Sunday, July 25, 2010

And the war drags on . . .

This was the first time I had seen my former neighborhood. I tried hard to see my street and my house but I couldn't. The blast walls blocked me from going inside. Three years after the successful U.S. surge, I am incapable of seeing my home.
Many stories and articles have been written about the blast walls that have divided Baghdad’s neighborhoods into sectarian cantons. These walls are a physical expression of the dramatic change in the Iraqi people's mentality toward sectarianism.
Before the war, sectarianism was an unspoken feeling among extremists and some parts of society; now it shapes the life of the entire nation.

The above is from Riyadh Mohammed's "My Baghdad field trip" (Los Angeles Times). That's the Iraq of today, the one that the US-led war created. The one that Democratic governors rush to praise. The one that everyone is playing on MoveOn from. But the occupation isn't ending in 2012 -- regardless of whether the SOFA stands or is replaced with another treaty. The colonial outpost will be run by the US State Dept. If this is news to you, you missed last week's Senate confirmation hearing for James Jeffrey (see "Iraq snapshot," "Iraq snapshot," "Kerry, Lugar and Feingold," "Kaufman and Casey" and "Senate Foreign Relations Committee"). Rowan Scarborough (Washington Times) speaks to Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq member Grant S. Green about this plan and is told, "I can't think of another time when the State Department will have been required to take over a mission of this magnitude. [. . .] They've got huge challenges ahead of them taking over these missions, many of which they've got zero experience. . . . Some of the things they will have to take over are just not in their DNA, principally in some of the security missions [the military] is performing for them today." The colonial outpost will be the Baghdad Embassy with several other outposts throughout Iraq. The occupation will continue.

They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.
-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)

Last Sunday, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 4412. Tonight? 4413.


Reuters notes
2 Baghdad roadside bombings which claimed the lives of 8 police officers and six bystanders, 2 Baghdad roadside bombings which claimed the life of 1 police officer and injured three more, a Mosul roadside bombing which claimed the life of 1 police officer and injured two people (a police officer and "a child"), a Baghdad sticky bombing which claimed the life of 1 police officer and left three bystanders wounded and, dropping back to Saturday, a Baghdad roadside bombing which left two people injured.


Reuters notes 1 child (four years old) shot dead in Mosul.


Reuters notes 1 corpse discovered in Baghad yesterday.

Lara Jakes (AP) offers an indepth look at the state of Iraqi security forces. Arwa Damon (CNN) quotes Ayad Allawi calling for Nouri al-Maliki to step down: "I think he should acknowledge also that the transformation, the transfer of power, is very important in this country -- the peaceful transfer of power. It is only fair for our people to stick to the procedures of the elections and the results of the elections."

Now for e-mails. I meant to answer this Thursday night and then on Saturday when I forgot. No surprise, I forgot again. Commenting on a snapshot last week, a visitor wanted to know why I signed off with "hugs & kisses." I didn't. Snapshots are dictated. I do links I'm aware of at lunch and dictate around those plus there are new things that come up which will require links and copies and pastes. If someone's copying and pasting into the e-mail it can throw the text size severely off. So they may go in and put an "xxx" or another letter in so that if the text size is thrown, they can go to the "xxx" and go below it where the text size will be normal. You may or may not follow that. But I'm not Carol Burnett (great lady) signing "xxx and ooo" to everything. Next up, an angry visitor wants me to know that PumaPac and I are "not fooling anyone" and that our "coordination if fully known." Plus, the woman who runs PumaPac is called "a bigger idiot than you are" because she credits Spencer Ackerman to The Nation "when the whole world knows he works for The Washingtonian Independent."

The whole world knows that? First off, he now works for Wired. Second off, he did work for the Washington Independent. Third, I have no idea if he ever worked for the Washingtonian but my guess would be no. Fourth, he has published (including cover stories) in The Nation. If PumaPac credited him as a Nation writer, well, that is true. He's had several articles placed in the magazine including during the period of Journolist. (If you're lost on Journolist, we'll get to it, hold on.) So Murphy at PumaPac is not an idiot. She is correct that he's published in The Nation.

