Wednesday, November 24, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, as do the lies of war, the political stalemate continues, the corruption continues, the US governmneet continues to target activists, and more.
Myra MacPherson wrote:
"There was increased reliance at home and abroad on suppression by force and an increasingly arrogant determination to 'go it alone' in the world." This was not written when George W. Bush ignored the United Nations, colleagues, international treaties, and advice of allies and started a war but by Stone during Cold War escalation.
"All governments are run by liars . . ." This was not about the weapons of mass destruction or subsequent other Iraq War lies but those told during the Vietnam War.
That's from the foreword to her much lauded 2006 book All Governments Lie! The Life and Times of Rebel Journalist I.F. Stone. All governments lie. And continue to lie. And then lie some more. Lies started the illegal war. Lies continue it today. UPI noted that day that the handover of a Basra airbase was the UK "formally ending its Iraq mission." But it wasn't the end. In that day's snapshot (where it's noted it's not the end) the most telling detail may have been CNN reporting that England was the location for a meet-up between then-UK prime minister Gordon Brown and then-Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki where they "discussed opening Iraq up to more investment opportunities." There's actual withdrawal and there's faux actions designed to confuse the public and tamp down on outrage.
Sam Marsden (PA) reports, "Most of the 150 British troops still serving in Iraq are set to be brought home next spring, the military said today." That's reported today and it's probably confusing to some since the British 'withdrew' some time ago. April 30, 2009, BBC News offered video and proclaimed, "A ceremony has been held in Basra to mark the official end of the six-year British military mission in Iraq."
Land of snap decisions
Land of short attention spans
Nothing is savored
Long enough to really understand
In every culture in decline
The watchful ones among the slaves
Know all that is genuine will be
Scorned and conned and cast away
-- "Dog Eat Dog," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on her album of the same title
Lies and liars keep the illegal wars going. All governments lie, stated I.F. Stone though the useless whores among us -- such as Katrina vanden Heuvel -- insist there must be some sort of an exception for St. Barack of Obscurantism. There are no exceptions and there has been no end to the Iraq War.
It hasn't ended but it has created the region's largest refugee crisis. It's done that by targeting the vulnerable which can be defined as all the Iraqi people who were not among the select group of Shi'ite exiles plotting the illegal war before the start of it and then rewarded by being put in charge of Iraq by the occupying powers. These thugs also sometimes protect their 'followers' (muscle; goon squads). Everyone else has a target drawn on their backs. Maybe they're part of Iraq's LGBT community? Or maybe they're just thought to be part of it. That's enough to be kidnapped and murdered by the thugs the US and the UK put in charge of Iraq. Or maybe you're a doctor or a professor? That's enough to have your name on the targeted list. Shi'ite exiles really can't re-write history and present themselves as brave warriors for their country as long as academic pursuit isn't controlled or intimidated by them. Or maybe you're part of Iraq's religious minority which also includes the Sunni population. Or maybe you're a part of any of that or none of that because you're a woman? Women are among the most victimized in Iraq. First thing the thugs did once installed was take a country that had long had equality written into the law and instead attack the rights of women.
All governments lie. Which is how Barack claimed Iraq was a success and something to be proud of in his August 31st speech. There's no denying it is a success for the criminals who plotted it -- both the exiles and the US and UK governments. It's not a success for the Iraqi people but Barack Obama is not of the people. From where he sneers down, it's a 'success.' But that's nothing to be proud of as the ongoing violence, destruction and genocides demonstrate.
Michaela Yule (Global Post) reports from Syria on the estimated 1.5 million who have sought asylum there including a young woman whose family left Iraq 3 years ago and who states, "Personally, I do not even have a slight hope that Iraq will recover. It is impossible because of greed, and the fact that everyone wants to have a piece of Iraq." Yule observes:
The Iraqi refugee crisis is currently the worst humanitarian crisis in the Middle East since the start of the Palestinian refugee crisis in 1948. An estimated 2.5 million Iraqis are displaced abroad, and an equal number are internally displaced. With little hope for immediate return, these displaced Iraqis live in a state of limbo, most unable either to return to their homes or settle in their new locations.
