Friday, August 26, 2011

4 men, 2 women

On today's Diane Rehm Show (NPR), the first hour featured Reid Wilson, Karen Tumulty and the Hillary hating Ron Elving who should have been fired in 2008 after comparing Hillary to Glenn Close's character in Fatal Attraction. The second hour was Susan Glasser, Mark Landler and sexist Abderrahim Foukara.

Moving on to better programming, Thursday morning, C.I. gave a heads up to a story that would air that evening on All Things Considered (NPR) and I made a point to listen. The transcript is now up and the story was on deportation policies:

RICHARD GONZALES: Fifty-five year old Bradford Wells, a longtime resident of San Francisco, has good days and bad days.

BRADFORD WELLS: It's just part of chronic illness. I've been battling this disease now for more than half of my life.

GONZALES: Wells has AIDS and a host of related ailments. His primary caregiver is the man he married seven years ago, Anthony John Makk, a citizen of Australia who entered this country legally.

ANTHONY JOHN MAKK: We were married in Worcester, Massachusetts, July 22, 2004.

GONZALES: Sitting in their backyard in San Francisco's Castro District, Makk says, as a spouse of a U.S. citizen, he's applied for a green card, but he's been rejected because under the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, the federal government doesn't recognize their marriage. So Makk is appealing, but his permission to stay here expires this week, so he's left in a legal limbo and that upsets Wells.

WELLS: We're legally married. I believe that we should have the same legal rights as every other married couple in this country. I don't want to live under a deportation order. I don't want my family under a deportation order.

GONZALES: But Wells's cloud of uncertainty may soon lift. Last week, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it will concentrate on deporting criminal offenders. Less priority will be given to deporting individuals who came here legally, have strong family and community ties and are the primary caretakers of a U.S. citizen. A spokesman says that it can include gay and lesbian married couples.

Steve Rawls is a spokesman for Immigration Equality, a gay group that supports Makk's efforts to get a green card.

STEVE RAWLS: There is no doubt that the announcement by DHS last week that they were including gay and lesbian families among the families that they intend to help is a step in the right direction.


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


Friday, August 26, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, Turkey enters World's Biggest Liar contest with a laughable denial, the Kurdish Parliament demands an apology from the Turkish government, US forces in Iraq beyond 2011 is explored, Iraqi youths get ready for the return of Tahrir Square protests next month, and more.
Starting with the Libyan War. Wednesday's snapshot included:
Monday on KPFA's Flashpoints, Kevin Pina spoke with journalist Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya and he was then trapped in his hotel with shooting going on all around. Kevin Pina noted, "We're asking all of our listeners to please call the Canadian Foreign Affairs Ministry at 1-800-267-8376 and demand that Canada contact the Transitional National Council of Libya and tell them to respect the right of international journalists especially Canadian journalist Mahdi Darius Naemroaya. Again that number to contact the Canadian Foreign Affairs Ministry at 1-800-267-8376." There are, at best, jokes being made about the safety of unembedded journalists and, at worst, threats being made. On Tuesday's show, Dennis Bernstein featured an interview Mahdi gave RT.
And Wednesday night came Richard Boudreaux's "After Six Days, Journalists Freed in Libya" (Wall St. Journal). That article didn't include Mahdi's name but he and others at the Rixos Hotel were moved to another one. Instead of reporting on that -- a minor story -- or on the actual suffering the Libyans are experiencing.
Instead, we have a bunch of pampered little children who are now showing their soiled diapers to the public. And if that seems harsh, so does playing the victim insted of the journalist. No Matthew Chance and Jomana Karadsheh, you are not the story, you are the reporters. And CNN was never going to allow you to be harmed. The most 'damage' you experienced was a bunch of bad pay-per-view TV (or, as Matthew Chance whines, "an old DVD of Point Break" -- oh the tragedy!). Your continued histionics make you sound less like saps and more like tools of imperialism really reaching to sell the notion of 'my hard times under Gaddafi!'
Matthew Chance is such an idiot. Explaining their five-day ordeal -- Gaddafi had assigned youths to watch the foreign journalists. When Gaddafi disappears (to wherever) the youths are unsure what to do. No surprise there, they were flunkies of the lowest level on the chain (meaning independent decisions were not among their strengths so when those issuing orders began to flee Tripoli, the youths were left stupified). That's why they were the ones selected to protect the journalists. So everyone's in a holding pattern for five days (the so-called ordeal). Listen to the 'torture' the 'journalists' experienced: "The hotel's generator, which kept the electricity supply going, ran out of fuel. Then the lights kept going off." Oh, my goodness. Who knew that a war zone wouldn't be the New York Palace in Manhattan!!!! You mean to tell me that going into a war zone means you might not have electriticy around the clock and the lights might keep "going off"? The tragedy. In the future, all wars should only take place at four-star resorts with adequate room service.
And personal trainers!!!!! 'Brave' Matthew confesses, "We survived in the end on crisps and chocolate. It sounds odd but I actually managed to put on weight during my five-day ordeal." No, it doesn't sound odd, it sounds pathetic. Grow the hell up and stop trying to pretend that you were in any danger. You clearly weren't. Young men on orders to protect you didn't know what to do when Gaddafi disappeared so they made you remain at the hotel, which was not invaded, which was not hit by any bombs, which was the safest place you could have been in Triopoli because everyone knew journalists were present. As Matthew tries to paint a picture of himself as the next Patty Hearst, the reality is that, as he lets slip throughout, they weren't in prisoners in their rooms, they roamed through the hotel day and night. They (the journalists) decided they'd all share a common space and not individaul rooms. They (the journalists) they'd check out the basement. On and on it goes, this is not a hostage situation.
At best Matthew Chance had an amusing tale to share. Instead, these pathetic 'reporters' are trying to equate their little adventure with the serious danger that the citizens of Libya have been put into with the Libyan War. And, Jomana, when you're in the Red Cross vehicle, it's no time to cry. And when you know a camera's present, stop the waterworks and try to act like a reporter. As the only woman -- or 'girl' -- pictured, your little waterworks do a disservice to female journalists all over the world. Though you were never in any danger up to that point, acting like a cry baby once you're being escorted by the Red Cross makes you look unfit to cover any story (but may distract from the fact that you've clearly put on many pounds since leaving Iraq to mis-cover the Libyan War -- which, please remember, found Jomana repeatedly lying to various reporters about where she was actually from and her ethnicity -- apparently forgetting that she had Tweeted repeatedly about her background in the past and anyone could do a quick computer search and expose her myriad of lies). Your constant cry for sympathy refuses to acknowledge your silence on NATO's bombing of Libyan TV which targeted and wounded and killed journalists. Refused to cover it, refused to cover Amnesty International calling out that attack. Now you want sympathy because you stuffed your fat ass with candy and chips for five days while watching movies and roaming through the halls of the hotel in some sort of pathetic homage to The Breakfast Club. Susan Glasser on today's Diane Rehm Show (NPR -- second hour) stated that the 'journalists' were without food and water. That is incorrect. It is flat out wrong. And she needs to stop saying that.
It is a posh hotel with an indoor swimming pool and much more. It had 24 hour room service. For less than a week, food deliveries stopped. New food being delivered stopped. However, canned food was plentiful. Though some cry babies may not like to eat it, US troops in Iraq eat far less fashionable foods as do the people of Iraq. The cry babies had tons of canned food, Matthew even notes that in his report on the 'ordeal.' They were obviously sugar cravers (looking at the photos of them) and they chose to instead gorge on potato chips and candy. They were never without water. Were they horribly parched to the point of dehydration at any point (they weren't),they could've drawn water from the large, indoor swimming pool. They were in more danger of dehydrating in the hotel's sauna than they were from lack of water. (The hotel had a gym, a health center, two on site restaurants. That's why the claim of running out of food is so laughable. Two food establishments and room service? Food deliveries could have stopped for a month and the remaining guests would not have starved.) They're in far more danger in their new hotel (under 'rebel' control) than they were at the Rixos Al Nasr.
Yesterday on KPFA's Flashpoints Radio, the first segment focused on the hotel issue.
Dennis Bernstein: We're going to take it to Canada now and be joined by Michel Chossudovsky -- he's with the Centre for Research on Globalization. He's been communicating with Mahdi throughout the day, Michel, are you with us?
Michel Chossudovsky: Yes, the situation is extremely serious because what happened is the independent journalists left the Rixos Hotel, that was yesterday. They were escorted to a new hotel under the auspices of the International Organization for Migration which is a UN body and the Red Cross and they were under the protection of these organizations and then they arrived in the new hotel, the Corinthia. The Corinthia turned out to be, in fact, a hotel which was under rebel control. They celebrated their 'liberation' so to speak, they had the promise to leave the following morning at twelve noon, 6 ED, in other words, six o'clock in the morning. And that was cancelled. And then what happened is you had rebel gunmen going around the rooms, using the pretext that they were going after the son of Gaddafi. And the whole place is, in fact, a new prison, and this time more seriously because the rebels control it and they are particularly the journalists who had the courage, determination and commitment to tell the truth about NATO atrocities. Particularly the bombing of the last few days which was devestating resulting in more than a thousand deaths and several thousand wounded.
Let's remember that the last time Mahdi spoke on Flashpoints was Monday and he made a point to stress what Libyans were experiencing and that he wanted out and felt bad for focusing on that when so many Libyans didn't have that option. The soiled diaper crowd never acknowledges the Libyan people, they just whine about the 'horrors' of Keanu Reeves DVDs and the food available in a war zone. Let's also remember the August 16th broadcast of Flashpoints included a segment with Dr. Khaled Al Bazelya is the head of Libyan Television's LEC division (their English language channel):
Kevin Pina spoke with him about the NATO attacks on Libyan TV for the last three weeks, resulting in the deaths of 3 journalists, with twelve more injured. "We are professional journalists. We have nothing to do with -- We are not politicians. We just transfer the news," Dr. Khaled Al Bazelya explained. "[. . .] We report what we see. We ask the International Journalist Association and Human Rights to look into this issue because journalists should be protected all over the world." Kevin noted the silence on the attacks.
Reviewing recent events in Iraq today, James M. Lindsay (Council on Foreign Relations) predicts, that whether the US departs or not, "don't be surprised when Iraq returns to the front pages later this year." While we wait to see if that forecast is correct, AP reports there will be a send-off ceremony this afternoon for approximately 160 Alabama Army National Guard members deploying to Iraq. This as the US and Iraqi governments continue to debate the details of extending the US stay in Iraq beyond December 31st. Dar Addustour reports that there is agreement on both sides regarding tanks, helicopters and armored vehicles but the number is still being debated (Iraq now wants no more than 8,000 troops while the US would like 20,000) and there is disagreement regarding immunity for US troops. From yesterday's snapshot:

