Thursday, July 15, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, Lt Dan Choi and Capt James Pietrangelo II face no charges, a US service member in Iraq is wounded in a roadside bombing, Turkey wants to put together a private military to fight the PKK and the US government wants to 'contribute' weapons, the political stalemate continues, the US Army releases the most recent suicide data, and more.
Starting in the United States.
That's Lt Dan Choi yesterday on his Twitter feed. Yesterday Lt Dan Choi and Capt James Pietrangelo II went on trial for peaceful demonstrations on the sidewalk in front of the White House March 18th and April 20th calling for the White House to end the policy of Don't Ask, Don't Tell and allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military. They were charged with failing to obey a lawful order (to disperse). Yusef Najafi (Metro Weekly) reports both men were in the DC court yesterday prepared for the start of the trial only to be told by DC Superior Court Judge Fredrick J. Sullivan, "Your cases are dismissed." South Florida Gay News adds, "Although the prosecution was ready to move forward and the arresting officers were present in courtroom 120 of DC Superior Court this morning, the government decided at the last minute today to drop the charges against Lt. Dan Choi and Cpt. James Pietrangelo II. Apparently, Prosecutor Christine Chang was unaware of the government's decision as she stated, 'I was ready,' and wasn't able to explain the last-minute decision not to prosecute." Eve Conant (Newsweek) reports, "Both men have faced criticism for continued acts of civil disobedience designed to fight the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy, including a short hunger strike, as the Obama administration and Congress have recently begun steps toward repealing the 17-year-old ban. Choi has repeatedly told NEWSWEEK that any movement short of full and immediate repeal is welcome, but that without repeal the 'injustice' remains in force and he will continue to fight it. (Last week many gay-rights groups widely criticized a Pentagon survey on the repeal that they said was biased and could produce skewed results.)"
Zachary Wilson (Queer Sighted) offers this evaluation, "Congrats to Choi, now a gay right icon, on his victory for truth. And congrats to the movement." Today he spoke to Neal Broverman (The Advocate) on the charges being dropped and other topics including Don't Ask, Don't Tell, "You've heard the Pentagon spokesperson say some ridiculous thinks about segregation. They're being so careful and 'lawyerly' about the repeal. You get the feeling that they're incompetent as far as showing real leadership." Appearing Tuesday on Patt Morrison's self-titled Soutchern California Public Radio show, Dan addressed the lack of leadership.
Lt Dan Choi: People who serve in the military -- the soldiers, the sailors, the marine, the air men, the people all throughout and any veteran -- knows very clearly education in the military does not start from a survey or a poll. Education starts from a commander laying down the law saying, "This is the right thing to do. Period. You will do this, you will not discriminate under my command." And anybody with any kind of moral or professional authority -- from the newest corporal all the way up to the commander in chief, the president of the United States -- has a moral responsibility to say, "This is the way that we are going" -- clearly, unambiguously. Discrimination of any sort is not only against the military codes and our traditions and our values but it's against America. This survey is absolutely anti-American.
Patt Morrison: So if this had happened, say, when [President Harry] Truman issued his order to [racially] integrate the armed forces?
Lt Dan Choi: Big if because it did not happen when Truman took the courageous step of just saying, "You know whatever the consequences to my political career, I am the commander in chief and the buck stops here with me. And I know the right thing to do so I am steering this ship and if you don't want to fall in line with the way that America has promised we will not discriminate, then go ahead and quit." And when he did that -- and the same thing when women entered West Point and the service acadamies, the same thing that happened when my particular Army National Guard unit allowed [. . .] the integration of Irish Catholics, the same thing that happened with Asians and all throughout our history: The military says, "This is the way we do business. We do not discriminate here." And we don't need polls to educate. It's the job, it's the duty of every commander.
WASHINGTON -- Although the prosecution was ready to move forward and the arresting officers were present in courtroom 120 of DC Superior Court this morning, the government decided at the last minute today to drop the charges against Lt. Dan Choi and Cpt. James Pietrangelo II. Apparently, Prosecutor Christine Chang was unaware of the government's decision as she stated, "I was ready," and wasn't able to explain the last-minute decision not to prosecute.
"Today, truth was the victor against a demeaning, discriminatory law known as 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,'" said Lt. Dan Choi. "We won't stop pressing for repeal and pressuring those standing in the way until the day comes when not one more gay or lesbian servicemember is fired. And, as of today, the President refuses to tell us when that day will actually come."
