd work with you to construct that (with the earliest stages of your treatment being the most highly stuctured). So I'm confused as to how anyone at the VA thought that sort of 'treatment' would help. His life was chaos and felt chaos on the inside which is why he was using alcohol and other drugs to mask what was going on inside. It disturbs me that something so obvious as missed and if was missed with one person, then it's been missed with many. Dan Hanson was very brave to share his story. And his story isn't just a story of 'this didn't work for me but that did.' It's also a story of VA not grasping emotional distress.
He used Minneapolis Teen Challenge. Many of today's veterans are very young but they may not realize that 'teen' addiction treatment centers can often treat them as well because they are actually teen and young adult. Most go up to at least the age of 24 when accepting clients. Of live-in treatment programs, those tend to provide more structure than those geared solely for adults. So that is something that is a resource to any veteran who's 24 or under and relates to Dan Hanson's journey.
The House Veterans Affairs Committee Chair is Jeff Miller and the Ranking Member is Bob Filner. Bob Filner noted that the Committee he had repeatedly lodged complaints about the backlog and he did do that. And it's also true that he and others offered the VA their ear, asked the VA repeatedly, "What do you need?" Time and again, the Committee was told they needed nothing from Congress. I can remember many Subcommittee hearings where Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin would be the Chair and she would specifically ask about the backlog. And she would be told that they didn't need additional employees and that, in fact, additional employees would slow them down because they'd have to pull people away from working claims to train the new employees. So the backlog isn't a minor issue, it's not one that Congress has ignored, it's one that the VA has repeatedly stated was fixed or about to be fixed, etc. And it's not been fixed.
This came up during the hearing on Tuesday when the VA's Dr. Karen Seal spoke of the hiring freeze at her VA when Ranking Member Bob Filner brought up the issue of veterans unemployment and wondered why the VA wasn't hiring veterans for duties such as outreach and interaction.
Ranking Member Bob Filner: I don't mean to interrupt you. Mr. Chairman, I've heard this in several places. There's a hiring freeze. I mean, we have the biggest problem we've ever had. We've given the VA more money than they've ever had. And we keep hearing about hiring freeze. What is going on here? I mean, we're under-resourced you [Dr. Seal] say. I mean, we have increased the VA budget every year for as long as we've been here and it's 60, 70% higher than it was just five years ago. What is going on?
Phil Roe is a House Veterans Affairs Committee Member and he's also a medical doctor. He wanted to explore the faith-based aspect And this probably was the unique part of the hearing because that topic hasn't been discussed at prior hearings I've attended. So let's emphasize Roe and Hanson's exchange.
US House Rep Phil Roe: I want to hear a little bit more about your faith-based, how the program you felt was successful for you. I think that's really important because obviously everybody's different but this clearly worked with you and I think you'd made your mind up too that you were going to change your life. I think it had a lot to do with you also.
Daniel Hanson: Yes, sir. I mean I was at the point where it was either -- I mean, I was on my knees in my jail cell praying. I said, "God, either use me or kill me." And I eventually went to Teen Challenge and the reason I feel that was so effective was it was more of a holistic -- I mean, I was such an immoral -- I used to say "social parasite" -- where, you know, I was a liar, I was an alcoholic, I was a dead beat dad essentially. And when I went into Minnesota Teen Challenge, I was able to deal with ,the moral and not just the things that happened in combat but going all the way back to childhood and some of those issues and get to the heart. And for 13 to 15 months, you know, you're going to get through a lot of the issues. I still have issues, but they are considerably less. I mean, it was physical healing, emotional healing, spiritual healing. It was, you know, mental healing. And it was, like I said, more of a holistic approach of getting help for not just what happened when I was in the Marine Corps but before and after, and the damage I had done, the survivor's guilt. And knowing that what happened happened but I have a future and I have the chance to make the best out of it. And that's what I intend on doing now.
US House Rep Phil Roe: And you've obviously done a great job with that and a real asset not only as a soldier and a Marine but as just a citizen of the country and as a father . And again to the Chairman and Mr. Filner's question, how do you think the VA could use some of the experiences you've had to make it better for other Marines or soldiers or Airmen who have experienced the same thing?
Daniel Hanson: Well I definitely feel that at times, if I would have got the kick in the butt I needed to get into rehab -- where if the VA would have said, "Lookit, either you go to rehab, you get better or, you know, you're not welcome here. Basically, if you don't want to use what we have set up for us then maybe you should use somewhere else. Because if there's people that really want to get help, this place needs to be open for those individuals." And for years, I had great opportunities to get help but I didn't because I didn't want to. And I think that if the VA, you know, instead of a friendship role, took that parent role when I know there's plenty of times my dad made choices where I hated him for it at the beginning but I saw the absolute necessity of it years down the road. I appreciated him much more for it obviously instead of him not parenting me. And it's a wierd analogy to use -- the VA as a parent -- but I just think if the VA would be possibly more assertive in their treatment and saying, "Lookit, you're obviously messed up, you've been through this, you've been through this, you have this police record. It's time to either get help or, you know, find somewhere else to try to get help."
US House Rep Michael Michaud and Daniel Hanson spoke about the need to have knowledge of a variety of programs before you discharge from the military and become a veteran. He spoke about how when he was active duty, it would have been helpful to know about different ways to get help and "to know it wasn't 'weird' or 'weak'" to get help. Michaud noted that on trips to Iraq, he asks what's needed to help with issues like TBI and PTSD and traumas and the brass tells him they have all they need. But a lower ranking official pulled him aside and suggested he speak to the clergy about the issue. He noted he now does that on every visit to Iraq, "And they [the clergy] were telling me that more and more of the soldiers were going to them because they were afraid to seek help from a doctor because they were afraid of what other soldiers would say."
Burials will take place this weekend of US soldiers who died in Iraq. One took place yesterday and Susan Demar Lafferty (Chicago Sun-Times) has the best text report on that funeral:

Flags waved, tears flowed and hundreds of supporters lined roads from Homer Glen to Elwood on Thursday to pay tribute to U.S. Army Pfc. Michael Olivieri, who was laid to rest at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery.
The Homer Glen resident, remembered as a "great guy" and respected for his military service by those who came out to pay tribute, was killed in Iraq on June 6 along with four others when militants attacked their base.
At a brief and somber graveside military service, Olivieri's wife, Sharon; parents Michael and Jody; and three siblings were surrounded by hundreds of mourners as they sat tearfully in white folding chairs in front of a flag-draped casket.

The worst text report? Homer Glen is a suburb of Chicago. Chicago has two major dailies. While the Sun-Times did their job, the Tribune wasn't up to the task. At three brief sentences, it's practically a Tweet. And if you had written it, you'd be glad there was no byline as well. Video of Lockport High School students watching the procession is here. WGN notes, "Olivier was laid to rest at Abraham Lincoln national cemetery in Elwood. "

Wednesday was the wake, yesterday was the funeral and burial. Bob Rakow (Southtown Star) reports on the wake and quotes Rosemary Koning, a family friend who attended, stating, "I think for the family, it helps to know that people support them. His life was not in vain."

Michael Olivieri died Monday, June 6th in a Baghdad attack along with four other US soldiers. He is one of at least eight US soldiers to die serving in Iraq in the last two weeks.

Susan Demar Lafferty reports, "Sharon Olivieri put her head down on the casket while clutching her husband's flag. The couple were one week shy of their first wedding anniversary when the 26-year-old Olivieri was killed."

Thursday, June 16, 2011

3 men, 3 women

The first hour of today's Diane Rehm Show (NPR) featured Janet Woodcock, Margaret O'Neill, Stephen Katz, Dave Andrews and Lynn Schuchter -- 3 women, 2 men. Second hour was John A. Farrell. So that was 3 men, 3 women.

A number of you e-mailed (that's fine) to say that I hadn't done anything on Facebook. Work has been crazy. I did post this evening. Cedric was fixing a salad and we had ordered a pizza for delivery so I grabbed the time to do some quick things.

If you ask a question and don't get an answer from me on Facebook, please ask it again because I do miss things.

For example, I go through and read the new things but that doesn't always include comments. When I get to something I've "liked" the day before, I generally log out of Facebook feeling like I'm all caught up.




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

Thursday, June16, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, US companies rake in the dough in Iraq, Allawi accuses Nouri of terrorism, a power player in Iraq praises Nouri and then cuts him off at the knees, the US press corps disgrace themselves to publicly slobber over Robert Gates and they all agree to keep it off the record (I didn't), Iraqi activists gear up for tomorrow's protests, Moqtada's fading strength is noted, and more.

Today Aaron Smith (CNNMoney) reports the International Energy Agency has issued a new report which finds that demand for oil will be more than the supply available. The report is entitled "Medium-Team Oil and Gas Markets 2011" and IEA's Executive Director Nobuo Tanaka says, "This report shows that oil's twilgiht as an industrial fuel continues, and it becomes ever more concentrated in the transport and petrochemical sectors. Gas on the other hand continues to increase in power generation as well as industry and space heating. In terms of market structure and pricing, oil is a genuinely global commodity, while gas markets, although globalising, remain bound by some key regional constrations, not least in terms of transportation." The report notes, "Growth in oil supply capacity through 2016 averages 1.1 mb/d [million barrels a day] annually, as higher prices unlock new supplies. Iraq, UAE and Angola lead growth prospects from OPEC, while Brazil, Canada, Kazakhstan and Columbia drive non-OPEC increases." This evening, Andrew E. Kramer (New York Times) reveals that although US companies didn't do so well in those public options, they will enrich their own coffers, "In fact, American drilling companies stand to make tens of billions of dollars from the new petroleum activity in Iraq long before any of the oil producers start seeing any returns on their investments." Yesterday afternoon, Kadhim Ajrash and Nayla Razzouk (Bloomberg News) reported, "Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki ordered the army to boost protection of the country's pipelines and refineries from sabotage." Nouri first became prime minister in 2006 and throughout his first term and his just begun second term he's never shown much interest in or desire to protect the Iraqi people but he'll make sure the oil is safe. For example, Al Rafidayn reports today on some Iraqis who fled their homes during the ethnic cleansing of 2006 and 2007 and relocated elsewhere in Iraq and they continue to live in fear, some "in houses built out of stones and reeds" and Jassim Jubayr Ugaili states he does not want to go back into Baghdad because he was threatened and three of his brothers and one of his nephews were killed. His 18-year-old son Mohammad adds that it would not make any difference for the family to move back because they would just be one or two returning since most families will not return due to the continued violence.

Then again, maybe being spared Nouri's efforts at protection is actually a blessing for the Iraqi people. No, we're not implying Nouri is the "huge snake" Dar Addustour reports hid under rubble and allegedly ate two children and four cats in a Nasiriyah neighborhood. We're referring to Roy Gutman and Laith Hammoudi's (McClatchy Newspapers) report that Nouri al-Maliki declared on "live television broadcast late Tuesday" that assassinations on government security officials were being carried out by a "militia" which has infiltrated the ministries -- he names Interior and Defense specifically.


Gutman and Hammoudi have a strong article that's sketches out what happened. Let's explore why. Human Rights Watch, more than any other organization, is getting under Nouri's thin skin. And primarily because they observe the reality of what an assailant was wearing -- often official security uniforms (such as a police uniform). In 2008, the press was very good about identifying what assailants were wearing when they were in official clothing. And then some of that got dropped. HRW continues to note it and it's becoming harder and harder for Nouri to fall back on his 2006 excuses of 'they're fake uniforms!' and 'a warehouse in southern Iraq housing uniforms was broken into!'


Going public with the fact that a lot of these officially garbed assailants are working for the government, Nouri gets to be seen as more honest and, he hopes, gets to inject a falsehood into the narrative the press will then repeat.


The narrative? Nouri declared on "live TV" that this infiltration has taken place and: "Those who have destroyed the Ministries of the Interior and Defense are we, the (political) parties, who come with a list and tell the officials, 'Employ these people'."


That little statement's not innocuous or an aside. It's Nouri's main point. And part of his efforts to convince the Iraqi people that not only is he the only thing keeping them 'safe' but that he needs more power and the ability to rework the current government.

The only real flaw in Gutman and Hammoudi's article is that they repeat Nouri's assertion and fail to provide perspective. The two reporters go on to say that some feel the tensions between Nouri and Ayad Allawi are harming the country but that's not the main issue. Here's the point they should have made, one that would have made their article much stronger: 'Today Nouri al-Maliki accused other political parties of destroying the Ministries of Interior and Defense by demanding that their people staff the agencies; however, if the two ministries are in disarray that blame would be shared by Nouri who refused to appoint a Minister to head either of those ministries and has instead declared himself the temporary head of those two ministries as well as the Ministry of National Security.'


Those are the facts. If the two ministries have been infiltrated, then that goes to the
fact that they have no permanent head. If the two ministries are in trouble or struggling, that goes to Nouri who's decided he can be prime minister and head three ministries. Of Nouri's lousy job performance, Francis Matthew (Gulf News) offers:


He promised that officials at any level would be sacked if their performance did not match standards, and he spelt out that "the performance of the government and the ministries will be evaluated separately in order to know the extent of success or failure in carrying out the duties given to them". He also made it clear that each minister would have to be responsible for stopping corruption in their ministries.
Despite the drama of his announcement, nothing happened. This week, at the end of his 100-day deadline, Al Maliki met his cabinet (no one had been sacked). He later claimed to the public that each ministry now has a four-year plan, and he seems to be insisting that he has achieved all his goals, and he claims "massive progress" in the 100 days.
It seems unlikely that all Iraq's ministries have just become models of efficiency, and that its famously corrupt officials have all stopped taking bribes. The opposition does not agree with Al Maliki's rosy view of what has happened, and its leaders have called for renewed protests to start this weekend.
It remains to be seen if they can get the people back onto the streets, and also if Al Maliki's large and very tough security forces will let them march again. The events this weekend will indicate how political life in Iraq might run for the next few months.