Those who still need to believe in fairy tales should avoid the interview Josh Rogin (Foreign Policy) did with Iraq's Ambassador to the US Samir Sumaida'ie who states, "The principle that there will be some military presence [in Iraq beyond 2011] to help train Iraqi military and police has been largely agreed upon." This jibes with both what US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said on Friday and what Ali al-Dabbagh (Nouri al-Maliki's spokesperson) said over the weekend. Sumaida'ie addes, "You'll see it when you see it. Americans want everything now or yesterday. We don't do it like this. We do it in our own sweet time." Rogin adds:
Sumaida'ie tried to explain what's really going on here. He said that there is a consensus among all political players, with the exceptions of the followers of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, that Iraq needs some American military support, particularly when it comes to training, past the end of this year. "However, the form that this will take and the legal details are still being debated," he said.
He said the debate over the number of U.S. troops to remain in Iraq has ranged between 8,000 and 20,000, and that they would be non-combat forces limited to the training of Iraqi military and police forces.
In Iraq, whatever troop draw downs have occurred have been coupled with increases in private military contractors. Replacing American troops with government contracted for-profit troops (we used to call these mercenaries) does not mean we're actually getting out of Iraq.
The issue of extending US troops on the ground in Iraq beyond 2011 was addressed on WBEZ's Worldview when Jerome McDonnell spoke with the RAND Corporation and Pepperdine University's Joseph Kechichian today. The discussion started with McDonnell noting that when they spoke about the Iraq War in 2003, Kechichian had predicted it would last a decade and McDonnell was dubious but, here it is, nearly nine years later. Excerpt.
Joseph Kechichian: During WWII and the Korean War, if we remember, we put hundreds of thousands of soldiers in both theaters. Eventually we would bring the vast majority back to the United States leaving behind core forces in both European theater and South Korea, obviously, under the demilitarized zone. In Iraq, the same situation applies as well. We've put, at one point, over a hundred and fifty thousand soldiers plus 150,000 mercenaries that were not technically soldiers but nevertheless they were Americans for the most part. So we had about 300,000 people there. We're down now to 48,000 or so. We're pulling most of the combat troops out. But we're going to leave behind -- as you said, in a new security forces agreement with the Iraqis -- a new SOFA, if you'd like, as it is known in its acronym -- between 10,000 and 20,000 soldiers for a very long time. I think that an accord will be signed between the two governments very soon. And we're going to have a longterm presence in Iraq for decades to come --
Jerome McDonnell: Now there are folks who think that's not -- There are folks who think that's not a great idea and that, really, we'd be doing better off just going to zero because of what a screwed up mess it is but there are a lot of people in Washington who want to stay there because of Iran and things.
Joseph Kechichian: Well in addition to Iran, Iran obviously is a very serious issue for us in the region for the foreseeable future but I think that there are -- I don't know the merits of leaving any soldier behind are worth contemplating at this point. Simply stated, we have invested way too much in Iraq right now. A pullout, a complete pullout, without having any kind of residue left there will essentially mean one thing and only one thing: That the war for Iraq was for naught and that we made a mistake.
It was a mistake, most illegal wars are (they're also crimes, which is why they're called "illegal wars"). Learning to admit that publicly and to speak it would go a long way in preventing future illegal wars. Or at least make the War Hawks and their media whores have to work a little harder -- or did no one else hear echoes of "He gassed his own people!" of Saddam Hussein and "using foreign mercenaries against his own people" about Muammar Gaddafi? (Here for a New York Times report by David D. Kirkpatrick and Rod Nordland going over that false assertion and others.)

US troops frequently pop up in Moqtada al-Sadr's online advice column "Mama Moqtada" -- in fact, you never know what will pop up as Moqtada attempts to both free style and ramble away in free-association. Al Mada reports that in the midst of a reply in which he wrote of the problem with the security ministries (they lack heads -- two of the three have 'acting' ministers), the threat of a withdrawal of confidence in the government, widowhood, bombings, spiritual love and everything but his recipe for potato salad, Moqtada suddenly launches into the need to "put an end to this farce" and the Iraqi army and police all get shoved aside as he quickly switches -- as if on a manic high -- to the issue of Turkey and Iran bombing Iraq.
Turkey's bombing of Iraq is a popular news item. Especially with the Turkish government's response to their bombing of the Zar Kali village Sunday -- some reports say 7 dead, the mayor of the area has said eight people were killed. Hurriyet Daily News reports, "Turkish General Staff released a press statement on Friday, refuting claims that it killed seven civilians during the bombing campaign against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, on Aug. 21, daily Hürriyet reported on its website." Today's Zaman adds that Turkey's Foreign Ministry "said in a statement released on Friday that reports of the alleged deaths of the civilians do not reflect the truth and that published images of people allegedly killed during the raids were fabricated."
Ivan Watson (CNN) notes, " Iraq's foreign ministry summoned the Turkish ambassador in Baghdad on Thursday to deliver a diplomatic letter protesting Turkey's aerial and artillery bombardment of northern Iraq." Sevil Kucukkosum (Hurriyet Daily News) reports, "Diplomatic relations between Baghdad and Ankara have become strained due to Turkey's cross-border military operations against terrorist bases in northern Iraq." Reuters quotes the Kurdis Parliament stating, "We demand an end to the presence of Turkish military bases and their intelligence agencies in Kurdistan's territory. We demand the Turkish government make a formal apology to the people and the Kurdistan government."
In other attacks, A. Saleh (Kuwait Times) reports, "Three rockets have hit the border area between Kuwait and Iraq, Al Arabiya TV reported yesterday quoting diplomatic sources. The pro-Gaddafi TV channel Al Orouba reported the rockets had targeted Kuwait?s Mubarak port, which is under construction and has been the subject of arguments between oil-producing Iraq and Kuwait, which share a small border." Alsumaria TV reports, "The office of Armed Forces General Commander Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki denied reports saying that Iraqi territories were used to launch attacks on Kuwaiti Mubarak Port, a source told Alsumaria. Security sources in Basra Province revealed on Thursday that unknown gunmen launched three missiles from inside Iraqi territories on the project's site in Kuwaiti Boubyan Island. The missiles landed in Gulf waters, the sources reported." DPA provides this background, "Kuwait began constructing the port in April near Iraq's territorial waters close to the Gulf, which has been a subject of dispute between the two oil-producing states. Iraq says the port interferes with shipping lanes to its own ports. But Kuwait says the port is being built on its land and within its territorial waters." Of the Iraqi government assertions about the rockets, Aref Mohammed (Reuters) reports, "Ali al-Maliki, head of the Basra provincial council's security committee, said the rockets were aimed at the former U.S. prison camp Bucca and had a range of only one kilometre." The Great Iraqi Revolution declares: "The youth of the revolution will not be carried away with emotions in dealing with the issue of Port Mubarak, nor will they fall prey to th the devious schemes which are bent on using public anger against the building of the port agreed upon by the traitor government in the Green Zone.We will not walk into the Iranian - Kuwaiti trap which aims at fabricating a new crisis in the region where we will be the timber to maintain its fire like before. What is important for us now is to bring down the illegal sectarian government which is the epitome of the much hated quota system; and to get the American occupation which is the source of all evil out of the country."
Eight months after the Constitution required Nouri al-Maliki to name a full Cabinet, he's still not named a Minister of National Security, a Minister of the Interior or a Minister of Defense. Two of the positions have 'acting' ministers that Nouri put in those spots -- they're not real ministers. They are Nouri's puppets. Nouri can nominate but the Constitution requires that the Parliament approve (or not) of any nominee. While Nouri and his puppets have been in charge, the violence has gotten worse in Iraq. Reuters notes a Tarmiya roadside bombing injured three children, a Baghdad roadside bombing injured two people, a Baghdad mortar attack left three people injured and a Jbela armed attack claimed the life of council member Thamir Ubaid, "his son and his uncle, and wounding one other relative."
Though Nouri can't name a Cabinet (as he should have by December 25th and had it voted on by Palriament), Al Rafidayn reports that MP Mohammed Chichod is blaming Iraqiya for all delays. The National Alliance politician not only blames them for delays in filling the three security posts, he also accuss them of leading a "regionally funded scheme attempting to overthrow Nouri al-Maliki's government.


In Wednesday's snapshot we covered the issues facing foreign workers in Iraq -- subcontractors promising to take care of paperwork that ends going unfiled, subcontractors bailing the country and not paying the workers' the wages they have earned, the awful living conditions, the Iraqi government's decision to not only fine the workers but also to begin deporting them, etc. Rebecca Murray (IPS) reports:



Ukrainian and Bulgarian workers are currently camped out on a construction site of half-built luxury villas in Baghdad's elite "Green Zone" – a vast security enclave housing government offices, embassies and international NGOs - demanding their salaries before being shipped back home.
Although the 2005 Iraqi constitution bans human trafficking, Iraq has no anti-trafficking law that prosecutes offenders on the books. Since 2008 an inter-ministerial task force has been negotiating a draft law for parliamentary approval.
Over 200 foreign labourers began work on the prestigious Arab League Summit housing site at the beginning of the year, but construction was halted in April due to turmoil throughout the Middle East.
However, 35 workers have stayed on, desperate to receive their unpaid wages. Crowded into a rudimentary hall where they live and sleep, they have no legal working papers and little food and water in Iraq's intense summer heat.
Their handmade signs posted on the construction site fence a couple weeks ago begged attention. "Please help we are in trouble", said one, while another pleaded: "SOS Ukrainian Workers".
Ben van Heuvelen and Jewdat al-Sai'di (Iraq Oil Report) explore the issues and note, "
Many foreign firms cut costs by outsourcing work to local or regional subcontractors, some of whom seek profits at the expense of both the quality of their work and the fates of their workers. In a country with few regulatory safeguards against such neglect, it's up to investors to vet their potential partners. It's been a problem for not only private companies but also the Iraqi government and foreign governments, including the United States." Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi (Daily Star) explains the deportations would come under a law that remains a draft and hasn't yet been passed. He adds, "Curiously, however, the addiction to foreign labor has not featured among the declared grievances of protestors who continue to gather (admittedly in smaller numbers) in Baghdad's Tahrir Square every Friday." Protests have not continued every Friday. Most protesters took Ramadan off. The plan is for a new wave of protests to be launched Friday, September 9th, at 11:00 a.m. Al Mada reports that the activists are mibliizing currently and that they will be calling attention to the failure to resolve the security crisis, the failure to provide basic services, the political stalemate and more. A spokesperson for the rally states that it ends the 30 days the protesters gave Nouri al-Maliki's government to resign and apologize (the 30 days is the period when they stopped protesting) and that they return to the streets in the names of the milliions of Iraqis who have suffered from the lack of security, of the Iraqi children whose dreams have been stolen, of the Iraqi youth who cannot find employment, of the Iraqi women who are widows or divorced and live on tiny meager sums, of the Iraqis locked away as detainees or prisoners with no legal recourse. They are calling for a legitimate and responsive government.
Sherwood Ross' "FBI/CIA TRIED TO GET AMERICAN LAWYER TO BETRAY ARAB AND MUSLIM CLIENTS" (Veterans Today):


Federal agents from the FBI and CIA/FBI Joint Terrorist Task Force tried to get a distinguished international lawyer to inform on his Arab and Muslim clients in violation of their Constitutional rights to attorney-client privilege, this reporter has learned. When the lawyer refused, he said the FBI placed him on a "terrorist watch list."
Law professor Francis Boyle gave a chilling account of how, in the summer of 2004, two agents showed up at his office (at the University of Illinois, Champaign,) "unannounced, misrepresented who they were and what they were about to my secretary, gained access to my office, interrogated me for about one hour, and repeatedly tried to get me to become their informant on my Arab and Muslim clients."
"This would have violated their (clients) Constitutional rights and my ethical obligations as an Attorney," Boyle explained. "I refused. So they put me on all of the United States government's 'terrorist watch' lists."
Boyle said his own lawyer found "there are about five or six different terrorist watch lists, and as far as he could determine, I am on all of them." Despite a legal appeal to get his name removed, Boyle said, "I will remain on all of these terrorist watch lists for the rest of my life or until the two Agencies who put me on there remove my name, which is highly unlikely."
Scott Horton: I have to wonder too about the fact that, just the fact that you're Francis Boyle, professor of international law. So that means you know better, you understand the ins-and-outs of all the legal processes and you know when to not say anything and you know when to wait for the supervisor to come over and what to answer, what not to answer. But what does a non-expert do under that same ammount of pressure that they put you on.
Francis A. Boyle: That's right. I mean, obviously, my guess is that a lot of people -- I was, as far as I can figure out, Scott, just researching this, that summer 2004, I was on a special list of 5,000 Arabs, Muslims and their supporters to be interrogated and I suspect they tried to turn all 5,000 into informants. Now, of course, being a lawyer and a law professor, it's a sacrilege this was done at a law school. Now there are supposed to be special guidelines. You need permission from the Attorney General to mess around with lawyers. But apparently they didn't care. Maybe they had approval from the Attorney General? I don't know. But the bottom line is that I didn't become an informant. How many on that list of 5,000 did become informants? Yeah.
Scott Hoton: Yeah.
Francis A. Boyle: Subjected to that kind of pressure.
Scott Horton: Well really you got off easy compared to say Jose Padilla He refused to become an informant and they turned him over to George Tenet to be tortured.
Francis A. Boyle: Well something like that could happen, Scott. As far as I could figure out, this list of 5,000 is probably the list they will use for a mass round-up after the next major terrorist attack. We know that those plans are in place. We know that after 9-11, Ashcroft rounded up 120 Arabs and Muslims and many of them were abused. So my guess is that the 5,000 is the working list for the next time and I'm on that list.
Scott Horton: Well and news this week has it that at least as of 2004, an FBI agent did a threat assessment recommedning further investigation into Antiwar.com.
And we'll stop there (Antiwar.com and the FBI are not pursued as topics in what follows) to note that Justin Raimondo wrote Sunday about being informed of the spying
According to a memo stamped "Secret," marked as "routine," and dated April 30, 2004, we apparently drew the attention of the feds when we posted a copy of a "terrorist suspect list" [.pdf] which had been supplied by the US government to various corporate and governmental agencies, both here and abroad. These documents – including one posted on the web site of an Italian banking association – contained the names of those on a "watch list," the product of an FBI operation dubbed "Operation Lookout." The memo acknowledges the list "was posted on the internet" in "different versions," but says the FBI "assessment was conducted on the findings discovered on www.antiwar.com."
These guys are using us a resource – so why haven't they contributed to our fund drive?
The April 30 memo – which was issued to FBI counterrorism offices in New York, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and San Francisco – is prefaced with the following rather ominous "administrative" note:
"This document contains information obtained under the authority of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), 50 U.S.C., Section 1801. Such FISA derived information shall not be used in any criminal proceeding, including grand jury proceedings …"
FISA created a special secret court, to which the feds have to go to get approval from a judge to tap your phone, open your mail, and rifle through your garbage. This accounts for the large number of lengthy redactions that pepper the pages of this report. Sneaking around corners, and spying on Americans engaged in peaceful and legal activities, they don't want anyone to know how closely they mimic the methods of totalitarian governments,
Justin's piece remains the only straight-forward piece. All week long I thought we'd get an understanding via Antiwar Radio. But we didn't. Marcy Wheeler did the best job here; however, she was working with the information not explained and with new information she'd unearthed and attempting to explain both with little set up or context. She's written about the issue here. Is it wrong for the government to spy on antiwar groups? Of course it is. But are we going to get beyond that? There were multiple interviews on Antiwar Radio last week and there was no attempt to shape the information or to provide the listener any kind of narrative to understand the story. FBI spying bad. Yes, I get that. I got that before this week. Can we try to expand upon what happened, can we put it within the context of the continued spying on peace groups? The FBI raids just last fall?
Friday, September 24th FBI raids took place on at least seven homes of peace activists -- the FBI admits to raiding seven homes -- and the FBI raided the offices of Anti-War Committee. Just as that news was breaking, the National Lawyers Guild issued a new report, Heidi Boghosian's [PDF format warning] "The Policing of Political Speech: Constraints on Mass Dissent in the US." Heidi and Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner covered the topic on WBAI's Law and Disorder Radio including during a conversation with Margaret Ratner-Kunstler which you can hear at the program's site by going into the archives and the program has also transcribed their discussion with Margaret and you can read it here. The Antiwar.com spying was initiated in 2004 (it may or may not be continuing). Context needs to be provided for the listeners in some form. It would be great if Scott could book Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith or Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights) -- in a perfect world all three for one segment -- and if they could bring him (and Justin) on Law & Disorder to discuss the spying. The programs shares some listeners but they each also have listeners who only listen to one of the two. It would allow the word to get out on what was happening and provide a context for the spying on Antiwar.com -- spying that is part of the criminalization of dissent in this country.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

1 woman, 3 men



The growing rift between labor and their Democratic allies was on full display Thursday, as AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told reporters that labor groups are planning to scale back their involvement with the Democratic Party in advance of the 2012 elections.