I don't know whom I'm trying to fool but if it's about my relationship and communication with Murphy, presumably it includes me. Because I'm aware of no such relationship. I've never met with Murphy, I've never e-mailed her, I've never texted her, called her, had any form of communication with her -- outside of the Jungian collective unconscious. Whatever you think you know, you're mistaken. I would guess she's a great lady as well. ("Guess" because I know Carol but I don't Murphy.) So it's my loss but I don't know her and am not in communication with her. I'm also not a member of PUMA. Ava and I covered PUMA for Third. As a result, we couldn't cover and be a part of it so there was never any chance that we'd join. That's not an insult to PUMA, that's our attempting to maintain a needed boundary if we were going to cover the topic and advocate for coverage of it. From the outside, my call on PUMA is they are the most positive development to feminism in this century and have done much to applaud.

If you're late to the Journolist topic, you can see Hillary Is 44's "Hillary Was Smeared First - DailyCaller, Race-baiting JournoList, And DailyKos DailyKooks - The Big Media/Big Blog Cartel," "'Call Them Racists' - The New Racism And The Political Importance of JournoList JournoGate; JournoLister Ben Smith's Delusions; And Scooter Libby" and "The Barack Obama Campaign Started "Call Them Racist" - JournoList Followed - And A Shocking 'Hooray For Tucker Carlson'!" and you can check out the new content at Third:

Isaiah's latest comic goes up after this. Pru notes "Guantanamo prisoner court case leads to new evidence of torture" (Great Britain's Socialist Worker):

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The Tories have put Sir Peter Gibson in charge of a torture inquiry, meaning that the man who oversees the activities of the security services will be investigating them.

Gibson, a retired judge, has been Intelligence Services Commissioner since 2006.

Gibson oversees the ministerial authorisations that sanction British involvement in torture. He should be giving evidence to the inquiry not running it.

The truth is that the Tories are trying to cover up the fact that the last Labour government presided over torture.

But previously secret papers have been disclosed in a court case fought by former Guantanamo Bay prisoners. They implicate both Tony Blair and Jack Straw.

One shocking document is chapter 32 of MI6’s general procedural manual, entitled “Detainees and Detention Operations”.

It advises officers that among the “particular sensitivities” they need to consider before becoming directly involved in an operation to detain a terrorism suspect is whether “detention, rather than killing, is the objective of the operation”.

The Foreign Office decided in January 2002 that the “extraordinary rendition” of British citizens from Afghanistan to Guantanamo Bay was its “preferred option”.

The then foreign secretary Jack Straw asked for that rendition to be delayed until MI5 had been able to carry out interrogations.

Straw told the British ambassador in Washington, Christopher Meyer, that the rendition of British nationals from Afghanistan to Guantanamo was “the best way to meet our counter-terrorism objective”.

Straw subsequently claimed he had no knowledge of any British involvement in rendition.

Blair overruled attempts to provide Martin Mubanga, a British citizen detained in Zambia, with consular support, with the result that he too was “rendered” to Guantanamo.

A 2002 memo notes that “instructions from London were unequivocal. We should not accept responsibility for or take custody of” Mubanga.

David Miliband, the former foreign secretary and current candidate for the Labour leadership, claims that none of this happened on his watch. He is lying.


For instance, Gulam Mustafa from Birmingham, was arrested and tortured in Bangladesh in mid-April this year.

The family’s solicitor, Gareth Peirce, wrote to Miliband alleging that MI5 had exchanged information with the Bangladeshi authorities about Gulam.

When he appeared in court 11 days after his arrest, he was unable to stand.

Miliband was forced to submit documents to the courts that showed beyond doubt that British intelligence was involved in questioning “terror suspects”.

Of the 900 out of 500,000 official documents that have been released many have been censored.

But they do show that, despite years of denials from New Labour politicians, the government endorsed and covered up torture.

Omar Deghayes, who is suing the government over his rendition to Guantanamo Bay, says before each session with MI6 officers he made complaints.

He said, “I told them about the treatment—the shackles, being beaten, lack of sleep, how sick I was. But these don’t appear.

“The national interest appears to have been used as a convenient shield for them.” Omar spent almost six years in Guantanamo Bay.

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