Thursday, October 22, 2009

Those amazing and wonderful Iraqi security forces

A recent spate of high-profile crimes, including a brazen and violent robbery of Baghdad jewelry shops thought to have involved police collusion, has forced Interior Ministry officials to confront head-on the corruption within the ranks of the 663,000-strong security forces.
The problems, the officials say, include cases in which troops and officers are working at the behest of political leaders, as well as instances in which security forces are engaged in a range of crimes, from petty robberies at checkpoints to kidnappings and killings.

The above is from Nada Bakri's "In Iraq, battling an internal bane" (Washington Post) and that's the Iraqi security forces -- so highly praised in yesterday's US House Armed Services Committee by the Pentagon's Michele Flournoy, Alan Estevez and Vice Admiral James Winnefeld. They couldn't stop praising them. There remarks had no reflection on reality but the Pentagon's never been strong on providing reality to Congress.

Or, as Chair of the Committee Ike Skelton pointed out, information. I really had expected to see a few reports on yesterday's hearing in the morning papers that noted the Iraq 'withdrawal' plan still hasn't been shared with Congress despite the US House Armed Services Committee requesting it repeatedly since July 22nd. Didn't see anything on it, did you?

If you see anything on donations that you'd like highlighted, pass it on as Marci did with Pat Phillips' "Donations sought for care packages to Iraq" (News-Gazette):

The Danville Knights of Columbus is collecting donations to prepare a Christmas mailing to Capt. Anne Sheahan, who serves as an Army nurse in the recovery unit at the combat support hospital at Al Asad Airbase in Iraq.
"I've been in regular contact with Annie," said Bob Gill, a Knights member. "I asked her what they could use over there, and she sent me a list."
[. . .]
If you are interested in donating, call Gill at 497-4079 or Dwight Palmer at 442-7055 or drop a donation off at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 310 Bryan Ave.

Barack's continued the illegal wars. And he said he'd end the Iraq War. We must have all missed the sotto voiced "someday!" in that cry. Among Barack's many still undelivered promises is to end Don't Ask, Don't Tell. In addition to refusing to end it, he also refuses to sign an executive order which would halt expulsions from the military based on sexuality while the country is engaged in wars. He claims he can't do anything (or maybe confesses he can't?). Daniel Choi is among the many who serve in the military and he is also gay. His career is at stake but Barack's got other things to do. Sean Bugg interviews Choi in "Daniel's Choice" (Metro Weekly):

METRO WEEKLY: You were very involved with the National Equality March, both in the planning for it and in a number of events during that weekend. How did that come about?

DANIEL CHOI: I met with Robin McGehee and other people from the Courage Campaign, back in California on the day of the court decision [that left standing] Proposition 8, and that's when I really got involved. I think especially after the defeat in California, people realized that this has to be a federal fight. Of course, that did pit us against a lot of the people that said you need to use your quote-unquote ''finite resources'' fighting in certain states -- in essence, they were prioritizing certain states, and that didn't speak to me very well. Particularly after the Prop 8 battle in California, we realized that this has to be taken at the real battleground.
They asked me to just be on the steering committee. I did not expect to be a national co-chair or a speaker or essentially taking on the burden of representing ''Don't Ask, Don't Tell'' in our movement. I felt very inadequate to do that because I have been thrown into this -- I never expected to be an activist. I think it was a little bit scary to see that as the title below my name on the TV screen. I don't know why, because it's not a bad thing to be an activist, it's an important thing to be an activist, but the word for me has different connotations, clearly because of being in the military. I'm reluctant to take it on, but now I suppose that is my new title.
[. . .]
MW: Is there anything that's happened in the past few months that's made you think that you may want to do something different, to change what your future path might be?

CHOI: That's a very mean question. Why are you forcing me to think of that? [Laughs.] A lot of people have told me that I should consider running for office, but honestly, I don't know enough. I will always admit what I don't know, and at this point I know absolutely nothing about what it means to hold elected office. I would so screw up the stimulus or health care.

But I'm a little bit busy right now dealing with basic inequality in our government and in our society, so I think for right now, at least, I have my hands full.

MW: If you were to run, which party would you run with?

CHOI: I'm not interested in any of the parties. I'm actually very disappointed in both of the parties. At least during my entire time in the military, none of the parties have made any real concrete efforts to erase discrimination. I know that members of Congress, it is their duty to represent and to look after the people, so I will speak to that. I would say that any of the people that have not co-sponsored the [DADT repeal] bill, they're the ones that are firing me. I think that is absolute dereliction of their duty. I think they're the ones who are responsible for this, and they will be held accountable. I might not vote in their districts but history will judge them. And I might just be losing my job, but they are losing the moral high ground.

Courage to Resist notes that Iraq War resister Tony Anderson has been "released from the Ft. Sill stockade after serving a full year in prison for refusing to fight in Iraq" and quote Tony stating, "I know in my heart that it is wrong to willfully hurt or kill another human being. I simply cannot do it. I don't regret following my conscience. I know there must be consequences for my actions and I must accept this fact." And they note, "Please help Courage to Resist support the troops that refuse to fight with your urgently needed tax-deductible donation today. We also host a number of individual defense funds if you wish to contribute to a specific resister. Read more ."

The following community sites updated last night:

And Marcia's "Tammy Baldwin," Trina's "Stop 'nation building'," Ruth's "A new Watergate?," Elaine's "No government should attack the press," Ann's "The joke that is Norman Solomon" and Kat's "US House Armed Services Committee: Define stability."

Gareth notes John Pilger's "War is peace, ignorance is strength" (New Statesman):

Translated, this means Obama is planning a "rollback" of the independence and democracy that the people of Bolivia, Venezuela, Ecuador andParaguay have achieved against the odds, along with a historic regional co-operation that rejects the notion of a US "sphere of influence". The Colombian regime, which backs death squads and has the continent's worst human rights record, has received US military support second in scale only to Israel. Britain provides military training. Guided by US military satellites, Colombian paramilitaries now infiltrate Venezuela with the goal of overthrowing the democratic government of Hugo Chavez, which George W Bush failed to do in 2002.
Obama's war on peace and democracy in Latin America follows a style he has demonstrated since the coup against the democratic president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, in June. Zelaya had increased the minimum wage, granted subsidies to small farmers, cut back interest rates and reduced poverty. He planned to break a US pharmaceutical monopoly and manufacture cheap generic drugs. Although Obama has called for Zelaya's reinstatement, he refuses to condemn the coup-makers and to recall the US ambassador or the US troops who train the Honduran forces determined to crush a popular resistance. Zelaya has been repeatedly refused a meeting with Obama, who has approved an IMF loan of $164m to the illegal regime. The message is clear and familiar: thugs can act with impunity on behalf of the US.
Obama, the smooth operator from Chicago via Harvard, was enlisted to restore what he calls "leadership" throughout the world. The Nobel Prize committee's decision is the kind of cloying reverse racism that has beatified the man for no reason other than he is a member of a minority and attractive to liberal sensibilities, if not to the Afghan children he kills. This is the Call of Obama. It is not unlike a dog whistle: inaudible to most, irresistible to the besotted and boneheaded. "When Obama walks into a room," gushed George Clooney, "you want to follow him somewhere, anywhere."

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thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends