Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Odierno warns of possible attacks on US bases

Men from Kataib Hezbollah, a Shiite group that U.S. officials say is trained and funded by Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, crossed into Iran for training and returned to conduct attacks just as U.S. troop levels plummet over the summer, Gen. Ray Odierno said. By September, only 50,000 U.S. troops will remain in Iraq.
"In the last couple weeks there's been an increased threat," Odierno said in a briefing to reporters. "We've increased our security on some of our bases. We've also increased activity with the Iraqi Security Forces. This is another attempt by Iran and others to influence the U.S. role here inside Iraq."
So far the threat has not manifested, he said.

The above is from Leila Fadel's "Amid threat, U.S. heightens security at its Iraq bases" (Washington Post) which just went up this morning. AP has a vague report (and is working on a more in depth one) but the only other outlet with a report currently is AFP which adds, "Odierno said specific intelligence had been received which showed the insurgents planned to strike US bases, although it was not clear if the Tehran government was involved."

Meanwhile Ahmed Rasheed, Rania El Gamal and David Stamp (Reuters) report at least 9 dead in Diyala Province as a result of a coffin bombing. Northern Iraq remains a backdrop for violence -- this despite being promoted as the 'peaceful side of Iraq.' That violence includes bombings from both the Turkish government and the Iranian government. Today Human Rights Watch issued "Iran/Iraq: Iranian Attacks Should Not Target Iraqi Civilians:"

Iran needs to take all feasible precautions to spare civilians at risk of serious harm from artillery bombardment and other military operations in an area that includes dozens of Kurdish villages inside northern Iraq, Human Rights Watch said today.
The Iranian attacks, directed against the Iranian Kurdish armed group Party for Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), intensified in late May and have led to the displacement of more than 500 families, wounded an unknown number of villagers, and killed a teenage girl. Iraqi villagers also told Human Rights Watch, which visited the area in late June, that Iranian border guards have targeted their livestock and sometimes fired at the villagers themselves.
"Iran should take all feasible precautions to spare civilians from artillery and other attacks," said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "Firing artillery shells into populated areas, especially where there are no military targets, and targeting livestock are serious violations of the laws of war."
Since June 3, 2010, about 500 families have fled their border villages to crowded tent camps elsewhere in Erbil and Sulaimaniya provinces, joining about 250 families who had fled Iranian shelling in previous months. Aid organizations and local municipalities have struggled to meet the displaced families' basic needs. The recent attacks also led an unknown number of other Kurdish civilians to flee elsewhere throughout the countryside and to surrounding towns.

As the violence and the political stalemate continue, evaluations continue to come in. An Iraqi correspondent for McClatchy offers "Bring Paul the Octobus to Iraq. We need him badly" at Inside Iraq which includes:

I talked to some people I know and others I met by chance. All of then agreed upon one point. They all feel so sorry that they participated in the last election. They all repeated one sentence: "we had been decieved by our political leaders". Members of my family praised me because I did not participate.
since no one can pridect what might happen during the coming days and since our unique political leaders can not reach any kind of agreement about the most important issue (chosing the coming Prime Minister) and since its not really late. I suggest that we send a delegation to Germany as soon as possible to bring Paul the Octobus to Iraq before the german turn him into delecious meals and before the Dutch marines assassinate him because he predicted their loss. In this issue, we have to cooperate with Spain to save the octobus's life and prepared a great glass pool for him provided with some good mussels. We should also put each mussel in a small glass box writing the names of the politicians who are fighting over for the Prime Minister position and mainly Nouri Al Maliki and Ayad Allawi and Adil Abdul Mahdi. Of course we will have other names.

Moving over to England where the Mirror goes with, "Tony Blair 'intentionally' exaggerated the threat posed by Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, the Iraq inquiry heard yesterday." Yesterday, the Iraq Inquiry continued in London and the Inquiry heard from Carne Ross (First Secretary, United Kingdom Mission to New York, 1998 to 2002) and Lt Gen James Dutton (General Officer Commanding Multi National Division South East, 2005, Deputy Chief of Joint Operations, 2007 to 2009) (link goes to transcript and video options). The focus in the press is on Ross' testimony. Rosa Prince (Telegraph of London) reports:

Giving evidence before the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war, Mr Ross said that “nuanced” intelligence about the threat from Iraq was “massaged” into "more robust and terrifying" messages about Saddam’s supposed WMD.
Mr Carne, who served at the UN between 1997 and 2002, claimed that the British and United States governments were fully aware that there was no “substantial threat” from Iraq ahead of the war.
He said: "It remains my view that the internal Government assessment of Iraq's capabilities was intentionally and substantially exaggerated in public Government documents during 2002 and 2003.
"Throughout my posting in New York, it was the UK and US assessment that while there were many unanswered questions about Iraq's WMD stocks and capabilities, we did not believe that these amounted to a substantial threat.
"At no point did we have any firm evidence, from intelligence sources or otherwise, of significant weapons holdings."

