Thursday, May 27, 2010

Secret prisons, temporary coalitions

There aren't supposed to be any prisons at the Muthanna Iraqi Army base, let alone ones with children in them.
But a member of the Iraqi security services says that as late as mid-May, he saw children playing in a makeshift detention center here.
"I just wish they would take the children out," he says, recalling the cries of an infant and a 3-year-old named Tiba. "I can't even tell my own wife and children what I do."
The Muthanna facility appears to be operating weeks after a separate undisclosed prison on the base, where more than 400 suspects were held and dozens tortured, was closed.

The above is from Jane Arraf and Mohammed al-Dulaimy's "Witness: Secret Iraq prison for women and children" (Christian Science Monitor and McClatchy Newspapers) and we noted it in yesterday's snapshot but we'll open with it again since I really don't think it's getting the attention it deserves.

Speaking of attention it deserves, can someone please tell Broadcasting and Cable that when they alter a story they've published to correct an error, they need to note that they've altered their text? It's basic and refusing to do so only makes them look more stupid. This was covered in yesterday's snapshot. They've now changed the fallen number to "more than 6,000" -- but 'forgot' to include a correction.

Worse yet, they include this:

By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 5/24/2010 2:16:12 PM

Uh, no. The story's been changed since Monday. Yesterday morning and yesterday afternoon, it still showed: "CNN has launched a Web subsite devoted to a list and various stats about the 1,761 U.S. and coalition casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan." That error is still in their feed page, FYI.

It's disgraceful that they honestly thought the US and coalition (other countries) forces had only had 1,761 deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan. It's disgraceful that a news industry publication would not think, "Wait, that's not right." It's shameful that they'd try to sneak a correction in without noting it after having allowed the wrong figure to be posted for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. What kind of ethics do they have Broadcast & Cable because industry trades are supposed to take things like corrections very seriously.

Turning to post-election madness. March 7th, Iraq finished Parliamentary elections. In the time since, Nouri al-Maliki has made clear he will have to be forced out of the prime minister post. This despite the fact that his slate (State Of The Law) came in second, behind Iraqiya (Ayad Allawi's political slate). In the many weeks -- nearly three months worth -- since, al-Maliki has thrown up one roadblock after another while attempting to discredit Iraqiya's win. He's demanded recounts and was granted a Baghdad recount. The recount found the original count to be accurate. Two Iraqiya candidates have been assassinated -- one immediately prior to the election, one earlier this week. Other Iraqiya candidates have been targeted by Nouri's government and had to go into hiding. Yesterday, Jason Ditz ( observed, "Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission today submitted the final results of the March 7 election to the nation's Supreme Court, raising the possibility that the new parliament could be seated very soon, after two and a half months of legal challenges." But it's never that easy. Muhanad Mohammed, Waleed Ibrahim, Serena Chaudhryqa and Charles Dick (Reuters) report that the country's Supreme Court has issued a statement saying "that there are some legal issues that need clarification from IHEC" and "Amel al-Birqdar, deputy head of IHEC, said the matter concerned Furat Muhsin Saeed, a candidate in Basra province for the Iraqi National Alliance, a Shi'ite bloc with close ties to Iran." Alsumaria TV reports reports that the Kurdistan Alliance plans to head to Baghdad as soon as the results are ratified and that KA's Roz Nuri "Shawes stressed the necessity to implement Constitution article 140." Tariq Alhomayed (Asharq Alawsat Newspaper) notes:

Sayyed Ammar al-Hakim, leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, said that the alliance between the State of Law coalition and the National Iraqi Alliance is like a "permanent Muslim marriage." However Muslims can also divorce, which is the most abhorred halal [religiously permissible] act to God, and Muslims are also permitted to marry more than one wife, therefore the question is what kind of marriage are we seeing in Iraq? And is what Sayyed Ammar al-Hakim said realistic?
Firstly, what the leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq said about a permanent relationship between the two Shiite allies does not seem realistic. This is based upon what Sayyed Ammar al-Hakim himself said during an interview that was published in our newspaper yesterday when answering a question on the Iranian pressure on the two major Shiite powers in Iraq to form an alliance. He said "it is no secret that the Islamic Republic, in its view of the scene and its complications, was perhaps in favor of these powers joining or converging, and this is an issue that cannot be denied, that there is a desire of this kind." Therefore what is happening in Iraq today is a strictly sectarian operation, and not a democratic operation or state-building. This is something that represents an exclusion, and not just of the Sunnis, but of all Iraqi components, and unfortunately all of this is taking place as a result of clear Iranian planning, and is being justified by some Iraqis.

And click here for the interview with Ammar al-Hakim (Ma'ad Fayad interviews him):

[Asharq Al-Awsat] You were, as they say, within a hair's breadth of contracting a coalition with the Al-Iraqiya List, which is led by Dr Iyad Allawi, and your statements in the defense of this list gave rise to such suggestions; then suddenly your coalition was announced with the State of Law, which is led by Nuri al-Maliki. Some people are talking about Iranian pressure that led to this latter coalition. What is your opinion?

[Al-Hakim] From an early time, we have been proposing a national participation government that is formed with the participation of all winning and principal lists. We have been stressing that this is an important pillar in making this project and this partnership succeed. On this background, we started early to contact all sides: Al-Iraqiya List, the State of Law, and the Kurdistan Alliance. These consultations continued with all sides. Even when the coalition was declared between the National Alliance and the State of Law we were keen that a large Kurdish delegation attended from the Kurdistan Alliance, and we also were keen that this coalition after 24 hours of its declaration invited the Al-Iraqiya List to a meeting to confirm our true vision of the participation of all sides in the formation of the government. The Al-Iraqiya List has been, and still is a fundamental and important ally in this process. What remains is the issue of the first and second steps, and how these steps can be taken, as this is subject to the nature of the prevailing understandings and dialogs, and the available opportunities.

It is well known that the State of Law and the National Alliance consist of powers that have worked in the Unified Iraqi Coalition in the national assembly elections and the second elections (2005). There is some kind of communication and understanding between these two sides; they were supposed to be in one list, and they had started some kind of consultations and dialog before the elections. However, the formation of the single list was hindered by technical issues, and our brethren in the State of Law opted to be in a list on their own. Perhaps such previous understandings, and continuing contacts and dialogs have facilitated to some extent reaching an understanding over a unified vision. Anyway, we consider that the rest of the lists are fundamental partners, and it is impossible to disregard any of them. We still are committed to our stance that we cannot be a party to a government that excludes any fundamental sides on the Iraqi political scene. Thus, the issue is subject to technical considerations related to this-or-that step, but everything comes within the same framework, namely the national partnership government.

The Senate Democratic Policy Committee continues to highlight the economy and finances in a number of videos this month. Click here to be taken to the DPC video page. We'll note two because both are on the Gulf Disaster. The first is from Senator Robert Menendez and this is a different video than the one from yesterday also featuring the senator.

And then we'll note Senator Bill Nelson.

We note Senator Nelson a lot. That's in part because I like Senator Nelson and in part because he often leads on important issues. But he's Bill Nelson. To an angry e-mailer who insists that Bill Nelson is just "a hair short of Satan," the votes you're describing in your e-mail are not Bill Nelson's votes, they are Ben Nelson's votes. BEN. Bill Nelson is from Florida. You've confused the two senators.

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