Friday, March 28, 2014

Hiding Behind The Leg Of Her Pantsuit

Hiding Behind The Leg Of Her Pantsuit

From December 5, 2010, that's "Hiding Behind The Leg Of Her Pantsuit." 

C.I. explained:

 As Hillary delivers her infamous speech, Barack hides behind her pantsuit and declares, "I'll keep hiding behind the legs of her pantsuits and maybe no one will notice that I prosecuted no one for lying us into an illegal war but I'm going after Julian Assange for releasing the truth." Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts.

Poor Barry.  No Hillary to hide behind and he faces actual criticism for a change.

You know it's because he's Black, right?  No president was ever criticized before.  

(I am being sarcastic.  As a Black man, I don't call Barack "Black," he's bi-racial.  Also, plenty of presidents have been criticized before Barack.)

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

Thursday, March 27, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, over 300 civilians have been killed in Nouri's assault on Anbar the UN security council is told, the bill that would lower the age of marriage to at least nine (girls only) in Iraq gets attention in the US. the Senate hears from veterans, Barack's nutty remarks on Iraq continue to garner responses and much more.

Ashley Fantz (CNN) reports Iraq War veteran Senator John Walsh "introduced legislation on Thursday aimed at reducing the number of military veterans who commit suicide."  Today was the National Day of Action to Combat Suicide.  Fantz notes:

The Suicide Prevention for America's Veterans Act is collaboration between Walsh and the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. Founded in 2004, IAVA is the first and largest organization for new veterans and their families, with 270,000 members nationwide.

I'm not sure about the "introduced."  He talked about it, Walsh did, but it's not gotten a "S.XX" number yet. That's because it's not been introduced.   Josh Hicks (Washington Post) more accurately characterizes it as "proposed" -- and notes it was proposed not on the floor of the Senate but while Walsh spoke "at an Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Association event on the mall."  Chris Good (ABC News) also gets the wording right, "The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America is pushing a bill, the Suicide Prevention for America’s Veterans Act, which Sen. John Walsh, D-Mont., plans to introduce. "

I'm sorry that I don't have the generosity to applaud words.  Show some action, we'll applaud that.  I have no idea why you'd be so stupid to waste press but that's what Walsh has done. He should have proposed it on the Senate floor.  It's going to be hard to get the press to report on that if and when it happens.  Many outlets will take the attitude of, "Well . . . we already reported he introduced it so we really don't have anything to add to the story."  The only reason we're opening with it is because an IAVA friend asked me on Tuesday if we'd do so.  I said yes.  We have many things to cover and if and when Walsh finally gets around to introducing it in Congress, we may or may not have time to note it again but we certainly won't open the snapshot with it.  Walsh wasted his moment.

Yesterday, the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committee held a joint-hearing.

Senate Chair Bernie Sanders:  The democratic society that you fought for, that you believe in sometimes doesn't work the way we would like it to work and we see the halls of Congress flooded by well paid activists who represent very powerful special interests.  So I am particularly delighted to see [. . .] What I have learned in the last 15 months since I have had the honor  to Chair the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee is that the cost of war and the cost of service is much, much greater than most Americans, I think, appreciate. It is not just the tragedy of the loss of lives. We saw 6700 lost in Iraq and Afghanistan.  It is not just the men and women who come back from war without legs, without arms, without eyesight, without hearing but equally important it is the hundreds of thousands who among other wars have come back from Iraq and Afghanistan with the invisible wounds of war.  We're talking about some 200,000 men and women just from Iraq and Afghanistan who've come home with Traumatic Brain Injury or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Think about that -- and what it means to their lives. But it's not just their lives.  Think about the wives and the family situations and the children and the mothers and the fathers and the ability to go out and get a job and earn a living.  There was a study done awhile back and I don't know if it was accurate or not but the suggestion was that despite the very significant loss of lives that we saw in Vietnam, even more people died from the war after they came home from Vietnam as a result of suicide or self-destructive activity caused by war.  And let me tell you that today -- today -- so many years later, we have men sleeping out on the streets of America from Vietnam because of that war.  That is the cost of war.  So when we talk about war, it's not only the aircraft carriers and it's not only the planes and the tanks and the guns, it is what happens to people.  And when people tell me -- and sometimes I hear this -- that we just don't have enough money to take care of the men and women who put their lives on the line in those wars then I say, "Don't go to war in the first place."

The two committees were hearing testimony from The American Legion who were represented by National Commander Daniel Dellinger.

Daniel Dellinger:  The American Legion remains dedicated to working with VA and Congress to help reduce the claims backlog. While VA has made much progress this year in reducing the number of claims in their inventory, The American Legion is concerned that accuracy is being sacrificed in the interest of simply moving cases along, merely prolonging the problem by shifting the burden to the appeals system, which receives less focus.

This is the shell game we warned about before it went into effect.  Once it went into effect and the government began lying and stupid reporters began repeating, we called it out again.

Maybe they're too busy lying for the government or maybe they just lack basic common sense, but reporters refused to recognize what the shift actually would mean or what it meant when it took place.

We're going to go real slow.  A huge mountain of backlogged claims does not disappear just because you shove them into the appeals process.

Imagine your electricity bill comes in and it's $250 and you don't have it so you let it go for 30 days.  That may buy you some time but it does not disappear the bill.

Ramming claims through just to get them out of the backlog does not reduce the claims.

More importantly, it makes life harder for the veterans.  They didn't get a real hearing on their claim and now they've got to fight through the appeals process.

It's a shame the leader of The American Legion was unable to address the topic.  Excerpt.

House Chair Jeff Miller:  Commander, in your testimony you noted some concerns regarding the sacrifice of accuracy of disability claims determination in favor of speediness.  And I think that shifts the burden to the less scrutinized appeals process system and really prolongs the determination process for the veteran.  And I'd like to ask you if you could expand on that just a little bit about what your organization is fighting?

