Friday, November 25, 2011

4 women, 3 men


We finished off the tortilla soup today. It was very, very good. I think I'll make that next weekend and double up on the ingredients in the hope that it will last a little longer. Cedric could not stay away from it. "Just one more bowl," he said three times in a row.

I had an e-mail about movies and whether or not Stan and I would be doing our annual movie picks at the end of the year? Yes, we are working on our list already in fact. (It will post the last week of the year, possibly New Year's Eve.)

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


Friday, November 25, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, Basra sacks its top security commanders, the Turkish government offers an apology to Kurds, Iraq's Parliament postpones a vote on US withdrawal, the latest round of negotiations involve thousands of US military, and more.
AFP reports that an emergency session was held today by Basra's provincial council which "took the decision to fire three security commanders" as a result of yesterday's violence. Yesterday, Basra was slammed with multiple bombings. Nabil al-Jurani (AP) explained, "Three bombs went off in a popular open-air market in Basra, police officials said." BBC News quoted shop owner Noufal Hassan, "I immediately went out of my shop and saw the blood. The nearest shops were shattered and the cars were burned." Xinhua (link has text and video) added, "Among the dead and wounded were several policemen and Iraqi army soldiers." W.G. Dunlop (AFP) counted over 65 injured and they have 19 killed and they're able to back that up with figures from the Basra health directorate, Riyadh Abdelamir. Hossam Acommok (Al Mada) reports that an MP said the Basra council's vote was necessary because the security command had failed and is, therefore, responsible for the bombings and that their failure indicates they don't care "about the blood of Iraqis" as evidenced by the fact that a pervious series of bombings in Basra did not result in additional security measures. Today the United Nations issued the following statement on the bombings:
The top United Nations official in Iraq today strongly condemned the series of bomb attacks in the country's southern city of Basra that has killed dozens of people and injured many more.
Media reports indicate at least 19 people died yesterday as a rsult of the apparently coordinated bombings at a market in the city, with the last of three explosions causing most of the injuries.
In a statement, the Secretary-General's Special Representative to Iraq Martin Kobler offered his condolences to the families of the victims and to the people and authorities of Basra and Iraq.

In other violence reported yesterday, Reuters notes 1 police officer and his son were kidnapped in Ramadi, a Ramadi market bombing left five people injured, the Jalawla village mayor was shot dead in a market, an attack on a Mosul military checkpoint claimed the life of 1 Iraqi solider, 1 employee of the Ministry of Electricity was shot dead in Shura, an armed clash in Baaj left one Iraqi soldier dead and an Iraqi military officer injured and a Mussayab home bombing targeted a Sahwa leaving two people injured. Today's violence, Reuters notes, included 1 police officer and his son kidnapped in Qaim, a JBela bombing injured one person and that the death toll in the Basra bombings yesterday has now reached 21. Aswat al-Iraq reports the death toll has climbed to 50 in the Basra bombing with fifty injured. In addition, they note an attack on an Amiriya military check point which resulted in the death of 1 soldier and three more injured.
In other news of violence, the Telegraph of London notes Iraq executed 16 people yesterday. They were all, of course, guilty because Iraq has the most fair and disciplined legal system in the world. Oh, wait, it doesn't. Which is why the fact that one of those executed, Firas Fleih al-Jaburi, was "a human rights activist who fought to improve prison condtions" should be especially alarming. Yesterday the Sunni Endowment Office in Baghdad was bombed leaving three people injured.
On the political scene in Iraq, Aswat al-Iraq notes that although the Parliament was scheduled to vote on US withdrawal yesterday, they have postponed it. Alsumaria TV quotes MP Mohamed Al Khalidi stating, "Iraqi parliament voted during its third session of the second legislative quarter in the second legislative year presided by Parliament Speaker Osama Al Nujaifi, and in the presence of 236 MPs, to postpone voting over the legal committee's resolution regarding US withdrawal from Iraq. The voting would be carried out after hosting Iraqi Armed Forces General Commander Nuri Al Maliki. 142 MPs out of the present 236 voted for the postponement," Khalidi revealed noting that "Sader movement for its part abstained from voting." Al Mada reports that the Kurds are lobbying Nouri to keep US troops in disputed areas and to secure Iraqi air space. Reportedly a consensus is building for keeping 8,000 to 12,000 US troops and this is among the details Nouri will discuss on his DC visit next month. Al Rafidayn adds that it is after this meeting that immunity will be further explored and states, pay attention because the US press never did, that MP Sami al-Asakri explained that Nouri has the power in his role as commander in chief of the military to determine the number of US troops needed (I'm adding: If any) and that the blocs gave their input but that was just input. It's Nouri's role. Yes, we did note that well over a month ago. Yes, it is rather basic and, yes, it is legally sound.

What's pushing these considerations? Could be (may not be, just could) that Nouri's in a bit of panic because while he can terrorize -- as he demonstrated repeatedly since 2006 -- the people, he can't do everything. Add to the mix efforts by provinces -- fully legal efforts -- to go semi-autonomous and with a still unresolved oil law (meaning who might or might not have claims on the money) and Nouri's desired response (which, based on pattern, will most likely be heavy-handed) and suddenly he's at risk of not only his continued war with the people he usually demonizes but potentially whole sections of a province or multiple provinces. That's what could possibly be motivating Nouri. And never forget, he's demonstrated for five years now that his sole goal is to ensure his own personal survival, it's not about the Iraqi people, it's not about the country's potential -- for Nouri, it's all about Nouri. And internal conflicts keep popping up. Salah Nasrawi (Al-Ahram Weekly) observes:
A bitter row over the control of a military base in the disputed northern Iraqi province of Kirkuk is heightening tensions between the Iraqi government and the Kurds as US troops prepare to leave Iraq next month.
Last Thursday, local Kurdish police blocked the transit of Iraqi military and government officials who had traveled to Kirkuk in order to enter the Al-Hurriya military base for a handover ceremony for departing US troops.
Kurdish officials had earlier warned the government in the capital Baghdad from sending Iraqi army forces to take over the military facility, which they said they wanted to turn into a civilian airport instead.

Still on internal conflicts, Thursday Dar Addustour reported on Dujail, in Salahuddin Province, and how residents took to the streets to show their approval of the possibility of Dujail leaving Salahuddin and becoming a part of Baghdad Province. Most interesting is that the same voices who screamed about Salahuddin wanting to become semi-autonomous and they want to argue that this can be done by a process . . . similar to what the Constitution's Article 119 says -- you know, what they ignored when they insisted Salahuddin Province couldn't go semi-autonomous. Today Aswat al-Iraq notes that 1500 poured into the streets to oppose merging with Baghdad Province. And today Alsumaria TV reports Ayad Allawi, head of Iraqiya, weighed in on the issue stating, "Iraqi constitution stipulated the right to establish federal regions. We are aware though that if federal regions were formed Iraq would be subject to clashes over administrative borders, wealth as well as oil and gas [. . ..] This is not the right time to call for regions' formation,"
While it's good that Allawi recognized the Constitution in his remarks, exactly when would be the right time to call for a formation? When an oil law is finally passed? It's nearly nine years since the start of the Iraq War. It's almost five years since Nouri agreed to work with Parliament to pass one -- as part of the White House benchmarks. There are all different ways you can measure the lack of progress. So when would be a good time? 80 years from now? 180? At what point do Iraqis get to determine their own fate? And it's really sad to hear Allawi echo Paul Bremer and countless other Americans by telling Iraqis to wait because it's "not the right time" just yet.

Again, he did recognize the Constitution. That does put him ahead of Nouri al-Maliki. Ali Hussein (Al Mada) notes that State of Law (Nouri's political slate) also gives lip service to the Constitution -- "night and day," they brag -- but most repeatedly ignore and/or violate the Constitution. Hussein notes that all of Nouri and State of Law's attacks on independent bodies, freedom of expression and the powers of the Parliament were likely a test balloon for them to determine how much power Nouri can seize. Hussein notes State of Law MP Khalid al-Attiyah attempting to argue this week that the Constitution is just one document and ignoring the fact that political blocs wrote the Constitution (and passed it) and did so after "a great deal of wrangling." It would appear there is the Constitution of Iraq and there is the forever altering and changing Constitution as understood by State of Law.

Blue Coat Systems is back in the news. From the October 31st snapshot:

Mvelase Peppetta (Memeburn) reports alarm that the government of Syria has "internaet censorship equipment." It's illegal, according to US law, for it to have this Blue Coat Systems 'filter.' How did it get it? Apparently from Iraq. The US government okayed the sale of web censorship equipment to Iraq. Did the US government bother to run that past either the Iraqi people or the American people? No. Nor did it publicize the sale.


Today Khaled Waleed (Niqash) reports on the issue:

The US government says it is investigating how the devices got to Syria and Blue Coat Systems of Sunnyvale, the California-based company responsible for manufacturing the equipment, says it is cooperating fully. If the firm deliberately violated the sanctions -- which say special permission is required to import this kind of equipment into Syria -- then it could be liable for a fine of up to US$1 million.
Although the 14 web monitoring devices were shipped to Dubai late in 2010 from where they were supposed to be sent to Iraq, Iraq itself has denied any involvement in the transaction.
Nonetheless in Iraq, the issue is also causing concern. Since 2004, when the US put into effect the Syria Accountability Act, for what the US sees as Syria's support of "terrorism, involvement in Lebanon, weapons of mass destruction programs and the destabilizing role it is playing in Iraq", goods that contain more than 10 per cent componentry that is manufactured in the US have been prohibited from being exported there. However it is quite possible that Syria has been able to obtain embargoed goods through third parties. The question now is what Iraq had to do with the 13 Blue Coat web surveillance devices.

Now the US government is worried about supplying freedom suppressing techonology? Now that Syria has the technology and might use it to harm the people of Syria. But the US allowed despot Nouri to have the technology even though he has a long record of suppressing freedom. Alsumaria TV reports, "State of Law Coalition didn't take long to explain Iraqi government's abstinence from voting over Arab League's resolution regarding Syria's incidents. Some leaders in the coalition expressed, in a press conference, their support to Syrian people's rights and affirmed that they are taken by surprise by the shift in some Iraqi parties' positions towards Damascus, a source told Alsumaria. " It might be easier to argue you support the rights of the Syrian people if you hadn't given them technology -- as Nouri did -- to spy on their own people. Meanwhile Waleed Ibrahim (Reuters) notes that Iraqi President Jalal Talabani announced today that Iraq "opposes any Wester or Turkish military intervention" in Syira and that "Talabani also said Iraqi military commanders favoured a continued U.S. troop presence in Iraq due to weaknesses in air and navel defences."

Last week, Iraq and it's northern neighbor Turkey were involved in claims and counter-claims. Turkey claims Iraq owes it a ton of money and stopped Iraqi commercial flights from landing at Turkish airports. Iraq announced that they would do the same to Turkey and, on Sunday, Iraq did. Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports Turkish flights began landing in Iraq in Thursday and Iraqi flights landing in Turkey today. The ban is off. No word on what was agreed to in order to call the ban off and since there's no announcement that Iraq has paid millions to Turkey, the issue could flare up again.
Staying on the topic of Turkey for a moment, the Daily Star reports:
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued the first official apology Wednesday for a bloody military campaign that killed thousands of Kurds in southeast Turkey at the end of the 1930s.
"If it is necessary to apologize on behalf of the state ... I am apologizing,"
Erdogan told his Justice and Development Party (AKP) members in Ankara in televised remarks.
Erdogan said the airstrikes and ground operations in the city of Dersim -- now named Tunceli -- killed 13,800 people between 1936 and 1939, according to an official document of the time he cited in his speech.

There are a lot of cute little games the press plays. For example, the increased Iraqi violence in the last 18 months is erased with the decision to repeatedly invoke the ethnic cleansing of 2006 and 2007. That little lie allows them to address that violence is on the incrase since 2009 and 2010. Another distortion they like to sell is that the PKK, a Kurdish rebel group, pops up in 1984 for no apparent reason. They ignore the historical discrimination and targeting of Kurds in Turkey by the Turkish government. Hopefully, this was the first in a series of steps Erdogan intends to take that does not involve violence or the continued bombing of northern Iraq. For 27 years now, violence has not stopped the PKK. It's unlikely to suddenly work this year.
Yesterday the Associated Press noted that the European Union is calling for members of the EU to take in the residents of the Camp Ashraf. The camp houses a group of Iranian dissidents (approximately 3,500 people). Iranian dissidents were welcomed to Iraq by Saddam Hussein in 1986 and he gave them Camp Ashraf and six other parcels that they could utilize. In 2003, the US invaded Iraq.The US government had the US military lead negotiations with the residents of Camp Ashraf. The US government wanted the residents to disarm and the US promised protections to the point that US actions turned the residents of Camp Ashraf into protected person under the Geneva Conventions. As 2008 drew to a close, the Bush administration was given assurances from the Iraqi government that they would protect the residents. Yet Nouri al-Maliki ordered the camp attacked twice. July 28, 2009 Nouri launched an attack (while then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was on the ground in Iraq). In a report released this summer entitled "Iraqi government must respect and protect rights of Camp Ashraf residents," Amnesty International described this assault, "Barely a month later, on 28-29 July 2009, Iraqi security forces stormed into the camp; at least nine residents were killed and many more were injured. Thirty-six residents who were detained were allegedly tortured and beaten. They were eventually released on 7 October 2009; by then they were in poor health after going on hunger strike." April 8th of this year Nouri again ordered an assault on Camp Ashraf (then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was again on the ground in Iraq when the assault took place). Amnesty International described the assault this way, "Earlier this year, on 8 April, Iraqi troops took up positions within the camp using excessive, including lethal, force against residents who tried to resist them. Troops used live ammunition and by the end of the operation some 36 residents, including eight women, were dead and more than 300 others had been wounded. Following international and other protests, the Iraqi government announced that it had appointed a committee to investigate the attack and the killings; however, as on other occasions when the government has announced investigations into allegations of serious human rights violations by its forces, the authorities have yet to disclose the outcome, prompting questions whether any investigation was, in fact, carried out." Nouri al-Maliki is seen as close to the government in Tehran. They have made it clear that they want the dissidents out of Iraq and returned to Iran -- where they would face trial at best, torture most likely. Nouri has announced he will be closing Camp Ashraf at the end of this year. UK MP Brian Binley (Huffington Post) writes, "As things are evolving and if Maliki gets away with his plan to impose the deadline, just as the Christmas and New Year holidays are in full swing, the prospect is that the world will sit and watch while men and women are killed in cold blood or mutilated, crushed by US-supplied armoured personal carriers."
Zohreh Shafaei (Scoop News) notes the concerns over what may happen to the residents of Camp Ashraf:


I wrote about the story of my life in an article on August 2nd (American Chronicle) where I asked for help to save the life of my brother who resides in the camp Ashraf. He is the only member of family that I have left. Today, my brother and many others like him live in Camp Ashraf and are in a great danger.

The situation is highly critical now as the Iraqi government has stated that it is going to close the camp by the end of the year 2011. This ultimatum is a decision to carry out a massacre of the inhabitants of the camp, where 3400 Iranian civilians, including 1000 women live. The inhabitants have already experienced two similar attacks in July 2009 and April 2011, where 47 persons were killed and hundreds were wounded.

As for myself, I have already had six members of my family killed by the rule of the mullahs' dictatorship in Iran. I now have only one brother left who happens to live in the camp Ashraf now. Many of the 3400 civilians in the camp have experienced similar situation as myself, and their lives are at danger now.

President Obama: The U.S. is responsible for securing the safety of the 3400 inhabitants of the camp, as the U.S. army accepted to protect their lives when they handed over their arms to the U.S. army. The fact is that by keeping the name of the MEK in the F.T.O. list, you are authorizing the Maleki government to carry out the massacre of innocent civilians

Cindy Sheehan has recently returned from Cuba. She notes the day in a new post:
Corporate profit is indeed a huge problem in our society, but so is this ravenous consumerism that 99% of the 99% revel in. If we could break the cycle of exploitation that not only builds the crap, but also makes us believe that we can't live without it, no profound change will occur.
I guess this is what we call, "Preaching to the choir," because I believe that just about everyone who reads this is in solidarity with this message -- but, really, take a quick look around, like I do occasionally, and ask yourself if you are living the "American Dream," or the 'Nightmare."

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

3 man, 6 woman

I'm redoing the post. I was in bed with Cedric and I thought about grabbing the guests for today's show and thought, "Wait, Diane did shopping today." So I got out of bed, booted up the computer and saw that I had put tomorrow's guests. Diane already had the info on Thursday's guests up.

The first hour of today's show was James Roberts, Ellen Davis, Mark Zandi and Ylan Mui. The second hour was Neely Tucker, Deirdre Donahue and Olivia Golden.

Tomorrow on the first hour of The Diane Rehm Show (NPR), the guest was David McCullough. The second hour will be Tayari Jones. Both are rebroadcasts. [This paragraph originally listed those as the guests on Wednesday's show. I've corrected that.]

We're not doing Thanksgiving at our home. We'll be going to relatives.

So I spent the night making tortilla soup.

I'm not joking.

We were talking about the plates we leave with in the past. And Cedric noted how hard it was to walk out without a plate because the food tastes so good and because you don't want food to go to waste.

So I said, "I'll cook something light that we can have tomorrow and on Friday."

And I was going through my cookbook and not finding anything I really loved. C.I. made a great tortilla soup last summer. I called Trina because she was going to get a recipe.

She was kind enough to give it to me over the phone but warned that C.I. gave her the easy recipe. If C.I. cooks, she does it all, chops the tomatoes and everything. But she assumes others don't (I sure don't) and will give you a recipe with easy ingredients. Then, after you play with that, if you want the other, she'll give you the other (or if you want the hard one right off, she'll give you that). But this is the easy recipe.

You need a large stock pot. A dutch oven won't do.

3 to 5 pounds of chicken breast (boneless)
2 cans Rotel (that's diced tomatoes with peppers)
2 cans chicken stock
1 green bell pepper sliced into strips
1 red bell pepper sliced into strips
1 white onion sliced into strips
(and I made her recipe easier, I found the three items sliced into strips in the freezer section, already sliced)
1 bag frozen corn (kernals, not cob)
2 avocados sliced into strips


Add 2 teaspoons of olive oil to the stock pot, put it on a low heat. Take the chicken pieces and cut it down to twice the size you want (it will cook down to the size you want). Add chicken. Add 1 can of chicken stock and 32 ounces of water. Increase heat to medium. Allow to simmer for 30 minutes. Then add above ingredients except avocados.

Stir.

Add fresh ground black pepper. Add sea salt. A dash of chili powder if you have it on hand. If you have hot sauce, adds six drops.

Stir and cook on low-medium heat for 10 minutes.

Add avocados.

Stir and cook on low-medium heat for 15 minutes.

Ladle into bowls.

Top with shredded cheese of choice. Add some chips. If you have strips, great, if you're using Tostitos (we will be), you may have to break them up a little.

So that's what I cooked tonight. Cedric didn't know what I was going to cook but when he smelled it he knew then. He wanted to have some tonight but that defeats the purpose. So we'll have that waiting tomorrow and won't need to bring a ton of food back with us.

The food's great, I'm not trying to insult it. But you know the way we all gorge at Thanksgiving. And that's what Cedric wants to avoid for himself due to not wanting to be sleepy. I want to avoid it because I'm still doing my working out and I've lost 27 pounds since July (and I was not considered overweight but mainly because my mother instilled good posture in me at a very young age). And to be clear, I'm not trying to lose any weight, I just want to maintain my current weight.

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

Wednesday, November 23, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, a wife please for information on her husband who has been missing in Iraq for nearly nine years, Iraq War veteran J.R. Martinez wins Dancing with the Stars, the UN talks Camp Ashraf, and more.
Starting in the US, Rene Lynch (Los Angeles Times) notes that 28-year-old Iraq War veteran J.R. Martinez and his dancing partner Karina Smirnoff won the Dancing With the Stars competition last night and that he declared of his trophy for the celebrated win, "Right now I'm going to put mine in bed. I'm going to tuck it in, and it's going to roll around with me. And then after that, once we've kind of grown apart, I'm going to glue it to the hood of my car and drive around Los Angeles and honk my horn and it will be my own parade." Jessica Derschowitz (CBS News) explains, "Martinez was 19 years old when his humvee hit an anti-tank mine in April 2003. He suffered smoke inhalation and burns to more than 40 percent of his body." Dreschowitz also provides video of David Martin's 2003 interview with Martinez. In 1991, Della Wright's children Nicholas and Mary died in an apartment fire that left her and her six-year-old daughter badly burned. Wright went on to start The People's Burn Foundation in 1997. The Indy Channel speaks with Wright who says of Martinez, "He got out there and he gave it his all, and he did not let what people could see change the way he was." The Washington Post's Reliable Source states that US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has "penned a letter of congratulations to Martinez" and quotes from the letter that "your victory sends a strong message about the strength and resilience of our wounded warriors."
Turning to Iraq where W.G. Dunlop (AFP) reports that the Office of Security Cooperation -- Iraq (the ten enduring US bases we've been noting for a week now) will be "under US embassy authority." If true, that is news. If true? General Martin Dempsey is the Chair of the Joint-Chiefs of Staff. He was called before the Senate Armed Services Committee to testify on this issue (and did). If this were a program the Pentagon wasn't running, normal procedure would be for him to refer the questions to the State Dept and for Congress to call someone in who would represent a supervisory department. (I'm not doubting Dunlop was told that. I am expressing uncertainty as to whether or not what he was told was correct. It does not make sene for the Senate to ask the Pentagon to testify on programs that the State Dept will be running.) What's of greater interest is Dunlop's numbers make no sense. Again, people need to pay attention to Senate hearings. (To House hearings as well.) AFP should have paired Dunlop with someone covering last week's Senate hearing. (I don't expect Dunlop or the New York Times' Tim Arango to know, from Iraq, what took place in a DC hearing. That's a ridiculous expectation.)
Dunlop speaks to US Lt Col Tom Hanson who informs him that there will be 157 Pentagon forces and "up to 763" contractors; however, that 763 won't be all at once (Dunlop summarizes him, we don't have the direct statement) and these contrators will be "involved in some aspect of bringing the equipment to the Iraqis and helping them learn how to operate it, and bringing (them) to a minimum level of proficieny on it, whether it's a tank or an airplane or an air traffic control systerm or radar."
Do you see the problem with that?
If you attended the hearing or read accurate coverage of it ( NYT's Elisabeth Bumiller and LewisRockwell.com's Laurence Vance got it right), you might be thinking, "That's not all the contractors."
It's not all. There is a set number of contractors not noted in Dunlop's report. That set number is required for US military personnel working on the 10 Office of Security Cooperation -- Iraq "enduring" bases to be protected. Gen Dempsey was very clear on this count and we quoted him in full on it. Let's do so again:
Senator Kay Hagan: We'll, as we continue this drawdown of our military personnel from Iraq, I really remain concerned about their force protection -- the individuals that will be remaining in Iraq. So what are the remaining challenges for our military personnel in Iraq in terms of managing their vulnerabilities, managing their exposures during the drawdown?

General Martin Dempsey: Senator, are you talking about getting from 24,000, the existing force now and having it retrograde through Kuwait?

Senator Kay Hagan: The ones that will remain over there.

General Martin Dempsey: The ones that will remain --

Senator Kay Hagan: Their protection.

General Martin Dempsey: Yes, Senator. Well, they will have -- First and foremost, we've got ten Offices of Security Cooperation in Iraq bases. And their activities will largely be conducted on these bases because their activities are fundamentally oriented on delivering the foreign military sales. So F-16s get delivered, there's a team there to help new equipment training and-and helping Iraq understand how to use them to establish air sovereignty. Or there's a 141 M1 Tanks right now, generally located at a tank gunnery range in Besmaya, east of Baghdad and the team supporting that training stays on Besmaya so this isn't about us moving around the country very much at all. This is about our exposure being limited to 10 enduring, if you will, Offices of Security Cooperation base camps. And doing the job of educating and training and equipping on those ten bases. Host nation is always responsible for the outer parameter. We'll have contracted security on the inner parameter. And these young men and women will always have responsibility for their own self-defense.

Senator Kay Hagan: So we'll have contracted security on the inner-paramenter?