A very small number of Iraqi refugees have been accepted by the US and England -- despite both countries being the chief leaders of the march to illegal war. Those few allowed into the US often continue to struggle. Tara Bahrampour (Washington Post) reports on Manal Jafer and her family. She and her husband lived well in Baghdad prior to the start of the illegal war. He was a professor, she was a medical doctor. After the illegal war began, things changed. A fall 2003 home invasion left her husband dead and her wounded, she believes the stress from all the violence is what killed her teenage son. With her remaining three children, she went to Jordan and then to the US where the economy and the cheapness of the Bush administration -- which was continued by the Barack administration -- means that refugees are receiving a tiny and limited stipend and then on their own -- in a country where the real unemployment rate is estimated to be around at least 17.3% but officially at 9.6%. Meanwhile BBC News reports that the UK Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt has announced this week that England will continue deporting Iraqi refugees. Amnesty International issued the following:
Responding to comments from UK Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt, saying that the UK would continue to remove refused Iraqi asylum seekers to Baghdad, Amnesty International UK Refugee Programme Director Jan Shaw said:
"The UK should listen to the European Court of Human Rights and, like the Dutch authorities, suspend removals to Baghdad until it's safe.
"The authorities are, of course, entitled to remove people if they don't need international protection and it's safe to return them. But Iraq is still incredibly dangerous.
"Amnesty is opposed to all forcible removals to central and southern Iraq until the security situation improves considerably.
"The UK government knows full well that anyone applying to the European Court under 'Rule 39' will have their removal suspended. So effectively they are just trying to catch out anyone who doesn't know about this ruling, or who doesn't have decent legal representation. Sadly this still includes far too many people."
Also targeted are journalists. Can't successfully control the people without an intimidated press Sunday Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) reported Iraqi journalist Mazin al-Baghdadi was shot dead in front of his Mosul home. Jomana Karadsheh (CNN) added, "Gunmen in civilian clothing showed up at his home around 6 p.m. and identified themselves to his father as intelligence officers, the ministry official said. When al-Baghdadi exited to his house to speak with the men, they shot him. His family was looking on when the shooting occurred, according to the official, who described the journalist as young." The Committee to Protect Journalists issued a statement Monday which included:
Three armed men showed up at the journalist's house on Sunday at 6 p.m. and told al-Baghdadi's father they were with military intelligence and wanted to speak to his son. "They said that they need to see Mazen urgently," al-Baghdadi's father told the local press freedom group Society to Defending Press Freedom in Iraq. Al-Baghdadi's father summoned his son, and when he arrived home, the men opened fire. Two bullets to his head killed him immediately, the father said.
Al-Baghdadi was 18years old, according to news reports. He worked for Al-Mosuliya for the last seven months presenting two talk shows, "Sabah al-Kheir" (Good morning) and "Al-Mosul fi Isbou" (Mosul in a Week).
"We send our condolences to the friends and family of Mazen Mardan al-Baghdadi ," said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ's Middle East and North Africa Coordinator. "We call on Iraqi authorities to investigate the journalist's killing and explain whether military intelligence officers were involved in the murder."
The press freedom organization calls for a proper investigation that results in both the perpetrators and instigators being brought to justice. It would be regrettable if this case went unpunished, like 99 per cent of the 230 murders of journalists that have taken place since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003.
Without an exemplary trial, those who murder journalists will continue to sow terror among the media throughout the country. Guaranteeing the safety of civilians, including journalists, who have been particularly exposed to the violence in Iraq since 2003, is a major challenge for the government.
Irina Bokova, the Director-General of UNESCO, today condemned the murder of Iraqi journalist Mazen Mardan al-Baghdadi on 21 November in Mosul, northern Iraq.
"I condemn the killing of Mazen Mardan al-Baghdadi," said the Director-General. "In carrying out his professional duties, he helped to uphold the basic right of freedom of expression. I call on the authorities in Iraq to investigate this grave incident and bring the perpetrators to justice." Mazen Mardan al-Baghdadi was a reporter for Al-Mosuliya television. He was just 18 years old and had been working for the television station for the past seven months presenting two talk shows, "Sabah al-Kheir" (Good morning) and "Al-Mosul fi Isbou" (Mosul in a Week). Local reports suggest he was shot outside his home on Sunday 21 November. . Mazen Mardan al-Baghdadi is the fifth journalist to be killed in Iraq this year.
UNESCO is the only United Nations agency with a mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom. Article 1 of its Constitution requires the Organization to "further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion, by the Charter of the United Nations." To realize this the Organization is requested to "collaborate in the work of advancing the mutual knowledge and understanding of peoples, through all means of mass communication and to that end recommend such international agreements as may be necessary to promote the free flow of ideas by word and image…"
Earlier this week, Lara Jakes (AP) reported that while Iraq can no longer pay the benefits to widows and the poor because, according to Parliament Speaker Osama al-Nujafi, they don't have the money, MPs have each received over "$100,000 so far this year in salaries and stipends" even though they've only held four sessions all year. Jake Armstrong (Pasadena Weekly) adds, "$1 billion the Iraqi government had been using to pay benefits to widows, farm crops and welfare programs has been exhuasted, and Iraqi lawmakers -- who've collected $100,000 each for 4 days of work -- began demanding answers this week as to where the money had gone, the Associated Press reported." Where the money had gone? Corruption? Under Nouri al-Maliki?
"The Sunnis will soon be in the same position as the Palestinians," said Habshi's cousin Ibrahim Ahmed Rababshi, 42. "We will be pushed out, and we eventually won't have a single Sunni mosque left."
Nouri the thug. Determined to hold onto the post of prime minister. Nouri the US-installed thug who has both their backing and that of the Iranian government.
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. November 10th a power sharing deal resulted in the Parliament meeting for the second time and voting in a Speaker. And then Iraqiya felt double crossed on the deal and the bulk of their members stormed out of the Parliament. David Ignatius (Washington Post) explains, "The fragility of the coalition was dramatically obvious Thursday as members of the Iraqiya party, which represents Sunnis, walked out of Parliament, claiming that they were already being double-crossed by Maliki. Iraqi politics is always an exercise in brinkmanship, and the compromises unfortunately remain of the save-your-neck variety, rather than reflecting a deeper accord. " After that, Jalal Talabani was voted President of Iraq. Talabani then named Nouri as the prime minister-delegate. If Nouri can meet the conditions outlined in Article 76 of the Constitution (basically nominate ministers for each council and have Parliament vote to approve each one with a minimum of 163 votes each time and to vote for his council program) within thirty days, he becomes the prime minister. If not, Talabani must name another prime minister-delegate. . In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister-delegate. It took eight months and two days to name Nouri as prime minister-delegate. His first go-round, on April 22, 2006, his thirty day limit kicked in. May 20, 2006, he announced his cabinet -- sort of. Sort of because he didn't nominate a Minister of Defense, a Minister of Interior and a Minister of a National Security. This was accomplished, John F. Burns wrote in "For Some, a Last, Best Hope for U.S. Efforts in Iraq" (New York Times), only with "muscular" assistance from the Bush White House. Nouri declared he would be the Interior Ministry temporarily. Temporarily lasted until June 8, 2006. This was when the US was able to strong-arm, when they'd knocked out the other choice for prime minister (Ibrahim al-Jaafari) to install puppet Nouri and when they had over 100,000 troops on the ground in Iraq. Nouri had no competition. That's very different from today. The Constitution is very clear and it is doubtful his opponents -- including within his own alliance -- will look the other way if he can't fill all the posts in 30 days. As Leila Fadel (Washington Post) observes, "With the three top slots resolved, Maliki will now begin to distribute ministries and other top jobs, a process that has the potential to be as divisive as the initial phase of government formation." Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) points out, "Maliki now has 30 days to decide on cabinet posts - some of which will likely go to Iraqiya - and put together a full government. His governing coalition owes part of its existence to followers of hard-line cleric Muqtada al Sadr, leading Sunnis and others to believe that his government will be indebted to Iran." The stalemate ends when the country has a prime minister. It is now eight months, seventeen days and counting. Joseph A. Kechichian (Gulf News) observes:
What Washington failed to note was the gap that emerged between the Iraqi electorate and its supposed representatives. Indeed, eight months ago, Iraqis voted for nationalism and against sectarianism. In the words of one astute observer, they voted "for Iraqiya and not for Sunni Islamists, for the Da'awa party and not for the ultra-Shiite Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq".
Sadly, little of that nationalism was visible in the nascent government, as the same officials relied on sectarianism to allocate portfolios and begin to agree on political programmes. This is a disaster in the making. Iraqi leaders should draw clear lessons from Lebanon, where communal power sharing proved less than successful, and where the threat of division cannot be ruled out.
If Iraqi leaders opt for the zu'ama [leaders] formula that allow a few to rule over well-defined religious or ethnic groups, few should be surprised that Iraq will eventually be divided, an option that Biden endorsed a few years ago. If, on the other hand, Iraq is to stay a unified country, represented by elected officials beholden to their electorates, then we must all do something different to gradually replace ethno-religiosity with genuine representative politics.
Iraq is embarked on a long-term restructuring effort and its people want and deserve to have a transparent government where elected officials are "accountable." Like Lebanon, which is going through similar pains, Iraq needs men and women who wish to serve the nation. It does not need corrupt political elites who ignore their duties.
And as that takes place, the violence never ends. Xinhua reports, "The deadliest attack during the day was in the town of al- Sherqat, some 290 km north of Baghdad, when a twin roadside bomb explosions targeted a leader of a local Awakening Council group, killing three people and wounding 23 others, a local police source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity. The first blast struck the car of Hameed Hmiesh, the leader of the local paramilitary group, damaging his car and caused no casualties, the source said. Few minutes later, another roadside bomb went off targeted a crowd of people who gathered to look at the scene of the first blast, killing three and wounding 23 others, including some Sahwa members, the source said, adding that Hmiesh himself survived the double blasts unhurt." AFP reports, "In Bohruz, in the restive Diyala province of northeast Iraq, a state oil company employee was shot dead, security officials said." Reuters notes 1 police Lt Col was shot dead in Baghdad, 1 Housing and Construction Ministry worker was shot dead in Baghdad, 1 construction worker was shot dead in Mosul, a Baghdad sticky bombing claimed the life of Brig Gen Mohammed Hameed, a Baghdad roadside bombing injured two people and a Mosul roadside bombing injured two people. Saad Abdul-Kadir (AP) drops back to last night to note that 1 surgeon and 1 engineer were shot dead at Baghdad International Airport while 1 professor was shot dead in Baghdad.
The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) filed an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief on November 23, 2010 in the case of "the SHAC 7" – Kevin Kjonaas, Lauren Gazzola, Jacob Conroy, Joshua Harper, Andrew Stepanian, and Darius Fullmer v. United States of America, on petition for writ ofcertiorari to the United States Supreme Court.
The petitioners are animal rights activists associated with Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) who were sent to prison based solely on their ideological support for animal rights protests, as expressed on an advocacy-focused internet site. The online speech reported on and expressed support for the actions of third-party activists, including some acts of civil disobedience such as freeing beagles from the custody of the animal testing lab.
The brief asked the Court to clarify how longstanding First Amendment principles apply in blogs and internet websites, which are an important and developing aspect of our culture. Under traditional legal tests, criminal incitement and threats must be designed to evoke imminent unlawful action. But as the brief notes, "The nature of the internet — available to and aimed at a general audience rather than a specific target, reaching numbers unknowable to the speaker at the time the communication is made, and accessed over an unpredictable period of time — precludes application of traditional tests to establish the imminence and incitement needed to constitute a 'true threat.'"
The brief, written by attorneys Heidi Boghosian (NLG Director) and Prof. Zachary Wolfe (NLG National Vice President and chair of the Amicus Committee), explains that any appropriate framework must protect the right to engage in heightened political rhetoric on the internet such as practiced by the SHAC 7.
"The SHAC 7 case has broad implications for First Amendment jurisprudence," said Heidi Boghosian. "At issue is a website that disseminated information on animal welfare demonstrations and direct actions—the National Lawyers Guild does not believe that this kind of internet organizing rises to the level of proscribed speech."
The National Lawyers Guild, founded in 1937, is the oldest and largest public interest/human rights bar organization in the United States. Its headquarters are in New York and it has chapters in every state.
edition of Law and Disorder Radio (on WBAI Monday morning and around the country throughout the week) had an important segment where hosts Heidi Boghosian, Michael Ratner (click here for an ISR interview with Michael) and Michael S. Smith noted what to do when questioned by government agents. We noted it yesterday, it is important and we're going to note it again today:
Michael S. Smith: Heidi, congratulations, I'm holding in my hand this beautiful red and white and yellow pamphlet "You Have The Right To Remain Silent." Congratulations on getting this out. This National Lawyers Guild pamphlet is going to come in very handy.
Heidi Boghosian: Thanks, Michael, it's actually a Know Your Rights guide for law enforcement encounters and we designed it specifically so that it could fit in the rear pocket of someone's jeans or pants. It has basic know-your-rights information: what to do if the FBI comes to your door, what if you're not a citizen, I think there's something about rights at airports, if you're under 18. It's free of charge [to download] at www.nlg.org/ and if you want to get bulk amounts we will send you fifty free of charge and then we just ask for shipping & handling for orders above that.
Michael Ratner: It's interesting that it fits into your pocket because you know, Michael and I and you -- well you're not as old as us -- but when we used to give advice to people at demonstrations, we used to tell them to sew their pockets up so you couldn't plant -- the cops couldn't plant -- marijuana in their pockets. So you'd go to demonstrations with all your pockets sewn up. But at least -- Maybe they don't do that as much. You can carry this little book with you instead of writing the whole thing on your arm.
Heidi Boghosian: I'm speechless.
Michael S. Smith: She's speechless.
Heidi Boghosian: That's fascinating.
Michael Ratner: And about pockets, that's also interesting, my daughter once had to an assignment about clothes for boys or girls when she was a little girl. And, of course, what you notice is that girl's clothes have no pockets.
Heidi Boghosian: I know. I hate that.
Michael Ratner: It's terrible.
Heidi Boghosian: I only buy things with pockets.
Michael Ratner: And it's a weird sexual discrimination. Boys are supposed to carry all these things but girls --
Heidi Boghosian: I know they have to have a pocket book.
Michael Ratner: But back to the pocketing Guild pamphlet called?
Michael Ratner: Now Michael's going to say something about the substance of it.
Michael S. Smith: If you receive a subpeona call the NLG national office hotline at 888-NLG-ECOL I'll repeat 888-654-3265.
Michael Ratner: Or if the FBI starts to question you, don't answer even the first question. Just say "I don't want to speak to the FBI" or refer them to your lawyer. [laughing] And that's H-e-i-d -- No, no. But in any case, you should refer them to your lawyer or just say you're not talking to the FBI. And it's such a short little pamphlet, it's perfect for taking to demos, it doesn't have our basic position about the FBI which is: Once you start talking to the FBI or Homeland Security or any of these so-called law enforcement or police intelligence there's the potato chip example. Once you start eating potato chips, you can't stop. It's the same for talking. Heidi's waiving her arms.
Heidi Boghosian: Michael, that's a great point. And, in fact, we do have a section called "Standing Up For Free Speech." I just want to quote one sentence or two. "Informed resistance to these tactics and steadfast defense of your and others' rights can bring positive results. Each person who takes a courageous stand makes future resistance to government oppression easier for all." So just to remind listeners, if you'd like a copy or multiple copies, it's called "You Have The Right To Remain Silent: A Know Your Rights Guide For Law Enforcement Encounters" and it's available through the National Lawyers Guild, www.nlg.org/.
Finally, tomorrow's Thanksgiving in the US. Some families have way more to deal with than anyone ever should. Rosie and Leroy Torres have to spend their time fighting for the care and treatment Leroy needs, the treatment Leroy's owed by the US government which was happy to deploy him to Iraq but has refused to grant him the treatment that he needs:
My husband, Captain Leroy Torres from Robstown, Texas serves a dual role to his community as a State Trooper and as a Captain for the U.S. Army Reserve for 21 years. In 2007 he was deployed for one year to Camp Anaconda in Balad, Iraq where the largest burn pit is located. He initially became ill with upper respiratory infections and flulike symptoms during his tour at Camp Anaconda. Upon his return he was diagnosedwith Bronchitis, upper respiratory infections, and "Iraqi Crud" by various healthcarefacilities to include private sector, Department Of Defense (BAMC & Wilford Hall) andDepartment Of Veteran Affairs (Audie Murphy & CBOC). The VA and DOD's negligenceand refusal to provide the proper testing left Leroy with the VA stating his diagnosis of "unknown etiology with dyspnea." The DOD failed to deliver test results and follow-up care. This year our Thanksgiving holiday will not be celebrated with our children, instead we will be spending our Thanksgiving on the road after seeking specialized medical care forillness resulting from exposures to environmental hazardous toxins and chemicals fromthe burn pit. Two years and over 25 medical visits later, both DOD and VA continue todeny a chemically induced connection between his service and illness. In desperation we had to seek specialized medical care at our own expense from Dr. Miller and Dr. Lambright at Vanderbilt University Hospital in Tennessee. After anexhausting 24 months seeking answers in less than one week doctors at Vanderbilt wereable to test and confirm a diagnosis of Constrictive Bronchiolitis due to toxic inhalationfrom the burn pit. The emotional and financial expense to our family has been devastating. We have been forced to take FMLA. Our children have been ripped from our lives forcing us torelocate them with various family members across the state causing us to choosebetween our children and healthcare. Sadly our story is not the first or the last, thousands of soldiers and their families that have selflessly served our country are battling the same war of accessing specializedhealthcare for chemically induced illnesses from the burn pits in the battlefield.