Saturday, October 30, 2010

Rising death toll, WikiLeaks

Jack Healy (New York Times) reports, "The bomber detonated a belt of explosives, the police said, striking the cafe at its busiest hour, when it was bustling with young men sipping tea and smoking cigarettes. The blast blew body parts into the street and started what one survivor, Ahmed Khalis, described as a 'fountain of fire' inside the building." He's reporting on yesterday's Balad Ruz attack. Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) explains, "People had been shooting pool in the cafe in the eastern town of Balad Ruz, midway between Diyala's capital, Baqubah, and the Iranian border, when the attacker set off his bomb. The building collapsed, and civil defense teams rushed to dig victims out, police 2nd Lt. Ali Rubaie said. Along with the rest of the neighborhood, the cafe was built after Shiite Kurds fled to Balad Ruz from the Iranian border at the beginning of the Iran-Iraq war in 1980. The cafe was the one place in the district where people could go to play pool or dominos, smoke water pipes and drink tea." Press TV notes that the death toll has risen to 30.

Meanwhile, Friday October 22nd, WikiLeaks released 391,832 US military documents on the Iraq War. The documents -- US military field reports -- reveal torture and abuse and the ignoring of both. They reveal ongoing policies passed from the Bush administration onto the Obama one. They reveal that both administrations ignored and ignore international laws and conventions on torture. They reveal a much higher civilian death toll than was ever admitted to.

In tomorrow's paper, the editorial board of the Boston Globe offers:

The United States is a party to the United Nations Convention Against Torture. As such, it has accepted an obligation not to employ torture and also not to transfer captives to anyone who may be expected to torture them. To violate this obligation is to make the American commitment to human rights look like sheer hypocrisy. Al Qaeda and like-minded jihadists, who exhibit scant regard for human rights, can be counted on to depict US complicity in torture in Iraq as proof that the “crusaders’’ hate Muslims.

The editorial's just more gutless nonsense from the paper that's going under. If that doesn't make clear, I can't go into more details because this is the topic reserved for Third. But read the editorial carefully and see if you can't figure it out for yourself. Here's your hint, if a transfer takes place -- as the Globe rightly notes it has -- and the transfer is to Iraqi forces -- again the Globe gets that right -- then what's left out? How about who did the transfer, who authorized it? It's been the flaw in all of the US 'reporting' and it should make US outlets a laughingstock around the world.

Global Research runs this release from the Ad Hoc Committee for Justice for Iraq:


To all victims of the US-UK invasion of Iraq and their families,

To all Iraqis,

To all Parties of the Genocide Convention, the Four Geneva Conventions and the UN Convention against Torture,

To all progressive lawyers, legal associations and institutions, parliamentarians, international civil servants, and everyone who supports legal action to ensure redress for Iraqi victims of US-UK crimes:

Just over a year ago, we submitted a legal case before the Audencia Nacional in Madrid under laws of universal jurisdiction against four US presidents and four UK prime ministers — George H W Bush, William J Clinton, George W Bush, Barack H Obama, Margaret Thatcher, John Major, Anthony Blair and Gordon Brown — on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Iraq. This case was based on our analysis of hundreds of documents available in the public domain, along with firsthand witness testimony that informed our effort and our designation of US-UK actions as genocide.[1]

The essence of our case was that the accumulated pattern of harm, stretching over 19 years, revealed a clear and specific “intent to destroy”, in whole or in part, the state and nation of Iraq. We catalogued the purposive dismantling of the Iraqi state and the imposition, incitement and engineering of sectarian conflict. We also described the systematic destruction of Iraq’s civil infrastructure, added to the massive use of depleted uranium, which from 1990 onwards led to millions of excess deaths. We outlined the use of disproportionate and indiscriminate force, the use of internationally prohibited weapons such as white phosphorus, and the use of prohibited means and methods of warfare. And we identified the use of death squads and armed militias associated with political forces promoted by and protected by Washington, the terror that led to the forced mass displacement of five million Iraqis, and the institutionalised regime of mass and arbitrary detention and torture, along with blackmail, kidnapping, rape and unfair trials, that characterised Iraq under US occupation.

The Wikileaks disclosure

The near 400,000 classified documents that Wikileaks recently published substantiate the claims we made in our case and constitute official US evidence of elements of the case we presented: the existence in Iraq of a regime of systematic torture; rape used as a weapon of warfare and terror; incidence of arbitrary, summary and extrajudicial executions; the routine use by US armed forces of indiscriminate and disproportionate force; the alarming collapse of the division between military and civilian targets, with two thirds of the victims registered in the leaked documents being acknowledged as civilians. We will add these documents to our archive of evidence.