"It is clear that the government was embarrassed and we were prepared to make them defend this antiquated and homophobic law. The government is afraid of having to defend this issue," said Cpt. James Pietrangelo II. "The subpoena was an embarrassment for them, 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' is an embarrassment for them and, after three months of discovery and preparation, the government dropped the case because they know it's an embarrassment."
"Civil disobedience won today," said Robin McGehee, co-founder and co-director of GetEQUAL. "We're thrilled today that Dan and Jim's actions have been validated and that non-violent civil disobedience has been proven again to be effective in combating prejudice. We are proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Dan, Jim and other LGBT active-duty servicemembers who are taking action to end this discriminatory policy."
Lt. Choi and Cpt. Pietrangelo were both facing two charges each of Failure to Obey a Lawful Order, pursuant to DC Municipal Regulations (18 DCMR 2000.2 (1995). The charges stemmed from the two men's arrests on March 18th and April 20th when they chained themselves to the White House gate, in an act of non-violent civil disobedience, to protest the President's lack of leadership on repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
"We were ready to put 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' on trial today, but it was clear the government was embarrassed to defend an indefensible policy," said Mark Goldstone, lawyer for Lt. Choi's and Cpt. Pietrangelo's defense team. "Did the White House make a last-minute call to prevent this embarrassment from continuing? Clearly, someone did."
Goldstone continued, "ll fair-minded people should continue to agitate for actual and immediate repeal of this unjust, unfair policy. This is a big win for non-violent resistance to unjust policies and proves if you speak truth to power, good things can happen."
"They declined to prosecute because the case would embarrass the government," said Ann Wilcox, lawyer for Lt. Choi's and Cpt. Pietrangelo's defense team. "The President said it was important to pressure leaders like himself, and that is exactly what Lt. Choi and Cpt. Pietrangelo did before and intended to do again today."
GetEQUAL is a national, direct action lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization. Emphasizing direct action and people power, the mission of GetEQUAL is to empower the LGBT community and its allies to take action to demand full legal and social equality, and to hold accountable those who stand in the way. For more information on GetEQUAL, please visit http://www.getequal.orghttp://www.getequal.org/ . You can follow GetEQUAL on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/getequal, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/GetEQUAL, or on YouTube at
Chris Geidner (Metro Weekly) reveals that GetEQUAL is already gearing up for a focus on ENDA, "The organization sent an email to its mailing list on Wednesday morning, asking 'Which Democratic leader should we hold accountable next for workplace protections for LGBT people?'"
There is no protection for the people of Iraq and among the groups targeted are LGBT member, presumably straight women, Iraqi Christians and other religious minorities, Sahwa, professors and just about any other group you can think of. Margaret Hassan met several criteria. She was an Irish, British and Iraqi citizen. She worked for CARE International in Iraq. October 19, 2004, Margaret was kidnapped and she was murdered at the start of November. Peter Cave (Australia's ABC) notes, "Margaret Hassan had lived in Iraq for more than 30 years and had worked there for Care International for 12 years before she was pulled from her car on the way to work in October 2004." Andy Winter (Sky News) reminds, "Her body has never been found and the family have been counting on Jassar al Rawi to reveal where it is so she can be given a proper burial." Only one person has been convicted in the crimes. Michael Jansen (Irish Times) reports, "Hassan's sister Geraldine Fitsimonds Riney said the family had been notified by their Iraqi lawyer that Ali Lutfi Jassar al-Rawi, sentenced to life imprisonment in June 2009, will not appear at his appeal today because he cannot be traced." The Mirror notes, "Ali Lutfi Jassar got life for the 59-year-old's abduction and murder in Iraq 2004." BBC News reports, "An Iraqi court has ordered a search for a man convicted of the 2004 kidnap and murder of British aid worker Margaret Hassan, amid fears he has escaped." Is he in another prison, is he in that prison but 'misfiled' or has he been released? No one's telling the family. Mark Tran (Guardian) quotes another sister of Margaret's, Deirdre Manchanda stating, "Jassar is known to be part of the gang that kidnapped and killed my sister. We have fought for justice for six years only to find that not one member of this gang can be brought to justice.