Daniel Dellinger:   Well, we've heard -- we've heard from VA that their rates -- and I was just at a regional office in Salt Lake City and they put figures out that were 98% accurate We've heard other claims from the VA that the accuracy is in the mid-90s percentile.  But when we go in, we have found different areas where it could be as low as 56%.  We have issues with -- and that's the reason our  ROAR [Regional Office Action Review] team goes out to these regional offices to review those claims and get with those processers to see how they come up with their determinations to improve the system.  But we all know that without the electronic medical record that would make it seemless -- because the majority of the time the backlogs is waiting for the paper copy of the records.  So this is something we really need to improve upon.  And if we can get that system up and running which they've already tried and I understand dates are being set now to-to guarantee that, it would -- it would greatly improve the efficiency and time frame of those. 

None of those half-sentences address the issue Miller noted or asked about.  And Miller asked because Dellinger raised it in his opening remarks -- opening remarks he delivered but apparently did not write since he was unable to speak to.  In fact, those accompanying Dellinger were also unprepared to speak -- not just due to their avoiding the topic ("we'd like to get back to you") but in their repeated stopping mid-sentence ("I'm sorry").  They couldn't even structure a full non-answer.  Even worse, though no one seemed to notice, two American Legion testifiers were in conflict with one another in their statements.  That's the sort of thing you iron out before you speak in public.  Not after.  That's especially true when the National Commander takes a position in his opening remarks and written testimony and another AL offers conflicting testimony.

The American Legion members should be very bothered by the inability of their leadership to address questions raised by the two Committees or to reconcile their own messaging.

I'll take the heat off them by moving to something even more embarrassing.  House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi attended the hearing.  She babbled as only she can.  I'm done with carrying the lies that no veteran should be homeless in these snapshots.  Hearing it from my own representative was probably the last straw.

Reality, no American should be homeless.

Shame on Congress for not addressing the issue of the homeless.

No American deserves to be homeless.

It is unacceptable.

And it is unacceptable for members of Congress to grandstand on veterans.  They are in the Congress supposedly to represent America.  It is an offense that anyone is sleeping on the streets in the United States.  Shame on members of Congress  who have the ability to fix this problem but instead avoid it and try to create a tier of American citizenship where one group has a right to shelter but others don't.

That's beyond bulls**t.

I am the first to argue that promises made to those who serve be kept.  But there's no promise to veterans that they'll have jobs or homes.  That promise to them?  It's made not because of their service, it's made because they're Americans.  And every American -- veteran or civilian -- has a right to a job and shelter.

Promises made to veterans include health care and pensions.  There are many other promises.  Every promise made should be honored.

But the right to shelter is like the right to democracy, it is made to all Americans.

Nancy Pelosi is not the first to have climbed on the backs of veterans and toss out sop.  But she is my representative in Congress and, as the San Francisco Chronicle has documented for years now, homelessness in San Francisco is "The Shame of the City."  She's been in Congress since 1987, she's been Minority Leader, Speaker of the House and now, once again, Minority Leader.  And yet things aren't any better in San Francisco so excuse me for not applauding her hollow words or cheering her one for the argument that no veteran should be homeless.  No American should be homeless.  Nancy's failure to make that statement goes a long, long way towards explaining her inability to seriously address the homeless issue.

We'll note more of the hearing in tomorrow's snapshot.  Later tonight, Wally will post at Rebecca's site about House Ranking Member Mike Michaud.

Today, we were in New York for Nickolay Mladenov's presentation to the United Nations Security Council.  (Yes, I said I was done with those unless I had a reason to be in New York.  I did have a reason so I attended it.)  Mladenov is the special envoy to Iraq of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

We're not going to do a lot on his testimony here but we are going to note this and see if you grasp what stands out:

On 28 December, in Ramadi, the Iraqi security forces raided the house of Ahmad al-Alwani, a member of the Council of Representatives with close links to the demonstrators, while executing an arrest warrant on his brother, Ali Suleyman al-Alwani, on terrorism charges. Ahmad al-Alwani was arrested, while his brother and several family members and bodyguards were killed in an exchange of fire. In protest, a large number of local residents took to the streets, which led to armed clashes with security forces in Ramadi and Falluja.

al-Alwani wasn't the target of the raid?

While everyone was sleeping, Nouri launched his thugs on a mission that ended in innocents being killed and wounded and, on top of all that, Ahmad al-Alwani -- who gets arrested -- wasn't even the target?

He shouldn't have been arrested to begin with -- as a Member of Parliament, he has immunity until he leaves office unless Parliament votes to strip him of it.  From the Iraqi Constitution.

Article 63: 

First: A law shall regulate the rights and privileges of the speaker of the Council of Representatives, his two deputies, and the members of the Council of Representatives. 


 A. A member of the Council of Representatives shall enjoy immunity for statements made while the Council is in session, and the member may not be prosecuted before the courts for such. 

 B. A Council of Representatives member may not be placed under arrest during the legislative term of the Council of Representatives, unless the member is accused of a felony and the Council of Representatives members consent by an absolute majority to lift his immunity or if he is caught in flagrante delicto in the commission of a felony. 

 C. A Council of Representatives member may not be arrested after the legislative term of the Council of Representatives, unless the member is accused of a felony and with the consent of the speaker of the Council of Representatives to lift his immunity or if he is caught in flagrante delicto in the commission of a felony.  

But there was no warrant to arrest him and he got arrested?

He didn't just get arrested.  He was terrorized as his home was attacked at dawn.

This is how Nouri 'rules,' he refuses to do the honest thing, which would be to show up -- during daylight hours -- at someone's home with an arrest warrant and then escort the person to a police station to be booked.  Instead, he orders an attack on someone's home in darkness.

He was wanting a battle, he was wanting to scare people, to make them think a terrorist attack was happening.  This was not an accident, the events that followed were not by chance.

And now we find out that even though the MP ended up arrested, there wasn't even an arrest warrant for him?

Nouri should be brought up on charges for that alone.

Instead, he thinks he deserves a third term as prime minister.

His slogan will apparently be, "I failed to accomplish anything in my first term, I failed to accomplish anything in my second term, but third term's the charm."

