See: Collateral Murder footage, leaked from within the US military, and showing the murder of 12 Iraqi civilians in July 2007
Tonight World Can't Wait is doing events for Bradley Manning who is accused of leaking the video of the US military attacking Iraqi civilians. I started to stream and it was Cindy Sheehan so I stayed with it even though it wasn't live. To be honest with you, Cindy is the only leader I trust. She's the only one who has stayed true and played it fair.
Tonight, she was observing, "We do have to realize that the traditional antiwar movement is mostly anti-Republican and they're not so antiwar when a Democrat is in power but Barack Obama owns the drone bombings, they've increased, they've more than tripled since he's been president."
So it's interesting that my comic tonight is "The Peace Resister." We were all in DC for that it was a weekend of activism. C.I. knows Katrina. (Elaine does as well.) And I had the idea for this and I told her about it. I was saying I wouldn't do it and she looked at my rough draft sketch while I was talking and told me I had to do it. She said if Katrina vanden Heuvel (editor & publisher of The Nation) needed calling out, I needed to do so. And KvH sold us out as the years went on, turned her back on the peace movement she never really supported. So I'm glad I did this one and called her the peace resister because that's what she is. People like her ensure that wars go on.
So that comic is from January 28, 2007.
Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Thursday, September 16, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, another US service member dies in Iraq, violence continues, the political stalemate continues and the VA does the same song and dance before Congress as usual.
Today the House Veterans Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity met.to receive an update on the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The following exchange probably best captures the hearing between Subcommittee Chair Stephanie Herseth Sandlin and the VA's Mark Krause probably best captures the hearing..
Chair Stephanie Herseth Sandlin: So do you have any estimates of how many of those 150,801 [veterans] might have received overpayment?
Mark Krause: I don't have that information available but I would be happy to look at it for the record --
Chair Stephanie Herseth Sandlin: Or at least look at the trend of when we started this because, as we have discussed, this is a significant problem and we'd like to see an improvement as it relates to dealing with that problem. And that leads me to the question that came up from Ms. [Rosa] DeLauro and that is the issue of veterans who participated in a 35, an emergency payment last November. And then they entered a repayment plan and were automatically sent to debt management [. . .] and why is this happening and how are we going to fix this problem and when will these veterans accounts be cleared from the debt management center?
Mark Krause: They will be cleared. We are aware that there are situations where that is occurring when we're made aware of those situations we put those individuals directly in contact with the debt management center and we work it out manually on a case-by-case basis but it should not be happening as a category of cases and we are working hard on that.
If the overpayment issue seems familiar, it continues to pop up. If someone is overpaid it goes to the payee -- though the VA never claims fault -- and the student is then expected to quickly pay it back (unlike the VA which sends out a check whenever the mood strikes them). Then there is the issue of the emergency loans taken out by veterans who had to wait and wait for their checks to arrive. Though they had to wait and wait, note that they are expected to begin payments immediately. Why the hell did the VA set it up to turn this issue over to debt collection? The veterans who waited months and months did not for their overdue payments did not have the option of turning the VA over to a credit collection agency. How does the VA continue to manage to screw over the veteran? You'd think they'd work very hard about it; however, based on the testimony, incompetence is the answer.
Is the computer system up and running? Well . . . See those are basic questions and the VA can't answer basic questions. It can spend and waste a lot of money. The Subcomittee was informed that the computer system is still not integrated with some functions -- functions that 2009 and early 2010 hearings found the same witnesses (including VA's Keith Wilson) maintaining the system would interact with. Okay, well is everything functioning? Actually, the system purchased will require constant updates. And there's another update the current team is working on. Oh, and they're not under contract to work on it past this update.
Keith Wilson bored everyone with another of his bad slide shows -- sloppy and dull and overlong. If you're going to do a slide show, you should be able to do it in five minutes and when the Subcomittee Chair asks you to try to cut it down, you shouldn't expect to have ten minutes, especially after you've already wasted everyone's time reading your prepared remarks before, BEFORE, the slide show. Not only is this a time waster -- and there were a large number of breaks during this hearing -- but it also goes to the fact that the VA does no real prep before any hearing. They show up surprised that a question repeatedly asked of them in every hearing is again asked. They have to take issues involving the call centers -- still a problem -- for the record because they just don't come to the hearings prepared -- despite knowing they're supposed to testify. Does Eric Shinseki, Secretary of the VA, think this reflects well on him? It doesn't. And it indicates that there is no real leadership at VA.
Yesterday's snapshot covered another hearing, the House Veterans Affairs Committee (full committee) hearing that Steve Buyer stormed out of. Kat covered it at her site with "Steve Buyer's nuclear meltdown" and there were a few e-mails on the topic. First "acquisition reform" is the word that should be in this statement by Buyer, "You pass aquistion form and I will hug you. I will hug you!" The snapshots are dicated and I speak very fast. Typos are a given even in the morning entries that I usually type myself. In terms of Buyer's behavior -- short version, he attacked two witnesses on a panel and then stormed out of the hearing -- a few are worried it was included here by me to pump up Democratic turnout in the mid-terms. That was not the case. (Parenthetical, Libby Liberal at Corrente is correct and for those who can't see it, with it very likely that Dems will suffer in the mid-terms, it would be smart of the left to get out ahead of it and be able to say after See, we can go elsewhere, we don't have to vote for you, we can vote third party, we can vote Republican or we can just not vote. The alternative? Centrist Dems hectoring the Dem Party that they went 'too far' and 'too left.' Libby Liberal is correct and she's correct for a number of smart reasons.)
Could yesterday's behavior by Buyer be used to promote voting for Democrats? Absolutely. I don't buy the "party of no" as a GOP description but if a Dem wanted to illustrate that, they could just show Buyer attacking an Iraq War veteran and a reporter and then storming out of the hearing. Not only does that show "no,"they could add, "Not only do they just say no, they won't even listen." It could be used any number of ways. That's not my concern. I do understand that my noting I was a Democrat fed into some people's beliefs on this; however, I noted that because Buyer was a Republican and I was attempting to make very clear that I was speaking of my imprssions and someone else might have felt differently. I also attempted to be nicer about it than I normally would have just because I found it so shocking and so out of character for Buyer.
If a member of Congress makes angry statements and storms out of a hearing, that is news. My big concern in including it yesterday was that it might be seen as discrediting Chuck Luther. Chuck Luther was very believable and he has repeatedly told the same story . But I made a point to include Chuck Luther's response -- in full -- to Buyer's tantrum. Joshua Kors has been highlighted here many times and I was less concerned about getting every word of his response for that reason. I also noted /detailed his journalistic pursuit of this story so I thought that was clear. (He may have been short changed in that I feel like I am forever defending the profession of journalism -- if not the actual practice of it -- and grow bored with addressing that topic.)
Buyer threw a tantrum. Read Kat's post and note the walk through she provides. He threw a tantrum and, were he running for re-election, this might be a big deal to partisans. We didn't cover it due to partisanship. We covered it because it is news when a member of Congress launches into a tirade and then storms out of a Committee hearing. Many things that take place in Congress are not and will never qualify as news but that sort of behavior is news.
It was not covered to advance the Democratic Party or to help them in the mid-terms. It was covered because it was news.
On Democracy Now! today, Amy Goodman interviewed (link has text, audio and video) Johan Galtun'g
March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board noted last month, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality." 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. They are claiming they have the right to form the government. In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. It's six months and nine days with no government formed.
The political movement of Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr is wielding increasing clout as the tortuous process of forming a new Iraqi government continues.
In recent days, the Sadrist party Al-Ahrar has indicated that it is backing Vice-President Adel Abdul Mahdi for the post of prime minister. Until now, the competition for the job has been seen as a straight fight between incumbent prime minister Nuri al-Maliki and Ayad Allawi, leader of the mostly secular Iraqiya coalition which includes top Sunni leaders.
The Sadrists' endorsement of a third candidate exposes cracks within the Shia coalition that consists of Maliki's State of Law party; the Iraqi National Alliance, INA, which is led by the Sadrists, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, ISCI, and a handful of smaller groups.