Going forward, Trumka said, the labor movement will build up its own political structures and organizations rather than contribute to and depend on the Democratic Party’s political operation.


That news would normally have me jumping for joy; however, with the way the AFL-CIO betrayed the Verizon workers, I'm skeptical.

Should they follow through on the above, I will gladly vote Labor or Worker or whatever kind of name they give the party.


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


Thursday, August 25, 2011. Chaos and violence continue with at least 19 reported dead and over seventy injured, Iraq's Ambassador to the US agrees US troops in Iraq beyond 2011 is a done-deal, tensions continue between Turkey, and much more.
Luis Martinez (ABC News) reports, "The cost of U.S. military intervention in Libya has cost American taxpayers an estimated $896 million through July 31, the Pentagon said today." A matter of weeks, Barack Obama told the American people (via the foreign press since he wasn't even in the US when he started the Libyan War). We're also told that there must be cuts, cuts, cuts to US government spending. An unpopular war -- an illegal war -- that the American people never supported and almost one billion spent on Barry's little adventure. $896 million could have been spent on schools, seniors, children, jobs programs, you name it. Yesterday on KPFA's Flashpoints Radio, one of the segments was a broadcast of a talk Michael Parenti gave on his book tour to promote his latest book The Face of Imperialism.
Michael Parenti: Now what does Libya teach us? I mention Libya in this book but I didn't say that much about it because this book was in production and all before this stuff started here. It came out in April. Libya shows us just what I've been trying to say. Libya's sin was that it had charted a different course. It had a leader, "dictator," as everybody called him. Nobody in the west, by the way Now you tell me in the last 20 years how many of you read and heard [Hosni] Mubarak of Egypt described as a dictator? He was always President Mubarak, isn't that right? That's right. President Mubarak. How many -- how many here hear the Saudi Arabia family described as dictators? No. Saudi Arabia. Man, come on. Libya is like Athens compared to Saudi Arabia. Yeah. It's run -- it's run by the Saudi family with their Wahhabi fanatical Islamics who, you know, throw acid in a woman's face if it is uncovered -- and creepos like that. Okay. So what we had in Libya is a 'humanitarian intervention' -- and I'll end it right here, if you read this book I hope you can anticipate these things --- sponsored by the UN which becomes aerial and ground war against the existing government and the people. Even when the government -- and this is what happened in Yugoslavia, which is in the book, and Iraq -- Even when the government calls and Libya too did it in the second month and offers to negotiate, the attacks continue because the goal is really not a negotiated settlement. The goal is to unsettle. And so they bombed Libya for six months just as they bombed Yugoslavia for two and a half months, almost three months. The bombing is sponsored by the United Nations, not the bombing of Iraq or Yugoslavia. With Yugoslavia, China and Russia vetoed it. This time China and Russia, not that close to or friendly with Libya, just abstained. But even with the UN going in, the attacks in each of these cases is not carried out by the UN, it's carried out by NATO. And behind NATO, it's carried out essentially by the US. And that means massive bombing, destruction of facilities, ports, houses, hospitals, food supply depots and the like. Drones, helicopter gunships strafing civilians. The loss of life estimates 20, 30, 40 a day of Libyan civilians who were the civilians that the NATO forces were 'protecting.' They came in to rescue them -- but to save you, we had to blow you up and kill some of you. Pretenses and lies about atrocities? I remember in the first week, somebody being interviewed -- and I think it was on Amy Goodman to -- and he said, "Yes, 10,000 have been slaughtered by Gaddafi." What? 10,000? The fight had just begun, these small 'rebel' groups, we hear. But somehow Gaddafi had gone out there and he had killed 10,000. Who? Where? What locales? For what motive? What were the disturbances that led him to do that? But these kind of things come up. What you do is you demonize the leader -- whether it's a [Slobodan] Milosevic, a [Manuel] Noriega or Saddam Hussein -- who was a butcher. Saddam Hussein was a killer and a murderer and a torturer. But when he was doing that, they loved him in Washington. They adored him. He was -- he was a staunch ally. They loved him. It's when he got out of line on the oil quotas, that's when they started. It's when he refused to privatize his economy, he kept it state run, and he started training Iraqis in engineering and sending them abroad -- men and women. It's when he kept some of the reforms that the previous democratic government had had. Remember, it was a democratic government back then. And when the US went in and said, "We're going to teach these poor wittle Iraqi-wakis what democracy is, teach them how to do democracy because they don't know." Five thousand year civilization, they don't know how to do democracy. But the Americans, we know how to do democracy. Look at our democracy. Isn't it great? Don't you feel good? I mean, it's the most expensive democracy in the world. We spend 20 billion dollars every four years to elect the president, I mean who wouldn't want to match that democracy? And then the role of the media --again so predictable. Massive demonization of the leader gives license to bomb his people. But not concerned about democracy in Egypt. Not concerned about democracy in Saudi Arabia. See, it's here. Let me go back to the first points of this talk, I'll be wrapping it up now. It's here that the liberal critics come in and say, "You see how confused they are. They're going against Libya because it's not a democracy, but they're giving aid to Saudi Arabia and to the dictator Mubarak for 30 years in Egypt. How confused." They're not confused, you're confused, you stupid ass. They know which democratically elected presidents are theirs and which ones are not that are really, sincerely trying to make changes like [Salvador] Allende was doing and people like that and those are the ones they target. They know which dictators they like and support and work with and which ones they dislike. And you can also see now the death squads will be coming in as in Kosovo and in Iraq. The IMF and the World Bank which Gaddafi kept out of Libya for forty years, they're already getting ready to come in. Oil companies are coming in but that was going to happen anyway because Gaddafi, in the last seven or eight years, he saw what happened to Iraq and he started softening and making overtures and saying, "Okay, SAPs, you can bring them in." Structural Adustment Programs -- meaning cutting back on the social wage, letting private capitol take over some of the oil companies and all that. He was -- He was beginning to. But not enough. Not enough. He was not a real vassal state. He was not leaving that thing wide open. He was still had certain protections in there and he also had abuses and the like to. The goal is privatization deregulate everything, every body's poorer, every body's weaker. Wipe out the social wage -- that is the social services and the communal needs that are there. The potential enemy state becomes a vassal state. That is just some of the things the book is about.

The story is not over -- not by a long shot -- but the saga of the Libyan resistance to the superpower might of the United States and its degenerate European neocolonial allies will surely occupy a very special place in history. For five months, beginning March 19, the armed forces of a small country of six million people dared to defy the most advanced weapons systems on the planet, on terrain with virtually no cover, against an enemy capable of killing whatever could be seen from the sky or electronically sensed. Night and day, the eyes of the Euro-American war machine looked down from space on the Libyan soldiers' positions, with the aim of incinerating them. And yet, the Libyan armed forces maintained their unit integrity and personal honor, with a heroism reminiscent of the loyalist soldiers of the Spanish Republic under siege by German, Italian and homegrown fascists, in the late 1930s.

The Germans and Italians and Generalissimo Franco won that war, just as the Americans, British, French and Italians may ultimately overcome the Libyan army. But they cannot convey honor or national legitimacy to their flunkies from Benghazi, who have won nothing but a badge of servitude to foreign overseers. The so-called rebels won not a single battle, except as walk-ons to a Euro-American military production. They are little more than extras for imperial theater, a mob that traveled to battle under the protective umbrella of American full spectrum dominance of the air. They advanced along roads already littered with the charcoal-blackened bodies of far better men, who died challenging Empire.