Tuesday, the entire board of commissioners of the Independent High Electoral Commission submitted their resignations in writing despite the fact that parliamentary elections are supposed to be held April 30th.  To the Security-Council today, Mladenov attempted to sell this as a good thing, a gift, "This gives a window of opportunity for the Iraqi parliament to address the concerns that the commissioners have."

If you can spin that, it's no surprise you'll spin so much more.  Mladenov refused to call the assault on Anbar "War Crimes," though that is what they are. Last night, Nouri's continued shelling of Falluja's residential neighborhood left 2 civilians dead and five injured. Alsumaria reports Falluja General Hospital was again shelled by Nouri's forces today.

Before the UN Security Council today, Mladenov could allow that "336 civilians" had been killed in the assault with 1,562 more left injured.  But he couldn't call out the assault itself or Nouri.  He did manage to note that 66,520 families were displaced as a result of the assault.  We may come back to his report in tomorrow's snapshot.

March 8, 2014, International Women's Day, Iraqi women protested in Baghdad against Nouri al-Maliki's proposed bill which would allow father's to marry off daughters as young as nine-years-old, strip away the need for consent to sex,  and would strip custodial rights from mothers.  The State Dept only commented when pressed during a briefing.  The White House -- despite pretending to support women -- has still had no public statement.

While Women's Media Center and Ms. magazine's blog have still not had time to address the issue a conservative radio talk show has.

Actress Janine Turner first garnered attention on Behind The Screen and then played Laura Templeton on General Hospital, Maggie on Northern Exposure and Dana on Strong Medicine.  Janine's way too the right of me (and I'm way, way to the left of her), which is fine.   I didn't know she had a radio show.

  • Ashe Schow: In Iraq: Girls can marry @ 9 yrs. old- In America: Feminists are trying to "Ban Bossy": LISTEN HERE:

  • We'll do an excerpt of her show but, to be accurate, Ashe Schow is characterizing a bill as a law.  The offensive bill has not yet been passed by the Iraqi parliament.  (It did pass Nouri's Council of Ministers.)

    Asche Schow: Well, in Iraq, they just passed this law that's basically saying a man is basically entitled to have sex with his wife whenever he wants, whether she wants to or not -- it's essentially spousal rape.  The law also allows for girls to be married as young as nine and basically says that a woman can't leave her house without a man's permission -- basically nothing without a man.  And this is a law that they passed to put these old, old world -- decades old things into law, legitimizing it all.  Meanwhile, in America, feminist women aren't talking about that.  They want to ban the word "bossy," saying that this hurts girls and this stops girls from achieving things when what really stops girls from achieving things is being marries at the age of nine and being told that you are property and that kind of stuff.

    Janine Turner:  I agree with you.

    Ashe Schow:  But the word "bossy"?

    Janine Turner:  I know, it's just unbelievable.  I'm glad you brought this to everyone's attention, Ashe, because not only that, it says here that in Iraq some things that stand out to me in your article, in your opinion and editorial here, one is that they automatically can get married at -- no, girls can get married now by law by the age of nine and the husband automatically gets custody of these girls.  Nine!  Nine.  And another thing that appears to me is that they had a protest in Iraq -- and this speaks volumes, I believe -- two dozen women protested, it's only 24 women.  That goes to show how frightening it is and how they really worried about probably their lives and why more couldn't go out and protest. 

    Ashe Schow: Right.  Exactly.  And meanwhile I protested this article like I put up a meme saying basically the same thing is in the article and a whole bunch of American feminists attacked me for it saying like, "How dare you equate the two."  It's not me who's equating the two, it's them that are saying that the word "bossy" is just as terrible in America as spousal rape is in the Middle East. That's equating the issues.  I'm saying they are not the same and you need some perspective and you need to take a look and say, "Maybe this isn't such a big deal after all when they [. . .]"

    "Bossy" is a word.  Were it to be banned, a new word would pop up. The problem isn't the word, it's the way girls are seen.  And that could be addressed and should be.  But that's not what the ban campaign is about.  It's about a faux feminist, Sheryl Sandberg, promoting her tired wares.  This is corporatism, it's not feminism. [If this is news to you, refer to Susan Faludi's "Facebook Feminism, Like It or Not" (The Baffler).]

    As we've seen this month with Iraq 'coverage' in the US, a lot of lazy people don't want to do real work so they run with the stupid and easy.  You have lazy women, some feminist and some not, who can't think or write on their own so they foolishly hop on a bandwagon.  You also have women who know this is a press created topic and you can get links and love by repeating an empty and idiotic message.

    The two women and I are on the opposite ends of the political spectrum.  But in terms of what should have been focused on?  We're in agreement that the news was what was happening to Iraqi women.

    This is an important issue.  The western press ignored it forever and a day.  When finally forced to cover it, many western outlets insisted it was no big deal, just electioneering and would fade away after the elections.  Yet now the bill's being read and the outlets who told you not to worry are not telling you about that, are they?

    Let's turn to today's violence.  Al Jazeera reports, "A series of bombings targeting commercial areas of Baghdad have killed 22 people and left scores wounded as residents were heading out on the town in the latest spasm of violence to strike the Iraqi capital, according to officials."  Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) notes, "In Iraq's northern province of Nineveh, a candidate for Mutahidoun political bloc was shot dead by gunmen while he was driving his car in the city of Mosul, some 400 km north of Baghdad."

    National Iraqi News Agency reports a roadside bombing ("between Balad and Samarra") left 4 "women inspectors killed and eleven other women" injured, an Alzgartah Village home invasion left 1 woman dead and another woman and one child injured, a Mosul battle left 1 rebel dead and another injured, a Mosul roadside bombing left two Iraqi soldiers injured, security sources say they killed 3 suspects in Sinsil Village, and a Tabbana Village battle left 1 police member and 1 rebel dead and a civilian injured.  Alsumaria adds an Ishaqi roadside bombing (south of Tikrit) left two Iraqi soldiers injured, 1 woman was shot dead and another civilian left injured in Kirkuk, a bombing northeast of Falluja left 5 Iraqi soldiers dead, and a Tikrit bombing left a police member and his wife dead.

