Thursday, September 26, 2013

Faith-based leadership

Faith-based leadership

From May 23, 2010, that's  "Faith-based leadership." C.I. wrote:

Barack stands with friends and explains, "Tomorrow my staff will fly over the Gulf Disaster to say, 'We are watching you, oil spill.' Then Tooth Fairy, Santa and I will click our heels and we'll be fine." Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts.
What does the Tooth Fairy look like?

I had no idea.

Unless she looked like The Rock.  (I love The Tooth Fairy -- that film is hilarious.)

I think the Tooth Fairy ended up drawn the best of anything in the comic -- probably because I had to create her in my head.

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

Thursday, September 26, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, Nouri buys more weapons from the US, the Iraqi government should have no claim on the Jewish archives the US has restored, the US counter-insurgency program is plagued with theft and sexism and racism (what a proud moment for American anthropologists), Samantha Power stinks up the room as she grows excited over war on Syria, and more.

Starting with issues of cultural heritage.  At the start of the month, the Washington Post reported on the Jewish archives the US rescued from Iraq in May 2003.  The material was badly damaged and in need of restoring:

The material, found when U.S. troops invaded Iraq a decade ago, includes a 400-year-old Hebrew Bible and a 200-year-old Talmud from Vienna. There is also a small, hand-inked 1902 Passover Haggada, a colorful 1930 prayer book in French and a beautifully printed collection of sermons by a rabbi made in Germany in 1692.

The attention on the topic is due to the upcoming National Archives event.  May 16th the National Archives (in the US) issued the following:

Washington, DC…On Friday, October 11, 2013, the National Archives will unveil a new exhibition, “Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage.” The exhibit details the dramatic recovery of historic materials relating to the Jewish community in Iraq from a flooded basement in Saddam Hussein’s intelligence headquarters, and the National Archives’ ongoing work in support of U.S. Government efforts to preserve these materials. Located in the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery of the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, “Discovery and Recovery” is free and open to the public and runs through January 5, 2014.
In both English and Arabic, the 2,000 square foot exhibit features 24 recovered items and a “behind the scenes” video of the fascinating yet painstaking preservation process. This exhibit marks the first time these items have been on public display.


On May 6, 2003, just days after the Coalition forces took over Baghdad, 16 American soldiers from Mobile Exploitation Team Alpha, a group assigned to search for nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, entered Saddam Hussein’s flooded intelligence building. In the basement, under four feet of water, they found thousands of books and documents relating to the Jewish community of Iraq – materials that had belonged to synagogues and Jewish organizations in Baghdad.
The water-logged materials quickly became moldy in Baghdad’s intense heat and humidity. Seeking guidance, the Coalition Provisional Authority placed an urgent call to the nation’s foremost conservation experts at the National Archives. Just a week later, National Archives Director of Preservation Programs Doris Hamburg and Conservation Chief Mary Lynn Ritzenthaler arrived in Baghdad via military transport to assess the damage and make recommendations for preservation of the materials. Both experts share this extraordinary story and take you “behind the scenes” in this brief video []. This video is in the public domain and not subject to any copyright restrictions. The National Archives encourages its use and free distribution.
Given limited treatment options in Baghdad, and with the agreement of Iraqi representatives, the materials were shipped to the United States for preservation and exhibition. Since then, these materials have been vacuum freeze-dried, preserved and photographed under the direction of the National Archives. The collection includes more than 2,700 Jewish books and tens of thousands of documents in Hebrew, Arabic, Judeo-Arabic and English, dating from 1540 to the 1970s. A special website to launch this fall will make these historic materials freely available to all online as they are digitized and catalogued. This work was made possible through the assistance of the Department of State, National Endowment for the Humanities, and Center for Jewish History.
The Jews of Iraq have a rich past, extending back to Babylonia. These materials provide a tangible link to this community that flourished there, but in the second half of the twentieth century dispersed throughout the world. Today, fewer than five Jews remain.

Display highlights include:

  • A Hebrew Bible with Commentaries from 1568 – one of the oldest books in the trove;
  • A Babylonian Talmud from 1793;
  • A Torah scroll fragment from Genesis - one of the 48 Torah scroll fragments found;
  • A Zohar from 1815 – a text for the mystical and spiritual Jewish movement known as “Kabbalah”;
  • An official 1918 letter to the Chief Rabbi regarding the allotment of sheep for Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year);
  • Materials from Jewish schools in Baghdad, including exam grades and a letter to the College Entrance Examination Board in Princeton regarding SAT scores;
  • A Haggadah (Passover script) from 1902, hand lettered and decorated by an Iraqi Jewish youth ; and
  • A lunar calendar in both Hebrew and Arabic from the Jewish year 5732 (1972-1973) - one of the last examples of Hebrew printed items produced in Baghdad.

The plan is to exhibit the material and then send it to Iraq.  Not return it because there's no way to return it.  Who would you return it to?  To the Iraqi government which spied on the Jews and stole this material?  No, that government's history.

Why would you return them to Nouri's government?  Where are the Jews in Iraq?

This is their property and their cultural heritage.  We've made that argument here for years.  It upsets some.  Tough.  That is not "Iraqi" property.  It is Jewish property.  The Jews have fled Iraq or been killed off in Iraq since 2003.  You allow a people to be targeted and you think you have a right to their cultural heritage?

No, you damn well don't.  The field of anthropology doesn't support this.  The social sciences do not support this.  A government does not own a group's cultural heritage.  The material should be forwarded on to Israel. That county has a very good record of taking in the Iraqi Jews who have fled both in the last ten years and in earlier waves of Iraqi Jews fleeing for safety.

Earlier this month, Sandy Rashty (Jewish Community) reported on a growing objection to the US government handing the trove over to the Iraqi government:

Harold Rhode, who worked as an analyst for the Pentagon for 28 years, is incensed by the decision after he risked his life to recover the artefacts from Saddam’s secret police.
The 63-year-old said: “It’s a mistake. It’s like the police who come up with something and then decide to give it back to the thief.
“The artefacts do not belong to the Iraqi authorities who stole it from the Jewish community, who had lived there for over 2,500 years.”

