Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Iraqi press under attack, NYT continues to ignore that fact

Shiite clerics and politicians have been successfully urging their followers not to retaliate against a fierce campaign of sectarian bombings, in which Shiites have accounted for most of the 566 Iraqis killed since American troops pulled out of Iraq's cities on June 30.
"Let them kill us," said Sheik Khudair al-Allawi, the imam of a mosque bombed recently. "It's a waste of their time. The sectarian card is an old card and no one is going to play it anymore. We know what they want, and we'll just be patient. But they will all go to hell."

The above is Rod Nordland and the New York Times public relations effort for Nouri and the Shi'ite thugs entitled "Shiites in Iraq Show Restraint as Sunnis Keep Attacking." Hey, let's apply that to the US. Do you think they would? I don't think so. I don't think they'd be patting a gang on the back for not responding. I think they'd grasp that you expect people to follow the laws and the fact that they do is no reason for applause.

And the reality is, after the ethnic cleansing, Nouri's goons can afford to sit pretty, now can't they. The genocide that, as Elaine pointed out last night, the New York Times never put into print but their reporters can't shut up about (even using the term "genocide," yes) when speaking in public.

Equally true is that the New York Times is saying, "Good Shi'ite thugs armed by Nouri" (that's who is being congratulated by the paper, not the average Shi'ite in Iraq) "for not responding." How the hell does Rod Nordland know what's going on? Mass graves turn up in a month is he going to retract? Hell no, they never do.

He doesn't know what the hell is going on but anyone reading that garbage this morning grasps that the paper trying to re-sell the illegal war is in bed with Nouri.

Which is why it's never reported on the recent efforts to attack the press. We've noted it repeatedly, the draft law. Times could tell you about efforts to block 'dirty' websites but not about the proposed assault on the press -- which tells you what the reporters at the New York Times are really focused on: Porn, not press freedoms.

Here's a treat for all the drive-bys in the last three weeks insisting I've made up the draft law. From the International Press Institute, "As Threat of Violence Still Looms Large over the Media in Iraq, another Menace Emerges in Form of Draft Law to 'Protect' Journalists:"

Iraq Still the Most Dangerous Country in the World for Reporters

As U.S. troops continue to hand power over to Iraqi authorities in Iraq, IPI calls on the Iraqi government to protect press freedom in the country. Iraq remains the most dangerous country in the world for journalists – who now face a new threat in the form of a draft law published in Iraq on Friday 31 July, according to news reports.
Ostensibly designed to 'safeguard' journalists’ rights, the draft law does contain some provisions that should help protect journalists in Iraq. It equates an attack on a reporter to an attack on a government employee, and maintains that journalists cannot be pressured into publishing material that is incompatible with their beliefs, opinions or conscience.
However, the draft legislation also contains worrying provisions that could have a negative impact on media freedom.
For example, vague wording prohibiting journalists from "compromising the security and stability of the country" may be used to stifle valid criticism. Such words are reminiscent of legislation in place in a host of countries with poor records on media freedom which broadly and unfairly interpret terms like 'compromising security' to snuff out and punish virtually any form of criticism of government and state interests.
The draft law also contains a dispiriting message on the protection of sources, which would be guaranteed unless "the law requires the source to be revealed" -- in other words there is no guaranteed protection for sources.
The bill also stipulates that freedom of the press can be suspended if a publication threatens citizens or makes "provocative or aggressive statements" -- again, a vaguely worded phrase leaving much room for interpretation.
"While we welcome the positive aspects of this draft law, we call on the Iraqi parliament to remove those sections that could hinder media freedom in the country," said Michael Kudlak, IPI Deputy Director. "A free and unfettered press is one of the most vital elements in any fledgling democracy, so Iraqi politicians must ensure that the media is free to work with the minimum restraint."
In recent years, Iraq has been one of the most dangerous countries for journalists, with at least 169 journalists killed in the line of duty over the last seven years, according to IPI’s figures -- many of them Iraqis murdered in the sectarian violence that has ravaged the country.
On Friday 7 August, Iraqi journalists expressed fear at again being targeted, following a fiery sermon by a prominent Shiite cleric, Jalal Eddin Saghir, allegedly inciting violence against a journalist.
Eddin Saghar had apparently taken issue with the journalist linking his political party, the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council, to a July bank robbery in Baghdad.

Again, the New York Times can't report on the draft law. We've noted it for three weeks now. We've also noted whiner Saghar (and the fact that a protest is scheduled for Friday). The press is right to make the link on the January 28th robbery. From the August 3rd snapshot:

Tuesday a bank was robbed in Baghdad. As is always the case, the government spokespeople (so often Shi'ite) blamed the Sunnis. Not so fast. Liz Sly (Los Angeles Times) reports last week's bank robbery in which 8 guards were killed and $4.8 million was stolen was not the work of Sunnis -- Nouri's favorite blame target. No, they were Shi'ites and, not just any Shi'ites, they "were in fact Iraqi army officers attached to the elite unit guarding Shiite Vice President Adel Abdul-Mahdi." Oliver August (Times of London) adds: "They killed eight bank staff last week and used dynamite to blast open the vault of the Rafidain Bank in the wealthy district of Karrada, making off with £4.3 million. On the run, the men passed through five official checkpoints and defied a night-time curfew in southern Baghdad without being challenged. No wonder -- their day job was to protect the Vice-President, Adel Abdul Mehdi, the highest-ranking Shia official in the country after the Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki. No street cop dared to stop them. The men later stashed their loot in offices belonging to Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, leader of the second-largest Shia party, ISCI, and a close ally of the Vice-President." Turns out that before they could arrest the bank robbers, they had to get Nouri's permission. Thug Justice: Nouri Style. Apparently not everything was given clearance. Sam Dagher (New York Times) explains, "One of Iraq's two vice presidents, Adel Abdul Mahdi, admonished the Interior Ministry on Sunday for revealing that the robbery last Tuesday had been masterminded by two senior officers of the guard assigned to protect him."

The SIIC is Adel Abdul Mahdi's party. It is also the political party of his body guards. The ones who pulled off the robbery.

The plan for today's snapshot is to note refugees. That's the plan. Who knows what will be happening this afternoon? For now here's the opening to Philip Jacobson's "From A Syrian Prison To A Chicago Apartment: An Iraqi Refugee's Story" (Huffington Post):

Kasim Kasim couldn't believe his eyes. Coming from the elevator was the woman who had taught him in Sayeda Zainab, home to Damascus' greatest concentration of Iraqi refugees, where she ran English and math classes out of her apartment despite pressure from Syrian authorities. The woman who'd let him assist her humanitarian work, using his wealth of contacts to locate specific refugees for the journalists, aid workers and NGOs that relied on her. He hadn't seen her since his family's resettlement over a year ago. He had agonized ever since he'd heard, five months earlier, that she had been imprisoned in Syria, and he'd heard, but could not bring himself to believe, not until he actually laid eyes on her, that she had been released from prison days ago and resettled right here, to apartment 512, 6011 North Kenmore Street, in the Chicago neighborhood of Edgewater. Find her, his friend Firaz had told him hours earlier from Washington D.C., after receiving word of her arrival. Make sure she is okay. Through a family whose phone she'd used earlier that day, Kasim had tracked her down. Now, at nearly one in the morning, after repeated knocking had yielded no response, and after laying on her doormat to wait because he didn't know what else to do, there she was, Ahlam Ahmed Mahmoud. "Mom!" he exclaimed, unable to hold back tears. "It's you! I can't believe it!"

KUNA reports a Ramadi suicide bomber who took his/her own life and the lives of 2 Iraqi police officers today. Kuna notes that "dozens" were injured.

Danny Schechter pimps for Barack's 'plan' again today (I guess that's a step up from dead celebrity news which led yesterday -- and not one damn mention of the violence in Iraq the day before). He quotes Barry O insisting (at his staged and screened townhall), "Where we do disagree, let's disagree over things that are real, not these wild misrepresentations that bear no resemblance to anything that has actually been proposed."

Barack is so full of it. "Let's disgaree over things that are real." Then present your damn plan. Put it on paper. You have no plan. The Congress has no plan. This is nothing like what Hillary Clinton steered -- where the American people could flip through an actual proposal. Barack offers nothing but airy words and, until he gets concrete, he's got no excuse to whine and shame on every adult who whores it for him by pretending otherwise.

As Trina pointed out last night:

If Barack's 'plan' is being twisted, just tell me which page to look at.

If people are lying about his plan, just give me the page number and I'll look it up and I'll post on my website here all about it.

Wait, you can't give me the page number.


Because there's no plan.

It's a bunch of hot air.

Don't try to sell the American people on a 'plan' that hasn't been defined.

That's stupid. Sarah Palin's not the stupid one here, Barack is. Trying to get people to sign onto his 'plan' that doesn't exist in anything the people can review or flip through. The Clinton Health Care plan? It wasn't what I wanted, but I could flip through it. I still have my copy of it. I bought it, I studied it. It wasn't what I wanted but I could support it because it was a big improvement.

And I did support it and I justified it to friends who, like me, supported single-payer.

I don't do that with Barack's. I don't do it with his because there is no plan. Hillary produced a plan. You could go to the bookstore buy it. (Today, you'd be able to find it on the net.) I bought it, I read it. It wasn't everything I wanted, but it was a start and it was practical and I could support it.

If I can't read your plan, you don't have plan. Barack has no plan. Don't blame Sarah Palin for that.

Quit whoring yourselves and what ever's left of your reputations. Truly, stop it. Barack wants to sell a plan? Let him create one. Not words he can change -- as with his FISA vote, the Iraq War and everything else -- but something on paper. Present a plan the way Hillary Clinton did. Until there's an actual plan -- and this goes to Congress as well -- stop whoring, stop lying. You're wasting our tax dollars because you didn't come up with anything, you didn't pass anything. And yet you bore us all with your talk of a 'plan.' And the talk itself is pretty damn frightening as one-time Kool Aid drinker Dave Lindorff points out (at CounterPunch):

Many progressives are getting all bent out of shape over the "brown shirt" rabble organized by health industry PR firms to disrupt the so-called "town meetings" being organized all over the country by Democratic members of Congress.
What they are conveniently forgetting is that these are not really "town meetings" at all, at least in the sense of the town meetings I grew up with, and started out covering as a young journalist in Connecticut--that is, meetings called and run democratically, with leaders elected from the floor, open to all residents of a community.
These "town meetings" are really nothing but propaganda sessions run by members of Congress who are trying to burnish their fraudulent credentials as public servants, and trying to perpetrate a huge fraud of a health care bill that purports to be a progressive "reform" of the US health care system, but that actually further entrenches the control of that system by the insurance industry, and to a lesser extent, the hospital and drug industry.

Remember when Barry O! could have opposed Bush's bailout but instead strong armed the Black Congressional Congress in to going along, saying he'd fix it later? And he never did. Put it on paper. And shame on anyone promoting or defending this garbage because it is so disrespectful of US citizens and the democratic process. Shame on you. Stop whoring. You can't fact check a plan that doesn't exist.

Every right winger should be screaming their heads off. Every left winger should. Every centrist should. Because don't try to sell the American people on a 'plan' you can't present. Don't give us claims, give us something concrete. Congress and the White House are wasting tax payer dollars promoting a plan that does not exist.

At Information Clearing House, you can find Danny Schechter aspire to Frank Rich levels: The problems in this country are 'stupid Americans' who aren't on the same page with a bunch of pompous New Yorkers. That's the thrust of the column. A long damn way from the Danny Schechter I used to trail or precede on campuses who would argue that building independent media was important and not a right or left thing, an issue for democracy -- whatever happened to that Danny Schechter as opposed to the man who just spits vile every damn day at fellow citizens he disagrees with?

When you're reduced to screaming and venting at the American people -- not the politicians, the press or big business or anyone with any real power -- you need to take a look at yourself.

Danny at least quotes Arianna getting something right, "Giving us health care reform without those key ingredients [a public option and the ability to negotiate drug prices] is like serving a PBJ sandwich without the peanut butter or the jelly. It makes no sense -- praticaly or politically." Which is why it should be called out and why the attitude should be: Give us something to fight for and we're there, until then, you're on your own.

No one on the left should be defending Barack's non-plan. It's disgraceful. We should be protesting it or saying, "It's your dance, your on your own."

Finally, from ETAN:

ETAN to Gather in Timor-Leste for Anniversary of Historic Independence Vote

Contact: John M. Miller +1-917-690-4391 (New York, before August 14);
+670-746-7636 (Dili, from August 17)

August 12 - Members of the U.S.-based East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) will gather in Timor-Leste later this month to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the country's historic vote for independence.

"In Dili we will demonstrate our ongoing commitment to the Timorese people," said John M. Miller, ETAN's National Coordinator. "We will join with Timorese and international activists to look back at the East Timorese struggle for independence and to evaluate the new nation's course since those momentous events. We will explore with our Timorese friends how we can best support Timor-Leste in the future."

"We will also strongly reaffirm our commitment to justice and accountability for the years of crimes against humanity committed by Indonesia with U.S. government backing," he added.

"Our goal is to return home with a deeper understanding of today's Timor and a strengthened commitment and concrete plans for ongoing ties with the people of the still struggling nation," added Pam Sexton a member of ETAN's Executive Committee who has been living in Timor-Leste during the past year.

"The anniversary should not serve only as platform for self-congratulatory speeches by the international community and politicians" said Charles Scheiner, an ETAN co-founder.

"The United Nations and its members need to clearly understand the impact of their failure to help the Timorese people from Indonesian's invasion in 1975 through 1998. International support since then needs to be made more effective and responsive to Timorese needs," added Scheiner works with La'o Hamutuk, a local organization founded soon after the independence vote to monitor international institutions and foster grassroots participation in decision-making.

Contact ETAN to arrange interviews from Timor-Leste.


Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975 and illegally occupied the territory until October 1999, with backing from the United States and other powers. On August 30, 1999, the East Timorese people voted overwhelmingly for independence in a UN-organized referendum. Following the vote, Indonesian security forces and their militia laid waste to the territory, capping nearly two and half decades of brutal occupation with the destruction of 75% of the buildings and infrastructure. Timor-Leste's Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation (CAVR) estimates that up to 184,000 Timorese people were killed as a result of the occupation. Timor-Leste became independent in May 2002.

ETAN was a major participant in the International Federation for East Timor's Observer Project, one of the largest international observer missions for the vote in 1999. ETAN members also served as observers with church and parliamentary delegations.

ETAN was formed in 1991 to advocate for self-determination for the occupied country. The U.S.-based organization continues to advocate for democracy, justice and human rights for Timor-Leste and Indonesia. ETAN recently won the John Rumbiak Human Rights Defenders Award. For more information, see ETAN's web site: .


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
Email; Mobile phone: (917)690-4391 Skype: john.m.miller

Web site:

Send a blank e-mail message to to find out
how to learn more about East Timor on the Internet

Winners: John Rumbiak Human Rights Defender Award for 2009

The e-mail address for this site is

sam dagher