But these documents alone must be situated. While adding to the picture of the real war conducted, they do not contain it.

1. Inevitably, the leaked documents tell the story of the Iraq war from the perspective of — and within the confines of — the US military and its record-keeping practice. One cannot expect this practice to be anything but influenced by US Army culture and the operational goal of winning the war.

2. The leaked documents do not cover the actions of the CIA and other non-US Army agencies in the Iraq war, or similar agencies of foreign powers.

3. The leaked documents do not cover the role or actions of US security contractors, or mercenaries, in the Iraq war, which were granted legal immunity by the US occupation.

4. The leaked documents do not cover the role or actions of sectarian militias and death squads linked to foreign states and political forces in the US-sponsored and vetted political process, and that conducted campaigns of ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity targeting Arab Sunnis, Turkmen, Christians, Yezidis, Sabeans, and Shabak as such, and even innocent Shia, in addition to the systematic assassination of middle class professionals.

5. The leaked documents provide raw data on day-to-day operations but do not contain information on the strategic planning or aims of the war.

6. The leaked documents only cover self-reported incidents, while the body count overall only encompasses the dead the US Army recovered.

7. The leaked documents do not collate the overwhelming bulk of the killing in Iraq, which involved militias incorporated into the new Iraqi Security Forces led by Iraq’s puppet governments — among which that of Nouri Al-Maliki — and for which the US, as the occupying power, is legally responsible.

8. The leaked documents do not cover the orchestrated plunder of national and individual property, individual appropriation of state property, arbitrary dismissal and refusal of work, and the mass non-payment of salaries and withdrawal of social rights. Nor do the documents shed light on the collapse of Iraq’s economy, and the consequent mass impoverishment and displacement of Iraqis.

9. The leaked documents do not cover non-violent excess deaths in Iraq, whether the result of the collapse of Iraq’s public health system, the contamination of Iraq’s environment, including by radioactive munitions, and the spread of disease amid the overall collapse of all public services, including provision of electricity, a functioning sewage system, and clean water.

10. The leaked documents do not shed any light on the trauma induced by the US-led war on individual Iraqis and the Iraqi nation as a whole.

Demand for legal action

At present, there is a full-scale damage limitation effort ongoing, headed by the US Pentagon and involving: attempts to focus attention away from the detail of the leaked documents and onto the founder of Wikileaks and his person; to focus attention on the failure to act against torture when it involved Iraqi police and paramilitary forces, ignoring US practices of torture or the culture of violence the US occupation has promoted overall (including by specifically training and arming death squads and militias); and to divert attention to the role of Iran while failing to contextualise the cooperative relation between the United States and Iran in the destruction of Iraq.

Despite US manoeuvres, the United States administration and the government of Iraq stand equally accused. Neither can be trusted to investigate the facts contained in the classified documents Wikileaks has brought into the public domain. Only action that invokes the universal jurisdiction of the conventions the US and Iraqi governments have violated in Iraq can be satisfactory and objective. And only by stepping back and reviewing the whole period, from 1990 through until now, can one adequately situate the Wikileaks Iraq War Logs and understand their importance.

Wikileaks has done a tremendous service to truth in times of war, and has placed before us raw evidence that is compelling, undeniable, and that tells — in part — the story of the Iraq war in a way until now untold. We salute Wikileaks and its sources for the courageous act of releasing the classified Iraq War Logs. We call on all lawyers, judges and juridical institutions to display equal courage, and in coalition to work towards the swift prosecution of US and UK war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Iraq. We believe that only by coordinated action can those responsible for grave crimes and rights violations in Iraq be held accountable.

We therefore call for the formation of an international coalition of lawyers, legal specialists and antiwar and anti-occupation progressive forces to realise this obligation.

We are ready to cooperate with and join any effort that aims to ensure redress and reparations for Iraqi victims of US and UK crimes.

There is no excuse now for failing to take legal action everywhere it is feasible, both at the national level — where the universal jurisdiction of international conventions permits — and beyond. But legal action must be informed by an analysis of the nature of the war as a whole, and by the testimony not only of the US Army, but also Arab and international solidarity groups and associations, and foremost the Iraqi people — the victims of the US-led war of aggression on Iraq.