    Yesterday, US President Barack Obama made a fool out of himself as he attempted to justify and re-sell the Iraq War. William Rivers Pitt (Truthout) explains, "Truthout does not forget. We were at the forefront of the struggle against that disastrous war, and we will not stand idly by as an alleged "good guy" slaps a coat of paint over it to cover up the blood on the walls. President Obama sounds for all the world like a used car salesman trying to peddle a lemon, and that will not happen on our watch."   DS Wright (Firedoglake) notes:

    Yesterday President Barack Obama tried to claim that the United States government’s actions in the 2003 Iraq War were legal and different than Russia’s actions in Crimea because the US had “sought to work within the international system.” Apparently merely seeking to work within the international system is some kind of get out of jail free card. If one follows Obama’s logic then Russia need only to have “sought” a doomed UN resolution justifying the annexation of Crimea before doing so, this would have made their actions legitimate under Obama’s standard.

    Pravda points out the curious nature of the speech itself, "The key event of Obama's European tour was his speech in the Brussels Palace of Fine Arts in front of 2,000 people. His lengthy discourse on the history and common values ​​with Europeans was very quickly replaced with anti-Russian rhetoric.The speech turned out to be a dispute with Russian authorities, entirely devoted to the situation in Ukraine."  Yes, it was a strange speech, both for topic and for tone.  In fact, it was more of a spew than a speech.   Greg Mitchell (The Nation) notes Barack's foolish remarks.  The Voice of Russia notes:

    Matt Howard and Ross Caputi, members of the Iraq Veterans Against the War, spoke with Common Dreams by phone and said that the president's narrative on the events that led up to the Iraq invasion, inside or outside the context of Ukraine, was simply "not grounded in reality." "We went from one lie, which was weapons of mass destruction, to another lie which was liberation and freedom," said Howard. "This idea that Iraq is somehow better off or that the US waged a so-called 'Good War' is ridiculous."

    Let's note some Twitter reactions:

  • Nobel Peace Prize recipient Barack Obama now seeks to kosher the US invasion and occupation of Iraq:

  • hey depleted uranium used in Iraq from US causing birth defects+cancer.F U CRIMEA IS WORSE THEN IRAQ

    1. Obama said "Iraq invasion not as bad as Crimea"..True, Iraq took 1million+ innocent lives & stole resources.. & well Crimea took 0...

  • Meanwhile,  Justyn Dillingham (Salon) writes:

    It is disingenuous to say that we “sought to work within the international system” without noting that we subsequently went to war in flagrant violation of international law. Even one of the war’s chief architects admitted that the invasion was not strictly legal. Richard Perle, one of the Pentagon’s most eager advocates of war on Iraq, said in November 2003 that international law “would have required us to leave Saddam Hussein alone” and that “in this case international law stood in the way of doing the right thing.” Even if the Bush administration would have preferred to go to war with the support of the United Nations, the fact remains that they went to war without it. Saying that the United States “sought to work within the international system” before invading Iraq is like praising a burglar because he checked to see if your door was unlocked before breaking a window.
    The consequences of this reckless act go far beyond the awful human cost of the Iraq War. Our invasion of Iraq undermined the authority of the United Nations and created a dangerous precedent for other preemptive wars. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan called Bush’s war a “fundamental challenge” to the core principles of the United Nations and warned that it “could set precedents that [result] in a proliferation of the unilateral and lawless use of force, with or without credible justification.” Putin himself, in defending his actions in Crimea, cited the record of the United States in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.

    While most focus on the Iraq aspect, Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) chooses to call out Barack's speech for the WWI remarks.  John Glaser ( focuses on Barack's defense of the illegal Iraq War and observes, "This is perhaps the most asinine thing the president has said in the entirety of his presidency. The invasion of Iraq was an illegal, preventive war based on lies. It got hundreds of thousands of people killed and cost trillions of dollars. The U.S.-backed dictator of Iraq, Nouri al-Maliki, is ruling the nation with an iron fist, as the country slips back into civil war. Nothing but chaos, ruin, and rivers of blood resulted from the criminal invasion. For Obama to even dare to compare Crimea to Iraq is a sick joke." And Patrick Martin (WSWS) points out:

    The truth is that the war in Iraq was the greatest crime—up to now—committed in the 21st century. More than a million Iraqis lost their lives as a result of the US invasion and occupation, and Iraq was destroyed as a functioning society. The Bush administration openly declared that the Geneva Conventions and international law did not apply either to the war in Iraq or the previous conquest and occupation of Afghanistan, a position that the Obama administration continues to uphold.
    Obama seeks to rally the world against the supposed crimes of Russia in Crimea, in which, as of this writing, two people have been killed (one Ukrainian soldier and one Russian), while opposing any prosecution of the American war criminals responsible for the immense bloodbath visited upon the people of Iraq.
    Instead, the US president excused the monumental crimes of his own government with the statement, “Of course, neither the United States nor Europe are perfect in adherence to our ideals. Nor do we claim to be the sole arbiter of what is right or wrong in the world.”
    Actually, the US government does claim that role. Administration after administration has declared the United States to be “the indispensable nation,” the sole superpower, the country whose military-intelligence apparatus must be the world’s policeman, and whose leaders are immune from any accountability for their actions.

    Read on ...

    Thursday, March 20, 2014

    Barack On The Court

    back on the court

    From November 28, 2010, that's "Back On The Court."  C.I. wrote:

    A band-aid above his lip and surrounded by four young girls, Barack declares, "Scared of another busted lip? Not me. I'm big and brave and back on the court . . . with Sasha and her classmates." Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts.

    It's appropriate for the week if you think about it, Barack bored the world with his NCAA picks this week.

    He hasn't worked on creating jobs.  But he did do Ellen's TV show this week.

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

    Thursday, March 20, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, the assault on Anbar continues, Tareq al-Hashemi calls thug Nouri out, the Al-Sweady Inquiry hits a snag, when does the Kimberly Rivera inquiry begin or does Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel endorse those under him making up their own rules?, and much more.