General Martin Dempsey: That's right.
FYI, Dunlop's article contains a clue that Dunlop's unaware of. Let's stay with the US presence in Iraq. Al Mannarah reports that among the options political blocs are weighing are these three options: the US trains Iraqi forces in a third country (that both the US and Iraq agree to), allow NATO to do the training, or Iraq can -- as Moqtada al-Sadr wants -- allow other countries (other than the US) to do the training. Moqtada has named France and Russia and inferred that there are other (unnamed) European countries his political bloc has been in contact with. Iraq's Sunni vice president, Tariq al-Hashemi, has an interesting quote at the end of the article.
Meanwhile Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Rebecca Santana (AP) reported ysterday that the US military turned over their Iraqi detainees to Iraq except for Ali Mussa Daqduq. Julian E. Barnes and Evan Perez (Wall St. Journal) reports that the US wants him to be taken to the US where it is assumed he would be face "trial by a military commission."
In reported violence, Reuters notes that a Hawija attack utilizing multiple bombs and mortars resulted in nine people being injured and 2 suicide bombers taking their own lives (the police state that they killed 2 suspects) and that last night, in Samarra, a pharmacy was attacked and the owner shot dead while today in Dhuluiya "Iraqi security forces arrested a former military officer and his 19-year-old son." It was US and Iraqi forces. Aswat al-Iraq explains, "A Joint Iraqi-U.S. force has arrested an former high-ranking Iraqi Army officer in Dhiloyiya township of Salah al-Din Province, in an air-landing operation on Wednesday, a police source reported." They quote Abdul-Latif Kamel, the officer's brother, stating, "At 2 am this morning 4 US planes, carrying Iraqi soldiers have landed the soldiers on my brother's house, began to beat him and force him and his son to put-off their clothes, chained them and drove them to an unknown destination." In addition, Aswat al-Iraq notes, "At least 9 Iraqi civilians have been injured in a booby-trapped car explosion and mortar shell attacks on Hawija township of northern Iraq's Kirkuk Province on Wednesday, a Hawija hospital source reported."
Also the Turkish military continues bombing northern Iraq. AFP reports, "Turkey has bombed the Sulaimaniyah and Arbil provinces of Iraq's autonomous northern Kurdish region, wounding one civilian, Kurdish officials said on Wednesday." Press TV notes that in addition to injuring 20-year-old Iraqi Hassan Abdullah, Qalat Dizah's Mayor Ismail Baz Hamed states, "The bombing caused heavy damage to farms and livestock in Qalat Dizah." Reuters notes that 1 shepherd was injured in the bombings. AP speaks to "local official" Azad Waso who states the bombings also killed 200 cattle.
The government of Turkey, of course, insists that they are targeting the PKK.
The PKK is one of many Kurdish groups which supports and fights for a Kurdish homeland. Aaron Hess (International Socialist Review) described them in 2008, "The PKK emerged in 1984 as a major force in response to Turkey's oppression of its Kurdish population. Since the late 1970s, Turkey has waged a relentless war of attrition that has killed tens of thousands of Kurds and driven millions from their homes. The Kurds are the world's largest stateless population -- whose main population concentration straddles Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria -- and have been the victims of imperialist wars and manipulation since the colonial period. While Turkey has granted limited rights to the Kurds in recent years in order to accommodate the European Union, which it seeks to join, even these are now at risk." The Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq has been a concern to Turkey because they fear that if it ever moves from semi-autonomous to fully independent -- such as if Iraq was to break up into three regions -- then that would encourage the Kurdish population in Turkey. For that reason, Turkey is overly interested in all things Iraq. So much so that they signed an agreement with the US government in 2007 to share intelligence which the Turkish military has been using when launching bomb raids. However, this has not prevented the loss of civilian life in northern Iraq. Aaron Hess noted, "The Turkish establishment sees growing Kurdish power in Iraq as one step down the road to a mass separatist movement of Kurds within Turkey itself, fighting to unify a greater Kurdistan. In late October 2007, Turkey's daily newspaper Hurriyet accused the prime minister of the KRG, Massoud Barzani, of turning the 'Kurdish dream' into a 'Turkish nightmare'."
It must be great to have an 'enemy' you can attack when those attacks destroy the very region you wish didn't exist, the region you fear encourages other Kurds to dream of a homeland. Must be nice to insist you're targeting 'terrorists' while you rip apart the country side of the Kurdistan Regional Government, kill livestock and Iraqis. All while pretending you're the injured party. And that your non-stop months of bombing were, of course, caused by others.
Armed militias in Iraq are thought to have really made their mark with kidnappings starting in 2004. A 2003 kidnapping has resulted in a plea from a spouse. Al Mannarah reports that Fabien Nerac is asking that anyone who knows anything about her husband -- the father of their two children -- please contact Reporters Without Borders. French journalist Frederic Nerac is Fabien's husband. Frederic was working for ITN and in southern Iraq on March 22, 2003 when he and his interpreter Hussein Osman both disappeared -- the same day that ITN's Terry Lloyd was shot in Iraq. All three were enroute to Basra when they ended up stuck on the road, caught in the crossfire of US Marines and Iraqi soldiers, Terry Lloyd was shot and killed, his colleague Daniel Demoustier was able to make it to Kuwait (and safety) and DNA later revealed that Hussein Osman was among those who had been shot dead. But what happened to Frederic Nerac remains a question mark. A year after he went missing, Tom Newton Dunn (Daily Mirror) reported that "ITN cameraman Fred Nerac and translator Hussein Osman are believed to have been blasted by [US] tanks or helicopter gunships as Iraqis tried to take them to safety in a pick-up. The attack was so intense it is likely Belgian Nerac, 43, and Lebanese-born Osman, 31, were blown to bits." In October 2005, the Fench Foreign Ministry issued a statement declaring Frederic dead. Fabian continues searching for information and for her husband's body. Reporters Without Borders notes that 225 "journalists and media assistant [have been] killed since the start of fighting in Iraq in March 2003" and they list Frederic Nerac as "missing" along with one other journalist, Isam Hadi Muhsin al-Shumary. Today is the International Day to End Impunity "a call to action to demand justice for those who have been killed for exercising their right to freedom of expression and shed light on the issue of impunity."


David Brunnstrom (Reuters) notes that as the central government out of Baghdad insists it will be removing people from Camp Ashraf, the European Union is calling for any plans to be put on hold to allow time for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to complete interviews with the residents to allow the UN to make a determination regarding their status.

Camp Ashraf houses a group of Iranian dissidents (approximately 3,500 people). Iranian dissidents were welcomed to Iraq by Saddam Hussein in 1986 and he gave them Camp Ashraf and six other parcels that they could utilize. In 2003, the US invaded Iraq.The US government had the US military lead negotiations with the residents of Camp Ashraf. The US government wanted the residents to disarm and the US promised protections to the point that US actions turned the residents of Camp Ashraf into protected person under the Geneva Conventions. As 2008 drew to a close, the Bush administration was given assurances from the Iraqi government that they would protect the residents. Yet Nouri al-Maliki ordered the camp attacked twice. July 28, 2009 Nouri launched an attack (while then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was on the ground in Iraq). In a report released this summer entitled "Iraqi government must respect and protect rights of Camp Ashraf residents," Amnesty International described this assault, "Barely a month later, on 28-29 July 2009, Iraqi security forces stormed into the camp; at least nine residents were killed and many more were injured. Thirty-six residents who were detained were allegedly tortured and beaten. They were eventually released on 7 October 2009; by then they were in poor health after going on hunger strike." April 8th of this year Nouri again ordered an assault on Camp Ashraf (then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was again on the ground in Iraq when the assault took place). Amnesty International described the assault this way, "Earlier this year, on 8 April, Iraqi troops took up positions within the camp using excessive, including lethal, force against residents who tried to resist them. Troops used live ammunition and by the end of the operation some 36 residents, including eight women, were dead and more than 300 others had been wounded. Following international and other protests, the Iraqi government announced that it had appointed a committee to investigate the attack and the killings; however, as on other occasions when the government has announced investigations into allegations of serious human rights violations by its forces, the authorities have yet to disclose the outcome, prompting questions whether any investigation was, in fact, carried out." Nouri al-Maliki is seen as close to the government in Tehran. They have made it clear that they want the dissidents out of Iraq and returned to Iran -- where they would face trial at best, torture most likely. Nouri has announced he will be closing Camp Ashraf at the end of this year. UK MP Brian Binley (Huffington Post) writes, "As things are evolving and if Maliki gets away with his plan to impose the deadline, just as the Christmas and New Year holidays are in full swing, the prospect is that the world will sit and watch while men and women are killed in cold blood or mutilated, crushed by US-supplied armoured personal carriers."

At one point, Nouri and his flunkies were floating that the residents might remain in Iraq but dispersed to other areas within the country. That was apparently empty talk in an attempt to distract. Aswat al-Iraq reports:

State of Law MP Ali al-Shalah said that there are moves to close anti-Iranian Ashraf Camp through the Iraqi foreign ministry, which is trying to find a haven for them in European countries.
Shalah told Aswat al-Iraq that his bloc "is trying to reach a peaceful and humanitarian solution to Ashraf Camp question", calling "western European countries to extend their assistance to finalize this question".
Yesterday at the United Nations, Martin Nesirky, the spokesperson for the Secretary-General, was asked about Camp Ashraf:
Question: What is the official position of the Secretary-General and UNHCR [United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees] on the Camp Ashraf situation? I understand that there may be some doings here about this and by December, I understand that the camp is to be evacuated. What will happen to the residents?

Spokesperson: Well, as you know, or perhaps you are aware, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Martin Kobler, has spoken about this topic; he did so at the beginning of this month -- on 3 November. I am not going to read out everything he said, but the point is that the United Nations is ready to assist in this matter. It is, of course, a matter of national sovereignty -- this Camp is in Iraq -- so it is a matter of national sovereignty for the Iraqi authorities. But, on the other hand, it is also clear that there needs to be a durable and peaceful solution to this problem. And that's why the United Nations is ready to assist. And when I say the United Nations, that means in the form of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, together with UNHCR, as you just mentioned; with the refugee agency.

Question: The question is, since the camp is going to be evacuated at the same time that the [United States] troops are going to leave, and since there are a lot of concerns that that might lead to, well, they call it massacres, is there anything the UN can do beyond just assist? I mean, are there any plans to resettle, to…?

Spokesperson: There are a number of problems that still need to be solved. And the Secretary-General himself has been involved in contacts with the Iraqi leaders and other international leaders on this topic. It is obvious that there needs to be a peaceful solution, it is obvious that we are some way from that; that there are still some problems that need to be solved. As I have mentioned, the key factors are that it is a matter of national sovereignty for the Iraqis, but equally, this is something that must be resolved in a peaceful way. And that's why the UN is saying it is ready to assist, and indeed is. And the Special Representative has had already, together with colleagues from the refugee agency, UNHCR, meetings with Iraqi officials and others to try to see what headway can be made. I think it is obvious that -- you've mentioned some of the different factors -- some people want to go abroad, to other countries in small groups, in large groups, in different combinations. These are all the kinds of questions that need to be resolved, and we are not there yet.

Question: There are no plans to send them back to Iran?

Spokesperson: The point here is that it needs to be a peaceful solution to this problem. And that's why the refugee agency, UNHCR, and the Special Representative are offering their services to help to try to bring that about. Okay, all right. Yes?


We'll close with this from Ross Caputi's "Fallujah Remembered by a US Marine who Helped Destroy it in 2004" (World Can't Wait):


It has been seven years since the 2nd siege of Fallujah -- the American assault that left the city in ruins, killed thousands of civilians, and displaced hundreds-of-thousands more -- the assault that poisoned a generation, plaguing the people who live there with cancers and their children with birth defects.
It has been seven years and the lies that justified the assault still perpetuate false beliefs about what we did.
The American veterans who fought there still do not understand who they fought against, or what they were fighting for.
I know, because I am one of those American veterans.
In the eyes of many of the people I "served" with, the people of Fallujah remain dehumanized and their resistance fighters are still believed to be terrorists. But unlike most of my counterparts, I understand that I was the aggressor, and that the resistance fighters in Fallujah were defending their city.
al mada
dar addustour
aswat al-iraq
reuters
press tv
afp
the world cant wait
ross caputi

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

6 men, 0 women

Today on the first hour of The Diane Rehm Show (NPR), the guests were Robert Walker, Norman Ornstein, Naftali Bendavid and Chris Van Hollen. The second hour was David Walker, Jan van Deursen and Felipe Sierra.

I'm doing pies this year for Thanksgiving (at my mother's). Cedric and I flipped a coin to decide who got Christmas Day and who got Thanksgiving Day. So we'll do his family for Christmas.

Which is good but I have to make three pies and I'm so low on time. I am not doing pie crust from scratch. I am cheating by buying pie shells.

Anyway, I have to make a cherry (no problem), a lemon pie (not too hard) and a chess pie. That last one makes me nervous. (If it makes me very much more nervous, watch me just order one at the bakery.)


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


Tuesday, November 22, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, "partial immunity" supposedly is being offered US 'trainers,' the Turkish military continues bombing northern Iraq, the UK judicial system agrees torture is an issue to explore, Bradley Manning's defense team draws up a witness list while supporters prepare for demonstrations, and more.
In news of the continuing war and occupation, Al Mada reports that State of Law's MP Haider al-Abadi declared on Monday that there is an agreement to give US 'trainers' (in aviation and counter-terrorism) "partial immunity." al-Abadi also sites concerns that there will be an attempted coup by former Ba'athists and that Iraq does not have the capabilities currently to stop such an effort. al-Abadi is identifed in the article as a "prominent" law maker in State of Law. State of Law is the political slate Nouri al-Maliki put together for the 2010 elections. Alsumaria TV adds, "Iraqi Security and Defense Parliamentary Committee assured, on Sunday, that Iraqi Air Force needs 5 years to become ready to protect Iraqi air space. Iraqi government should agree with countries positioned in Kuwait over defense matters, the committee said, warning from current and potential threats against Iraq."

In related news, Dar Addustour notes that the Parliament was scheduled to hold the first reading of a law that would ban the Ba'ath party. Yes, the proposal does seem redundant since the Ba'ath party is already outlawed in Iraq. Reidar Visser (Iraq and Gulf Analysis) states the bill also bans those advocating or embracing "terrorism, racism, takfir (labelling others as unbelievers) and sectarian cleansing -- though it falls short of defining those ideologies it is seeking to outlaw other than the Baath" and Visser emphasizes one area:
Perhaps the most important and potentially controversial aspect of the bill is the creation of a committee that will oversee the law and hand over potential cases to the prosecution. This committee will be headed by the minister of state for parliamentary affairs, with members from the ministries of justice and human rights, the head of the consultative state assembly and two judges. As is well known, the minister of state for parliamentary affairs and the ministries of human rights and justices (which also administers the consultative state assembly) are all dominated by members of the grand Shiite alliance to which Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki owes his second term. Of course, this all comes at a time when there is already evidence that vague accusations of Baathism are being used to settle political scores.
Let's move over to the many conflicts between Iraq and its northern neighbor Turkey. Saturday Al Rafidayn reported that, starting Sunday, Turkish planes will no longer be able to land at Iraqi airports in response to the refusal to allow Iraqi planes to land at Turkish airports -- these are commercial flights. Turkey has refused to allow Iraqi planes to land because Iraqi allegedly owes money. KUNA explained, "The Iraqi move followed Turkish authorities' ban of Iraqi airplanes from landing in Istanbul airport because of what Ankara claimed was Iraq's Oil Marketing Company's (Somo) unpaid debt of USD five million."
Today Iraq shut off all of their airports to Turkish flights in retaliation for Turkey having already done the same to them. Mohammed Tawfeeq and Ivan Watson (CNN) reported Sunday that Iraq was willing to reverse its decision if Turkey was but that Turkey states that Iraq owes them $3 million. Today's Zaman added, "Turkey may seize planes owned by the Iraqi government as soon as they land in a Turkish airport due to the State Oil Marketing Corporation's (SOMO) failure to repay its nearly $3 million debt to Turkish businesses, Turkish diplomatic sources have told Today's Zaman." Today, Steve Bryant (Bloomberg News) reports that Iraq is allowing Turkey to land (commercial flights) at Iraqi airport for a week while the two countries try to iron out their dispute over Iraq supposedly owing Turkey millions (which led Turkey to deny Iraqi planes the right to land at Turkish airports). Hurriyet Daily News notes this is a "temporary measure" ("according to a statement by the Turkish Economy Ministry") and that the disupted amount has now risen to $20 million (that's what Turkey claims Iraq owes).
Reuters notes that Turkish military planes bombed northern Iraq again last night in the lastest wave of attacks which began August 17th. Press TV adds, "Turkey has deployed a massive military convoy in a southeastern district that borders with Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, Press TV reports. Turkish sources said the military convoy is comprised of about 200 military vehicles, including those that are resistant to mine blasts, Press TV's Ankara correspondent reported." The government of Turkey maintains the bombings are to 'root out' or kill the PKK.
The PKK is one of many Kurdish groups which supports and fights for a Kurdish homeland. Aaron Hess (International Socialist Review) described them in 2008, "The PKK emerged in 1984 as a major force in response to Turkey's oppression of its Kurdish population. Since the late 1970s, Turkey has waged a relentless war of attrition that has killed tens of thousands of Kurds and driven millions from their homes. The Kurds are the world's largest stateless population -- whose main population concentration straddles Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria -- and have been the victims of imperialist wars and manipulation since the colonial period. While Turkey has granted limited rights to the Kurds in recent years in order to accommodate the European Union, which it seeks to join, even these are now at risk." The Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq has been a concern to Turkey because they fear that if it ever moves from semi-autonomous to fully independent -- such as if Iraq was to break up into three regions -- then that would encourage the Kurdish population in Turkey. For that reason, Turkey is overly interested in all things Iraq. So much so that they signed an agreement with the US government in 2007 to share intelligence which the Turkish military has been using when launching bomb raids. However, this has not prevented the loss of civilian life in northern Iraq. Aaron Hess noted, "The Turkish establishment sees growing Kurdish power in Iraq as one step down the road to a mass separatist movement of Kurds within Turkey itself, fighting to unify a greater Kurdistan. In late October 2007, Turkey's daily newspaper Hurriyet accused the prime minister of the KRG, Massoud Barzani, of turning the 'Kurdish dream' into a 'Turkish nightmare'."
TR Defense notes, "Firat news agency reported that five Turkish war planes had been flying over Iraq's Qandil mountains but said it had not received any information about bombing in the area." Noel Brinkerhoff (AllGov) notes that while the US government plans to use Kuwait as a staging platform for Iraq, it's also supplying Turkey with drones. Hevidar Ahmed (Rudaw) adds, "Kurdish President Massoud Barzani turned down Ankara's request that Iraqi Kurdistan help fight and gather intelligence on the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) but is working on brokering a lasting ceasefire between Turkey and the rebel group, Fuad Hussein, Barzani's chief of staff, told Rudaw in an interview." Meanwhile the Telegraph of London explains that Turkey's efforts currently were focused upon arresting over 70 people in raids throughout the country -- those arrested included attorneys, 5 "BDP [Krudish Peace and Democratic Party] parliamentarians and two prominent intellectuals." As Kurd Net points out, "Turkey refuses to recognize its Kurdish population as a distinct minority. It has allowed some cultural rights such as limited broadcasts in the Kurdish language and private Kurdish language courses with the prodding of the European Union, but Kurdish politicians say the measures fall short of their expectations." Saturday, BBC's Newhour carried a segment broadcast from Turkey. Excerpt:

Robin Lustig: Turkey's been in the business of buying and selling for centuries. I'm in the heart of old Istanbul at the moment, in the spice market, surrounded by the colors, the smells of every spice you could imagine. There's a wonderful smell of coffee wafting on the evening air. These days, though, Turkey is selling something a little bit different. It's selling the idea of Turkish democracy, democracy in a Muslim country.

[chanting is heard]

Robin Lustig: These people are making full use of their democratic freedoms. They're Kurds, they're protesting, noisily, outside the court house, chanting for the release of a young Kurdish student who they say is being held in jail on trumped up charges. Kurds here in Turkey say the country's democratic system is deeply flawed, it fails to protect minority rights.

Robin Lustig: I've come now just a few steps away from the court house and I'm down by the Bosphorus, the strip of water that divides Europe from Asia. And with me here is one of Turkey's best known television stars Banu Guven. She's been telling me that she now has her own reasons for doubting Turkey's democratic credentials.

Banu Guven: I used to work for NTV and I had to quit because a week before the elections here, I was going to host one of the most prominent Kurdish politicians but just three or four days before, the director told me that we couldn't do it. A week before the elections, the government and the prime minister didn't want media to host Kurdish candidates.

Robin Lustig: In many parts of the world now, particularly in the Arab world, people are looking at Turkey as an example of a sort-of model of an Islamic democracy.

Banu Guven: We'd like to be a model for democracy, but we are not any kind of a model to anyone.


For text, you can refer to Robin Lustig's report here and here (the latter includes audio link and notes it's only good for the next seven days). It's really important for a number of players -- including the US government -- that Turkey be seen as a model.

Reuters notes that 1 corpse (government employee) was discovered in Kirkuk, a Baghdad bombing claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier and left one other person injured, a Baghdad roadside bombing injured four Iraqi soldiers and a Mosul suicide bomber was shot dead by police.
Today Drew Brooks (Fayettville Observer) reports, "At the time James [Robinson] and I left for Kuwait/Iraq, there were 12 American bases and about 34,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. Nearly three weeks later, there are seven open U.S. bases and less than 20,000 troops . . ." Are we supposed to believe that? I'm sure many will.
But presumably, if you're the Chair of the Joint-Chiefs of Staff and you testify before Congress, you know something about that which you testify to. So last Tuesday, when the Chair of the Joint-Chiefs, General Martin Dempsey, appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee and was asked, by Senator Kay Hagan, about the troops that would remain in Iraq, under DoD, after January 1st, he knew what he was talking about. You can refer to the November 16th "Iraq snapshot" for the full exchange between the two but we want to zoom in on Dempsey explaining the US military will have ten bases ("enduring," he stated, bases) in Iraq after January 1st.
General Martin Dempsey: Senator, are you talking about getting from 24,000, the existing force now and having it retrograde through Kuwait?

Senator Kay Hagan: The ones that will remain over there.

General Martin Dempsey: The ones that will remain --

Senator Kay Hagan: Their protection.

General Martin Dempsey: Yes, Senator. Well, they will have -- First and foremost, we've got ten Offices of Security Cooperation in Iraq bases. And their activities will largely be conducted on these bases because their activities are fundamentally oriented on delivering the foreign military sales. So F-16s get delivered, there's a team there to help new equipment training and-and helping Iraq understand how to use them to establish air sovereignty. Or there's a 141 M1 Tanks right now, generally located at a tank gunnery range in Besmaya, east of Baghdad and the team supporting that training stays on Besmaya so this isn't about us moving around the country very much at all. This is about our exposure being limited to 10 enduring, if you will, Offices of Security Cooperation base camps. And doing the job of educating and training and equipping on those ten bases. Host nation is always responsible for the outer parameter. We'll have contracted security on the inner parameter. And these young men and women will always have responsibility for their own self-defense.
It's strange that a US general can do the inventory but our supposed independent and free press somehow misses the "ten Offices of Security Cooperation in Iraq bases" the US will be operating.
In addition AFP reports on conflict in the turning over of a base:
Iraqi civilian and military officials on Thursday held a handover ceremony for the Hurriyah base, which includes the airport in Kirkuk, the capital of the ethnically mixed, oil-rich province of the same name, which the autonomous Kurdistan region wants to incorporate against Baghdad's wishes.
The US military said that as far as it is concerned, the base was not officially turned over to Iraq. But nevertheless the ceremony quickly drew condemnation from Kurdish politicians, who said the provincial council had voted earlier in the week for the base to become a civilian airport, and thus to be controlled by local police instead.
The dispute over the base "is a clear sign that Kirkuk will be an area of real problems between the Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen," said Hamid Fadhel, a professor of politics at Baghdad University.
In England, Rachael Brown (Australia's ABC) reports, "A British court has ruled in favor of a group of more than 100 Iraqis who have demanded a new public inquiry into allegations that British soldiers tortured Iraqi civilians." The Telegraph of London terms it "a landmark Court of Appeal battle" and notes, "Some 128 Iraqis complain that ill treatment occured between March 2033 and December 2008 in British-controlled detention facilities in the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq." Ian Cobain and Richard Norton-Taylor (Guardian) observe, "The decision could pae the way for a full public inquiry into the British military's detention and interrogation practices in south-eastern Iraq during the five years that troops were based there." Kim Sengupta (Independent of London) quotes Judge Maurice Kay, Judge Jeremy Sullivan and Judge Christopher Pitchford writing in their opinion rejecting the Royal Military Police investigation underweigh as the sole avenue, "We are of the view that the practical independence of the investigation is, at least as a matter or reasonable perception, substancially compromised."
Moving to the US and the latest on Bradley Manning. Monday April 5th, WikiLeaks released US military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Monday June 7, 2010, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported in August 2010 that Manning had been charged -- "two charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The first encompasses four counts of violating Army regulations by transferring classified information to his personal computer between November and May and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system. The second comprises eight counts of violating federal laws governing the handling of classified information." Manning has been convicted in the public square despite the fact that he's been convicted in no state and has made no public statements -- despite any claims otherwise, he has made no public statements. Manning has been at Quantico in Virginia, under military lock and key, for months. In March, David S. Cloud (Los Angeles Times) reported that the military has added 22 additional counts to the charges including one that could be seen as "aiding the enemy" which could result in the death penalty if convicted. David E. Coombs is Bradley's attorney and he provided a walk through on Article 104. Yesterday it was learned that his Article 32 hearing was scheduled to start on December 16th. Ed Pilkington (Guardian) reports today, "The defence team [. . .] is planning to call 50 witnesses at next month's military hearing, promising to turn the proceedings into a detailed legal battle over the merits of the prosecution case against him."
AFP notes, "His conditions in detention, which have included solitary confinement, have drawn the attention of Amnesty International and the American Civil Liberties Union, among others."
Protest his Pretrial Hearing Saturday, Dec 17th (Bradley's Birthday Day) at 12pm noon at Fort Meade, MD outside Washington D.C.! (Solidarity actions taking place around the world.)
After 560 days of pretrial confinement, including 250 days spent in solitary conditions, the Military has finally announced that PFC Bradley Manning's Pretrial Hearing will begin on December 16th in the Washington D.C. area.
PFC Bradley Manning is accused of uncovering the facts behind a system of foreign policy that routinely hides abuse from public scrutiny. "If convicted of all charges, Manning would face a maximum punishment… of confinement for life" the U.S. Army reports.

If he is the source of the WikiLeaks revelations, he is the most significant whistle-blower in a generation. According to journalists, his alleged actions helped motivate the democratic Arab Spring movements, shed light on secret corporate influence on our foreign policies of the sort #OccupyWallStreet opposes, and most recently contributed to the Obama Administration agreeing to withdraw all U.S.troops from the failed occupation in Iraq.

Bradley Manning, who turns 24 on the date of our protest, is a young soldier from a working-class background who believed that people should know the truth, "no matter who they are… because without information you cannot make informed decisions as a public."
He now faces opposition from embarrassed politicians and military officials, and potential life in prison on a poorly defined military charge of "Aiding the enemy through indirect means." If words attributed to Bradley Manning are accurate, it appears that he was motivated only by a desire to expose questionable and illegal actions by our leaders. This information had been concealed -- not to protect us -- but in order to avoid accountability. According to several who served in the same unit as Manning, this information had already been made available to Iraqi Army recruits -- but not the American public. It is absurd for our government to suggest that the American people is somehow "the enemy."
As founding father Patrick Henry wrote, "The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them."
Bradley's pretrial hearing date has been announced, and this is the time to take our support of Bradley into the streets. Bradley Manning was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize last month, and topped the UK Guardian's Readers Poll. Now the world watches the proceedings of this case while judging our country as a whole.
Previous protests outside of a Quantico brig where Manning was being held were successful in ending the mistreatment he had endured there. December 17th will be our International Day of Solidarity with the largest protest taking place outside the gates of Fort Meade! View logistics/RSVP here.
For people outside of the DC and Baltimore area, we welcome creative solidarity actions. Visit events.bradleymanning.org to register your event.
Please share this announcement with friends and connections via e-mail, facebook, and twitter.
Sincerely,

The Bradley Manning Support Network

Help us give Bradley a fighting chance in the upcoming proceedings, inside and out of the military courtroom at Fort Meade, Maryland.
Please
donate today.

Last, we'll note this from Sarah Lipton-Lubert's "The Shaheen Amendment Promises Basic Fairness for Servicewomen. Now Let's Get a Vote!" (ACLU Blog of Rights):

Today, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen took a historic stand for military women. Now it's our turn to stand with her.

More than 400,000 women serve in the armed forces and put their lives at risk to preserve our rights and safeguard our freedom. Yet these women are denied access to the same care available to the civilians they protect. If you're a woman putting your life on the line for your country in the U.S. military, your health insurance won't cover abortion care even if you're a victim of sexual assault.


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