Lynne Stewart is a political prisoner. She's certainly not a criminal. She's an attorney behind bars in prison. But you only go to prison if you break the law, right? That used to be the US judicial system. Lynne's in prison for breaking . . . some guideline. Did you realize that? Did you grasp that she broke no law? That no law on the books can be pointed to, no government prosecutor can waive it in the air and say, "This is the law Lynne broke." Lynne is no criminal. She's an attorney who has defended a wide variety of clients. Usually ones very few other attorneys would touch. In the US judicial system, every one deserves a fair trial. Lynne's career has been all about that. And that's probably why the Bush administration targeted her.

That guideline that she broke? It happened while Bill Clinton was president. The Justice Dept was fully aware of it. Then-Attorney General Janet Reno looked into the matter. Reno had the wisdom to grasp that if no law was broken, then there's no prosecution. The Clinton Justice Dept did not seek to put Lynne on trial. Later, the Bush administration would put her on trial and make that trial not about the laws but all about 9-11. The trial which took place in NYC.

Lynne was convicted of doing her job. What a proud moment for American justice or 'justice.'

Events tomorrow and Thursday in support of Lynne:

July 14, 2010
March from Tom Paine Park (Worth St. between Centre & Lafayette Streets)
3 blocks to Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC- where Lynne is detained)

7-9pm Vigil in Support of Lynne
At Metropolitan Correctional Center 150 Park Row

JULY 15, 2010
Sentencing is at 2:30pm, we will be there at 11am
Federal Courthouse
500 Pearl Street
Doors will open at 2pm

As she so often does, Ruth noted Taking Aim. (Airs Tuesdays on WBAI.) Mya Shone and Ralph Schoenman are the hosts. They spoke with Ralph Poynter about Lynne Stewart. And this is from last week so it includes an action that has already taken place.

Mya Shone: First we're going to a very brief update with Ralph Poynter about the case of Lynne Stewart.

Ralph Schoenman: And about the rally tomorrow or rather on Thursday.

Mya Shone: Thursday. Ralph?

Ralph Poynter: Yes, Mya.

Ralph Schoenman: How are you Ralph?

Ralph Poynter: Yes, I -- As you know, our hearts are in our throats. We're waiting for the re-sentencing of Lynne Stewart. And we're very upset that she was sentenced at all, that she was found guilty of terrorism by way of a press release and a prison regulation. And we've lived seven months of Lynne's incarceration in the prison system. With her medical situation, being in the hospital handcuffed and shackled while being there and dealing with this. And hoping to get some relief come next July 15th when she is re-sentenced. And many of us --

Mya Shone: Ralph, on Thursday, July 8th, 6:00 p.m., Judson Memorial Church, 55 Washington Square South, speakers include our one and only here Ralph Scho, yourself, Chairman Fred Hampton Jr., Pan-African --

Ralph Poynter: Yes, Pan-Africa. We have many --

Mya Shone: Many others.

Ralph Poynter: -- on the issue of imprisonment and incarceration in general in America. And, as I was saying, we're hoping that we get an improvement because although Lynne has -- Her liver has proved not to be cancerous, it was quite a scare for us. And we're hoping that she would get home -- house arrest where she could go to the hospital and take care of the problems she had when she first went into the hospital. So the event that you mentioned tomorrow is to help us you know like help us keep our spirits up and to help Lynne keep her spirits up. And also the 14th at Tom Paine Park, right down on Center & Worth, we're going to gather at 5:30 and have a little cermony and then march three blocks to MCC and speak on Lynne's behalf for about two hours, from seven to nine-thirty to life up her spirits to be ready for the sentencing.

Mya Shone: Great. Okay, all out Thursday July 8th at six p.m., the Judson Memorial Church

Ralph Schoenman: And remember, brothers & sisters, Lynne Stewart is being victimized because the government is involved in attacks on people of the world and the United States, 9-11, 1993, these are the government's actions for which they seek demons in order to create the architecture of the fascist state. Stand together, fight for Lynne, fight for ourselves, fight for the salvation of this society and for a fundamental change in its rule and its conduct. See you Thursday.

There will likely be an update on Taking Aim this evening. It airs on WBAI at 5:00 p.m. EST this evening.

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