Iraq's oil reserves are the fourth largest in the world, after Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Iran, but production today is barely 2.5m barrels a day, making Iraq at best a middle-weight on the international stage. The new contracts should bring a substantial stream of investment in the country's neglected oil infrastructure, allowing production to rise to more than 10 mb/d by 2020 (the government's own target is 12 mb/d by 2016).
Sinan Salaheddin (AP) reports that Hussain al-Shahristani stated yesterday at a ceremony for the 50th anniversary of OPEC that Iraq could help meet the world need for oil "with an average of 10 million barrels a day." al-Shahristani is the Minister of Oil but, of course, in a fair world he wouldn't be. He was appointed by Nouri and approved by the Parliament. In a fair world, Nouri's term having long ago expired, the UN would have helped form a caretaker government -- that's not what Nouri has and the press should stop calling it that -- if Iraq was unable to form a government. Instead, al-Shahristani not only remains as Minister of Oil, he also holds the title of Minister of Electricity following the spring resignation of the man who held that post. But al-Shahristani was never approved, as the Constitution insists must take place, by the Parliament. That's how it works in the continuation government of Nouri al-Maliki, the Constitution and the laws are ignored over and over. Hassan Hafidh (Dow Jones) reports, "Iraq's crude oil exports fell 1.7% in August to 1.788 million barrels a day from 1.820 million barrels a day in July due to technical faults and sabotage on the country's northern pipeline, an Iraqi oil official said Tuesday."
Hear: Supporters of Bradley Manning, including Ethan MCord, who was seen in the video carrying a wounded child and who with Josh Steiber wrote an Open Letter of Reconciliation to the Afghan People, and Matthis Chiroux, military resister.
Learn: What you can do to stop the unjust prosecution of a 22-year-old soldier and genuine hero.
He now faces decades in prison for letting Americans see the truth about our wars on Iraq and Afghanistan by allegedly leaking the "Collateral Murder" videos of a Reuter's cameraman being shot and killed by a US helicopter to Wikileaks. He is being investigated in the leaks of the"Afghan War Diary" documents that were also released by Wikileaks--in conjunction with the New York Times, The UK Guardian and the German magazine Der Spiegel-- exposing the war in Afghanistan as a costly quagmire that has cost countless civilian Afghan lives, as well as the lives of over 1,000 US soldiers.
Over the last seven year's Iraq has become the deadliest theater of war for journalists since World War II. The Wikileaks website posted on April 5, 2010, a video showing a US helicopter crew killing 12 Iraqi civilians including Reuters photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen, 22, and his driver Said Chmagh, 40. Wikileaks wrote that it had come from unspecified "military sources." Reuters had filed a formal request, under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), in 2007 to access documents that might explain the death of its media workers. FOIA requires federal government agencies to release documents to all persons requesting them unless specifically exempted by the law. Reuters received no documents. Reporters Without Borders, the international journalists association writes of Bradley Manning, "If this young soldier had not leaked the video, we would have had no evidence of what was clearly a serious abuse on the part of the US military."
Much of my military background concerns the law of warfare. Most Americans do not realize that our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have violated domestic and international law, violations that have been fully exposed in the Wikileaks documents that Manning is accused of releasing. When I joined the US military I, like Bradley Manning, took an oath to protect the constitution and the American people. This led me to resign my position when the US invaded Iraq in 2003. Protecting the constitution outweighs following orders and Manning should be lauded for choosing to do the right thing. Bradley Manning is a patriot of our democracy, who stayed loyal to what is right, risking his own security. His loyalty to the Constitution and the American people transcends partisan politics.
Just as Daniel Ellsberg blew the whistle on the lies of the US leaders of the Vietnam War, Manning is accused of blowing the whistle on the illegality of today's wars. What will our response to the information Manning is charged with releasing be? Can we make today's Pentagon Papers lead to an end to illegal and wasteful wars abroad and the return of our troops home?
the associated press
the financial times of london
the associated press
middle east online
See: Collateral Murder footage, leaked from within the US military, and showing the murder of 12 Iraqi civilians in July 2007