Friday, November 14, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the treaty gets vocal supporters and foes, Blackwater finds out the life of a mercenary isn't all fun and games, and more.
Earlier this week, Warren P. Strobel (McClatchy Newspapers) reported, "The State Department is preparing to slap a multi-million dollar fine on private military contractor Blackwater USA for shipping hundreds of automatic weapons to Iraq without the necessary permits. Some of the weapons are believed to have ended up on the country's black market, department officials told McCarthy, but no criminal charges have been filed in the case." Today Brian Ross and Jason Ryan (ABC News) add, "A federal grand jury in North Carolina is investigating allegations the controversial private security firm Blackwater illegally shipped assault weapons and silencers to Iraq, hidden in large sacks of dog food, ABCNews.com has learned" and ABC's consultant John Kiriakou (formerly CIA) states, "The only reason you need a silencer is if you want to assassinate someone." Tod Robberson (Dallas Morning News) wonders why Blackwater continues to get tax payer money, "I guess it wasn't enough that Blackwater gunmen slaughtered Iraqi civilians on the streets of Baghdad and helped undermine the U.S. war effort in Iraq. . . . And ye, its current $1.2 billion in federal contracts curiously seem unaffected. If the American public only knew how cozy the relationship is between State Department personnel and its biggest contractors, they'd be appalled." Though there have been many slaughters, September 17, 2007 was the one which recieved the most attention AP reports today that that slaughter of 17 resulted in prosecutors drafting an indictment against six employees of Blackwater Worldwide". Today Robert Brodsky (GovernmentExecutive) notes New America Foundation's October report calling for the utilization of the State Dept's Bureau of Diplomatic Secuirty and not mercenaries/private contractors "to protect U.S. assets and personnel" and he also points out "An August Congressional Budget Office study found that roughly $1 out of every $5 the U.S. government has spent in Iraq has gone to contractors. The budget analysts said there is roughly one contractor on the ground in Iraq for every member of the military, although most are not American and only a fraction are private security contractors."
At the US State Dept, spokesperson Robert Wood declared of the treaty masquerading as a Status Of Forces Agreement, "We certainly hope to get that deal. We think it's a good agreement and the Iraqis will have to take it through their political process. And we'll see what goes -- you know, see where it goes from there." Where it goes next is an expected Sunday vote. Ernesto Londono (Washington Post) reports that Jawad al-Bolani, Minister of the Interiror, is endorsing the treaty and quotes him stating, "The security agreement is important for Iraq to ban and stop foreign influence and interference. The Iraqi people need this security agreement." BBC noted in June 2006 that al-Bolani declared (upon being voted into his post), "The interior ministry will preserve Iraqi blood." A laughable claim since the thugs of the Interior Ministry are infamous for spilling blood (and for expelling Iraqis from their legal homes).
al-Bolani is one of the Iraqi officials targeted by the US State Dept and it appears to have paid off. (Rumors are he sees himself as the next al-Maliki.) Supposedly, there is one more Iraqi official among those currently pressured that the State Dept thinks they can publicly flip before the Sunday meeting. al-Bolani by himself has very little impact (Kurds have never taken to him and Sunnis don't believe he's done much of anything to tackle the Ministry's assaults on Sunnis while most Shi'ites in the government see him as too sectarian) so the hope is that one or more flipping publicly ahead of Sunday's meeting could create a wave leading into the meeting that would put pressure on others to support the treaty masquerading as a Status Of Forces Agreement.
UPI reports that KRG president Massoud Barzani has declared, "If the pact is not signed, the situation in the country may deteriorate to the point of a civil war." In a live Washington Post online chat yesterday, Dana Priest declared of the treaty, "Still a stand-off with the clock ticking." In the most recent update, Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki declared today "that he now supports a security agreement with the United States, a Shiite Muslim legislator [Sami al Askari] who's close to the premier said Friday. . . This would represent an about-face for the Shiite prime minister, who was a hard-line holdout throughout the negotiations and had publicly criticized early drafts of the agreement."
Rania Abouzeid (Time magazine) states Moqtada al-Sadr "threw down the gauntlet: he threatened to resume attacks against U.S. troops if they don't leave Iraq 'without retaining bases or signing agreements" al-Sadr is quoted declaring, "I repeat my demand that the occupier leave the land of our beloved Iraq unconditionally, without retaining bases or signing agreements. If they remain, I will support the resistance . . . as long as their weapons are directed exclusively against the occupier." Iran's Press TV adds, "Moqtada al-Sadr has called on supporters to gather next week for weekly Friday prayers in a central Baghdad square to voice their protest to the pact." Robert Craig (Indianapolis Star) notes that the White House wants to "maintain more than 58 military bases indefinitely" and wonders, "So why would Iraq renew SOFA if it is apparently anxious to rid itself of occupation? Is this because the U.S. is holding $50 billion of oil money hostage in the New York Federal Reserve Bank? Why not simply release this money to help rebuild Iraq and futher its independence and national integrity?" Moqtada al-Sadr wasn't the only cleric issuing a call not to sign the treaty. Hamza Hendawi (AP) reports Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has "vowed to intervene if he concludes that a proposed agreement governing the presence of U.S. forces infringes on national security." At Real News Network (video), Paul Jay addresses the obstacles to the treaty and other dimensions.
While the White House attempts to extend the US engagement in the illegal war, AP reports that Bulgaria is leaving (155 soldiers) and quotes their prime minister, Sergei Stanishev, declaring yesterday the departure was necessary because "the presence of the Bulgarian military contingent on a humanitarian mission in Iraq ends on Dec. 31." And they aren't the only ones leaving. Russia's Novosti reports Azerbaijan's parliament voted today to pull their "150 peacekeepers" out of Iraq by an 86 to one vote ("The troops are currently protecting a hydroelectric power station in the town of Al-Hadida, which supplies Baghdad with half of its electricity.") David Williams (The Daily Mail) cites Iraq's National Security Adviser Muwafaq al-Rubaie as the source for the assertion that the UK will pull all troops out of Iraq "by the end of next year" (4,000 "mostly based near the southern city of Basra"). Deborah Haynes (Times of London) expands on the story by quoting al-Rubaie's statements to their paper, "By the end of next year there will be no British troops in Iraq."
Meanwhile, Iraq has set January 31st as the date for provincial elecitons. (Unless they're delayed again.) Today Staffan de Mistura, UN Secretary General's Special Representative for Iraq, informed the UN Security Council, "The Government of Iraq should be commended for the progress so far achieved. It will now be called upon to deliver services, security guarantees, conditions for free and fair elections, credible and independent institutions and to resolve tensions among its various communities." de Mistura continued, "The forthcoming elections are rightly viewed as an opportunity to establish a more inclusive sectarian balance and shape a new political landscape and are the most significant political event in the coming months. It is therefore all the more important to ensure that they be perceived as free and fair and that the Iraqis, with the support of the United Nations and the international community, be able to ensure respect of operational timelines, with an IHEC free of political pressure." The UN notes on provincial elections, "According to the report, the passage of the provincial election law on 24 September was a milestone, as it instituted an open-list system and ensured female representation on governorate councils. In addition, the Independent High Electoral Commission demonstrates the ability to mobilize a nationwide voter registration update without serious security or logistical problems. However, there is still potential for election-related violence and instability, as witnessed recently in Mosul. It is, therefore, essential to organize the elections in a secure environment and in a transparent manner." In addition, they also point out, "He and several other speakers also expressed concern about the recent incursion into Syria which had resulted in civilian deaths. That incursion was a violation of the United Nations Charter."
