Thursday, February 24, 2011



That's an August 5, 2007 comic entitled "Spineless." And looking back, that's when I should have abandoned hope in elected Dems.

They'd talked strong and we gave them control in the 2006 mid-terms but once they were sworn in (Jan. 2007), they refused to stand by any promises they campaigned on. Over and over we saw it.

They were for spying, they were for war, they were basically Republicans. And we'd hear these lame excuses for their sell-outs and some promises of "next time" but over and over it happened.

I remember being confused around this period and honestly thinking they weren't realizing what they were doing. They knew. The only fool was me. (In the cartoon, they're collapsing yet again, this time to support illegal wiretapping.)

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

Thursday, February 24, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, Nouri wants no protests tomorrow, Moqtada runs free (despite murder charges) but the shoe-tosser is re-arrested in Baghdad, Ramadi is slammed with a suicide bombing, Julian Assange's attorney is completely unreliable -- and that's a judge's determination, not my own -- and much more.
Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports a Ramadi suicide bomber took his own life and that of 12 other people (twenty-four more injured). AP adds that Jasim al-Halbusi, Chair of the Anbar Provincial Council, says the attack was an attempt to assassinate the deputy governor. BBC says Hikmet Khalaf, the deputy governor was injured the bombing. Trend notes, "A journalist with the Iraqi satellite television station al-Ittijah was among those killed in the blast. The reporter's name remains unknown." Fadhel al-Badrani (Reuters) notes the death toll has risen to 15 and quotes Hikmet Khalaf stating, "We were in the middle of a ceremony to celebrate the anniversary of Prophet Mohammad's birthdy when a male suicide bomber carme to the door of the room and said 'God is Greatest' and blew himself up." In addition, DPA reports that a Baquba home invasion has killed 1 man and three of his sons. Tang Danlu (Xinhua) reports a Baquba roadside bombing claimed 1 life and left two people injured, that Lt Col Tha'ir al-Obiedi sruvived a sticky bomb attack in Baquba, a Baquba roadside bombing injured two people, and 2 Baghdad roadside bombings left five people injured.

Meanwhile an Iraqi govenor has declared that a prisoner died of torture. Dar Addustour reports that Nineveh's governor, Ethel Nujaifi, announced yesterday that another prisoner died of torture in Mosul. The man's name was Khalid Walid Sayf al-Din and that he had been born in 1976. An investigation has been announced and a promise made that those responsible will be punished. AK News reports on it here. The treatment of prisoners is among the many things that Iraqis have been protesting against in recent weeks. Human Rights Watch issued a report this week entitled [PDF format warning] "At a Crossroads: Human Rights in Iraq Eight Years After the US-led Invasion" which includes a section on torture.
On December 19, 2009, during one of the numerous security sweeps of Mosul, Iraqi soldiers kicked open the front door of Ahmad M.'s family home, arresting the 21-year-old for alleged terrorism.
For months, no one in his family knew where he was taken or if he was still alive. Ahmad said that during the worst days of his ordeal at a secret government detention facility at Muthanna Airport, he wished he wasn't alive.
"During the first eight days they tortured me daily," he told us. "[The interrogators] would put a bag on my head and start to kick my stomach and beat me all over my body. They threatened that if I didn't confess, they would bring my sisters and mother to be raped. I heard him on the cell phone giving orders to rape my sisters and mother."
In one torture session, Ahmed, who was blindfolded and handcuffed, said his tormentors stripped him and ordered him to stroke another detainee's penis. Then they forced him to the floor and forced the other detainee on top of him.
"It hurt when it started to penetrate me. The guards were all laughing and saying, 'He's very tight, let's bring some soap!' When I experienced the pain, I asked them to stop and said that I would confess. Although I confessed to the killings, I mentioned fake names since I never killed anyone. So the torture continued even after I confessed because they suspected my confession was false." He went on to say that one of the guards also forced him to have oral sex.
Ahmad's story echoes that of many Iraqi detainees, who are routinely subjected to torture at facilities across the country. Following on the legacy of the judicial system under previous governments, courts continue to rely mainly on confessions, which interrogators extract with seemingly unlimited brutality. International investigators have repeatedly documented the persistence and widespread nature of torture in Iraq in recent years; little has changed in response to those reports. Human Rights Watch's findings show that as of 2010, the practice remains as entrenched as ever, failing even to draw a critical response when evidence is produced by the Iraqi government itself.
Yesterday four protests took place in Dhi Qar. Al Mada reports that hundreds protested in cities in the province such as Nasiriyah as they demanded improved basic services, the end of corruption in the government and opportunities for the people of Iraq. 5 police officers were injured in the Panthers demonstration. They also note a smaller protest before the provincial council by the University of Dhi Qar employees who are demanding that the university's housing project commence (land has been allocated some time ago but no construction has ever taken place). Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports that portests took place in Halabja today "over lack of basic services, corruption and unemployment" and that 1 police officer was killed and three more injured.

An essay on Kitabat's main page explains that Friday is the day Iraqis stand up to leaders who attempted to perpetuate divisions among the people, leaders who abused the Iraqi people's patiences, leaders who ignored the people and now the day of rage calls all Iraqis to Tahrir Square in Baghdad to make Iraq's voice heard. The writer offers a religious prayer asking for protection for the marchers and a peaceful march with no attacks from the government. Friday, the essay announces, will be when Iraq leaves its recent sectarian and ethnic categories and again becomes one nation with "brother having the back of his brother" and the people emerging triumphant over the politicians after too many bleak years. "Tomorrow we are all one and the same and will root out the corruption and the violence and death" that has plauged Iraq.

And yet some are demanding that the long planned, long announced protests not take place. Yes, Moqtada al-Sadr has returned and, with his return, his fawning press base is back. Yesterday's snapshot noted an article by Michael S. Schmidt and Yasir Ghazi (New York Times) that we panned for gold and ignored the very weak parts of. The article had just gone up and I thought it would be redone before going into print (which is often the case). That didn't happen. The article includes these laughable paragraphs:

Mr. Sadr is widely seen as the only one who can rival Mr. Maliki for the support of the Iraqi people. In 2008, Mr. Maliki sent troops into southern Iraq to clear the cities of Mr. Sadr's militias, ultimately leading Mr. Sadr to abandon them.

But Mr. Sadr's partisans did very well in last March's election and later provided key support to Mr. Maliki so he could continue to be prime minister.

We're not a pro-State of Law website and we certainly don't carry Nouri's water for him. But a rival would Ayad Allawi whose political slate actually beat Nouri's State of Law. A rival would not be someone who came in with half the seats of Allawi or Nouri. Sadr's about as popular (or was at election time) as the Kurds -- which it a tiny portion of Iraq. To claim otherwise is to rewrite history. Before Sadr 'abandon'ed those militias, he first attempted to launch an uprising but that was taken down in Basra and in Baghdad.

Did Sadr provide key support for Nouri?

Yes, he did and that's where reporters provide context but no one apparently can either because they don't know recent history or they just don't care. Moqtada al-Sadr resurfaced in Iraq yesterday to issue a call that the protests long planned for tomorrow be called off. What he offered instead was a referendum. The press is obligated to tell the story of Moqtada's most recent referendum -- less than a year ago. But no one wants to remember that today.

Dropping back to the April 7th snapshot:

Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc won 40 seats in the Parliament. Kadhim Ajrash and Caroline Alexander (Bloomberg News) report that Ibrahim al-Jaafari "won 24 percent of the 428,000 ballots cast in the internal referendum, ahead of al-Sadr's second cousin, Jafar Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr, who obtained 23 percent, Sadrist spokesman Salah al-Ubaidi said today in the southern city of Najaf." Al Jazeera notes that Nouri al-Maliki received 10% of the vote and Ayad Allawi 9%. The US military invaded Iraq in March 2003 (and still hasn't left).

The Times reporters are correct, Moqtada did throw his support behind Nouri. After holding a referendum -- one that he said would determine who his bloc would support. Nouri isn't who won the referendum. Nouri didn't even come in second. But Moqtada broke his word and still supported Nouri. He ignored the wishes of the people. And how do you referendum basic services? "Are you for or opposed to water you can drink safely without first boiling? Are you for or opposed to trash pick ups? Are you for or opposed to electricity?"

Now he's showing back up proposing another referendum? A skeptical press would greet his vanity move with laughter. Do we have a skeptical press, a functioning press? Today be thankful for Stephanie McCrummen (Washington Post) who gathers multiple threads to provide the tapestry and not some isolated segment that reveals nothing. As she notes, "the leadeup to the big day has been marked so far by the more familiar features of Iraq's bare-knuckle style of governing: crackdowns by security forces, political intrigue, sectarian divisions and the threat of violence." And she continues on that path, noting the patterns, reporting the events and she's even speaking to experts. Joost Hiltermann weighs in (and his record, especially of late, has been remarkably high, I'd estimate that in the last 12 months, 92% of the calls he's made -- what he's seeing and where that will end up -- have been correct). (Jane Arraf's reports have been consistently strong. That's this week, that's her entire career of reporting from Iraq. A friend called about the observations made this morning by me that appear only slightly reworked above and asked about "What about Jane?" He worked with her at CNN and has high respect for her. Most people who know her work do. I was not attempting to sleight Jane Arraf. I thought it was a given that we expect strong reporting from her and that she delivers. Over and over. If that wasn't obvious, my apologies for not making it so before.)
Moqtada returned to Iraq yesterday to say "NO!" to the protests. Someone else returned to say "YES!" and "YES!" gets you arrested apparently. He was the shoes heard around the world: Muntazer al-Zaidi. The Iraqi reporter who threw his shoes, one after the other, at George W. Bush. Nicholas Blanford (Time magazine) spoke with him right before he arrived in Iraq and he tells Blanford, "We never used to have sectarianism until the Americans came to Iraq." The Post-Chronicle notes he was arrested today in Baghdad for "inciting people" (endorsing Friday's protest). AFP notes that right before his press conference, Iraqi military showed up and declared they were ordered to arrest him.

The reactionary Nouri made more speechifying today. Michael S. Schmidt and Jack Healy (New York Times) report on his call for no protests tomorrow and quote him declaring, "They are attempting to crack down on everything you have achieved, all the democratic gains, the free elections, the peace exchange of power and freedom." What?
What peaceful exchange of power and freedom? Before the March 7, 2010 elections, Nouri was prime minister, Jalal Talabani was president. Tariq al-Hashimi was a vice president before the 2010 elections and will continue when the Parliament does their voting. Adil Abdul-Mahdi was a vice president before the election and will continue . . . In addition, a third vice president will join them (and Talabani's pushing for a fourth). On this subject, I'd mentioned in a previous snapshot that the White House went with Nouri because he agreed to keep US forces on the ground in Iraq and noted that they ignored the oil lobby and the CIA who each had other candidates. Allawi was and is the choice of the American CIA. Abdul-Mahdi is the choice of big oil.
Nizar Latif (The National) reports that despite the calls from Nouri, al-Sistani and Moqtada, "Thousands of protesters prepared to take to the streets today to call for government reforms and improved public services as the government warned of violence from militants."
Yesterday, we noted that, considering Iraq's not so distant past, it's amazing that Iraqis protest (encouraged to rise up by George H.W. Bush and then slaughtered while the US looked elsewhere). Alan Greenblatt (NPR) covers that period from a more centrist position than does Lance Selfa (I support Lance's historical review) so you can check that out if it is a new topic for you or just one you'd like further reading on.
In the United States, Iraq Veterans Against the War holds this event tomorrow:

February 25, 2011 9:30 - 10:30 am
Busboys & Poets, Langston room
14th & V st NW Washington DC
This report back will be to answer questions from media and the peace movement about the recent trip back to Iraq by members of Iraq Veterans Against the War. The war is not over but it is not the same as it was in years past. What is the humanitarian situation in Iraq?
How can we do reparations and reconciliation work?
Speakers are all returning from this delegation and include:
Geoff Millard (IVAW) Hart Viges (IVAW) Haider Al-Saedy (Iraqi Health Now)
Richard Rowely (
Big Noise Films)

Moving to legal news out of England, Jessica Grose (Slate) observes, "A few months after famous feminist Naomi Wolf and other leftist journalists dismissed the sexual assault charges against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange as frivolous, British courts are taking the matter quite seriously: They ruled Thursday that Assange should be extradited to Sweden to face accusations of abuse, according to the New York Times. [. . .] Hopefully now that a court is taking these women's stories seriously, Wolf and company will have to eat their condescending words." One would hope so. But don't expect it to happen. And Grose is saying the charges should be taken seriously, she's not saying, "JULIAN ASSANGE IS A RAPIST!!!" Whereas, the other side's loud mouths -- Naomi Wolf, Ray McGovern, et al -- have repeatedly slimed and trashed the women who may have been raped. There's an appeal expected. I've read the findings, there does not appear to be grounds for an appeal.
The nonsense and drama that the legal 'team' (and the loudmouths) brougt in was always a pathetic and embarrassing joke. It made them appear unhinged to claim that the US was behind it with the plan to put Assange in Guantanamo or to execute him. As I've said before, Assange would never go to Guantanamo. Guantanamo has always depended upon the fact that people didn't know the prisoners kept there -- that's how inhumanity like Guantanamo exists with little uproar. Second, there is no crime on the books in the US that would allow Julian Assange to be put to death -- he's not a US citizen, he can't be tried with treason. They overreached and embarrassed themselves.
Disclosure, in one class decades ago, the professor teamed us up. I was with two men. Our case was to argue about school prayer. The men on my team decided we would be in favor of it. (Ask them why. They were the laziest bums I've ever met -- as the story will demonstrate.) One of us would research, one would be in charge of the court paperwork, one would argue the case. Research being the heavy load, neither of the puny men wanted it. Fine. I researched the whole thing and found the citations and judgments we would need to argue their position. Then it was, "You researched it, how about you write it up and I'll type it." Not pleased but fine. I wrote it up. And this is back in the days when typing was done on a type writer. Students didn't have laptops or word processors or whatever. So then Weakling Number 1 types or 'types' up the paper. I keep asking if it's done and keep getting told it's almost done. The day the case is to be argued, Weakling 1 shows up ten or so minutes before moot court begins to tell me (a) he just turned in the paperwork, (b) here's a carbon of it and (c) he's dropping out of the class -- effective now. Weakling 2 has developed sudden shyness and hysterical laryngitis (not a doctor, but I will stand by that diagnosis -- 30 minutes after the moot court hearing, his voice was back). So I've got to argue the case. Fine. I'm looking over the carbons and it is nothing but errors, people's names are wrong, court cases are wrong . . . And to this day, I always look down on people who can't get their filings right. Now that's my pet peeve and why. (If you're wondering, we won the case surprising everyone.) And that may just be me and my feelings because of the experience I've described. However, I do have a number of friends who are judges and they're not really fond of screwed up court paperwork either. I'm talking errors. Not lies. But both will apply in the case Assange's attorneys presented.
The attorneys are currently whining about all the money spent to translate paperwork (from Sweden) into English but, in their own documents submitted to the court, appeared to struggle with English. (I'm referring to repeated typos.) They also appeared to struggle with facts. Including who was president of the United States and when he became president of the United States (Barack Obama is president and became the president when he was sworn in January, 2009). When you have so many errors like that, you're not helping anyone. Why you needed to bring in the President of the United States into your paperwork about a matter between the governments of England and Sweden is beyond me but, having decided to, you need to get your facts right.
Not only did they struggle with facts in their paperwork, they struggled it with facts in their presentation. And they got caught lying. Repeatedly. Bjorn Hurtig has been Julian Assange's attorney for some time and fed the press repeated claims. Any smart person would have realized that Hurtig, a defense attorney, can say anything to the press and it doesn't have to be true. Instead, too many put faith in the claims Hurtig has been making since December. Hurtig bumped up against a judge that wasn't pleased with being lied to.
Chief Magistrate Howard Riddle's ruling can be read [PDF format warning] here in full. The big witnesses were Assange's attorney Hurtig and former judge Brita Sunderg-Weitman. The former judge didn't impress Riddle. After listing the many things Sunderg-Weitman claimed, Riddle notes, "In cross-examination the witness told me she is not an expert in Mutual Legal Assitance. She confirmed she had no direct personal knowledge of what happened in this investigation before Mr Assange left Sweden. Her evidence is based upon the facts supplied to her by the defence lawyers. [In her proof she said Ms Ny had made no effort to interview him before he left with her permission and knowledge on 27th September.] She confirmed that if the defence lawyer had told the prosecutor that he was unable to contact the defendant for interview, then the position would be different." The judge is referring to the fact that before Assange left Sweden, attempts were made to question him. His attorneys have lied about that repeatedly to the press leading idiots like Naomi Wolf to insist that if Sweden was serious, they would have questioned him before he left the country. As the court learned (and as Assange's attorney confessed), there was an attempt to question Assange. Their chief expert offered testimony that she was not qualified to offer. They brought an expert to the witness stand to give hearsay evidence. No, that doesn't impress. Check out the following sentence fragments:
*Overall the witness appeared unclear . . .
*At first she appeared to avoid the question . . .
* Again she had difficulty directly answering the question.
These are just the first set. The witness did not impress the judge for obvious reasons. He was bothered by the fact that she didn't know the facts independently and that she relied (unquestioningly) on the defense to feed her information. This was also an issue with witness Sven-Eric Alhem but the judge noted that, in his written evidence, Alhem had made it clear that he got his information from the defense.
Then there's the part of the judgment recounting when Hurtig had to admit that there was an effort to interview Assange and he'd been contacted September 22nd about it and agreed to it. After agreeing to that what happened? From the judgment:
In summary the lawyer was unable to tell me what attempts he made to contact his client, and whether he definitely left a message. It was put that he had a professional duty to tell his client, and whether he definitely left a message. It was put that he had a professional duty to tell his client of the risk of detention. He did not appear to accept that the risk was substantial or the need to contact his client was urgent.
It only gets worse. The judge notes, "Mr Hurtig was asked why he told Brita Sundberg-Wietman that Ms Nye had made no effort to his client. He denied saying that and said he has never met her." Right there, you've got a huge problem. Their star witness has her facts wrong and states she got them from Hurtig. Hurtig, after being forced to admit the truth, then denies he ever spoke to the star witness. It gets worse. Confronted with what he wrote down and submitted to the court, Hurtig has to admit "that is wrong. He had forgotten [. . .] They must have slipped his mind." Slipped his mind? The judge didn't buy that claim.
Riddle continues, "He also agreed that it is important that what he says is right and important for his client that his evidence is credible." The judge then notes that the witness asserted he had a flight to catch, "The witness was clearly uncomfortable and anxious to leave."
As bad as that is-- and it's bad -- we're not even to the basic findings Judge Riddel offers -- 19 points on pages nine and ten. We'll emphasize two. First, here he is on Julian Assange's attorney Hurtig (the one Ray McGovern and Naomi Wolf have relied on when attacking the women who may have been raped):
10. Mr Hurtig [is] an unreliable witness as to what efforts he made to contaact his client between 21st, 22nd and 29th September (see transcript pages 122-132). He has no record of those attempts. They were by mobile phone, but he has no record. He cannot recall whether he sent texts or simply left answer-phone messages.
And point 15 goes along with that:
15. Mr Hurtig said in his statement that it was astonishing that Ms Nye made no effort to interview his client. In fact this is untrue. He says he realised the mistake the night before giving evidence. He did correct the statement in his evidence in chief (transcript p.83 and p.97). However, this was very low key and not done in a way that I, at least, immediately grasped as significant. It was only in cross-examination that the extent of the mistake became clear. Mr Hurtig must have realised the significance of paragraph 13 of his proof when he sbumitted it. I do not accept that this was a genuine mistake. It cannot have slipped his mind. For over a week he was attempting (he says without success) to contact a very important client about a very important matter. The statement was a deliberate attempt to mislead the court. It did in fact mislead Ms Brita Sunderberg-Weitman and Mr Alhem. Had they been given the true facts then they would have changed their opinion on a key fact in a material way.
When your attorney is ruled "an unreliable witness," you and your case have problems. Now Assange had a respectable lawyer but he wouldn't play the game Hurtig will and that's why Julian Assange dropped him. Now he's got a lawyer who lied repeatedly to the press and who the jugde caught in one lie after another.
Last week, Nir Rosen took to his Twitter feed when news borke that Lara Logan had been attacked and sexually assaulted while reporting from Egypt. Nir Rosen expressed the belief system of rapists and sexual assailants when he declared that Lara Logan deserved it. Mike noted Leonard Pitts Jr. (Miami Herald) had a strong column on the issue:

On the other side of the bipolar American political divide, something named Nir Rosen -- a journalist and a fellow at New York University -- mocked Logan in a series of tweets as a "warmonger," presumably for her coverage of the Iraq and/or Afghanistan wars, and said he was "rolling my eyes" at the attention she'd be getting.
Let us pass lightly on the specific "thoughts" -- a term used advisedly here -- raised by these individuals, except to note that, contrary to what Hoff and Schlussel imply, Logan did not wander aimlessly into that square. The woman is a reporter and she was doing what reporters do: going places, sometimes dicey, difficult or dangerous places, in order to originate the information that allows the rest of us to opine from the comfort of our chairs.
The suggestion that in doing her job, Logan somehow "deserved" what happened to her is appalling. As is Hoff's political spin, Rosen's mockery and Schlussel's frothing bigotry.
Betty noted Pitts' column last night and contrasted it with various efforts by some lefty males to excuse Rosen or pretend nothing ever happened. That includes Jim Lobe who was silent all last week about Rosen's attack on Logan but, as Betty pointed out, showed up yesterday declaring Rosen had a great article at Al Jazeera. (We'll come back to that.) Under pressure from people leaving comments, Lobe declared today: "hey, all, i hardly know Nir Rosen, but i think daniel already blogged on his inexcusable Lara Logan tweet(s)( The point is that Rosen's reporting has been excellent, and this essay was particularly compelling." Whatever, you sorry excuse, whatever. Everyone knows what you did, kept your head in the sand and waited until you thought it was over.
And I feel the witch in my veins
I feel the mother in my shoe
I feel the scream in my soul

