Friday, November 27, 2009

Influence of the Bully Boy

There are comics I forget until I see them and comics I forget even after I have seen them. But I remember this one, from Feb. 12, 2006, and did before I looked at it.

I had the above idea, "Influence of the Bully Boy," for about two weeks. I didn't do it because I was convinced it had been done in The New Yorker. I told C.I. about the dream I had of this New Yorker cartoon and C.I. asked me, "What issue?" I said the new one and C.I. replied, "I subscribe. That's not been in The New Yorker."

I think my 'great' comeback was, "For real?"

So I quickly drew this up. It was a dream where I was going through The New Yorker and saw the comic. I wish I had more dreams like that.

When Congress would pass a law, Bully Boy would act like he agreed but then do a signing statement that said he rejected the law or parts of it. So in this comic, you've got a little girl stamping her foot and her father saying, "She admits she agreed to do the dishes. But she says we didn't read her signing statement."

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

Friday, November 27, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces a death, the Iraq inquiry continues in England and covers many topics including Bush's teleprompter mishap, no solution yet for the Iraq's national elections (but possibilities), and more.
Today the US military announced: "BAGHDAD -- A Multi-National Division–Baghdad Soldier died, Nov. 27, of non-combat related injuries. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense. The names of service members are announced through the U.S. Department of Defense official website at The announcements are made on the Web site no earlier than 24 hours after notification of the service member's primary next of kin. The incident is under investigation." The announcement brings the total number of US service members killed in the Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 4366.
Meanwhile, I wasn't aware Thanksgiving was an Iraqi holiday but apparently it is. That would explain all the outlets off today and unable to report especially on any violence. The US military hypes, "Two cultures come together at a table. The hosts, strangers in an exotic land, welcome native guests with a rich history stretching back thousands of years.
This scene, reminiscent of the historic celebration at Plymouth, took place here on Forward Operating Base Falcon, Nov. 26, as dozens of Iraqi tribal, civil and military leaders and their families were guests of the 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team for Thanksgiving dinner." Reminscent of the historic celebration at Plymouth? Did they really just say that? And then they want to act shocked when accused of attempting to colonize Iraq. Also suprisingly unhelpful is US Maj Marty Reigher who declares, "Iraqi culture is built on trust and a man's word." It's disgusting how the US military continues to do their part and then some to make life more difficult for Iraqi women. Not only was an American officer stupid enough to say it, someone was stupid enough to include it in a write up.
But at least the one writing up the hype worked today. More than you can say for those who should be reporting on violence. (No, there's no chance in hell that there was no violence in Iraq today.) Yesterday AFP reported that a Mosul "church and a convent were struck by bombings" -- the Church of St. Ephrem and St. Theresa Convent of Dominican Nuns -- and quoted Father Yousif Thomas Mirkis stating, "These attacks are aimed at forcing Christians to leave the contry."
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad car bombing claimed 1 life and left ten people injured, a Baghdad sticky bombing claimed 1 life and left another person injured, a second Baghdad sticky bombing left one person injured, a third Baghdad sticky bombing claimed 1 life and left three people injured, 2 Babil market bombings which claimed 2 lives and left twenty-eight people injured.
Turning to the issue of Iraq's 'intended' January elections and Iraq as Groundhog Day. It's apparently November 8th or a few days prior all over again. Anthony Shadid and Nada Bakri (Washington Post) reported Thursday that a proposal has emerged which may or may not have backing in the Parliament and which may or may not pit Sunni against Kurd and, "Even with the agreement, which must now be approved by the Iraqi electoral commission, election officials said it would be almost impossible to hold the election in January as originally planned. Mid- to late February was more likely, since a major Shiite Muslim holiday will not end until Feb. 10." Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) explains, "A compromise, however, did not appear likely to be reached before next week, as Iraqis began to celebrate the Islamic holiday Id al-Adha, or the Festival of Sacrifice, which lasts until Tuesday. One of Iraq's two vice presidents, Tariq al-Hashimi, released several statements suggesting that he was open to a compromise. At the same time, he threatened to veto a new election law, as he did last week, raising the specter of a political and constitutional crisis." Shadid and Barki reported this afternoon that while Tariq al-Hashimi has called the proposal "good news" he has also stated, "It's still early to talk about ratifying the law, because we are awaiting the electoral commission's interpretation of the agreement." In addition, the reporters explain the Kurds have yet to indicate where they stand on the proposal. Liz Sly and Raheem Salman (Los Angeles Times) report that even though the country's "constitution stipulates that the poll must be held by January," it does not appear to be likely that January elections will be held "so a delay will require some constitutional tinkering, which could set a dangerous precedent." AFP quotes Speaker Iyad al-Samarrai stating, "The (election) commission announced it would be held on January 16th, this is not possible anymore because there is no law. I believe that the election will be held in March."
In England, the Iraq Inquiry continues. Those needing audio can't turn to Pacifica Radio because, despite all those "Thanksgiving is abomination!" 'reports' they inflict on listeners, the holiday rolls around and everyone needs off for Thursday and Friday so programs such as Free Speech Radio News and Democracy Now! offer canned 'news' programming. Not unlike KPFA's infamous New Year's Eve Special on December 31, 2006 that was, in fact, not live despite being presented on air as live. For audio on the hearing, the Guardian's podcast this week features Anne Perkins and Polly Toynbee discussing the inquiry. Thursday the inquiry heard from Christopher Meyer on the topic of Transatlantic Relationship and Jeremy Greenstock offered testimony today on the topic of Developments in the United Nations [links go to video and transcript options for the testimony of each witness]. Chris Ames (Guardian) observes of Meyer's testimony:
At the Iraq inquiry this morning, Sir Christopher Meyer has let so many cats out of the bag that it is hard to keep up with them all. He has confirmed that by the time Tony Blair met George Bush at Crawford, Texas in April 2002, Blair had already agreed to regime change. Meyer and others had told the US administration about this change of heart in March 2002. The "UN route" was a way to justify the war but the inspectors were never given the chance to do their job.
Or did we know all that already? Ever since the war, there has been a massive gulf between what various leaked documents have shown and the official version. Previous inquiries have failed to close that gap. Now Meyer, who was the UK ambassador to Washington at the time, has done exactly that.
The government's version of events was always that it was taking action to deal with the threat of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Leaked documents, most notably the
Downing Street documents, show that the policy was to go along with the US desire for regime change and use weapons of mass destruction as a pretext. This version of events was confirmed by what Meyer said this morning. I don't think it could be more explosive.
We'll pick up where Meyer is discussing the 2002 meet-up between Bush and Blair.
Committee Member Martin Gilbert: That brings me to my last question before I hand over to Sir Roderic Lyne, and it brings me to Crawford in April 2002. What I would like to ask you is this: to what extent did American and British policy towards Iraq merge in April 2002 along the lines that you suggested during that weekend at the Crawford ranch, in particular Bush's commitment at that time, as he put it, to put Saddam on the spot by following the UN inspectors' route and also by constructing and international coalition, which was the Prime Minister's strong input? How do you feel about the convergance of policy at that time?
Christopher Meyer: It took a while for policy to converge -- sorry, if we are talking about Americans, the President accepting, for realpolitik reasons, it would be better to go through the United Nations than not, which was a repudiation of where his Vice-President stood. It took a while to get there, probably until August of that year. I said in my briefing telegram to Tony Blair, before Crawford, a copy of which, again, I couldn't get hold of in the archive -- and by that time there had been a couple of months, maybe more, maybe three months, in which contingency discussion of, "If it came to war in Iraq, how would you do it?" It was all very -- it was all vey embryonic. Of course, while regime change was the formal policy of the United States of America, it didn't necessarily mean an armed invasion, at that time, of Iraq and it may sound like a difference without a distinction or a distinction without a difference, but it wasn't, not at that time, and so I said -- I think as I remember I said to Tony Blair, "There are three things you really need to focus on when you get to Crawford. One is how to garner international support for a policy of regime change, if that is what it turns out to be. If it involves removing Saddam Hussein, how do you do it and when do you do it?" And the last thing I said, which became a kind of theme of virtually all the reporting I sent back to London in that year was, "Above all" -- I think I used the phrase "above all" -- "get them to focus on the aftermath, because, if it comes to war and Saddam Hussein is removed, and then . . .?" The other thing at that time, Sir Martin, which people tend to forget is actually what was blazing hot at the time and a far more immediate problem -- and it wasn't Iraq, it was the Middle East, because the Intifada had blown up, hideous things were going on in the West Bank, the Israeli army were in the West Bank and we had prevailed on the Americans, as one example of British influence working that year, to put out a really tough statement before Tony Blair arrived in Crawford telling the Israelis in summary that they needed to withdraw from the West Bank towns and withdraw soon. Now, let me be quite frank about this. Crawford was a meeting at the President's ranch. I took no part in any of the discussions, and there was a large chunk of that time when no adviser was there, I think -- I don't know whether David Manning has been before you yet, but when he coomes before you, he will tell you, I think, that he went there with Jonathan Powell for a discussion of Arab/Israel and the Intifada. I think it was at that meeting that there was a kind of joint decision between Bush and Blair that Colin Powell should go to the region and get it sorted. I believe that, after that, the two men were alone in the ranch until dinner on Saturday night were all the advisers, including myself, turned up. So I'm not entirely clear to this day -- I know what the Cabinet Office says were the results of the meeting, but, to this day, I'm not entirely clear what degree of convergence was, if you like, signed in blood, at the Crawford ranch. There are clues in the speech which Tony Blair gave the next day at College Station, which is one of his best foreign policy speeches, a very fine piece of work.
Committee Member Martin Gilbert: How do you assess the balance in that speech between, as it were, potential pre-emption and the UN rule in Iraq?
Christopher Meyer: There were lots of interesting things in those speeches. It sort of repays a kind of criminological analysis. To the best of my knowledge, but I may be wrong, this was the first time that Tony Blair has said in public "regime change". I mean, he didn't only deal with Iraq, he mentioned other issues as well. But he -- I think what he was trying to do was draw the lessons of 9/11 and apply them to the situation in Iraq, which led, I think, not inadvertently, but deliberately, to a conflation of the threat by Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. It also drew in spirit on the 1999 Chicago speech on humanitarian intervention.
In one of the more interesting bits of the testimony, he recounted when the Bully of England met the Bully of the US with George W. Bush saying, "Hello, Tony. May I cally ou Tony? Welcome to Camp David," and Tony Blair responding, "Hello, George. May I call you George? Great to be here. What are we going to talk about?" Oh, there's nothing more heart warming than two dithering idiots bonding. He went on to declare that "I remember Condoleeza Rice saying to me, 'The President has just got back and he said the only human being he felt he could talk to was Tony, the rest of them were like creatures from outer space'. or some such phrase."
Moving on to today, John Chilcot is the Chair of the inquiry and he explained this morning, "The objective of this session is to help us build a picture of developments at the United Natins on policy towards Iraq in 2001 to the beginning of the military action in March 2003." Gordon Rayner (Telegraph of London) reports of Greenstock's testimony:

