Saturday, April 25, 2009

US military announces another death, Hillary visits Baghdad

Today the US military announced: "TIKRIT, Iraq -- A Multi-National Division – North Soldier died from injuries sustained following an attack on a patrol in the Kirkuk Province of northern Iraq, April 25. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense." The announcement brings to 4278 the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war. This is the fourth death of a US service member announced this week and the 15th for the month thus far -- already putting April's death toll ahead of March's.

In other violence, Sahar Issa and Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) report the following bombings: 2 roadside bombings outside of Kirkuk which left five police officers injured and, dropping back to Friday, a Diyala Province roadside bombing which claimed 2 lives, a Nineveh roadside bombing which claimed the life of 1 Iraqi solider and left and woman wounded, 2 Kirkuk roadside bombings which left five police officers injured, and a Nineveh Province roadside bombing targeting Sheikh Medlool al Mutlag's son who was killed in the bombing. Shootings? Reuters notes 7 pilgrims were wounded in a Balad shooting, 2 Iraqi soldiers were shot dead in Mosul, 1 police officer (off duty) was shot dead in Mosul and a second one was shot dead in a Mosul home invasion.


Friday US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton flew to Kuwait. The same day US Ambassador Chris Hill arrived in Baghdad (though no one wants to talk about that). Today the Secretary went to Baghdad for a brief visit.


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The US State Dept issued a statement when Clinton arrived in Baghdad noting she would leave through Kuwait but would "meet with Prime Minister al-Maliki, President Talibani, Deputy President al-Hashimi, Foreign Minister Zebari, and other senior leaders in the Government of Iraq. They will discuss issues of common concern including security, stability operations and assistance. Secretary Clinton will also meet with Ambassador Christopher Hill and Multinational Force-Iraq Commander Odierno to discuss the Administration's new direction and change of mission for U.S. forces in Iraq and hold a roundtable with Iraqi women." In addition she was scheduled to "participate in a townhalll with Iraqi citizens who work day in and day out with Provincial Reconstruction Teams, to hear from and discuss with them what they are achieving as well as issues facing the Iraqi people."

The townhall has taken place, we'll note this question and response:

QUESTION: (Via interpreter.) First of all, I would like to welcome you, Madame Secretary, here. I work as an editor-in-chief of an Iraqi newspaper. The United States made a decision to topple down the previous regime in Iraq and now, there is a new way of democracy in Iraq. We strongly believe that true freedom and true democracy will not exist unless Iraqi women will enjoy true freedom and true democracy.
My question to you, Madame Secretary, is this: What is it that you are going to provide Iraqi women in order to empower them, in order to advance them? Especially that you represent the Democratic Party in the United States that seized power. Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much. I believe strongly that supporting and empowering women is good for families, it’s good for communities, and it’s good for countries. I know here in Iraq that women have voted in very large numbers in the elections, and that women have committed to supporting this new democracy through their votes and their actions. And so I believe that Iraq will be much stronger if women are educated and empowered to participate on behalf of themselves and their families, particularly their children, as Iraq makes a new future.
Before coming to this town hall, I met with a group of war widows who are struggling to support themselves and their children. And they asked me to talk with the Iraqi Government about helping women, particularly widows, have more opportunities, more jobs, and more support so that they can take better care of themselves.
So I will strongly urge not only the Iraqi Government, but the Iraqi people to be sure that women are given the rights and support they need not only to make better lives for themselves, but to help their country. When I met with the women and looked around the room, I could not tell what group they came from or what their background was. They were all united in the loss of a husband and the difficulties they faced for their children. And I think it’s important for the United States to be a strong partner with Iraqi women, and I intend to do that.


There was not time for all the questions to be asked and Hillary promised that she would do another townhall on her next visit to Iraq (she also invited those participating in the townhall to a later press conference she'd be doing). On the supposed draw down, she declared, "Now, we will be working closely with the Iraqi Government and the Iraqi security forces as we withdraw our combat troops. But we need to be sure that all of you are supporting a strong nonsectarian security force. And we will work to try to help make that happen, but I think that the ultimate answer is what the people of Iraq demand. And what I have seen over the last several years is a very strong desire on the part of most Iraqis to have a united, secure, stable, peaceful Iraq. That is our goal. We’re not going to tell you how to resolve internal political issues. You have to decide that. But we will continue to work very, very hard to give you the tools to make sure that you have a secure country." Photo below (and above) by Eric W. Brooks of the US State Dept. In the photo below, Hillary is meeting with the top US commander in Iraq, General Ray Odierno.

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The press conference she invited them to was with Hoshyar Zebari, the country's Foreign Minister. Liz Sly and Caesar Ahmed (Los Angeles Times) quote her stating at that conference of the bombings on Thursday and Friday which have resulted in approximately 150 deaths, "These are tragic, terrible events, but they don't reflect any diversion from the security progress that has been made." Mary Beth Sheridan (Washington Post) notes of the flight into Baghdad, "Once on board, staff and reporters grabbed sweaty body armor from a mound in the back of the aircraft, and practiced strapping on helmets. " Corinne Reilly's "Clinton pays surprise visit to Baghdad" (McClatchy Newspapers) reports:

Clinton flew to Iraq from Kuwait on Saturday morning aboard a C-17 military cargo jet. She was scheduled to return to Kuwait the same day.
Her visit included meetings with Gen. Ray Odierno, the top U.S. commander here, and several Iraqi leaders, including Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, President Jalal Talabani and Vice President Tariq al Hashimi, the State Department said.
Accompanying Clinton for much of the day was Christopher Hill, the new U.S. ambassador to Iraq who arrived here Friday.
Clinton said that she and Odierno discussed the recent spate of attacks and that he agrees they should not change U.S. strategy in Iraq.



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sahar issa

al-Maliki doesn't like your work, he imprisons you

A deadly outburst of violence appears to be overwhelming Iraq's police and military forces as American troops hand over greater control of cities across the country to them. On Friday, twin suicide bombings killed at least 60 people outside Baghdad's most revered Shiite Shrine, push the death toll in one 24-hour period to nearly 150.

So opens Steven Lee Myers and Sam Dagher's "Storm of Violence In Iraq Strains Its Security Forces" which the New York Times actually determines to be worthy of the front page. The article summarizes views/narratives such as the recent bombings are an attempt to stroke sectarian violence. Due to the Iranian pilgrims being killed, that country has closed its border with Iraq. Nouri al-Maliki, puppet of the occupation wants a do-nothing commission to make it appear he's on-the-job and he's also ordered the wo responsible for the security of the regions to be "detained" (arrested in plain English). Among those blamed for the bombings are the US. An unidentified "senior national police officer" states the US "gave the terrorists motives to reactive their sleeper cells" by announcing a draw down. That doesn't make any sense (nor does it make sense for the reporters to use SITE as a resource -- when the organization leader goes on 60 Minutes and gives a phony name and identity, that organization should never be taken seriously again and, with a working press, SITE would be kicked to the curb but there are no standards anymore). If the "sleeper cells" were inspired by the draw down thinking, "This is our chance to grab the country!"? They'd wait until the draw down was over. They'd wait until the end of 2011 (the draw down's not going to take place as advertised but if we're pretending it is let's get out hypothesis correct).

The same official tells the paper that the only resource the workers at security check-points have to check for bombs is really just "hand-held wands" which "the official described as false."

Saturday is the least read paper. (It's also one of the least purchased for the New York Times.) So exactly why are they attempting not one but three stories in today's paper from Iraq? How is that using the resources correctly?

What Sam Dagher and Steven Lee Myers are reporting above is timely and really shouldn't be held until Sunday or later in the week. James Glanz is covering an indictment in "Americans Are Accused of Posing as Contractors to Steal $40 Million in Fuel in Iraq." Due to the court filings, that's time-sensitive. Those involved (largely US citizens but also some "Nepalese drivers") are alleged to have stolen "at least $40 million" in "jet and diesel fuel" which they allegedly sold on the blackmarket in Iraq.

That leaves us with Sam Dagher's "Wounded, And Stories of Loss, Fill A Hospital." It's a shame the paper only sees fit to visits the hospitals after bombings since they're falling apart and this splash on a new paint job doesn't change the fact that elevators still don't work, that equpiment is still faltering and that entire hospital network is crumbling. Dagher wuotes various people on what the bombings mean or did such as Sayman ABedwali who states, "We were very happy this morning, but now this." Dagher notes that the woman's "blouse was soaked with blood. She did not know if her husband and daughter were still alive." Due to its covering Friday's wounded, his article wouldn't have carried the same punch if it were held until later in the week.


The following community sites have updated since yesterday morning:




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The bombings
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Oh Boy It Never Ends
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Friday, April 24, 2009

Iraq snapshot

Friday, April 24, 2009.  Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, Chris Hill breaks his first Iraq promise, Cliff Cornell's court-martial is set for next week, and more. 
 
We're going to start by looking back. Six years ago, the New York Times [Sunday] Magazine featured Peter Maass' "Good Kills" which demonstrated all that was wrong with war reporting (April 20, 2003, pp. 32 - 37). Predictions?  Maass opened with them: "As the war in Iraq is debated and turned into history, the emphasis will be on the role of technology -- precision bombing, cruise missiles, decapitation strikes."  Really?  Is that what anyone talks about today?  And did they really talk about it then?  No and no.  But that was what the first Gulf War was about and lazy reporters couldn't capture what they were seeing -- apparently the US education system has failed them and they lack the ability to put their observations into words -- so they tried to use a narrative from a previous war. 
 
Six years ago, this story demonstrated how the embeds were a success . . . for the US military.  Reporting on his 'buddies' in The Third Battalion, Fourth Marines, Maass smoothed over all the edges even when the edges were dead civilians.  Especially when it was dead civilians.  Entering Diyala Province (though Maass didn't use -- and probably didn't know -- the term), his 'buddies' were drgiving over a bridge. He calles this attempt to get across the Diyala River (by vehicle, over a bridge) "a signal event in the war" -- which indicates the other problem.  The reporters were so jacked up on their own sense of being 'history' that they jerked off in print and the audiences back home were stuck with it.  What were minor events were suddenly 'epic' just because a reporter was embedded.
 
"BATTLE IS CONFUSION."  And you know Maass stood by it because it was in all caps.  But REPORTING IS CONFUSION when reporters forget their role.  As the marines attempt to travel (drive) over the bridge, things get, as Maass puts it, "complicated." We have wasted four pages on his War Porn when finally readers learn (in less than two pages) that civilians were being killed.  This 'big battle'?   Lt. Bryan McCoy is thrilled that people are dying.  He utters a censored word -- the paper renders it "[expetives]" -- describing Iraqis and then self-strokes, "Boys are doing good.  Brute force is going to prevail today."  He adds, "We'll drill them."  And indeed McCoy and the others did.  But they were civilians attempting to cross the bridge from the other end.  Civilians were attempting to drive across the bridge.  Proving what a fool he was Maass -- even after it's known that civilians were killed -- is still writing about these precision shootings.  A moving car's engine block is being taken out?  Didn't we hear that one after the shooting on the car containing Giuliana Segrena?  And those bullets were everywhere.  Maass writes, "As the half-dozen vehicles approached, some shots were fired at the ground in front of the cars; others were fired, with great precision, at their tires or their engine blocks.  Marine snipers can snipe."  Can Maas gush over his 'buddies' any more foolishly and any less journalistically?
 
After he's done gushing, after approximately two-thirds of another page has been wasted, Maass finally informs, "The vehicles, it only later became clear, were full of Iraqi civilians."  Now what reader would feel cheated?  You got Maass playing Miss Cleo and offering predictions, you got pages and pages of rah-rah, you got everything but reporting and there's not a great deal in what remains of the article.  Despite, for example, speaking to one survivor, Eman Alshamnery, who was shot, whose sister was shot dead along with two other people in one of the cars, he really doesn't have much to say.  He speaks to another survivor who is digging graves to bury people and Maass doesn't have much to say.  No one knows how many people were killed -- despite Maass and other journalists being present, Maass never feels the need to give a death toll.  He estimates at least six cars with people and also one old man walking (with a cane) on the bridge were shot dead.  But the number of dead isn't important to him.  Nor is it important to give voice to the survivors. 
 
But, naturally, he offers plenty of space for the marines such as Lance Cpl Santiago Venture who explodes when another journalist (unidentified) disputes a marine's assertion of "Better safe than sorry" and another's pant of "I wish I had been here" by noting that "the civilians should not have been shot."  Why is that?  That really is what a reporter using six oversize pages (the Sunday Magazine is the size of Rolling Stone until the recent 'downsize') in a magazine should be able to answer.  Maass does note that maybe warning shots whipping through the air aren't readily heard or recognized by civilian populations.  And maybe more so when the firing is coming from people in camo that the civilians can't see.  Just idle observations that readers really have to fill in to grasp what's being inferred but not said: You don't grasp that these 'tink' sounds hitting your car are bullets being fired by people you can't see.  And the US marines weren't trained to grasp that just because your instructor tells you someone under fire will stop doesn't mean that's what happens in the real world (as has been demonstrated in Iraq over and over). 
 
But why did the journalist say the civilians should not have been shot?  The journalist isn't quoted or even mentioned except for that sentence and another where "the journalist walked away".  Hmm.  Maybe because the Genever Conventions insists that those engaged in combat "distinguish themselves from the civilian population while they are engaged in an attack or in a military operation preparatory to an attack.  Recognizing, however, that there are situations in armed conflicts where, owing to the nature of the hostilities an armed combatant cannot so distinugish himself, he shall retain his status as a combatant, provided that in such situations, he carries his arms openly; (a) during each military engagement, and (b) during such time as he is visble to the adversary while he is engaged in a miliary deployment preceding the launching of an attack in which he is to participate."  That's the Geneva Convention.  That's what Maass can't tell you about, what he wouldn't tell you about.
 
It's not just that it's 'bad' and 'sad' that these Iraqis were killed, it's that the way in which they were killed was, as described by Maass, a violation of the Geneva Convention.  Maass can't be bothered with things such a the law.  Much better to present the whole thing as if it were a traffic jam on some epic scale.  No one's at fault, people died.  Oh well.  That is his 'angle.'  It's embarrassing, it's not journalism.  While he can't be bothered with explaining or citing the law, he does make time for the excussed.  Ventura is quoted at length with a 'defense' that includes: "We've got to be concerned about our safety.  We dropped pamphlets over these people weeks and weeks ago and told them to leave the city.  You can't blame marines for what happened.  It's bull.  What are you doing getting in a taxi in the middle of a war zone?"
 
"Our safety"?  Actually, as the invading force, you've got to be concerned with the civilian population and, are in fact, bound by law to protect the civilian population -- protect and not harm.  "Dropped pamphlets" and people were supposed to leave their homes?  And go where?  And go why?  Because another country told them to?  Can't blame marines?  Did the civilians shoot themselves?  A taxi in the middle of a war zone?  In the middle of Iraq, in the middle of their country, in the middle of their lives, in the middle of their homes.  "Their" being the key term as in "theirs" not "ours."
 
Peter Maass, of course, wrote about knowing Salam Pax -- an Iraqi blogger who worked for the New York Times though Maass' inflated self-opinion turned it into 'works for me'.  The same ego that allowed him to think he had the right to disclose various details about Salam Pax without checking with Pax first.  Talk about arrogance and a sense of entitlement.  If you're missing it, note "working alongside -- no, employing --" Pax and "there were occasions when I stayed in my room and let Salam loose for several hours."  Let him loose for several hours?  Is he a dog?  For all who whine about Devil Wears Prada type of employees, grasp that it's the pompous employers who write the most insulting 'memoirs.'   Last month, at his own website (The Fear), Salam Pax noted AP's assertion that Baghdad' was "calm . . . in part because the city is now ethnically divided."  To which Pax added, "No s**t! You're not telling me anything new here.  This was government and US army policy.  Who put up the walls cutting the Sunni districts from the rest of the city?"  Pax also takes on the assertion that "Shia militiamen and death squads" are now "off the street":
 

Is the writer being wilfully na├»ve? I am sure he knows better. The militias might have disappeared but one of the main reasons why these Shia neighbourhoods are safer than other districts is because Shia political parties were allowed to have their own organised security and militia forces. Like the Kurdish parties no one was allowed to question the right of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq in having it's own militarised arm, the Badr Organisation. And al-Dawa under al-Maliki started their own security brigade, in the guise of a counter terrorism brigade.                 

The Sunnis on the other hand were left to fend for themselves. And between the Mahdi Militias with their ominous slogan 'Our regular programme will resume after this break' and the other Shia security forces the 'Awakening Groups' were too little and too late. The harm was done.

 
"Awakening," "Sons of Iraq" and Sahwa all refer to the same group and the Boston Globe editorialized about it yesterday: "One sign of trouble is how Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government has been treating the so-called Awakening Movement.  . . . The Awakening fighters were promsied that once Al Qaeda was crushed, they would get jobs in the police and other security forces.  But the Shi'ite-dominated government appears to be breaking that promise.  Not only has it been slow to hire former Sunni insurgents, but it has allowed several Awakening leaders to be arrested on the basis of flimsy allegations.  If this sectarian behavior is not stopped, sooner or later it may result in a resumption of calamitous Sunni - Shi'ite violence."   independent journalist Dahr Jamail observed this week (at ZNet) that the whole thing was "ripe with broken promises" and:
 
It is an easily predictable outcome. An occupying power (the US) sets up a 100,000-strong militia composed of former resistance fighters and even some members of al-Qaeda, pays them each $300 per month to not attack occupation forces, and attacks decrease dramatically. Then, stop paying most of them and tell them they will be incorporated into Iraqi government security forces. Proceed to leave them high and dry as the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki begins targeting them - assassinating leaders, detaining fighters and threatening their families. Allow this plan to continue for over six months, unabated.
Not surprisingly, the Sahwa are fighting back against US forces and those of the Iraqi government.
 
Wayne White of the Middle East Institute in Washington told Tom A. Peter (Christian Science Monitor), "if you continue arresting and harassing, and shunning Awakening types -- many of whom were originally derived from the insurgency -- you're really playing wtih fire."  Yesterday, Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reported a roadside bombing outside of Baquba which claimed the life of Sahwa leader Mubarak Hammad al Obadi and 3 of his aids while leaving two more aids wounded.  Violence is increasing (again) in Iraq.  James Hider (Times of London) adds that "Awakenings" "have been repeatedly targeted by militans, and complain they have not received support from the Shi government, which views them with deep distrust." Hider notes an investigation by his paper "revealed that widespread abuse of power and corruption among Iraq's sprawling new security forces are also stoking resentment among the population, stirring people to carry out attacks."  Hider also reported on that investigation into Iraq's police and he notes, "In the desperate rush to drag Iraq back from civil war, sweeping powers were granted to its new security forces. Human rights workers, MPs and American officials now believe that they are all too often a law unto themselves: admired when they defeat terrorists but also feared for their widespread abuse of power."  Hider also reports on a video of a woman being raped (video shot by a mobile phone) and ex-Falluja Mayor Jassim al-Bidawi identifies the man in the video "as an Iraqi police officer" and says the one filming the rape is as well: "They are thought to have drugged the woman as she visited her husband in a detention centre in Ramadi.  Since the rapist's uncle is a senior policeman in the city the attacker is all but untouchable, Mr al-Bidawi says."  Tina Susman and Caesar Ahmed (Los Angeles Times) reported Thursday on a woman, Dalal, who was in a Tikrit prison where she was "raped by prison guards," she informed her brother who visited her "drew a gun and shot his visibly pregnant sister dead." They explain how common assaults on women are and how easily buried. No one is imprisoned for either raping Dalal or for murdering her. No one was fired.  Just another example of the ongoing femicide in Iraq.
 
Staying on the topic of Iraqi women the Janan Collection is Iraqi women's arts and crafts.  Megan Feldman (Dallas Observer) reports that the collection/colletive was started by Ty Reed who was a US soldier serving in Iraq when she encountered a young Iraqi widwo named Fatima who, like many other Iraqi women, was now the sole support for her family.  Fatima explained that she and approximately 24 other widows "had artistic skills such as basket-making, painting or leather-working. Could Reed help them find a way to earn a living?"  So Reed and Teresa Nguyen (Ty Reed's sister) started up the collective and there will be an online auction May 9th.   Feldman notes, "The work on tour now includes traditional baskets, ornaments and jewelry made of leather, turquoise beads and gold, as well as paintings like Harvest Moon, a minaret-studded cityscape set against a glowing moon. . . . The proceeds from just one painting, Reed said, will support the painter's family for at least a month."
 