The blood as I sing the ancient blue
They burned by the millions
I still smell the fire in my grandma's hair
The war against women rages on
Beware of the fairytale
Somebody's mama, somebody's daughter
Somebody's jail
-- "Somebody's Jail" written by Holly Near first appears on Holly's Show Up
Tell us another lie, Jim Lobe. And, Lobe, what are you doing linking to Peter Beinart in the same post? The War Hawk leading the charge for illegal war from the 'left'? Clearly all anyone has to do for Lobe to consider worth highlighting is attack Israel. And if you can do so with a level of craziness, all the better. (The government of Israel can be criticized and has certainly done enough to be criticized for. But some of these people are confusing governments with people and it's getting really ugly and really old. As we've noted many times when the wide-eyed crazy surfaces -- and you can find it all over the web, go to Information Clearing House -- one example -- and see the most extreme attacks on the Jewish people in comments left -- not just the Jews in Israel even. Jews all over the world get attacked with this sort of crazy most of us hoped had vanished. It's past time the left learned that wasn't acceptable. And as we've often noted, when Bully Boy Bush occupied the White House he may have been the US government but he was not the US people. Do not confuse people with governments.) As for Nir Rosen having an article on Aljazeera? Last week, I avoided calling attention to something but now that Aljazeera is publishing Nir Rosen, we're going to the second hour of last Friday's The Diane Rehm Show -- and this is from the show's official transcript, Diane is speaking with Aljazeera's Abderrahim Foukara:

REHM: Abderrahim, there are a great many people wondering why Aljazeera Arabic did not cover what happened to Laura Logan.

FOUKARA: I just wanna say this. I don't wanna say anything stupid or come across as trying to say anything too smart by half. I don't know the answer to what exactly happened with the story of Laura Logan on Aljazeera. I'd be very happy to come back down the road next week or whenever, once I've had a chance to speak to people and give the details of why that story was covered the way it was covered or was not covered at all on either Aljazeera English or Aljazeera Arabic.

Now it's one thing to wait for an explaination, it's another thing to be waiting for an explanation and as you're waiting discover that Aljazeera is carrying reports by the man who mocked Lara Logan's sexual assault. On the first, it could have just been an accident. But it looks a lot less inoccent when Aljazeera's ignoring the assault and running Nir Rosen's garbage. It may still be innocent and if he offers an update (either tomorrow or another Friday when he's on Diane's show), we'll note it. But it doesn't look good to ignore the Lara Logan story and then to be promoting the man who savaged her online.
the diane rehm show

Read on ...

Friday, February 18, 2011

A flunky scorned


From July 22, 2007, that's "A Flunky Scorned." Harriet Miers was a bit player in the Bush administration but one who did a lot of damage (true of every one of them). And when I did this comic, Congress wanted her to testify.

The Democratically controlled Congress wanted her to testify.

In the comic, I was finding humor in her attitude of refusing to testify. But if I was doing the comic today, I'd do it differently?

How come?

It captures her attitude. But I honestly thought she would testify. I thought the Democratically controlled Congress would use their Constitutional powers to compel her to testify.

That's what made her refusal so hilarious. She couldn't get away with it. If Congress ordered to show up and testify, she'd do so or be in contempt.

But what I didn't count on was there being someone who disrespected the Congress more than Miers -- that would be the Democratically controlled Congress. We gave them power in the 2006 mid-terms, we gave them control of not just one house of Congress but two.

They refused to impeach War Criminal George W. Bush. They refused to end the Iraq War. They refused to stop the Patriot Act. They refused to do much of anything.

Harriet Miers was and is a joke. But it turns out that she was far from the only one.

