Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Iraq snapshot

Wednesday, December 8, 2010.  Chaos and violence continue, Tony Blair's recalled to the witness table, the cabinet posts continue to be a sticky point in Iraq, the Naomi Wolf attacks of yesterday get strongly called out, but a sexual harasser and a CIA spook still find time to be trashy and smutty on the public airwaves, and more.
Starting with news from England, Al Jazeera reports, "Tony Blair, the former British prime minister, has been recalled to a public inquiry into the Iraq war to give more evidence about the conflict. John Chilcot, the chairman of the London-based inquiry, said on Wednesday that Blair, who took Britain into the 2003 conflict, was among 12 people who had been asked to make a second appearance." Richard Norton-Taylor (Guardian) adds, "Blair will give evidence between 18 January and 4 February next year along with Admiral Lord Boyce, the former chief of the defence staff, and Jack Straw, the former foreign secretary.  Three successive cabinet secretaries who operated at the heart of Whitehall will also be called.  Members of the Chilcot panel are believed to be concerned about the revelation in documents released in June that the former prime minister was warned by his government's chief law officer that an invasion of Iraq would be illegal the day before he privately assured George Bush he would support US-led military action." CNN notes that in his testimony thus far, Blair "insisted that the invasion was lawful, based on U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441.  Many critics of the invasion said at the time that a further resolution would be needed to authorize war."  Peter Biles (BBC News) offers, "Professor Michael Clarke, Director of the Royal United Services Institute in London, says Mr Blair may be nervous about a second appearance as it appeared he was on the first occasion." In this press release, the Inquiry lists who they are recalling and offers a list of some of the people who have provided written testimony and states that some of the written testimony will be published. Chris Ames (Iraq Inquiry Digest) quotes Chilcot stating in the press release, "As we draft our report it is clear that there are some areas where we need further detail. We will, therefore, be seeking further evidence on those matters." Ames then adds, "It is not clear whether this backtracking represents a climbdown, an attempt to avoid embarrassment or an attempt to take the heat out of the situation that is expected to be highly charged because the Panel are determined to ask some challenging questions."
From fumbling attempts at justice to fumbling attempts at government building, Alsumaria TV reports: "Iraqi Prime Minister-designate Nuri Al Maliki warned that any change in the agreements reached, during talks with Kurdistan Leader Massoud Barazani would delay the formation of a national policy council." Nouri's in a panic because the power-sharing agreement is facing some tension. Ayad Allawi's stating he may pull out of the agreement, his political slate Iraqiya has said that Nouri needs to nominate "rival parties" to his cabinet and now Hemin Baban (Rudaw) reports that, according to Kurdish MP Mahmoud Osman, the Kurds have informed Nouri that they expect to be granted "six ministerial portfolios in the new cabinet." For those late to the party, to form the power-sharing agreement, Nouri just promised cabinet posts . . . . repeatedly. To the point that he promised more than exist. So now he's inventing posts. Of course, invented posts don't necessarily come with real duties and powers and it's a bit of rough waters for Nouri right now. Not surprisingly, Alsumaria TV explains, "Iraqi Prime Minister-designate Nuri Al Maliki warned that any change in the agreements reached during talks with Kurdistan Leader Massoud Barazani would delay the formation of a national policy council." That statement sounds a lot like Nouri's laying the case for "I'm still designate even if I can't meet the rules outlined by the Constitution in the Constitutionally mandated 30 days!"

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 Natioanl 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 nine months and counting. Thursday November 25th, Nouri was finally 'officially' named prime minister-designate. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) explained, "In 30 days, he is to present his cabinet to parliament or lose the nomination." Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) added, "Even if Mr. Maliki meets the 30-day deadline in late December -- which is not a certainty, given the chronic disregard for legal deadlines in Iraqi politics -- the country will have spent more than nine months under a caretaker government without a functioning legislature. Many of Iraq's most critical needs -- from basic services to investment -- have remained unaddressed throughout the impasse." Jane Arraf (Al Jazeera) offered, "He has an extremely difficult task ahed of him, these next 30 days are going to be a very tough sell for all of these parties that all want something very important in this government. It took a record eight months to actually come up with this coalition, but now what al-Maliki has to do is put all those people in the competing positions that backed him into slots in the government and he has a month to day that from today."