Nouri took 100 Days, he reset the clock and he accomplished nothing. Repeatedly. Of course, he had help in his incompetence. The 100 Days was a device which attempted to derail the protest movement in Iraq. Aiding him at that time was Moqtada al-Sadr who occasionally breezes through Iraq but prefers to reside in Iran. He fled Iraq when he feared Nouri would use the arrest warrant to put al-Sadr behind bars (the arrest warrant is for murder -- that's a warrant, not a conviction and even were it a conviction we don't mistake Iraqi 'justice' in the puppet, US-imposed system for actual justice). He did a few pop-over visits recently and, as a result, his influence has waned. His big 'protest' in May? We focused on the absurdity of calling observers participants -- he had his militia march through Sadr City and he and many in the press counted as 'participants' people who stepped out of their homes to watch the march go by. But equally ridiculous was the fact that the 100,000 present in Baghdad number was coming from . . . a telephone interview . . . with a Sadr loyalist not in Baghdad but in Najaf -- in Najaf, where he could survey all in Baghdad with the naked eye, apparently. But the most ridiculous thing about that 'protest' was the efforts to make it appear Moqtada was present. Oh! Look! It's his car! Everybody run to it! Oh! Look! It's pulling away!!! Oh, Moqtada . . . No, he wasn't present. (The same Najaf spokesperson insisted to the press that Moqtada was present but his followers were just too enthusiastic to allow Moqtada to safely exit his car. Yeah, right.) If you missed any of that crazy, read Mohamad Ali's report for AFP, they were the most grounded of the outlets reporting on the 'protest.' As we've long noted, US intelligence and that of England's, France's and two countries neighboring Iraq's all say Moqtada's influence has waned. Today Suadad al-Salhy (Reuters) speaks to Mehdi militia members and finds that's the case. What if Moqtada declares war -- as he says he will if the US military stays beyond 2011? One member explains that he's focused on college and becoming an attorney, he needs three years without "any trouble" and he's got the life he wants. Oops, Moqtada can't count on that one. Abu Sadiq (whom al-Salhy describes as a "senior Mehdi Army leader in Sadr City") maintains, "Despite his huge number of supporters, if Moqtada decided to fight now, only a few would fight. The only ones who will fight are those who have not become contractors, or parliament members or gained salaries, cars, homes or government posts." And what about the assertion we've repeatedly noted, that there's real competition among those still dedicated to the cause and they aren't likely to see the Iran-bound Moqtada as 'representative' of their needs and interests? Abu Moqtada ("former Mehdi fighter") tells al-Salhy, "The danger that Moqtada faces is from his leaders who are competing with each other for wealth and positions." al-Salhy adds, "The biggest splinter group, Asaib al-Haq, is already challenging Sadr, eroding his militia from within by infiltrating the top echelons of his organization, Sadrist sources say." (To be clear, this is not, "I was right!!!!" I am not intelligence for any country -- and there are those who know me who would never connect my name and intelligence or intelligent together in the same sentence. But we did note what people were saying -- especially from diplomatic circles -- that their countries' intelligence was saying regarding Moqtada's influence. And if I'm hearing it -- from several sets of people -- I really didn't understand why the press wasn't aware of it even if they weren't reporting on it. And in fairness to reporters in Iraq, any such reports would more likely have been expected to come from reporters in DC or in the capitals of other countries.)

There are a number of political moves taking place and the most intriguing may be what Al Mada is reporting. One of Iraq's power brokers is Ammar al-Hakim. And while he inherited his position (head of the Islamic Supreme Council) after his father died, you can't inherit power. al-Hakim has established himself as powerful in his own right. So any moves he makes are worth following. Today, Al Mada reports, he gave a speech in Baghdad in which he praised Nouri for holding public meetings with his Coucil to review the 100 Days. And al-Hakim also notes that the 100 Days didn't begin to deal with what the people said they needed: electricity, potable water, etc. He also spoke of the violence in Iraq and noted with regret the attack on the provincial council building in Diyala Province this week (click here for Laith Hammoudi's McClatchy Newspapers report), noting how when acts of violence and terrorism become the response of groups "in broad daylight" it indicates serious problems which need to be addressed. He declared, "Denying the decline in our security does not solve the problem." Nor, he added, does it fill the vacancies in the security ministries. As noted earlier in the snapshot, there are no heads for the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of National Security or the Ministry of Defense. Nouri has never appointed anyone to those posts. Nouri is 'temporarily' (he says) filling them. And doing a lousy job of it. Back to al-Hakim, he stated that peaceful means and a peaceful process were necessary for a stable Iraq and spoke with displeasure about the incident last Friday in Tahrir Square ("Liberation Square") where the Youth Activists and other peaceful protesters were attacked by pro-government non-activists who tore up posters of Ayad Allawi, attacked women (hitting them with their shoes) and assaulted others. (The pro-government non-activists brought posters of Allawi with them -- posters they had defaced.) al-Hakim is a major player and that's a major speech. It will be interesting to see how Nouri responds.


As part of the continued propaganda effort, David Ali (Al Mada) reports, Nouri and company are working to stage a pro-Nouri rally in Tahrir Square this Friday. The pro-government non-activists showed up last week and attacked the real activists. This appears to be an effort at propagandizing the world population (a successful one when you think about the press attention the pro-government non-activists got last weekend when you contrast that with how little attention the real Friday activists have been receiving all these months later) and also an effort to run off the real activists. A Youth Movement activist states that if they have to leave Tahrir Square, they will continue their protests elsewhere. This Friday will find them attempting to rally in Tahrir Square. The Great Iraqi Revolution asks, "Between PUNISHMENT FRIDAY AND THAT OF DECISION & DEPARTURE WHO DO YOU THINK WON? THE KNIFE OR THE CAMERA WHICH EXPOSED THEM?????" They note that this Friday is Determination Friday.



Dar Addustour reports that the tensions between Nouri and Allawi have led to a dialogue between Moqtada al-Sadr and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani with the two said to be working on a way to resolve the crisis. The crisis can be traced back (most recently) to the failure by the parties (Nouri) to abide by the Erbil Agreement which was reached when all the major parties came together in Erbil (all major political parties in Iraq plus the US) and divided up this and that to move the nine month and counting stalemate along. The crisis can be traced back even further to the refusal by the UN and the US to appoint a caretaker government. Had that been done, the stalemate would not have continued for nine months and Nouri would not have been able to abuse his position and remain as prime minister.


But the US White House wanted Nouri to remain prime minister (Samantha Power came up with a lengthy list of 'reasons' why it was 'the only sane thing to do') and with the US and Iran backing him, everyone else -- including the people of Iraq who actually thought they'd have a say in their government -- got stabbed in the back. Ben Van Heuvelen (The Atlantic) reports on the conlict:

Former Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi has accused Iraqi security forces of imprisoning and torturing a political opponent of current Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, part of an alleged effort to frame Allawi as a sponsor of terrorism. Allawi, in an interview with TheAtlantic.com, presented as evidence a letter that he said was from Najim al-Harbi, a member of his own political party. The letter describes months of detention and brutal mistreatment by government forces, who told Harbi they would relent if he accused Allawi of organizing terrorist attacks against the Iraqi government. Though allegations of abuse have swirled around Maliki's tightly controlled security forces for years, Allawi's charge of a political conspiracy is unprecedented.
Allawi and Maliki were on opposing sides of a months-long political crisis in Iraq after their respective political parties nearly tied the March 2010 national elections. Though the stalemate ended in November with Maliki retaining the Prime Minister's office, the split has raised tension and distrust in Baghdad politics. Allawi's allegations and Harbi's letter are impossible to verify, but the former Prime Minister's accusations against his own government reveal the level of animosity and suspicion that remain in Iraqi politics.
Last fall, after losing the premiership to Maliki in a post-election contest of back-room coalition building, Allawi stood aloof from the gritty politics of government formation, preferring to spend time in London and other foreign capitals in a sort of self-imposed exile reminiscent of Al Gore's bearded soul-searching following the 2000 elections. Allawi felt he had been robbed. A power-sharing agreement was supposed to give him a high-level post in Maliki's administration. Instead, Maliki had cherry-picked allies from Allawi's coalition, sidelined Allawi himself, and consolidated power.
Allawi finally returned to Baghdad shortly after I had left. I had written him several weeks earlier requesting an interview, and he agreed to a phone call. Our conversation, part of Allawi's entrance back onto the political stage, consisted mostly of accusations against the prime minister. But when I asked Allawi about his exclusion from the government, he brushed the topic aside. Instead, the former prime minister accused Maliki of using his control of the armed forces to intimidate, arrest, and even torture his political opponents.
"The Parliament is being terrorized," Allawi told me.


In the Parliament today, Aswat al-Iraq reports, Khalid al-Assady was sworn in as an MP replacing Khudhier al-Khuzae who is a Vice President. May 12th, Iraq's three vice presidents were officially appointed to their posts: Adel Abdul-Mahdi, Tareq al-Hashimy and al-Khuza. Abdul-Mahdi and Tareq al-Hashimy were returning as vice presidents. The decision was made to increase the number to three; however, at present there are only two since Abdul-Mahdi has turned in his resignation.

In today's violence, Reuters notes 1 corpse was discovered in Kirkuk ("signs of torture and gunshot wounds"), 1 man shot dead in a Mosul vegetable market, 1 man shot dead outside his Mosul home, a Hilla home invasion resulted in the death of 1 Iraqi contractor "and his Indian maid and his Turkish engineer guest" and 1 Iraqi police officer was left wounded in a Baghdad shooting.


Last week, 6 US soldiers died in Iraq. (Two have died this week.) Five of last week's soldiers who died were killed in an attack in Baghdad and one of the five killed was Spc Christopher Fishbeck. Paige Austin (Patch) reports "According to his loved ones, Fishbeck, a former wrestler and football player at Kennedy High School in La Palma, was a playful and mischievous young man with 'spunk,' but he was also a solemn soldier, who studied missile trajectories, worked in intelligence and expected to die in Iraq. [...] Fishbeck is survived by his wife of three months, Stephanie Kidder, his mother and father, his sister Rene Gutel of Paris, France, and his sister Randi Jean Fishbeck of Anaheim." The memorial service will be this coming Monday, St. Irenaeus Church in Cypress at eleven and Paige Austin notes that the public is welcome to attend. Both Austin and Michael Mello (Orange County Register) note that the public is also welcome Friday for Hero Mission starting at 11:30 in the morning -- his body is scheduled to retun at noon Friday and Hero Mission is a recognition provided by Honoring Our Fallen. Also killed in that attack was 20-year-old Spc Emilio Campo Jr. Matt McCabe (St. James Plaindealer) reports Campo's services will be Friday "at the Calvary Cemetery in Madelia, Services at St. Mary's Catholic Church begin at 1:00 p.m." and McCabe also has an article about the reactions of those who knew Emilio Campo Jr. like his teacher Donna Roesch who he visited with even after he graduated, "He came in his uniform once, I thought those buttons were going to pop right off of there. He was so proud. He was proud of what it stood for and he was proud to be doing something for his country that he loved so much." The soldier killed last week on Wednesday was 22-year-old Matthew J. England. The Baxter Bulletin reports his memorial service "is scheduled for 3 p.m. Sunday at First Christian Church in Gainesville [MO]." The two who died in Iraq this week were identified yesterday by the Defense Dept:

The Department of Defense announced today the deaths of two soldiers who were supporting Operation New Dawn.
They died June 13 in Wasit province, Iraq, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their unit with an improvised explosive device. They were assigned to the 6th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

Killed were:

Staff Sgt. Nicholas P. Bellard, 26, of El Paso, Texas; and

Sgt. Glenn M. Sewell, 23, of Live Oak, Texas.

For more information, the media may go to http://www.forthoodpresscenter.com.


Sig Christenson (San Antonio Express-News) reports
on the late Glenn Sewall and quotes his father Mike Sewell who states, "He was a great man; he was a warrior. He was a man among men, fearless." Christenson notes, "A guitarist and member of the Judson High band, he was known for yarns and a sense of humor. It showed in a Christmas message from Kabul in 2008 when he told his mom, 'I know the mustache looks terrible, but it will be gone by the time I get home'."

When a US service member -- or a member of the US diplomatic corps, for that matter -- dies overseas, it is news. Some may choose to gobble down gossip instead, but it actually qualifies as news. The CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley began (with Scott Pelley as anchor) June 6th when 5 US soldiers died. On that night, Pelley covered the story when Diane Sawyer 'forgot' it on ABC World News and PBS' NewsHour was under the mistaken notion that you bury 5 US deaths in a war in a brief headline while chasing down 'scandals' and gossip. Only NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams also managed to cover -- not read a 3 sentence headline the way The NewsHour did -- the 5 deaths. In the time since, Pelley's broadcast has continued to cover the deaths and to cover actual news while others have made like the Ethel Mertz of the global village. Pelley's focus is getting attention and applause (as it should). Today David Bauder (AP) notes the focus and quotes PEW's Mark Jurkowitz stating, "The message of last week could be reclaiming CBS as a more serious-minded news organization." And Bauder notes, "CBS was encouraged that viewership for Pelley's first week was up 6 percent over the same week in 2010, according to the Nielsen Co."

US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates continued The Robert Gates Farewell Tour today with a press conference at the Pentagon. As even he noted, "These past few weeks have truly been the long goodbye" -- try months.

And the key is how do we complete our mission, as we have largely done in Iraq, in a way that protects American national security interests and the American people and contributes to stability? I think most people would say we've been largely successful in that respect in Iraq. I think we're on a path to do that in Afghanistan. The costs of the wars is huge, but it is declining. The costs of these wars will go down between FY '11 and FY '12 by $40 billion, from $160 (billion) to less than $120 billion. There's every reason to believe that between FY '12 and FY '13 there would be another significant reduction. And, of course, with the Lisbon agreement, the size of our forces left in Afghanistan in December of 2014 would be a small fraction of what they are today. So I think that -- I understand the impatience. I understand the concern and especially in hard economic times. We also have to think about the long-term interests, security interests, of the country. And that's where I come out on this.

Iraq was barely mentioned. It was even the real basis for a question. Real basis? A reporter asked why 800 troops from the Oklahoma National Guard that were supposed to go to Afghanistan have instead been diverted "to Kuwait to help with Iraq?" All she wanted to know was what it meant for Afghanistan and had the drawdown already begun in Afghanistan and apparently just wanted to sound like a raving loon. If troops are being diverted (and 800 are) from Afghanistan to Iraq, the drawdown in Afghanistan really isn't an issue. Supposedly all US troops leave Iraq at the end of 2011 (they don't -- whether there's an extension or not, they don't). That's supposedly a hard date, it supposedly can't be massaged. But the Afghanistan one is a soft date. So your story wasn't acting like a crazy idiot and whining about Afghanistan and was Barack lying about when the drawdown started. Your story was, "What does sending an additional 800 troops to the Iraq War -- troops who were supposed to go to Afghanistan -- say about either the supposed withdrawal at the end of this year or about the US military leadership's concern over the increased violence in Iraq?" (The 800 are supposedly "trainers.")

If you think that was embarrassing, you need to have been present. At the end of the press conference, Gates, Adm Mike Mullen who is the Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Hoss Cartwright who is the Vice Chair exited. So that was the end, right?

Wrong, an announcement was made (I believe by Bryan Whitman but I don't attend Pentagon briefings often enough to swear to that) as some of the press began standing (some already knew what was coming), "I want everybody to sit tight. Let's kill the cameras. He'll come back out in one moment and we'll say goodby indvidually and so forth with photos for you guys. This is off the record." Oh my goodness! This is so exciting! Is Bobby Gates going to sign the waistband of Yochi Dreazen's BVDs?

What the hell was that? You should have seen the supposedly mature press corps turn into a bunch of giddy little school children,jumping up and down as if the Jonas Brothers were about to perform. And the ones who had to go last? You could watch them breathe with relief as the slow line suddenly began moving. As if they were thinking, "Oh, no! Oh, no! He's going to get on his tour bus and leave before I get my picture taken with him!!! I missed out on Selena Gomez, now I'm going to miss out on Bobby Gates too!"

Point of fact, this entire embarrassing moment (and I'm being kind and not listing all their names -- many of whom are known from TV) did not speak well for either the individual journalists or the outlets they were with. As awful as the photo posing was, so were the remarks being made -- remarks which indicate no one has any job duty other than to repeat whatever Robert Gates tells them too. My friend with ___ [outlet] who I went into the press conference with said I can't be specific here.

So I can't.

Be specific.

Here.

But I made no promises about my column in the gina & krista round-robin. So look for that to be the topic and for photos of the press embarrassing themselves (I took those photos with my camera phone) to run with my column. This was disgusting. This demonstrated there was no wall between reporting and government announcements, it demonstrated that there was no objectivity. In fact, there are people like Andy Worthington who've been fired (he was fired from the New York Times, click here for Scott Horton's Antiwar Radio interview with Andy Worthington in which Andy discusses what it was like to work for the Times for less than 24 hours) because they weren't seen as objective. As you look at the pictures and read the column, tell me how anyone pictured can truthfully claim to have ever been objective when reporting about Robert Gates.

If you wonder how the US military has managed to switch policies and now issue death announcements for incidents without noting the number wounded in the same release (the policy throughout the Bush adminstration and the policy with Barack until January of this year) and not get called on it, well you missed the Bobby Gates love-fest. You missed a bunch of middle-aged adults who damn well should have known better, gushing in public (off the record!) about how much they loved Robert Gates, about how his leadership was the best and you'd have to go back to WWII to find anyone who could even match him and blah, blah, blah. It was disgusting. Some might say, "It was a goodbye party." You have a goodbye party for your friends. You have a goodbye party for your co-workers. All that moment did was underscore just what lackeys the US press enjoys being. It was truly shameful.

We'll go out with this from David Swanson's "Obama's Libya Defense Makes Bush's Lawyers Look Smart" (War Is A Crime):


The arguments made to "legalize" war, torture, warrantless spying, and other crimes by John Yoo and Jay Bybee and their gang are looking rational, well-reasoned, and impeccably researched in comparison with Obama's latest "legalization" of the Libya War.

Here's the key section from Wednesday's report to Congress:

"Given the important U.S. interests served by U.S. military operations in Libya and the limited nature, scope and duration of the anticipated actions, the President had constitutional authority, as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive and pursuant to his foreign affairs powers, to direct such limited military operations abroad. The President is of the view that the current U.S. military operations in Libya are consistent with the War Powers Resolution and do not under that law require further congressional authorization, because U.S. military operations are distinct from the kind of 'hostilities' contemplated by the Resolution's 60 day termination provision. U.S. forces are playing a constrained and supporting role in a multinational coalition, whose operations are both legitimated by and limited to the terms of a United Nations Security Council Resolution that authorizes the use of force solely to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under attack or threat of attack and to enforce a no-fly zone and an arms embargo. U.S. operations do not involve sustained fighting or active exchanges of fire with hostile forces, nor do they involve the presence of U.S. ground troops, U.S. casualties or a serious threat thereof, or any significant chance of escalation into a conflict characterized by those factors."

Whatever the president's "foreign affairs powers" may be, they do not, under the U.S. Constitution, include the power to launch "military operations" or "hostilities" or "wars." Nor has the distinction between "military operations" that involve what ordinary humans call warfare (blowing up buildings with missiles) and "hostilities" that qualify for regulation under the War Powers Resolution been previously established. This distinction is as crazy as any that have come out of U.S. government lawyers in the past.

The War Powers Resolution forbids unconstitutional wars unless the United States is attacked.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

2 women, 4 men

Today on the first hour of The Diane Rehm Show (NPR), Diane wanted to talk Puerto Rico and she could only find one woman to book. The guests were Laura Meckler, Fernando Pizarro, Mauricio Cardenas, Rafael Fantauzzi and Luis Fortuno. The second hour was Juliet Elperin.

She gets more irritating the longer you listen.

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


Wednesday, June 15, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, wheeling and dealing continues in Iraq, today was Press Day in Iraq, Robert Gates celebrated by getting bitchy with a US Senator in Congress today, USA Today takes a stand on veterans issues, and more.
"The Post remains one of just a few American newspapers regularly reporting from Iraq, and it's a distinction we take seriously," Ed O'Keefe (Washington Post) observes in his column noting he's volunteered for "a seven week assignment to serve as The Washington Post's correspondent in Iraq." When he arrives in Iraq later this week, he'll have missed Press Day which is today. Aswat al-Iraq notes this is the anniversary of al-Zawraa which was "the first Iraqi newspaper, issued during the Ottoman Rule in 1869," 142 years ago. (Trivia note, yesterday was another anniversary -- this one for the US Army.) Suha Sheikhly and Ines Tariq (Al Mada) observe that the creation of the newspaper all those years ago was a strong cultural indicator that Iraq was moving forward beyond tyranny. The paper was originally published once a week, each Tuesday, but quuickly moved to be published twice a week. twenty years later (February 13, 1889), the pubIRIN noted in 2006 that the paper was started in Baghdad. Back then, IRIN was explaining that "the Iraqi Journalists Association (IJA) called upon the government, multinational forces and the international community to offer protection to local and foreign journalists working in the war-torn country."
At the start of this month, Reporters Without Borders was noting, "Reporters and cameramen from local and international satellite TV stations were beaten and detained by the security forces while covering a demonstration in central Baghdad's Tahrir Square on 25 May. Biladi TV reporter Omar Abudl Al-Razak and cameraman Hassan Ghazi, Russia Al-Youm cameraman Hussein Ali Hussein and Ain news agency photographer Akeel Mohamed were repeatedly hit, their cameras were smashed, their mobile phones were seized and they were forced to leave the area. A unit of interior ministry special troops stormed the headquarters of local radio station Sawt Al-Nahda Al-Democratiya on 22 May after it broadcast a programme about the housing crisis and other difficulties being experienced by the population. Founded in April, the station has just filed an application for a licence. Its recording and transmitting equipment was seized."
Earlier this year, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued "Attack on the Press in 2010" notes in their section on Iraq:

CPJ had urged authorities to focus their efforts not on a special court but on solving attacks on the press, hundreds of which have been carried out with impunity. Of the 145 journalists killed in Iraq since 2003, for example, at least 93 were targeted for murder, CPJ research showed. Iraqi authorities have failed to bring a single individual to justice in these cases, making the country the worst worldwide on CPJ's Impunity Index, which calculates the number of unsolved journalists murders as a percentage of a nation's population.
Aswat al-Iraq quotes the Chair of the Press Division in the Media College of Baghdad University, Dr Hassan Kamel, "This anniversary is taking place amid the continuation of suffering by the Iraqi press, in its search for the truth, despite fact that the democratic transformations in the country had opened a broad gap for freedom."
Dar Addustour reports the Parliament ended their session yesterday with Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi presiding over a little over half of the people elected to Parliament. Today they're set to discuss the issue of mobile phone companies in Iraq and why so many Iraqis are suffering from bad phone service. Though some might see that as a minor issue, this is a big issue for many Iraqis. If basic services were sufficient in the country -- electricity, potable water, etc. -- cell phone problems would probably be the highest ranked personal issue for many after lack of jobs. Is it currently a bigger issue than security? No.
And Patrick Markey and Aref Mohammed (Reuters) report that US military helicopters were used today in Basra to fire "on suspected militia fighters" and that the US response "came after seven rockets were fired at U.S. and Iraqi forces stationed at Basra airport." At least one suspect was killed. Aswat al-Iraq notes that three people were wounded as a result of the helicopter fire. AFP adds, "Major General Eddy Spurgin, commander of US forces in the south, said that the helicopter had fired back because American troops retain the right to use weapons in self-defence under the terms of a 2008 security pact with Iraq." Basra was the location for a Monday attack on the police when by a suicide car bomber. UPI reports MP Uday Awad is blaming the US for the Monday attack. They quote him stating, "The occupation is responsible for the weakness of the security in Iraq, in an attempt to strengthen their presence in the country, contrary to the security agreement between Iraq and the U.S."
As those accusations were made today, Marwan Ibrahim (AFP) reports Nejmeddine Karim, Governor of Kirkuk, declared that the US military needs to remain in Iraq, "Keeping the US troops is important to protect the sky and borders of Iraq and to maintain the internal security of the country, because we are witnessing a large danger through the escalation of violence and the fear of sectarian violence." New Sabah pictures what might happen if US forces depart and offers that there is a great chance that local competition then turns into a fierce war with militias competing with one agother to win bragging rights.

Already the tensions between Iraqiya (political slate headed by Ayad Allawi) and Nouri's State of Law slate simmer. The Erbil Agreement was an agreement devised in Erbil (in the KRG) by various political actors in Iraq plus the US. Elections had taken place March 10, 2010. For nine months after the election, there was no progress. So in November 2010, a list of recommendations were agreed upon with the hopes that it would move the process forward. Nouri would get to be prime minister and a National Council for Strategic Polices would be created and Allawi would be named to head it.

Nouri got what he wanted. And then double-crossed everyone.

Allawi has stated that he will not take the post if the council is ever created. It was supposed to be created last November but Nouri didn't keep his word. Nouri also failed to propose a full Cabinet. Currently the security posts are empty: Minister of the Interior, Minister of National Security and Minister of Defense. Nouri is saying he's the temporary head but many are noting this has now lasted for over six months and it appears to be part of Nouri's power grab and an attempt for the Little Saddam to claim even more powers.

Fitting in with that theory is a new report from Aswat al-Iraq which informs that Hassan al-Sunaid ("an official close to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki") declared yesterday that Allawi wasn't fit for the position and that it could go to . . . Jalal Talabani (President of Iraq) or . . . maybe . . . Nouri. For those who missed it, this council was supposed to be independent and to provide a check on the prime minister. Now Nouri's goons are arguing that Nouri can head it.

Nouri's leadership has been a very sick joke. In February, as protests in Iraq were starting to really get going, Nouri declared he needed 100 Days. Give him 100 Days and Iraq would see results. Joining him the stay-off-the-streets-don't-protest was Moqtada al-Sadr. June 7th, the 100 Days came to an end. A new poll by Aswat al-Iraq finds that 70% of their "readers believe that the 100-day time table did not achieve tangible progress in the services fields." Meanwhile New Sabah reports that the Sadrist bloc is insisting Nouri can't dare sideline them because he needs them too much. The article notes the meetings that have been taking place between Nouri, the Supreme Islamic Council and two major political parties in the KRG as well as Jalal Talabani's talks with Moqtada al-Sadr.

Marwan Ibrahim (AFP) observes, "Private security firm AKE Group said last week that attacks have been on the rise since the beginning of the year, with violent incidents averaging more than 10 a day in May, up from four to five a day in January." And Basra wasn't the only location for violence today. Reuters notes a Hilla bombing claimed 1 life and left nine people injured, a Rashad mortar attack left ten Iraqi troops injured, 2 Iraqi soldiers were shot dead at a Mosul checkpoint, 1 Iraqi soldier was shot dead at a Baghdad military checkpoint and a Baghdad roadside bombing injured "two street cleaners and another bomb wounded four people in the same area".
Last week, 6 US soldiers died in Iraq, this week 2 have died. One of the six from last week was Spc Robert Hartwick. WBNS (link has text and video) reports, "Hundreds of people lined the streets on Wednesday to honor a Hocking County soldier killed in Iraq. [. . .] As his body was returned home on Wednesday, residents turned out to pay their respects during a procession that included hundreds of motorcyclists, police officers and firefighters." NBC4's Donna Willis and AP note, "The combat medic's body came home Wednesday, and the community lined the streets of downtown Logan to pay their respects." ABC6 reports, "Hartwick grew up in Hocking County where he attended church at the Gibisonville Mt Olive United Methodist Church. Pastor John Williams told ABC6/Fox28 News' Chris Koeberl Thursday that he remembered Hartwick as a quiet boy who loved the outdoors. The quiet boy returned home to men, women and children standing side-by-side Wednesday, paying their respects to his duty and sacrifice." His funeral is Saturday at the Logan Church of the Nazarene, eleven in the morning.
Another of the six US soldiers killed in Iraq last week was Pfc Michael Olivieri. Thursday is the Homer Glen native's funeral (Homer Glen is a suburb of Chicago). The service will take place at Modell Funeral Homes which carries this obituary at their website:

PFC. Michael C. "Mikey" Olivieri U.S. Army 1st Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley, KS, passed away as a result of insurgent fire in Iraq on June 6, 2011. Cherished husband of Sharon Olivieri. Loving son of Michael A. and Jody Olivieri. Devoted brother of Abby (fiance Adam Brook), Ashley and Joe. Dearest grandson of Joseph J. and Adelaide Olivieri, Dorothy and the late Rolland Riegel. Son-in-law of Nyman and Theresa Beckman. Visitation Wed. 2 p.m. until time of evening service 7:30 p.m. at Modell Funeral Home, 12641 W. 143rd St., Homer Glen, where funeral services will be held on Thursday June 16th at 10 a.m. Interment Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations to the Homer Township Public Library in Michael's name to support a silent reading room appreciated. Michael enjoyed music, playing and singing in the band called the Moops. He was an avid Cubs and Bears fan. His sense of humor could bring laughter to all. 708-301-3595 or www.modellfh.com.

The Chicago Sun-Times notes, "Visitation will be from 2 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Modell Funeral Home, 12641 W. 143rd St. Funeral services will be held there at 10 a.m. Thursday. Interment will be at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery." And Michelle Mulins (Southtown Star) reports, "The Homer Glen Village Board on Tuesday night urged residents to turn out in large numbers and wave flags Thursday during the funeral procession for Army Pfc. Michael Olivieri, a resident who was killed last week in Iraq."
Today US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm Mike Mullen appeared before Congress. Both are outgoing. Mullen intends to leave this fall and Gates hopes to leave shortly President Barack Obama has nominated Leon Panetta for Gates' post. The confirmation hearing was last week, see "Iraq snapshot," "Brown and Collins ask Panetta," "Claire McCaskill" and "Senate Armed Service Committee Boneheads." This morning Gates told the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense that he was making his final testimony before a Congressional committee adding, "And this time I mean it." Possibly in reference to his back and forth, in and out of appointed government positions? Or he might have been referring to the The Robert Gates Farewell Tour which has found him repeatedly declaring that he was making his last Congressional testimony . . . only to do so again and again and again. He declared, "Those stop loss in the Army are now over. There are no Army soldiers stop-loss." So in 2006, he promised it would be over the next year and it wasn't and the same year after year until this year. So it took him five years to do what he promised Congress would be accomplished in one.
Gates opening statement bore the finger prints of the White House (including key phrases). While striving for poetry in discussing the military, the remarks came off plodding and obvious. True, some of that may have been delivery and deliverer. Mullen managed to pull off what Gates failed at. But what stood out most as he read his prepared remarks was his assertion at the start -- not in the written testimony submitted to Congress before the hearing -- that the Fiscal Year 2012 Budget "fully funds current operations in Afghanistan and Iraq." No, it does not. It does not because it cannot. Fiscal Year 2012 kicks off October 1, 2011. Though there may be answers by then on what's going to happen in Iraq, there are no answers right now. Will the US military stay in Iraq (under the Defense Dept umbrella) beyond 2011? If so, that's not budgeted for. If not, the budget really doesn't include various contingencies regarding dates. Meaning if all but the troops being shoved under the State Dept's umbrella leave Iraq and take any necessary equipment with them, the leaving process, when it starts, how it's done, itself will dictate costs. At this point the White House hopes the SOFA gets extended. But they don't know it will. And no one knows the costs for Iraq in 2012. That includes Mullen and was established on The Late Show with David Letterman (CBS). Adm Mike Mullen, Chair of the Joint-Chiefs of Staff, was a guest on Monday night's show.


David Letterman: Tell us about troops coming home. Iraq? Up and functioning on its own? Not functioning on its own?

Adm Mike Mullen: Well Iraq's actually doing pretty well. We've still got 47,000 troops there -- that's from almost 200,000 a couple of years ago. We will continue to downsize that footprint. Right now, to zero -- based on the agreement we have with the Iraqis. Whether the Iraqis will ask us for some kind of small footprint in the future is to be determined here in the next few months.

He spoke matter of factly.."Whether the Iraqis will ask us for some kind of small footprint in the future is to be determined here in the next few months." And until you know the size of the "footprint," you can't really budget for it. No one wanted to make that point on the Committee -- Democrat or Republican. Iraq was barely even noted -- despite the fact that in the last 8 days, 8 US soldiers have died in Iraq.
Senator Patrick Leahy: I supported going into Afghanistan for the purpose of getting Osama bin Laden after 9-11. This Subcommittee and all of us here on this Appropriations Committee have been strongly supportive of that. I did not support the invasion of Iraq which distracted us from that goal. Iraq had nothing to do with 9-11. We'll be paying for this cost for years to come. We borrowed the money to go into that war -- something extraordinary thing in a war to borrow the money -- continue to borrow the money. At the same time, we gave a tax cut for anybody who makes as much as a member of Congress. So what we said was we'll let our children and our grandchildren pay for these two wars.
And that was pretty much it for Iraq from the Senate. If US troops don't get out of Iraq, be aware that we'll be hearing from Congress that 'we took our eye off the ball in Iraq to focus on Afghanistan -- even after bin Laden was killed!!!' We'll stay with Leahy for a second longer. If Howard Zinn were still alive, he'd grab the exchange for one of his history books (and probably quote from the exchange in at least one essay). What the transcript below won't provide you with is the nasty way in which Gates speak. Picture Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest, specifically the Pepsi board room scene.
Senator Patrick Leahy: How long -- How long do we support governments that lie to us, when do we say enough is enough? Secretary Gates, I'll start with you.
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates: Well first of all I would say based on 27 years in the CIA and four-and-a-half years in this job, most governments lie to each other. That's the way business gets done.
Senator Patrick Leahy: Do they also arrest the people that help us --
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates: Sometimes.
Senator Patrick Leahy: -- when they say they're our allies?
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates: Sometimes.
Senator Patrick Leahy: Not often.
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates: And, uhm, sometimes they send people to spy on us. And they're our close allies. So --
Senator Patrick Leahy: And we give aid to them?
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates: -- that's the real world that we deal with.
Leahy was referring to Afghanistan. Only. Sadly. You have to wonder if Congress gives a damn when the reports are about this reporter beat up or this NGO activists targeted or any of it at all. At any rate, they were discussing Afghanistan and when Gates leaves, he'll be taking his bitchy with him. (Leon Panetta does not have a history of bitchy. He has not been confirmed to the post but it's a rule of thumb that if you served in Congress, you're an easy confirmation vote. They don't vote against their own.) As Diane Sawyer and the others try to put this glow around Gates, they ignore his most prominent characteristic: His bitchy nature. And it emerged in the hearing and continued to build until, with all the snideness his prarie twang could muster, Gates said, of Afghanistan, "I'm not talking about a Vermont democracy." Leahy's no fool and rightly heard the insult in that remark and snapped, "Neither am I, Mr. Secretary, and you know that!" It was a rare moment of anger from Leahy who is not know for showing anger in run-of-the-mill hearings. (Gates made clear his disdain for Congress in an interview to NPR earlier this month.) As has been the case anytime the two of them appeared before Congress together, it was left to Mullen to try to restore order (and Gates did a nasty little look where he turned his face so far to the side that, for a moment, he looked like he might do a full-on, Linda Blair Exorcist head twist.)
Senator Lamar Alexander did note Iraq when asking about how much money other countries were paying for the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. Gates insisted it wasn't the case with Libya but with the other two the US bore the bulk of the financial costs. Senator Patty Murray, Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, is on the Subcommittee and her office notes these comments:
(Washington, D.C.) -- Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) asked Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, tough questions regarding some of the all too often overlooked human costs of the ongoing war in Afghanistan during a hearing on the Fiscal Year 2012 budget request for the Department of Defense (DoD). Senator Murray also asked how these long-term costs are being factored into the decision to drawdown forces in Afghanistan. During the exchange Senator Murray expressed her strong belief that these costs of war, including the rising rate of suicide among veterans, the lack of access to much needed mental health care, and the increased number of tours of current service members, must be taken seriously by the Pentagon and the White House, particularly in decisions to bring troops home.
"Many of these service members have sacrificed life and limb in Afghanistan and we as a country are going to be taking care of them and their families not just today, not just when they return home, but for a lifetime," Senator Murray said today.


