Thursday, July 02, 2009

Judy Woodruff: 'So they're not technically out of the cities'

Violence, like the illegal war, continues in Iraq. Aseel Kami, Michael Christie and Charles Dick (Reuters) report a Baghdad roadside bombing that has cliamed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier today and left another ten injured. The reporters note that Iraqi police claim it is the first Baghdad bombing since Tuesday but that it is "not immediately possible to verify the claim that the bomb was the first but no major incidents were reported in Baghdad on Wednesday." Patrick Quinn (AP) adds, "The attack occurred near a bridge that controls access to the walled-off Green Zone in central Baghdad." Quinn also notes 2 dead and fifteen injured from a Baghdad car bombing. Reuters reports 1 Iraqi Army Major was shot dead in Kirkuk and that a Falluja sicky bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer while leaving two more injured.

Staying with reality, from yesterday's NewsHour (PBS -- read, listen or watch):

GEN. RAY ODIERNO: Well, what we have is we have U.S. forces in joint coordination centers all over Iraq, inside of the cities, and they are there doing training, advising, assisting, and they also are coordinating with the Iraqis. So we have these relationships that are built from the lowest levels up to the highest levels that allow us to communicate. And if they need assistance, they can ask, and we will provide that.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So they're not technically out of the cities. They're still there, but they're working side by side with the Iraqis?

GEN. RAY ODIERNO: That's right, but we're at much lower numbers. These are just small advisory and coordination cells, and they're not related to combat formation, such as brigades and battalions. Those are now outside the cities. But we have coordination cells that work very closely with the Iraqis to enable them and train them and advise them and coordinate with them.

Despite the fact that each Sunday finds at least one, if not two, pajama bloggers for the New York Times attempting to pass their summaries of the chat & chews off as reporting, no one even noticed this interview in this morning's paper. Certainly not on the op-ed pages where we get more smut this time from Gail Collins. If you had a unibrow and no talent, you might actually try to work for a byline. Not Gail. She covers gossip and smut from a distance failing to grasp what it really says about her. Someone so obsessed with the sex lives of others clearly either isn't having sex or has never had good sex. Not all that surprising when you look at her plain, uni-brow riddled face. They go for tabloid on the front page and do the usual NYT-s**t-poor job. If you're going to cover that garbage story, you better grasp that Access Hollywood, E!, and a million websites (including Yahoo News) told about the will yesterday. You better grasp that if you want to front page scandal, you're staff's going to have to burn a little shoe leather and actually get a scoop, not just toss day-old-news on the front page. How embarrassing.

Campbell Robertson offers "Insurgents Hail Pullout of Troops From Cities" in this morning's paper -- inside. The article covers resistance and insurgent groups releasing their own statements noting the for-show play-day of 'pull-out'. From the article:

Iraqi opposition and insurgent leaders consider themselves to have as much legitimacy as, or more than, Iraqi government officials, and formal statements on such a symbolic occasion are expected.
The statements all commanded Iraqis to continue fighting the American military until it had left the country completely; nearly 130,000 troops remain. The statements also insisted, in unusually clear language, that Iraqis not turn their violence on one another.

While Gail Collins reveals herself to be a homely, sex-obsessed virgin whose smutty mind never considered anything bigger than who's screwing who, Marie Cocco sits at the grown up table. From her "Still needing U.S. glue in Iraq" (via San Francisco Chronicle):

So, at most, what we witness this week with the repositioning of American troops is yet another of those "turning points" we heard about so often from our former president. We hope it will send us, and the Iraqis, on a straight and bright path out of violence. Yet the view from this crossroads even now continues to be obscured by an upsurge in killing and uncertainty about Iraq's political future. The essential question being asked and routinely answered - are Iraqi security forces ready to take over from the American military? - is too limited, and predictably off base.
What if the answer turns out to be no? What if there are continued bombings that claim hundreds of civilian lives, sectarian militias take control of some regions and popular uprisings sprout in others? What, exactly, would we do?
Despite the presence of 131,000 U.S. troops who will remain in Iraq, there is no political support at home for anything that would look like an open-ended reassertion of American military control. Besides, the removal of troops from urban areas is mostly cosmetic, as American forces have merely been redeployed to less visible areas on the outskirts of central cities, according to Joost Hiltermann, deputy program director for the Middle East at the nonpartisan International Crisis Group. "In any case, they are available if called upon or invited by the Iraqi security forces. That's the main thing," he said in a phone interview from Amman, Jordan. "It is a formal handover and the Iraqis are allowed to claim victory. But a whole lot doesn't change."

Katie Couric (CBS Evening News with Katie Couric) offers her take here -- text and video.

From Baghdad, Liz Sly files "June death toll of Iraqis highest in 11 months" (Los Angeles Times)

Offering a possible harbinger of what is to come now that U.S. troops have withdrawn from Iraq's cities, the death toll in June among Iraqis was the highest in 11 months, the nation's Health Ministry reported Wednesday.
A total of 438 Iraqis died in June in shootings, bombings and assassinations, 68 of them members of the security forces. That's the highest number since July 2008, when 465 Iraqis died violently, and includes the tolls from a series of deadly bombings such as the one near Kirkuk last week that killed more than 70 people. It's also 2 2/3 times the figure for May, when 165 people died, the lowest monthly toll of the war.

Those following the oil industry can refer to Tamsin Carlisle's "Iraq seeks plan B after auction" (The National):

Iraq said yesterday its state oil companies would manage and exploit two gasfields and possibly one oilfield that failed to attract acceptable bids from foreign companies in the country's first post-war oil and gas licensing round.
Baghdad also rejected further offers it received after the close on Tuesday of a televised auction of service contracts for work on six of the country’s biggest oilfields and the two gasfields.
"The offers from the foreign companies were rejected by the government," said Ali al Dabbagh, a government spokesman. "If they want the oilfields they have to match the prices offered by the ministry of oil."

Reporters who are handmaidens to Big Oil have repeatedly attempted to play the events as a failure. Iraq doesn't need foreigners to reap millions on oil. If they're not happy with the bidding, they don't have to award contracts. There's a Western attitude of "you must" that Iraq fails to respond to (no surprise, that's been the case for Iraq historically). "Emboldened by what Iraqi oil officials are calling a successful first oil-licensing round this week," Gina Chon (Wall St. Journal) reports, "the oil ministry is to move up a second auction that was to be held at the end of this year for 11 oil and natural-gas fields." As Chon explains, Big Oil was the one who "balked" in the auction. AFP quotes Nouri al-Maliki declaring, ""Some companies succeeded, others did not. The oil ministry will think about how to exploit the oil resources of Iraq." Repeating: Big Oil removed itself from the process (kind of the way Barack took his name off the Michigan ballot -- maybe Big Oil thought the DNC 'Rules' Committee would award it contracts regardless?). Big Oil's Pimp Sheila McNulty (Financial Times of London) spins it as a win for Chevron: "The US oil company did not even bid for one of the highly touted contracts. While Chevron is not saying anything about what kept it out of the race, an industry source says the world's third biggest oil company decided the terms being offered were too unfavorable for the company to make money."

Finally, from ETAN:

The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN)
The Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (Kontras)

Joint Statement on Accountability in the Run-up to the Indonesian Presidential Elections

As Indonesia prepares for its second direct presidential election on July 8th, the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) and the Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (Kontras) together urge the Indonesian government, its citizens, and the international community to highlight past human rights violations and to push the next Indonesian administration to end impunity for human rights violators.

We are especially concerned about the well-documented human rights records of some of the candidates, including vice presidential candidates Prabowo Subianto and Wiranto. Prabowo, vice-presidential candidate for Megawati Sukarnoputri, was commander of Indonesia's special forces unit Kopassus from 1995 to 1998. Under his command, Kopassus kidnapped and disappeared a group of student activists during the last part of the dictator Suharto's rule. For this, he was later forced to retire by a military court. He also presided over brutal actions by Kopassus in occupied East Timor, including the torture, kidnapping and killings of independence supporters.

Wiranto, vice-presidential candidate for Jusuf Kalla, was commander of Indonesia's military during the tumultuous period of 1998 and 1999, when Suharto was pushed from power by widespread demonstrations and elite disillusionment with his rule. The military and its militias wreaked havoc in East Timor during its vote for independence. For his role, Wiranto was indicted for crimes against humanity by the UN-backed serious crimes process.

Kontras and ETAN are concerned that should either of these candidates assume office, their past crimes will impede the next president's ability to satisfactorily resolve outstanding cases of human rights violations by Indonesia's security forces and hinder the critical movement toward military reform and accountability. Almost certainly Wiranto and Prabowo's own impunity would continue for human rights and war crimes.
Under the current Yudhoyono administration, progress in the major human rights cases has been halting at best and military reform efforts have stalled. Also a former general, he has shown only a limited commitment to expanding human rights. Human rights violations have escalated in Papua. The involvement of the highest levels of the government's intelligence agency in the assassination of human rights activist Munir, who was murdered just prior to Yudhoyono taking office, has yet to be satisfactorily resolved. President Yudhoyono once declared the Munir case a "test case for whether Indonesia has changed."

As the legal process has stalled in a number of important cases, the installation of a presidential team which respects human rights and can inject new momentum into these cases is critical. The international community can greatly assist efforts for genuine accountability and military reform by restricting military assistance to Indonesia. Together Indonesia's government, its citizens, and the international community must push for human rights accountability no matter who assumes office.


Usman Hamid (Indonesia) +62 811 812 149
John M. Miller (United States) +1-718-596-7668; +1-917-690-4391

Komisi Untuk Orang Hilang dan Korban Tindak Kekerasan (KontraS)
East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN)

Pernyataan bersama tentang akuntabilitas dalam pemilihan presiden Indonesia

Seiring dengan persiapan Indonesia menghadapi pemilihan presiden langsung keduanya pada 8 Juli 2009, the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) dan Komisi untuk orang hilang dan korban tindak kekerasan (KontraS), bersama mendorong pemerintah Indonesia, warganya, dan komunitas internasional untuk mengingat pelanggaran Hak Asasi Manusia (HAM) di masa lampau dan untuk mendorong pemerintah Indonesia agar mengakhiri impunitas pelanggaran HAM.

Kami sangat prihatin dengan catatan HAM- yang terdokumentasikan dengan baik- dari beberapa kandidat, termasuk kandidat Wakil Presiden Prabowo Subianto dan Wiranto. Prabowo, kandidat Wakil Presiden untuk Megawati Sukarnoputri, adalah komandan komando pasukan khusus (Kopassus) dari tahun 1995-1998. Dibawah pimpinannya, Kopassus menculik dan menghilangkan sekelompok aktivis mahasiswa pada masa akhir kepemimpinan diktator Suharto. Karena ini, ia dipaksa untuk pensiun oleh pengadilan militer. Ia juga terlibat dalam tindakan brutal Kopassus di wilayah okupasi Timor Timur, termasuk penyiksaan, penculikan dan pembunuhan terhadap pendukung kemerdekaan.

Wiranto, kandidat Wakil Presiden untuk Jusuf Kalla, adalah Panglima Angkatan Bersenjata pada masa bergejolak 1998-1999, ketika Suharto dijatuhkan dari kekuasaan oleh demonstrasi yang meluas dan disilusi elit pada kekuasaannya. Militer dan milisinya melancarkan kekacauan di Timor Timur pada masa referendum kemerdekaan. Untuk perannya ini, Wiranto dituduh kejahatan atas HAM melalui proses peradilan kejahatan serius yang disokong oleh PBB.

Kontras dan ETAN prihatin bila salah satu kandidat ini berhasil menang, maka kejahatan masa lalu mereka akan menghalangi kemampuan presiden selanjutnya untuk menyelesaikan kasus kasus besar pelanggaran HAM masa lalu yang dilakukan oleh angkatan bersenjata Indonesia, serta menghalangi gerakan kritis terhadap reformasi militer dan akuntabilitas. Hampir dipastikan impunitas Wiranto dan Prabowo akan terus berlangsung dalam pelanggaran HAM dan kejahatan perang.

Dibawah pemerintahan Yudhoyono yang sedang berjalan, perkembangan kasus-kasus HAM besar terhambat dan upaya reformasi militer tersendat. Sebagai mantan Jendral, ia menunjukkan komitmen terbatas dalam penegakkan HAM. Pelanggaran HAM meningkat di Papua. Keterlibatan pejabat tinggi badan intelijen pemerintah dalam pembunuhan aktivis HAM, Munir, yang terbunuh beberapa saat setelah Yudhoyono memangku jabatan, belum terselesaikan secara memuaskan. Presiden Yudhoyono pernah mengatakan “kasus Munir adalah suatu batu ujian seberapa besar Indonesia telah berubah.”

Seiring terhentinya proses hukum beberapa kasus penting, pembentukan pasangan presiden yang menghargai HAM dan bisa menyuntikan momentum baru pada kasus ini adalah kritis. Komunitas internasional dapat membantu upaya upaya menegakkan akuntabilitas sejati dan reformasi militer dengan membatasi bantuan militer ke Indonesia. Bersama-sama, pemerintah Indonesia, warganya, dan komunitas internasional harus mendorong akuntabilitas HAM, terlepas siapapun yang memangku jabatan.


ETAN welcomes your financial support. Go to to donate. Thanks.

John M. Miller
National Coordinator
East Timor & Indonesia Action Network (ETAN)
PO Box 21873, Brooklyn, NY 11202-1873 USA
Phone: (718)596-7668 Mobile phone: (917)690-4391
Skype: john.m.miller

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