More widows and widowers and orphans in Iraq today as yesterday's violent bombings with mass fatalities is echoed.  This morning Ernesto Londono and Aziz Alwan (Washington Post) reported that at least 135 people have been killed in Iraq bombings today and yesterday with today seeing 55 dead and one-hundred-and-twenty-five wounded in a double bombings near a Shia mosque in Baghdad.  Timothy Williams and Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) explain the double bombings were suicide bombers ("within five minutes of each other") outside "the shrine of  Imam Musa al-Kadhim and his grandson."  The Times link also has audio option where Myers says, "The bombers came up and mingled with the crowd while they were waiting to get into the shrine that you mentioned and blew themselves up nearly simultaneiously as near as we can figure."  He also stated, "It seems very clear that the last few attacks have targeted the Shi'ites in Iraq particularly."  Corey Flintoff (NPR) adds, "Until the country can reach power-sharing arrangements among its ethnic Kurdish and its Shiite and Sunni Arab communities, Iraq remains vulnerable to attacks by al-Qaida and other militant groups, analysts say."  James Hider (Times of London) notes that the death toll hit 60.   Aws Qusay, Zahra Hosseinian, Michael Christie and Louise Ireland (Reuters) observe: "The attack was the deadliest single incident in Iraq since 63 people died in a truck bomb blast in Baghdad on June 17 last year, and came amid growing concerns that a recent drop in violence might turn out to have been just a temporary lull."  Laith Hammoudi and Corinne Reilly (McClatchy Newspapers) quote eye witness Hammad Faisel stating, "There were piles of bodies.  I saw a man running after the explosions to get away, but he quickly fell.  I watched him die."
 
There was other violence in Iraq today and we'll note that but the bombings and Iraq were a good portion of the second hour of The Diane Rehm Show today so let's note this from Diane and her guests Karen DeYoung (Washington Post), Daniel Dombey (Finanical Times of London) and Yochi Dreazen (Wall St. Journal).
 
Diane Rehm: Daniel Dombey, let's talk about this latest violence in Iraq.  Another explosion this morning, a suicide bomber killing perhaps as many as 125.
 
Daniel Dombey: These are obviously awful events with terrible human costs. I think, however, the key thing to bear in mind is this is a crucial year and any easy assumption that meant -- that went from the progress of last year in terms of safety and security to believing that this coming year would mean that Iraq would just go on getting better was always going to be a perilous one.  There are lots of longterm political problems in Iraq.  Maybe those have been papered over.  Maybe we focus too much on the military side.  And this is becoming ever more clear.  It's a very important year in Iraq. There are an awful lot of tensions in the country. 
 
Diane Rehm: What does this mean or what could this mean for US plans to reduce the military in Iraq, Karen?
 
Karen DeYoung: The statements that have been made as various withdrawals have been announced have been very careful to say 'We know it's not going to be totally peaceful in Iraq when we leave.  We believe we have set up political and economic structures that are lasting and it's up to them to deal with it.'  I think that you -- it's interesting that these attacks in -- over the past two days in Baghdad and Diyala are believed to have been Sunni groups against Shi'ites in at least two cases at mosques where people were worshiping [and] don't involve US troops.  I think that we're concerned about the north where we believe al Qaeda still is around Mosul and we're concerned about Kirkuk which is the kind of oil center in the north which is being contested by the Kurds and the Arabs. Uh, it's been intimated that we might be asked to stay a bit in those cities but I think these kind of bombings -- Iraqi on Iraqi in Baghdad and father south -- I think are not going to hold up the plan to depart. 
 
Diane Rehm: Yochi Dreazen, would you agree?
 
Yochi Dreazen: I think it depends on which part of the plan one is scrapping.  US troops have already made clear that they're going to stay in bases that they consider to be 'joint bases.'  So if there is -- pretty much all US bases now have Iraqis on them.  The interpretation that US commanders have is that they're allowed to stay on those bases beyond summer of 2010.  They can stay on those bases pretty much until all troops leave.  So I think that the US footprint in major cities will shrink further but it's not going to be as if we disappear.  I mean, we will still have a fairly large footprint in Baghdad, we'll still have one in Mosul. Falluja, which we've pulled out of entirely, has had a spate of bombings lately so now US troops at Ramadi and Taqaddum -- the two bases closest to Falluja -- have begun inching closer back to that city as well.  I think the broader point is that if they're had been a broader political consensus that the US hoped would emerge from stability consensus wise and that consensus is very fragile in part because the decisions about Kirkuk, about Arab-Kurdish delineation of powers and oil money were never made.  They've been kicked down the road, down the road, down the road. Now we're leaving so the vacuum is re-emerging and those questions still have to be answered.
 
Daniel Dombey: Yes, I would absolutely agree with that.  I mean there are some very fundamental problems in Kirkuk where you have this Kurdish-Arab tension and, actually, US forces have increased in Kirkuk in recent months.  You also have this basic critique that Obama always made of the Bush policy which was it didn't concentrate enough on the politics and, in fact, we don't really see a political initiative so far in terms of the US to try and push deals in Iraq.  But you haven't had a US ambassador there so there is a US ambassador who is headed out this week.  But it's an enormous struggle to reach any kind of an accord in Iraq.  It's a very important year though as we've seen Maliki really try to consolidate his power and lots of tensions emerging as well.
 
Diane Rehm: But you know what's interesting?  What's happened is that Iraq has completely knocked Afghanistan off the front pages.  Now we see concentration on the suicide bombings in Iraq but also what's happening in Pakistan.   We were planning to send more troops to Afghanistan, removing them from Iraq.  Now how is all of this going to be effected, Karen?
 
Karen DeYoung: I think the, you know, this year, they've already settled on which troops are going to Afghanistan and the request from the commanders there is for another 10,000 next year which has not been authorized.  I don't think that's going to seriously impinge on plans to withdrawal from Iraq.  Right now those are the only requests.  The 21,000 that were authorized, actually 21,000, for this year and a request that the president has not signed off on for an additional 10,000 next year.  Right now there are not additional requests to send more troops to Afghanistan and, in fact, the Secretary of Defense, Bob Gates, has said many times, as have others, there's a limit to the number of troops you can send to Afghanistan.
 
Diane Rehm: Have Americans, with the exception of military families, stopped caring about Iraq, Yochi?
 
Yochi Dreazen:  I think even in the military there's been a massive shift of military manpower and military mental power.  Within the military the question now is how do you try to win Afghanistan and stabilize Pakistan.  It's less Iraq.  I think there was a bit of false complacency that came in when violence fell and Obama won and made clear his plan to leave.  To the degree that anybody was still following Iraq, and I think many people had tuned it out, at least a year earlier if not longer, there's a belief that we won, that the war was over. Violence was down, we were going to leave.  Things were not great but there was a somewhat functioning government and now we could do something else.  And when that happened, I remember getting an e-mail from someone in Baghdad saying that we in the US could decide to leave and we could say we're done with our part of the fighting come 2010 or 2011 but there's another side and that side might want to keep fighting.  And I think what you're seeing now is that there is another side, it does want to keep fighting and we're going to decide do we keep fighting to?
 
[. . .]
 
