Saturday, June 14, 2008

The treaty

When Debra Filter enlisted in the Army in 1978 as a 22-year-old high school graduate, she saw it as a way to escape childhood abuse, get an education, and see the world.
She didn't get what she signed up for.
On the night of her graduation from basic training, Filter said several fellow soldiers raped her. The next day, her drill sergeant told her, in front of the rest of her platoon, that she ought to be ashamed of herself.
It was like pouring salt on an open wound--Filter had suffered years of sexual and physical abuse during her childhood. Distraught, she said she did not report the rape; she went AWOL for two days.
She was discharged from the Army shortly thereafter with an honorable discharge, according to her military records.
"I joined the military to escape abuse in civilian life," said Filter, 49. "But I found it again in the military."

The above is the opening to Melissa Schmitt's "Homelessness a problem for women veterans" (Medill Reports). In the New York Times today, Alissa J. Rubin's "Talks With U.S. on Security Pact Are at an Impasse, the Iraqi Prime Minister Says" begins on A5 and continues on A9.

Let's deal with the most important aspect first. Rubin's report ends with this: "Meanwhile hundreds of followers of Mr. Sadr -- long an opponent of American involvement in Iraq -- also rallied in Karbala to protest the agreement." Huh? The article appears to have had a quick edit which pulled any comment on the protests in Baghdad Friday, the ones the large photo on A5 (Khalid Mohammed, AP) note with the caption: "Followers of the rebel Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sdar protested in Baghdad on Friday against a proposed security agreement. American politicians played down the severity of a disagreement." And, somehow, the Times has played down the Baghdad protest since the printed article does not mention them though the article's conclusion "also rallied in" indicates the Baghdad protests were mentioned in some version of the article. Moqtada al-Sadr called for protests on every Friday and they continue to take place. Though not clearly reported on, they would indicate that al-Sadr's power remains intact. To what degree? You'd have to have reports on the actual protests to know that.

What's known? In the snapshot yesterday, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was quoted: "I had not heard that and I'm not quite sure what the exact circumstances are. So I will have to, when I get home, find out what the status of those negotiations is, and whether there's a difference between what's actually going on in negotiations and the public posture. I just don't know the answer at this point." Rubin's left to try to sort out the unknown. She notes that it's not clear whether al-Maliki's remarks about the talks reaching a "dead end" refer to an older draft version or a new one. The new draft, according to Iraq's Foreign Minister and a member of the Iraqi Parliament (Iman al-Saadi), has dropped the provision granting immunity to foreign contractors working in Iraq. Rubin notes the UN mandate expires at year's end (yes, that's the same mandate Amy Goodman falsely claimed on air this week ended this month)

"It was not clear that Mr. Maliki had reviewed the new draft, because he had been traveling," Rubin reports. Rubin also notes al-Maliki's public comments regarding another issue, what al-Maliki has called "Washington's demand" that the US has a "free hand in undertaking military operations" in Iraq "without cooperation with the Iraqi government" (all in quotes are al-Maliki's direct words). Rubin states that it would appear the contractor immunity has been dropped from the latest version; however, immunity for US service members remains. She also notes:

During a sermon on Friday in the holy city of Karbala, an aide to Iraq's most senior Shiite regligious leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, urged Iraqi negotiators to protect the national interest.
"Iraq's sovereignty and economy must be protected," the aide, Ahmed al-Safi, told worshipers.

CNN reports Bully Boy is blustering in Paris that the treaty will come to pass insisting, "If I were a betting man, we'll reach an agreement with the Iraqis." Some would argue Bully Boy long ago bet America's future on an illegal war and lost.

From Leila Fadel and Mike Tharp's "Maliki raises possibility that Iraq might ask U.S. to leave" (McClatchy Newspapers) report:

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki raised the possibility that his country won't sign a status of forces agreement with the United States and will ask U.S. troops to go home when their U.N. mandate to be in Iraq expires at the end of the year.
Maliki made the comment after weeks of complaints from Shiite Muslim lawmakers that U.S. proposals that would govern a continued troop presence in Iraq would infringe on Iraq's sovereignty.
"Iraq has another option that it may use," Maliki said during a visit to Amman, Jordan. "The Iraqi government, if it wants, has the right to demand that the U.N. terminate the presence of international forces on Iraqi sovereign soil."

Such an action would mean the US leave Iraq or be in violation of the United Nations and international law. Of course, that wasn't a concern to start the illegal war. Rubin notes that Barack Obama's campaign refused to make any comment on Friday -- that can be read as a would-be Bully Boy not wanting to shut himself off to future illegal war.

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