Violence? The wire services are silent. China's Xinhau notes, "Two American soldiers died in separate non-combat related incidents in Iraq, the U.S. military said on Friday." Both are noted here: The US military announces, "A Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldier died as the result of a non-combat related cause at approximately 3:50 a.m. Nov. 13 in Baghdad." And the US miliary announces: "A Coalition force Soldier died as a result of a non-combat related cause at approximately 11:52 a.m Nov. 13 in western Iraq." But we'll note them again because the announcement were made late. The two deaths bring the total number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 4197.
In US presidential news, Bruce Dixon (Black Agenda Report) begins the first of
It is not an exaggeration to say that Barack Obama's career since 2004 has been all about soaring promises to capture ardent voters followed by lowering standards to please his biggest financial contributors. An early foe of the Iraq war and Patriot Act during his US Senate
campaign, Obama voted to continue one and pass the other once in office. Obama's pledge to withdraw from Iraq has more loopholes by now than swiss cheese. His promise to filibuster warrantless eavesdropping and immunity for telecom lawbreakers morphed into
a vote for both, and his campaign trail promise to pursue Dr. King's unfinished quest for economic justice flipped into lobbying the
congress in support of the multi-trillion dollar no-strings-attached
Wall Street bailout.
The first appointments of the new regime are truly disturbing. Illinois
congressman Rahm Emanuel, the new White House chief of staff is a
certifiable Democratic neocon who helped strongarm NAFTA, welfare reform
and the Telecom Act of 1996 though congress for Bill Clinton. He served on the board of Freddie Mac while it was busy inflating the housing bubble, and was
an early and unrepentant advocate of invading Iraq and bombing Iran. As head
of the DCCC, responsible for recruiting and funding 2006 Democratic c
ongressional candidates, Emanuel used corporate contributions to try to
knock more than a twenty antiwar Democrats out of primary races in favor of
pro-war Democrats. Confronted with choices between pro-war Democrats and
pro-war Republicans, voters rejected most of Emanuel's picks, costing
Democrats as many as ten Congressional seats.
Larry Summers, early front-runner to succeed Bush Treasury secretary Henry Paulson, was happy to be Enron's eyes and ears at Treasury, according to a handwritten note to his pal Ken Lay you can find at OpenLeft.com. Summers famously remarked that third world countries were "underpolluted". His
solution to this "problem" is encouraging them to sell their share of "rights" to poison the planet's oceans and air to wealthy western corporations through a system like the present futures and commodities exchanges. Both the outgoing Bush and the incoming Obama administrations are enthusiastic advocates of
this "market-based" approach. So much for a Change We Can Breathe In.
On the same topic, Media Lens' "Obama: Wiping the Slate Clean -- Appearance And Reality In The Relaunch Of Brand America" (Dissident Voice):
It was a dawn of the dead - Blair left behind him the almost unimaginable horror of Iraq and Afghanistan.
A rare poll conducted by Ipsos last January of 754 Iraqi refugees in Syria found that "every single person interviewed by Ipsos reported experiencing at least one traumatic event in Iraq prior to their arrival in Syria."
UNHCR estimated that one in five of those registered with the agency in Syria
over the previous year were classified as "victims of torture and/or violence."
The survey showed that fully 89 per cent of those interviewed suffered depression and 82 per cent anxiety. This was linked to terrors endured before they fled
Iraq – 77 per cent of those interviewed reported being affected by air bombardments, shelling or rocket attacks. Eighty per cent had witnessed a shooting... and so on.
John Pilger was a lonely voice in 1997 warning that Blair was a dangerous fraud, a neocon in sheep's clothing. As Pilger later pointed out, the media could hardly plead ignorance:
Over the past two weeks -- one decade and three wars later -- the same media have been insisting, as one, that US president-elect Barrack Obama is another "new dawn". A Guardian leader observed:
In the Guardian's news section, Oliver Burkeman described the victory as "historic, epochal, path breaking". But there was more:
"Just being alive at a time when it's so evident that history is being made was elating and exhausting."