Sir Jeremy told the inquiry panel: "I regarded our invasion of Iraq as legal but of questionable legitimacy, in that it didn't have the democratically observable backing of the great majority of member states or even, perhaps, of a majority of people inside the UK.
"So there was a failure to establish legitimacy, although I think we successfully established legality in the Security Council for our actions in March 2003 in that we were never challenged in the Secuity Council or in the International Court of Justice for these actions."
Sir Jeremy regarded it as essential for the UN to pass a resolution in 2002 establishing the case for war, and threatened to resign if no resolution was passed.

Alex Barker (Financial Times of London) adds, "Addressing the issue of whether weapons inspectors should have been given more time, Sir Jeremy told the inquiry: 'It seemed to me that the option of invading Iraq in, say, October 2003 deserved much greater consideration. But the momentum for earlier action in the United States was much too strong for us to counter'." Though some may cheer that statement, they shouldn't. In the construct of the response, he argues for war, just wanting it to wait until "say, October 2003." No where does he allow that the inspectors being allowed to complete their jobs could argue that there was no case for war. James Meikle (Guardian) reports, "Earlier, Greenstock told the inquiry that he had threatened to resign if the UN security council failed to pass a resolution on Iraq in the lead-up to the invasion." In other words, empty threats are part of the weakingly's make up. And to be clear, Greenstock claims that he was satisfied by the November 2002 resolution (1441) which really just allowed the weapons inspectors back into Iraq. It did not authorize a war. Greenstock failed to make clear why something as serious as starting a war didn't require a resolution or why he himself didn't feel that was grounds for resigning -- and, no, he can't (as he tries to do) push that off on Bush. Bully Boy Bush is a War Criminal, no question. He had no authority over Greenstock and none over Tony Blair. Greenstock needs to take some accountability for his own actions and stop trying to hide behind Bush.
We'll drop in on the issue of 1441 for an interesting factoid.
Committee Member Usha Prashar: But was it your view throughout the negotiations of 1441 on whether or not a second resolution would be needed?
Jeremy Greenstock: There are two different sorts of second resolution and this my explain why President Bush used the plural when he was ad libbing, when his teleprompter gave him the penultimate American text and not the text he had agreed to, by a mistake of his staff. He ad libbed the words, "And we shall come to the UN for the necessary resolutions" from his memory. It wasn't that the telepromprter broke down, he saw that it was the wrong text on the teleprompter, as I understood the story. There was, as part of the lead-up to the negotiation of 1441, the idea that there should be a pair of resolutions, not a single one in 1441 that should have the inspectors' conditions in one part and in the second resolution the consequences for Iraq on what would happen if they didn't comply with the the first one. There was the possibility of passing those resolutions either together and simultaneously or sequentially in time. As it happened, in 1441 we built those two elements into a single text and it was successfully negotiated and passed unanimously on 8 November as a single text.
Andrew Grice (Independent of London) adds, "He said the 'whole saga', in terms of UK policy, was driven by the belief that Iraq had WMD and any talk from the United States of other motivations for war, such as regime change, were 'unhelpful'. UK policy was solely focused on disarming Iraq, he insisted. The failure to secure another UN resolution had been damaging in terms of public perceptions of the reasons for going to war." Really? That's what Greenstock's going to go with? That England "was driven by the belief that Iraq had WMD"? In the US, Bush used many lies to push for war on Iraq and the most infamous one might be that 'Saddam Hussein attempted to aquire yellow cake uranium from Africa'. In England, Blair was fond of the fanciful boast that Iraq had the capability to attack England with WMD within 45 minutes. David Brown and Francis Elliott (Times of London) highlighted this important aspect of Wednesday's testimony, "Intelligence that Saddam Hussein did not have access to weapons of mass destruction was received by the Government ten days before Tony Blair ordered the invasion of Iraq, the inquiry into the war was told yesterday." Meanwhile Channel 4 continues to offer their live blog by Iraq Inquiry Blogger whose observations today included:

A final thought: while Meyer's book (you just may have picked up yesterday that he'd written a book) became a best-seller, Greenstock's The Costs of War never even made it to the bookshops. It was blocked by the FCO and Number 10, apparently because he'd quoted confidential diplomatic exchanges.
Thursday the Liberal Democrat Party issued a press release noting their leaders questioning of the current prime minister of England, Gordon Brown, on the issue of the Iraq Inquiry:

Nick Clegg, Leader of the Liberal Democrats yesterday challenged the Prime Minister on the government's ' culture of secrecy' with regards to the Iraq Inquiry.

The full text of nick's questions:

Mr. Nick Clegg (Sheffield, Hallam) (LD): I would obviously like to add my own expressions of sympathy and condolence to the family and friends of Sergeant Robert Loughran-Dickson of the Royal Military Police, who tragically died serving in Afghanistan last week. I also add my tribute to PC Bill Barker, who lost his life in the line of duty dealing with the terrible floods in Cumbria. Our hearts go out to his wife and four children. At such times we all remember that it is the brave men and women of our emergency services who keep us safe when it really counts. We thank them for it.