Ad Hoc Committee for Justice for Iraq


We are not taking signatures for this call to action; rather we ask those with requisite skills to commit to building a new coalition to pursue legal action, which we also commit to join. Please inform us of your efforts, in the hope that together we can build towards effective legal action:

Dr Ian Douglas, coordinator of the International Initiative to Prosecute US Genocide in Iraq and member of the Executive Committee of the BRussells Tribunal

Hana Al Bayaty, member of the Executive Committee of the BRussells Tribunal and the International Initiative to Prosecute US Genocide in Iraq

Abdul Ilah Albayaty, political analyst and member of the Executive Committee of the BRussells Tribunal

Serene Assir, member of the Advisory Committee of the BRussells Tribunal

Dirk Adriaensens, member of the Executive Committee of the BRussells Tribunal


Global Research Articles by Ad Hoc Committee for Justice for Iraq

The following community sites -- plus Washington Week, IVAW and Cindy Sheehan --updated last night and today:

We'll close with this from the campaign of John Anthony La Pietra:

John Anthony La Pietra for
Fairer, Better Elections
Secretary of State * Green Party
386 Boyer Court * Marshall, MI 49068

** URGENT ** News Release: October 29, 2010

La Pietra Issues Corrected List of Candidates for Saginaw County
Clerk's Office Refused Requests to Finish Fixing List Posted on Website
or Delete Erroneous Sections and Give Voters a Link to State List

48 Counties Have Responded to Another of John's Efforts to Make
Elections Fairer and Better -- Full List of Write-In Candidates;
About Half with Local Candidates Have Provided Contact Info, Too

65 Counties Have Contributed to Voting-Conditions Survey Preparations

John Anthony La Pietra hasn't been elected Secretary of State yet -- but the Green Party of Michigan candidate is already at work making elections fairer and better for voters, candidates, and parties . . . particularly in Saginaw County.

The county clerk's office has refused to finish correcting its posted list of candidates:

or use a draft John sent them yesterday. So John is releasing the list to the press today and posting it on his Website, at:

Clerk's Office Said It Was Understaffed,
Couldn't Fix Its List -- So John Did It
Last week, while looking into the omission of Green candidates Dianne Feeley and Lou Novak from ballots in Wayne County, John noticed that the two Wayne County Commission candidates had also been left off the county's published online candidate lists.

So he did some checking of other counties' Websites -- and found some problems with Saginaw County's posted candidate list:

Though this list was dated "as of October 22", it was missing almost every partisan candidate who'd been nominated for the fall election -- before the August 3 primary -- by an alternative party.

(The site also had a full set of proof ballots posted -- showing all the candidates on the ballot for each local jurisdiction in the county. But the link to access those ballots was below the link for the candidate list.)

So he e-mailed County Clerk Susan Kaltenbach Friday afternoon (October 22) to let her know of the oversight and offer his help in fixing the list.

Kaltenbach's reply Monday morning said, "The minor party candidates will be added today. This information other than our local listings is still from the primary results. We usually do not add all of the State Candidates as they file and are listed by the Secretary of State. Again we are short staffed and have so much data entry that is beyond our required local that we sometimes do not have all of the State data."

John promptly pointed out a problem with this logic: "[T]he list as it is posted now makes it appear that the candidates you show are the only ones on the ballot." And voters and groups who relied on the list would "have been making decisions for the past six to ten weeks about whom to vote for -- or whom to invite to participate in activities and be considered for votes, endorsements, etc. -- based on the incomplete information posted."

He noted that other counties posted only "local" candidates on their Websites and provided a link to the statewide Bureau of Elections list to cover the non-local candidates.

Saginaw County's list was updated on Tuesday:

John was now on it, and so were some of his fellow Greens -- but not the Green Party gubernatorial ticket of Harley Mikkelson and Lynn Meadows. Another lieutenant governor candidate was also omitted, and a mix-up left three candidates labeled as Libertarians in the race for the 5th District seat in Congress, including one who was a Libertarian candidate -- but in the 4th District.

And the races for the four statewide boards -- the State Board of Education, the U-M Board of Regents, the MSU Board of Trustees, and the Wayne State University Board of Governors -- were missing from the county's list entirely. The nominally non-partisan race for two seats on the state Supreme Court was mentioned -- but none of the five candidates were listed.