In 2003, the Guardian's foreign editor, Ed Pilkington, told us:
"We are not in the business of editorialising our news reports."4
Someone forgot to tell Burkeman, indeed the entire Guardian news team. At times like these, the media's claims to balanced coverage seem to belong to a different universe. Over the last two weeks, the public has been subjected to a one-way delusional deluge by the media. The propaganda is such that comments made by independent US presidential candidate, Ralph Nader, appear simply shocking:
Nader says of Obama: "This is show business what you're seeing." The crucial point: "Obama doesn't like to take on power."5
MediaChannel has opened MEDIA STORE for the holidays: "The Economy may be crashing, but we as a culture still believe in a season of giving. That's why MediaChannel and GlobalVision are opening an online store, as others close theirs, to share books and films we believe offer food for the mind and make for valuable gifts. Buying through us helps support MediaChannel. Your support in this season means alot to us. Our last fundraising drive has helped keep us alive! Your continuing help will keep us online and on the issues we all care about."
Public broadcasting notes. NOW on PBS explores green collar jobs:
Can something as common as building materials represent an opportunity to create jobs, help the needy, and save the planet? This week, NOW looks at two "green" projects keeping furniture, paint, cabinets, and other building supplies out of landfills and getting them into the hands of those who need them most. Will they be devastated by the economic meltdown, or do they signal a possible way out?
Based in the Bronx, New York, Greenworker Co-operatives aims to set up worker-owned green businesses. The first of these is Rebuilders Source, a store that sells recycled and donated building materials at affordable prices--items that would otherwise have ended up in a landfill.
"My vision now is a completely green South Bronx," says Bronx-born entrepreneur Omar Freilla, the founder of Greenworker Co-operatives, "with businesses throughout the area that are owned and run by people living in the area together."
On the other side of the country, in Southern California, Materials Matter matches donations of furniture and high quality building materials with individuals, organizations, and homeless shelters that use the materials to literally rebuild lives. But the faltering economy has had an impact.
"We have to decide whether the value of that donation will be worth the cost of transportation," says Materials Matter co-founder Alison Riback on her blog. "[The economic downturn] put a huge dent in our 'always say yes to a donation' philosophy."
This show is part of Enterprising Ideas, NOW's continuing spotlight on social entrepreneurs working to improve the world through self-sustaining innovation.
NOW on PBS begins airing tonight in most PBS markets, check local listings. Washington Week also begins airing on some PBS stations tonight (and later throughout the weekend on others). Gwen's joined by Greg Ip (The Economist), Dan Balz (Washington Post), Janet Hook (Los Angeles Times) and Karen Tumulty (Time magazine) and topics will include the proposed auto bailout, Barack, Bully Boy transitioning to civilian war time (okay, Karen won't really discuss that, but she should) and Congressional races. On Barack, CBS' 60 Minutes gets the first extended television interview with him since the election (Steve Kroft interviews him) and that airs this Sunday.
That's public broadcasting TV, public broadcasting radio includes WBAI and we'll note these programs airing Sunday and Monday on WBAI:
Sunday, November 16, 11am-noon
THE NEXT HOUR
Former WBAI News Director and Dan Rather writer, Paul Fischer's latest newsical in the series "What's the Freqency, Kenneth?" This time, Paul goes one joke over the line...to confess his lifelong addiction to drug songs.
Monday, November 17, 2-3pm
Cat Radio Cafe
Feminist author Vivian Gornick on her latest book of literary criticism, "The Men In My Life," downtown icon Edgar Oliver on "East 10th Street Self-Portrait," a play by and about him; and playwright Stephen Belber on his newest work, "Geometry of Fire,"about an investment-banker-turned Marine sniper returned from Iraq and a Saudi-American who just wants to get laid. Hosted by Janet Coleman and David Dozer."
