Thursday, April 15, 2010

Distortions and rumors, it's Iraq

I told them, 'Don't embark on this course. It's going to be very dangerous, it's going to be counterproductive, and the backlash will be severe. The whole foundation of whatever infant democracy we've built will be ruined.

That's Ayad Allawi speaking to Leila Fadel for her "Iraq's Ayad Allawi warns of sectarian war, says U.S. must aid reconciliation" (Washington Post). Allawi's political slate came out with 91 seats in the Parliament. The second biggest seat winner was Nouri al-Maliki's slate. Nouri continues to insist that there was voter fraud. Fadel reports that Allawi (rightly) points out that none of the benchmarks have been met. Those benchmarks were set by the White House with the US Congress and Nouri al-Maliki signing off. Bully Boy Bush's gone. Those benchmarks are still the Congress' duty and they're Barack's now as well. For those who've forgotten, 'tough talking' Nance Pelosi and others were going to pull war funding if Iraq didn't show 'progress' by meeting 'benchmarks.' Never met and the illegal war is still fully funded. I guess Nancy took benchmarks "off the table." Fadel offers that Allawi could be shut out if the National Alliance teams with State Of Law.

Yeah, if that happens. If. But that's not the big rumor coming out of Iraq these days regarding the next prime minister. Biggest, that Irbrahim al-Jaafari has secured some sort of guarantee from a number of groups including the Kurds. That's a rumor. And it's one the US State Dept has heard. If true, it'll be known soon enough since the Kurdish delegation goes into Baghdad next week to start official talks.

Last week, noting a Press TV article filled with venom towards Saudi Arabia (noting that it was filled with venom) led to an assertion by a drive-by that I was "harsh" on Iran. I called out press nonsense. That doesn't translate into "I want war on Iran!" (And assuming that I did really fails to grasp the point of this website which is not -- on my part or the community's -- "Let's have a war! Or more wars!") Press TV -- the same as US outlets -- cuts corners and lies when it's a country not considered a 'friendly.' If you doubt that, read Leila Fadel's article and then read Press TV's creative 'summary' of it which includes:

In an interview with the Washington Post in his Baghdad office, Allawi, however, accused Maliki of using his power to alter the electoral outcome and preserve the status quo.

If the United States and the United Nations do not step up during what is widely expected to be a months-long political vacuum, they will leave behind an unstable nation and region when they depart, Allawi was quoted as saying in the paper's Thursday edition.

The remarks come amid speculations that Maliki's Shia-dominated State of Law bloc could join forces in the next parliament with fellow Shias from the Iraqi National Alliance, leaving Allawi with no partners.

Allawi warned that such a prospect could amount to renewed bloodshed and sectarian conflicts in the violence-stricken nation that still suffers from terror attacks and deadly bombings after some seven years of occupation by US-led forces.

"In the interim -- as America is still here, and as America still enjoys respectability in this country -- they should focus on political reforms and use their offices here to forge reconciliation," Allawi remarked.

Uh, no. That quote refers to the benchmarks. From Fadel's article:

Allawi said the United States has done little to help achieve goals spelled out under the George W. Bush administration. Those include forging reconciliation through political settlements, amending Iraq's constitution, enacting legislation to regulate the oil industry, and being more judicious about purging loyalists of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party from government. Sunni leaders say Shiite politicians have used such action against alleged Baathists to weaken Sunnis' political clout.

"In the interim -- as America is still here, and as America still enjoys respectability in this country -- they should focus on political reforms and use their offices here to forge reconciliation," Allawi said. "There should have been much more criticism of the de-Baathification. All of it was without any foundation."

Mohammed A. Salih (Asia Times) notes that the focus on the prime minister has left the (ceremonial) post of presidency off the radar but that it appears the current president, Jalal Talabani, has "the best chance of retaining the office." And also the best chance of dying in office if he doesn't learn to utilize that heart smart diet.

In yesterday's snapshot, this appeared:

Earlier this week, Nouri al-Maliki was throwing public fits over the fact that Iraq's neighbors were expressing interest. Thankfully few listen to him. (We're not noting his "I stopped a major bombing!" spin.)

At the time 'terrorism plot foiled!' was the story being pushed hard. Many gladly embraced it and made fools of themselves. Nouri the hero! Preventing terrorist attacks! Foiling plots to attack with planes! 9-11 style!

Prima facie it was laughable. But, again, some ran with it. 'Najaf! And maybe Baghdad! Almost the targets of planes!' CNN reports today: "Sheikh Fayyad al-Shimari, head of the Najaf provincial council, and other officials downplayed reports of a security threat. 'There were talks concerning some security threats in Najaf,' he said. 'Those threats are not new to the province'." Reuters notes, "A Defence Ministry spokesman today denied reports a plot to crash a passenger jet into the Imam Ali shrine in Najaf, in southern Iraq, had been foiled while local Iraqi officials said reports like that had circulated for up to a year." It then goes on to cite a US official insisting it is true. And like most 'truth tellers,' the US official goes . . . unnamed.

Monday April 5th, WikiLeaks released US military video of an assault in Iraq. Lamar W. Hankins (San Marcos Mercury) weighs in:

As a longtime member of Military Families Speak Out, I don’t write about war atrocities easily. But I believe that the American people as a whole have an unrealistic view about war and an unwillingness to accept that committing atrocities during war is inevitable. My conclusion is that engaging in war is morally justified only in self-defense or defense of another. Neither the Iraq nor Afghan war qualifies as justified under that standard.
The US military (like virtually all other militaries in the world) train our troops using propaganda and psychological techniques from the ancient to the modern. We use these techniques to manipulate our troops into becoming a part of an operation whose primary purpose is to kill other human beings for purposes fancied by our political leaders. We tell our soldiers that they are serving their country, that they are protecting it, but too often they are merely carrying out some politically inspired or economically desired purpose that has nothing to do with serving and protecting the American people.