Ben Cohen (JNS) offers a history of the Iraqi governments mistreating the internal Jewish population for decades and notes:

The archive of books, photographs, scrolls, writings and communal documents, including one item that dates back to 1658, was discovered by American troops in Baghdad in 2003, as they combed through the flooded basement in the headquarters of Saddam Hussein’s much-feared mukhabarat, or secret police. Lyn Julius, a London-based writer and advocate on behalf of Jewish communities from the Arab world, has noted that the archive was seized by Saddam’s henchmen from the Bataween synagogue in Baghdad, in 1984. If the archive was stolen from its Jewish guardians at gunpoint, why on earth would the State Department, which has spent millions of dollars lovingly restoring its contents, return it to the Iraqi government? Simply because that government has suddenly decided that the archive constitutes, as one Iraqi representative put it, “part of our identity and history”? Or because the U.S. feels duty bound to respect an agreement it made at the time to return the archive?
Julius and other advocates on behalf of Iraqi Jews make a strong case that returning the archive essentially involves restoring stolen property to those who stole it. Instead, they say, the archive should sit with its rightful owners themselves, the close-knit Iraqi Jewish communities spread around Israel and the countries of the West.

This would be theft and the US would be aiding in theft if it were to hand over the trove to the Iraqi government.  They have no cultural or legal right to the trove.  Government theft of property does not give the government a legal right to the property, it just indicates how out of control a government is and how victimized a people are.

Cultural betrayal cannot be supported by the world community.  But it has been.  In the US, there has been a strong reluctance to call out the abuse of the social sciences by the US government.  We're talking about the military's Human Terrain System which maintains its mission is:

The Human Terrain System develops, trains, and integrates a social science based research and analysis capability to support operationally relevant decision-making, to develop a knowledge base, and to enable sociocultural understanding across the operational environment.

No, what they did was war on a native people, they are the trash betraying their training and their field, bringing dishonor to academia.  Tom Hayden's called this out and David Price has repeatedly.  We first called it out in December of 2006 (see "When Dumb Ass met Dumb Ass").

The field of anthropology is not to learn about a people in order to attack and harm them.  To participate in counter-insurgency should result in someone losing their professional accreditation.  Instead, the only 'harm' has been one woman telling George Packer that her work has resulted in her being shunned at cocktail parties. 

Tom Hayden noted:

The new doctrine was jointly developed with academics at the Carr Center for Human Rights at Harvard. The Carr Center's Sarah Sewell, a former Pentagon official, co-sponsored with Petraeus the official "doctrine revision workshop" that produced the new Army-Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual [U.S. Army Field Manual No. 3-24, Marine Corps Warfighting Publication No. 3-33.5, 2007]. The workshop was held at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, onFeb. 23-24, 2006, and can be accessed here.

This is not an academic text but, in the Marine Corps' title, a "warfighting doctrine", complete with hundreds of recommendations
ranging from how to "clear, hold and build", how to use secret agents in calling in air strikes, even advice on public speaking ["avoid pacing, writing on the blackboard, teetering on the lectern, drinking beverages, or doing any other distracting activity while the interpreter is translating."

The new counter-insurgency approach purports to be more civilized and humane than conventional kinetic war. It seeks to save the population ["winning hearts and minds"] from the insurgents. It attempts to minimize civilian casualties and avoid torture of detainees. It promotes social programs. These no doubt were the attractions of the collaboration for Harvard's "humanitarian hawks". The introduction to the Manual is thoughtful and balanced, even raising questions whether the effort can work at all. She tastefully avoids any references to the brutal though targeted suppression necessary for the mission to succeed, [. . .]

Again, David Price (Concerned Anthropologists) has repeatedly called this betrayal out.  Here is one example of him doing so at CounterPunch in 2009:

Like a mad scientist’s slime monster that will not die in a 1950s B Movie, the Human Terrain System’s counterinsurgency teams not only somehow remains alive in the face of extensive devastating criticism, but the program’s existence remains firmly publicly boosted by a seemingly endless series of uncritical mainstream news and features stories that frame the program as America’s last best hope to win the hearts and minds of the occupied peoples of Iraq and increasingly Afghanistan.  If this were a B monster movie, such prolonged survival would be due to remarkable adaptive abilities, but Human Terrain has no such extraordinary power; its success has been guaranteed by the support it receives from the corporate media as it fawns over HTS in a flurry of glowing formulaic profiles ignoring the program’s fatal flaws.  If this were a 1950’s B monster movie, this situation would like finding those we depend on to open fire on the monster shooting blanks (and feeding it table scraps) while abundant cases of live ammo lay at their feet.  
The Human Terrain program embeds social scientists, such as anthropologists, with troops operating in battle theatre settings as members of Human Terrain Teams.  These teams are part of counterinsurgency operations designed provide military personnel with cultural information that will help inform troop activities in areas of occupation.  Since the first public acknowledgement of HTS two and a half years ago, it has been criticized by anthropologists for betraying fundamental principles of anthropological ethics, as being politically aligned with neo-colonialism, and as being ineffective in meeting its claimed outcomes.  For the most part, the mainstream media has acted as cheerleaders for the program by producing a seemingly endless series of uncritical features highlighting what they frame as kind hearted individuals trying to use their knowledge of culture to save lives; while misrepresenting the reasons and extent of criticism of the Human Terrain program.

Slowly, criticism has somewhat emerged in the press this year.  In February, Tom Vanden Brook (USA Today) reported US House Rep Duncan Hunter was calling out the program in a letter to Army Secretary John McHugh, maintaining that the military had lost control of the program and was unable to effectively oversee it.  Also in February, Tom Vanden Brooks reported:

A 2010 Army investigation shows the program was plagued by severe problems, including:

  • Team members were encouraged to maximize their pay and comp time by inflating time sheets.
  • Allegations of sexual harassment and racism were made against the government contractors who recruited and trained Human Terrain teams and a soldier who worked in the program.
  • The program relied on unaccountable contractors and inadequate government oversight.