    Starting in England where BBC reports, "A public inquiry into whether UK soldiers unlawfully killed Iraqi civilians in 2004 has heard their relatives no longer believe there is enough evidence to back the claims."  This is the Al-Sweady Inquiry.  This is not the British's Iraq Inquiry -- whose results have still not been released -- or the British inquiry into the death of Baha Mousa.  We covered those at length in multiple snapshots.  We only noted the Al-Sweady Inquiry March 4, 2013 and September 2013.  From the first one:

    The Metro reports,  "British troops killed, mutilated and tortured civilians following a battle in Iraq, the start of an inquiry heard.  Graphic images were shown of missing eyes and genitals among the bodies of unarmed men who were taken to an army base."  What's going on?  An inquiry known as the Al-Sweady Inquiry, named after Iraqi Hamid al-Sweady, a 19-year-old killed in May of 2004.   Huffington Post UK reports, "The Al-Sweady Inquiry is examining claims that UK soldiers murdered 20 or more Iraqis and tortured detainees after the 'Battle of Danny Boy' in Maysan Province, southern Iraq, in May 2004."  Richard Norton-Taylor (Guardian) explains, "Nine Iraqis say they were tortured after being taken to a detention centre at Shaibah base near Basra and held there for four months. They say they were taken, along with the 20 murdered Iraqis, to a British base, Camp Abu Naji, after a fierce firefight in what became known as the battle of Danny Boy, a British military checkpoint near Majar al-Kabir, on 14 May 2004."

    We covered the other two, utilizing the public transcripts (much more utilized for the Iraq Inquiry) because they had strong merit.  We didn't cover Al-Sweady because the case seemed weak.  Not false, but weak.  If we're going to focus on a trial or inquiry here and do multiple snapshots on it, I have to feel it has a chance to go somewhere.  'They'll never win this,' isn't the concern so much as, 'They don't have the evidence to make the case they're charging.'  With Al-Sweady, the evidence didn't seem strong enough to support the claims -- to me, my opinion and I could be wrong and often am.  But we have enough to cover without me wasting my time on something I don't believe in.  I didn't feel a US trial that's just wrapped up in a plea bargain was worth covering because the evidence seemed questionable. That's not a judgment by me on whether or not it's 'worthy' for the attorneys to pursue or whether it's an important issue.  It is me looking at my time and asking if it's worth covering?  In the Al-Sweady case the answer was "no."

    So we didn't pay attention to this 42 week inquiry.  Today ITV News leads with, "Lawyers representing families of dead Iraqis admitted there was 'insufficient evidence' to back their claims British soldiers unlawfully killed civilians nearly a decade ago." The Al-Sweady Inquiry notes today:

    Public Interest Lawyers who act for the Iraqi Core Participants in the Inquiry have today (Thursday 20 March 2014) made a statement that they will not submit that, on the balance of probabilities, live Iraqis captured during the course of the battle on 14 May 2004 died or were killed at Camp Abu Naji. Following the conclusion of the majority of the military evidence and current state of disclosure of MoD material, they contend that there is insufficient material to establish that Iraqi civilians were unlawfully killed whilst in the custody of British troops at Camp Abu Naji. The allegations of mistreatment of Iraqi civilians in British custody remain.
    It is for the Chairman to reach all conclusions and he will detail findings of fact in his report. In so doing he will draw on all the evidence he has seen and heard, including the statement made today by the legal representatives for the Iraqi Core Participants.
    The Inquiry continues and will hear closing submissions from Core Participants on 16 April 2014.

    Thereafter, the Chairman will write his report.

    The admission does not mean the inquiry was a waste or that other things weren't established during it.  Richard Norton-Taylor (Guardian) reports:

    The bodies of the dead were taken to an Iraqi hospital the day after the battle – in which weapons ranging from high-velocity rifles to fixed bayonets, were used – the inquiry heard. Many of them were in a horrific state, so horrific that the inquiry has said it will not publish photographs of them.
    Some of the relatives of the dead have alleged that they had been killed in the British camp. O'Connor also conceded on Thursday that the detained Iraqis were not mistreated in the British camp.
    The inquiry has also heard mounting evidence that some Iraqis captured after the battle were mistreated by British troops. Some soldiers admitted abusing their prisoners, some changed their evidence. The inquiry also heard that commanders of the 1 Battalion Princess of Wales Royal Regiment obstructed attempts by the military police to conduct its own inquiry.

    So there was some abuse and that's now part of the public record.  At present, there is no proof that anyone was unlawfully killed.  Both are important.  When abuses take place, they need to be noted.  When abuses don't take place but are charged, if the record doesn't back them up, that needs to be noted as well.

    Public Interest Lawyers issued the following statement today:

    Public Interest Lawyers act for a number of Iraqi citizens who have long been concerned about the circumstances in which family members were killed or mistreated by British troops in May 2004 at Camp Abu Naji and Shaibah Logistics Base. 
    In November 2009 the setting up of a wide ranging Inquiry was announced to examine those allegations of unlawful killing and mistreatment.
    Following the conclusion of the military evidence and current state of disclosure by the MoD it is our view there is insufficient material to establish that Iraqi civilians were unlawfully killed whilst in the custody of British troops at Camp Abu Naji and we have advised the Inquiry of this conclusion. 
    There remain numerous allegations of violent and other ill-treatment of Iraqi Civilians in British custody which the Inquiry will have to consider. John Dickinson of Public Interest Lawyers said that:
    “From the outset the families have had the simple objective of discovering the extent of any wrongdoing and if so how it came about and who was responsible. It is accepted that on the material which has been disclosed to date there is insufficient evidence to support a finding of unlawful killing in Camp Abu Naji” 
    For more information please contact John Dickinson at Public Interest Lawyers:
    Tel:                 0121 515 5069

    The Associated Press notes, "Ten years ago: Hundreds of thousands of people worldwide rallied against the U.S.-led war in Iraq on the first anniversary of the start of the conflict."  964 Eagle adds, "179 British servicemen and women died during operations there."  The number of US service members and military personnel the Dept of Defense states died in the Iraq War is [PDF format warning]: 4489.  Iraq Coalition Casualty Count lists 139 for "Other" countries who sent troops into Iraq.  The number of Iraqis killed in the illegal war?