John documented these omissions and corrections, hoping to help Kaltenbach get past her office's short-staffing situation and solve the problems. She answered: "There are plenty of other places for the voters to get this info. We concentrate on getting the locals and the ones we take filings for locally on the site as they do not appear in other places."

John's response to that thanked Kaltenbach for her efforts so far, but pointed out:

The people of Saginaw County have a right to rely on you to be
authoritative about their ballots -- to rely on the candidate list
posted on your Website, and any other information you put out about
the election for public consumption, to be accurate and complete.

"This candidate list," he went on, "has been misinforming voters since it was posted" -- and time was running out to fix it.

Wednesday morning, a further update of the list had been posted -- and minor updates were again posted yesterday morning and today. The latest posted list is still missing all reference to the education-board races, and all candidates running for Supreme Court Justice. All partisan candidates for other state and federal offices are now included, but there are two errors:

* Albert Chia, Jr. is a Libertarian candidate for State Senate
from the 32nd District, not for the 4th District Congressional

* And J. Matthew de Heus is the Green Party's candidate in the
5th Congressional District, not a second Libertarian in that

John tried to help Saginaw County make up for lost time and shortness of staff time by preparing a corrected list himself. He took the posted county list, added missing candidate information from the official state list posted by the Bureau of Elections:

formatted the information to match the county's format, and sent it to

Kaltenbach as an Adobe Acrobat PDF file. He has received no response, and his draft list was neither posted itself nor used to finish correcting the county's posted list.

So John is posting his corrected version of the list -- which he updated today to include whatever changes may have been made in the county's posted list between yesterday and today. And he is notifying the media, in hopes that the accurate information will get to voters.

John reminds everyone that the county has also posted proof ballots -- and those do seem to be reliable. They are accessible from this page:

"But the first link people who go to the county's homepage will see is to the candidate list," he adds. "And that list, four days before the election, is still incomplete and wrong."

For updated details of John's correspondence with the Saginaw County Clerk's Office on this issue, visit

Treating Write-In Candidates as More
Than Just "Mickey Mouse" Protest Votes
48 counties and the Bureau of Elections have contributed some information to another of John's "Fairer, Better Elections" projects: a comprehensive list of "official" write-in candidates:

And about half of the counties which have some "local" write-in candidates have provided contact information for those candidates as well.

State law was changed in 2006 so that poll workers would no longer have to count literal "Mickey Mouse" write-in votes . . . only votes for real people who had filed the required Declaration of Intent form.

"There's a big controversy in the Alaska courts right now," notes John.

"Incumbent Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, who lost in the primary, is now running a write-in campaign trying to keep her seat. And the state Division of Elections has been offering early voters a list of all write-in candidates if the voters ask for it. But the state Republican Party sued to stop the Division from doing that -- and the Democrats have joined them.

"Here in Michigan," John adds, "state law says each precinct has to have a list of all officially declared write-in candidates. Otherwise the election inspectors wouldn't know whose votes they should and shouldn't count."

But under the current administration’s interpretation, the names on those lists aren’t available to voters at the polls. The list isn’t posted next to that sample ballot that's always up on the wall, as you might expect it to be. And if you ask the election inspectors at your polling place, they’re not allowed to tell you who's running as a write-in. You'd have to go to your local clerk’s office and ask there. “And who gets out of line to go do that?” John asks rhetorically.

John believes this is unfair to those candidates -- and it’s unfair to deny voters information about all of their choices. That's why he's compiling the list page and posting it on his campaign Website.

He hopes to hear from the rest of the counties on this, too -- and maybe from some write-ins as well. If they have additional contact information they want John to post -- addresses, phone numbers, e-mails, home pages -- they can contact him.

Survey of Voting Conditions:
Precinct Information from Clerks
The turnout is even better on John's call for lists of precincts, figures on how many voters are registered in each precinct, and where the polling places are. 65 out of 83 county clerks have now responded.

He hopes the rest of the information comes in before he starts getting voting-conditions survey results from voters in the 5,050 precincts across Michigan on and after Election Day.

"When we put the information from the clerks and the observations of the people together," John says, "we'll have a powerful tool for analyzing and planning the equipping and staffing of polling places better and more fairly -- giving us shorter lines and more time to vote.”

Voters who want to know how their clerks responded to this request so far can see an updated status report on John’s campaign Website at

John’s initial request to the clerks is also on line, at

And a copy of the survey sheet for individual voters to take with them to the polls November 2 is posted at

# # #

The e-mail address for this site is

thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends