Thursday, February 28, 2013

White House On Attack


white house on attack


From October 18, 2009, that's "White House On Attack." Remember Anita Dunn?  She left the White House and ended up talking about how sexist the place was.  Only to recent when people whined, "Don't say that about Barack!"

Anita was just a tired liar.  The basis for this comic was Dunn making an idiot out of herself attacking Fox.  Like it was a person.  What a dumb ass. The White House should have better things to do.

And I say you defend all the press when they're under White House attack.  I also say the White House needs to apologize to Bob Woodward. 

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"


Thursday, February 28, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, Bradley Manning speaks, he decries the US counter-insurgency in Iraq, he notes he tried to speak with two newspapers before he utilized WikiLeaks, Nouri and his State of Law insult the protesters, the UN meets with protesters, and more.

Medina Roshan, Barbara Goldberg, Paul Simao and Tim Dobbyn (Reuters) report, "The U.S. Army private accused of providing secret documents to the WikiLeaks website pleaded guilty on Thursday to misusing classified material he felt 'should become public,' but denied the top charge of aiding the enemy."  He has now been held by the US government for 1005 days.  Janet Reitman (Rolling Stone) explains, "It was only the second time Manning had spoken in court (the first, in November 2012, I detail extensively in my article) and the first time he was allowed to explain his motives. Dressed in his Navy blue Army dress uniform, Manning, in a clear, strong voice, read out a 35-page-long statement in which he described himself as a conscience-stricken young man who, appalled by what he saw as illegal acts on the part of the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan, refused to play along."

This all goes back to  Monday April 5, 2010, when 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." In March, 2011, 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. The Article 32 hearing took place in December. At the start of this year, there was an Article 32 hearing and, February 3rd, it was announced that the government would be moving forward with a court-martial. Bradley has yet to enter a plea. The court-martial was supposed to begin before the November 2012 election but it was postponed until after the election so that Barack wouldn't have to run on a record of his actual actions.  Independent.ie adds, "A court martial is set to be held in June at Ford Meade in Maryland, with supporters treating him as a hero, but opponents describing him as a traitor."

Free Speech Radio News' Dorian Merina spoke with journalist Kevin Gosztola about today's events:

Dorian Merina:  So what exactly did Bradley Manning plead guilty to today?

Kevin Gosztola: He was pleading to elements of the original charges.  It's easier to say what he didn't plead guilty to committing.  He didn't plead guilty to aiding the enemy, to violating the espionage act, to violating The Computer Fraud and Abuse act, or to committing violations of a federal larceny statute.  So he didn't say that he was stealing or that he'd committed a theft when he [had] the information and it became information he had in his position.  So, uh, what that leads is pleading to the possession of the information, pleading to giving it to an unauthorized person -- someone who wasn't authorized to receive the information and then engaging in conduct that would be service discrediting the military.


Brendan Trembath (Australia's ABC -- link is video and text) picks up there.


Brendan Trembath: He pleaded guilty to ten of the lesser charges of misusing confidential information.  That information included diplomatic cables, it included combat videos -- all sorts of material that the United States wanted to keep private.  He has admitted to these lesser charges but what he hasn't admitted to is the most serious charge of aiding the enemy.  That charge carries a life sentence.


Different reporters emphasize different things.  Speaking to The World's Marco Werman (PRI) today, Arun Rath brought up some important points others left out.

Arun Rath:  It was actually a 35-page written statement that he had worked on.  It took him over and hour to read and, honestly, it's going to be a while that we'll be digesting all of this.  But mainly he talked about the reasons why he did what he did.  He admitted to leaking information to WikiLeaks.  He talked about his time in Iraq and how he grew more and more disturbed over time with what he saw in Iraq, what he considered to be abuses.  He said the US became obsessed with killing and capturing people rather than cooperating. He complained to his superiors and he said that they did nothing.  And most interestingly he said that he actually took some of this information both to the Washington Post and the New York Times  and was essentially ignored.  That's why he went to WikiLeaks.

For England's Channel 4 News, Matt Frei reports (link is video):

Matt Frei: He also told us that he had tried to contact the New York Times and the Washington Post and Politico here in Washington first before going to Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.  Now he left a recorded message on the answering machine of the New York Times ombudsman [public editor -- they don't have an ombudsperson at the Times and resisted that title when they created the position], their kind of editorial watchdog.  He talked to a junior reporter at the Washington Post  who didn't return his call and he never got to see Politico because the weather was too bad.  Had he done any of those three, just imagine how different history would be because they would have presumably leaked some of those documents but they would have filtered them first, they would have protected their source Bradley Manning and this would have indeed become a debate about America's foreign policy and military policy which is what Bradley Manning said he always wanted.


A few things on Frei's remarks.  There is no ombudsperson at the New York Times.  When the post of public editor was created, the ombudsperson title was rejected.  In addition, it's not just a title that a paper can bestow.  To be an ombudsperson, you're supposed to belong to The Organization of News Ombudsmen. Second, if "he talked to a junior reporter at the Washington Post who didn't return his call" then he did not talk to a reporter, he left a message for a reporter.  Third of all, Julian Assange can be faulted for some things to do with WikiLeaks.  He cannot be faulted with regards to protecting Bradley Manning.  Check his statements from the start.  He has stated he did not know who the source was.  Julian Assange did not give up Bradley Manning.  Adrian Llamo snitched and got a little pay day from the government for doing so.  Presumably, had Bradley gone to the other outlets, he still would have found himself needing to talk by chat room and still mistaken con artist Adrian Llamo for someone who could be trusted.

Andrew Beaujon (Poynter) notes that the New York Times' spokesperson Eileen Murphy as has the then-public editor Clark Hoyt.  I can't speak to the public editor issue but on his attempt to contact anyone else at the Times?  Eileen Murphy has not had time -- nor has the paper -- to have certainty behind the claim that no one knows anything of such contact at the paper.  During the early days of the Go Go Green Zone, a New York Times reporter was contacted by an enlisted American soldier with a serious story that the Go-Go Boy in the Green Zone deemed too hot.  I know of that because the soldier then contacted this site.  I wrote about that here shortly after the scandal broke.  He wrote this site and I teamed him with a reporter I knew who was more than happy to have the story.  When I go after someone here, it's usually for several reasons and that 'reporter' then with the Times is someone we will never stop ridiculing for many, many reasons including his running from a 100% real journalism scoop because he didn't want to upset his friends in the US military brass.  So if Bradley says he contacted any reporter at the paper, I believe him because of what happened before when a reporter was presented with a story, with supporting evidence and not just verbal hearsay, and the NYT scribe said that it was "too hot to handle" and would get him in trouble with certain US military officers so he was passing on the article.  For anyone who says I wasn't present for that conversation, I wasn't.  The soldier who contacted this site supplied the e-mails back and for to the NYT reporter.  Again, I can't speak to the public editor, but if Bradley tried to contact a reporter at the paper, I can easily see him being blown off.  Actually, I can speak to the public editor.  I knew Daniel Okrent had an assistant but I really haven't followed any of the public editor's since.  (Daniel Okrent was the paper's first public editor and any mea culpa from the paper on their Iraq 'reporting' resulted from the work Okrent did in his public editor columns.)  I just got off the phone with a friend who's an editor at the New York Times.  Hoyt's public remarks are he doesn't remember speaking to Bradley.  Hoyt has not stated his assistant didn't.  I was told over the phone (over the other phone, I'm dictating the snapshot in one cell phone) that Hoyt's assistant was Mike McElroy.  McElroy could have spoken to Bradley or heard a message Bradley left.

Politico?  Bad weather is probably the best excuse for that rag.  As for the Washington Post.  There were many stories today.  What did the paper focus on?  Something important and news worthy?  No, they let their bloggers play with their own feces publicly at the website.  Until mid-day when finally the adults stepped in and told the 'reporters' to stop filing pieces attacking Bob Woodward. (Late to the party on Woodward?  Click here and click here for Marcia.)   If you were one of those monkey bloggers, let me tell you right now, it's not over and you should be on your best behavior because your work is now being seriously monitored by adults way up above you in the chain of command -- as it should be.  So clearly, a "junior reporter" at the Post doesn't necessarily know news the way a Dana Priest, an Ann Scott Tyson, an Ernesto Londono or, yes, a Bob Woodward would know news. Erik Wemple made clear that he does not know news.  First with his bitchy attack on Bob Woodward earlier today and then with his 'report' late this afternoon which we'll link to because it's so damn awful and so damn stupid.  First off, he worked the phones . . . to call the Times.  Golly, Erik, I just made one call to the Times, to a friend and I got Mike McElroy's name, the fact that Mike could have spoken to Bradley or heard the message.  These are details that you, a supposed professional journalist missed.  You also 'forgot' to speak to anyone at your paper to see about Bradley's call to the Post.  Then again, I understand a lot of people at the Washington Post don't want to speak to you -- and I understand why they don't -- I really, really understand why they don't.  Keep writing crap like the 'report' we're linking to and, Erik, you'll be gone from the paper before the year's up.  With regards to your earlier attack on Bob Woodward, tell me, Erik, what I just put in bold, was it a threat? 

[Oh, look, Erik, Julie Tate and Ernesto Londono manage to do the job you failed at, "Staying with an aunt in the Washington area as a blizzard blanketed the region, Manning said he called The Post, seeking a journalist willing to examine documents detailing security incidents in Iraq. He said he spoke to a female reporter who didn’t seem to take him seriously."]

It appears only one US outlet is emphasizing a very important and news worthy aspect.  Ben Nuckols (AP) quotes Bradley telling the military court:


I felt we were risking so much for people who seemed unwilling to cooperate with us, leading to frustration and hatred on both sides. I began to become depressed at the situation we found ourselves mired in year after year. In attempting counterinsurgency operations, we became obsessed with capturing and killing human targets on lists.  I wanted the public to know that not everyone living in Iraq were targets to be neutralized.
It's amazing how only AP has that aspect of the story among US outlets -- Ed Pilkington reports the remarks for England's Guardian newspaper.  It's probably the most important part.  The weakest report from a name outlet was going to be compared and contrasted but a friend with ABC News just told me that the editor of that paper wrote a thoughtful piece on the attacks on Bob Woodward.  As a result, a really bad reporter gets a pass from me today.  David Martin (CBS Evening News -- link is text and video) notes, "Depressed and frustrated by the wars, he used his job as a low-ranking intelligence analyst in Baghdad to download onto a CD hundreds of thousands of classified documents -- pus a few videos, like this  helicopter gunship attack that killed two journalists in Iraq -- which he found 'troubling' because it showed 'delightful bloodlust'."  CNN's Larry Shaughnessy and Mark Morgenstein (CNN) report:

After Manning's guilty pleas, Army judge Col. Denise Lind asked the defendant questions to establish that he understood what he was pleading guilty to.
In addition, she reminded him that his lawyer had filed a motion to have the case dismissed on the grounds that he was denied his right to a speedy trial -- a motion that Lind denied Tuesday. By entering guilty pleas, Manning loses his right to have an appellate court consider that ruling, if he chooses to appeal.


So today, a little more about Bradley Manning is known.  As Janet Reitman (Rolling Stone) observes:


For the past two and a half years, Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of giving hundreds of thousands of classified documents to Wikileaks, has been the quiet enigma at heart of the largest and most contentious intelligence leak case in American history. As I write in "The Trials of Bradley Manning," my story for the latest issue of Rolling Stone, this silence – imposed by a lengthy pretrial detention that included nearly a year spent in "administrative segregation," the military equivalent of solitary confinement – made it possible for a legion of interested parties on both sides of the political spectrum to graft their own identities and motivations onto Bradley Manning. They have portrayed him variously as a hero, a traitor, an emotionally-troubled misfit and a victim of prison abuse.

 

And maybe, if people pay attention, a little more is know about US policy.  Counter-insurgency.  Again, Bradley's remarks:

I felt we were risking so much for people who seemed unwilling to cooperate with us, leading to frustration and hatred on both sides. I began to become depressed at the situation we found ourselves mired in year after year. In attempting counterinsurgency operations, we became obsessed with capturing and killing human targets on lists.  I wanted the public to know that not everyone living in Iraq were targets to be neutralized.

Counter-insurgency is war on a native people.  It's an attempt to trick them, to deceive them, to harm them in order to 'pacify' them.  James Dobbins wrote a ridiculous piece for the Council on Foreign Relations' Foreign Affairs magazine where he lamented counter-insurgency falling out of favor during Vietnam:


The dominant lesson drawn from this costly and ultimately futile war was to avoid similar missions in the future. As a result, counterinsurgency was eliminated from the curriculum of American staff and war colleges. When faced with a violent insurgency in Iraq three decades later, U.S. soldiers had to reacquire the basic skills to fight it. During the several years it took them to do so, the country descended into ever deeper civil war.
As American commanders relearned in Iraq, counterinsurgency demands a more discreet and controlled application of force, a more politically directed strategy, greater knowledge of the society one is operating in, and more interaction with the local civilian population than conventional combat. Perhaps the most essential distinction between the two forms of warfare is that successful counterinsurgency focuses less on killing the insurgents and more on protecting the population from insurgent violence and intimidation.
There is a legitimate debate over how deeply the U.S. military should invest in counterinsurgency capability at the expense of conventional capacity. But no one seriously argues that counterinsurgency tactics are not necessary to resist insurgencies.


That's so inaccurate but do we expect accuracy from Dobbins?  He served under George H.W. Bush which means he knows all about lying.  Counter-insurgency in Vietnam included such 'wonders' as: To save the village, we had to burn the village.  In Vietnam, they were a little more open about what took place and that was kill the ones you think are seen as leaders to get the native population to fall in line.  In addition, it fell out of favor because of all the War Crimes -- all the indiscriminate killing, the rapes, you name it. 

Dobbins claims that counter-insurgency was needed in Iraq.  Then why was it developed before the war?  If commanders 'relearned' the importance of this War Crime technique, then who 'knew' to include it before the war started?

"A more discreet and controlled application of force" is a polite way for saying "targeted killings."  In addition, Iraq and Afghanistan saw new War Criminals.  Anthropologists willing to betray the teachings and ethics of their profession agreed to act as spies and snitches on native populations.  They carried guns and they lied.  They did not identify themselves as anthropologists.  They're supposed to practice informed consent.  That means, if I'm an anthropologist and I'm studying your culture, I tell you what I am and I tell you I have some questions and ask you if you'd like to answer.  You're free not to.  But there are no ethics for War Criminals.  So you had them in military garb, carrying guns, going door to door with the US military, leading native populations to believe these foreigners with guns were military and had to be answered.  If they'd known they didn't have to answer, they might have rightly told these Montgomery McFates and others losers, "F**k off" -- and then slammed the door in their faces.

But the US military knew that as well which is why informed consent wasn't practiced.

They forced their way into the lives of a native population, they acted as spies and informers -- for a foreign force that wanted to dominate the country.  That's not anthropology, that's not social science.  That's a betrayal of everything the social sciences are supposed to stand for.  As Elaine pointed out Tuesday night, "Counter-insurgency needs to be loudly condemned.  I fully support stripping people of professional accreditation if they use their academic training to trick or deceive native populations.  The social sciences are supposed to be scientific and professional.  They are not supposed to be used to harm people."  Serena Golden (Inside Higher Ed) reports on the resignation from the National Academy of Sciences by "eminent University of Chicago anthropologist Marshall Sahli:
Sahlins further noted his objection to several recently announced collaborations between the NAS and the U.S. military. One of the projects involves "measuring human capabilities" and "the combination of individual capabilities to create collective capacity to perform"; another seeks to study "the social and organizational factors that present external influences on the behavior of individuals operating within the context of military environments." Both have the stated goal of utilizing social science research "to inform U.S. military personnel policies and practices."
Because of "the toll that military has taken on the blood, treasure, and happiness of American people, and the suffering it has imposed on other peoples," Sahlins said, "the NAS, if it involves itself at all in related research, should be studying how to promote peace, not how to make war."
Sahlins' resignation highlights two serious and ongoing debates within anthropology: one, the appropriate relationship -- if any -- between anthropologists and the military (Sahlins has previously expressed his opposition to any such involvement); two, the role of hard science within the discipline.
Dobbins says no one seriously argues that counter-insurgency techniques aren't necessary.  It has a Cokie Roberts "none that  matter" ring to it, doesn't it?  It just doesn't have the ring of truth to it.


Anthropologist David H. Price has been a leading voice -- I'd argue the leading voice -- in calling out social scientists helping the military conduct war on a native people.  At CounterPunch, he interviews anthropologist Marshall Sahlins about Sahlins decision to resign from the National Academy of Sciences:



In late 1965 Sahlins traveled to Vietnam to learn firsthand about the war and the Americans fighting it, work that resulted in his seminal essay “The Destruction of Conscience in Vietnam.”   He became one of the clearest and most forceful anthropological voices speaking out against efforts (in the 1960s and 70s, and in again in post-9/11 America) to militarize anthropology.
In 2009 I was part of a conference at the University of Chicago critically examining renewed efforts by U.S. military and intelligence agencies to use anthropological data for counterinsurgency projects.  Sahlins’ paper at the conference argued that, “in Vietnam, the famous anti-insurgency strategy was search and destroy; here it is research and destroy.  One might think it good news that the military’s appropriation of anthropological theory is incoherent, simplistic and outmoded – not to mention tedious – even as its ethnographic protocols for learning the local society and culture amount to unworkable fantasies. ”


Are you getting what Bradley Manning found offensive.  He was sent to Iraq with the same lie everyone else was -- liberation, to help, etc.  And what he found were innocents being tricked and deceived -- innocent Iraqis being targeted:

I began to become depressed at the situation we found ourselves mired in year after year. In attempting counterinsurgency operations, we became obsessed with capturing and killing human targets on lists.  I wanted the public to know that not everyone living in Iraq were targets to be neutralized.



The deaths never stopped.  Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) reports, "Two car bombs ripped off back to back in a Shiite neighborhood in Baghdad on Thursday night, killing at least 16 people and wounding 30 others, a local police source said.Al Jazeera reports the death toll has risen to 19 dead (thirty injured).  In other violence today, the National Iraqi News Agency reports two Baghdad bombs left 8 people injured, another eight are injured in a al-Azizia car bombing (Wasit Province) All Iraq News updates the injured toll for Wasit to fourteen.  And Reuters is stating that 3 people are dead.  That's another thing to watch for, seriously injured may pass away. On the Baghdad bombing, Reuters reports that in addition to the eight injured, 1 person was killed. Aslumaria notes 1 Sahwa leader was shot dead in a Kirkuk attack that also killed 1 bodyguard and left another injured.  Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 316 violent deaths this month in Iraq.