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

Thursday, February 17, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, a Democrat in Congress believes Iraq and the US will reach an agreement to keep US forces on the ground past 2011, Thomas E. Ricks encourages rape myths at his site, protests continue in Iraq and more.
Julian E. Barnes (Wall St. Journal) notes US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates expressed belief that a continued US military presence in Iraq is necessary. Gates expressed that opinion during the House Armed Services Committee hearing yesterday. From yesterday's snapshot, this is the full exchange:
US House Rep Dunan Hunter: Let's talk about Iraq for a minute. If the Status Of Forces Agreement is not changed or the Iraqis do not ask for our help and ask us to stay, what is our plan for 2012? At the end of this year, what's going to happen?
Secretary Robert Gates: We will have all of our forces out of Iraq. We will have an Office of Security Cooperation for Iraq that will have probably on the order of 150 to 160 Dept of Defense employees and several hundred contractors who are working FMS cases.
US House Rep Duncan Hunter: Do you think that represents the correct approach for this country after the blood and treasure that we spent in Iraq? My own personal time of two tours in Iraq. There's going to be fewer people there -- and that 150 -- than there are in Egypt right now. Somewhere around 600, 700 of those types of folks in Egypt. How can we maintain all of these gains that we've maintained through so much effort if we only have 150 people there and we don't have any military there whatsoever. We have more military in western European countries than we'd have in Iraq -- one of the most centralized states, as everybody knows, in the Middle East.
Secretary Robert Gates: Well I think that there is -- there is certainly on our part an interest in having an additional presence and the truth of the matter is the Iraqis are going to have some problems that they're going to have to deal with if we are not there in some numbers. They will not be able to do the kind of job and intelligence fusion. They won't be able to protect their own air space. They will not -- They will have problems with logistics and maintenance. But it's their country, it's a sovereign country. This is the agreement that was signed by President Bush and the Iraqi government and we will abide by the agreement unless the Iraqis ask us to have additional people there.
Kat reported on the House Armed Services Committee hearing last night with "Freedom hating Buck McKeon," Wally reported on it at Marcia's site with "Loretta Sanchez came prepared (Wally)" and Ava reported on it at Trina's site with "Gates and the absurd hearing (Ava)." Today, Nathan Hodge (Wall St. Journal) reports, US House Rep Adam Smith (Ranking Member on the House Armed Services Committee) declared that he believes an agreement will be reached with Iraq for US forces to stay on the ground after the end of this year, "I think it would be fairly limited -- it's not going to be 50,000 troops, at least perhaps there's 25,000. It's going to be a fairly low number." John T. Bennett (The Hill) quotes Smith stating, "I think they [Iraq] will make the ask." Leo Shane III (Stars & Stripes) quotes him stating, "But if we're talking about a small number of trainers, counterterrorism operations, then I think we're amenable to it."
Tuesday, Susan Burke and supporters of survivors of military sexual assaults and some of the survivors filing suit against the Pentagon held a press conference in DC. Today on The Diane Rehm Show (NPR), Diane's guests for the first hour were the Service Women's Action Network's Anu Bahgwati, attorney Burke and military sexual assault survivors Mary Gallagher and Rebekah Havrilla.
Susan Burke: The lawsuit is brought to try to reform what is clearly a broken system. What we have learned from interviewing hundreds of victims is that there is widespread retaliation against men and women that come forward and report rapes and sexual assaults. The program that Dr. [Kaye] Whitley spoke of are all simply focused on hand-holding to the victim but they lack any kind of clout. The SARCs themselves do not have any power vis-a-vis the military chain of command. Many of the SARCs are in the military chain of command and are willing to work at command's direction rather than actually advocate for the victims. So you have a completely dysfunctional system in which the victims have to face day-by-day workplace retaliation. So we're seeking -- we're seeking a Constitional -- a finding that [Defense] Secretary [Robert] Gates and former [Defense] Secretary [Donald] Rumsfeld have let such an obviously broken system go forward for so long that they have deprived the plantiffs of their Constitutional rights.
Diane Rehm: Tell me how these plantiffs came to your attention.
Susan Burke: I was originally contacted by a civilian, a woman named Christine Smith who had been raped by a service member and ended up going through the military system of justice with just dismal results. The prosecutor lost the physical evidence -- her undewear. The court martial went badly. Then, the poor thing, six months later, after this, she gets a phone call from somebody in the military saying, "Oh, please come pick up your things." And, in fact, it was the underwear. It had been there the whole time. So I was just simply staggered by that level of incompetence in the prosecutorial ranks and I spoke with her about the situation and whether we could help her. That led me to begin to investigate the issue of how rape is handled in the military system. I'm actually a child of career military. So I'm somewhat familiar with, you know, the military system, having grown up on army bases my whole life. But nonetheless, I was just shocked when I read Helen Benedict's The Lonely Soldier book, began to look at the reports, began to look at what Congress has done, because what you see is a lengthy pattern of Congress telling the Dept, 'do something effective, clean this problem up', and the Dept just blowing it off and not taking any type of effective steps.
Diane Rehm: Susan Burke, she's the plantiff's lead lawyer in the lawsuit against the Pentagon.
Let's stop to talk about two of the military rape cases that have received the most attention from the press in the last decade. There was Suzanne Swift who was a victim of command rape. She was deployed to Iraq at that time and there was a "victim's advocate" she could speak to. The 'advocate' wanted to work with Suzanne on what she (Suzanne) could do so as not to be 'tempting'. Suzanne Swift went through the channels and received no assistance. Home on a pass, she self-checked out and refused to return. Donna St. George (Washington Post) described what happened when her pass was supposed to be up.
She had the car keys in her hand, ready to drive to the base. Suddenly, she turned to her mother.
"I can't do this," she remembers saying. "I can't go."
The Army specialist, now 22, recalls her churning stomach. Her mother's surprise. All at once, she said, she could not bear the idea of another year like her first. She was sexually harssed by one superior, she said, and coerced into a sexual affair with another.
"I didn't want it to happen to me again," she said in an interview.
She was arrested and forced to return to Iraq. Kim Gandy (NOW) noted, "She was court-martialed, stripped of her rank and sent to jail. Her assailant and the harassers received a slap on the wrist in the form of reprimanding letters." Sarah Corbett (New York Times Sunday Magazine) covered the story:
As part of a plea bargain, she pled guilty to "missing movement" and being absent without leave. Her rank was reduced to private, and she spent the next 21 days, including Christmas, in a military prison in Washington State. The Army ruled that in order to receive an honorable discharge, Swift was dutybound to complete her five-year enlistment, which ends in early 2009. After finishing her stint in prison in January, Swift says she checked herself into the inpatient psych ward at Fort Lewis's hospital for a few days but ultimately was released back to duty. She told me she was trying generally to ignore the PTSD but had taken to drinking a lot in order to get by. "I kind of liked the Army before all that stuff happened," she said in early February, on the phone from her barracks at Fort Lewis. "I was good at my job. I did what I was supposed to do. And then in Iraq, I got disillusioned. All of the sudden this Army you care so much about is like, well, all you're good for is to have with and that's it." She added, "I really, really, really, don't want to be here."
All the press attention didn't help Suzanne Swift receive justice. The other well covered case involved a woman who was missing. The coverage didn't help rescue her because she was already dead, killed by her rapist. Maria Lauterbach was a Marine. She was raped. She followed the channels. She did what she was supposed to. And doing what she was supposed to, following the rules didn't protect her. Cesar Laurean was her rapist. He was also a Marine. Even after she came forward, she was still forced to work with Laurean and attend meetings with him. The command showed no common sense, let alone sympathy. It gets worse. If there was anyone in a position of authority who did the right thing by Maria it was only Onslow Country Sheriff Ed Brown. Maria was seven months pregnant and missing. Her mother was asking for help. The Marines ignored her. They not only ignored her, they refused to do even a basic investigation. It was Brown and his staff who would locate Maria's body. She'd been brutally murdered and then Laurean dug a pit in his backyard, placed her body in it and attempted to burn her body to destroy the evidence. At this point Sherrif Brown thought he would be arresting Cesar Laurean. Maria had accused Laurean of raping her, she had disappeared just as she was going to testify against him. It should have been simple to pick him up. But it wasn't. Because what was obvious to someone trained to deal with crimes (Brown) was a big mystery to the Marine command. Laurean had already skipped town. And the Marines didn't even know it. Hadn't put him under watch, hadn't even considered him a suspect.
After he was caught (and brought back to the US), Laurean was convicted of Maria's murder and given a life sentence with no parole. Kevin Hayes (CBS News) reported:
After the verdict was read, Mary Lauterbach, Maria's mother, read a prepared statement. "Maria will always be our hero," she said. She told Laurean to look at his mother, saying that her heart breaks for his family too. "Now you will have time to think about your shame, time to think about your failures," she said. "There are many people out there who will die today, people who would love to have the time that God has given you."
These are the two most well known military rape cases of the last decade. In both cases, the women followed the rules on reporting. In neither instance was the woman assisted or protected. Those are the two most well known, they are not the only ones. And there are also cases like LaVena Johnson where she was killed (the facts laid out do not indicate suicide) and her parents, Linda and John Johnson, believe LaVena was sexually assaulted before she was killed. The cases aren't 'out there.' They're not 'extreme.' Service Women's Action Network's Anu Bahgwati explained to Diane's listeners, "Well I think, you know, we need to understand that military culture is completely different than the civilian world. As a service member, you can't quit your job if you're attacked, harassed or raped. You can't transfer to another community. You are stuck with your perpetrator and with the chain of command you have. There's very limited redress which requires, you know, you to take a giant leap of faith and really risk putting your career at an end by stepping forward. You know you're dealing with a system that thrives on power, on rank structure and intimidation. It's very unsafe to step forward unless you are guaranteed protection and, right now, there is no guarantee to your protection or that you'll ever get justice for the crime."
Mary Gallagher was raped while serving in Iraq. She followed the rules and reported the harassment to her supervisor, "And she basically said to me, 'It's he-said/she-said, and, you know, you just kind of need to, like, roll with it. And, you know, I don't really want to deal with it.' And it kept persisting, and so I reported it again. And at that point, she had me go see the chaplain and the chaplain said to me, 'You know, 96% of women are assaulted because they've been drinking.' Well this was a ridiculous statement because you can't drink in -- you know, alcohol in Iraq." That was the 'help' Mary Gallagher received while serving in Iraq and being sexually harassed and that 'help' -- that refusal by the command to do anything -- 'helped' the harassment build and build and Mary Gallgher was raped. Where are the charges for the command that refused to address the harassment?
Diane Rehm: Mary Gallagher, were you worried about being accused of false allegations?
Mary Gallagher: You know, a little bit. But mostly what my -- I was really scared for my life -- especially after the rape actually happened. I was terrified. And, you know, you're already in a war zone situation -- so your senses are up. And my fear was -- is -- that, you know, when I had reported the harassment and they hadn't done anything? When the rape happened, that's why I didn't report it. Because I didn't feel like they were going to do anything. And so it was just like I felt so isolated -- and so alone -- but, as far as, you know, that people would think that it was false? You know, no. But when I did report the harassment? Everybody was like, 'Well you know' -- They would always try to explain it away or dismiss it and so it always leads to a point that, you know, they just don't really want to deal with it.
Rebekah Havrilla was raped while serving in Afghanistan and she spoke of how there was even a training given in Afghanistan, while she was deployed, a PowerPoint training, and that a sergeant present for this sexual assault training "decided that he was going to strip naked and dance on the table. And even as you were going through the slides and you talk about, you know, what is acceptable and what is not acceptable, there'd be comments about how, 'Oh, I just did that last night," or an action from one male to even another male trying to stimulate was was [being] told was just inappropriate behavior."
We're noting the next section (a) to include reality about "restricted reporting" -- a 'device' Kaye Whitley favors and we've long called out here (and remember Whitley can never give Congress the numbers -- she's forever asked but she can never provide the numbers and is forever 'surprised' that she's been asked) and (b) there are two men in the lawsuit and the media has often referred to the plantiffs as all being women.
Diane Rehm: I wonder Susan Burke if you can explain the difference between restricted reporting and unrestricted reporting?
Susan Burke: Yes, this is essentially a unique military creation that has, again, been a misdirected effort. Rather than tackling the omnipresent retaliation that occurs, they created an avenue for those who have been raped and sexually assaulted to report on a completely confidential basis. And there's not much -- There's nothing that comes of it. The problem is that even there, even though that confidentiality is supposed to encourage more and more survivors to come forward in order to access the health care treatment that's available to them, the reality is that it often leaks out and the survivors end up enduring the very retaliation they sought to avoid by going the restricted reporting route. So there's serious issues of the focus of the department's efforts. And the unrestricted reporting -- which is not used nearly as often as the restricted reporting -- is what we would normally think of when a crime occurs.
Diane Rehm: What about the two men who are part of this lawsuit? Explain what happened to them.
Susan Burke: Yes, in both instances, they were -- they were harassed and they were violated. One was groped and then, when he went to report it, he became the subject of a pervasive amount of physical abuse against him as he was on the ship. The other gentleman was raped in the barracks and when he went to report it to his command, they simply laughed at him. So the reality is this is not -- rape and the sexual assault -- is not limited to females. It is also occuring among the males as well and again you have the widespread retaliation, the scorn, the disbelief. In addition, there's the constant statement, "Well you know, you don't, don't rock the boat. You're a trouble maker. Don't be reporting on your own." -- these cultural messages that you really risk your career if you step forward. And most tellingly one of the survivors who has joined the lawsuit is a woman who was actually a criminal investigative unit agent. When she was raped, she opted not to report it because she knew that it would not be taken seriously. It was only after her perpetrator went on for the next two years raping additional women did a CID officer hear of what happened to her and come and ask her to come forward. You know, that is a very telling story of what all of these victims of rape and sexual abuse are confronting.
That was today's Diane Rehm Show and if you can't stream or if streaming will not help you, remember that Diane is now putting transcripts of her show online and you can click here for today's transcript. The full hour is transcribed. (Quotes and excerpts above were done by me and won't match up in sentence structure or punctuation, FYI.) This is an important issue, it's an important legal case and Diane treated it as such devoting a full hour to it (and she and guest host Susan Page have covered the issue of military assault for a full hour segment several times before). It's really amazing how other programs appear to have a real problem (a) finding this story and (b) covering it. Many NPR stations are in pledge drive mode currently. If you have the money to pledge and plan to, consider pledging during The Diane Rehm Show and letting them know that you do appreciate the type of programming that you hear on her show. And if you're local station isn't in a pledge drive or if you're reading this between pledge drives at some point in the future, you can always go to this NPR page and donate online.
We were at two Congressional hearings today and I may note one or both tomorrow. But the above is an important issue and it's not being covered. The reluctance to address it can also be seen in the silence on Nir Rosen's attack of Lara Logan (CBS News -- Lara was attacked and sexually assaulted while doing her job -- drop back to yesterday's snapshot if you're new to this topic). I'm not referring to the MSM, I'm not referring to the right. I'm referring to the left where we continue to refuse to police our own and enable the attacks on women who are raped to be launched. On her program Grit TV, Laura Flanders, to her credit, did address it and you can click here for text and video. Flanders concludes her commentary with, "Lara Logan deserves commendation for going public with her story, and anyone who tries to twist into anything other than a tale of what happens to women everywhere, all the time, still, is simply making apologies for rape. And for that there's no apology." Laura Flanders deserves commendation for addressing Nir Rosen's comments in her commentary. Good for her. It was needed and it is appreciated. So many others offered nothing. At The Nation online, since Tuesday, the most read story has been Laila Lalami's "The Attack on Lara Logan: War of the Words." It was written before Nir Rosen launched his attack on Lara and on victims of assault so it doesn't mention him. But the fact that it has been your most read feature for days now -- and still tops the list -- would indicate your readership actually cares about the issue. By contrast, your refusal to follow it up would indicate that you have ZERO interest in the topic (especially with regards to Nir Rosen's attacks). (Laura's commentary was for her show Grit TV. The Nation is running it, but Laura did that on her own, for her own program.) There's the silence at Mother Jones -- a publication more than happy to publish and praise Nir Rosen. Jen Phillips managed to blog yesterday at four in the afternoon California time (seven p.m. EST) and to share how offended she was that some outlets have gone from "sexual assault" to "rape." While that is an issue, Jen, it's not the big issue. Your silence enables the big issue to continue, now doesn't it? Again, Laura deserves credit for standing up and being the only one thus far at a left opinion print outlet to have done so. (In These Times and The Progressive are strangely silent.) In his attack on Lara Logan, also expressed his desire to see Anderson Cooper sexually assaulted. As Mike noted last night, Anderson had Nir on the show and did not accept the spin Nir tried to offer. Nir's a liar. When I dictated the snapshot yesterday, I knew Nir was going on CNN and had hopes that he would be honest. He's obviously incapable at this time of honesty. That point comes across in Anderson's interview with him (Entertainment Weekly has posted it here) and it comes across in the interview Charlie Eisenhood (NYU Local) did with him. While claiming to apologize initially, Nir can't stick with it, can he?
He regrets it he claims. But later declares, "I think certainly my tweets [he attacked Logan at his Twitter account] have been unfairly attacked and blown out of proportion. Thta does not excuse my lapse of judgement for making them in the first place. I stupidly didn't think that some crude banter would become fodder for thousands" -- we're stopping him. "Crude banter." Oh, he was attempting banter. And it was just "crude." And his tweets saying she deserved to be sexually assaulted (because she was a "war monger") and his wishing it on Anderson as well was "blown out of proportion" and 'unfairly attacked." It just gets worse. "That said," he declares, "I find the reactions sanctimonious and silly. A few crude jokes on twitter do not make a philosophy, they just make you a momentary jerk. I didn't mean it and I have a record of eight years of risking my life for justice to prove my values." No, you don't have a record of eight years on this issue. You have a record of attacking women verbally, you have a record of cutting them off when they're speaking (even if they're US senators and you're appearing before a Senate hearing), you have a record of smarmy remarks that express hostility to women. That is your record and that's why I've called you "toxic" for years now.
He still doesn't get it. He thinks -- and at least one lefty male is sure this is happening -- that he just offers a false apology (to those people whose "reactions" are "sanctimonious and silly") and then keeps his head down for a bit and everything's cool. If you're not getting how disgusting it is, how disgusting the climate it, you can always check out Thomas E. Ricks. We called him out yesterday. Today he posts about Nir Rosen and should he ban Rosen from the blog? I haven't led a cry for Rosen to be banned. I've led a cry for him to be called out and for those of us on the left to do so loudly. Ricks can ban him or not, I don't have an opinion on that. I do, however, take offense to Tommy's description of Rosen's comments: "Stupid, insensitve, inane, wrong-headed. Yup. My feeling in this situation is to hate the sin, not the sinner. I mean, a lot of my friends are dumbasses, and I've been there myself."
Nir Rosen took joy in the fact that Lara Logan was sexually assaulted. He thought it was funny. Thomas E. Ricks likes to play like he's in the military and the military's best buddy -- especially to the enlisted. Well, Tommy, the enlisted includes women and those comments were not just "dumbass," they were deeply disturbing and part of a culture that you should be calling out, not excusing, not minimizing. He did not tell a bad joke. He took joy in the sexual assault of another person. He not only took joy in it, he wished it had also happened to Anderson Cooper -- and said that if it had happened to Anderson, that would be funny. Nir Rosen is the poster boy for the mentality that allows sexual assaults and rapes to thrive in this country. Thomas E. Ricks' refusal to treat Nir Rosen's remarks as seriously offensive allows sexual assaults and rapes to thrive in this country.
And if he's not getting that he needs to step up to the plate and call this crap out, Thomas E. Ricks can read the comments left on his post. Most grasp how offensive and distrubing Nir Rosen's remarks were and one woman makes it very clear that she will not feel welcome on the blog with Nir Rosen around. But then you get the people who cite an out of control drug addict active in their disease (I promised the drug addict's parents I wouldn't mention the drug addict by name at this site and have not but I'll assume we all I know who I mean) which is bad enough but then you get the likes of KRIEGSAKADEMIE posting at 8:33 PM ET and declaring that Lara had 'it coming' because she wasn't like Hannah Allam, Misahl Husain, Lise Doucet and others "They dress very conservatively; they don't flaunt long manes of uncovered hair; they use moderate gestures and body language, and they show a modicum of deference (whether they actually feel deferential or not) when speaking to older people, adult men, officials etc."
Thomas E. Ricks, you need to educate that asshole. "Adult men"? Are you not getting the sexism? Are you not getting that what I've just quote from your own damn blog is sexism. She had it coming because she didn't allegedly show defernece to "adult men," she had it coming because of how she dressed and how she gestured? You don't see the problem, Thomas E. Ricks? The rape myths, the claims that a woman had it coming? You're not picking up on that?
How about when the same Kriegsakademie declares, "Lara has shown herself in the past to be both a bit of a drama queen and a practied femme fatale with respect to the male press corps in Iraq. My best is that the underlying thought that gave rise to Nir's unfortunate tweet was something along the lines of 'this whole story would not have happened to any of the real porfessional women correspondents who know how to operate in the region'."
Thomas E. Ricks, do you not get how you better start educating your damn readers? You created this environment on your blog when you went T&A and posted the nudie photo of the woman. You fostered that environment with your post minimizing what took place. You need to take accountability and that includes breaking down reality for your readers -- many of whom grasp it, but some like Kriegsakeademie obviously need to be informed that no woman "asks" to be sexually assaulted. Sexual assault is a crime, it is terrorism. How Lara dresses or who she shows 'deference' to is unimportant. No one deserves to be sexually assaulted. No one invited it. A criminal sexually assaults. It's not cute, it's not funny. Yesterday Valerie Strauss (Washington Post) posted something that applies here:
Rosen's tweets on Logan more than crossed a line. They were more than cruel and insensitive. They revealed a perverted view of the world that has no place at any university, much less a prestigious one. Differences of opinion -- even extreme ones -- are one thing, welcome at an educational institution. Misogny and distortions of reality are quite another.

That a grown man (Thomas E. Ricks) can't grasp that today is rather amazing. That he once claimed to be a reporter and that he can't issue a strong denoucement of what Nir Rosen did is flat out offensive. There are some things you just do not do. On the left, many of us may not have agreed with Micheal Kelly. He died while reporting (in Iraq, April 3, 2003). His opinion on the war (he was pro war -- I am certainly not) didn't matter. He died doing his job. And members of the press showed him the respect his profession deserved. Lara Logan was attacked and sexually assaulted while doing her job and Thomas E. Ricks can't show her respect? Can't call out Nir Rosen for not showing her respect? Do we not get that? If Bob Woodruff is again injured while doing his job (ABC News, he was reporting in Iraq at the start of 2006 when he was seriously injured by a roadside bombing) is it okay for Nir Rosen to gleefully cackle and take joy in that? The same year, CBS News' Kimberly Dozier (now with AP) was injured in May by a car bombing in Iraq. If Nir doesn't like her career or her looks or whatever is it okay for him to publicly post comments taking joy in her pain, wishing her pain on others? Miguel Martinez was just assaulted in Bahrain -- is Nir Rosen preparing stand up material on that? There is supposed to be a modicum of respect for any journalist attacked while doing their job.
I'm offended on many levels but if Thomas E. Ricks doesn't have any respect for his profession, he can continue to pretend that what Nir Rosen did was no big deal. We have focused on the sexual assault aspect. But Ricks better grasp for one damn minute that the press is not supposed to trivialize attacks on their own while they are doing their job.
Obviously, Thomas E. Ricks doesn't give a damn about military sexual assault. You can tell that by what he's posted in the past as well as the fact that the big military story this week would be the lawsuit and Thomas E. Ricks couldn't be bothered with that. But he makes time to write what reads like a plea for his "friend-of-the-blog" Nir Rosen (even while saying he'll decide whether to ban Nir or not so your input really doesn't matter).
Again, there were two hearings today and they could be noted. There are protests and other important things. But if women don't stand up on this issue, we're begging it to continue. And we should remember what Thomas E. Ricks refuses to grasp, every rapist believes a woman had it coming. Every rapist has the same mind set as Nir Rosen and the poster at Ricks' site that we quoted. Does that mean Nir Rosen is a rapist? No. But that mind-set is found in rapists. It needs to be called out. Loudly. Rebecca's "the disgusting nir rosen" went up last night.
Turning to veterans and service members, two events coming up. To address the realities of Iraq, there is an upcoming Iraq Veterans Against the War event:

February 25, 2011 9:30 - 10:30 am
Busboys & Poets, Langston room
14th & V st NW Washington DC
This report back will be to answer questions from media and the peace movement about the recent trip back to Iraq by members of Iraq Veterans Against the War. The war is not over but it is not the same as it was in years past. What is the humanitarian situation in Iraq?
How can we do reparations and reconciliation work?
Speakers are all returning from this delegation and include:
Geoff Millard (IVAW) Hart Viges (IVAW) Haider Al-Saedy (Iraqi Health Now)
Richard Rowely (
Big Noise Films)

To make it clear that continued war is unacceptable, in March A.N.S.W.E.R. and March Forward! and others will be taking part in this action:

March 19 is the 8th anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Iraq today remains occupied by 50,000 U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of foreign mercenaries.

