Tuesday, October 29, 2013

It's about blackmail

RT has a report (link is video and text) on the illegal spying:

Glenn Greenwald, the man behind the reports on the NSA global spy program, spoke to El Mundo journalist German Aranda and stressed that the US espionage activities went much further than just Europe.

"There are a lot of countries, and journalists in a lot of different countries, who have been asking for stories and to work on documents for a long time," Greenwald said. He added that he was working as fast as possible to “make sure that all of these documents get reported in every single country there are documents for, which is most countries in the world.”

Shedding light on the NSA’s motives in compiling metadata on citizens, he said the spy organization’s main aim was to store the information to be able to dip into it whenever necessary.

"The very clear objective of the NSA is not just to collect all this, but to keep it for as long as they can," said Greenwald.

"So they can at any time target a particular citizen of Spain or anywhere else and learn what they've been doing, in terms of who they have been communicating with.”
‘Preparing the terrain’



He's right.

This is about a number of things including -- remember we're talking about spies --  blackmail.

That is, after all, at the heart of spying.  And, no doubt, it's why Angela Merkel and other foreign leaders are being spied upon -- to get dirt to later use against them.


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


Tuesday, October 29, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, Nouri leaves Iraq for the US, US Senators send an open letter to US President Barack Obama expressing concerns with Nouri, Human Rights Watch issues a release noting Nouri's attack on freedoms and Iraqis but no one at the State Dept press briefing today thought to even ask about Iraq, there have been over 1,000 violent deaths in Iraq so far this month,  US House Rep Mike Rogers either lied or is making decision on false information, National Intelligence Director James Clapper's failure to understand an oath should result in his stepping down from office, and more.



US House Rep Mike Rogers thought he was on to something today.  He was only flaunting ignorance  in the House Intelligence Committee hearing today.  He flaunted the most in his opening, written statement which he introduced into the record but did not read from.  From that statement:


In 1929, the Secretary of State shut down the State Dept's cryptanalytic office saying, "Gentlemen don't read each other's mail."  The world was a dangerous place back then, with growing and aggressive military threats from Japan and Germany, both bent on world domination.  Those threats eventually dragged us into a world war that killed millions.  We didn't have the luxury of turning off intelligence capabilities as threats were growing back then, and we can't afford to do so today.

Rogers is the Chair of the Committee and that's so sad.  He's referring to The Cipher Bureau which many Americans won't know about but I seriously question whether Rogers knows what he's talking about.  The Cipher Bureau kicks off operations October 1, 1919. It's closed October 31, 1929.  Rogers 'explains' the State Dept shut it down and the (unnamed) Secretary of State declared, "Gentlemen don't read each other's mail." The Secretary of State was Henry Stimson and he never "said" that.  He (and McGeorge Bundy) wrote it in  On Active Service in Peace and War -- first published in 1948 and available for reading online for free at The Internet Archive.

Rogers makes it sound as if the unnamed Stimson closed The Cipher Bureau and made that declaration as he did so.

None of that is accurate.  The US military closed The Cipher Bureau.  All Stimson decided was that the State Dept would no longer foot half the bill for the cost.  This left the US Army with the full cost and they are the ones who would say "no" and The Cipher Bureau would be closed.

If Rogers wants to call out the US military's decision, he should have the guts to do so and not hide it behind an attack on the State Dept which is incorrect.  More likely, he's not lying, he's just choosing to speak on a topic he knows nothing about.

That's even more dangerous to the nation since he is the Chair of the House Intelligence Committee.

We're not done with the lies or errors in that one paragraph.

Rogers is arguing that The Cipher Bureau -- and illegal spying -- are needed and basing that on WWII.  His 'logic' argues that had The Cipher Bureau not been closed, WWII might not have happened or been less deadly.  The Cipher Bureau -- and illegal spying today -- can protect us.

He's making that claim so the press should have taken his claim seriously and investigated it.

You know they didn't.

We will.