Teba Mohammad (Independent Florida Alligator) also weighs in:

I was outraged by the video -- not necessarily shocked -- because the U.S. Army has a history of slaying innocents and has always labeled it as “collateral damage.” Since the war started in Iraq, civilians -- including journalists, farmers, doctors and children, to name a few -- have been ambushed and caught in the line of fire by military forces.
Among the 12 Iraqis killed on that tragic day was Namir Noor-Eldeen, a prominent photojournalist who worked for Reuters.
Though he was only 22 when he was killed, friends and coworkers describe him as a well-respected, brave human being who left behind an incredible body of work that documents the reality of war in Iraq. Another victim was Saeed Chmagh, a Reuters driver and assistant. He was 40 years old and left behind a wife and four children. Along with the dozen deceased Iraqis, two children were wounded.
I could not help but think about these two human beings who had nothing to do with insurgency and did not even have weapons.
They were normal, hardworking men with families, values and passion for their profession. How come these acts of murder are not covered by the U.S. media? Why do so many Iraqi victims get killed this way and their stories go untold?

In the US, the Senate Democratic Policy Committee highlights the economy and finances in a number of videos this week. Click here to be taken to the DPC video page. And we'll note this one by Senator Chris Dodd.

nd it was noted in yesterday's snapshot but I'm noting it one more time, this is from Justin Raimondon's "Liberals Smear Wikileaks" (

Horvath goes on to detail all the criticism of Wikileaks that have appeared in the general media, including the blogosphere, and now that the "Collateral Murder" video has been released – with another one, showing similar atrocities in Afghanistan, on the way – the techniques described by Horvath are being implemented by the Obama administration’s media shills to discredit and marginalize Wikileaks, particularly targeting its founder, Julian Assange.

First up is Mother Jones magazine, a citadel of Bay Area high liberalism and the left-wing of the Obama cult, with a long article by one David Kushner. The piece is essentially a critical profile of Assange, who is described as an egotist in the first few paragraphs, and it goes downhill from there. Most of the article is a collection of dishy quotes from various "experts" – including from the apparently quite jealous (and obviously demented) editor of, a similar site, who says Wikileaks is CIA front. Steven Aftergood, author of the Federation of American Scientists’ Secrecy News blog, "says he wasn’t impressed with WikiLeaks’ ‘conveyor-belt approach’ to publishing anything it came across. ‘To me, transparency is a means to an end, and that end is an invigorated political life, accountable institutions, opportunities for public engagement. For them, transparency and exposure seem to be ends in themselves,’ says Aftergood. He declined to get involved."

To begin with, quite obviously Assange and the Wikileaks group have a political goal in, say, publishing the Iraq massacre video – which is to stop the war, end the atrocities, and expose the war crimes of this government to the light of day. Surely the video, and the ones to come, will continue to "invigorate" our political life – perhaps a bit more than the Aftergoods of this world would like.

Kushner contacted a few members of the Wikileaks advisory board who claim they never agreed to serve – and gets one of them, computer expert Ben Laurie, to call Assange "weird." Kushner adds his own description: "paranoid: – and yet Laurie’s own paranoia comes through loud and clear when he avers:

"WikiLeaks allegedly has an advisory board, and allegedly I’m a member of it. I don’t know who runs it. One of the things I’ve tried to avoid is knowing what’s going on there, because that’s probably safest for all concerned.”

This is really the goal of harassing and pursuing government critics: pure intimidation. With US government agents stalking Assange as he flies to a conference in Norway, and one attempted physical attack in Nairobi, Assange is hated by governments and their shills worldwide. And Mother Jones certainly is a shill for the Obama administration, a virtual house organ of the Obama cult designed specifically for Bay Area limousine liberals who’ll gladly turn a blind eye to their idol’s war crimes – and cheer on the Feds as they track Assange’s every move and plot to take him down.

Kushner asks "Can WikiLeaks be trusted with sensitive, and possibly life-threatening, documents when it is less than transparent itself?" Oh, what a good question: why shouldn’t Wikileaks make itself "transparent" to the US government, and all the other governments whose oxen have been viciously gored by documents posted on the site? Stop drinking the bong water, Kushner, and get a clue.

Kushner quotes one Kelly McBride, "the ethics group leader" at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, as saying Wikileaks suffers from "a distorted sense of transparency.” This Orwellian turn of phrase is an indicator of how the mind of a government shill works. Says McBride: “They’re giving you everything they’ve got, but when journalists go through process of granting someone confidentiality, when they do it well, they determine that source has good information and that the source is somehow deserving of confidentiality.”

I want to ask this "ethics group leader" if someone who works for the US government and has evidence of war crimes committed by that government, "is somehow deserving of confidentiality?" Yes or no? If no, then you had better reexamine the "ethics" upheld by you and the Poynter Institute. By the way, nothing about McBride’s views are at all surprising, given that the Poynter Institute is promoting the idea of government subsidies to the American media. If McBride & Co. aren’t already on the government payroll, then they should be. Same goes for the ubiquitous Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press, who "thinks WikiLeaks’ approach gives fresh ammunition to those who seek to pressure journalists to cough up the names of their unnamed sources. She forbids her staff from using the site as a source."

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justin raimondo