It is vital that the Iraq inquiry, which started its work this week, is able to reveal the full truth about the decisions leading up to the invasion of Iraq. Will the Prime Minister therefore confirm that when Sir John Chilcot and his colleagues come to publish their final report, they will able to publish all information available to them, with the sole exception of information essential to national security?

The Prime Minister: I have set out a remit and brought it to the House of Commons. Sir John Chilcot has been given the freedom to conduct his inquiry as he wants. He has chosen to invite people to give evidence, and he will choose how to bring his final report to the public. That is a matter for the inquiry.

Mr. Clegg: As I think the Prime Minister must know, the matter is not just for the inquiry, because his Government have just issued a protocol-I have it here-to members of the inquiry, governing the publication of material in the final report. If he reads it, he will see that it includes nine separate reasons why information can be suppressed, most of which have nothing to do with national security. Outrageously, it gives Whitehall Departments individual rights of veto over the information in the final report. Why did the Prime Minister not tell us about that before? How on earth will we, and the whole country, hear the full truth of the decisions leading up to the invasion of Iraq if the inquiry is suffocated on day one by his Government's shameful culture of secrecy?

The Prime Minister: That is not what Sir John Chilcot has said. The issues affecting the inquiry that would cause people to be careful are national security and international relations. As I understand it, those are the issues referred to in the protocol. I believe that Sir John Chilcot and his team are happy with how they are being asked to conduct the inquiry.

Wednesday Cedric's "Little girls love to play dress-up" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! HE REALLY IS BUSH'S TWIN!" emphasized that Barack plans to use West Point as a studio set to show boat on with his Afghanistan War announcement while other community sites explored the topic of Black Friday: Betty's "Yes," Mike's "To shop or not and the Iraq Inquiry," Rebecca's "the sport of the shop," Stan's "No to Black Friday," Elaine's "Comfort zone," Ruth's "Pre-shopping questions," Marcia's "To shop or not?," Trina's "Shopping kit and more ," Ann's "No to shopping (except for kids)" and Kat's "No on the shopping proposition." And yesterday Mike offered "Thanksgiving."

Read on ...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Feinstein questions at the NSA hearings

That's "Feinstein questions at the NSA hearings."

It was inspired by her awful, craven questions.

If you missed that, consider yourself lucky. She's not usually as useless in hearings today as she was back then, Feb. 7, 2006.

I do remember that comic and what stands out the most was trying to get those shades of color in her hair.

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

Thursday, November 19, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, the 'intended' elections remain up in the air, the US State Dept ignores warnings on refugees, another Iraqi is sentenced to execution, and more.

Starting with the 'intended' January elections in Iraq which are in question as a result of the veto by Iraq's Sunni vice president Tariq al-Hashemi.
Waleed Ibrahim, Suadad al-Salhy, Aseel Kami and Deepa Babington (Reuters) reports that the MPs are stating presently they intend to ignore his objection and just revote on the same draft law -- while exploring whether or not he has the 'power' to veto. This will reportedly take place on Saturday. Abu Dhabi's the National condems al-Hashemi's action in an editorial, "Mr al Hashemi has claimed that his veto was in defence of the constitution, but that is seriously in doubt. Even his right to a veto is dubious as the constitutional provisions regulating the presidency council state that all its decisions must be unanimous. This was not the case here. If anything, it appeared to be motivated by blind sectarian interest, which is all the more shameful considering the effort it took to overcome those same interests and pass the law in the first place." But the paper's Phil Sands and Nizar Latif report that Iraqi exiles are ecstatic over al Hashemi's move and quotes Jalil Abu Arshad stating (from Syria), "I fully support the need to give more seats to exiles. The .parliament agreed to have one MP representing each 100,000 Iraqis and nobody can believe that the seven or so seats that would be chose by refugees is enough. There are millions of Iraqis with no choice but to live outside the country and they have the right to a say in choosing the next government. This is a matter of democratic principles, it has nothing to do with Sunni, Shia or Kurd."

On Democracy Now! today pampered Raed Jarrar joined Amy Goodman for a segment of non-stop spinning. Baby Raed treated Iraqi refugees as an afterthought, a footnote. But then Baby Raed's never wanted for a damn thing his entire life. And the spoiled candy ass sure does spin so very well. Here's Raed revealing that his tiny, limp brain doesn't allow him to read:

Now, unfortunately, the Obama administration -- in the beginning, it was good in being vocal and clear about the withdrawal being time-based, not conditions-based, which is the main difference between the Obama plan and the Bush plan. Bush talked for six years about how the US will leave when conditions permit. But Obama talked about a timetable for withdrawal that is not conditions-based, and that's why his plan had a lot of support in the US and Iraq.
Poor, stupid Raed, apparently play-acting tires him out. Reality, Barack always talked conditions based. Raed was too busy self-stroking to posters of Barry O to deal with reality but those of us who aren't WHORES knew reality some time ago. Let's drop back to the January 15th snapshot -- before Barack was even sworn in:

Elisabeth Bumiller and Thom Shanker (New York Times) report on the US military commanders contingency plan for Iraq. Last month Bumiller and Shanker reported on the military commanders presenting a partial drawdown of US troops in Iraq on a slower scale than Barack's 'pledge' of 16 month withdrawal (of "combat" troops only). No objections were raised over the timeframe by the president-elect but, in case objections are registered in the immediate future, they've come up with an alternate plan they could implement. This calls for a high of 8,000 a month (more likely four to six thousand) to be pulled. Using the high figure, 48,000 US service members could be out of Iraq (with at least 30,000 of that number redeployed to Afghanistan) in six months. That would still leave close to 100,000 US troops in Iraq. And there is no full withdrawal planned by Barack. That is why he refused to promise that, if elected, all US troops would be out of Iraq by the end of his first term (2012). Of course, Barack also rushed to assure the Times (2007) that he would easily halt any drawdown and rush more troops back into Iraq (and no words to declare this a temporary measure) when he sat down with Michael Gordon and Jeff Zeleny (see this Iraq snapshot and Third's article and the actual transcript of the interview -- a transcript Tom Hayden should have read before humiliating himself in public, then again Tom-Tom seems to enjoy public humiliation). So the article tells you that the military's preparing for all possibilities . . . except the possibility the American people want (and some foolishly believe Barack ever promised) full withdrawal of Iraq. That is not an option the military even considers.
"In the beginning," Raed? Before Baby Jarar Jarar grabs his crayola to do another one of those laughable e-mails, let's note that the "this Iraq snapshot" links back to
November 2, 2007. Yes, before Barack was even the Democratic Party nominee, he was explaining any subtracting of troops (not a full withdrawal -- he never promised that outside of campaign slogans) would be conditions based. From the November 2, 2007 snapshot:

So let's be clear that the 'anti-war' Obama told the paper he would send troops back into Iraq. Furthermore, when asked if he would be willing to do that unilaterally, he attempts to beg off with, "We're talking too speculatively right now for me to answer." But this is his heavily pimped September (non)plan, dusted off again, with a shiny new binder. The story is that Barack Obama will NOT bring all US troops home. Even if the illegal war ended, Obama would still keep troops stationed in Iraq (although he'd really, really love it US forces could be stationed in Kuwait exclusively), he would still use them to train (the police0 and still use them to protect the US fortress/embassy and still use them to conduct counter-terrorism actions.

Facts is hard for Baby Raed. Someone change his diaper, he's looking cranky.

Raed does what Amy loves her guests to do: Channel spirits from the Land of Fantasy. Having no facts, Raed starts offering fantasies of why the vice president vetoed the election law. Naturally, since Raed wants the election law, the vice president must be evil and full of malice to do something Raed doesn't approve of. Amy laps that s**t up because, after all, this is the Crazy who, in Decmeber 2003, was broadcasting across the air waves -- with fellow lunatic John Nichols -- that Hillary would take over the 2004 DNC convention in an attempt to grab that year's presidential nomination. It takes a lot of crazy to live in Amy Goodman's world and Raed's crazy enough to qualify as a next-door neighbor.

Raed's real tight with CODESTINK -- which we all know isn't a peace group (by their actions, they revealed themselves) -- so he spins for Barry and states that the US military withdrew from all Iraqi cities at the end of June. The bases? Raed doesn't want to think about them, that would require work and the only work most could picture him doing is deciding which photo of Barry to place on his pillow while he humps the bed to climax each night. Hey, anyone remember when Raed was 'informing' that the 'surge' was really going to be used to attack Shi'ite militias? Oh, that fact-free, wacky child. Kisses, Raed, kisses.

Also making an ass out of himself is Baha al-Araji who has given multiple statements to the press today (they may or may not print them tomorrow). The Shi'ite who serves on Iraq's Constitutional Court states/rules (depending upon which outlet he's speaking to) that Tariq al-Hashmi doesn't have the power to veto the election law. Now that would toss the issue up in the air and require examination but chatty al-Araji goes on to weaken his own case by blathering on about how his own (al-Araji) deciding was based on what al-Hashmi objected to. That would undercut al-Araji's alleged conclusion. Either the presidential council has the power to veto or they don't -- it doesn't matter what their reasoning is. They possess the power or they don't. At every other point, the council's possessed this power. Most outlets will probably ignore the ravings of al-Araji because the Parliament's taking up the issue on Saturday. Today at the Pentagon, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates spoke on the subject of the veto and where things stand currently, "And we hope that the concerns that have been expressed can be resolved quickly and a -- and new legislation passed to that the election can take place within the constitutional framework, meaning before the end of January."

Al Jazeera interviewed (link is video) Tariq al-Hashemi.

Tariq al-Hashemi: What I have done in fact is based on my Constitutional obligation. When I discovered there was a major loophole, it's our duty -- according to the Constitution -- to try to make some sort of remedy on a legal basis and that is what I have done today.

Kamahl Santamaria: Okay, so you've done it according to the Constitution. You've done what you say is legal. My question to you though is the repercussions of this. If this election can't happen as it is supposed to happen by January the 31st, then what happens? It is a huge opportunity lost for Iraq.
Well I don't think that this sort of amendment is going to defer the timetable of the commission. I made a thorough discussion with the commission staff the day before yesterday. I very much assured that all logistic had been already covered, action had been taken, so just to make this amendment is going to take one or two days, is not going to make any major shift to the timetable that has been agreed upon.

Kamahl Santamaria: But what's interesting is I spoke to a member of the electoral commission only an hour ago. He said everything's off, they're not pressing on with anything, of course it's been thrown into doubt.

Tariq al-Hashemi: I'm not -- I'm not agree. I think this announcement is not based on any -- on any acceptable ground because, as I told you in fact, I-I-I had a lengthy discussion the day before yesterday. I checked everything and the chairman of the commission told me specifically that all action being taken, all what we need in fact to press the button on the form which will be according to number of seats and this could be sorted out within hours.
Kamahl Santamaria: Why is five-percent, the sticking point of five-percent for Iraqis in exile, Iraqis abroad, why is five-percent not enough?

Tariq al-Hashemi: Well five-percent, in fact, if you just -- if you just reflect it to a number of seats -- we are talking a number not exceeding, in no way, seven seats. Seven seats according to Article 49 of the Constitution doesn't mean anything. According to the text of this article, we have to ensure that each 100,000 Iraqis, whether they are living inside or out -- or outside Iraq, they should be entertained by one seat. So seven seats doesn't entertain the least figure which ministry of migration has maintained time being. The number of Iraqis outside of-of Iraq which has been recorded as per Ministry of Migration is one-million-five hundred. If you're talking NGOs, international human rights, this figure could reach to 4.5 million. So if we are allocating only seven seats, this means that we are entertaining 700,000 Iraqis and ignored 800,000.

If you paid attention, not only did Amy Goodman not book anyone to present the side above, it was never addressed. Just nutty conspiracy theories from Raed. Amy calls it "public affairs" -- no one knowledgable would use that term.

Monday's snapshot noted the assassinations of the Sahwa members in Sadan village and that the assassins were said to be wearing Iraqi forces uniforms. Aswat al-Iraq reports Tariq al-Hashemi declared at a Wednesday news conference, "What happened in Abu-Ghraib two days ago is that groups in army uniform arrested 17 people from their houses, then killed them with cold blood in a nearby ceremony." Staying with the topic of Sahwa, we're dropping back to the March 30th snapshot:

Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) explained Saturday, "16 people were injured (seven Sahwa members, four Iraqi soldiers and four civilians) after clashes broke out between the Iraqi army and Sahwa members in Fadhil neighborhood in downtown Baghdad around 2 p.m. The clashes broke out during an operation of the Iraqi army to arrest the leader of Fadhil Sahwa and one of his deputies. Five Iraqi soldiers were kidnapped in the incident." McClatchy's Leila Fadel added Adel Mashhadani was the arrest target and that the arrest of him (as well as an assistant) "heightened fears among Sunnis that the Iraqi government plans to divide and disband the movements now that its taken control of all but a few thousands of the 94,000 members across the country."

Adel Mashhadani is in today's news cycle. The
Telegraph of London reports that he has been "condemned to death" for an alleged kidnapping and murder. John Leland (New York Times) adds that he has his defenders and detractors and that rumors swirl including: "Many Fadhil residents said that Mr. Mashhadani was not in police custody but was in Turkey, and that the courts announced the sentence to incite Sunni violence and justify a government crackdown. Some said the plan was led by Iranians in the government." Larry Johnson (Seattle PostGlobal) reports, "Iraq is planning to excute up to 126 women by the end of the year. At least 9 may be hanged with the next two weeks. Human rights goupt say the only crime committed by many of these women was to serve in the government of Saddan Hussein. Others, according to human rights groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, were convicted of common crimes based on confessions that were the result of torture." Last September, Amnesty International released a report [PDF format warning] entitled "A Thousand People Face The Death Penalty In Iraq" which noted that the country "now has one of the highest rates of executed in the world" and:

Defendants commonly complain that "confessions" were extracted from them under torture during pre-trial interrogation, often when they were held incommunicado in police stations or detention facilities controlled by the Ministry of Interiror. These "confessions" are then often used as evidence against them at their trials, and are accepted by the courts without taking any or adequate steps to investigate defendants' allegations of torture. Defendants also complain that they are not able to choose their own defence lawyers; those tried before the CCCI [Central Criminal Court of Iraq] on capital charges have defence lawyers appointed by the court if they are unable to pay for defence counsel, but the quality of such representation is low. Some lawyers refuse to represent defendants accused of "terrorism", mostly Sunni Muslims, fearing reprisals by armed milita groups linked to Shi'a political parties represented in the Iraqi Council of Representatives (parliament).

Back in November of 2006,
Brian Bennett (Time magazine) reported on the "glitches and logistical snafus" in the executions including a man hanged September 6th -- the rope broke and he fell fifteen feet and declared "Allah saved me! Allah saved me!" while a debate took place among officials for forty minutes over whether it was divine intervention or not. In October of 2008, Robert Fisk (Independent of London) reported on the executions and quoted an unnamed British official who explained a hanging recently observed, "They made him stand on the bench, put the rope round his neck and pushed him off. But he jumped on to the floor. He could stand up. So they shortened the length of the rope and got him back on teh bench and pushed him off again. It didn't work. They started digging into the floor beneath the bench so that the guy would drop far enough to snap his neck. They dug up the tiles and the cement underneath. But that didn't work. He could still stand up when they pushed him off the bench. So they just took him to a corner of the cell and shot him in the head."

"The reports already out," declared Michael H. Posner this afternoon to US House Rep Jim Costa. "Those designations will happen in the next few months. The human rights -- the broader human rights report is just a factual summary." Posner, the Assistant Secretary for Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor at the US State Dept, was appearing before the US House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia. The report he was refering to was the State Dept's
International Religious Freedom Report which was released October 26, 2009.

On Iraq, the State Dept's publication notes:

At the end of the reporting period, national identity cards continued to note the holder's religion, which has been used as a basis for discrimination; however, passports did not note religion.
Law No. 105 of 1970 prohibits the Baha'i Faith, and a 2001 resolution prohibits the Wahhabi branch of Islam. Although provisions on freedom of religion in the new Constitution may supersede these laws, no court challenges have been brought to have them invalidated, and no legislation has been proposed to repeal them.
In April 2007 the Ministry of Interior's Nationality and Passport Section canceled Regulation 358 of 1975, which prohibited the issuance of a nationality identity card to those claiming the Bahai' Faith. In May 2007 a small number of Baha'is were issued identity cards. The Nationality and Passport Section's legal advisor stopped issuance of the cards thereafter, claiming Baha'is had been registered as Muslims since 1975 and citing a government regulation preventing the conversion of "Muslims" to another faith. Without this official citizenship card, Baha'is experience difficulty registering their children for school and applying for passports. Despite the cancellation of the regulation, Baha'is whose identy records were changed to "Muslim" after Regulation 358 was instituted in 1975 still could not change their identity cards to indicate their Baha'i faith, and their children were not recognized as Baha'is.
A March 2006 citizenship law specifically precludes Jews from regaining citizenship if it is ever withdrawn.
[. . .]
There were allegations that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) engaged in discriminatory behavior against religious minorities. Christians and Yezidis living north of Mosul claimed that the KRG confiscated their property without compensation and that it began building settlements on their land. Assyrian Christians alleged that the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP)-dominated judiciary in Ninewa routinely discriminated against non-Muslims and failed to enforce judgments in their favor. There were reports that Yezidis faced restrictions when entering the KRG and had to obtain KRG approval to find jobs in areas within Ninewa Province administred by the KRG or under the security protection of the Peshmerga.
There were also allegations that the KRG exhibited favoritism toward the Christian religious establishment, and it was alleged that on February 17, 2008, KRG authorities arrested and held incommunicado for four days an Assyrian blogger, Johnny Khoshaba Al-Rikany, based on articles he had posted attacking corruption in the church.
Yezidi and Shabak political leaders alleged that Kurdish Peshmerge forces regularly committed abuses against and harassed their communities in Ninewa Province. Districts that are within the security control of the Peshmerga include Sinjar, Sheikhan, Ba'asheq (sub-district of Mosul), and Bartalla (sub-district of Hamdaniya). Minority leaders alleged that Kurdish forces were intimidating minority communities to identify themselves as Kurds and support their inclusion in the KRG. Yezidi political representatives also reported that because of their religious affiliation, they were not allowed to pass through security checkpoints in areas controlled by Kurdish Peshmerga as they traveled from Baghdad to their communities in northern Iraq.
The KRG denied allegations that it was behind violent incidents directed at Christians and other minorities. Moreover, despite such allegations, many non-Muslims reside in northern Iraq and the KRG area, and there were reports that some sought refuge there from other parts of the country where pressures to conform publicly to narrow interpretations of Islamic tenets were greater. In February 2009, the IOM estimated that there were 19,100 internally displaced families in the Ninewa Plain and that 43,595 internally displaced families were located in the Kurdistan region.

In reply to a question from US House Rep Bob Inglis today, Posner said there were three things the US government could do to support religious communities being targeted around the world:

1) Be very viligant when religious communities are targeted and in trouble.

2) The US government can help amplify their voices.

3) The US government can provide direct, material, financial support.

With regards to the US government speaking out against targeting of religious communities, Posner declared that "governments take notice of that" and that "it is always valuable for us to speak out."

Religious minorities are among Iraq's refugee population. The genocide and ethnic cleansing of Iraq led to millions of refugees -- some internal, some external.
Julien Barnes-Dacey (Christian Science Monitor) reports that "up to 2 million" of the external refugees "remain stranged in neighboring countries" while the United Nations faces shortfalls in funding. As Barnes-Dacey reports, that has not prevented Iraqi refugees from continuing to leave Iraq. One example of that is Abu Ali who entered Syria in August and states, "I had to leave: they say there's security, but on the ground it's a different story. They still kill you because of your ID papers." As a backdrop to the crisis, the US State Dept's Eric Schwartz wrapped up a multi-day bad will tour today. Over the weekend, Schwartz made the usual ass of himself including when AP interviewed him and, despite the fact that various humanitarian organizations have issued studies this year pointing out how little the Baghdad government or 'government' has done for refugees, he declared 'strides have been made'. And the 'answer' is for Iraqi refugees to return to Iraq -- despite the fact that the Red Cross and the United Nations both have stated that that Iraq is not 'safe' enough for refugees to begin returning nor is that country able to handle a mass return. Wednesday he was in Syria which estimates they currently house 1.2 million Iraqi refugees. Khaled Yacoub Oweis (Reuters) reports that Schwartz declared the influx of Iraqi refugees to the US this current fiscal year would be "substantial." And Schwartz declares it will be "at least 17,000." That's substantial? By whose measurement? Or have we forgotten Schwartz promised 20,000 would be settled in FY '09 -- a little over 18,000 were re-settled in the US for that fiscal year. So 'substantial' is now even less than his predications for the last fiscal year? Phil Sands (The National) reports:

Abdul Rahman Attar, the president of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, criticised the international community and the Iraqi government, saying both were failing in their duty to care for displaced Iraqis. And he cautioned there were dangerous implications in four million people continuing to live as refugees, many of them struggling to cope with increasing levels of poverty.
"Perhaps the world is underestimating the significance of the Iraqi refugees issue," he said. "It is not a short-term matter. We are talking about medium- and long-term impacts. It has already been six years or more for some refugees and they need greater support. "The international community should not allow its attention to drift easily away from the refugees. This issue is a bomb that can still explode at any time."

It would certainly seem that Eric Schwartz is underestimating the significance. But the State Dept has always done that with Iraq -- especially with regards to Iraq's LGBT community and the continued assault on the community. Tuesday,
Kelvin Lynch (Dallas Examiner) was reporting that Iraqi LGBT was estimating the number of LGBT men and women murdered in Iraq since the start of the illegal war is 720 and Lynch observes, "But the big question continues to be, why hasn't the U.S. government done anything to help?" Taylor Luck (Jordan Times) reports on the Sabian Mandaeans who left Iraq due to the violence and are currently in Jordan:

Fatwas were issued declaring Mandaens kuffar, or infidels. Mandaens, known for their gold and jewellery craftsmanship, became frequent targets of kidnappings, with ransoms set as high as $100,000.
Since the US-led invasion, the Mandaean Human Rights Group has recorded around 180 killings, 275 kidnappings and 298 assualts and forced conversions within Iraq.

Jake Armstrong (Pasadena Weekly) notes, it's day 2420 of the Iraq War. And as the war continues, so does the violence.


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad sticky bombing which injured one "governmental employee". Deutsche Presse-Agentur reports a Mosul roadside bombing which claimed the lives of 3 police officers (five more injured).


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Mohammed Aziz Al Shamari was injured in a Baghdad assassination attempt on his life (he is "an advisor for the Iraqi government"). Deutsche Presse-Agentur reports 1 man shot dead in Mosul with another left wounded.

Please note, Reuters has filed no story on violence today. That is why you do not use ICCC for an Iraqi body count -- ICCC only goes by Reuters, 'their' count is a tally of Reuters.

Meanwhile in the United States,
Gidget Funetes (Navy Times) reports that Ray Mabus, Secretary of the Navy, "rejected a clemency request from a Marine infantry squad leader convicted of killing an Iraqi man in 2006, a case that drew two jury convictions and five guilty please from seven other members of his squad." This is the case where US service members ("the Penleton 8") plotted to kill an Iraqi and went to his home April 26, 2006 only to find him not at home and instead grabbed another Iraqi whom they bound, dragged and shot dead. Jeanette Steele (San Diego Union-Tribune) reports Mabus was asked to review the case in terms of Lawrence Hutchins conviction and eleven year sentence and that Mabus denied Hutchins clemency and "also ordered that four of the other seven defendants in the case be discharged from the military." Mark Nero (LA Examiner) identifies the four, "Marine Lance Cpls. Tyler Jackson, Jerry Shumate and John Jodka III, and Navy Corpsman Melson Bacos were the servicemembers ordered removed. They had been originally been allowed to stay on active duty after serving short jail terms for lesser offenses."

NOW on PBS debuts its latest episode Friday on most PBS stations and this one examines:

The Pentagon estimates that as many as one in five American soldiers arecoming home from war zones with traumatic brain injuries, many of whichrequire round-the-clock attention. But lost in the reports of thesereturning soldiers are the stories of family members who often sacrificeeverything to care for them. On Friday, November 20 at 8:30 pm (checklocal listings), NOW reveals how little has been done to help thesefamily caregivers, and reports on dedicated efforts to support them.

reuterswaleed ibrahimsuadad al-salhyaseel kamideepa babington
laith hammoudimcclatchy newspapers
leila fadel
the new york timesjohn leland
the seattle postglobelarry johnson
kelvin lynchthe telegraph of london
time magazinebrian bennettthe independent of londonrobert fisk
gidget fuentesjeanette steelesan diego union-tribunemark nero
pbsnow on pbs

Read on ...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Got War?

That was a popular one. It's a parody of Got Milk? ads.

That was January 29, 2006. And no one gave me any grief over that.

Once upon a time, you could make fun of anyone. In this country you could. And not have crazies screaming.

You know the ones I mean, those Whites who got their panties in a wad over, for example, a New Yorker cover that was parody.

Now I ignore the screaming crazies and draw what I want.

But I supported Hillary in the Democratic Party presidential primary and I don't need anyone to try to 'interpret' my comics for the meaning because sometimes it's just trying to be funny.

I like Hillary and would vote for her for president. I also like my comic and think it's funny.
Isaiah's latest The World Today Just Nuts. "Got War? War it does a Hillary good." Look, she even has a blood mustache.

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

Thursday, November 12, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, calls for investigations into Blackwater's reported efforts at bribery take place in Baghdad and DC, the PKK doesn't feel a new level of understanding has been reached, oil and money drive the news cycle, and more.

Each Sunday, Cindy Sheehan does her weekly radio show
Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox. This week's guests were Debbie DeNello and Adam Kokesh. We'll note the following section of the broadcast.

Adam Kokesh: I think for the soldiers on the ground who see what Obama is doing, you know, they see troops are being taken out only to be replaced with a greater number of contractors and then for those troops to be put into a surge in Afghanistan and nothing to really change about the kind of abuse? You know, I think that's still a huge, major factor: lack of confidence in the mission. I mean, nobody really believes, no matter what Obama says, that these are wars of necessity --

Cindy Sheehan: Right.

Adam Kokesh: -- or that Afghanistan is the good war. In fact, Obama actually by coming out and saying that Afghanistan is not a war of choice, implying that Iraq is, you know what does that say to the over 100,000 troops that we had in Iraq at that time? 'Hey, you guys don't really have to be there but you're going to keep going out and being shot at and getting killed anyways'? And then to the contractors? I mean the same factor goes with them but at least they're doing it as private citizens with a little more free will -- the impact is not as much. For a soldier who's being told "You're going to go back to this war zone that doesn't have to exist." You can imagine the effect on that. Especially for the
fifth, sixth seventh deployment.
Cindy Sheehan: Well, Adam, you know that I have been, since my son [Casey Sheehan] was killed, actively just calling for troops out now. But when Obama, of course, says that Afghanistan is a war of necessity, he called Iraq "a dumb war" and, like you said, people are still dying in this "dumb war" --

Adam Kokesh: Yeah.

Cindy Sheehan: -- that he has proclaimed "dumb." Well you know, all wars are dumb. Let's tie this, what happened to you in Iraq, what you know, you have the exper -- experiential opinions on this. But tie it in with your Congressional campaign. What is your platform? What will you do in Congress?

Adam Kokesh: Well I'm a Constitutionalist. I'm a non-interventionalist. I'm still a proud member of Iraq Veterans Against the War and I support the mission of Iraq Veterans Against the War. I'm also a proud member of Veterans for Peace and I think that the mission of the organization Veterans for Peace is even more applicable now when we see the kind of hypocrisy of the Democrats. It's almost worse than what we had when the neocons were in charge. The neocons were easy to hate, they were brazen and upfront about it and had this swaggering machismo whereas what we see under Obama now is this really disgusting deceitfulness that has some people with really intense mixed feelings. But one of the things that we're counting on here is that by November 2010 when my election is held and I'm going to be running against -- well I am running against an incumbent Democrat who has said that he is calling for an immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan, an immediate request for an exit strategy and yet votes to -- votes for all the funding for Iraq and Afghanistan and all of that and has toed the Democratic Party line and I think people are really going to be fed up with that. And, you know, it's definitely not the Republican Party that has all the answers but there are people within the Republican Party like myself that are trying to make it the party of Big Tent smaller government again and ensure that that includes a very strong committment to this policy of non-interventionism. Not isolationism, but non-interventionism which means free trade and commerce and friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none. And unfortunately in the world we live in, having a strong national defense is appropriate at this time. But there's a reason it's in the Constitution that Congress has the power to declare war and when they declare war they're supposed to do it with a specific enemy and a declaration and there's an objective. And then they give the military the mission and then they get out of the way. And this is the way it's supposed to be when it's legitimate self-defense. You go to war, you win, you come home. And when we have these open-ended committments, when we have these world policing opportunities where they are run by Congress, they are run by a political machine, and not by a military with a specific objective, you get this kind of open-ended nation building process that puts so much money into the military industrical complex, concentrates so much more power in the hands of the federal government -- into the executive especially. And that hasn't changed under Obama. You know, we want to see a return to the Constitution because of those principles behind it and make sure we don't engage in these wars because when you engage in war when there's not a declaration you know that the premise is faulty, you know that it is not honorable, you know that it is not righteous in the case of self-defense. And we know that neither Iraq or Afghanistan, in terms of what we're doing there today, qualify for any sort of just war theory. And getting back to that and making sure that that message has -- has an oppotunity to be heard in the 2010 elections is a really important part of this campaign for me. It's not easy, you know? It's really not easy. Talking to the progressive base is a lot easier than talking to the conservative base but it's a really important challenge to make sure that they live up to those values and understand why the Constitution was written the way it was.

Cindy Sheehan: Well, Adam, sometimes I think talking to progressives is harder because of what you said. They want to put all their hope eggs into the basket of Obama and the Democrats and clearly, clearly, they're not the peace party. The Democrats and Republicans, institutional parties, are all the same. They're the War Party and we have to put a big chunk of what's happening now on the shoulders of a Congress in 2001 that gave George -- that abrogated their Constitutional duty and gave George Bush the authority to do what is happening right now.
Adam Kokesh: Well the grass -- well the thing that I've learned is the grassroots of both the Republican and the Democratic parties are totally different from the national leadership --

Cindy Sheehan: Absolutely.

Adam Kokesh: -- and it just so happens that when the Democratic Party's in charge, they're better able to sway their base into being pro-war and supporting big government and supporting interventionism, supporting theft and violence as we see our-our, you know, just so essential to what our federal government is doing these days. But really the base of the Republican Party -- and even here in New Mexico there's a distinct difference between the leadership of the Republican Party and the base -- the grassroots activists and the rank and file members. They're totally receptive to this message. They understand that it's not economically feasible to send so much manpower and material into this nation-building -- these nation-building exercises and not have it hurt people here at home. And when they're forced to consider it like that, you know they realize that what we're doing there isn't worth it. And being able to get them to take that step at this point, it's really satisfying to bring this message to people who haven't heard it because when the Republican Party was in charge for the last eight years, they were getting that propaganda. Now that the War Propaganda is coming from the Democratic machine, they're much more ready to question it --

Cindy Sheehan: Yep.

Adam Kokesh: -- and start speaking out against it.

Cindy Sheehan: Well, Adam, unfortunately we're running out of time. Tell my listeners how they can get ahold of you.

Adam Kokesh: Oh great! This is my opportunity for the shameless plug! Thank you so much.

Cindy Sheehan: Yep, yep.

Adam Kokesh: Kokesh for Congress is the website, K-O-K-E-S-H F-O-R, check us out there. You can e-mail me at You can follow me on Twitter at Adam Kokesh. And our phone number here at campaign headquarters is (505) 470-1917.

Cindy Sheehan: And I encourage my listeners to -- I know they all know about your anti-war work but I encourage them to go to your website and don't have a knee-jerk reaction just because you have a "R" after your name, right?

Adam Kokesh: Exactly. Well you know there's a lot of issues that cross party lines and it's been great to know that there are people like you who are also seeing that the Federal Reserve is such an integral issue economically which makes all these wars possible and all the other crimes of our government --

Cindy Sheehan: Yep

Adam Kokesh: -- and our corporations happen because of the Federal Reserve.

Staying with those who make war Big Business,
yesterday's snapshot, Mark Mazzetti and James Risen (New York Times) interviewed four former Blackwater execs who stated that, in December 2007, approximately one-million dollars was used to bribe officials in Iraq in order to get them to look the other way in the face of Blackwater's continued assaults. Iraq's Minister of the Interior Jawad al-Bolani spoke to CNN (link has video as well as text) and stated that his ministry had launched an investigation into the assertion that Iraqi officials took bribes.

Jawad al-Bolani (via translator): Blackwater has no new positions to operate in Iraq. Blackwater has a problem and a lawsuit. Some of its employees committed a crime against innocent Iraqi civilians in Nussor Square and this case is an ongoing trial in American courts. Blackwater is a company that caused a major national tragedy. The Nussor incidient was a very difficult one and no Iraqi can ever forget it. But the Iraqi government was committed and acted responsibly for the sake of the Iraqi people and the reputation of Iraq.

James Risen (apparently due to the Times' fear of a Nouri-related lawsuit) rushes to print this morning to proclaim, "The Times article reported that former Blackwater executives who learned of the plans said they did not know whether the money was, in fact, delivered to Iraqi officials." Daniel Barlow (Times Argus) reports US House Rep Peter Welch formally called yesterday for an investigation into the allegations of bribery on Blackwater's part writing the Chair of the House Oversight Committee, "Early reports indicate that Blackwater may have violated the Foreign Corrupts Practices Act and potentially interfered with a grand jury inquiry by issuing these bribes. The United States government simply cannot turn a blind eye to such actions." Oliver August (Times of London) quotes a "relative of a Blackwater shooting victim," Aquil Akram stating, "Everything about them is bad. The victims's families were paid at most a few thousand dollars in compensation but the company is giving a million dollars to some government officials."
Meanwhile Iran's
Press TV reports that Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari has passed on 'details' to the UN Secretary-General's assistant Oscar Fernandez-Taranco on the August 19th and October 25th bombings: "We provided him with all the information which was not published in the media. We have not accused any country, but evidence asserts that former Baathists and al-Qaeda were involved in the attacks." Which would mean that they infilatrated the Iraqi police and the Iraqi military and, to steal from Annie Hall, "the FBI, and the CIA, and J. Edgar Hoover and oil companies and the Pentagon and the men's room attendant at the White House." The trucks loaded with bombs went through multiple checkpoints.

In other news,
Reuters reports a prison break in Basra with three escaping last night. The violence continues in Iraq with Marwan Ibrahim (Telegraph of London) reporting kidnapping of children is increasing in Kirkuk and goes over some of the known kidnappings including that of Sheikh Othman Abdel Karim Agha's son Moahmmed who says, "They chained me and beat me, and I was in the dark because they blindfoled me. I am still in shock from the constant fear of death."

Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing which wounded three people and a Mosul grenade attack which left two police officers injured. Reuters reports a Baghdad car bombing injuring four people.


Zhang Xiang (Xinhua) reports 2 Sahwa members were shot dead today in Jurf al-Sakhr. Sahwa are also known as "Awakenings" and "Sons Of Iraq" (there is also a "Daughters Of Iraq"). Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) explains it was Sahwa commander Othman Mohammed was shot dead in Diyala Province as was an aid accompanying him and reports 1 "headmistress of al Ma'ali School for girls" was shot dead in Baghdad and 2 people shot dead in two different osul shootings. Reuters reports a Balad shooting yesterday which claimed the life of 1 police officer (three more injured) and a Kirkuk shooting yesterday which injured a police officer.

Sahwa are also known as "Awakenings" and "Sons Of Iraq" (there is also a "Daughters Of Iraq"). The US government paid them to stop attacking the US military and its equipment.
Richard Sale (Washington Times) reports today:A congressional staffer who spoke on condition that he not be named because he was discussing sensitive intelligence said that after the U.S. stopped paying Sunni forces directly in June, it wasn't long before payments to the tribes "simply stopped. You got paid if you were a power in the government, and the tribal leaders were last on [Prime Minister Nouri al-] Maliki's list," the staffer said. The Iraqi Embassy in Washington declined to comment.

The PKK is a group of Kurds who fight for a Kurdish homeland. Labeled terrorists by many countries, including Turkey, they long ago set up a camp in the northern mountains of Iraq (which borders Turkey). Reporters have visited the camp -- Deborah Haynes of the Times of London, for example. Recent developments have included some PKK turning themselves over to the Turkish government which has then released them.
Reuters reports a second wave of PKK has turned themselves into the Turkish government today (eight members). The PKK issue is not seen as a 'big' one in Iraq currently. For example, the top US commander in Iraq, Gen Ray Odierno, sees the tensions between the KRG and Baghdad as the greatest source of conflict. But the PKK issue has never gone away no matter how many times the current or the previous administration might want it to. The government of Turkey has received repeated promises from the US government (current and previous administrations) that the PKK issue would be 'dealt with' and 'handled' and all that has ever happened has been postponing it until it flares again, at which point the US government is suddenly concerned all over again. For over two years now, Turkey has been conducting air raid bombings over northern Iraq. Asso Ahmed (Los Angeles Times) visits the main camp of the PKK to speak with the leader Murat Karayilan about where things stand currently:

Q: How do you view the policy of the United States on the Kurdish issue? The U.S. has asked Turkey to resolve the issue peacefully.

A: I am doubtful of this policy by America. When [President] Obama visited Turkey he met with Ahmet Turk, the Kurdish parliamentary bloc representative in the Turkish parliament. The meeting had implications, but America does not want to resolve our cause for their own interests in the region. They want to put pressure on us to make more compromises.

Q: How do you manage to stay in Iraq? Do you get any assistance from the Kurdish Regional Government?

A: We have no relations with the KRG, we are not in need of their assistance, we rely on our own finances from our people in Turkey and our supporters abroad. The Kurdish people in Kurdistan sympathize with us and support us morally, but not materially. At the same time, we believe the current situation of the Kurds and their role in the political equation in the region is becoming weaker day after day.

James Glanz and Walter Gibbs (New York Times) contributed a bad article this morning. Peter Galbraith (long called out at this website -- search the archives) finally gets the write up for his help or 'help' which was accompanied by efforts to enrich himself. As October wound down, Al Jazeera's Inside Iraq addressed this issue.

Jasim al-Azzawi: When Norway's most respected financial newspaper, Dagens Noeringsliv, covered the activities of a small, Norwegian oil company called DNO operating in northern Iraq, no one expected subsequent investigations to implicate the former US politician Peter Galbraith. Ambassador Galbraith is now suing DNO for a quarter of a billion dollars because the Kurdistan Regional Government has squeezed him out of his 5% stake in the company. What is more devastating for Iraq is the role Mr. Galbraith played as a political consultant to the KRG writing Iraq's Constitution in a way that can only be described as a potential ticking time bomb. This story has all the marks of dual loyalty, betrayal and international intrigue. [. . .] I am now joined from Oslo by Terje Erikstad, a financial news editor at Dagens Naeringsliv and from London by Sabah al-Mukhtar, president of Arab Layers Association in London. And we were also supposed to be joined by Mohammad Ihsan, Minister for Extra-Regional Affairs of the KRG but unfortunately we were informed at the last minute that he fell sick and cannot join the program.

Transcript of a partial excerpt of the broadcast can be found in the
October 26th snapshot. Today NPR's Melissa Block (All Things Considered) interviewed Peter Galbraith about his oil dealings.

Oil is the issue
Ameen Izzadeen raises in his latest column for Sri Lanka's Daily Mirror:

Notwithstanding questions over the credibility of US President Barack Obama's anti-Iraq war rhetoric, he has artfully taken the world attention away from Iraq, which his predecessor George W. Bush invaded.
Obama is seen to be fighting his war in the Af-Pak region against Taliban and al-Qaeda militants. Obviously, it is the daily terror incidents and military operations in Pakistan and Afghanistan that fill the front pages of US newspapers. Incidents in Iraq either make no news these days or are relegated to inside pages.
This does not mean that the United States has shelved Iraq. Far from it, Iraq is very much on its agenda. The shifting of the focus from Iraq to Afghanistan is seen by many observers as deliberate and sneaky. The US apparently does not want much media attention when it is reaping the fruit of the invasion. Like a couple who want to be intimate send their children to play, the US has sent the media to Afghanistan while it digs deeper into Iraq's national wealth. Can we call this Obama's weapon of mass deception?
Last Thursday, Exxon-Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell won the development rights of a massive oil field -- West Qurna near Basra in Iraq's south. The two oil giants hope to boost daily production from the current 300,000 barrels to 2.3 million barrels a day at West Qurna, which the ousted and hanged Iraqi President Saddam Hussein wanted to give to a Russian oil company.
Last month, British Petroleum (BP) and the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) won a contract to develop another oil field. The invitation to China to join the plunder of Iraq is probably a payoff by the US so that this Asian economic powerhouse and rising military power would not rock the pirates' boat.

James Cogan (WSWS) offers, "Having drowned the Iraqi people in blood, the American financial and corporate oligarchy now believes that day has finally arrived. While US corporations are not the sole beneficiaries of the contracts, there is no question who has the final say over Iraq's oil. With huge military bases in the country and a Baghdad regime tied to Washington, the US is positioned to dictate terms to its European and Asian rivals and, amid rising great powers tensions, to wield the threat of cutting off oil suppliers -- a longstanding tenent of American strategic policy." Meanwhile Rod Nordland (New York Times) reports, "Iraq's Baghdad Trade Fair ended Tuesday, six years and a trillion dollars after the American invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, and one country was conspicuously absent" -- the United States. US House Rep John Murtha spoke with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (link has text and video) over the weekend and predicted that the costs of the wars in Iraq and Aghanistan will lead to inflation in "seven or eight years". Last Friday, US House Rep Dennis Kucinich issued the following statement:

Why is it we have finite resources for health care but unlimited money for war? The inequities in our economy are piling up: trillions for war, trillions for Wall Street and tens of billions for the insurance companies. Banks and other corporations are sitting on piles of cash of taxpayer's money while firing workers, cutting pay and denying small businsses money to survive. People are losing their homes, their jobs, their health, their investments, their retirement security; yet there is unlimited money for war, Wall Street and insurance companies, but very little money for jobs on Main Street. Unlimited money to blow up things in Iraq and Afghanistan, and relatively little money to build things in the US. The Administration may soon bring to Congress a request for an additional $50 billion for war. I can tell you that a Democratic version of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan is no more acceptable than a Republican version of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Trillions for war and Wall Street, billions for insurance companies . . . When we were promised change, we weren't thinking that we give a dollar and get back two cents.

Tuesday's snapshot noted Human Rights Watch's new report entitled [PDF format warning] "On Vulnerable Ground: Violence against Minority Communities in Nineveh Province's Disputed Territories." The Kurdistan Regional Government has issued a response to the report and we'll note this section of the response:

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has a long standing and productive relationship with Human Rights Watch (HRW). We appreciate what HRW has done in the past. As an oppressed community ourselves, we fully understand the value of ensuring justice for all members and factions of society. In addition, the KRG appreciates the interest in the condition of the minority communities in Ninevah Province's disputed territories. We regard the well-being of all communities in these areas to be of paramount concern. The KRG is ready and willing to look into each and every allegation, and we are ready to work on these issues under the legal framework of both the Kurdistan Region and the Republic of Iraq, with the help of HRW and other reputable human rights organisations. The KRG will investigate each specific claim outlined in the report carefully and thoroughly. There may be instances of maltreatment and neglect; the KRG does not claim to be flawless. But the report reveals a systematic misperception of the circumstances in Ninevah and a worrying ignorance of Iraqi history. HRW therefore produces an inaccurate portrayal of the situation. Furthermore, due to the methodology employed to produce this report, it cannot be the basis for legitimate judgements or assertions. The main thrust of this report could be grossly misleading and the KRG affirms its strong disagreement in this regard. The KRG has done more for the protection of minorities than any other entity in Iraq, and continues to insist on tolerance and peaceful coexistence in the Region and throughout Iraq.

We don't have time for the KRG's full statement in this and, equally true, the HRW report was not given a ringing endorsement here on Tuesday. (Repeating, I believe the two activists who detailed their abuse while in Kurdish custody.) We opened with IVAW and we'll close with it. Yesterday was Veterans Day in the US and, at Fort Hood, there was a candle light vigil.
Shelton Green (KVUE -- link has text and video) reported on it.Shelton Green: Well Tyler, they call themselves, Iraq Veterans Against the War. Tonight, they not only honored their fallen comrades, they also brought attention to the growing mental health needs of returning soldiers. There's another vigil Wednesday night to honor the slain and injured and last Thursday's shooting at Fort Hood. But the fire burning within these soldiers and their supporters has a less popular fuel source.Michael Kern: I approached the army when I got back from Iraq and I was like hey I need to talk to someone, I need some help. And they said come back in two months.Shelton Green: Michael Kern who is presently in the army met President Barack Obama Tuesday when he was at Fort Hood for a memorial service for the thirteen killed in Iraq last week. Kern slipped the president a list of changes he'd like to see made for troops returning home from battle.Michael Kerns: He came over to me to shake my hand, put out his hand to shake my hand and very respectfully I pulled out the letter in my pocket, tried handing it to him and I was like, "Sir, IVAW has some issues they would like you to address." And at that point, he put his hand down and moved to the next soldier. Secret Service then took the letter from me and that was the last of it. Shelton Green: Iraq Veterans Against the War want to see a withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. They also believe both countries should get reperations from the US. And they want to see better mental health care for returning soldiers. Chance Mills: There should be a more compassionate attitude towards soldiers who are dealing with a lot of stress. And that's where it has to start. No program, no poster on the wall is going to fix that.Shelton Green: Now Iraq Veterans Against the War claims its membership of 2,000 is growing. The group is also organizing a petition for better mental health services for returning troops. We're live at Fort Hood, Shelton Green, KVUE News.

cindy sheehan
the new york timesjames risen
xinhua zhang xiang
al jazeera
inside iraq
jasim al-azzawi
the times of londonoliver august
mcclatchy newspaperssahar issa
nprall things considered
the los angeles times
asso ahmed
the washington timesrichard sale
shelton greeniraq veterans against the warkvue

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