Thursday, October 28, 2010

WikiLeaks and a trickster

Russia's RIA Novsoti reports, "Moscow has called on Washington to hold an investigation into mass human rights violations committed by U.S. servicemen during the military campaign in Iraq between 2004 and 2009, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said on Thursday." Late Friday, 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. Calls are coming in from officials in many countries for an investigation -- including from the UK, Norway and Israel -- and from the United Nations High Commissoner for Human Rights and the United Nations' Special Rapporteur on Torture. And yet nothing from the White House.

Do they not get it? Do they not get that you can't claim, as Barack did, that you're going to restore America's image abroad and then ignore calls for an investigation? Do they also not get that while a suppine press in the US has given new defintion to the term "fawning," Barack's about to hit the international road and the press over there really isn't vested in the outcome of the 2012 elections, instead they're more concerned with their own news cycles. Meaning, you better format a response before your send pretty boy overseas. (And we know he can't think on his feet nor can they lug a teleprompter all over the place.)

In other words, they're not going to obsess over the trivia that the White House press corps debases themselves with, nor rush to guffaw and claim that David Axelrod is a comedian -- a moment of hilarity in Tuesday's press briefing demonstratingthat the White House press corps can take a check but who they're actually working for is open to debate.

Please note, that the Tuesday press briefing? It was the first since WikiLeaks released the documents. Search in vain for an exploration of that in the embarrassing briefing that found 'reporters' obsessing over whether or not they'd be able to attend the taping of the Jon Stewart show (which one poor soul wrongly described as "live").

Osama Al Sharif (Pakistan Observer) has matters a little more serious than basic cable on his mind:

IT is not a leak but a deluge. This is how the release of 391,832 classified intelligence documents on the whistle-blower website WikiLeaks, last week, on America’s war in Iraq looked like. The information dump is the biggest of its kind in history. It will take many months for researchers and investigative journalists to sift through this and successive releases in order to piece together missing clues on what exactly happened in Iraq since the US-Anglo invasion of 2003. But the revelations have been stunning concerning the actual civilian death toll, cover-ups of torture in Iraqi prisons, Iran’s sinister role in arming Shiite militias, the transgressions of private contractors, the implication of incumbent Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki in running death squads and inflaming sectarian violence, among others. The implications will be far-fetched and will last for many years to come. It is no wonder that the Pentagon and the State Department have denounced the release of this information as they did in previous cases. Their allegation that making such information public will endanger American lives and help the insurgents is preposterous. If anything the WikiLeaks war diaries will become the foundation for future investigations into one of the most controversial, unjustified and unethical wars in modern times. The revelations do only deal with what was actually taking place in Iraq at the height of the war, but bring to light distortions and lies concerning American motives, military conduct, political cover-ups, flawed administration policies, corruption and others.
The wealth of information of day-to-day observations and actions in the field by US military officers will make the Iraq War along with the ongoing one in Afghanistan one of the most documented military adventures in history. The wars are not seen through the eyes of embedded reporters, investigative journalists and future historians, but through hundreds of thousands of written communications produced by combatants in the battlefield. Never before has the big picture been so available through the reconstruction of minute details. The saying that truth is the first casualty of war aptly applies to Iraq. Public opinion and world governments have been led astray by US politicians who lied, fabricated facts and amplified fears about Iraq’s alleged WMD capabilities.

Oh, look, here's another foreign journalist and she's covering WikiLeaks as well, the Irish Times' Michael Jansen (Al Arabiya Net):

The Western powers are always bleating about the need for “transparency” and “accountability” in the Third World; now is the time for the US and Britain, in particular, to be transparent and accountable. Hopefully, the release - dubbed the “largest leak in history” - will force Washington to adopt more transparency than it has over this particular war.
It is too much to ask Washington to hold the war’s authors responsible for what has been and is being done in Iraq as well as Afghanistan. By releasing nearly 400,000 documents from field-level US soldiers deployed in Iraq, WikiLeaks has given us a picture from their perspective of the protracted conflict in that country. The war logs verified and provided detailed accounts of Iraqi civilian reports of indiscriminate bombings, shootings, killings and torture.