WBKO reports there will be a send-off ceremony Saturday for the almost 600 Kentucky National Guard members scehduled to deploy to Iraq for a year. Angela Deines (Capital-Journal) reports that there was a send-off ceremony yesterday for 267 members of the Kansas National Guard who are headed to Fort Hood and then onto Iraq for a year long Operation New Dawn deployment. She quotes married couple Rosa and Spc Michael Comeau. The husband states, "It's never fun leaving home. But we kind of need the money." (The economy's been a better draft for the military than the old lottery system.) While Rosa Comeau states, "I just want him to leave so he can come back." This will be Spc Michael Comeau's second tour of duty in Iraq.
Some might find it strange for all these troops to be deploying on year long tours of Iraq in August 2011. But that's only if you really thought the US military was leaving December 31, 2011. Those who still need to believe in fairy tales should avoid the interview Josh Rogin (Foreign Policy) did with Iraq's Ambassador to the US Samir Sumaida'ie who states, "The principle that there will be some military presence [in Iraq beyond 2011] to help train Iraqi military and police has been largely agreed upon." This jibes with both what US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said on Friday and what Ali al-Dabbagh (Nouri al-Maliki's spokesperson) said over the weekend. Sumaida'ie addes, "You'll see it when you see it. Americans want everything now or yesterday. We don't do it like this. We do it in our own sweet time." Rogin adds:
Sumaida'ie tried to explain what's really going on here. He said that there is a consensus among all political players, with the exceptions of the followers of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, that Iraq needs some American military support, particularly when it comes to training, past the end of this year. "However, the form that this will take and the legal details are still being debated," he said.
He said the debate over the number of U.S. troops to remain in Iraq has ranged between 8,000 and 20,000, and that they would be non-combat forces limited to the training of Iraqi military and police forces.
Dar Addustour reports that political activists and youth organizations are gearing up for a demonstration September 9th in Baghdad's Tahrir Square. The protesters assert that the actions on the 9th will return Tahrir Square to the demonstrators and send notice to Nouri al-Maliki and his Cabinet that they need to resign. The 9th is being called "The Dawn of the Liberators" and the protests will kick off at 11:00 a.m. The Great Iraqi Revolution notes, "We live for an idea, and ideas are Bullet Proof!" Revolution of Iraq's major iraqi revolution adds that they will not rest "until we achieve complete freedom and expell the occupier, change the Constitution and establish fair elections to form a national government" that represents Iraqis. In related news, Al Rafidayn notes that the Sadr bloc is planning to issue an evaluation of Nouri al-Maliki. Per Moqtada al-Sadr, the bloc gave Nouri six months to show improvement in basic services, addressing corruption and other issues raised by the protesters. Last time, Moqtada sided with Nouri in an attempt to bury and derail the protests. His supporters may or may not allow that to be an option this time. Al Mada reports that yesterday Iraqi President Jalal Talabani gave a speech to Nouri al-Maliki and his cabinet, a speech in which he declared that Iraq was 'in bloom.' Other pearls Jalal tossed out included, "We need more facts, not just negatives."
Yesterday's snapshot noted a Ramadi suicide bomber took his own life and that of three police officers with five more left injured. Today Michael S. Schmidt and Omar al-Jawoshy (New York Times) report the death toll reached 7 (including five police officers) with four more and one civilian left injured. The reporters add, "The head of the police in Anbar Province, Maj. Gen. Hadi Rizaich, said that security officials had some warning that there was going to be a car bomb attack in Ramadi on Wednesday night, but had been unable to find the car."

Today saw three suicide bombings. Reuters notes a Basra suicide car bomber took his own life and left 4 other people dead with another thirty-four injured while in Falluja a suicide car bomber took his own life and the lives of 4 police officers with another five left injured and in Garma a suicide bomber and a suicide car bomber paired up, one after the other, taking their own lives and the lives of 3 police officers with five more left injured. Reuters also notes that a Falluja roadside bombing left three Iraqi soldiers injured, a Baghdad car bombing claimed 1 life and left fourteen more injured, a Baghdad sticky bombing claimed 1 life and left two more people injured, a Baghdad roadside bombing left five people injured, a Mosul roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier and dropping back to last night, a Kirkuk rocket attack left "an employee of the state-run oil products company" injured..Aswat al-Iraq notes a bombing targeting 7th Army Commander Maj Gen Ismail al-Duleimy who escaped unharmed but whose driver was killed and his two bodyguards injured.
Meanwhile Al Mada reports MP Sabah al-Saddi, who serves on the Integrity Commission, is calling out Nouri al-Maliki for disregarding the problemsin the Ministry of Electricity. The minister resigned following questions about various contracts resulted in charges of fraud and corruption. Sabah al-Saadi notes that the Deputy Prime Minister was involved in the scandal and remains in place. al-Saadi states that this is "a continuation of a series of failures to solve the electicity problems" and that Nouri is doling out positions based upon loyalty and not upon qualifications and that the biggest victimin all of this is the Iraqi citizen. In addition, Aswat al-Iraq reports that the "Integrity Commission has detained a doctor in a hospital in southern Iraq's Amara city, the center of Missan Province, accused of taking bribes from his patients".
Aswat al-Iraq reports there was a demonstration today at the Foreign Ministry and that the Undersectrary Mohammed al-Haj Hmoud "received on Thursday the demands of demonstrators, condemning the aggressive acts against Iraqi sovereignty by Turkey and Iran" and activist Raad Abbas is quoted stating that "the motive of our demonstration is to inform the Iraqi Foreign Ministry that the aggressive attacks on nothern Iraq are rejected and we demand the Iraqi government to take a firm attitude towards the violations against the Iraqi sovereignty." The Economist notes:
THE dull thud of mortar shells echoes across the barren mountains separating Turkey from Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq. Columns of armoured vehicles trundle along the border as Turkish F-16 fighter jets screech over their targets: rebels of the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). On a nearby peak hundreds of Kurdish "peace mothers" keep vigil for their sons; some of them soldiers in the Turkish army, others PKK fighters inside Iraq. They won't come down, they say, until Turkey halts its air strikes. The army is blocking buses containing thousands of Kurds who want to join the protests, paralysing traffic in the narrow mountain roads. "They are being used by the PKK -- we won't allow it," says a stony-faced corporal.
The scenes are ominously reminiscent of the worst excesses of the 1990s, when some 3,000 Kurdish villages were emptied and destroyed, and torture and extra-judicial killings of dissidents were rife.
Although the PKK has itself been guilty of numerous human rights abuses, and has frequently deliberately targeted civilians, the recent escalation in its campaign did not come out of nothing. In the run-up to the 12 June general election, the PKK had scaled back its attacks in the hope that, once the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) had secured a third consecutive term in power, it would be prepared to launch peace negotiations.
The AKP duly won the election, securing nearly half of the popular vote. But, rather than becoming conciliatory, flushed with its electoral triumph, the AKP became more hard-line. A total of 36 members and sympathisers of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) won seats in parliament in the June election. One was immediately stripped of his seat. Five others had run for parliament from prison, where they were being held on remand on charges of belonging to a PKK front organisation. The Turkish courts refused to release them pending the completion of their trial. Not only did Erdogan reject calls for negotiations but he refused even to acknowledge that there was a "Kurdish problem", claiming that his government had already granted the country's Kurds all the rights that they needed.
Although a large proportion of Kurdish nationalists are sympathetic to the PKK, there are many who are opposed to the organisation and appalled by its often indiscriminate use of violence. But Erdogan has refused even to meet with non-violent Kurdish nationalists.
Turkey's Hurriyet Daily News states that Iraq's government has given a "tacit green light" for the bombings because "Iraq opposes a ground assault by Turkey into its northern territory but is also uncomfortable with the presence of outlawed groups in the area, an Iraqi official said, calling for consultation before any military move." Hurriyet also reports, "In Ankara, Iraq's ambassador to Turkey, Abdul Amir Kamil Abi Tabikh, suggested that his country would not object to any ground incursion by Turkish troops to chase the Kurdish militants 'as long as the operation is in line with the bilateral treaties.Turkey's safety means Iraq's safety,' Turkey's Anatolia news agency quoted the ambassador as saying.."
Ali Abdel-Azim (Al Mada) reports that Knights of the State of Law -- a militia associated with Nouri al-Maliki's State of Law -- is causing problems not just in their threats on Kuwait (or their current attempts to take over Nineveh Province -- the Nineveh issue isn't noted in the article) but also in all the time and effort it's causing State of Law to deny that a conspiracy is currently taking place. Alsumaria TV adds, "State of Law Knights Party part of State of Law Coalition threatened Kuwaiti Government on Tuesday of counterattack and popular mobilization within 48 hours if it persists on building Mubarak port. Kuwaiti mobilization on the borders will not stop Iraqis from thwarting violation on Iraq.
In a press conference attended by Alsumarianews, the party's secretary general Abdul Sattar Jaber Al Abboudi said that the previous statement of State of Law Knights has given Kuwaitis a 10 day deadline starting August 13 to pressure the Kuwaiti Government over Mubarak port."

Joan Wile is the founder of Grandmothers Against the War and author of Grandmothers Against the War: Getting Off Our Fannies and Standing Up for Peace and we'll close with her latest article.

AFGHAN PEACE YOUTHS FEEL HOPELESS
Say Conditions are Worsening
By Joan Wile, author, "Grandmothers Against the War: Getting Off Our Fannies and Standing Up for Peace" (Citadel Press)
On Sunday, Aug. 21, I had the privilege of speaking via conference call with several young people from the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers. It was the occasion of what they have termed the "Global Day of Listening," during which the kids spoke with supporters and sympathizers all over the world for approximately 5 and a half hours.
Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers, Bamyan Province, Afghanistan
I was immensely saddened to hear that they are discouraged about the prospects of peace in their beleaguered country. The kids stated more than once that things are worse than they were the last time they held the conference call a few months ago, and that their hopes for peace have dwindled down to almost zero. This was in marked contrast to earlier conversations in which I participated, when they projected a sense of ebullience and hope. I had the impression in those past talks that they felt confident that they could make a difference through their admirable efforts to end the conflicts within their nation.
Yesterday, they expressed their belief that the Afghan people desire that our troops leave their country in a responsible manner as soon as possible, that our military presence there essentially contributes to the decreasing potential for peace. Yet, they see little chance of our withdrawal in the foreseeable future.
The publication recently of a report in numerous Online publications that an agreement is about to be signed which would allow thousands of U.S. troops to remain in Afghanistan until at least 2024 certainly reinforces the young peoples' despair. US Troops May Stay in Afghanistan Until 2024 | Common Dreams
The group (AYPV) of mostly teen-agers is located 100 miles to the north of Kabul in a mountainous province called Bamiyan. Their lives are extremely difficult. By contrast, an average middle-class American youngster's life seems like a rhapsodic fantasy. One of the younger ones, for instance, walks miles daily to obtain fresh water for his family. School is a luxury oftentimes, given that some must work the farms or market potatoes full-time to help support their families. The landscape is desolate, and there is a lack of warm clothing to protect against the extreme cold. Despite their hardships, though, this group of juveniles manages to devote themselves to the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers. Among their many activities, they cleared through substantial debris to create a Peace Park, in which they planted trees and shrubs.
They have made a number of beautiful short videos very effectively urging peace. (See below.) They've traveled 100 miles through difficult and even perilous terrain to Kabul for their periodic Global Days of Listening.
Their mentor and interpreter is Hakim, a doctor from Singapore, who has spent several years organizing the AYPV, writing eloquent articles promoting their cause, creating and producing their videos, and interpreting in several languages, including excellent and fluent English, for their global conference calls. Influenced by Gandhi and Noam Chomsky's writings, Hakim gave up his private medical practice to focus on leading the young Afghans to pursue peace.
I tried to help them feel more positive as best I could, telling them I had lived many, many years and learned that things often change, even when you don't expect them to. I urged them to keep up their wonderful and inspiring actions, and that we peace grannies (the Granny Peace Brigade, Grandmothers Against the War, Grandmothers for Peace International, and the Raging Grannies, among many) would do the same.
But, they need so much more solace and stimulation than I or any one person could provide. I hope readers of these words will be moved as I was by the plight of these kids we threaten with our instruments of war. Please contact them by writing journeytosmile@gmail.com. They are very heartened by words of encouragement from people from other locales, particularly the United States, a principal cause of the chaos they must endure. Ask to be notified of the various ways you can help them
Finally, please watch this very brief video made by the youngsters. They will steal your heart.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

6 men, 2 women

On the first hour of The Diane Rehm Show (NPR), the guests were David Applegate, Barry Meier, Josh Jacobs, Craig Thomas and Diana Zuckerman. For the second hour, Peter Reid, Lynn Neary and Nicholas Basbanes.

I left a comment on this article this morning and it never showed up. Why did I leave a comment? Because they didn't fix the error Kat caught last night (Lionel Richie wrote "Missing You," not Ashford and Simpson or Nick Ashford or Nick Ashford and Lionel Richie).

Not only did they not allow my comment to post, they still haven't corrected their error.


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

Wednesday, August 24, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, Iraq prepares to kick out foreign workers, Jalal Talabani tries to end Political Stalemate II, the Turkish military continues its assault on northern Iraq, Barack owns the war, and more.
Judson Berger (Fox News) reports today that if the US military stays in Iraq beyond December 2011, it "could costs billions annually and complicate efforts to reduce the nation's untamed deficit" in the US. Berger notes that "an arrangement with Iraq could cost between $5 billion and $10 billion a year, according to one budget analyst. Todd Harrison, a senior fellow with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, said his 'rough estimate' is based on the assumption that as many as 10,000 trainers remain in the country. If the assumption holds true, U.S. budget writers could be looking at another $100 billion in Iraq war costs over the next decade." Robert Naiman (Huffington Post) also notes that ending the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars is a way to lower the spending, "A plausible and reasonable option would be to curtail future spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, consistent with keeping existing agreements and commitments to withdraw our troops, rather than replacing these agreements and commitments with agreements to establish permanent military garrisons in Iraq and Afghanistan. Under plausible and moderate assumptions, this would save at least $200 billion over ten years, 1/6 of the Super Committee's debt reduction goal." In addition, Naiman explains:
In Iraq, although the president has promised and under the U.S.-Iraq status of forces agreement all U.S. troops are supposed to come home by December 31, the Pentagon is currently negotiating to establish a permanent military garrison of 10,000 troops. According to the Congressional Research Service, the current cost of keeping U.S. troops in Iraq is $802,000 per soldier per year. So, using the CRS number, the cost of keeping 10,000 troops in Iraq from 2012 until 2021 would be about $80 billion.
Last Friday, US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said US troops on the ground in Iraq beyond 2011 was a done deal. As explained in Monday's snapshot and at Third in "Editorial: US will be in Iraq beyond 2011, Panetta and Iraqi government explain," Nouri al-Maliki's spokesperson, Ali al-Dabbagh, -- while denying it -- said the same thing too. Commentary magazine was once a leading light of the left. That was long, long ago. By the mid-seventies, it had become the neocon bible that it remains today. Abe Greenwald writes of "Obama's Iraq?" for the magazine noting:
In March 2010, when parliamentary gridlock effectively froze Iraqi politics, Washington barely lifted a finger to ensure progress and guide the country toward a favorable outcome. All those Democrats on Capitol Hill who were once triumphantly obsessed with Iraq's inability to meet political "benchmarks" had nothing to say as the Iraqi stalemate sent the country into a debilitating political reversal. What emerged from nearly a year of cynical horse-trading were an authoritarian Maliki and a markedly increased leadership role for extremist Shiites. Moreover, the ill-conceived governing coalitions could barely agree enough to enforce parking laws. All the while, Washington refused to exercise any leverage through conditionality of aid and support. Such absenteeism is the defining characteristic of Obama's "responsible exit." Among Iraqis, distrust, stagnation, and tribalism began to reappear. The result has been increasingly, and predictably, deadly.
As things stand, the U.S. is supposed to remove all American forces from Iraq at the end of this year. This will not only open the door to increased chaos, but deprive us of critical leverage in a still-salvageable Muslim democracy next door to Iran. There are negotiations afoot to keep a reduced number of American troops in Iraq after the hard drawdown date. But as with virtually every Obama maneuver pertaining to foreign policy, holding out hope of a meaningful step in the direction of American strength seems foolish. If an ineffectual compromise leaves behind a small number of hamstrung American advisors, things will likely continue to deteriorate. Headlines about a failing Iraq will be inescapable.
It's not just that the above criticism could have been predicted, it's that we did predict here. We went over this over and over in the snapshots -- especially when the idiot Chris Hill had his US Ambassador to Iraq confirmation hearing and a Republican Senator on the Committee who's a friend told me why they were lodging the objectings they (Republicans) did to Chris Hill. They were laying the groundwork for this type of criticism. That's a non neocon Republican and the main thrust of their criticism is that the war was "won" (I don't believe that) and that Barack screwed it up. And that's why they lodged the objections to Chris Hill but were happy to see him confirmed. Chris Hill was a fool. He couldn't even grasp -- after days of tuturing prior to appearing before the Committee -- the issues involved in Kirkuk. He declared it just an old fashioned land dispute. It's a great deal more complicated than that and, in fact, the RAND corporation's study, "Managing Arab-Kurd Tensions in Northern Iraq After the Withdrawal of U.S. Troops," argues that "given enough time -- Arab and Kurdish participants will eventually have a dispute that leads to violence, which will cause the mechanism to degrade or collapse" and that the disagreement could be over the unresolved status of Kirkuk.
As we observed May 6, 2010:
Iraq was not a success when Hill (finally) got to Baghdad. But he's leaving it worse than it was when he got there and the decay happened on his watch because he didn't know what he was doing. When the fool occasionally asked basic questions about protocol, he'd blow off the advice he was given. There's no way to spin it for Barack. Chris Hill is a disaster.
And go into the archives and you'll see that we warned in real time that the Republicans were going on the record in their objection to Hill but they wanted the Dems to push it (which the Dems did) because Hill was going to be the fall guy for the administration. The Republicans never intended to blame General Ray Odierno for a worsening Iraq. It wouldn't go over with their base. But a diplomat? Someone they could dub an "egg head"? Especially someone who looked the part?
I hear alternate theories from friends in the administration but one that seems very popular is that Barack had to continue the Iraq War ('somewhat') because if he just pulled the troops out (as many Americans believed he promised when running for president) and it went to hell, he would be blamed.
But, as we always argued, if he started an immediate withdrawal upon being sworn in (which is what he promised), then it wouldn't be his war. It would be Bully Boy Bush's illegal war that was unfinished business left over for Barack to just wrap up.
When you've continued it as long as he has (in five months, it'll be three years), you own it. And now he does. If he'd done the smart thing, he would have gotten US troops out and, if criticized about the state of Iraq in 2012, he could have said, "That war was wrong. US forces did all they could do and they should have been brought home by the previous" occupant of the White House (I don't apply the p-word to Bully Boy Bush due to his being 'elected' by five Supreme Court Justices) "but he wouldn't do it so, as president, I had to." And with over 60% of Americans against the war at that point, that would have been fine for the 2012 elections. The illegal war would have been all on Bush.
But Barack and his inner War Circle, though fawned over by an inbred press, aren't all that smart. And despite this option being presented to them by other members in the administration, they wouldn't go for it.
So now Barack owns the war. And it's failure is on him as well. (It will not turn around, it will not be a success. The WikiLeaks State Dept cables that we noted Scott Horton (Antiwar Radio) and Jason Ditz discussing earlier this month, go to why that is. As we've long pointed out here, Nouri al-Maliki's a thug. It's an opinion shared with several members of the current administration. But when they weren't in an administration (because Bush occupied the White House), the could and often did speak of that publicly. Now they fall silent because the administration doesn't want any truths spoken, not after Samantha Power saw and decreed Nouri as Iraq's best shot (for continued US domination of Iraq although she dressed it up with a 'democracy' bow).
Nouri's a thug. The US installed a Little Saddam. And the thing about Little Saddam's is that they're a lot like Chia Pets, just add water and they grow and grow. If you can impose democracy on another country (I don't believe you can), you can't do it under a thug. Thirty or so years from now, the US government will probably be sending young men and women to die in Iraq in order to 'liberate' the country from the "dictator" Nouri.
A former US senator took the time to explain it to Barack even after everyone grasped that Samantha Power would be calling all the war shots and likened the Iraq War to both hot potato and musical chairs, trying to convey to Barack that you do not want to get stuck holding the hot potato, you don't want the music to stop and there be no chair for you. But instead of getting rid of the Iraq War by doing an immediate withdrawal and refusing to take part in Bush's illegal war, Barack made it his own. And now it's failure will be as much on him as it is on Bush. The same with it's illegal nature and everything else.
Today NTD Television reports (link has text and video) that the Iraqi government has decided to begin "deporting foreign workers. With the official unemployment rate at 15 percent and another 28 percent in part-time jobs, their aim is to create more job opportunities for Iraqis as their country rebuilds after years of war." The Ministry of Labor and Social Affair's legal counsultant Hossni Ahmed is quoted stating, "Unemployment rate is very high. Priority should be given to the national laborer. Therefore, we agreed to act on laws and the most important one is the residential law No. 118 of 1968." Though the government made the decision, some Iraqis object. Salam Ahmed is a restaurateur and he states, "I do not support the deportation decision because they work from early morning until 10:00 p.m. They do not complain and they do not say we are hungry and they have no more demands. The salary of a foreign worker is less than the salary of an Iraqi worker." The report notes, "Officials say the government is only issuing work permits to workers at foreign firms that hire at least 50 percent Iraqis for their work force."
Last Tuesday, the International Organization for Migration held a press briefing to announce (link is in Spanish*, FYI) that they were not only providing humanitarian assistance to 35 Ukranian and Bulgarian workers in Iraq but were calling for private companies to follow the rules with regards to national immigration, labor laws and human rights. Why? Because they did several inspections of construction sites and found migrants living there, overcrowded, no light and no ventilation. The 35 workers are part of 271 foreign workers brought into the country at the end of 2010 to work on construction within the Green Zone and hired with the promise of excellent pay but, after working hours and hours for many months, they've only been paid a few hundred dollars a piece. They can't appeal to the subcontractor who hired them. He's skipped out. (After getting his fee from the person subcontracting to him.) He never provided the employees with the work permits he promised and so these people are now undocumented workers, more or less trapped within Iraq, attempting to secure alternate employment. Some are agreeing to take $1,000 and leave the country. (The 35 are continuing to work and do construction.) Remember, this is after months of work with no pay, months of back breaking hours doing construction work. And the $1,000 wouldn't all go to them. Not only would they need to pay for their trip home, they are also being informed that they have to pay various fines due to the fact that they do not have the proper visas (the ones the employer who skipped out was supposed to provide). Meaning that even after the $1,000 is paid, they could immediately be broke due to fines the Iraqi government is attempting to levy against them. IOM's Livia Styp-Rekowska stated that the workers should immediately receive wages for the work they have done, that employers should not threaten to leave the country without paying the workers and that the workers should be assisted with returning home in a safe and dignified manner. That's the press conference. I'm adding that since this is an ongoing problem, one way to deal with it would be for subcontractors bringing foreign workers into the country to have to put up a bond which they would lose if they (a) skipped the country or (b) refused to pay the workers they brought into the country.
[*If you can't read Spanish and you don't trust my translation, take it to someone who can read Spanish or do something else but don't e-mail the public account saying, "I can't read Spanish/Arabic/French/whatever, how do I know you're telling the truth?" If you think I'm lying -- as opposed to mistranslating -- what makes you think I'd be telling the truth in reply? And I don't have time for a reply and I've told everyone working the public account, "Trash those e-mails, do not reply to them."]
Of course the US is responsible for bringing in many foreign workers and some of those foreign workers are US citizens. Bob Sullivan (MSNBC) notes the official US numbers of 14 million unemployed, 8.4 million forced into part-time work when they need full-time and at least 2.8 million who are unemployed and have given up finding a job due to their being no jobs. Sullivan writes of a Miami man, Jadiam Lopez, who lost his job and was facing bills and obligations so "he took a dangerous job as a firefighter" . . . "in Iraq." From Sullivan's report on Jadiam Lopez:
"I was in so much debt that I was working two jobs and still couldn't afford to live on my own and spend quality time with my son. And I said, 'All right, it's time to take a look at Iraq,' " Lopez said. Once a crazy idea, going to Iraq now seemed an obvious choice. Salaries for firefighters there start at $90,000, with food and housing provided. And in many cases, the salary is tax free.
Still, he said nothing prepared him for landing in a war zone.
"It's more of wait and see if you can stomach it when you land at Baghdad International Airport," he said. "My first nights at the Victory Base for In-processing you would hear the Blackhawks shooting their 50 (caliber guns) near the base. Then I and the rest of my guys that got hired together were like, 'Oh boy, here we are.' "
At Bob Sullivan's Facebook page, Bryan Serafini left the following comment, "I spent 13 month in Kuwait, 14 in Iraq, and am now going to be heading to Afghanistan. What people don't realize is than as an Electrician we work seven days a week, 13 hours a day. There is no overtime pay so it essential boils down to the same rate of pay that Skilled Tradesmen in the US. I have had nothing but good experiences with the military, made some good friends there." Iraq's official poverty rate is 23%. The International Committee on the Red Cross (ICRC) issued the following statement today:

Geneva/Baghdad (ICRC) – Women in Iraq who must shoulder the burden of caring for their families alone because their husbands have been killed, arrested or disabled by war injuries, or have gone missing, are among those worst affected by the consequences of years of armed conflict. While recognizing the efforts that have already been undertaken to improve their situation, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) calls for further action to be taken on the part of all concerned.
"Women heading households and their dependents have to struggle with extremely harsh living conditions," said Magne Barth, the head of the ICRC delegation in Baghdad, at a press conference today in the Iraqi capital. He presented the results of a survey carried out by the ICRC to acquire a better understanding of the state of Iraqi women supporting their families alone. The survey involved interviews with 119 women and depicted the hard choices they have to make in order to feed their families in the absence of a husband, father or brother. The ICRC also released a film today that highlights the difficulties the women have to face.

"Around 70 per cent of them spend more than they earn. They have to borrow money, sell what little they own and avoid expenses by going without health care or by taking their children out of school," said Mr Barth. "Moreover, 40 per cent of the families we surveyed have to send children, usually sons as young as 12 or 13 years old, out to work."

An estimated one million women struggle to feed their families and continue to depend, to some extent, on outside help. The ICRC strives to help them overcome the loss of a former breadwinner. In particular, it aids them in their efforts to register with Iraq's welfare allowance system. "Since 2009, the ICRC has reimbursed the travel expenses incurred by nearly a thousand women, mainly in Baghdad and Anbar, but also in Basra and Missan, when they had to gather the various documents required to apply for the allowance," said Mr Barth. "Around 6,000 more women will be given financial support this year and next to tide them over until they start to receive benefits from the social welfare system."

"We also offer micro grants to those willing to start an income-generating activity," he said. "However, the grants cannot meet all needs, and not all women are able to launch a small business."

The ICRC supports all efforts aiming to improve the situation of women heading households. It will continue to assist the women and others involved in helping them.

For further information, please contact:
Claire Kaplun (French, English, Spanish), ICRC Iraq, tel: +964 780 913 1626
Marie Claire Feghali (Arabic, English, French), ICRC Iraq, tel: +962 777 399 614
Hicham Hassan, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 25 41 or +41 79 536 92 57

Aswat al-Iraq quotes ICRC spokesperson Magny Barh declaring today, "Iraqi women are the most affected by the armed conflicts because they have to subsidize their families after their husbands were killed. These women need governmental suppor through the social security programs, who cannot get due to complicated registration procedures." W.G. Dunlop (AFP) quotes the spokesperson describing them as "widows, wives of missing and detainees, or divorcees, who are alone in charge of their family" and that the women "rely on their relatives, neighbors, communities and charities to cope with their needs. Seventy percent of them spend more than they earn and have to borrow money, sell their assets and cut on crucial spending like education and health."
Violence continues to plague Iraq and one of the more curious events in the last 24 hours was a home robbery in Kut where money was stolen. Aswat al-Iraq reports "a traffic police officer" was targeted at home by three armed men who stole 40 million Iraqi dinars. How the robbers knew which home to target isn't known or mentioned. Also avoided is the equally important question of why that money was in the home of the traffic police officer? (In US dollars, that's approximately $34,200.) Aswat al-Iraq also reports that a Diyala home bombing resulted in the deaths of four family members with three more being injured, an attempt to assassinate a police colonel in Diyala Province by bombing resulted in the officer and his bodyguard being wounded and 1 Sahwa ("Awakening," "Sons Of Iraq") has been shot dead in Baquba. In addition, Reuters notes a Baghdad roadside bombing injured three people (one an Iraqi soldiers -- Iraqi police maintain six people were injured in the bombing), a Baquba roadside bombing resulted in 1 man being killed and seven more injured, another Baghdad roadside bombing injured a police officer, a Mosul roadside bombing left "a mother and her daughter" injured and 1 man was shot dead in Mosul. Reuters updates to note a Ramadi suicide bomber took his own life and the lives of 3 police officers (five more police officers were injured) and a Baghdad bombing targeting State of Law's Abdul Rahman Abu Raghif resulting in six people being injured. Dar Addustour reports that Sahwa leader Sheikh Ahmed al-Bazi Abu Risha has stated there was a bombing attempt on his life Monday as his convoy traveled between Abu Ghraib and Falluja.
Meanwhile Nayla Raazouk (Bloomberg News) reports on this Iraiqya TV story noting Iraq's Foreign Ministery stated, "The Iraqi government protested the violation of the bombardments of border areas and the targeting of innocent civilians in Kurdistan. The Iraqi government asks for an immediate halt to these operations." What operations? The Turkish military's bombing of northern Iraq. Iraqiya TV notes that the Turkish Ambassador Murat Ozcelik was seen by Jawad Alldorki, Iraq's Deputy Foreign Minister, who told him that the bombings violated Iraq's sovereignty, targeted innocent civilians and called for an immediate halt to the bombings. Press TV reports, "Hundreds of Iraqi Kurds have gathered outside the Turkish consulate in Irbil to protest against Ankara's cross-border airstrikes against suspected PKK targets in northern Iraq. The protesters carried banners reading, 'Stop the aggressive attacks on us,' and 'We will not let Turkey's internal problems destroy our lands'."
Aswat al-Iraq reports, "More than 180 families have deserted their villages in northern Iraq's Kurdistan villages of Halso township, east of Sulaimaniya city, due to their bombardment by Iranian and Turkish forces, according to the Mayor of Halso's township of Qala-Diza area east of Sulaimaniya on Wednesday." The attacks on northern Iraq by the Turkish military continue. Yesterday found the Turkish military boasting that they had killed as many as 100 people while leaving at least 80 injured -- this self-proclaimed bloodbath allegedy in response to the killing of 9 Turkish security forces.

"Allegedly" because, as the world watches the blood lust and bragging from the Turkish military, it gets a bit difficult to believe this is really about the PKK, especially when the Turkish government's well known animosity to and fear of the Kurdistan Regional Government is factored in. For years the government of Turkey has brutalized and attaked their own Kurdish population (that was what birthed the PKK) and kept the minority population down. But birth rates -- ask Israel -- can turn a minority into an equal or even the majority. And the government of Turkey fears the semi-autonomous KRG region and fears it becoming more independent because it might force the Kurds within Turkey to truly rise up against a government that has racistly attacked them over the years and who, now, after years of abuse can only point to the just started TV broadcast in Kurdish as proof of 'advancement' and 'progress.'

When you fear and possibly loathe a region that's close to your border, maybe you indiscriminately bomb the hell out of it to get it further away from your border?

As 9 deaths continue to result in carpet bombing, people begin to wonder if the point really isn't to push the residents of the mountains of northern Iraq further and further in to the country, further away from Turkey in the hope that, 'out of sight, out of mind,' they won't inspire the Kurds within Turkey to demand equality.

Alexander Christie-Miller (Christian Science Monitor) observes:

The assault comes amid rising tensions [within Turkey] between the Turkish government and the country's Kurdish minority since June elections. Candidates backed by the Kurds, who make up almost a fifth of Turkey's population, performed well in the poll, garnering 36 seats. But after some members of parliament were barred because of PKK-related convictions, the Kurdish bloc boycotted parliament – a boycott that is still in effect.
In recent years Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has repeatedly said it plans to redress the long-running grievances of the country's 15 million Kurds, who are seeking greater cultural and political autonomy. Among other initiatives, the government has loosened restrictions on the use of the Kurdish language, launching a Kurdish state TV channel.

Along with the Turkish military, northern Iraq is also being assaulted by the Iranian military. Patrick Markey (Reuters) informs, "Along the Iraqi northern Kurdish region's borders with Iran and Turkey, hundreds of refugees have fled since mid-July to small camps to escape attacks by Iraq's neighbours on rebels hiding along the frontier in their long war for Kurdish self-rule. Iraqi Kurds say they are caught in the middle as Turkey and Iran attack their villages across the border while Ankara and Tehran court their local government with foreign investment that has helped make the Kurdish region the most stable part of Iraq." I don't think it's quibbling to dispute Markey's word choice of "hundreds of refugees have fled" because one of the largest objections to the bombings is that it is creating refugees. Refugees did not flee, refugees were created. The hundreds fleeing were fleeing their homes, were hoping to escape to safety. They became refugees as a result of the actions of the military of Turkey and the military of Iran.

And someone needs to point out that the last thing Iraq needs at this late date is even more internal and external refugees. They are the site of the refugee crisis in the Middle East already.

How bad are the attacks? Alsumaria TV reports, "Sadr Front leader Moqtada Al Sadr called on Tuesday to put in place an immediate political solution to overcome the violations of neighbouring countries in northern Iraq and dispatch a delegation to Iran to end this issue. Al Sadr renounces any attack by any country on Iraqi territories and refuses to use Iraqi territories to launch attacks against other countries." Today's Zaman notes that "Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said on Tuesday that his government condemns both the Turkish and Iranian attacks along the border." David R. Arnott (MSNBC) notes that media attention has focused elsewhere while northern Iraq has been bombed and Arnott provides various photos from Reuters and AFP including the first photo which of Kurdish women in Rainia mourning the deaths of the civilians on Sunday.
The Turkish government decided they wanted to offer a show of force on an oppressed people (PKK) and used civilian targets to send a message. That never plays well and usually results in a response. Press TV reports that the PKK is stating that it may "wage an intense military operation against the Turkish military inside Turkey. PKK Presidency Council has decided to change the group's defensive policy into aggressive approach and target Turkish military headquarters inside Turkey's soil, IRNA quoted PKK spokesman Ahmed Denis as telling Al-Sumariya news on Wednesday."
Quickly the Libyan War. I have no idea what's going on and I don't think anyone does. Sunday, it was supposedly over and one of Muammar Gaddafi's son was captured. Nothing's over. Still. What happened over the weekend leading up to Monday was NATO demonstrating it's terror inducing power in yet more illegal actions. With Scott Horton (Antiwar Radio), John Glaser discusses NATO's 'victory' and the fact that the so-called rebels can't even be trusted not to turn on their own. Regardless of the outcome of this illegal war, as Simon Jenkins (Guardian) observed yesterday:
So do this week's events justify Britain's Libya intervention? No, however churlish it may be to say so at this point. Nor would success in Libya justify attacking Syria, Yemen, Bahrain or Egypt, should the last turn sour. The Libyan adventure, its apologists point out, was tactically easy, and even that took five months and cost Britain hundreds of millions of pounds. Libya has a small population and is rich. If it now becomes a puppet oil state in the manner of the Gulf, it may be governable as an outpost of western interests, but it will become the same magnet for anti-western forces as were Iraq and Lebanon before it.
The UN basis for the intervention, supposedly to prevent "massacre in Benghazi", showed how tenuous was the case for British aggression to achieve regime change. Britons might fervently will freedom on Libyans, as on Egyptians and Syrians, but how these people achieve it is their business, not Britain's. The more we make it our business, the less robust their liberation will be.
Monday on KPFA's Flashpoints, Kevin Pina spoke with journalist Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya and he was then trapped in his hotel with shooting going on all around. Kevin Pina noted, "We're asking all of our listeners to please call the Canadian Foreign Affairs Ministry at 1-800-267-8376 and demand that Canada contact the Transitional National Council of Libya and tell them to respect the right of international journalists especially Canadian journalist Mahdi Darius Naemroaya. Again that number to contact the Canadian Foreign Affairs Ministry at 1-800-267-8376." There are, at best, jokes being made about the safety of unembedded journalists and, at worst, threats being made. On Tuesday's show, Dennis Bernstein featured an interview Mahdi gave RT.
Smashing or looting whatever they could find, the taking of Gadhafi's compound threw up some surreal scenes - Libyans snatching Gadhafi's golf cart, his hat, a cocktail trolley. Others burned or defaced the symbols of his regime. A golden fist modeled after Gadhafi's hand was a popular spot to take a picture. The spread winged iron eagle sitting atop a futuristic dome was hit with an RPG - after the battle. But apart from some Gadhafi swag, most people left the compound caring guns - all kinds of guns, many still in their packaging. [. . .] And they are now. The rebels are a motley crew of engineers, taxis drivers, students and oil workers who have learned how to fight and kill. It didn't look yesterday like those taking the guns were doing it to add to any future Libyan army arsenal.

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