The war in Afghanistan is raging. The U.S. is invading and bombing Pakistan. The U.S. is financing endless atrocities against the people of Palestine, relentlessly threatening Iran and bringing Korea to the brink of a new war.

While the United States will spend $1 trillion for war, occupation and weapons in 2011, 30 million people in the United States remain unemployed or severely underemployed, and cuts in education, housing and healthcare are imposing a huge toll on the people.

Actions of civil resistance are spreading.

On Dec. 16, 2010, a veterans-led civil resistance at the White House played an important role in bringing the anti-war movement from protest to resistance. Enduring hours of heavy snow, 131 veterans and other anti-war activists lined the White House fence and were arrested. Some of those arrested will be going to trial, which will be scheduled soon in Washington, D.C.

Saturday, March 19, 2011, the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, will be an international day of action against the war machine.

Protest and resistance actions will take place in cities and towns across the United States. Scores of organizations are coming together. Demonstrations are scheduled for San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and more.

Veterans are especially hard hit by the economy. Ryan Endicott is a member of IVAW and March Forward! This is from his "Iraq, Afghanistan veterans' unemployment rates soar above national average" (Party for Socialism and Liberation):

The fact is, the vast majority of jobs in the military do not transfer into the civilian work force. Additionally, when our soldiers return home from the wars, their physical and mental health take a back seat to their preparation for another deployment.

This complete lack of care leads many veterans, especially those with families, with no other option than to reenlist. Facing unemployment, criminally negligent health care services provided by the VA and absolutely no civilian job training, many veterans have no other option than to stay in the military. Many veterans have been redeployed back to the wars for their sixth and seventh tours. Many combat veterans have spent more time in combat in the past eight years than with their families.

This epidemic of unemployment could not have come at a worse time for veterans. Homelessness, drug and alcohol abuse and suicide rates among veterans have increased every year since the beginning of the occupations. In the past two years more active-duty troops lost their lives from suicide than the wars.

It is not the unemployed Iraqi who struggles to feed his family that we should be fighting. It is not the impoverished Afghan farmer who tries to survive without basic necessities that we should be fighting. Veterans have been betrayed by the millionaires who walk the halls of Congress and send us to kill and be killed so that Wall Street can turn a profit.

Our veterans' greatest enemies are not found in Iraq or Afghanistan, but right here in our capital city —the ones responsible for mounting unemployment, rising cost of health care, climbing tuition costs, record foreclosures and evictions, and the gutting of basic and essential social services. They have proven that they do not care about us. We can only rely on each other.

Meena Thiruvengadam (USA Today) reports, "Female veterans are twice as likely to become homeless as women who never served in the military, the government's latest data show. The unemployment rate for female veterans of the long-running wars in Iraq and Afghanistan rose to 13.5% in January above the 8.4% that was seasonally unadjusted average for non-veteran adult women." The unemployment rate for young veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars is at 15.2% nationally and they are among the most at risk for foreclosures. Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee which released the following announcement yesterday:

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman, Senator Patty Murray, released the following statement regarding the announcement of a number of new financial initiatives for servicemembers and veterans. This announcement comes just one week after Senator Murray sent a letter to Holly Petraeus, head of the Office of Servicemember Affairs in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau at the U.S. Treasury Department, regarding some financial institutions that were not offering protections to servicemembers provided under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). SCRA is under the jurisdiction of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

"These new programs, which go above and beyond what is mandated by law, will help ease concerns over financial situations at home for servicemembers," said Senator Murray. "I am also thrilled that they include plans to find new ways to harness the skills of servicemembers and veterans as employees. I will continue to fight to ensure that the housing and employment needs of the men and women who serve our nation are met."

Included in the new initiatives, which are being offered by JPMorgan Chase, are:

•A lowering of interest rates to 4% for SCRA-protected eligible borrowers;•A pledge to not foreclose on any currently-deployed servicemembers;
•A pledge to donate 1,000 homes to servicemembers and veterans over the next five years; and
•A pledge to partner with other major corporate employers to hire 100,000 servicemembers and veterans over the next ten years.

As protests continue in Iraq, violence resurfaces (first seen earlier this month when the police attacked demonstrators). Yesterday in Kut, private security and Iraqi forces attacked demonstrators resulting in at least 3 deaths and at least fifty more people injured. Al Rafidayn reports that over 2,000 demonstrators were present in the town's central square, calling out the lack of basic services (water, electricity, sanitation, etc.), the corruption and the lack of jobs. A chant of "Down with al-Maliki" -- referring to Iraq's 'beloved' prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki -- sprang up at one point. Al Mada notes the demonstrators had peacefully occupied the building housing the provincial council when the fores began firing on them which led to an uprising during which, some day, the protesters setting the building on fire; however, one protester is quoted stating that the fire erupted on its own and was not caused by the protesters. The city is now under curfew and martial law while government officials are in hiding or have fled. Dar Addustour notes reports that the provincial governor has fled the city.
Michael S. Schmidt and Duraid Adnan (New York Times) report that protests today included Kut where demonstrates rallied for the release of 45 of their own arrested the day before and that, in Sulaimaniya, protesters targted the KDP offices (KRG President Massoud Barzani's political party) and that the peshmerga fired warning shots and then opened fire. Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports 9 people were killed and forty seven more were left wounded.
Protests have continued all month and Iraq's college-age youth is calling for large demonstrations on February 25th with Baghdad as the center of protests.
Meanwhile Al Rafidayn reports a member of Nouri's "State Of Law" bloc in Parliament, Jafar Mohammed Baqir al-Sadr has submitted his resignation to protest the lack of basic services and show solidarity with the protesters. Nouri's political party is Dawa. State Of Law is the slate he cobbled together to distance himself from the clannish nature of Dawa and indicate to the voters that he was about unity for all Iraqis. In other Parliamentary news, Dar Addustour reports that Parliament voted yesterday to reject the proposal of four vice presidents. Iraq had two vice presidents; however, the decision was made to up the number to three. Last week, Jalal Talabani, President of Iraq, advocated for a fourth vice president, specifically a woman with the Turkmen bloc. He encountered strong resistance including from the Kurdish bloc in Parliament. Though some saw it as an easy move (some also saw the proposal as one the Kurdish bloc would have to support since Talabani proposed it), the indications that it wouldn't be so easy were visible Sunday when Parliament refused to vote on the proposal. Zainab Suncor (Al Mada) reports that another opponent to the proposal was Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi.

His opposition (my thoughts, not the report) shouldn't be surprising. When the Kurdish bloc refused to support Talabani what Iraq was witnessing was, once again, the huge split between Talabani and KRG President Massoud Barzani (each man heads the two major Kurdish political parties). Talabani's stock has been fading for some time with some Kurds arguing he was allowed to continue as president (a purely ceremonial post) of the country only to keep him out of KRG business. Allawi has repeatedly appealed to Barzani and it's unlikely he would go against him on this issue (which was a minor to Iraqiya and had no benefits to them).

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