Yochi Dreazen: I think that the intent of those carrying out the attacks is precisely that issue. You're trying to stir up renewed Shia on Sunni violence and reprisals. To be honest, I don't think it's going to work -- in part because Shia political power is stronger and more stable across the Arab portions of Iraq then it's been at any point since 2003. Moqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi army which had been the main form for Shia reprisals is largely receded into the background.  A lot of its members no longer affiliate themselves with him or his movement.  I think the intent is clearly that if a Sunni group carries out an attack big enough or horrific enough, some Shia group will carry out a revenge attack.  So the hope would be -- obviously, I use 'hope' not in the way we would use it -- the hope would be that if you kill 500 Shia at prayer one day, something bad will happen, Shia on Sunni.  To be honest, I think that was what happened  in '05, '06, '07.  I think to a degree early '08.  I think that has largely played out.
 
Diane Rehm: So do you all believe that what's happening in Iraq now is not going to effect US plans to draw down troops moving forward?  Karen?
 
Karen DeYoung: Uh, not right now, I don't think it will.
 
Diane Rehm: Not right now.
 
Karen DeYoung: I think that what was said previously, that what we think of as a complete withdrawal eventually is not going to be a complete withdrawal as soon as we -- as we think it will.
 
Diane Rehm: And what happens to those large bases that the United States has built in Iraq?

Karen DeYoung: They're supposed to be turned over to Iraq eventually --
 
Daniel Dombey: You've got.  Oh, I'm sorry.  
 
Karen DeYoung: No, go ahead.
 
Daniel Dombey: You've got to remember a three-stage process.  By June of this year, the US is supposed to be out of major cities although with the conditions that Yochi mentioned before.  By August 2010, it's supposed to cease combat operations which is an Obama phrase that probably doesn't mean anything very much.  And by the end of 2011, it's supposed to be out completely.  Now that's actually according to a deal negotiated with the Bush administration.  Whether that's going to happen -- that's a long way off  One criticism of Bush and a criticism of Obama is that you really need to get the politics right.  The real priority, however, for the US, is for Iraq not to provoke a regional conflict.
 
Diane Rehm: Mmm-hmm.
 
Daniel Dombey: That's why something like Kirkuk,  which is something that involves the Kurds, the Arabs and Turkey -- which does not want Kirkuk to fall under Kurdish control, is so sensitive.  They do not want Iraq to be a source of instability in the region.  I think that they're prepared for Iraq to be a less than wonderful place for Iraqis to live in.
 
Yochi Dreazen: If I -- if I was a betting man, which I would never publicly admit to being, I would put considerable money that there is absolutely no chance that we would be out of those big bases by the end of 2011.  The bases are so beyond-belief enormous.  I mean, the Victory compound out by Baghdad airport is roughly 50 square miles, it's huge.  You have thousands and thousands of tons of equipment, tens of thousands of vehicles.  So the idea that somehow in the next two years all of these bases will be dismantled is non-existant.  Beyond the fact that US officials have made clear all along that, should the Iraqis request it, maybe we'd stay beyond 2011.  And you can envision a 100 scenarios --
 
Diane Rehm: Of course
 
Yochi Dreazen: -- in which the Iraqi government says we need you.
 
Steven Lee Myers of NYT (audio link again): "The fact is that not many American troops have yet withdrawn so the numbers are still high."  That's an important point and also one made in a Congressional hearing this week that Jim, Dona, Ava and I have already decided is part of an editorial for Third Sunday.  There are parts you probably agree with above and parts you don't.  Some you may strongly disagree with. What's interesting is how November 2007 is actually the crucial period if you want to talk US draw down.  That was avoided.  We may cover it at Third or here next week. 
 
But right now, some of the other violence.  Hussein Kahim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad sticky bombing which killed police Maj Raad meki and left three people in his car injured and a Jalwlaa car bombing which claimed 2 lives and left twenty-six people injured.  Reuters notes a Mosul roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier and injured another, a Sinjar sticky bombing claimed the life of "the son of a local sheikh" and, dropping back to Friday, a police major was shot dead in Kirkuk.
 
Today the US military announced: "TIKRIT, Iraq -- A Multi-National Division - North Soldier died in a non-combat related incident in Salah ad Din province April 24. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense. The incident is under investigation." The announcement brings to 4277 the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war. This is the third death of a US service member announced this week and the 14th for the month thus far -- already putting April's death toll ahead of March's.
 
Tuesday Chris Hill was confirmed as US Ambassador to IraqAP reports Hill arrived in Baghdad today.  And they seem on the point of gushing that it's only "three days after" his Senate confirmation.  What the hell have they been drinking?  Reality, the unqualified Hill has already broken his first promise.  As John Kerry noted in the Senate Foreign Committee's hearing on Hill March 25th, Hill stated he would leave for Iraq "within a day of his Senate confirmation."  Does it matter?  Yeah it does.  You say you'll do something, you better do it.  This is another example of Hill telling the Congress one thing and then doing another.  And it makes John Kerry look like an idiot because, in his opening remarks at that hearing, Kerry argued against any attempts to delay Hill's confirmation stating that it "would do a serious disservice to our efforts" in Iraq if senators attempted "holding up a vote on Ambassador Hill's nomination." Kerry said, "This is not a time for delay."  He added, "The committee will move to quickly discharge Ambassador Hill, who has committed to depart for Iraq within a day of his Senate confirmation."  Committed.  And he already broke it.  It's not a minor issue and one more sign that Hill's a little 'too casual' when it comes to job responsibilities.
 
Winding down on Iraq, Mattis Chiroux faced a military board this week (see Tuesday and Wednesday's snapshots).  The board has a recommendation.  Yesterday, Matthis wrote a very intense and moving account of his life thus far.  We've noted the process here and a few people have e-mailed to dispute where it stands now.  In Tuesday's snapshot, I'm going by three officers I spoke to on the phone and one JAG attorney I spoke with in addition to a woman Jess spoke with and she typed up the process and e-mailed it.  Here is that e-mail:
 
SGT Chiroux's duty status will not change today because his case is not
complete. HRC-St. Louis will compile the board record and complete a
legal review prior to forwarding the case through the Commander, HRC-STL
to the Commanding General, Human Resources Command.      
Before he left today, SGT Chiroux was informed of the Board's findings
and recommendations. Due to Privacy Act constraints, I am not able to
discuss this with you.          
SGT Chiroux remains a member of the Individual Ready Reserve until the
Commanding General takes final action. This is expected to occur in
several weeks' time.                
Thank you,      
v/r,          
Maria Quon         
LTC,
U.S. Army          
Public Affairs
Officer         
U.S. Army Human Resources Command-St. Louis          
1 Reserve Way             
St. Louis, MO 63132-5200           
(314) 592-0726    
[. . .]          
Classification:  UNCLASSIFIED     
Caveats: NONE           
Based on the conversations and the e-mail, the board made a recommendation or even a decision but it goes on up the chain of command.  No one is attempting to insult Matthis in any way.  Nor to, as two e-mails suggest, take something away from his victory.  But I'm not Scott Horton.  Translation, I can't know the truth and say something else.  I can't say "Bush is going to be indicted!" when I don't know that's true.  The e-mail published above is censored only to take out Quon's e-mail -- which is her business one but I'm not comfortable having that in there.  I didn't speak to anyone in public affairs.  Jess spoke to her and she e-mailed him.  What she's stating in that e-mail is what I was told by three officers familiar with the procedure and by one JAG attorney who knows the drill. We met the three-source rule with two extra.  At Courage to Resist, a piece by Matthis Chiroux states he was awarded a recommendation by the board.  I don't know where people are seeing something other than that but I've explained why we have worded it the way we have and, again, it's also the way Chiroux himself does.  Also at Courage to Resist:
 
 
Cliff Cornell was denied sanctuary in Canada; will face general courts martial Tuesday, April 28 at Ft. Stewart, Georgia
[ Donate to Cliff's legal defense here ]
56 people have given $2,270 as of April 22. Goal: $3,000
By Friends of Cliff Cornell. Updated April 22, 2009
The U.S. Army has charged Specialist Clifford Cornell, with desertion. Cornell, 28, surrendered himself to authorities at Fort Stewart, Georgia on February 17, after being denied refugee status in Canada. The Arkansas native left Fort Stewart four years ago, when his artillery unit was ordered to Iraq. According to family and friends, Cornell did not want to kill civilians, and said that Army trainers told him he must shoot any Iraqi who came near his vehicle.
 