A poll won't tell you where Margaret Hassan's body is but it can be of some value. Gary Langer (US" ABC News) notes, "Reports based on a pair of ABC News polls in Afghanistan and Iraq last year were nominated today for an Emmy award for outstanding continuing coverage of a news story." Earlier this week, Stephanie Condon (CBS News) reported on the latest Iraq and Afghanistan Wars poll, "On Iraq, Americans continue to hold more positive views of the war- 55 percent say things are going well for the U.S. there." Are they optimistic because the only one convicted in the murder of Margaret Hassan is nowhere to be found? No, they're 'positive' because the network media abandoned Iraq. And they get crap churned out by bad writers like Dimiter Kenarov.
So what makes a man a man
In these tough times
As druglords buy up the banks
And warlords radiate the oceans
Snakes and snails and puppy tails
Are wagging in the womb
Beneath the trampled moon
Tire skids and teethmarks
What happened to this place?
Lawyers and loan sharks
Are laying America to waste
-- "No Apologies," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on her Taming The Tiger
Having bungled his own country's literature repeatedly (though few catch on -- possibly revealing their own ignorance when it comes to world lit) revealing his weak education and pushing centrist programs (and publications) while writing for The Nation, et al, Dimiter Kenarov shops his latest b.s. to Esquire and it's crap from the get go. The US military is pulling out of Iraq! They are! And Dmiter 'proves' it by focusing on two . . . Oops, Dumb Ass Dimiter, those aren't US soldiers, they aren't US service members. They are DynCorp employees. CorpWatch describes DynCorp as, "The world's premier rent-a-cop business runs the security show in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the US-Mexico border. They also run the coca crop-dusting business in Columbia, and occasional sex trafficking sorties in Bosnia. But what can you expect from a bunch of mercenaries?" Dumb Ass Dimiter thinks readers can expect 'honesty' from DynCorp. What an idiot and it just against demonstrates what I've long said: The Nation magazine needs real standards because they lower their own brand over and over by publishing these jerk-off neoliberals who then trade on the magazine's names to pass off their non-left programs and ideas. So Esquire readers -- Oh, I'm not in the mood, I'm so not in the mood. Closet cases who've yet to buy their first gay porn magazine (as Esquire internal surveys have demonstrated) will be greeted with the bad article and, when not pleasuring themselves to photos of scantily clad men (Oh, look! The designers are using hairy chested men again!), they can be spun into believing that things are good, good and great in Iraq! (For cheesy X-Treme factor, check out Dimiter's single-sentence paragraph that closes the article. It is too poetry what Bo Derek is to acting.) For those in the real world, violence continues in Iraq.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad sticky bombing which claimed one life (three people wounded), a Baghdad mortar attack, a Tikrit suicide bomber who took his own life, dropping back to Wednesday for the next events: a Baghdad grenade attack which wounded two police officers, a Baghdad grenade attack which injured three people (including two Iraqi soldiers), a Bahgdad roadside bombing which claimed 2 lives and left two people injured, a Baghdad sticky bombing which wounded one person, a Baghdad sticky bombing which wounded Sahwa commander Salih Mizhir, a Mosul roadside bombing which wounded four people and a Mosul store bombing which injured three, and a Tuesday Baghdad roadside bombing which claimed the life of Judge Hasen Aziz Abdurahman.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Wednesday attack on a Baghdad check point in which two police officers and one by-stander were wounded in shootings.
And Kevin Lloyd tells Iowa's KTIV that his son, Private First Class Kyle Lloyd, has been injured in a roadside bombing and will "be transferred to a military hospital in Germany."