Broadcasting at WBAI/NY 99.5 FM
Streaming live at WBAI
Archived at Cat Radio Cafe
Turning to utter trash. May 28, 2008, Amy Goodman declared on Democracy Sometimes!:
In other campaign news, Senator Obama says he's accepted Senator Hillary Clinton's explanation for controversial comments invoking the 1968 assassination of Robert F. Kenney to justify her continued stay in the Democratic presidential race. In an interview in South Dakota Friday, Clinton cited Kennedy's assassination as an example of a contest continuing through June.
Hillary: My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right? We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California. You know I just, I don't understand it.
Goody then stated: "Clinton explained she was trying to cite a historical precedent for a June presidential contest." Trying to? She was asked that as Goody well knew (but Goody is the trash who chose to publish in LARRY FL**T's H**TLER MAGAZINE). As Jake Tapper noted May 23 (five days earlier than Goody) the editorial board (South Dakota's Argus Leader) asked her "about calls for her to drop out." And Hillary responded "This is part of an ongoing effort to end this before it's over. I sure don't think it's over." A comment Goody CHOSE to leave out because SHE"S A LIAR. After "I don't understand it," Hillary says "And there's a lot of speculation about why it is." Why she's being pushed to drop out. But to include that wouldn't have fit GOODY LIAR's non-stop attempts to sell Barack.
There's a reason Bernardine Dohrn's always been the partner in charge of that marriage. Bill Ayers is the Barbara Bush of that pair and only more so with each passing year. Liar Goody brought them on Democracy Now and she never asked about Prarie Fire.
In May, Goody wanted to distort Hillary's remarks and make it appear she was trampling on the memory of RFK. Today, Goody brought on Bill and Bernardine and never asked them about the dedication in their book Prarie Fire to Sirhan Sirhan (RFK assassin).
Bill Ayers is on a publicity blitz that included Good Morning America today. I know Bill and Bernardine and we're not going to let lies stand. First off Bernardine, you know not to speak without knowing the facts. So let's start with your error:
I think my favorite -- our favorite moment of this whole election campaign -- and there were certainly, really, many unprecedented and moving movements of the last year and a half -- was when, at the height of the primary campaign, Senator -- then-Senator Obama was asked, "Who would Martin Luther King support? Would you support you or Senator Clinton?" And without his frequent pauses in thinking, he said, "He wouldn't support either of us. He's be out in the street building an independent social justice movement."
No, no, Bernardine. No, Barack's not MLK ("Would you support you or Senator Clinton?"). No, Barack didn't say what you said he did. No, it wasn't Hillary and Barack alone on stage. CNN debate, Wolf Blitzer the moderator. He started with John Edwards, "And, Senator Edwards, let me start with you. If Dr. Martin Luther King were alive today, unfortunately, he's not, but if he were alive today, why do you think he would or why should he endorse you?" Edwards replied than Wolf's full question to Barack was, "Senator?" Barack didn't say "either of us," he said MLK wouldn't "endorse any of us" and Barack did not say "He's be out in the street building an independent social justice movement." in that debate. You may wish he had and certainly it would help your friends if he had; however, he DID NOT SAY THAT. You know facts matter. That was embarrassing. It was all the more sto for Democracy Now! which didn't catch your multiple mistakes.
Hillary: Well, there is no doubt that change comes from the extraordinary efforts of the American people. I've seen it in my life. I'm sitting here as a result of that change. It is also true -- and Dr. King understood this. He campaigned for political leaders. He lobbied them. He pushed them. He cajoled. He did everything he could to get them over the line so that they would be part of the movement that he gave his life for. There are people sitting in this audience right now, John Lewis, Jim Clyburn, they were part of those kinds of efforts, going so far as they could to make it clear that we had to live up to our values and our ideals. And then there was a meeting of morality and politics. And the political leaders finally responded.
That's the closet anyone came to making the remark Bernardine wrongly attributes to Barack ("He's be out in the street building an independent social justice movement.").