Alsumaria reports that MP Magdy Rady (of Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc) stated that the current government would not survive one week if the Sadrists were to begin demonstrating in all the provinces.  Possibly but the ongoing protests are pretty powerful as is.  Doubt it?  Nouri's State of Law can't stop trashing them.  The National Iraq News Agency reports State of Law MP Kamal al-Saadi told the outlet that the Ba'ath Party is behind the unrest with the help of "regional powers."  State of Law MP Najaf Sadiq tells Alsumaria that "deviants" are the reason for the protests.  The Iraqi people are the protesters.

The deviance is to be found in the government, not in the people.  They want the government to stop allowing women and girls to be tortured and raped in prison, they want basic services that work -- like potable water. Really most of the things they were demanding in 2011 are what they're calling for today.  Layla Anwar (Arab Woman Blues) notes the protesters demands:

- End of Sectarian Shia rule
- the re-writing of the Iraqi constitution (drafted by the Americans and Iranians)
- the end to arbitrary killings and detention, rape and torture of all detainees on basis of sect alone and their release
- the end of discriminatory policies in employment, education, etc based on sect
- the provision of government services to all
- the end of corruption
- no division between Shias and Sunnis, a one Islam for all Iraqi Muslims and a one Iraq for all Iraqis.



Those aren't unreasonable requests.  And the protests have been going on since December with each Friday seeing an increase in the turnout -- last Friday saw over 3 million people take part in the protests -- that's 10% of the country's population.   Iraqi Spring MC notes that Samarra has just seen day 60 of their sit-in.

They protesters had the support of clerics and tribal leaders.  And the United Nations is meeting with the them.  Dar Addustour notes that the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy to Iraq Martin Kobler met with officials and protesters in Kirkuk and that Governor Najmoldeen Omer Kareem told him yesterday that they support the protesters in Kirkuk and Hawija and that they understand the demands the protesters are making.   NINA adds that Kobler states the demands of the Kirkuk protesters include holding local elections.

All Iraq News reports Nouri al-Maliki arrived in Karbala Province today.  The province, in the center of Iraq, has an estimated one million residents and the capital, Karbala, is one of the holy cities in Iraq that pilgrims travel to regularly.  NINA notes that Nouri gave a speech about today's Iraq and declared that there was no place in it "for militias, armed groups and warlords."  Of course not!  It would appear he's recruited all of the thugs to be his military and his police.  That would explain the 11 deaths when Nouri's forces opened fire  on them January 25th in Falluja.

Two US State Dept Tweets.



First is because a Sour Grape Girl felt the need to insult new Secretary of State John Kerry on the radio this week.  Sour Grape Girl just doesn't feel safe, as a woman, with Kerry as Secretary of State.  Sour Grape Girl needs to get a life.  Women are not vanishing because the new Secretary of State has a penis.  Under Hillary Clinton, the State Dept did not ignore men.  Sour Grape Girls really hurt themselves when they open their uninformed mouths but they also hurt the cause and maybe some leaders do need to step away from the microphones after the ages of 70.  (See Kat's argument here and Rebecca's here -- and I'm not referring to Gloria Steinem as the Sour Grape Girl -- it was Robin Morgan.)  John Kerry is in Italy.  Tomorrow he goes to Turkey.


Bulet Aras and Emirhan Yorulmazlar (The Hill) offer their take on the region and note of Iraq:

Ankara-Baghdad relations turned sour after Maliki paradoxically perceived the Turkish position to promote consensual politics not only in Iraq, but also in Syria as threatening. At home he shied away from power sharing, abroad he feared yet another Sunni ascendancy. The resultant equation is the U.S.-encouraged Maliki coalesces with Iran and the Baathist Assad. Turkey sided with the KRG and Sunni minority against an “oppressing” Maliki majority bloc, yet acted reservedly not to alienate other Shiite groups. Iran’s policy has been to aggravate
Shiite-Sunnite tensions in Iraq and the region to hedge against its political losses after the Arab Spring. Meanwhile, Turkey’s burgeoning energy and security needs entailed a rapprochement with the KRG, which was earlier advocated by the Americans but went even further than U.S. projections. Overall, for Ankara, the U.S. siding with Maliki in the name of political stability is a faux pas that requires reparation. This is while the U.S. came out vocal in opposing Turkish-KRG cooperation particularly on energy. Maliki’s ties with Ankara seem irreparable and until US pretension about political stability in Iraq ends both sides will continue to differ on Iraqi affairs.




Cindy Sheehan is a world famous peace activist, an author, the host of Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox and a lot more. She's gearing up for a new action, the Tour de Peace.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


Contact: David Swanson david@davidswanson.org  202-329-7847

Sheehan and other riders are available for interviews.

WHAT: Gold Star Mother and "peace mom" Cindy Sheehan will lead a Tour de Peace bike ride across the United States
from the grave of her son Casey in Vacaville, Calif., to Washington, D.C., following the mother road, historic Route 66 to Chicago, and other roads from there on to D.C.  Bicyclers will join in for all or part of the tour, which will include public events organized by local groups along the way.  Complete route: http://tourdepeace.org/the-route.html

WHEN: The tour will begin on April 4, 2013, nine years after Casey Sheehan was killed in Iraq, and 45 years after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was killed in Memphis.  It will conclude on July 3, 2013, with a ride from Arlington National Cemetery to the White House.

WHY: This August will mark 8 years since Cindy Sheehan began a widely reported protest at then-President George W. Bush's "ranch" in Crawford, Texas, demanding to know what the "noble cause" was for which Bush claimed Americans were dying in Iraq.  Neither Bush nor President Obama has yet offered a justification for a global war now in its 12th year.  The Tour de Peace will carry with it these demands:

To end wars, To end immunity for U.S. war crimes, To end suppression of our civil rights, To end the use of fossil fuels, To end persecution of whistleblowers, To end partisan apathy and inaction.
Watch the trailer: http://youtu.be/2uBctq4dzss





 
 
 

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Read on ...

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Prizes.



Prizes


From October 11, 2009, that's "Prizes."  Barack's wearing a Diana-Ross-Mahogany inspired gown.  In the background, She-Hulk is furious. 

Mahogany is a film starring Diana Ross.  It was a hit.  It was her follow up to Lady Sings the Blues.  Billy Dee Williams is back.  In this one, she's Tracy who wants to be a fashion designer.  She makes it to model before crazy Tony Perkins gets in the car with her and causes an accident.  ("Show me death! Show me death!" he yells, taking her picture as the car crashes.

After that, she finally gets her first show.  The gown Barack's wearing would fit right in.  

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"



Thursday, February 21, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, Nouri tries to bully protesters, KRG President Massoud Barzani makes friends in Russia, the US State Dept spent 80% of  its time last year focusing on four countries (none were Iraq), the US Ambassador to Bitchy (Frederick Barton) insults an artist that Barack was giving a medal just a little while ago, and more.

Despite getting billions to run the US 'mission' in Iraq, the State Dept  doesn't spend much time on Iraq.  In Fiscal Year 2012, Congress began giving the State Dept and USAID billions of dollars for Iraq.  The American taxpayer has a right to expect that with those billions comes some additional level of focus.  But that's not the case.

"Our focus in the past year, 80% of our interest has been in Syria, Kenya leading up to the elections, Burma and North Central America, particularly Honduras.  That doesn't mean that we've negleceted the rest of the world but that's where 80% of our effort is," declared the State Dept's Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations Frederick Barton declared yesterday.

So you take billions, you pump up the State Dept with billions of extra dollars, you tell the Congress -- the American people's representatives -- that you need this money for Iraq and with DoD stepping out of the leadership role, now the State Dept will lead on Iraq. 

And yet 80% of time by the State Dept was spent on Syria, Kenya, Burma and Honduras?  We are aware that violence has gone up, right?  We're aware that just as the bulk of US troops were leaving Iraq in December of 2011, Nouri began going after political rivals, sending the Iraqi military to circle their homes?  We're aware that there are no gains to speak of in Iraq?  And hopefully, the State Dept is also aware that since 2009, Iraq has had three US Ambassadors:  the awful Chris Hill, James Jeffrey who now works with the Kurds and the current US Ambassador to Iraq Robert Stephen Beecroft?  In four years, three ambassadors. 

Maybe the State Dept should have been putting 40% of its focus on Iraq?

Remember that it was just last June when Walter Pincus (Washington Post) reported, "The State Department is planning to spend up to $115 million to upgrade the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad, already its biggest and most expensive in the world, according to pre-solicitation notices published this month." June 28th, the House Oversight and Government Reform's Subcommittee on National Security, Homeland Defense and Foreign Operations held a hearing on Iraq and the Subcommittee's Chair pointed out a few more basics.


Chair Jason Chaffetz: The State Dept has greatly expanded its footprint in Iraq. 
 There are approximately 2,000 direct-hire personnel and 14,000 support contractors 
-- roughly a seven-to-one ratio.  This includes 7,000 private security contractors to 
guard our facilities and move personnel throughout Iraq.  Leading up to the withdrawal, 
the State Dept's mission seemed clear.  Ambassador Patrick Kennedy testified that the diplomatic mission was "designed to maximize influence in key locations."  And later 
said, "State will continue the police development programs moving beyond basic 
policing skills to provide police forces with the capabilities to uphold the rule of law.  
The Office of Security Cooperation will help close gaps in Iraq's security forces 
capabilities through security assistance and cooperation."  This is an unprecedented 
mission for the State Dept.

All that money and 80% of the State Dept's time and focus last year were spent elsewhere -- spent on four countries.  Are we to expect things to improve and for Iraq to actually get attention from the State Dept?  While it's true that there is a new Secretary of State, John Kerry, it's also true that Kerry spoke yesterday at the University of Virginia, outlining his vision of diplomacy and Iraq appeared no where in the speech.  Considering that Iraq is still the State Dept's biggest ticket item -- and considering what is taking place in Iraq currently -- that bothers me.  But what really troubles me is the remarks Barton made.  We already quoted him on where the focus was in 2012.  We were quoting from a talk he gave in DC yesterday morning.  I didn't attend it, I was told it would be disappointing.  I streamed it at C-SPAN today, after a friend at CNN asked me what I thought of the talk, and disappointing doesn't begin to describe it.


This is how the talk was billed, "Ambassador Frederick Barton, assistant secretary of the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations at the U.S. Department of State, discusses the future of the American civilian operations in Iraq and Afghanistan."  Afghanistan was mentioned briefly.  Iraq?  Unless Burma's in Iraq, no.  Unless Mozambique is a few miles north of Baghdad, no.  We heard about Tanzania and Kenya.  Now he can argue that he answered questions after 'setting' the topic.  His time setting the topic didn't include mentioning Iraq.  And the questions -- especially when it was 'we have time for one more' -- should have involved the moderator saying, "Does anyone have a question on Iraq?"  That was the scheduled topic.  He had plenty of time to discuss State Dept internal business and policies and training.  He even had time -- made time -- to trash the pianist Van Cliburn.  I have no idea why.  The man just learned he has advanced bone cancer, does he really need a State Dept official trashing the way he plays piano and saying they don't want to do the State Dept like Van Cliburn plays the piano?

Silly me, I thought diplomacy was the State Dept's mission and that tact was a part of diplomacy.  But then, silly me, I would think a talk billed as being about Iraq and Afghanistan would actually be about Iraq and Afghanistan.  I'm sorry I wasn't there now because I would have said something regarding Barton's insulting attack on Van Cliburn.  Maybe asked if Cliburn is so awful, why did US President Barack Obama present him with a National Medal of Arts from the National Endowment for the Arts?  Here's what the NEA notes:

Van Cliburn has been hailed as one of the greatest pianists in the history of music as well as one of the most persuasive ambassadors of American culture. Cliburn entered the Juilliard School at age 17.  At age 20, he won the Leventritt Award and made his Carnegie Hall debut. In 1958, Cliburn’s victory at the first International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow at the height of the Cold War propelled him to international fame.
Cliburn has received Kennedy Center Honors and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. He received the Order of Friendship from President Vladimir Putin in 2004, and in 2003 President George W. Bush bestowed upon him the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

And at that page, you'll see Barack and the pianist in a photograph from the March 2, 2011 ceremony.  Yesterday, a different take was offered.

Assistant Secretary Frederick Barton:  It reminds me of a Van Cliburn concert.  The guy looks great.  He's got the tails.  He can play the whole keyboard.  But at the end, you haven't necessarily settled on what needed to be done the most.  And the US can't afford to be Van Cliburn in these cases.  We have to be much more focused, much more targeted.

Wow.  If Barton wants to be the Ambassador of Bitchy, have at it.  In fact, let me know because I could use a few days off and he could fill in for me here.  But if he's working for the State Dept, he needs to demonstrate a little more savvy when speaking publicly.

Iraqi Spring MC and The BRussells Tribunal offer a photo essay of last Friday's protests and note, "It continues to amaze us. Who is only informed by the mainstream media, has usually not heard, not seen or not read about the weekly Friday demonstrations in Iraq. There is however massively demonstrated: against the Mailiki-government, against the occupation and for a free and united Iraq. Find here some pictures of the demonstration in Iraq on Friday February 15."  Maybe Ambassador Bitchy has no idea and needs to check out the photo essay so that the next time he's scheduled a talk on Iraq, he can actually mention Iraq?


Alsumaria reports the spokesperson for the Hawija demonstrators has been arrested by Nouri al-Maliki's Tigris Operation Command forces.   The arrest happened as a Hawija raid took place carried out by the Tigris Operation Command in what sounds like one of the US raids in the early days of the war.  This is another attempt by Nouri to intimidate the protesters.  He wasn't counting on the attention -- or the push-back -- on this detention.  Alsumaria reports this evening that Mohammed al-Jubouri was released by the Tigris Operation Command.  If this was like Nouri's 2011 detention of protesters and if al-Jubouri had a cell phone on him, all the information in his contacts is now part of a data base.  The same is not doubt true of the 10 released from the raid -- 14 were detained, only ten have been arrested.

As Al Mada was reporting yesterday, Nouri's forces were following protesters in Diyala and Anbar, trailing them, attempting to intimidate them.  Monday is said to have been the 60th day in the ongoing protests.  20 activists in Baquba were arrested, Al Mada reported, for unknown reasons and this included Leith Kazim Mehdawi.

Iraqi Spring MC quotes Dr. Wissal al-Azzawi declaring that the Tigris command is extracting a form of payback, trying to scare the crowds and intimadate them but the protesters will not be silenced.  Nouri's Tigris Operation Command firing on peaceful demonstrators in Falluja January 25th resulting in 11 deaths did not silence them.  Nouri may think he's going to scare them -- or bully them --  into silence but that seems unlikely.  In addition, they're also noting that checkpoints are going up in some areas and people are being prevented from entering unless they have proof on them that they live in that area.

Activist Awad Abdan Tweets that the Tigris Operation Command bullying is taking place before the government's eyes and ears.


  1. جيش المختار يهدد اهل السنة في بغداد أمام مرأى ومسمع الحكومة #الربيع_العراقي pic.twitter.com/qLaiFQgg
    Retweeted 96 times
    View photo

And we'll note another reaction.
  1. now .. what can we say after two months from our revolution? in short .. we are staying #iraqi_spring #الربيع_العراقي



The Tigris Command has been busy.  Dar Addustour reports (ignore date in article's timeline, it's incorrect) that the Tigris Operation Command forces attempted to grab Said Lafi (also spelled Saeed Lafi) yesterday after cornering him in a Ramadi mosque but he was able to escape.  His home was raided and there is an arrest warrant for him that was supposedly issued by Nouri al-Maliki himself.  (Nouri is the prime minister and chief thug of Iraq.)  Lafi is the spokesperson for the Anbar protests.  Kitabat notes that the forces surrounded the mosque and demanded that Lafi come out of the mosque  but activists helped Saeed escape the forces with the assistance of at least a dozen bodyguards of MP Ahmed al-Alwani.


On the state of Iraq, Al Mada's Adnan Hussein pens a column for The New Statesman entitled "A new kind of dictatorship:"


The loopholes in the constitution were described as a “minefield” by the prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, just 15 months ago. The civil war of 2006-2008 was sparked by the explosion of some of these mines, and so were the current demonstrations in the western Sunni provinces. Yet al-Maliki took advantage of the loopholes, shortcomings and vague articles to enhance his personal, extra-constitutional power and to weaken the power of the parliament, the judiciary and independent or civil society bodies.
Ultimately, al-Maliki and his Dawa Party have managed to create a new kind of dictatorship. This is a curse not only to the Sunnis, or the Kurds, or the swaths of Shias, but to the country as a whole.
As an editor and columnist of al-Mada, a critical, oppositional newspaper in Iraq, I am given considerable editorial freedom, and there is certainly no shortage of subjects to cover. I am, however, concerned about the freedom of the press.



Meanwhile a new wrinkle for Hussein al-Shahristani (remember, he's the one who Nouri assigned to 'listen' to the protesters).  All Iraq News reports, "The Parliament Oil & Energy Committee decided to investigate the Deputy Premier for Energy Affairs, Hussein al-Shahristani over the high payments to the oil companies operating in Iraq."  In other oil news, UPI reports, "The brewing oil war between Iraq's central government and a defiant Kurdistan, and wider security concerns, are forcing Baghdad to downsize its ambitious plans to quadruple oil output by 2017 and challenge Saudi Arabia as the world's top producer."  And the differences over the oil are impacting the budget.  Denise Natali (Al-Monitor) reports on the continued delay of the national budget:

It follows a period of worsening relations between Baghdad and Erbil, as well as the KRG’s expanding financial obligations — including honoring international oil company (IOC) contracts without any viable, alternative revenue source in sight. Even if both sides reach another temporary side deal, the budget imbroglio reveals the KRG’s financial vulnerability in the Iraqi state, its inability to fully pay IOCs, and the ultimate need for a grand compromise between Baghdad, Ankara and Erbil over hydrocarbons exports. 
Given the KRG’s ongoing attempts to challenge Baghdad, the Iraqi central government is pushing back in the one area where it retains leverage over the KRG: the budget. With about 95 percent of KRG revenues derived from the central government, which have increased exponentially from about $2.5 billion to over $10 billion from 2005-2012, and with the KRG’s ever-expanding expenditures and social-welfare function, Erbil has become increasingly dependent on Baghdad. A significant cut in these revenues could instantly undermine the KRG’s economy and its investment future.
Part of this predicament is a consequence of the KRG’s achievements within an ambiguous legal and political environment. While Iraqi provincial administrations have failed to spend their full budgets — or to implement projects effectively — the KRG has done just the opposite. Only ten years after ex-President Saddam Hussein’s overthrow, the region has surpassed most other Iraqi provinces in development levels. The KRG now demands $4 billion in additional funds for its energy sector and IOCs payments alone. Baghdad has offered to pay only a fraction of that amount, about $625 million. It contends that the KRG has failed to meet its end the export bargain, having smuggled or bartered away its crude and failing to export an official 175,000 barrels per day as agreed. 

On the topic of the KRG and energy, Tuesday, All Iraq News reported KRG President Massoud Barzani was heading a delegation that's visiting Russia this week.  The KRG issued the following Tuesday:

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq - (KRG.org) – President Masoud Barzani departed from Erbil International Airport today with a high-level delegation to make his first official visit to the Russian Federation.

During the visit, President Barzani is expected to meet senior Russian officials to discuss a number of important matters, including relations between the Kurdistan Region and the Russian Federation, political developments in Iraq, and the greater region in general.

The accompanying delegation includes Mr Masrour Barzani, Chancellor of the Kurdistan Region Security Council; Dr Fuad Hussein, Chief of Staff to the President; Dr Ashti Hawrami, Minister of Natural Resources; Mr Kamaran Ahmed Abdullah, Minister of Housing and Reconstruction; Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir, Head of the Department of Foreign Relations, as well as other senior staff members.




All Iraq News notes that Barzani met today with Sergei Lavrov, Russia's Foreign Minister.  Alsumaria added that their energy discussion included the topic of Iraq's electricity.  All Iraq News also notes that he met with Gazprom's CEO and vice-chair Alexei Miller.  Gazprom is Russia's largest gas company.  The company notes:


Gazprom holds the world’s largest natural gas reserves. The Company’s share in the global and Russian gas reserves makes up 18 and 70 per cent respectively. Gazprom accounts for 15 and 78 per cent of the global and Russian gas output accordingly. At present, the Company actively implements large-scale projects aimed at exploiting gas resources of the Yamal Peninsula, Arctic Shelf, Eastern Siberia and the Far East, as well as hydrocarbons  exploration and production projects abroad.




Iraq has plenty of oil and gas.  Under Nouri, it also has plenty of violence.   Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) reports an attack on a Duluiayah military checkpoint which has left 4 Iraqi soldiers dead and four more injured.  Alsumaria notes a Baquba roadside bombing which left two people injured and 1 police officer was shot dead in BaghdadTrend News Agency reports the Baquba bombing claimed 1 life and left seven people injured.  And the death toll on the al-Duluiyah attack continues to increase.  Al Jazeera, the Christian Science Monitor and PRI's Jane Arraf Tweeted this morning:

  1. Gunmen attack #Iraqi army checkpoint in Salahadin province, north of Baghdad, killing 5, wounding 3. 1 of several attacks on security forces

And Wang Yuanyuan (Xinhua) reports the toll continued to rise, "In one attack, eight soldiers were killed and four wounded when insurgents carried out a coordinated attack by mortar rounds and assault rifles on an Iraqi army base in Albu-Sulaibi area near the town of Dhuluiyah, some 90 km north of Baghdad, a local police source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.  Two civilians were also wounded when they were caught in the crossfire between the attackers and the soldiers, the source said."  In other violence, Reuters notes, "Three suicide bombers targeted checkpoints in Iraq's northern city of Mosul late on Thursday, killing three policemen, police sources said." 

In addition, AFP reports that last night "Turkey sent jets across its border with Iraq to strike separatists from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a local military source said Thursday."  Morning Star adds, "Eight F-16 fighter jets struck 12 Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Mount Qandil near the Iraqi-Iranian border, in a raid that lasted around two hours."  The World Bulletin explains, "The PKK, which is fighting for autonomy in Turkey's mainly Kurdish Southeast, was founded on Marxist ideology. The conflict has claimed tens of thousands of lives. The group is labeled a terrorist organization by the European Union and the United States, which has supplied Predator drones to assist Turkey."    Aaron Hess (International Socialist Review) described the PKK 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." 


In the US, Senator Patty Murray was the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  This year, she became the Chair of the Senate Budget Committee.  She continues to serve on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee (where Senator Bernie Sanders is the new Chair) and she continues to address veterans issues.  Her office notes she held a veterans roundtable today:

Thursday, February 21st, 2013
CONTACT: Murray Press Office
(202) 224-2834

TODAY: Murray in Vancouver to Host Roundtable with Local Businesses on Hiring Veterans

Murray will hear from a panel of local veterans, business leaders, and VA officials on challenges facing veterans seeking employment
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Thursday, February 21st, 2013, U.S. Senator Patty Murray will hold a roundtable discussion on the challenges of veterans’ employment and the benefits available to businesses who hire veterans. The roundtable will take place at the offices of Partners in Careers, an organization that works to provide resources, training, and job placement opportunities to veterans in the community. Senator Murray will discuss workforce training elements in her VOW to Hire Heroes Act, and will hear directly from local businesses who hire veterans, an Iraqi War veteran, and officials from the VA.

WHO: U.S. Senator Patty Murray
Gary Rose, Director, Vocational Rehabilitation Services, Portland VAMC
Jeff Graham, HR Manager at United Natural Foods, Board Chair of the Southwest Washington Workforce
Development Council
Mike Wilbur, Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs
Pam Brokaw, Executive Director, Partners in Careers
Jason LaCarney, Iraqi War Vet, currently attending Warner Pacific College and working with PIC’s Business Unit
WHAT: Senator Murray will host a roundtable discussion with local veterans and employers to discuss challenges of veterans’
employment and the benefits available to businesses to hire veterans
WHEN: TODAY: THURSDAY, February 21st, 2013
3:00 PM PT
WHERE: Partners in Careers
3210 NE 52nd Street
Vancouver, WA 98663
Map
###
 
Kathryn Robertson
Deputy Press Secretary
Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray
448 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington D.C. 20510
202-224-2834
 
 
 
 
 




 iraq










Read on ...

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Dream Team Take Two


Dream Team


That's "Dream Team Take Two" from October 4, 2009.

The 'dream team' had gone out of the country to try to land the 2016 Olympics for Chicago.  They failed.  Barack really cheapened his brand with that failure.

So I had them head to San Diego to try to get the Mary Kay Convention.  

Linda Hunt?

Valerie Jarrett always cracks me up when I can put her in a cartoon.  I never know what she's going to say in those comics.  It's like she's her own little character.

That's probably why she's appeared in more comics than anyone except maybe Rahm Emanuel -- more comics during the Barack era.


Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, February 14, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, Nouri's Iraq releases a journalist, the Justice and Accountability Commission removes the Chief Justice, the UK Labour Party works hard to say 'we're a different Labour Party than a decade ago,' and more. 

Starting in England where Politics UK noted early today:


A new approach to intervening in foreign countries will be set out by Labour as the shadow Defence Secretary, Jim Murphy, accuses David Cameron of failing to learn the lessons from Tony Blair’s mistakes in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Ten years after the Iraq War, Labour will attempt to further distance itself from a conflict which alienated many voters by warning against the “ideological” crusade against al-Qa’ida favoured by Mr Blair and Mr Cameron.

In his speech today, Murphy declared:

Just as important is the need to understand the culture and character of a specific country. A primitive understanding of the Afghan population, culture and geography prior to our intervention severely undermined attempts to work with proxies and our political strategy was in its conception insufficiently representative. In Iraq there was a serious deficit in Western comprehension of the Sunni-Shia or intra-Shia dynamics.
There is rightly much discussion of ungoverned spaces, but this means absence of a central authority rather than a non-existence of local power-brokers who must be navigated. Extremists often understand this and so must we.
Associated to this, as we all now know, the physical disconnection of a ‘Green Zone’ or an ‘inside the wire’ mentality can impede communication or cultural empathy. Diplomatic compounds, equally, can be isolated from local communities, restricting the relationships necessary to understand communities.
The final lesson I want to mention is the need to understand the interests of the Forces with whom we co-operate, not just our enemy. They will have their own interests - and not necessarily those of the central authority. It took too long for us to see the training of the ANA and ANP as a strategic priority, and we know that de-Ba’athification left a lethal vacuum in Iraq. When the UK plays a role in training local or regional forces, it is essential we view them not just as auxiliaries but as partners who can inform the strategy behind our operations.

And Murphy's remarks in the speech can be paired with what Labour's Douglas Alexander tells Andrew Sparrow (Guardian) in an interview today:
Q: You mentioned Iraq. Over the last 10 years, have you changed your view of that conflict and the British involvement in it?
A: Well, of course I regret the loss of life and accept that there was a loss of trust that followed. Had any of us who were in the House of Commons at the time known then what we know now, that the weapons of mass destruction weren't there, we wouldn't have voted, indeed there wouldn't have been a vote. So of course our understanding of the situation deepened and changed because the evidence pointed against the existence of weapons of mass destruction when the weapons inspectors did their work in Iraq after the conflict.
Q: It was clear within six months of the conflict that the weapons had not been found. But the way events have panned out of the following 10 years has, for many people, changed their views of the rights and wrongs of the conflict.
A: Sure, if you look at the ledger with a 10-year perspective, the negatives outweigh the positives. Of course, I don't regret the removal of Saddam Hussein, the relative safety of the Kurds compared with their previous position. But given the lack of post-conflict planning, the insurgency that followed the action in 2003, of course the negatives outweigh the positives in my judgment.

The remarks come one day before the tenth anniversary of the largest protest London ever saw -- and there were protests all over England February 15, 2003 -- not just in London.  The demonstrators were calling for the march to illegal war to be halted.  Laurie Penny reflects  in "Ten years ago we marched against the Iraq War and I learned a lesson in betrayal" (New Statesman):


Ten years ago this month, millions of people all over the world marched against the war in Iraq – and were ignored. I was one of them. For me, at the age of 16, there were a lot of firsts on 15 February 2003: first truancy, first solo trip to London, first time seeing democracy rudely circumvented.
Tony Blair’s decision to take Britain into the Americans’ war in Iraq was an immediate, material calamity for millions of people in the Middle East. I’m writing here, though, about the effect of that decision on the generation in the west who were children then and are adults now. For us, the sense of betrayal was life-changing. We had thought that millions of people making their voices heard would be enough and we were wrong.

The Week's Matthew Clark also reflects in "Lest we forget: anti-Iraq war protesters were in the right:"

Supporters of military intervention in Iraq, both then and since, have variously smeared the protesters for being pro-Saddam, anti-American, fellow-travellers of totalitarianism and jihadism, political ingénues and Chamberlain-style 'appeasers'.
Alastair Campbell, the ruthless and cynical apparatchik who did so much to promote the war, wrote contemptuously in his diary of encountering "no end of people coming back from the march, placards under their arms, faces full of self-righteousness, occasional loathing when they spotted me".
Shortly before the march, his boss Tony Blair made the characteristically grandiose and narcissistic observation that unpopularity was "the price of leadership and the cost of conviction" and insisted that there would be "bloody consequences" if Saddam was not "confronted".

The protests didn't stop the war but they do exist to serve notice that not everyone believed the lies, that everyone wasn't wrong and that 'no one could have guessed.'  They prove false the claims by War Hawks and other cowardly leaders that they were using the best available data to make their decisions.  As Mehdi Hasan (New Statesman) observes:
It isn’t the size of our demonstration that those of us against the war should be proud of, it is our judgement. Our arguments and predictions turned out to be correct and those of our belligerent opponents were discredited. Remember the rhetoric? There was “no doubt” that the invaders would “find the clearest possible evidence of Saddam’s weap­ons of mass destruction” (Blair) as well as evidence of how Iraq had “provided training in these weapons [of mass destruction] to al-Qaeda” (Colin Powell); the foreign troops would be “greeted as liberators” (Dick Cheney); “the establishment of a free Iraq at the heart of the Middle East” would be “a watershed event in the global democratic revolution” (George W Bush).


Those protesting around the world a decade ago included people who hoped the rallies and marches would stop the Iraq War from starting, it included people who thought it might make a difference, it included people who felt it would make no difference but wanted to be on the record that a war on Iraq would be an illegal crime, it included people with a number of beliefs.  And it had an impact.  Tuesday on Mornings with Steve Austin (Australia's ABC -- link is audio), Austin spoke with Just Peace's Annette Brownlie.  She was one of the organizers of the Brisbane march ten years ago that drew between 700,000 and 1,000,000 participants.  As with the London protest in England, the Brisbane march was only one of the protests taking place in Australia that day. 


 Steve Austin:  You started protesting at the age of 16 against the Vietnam War.  Does it sadden you that this type of protest is still necessary but still appears to be ineffective?

Annette Brownlie:  It saddens me that it's still necessary, for sure.  You know, in an ideal lifetime, you would see the fruits of your labor.  But, you know, history isn't like that, is it?  It's sometimes  the really big paradigm shifts in human thinking take much longer than one person's lifetime.  And you think about slavery and just how long it took for people to accept that this was wrong.  Think about women's right to vote, it took a long time for that to take off.  And I'm, you know, I see what we do in the peace movement as being a continuum.  And at some point, we're going to realize that wars, indiscriminate killing of people, is a crime and it doesn't achieve what you want and it's criminal activity. 

The protests didn't stop the illegal war but they did object to it and the objection continues to this day.  Which is why, for example, Labour scrambles today.  The three in power and pushing the Iraq War destroyed their political parties.  In the US, Bully Boy Bush destroyed the Republican Party.  It lost the White House and is a joke today no matter what.  I'm not saying all their actions today deserve to be derided but I am saying the illegal war and their part in selling it has had an effect not just with the people but also with the press.  (For an example, see Elaine noting how NPR's trying to rewrite Senator Susan Collns.)  In England, Tony Blair was in power.  And when he left, Labour should have remained in power for years.  But the illegal war -- and their inability to address it publicly -- has meant Labour has scrambled for votes in an economic downturn that would normally have many flocking to them.  They are paying the political price for the illegal war.   In Australia, Prime Minister John Howard's Liberal Democratic Party remains in shambles for his selling of the Iraq War.   His party scrambles the same way the Republicans do, the same way Labour is doing.  In Australia, he was replaced with Kevin Rudd -- and Rudd was replaced Julia Gillard -- both are members of Australia's Labor Party.

Of the three countries, England's protesters have had the most impact.  Sue Wareham (Age) called this week for an Iraq inquiry in Australia:

Britain and the Netherlands have both conducted such inquiries, revealing much that was hidden in those countries' Iraq war decision-making. Of course, the government and opposition will resist, counting on the resignation many felt for the past decade to shield them from public pressure. But the demand for an inquiry into what happened 10 years ago can sow the seeds for a democratic capacity to ensure it never happens again.
Instead of simply looking back in horror at how Australia became embroiled in such an ill-conceived and catastrophic conflict, the inquiry would seek to identify the steps that led to Australia participating in the invasion of Iraq, in order to understand the lessons to be learnt and how to ensure we follow better procedures in the future.

 England has had multiple inquiries into the war -- the start of it and actions during it.  And now Labour has to work to woo voters.  Contrast that with the US where Dick Cheney's Deputy National Security Advisor is now the spokesperson for the US State Dept.  Victoria Nuland is a War Hawk from a family of neocon War Hawks.  So why does she represent the State Dept in Barack Obama's administration?

Remember Blackwater's massacre in September 2007?  From the Monday, September 17, 2007 snapshot:

Turning to the issue of violence, Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reported Sunday that  a Baghdad shooting (by private contractors) killed 9 Iraqi civilians and left fifteen more wounded. Later on Sunday, CNN reported, "In the Baghdad gun battle, which was between security forces and unidentified gunmen, eight people were killed and 14 wounded, most of them civilians, an Interior Ministry official said. Details were sketchy, but the official said witnesses told police that the security forces involved appeared to be Westerners driving sport utility vehicles, which are usually used by Western companies. The clash occurred near Nisoor square, in western Baghdad.  CBS and AP report that Abdul-Karim Khalaf, spokesperson for the Interior Ministry, announced "it was pulling the license of an American security firm allegedly involved in the fatal shooting of civilians during an attack on a U.S. State Department motorcade in Baghdad," that "it would prosecute any foreign contractors found to have used excessive force" in the slaughter (eight dead, 13 wounded) and they "have canceled the license of Blackwater and prevented them from working all over Iraqi territory." 


17 dead and twenty injured would be the final tolls.  That didn't stop Gwen Ifill from finding the incident amusing on PBS.  From the October 8, 2007 snapshot:

Over the weekend on PBS' Washington Week (or Washington Weak) Linda Robinson of US News and World Reports decided to chat and chew the topic with star Gwen:
 
Linda Robinson:  Well Blackwater has about 800 people who are primarily providing bodyguard service to the embassy personnel.  And there are about, well there are some thousands of other contractors doing this exact kind of job.  So they're moving around the city in convoys and they apply very aggressive tactics in general.  There are some who are alleging that Blackwater in particular uses much more aggressive tactics.  But let's just set the stage a little bit.  Very, very violent city.  You're driving around, bombs are going off, at any unpredicted time.  So what happens is these convoy drivers uses a tactic: they throw things at people, they sound their horns their sirens if you don't get out of the way they will shoot.  So Iraqi drivers generally pull over as soon as they see a convoy.  The problem is SUVs cannot readily be identified often from a distance --
 
Gwen Ifill: Yeah, how do you know it's a convoy?  How do you know it's not the military?  How do you know -- tell the difference?
 
That's the problem.  Washington Weak tells you that's the problem.  For the record, Robinson informs Gwen that it's very obvious when it's the military and it's only confusing when it comes to civilian contractors.  So the question is, were Linda Robinson or Gwen to be walking to their cars at the start of the day and a car came zooming through with those in it throwing things at them, would they see that as a problem?  Should Jon Stewart attempt to find out for The Daily Show?  In fact, it shouldn't even be a surprise.  Gwen and Robinson should volunteer for it to prove what good sports they are.  After ten to fifteen minutes of drive-bys where water bottles are hurled at them (the mildest object usually cited in press reports) from speeding cars, let's see their smiling, bruised (possibly bloodied?) faces and find out whether they now think that "the problem" includes a great deal more than being able to tell if a convoy is approaching?  What's really appalling is Robinson admits to being selective in her report explaining that's why she "set up" because, apparently, reporters are not supposed to show any sympathy for the civilian populations they are allegedly covering but instead are supposed to be act as a p.r. hack for multi-billion dollar corporations.  And the chat and chew only got worse as it was wondered if this was all just sour grapes due to Blackwater's "success"?


How embarrassing was that broadcast -- which did include laughter at the assault?  So embarrassing that Gwen's vanished it from the show's archives -- even on YouTube.  That doesn't erase it from collective memory nor does it make it okay.  Rule of thumb for Gwen -- and Nuland as well -- when Iraqis die, take it seriously.  Your job shouldn't be to make excuses for the attackers.

Nuland's repeatedly attacked Iraqi protesters, insisted they were violent and done real damage on the topic.  Yet the only deaths in protests have come at the hands of Nouri's forces.  From the January 26, 2013 snapshot:

Friday, Nouri al-Maliki's armed thugs in Falluja fired on protesters killing at least seven (Alsumaria reported another of the victims has died from wounds raising the death toll)  and sixty more were left injured.  Alsumaria notes the Iraq's Literary Federation and the Association for Defending Press Freedom and the General Union of Writers have all called for the protection of the protesters, decried the violence and are calling for early elections.  Uday Hadim (Association for Defending Press Freedom) states that putting the military out there was a mistake to begin with and now the government and the Parliament must tender the resignations and early elections must take place under the supervision of the United Nations.   Writer Fahmi Saleh points out that the Constitution guarantees Iraqis the right to demonstrate and protest. In the KRG, Alsumaria reports, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (Iraqi President Jalal Talabani's political party) has called on Nouri to remove the military from protests and to show restraint.  All Iraq News notes that the Kurdistan bloc in Parliament also condemned the assault and called for Nouri to stop using the military on internal issues.  They also note that the National Alliance (Shi'ite grouping of various slates -- including Nouri's State of Law but I'm sure they're not part of this) is calling for a prompt and thorough investigation into the shootings.  Alsumaria notes Iraqiya announced they will boycott all upcoming Parliamentary votes that are not a no-confidence vote or votes addressing the demands of the protesters.

Alsumaria reports that the military was withdrawn from Falluja Saturday. Kamal Naama Suadad al-Salhy, Ahmed Rasheed, Patrick Markey, Andrew Roche and Jason Webb (Reuters) quoted Mustafa Jamal, the brother on one of the 7 shot dead by the military yesterday, stating, "Withdrawing the army from the city is not enough, I do not know how this will benefit me and it won't get my brother back."   The dead and wounded were taken to Falluja General Hospital [. . .].  Al Mada noted that Falluja residents descended on the hospital in large numbers to donate blood.  Kamal Naama Suadad al-Salhy, Ahmed Rasheed, Patrick Markey, Andrew Roche and Jason Webb (Reuters) report that "thousands" turned out for the five funerals in Fallluja Saturday.  Al Mada adds that the mourners chanted and marches calling for soldiers who executed the 7 citizens to be handed over.  Mohammed Tawfeeq and Chelsea J. Carter (CNN -- link is text and video) reported that Sheikh Ahmed Abu Risha who is a tribal leader and a Sawha leader delivered a statement on television Saturday in which he "gave Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's government seven days to hand over to Anbar's criminal court those involved in the shootings."   Today the Sheikh tells Al Mada that he believes the violence was premeditate and planned because Nouri had declared on TV that the demonstration would be targeted.   BBC News adds, "Sunni leaders in Anbar province, where Fallujah is located, had earlier told the BBC that they would attack army positions in the province if the government failed to bring the soldiers responsible for the protester shootings 'to justice'." 

Now here's Icky Vicky Nuland on January 25th, the day of the assualt.

QUESTION: A very quick question: According to reports, five protestors got killed today in Fallujah, Iraq. Have – are you able to confirm – during protests by the Iraqi security forces.

MS. NULAND: I’m not in a position to confirm numbers, but I will say that we are concerned about the use of deadly force during today’s protests in Iraq. We understand that the Iraqi Government has now issued a statement indicating that they are initiating a very prompt investigation into the incidents, and that they have called for restraint by security forces. We obviously stand ready to assist in that investigation if asked, but we would also say that as the government and government forces show restraint, the demonstrators also have a responsibility to exercise their right to protest in a nonviolent manner, as well as to continue to press their demands through the political process.


The government, Icky Vicky rushed to assure, and its forces were "showing restraint."  7 people dead.  What does she consider 'letting the gates open' to be?

Today Human Rights Watch calls for  a real investigation into the assault and they note:


According to witnesses who spoke with Human Rights Watch, shortly after noon on January 25, about 10 soldiers at an army checkpoint prevented people from reaching a sit-in site. A Fallujah resident who attended the January 25 sit-in, who asked to be identified only as Abu Rimas, said that the soldiers verbally provoked a group of demonstrators as they were walking near the highway toward the sit-in. Abu Rimas said the demonstrators numbered in the hundreds: The demonstrators were walking past the checkpoints, at a distance, and the soldiers started yelling at us. They said, “Why are you coming here to demand the release of the whores [referring to female detainees] and terrorists? You are terrorists.” This provoked the demonstrators and many of them started throwing rocks at the army, and [the army] opened fire. Some of them opened fire right away, into the air . . . but some of the soldiers fired into the crowd.
He said the demonstrators were close enough to hear the soldiers yelling, but far enough away that none of the thrown rocks reached the checkpoint.

Victoria Nuland had nothing to say today about Iraq.  She wasn't asked about it at the brief State Dept press briefing and she certainly didn't volunteer anything. 

Strange because if Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy were declared a 'terrorist' this morning and removed from the bench, seems like that would be news.  That's what happened to Chief Justice Medhat al-Mahmoud who is also the President of the Iraqi Higher Judicial Council.  Alsumaria reports 'independent' MP Sabah al-Saadi has accused Medhat al-Mahmoud of "crimes against humanity."   Ayad al-Tamimi (Al Mada) reports that the laughable Justice and Accountability Commission  has removed the judge from office.  He's a 'Ba'athist,' a criminal.
Returning to the topic of the protesters, Shafaq News points out, "Demonstrations and sit-ins still continue in Iraq in protest against Maliki's policies, as the sit-in in Ramadi had entered its 56 day.  Maliki's government is witnessing recently protests in several areas, including Anbar, Fallujah, Kirkuk, Samarra, Mosul and a number of neighborhoods in Baghdad to demand reforms and cancel laws that prohibit some from participating in the political process, as well as cancelling Article 4 of Anti-Terrorism Act and release detainees especially women detainees and achieve balance in the institutions of the state."  Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) is back in Iraq and offers this take on the protests:

Something has broken. Much of Iraq's minority Sunni Muslim population appears to have run out of patience with Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, a religious Shiite Muslim who has ruled since 2006. In recent weeks, Sunnis by the thousands have carried out a campaign of nonviolent civil disobedience, closing off the main roads to Fallouja and Ramadi in the west and mounting demonstrations in Samarra, Baghdad and Mosul.
The rallies are a testament to problems left unresolved when the U.S. military campaign ended here, and to the new tension that has spread throughout the Middle East. Angry citizens of other countries have overthrown entrenched rulers through street protests or armed revolt. In neighboring Syria, Sunnis have risen up as well, forming the backbone of the insurgency against President Bashar Assad.
Though the protests have taken Iraq by surprise, they were triggered by two events no different from many in recent years that have left Sunnis feeling like second-class citizens: news reports about the rape of a woman in prison and the arrest of a local politician's bodyguards. But the original causes no longer matter; they have mushroomed into a larger outrage.


Meanwhile coalitions are forming.  All Iraq News notes that Ahmed Chalabi and KRG President Massoud Barzani have talked and are saying partnership is the only way to resolve the political crises.  Also partnering up were Ibrahim al-Jaafari and Ammar al-Hakim.  All Iraq News reports that the National Alliance head and the head of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq held a joint-press conference last night to
. . . announce their love?  They didn't repeat anything new.  Mainly Ammar layered praise upon praise on Ibahim al-Jaafari. 

That won't end the political crises or the violence but the two men may have provided a chuckle or two.  Iraq Body Count counts 155 dead from violence through Wednesday.  The violence continues today, All Iraq News notes a Mosul home invasion that left 2 brothers dead -- one a soldier, the other a police officer.  The soldier was part of the security detail for Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi.  In addition, the outlet notes a Mosul bombing has left 2 police officers dead and a third injured.  Alsumaria notes another Mosul bombing which left one civilian injured (his legs were amputated) and 1 cleric was shot dead in Kirkuk.




AFP reports, "French-Australian journalist Nadir Dendoune has been released from an Iraqi prison after three weeks in custody, Iraqi and French sources said Thursday.  The 40-year-old reported was jailed in January after taking 'unauthorised' photos in Baghdad."  As I pointed out when I filled in for Ruth last week, he's French.  He was very vocal about that in a BBC report -- on tensions in France, alienation among the Muslim community.  October 31, 2005, he asked the BBC, "How am I supposed to feel French when people always describe me as a Frenchman of Algerian origin?"  -- over five years ago.  Dropping back to the February 8th snapshot:


Alsumaria reports Nadir Dendoune appeared before Baghdad's Criminal Court today wearing a jacket, jeans and handcuffed.  Who?  Good question because Nadir's not supposed to exist.  Just Saturday, Karin Laub and Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) reported  Nouri declared, "There are no detained journalists or politicians."  But Nadir Dencoune was 'deatined' and had been for weeks.  From the January 29th snapshot:


 
As we noted this morning, Nadir  Dendoune, who holds dual Algerian and Australian citizenship was covering Iraq for the fabled French newspaper Le Monde's monthly magazine.  His assignment was to document Iraq 10 years after the start of the Iraq War.   Alsumaria explains the journalist was grabbed by authorities in Baghdad last week for the 'crime' of taking pictures.  (Nouri has imposed a required permit, issued by his government, to 'report' in Iraq.)  All Iraq News adds the journalist has been imprisoned for over a week now without charges.



Nadir is the latest journalist to be targeted in Nouri's Iraq.   A petition calling for his release has already gathered 15,594 signatures and a Facebook page has been created to show support for himThe Journalistic Freedoms Observatory in Iraq, Reporters Without Borders and The Committee to Protect Journalists have called for his release.


Arnaud Baur (Le Parisien) reports his sister Houria spoke with him today and he told her he was at the French Embassy in Baghdad, that he has freedom of movement there and has thanked everyone but he does not yet know when he'll be able to leave Baghdad.  Remi Yacine (El Watan) counts 22 days of imprisonment for Nadir.  The Voice of Russia states he is "freed on bail."  Reporters Without Borders released a statement which includes:

“The announcement of Dendoune’s release is an immense relief after 23 days of worry,” Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “He was arrested simply for doing his work as a journalist. A campaign by his family and fellow journalists in France and Iraq has borne fruit. Reporters Without Borders thanks all the journalists who signed the petition for his release launched by RWB and the support committee.”
Dendoune arrived in Iraq on 16 January to do a series of reports for the French monthly Le Monde Diplomatique and the magazine Le Courrier de l’Atlas. According to the French foreign ministry, he was arrested near a water treatment plant in the southwest Baghdad neighbourhood of Dora while out reporting on 23 January.






Moving over to the United States . . .

Dr. David Rudd: I've included in my testimony the tragic suicide of Russell Shirley.  I spoke with Russell's mother over the course of the last month.  I've spoken with one of his dear friends.  And I think Russell is probably typical of the problem -- the tragic problem which will occur over the coming years.  Russell was a son, a husband, a father.  He was a soldier.  He served his country proudly and bravely in Afghanistan.  He survived combat.  He came home struggling with PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury.  With a marriage in crisis and escalating symptoms, he turned to alcohol.  He received a DUI and, after ten years of dedicated service, he was discharged.  And part of the rationale for the discharge was the increasing pressure to reduce the size of the force.  I think we're going to see more and more of that over the coming years.  After the loss of his family, the loss of his career and the loss of his identity, Russell shot himself in front of his mother.  Having spoken with Russell, I would tell you  -- or having spoken with Russell's mother -- I would tell you that a part of the tragedy is that we knew that Russell was at risk prior to his death.  We recognized, identified him as an at-risk soldier prior to his discharge, but yet there were not adequate transitional services in place that allow a clean connection from an individual to an individual.  And I think those are the sort of things we need to start talking about, we need to start thinking about.  How do we connect at-risk soldiers -- once we identify them and they're being discharged -- particularly if they're being discharged against their -- against their wishes -- into the VA system and how do we connect them with an individual and not just with a system?  How do we help them connect in a relationship that can potentially save a life?  I've included a picture of Russell with his two children at the end of my [written] testimony.  And the reason I've done that is I think it's important for all of us.  When I read the Suicide Data Report, the one thing that is missing in the Suicide Data Report are the names of the individuals, the names of the families, the names of the loved ones that are affected and impacted by these tragedies.  And I think it's important for all of us to remember that.

Rudd was speaking before the House Veterans Affairs Committee yesterday as they explored mental health care issues.  He was on the first panel along with the Wounded Warrior Project's Ralph Ibson, the Disabled American Veterans' Joy Ilem and Connecticut's Commissioner of Veterans Affairs Linda Spoonster Schwartz.  Rudd spoke of Russell Shirley's forced discharge and the loss of identity that took place as a result.   Linda Spoonster Schwartz picked up on that theme.

Linda Spoonster Schwartz:  The President's message last night [Barack Obama's State of the Union address] that we're going to have all of these people coming down.  He [Rudd] mentioned  a very important point -- some of these people who have joined, you have an all volunteer force who has joined.  They intended to make this their career and now you have a drawdown and that is a loss of identity.  As a disabled veteran, I had to leave military service and I had a long time finding a new identity.


What she went through, what Russell Shirley went through, is happening for a number of veterans right now and is about to happen for even more.  Dr. Rudd portrayed Russell Shirley as someone the military knew, prior to the discharge, would be someone who would struggle with the discharge.  If they knew ahead of time and still couldn't tailor some program for him, what does that say about their ability to help those whose problems emerge at a later date?

Chair Jeff Miller:  Last night the President announced that 34,000 service members currently serving in Afghanistan are going to be back home.  The one-size-fits-all path the Department is on leaves our veterans with no assurance that current issues will abate and fails to recognize that adequately addressing the mental health needs of our veterans is a task that VA cannot handle by themselves.  In order to be effective, VA must embrace an integrated care delivery model that does not wait for veterans to come to them but instead meets them where the veteran is.  VA must stand ready to treat our veterans where and how our veterans want to be treated -- not just where and how VA wants to treat them.  I can tell you this morning that our veterans are in towns and cities and communities all across this great land.  The care that they want is care that recognizes and respects their own unique circumstances, their preferences and their hopes.


Spoonster Schwartz noted that veterans sought care that was closest and that might mean skipping the VA if it was sixty miles away.  She also noted that veterans had more access -- outside the office -- to a private sector doctor than to a veterans doctor

"Something somewhere is clearly missing," House Veterans Affairs Committee Chair Jeff Miller observed at the start of the hearing.   US House Rep Mike Michaud is the Ranking Member on the Committee.


Ranking Member Mike Michaud:  Over the years we have held numerous hearings, increased funding and passed legislation in an effort to address the challenges of our veterans from all eras.  VA spent $6.2 billion on mental health programs in Fiscal Year 2012.  I hope to see some positive progress that this funding has been applied to the goals and outcomes for which it was intended and the programs are really working.  We all know that mental health is a significant problem that the nation is facing now -- not only in the VA but throughout our population.  In the broader challenges is an opportunity for the VA to look outside its walls to solve some of the challenges that they face rather than operate in a vacuum as they sometimes have done in the past. One of the most pressing mental health problems that we face is the issue of suicide and how to prevent it.  Fiscal Year 2012 tragically saw an increase in military suicides for the third time in four years.  The number of suicides surpassed the number of combat deaths.  Couple that with the number of suicides in the veterans' population of 18 to 22 per day and the picture becomes even more alarming.




Still on the issue of health care and veterans,  Senator Patty Murray is now the Chair of the Senate Budget Committee and her office issued the following today:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, February 14, 2013
CONTACT:  Murray 202-224-2834
Tester 202-228-0371
Murray, Tester Introduce Bill to Expand Health Care for CHAMPVA Children
Would raise maximum age for CHAMPVA eligibility to 26 to bring program into parity with Affordable Care Act
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Jon Tester (D-MT) introduced legislation to adjust current eligibility requirements for children who receive health care under the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA). Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act a child may stay on a parent’s health insurance plan to age 26. However, children who are CHAMPVA beneficiaries lose their eligibility for coverage at age 23, if not before. The legislation introduced today by Sens. Murray and Tester would raise the maximum age for CHAMPVA eligibility to age 26 in order to bring eligibility under the VA program into parity with the private sector.
“As more and more servicemembers return home from Afghanistan, CHAMPVA will continue playing a vital role in caring for veterans’ loved ones,” said Senator Murray. “In our ongoing commitment to keep the faith with our nation’s heroes, this bill ensures CHAMPVA recipients, without regard to their type of coverage, student status, or marital status, are eligible for health care coverage under their parent’s plan in the same way as their peers.”
"Allowing young folks to stay on their parents' health insurance until they turn 26 gives them a chance to finish school or start their careers without worrying what happens if they get sick,” said Senator Tester. “This bill makes sure that the children of our most selfless citizens have access to the same care as the rest of the country."
“MOAA strongly supports VA-sponsored health coverage for eligible adult children of CHAMPVA beneficiaries,” said VADM Norb Ryan, USN-ret., President, Military Officers Association of America. Such coverage is mandated in law to be made available for every other qualifying adult child across the nation and only a technical adjustment to the VA statute is needed to extend it to the grown kids of our nation’s heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.”
“The DAV applauds Senators Murray and Tester for introducing legislation we strongly support, which would grant adult children of beneficiaries of the Civilian Health and Medical Program of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA) eligibility for continuing health benefits through age 26,” said Disabled American Veterans National Commander Larry Polzin. “DAV believes children of severely disabled veterans and of veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our nation should be able to enjoy the same comfort and peace of mind of having health coverage into their young adult years as every other child in our great nation.”
“This legislation is critical to ensure that dependent children of severely disabled veterans are afforded the same health care protection as all other children,” said Paralyzed Veterans of America President Bill Lawson. “It is simply unacceptable that the only children who do not have the benefit of extended health care coverage are those children of the men and women who have sacrificed the greatest.”
CHAMPVA is a VA health insurance program that provides coverage for certain eligible dependents and survivors of veterans rated permanently and totally disabled from a service-connected condition. CHAMPVA is a cost-sharing program that reimburses providers and facilities a determined allowable amount, minus patient copayments and deductible. Once a veteran becomes VA-rated permanently and totally disabled for a service-connected disability, the veteran's spouse and dependents are then eligible to enroll in CHAMPVA.

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Meghan Roh
Press Secretary | New Media Director
Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray
Mobile: (202) 365-1235
Office: (202) 224-2834
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