Friday, April 02, 2010

Nouri's power grab continues (as does Ahmed's reach around)

A recently elected parliament member was in hiding Thursday after the Iraqi security forces raided his home this week on a warrant connected with a bombing case that had been settled in 2008 through a tribal mediation process.
The attempted arrest of Sheik Qais Jabouri, who had worked closely with the Iraqi government on sectarian reconciliation issues, has elicited charges from the secular Iraqiya election slate, on which he was a candidate, that Prime Minister Nouri Maliki is carrying out politically motivated arrests to stay in power after his own Shiite Muslim-led slate finished a close second in national elections March 7.

The above is from Ned Parker's "In Iraq, newly elected lawmaker target of arrest warrant" (Los Angeles Times) on those 'free and fair' elections, on that 'democracy' sweeping Iraq and soon to coat the entire MidEast. You're elected! Wait, you're under arrest! If you pull away from the story -- the way so much of the media has -- it looks mighty fine. Get close to it and you really can't praise what's taking place in Iraq currently or Operation Happy Talk it. Washington Post's Leila Fadel (via Sydney Morning Herald) adds, "In a sign of hardening sectarian divisions, the secular, largely Sunni-backed bloc that won the most seats in Iraq's recent parliamentary elections says its victorious candidates are being subjected to a campaign of detention and intimidation by the government of the Shiite Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki." For background on the attempts to target/smear successfully elected candidates as "Ba'athists," CNN notes:

A controversial committee that nearly derailed the Iraqi election in January has resurfaced. Led by Ahmed Chalabi, a former ally of the Pentagon, the committee this week announced that six winning candidates in the March 7 parliamentary election are connected to the former regime of Saddam Hussein and must be disqualified.
Critics say it's no coincidence -- disqualifying them will erase the lead of secular candidate Ayad Allawi and his Iraqiya alliance of Shiites and Sunnis. Allawi's electoral list won 91 seats in parliament and topped the State Of Law coalition of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, which won 89 seats.

As Nouri and his cronies attempt to overturn the will of the people, Moqtada al-Sadr comes off looking like he's committed to giving the people a voice (and he may well be). Xinhua reports that voting has begun to determine whom the Sadr bloc (which won 40 seats in the election) should back for prime minister. Voting takes place today and continues tomorrow. And in a move that may halt Nouri's attempt to nullify the voice of the people, Nayla Razzouk (Bloomberg News) reports that Ammar al-Hakim, head of the Iraqi National Alliance (which al-Sadr's bloc is a part of) posted online, "We will not participate in a government that does not include Iraqiya." Iraqiya is Allawi's slate.

Meanwhile, in England, Gordon Brown likes to pretend that his country is done with Iraq but the truth, like a buried corpse in New Orleans, has a way of floating to the surface. The Times of London reports:

The Ministry of Defence has succeeded in blocking the release of advice it was given by Lord Goldsmith, the former Attorney-General, about whether human rights law applied to British troops in Iraq.

Lawyers for Iraqi detainees who were allegedly abused by British soldiers had argued that the advice was relevant and should be published. But Sir William Gage, chairman of the public inquiry into the death of Baha Mousa, 26, while in British military custody, ruled that it should remain secret.

Staying with the topic of torture, the ACLU has released new evidence on civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan and, note, they are providing it in a multitude of platforms including audio:

Since U.S. troops first set foot in Afghanistan in 2001, the Defense Department has gone to significant lengths to control and suppress information about the human cost of war. It banned photographers on U.S. military bases from covering the arrival of caskets containing the remains of soldiers killed overseas. It paid Iraqi journalists to write positive accounts of the U.S. war effort. It invited U.S. journalists to "embed" with military units but required them to submit their stories to the military for pre-publication review; according to some reports, the policy was meant to co-opt the embedded journalists and make independent and objective reporting more difficult. It has erased journalists' footage of civilian deaths in Afghanistan . And it has refused to disclose statistics on civilian casualties. "We don't do body counts," General Tommy Franks has said.

But it is critical that the public have full and accurate information about the human cost of war. As Justice Stewart wrote in 1971, "the only effective restraint upon executive policy and power in the areas of national defense and international affairs may lie in an enlightened citizenry - in an informed and critical public opinion which alone can here protect the values of democratic government."

In an effort to obtain more information about the human costs of war, the ACLU filed Freedom of Information Act requests with various components of the Defense Department. The documents searchable on this page were provided to the ACLU in response to those requests.

> Press Release: ACLU Releases U.S. Army Documents That Depict American Troops' Involvement in Civilian Casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan

> Audio/Podcast: Attorney Nasrina Bargzie on documents that depict Army involvement in civilian casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan

> ACLU v. Department of Defense - Complaint

> Audio/Podcast: Attorney Jameel Jaffer on civilian claims documents from Iraq and Afghanistan, and government attempts to suppress information about the human cost of war

> Browse the Complete Log of Documents, Part 1

> Browse the Complete Log of Documents, Part 2

TV notes. NOW on PBS begins airing on most PBS stations Friday night (check local listings) and this week's program:

The number of inmates in American prisons is outpacing the system's ability to hold them all. In one startling example, California prisons hold well over 50,000 more inmates than they're designed for, even though the state has built a dozen new prisons in the last 15 years. One of the biggest reasons is rampant recidivism.
On Friday, April 2 at 8:30 pm (check local listings), NOW goes inside an Illinois prison that may have the answer to California's problems. With its innovative plan to keep released inmates from coming back, the Sheridan Correctional Center is trying to redefine "tough on crime" by being the largest fully dedicated drug prison in the country. The approach involves aggressive counseling, job training, and following the convicts after they get out. Can their novel approach keep convicts out of jail for good?

Staying with TV notes, Washington Week begins airing on many PBS stations tonight (and throughout the weekend, check local listings) and joining Gwen around the table this week are Dan Balz (Washington Post), Mike Duffy (Time), John Harwood (New York Times, CNBC) and Martha Raddatz (ABC News). Remember that the show podcasts in video and audio format -- and a number of people sign up for each (audio is thought to be so popular due to the fact that it downloads so much quicker). If you podcast the show, remember there is the Web Extra where Gwen and the guests weigh in on topics viewers e-mail about. And also remember that usually by Monday afternoon you can go to the show's website and stream it there (including Web Extra) as well as read the transcripts and more. Meanwhile Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Ruth Conniff, Cari Dominguez, Eleanor Holmes Norton and Genevieve Wood on the latest broadcast of PBS' To The Contrary to discuss the week's events. And at the website each week, there's an extra just for the web from the previous week's show and this week's it's on breast feeding. For the broadcast program, check local listings, on many stations, it begins airing tonight. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes:

Patented Genes
Should companies be able to own human genes? Morley Safer examines the idea of biotech firms patenting genes for profit, a controversy now being played out in courts of law. | Watch Video

America's Gift
Many Ugandans have been saved by an American program that provides affordable anti-retroviral medicines to fight HIV and AIDS. But as a result, people are now becoming less fearful of the virus and continue to spread it by practicing unsafe sex. Bob Simon reports. | Watch Video

Going Smokeless
As cigarette sales plunge, tobacco companies are marketing new, smokeless products to skirt smoking bans and keep customers. Lesley Stahl investigates the pros and cons of the new products. | Watch Video

60 Minutes, Sunday, April 4, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

Radio. Today on The Diane Rehm Show (airs on most NPR stations and streams live online beginning at 10:00 am EST), Diane is joined the first hour (domestic news roundup) by Matthew Continetti (Weekly Standard), Chris Hayes (The Nation) and Lynn Sweet (Chicago Sun-Times). For the second hour (international news roundup), Diane is joined by Tom Gjelten (NPR), Moises Naim (Foreign Policy) and Mary Beth Sheridan (Washington Post).

Latino USA is a radio program hosted by Maria Hinojosa (familiar to TV viewers from CNN and NOW on PBS) and it's on our permalinks which now note a site's latest post. Their latest "Finally, A Program Note" has resulted in e-mails. The program's over? No. The program has been produced at Austin's KUT on the University of Texas campus. Now, after 17 years, the show is continuing but it's moving from KUT production to Futuro. The new website will be Latino USA -- same title but, if you're typing it in, you'd leave off ".kut"

The e-mail address for this site is

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