Excerpts from the exchange and the full text of Senator Murray's questions below.

Secretary Gates, last Friday I visited the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda and had an opportunity to talk to a number of our wounded warriors, their dedicated providers, and their caregivers.
As you know well, many of these service members have sacrificed life and limb in Afghanistan and we as a country are going to be taking care of them and their families not just today, not just when they return home, but for a lifetime.
As Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, I take this issue very seriously and I've been trying to draw attention to this all too often unseen human cost of the war in thinking about how we should consider that as part of our decision in any long-term conflict.
I think you know, the major components of this long-term war include the fact that deaths from suicide among veterans and service members from this war are on par with combat deaths, many of our warriors are facing difficult challenges accessing needed mental health care when they return home, And that many of the service members serving in Afghanistan today are on their third, fourth, or even fifth tours.
So, while we have talked a great deal about costs in terms of rebuilding projects, Afghan aid, and military resources -- I wanted to ask you today what you -- and the Pentagon -- consider to be the biggest costs of this war to our wounded warriors and their families -- particularly those costs that we will be paying for for a very long time and whether that is ever considered or factored in when you're making decisions about drawing down in Afghanistan?



Excerpts from Sec. Gates' response:

"I cannot say that decisions in terms of drawdowns or military strategy are made bearing in mind the costs of the soldiers, and the sailors, and the marines who suffer, it is on the minds of everybody who makes those decisions, but by the same token, it is the nature of war and it is frankly one of the reasons why, as I told an interviewer a couple of weeks ago, I feel I have become more conservative, more cautious, about when you use force because I've seen the consequences up front," said Sec. Gates.
"The costs are exactly as you described, in lives that are shattered, in bodies that are shattered, and in minds that are shattered," said Sec. Gates. "So from our part, in addition to the VA, we have tried to make sure that these funds for these programs have been protected and will be protected in the future."


Excerpts from Adm. Mullen's response:

"Senator, first of all, I appreciate your leadership on this because it has to have a voice. I actually believe we are just beginning to understand this," said Adm. Mullen in response to Sen. Murray's questions. "Leaders have to continue to focus on 'what are these costs' and I thought you said it very well, it is to repay this debt for the rest of their lives and we need to stay with them so that we understand what that means."
"There are time bombs set up that we know are out there, we just don't know when they're going to go off," Adm. Mullen continued. "The relationship that the Pentagon has with the VA and with communities throughout the country has got to get stronger."
"These costs are longstanding, we don't understand them as well as we should… not just for our members, but also for our families, we see that time and time again. Our families have become almost as much a part of our readiness as anything else and it wasn't that way 10 or 15 years ago. Without them we would be nowhere in these wars," said Adm. Mullen.
On hearings, I still hope to note a Veterans Affairs Committee hearing before the week is over. But I was at the Subcommittee hearing above and winning a bet from a friend that Gates would get nasty and bitchy. No one ever reports on that and I'm beyond tired of the hagiography surrounding The Bob Gates Farewell Tour. I also think it says a great deal about how little Iraq is on the lawmakers' minds. Last night, the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley did find Pelley noting the 2 deaths announced yesterday -- 2 soldiers who died in Iraq on Monday and whose deaths were announced yesterday -- as the lead in to a report by David Martin on the toll the wars have taken on military spouses. Others? It'll wait until Sunday. But on hearings we may cover, a friend's passed a transcript of a hearing I did not attend over. I don't cover that committee, I don't care for the Chair. But I agreed to read over it and we may find something in there to use. (If we do cover it, I will note I was not present and I'm using a transcript -- which is supposed to be either already posted or will be posted online at the Committee's website by noon tomorrow.) We're juggling a number of things that need coverage and something's are getting placed on hold and something's there's just not going to be time for.
Today USA Today's editorial board notes of the Department of Veterans Affairs:

The GAO's report describes a dysfunctional security system and identifies 284 sexual assaults at 105 facilities in a three-and-a-half year span. The victims included men and women, employees and patients. Some were being treated for mental illness, substance abuse or post-traumatic stress -- people at their most vulnerable.

The only conclusion is that, despite their protestations, VA leaders -- like Pentagon and military academy officials before them -- haven't paid enough attention to sexual assaults in places under their jurisdiction.

While the VA's health care system is considered generally good, this latest scandal is just one in a series of failures that have beset the department over the years: Long waits for disability claims. Even longer waits for appeals. Lost or destroyed records. Maintenance problems in clinics. Dirty equipment used for colonoscopies. And now, sexual assaults.
It's an editorial worth reading in full and hopefully it'll put some pressure on the VA, force them to become responsive. Yesterday's snapshot noted the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Health hearing and the subject the editorial's focusing on. Last night Ava covered the hearing at Trina's site with "A failure of VA leadership (Ava)," Wally covered the hearing at Rebecca's site with "Who's crunching the numbers at VA? (Wally)" and Kat covered it with "What is sexual assault?"

Instead of continuing the hard work of organizing and protesting unjust wars, too many people took the election of politicians with "D"s after their name as their own Mission Accomplished. Instead of continuing direct action, too many were content voting for "their" team and calling it a day, never mind the policies those they voted into office continued once in power.

It's worth recounting just how Democrats have rewarded their antiwar supporters. In 2006, riding public anger over the war in Iraq to take back control of the House for the first time in a dozen years, Democrats had a mandate for change – and then turned around and consistently funded the war they claimed to oppose. The most congressional Democrats have done is offer a resolution requesting a "plan" for ending the war in Afghanistan, all the while dutifully approving the funds to fight it.

We know how Obama has governed after likewise cynically riding antiwar sentiment into the White House.

Once casting themselves as brave opponents of the warfare state, many Democrats have rejected their rhetorical support for peace just as thoroughly as their once-upon-a-time opposition to the Patriot Act. When Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich offered a measure condemning Obama's illegal, undeclared war in Libya and demanding a withdrawal of all U.S. forces within two weeks, he was joined by more Republicans than he was his fellow Democrats. Nancy Pelosi, channeling every right-winger during the Bush years, even claimed lawmakers who opposed the president's unilateral war policy would send the "wrong message" to the U.S.'s NATO allies. The former speaker of the House is seemingly more concerned about hurt feelings than dead civilians, taxpayer money or the Constitution.

Even the recent House vote to block the president from spending funds "in contravention of the War Powers Act" – meaning Libya – received more votes from Republicans than Democrats. Who says elections don't change anything?

Democratic voters who genuinely believe in peace should know that ending the U.S.'s addiction to war requires more than spending a few minutes in the ballot box. The only change voting has brought in recent years is the party approving the money for war and the name of the president requesting it.

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