And many commanders deemed worthless — or worse — the reports the teams produced. In one case, the commander of a brigade combat team in Iraq told the Army investigator that he "relied very little on his (Human Terrain team) and viewed them as incapable and of little value. He never looked at his team's products and believed their survey efforts actually created anxiety among the local Iraqi populace."
[. . .]
In one case, a team member with military experience made a statement under oath that the training staff at Fort Leavenworth was overwhelmed and that problems, including sexual harassment, flowed from bad leadership.
"Teams were hurriedly deployed to Iraq and subsequently without exception failed either as a team or in the quality of the product delivered," the statement said. "This atmosphere was reflected in the staff's struggles in dealing with the continuous deluge of unqualified students and severe personnel issues. ... This gross lack of leadership and oversight sowed the seeds for the chaos and malfeasance to come."
One of those leaders, according to the statement, was "one of the worst misogynists I have ever encountered in my career." Sexual innuendo was commonplace, the official wrote. "One woman upon giving (the trainer) a goodbye hug and peck on the cheek received the comment, 'How about a little tongue with that next time.' "

This week Tom Vanden Brook continues to cover the scandals with the program:

Several former and current members of the program told investigators and the paper, on condition of anonymity, that they regularly filed for hours they didn't work, taking home more than $200,000 a year and months of comp time for little effort. The Army's internal investigation showed that supervisors directed team members to claim the maximum amount of overtime and comp time possible, earning them salaries topping $280,000 and entitling them to six months paid leave upon returning to the United States.
By contrast, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel earns a salary of about $200,000.

Are we really surprised that the program is plagued with theft, sexism and racism?  These are people who can't live up to the ethics of their own field.  Why hasn't the program already been shut down?  Maybe because people like Sarah Sewall support it.  That trash bragged on TV about being able to put words into Barack Obama's mouth (see Ava and my "TV: Charlie Rose by any other name would still be as bad") and today she serves on the Secretary of Defense's Defense Policy Board.  She also wrote the introduction to the military's counter-insurgency manual.

What's that stink?

Oh, it's the Samantha Power drifting from between someone's knees.  The Problem From Hell Samantha Power blurbed the counter-insurgency manual.  Today the War Hawk Tweets:

  1. The draft UNSCR establishes that 's use of CW is threat to international peace & security & creates a new norm against the use of CW.

Sammy will have her war if it kills her. World Bulletin reports, "A mortar shell hit the Iraqi consulate in the Syrian capital Damascus on Thursday, killing an Iraqi woman and wounding four other people, witnesses said. State news agency SANA quoted a source at the consulate as saying the shell had also damaged the building."  If the embassy was the intended target, the attacker was not the Syrian government or army.  It was Barack's beloved 'rebels' (al Qaeda).  The Iraqi government has repeatedly stated that a military action would not help Syria and would harm Iraq.  Just today, prior to the attack, Alsumaria reported Nouri al-Maliki was again stressing the military was not an answer to Syria's crisis, that a diplomatic solution was necessary.  Bob Dreyfuss (The Nation) observes:

[. . .]  yesterday Iraq’s foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari, warned that Iraq opposes arming the Syrian rebels.
Zebari’s warning comes as The New York Times reports that a big chunk of the so-called “moderate” Islamist rebels inside Syria formally broke ties with the phony, US-backed National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces. That decision vastly complicates President Obama’s ability to lobby on behalf of the Syrian opposition. Recognizing the problem, a US official told the Times, using circular reasoning, that the United States has “extreme concerns about extremists.”
During an appearance at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, Zebari endorsed the US-Russian effort to reach an accord on Syria’s chemical weapons, and he called for a “peaceful settlement” of the Syrian civil war. There is, he said, “no hope of military victory” for either side. But, in a message clearly aimed not only at the United States but at Saudi Arabia and other Arab states, Zebari said: “We oppose providing military assistance to any [Syrian] rebel groups.”

When the US Ambassador to the United Nations isn't screaming for war on Syria, she's still trying to destroy Iraq.   The White House released the following:

The White House

Office of the Vice President

Readout of Vice President Biden’s Meeting with Vice President Khudheir Al-Khuzaie of Iraq

Vice President Biden met in New York today with Iraqi Vice President Khudheir Al-Khuzaie.  The two discussed a wide range of bilateral and regional issues. Vice President Biden praised Vice President Khuzaie's national dialogue initiative. They discussed efforts by Iraqi leaders to reach agreement on important outstanding issues, including the passage of a new election law. Vice President Biden offered his condolences for the families of Iraqis killed in recent terror attacks and reaffirmed America's commitment to support Iraq in the shared fight against terrorism under the Strategic Framework Agreement.  They also discussed Iraq's ongoing initiatives to strengthen relations with its Arab neighbors and Turkey.
The meeting included United States Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power and Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari.

For some reason, Stinky Power didn't Tweet about that.  Maybe she was being fumigated?

That must have been an interesting conversation.  Nouri al-Maliki, prime minister and chief thug of Iraq, is the one leading the objection to the election law.  The western press has refused to cover the story.  Among other things, Nouri and his supporters are insisting that his term be extended for eight months (which means delaying the elections).

Why does Nouri insist he needs an eight month extension?  Because parliamentary elections last took place in March 2010.  Normally, the prime minister-designate would be named by April 2010.  But Nouri wasn't named prime minister until November 2010.  For this reason, Nouri insists his term be extended eight months.

Now the reality is that in March 2010, Nouri's State of Law came in second to Iraqiya.  That meant the prime minister-designate should have been Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi.

Nouri demanded a recount.  He got it.  Iraqiya still came in first.  So Nouri refused to step down, dug in his heels and created an eight month political stalemate that was only ended by the US-brokered Erbil Agreement which said 'screw the Iraqi people and their votes, screw the Iraqi Constitution and screw democracy, let's just give Nouri a second term.'

So having gotten a second term he did not earn, he now wants to insist on eight more months.

Cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr's the one leading the push for Parliament to pass the election law on the Shi'ite side (in Iraq, the law is passed before each election or the elections are not held).  And the one saying no?  Members of Nouri's political slate (State of Law) and Nouri's political party (Dawa).  Guess what group Khudheir Al-Khuzaie?  Right.  All Iraq News reports that the vote on the election law did not take place today and was postponed until Monday.  Alsumaria quotes an unnamed source stating that there are disagreements about the electoral system and the quota system.

Let's turn to the topic of the economy in Iraq.  Unemployment remains high.  Yet World Bulletin reports, "The number of workers sent abroad by Turkish Labor Agency (ISKUR) reached 38.061 in 2013's January-August, 11,054 employed in Iraq, where Turkish construction business took in charge of 114 projects.  The number of workers sent to Iraq increased 12 % in the first eight months of 2013 and reached 11,054 where the number was 8,854 in 2012's same period, statistics of ISKUR said."  As workers continued to be imported into Iraq (from Turkey, India, the Philippines, etc.), Dar Addustour reports 80 workers are about to be put out of work.  An al-Muthanna market is being shut down to be replaced by a mosque.  In one of the few smart moves Nouri has made, Dar Addustour reports a new program which will allow military doctors who served under Saddam Hussein to return to work if they want to.  That's good news.  There is a severe shortage of doctors and nurses in Iraq.

Turning to the never ending topic of violence,  NINA reports a Mosul car bombing claimed the lives of 3 soldiers and left another injured, 2 corpses were discovered in Hatra (1 Iraqi soldier, 1 police officer), a Mosul shooting left four Iraqi soldiers injured, another Mosul shooting claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier, an Albo Obaid car bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer, a Kirkuk home bombing claimed 1 life and left another person injured, a Ramadi sticky bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer, a Tikrit roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier and left two more injured, a Shirqat roadside bombing left 3 Sahwa dead, a clash between rebels and al Qaeda in Hawija left 2 al Qaeda dead, a Zaidan sticky bombing left 1 person dead and another injured, and a Baghdad's Sab'a Buor bombing has left 11 people dead and forty-seven injured.  In addition to that last Baghdad bombing, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) notes a Baghdad roadside bombing claimed 7 lives and left fifteen injured.  Tawfeeq also notes, "Separately Thursday, gunmen fatally shot the principal of the Nablis school for girls outside her home in eastern Mosul, police said."  Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) reports, "In addition, Ahmed al-Dhiyabi, governor of Iraq's western province of Anbar, escaped unharmed a roadside bomb explosion near his convoy on a highway in the provincial capital city of Ramadi, some 110 km west of Baghdad, a provincial police source said, adding that two of Dhiyabi's bodyguards were wounded by the blast."  Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 987 violent deaths so far this month.

Related, Paul McLeary (Defense News) reports:

The government of Iraq continues to snap up American defense products, and is now adding advanced robots that American soldiers are currently using in combat to its arsenal.
On Sept. 26, robot maker QinetiQ North America announced that it had inked a $20 million deal with Baghdad to acquire its Talon IV ‘bot, a deal which the company says includes spares and training.
The company has already sold 4,000 variants of the Talon worldwide, and the ‘bot is designed for use with explosive ordnance disposal teams. Deliveries are expected to be completed to the Baghdad government by March 2014.

Alsumaria adds that the Kurdistan Regional Government has purchased 12 security helicopters from the United States.    Saturday the KRG held provincial elections.  Exit polling places the Kurdistan Democratic Party (led by KRG President Massoud Barzani) in the lead.  The surprise from the polling is that the other dominant political party, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, is no longer dominant.  Second place, according to the exit polling, has gone to Gorran (Change).  The Independent High Electoral Commission has still been unable to release the vote totals.  Only three provinces voted.  It shouldn't be that difficult.  Here are some of the latest Tweets on the election:

  1. Results of will be delayed by a week for recount after PUK attack on counting Centre 23.9 & widespread irregularities
  2. Swedish MP acting as intl' advisor in reveals how gorran votes were changed at counting Centre for benefit of PUK candidate 3.
  3. 253 of Talabani's bodyguards didn't vote for PUK list :-O
  4. OMG A Shiw'i (Communist) Party leader has not voted for his party
  5. PUK off. attacks PUK media for turning a blind eye to fraud. PUK concentrating on which defeated it into 3rd
  6. If we want Kirkuk back we have to treat minrioties as equals not flood their qouta system to elect fake representatives
  7. Aydin Me'ruf, Turkmen Front criticized KDP for vote fraud as KDP's Peshmerges have been directed to vote for a Turkmen list
  8. IHEC to announce the elections results of 90% of votes by saturday.
  9. The final results by the election committee will be announced in Jan 2019

The results are overdue.  To the point that at least one person is mocking the IHEC in a Tweet.

In the United States, peace activist Cindy Sheehan is running for public office again, she's in the race for Governor of California.  Today, her campaign has issued the following on her Democratic challenger (and current California governor) Jerry Brown:

End the Prison Industrial Complex (EPIC) Campaign

For Immediate Release by Cindy for Governor 2014

September 25, 2013

Instead of focusing on Ending Poverty in California and an EPIC push for funding and expanding everyone’s access to high quality education as a human right to reduce the inhumane conditions that are fueled by profound over-crowding in the 33 state prisons operated by California, Jerry Brown wants to reward his large campaign donors by giving almost one-billion dollars of the state surplus to the prisons for profit industry.

There is a deep disconnect in a state that spends over 60k per prisoner/year and less than 9k per K-12 student/year.

Below is a chart of spending on prisons and schools from California Budget Project ( 

California Gubernatorial Candidate with the Peace and Freedom Party Cindy Sheehan made this statement: “A Cindy Sheehan administration would make dramatically increasing funding for education and eliminating poverty in our state a high priority to reduce the future need for 33 state prisons with horrendous over-crowded conditions. But, in the short run, 44% of our current prison population has been deemed at no risk for recidivism and most of these inmates can be released with little to no harm to our communities instead of being forced into the scandal ridden ‘prison for profit’ system.”

Sheehan continued: “I want to live in a state where human need is elevated over corporate greed and I am the candidate who can accomplish that because my allegiance belongs to the people of this state and I will accept no campaign contributions from crooked corporations like GEO CORP or Corrections Corp of America.”

Cindy Sheehan can be reached at:

For more information on Cindy Sheehan’s EPIC (End Poverty in California; End (the use of) Petroleum in California) Campaign, go to the website:


Cindy Sheehan for Governor 2014

2124 Kittredge St, #104

Berkeley CA. 94704

Phone: (916) 905-5167

For more information on the Peace and Freedom Party go to the website: 

the washington post
mohammed tawfeeq

Read on ...

Friday, September 20, 2013

Gulf Coast Drilling Disaster 2010

Gulf Coast Drilling Disaster 2010

From May 16, 2010, that's "Gulf Coast Drilling Disaster 2010.

C.I. noted:

 Barack declares, "It turns out the oil rigs today generally don't cause oil spills." A pelican responds, "Your emperor has no clothes on." Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts.

I saw a news photo and it struck me how the birds were not just killed (which they were by the Gulf Coast Disaster) but that they were still there.

The birds who survived were still there.

And their habitat was ruined.

So I put Barack into my comic of that photo and let the bird speak the truth.

That was my point with the comic.  And I wondered then, and since, what it would mean if we could hear what the animals think?

Would we take nature and the ecology more seriously?

I don't know.

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

Thursday, September 19, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue,  the KRG holds early voting, the US government stages an event in Baghdad, Ayad Allawi learns not to humor the US, rumors spread about Iraqi president Jalal Talabani, John Kerry miraculously believes he has credibility on Syria, and much more.

All of these words whispered in my ear
Tell a story that I cannot bear to hear
Just cause I said it, it don't mean that I meant it
People say crazy things
Just cause I said it, don't mean that I meant it
Just cause you heard it
Rumor has it 
-- "Rumor Has It," written by Adele and Ryan Tedder, first appears on Adele's 21

Rumor has it on Arabic Facebook sites (and other social media) today that Iraqi President Jalal Talabani has passed away.   Last December,  Iraqi President Jalal Talabani suffered a stroke.   The incident took place late on December 17th (see the December 18th snapshot) and resulted in Jalal being admitted to Baghdad's Medical Center Hospital.    Thursday, December 20th, he was moved to Germany.  He remains in Germany currently. All Iraq News reports his political party, the Kurdistan Patriotic Union, has issued a denial: "The reports that were posted via some Facebook pages regarding the death of Talabani are totally groundless."

Iraq has three security ministries.  One person should head each one.  But Nouri never nominated people to head the ministries.  Back in July 2012, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observed, "Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has struggled to forge a lasting power-sharing agreement and has yet to fill key Cabinet positions, including the ministers of defense, interior and national security, while his backers have also shown signs of wobbling support."

The Iraqi Constitution explains how someone becomes prime minister.  First, the Iraqi president names a prime minister-designate.  That person then has 30 days to put together a cabinet.  Putting together a cabinet includes nominating the people, getting Parliament to agree on the people (vote their consent).  The only way someone moves from prime minister-designate to prime minister is via the Cabinet.  This does not mean a partial Cabinet.  The reason for this clause is that this is supposed to demonstrate that the person can work with the Parliament, provide leadership and, where needed, make the needed compromise.  An Iraqi who was part of drafting the 2005 Constitution e-mailed that "the entire purpose [of this process] was to prevent a Maliki type from becoming prime minister.  His failures in his second term can be traced to his failure [as prime minister designate] to work with the parliament."

How did Nouri move from prime minister-designate to prime minister when he failed the only task for the position?  Failure to name a Cabinet (in full) in 30 days means the Iraqi president is supposed to name another person to be prime minister-designate.

Nouri was able to ignore the Constitution in 2010 because his being named prime minister-designate ignored the Constitution as well.  The prime minister-designate is supposed to come from the political party or political slate that won the most votes.  Nouri's State of Law came in second to Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya.  Allawi should have been named prime minister-designate.

Nouri at first screamed for a recount.  When that didn't change the outcome signficantly, he dug in his heels and refused to relinquish his position.  For eight months, he refused to step down. Having the backing of the United States allowed him to do that.  They should have eased him out.

They actually should have listened to Gen Ray Odierno who was the top US commander in Iraq at the time.  Before the March 2010 elections, Odierno was saying Nouri might not come in first (a prospect the press refused to entertain) and Odierno was saying that Nouri might refuse to step down.  But the idiot Chris Hill, apparently half-baked on who knows what, insisted that wasn't going to happen and went around Odierno to the White House which chose to believe Hill and not Odierno.  History has demonstrated the lousy US Ambassador to Iraq to be an idiot and Odierno to be someone with keen observational skills.

The White House didn't just cover for Nouri to keep him in power for eight months after the elections, they also pushed and prodded the leaders of the various political blocs to sign off on a contract known as The Erbil Agreement.  This contract circumvented the Iraqi Constitution to give Nouri a second term (illegally give him a second term).  Since The Erbil Agreement gave him a second term, Nouri was not required to meet the 30-day rule for naming a Cabinet.

And the effects of that illegal maneuver by the US government can be immediately seen in the increased violence today.

"We are new to democracy, as a country, we are new to that."  We'll come back to that quote.  Right now, let's look at some of today's violence.

National Iraqi News Agency reports 1 Mosul shop owner was shot dead in his store, a roadside bombing near Tikrit claimed 1 life and left another person injured. and an Iraqi army officer was shot dead outside RashadEFE reports, "Nine people were killed and 30 others injured Thursday in a bombing at a market west of Baghdad, Iraqi police told Efe.  The attack took place in Abu Ghraib, home of the notorious prison." Fu Peng (Xinhua) focuses on another bombing, "Also, at least two civilians were killed and 30 wounded when a truck bomb detonated near a house of a police officer in Imam Ahmed district in the city of Tuz-Khurmato, some 180 km north of Baghdad, a local police source anonymously told Xinhua.  The huge blast left some 15 nearby houses and several private cars damaged, the source said."   All Iraq News notes that the corpses of 10 young adults (ages "17 to 25") were discovered in Baghdad (all were shot dead).  EFE adds the ten were all men.  AFP provides this context, "Summary executions were commonplace at the height of the Sunni-Shiite conflict when many thousands of people were killed in cold blood. But this was the first time in several years that such a large number of bodies had been found in one place."  Found?  Reuters reports "unusual vehicle traffic" to and from an abandoned building caught the attention of children who entered them empty building and found the corpses "inside one of its rooms" according to a police source.  Fang Yang (Xinhua) also notes a police source for the information that the corpses "were blindfolded and handcuffed with bullet holes in the heads." That's 24 reported dead and 61 reported injured.
But that wasn't all the violence.  NINA reports:

Police source told NINA that gunmen opened fire, using guns with silencers, at a shop owner in Ishaqi district, south of Tikrit, killing him instantly, for cooperating with security forces.
He added that 3 improvised explosive devices went off near the body of the deceased, when people and security forces gathered, killing 5 persons and wounding 18 others.
Killed for cooperating with security forces?  And on the same day the Ministry of the Interior was attempting to spin cooperation.   Today Deputy Interior Minister Adnan al-Assadi told Al-Shorfa that Iraq's tips line was a huge success.  He insisted that there "terrorism-related notifications has increased by 40% in comparison to the figure from August."  Wow.  Nearly double.  Can al-Assadi do math?  Some people -- and at one point a talking Barbie doll -- found math to be hard.  I certainly don't consider myself to be a math expert.  But if I'm reading an article about how helpful these phone call-ins are and how their number has basically doubled and then you tell me that these tips have helped you "arrest 28 suspects," even I can see something wrong with that picture.  And that's before you factor in that 28 suspects arrested is not even a large daily number -- mass arrests account for twice that on a slow day in Iraq of late.  And let's not forget that Nouri used yesterday's weekly address to sell the Iraqi equivalent of NYC's "If you see something, say something."   If you've had a 40% increase, you use your weekly address to thank people for that, not to beg them to call your hotline.
"We are new to democracy, as a country, we are new to that."  That was Iraq's Ambassador to the US Lukman Faily speaking at the Brookings Institution yesterday.  He was actually replying to a question from Brooking's Kenneth Pollack and speaking of the fact that Iraqi prisons contain people falsely arrested.  That's a large number of the Iraqi prison population, though Faily tried to play down the number and also tried to excuse false arrest and imprisonment with "new to democracy."  Is Iraq also supposed to be new to literacy?  One of the world's all time classic books is Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo whose main character Edmond Dantes sets off on a course of revenge after he's falsely arrested and imprisoned.  The novel was the inspiration for ABC's Revenge, as Stan noted last nightRevenge returns with new episodes Sunday, September 29th and, as she's done with the first two seasons, Rebecca will be blogging about each new episode at her site.  In the TV show, as in the book, false imprisonment destroy lives and makes a person (the falsely imprisoned in the book, the adult-daughter of the falsely imprisoned in the TV series) lash out against those responsible.

And in that classic story, you find what continues to fuel the violence in Iraq.  Nouri's answer has repeatedly been mass arrests which have imprisoned many innocents.  This only further destabilizes the country.  And, as this takes place, the idiot Nouri doesn't even have, all these years later, ministers to head the security ministries.

Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count puts the number of violent deaths in the country so far this month at 651.  And UNAMI issued the following yesterday:

Baghdad, 18 September 2013 - The Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General (DSRSG) for Iraq, Mr. Gyorgy Busztin, expressed extreme concern about sectarian based displacement after recent worrying reports about forcible expulsion of Al Saadoun tribal communities from Dhi-Qar and Shabak communities from Ninewa, along with killings of members of Sunni community in Basra. كوردی
"The use of violence and intimidation against communities by illegal armed groups forcing them to flee their homes is unacceptable and a clear violation of basic human rights," DSRSG Busztin said, stressing that this worrying trend may pose grave risks for Iraq's social cohesion and may be disruptive to the ongoing efforts for national reconciliation.

The UN Envoy called on the Iraqi authorities to protect communities from attack, ensuring their safety, security, and right to a peaceful life free of intimidation.

The Kurdish Globe reminds the UN's death toll for last month was 800 Iraqis killed and that 5,000 have been killed so far this year.  And yet what  Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reported back in July 2012 is still true today, "Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has struggled to forge a lasting power-sharing agreement and has yet to fill key Cabinet positions, including the ministers of defense, interior and national security, while his backers have also shown signs of wobbling support." 

"We are a new democracy, as a country, we are new to that."   Lukman Fally declared that yesterday at the Brookings Institution.  He is correct in his statement.  And we can see how the White House circumventing democracy in Iraq to give second-place Nouri a second term has effected the country in terms of immediate violence.  There's no denying the impact there.

But there are other impacts.  We saw one today with the laughable Social Peace Conference -- it has at least four other bad names but that's the one the US used and since it was really their staged event, let's go with that.

But before we do, let's drop back to the day after The Erbil Agreement was signed.  From the November 11, 2010 Iraq snapshot:

Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. They are claiming they have the right to form the government. In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. It's eight months and three days and still counting.

Today the KRG website announces:

Baghdad, Iraq ( - Iraq's political leaders yesterday agreed to hold the parliamentary session as scheduled on Thursday and to name an individual for the post of Speaker of the the parliament (Council of Representatives). The Speaker post will go to the Al-Iraqiya bloc, which is headed by former prime minister Ayad Allawi.
During the meeting, which was attended by the leaders of all the winning blocs at President Masoud Barzani's Baghdad headquarters, agreement was reached on two other points: to create a council for strategic policy and to address issues regarding national reconciliation.
President Barzani, who sponsored the three days' round of meetings, stated that today's agreement was a big achievement for Iraqis. He expressed optimism that the next government will be formed soon and that it will be inclusive and representative of all of Iraq's communities.

Martin Chulov (Guardian) reports one hiccup in the process today involved Ayad Allawi who US President Barack Obama phoned asking/pleading that he accept the deal because "his rejection of post would be a vote of no confidence". Ben Lando, Sam Dagher and Margaret Coker (Wall St. Journal) confirm the phone call via two sources and state Allawi will take the post -- newly created -- of chair of the National Council On Higher Policy: "Mr. Obama, in his phone call to Mr. Allawi on Thursday, promised to throw U.S. weight behind the process and guarantee that the council would retain meaningful and legal power, according to the two officials with knowledge of the phone call." 

With that in mind, let's turn to today's pretend event.  NINA quotes Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi speaking at the Social Peace Conference:

What is going in the region of coups and sudden political transformations, is calling everyone to behave as wise as possible in order to avoied our people the major disasters.  The initiative put forward by Vice President Khudair Alkhozai is one of the opportunities that we should stand with unreacted attitude.

 All Iraq News notes he also criticized Nouri:


He assured in his speech during the conference "The government failed in setting plans to protect churches and the mosques." 
"It also failed in reducing the organized displacing process for the Shabak community in northern Iraq and al-Sadoun tribe in the south in addition to neglecting the demonstrators' demands," he concluded. 

KRG President Massoud Barzani signed the agreement but stated temporary agreements would only lead to more violence and that the Iraqi protesters must be listened to and their demands met. Alsumaria notes that various leaders signed a sort of peace pact -- non-binding. All Iraq News notes Nouri held a press conference after and declared, "We will not consider the absence of the political leaders from the Social Peace Conference as a suspension and we will contact them."

Photos of the event are revealing.  They are group photos.  Not crowd photos.  That allows the US helpers to hide (but they were present and spotted entering the meeting as Arabic social media notes).  More to the point, if Ayad Allawi hadn't announced he wouldn't be attending and if his political foes weren't making a to-do about that, would anyone have noticed?

No one appears to have noticed that Moqtada al-Sadr was not present.

 All Iraq News notes Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi did not attend the Social Peace Conference.  Good.  He shouldn't.  He also announced he wasn't attending yesterday.  It's not a peace conference.  It's a US-event and Allawi shouldn't give it credence.

Allawi has trusted the White House far too much.  He is the Al Gore of Iraq, the people's choice for leader who had the election stolen for him.  In 2000, the US Supreme Court stole the election on behalf of Bully Boy Bush.  In 2010, the White House stole the Iraqi election on behalf of Nouri al-Maliki.

You sort of get the idea that if the US wanted any credibility with Allawi right now, they'd dispatch Al Gore to Iraq to commiserate in an "I feel you" conversation.

Allawi's been loathe to criticize the White House for the same reason that Gore doesn't call out the Supreme Court -- it will be seen as whining.  But in this summer's interview with the BBC, prompted repeatedly, he was able to note that, yes, the White House broke their word.

Why did they do it?

The Erbil Agreement was made because Barack listened to idiots (including Samantha Power and Chris Hill) and refused to listen to Vice President Joe Biden who actually knew all about Nouri.  The argument was that with Nouri they could get what the US government wanted.  So they pushed for Nouri.  To get The Erbil Agreement signed by the leaders -- including Allawi -- they insisted it was legally binding.  They insisted that their promise in writing that Nouri gets a second term is as binding as Nouri's promises to them in writing -- in the same contract.  Furthermore, the contract -- they insisted -- had the full backing of the US.

Nouri never lived up to any of his promises.  He has not implemented Article 140 of the Constitution (as the Kurds want -- and also as the Constitution requires him to do).  He's not created an independent national security commission.  He's not done any of it.

And the White House doesn't give a damn.

Let's go back to 2010 for a Guardian report by Martin Chulov:

Barack Obama will today make a personal plea to Ayad Allawi to join a coalition government with his rival Nouri al-Maliki in a deal designed to end eight months of political deadlock in Iraq.
The US president's intervention comes as fears grow among Iraqi leaders and US diplomats that Allawi – the leader of the bloc that won the most votes in March's election – will walk away from the government outlined by the Kurdish regional president, Masoud Barzani, today.
Although Allawi is expected to let his followers take up positions in the new administration, his rejection of post would be a vote of no confidence in a deal described by the US as "a big step forward for Iraq".
Until now, Obama has left efforts to bring about a power-sharing deal to his deputy, Joe Biden, who has made at least three trips to Iraq since the inconclusive election.

The White House lied to Allawi.  Specifically, Barack lied to him.  They used him to give their illegal contract the air of legality and acceptance.

Today they wanted to use him again.

What struck me most about the BBC interview after Allawi's reluctance to name the US government as one of the betrayers (under pressure, he finally did) was how disappointed he still was by what took place.

He was lied to and he was used.

Attending today's event would have been embracing that all over again.

The US Embassy organized the faux event with Brett McGurk acting as lead (and as usual, unable to keep his trap shut -- and somebody tell his latest wife that, true or false, there are rumors -- two reporters passed it on to me -- that his zipper's again come down).  The point was to create this 'reset' for Iraq that would have the press citing this non-event as a starting point and not the April event so many outlets are currently using.

That would be the  April 23rd massacre of a sit-in in Hawija which resulted from  Nouri's federal forces storming in.  Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk)  announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault.   AFP reported 53 dead for several days now -- indicating that some of the wounded did not recover.  UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured).

The US State Dept ordered a re-set point to be established ahead of Nouri's expected visit to the White House later this month.  They really want the press focusing on this non-event, on this so-called peace conference (which accomplished nothing) as opposed to focusing on the massacre as Nouri and Barack pose together for pictures.

Today's staged event wasn't about peace.  It wasn't about the Iraqi people.  It was about spiffing up Nouri before he hits the US so that Barack is protected.

The smartest thing Ayad Allawi could have done was not participate in the farce.

 While not attending the meet-up, Allawi did Tweet:

  1. بعد التغيير بموروثه السياسي، وتعدديته الإجتماعية بحاجة لإرادة تنبثق عنها شراكة وطنية حقيقية لبناء المؤسسات
  2. With its vibrant society, needs real national power-sharing based on institution building.

That's one example of how democracy was harmed in Iraq.  But how much harm has been done to democracy now that the Iraqi people see their own votes overturned by the White House?  We'll get a glimpse of how that may have impacted democracy's chances in Iraq early next year if parliamentary elections are held on time.

Elections are taking place now in the KRG, provincial elections.  The three provinces of northern Iraq that make up the semi-autonomous KRG (Dohuk, Erbil and Sulaimaniya) actually started the vote today.  All Iraq News reports that this special day of voting for security forces (who will be working Saturday when the vote officially takes place) was supposed to end at 5:00 pm; however, the large turnout was something of a surprise and the Independent High Electoral Commission decided to extend the voting by one hour meaning that voting went on for 11 hours (from seven in the morning until six in the evening).  All Iraq News notes that, by noon, participation "in Erbil reached 58%" and 54% in Sulaimaniya.  AFP reports:

The Sept. 21 vote is the first to be held in Kurdistan, a three-province autonomous region in north Iraq, in more than four years.
It will see three main parties jostle for position in the Kurdish parliament, with long-term implications both domestically and farther afield. The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) of regional president Massud Barzani is widely expected to garner the largest number of seats.
But the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, which is in government with the KDP, faces a challenge from the Goran faction in its own backyard as it struggles with leadership questions as  its long-time chief Jalal Talabani, the Iraqi president recovers in Germany from a stroke.

The IHEC issued the following today:

A delegation from the Human Rights Commission represented by the Members, Dr. Bushra al Obeidy and Dr. Fadel al Ghrawi visited on 11 September the Kurdistan Region Electoral Office (KREO) to discuss ways of cooperation between the two institutions since both institutions played a great role in supporting the democratic process in Iraq through the right of Iraqi citizen to live peacefully and participate in the elections
The delegation was received by the IHEC Chief Electoral Officer, Mr. Mukdad al Sharify and the Board of Commissioners Members, Mr. Muhsen al Musawi and Mr. Wael al Waely
The meeting was addressed also participation and accreditation of the Human Rights Commission as observers to monitor the upcoming parliamentary elections of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq scheduled on 21 September
The IHEC has mobilized all its efforts for the success of the upcoming electoral process in the region

AFP's Prashant Rao is in the KRG to report on the vote.  Today, he Tweeted:

  1. After nearly 4.5 years living in Iraq, somehow this is my first time in Arbil.
    1. I'm in Kurdistan to cover elections. For more regular Iraq news, make sure to follow 's and back in Baghdad.

Press TV has a video report on the voting today here.

Meanwhile,  Raja Abdulrahim (Los Angeles Times) reports:

An Al Qaeda-linked group in Syria has seized control of a strategic town near the border with Turkey after clashing with fighters from the mainstream opposition Free Syrian Army, or FSA.
The capture of Azaz puts the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria less than a mile from the Bab al-Salameh border crossing, which has been under opposition control for more than a year.

This is exactly why you don't support the so-called 'rebels.' al Qaeda either is or is not a terrorist group.  The US government has maintained it is and that it is responsible for the attacks on the US in 2001.  That's not ancient history.  The White House does not need to be in bed with those who are supposed to be responsible for bringing down the Twin Towers.  But the White House is in bed with them.

Albert Aji and Bassem Mroue (AP) add, "The U.S. and its European and Gulf allies are increasingly concerned about the rising prominence of Islamists among the rebels, who have been playing a major role in the battles against President Bashar Assad's forces." Way too late, as  Ruth Sherlock (Telegraph of London) explains, "The seizure of the town puts al-Qaeda in control of territory immediately adjoining a Nato country for the first time, a development that will heighten fears in the West about the rapidly growing power of jihadist groups within the rebellion against the Syrian regime."

The US State Dept didn't hold a press briefing today -- apparently under the assumption that any of that clown might distract from the War Clown John Kerry's little event.  The Secretary of State continues to preach war on Syria.  And you wonder why I'm not noting FPIF and IPS with their stupid articles about how 'we won, no war on Syria!'  Are we really that stupid?  Or maybe just they are.  Syria is a target.  It remains one.  Kerry's remarks today make that clear (link is text and video):

We really don’t have time today to pretend that anyone can have their own set of facts approaching the issue of chemical weapons in Syria. This fight about Syria’s chemical weapons is not a game. It’s real. It’s important. It’s important to the lives of people in Syria, it’s important to the region, it’s important to the world that this be enforced – this agreement that we came out of Geneva with. And for many weeks, we heard from Russia and from others, “Wait for the UN report. Those are the outside experts.” That’s a quote. “That is the independent gold standard.” That’s a quote.
Well, despite the efforts of some to suggest otherwise, thanks to this week’s long-awaited UN report, the facts in Syria only grew clearer and the case only grew more compelling. 

And that's about enough from him.  I love you as a person, John, but I'm having a real struggle with you as a politician right now as you lie and whore for war.

It's also not a good day for John to be trumpeting 'facts' to the American people.  None of his 'facts' on Syria have yet to pan out.  He was ridiculed by everyone this month for his lie that he (and Chuck Hagel) had been against the Iraq War (both voted to authorize it, neither voted to end it).  And today, as al Qaeda makes its presence felt even stronger in Iraq, John wants to talk 'facts' again?

Learn to seize your moment.  This was not John Kerry's day.  Events ensured that he would look like a liar (and on Syria, he is a liar, a big liar). Mitchell Prothero (McClatchy Newspapers) reports:

This week’s takeover of Syrian rebel posts by al Qaida-linked fighters undercuts Secretary of State John Kerry’s assertion to Congress earlier this month that moderates make up the bulk of the guerrilla movement against President Bashar Assad’s regime and are growing stronger.
Kerry told Congress that Islamist extremists make up only 15 to 25 percent of the rebels. But a closer examination of the composition of fighting groups suggests that his figure is low.
Charles Lister, an analyst for IHS Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Center in Great Britain, circulated a study this week that showed that al Qaida-linked fighters and “hard-line Islamists” who coordinate closely with them number more than 40 percent of the anti-Assad forces. “Genuine moderates, with a distinctly nationalist-secular outlook,” Lister said, account for 20 to 25 percent of the estimated 100,000 anti-Assad fighters.

Read more here:

Again, not the day for John to lecture about 'facts.'  And it's really past time he stopped being the skirt Barack hides behind.

Today, after a semi-lengthy delay to take an official photo of the 113th Congress' House Veterans Affairs Committee, the Committee held a hearing.  Having sat through it, I'd like to cover it.  Maybe in tomorrow's snapshot.  I'd also like to get to David Swanson's radio program this week.  I also need to note a friend standing up to the war machine (while others present fawned).   And I sat through the Brooking event so I'd like to cover that.  There's not room for any of it today.  We do have to make room for an upcoming event because it's important to get the word out on it.  From Restore the Fourth:

 Join Restore the Fourth, Access, ACLU, Center for Democracy and Technology, Demand Progress, EFF, Fight for the Future, Free Press, reddit, Mozilla, Public Knowledge & More

Stop Watching Us: A Rally Against The NSA's Mass Surveillance | Washington, DC 10/26

 The recent NSA revelations have laid it all out: The NSA is watching us online and on our phones. The NSA has corrupted security and cryptography, undermining the fabric of the Internet. Its overreaching surveillance is creating a climate of fear, chills free speech, and violates our basic human rights -- and it operates without any meaningful oversight.

But a movement is building to change all this. And we're about to take the next step.
On Saturday, October 26 — the 12th anniversary of the signing of the USA PATRIOT Act — thousands of people from across the political spectrum will unite in Washington, D.C. to proclaim: Enough is enough. Stop watching us.
StopWatching.Us is a diverse coalition including more than 100 public advocacy organizations and companies from across ideological lines, including the ACLU, Access, Demand Progress, Electronic Frontier Foundation, FreedomWorks, Fight for the Future, Free Press, Mozilla, reddit, Restore the Fourth and Thoughtworks. This coalition is working to organize the biggest mass protest of the NSA’s surveillance programs to date. Will you join us?
Hundreds of thousands of people have spoken out since the major NSA leaks began this June. More than 560,000 people took action at StopWatching.Us by signing our petition to the U.S. Congress. Dozens of members of Congress have introduced bills aimed at reining in the NSA, and hundreds of organizations and companies are uniting to end the NSA's unconstitutional surveillance.
But we will only succeed if we take the next step and raise our voices.
At the StopWatching.Us rally on October 26, we’ll remind our elected officials that they work for us, not the NSA. We are demanding a full Congressional investigation of America’s surveillance programs, reform to federal surveillance law, and accountability from public officials responsible for hiding this surveillance from lawmakers and the public. And we will personally deliver the half million petition signatures to Congress.
This will be the biggest rally for privacy the U.S. has ever seen. Will you be there?





mohammed tawfeeq 
 prashant rao
 sam dagher
ben lando

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