    That's a tough one.  For one thing, efforts were made to discredit the accepted social science model when it was used for a study The Lancet carried which reported a million deaths.  Information Clearing House notes, "Number Of Iraqis Slaughtered In US War And Occupation Of Iraq '1,455,590'."

    But the main problem with a body count?  The war hasn't stopped in Iraq.

    For example, these events today:


     AFP notes, "Late night bombings at a Baghdad cafe left 13 people dead, officials said Thursday."  National Iraqi News Agency reports a roadside bombing left two police members injured in Mosul, and an Alshallalat car bombing left 1 Peshmerga dead.  All Iraq News reports a Ramadi sticky bombing left 1 police officer dead.


    National Iraqi News Agency reports an assassination attempt on Colonel Khaled Kinnear in Eshaqi left two of his bodyguards injured, 1 member of the police shot dead in Baquba, assailants in Iraqi military uniforms kidnapped Mayor Salah Sabhan and his son from their homes and killed them outside Hawija, a roadside bombing left two police members injured in Mosul, an armed clash in Jurf al-Sakar left 5 rebels dead and one police member injured, Joint Operations Command announced 8 suspects were killed on the "outskirts of Fallujah," Diyala Police announced they killed 6 suspects "in villages south of Buhriz" and an Alshallalat car bombing left 1 Peshmerga dead,  and 2 corpses were discovered in Mosul ("signs of torture").


    National Iraqi News Agency reports   2 corpses were discovered in Mosul ("signs of torture"). Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports that "five bodies that were found shot dead in the heads and chests in al-Shirqat, a community about 300 kilometers (186 miles) north of Baghdad."

    Today, the US Embassy in Baghdad issued the following:

    U.S. Embassy Baghdad
    Office of the Spokesperson
    For Immediate Release
    The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad strongly denounces the most recent series of reprehensible acts of terrorism victimizing innocent Iraqi citizens throughout country, including particularly brutal attacks in Hilla, Karbala, Wasit, Mosul, Tuz Khormato, Baghdad, and Anbar.  In recent weeks hundreds of Iraqis, including women and children, have been killed or injured by terrorists who pursue their goals through the senseless slaughter of the innocent.

    We extend our sincere condolences to the families of the victims and hope for a rapid recovery for those who were injured. The United States stands with the Iraqi people and will continue its robust support of the Government of Iraq in its fight against terrorism.  

    They condemned terrorism.  But not Nouri's terrorism.  Still they addressed Iraq which is far more than the US State Dept and the lazy ass journalists attending today's State Dept press briefing bothered to do.

    Apparently, they couldn't think of a question.   NINA reports the military shelling of residential neighborhoods in Falluja left ten civilians ("including three children") injured.  Maybe the reporters present could have asked just how many civilians are going to be killed or wounded by Nouri with weapons the US provides?

    Maybe they could have asked spokesperson Jen Psaki exactly how long the administration intends to pretend that Nouri's actions aren't War Crimes?

    Today, the Council on Foreign Relation's Gayle Tzemach Lemmon quotes former US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker declaring, "What we have got is a country that is facing huge internal as well as external challenges and needs the engagement that we effectively promised them through these (Strategic Framework) agreements, through our actions, through our efforts to create for them institutions that are not yet ready to function completely on their own. We have decided we are out, goodbye and good luck. Well, that may not have a happy ending."

    If only, Ryan Crocker, if only.

    Walking away and washing hands of Iraq would be more humane than arming Nouri with weapons to use against the Iraqi people."

    Each day brings injuries and deaths to the citizens in Falluja and Ramadi whose 'crime' is having a home there.  It's a War Crime to use Collective Punishment (in this case suspecting terrorists are in Falluja -- a populated city -- or Ramadi -- also a populated city -- so bombing the whole cities to 'get' the terrorists).

    Silence is endorsing the War Crimes, silence on the part of the Americans, silence on the part of the world.

    The US government arms Nouri -- US President Barack Obama strong-armed Congress to go along -- and he uses those weapons to terrorize and kill the Iraqi people.

    Maybe the reporters could have asked for a response to the important report from Ned Parker, Ahmed Rasheed and Suadad al-Salhy (Reuters):

    The video shows a male corpse lying in the dirt, one end of a rope tied around his legs, the other fastened to the back of an armoured Humvee.
    Men in Iraqi military uniforms mingle by the vehicle. Someone warns there might be a bomb on the body. One hands another his smartphone. Then he stands over the body, smiles, and offers a thumbs-up as his comrade takes a photo. The Humvee starts to move, dragging the dead man behind it into the desert.
    The short video was shown to Reuters last week by an Iraqi national police officer. It captures what appear to be Iraqi soldiers desecrating the corpse of a fighter from the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL), a group reconstituted from an earlier incarnation of al Qaeda in Iraq.

    And that video is only one example of many more.  They've been surfacing for some time.  The one from the January 31st snapshot continues to haunt me:

    On YouTube video has surfaced of Nouri's forces today . . . next to a man being burned alive.  Did they set the Sunni male on fire?  It appears they're not concerned with putting out the fire so it's fair to conclude they started it.   It's the sort of government cruelty that's led Iraqis to protest in the first place.

    It continues to haunt me but apparently not those who attend the State Dept press briefings since no one's bothered to ask about it.

    Instead, they melt into the US government, meld with it, and pretend that crazy Nouri al-Maliki -- pedophile, chief thug and prime minister of Iraq (installed by Bully Boy Bush in 2006, Barack violated the Iraqi Constitution to give Nouri a second term in 2010 after Nouri lost the election to Ayad Allawi)  -- isn't crazy and that he's not the terrorist.

    In the real world, Ma'ad Fayad (Asharq Al-Awsat) reports:

    The Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Nechervan Barzani, has expressed surprise at comments made earlier this month by Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki, in which he accused Saudi Arabia of sponsoring terrorism in Iraq.
    Speaking exclusively to Asharq Al-Awsat via telephone from Erbil on Tuesday, Barzani said: “What are the reasons behind the accusations at this specific time? . . . We have not seen evidence of Saudi sponsorship of terrorism in Iraq before, and we have not seen any evidence proving Saudi responsibility for recruiting or assisting terrorist organizations or groups there.”

    Where are those reasons behind the accusations?  Nouri was supposed to provide proof.

    Last Thursday, Nouri wrapped up his failed, two-day security conference.  And did so without proof.

    He made the accusations against Saudi Arabia and Qatar in an interview to France24.

    And then?

    Last week, Anadolu Agency reported that Qassem Atta was telling the press, "Iraq will present evidence [of countries supporting terrorism] to conference participants, with lawsuits being a possibility."  Poor Atta, head of the committee that did the prep work for the failed conference and now Nouri's also made him a public liar.

    No proof was offered.

    Arab News reported earlier this week, "Saudi Arabia on Monday denounced Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki for accusing the Kingdom of being involved in terrorism, and said the embattled leader was only trying to cover up for his government’s failures and support for terrorist operations in his own country."

    As Iraq Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi observed, the conference probably cost $100 million --  and he points out:

    Some of the Arabs, including those from the Gulf, participated in the conference despite calls for a boycott. This is unfortunate, as well as surprising, after Al-Maliki made an unprecedented and explicit accusation against Saudi Arabia and Qatar regarding their alleged involvement in terrorism in Iraq. These participants have lost a lot and have angered their Arab brothers who are being persecuted by Al-Maliki and who had hoped for them to take a position that reinforces their perseverance and gives them hope. This is especially true of the Sunni Arabs from the Anbar tribes in Ramadi and Fallujah who are being targeted by Al-Maliki's weapons and war planes day and night. In the case of such countries, fear drove them to attend the conference and please Al-Maliki instead of sympathising with the tribes and people who are being exposed to his discriminatory and sectarian policies.

    The conference, in terms of appearance and content, did not present anything new; even its final recommendations were merely a regurgitation of exhausted proposals and ideas. As such, it can be said that the get-together was just a public relations exercise with specific objectives, beginning with whitewashing Al-Maliki and his fascist regime's criminal record, but he was unable to achieve this. The second objective was to gather as much international support as possible in order to back him in his failed military campaign in Anbar. Thirdly, it was intended to silence the opposition abroad because any opposition to Nouri Al-Maliki is classified as "terrorism" by him. Finally, it was intended to create some hope that he will not be prosecuted for the crimes he has committed in the past and continues to commit, including crimes against humanity. There are increasing complaints from international human rights organisations and the EU about his actions.

    $100 million for a conference when Iraqis live in poverty.  $100 million and it was completely wasted because the conference was a failure.  As we observed when it came to end last week:

    Let's pause on Nouri's embarrassing failures and note what the conference came up with on their last day. NINA explains, "Baghdad first international anti-terrorism conference [. . .] recommended the conclusion of its works on Thursday to promote international cooperation, exchange of information, to respond to the demands of countries to handover of criminals, cooperation and take necessary measures to dying terrorism resources."
    That's it?
    A two-day conference and all they can come up with is: Exchange phone numbers?
    Most people can accomplish that within ten minutes of entering a bar.
    Two days to get digits on a cocktail napkin?
    Even when you look for a Nouri success, you still come up with failure.

    $100 million to exchange phone numbers.

    Chair Bernie Sanders: I've been Chairman of the Senate Committee for a little over a year and the one thing that I've learned is that the cost of war is a lot higher than I think most Americans understand: the people who return come back with a host of issues.  Their families have problems that I think many of our fellow Americans don't understand.  So let me just touch on some of the things we have done in the past and where we want to go in the future.    There was, as you know, an effort to take away a COLA from military retirees.  Congress dealt with most of that -- retracted that error.  But there still is a problem that for those people in the military now, they will not get the COLA that the veterans -- other veterans -- are getting.  We are working to make sure that we address a problem that I know is particularly of concern to the paralyzed veterans, but to all veterans, and that is that some of you will recall that a couple of years ago, Congress did the right thing by passing a Caregivers Act.  All of you familair with that?  Very significant step.  But what we did not do, is we passed that for the post-9/11 veterans -- a good step forward -- but not for the veterans of all generations.  And what that means now is that today sitting in California or New York or any place else, there is a 70-year-old woman taking care of a Vietnam vet who was injured in that war.  She deserves support.  She doesn't get it now and we want to address that issue by expanding the Caregivers Act -- something we heard from many of the organizations.  One of the issues that, uhm, I feel strongly about and I know many of the veterans organizations feel strongly about is the issue of understanding that dental care is part of health care.  And for many, many years, as a nation -- and within the VA -- we said, 'This is health care, this is dental care, we're going to cover health care not cover dental care.'  I think the time is now to begin to address that issue and -- at least in a pilot program -- make dental care accessible to veterans other than those who just have service connected problems.  All of us have been concerned about the benefits backlogs.  We're going to stay on that, put more demands on the VA so that they fulfill their goal of ending the backlog by the end of 2015. [. . .] One of the great disgraces that we have experienced as a nation in recent years is the issue of sexual assault in the military.  We are all ashamed about that.  We want the DoD to address it as boldly as they can but we also want to make sure that when women and men leave the service, they get the kind of compassionate care for sexual assault that they need in the VA.  Another issue that is out there, from Iraq and Afghanistan veterans some 2,300 men and women were wounded in war in ways that make it impossible for them to have children.  They are entitled to have families through in vitro fertilization or adoption or other approaches.  

    That's Senator Bernie Sanders from last Wednesday's joint hearing held by the Senate and House Veterans Affairs Committee.   Sanders comments note some of the issues effecting those the US government deployed to Iraq (and to Afghanistan).  The government quickly sent them but it hasn't quickly addressed their issues, has it?

    Senator Johnny Isakson was at the hearing and he noted that Post-Traumatic Stress and TBI are the "bad legacies of the Iraqi and Afghanistan Wars" for veterans.  He noted other things as wll.

    Ranking Member Johnny Isakson:  Secondly, several of you have written about the incredible need to for better access to effective mental treatment for veterans.  8,000 veterans a year are taking their life, 22 a day.  The Chairman was kind enough to grant me the right to hold a field hearing in Atlanta last August and we had a two-and-one-half-hour meeting with about 300 people present talking about the problems with suicide.  The IG's report on the Atlanta VA tied mismanagement at the VA to three of the particular suicides at the VA in Atlanta and that's intolerable.  The new director, Leslie Wiggins, is doing a great job of holding the VA accountable in Atlanta and we need to learn from that experience because that's not a problem that's just related to Atlanta, Georgia -- it's related to the entire VA delivery system.

    While it's great that veterans needs are noted (be great if their needs were addressed and not just noted),  it's amazing how no one wants to champion the war resister.

    They're not veterans, they've been stripped of that status.  If they're thrown in prison, they're actually under the Armed Services Committees in the House and Senate.  So where's the investigation and concern?

    Kim Rivera served in Iraq, came back to the US, decided to self-check out while in Texas and went to Canada with her husband and their children.  She was seeking asylum.  She did not receive it.  Instead, Canada forced her out, while she was pregnant and she was thrown behind bars in a US prison.  At this point, some people reading will be cheering.  I support war resisters but not everyone who reads the snapshot does.

    So my challenge to those who don't is, do you think it's okay for Kim or anyone else to be mistreated by the military while they're behind bars?  That is what happened.

    Bob Meola and Michael McKee (Courage to Resist) reported on Kim

    Later in her pregnancy, Kimberly challenged her jailers for violating their own SOPs, refusing her the option of lying down, eating more healthful foods, occasionally removing her heavy outer uniform and avoiding work that would make her nauseated or dizzy.
    “In the last month of my pregnancy, they finally put a restriction on my medical order that allowed me to lay down two hours a day. I wrote a big long complaint to the C.O. and the commander came to see me. He was ready for a fight.”
    Kimberly’s commander told her he had the power to pick and choose which pregnancy SOPs to follow because she was not having any serious complications. When Kimberly countered that those SOPs were in place to avoid a complicated pregnancy, the commander said he would talk to the medical department, but nothing improved.
    The Riveras’ ordeal only tightened when Kimberly went into labor. A female staff sergeant insisted she remain in the room to supervise her prisoner during the birth, despite Kimberly’s requests for privacy. 
    “She had three meals brought to her and ate in my room,” recalls Kimberly. “It was very disrespectful and unprofessional. If you are undergoing any treatment, other people do not need to be there.”
    The sergeant’s presence—and refusal to let Kimberly close her bed curtain—made it difficult for Kimberly to push for her husband to be allowed to be present for the birth, as per the approval of the commander. 

    “They wouldn’t let me in the room to see Kim or the baby,” says Mario. “I heard the Staff Sgt. talking to one of the lieutenants and some hospital staff about making me leave the premises and trying to figure out how to give Kim more of a hard time.”

    Chuck Hagel should hang his head in shame.  He's the US Secretary of Defense, this was published over a week ago, he should have been aware of it and had a public response by now.

    But he's offered nothing.

    And I'm sorry to break it to you, but rules are supposed to be sacred in the military.  The fact that this administration and the previous one bred and encouraged contempt for those who took an ethical stand against an illegal war does not allow the rules to be broken.

    People should be punished for what they did to Kim.

    The military should be embarrassed.  Not just because it was harmful to Kim but also because you have people in the military who are not following the rules and think they can do whatever they want.  That's insubordination.

    Hagel should be alarmed that it happened and launching an investigation to find out how high it went.

    Those who want to say war resisters deserve to be tossed in prison because they broke the law by walking away?  Well you can make that case but it doesn't let you excuse what was done to Kim?

    There is no excuse.  And Hagel should be very concerned about what this says about the health of the military today.  And Barack should stop posturing and pretending he gives a damn about women.  He so obviously doesn't  [see "Whose hands are clean in The War On Women (Ava and C.I."].  And the treatment of Kim, made public March 10th, didn't result in one word from him or his spokesperson Jay Carney .

    Kim Rivera was not the only Iraq war resister.  Others who went public include  James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia,  Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman.

    Rodney Watson continues to resist.  In Canada, Iraq War veteran Rodney  continues to hope for asylum.  Yolande Cole (Georgia Straight -- link has text and video) reported in 2011 that it was a little over two years since the US war resister, on the verge of being deported (September 2009), sought refuge at First United Church in Vancouver with his wife and son.  He states, "I've been through a lot in my life, and this has been one of the hardest things I've been through, being stuck in these walls. The hardest thing about being stuck here is waving to my wife and son . . . every time they got to the store, or to family dinners, outings, to the park . . . the hardest part for me is saying good-bye." Derrick O'Keefe (Vancouver Observer) reports on Rodney today:

    “I saw fellow soldiers depressed or suicidal because they didn’t want to be there, so I felt like there was no way for me to get out, except to go AWOL. I would have stayed in the military if there was a real reason for me to be there, but I felt in my heart and soul that it was not worth me killing or dying for lies.”
    That’s why he came to Canada. Here, Rodney found work, got married and had a son. Then, in 2009, he got a letter ordering him to leave Canada -- no later than September 11.
    September 11th was [one of the main] reasons I’d signed up,” Rodney explains. “So when I got the letter in the mail telling me they wanted me to leave my wife and my son, it just felt like a giant slap in the face -- my son [was] a newborn and I love my family and I don’t want to leave them.” The raw emotion of that moment is still evident on his face and in his voice.
    That’s when he made the choice to claim sanctuary at First United, so as to avoid removal by Canadian authorities. Four and a half years later, he hasn’t moved. But neither have the politicians in Ottawa.
    We've squeezed in as much as we can.  Kevin Gosztola has a piece on the illegal war here and Patrick Cockburn has one here.

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