That's this Tuesday.  Turning to public television NOW on PBS examines rape in "Justice Delayed:"

A terrible statistic: one in six women will be a victim of rape or attempted rape in her lifetime. But an even more shocking reality: A backlog in processing rape kits--crucial evidence in arresting violent predators --  is delaying and sometimes denying justice for tens of thousands of American women.    
NOW travels to Los Angeles County to investigate why it has the largest known rape kit backlog in the country--over 12,000 kits are sitting untested in police storage facilities. An internal audit found that more than 50 of these cases have exceeded the 10-year statute of limitations on rape.                 
"The evidence that we're talking about represents human lives," Los Angeles Controller Laura Chick tells NOW. "Those are lives stacked up on the shelves waiting for justice."             
NOW talks with courageous rape survivors and law enforcement experts for insight and answers in this disturbing but important report. Are these women being victimized twice?
 
NOW on PBS begins airing on many PBS stations tonight (check local listings) as does PBS' Washington Week which finds Gwen sitting around the table with Dan Balz (Washington Post), Joan Biskupic (USA Today), Jeanne Cummings (Rona Barrett's DC) and Mark Mazetti (New York Times). Also on PBS (and starts airing tonight on many PBS stations, check local listings), Bonnie Erbe sits down with Kim Gandy, Amanda Carpenter and Avis Jones-DeWeever to discuss this week's news on To The Contrary. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:    

Vice President Biden
In this profile of Joe Biden, Lesley Stahl spends three days with the vice president and also interviews his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, and his boss, President Barack Obama. | Watch Video
Powered By Coal
Coal is America's most abundant and cheap fossil fuel, but burning it happens to be the biggest contributor to global warming. Scott Pelley reports. | Watch Video
The Orphanage
Ivory is selling for nearly $1,000 a tusk, causing more elephants to be slaughtered and more orphaned babies in need of special care provided by an elephant orphanage in Kenya. Bob Simon reports. | Watch Video
 

The US military announces another death, at least 60 Iraqis killed in Baghdad bombing today

Today the US military announced: "TIKRIT, Iraq -- A Multi-National Division - North Soldier died in a non-combat related incident in Salah ad Din province April 24. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense. The incident is under investigation." The announcement brings to 4277 the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war. This is the third death of a US service member announced this week and the 14th for the month thus far -- already putting April's death toll ahead of March's.



[On Friday, at least 55 more people were killed, and 125 were injured, in back-to-back suicide bombings outside the most important Shiite shrine in the capital, the Associated Press reported. Bombers detonated explosive belts within minutes of each other near the gates of the tomb of the prominent Shiite saint Imam Mousa al-Kazim.]
Insurgent groups, which controlled vast areas of Iraq in 2006 and 2007, had lost considerable support, mobility and financial backing over the past two years. The most recent bombings follow a series of attacks that began last month after the Islamic State of Iraq, an umbrella organization that includes the Sunni insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq, announced that it would carry out a wave of violence code-named "The Good Harvest."
The violent campaign coincides with plans for a U.S. pullback. The first deadline in a phased American withdrawal agreed upon by Iraq and the United States comes this summer, when combat troops are supposed to move out of urban areas. Top U.S. commanders have recently said the Iraqi government may ask them to keep American forces in cities in northern Iraq -- where the insurgency remains entrenched -- beyond the summer deadline. In Baghdad, the military has closed some inner-city bases and small outposts, but appears intent on keeping American soldiers at urban facilities shared with Iraqi troops well beyond the summer.


The above is from Ernesto Londono and Aziz Alwan's "Blasts Kill More Than 135 in Two Days in Iraq" (Washington Post). Yes, another day with two major bombings in Iraq. Steven Lee Myers and Timothy Williams have already filed "Two Suicide Bombers Kill at Least 60 in Baghdad" online at the New York Times:

Friday's bombings occurred near the shrine of Imam Musa al-Kadhim, one of the twelve imams of Shiite Islam, in the Kadhimiya neighborhood of Baghdad. Like the previous bombings, the attacks appeared to target Shiites in particular.
An interior ministry official said that most of those killed appeared to be Iranians making pilgrimages to the shrine. Two suicide bombers blew themselves up as they mingled with crowds gathered in front of checkpoints at the main entrance to the shrine, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity, because he was not authorized to speak publicly. In addition to those killed, at least 125 others were wounded.

Please note that the Times article also has audio by Steven Lee Myers. February saw an increase in violence, March saw an increase in violence and it appears April's final figures will also show an increase. Yesterday's bombings may have claimed as many as 90 lives [see Jomana Karadsheh and Cal Perry's "Bombings kill nearly 90 in Iraq" (CNN), for example]. Aws Qusay, Zahra Hosseinian, Michael Christie and Louise Ireland (Reuters) observe: "The attack was the deadliest single incident in Iraq since 63 people died in a truck bomb blast in Baghdad on June 17 last year, and came amid growing concerns that a recent drop in violence might turn out to have been just a temporary lull."

***
From Paul Krugman's "Reclaiming Ameirca's Soul" (New York Times) arguing for a government investigation into the torture:

Others, I suspect, would rather not revisit those years because they don't want to be reminded of their own sins of omission.
For the fact is that officials in the Bush administration instituted torture as a policy, misled the nation into a war they wanted to fight and, probably, tortured people in the attempt to extract "confessions" that would justify that war. And during the march to war, most of the political and media establishment looked the other way.

This section bracketed with "***" is added after the entry originally posted. Krugman's column's worth reading in full; however, that section especially goes to the link between the illegal war and torture.

**********

Turning to public television NOW on PBS examines rape in "Justice Delayed:"

A terrible statistic: one in six women will be a victim of rape or attempted rape in her lifetime. But an even more shocking reality: A backlog in processing rape kits--crucial evidence in arresting violent predators--is delaying and sometimes denying justice for tens of thousands of American women.
NOW travels to Los Angeles County to investigate why it has the largest known rape kit backlog in the country--over 12,000 kits are sitting untested in police storage facilities. An internal audit found that more than 50 of these cases have exceeded the 10-year statute of limitations on rape.
"The evidence that we're talking about represents human lives," Los Angeles Controller Laura Chick tells NOW. "Those are lives stacked up on the shelves waiting for justice."
NOW talks with courageous rape survivors and law enforcement experts for insight and answers in this disturbing but important report. Are these women being victimized twice?
Related Links and Resources

RAINN: What should I do if I am sexually assaulted?, advice from the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network on what to do immediately after an attack.
NOW: In Your State: Rape Counseling Resources
Human Rights Watch: Testing Justice, a report on the rape kit backlog in Los Angeles city and county.
An Abuse, Rape, and Domestic Violence Aid and Resource Collection, offers extensive information, legal advice, and FAQ's on domestic violence, stalking, and sexual harassment.
Feminist.com: Anti-violence Resources, offers support for women, resource contact information, and opportunities for activism in anti-violence campaigns.
Office for Victims of Crime Resource Center, research, statistics, and information from U.S. Department of Justice.
Peace Over Violence, an organization dedicated to "building healthy relationships, families and communities free from sexual, domestic and interpersonal violence."
Propublica: As Rape Victims Wait, Money for DNA Testing Goes Unused
Witness Justice, provides support and advocacy for victims of trauma by helping victims find safety, counseling, and ways to gain legal rights.

NOW on PBS begins airing on many PBS stations tonight (check local listings) as does PBS' Washington Week which finds Gwen sitting around the table with Dan Balz (Washington Post), Joan Biskupic (USA Today), Jeanne Cummings (Rona Barrett's DC) and Mark Mazetti (New York Times). Meanwhile, also airing tonight on many PBS stations, Bill Moyers Journal tells you "You Should Know This Man." What man? Does it matter? It's always men with Bill Moyers and tonight he serves up another show with all male guests. Did they really almost call Bill's latest series For Those Who Dreamed Of Spying On Bill In The Locker Room? By the way, FAIR -- as Extra!, CounterSpin or Fair -- the allged media watchdog will never call out Bill Moyers Journal. Remember they lecture about standards except when it comes to their pets like Bill, David Schuster, Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann. The only real media watchdog working today -- no, not Danny Schechter who has just become sad -- is Bob Somerby at The Daily Howler. Bob Somerby noted yesterday:

To all appearances, her network--the historically gruesome MSNBC—has stopped making her transcripts available.
Shorter MS: Please stop talking?
As we type on Thursday morning, none of the transcripts from Maddow’s shows have been posted on Nexis this week. Every Countdown transcript has been posted—in timely, next-morning fashion. Ditto every Hardball program, every Ed Show broadcast.
Transcripts from all Fox programs are there. So too with CNN.
On MSNBC's own site, transcripts are being posted--very, very slowly. The network loftily tells viewers this: "Transcripts will be available within 24 hours of airing, except for Friday shows" (just click here). But only Monday’s night's transcripts are currently posted, as we approach Thursday noon. We're not sure when these transcripts were posted, but they hadn’t been posted as of last night. (There is some indication that they were posted a short time ago, late on Thursday morning.)
On Nexis, everything is there--except Maddow. It’s hard to avoid a certain thought: Maddow has received some criticism in the past two weeks, even in the New York Times. Her network has responded by making it harder to report the things she says.

If so, it would echo a stunt pulled repeatedly at Air America Radio even when they flipped over to 'subscriptions' and 'subscribers' were supposed to have access to the archives but somehow, when Rachel flubbed on air big time, her shows never showed up for the archives.

Also on PBS (and starts airing tonight on many PBS stations, check local listings), Bonnie Erbe sits down with Kim Gandy, Amanda Carpenter and Avis Jones-DeWeever to discuss this week's news on To The Contrary. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:

Vice President Biden
In this profile of Joe Biden, Lesley Stahl spends three days with the vice president and also interviews his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, and his boss, President Barack Obama. | Watch Video
Powered By Coal
Coal is America's most abundant and cheap fossil fuel, but burning it happens to be the biggest contributor to global warming. Scott Pelley reports. | Watch Video
The Orphanage
Ivory is selling for nearly $1,000 a tusk, causing more elephants to be slaughtered and more orphaned babies in need of special care provided by an elephant orphanage in Kenya. Bob Simon reports. | Watch Video

On today's Diane Rehm Show (begins broadcasting at 10:00 am EST, streaming archived audio is up 15 minutes after the program ends), 4 men and 2 women join Diane to discuss the week's news. For the first hour Slate and CBS News' John Dickerson, Naftali Bendavid (Wall St. Journal) and Karen Tumulty (Time magazine); for the second hour, Karen DeYoung (Washington Post), Daniel Dombey (Finanical Times of London) and Yochi Dreazen (Wall St. Journal). The second hour is when Iraq is supposed to be addressed, FYI.

Also on NPR today, Michael and Kevin Bacon, the Bacon Brothers, perform live:

Live Friday: The Bacon Brothers In Concert

Listen Online At Noon ET

The Bacon Brothers 300
courtesy of the artist

The Bacon Brothers.

WXPN, April 23, 2009 - Long before Kevin Bacon became a movie star and pop-culture phenomenon, and before his older brother Michael became a sought-after film and TV composer, the Philadelphia-based duo was collaborating under the name The Bacon Brothers. Return to this space at noon ET Friday to hear the pair perform live in concert from WXPN and World Cafe Live in Philadelphia.

The Bacons have been writing music as a team since childhood, but didn't begin working together formally until 1995. After Michael Bacon established his music career with Columbia Records in the '60s -- and released several solo albums on CBS Records in the '70s -- he turned to collaborating with Kevin. Their chemistry has long been evident in their rootsy rock 'n' roll songs, with their strong elements of alt-country, folk, blues and Americana. The duo just released its sixth full-length album, New Year's Day, on which the Bacons incorporate jazzy blues and reggae into their sound.





The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.



the washington post
ernesto londono

the new york times














Yesterday's bombing and the press

Afterward, a tattered black abaya stuck to a wall on the first-floor balcony of an adjacent apartment building, singed by the explosion. The sidewalk was littered with bags of macaroni and loose leaf tea that had been part of the giveaway. Flies swarmed on bits of human flesh.
One woman sat on the ground, wailing as she beat the sidewalk with the palms of her hands. She said she had lost her husband, her son, her sister and six grandchildren.


The above is from Timothy Williams' "80 Are Killed in 3 Suicide Bombings in Iraq" in this morning's New York Times (inside the paper but the front page's top and main photo (by Christoph Bangert) is of a women in Baghdad (a child standing far behind her) after the bombing (which the photo caption says "killed 75" -- probably due to the front page being set sooner than inside the paper). Ernesto Londono and Aziz Alwan cover it in "Two Blasts Kill More Than 80 In Iraq" (Washington Post) and they quote a victim of the Diyala Province bombing:

"While the waiter was serving us food, a powerful explosion took place and the restaurant turned black," said Iranian pilgrim Kadhumi Sadiq, 64. "I suffered burns on my head, chest and hands."

In terms of the bombings, the Post has the better story and one of the main reasons is due to the fact that you have two bombers, one allegedly female, one allegedly male. Why is Timothy Williams and the New York Times so obsessed with getting underneath women's clothing? "Once she reached the center of the crowd, she set off the blast, with explosives that the police believe she hid under her flowing clothes." They continue to do that with women. Obviously the male in Diyala Province (or alleged male) wasn't strutting around holding a bomb in his hands. But it's only with women that the paper gets all caught up in fear (it's fear of the vagina -- fear of what's not 'outside' the body, what's hidden and cloaked! -- and it's very childish and needs to stop). If you want to see how people without sexual hangups cover the bombers, look no further than Liz Sly and Usama Redha's "Iraq suicide bombings kill 79" (Los Angeles Times):

Both attacks were carried out by bombers wearing suicide vests, and both seemed aimed at Shiite Muslim civilians. The Baghdad blast, which killed 31 and wounded 51, targeted displaced people lining up for food parcels being distributed by Iraqi police in the mostly Shiite neighborhood of Karada.

This is not a new problem for the Times of New York and we've noted it before -- see "Little boys need their jollies, papers indulge them" so the only real question is when will the editors step in as they already should have?

A visitor e-mails to insist that we should note Tom A. Peter (Christian Science Monitor) more and that yesterday's snapshot "suffers from Mr. Peter's omission." That would be the day, Buddy Holly. The 'tragic' omission was "New bombings in Iraq steal thunder from top insurgent's arrest" and the headline reflects the text which reflects the gullible nature of Peter -- a hallmark of his writing and why we don't rush to him as our must-read. The arrest or 'arrest' is being met with skepticism because no real details are being provided and it appears to be a p.r. distraction on the part of Nouri al-Maliki to minimize the shock over the bombings. It may be a genuine arrest and may have really taken place yesterday (a lot of their for-show arrests turn out to be weeks old before announced when they need to 'combat' negative news in the daily cycle) but the reality is that al-Maliki's government has repeatedly played this card claiming to have arrested this same man over and over. The Little Boy Who Cried Wolf is not a forgotten text or part of the Gnostic Gospels. We're all generally aware of that story and we know what happens when you cry wolf (a lesson Scott Horton may be learning currently). Peter swallows it. The e-mailer sold Peter's article on that and on his "outstanding report on the the Awakening Council." We may work some of the "Awakening" Councils into today's snapshot but it's truly surprising that this is included:

The US had made significant inroads against AQI by building and funding a Sunni paramilitary group known as the Sons of Iraq (also referred to as the Awakening). But members of the group -- which at one point included more than 100,000 members -- have become disgruntled in recent months over the arrests of key leaders and a delay in payment from the Shiite-led Iraqi government, which has been in charge of their activities since late last year.
"If you continue arresting, harassing, and shunning Awakening types -- many of whom were originally derived from the insurgency -- you're really playing with fire," says Wayne White, an adjunct scholar at the Middle East Institute in Washington and the former deputy director of the State Department's office of Near East intelligence.
Earlier this week, a senior AQI leader called on Awakening members to return to the terrorist organization. Other reports indicate that, amid growing neglect from the Iraqi government, AQI is having increasing success unravelling the community-policing organization.

. . . and a chief bit of news isn't. From yesterday's snapshot:

Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing left two people injured and, in Baquba, two homes "belonging to displaced families from Timim tribe were blown up," a Mosul roadside bombing which wounded two people, a Mosul grenade attack which wounded four, and a roadside bombing outside of Baquba which claimed the life of Sahwa leader Mubarak Hammad al Obadi and 3 of his aids while leaving two more aids wounded.

Sahwa, "Sons Of Iraq," "Awakenings" -- all the same thing. Point, if a Sahwa was assassinated on Thursday and I was writing about "Awakenings" for a newspaper, I'd be rather embarrassed that I somehow missed that. We do note Jane and if I know she's got a potential error (it happens to everyone -- but we've noted it for her once), I do point that out in a snapshot. That said, Jane's work is solid and we're happy to highlight her. When Sam Dagher was at the Christian Science Monitor, we noted him frequently. (He's now at the New York Times.) It's not an aversion to that paper, it's an aversion to Tom A. Peter. I've called him out, Ruth's called him out. There are just too many mistakes repeatedly and so he's not our go-to on Iraq. [C.I. note: Jane Arraf is "Jane." Sorry. She was formerly with CNN and now reports on Iraq for the Christian Science Monitor.]

Speaking of CSM, if you watch or listen to Democracy Now! today and feel, "What a waste of time," it is. But that's because people either don't know the story or they're interested in covering for a CBS News-er who was fired and took refuge at CSM and at NPR. He's a 'hero'! Some insisted that in real time. How can you talk about the Church Committee and not mention the Pike Report? Which requires you tell the truth about a 'journalistic hero.' Amy and Juan manage to avoid it and him. He's the one that got the Pike Congressional Committee's report published -- in the Village Voice. Remember? Jogging memories here? And he was fired not for that. CBS News did say it was their property (the report) but he was fired not just for that but for also lying and accusing another CBS reporter of sneaking the report to the Village Voice. The other reporter was Lesley Stahl and she was dating the Voice's Aaron Latham at the time (they are married today). When 'brave' Danny Schorr felt CBS was closing in on who leaked the report, he began a whisper campaign (he admits to telling one superior -- it was much more than that) against Lesley and how she was dating Aaron and Aaron works for the Voice and, golly, you don't think Lesley . . . .

Daniel Schorr passed the report to the Village Voice. He threw away any claim he had to bravery (and that report needed to be published) when he tried to implicate someone else to save his own ass.

Amy Goodman wastes everyone's time quoting a Sy Hersh write up for the New York Times on the Church Committee when she should have been quoting the other report which the Village Voice ran in full. But more and more, it appears she is completely ignorant of the Pike Report. Why should she have been quoting Pike? It's less explored, more damning and she had on Frank Church's widow to discuss the Church report. She needed to round out the discussion, not hit the same note over and over.

And Frank Church's widow embarrasses herself which is all the reason to bring up the Pike report and establish that Frank Church's widow is not the last word on what America did or needs to do.

We've mentioned the Pike Report before -- many times -- and if I'm looking for an e-mail. Found it, JS e-mailed March 19th to insist we were wrong about the Pike Report because Nightprowlkitty, at The Daily Toilet Scrubber, wrote "I Got Hit by a Swinging Pendulum" (March 9, 2009) wrote:

The Church Committee, for all its important investigation, stopped short of a full exposure of CIA activities. The Pike Committee in the House of Representatives went further, called the CIA a rogue, exposed its contacts with the press, and a result there report was suppressed, and remained so to this very day.

Uh, no. They attempted to suppress it and all the known copies were destroyed except for the copy CBS News had. CBS was deciding what to do and looking like it was going to sit on it when Daniel Schorr began exploring publishing it in book form and finally decided on passing it over to the Village Voice. The Voice published it in full so there's really no reason to claim it is "suppressed" "to this very day" and Nightprowlkitty might feel "I'd like to see our civil liberties watchdog types call for the final declassification of the Pike Committee report" but I believe you can still buy reprints from the Village Voice. (You can certainly go to the rolled film at libraries.)

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