Bill declared, "We were asked by our state senator if we would hold a coffee for him some, I don't know, twelve or fifteen years ago, and we did . . ." Bill, you're lying. You're lying because Alice Palmer has already stated she did no such thing and you're lying because I know you and I know who talked Barack up to me back when he was running for the US Senate. It wasn't Alice Palmer (whom I've never met), care to get honest Bill? (Those late to the party on this tale shared here and at Elaine's site since 2005 -- Elaine and I went to the private, big money fundraiser for the 'anti-war' candidate with the intention of writing checks for the maximum donation only to discover an 'anti-war' candidate who did not believe in withdrawal because 'the troops were there'. Once Elaine and I clarified that point, we immediately left without donating a cent.)
Here's Bill rambling on about Weather Underground (Bernardine was the leader, not Bill, of WU and that's something the right refused to get correct because they were blinded by their own sexism):
But on the other hand, I don't expect somebody to today endorse what we did forty years ago or even to understand it. To me, nothing that he said is either, you know, false or wrong or terrible. The other thing I guess I would say about it is, we would disagree on our evaluation of what went on forty years ago, but we disagree on many things, so it's not surprising.
Bill, many of us disagreed with you in real time. And, no, you were not of the peace movement. I fully understand what Weather did and I have no need to condemn you, Bernardine or anyone else for it. But I also have no reason to lie about it.
You chose the road of violence. I've often said, "Weather was a violent response to a criminal government that used violence." But Weather was a violent response. The US government behaved in a criminal manner. I don't deny it. But, no, Bill, the peace movement was not Weather and many disagreed with you and some, like Toad Gitlan, have insisted Weather's violence destroyed the left. (I disagree with that and have always disagreed with that.) What Weather did was not about ending the illegal war and let's not pretend it was. It was an attempt to bring revolution into the streets (which is why you lived in working class neighborhoods despite your own financial circumstances) and it was an armed revolution. But they wanted to set the stage for the armed revolution and that wasn't about Vietnam so stop lying. When Bernardine made her ridiculous statement about Sharon Tate's murder, that wasn't about Vietnam either. So stop the lies.
Well, you know, I would say calling those acts despicable forty years ago, I guess I would disagree with. But more to the point is that it's an irrelevant--it's an irrelevant issue in this campaign.
No, it's not irrelevant. Domestic terrorism is what Weather engaged in. There's no need to deny that and you've certainly never denied it one-on-one.
Bill then needs to lie hard and starts talking about the sixties. Weather's actions were in the chronological seventies. Bill's attempting to couch his argument on grounds he can't stand on and he knows it.
On the other hand, I think that it's a sad thing that we've never really had a truth and reconciliation process about the war in Vietnam, about the black freedom movement and what happened. And that means, among other things, that we haven't learned the lessons of invasion and occupation. We haven't learned the lessons of what happens when people get involved in direction action and struggle, and both the advances that can be made and also the limits of those struggles. We haven't learned the lessons that might make for a more peaceful, more just future. I think that's the problem.
Well if you believe that, maybe you should have worked for such a process. But you didn't. You were underground and active in Weather at that time, remember? And long after US troops left Vietnam, you were still hiding out. If you think people need to get honest, well go for it, sport. Start cataloguing your own actions. Nixon's dead. Henry Kissinger should only have a few more years left. But if you want 'honesty,' then start offering some.
Repeating, Weather was a violent response to a violent and criminal government. It's not surprising, it's not shocking. But it's not the peace movement and shouldn't be passed off as such. Toad Gitlin and The Nation magazine disgraced themselves during 2008. Both had long called out Bill and Bernardine's actions in Weather and suddenly they wanted to act like they never had. I don't find the actions shocking. I can make a political defense for them. I cannot and do not confuse Weather's actions with the peace movement. I don't think they destroyed the left or the peace movement. But I don't lie about what Weather did. And consider how often (and how loudly) Bill laughed a few decades back at the couple mocked as "The Mork & Mindy of the Left" (we'll be kind and not name the couple), it's a sad moment to see him do just what he accused "Mork" of -- minimize his actions for respectability.
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