Still with violence, Saturday AFP reported that the Turkish government has informed the governments of the US, Iraq and the KRG that it wants it to hand over rebels in nothern Iraq which they number at 248 and one official (unnamed) is quoted stating, "The net is tightening." Press TV added, "The list included senior PKK chiefs such as Murat Karayilan, Cemil Bayik, and Duran Kalkan. The call was made shortly after military and civilian leaders in Turkey voiced growing frustration with Baghdad and the Iraq-based US military over their inaction in confronting the PKK." Umit Enginsoy (Hurriyet Daily News) reported Tuesday that unnamed sources say the US has increased it's "cooperation" with Turkey: "The U.S. and Turkish militaries have been sharing intelligence about the PKK since November 2007, when President George W. Bush agreed to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's request in the wake of stepped-up attacks by the outlawed group, which is listed as a terrorist organization by both countries as well as the European Union. Stronger U.S. support for Turkey's fight against the PKK has been reflected in a number of recent developments, sources said Monday, citing increased Turkish access to Iraqi airspace, an agreement to transfer attack helicopters and the ramping up of intelligence sharing." Today's Zayman reports Turkey is attempting to team up with Syria and Iran to fight the PKK: "Preliminary signs of this cooperation have already emerged with Iran capturing and executing 29 PKK members in the past six months. Seventeen PKK militants were extradited to Turkey. Syria launched a military campaign against the group, killing 185 terrorists and arresting 400 others. Some 160 of these will be extradited to Turkey, while Germany returned three PKK members to Turkey very recently in what was a first in that country's history." Today's Zaman also notes a proposal that's meeting with some opposition in Turkey for Turkey to put together a professional army to fight 'terror' [PKK]. That proposed 'professional army' comes just as Aras Coskuntuncel (Hurriyet Daily News) reports that US Ambassador to Turkey (now nominated to be the US Ambassador to Iraq) James Jeffrey has stated that the United States government is looking for "additional ways that we can provide assistance to Turkey, including weapons platforms."
Meanwhile Alsumaria TV reports that Ali Al Dabbagh, apparently speaking on behalf of the State of Law slate of which he is a member, has stated that the next prime minister of Iraq must be a member of the National Alliance (State of Law slate or Iraqi National Alliance). March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. Three months and two days later, still no government. 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. They are claiming they have the right to form the government. It's four months and five days and, in 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. Today it is four months and eight days. Progress? They couldn't even meet the 2005 standard. UPI reports that the stalemate finds most participants objecting to "a second term for" Nouri and quotes Iraqi National Alliance member Ali Shubar stating today, "Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has consumed his full chances in performing his constitutional duties during the last four years and should be replaced by another figure who would be approved by political entities." And Jackson Diehl (Washington Post) reports that Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari met with the Washington Post editorial board yesterday and took questions from them and Post reporters. On the White House, he declared, "Their role has not been active, to be honest wit you."
Turning to England, BBC News reports that Paul Boateng is stating that the Blair cabinet (he was a member of it) "should have seen all the arguments on the legality of the Iraq war." As the Iraq Inquiry has already established then-British Attorney General Peter Goldsmith was of the opinion that -- without a second UN resolution -- a war with Iraq would be illegal. Goldsmith repeatedly advised Blair of that (leading Blair to scribble on one memo, "I just don't understand this"; while his underling scribbled that Blair had "specifically said we did not need further advis [on] this matter"). Days before the illegal war started, Goldsmith was finally pressured into changing his legal opinion. Goldsmith denied being pressured. He said it was more a case of choosing whether or not you wanted to be on the winning side. I believe that's peer pressure when we're speaking of youths. I think it falls under (politely) group-think when you're an adult or (truthfully) cowardice. The cabinet was not informed of any doubts and were only informed that Goldsmith was stating that the Iraq War would be legal. BBC News also notes:
Separately, the inquiry published a newly declassified document showing that Treasury officials urged ministers to "step back" from taking a leading military role in post-invasion Iraq.
An internal paper - written by senior Treasury official John Dodds - warned that Britain could be "sucked into" costly wider responsibilities if it took on security duties after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.
But the briefing note, sent to then Chancellor Gordon Brown, observed it was unlikely Prime Minister Tony Blair and other ministers would want to "walk away" from a leadership role in Iraq.
Peter Mandelson was in Blair's cabinet -- in and out of the cabinet. He resigned twice. His memoirs are due out shortly and sections are being serialized in the Times of London. One section is especially gathering attention. Nicholas Watt (Guardian) reports on Mandelson's assertion that he challenged Blair on going to war with Iraq and Blair replied, "For God's sake, have you been spending all your time with George Galloway?" Mehdi Hasan (New Statesman) adds of that quote:
Amazing. Is any more insight needed into what Mandelson refers to as Blair's "tunnel vision" on Iraq? Is any more proof needed that our former prime minister had no intention of debating the rights or wrongs of invading Iraq, not even with close colleagues and friends like Mandelson, but had instead made up his mind long before the March 2003 invasion and refused to seek out alternatives? "As military preparations intensified. those who had reservations of the sort I had raised were lumped together in his mind with anyone who felt he wasn't 100% on board," writes Mandelson. "The distinction between the two became blurred in Tony's mind."
On the Iraq Inquiry, Carne Ross testified Monday (see that day's snapshot) and Colum Lynch (Foreign Policy) reports on the testimony including zooming in on Ross' testimony about leaking to Lynch.
The Army released suicide data today for the month of June. Among active duty soldiers, there were 21 potential suicides: one was confirmed as a suicide, and 20 remain under investigation. For May, the Army reported 10 potential suicides among active duty soldiers. Since the release of that report, four have been confirmed as suicides, and six remain under investigation.
During June 2010, among reserve component soldiers who were not on active duty, there were 11 potential suicides: one was confirmed as suicide, and 10 remain under investigation. For May, among that same group, there were 13 total suicides. Of those, two were confirmed as suicides and 11 are pending determination of the manner of death.
For reference, the Army's total for the first half of calendar year 2009 was 88 for active duty and 42 for reserve component soldiers who were not on active duty. For the first half of 2010, the totals were 80 for active duty and 65 for reserve component soldiers who were not on active duty.
"Our suicide prevention efforts must continue to be directed at all members of the Army family -- our soldiers, Department of the Army civilians and families -- during the busy summertime transition period," said Col. Chris Philbrick, director, Army Suicide Prevention Task Force. "The crucial elements are still caring, concern and decisive leadership. There will never be a substitute for a noncommissioned officer, first-line supervisor or friend who knows when a person is suffering and has the moral courage to act and get that individual the help they need. That ability to make a positive difference is the best method to render effective suicide prevention in the Army," Philbrick said.
Soldiers and families in need of crisis assistance can contact Military OneSource or the Defense Center of Excellence (DCoE) for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury Outreach Center. Trained consultants are available from both organizations 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year.
The Military OneSource toll-free number for those residing in the continental United States. is 1-800-342-9647; their Web site address is http://www.militaryonesource.com . Overseas personnel should refer to the Military OneSource Web site for dialing instructions for their specific location.
The Army's comprehensive list of Suicide Prevention Program information is located at http://www.armyg1.army.mil/hr/suicide/default.asp .
Army leaders can access current health promotion guidance in newly revised Army Regulation 600-63 (Health Promotion) at: http://www.army.mil/usapa/epubs/pdf/r600_63.pdf and Army Pamphlet 600-24 (Health Promotion, Risk Reduction and Suicide Prevention) at http://www.army.mil/usapa/epubs/pdf/p600_24.pdf .
Suicide prevention training resources for Army families can be accessed at http://www.armyg1.army.mil/hr/suicide/training_sub.asp?sub_cat=20 (requires Army Knowledge Online access to download materials).
The DCoE Outreach Center can be contacted at 1-866-966-1020, via electronic mail at Resources@DCoEOutreach.org and at http://www.dcoe.health.mil .
Information about the Army's Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Program is located at http://www.army.mil/csf .
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: http://www.afsp.org.
Suicide Prevention Resource Council: http://www.sprc.org/index.asp.
Yesterday, the US House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing on preventing suicides. In addition to yesterday's snapshot, Marcia reported on it in "House Veterans Affairs suicide hearing," Ann in "Dr. Robert Jesse," and Trina in "It's about respect and self-respect" (Trina's covering the Republican committee member in the hearing who came off looking like a real ass) and yesterday also noted the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee's hearing on claims processing which Mike also reported on in "Senate Veterans Affairs Committee."
Meanwhile US House Rep Loretta Sanchez weighs in at Politico on the issue of women in the military. This is the opening, use the link:
Imagine you have enlisted in the U.S. armed forces. You've gone through basic training, overcoming the same challenges as your peers. You have proved you have the strength and determination to defend our country, at whatever cost.
You're deployed to Afghanistan, where your first assignment is providing technical support for a combat unit. You are exposed regularly to enemy fire, roadside bombs and other threats. You may even be injured while fulfilling your duties. In and out of combat, you perform bravely and capably.
Unfortunately, your combat service means little -- because you are a woman.
More than 29,000 women are now serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. But official policy prevents them from joining ground units engaged in direct combat or support units that travel to the front lines.
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