Saturday, December 25, 2010

The buried realities

More than nine and a half months after Iraqis went to the polls in a credible parliamentary election, Nouri Al Maliki secured confirmation of an “inclusive” government comprised of Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds. However, during the over-long period of gestation, the process of forming the government lost credibility.
Furthermore, the government itself has little credibility because it is comprised of faction figures nominated just 24 hours before Maliki announced his line-up rather than competent technocrats who could solve Iraq’s many urgent problems. Maliki’s cabinet has 42 ministries but he could make firm appointments to only 29 posts because of factional bickering.
Ten portfolios are temporary while Maliki retains the sensitive ministries of defence, interior and national security until agreement can be made on permanent candidates for these ministries. This means the jockeying for position and power continues while Iraqis suffer from insecurity, unemployment, lack of electricity, and inadequate services.

The above is from the Irish Times' Michael Jansen's "Questions over credibility" (Gulf Today). Jansen's long covered Iraq and offers the best assessment thus far. Global Post adds, "Meantime, seven years after the U.S.-led invasion, the deplorable state of public services, especially electricity, remains a top concern. Severe power rationing remains routine and sparked deadly protests during the summer as temperatures soared above 120 degrees across central and southern Iraq." AKnews reports one effort to address the lack of improvements: The Parliament has a (binding? non-binding?) new set of rules wherein MPs who do not attend sessions will not be paid the US equivalent of $400.

Binding or non-binding, it's a joke. Last month, Barbara Surk (AP) reported that the MPs received $90,000 per diem and $22,500 per month. If an MP missed every session and there was at least one session a week? They'd be out $20,000. Less than one month's pay. Some 'action.'

Meanwhile Judith at Papillon Web examines recent press coverage and offers, "This same week the Iraqi government finally claimed to form a government. First The New York Times gives us 'Cleric's Anti-U.S. Forces Poised for Gains in Iraq'. They point out that al-Sadr's militia has gone straight and joined politics. Even so, they adamantly oppose the U.S. Forces in Iraq. The Times is concerned that the al-Sadr faction of the government might be strong enough to sway Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The next day The New York Times tells us that, due to the fragmentation of the Iraqi parliament, al-Maliki is unlikely to be overruled. Better yet, The Washington Post has 'Maliki's governing style raises questions about future of Iraq's fragile democracy'. They say pranksters put up posters in Baghdad of Mr. Al-Maliki that resemble the ones of Saddam Hussein prior to the American occupation. So is it just a disgruntled opposition or are we about to complete the circle in Iraq?"

Aaron Glantz covers Bradly Manning in Sunday's New York Times. Background on
Bradley Manning. Monday April 5th, WikiLeaks released US military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Monday June 7th, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported in August that Manning had been charged -- "two charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The first encompasses four counts of violating Army regulations by transferring classified information to his personal computer between November and May and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system. The second comprises eight counts of violating federal laws governing the handling of classified information." Manning has been convicted in the public square despite the fact that he's been convicted in no state and has made no public statements -- despite any claims otherwise, he has made no public statements. Manning is now at Quantico in Virginia, under military lock and key and still not allowed to speak to the press. Paul Courson (CNN) notes Bradley is a suspect and, "He has not admitted guilt in either incident, his supporters say." Daniel Ellsberg needs to figure out what the deal is before he opens his mouth next. I not in the damn mood. In the Glantz article, Ellsberg is again putting forward the notion that Bradley is guilty. Daniel knows no such thing and needs to shut the hell up. Is Daniel working for the government now? He's certainly not working for Bradley's family. Bradley's family has not gone to the press. So who the hell is Daniel Ellsberg to convict Bradley in the court of public opinion. He's been acting crazy for some weeks now and maybe he's exhausted at his age or maybe he's like a dog being flashed a ball and can't figure out who's side he's on? Is he on Julian Assange's side? Making ridiculous comments that we are all Julian Assange? Uh, no, we're not. And as even Greg Palast has noted, Julian Assange is a glory hog who's taken bows for things he doesn't deserve to take bows for, he's shown no bravery at all.

Glantz' article normally wouldn't be linked to because we're not in the mood for liars -- that now includes Daniel Ellsberg -- who advance that (a) Bradley's guilty and that (b) a snitch -- professional snitch, well paid by the government and apparently no one wants to troll through those bank record -- who alters the alleged online conversation he allegedly had with Bradley is someone you bank trust in. Oh, no, not unless you're a government prosecutor do you do that.

I like Daniel but he needs to get his act together and his hurt feelings aren't my concern. Bradley's my concern. Bradley's either guilty or innocent. He's supposed to have the presumption of innocence under the US legal system but 'supporters' like Daniel Ellsberg refuse to give him that.

Glantz article is at its strongest in this section:

The lack of clarity surrounding Private Manning's involvement has made building public support a challenge, even in friendly forums like the Berkeley City Council, which last week declined to back a measure calling Private Manning a hero.
Robert Meola, an activist who drafted the resolution as chairman of Berkeley's Peace and Justice Commission, said he would fight for Private Manning.
"If he didn't do it, then he’s in pretrial confinement in isolation for several months, and he should be freed," Mr. Meola said.

I'm not sure how to judge the opening. It strikes me as rather weak but possibly that's how you tiptoe into an issue. Glantz tiptoes in with the fact that WikiLeaks is not financially supporting Bradley. He leaves out the fact that Julian Assange has spent months stating that WikiLeaks was financially supporting Bradley's defense, that Assange grandstanded over that and looked saintly because of it, that Assange would insist that even though they (WikiLeaks) have no idea who leaked the information to them, they would support Bradley.

That little act?

It went a long way towards making Julian Assange appear brave, fair and kind. Turns out it was all theatrics. Never once did WikiLeaks give a dime to Bradley's defense.

That's been noted by a few websites (including this one) this month but not by enough -- especially when you consider that news outlets repeatedly promoted the Assange's claim that WikiLeaks was financially supporting Bradley's defense.

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