Sami Moubayed (Asia Times) notes the competition and jockeying for cabinet posts with the Iraqi National Alliance promised the post of Foreign Affairs Minister which has instead gone to the Kurds while Iraqiya wants "the Ministries of Finance, Muncipalities, and Agriculture.  It is also eyeing the Ministry of Industry and Youth Affairs, given that the powerful Ministry of Oil will seemingly go to INA. No agreement has been reached as of the weekend on the less powerful, but very strategic, Ministry of Housing.  Additional posts in debate are non-ministerial ones that nevertheless are crucial, like governor of the central bank and director of Iraqi intelligence." Today Anna Mulrine (Christian Science Monitor) quotes the US State Dept's Jeffrey Feltman declaring "at least five more years" of US occupation will be needed for Iraq to be "truly self-reliant."
Moving over to the topic of daily violence (as opposed to institutionalized), Xiong Tong (Xinhua) reports a Taji car bombing today has claimed 1 life and left seventeen more people killed. Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) counts twelve wounded in that bombing and notes a Baghdad roadside bombing has left seven people injured -- pilgrims headed to "Karbala to visit the Imam Hussein Shrine there." Alsumaria TV adds that a Baghad home invasion of a police officer's home resulted in four of his family members being injured last night. Reuters notes the death toll in the Taiji car bombing has climbed to two, that a Baghdad roadside bombing last night left two police officers injured and a Tarmiya attack "on the home of a lieutenant colonel in the Iraqi interior ministry" with his daughter being killed and two more family members being left injured.
Turning to the topic of WikiLeaks, at Chatham Daily News, Bruce Corcoran takes on the notion that WikiLeaks' releases are just 'wrong' during war:

How about the Iraq War? U.S. troops have been there since 2003, 93 long months. This "war" has gone on longer than the Second World War. What's worse, it was a contrived affair. Remember the clamour over weapons of mass destruction? That was the reason behind the invasion. Sure, the U.S. found Saddam Hussein hiding in a rat hole, but they never found those WMDs.
And yet young U.S. soldiers are still dying over there, nearly four years after Hussein's arrest, trial and execution.
If we Westerners are still at "war," perhaps a few governments need to come clean on why. By leaving troops to occupy Islamic countries for such long stretches, our prime ministers and presidents in the West have been the lead recruiters to the very terrorist organizations they've been striving to stamp out.
Had the U.S. acted with surgical precision in Iraq, getting Saddam and getting the heck out, Iraq wouldn't have turned into the al-Qaida hotbed it is today. By lingering, the U.S. turned supporters, and those who were just happy to see Saddam ousted, against them.
Julian Assange remains in the news. He is part of WikiLeaks, he is not WikiLeaks. He is currently facing charges. Hopefully, he's innocent. If not, that will come out as well. As noted in yesterday's snapshot, non-feminist Naomi Wolf launched an attack on the two women who have filed charges.  I really didn't plan to go into the Naomi Wolf -- and others --  garbage of attacking women who charge rape and sexual assault.  Then a friend at KPFA called to inform that Dennis Bernstein -- who's repeatedly faced sexual harassment charges (KPFA news department's Aileen Alfandary: "Bernstein has an unfortunate history of abusive behavior toward his co-workers that has cost KPFA six-figure sums in court proceedings and union grievance arbitrations. One sexual harassment settlement alone cost KPFA $250,000.") -- and Ray McGovern were not just implying the women liars and CIA assets, they were laughing at the women yesterday on KPFA's Flashpoints. Click here for the archived broadcast which disappears quicker than whatever brain Ray McGovern once had.  Before we get to the distortions offered on air, let's note that Dennis has a history of sexual harassment and blaming victims.  And let's quote this from Caroline Davies and Sam Jones (Guardian) report on yesterday's courtroom appearance by Julian Assange:
The first complainant, a Miss A, said she was the victim of "unlawful coercion" on the night of 14 August in Stockholm. The court heard Assange was alleged to have "forcefully" held her arms and used his bodyweight to hold her down. The second charge alleged he "sexually molested" her by having sex without using a condom, when it was her "express wish" that one should be used.
A third charge claimed Assange "deliberately molested" Miss A on 18 August.
A fourth charge, relating to a Miss W, alleged that on 17 August, he "improperly exploited" the fact she was asleep to have sex with her without a condom.
That fourth charge?  That would be rape -- unless you were Tina Fey (who apparently finds that funny).  Rape would also be holding someone down for forceable sex.  These are serious charges.  Hopefully Assange is innocent.  He may or may not be.  Kate Harding (Salon) observes, "With no specific target for their suspicions and no easy way to find one, folks all over the blogosphere have been settling for the next best thing: making light of the sexual assault charges and smearing one of the alleged victims."  That was certainly what took place on Flashpoints yesterday.  And, for those who don't know, Ray was a rat at the CIA for years and presumably or allegedly left and is now a peace activist.  It's rather strange that Ray -- who made the CIA his life and has published no expose since leaving, -- would find "CIA asset" to be a damnable charge.  Presumably he worked with many in the past -- possibly, he still does today.  Flashpoints begins airing at 5:00 pm PST each week night.  So Ray was on -- live -- after 8:00 pm EST yesterday.  Remember that as he lies about what took place in court yesterday morning.
Ray McGovern: There have been no charges filed.  There've actually been no complaints.  All they want to do is interview Assange obstensibly at least from Sweden.  And yet they're unwilling to do that while he hung around there back last summer for several weeks. And now they're unwilling to do it by Skype or any other technical means. The idea, of course, is to get him to Stockholm where the Swedes have already acted as poodles on behalf of the United States government and he would automatically be shipped to -- if not Guantanamo at least back to the States where he would be subjected to the likes of of [Mick] Huckabee and [Newt] Gingrich and the others who want to put a bullet in his head.
Dennis Bernstein: We're hearing the word rape a lot, we're hearing  molestation a lot.  But you're saying there's no information.  So -- But the BBC, all the big news, the word is at the tip of the lip.
Ray McGovern: Well that's, you know, that's a successful covert operation. What you do is you accuse these people of that and then if your lucky, three quarters of the time Julian Assange is mentioned in the world press, the word "rape" or "rapist" is in the same sentence. Now [laughing] no one that I know was there.  But both of these women, uh, have said that this was consensual, they both gloated over having this conclest [C.I. note: He means "conquest."] after the fact.  The one who's charging him invited him to a big party the day after and then for some reason unbeknownst to us of course, now they're charging him with some sort of infraction where he didn't wear a condom or something like that. [.  . .] One of the ladies -- if that's the right word -- who is charging Assange is tied together with some pro-Free Cuba people, some of which are -- have been tied to the CIA back in the States and there's all very, very  -- It smells to high heaven and what -- The only thing -- I can't say shocks anymore, but surprises me -- uh, is the willingness of the formerly independent and neutral Swedes, the British and everybody else to sort of cowtow to the United States even when there's no law that's been broken in this country. [. . .] 
Dennis Bernstein: You were just making the point that there doesn't appear to be a major crime, I'm not saying it's not a serious thing not to use a condom but I'm trying to imagine how many men would be in jail this morning [Ray begins chorteling] if they didn't use a condom last night.
Ray McGovern: I'm not going to make a comment on that Dennis.  [Both pigs now guffaw and chortle.]
We used elipses because Ray McGovern's an idiot.  He really needs to stop speaking about what he doesn't know.  He's such a stupid ass moron.  One of the elipses indicates when he's talking about laws against "publishing" things and includes "divulging the names of the clandestine operatives."  There's no law on that.  He's a stupid idiot.  People who don't know the law shouldn't be able to speak.  Former CIA agent Philip Agee (now deceased) published the names of CIA agents.  George H.W. Bush tried to claim that someone was killed as a result.  He wanted to outlaw what Agee and the publisher had done.  He couldn't.  The press wouldn't stand for it.  What did happen was Congress passed the Intelligence Identities Protection Act in 1982 which made it illegal for someone working for the government to expose an undercover agent's identity.  That's why Robert Novak was never prosecuted in Plamegate.  Novak's article broke Valerie Plame's cover.  He committed no crime when he did that.  Ray McGovern doesn't know what the hell he's talking about but how he does blather on.
Now before we go further, let's note that the attacks are not just on those two women.  We've already quoted Kate Harding.  Failed reporter (and Lizz Winstead friend) David Ehrenstein is calling Kate a "bitch" at his website and insisting women aren't worthy of respect, "they have to earn it."  We're not linking to his garbage.  Maybe he'll collect it in another clip-job he passes off as a 'book'? We wouldn't link to that either.  For obvious reasons. We will link to and quote Jessica Valenti on this topic: "I'm fairly certain that Wolf would agree that 'having sex' with someone while they're asleep isn't sex at all, but rape.  And even if you're iffy on the consent/condom question, Jill at Feministe breaks it down for you.  Basically, if someone agrees to have sex with you with the condition that you use a condom, and then you remove said condom and continue the sex or if you continue the sex despite your partner's protestations -- that is straight up assault.  And I'm betting Wolf would agree with that as well." Anglofile notes a pattern, "I don't have time to do an in-depth post on this, given all my deadlines, but what I want to say is this: With this Julian Assange rape charge, many on the left-wing are showing their true colors once again re: women.  It's like Clinton vs. Obama all over again.  Some feminists are showing that their feminism doesn't extend to women who stand up to left-wing men like Assange (or Obama).  And some men who are supposedly feminist friendly are shrugging off these charges against Assange as being no big deal, even if they're true.  Because, you know, rape is only rape if a guy in a ski mask hides in a dark alley and attacks a woman walking by at knifepoint.  You can't actually rape a woman you know or a woman who has consented to have sex with you previously, as is the case with Assange.  That doesn't count!" And it is true.  We're seeing the same forces that attacked Hillary now attack the alleged victims.  And we know what these attacks on Hillary did, what they unleashed in this society.  But they want to play with fire again, these pigs who use sexism, and it's women who will suffer from it.  Which is why it was appalling to hear Naomi and others attack Hillary with sexism in 2008.  Long after Chris Matthews knew not to refer to Hillary's laugh as a cackle, Laura Flanders could be heard on KPFA doing that as an 'independent' debate 'analyst' (who 'forgot' to explain to listeners that she wasn't 'independent' and had endorsed Barack).  At The Nation, Laura's huffing about those that ignore rape and, no, it's not her confession piece for ignoring the gang-rape and murder of 14-year-old Abeer -- a true conspiracy with convictions on the count of conspiracy, something that landed several US service members in prison including Steven D. Green.  But Laura couldn't cover it.  She cares about rape . . . when she can use it for some other topic.  At least she doesn't trash the victims.  But she does huff, "But since when is Interpol [the investigative arm of the International Criminal Court at The Hague] so vigilant about violence against women? If women's security is suddenly Interpol's priority -- that's big news!" Since when?  Let's go to Mark Leon Goldberg (UN Dispatch):
One of Interpol's key responsibilities is coordinating a global police effort to combat transnational organized crime. And after drugs and arms smuggling, human trafficking is organized crime's most profitable outfit.  Accordingly, Interpol is the only international law enforcement organization with a large operation dedicated exclusively to busting human trafficking rings. Their operation to that end is pretty sophisticated. It involves criminal intelligence sharing among Interpol's member states and coordinating police action. Relatedly, some of Interpol's highest profile cases are related to busting international purveyors of child pornography.
Seems to me this is the kind of work that a prominant feminist ought to support, not mockingly dismiss.
Does that clear it up for you, Laura Flanders?  Who will clear it up for Juan O. Tamayo (Miami Herald) and since when does the Herald cite the works of people associated with claims that a race of super-lizards (which can mask as people -- such as George H.W. Bush -- and feed on the blood of young children -- hence all the missing children) controls the earth?  Tamayo is working from the product of at least one The-Lizards-Are-Among-Us! writers: "___'s Cuba connections were first reported Sept. 14 by CounterPunch, a liberal newsletter co-edited by Alexander Cockburn [C.I. note: Laura Flander's uncle who, by the way, would find "liberal" an insult], a steadfast critic of U.S. foreign policy."  The Miami Herald is okay with that? Sandra Cuffe (Vancouver Media Coop) does a lively -- and there are swear words so it's not work safe -- takedown of the crazies including the CounterPunch article:
To start off, how about taking a look at Counterpunch, since it is relatively well-known by progressive folks, and in particular, the article Assange Beseiged: Making a Mockery of the Real Crime of Rape by Israel Shamir and Paul Bennett. Calling the allegations "farcical rape charges," Shamir and Bennett write: "Julian Assange now stands accused of: (1) not calling a young woman the day after he had enjoyed a night with her, (2) asking her to pay for his bus ticket, (3) having unsafe sex, and (4) participating in two brief affairs in the course of one week."
Those are clearly not the accusations. Repeating irrelevant details, except perhaps for "having unsafe sex," comes across as dismissive and mocking. The inclusion of irrelevant information and the exclusion of relevant information is misleading and serves to discredit the woman alledging sexual assault.
Shamir and Bennett go on to elaborate on "her anti-Castro, pro-CIA streak" and that she "apparently indulges in her favorite sport of male-bashing," something they learned from a "Swedish forum" and then continued to discuss in detail. Wait, a forum as in a chat forum, right? So if I find some random chat forum online that talks about how Shamir and Bennett are evil warlocks and discusses how they apparently indulge in their favourite sport of infant-bashing, can I report it as fact and publish my piece on Counterpunch too?
Or what if I actually shared the source? Let's say that I checked out the May 2004 issue of Searchlight, a UK-based monthly print magazine against racism and fascism that has been around for 35 years. Let's say that I specifically read the article "Israeli Writer is Swedish Anti-Semite" by Tor Bach, Sven Johansen and Lise Apfelblum.
I know, the title kind of sounds like a conspiracy theory, but the well-researched article is actually about Counterpunch author Israel Shamir aka Joran Jermas. He changed his name to Jermas in 2001, roughly around the time he started publishing online under the name Israel Shamir. The Searchlight article breaks down Shamir/Jermas' own virulent anti-Semitism, but also his close connections to fascists and conspiracy theorists. Now, there's nothing wrong with having friends who are into shape-shifting lizards, but the article also details a series of lies told and written by Shamir/Jermas regarding his identity, residence, and former employment.
Kate Harding (Salon) also demolishes the CounterPunch article that the Miami Herald found so credible:
Actually, as far as I can tell, the only source for that claim is an August Counterpunch article by Assange fanboys (seriously, they recast him as Neo of "The Matrix") Israel Shamir and Paul Bennett. Here's the most damning evidence Shamir and Bennett have compiled against Assange's accuser:
1) She's published "anti-Castro diatribes" in a Swedish-language publication that, according to an Oslo professor, Michael Seltzer (who?), is "connected with Union Liberal Cubana led by Carlos Alberto Montaner," who reportedly has CIA ties. Let me repeat that: She has been published in a journal that is connected with a group that is led by a guy with CIA ties. Says this one guy.
2) "In Cuba she interacted with the feminist anti-Castro group Las damas de blanco (the Ladies in White). This group receives US government funds and the convicted anti-communist terrorist Luis Posada Carriles is a friend and supporter." That link goes to an English translation of a Spanish article noting that at a march last spring, Posada "wander[ed] unleashed and un-vaccinated along Calle Ocho in Miami, marching alongside" -- wait for it -- "Gloria Estefan in support of the so-called Ladies in White." Apparently, it's "an established fact" that Posada and the Ladies also share a shady benefactor, which means he should clearly be called a "friend" of the organization, and this is totally relevant to the rape charges against Julian Assange, because the accuser once interacted with them in some manner.
3) The accuser is a known feminist who once wrote a blog post about getting revenge on men, and "was involved in Gender Studies in Uppsala University, in charge of gender equality in the Students' Union, a junior inquisitor of sorts."
Are you kidding me? That's what we're basing the "CIA ties" meme on? An article that reads like a screenplay treatment by a college freshman who's terrified of women? Actual quote: "[T]he Matrix plays dirty and lets loose a sex bomb upon our intrepid Neo. When you can't contest the message, you smear the messenger. Sweden is tailor-made for sending a young man into a honey trap."