Does the White House really think when Barack leaves the US, the foreign press isn't going to be asking about WikiLeaks? Maybe they're betting they'll get lucky and it will be someone who understands as little about the revelations as Nicole Colson (US Socialist Worker)? (To her credit, she writes about some of the revelations. To our dismay, she just doesn't realize what she's got in front of her or why the media's been working overtime to obscure the issue in this country.)

Hold me, here we can soon be born again
Trust me, believe we can still be born again
We've been sleeping all our lives
At last we can open our eyes

-- "The Garden," written by Carly Simon and Jacob Brackman, first appears on Carly's Anticipation

But some choose to keep them closed.

And along comes Laura.

Yesterday, I was almost done dictating the snapshot, Ava handed me a cell phone and it was a friend at The Nation. Laura Flanders, I was informed, had just written about WikiLeaks. Could I give a link? Sure. Why not. I'm not fond of Laura anymore but if she's writing about WikiLeaks, we'll give her credit. I wasn't near a computer, I couldn't pull it up. So I asked for a pull quote I could dictate in the other phone and was given one.

Wait, I said, that's really not about WikiLeaks. Is there another quote?

There were many.

It's just that her piece was never about WikiLeaks.

Laura tosses around the word "WikiLeaks" and "Iraq War Logs," she just can't be bothered with writing about them. What did the documents released say? She can't give you one sentence that tells you that. Read it, be prepared to be shocked. If you'd never heard of WikiLeak's latest release -- and readers of The Nation have been left to their own devices when it comes to WikiLeaks -- you certainly learn nothing about it from Laura Flanders.

What does she focus on? The Tea Party.

This obsession and envy is so destructive. And envy is never attractive. Nor desperation but that's to be found in the text of her audio commentary (that's what it is).

Laura Flanders is just a joke and to study her closely is to recoil in horror.

I don't know what happened. When she was in our area, San Francisco, on the airwaves, she was an out lesbian, she was an out Socialist. She goes to Air American and suddenly she's hiding in a sexual closet as well as political one.

She's chatting about her cat, reading passages from Lynne Cheney's pot boiler and ignoring that the AAR show she's on (not her own) has a host who, right in front of her, is making homophobic 'jokes' and Laura's not uttering a peep of objection. But maybe when you a lesbian trying to go back in the closet and pass for straight, you don't utter a peep?

Laura is miserable and it so obvious in her writing as she is consumed with envy over the Tea Party and can never find another story. I don't know what it with people like her?

She lied, cheated and whored to get Barack the nomination. He ended up elected. But there was never any happiness among Laura and her ilk. Maybe because they were shamed by what they'd done. Deploying sexism against Hillary when you claim you're a feminist? Laura did it. Went on KPFA to mock Hillary's laugh as a "cackle" long after even Chris Matthews had to step away from that sexism. Went on KPFA and 'forgot' to inform the listeners -- many who hadn't heard her since she left the Bay Area -- that she had endorsed Barack and wasn't an independent analyst. The thing with Laura is that you really can't trust her. In the summer of 2008, she let slip that she voted for Ralph Nader in 2004. Nothing wrong with that unless you've cheerleaded and endorsed John Kerry -- which she had. In fact, many AAR listeners 'bonded' with her the night of the election when, after Kerry's loss, Laura ended up with a rare weekday gig, the overnight shift and in it, she bemoaned Kerry's loss and pretended to know just how disappointed the listeners were and . . . Never informed them, "Hey, I didn't even vote for Kerry!" That's where it's a problem. When you self-present as a Kerry supporter and didn't even vote for him that leads to charges of fraud and fake.

And maybe that wears on her? You can't read her today without grasping how consumed with disappointment and envy she is. And maybe that's what whoring brings? She's still whoring. Laura our supposedly pro-choice Socialist is praising anti-choice Tim Kaine as "savvy" in her so-called WikiLeaks column. There's no ass she won't kiss.

But she's kidding herself that she wrote about WikiLeaks. She authored another angry outburst of envy over the Tea Party. That's apparently all she's now capable of. Jealousy consumes her. And it trashes whatever strong qualities she might still have.

We'll note this from IPA:

Stieber is a veteran of the Bravo Company documented in the video "Collateral Murder," released earlier this year by WikiLeaks.

The British Telegraph reports: "An American military legal adviser told helicopter crew that Iraqi men were valid targets as they could not surrender to aircraft, the documents show.

"The Apache helicopter killed the two insurgents after being told that they were still legitimate targets even though they were offering to lay down their arms.

"It is thought that the aircraft, Crazyhorse 18, was the same helicopter involved in the killing of two Reuters journalists later in the war."

Stieber said today: "We've been trying even before the initial WikiLeaks video came out to say that this kind of behavior is not out of the ordinary. The fact that the helicopter unit got the go-ahead to kill Iraqis attempting to surrender shows that it's policy."

He is a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, which just released a statement on the Iraq War Logs, "A Call for Accountability".

Last week Stieber wrote the piece "Iraq Vet to Congress: Don't Cover Up Wikileaks' Iraq Revelations."

The Guardian reports: "U.S. and UK officials have insisted that no official record of civilian casualties exists but the logs record 66,081 non-combatant deaths out of a total of 109,000 fatalities."

Jarrar, recently back from Iraq, is an Iraqi-American blogger, political analyst and architect. He was in Iraq during the 2003 invasion where he established and directed the first door-to-door civilian casualties survey in Iraq. He said today: "These documents provide us with candid snapshots of what foreign military occupations look like where Iraqis are killed, injured and tortured. Contrary to the spin many are attempting to put on the disclosure, the take-away point is not that the U.S. just stood there while Iraqis harmed other Iraqis, but that this military occupation has been brutal and destructive, and that it must end now."

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Turning to Iraq, March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board noted in August, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality." 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. In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. It's seven months and twenty-one days and still counting.

Margaret Griffis ( reports

Nechirvan Barzani, deputy chairman of Iraq’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), traveled to Ankara and met with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to discuss the formation of the new Iraqi government. The Kurds will likely side with Maliki, but U.S. pressure has delayed an official announcement. Meanwhile, Jordan’s King Abdullah II met with Iraqiya’s leader, Ayad Allawi, and called for a quick resolution to the seven-month-long deadlock.

And we close with this from Sherwood Ross' "New Book By Innocent Prisoner Shows Torture Was Widespread" (Veterans Today):

Although U.S. officials have attributed the torture of Muslim prisoners in their custody to a handful of maverick guards, in fact such criminal acts were widely perpetrated and systemic, likely involving large numbers of military personnel, a book by a survivor suggests. Additionally, guards were responsible for countless acts of murder, including death by crucifixion, lynching, poisoning, snakebite, withholding of medicines, starvation, and bludgeoning of innocent victims. And the murders committed by U.S. troops numbered at least in the hundreds, according to reliable sources.

As well, Pentagon architects designed prisons that were sadistic torture chambers in themselves, barely six feet high and seven feet wide, in which human beings were kept for months or years at a time---spaces which, one prisoner noted, are smaller than the legal requirements in Germany for doghouses. Architects who knowingly designed these hellholes may have also committed crimes against humanity.

After the photographs of sadism at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib in May, 2004, shocked the world, President Bush called the revelations “a stain on our country’s honor and our country’s reputation.” He told visiting King Abdullah of Jordan in the Oval Office that “I was sorry for the humiliation suffered by the Iraqi prisoners, and the humiliation suffered by their families.” Bush told The Washington Post, “I told him (Abdullah) I was equally sorry that people who have been seeing those pictures didn’t understand the true nature and heart of America.” A year later, Lynddie England and 10 others from the 372nd Military Police Company were convicted of torture at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad, Iraq, yet the events of that prison were likely duplicated everywhere across the spectrum of Pentagon and CIA detention camps acting on orders from the Bush White House.

Although President Bush made the Abu Ghraib revelations sound like nothing worse than “humiliation” in fact, the Abu Ghraib photos gave the world a glimpse into far greater crimes of every sordid type---and reports compiled from other sources indicated that to be captured by the Americans was a veritable descent into hell.

While the President’s words sounded as if they came from an innocent bystander, this was the same man who claimed two years earlier the Geneva Conventions did not apply in the countries the U.S. had invaded; they were uttered by the man who, with his Vice PresIdent Dick Cheney, is primarily responsible for the entire venomous persecution of thousands of innocent men, women, and even children. While a handful of guards such as Ms. England---notorious for her “thumbs up” photo observing a human pyramid of naked prisoners, were convicted and jailed---the many other hundreds or thousands of military guards, interrogators, and doctors and dentists also involved in the widespread tortures have never been prosecuted for their crimes.

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