Ranking Member  Dutch Ruppersberger:  The most important thing we can do here today is let the public know the true facts so that we can engage in a meaningful process of reform that will enhance transparency and privacy, while maintaining the necessary capabilities.  [. . .]  Today, we are holding this open hearing so we can continue to get out the facts --


Facts are important.  They weren't too Dutch and he's lucky he's Ranking Member.  That makes him less important than the Chair so we'll focus on Rogers' nonsense.



Actress Carole Lombard died January 16, 1942.  This was after the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, of course, she was on a WWII War Bond Tour when she was killed in a plane crash.  (In previous wars, efforts were made to pay for it -- as opposed to Iraq and Afghanistan with the kill-now-pay-later policy.)  What does this matter?  It upset her fans, it upset her husband Clark Gable and it cut short one of the most promising comedic careers in film.  But it also matters in terms of Rogers' claims.

Carole last film is the classic To Be Or Not To Be.  The comedy, set in Poland, takes on the menace of Hitler.  Carole didn't finish the film and, then minutes later, hop on the plane she died in.   The director Ernst Lubitsch signed his United Artist contract to direct the film on August 5, 1941.  That's before the attack on Pearl Harbor.

So Carole and Ernst and Jack Benny and others were just psychics about what was coming?

No.

Long before Pearl Harbor, it was known what was taking place.   Hitler didn't operate in secret.  (Though papers like the New York Times largely stayed silent as Jews across Europe were being exterminated.)

Rogers is insisting that because of the 1929 closure of the spy agency, America had no idea what was going on around the world.

No spy agency was needed.  Rogers may try to argue, "Well I mentioned Germany but I was really thinking Japan which I also mentioned."  Oh, you don't want to go there.

Japan grew more powerful, historians argue, not because of the closure of The Cipher Bureau but because the head of that bureau, Herbert Yardley, wrote about the bureau in The American Black Chamber (1931) and that Japan immediately responded to the revelations in the book by increasing their own cryptography skills.

In addition, Henry Stimson, whom Rogers publicly smeared without naming, was also Secretary of War (now called Secretary of Defense) from 1940 to 1945.  But before that?  He was the author of the US policy with regards to Japan and China.  This policy came to be in 1932 and is known as The Stimson Doctrine.   Via Knox College:



Washington, January 7,1932
Please deliver to the Foreign Office on behalf of your Government as soon as possible the following note:
With the recent military operations about Chinchow, the last remaining administrative authority of the Government of the Chinese Republic in South Manchuria, as it existed prior to September 18th, 1931, has been destroyed. The American Government continues confident that the work of the neutral commission recently authorized by the Council of the League of Nations will facilitate an ultimate solution of the difficulties sow existing between China and Japan. But in view of the present situation and of its own rights and obligations therein, the American Government deems it to be its duty to notify both the Imperial Japanese Government and the Government of the Chinese Republic that it cannot admit the legality of any situation de facto nor does it intend to recognize any treaty or agreement entered into between those Governments, or agents thereof, which may impair the treaty rights of the United States or its citizens in China, including those which relate to the sovereignty, the independence, or the territorial and administrative integrity of the Republic of China, or to the international policy relative to China, commonly known as the open door policy; and that it does not intend to recognize any situation, treaty or agreement which may be brought about by means contrary to the covenants and obligations of the Pact of Paris of August 27, 1928, to which Treaty both China and Japan, as well as the United States, are parties.



From Princeton University:



Named after Henry L. Stimson, United States Secretary of State in the Hoover Administration (1929–1933), the policy followed Japan's unilateral seizure of Manchuria in northeastern China following action by Japanese soldiers at Mukden (now Shenyang), on September 18, 1931.[2] The doctrine was also invoked by U.S. Under-Secretary of State Sumner Welles in a declaration of July 23, 1940 that announced non-recognition of the Soviet annexation and incorporation of the three Baltic statesEstonia, Latvia, and Lithuania[3]—and remained the official U.S. position until the Baltic states gained formal international recognition as independent states in 1991.
It was not the first time that the U.S. had used non-recognition as a political tool or symbolic statement. President Woodrow Wilson had refused to recognise the Mexican Revolutionary governments in 1913 and Japan's 21 Demands upon China in 1915.
The Japanese invasion of Manchuria in late 1931 placed U.S. Secretary of State Henry M. Stimson in a difficult position. It was evident that appeals to the spirit of the Kellogg-Briand Pact had no impact on either the Chinese or the Japanese, and the secretary was further hampered by President Herbert Hoover’s clear indication that he would not support economic sanctions as a means to bring peace in the Far East.[4]
On January 7, 1932, Secretary Stimson sent identical notes to China and Japan that incorporated a diplomatic approach used by earlier secretaries facing crises in the Far East. Later known as the Stimson Doctrine, or sometimes the Hoover-Stimson Doctrine, the notes read in part as follows:
Stimson had stated that the United States would not recognize any changes made in China that would curtail American treaty rights in the area and that the "open door" must be maintained. The declaration had few material effects on the Western world, which was burdened by the Great Depression, and Japan went on to bomb Shanghai.[4]
The doctrine was criticized on the grounds that it did no more than alienate the Japanese.[6]



The State Dept did not close the bureau.  Keeping the bureau open would not have prevented WWII if public knowledge and events hadn't already done so.  The Stimpson Doctrine is said to have alienated the Japanese.  Whether it did or not, 1931's invasion made clear expansion goals.  These goals were no more secret than what Hitler was doing.



The reality is that when the bureau closed in 1929, there was no real loss to US safety.  For 12 years, no real loss.  Then comes the Pearl Harbor attack and the US gets into the war everyone else was already in.

Rogers believes shutting down the spy bureau in 1929 led to WWII.  Or else he's lying.  But if he honestly believes what he's maintaining?  That's very frightening because he's making decisions about spying and safety and he's basing them on a false and illogical fantasy.


The first panel included James Cole (Dept of Justice), the NSA's Keith Alexander, NSA's Chris Inglis and National Intelligence embarrassment James Clapper. The second panel attorneys Steven Bradbury and Stewart Baker and professor of law Stephen Vladeck.

For obvious reasons, no one was put under oath.  Clapper is, after all, a serial liar who lied to Congress -- an offense which warrants criminal penalty and removal from office.

Rogers was more interested, as Clapper began his first lies, with removing a man from the hearing due to a sign -- it was on pink paper (construction paper size) and had "STOP SPYING ON US" written across it.  As the man observed as he was escorted out, Rogers had not said anything about signs in the hearing.  Rogers had called, at the start of the hearing, for no outbursts.   As he was escorted past Clapper, the man declared, "Stopped spying on us."

Clapper's unfit for office and, if Barack Obama had any character at all, Clapper would be immediately removed from office.

I say that because he lied to Congress last year?  Or lied about WMD back during the lead up to Iraq?

No, I say that because of the remarks he made in the hearing today.


National Intelligence Director James Clapper:  And I think there are some principles we already agree on.  First, we must always protect our sources, methods, targets, partners and liason relationships.  We must do a better job in helping the American people understand what we do and why we do it and most importantly the rigorous oversight that helps ensure we do it correctly.  And third, we must make-take every opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to respond- to respecting the civil liberty and privacy of every American.


Do you see the problem?

Yeah, he stumbles on number three which is very telling.

But even more important, about number three?

That's his oath of office.

He just put his oath of office, his swearing or affirming to uphold and obey the Constitution, as number three on his list.

That's not how the government works.

And that's part of the problem.

Not just that the press will look the other way on his ranking of priorities, not just that Barack won't call for Clapper to resign, but that there's an attitude in the government on the part of people executing the laws that the laws don't matter, that the supreme law of the land, the Constitution, can be ranked third in importance.

James Clapper would be immediately removed from office if we had a functioning president in the United States.


The thrust of the hearing for Clapper and company, their oft repeated talking point, was that NSA whistle-blower Ed Snowden's revelations have done much damage but, at the same time, human error's been the only problem, no law breaking.

No, Ed Snowden's revelations matter because the law has been disregarded.  That's what's been demonstrated over.

In addition, Clapper (and the idiot Dutch as well) need to stop vouching for how each and every employee of the NSA is so wonderful.  Some may be.  But when you've used illegal spying to stalk someone, you're not wonderful, you're not special.  Sadly, you're also not a former NSA employee because the NSA has refused to treat the misuse of spying to stalk as a fireable offense. Those NSA employees -- still with the NSA - they don't deserve praise.

Okay,we've served up the broccoli and other vegetables.  We don't have time for candy.  Candy like US House Rep Jan Schakowsky's nonsense exchange with Alexander.  I'm sure there are flunkies who will rush to praise 'brave' Jan.  I'm not one of them.

I find it disgusting that, if her assumption is (and it was) that Alexander was praising NSA employees as patriots and questioning the patriotism of others (he stated that was not his intent), Jan's focus is on herself and her peer group.

If she truly thought he was holding NSA employees above other Americans?  Her role is to defend the American citizens not whine about how she feels she and other members of Congress just got insulted. There's naval gazing but this went beyond it and  was more like Schakowsky was performing a public gynaecological exam on herself.


Geoffrey Aronson (Al-Monitor) delivers a few slaps to the American people:


  The United States would prefer to be oblivious to Iraq's current troubles, which mark the latest indication of Washington's failed effort there. Americans are famously inattentive to foreign affairs, and few are interested in being reminded — as the Erdogan government never tires of arguing — that the key strategic result of the campaign to unseat former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has been to consolidate Iranian (read Shiite) influence on the Euphrates for the first time in a millennium.
There’s a sense of almost absolute detachment from events in Iraq, as though the departure of US troops after the crowning failure of reaching a status of forces agreement closed the door on US interest there. The self-comforting narrative, “America did its best for Iraq; it’s not our problem if they can’t get their act together,” regularly places Iraqi events on newspaper back pages and all but out of contemporary US consciousness.


Aronson can criticize the media and the government but before he slams the American public, he might need to grasp that people everywhere depend upon their media to inform them.  When the media fails to do so -- and the US media has failed, it's really not the public's fault.


November 1st, Barack meets with Iraqi Prime Minister and thug Nouri al-Maliki.  In a sign of just how inept the Dept and the press both are, no one asked about Iraq in today's State Dept press briefing.  This despite the controversial nature of the visit which includes an open letter sent to Barack today by several US Senators.  Senator John McCain's office notes:



Oct 29 2013

Washington, DC – U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Carl Levin (D-MI), James Inhofe (R-OK), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Bob Corker (R-TN), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) today sent the following letter to President Obama about Iraq as Prime Minister Maliki visits Washington.
The text of the letter is below.

October 29, 2013

The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama:


We are deeply concerned about the deteriorating situation in Iraq. As Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki visits Washington this week, we urge you to press him to formulate a comprehensive political and security strategy that can stabilize the country, enable Iraq to realize its vast potential, and help to safeguard our nation’s enduring national security interests in Iraq.


By nearly every indicator, security conditions in Iraq have dramatically worsened over the past two years. Al-Qaeda in Iraq has returned with a vengeance: It has regenerated the manpower, terrorist infrastructure, resources, and safe havens to sustain and increase the tempo and intensity of attacks and to penetrate deeper into all parts of Iraq than at any time in recent years. Indeed, an analysis this month by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy found, “In 2010, the low point for the al-Qaeda effort in Iraq, car bombings declined to an average of 10 a month and multiple location attacks occurred only two or three times a year. In 2013, so far there has been an average of 68 car bombings a month and a multiple-location strike every 10 days.” The United Nations estimates that more than 7,000 civilians have been killed in Iraq thus far this year—a level of violence not seen since the worst days of 2008.


What’s worse, the deteriorating conflict in Syria has enabled al-Qaeda in Iraq to transform into the larger and more lethal Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), which now has a major base for operations spanning both Iraq and Syria. As the situation in both countries grows worse, and as ISIS gathers strength, we are deeply concerned that Al-Qaeda could use its new safe haven in Iraq and Syria to launch attacks against U.S. interests and those of our friends and allies.


Unfortunately, Prime Minister Maliki’s mismanagement of Iraqi politics is contributing to the recent surge of violence. By too often pursuing a sectarian and authoritarian agenda, Prime Minister Maliki and his allies are disenfranchising Sunni Iraqis, marginalizing Kurdish Iraqis, and alienating the many Shia Iraqis who have a democratic, inclusive, and pluralistic vision for their country. This failure of governance is driving many Sunni Iraqis into the arms of Al-Qaeda in Iraq and fueling the rise of violence, which in turn is radicalizing Shia Iraqi communities and leading many Shia militant groups to remobilize. These were the same conditions that drove Iraq toward civil war during the last decade, and we fear that fate could befall Iraq once again.


We therefore urge you to take the following steps as Prime Minister Maliki visits Washington:
First, we believe the Prime Minister’s visit is an important opportunity to reengage with the American people about the continuing strategic importance of Iraq. Though the war in Iraq is over, Americans need to understand that the United States has an enduring national security interest in the development of a sovereign, stable, and democratic Iraq that can secure its own citizens and territory, sustain its own economic growth, resolve its own internal disputes through inclusive and pluralistic politics, and cooperate as a strategic partner of the United States—a vision of our relationship that was best expressed in the 2008 Strategic Framework Agreement.


Second, we urge you to make clear to Prime Minister Maliki that the extent of Iran’s malign influence in the Iraqi government is a serious problem in our bilateral relationship, especially for the Congress. Published reports demonstrate that the Iranian regime uses Iraqi airspace to transit military assistance into Syria to support Assad and his forces. Furthermore, attacks against the residents of Camp Ashraf in Iraq are reprehensible, especially because the Iraqi government pledged to protect these people. Prime Minister Maliki must understand that actions such as these need to stop. Not only do they make it difficult for Iraq’s friends in the United States to build public support, especially in the Congress, to enhance our strategic partnership, but they also undermine Iraq’s standing as a responsible member of the international community.


Third, we encourage you to step up our counterterrorism support for Iraq. It is in our national security interest to enhance the effectiveness of Iraq’s security forces, especially through greater intelligence sharing. However, in addition to our aforementioned concerns, we must see more evidence from Prime Minister Maliki that U.S. security assistance and arms sales are part of a comprehensive Iraqi strategy that addresses the political sources of the current violence and seeks to bring lasting peace to the country.


This leads us to the final and most important point that we urge you to stress with Prime Minister Maliki: If he devises and implements a real governance strategy for Iraq, the United States is ready to provide the appropriate support to help that strategy succeed. Iraq’s challenges will never be solved through security operations alone. Indeed, as the United States learned through its own hard experience in Iraq, applying security solutions to political problems will only make those problems worse.


It is essential that you urge Prime Minister Maliki to adopt a strategy to address Iraq’s serious problems of governance. Such a strategy should unite Iraqis of every sect and ethnicity in a reformed constitutional order, based on the rule of law, which can give Iraqis a real stake in their nation’s progress, marginalize Al-Qaeda in Iraq and other violent extremists, and bring lasting peace to the country. To be effective, an Iraqi political strategy should involve sharing greater national power and revenue with Sunni Iraqis, reconciling with Sunni leaders, and ending de-Baathification and other policies of blanket retribution. It should include agreements with the Kurdistan Regional Government to share hydrocarbon revenues and resolve territorial disputes. And it requires a clear commitment that the elections scheduled for next year will happen freely, fairly, and inclusively in all parts of Iraq, and that the necessary preparations will be taken.