The ends do not justify the means.  You'd think Alexander, Laura, et al would grasp that after their efforts to get Barack into the White House via sexism not only encouraged sexism but gave the left a left-hating president.  The ends do not justify the means.  The two women could very well be lying, they could very well be telling the truth.  Hopefully, he's innocent. If not, that will come out as well.  Amy Siskind (The New Agenda) offers a takedown of Naomi Wolf's assault. Siskind writes a 'thank you' on behalf of rapists to Naomi and makes her point. Though she doesn't bring this up, I will. She also makes her point that she is a feminist. For those who've forgotten, in January 2009, Naomi and Amy were both on CNN with Naomi insisting Barack was a feminist and a 'gift' and we'd have a post-everything world. Pop another pill, Naomi. Naomi began whispering about conspiracies and offering slurs against Amy Siksind. Events tend to demonstrate what speechifying doesn't. In other words, Amy gets to hold her head high while Naomi's brought shame on herself and her supporters. Refer to Ann's "This rape survivor says: Naomi Wolf, go f**k yourself" from last night and we'll note this from the Center for Constitutional Rights:
Rights Group Alarmed By Legal Overreach

Assault Allegations Must Be Taken Seriously While Ensuring Process Not Manipulated for Political Reasons

December 7, 2010, New York – In response to the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange today, the Center for Constitutional Rights issued the following statement:
As a human rights organization, the Center for Constitutional Rights is alarmed by multiple examples of legal overreach and irregularities in the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, especially given concerns that they are meant to clear the way for Mr. Assange to be extradited to the U.S. via Sweden.
Standard procedure in these cases is to call in a suspect for interrogation, and he has offered on numerous occasions to cooperate with the authorities. Similarly, a suspect who has surrendered, having never gone into hiding or attempted to flee, would normally be allowed to post bail. Yet Mr. Assange has been arrested and denied bail.
Allegations like these should be taken seriously, and in this regard Assange has made every effort to cooperate in this matter. He should be afforded all due process, and steps should be taken to ensure that the investigation process is not manipulated for political reasons.
We are concerned that the United States may seek to punish Mr. Assange for his journalistic efforts at uncovering and exposing the truth underlying key world events exactly as other news media, including The New York Times, have done. The documents published by WikiLeaks are providing important information about significant government wrongdoing and serious human rights violations that must be addressed, rather than focusing entirely on punishing the messenger.
The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.
You can support Julian Assange without attacking women you haven't even heard from yet.  And if portions of the left continue to waive this through -- these attacks -- they better not whine when the man accused is some right winger and what they're doing to these two women is done to the woman accusing a right winger.  But, most importantly, the ends do not justify the means.  We all know right from wrong -- even Dennis Bernstein -- and those who ignore the boundaries and instead continue these cheap attacks are harming everyone but most of themselves.  Look at all the Barack groupies in Panhandle Media, for example, who have still not gotten their reputations or following back after whoring for Barack throughout 2008.
Stepping over to the topic of journalism in the US Franklin Foer has left The New Republic and Nick Summers (New York Observer) speaks with Iraq War veteran Scott Beauchamp who reported from Iraq for TNR only to have his article attacked and then watch as Foer refused to stand by the reporting:
"While I certainly wish him the best of luck with whatever he does next, I obviously still feel very strongly about how he defended me, my wife, himself and the magazine," Mr. Beauchamp wrote. "I feel like Frank Foer put my wife and I in an impossible situation."
Mr. Beauchamp is still stung by the magazine's having asked him and his wife, Ms. Reeve, to re-report his pieces after their accuracy was challenged—and then retracted them anyway.
"Fourth-rate milblogs got guys not only to Iraq, but to our base. And TNR couldn't do that?" he wrote. "I don't understand why TNR didn't send someone over. I don't understand why they took the army's word, when it was literally my battalion investigating itself, which makes no sense. ... [And] I don't understand how he wouldn't even offer any sort of apology after my first sergeant was convicted of murder, for executing Iraqis, during this same period."
Come again? It's true. Conservative bloggers had attacked Mr. Beauchamp for impugning the character of troops in his unit. In April 2009, Master Sergeant John Hatley was convicted of brutally executing four Iraqi prisoners. (Ms. Reeve wrote about the crimes here.)