Friday, January 08, 2010

Little Nouri doesn't believe in free and fair elections

An Iraqi parliamentary committee moved Thursday to bar a Sunni Muslim lawmaker from national elections in March, outraging his supporters and threatening to worsen sectarian tension here.
The lawmaker, Saleh al-Mutlaq, a prominent Sunni politician, and his group, the National Dialogue Front, were among those disqualified on the grounds of promoting the banned Baath Party of former President Saddam Hussein.
While the decision is not final -- Iraq's election commission must ratify it -- Mr. Mutlaq also suggested that he had no real recourse and warned of the implications.

The above is from Nada Barki and Anthony Shadid's "Move Made to Bar Iraqi From Ballot" in this morning's New York Times and Barki and Shadid moved to the Times from the Washington Post while McClatchy's Leila Fadel moved to the Washington Post. Fadel and Qais Mizher's "Iraq bars 15 political parties with Baathist ties from upcoming elections" (Washington Post) observe, "The decision by the Justice and Accountability Commission, in charge of cleansing high-level Baathists from the ranks of the government and security forces, seemed to be an attempt to purge candidates with links to the old political order, many of whom are popular among secular nationalist voters. The move is a blow to hopes of bringing opposition figures -- who turned to violent resistance over the past seven years -- into the political fold, part of the U.S. strategy to bolster the government."

But that's not really true. It's true for Sunnis -- "a blow to hopes of bringing opposition figures . . . into the political fold" -- but not of Shi'ites. Moqtada al-Sadr's militias were the focus of Nouri's ire in 2008, leading to the assault on Basra. They've been brought in. Nouri's worked overtime to bring the League of Righteous into the system. It appears that only the Sunnis are unwelcome. The League of Righteous, for example, not only attacked a US base and killed 5 US soldiers, they also kidnapped 5 British citizens and one remains missing. But that's not apparently a reason to keep them out of the political process. They still get face time with Nouri and his staff.

Doubt that it's just Sunnis being targeted? From Liz Sly's "Iraq bars major Sunni party from election" (Los Angeles Times):

The Justice and Accountability Committee charged with checking that candidates don't have ties to Baathists has named Saleh Mutlak, a prominent lawmaker, among those disqualified from the elections, according to the panel's executive director, Ali Lami.
That means that Mutlak's Iraqi Dialogue Front also will be barred, said Lami, who was detained by the U.S. military for a year on suspicion of ties to Iranian-backed militias.
Mutlak had been cleared for participation in the last election, in December 2005, but Lami said that new information had come to light that showed Mutlak "is a Baathist and nominated himself as a Baathist." He declined to provide further details.

So you can be a Shi'ite, like Ali Lami, accused of ties to Iran and decide who will participate or not. You just can't have full participation if you're a Sunni. This isn't new and it's really not surprising. When a foreign government (the US) occupies a country and sets up a puppet government staffed with exiles from the country, the exiles are going to seek revenge. That's all that's happened in Iraq, that's the only real 'progress.' The Shi'ite exiles have extracted blood and vengance on various Sunnis -- some of whom wronged them previously, some of whom didn't. And they've made this extraction with US guns, tanks and air power to support them. The occupation was never supposed to be peaceful. That's why thugs were chosen to head the puppet government. You don't put blood thirsty exiles in charge of a country you want to 'heal.'
You put thugs in charge so the entire populace lives in fear with the hope that they will be too cowed to object to the dances the puppets do for the occupying power.

And, if you're Nouri, when the populace appears to have moved away from sectarian divides, you work to eliminate your political rivals who might do better than you in the upcoming election. Little Nouri is the new Saddam. He was put in charge by the US and he seeks blood and revenge. This was obvious in yesterday's public hearing of the Iraq Inquiry where British
Lt Gen Barney White-Spunner explained that Nouri jumped the gun on a planned Basra operation by several months apparently due to the fact that the governor of the province was a political rival. Not only did that take place, but Nouri had no concern about the civilian population and wanted the British to willy-nilly bomb from the air which would have resulted in massive deaths. That's Little Nouri, the US thug chafing at his leash, ready to kill as soon as he's let off it.

Al Jazeera notes of the move, "This year many Sunni Muslim political parties are expected to take part in the vote. But if al-Mutlaq is barred from the vote, it could lead to widespread Sunni unrest and disillusionment with the political process."

TV notes, NOW on PBS begins airing on most PBS stations tonight (check local listings) and this week's program explores the Afghanistan War:

President Obama is sending as many as 30,000 more troops to combat Taliban and al Qaeda forces in Afghanistan this year, but are we missing the true target? On Friday, January 8 at 8:30 pm (check local listings), NOW reports directly from Pakistan's dangerous and pivotal border with Afghanistan, where Pentagon war planners acknowledge many of the enemy fighters and their leaders are based. The U.S. has been relying on Pakistan to act against Taliban militants there, but the Pakistani army's commitment is in question. NOW takes you to the true front lines for an eye-opening, inside lookyou haven't seen before, and won't soon forget.

And NOW on PBS has posted video online of Pakistan forces fighting the Taliban as a preview for Friday's show. Washington Week begins airing on many PBS stations tonight (and throughout the weekend, check local listings) and joining Gwen are Peter Baker (New York Times), James Barnes (National Journal), Ceci Connolly (Washington Post) and Tom Gtelten (NPR) who fortunately won't be able to laugh at listeners who call in since this isn't a radio show. Meanwhile Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Debra Carnahan, Avis Jones-DeWeever and Leslie Sanchez to discuss the week's events on PBS' To The Contrary. Check local listings, on many stations, it begins airing tonight. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:

Watching The Border Steve Kroft reports on the status of the multi-billion-dollar "virtual fence" being built at the U.S.-Mexican border, which is years behind schedule and so far covers only about one percent of the border.
Revelations From The Campaign Authors of a new book, "Game Change," and John McCain's former top campaign strategist reveal behind-the-scenes issues from the Republican and Democratic camps during the presidential campaign. CNN's Anderson Cooper reports. Watch Video
Resurrecting The Extinct Scientists believe they can sustain endangered species - maybe even one day resurrect some that have died out - using DNA technology. Lesley Stahl reports. Watch Video
60 Minutes, Sunday, Jan. 10, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

Radio notes. The Diane Rehm Show begins airing on most NPR stations (and begins streaming online live) at 10:00 am EST. The first hour, domestic hour, Diane's panelists include Christopher Rowland (Boston Globe), Jerry Seib (Wall St. Journal) and Lynn Sweet (Chicago Sun-Times). The second hour, international hour, her panelists include Elise Labott (CNN), Barbara Slavin and Martin Walker (UPI). Diane's broadcast are archived and can be streamed online at no charge.

Still on Diane Rehm, I'll guess most community members have already read Ruth's "E.P.A. pressures Diane Rehm not to cover mountaintop mining " from last night. Yesterday, Diane's first hour was on mountaintop coal mining and she noted the following at the start.

And before we begin, let me tell you that we did contact the E.P.A., invite them to take part in the show. A spokesman said that their work with Hobet mine resulted in Hobet being able to gather more coal, it resulted in 50% less impact on the streams. The spokesman stressed that the E.P.A. does not have the power to stop the practice of mountaintop mining. The spokesman also expressed annoyance with our covering the subject of mountain top mining without giving the E.P.A., whom we contacted yesterday morning, sufficient time to respond. And let me be sure to say to all of our listeners, our subject matters for the next day's show are always decided 24 hours in advance.

What Diane Rehm decides to explore on her show and what she doesn't really isn't the business of the EPA's. And I don't believe whining is provided for in the agency's tax payer funded budget.

Sherwood Ross passes on the following:

The Robert Jackson Steering Committee
January 7, 2010
For Immediate Release
FOIA Request Filed for OPR Report on Bush's Lawyers

An organization of attorneys, journalists, and advocates today filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act requesting the long-suppressed report from the Department of Justice's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) regarding the conduct of President Bush's top lawyers in the Office of Legal Counsel who authored memos purporting to authorize torture and aggressive war.

The request, linked below along with a transmittal letter, asks for the OPR report that has long been promised by Attorney General Eric Holder, as well as an earlier OPR report completed during the last months of the Bush administration. The request also seeks the 10 page rebuttal of the 2008 report by then- Attorney General Michael Mukasey.

Members of the Robert Jackson Steering Committee (RJSC) filed the request. Founded in September 2008, the RJSC works to bring about the criminal prosecution of top government officials in the United States alleged to have committed war crimes. The committee was named in honor of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, who was the top U.S. prosecutor of Nazi war criminals at Nuremberg. "We must never forget," Jackson had said in his Opening Statement, "that the record on which we judge these defendants today is the record on which history will judge us tomorrow. To pass these defendants a poisoned chalice is to put it to our lips as well."

Transmittal Letter
FOIA Request

Charlotte Dennett, an attorney member of the RJSC and one of the authors of the FOIA request, said: "The time has come to squarely address the role of these lawyers. Did they create new laws redefining the crime of torture after American forces had already begun torturing prisoners? And if so, for what purpose and on whose orders? We cannot countenance further delays or accept a greatly watered-down version of the original report. We must know the facts and then decide whether President Obama's Department of Justice is continuing the cover-up begun under his predecessor."

Peter Weiss, another RJSC attorney member and author of the FOIA request, added: "We are not simply requesting that a long-promised report be released sooner rather than later. We are requesting transparency in the unprecedented procedure of letting the very subjects of a DOJ misconduct report propose changes to it. The current Chilcot Inquiry in England of the build-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq has revealed an editing process in which the attorney general of that nation reversed his opinion that the war would be illegal. If a similar editing job has been performed on the original OPR report, the American public has a right to know it."
David Swanson, Chair of the Robert Jackson Steering Committee who also worked on the FOIA request, said "Much awaits this report. Bar associations have delayed disbarment. Congressional committees have delayed subpoenas and impeachments. The Department of Justice has delayed prosecutions. One of the lawyers under review, John Yoo, is facing a civil suit from one of the victims of his actions, Jose Padilla. If the Justice Department is refusing to release the report in order to deny the report to Padilla's legal counsel, the public has a right to know."
Justice Robert H. Jackson's words in his opening statement as Chief Prosecutor at Nuremberg have special relevance to today: "The common sense of mankind demands that law shall not stop with the punishment of petty crimes by little people. It must also reach men who possess themselves of great power… [for they, too,] as Lord Chief Justice Coke put it to King James, [are] 'under ... the law.' And let me make clear that while this law is first applied against German aggressors, the law includes, and if it is to serve a useful purpose it must condemn aggression by any other nations, including those which sit here now in judgment."
Members of the Robert Jackson Steering Committee are: Chair David Swanson is the author of Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union by Seven Stories Press, Co-Founder of Swanson became chair in November 2009. Past Chair Lawrence Velvel served as chairman of the Steering Committee of the Justice Robert H. Jackson Conference On Planning For The Prosecution of High Level American War Criminals, or the Robert Jackson Steering Committee for short, through October 2009. Velvel is Dean of the Massachusetts School of Law and a professor of law. John Bonifaz, Legal Director of Voter Action, author of Warrior-King: The Case for Impeaching George W. Bush. Kristina Borjesson, an award-winning print and broadcast journalist for more than twenty years and editor of two recent books on the media. Shahid Buttar, executive director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee. Marjorie Cohn, a law Professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, immediate past president of the National Lawyers Guild, author of Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law (PoliPointPress, 2007), and editor of "The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration and Abuse" (NYU Press, Fall 2010). Colleen Costello, Staff Attorney of Human Rights, USA, of Washington, D.C., and coordinator of its efforts involving torture by the American government. Ben Davis, a law Professor at the University of Toledo College of Law, where he teaches Public International Law and International Business Transactions. He is the author of numerous articles on international and related domestic law. Charlotte Dennett, investigative journalist, attorney, 2008 candidate for Attorney General of Vermont, and author of The People v. Bush: One Lawyer's Campaign to Bring the President to Justice and the National Grassroots Movement She Encounters Along the Way (Chelsea Green, January 2010). Valeria Gheorghiu, attorney. Jeanne Mirer, President of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers. Chris Pyle, a Professor at Mount Holyoke College, where he teaches Constitutional law, Civil Liberties, Rights of Privacy, American Politics and American Political Thought, and is the author of many books and articles, including Getting Away with Torture: Secret Government, War Crimes, and the Rule of Law.. Elaine Scarry, the Walter M. Cabot Professor of Aesthetics and the General Theory of Value at Harvard University, and winner of the Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism. Peter Weiss, vice president of the Center For Constitutional Rights, of New York City, which was recently involved with war crimes complaints filed in Germany against former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and others.
Andy Worthington, British journalist and author of The Guantanamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America's Illegal Prison (Pluto Press, 2007). Kevin Zeese, attorney, activist, serves as Executive Director of Voters for Peace and Prosperity Agenda. He has filed complaints with bar associations seeking the disbarment of 15 Bush-Cheney lawyers for facilitating torture (two who also served Obama-Biden) as part of the Disbar Torture Lawyers Campaign of Velvet Revolution on whose board he serves.

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