If Prime Minister Maliki were to take actions such as these, he could cement his legacy as the leader who safeguarded his country's sovereignty and laid the foundation for the new Iraq. In this endeavor, Prime Minister Maliki and our other Iraqi partners would have our support, including appropriate security assistance, and we would encourage you to provide U.S. diplomatic support at the highest levels to help Iraqis reach the necessary political agreements before the 2014 elections. However, if Prime Minister Maliki continues to marginalize the Kurds, alienate many Shia, and treat large numbers of Sunnis as terrorists, no amount of security assistance will be able to bring stability and security to Iraq. That is not a legacy we want for Prime Minister Maliki, and that is not an outcome that would serve America’s national interests.



Sincerely,

John McCain
Carl Levin
James M. Inhofe
Robert Menendez
Bob Corker
Lindsey Graham




Before he meet with Barack on Friday,  Ahmed Rasheed (Reuters) notes that Nouri "will meet Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel with senior U.S. generals on Thursday."  The editorial board of Gulf News notes:




It is a disaster that Al Maliki’s answer to all this is to use more force. He is heading to Washington in two days, and he is wrong to say that he hopes to prioritise getting more US military help to fight Al Qaida affiliates. Unfortunately, this is supported by the US ambassador in Baghdad, who has said that the US needs to “highlight the urgent need for the approval and quick delivery of military sales”.
Force is not the answer. A minimum of security is required, but Iraq’s widespread tribal and sectarian violence has to be tackled in a much more wide-ranging manner.  

Nouri departed for the US earlier today.  Tova Dvorin (Israel National News) reports, "At an airport news conference before his departure, Maliki urged US leaders to 'supply Iraq as quickly as possible with weapons of an offensive nature to combat terrorism and chase the armed groups'."



Today the New York Times published a column with Nouri al-Maliki's name on it (the White House helped craft the column -- as 2 NYT-ers passed on and one State Dept friend verified).    The intent of the column, according to a State Dept friend, is to make Nouri more relatable.
Because most Americans can identify with slaughtering innocents?  Or letting your corrupt son terrorize Baghdad?
The column opens with:


Imagine how Americans would react if you had a terrorist organization operating on your own soil that killed dozens and maimed hundreds every week. For Iraqis, that isn’t a hypothetical question; Al Qaeda in Iraq and its affiliates are conducting a terrorist campaign against our people.
These terrorists aren’t just Iraq’s enemies. They are also America’s enemies.



Barack decided otherwise and that's why he backed al Qaeda in Iraq in Libya and is backing them in Syria.

Nouri was installed by the US government as prime minister in 2006.  In 2010, Barack ordered the overturning of Iraqi votes and the creation of The Erbil Agreeement to give Nouri a second term after he lost the 2010 election to Iraqiya.  This trip is all about Nouri wanting a third term.
In other words, he's begging,  "Please, mighty US government, I am impotent and small and powerless.  Save me!"

Nouri (with White House assistance) writes:

And despite the terrorist threats we face, we are not asking for American boots on the ground.


But he was.  As Tim Arango (New York Times) reported at the end of September 2012:

 
Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions. At the request of the Iraqi government, according to General Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence.        


Nouri (and the White House):

Iraqis understand and respect the difference between terrorist attacks and peaceful protests. While resisting terrorists and militias, our government is responding to peaceful protesters by engaging in extensive dialogue through the formation of high-level coordinating committees, and we are working to address the demands of protesters.



They might.  Does Nouri?  He's labeled them terrorists and Ba'athists.  And, he's let his forces attack and kill them.   January 7th, Nouri's forces assaulted four protesters in Mosul,  January 24th,  Nouri's forces sent two protesters (and one reporter) to the hospital,  and March 8th, Nouri's force fired on protesters in Mosul killing three.  All of that and more appeared to be a trial run for what was coming, the April 23rd massacre of a peaceful sit-in in Hawija which resulted from  Nouri's federal forces storming in.  Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk)  announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault.   AFP reported the death toll rose to 53 dead.  UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured).


Nouri (and the White House) really think Americans are idiots judging by the column and its many lies.  Human Rights Watch issued a press release today which includes:


 Iraq’s crackdown on peaceful government critics and an epidemic of executions should be top agenda items during the prime minister’s state visit to Washington, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to President Barack Obama. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is scheduled to meet with Obama on November 1, 2013.

Iraqi officials say that Maliki’s priority will be to accelerate US provision of arms, intelligence, and other counterterrorism support, including the immediate delivery of drones and F-16 fighter jets. But Obama should make clear that his administration will prohibit security aid, especially arms, equipment, and training for security forces, unless the Iraqi government ends its widespread use of torture.

“Iraq is plagued by terrorist attacks that are killing civilians in record numbers, but relying on torture and executions after unfair trials only makes the situation worse,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director. “Obama needs to send a clear message to Maliki that the US will not support his assault on human rights.”

The government has dramatically escalated use of the death penalty, especially in the name of fighting terrorism, executing 65 people already in October and 140 so far in 2013. At least one of those executed in October had a court judgment declaring him innocent shortly before he was executed.

Immediately following Maliki’s visit to Washington in December 2011, the prime minister ordered the arrests of Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi and several of his staff, one of whom died in police custody and whose body displayed signs of torture. The arrests kicked off a year in which security forces under Maliki’s direct command threatened and harassed government critics and used state institutions to arrest and charge political opponents without disclosing the evidence against them. The US had a direct role in setting up some of those entities, like the Integrity Commission and inspectors general in the Interior and Defense ministries.

Over the past two years, Maliki’s security forces have routinely detained and tortured scores of peaceful protesters as well as men and women living in areas where the government believes armed groups operate, exploiting vague provisions in Iraq’s Anti-Terrorism Law to settle personal or political scores. These abuses are compounded by judges and investigating officers who collude to prolong the time detainees are held and ignore their allegations of abuses. Suspects with little or no access to an adequate defense are frequently detained for months and even years without charge.

Obama should press Maliki to introduce legislation repealing the Anti-Terrorism Law, which broadly mandates the death penalty for “those who commit...terrorist acts” and “all those who enable terrorists to commit these crimes” in article 4. Articles 1 and 2 define “terrorism” extremely broadly, including acts that do not involve violence or injury to people such as disruption of public services, enabling authorities to use the law to punish nonviolent political dissent. The authorities frequently use the law’s ambiguous provisions to target people on the basis of tribe or sect.

Public security has worsened drastically in Iraq in 2013 after security forces stormed a camp of peaceful protesters in the northern town of Hawija in April, killing 51 people. Attacks by armed groups, which claimed over 5,740 lives between January and September, have internally displaced another 5,000 Iraqis from Basra, Thi Qar, and Baghdad, and within Diyala and Ninewa.

The escalation in executions after trials in which people are convicted on the basis of coerced confessions and secret evidence – mostly in the name of counterterrorism – has done nothing to address the crisis. Obama should address authorities’ failure to failure to hold those responsible accountable regardless of their sect. Numerous Iraqis have told Human Rights Watch the government’s approach has polarized Iraq’s population, particularly in Sunni areas, where people see the government’s failure to hold Shia-dominated security forces accountable as confirmation that the prime minister’s policies remain rooted in sectarianism.



Nouri's visit comes as the death toll in Iraq for October passes the 1,000 mark.  Iraq Body Count notes that, through yesterday, there have been 1007 violent deaths.

And today?  National Iraqi News Agency reports a Baghdad sticky bombing injured one military colonel, a Baghdad roadside bombing left 1 military officer dead and four soldiers injured, 1 Christian woman was shot dead in Mosul, 2 people were killed in a Latifya bombing, a Mosul roadside bombing left 3 soldiers dead in Mosul (two more left injured) and a Tuz Khurmatu bombing left six people injured.  All Iraq News adds that an armed Masafi attack left 1 Iraqi soldier dead, an armed attack in Mosul left one Iraqi soldier injured, another armed Mosul attack left 1 woman and her husband dead, and a Tikrit bombing left 2 Iraqi soldiers dead and three more injured.


On violence, Nouri leaves Baghdad (for the US) and, All Iraq News reports, "The Ministry of Interior ordered to withdraw the security regiment tasked of protecting the building of Baghdad Governorate."














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