Saturday, October 23, 2010

Daniel Ellsberg on Barack's "threats"

President Barack Obama's government handed over thousands of detainees to the Iraqi authorities, despite knowing there were hundreds of reports of alleged torture in Iraqi government facilities.
Washington was warned by the United Nations and many human rights organisations that torture was widespread in Iraqi detention centres. But the Bureau of Investigative Journalism can reveal the US's own troops informed their commanders of more than 1,300 claims of torture by Iraqi Security forces between 2005 and 2009.

The above is from Angus Stickler's "Obama administration handed over detainees despite reports of torture" (The Bureau of Investigative Journalism) and what was done is a crime, a clear crime, under international law. From the report:

Human rights organisations have expressed outrage at the revelations. Professor Novak, the UN Rapporteur on Torture told the Bureau: "If the United States forces handed over detainees to Iraqi jurisdiction, despite the fact that they were at serious risk of being subjected to torture, that is a violation of Article 3C of the Convention Against Torture of which the US is a signatory."
He said there should be a full and thorough investigation to ascertain whether any of the detainees handed over to the Iraqi authorities by the US have been abused.
"The burden of proof is on the US to prove that they can categorically state that the detainees they are handing over are not at risk of torture.There should be an investigation to look into the fate of those individuals to see whether they have been abused."

Other War Crimes? Stickler also offers "US Apache guns down surrendering insurgents" on a February 22, 2007 assault when insurgents outside Baghdad attempted to surrender, a US helicopter crew radioed that attempt but was given orders to kill the insurgents because "Lawyer stated they cannot surrender to aircraft." That is a War Crime. Military officials giving the orders should be court-martialed and drummed out of the US military with no benefits. War Criminals don't get to be on the public dole for years and years to come. Not only should those officials making that call and giving that order be court-martialed, this incident is documented. All military brass who saw this report should be immediately court-martialed for their refusal to live up to the code of conduct they swear to uphold and to instead cover up for War Crimes.

Jason Ditz ( reports, "Pentagon officials are, as always, struggling to find a common ground between downplaying the crimes revealed in nearly 400,000 new classified documents released yesterday by WikiLeaks while insisting that their revelation is a grave affront." WikiLeaks held a press conference today in London. We'll note one speaker.

Daniel Ellsberg: The threat being made by the Pentagon, as we read over the last few days, of warning newsmen to stand away from this material, to refuse to receive it and, if they do receive it, to return it seems absurd on its face. We're not dealing with the 7,000 pieces of paper, top secret pieces of paper, that comprised the Pentagon Papers. The Pentagon did make a demand to the New York Times that they return that pile of paper to the -- to the Pentagon. The Times refused until -- in fact, never did return it. And refused to stop the presses until a court order came down. But with cyber material, it's all over the world right now and in several papers right now, the demand seems absurd. I understand the reason for those words because they echo the words first used against me, the legal words of 18 USC 793, paragraphs D and E which for the first time used the so-called espionage act as if it were a kind of official secrets act that you have in Britain which simply criminalizes the release of any classified material to any unauthorized person. We don't have such a law. And the irony now is that President Obama in making these clear threats of applying this law to anybody who deals with this information including not only the journalists but the words apply to the people who read it and don't return it to the proper authorities actually. President Obama's threats are not entirely without credibility here because he has started as many prosecutions for leaks as all previous presidents put together. It's a small number. It's three. The last one is Bradley Manning. [C.I. note: The other two are Shamai Kedem Leibowitz of the FBI and Thomas Drake of the NSA.] That's small because we don't have an official secrets act. And prior to Bush and Obama, presidents took it for granted that any application of the espionage act was likely to be overthrown as unconstitutional in our First Amendment by the Supreme Court but we're now facing a different Supreme Court. And, after 9-11, Obama is making a new experiment on this issue which will really change the relationship of the press to sources very radically. As it is, any source, with or without this change in the law, who gave this kind of material -- 400,000 pages of documents, 800,000 pages of documents -- to WikiLeaks would have to know that they were facing a risk of being where Bradley Manning is right now, in prison, accused of these things. And we don't know, I don't know, who the source is. If the president should prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it is Bradley Manning, we can give him his unreserved admiration from us and thanks for what he did. But whomever did it, in fact, acted very appropriately in the course of deadly, stalemated war and which has one characteristic, by the way, in Iraq which isn't going to come out clearly in these 400,000 pages or in the discussion. And that is that the origins of war were clearly in the form of lying to the publics of Britain and America in order to carry on a clearly illegal crime against the peace, a war of aggression. So all of these civilian casualties are killed in a war of aggression. We won't have to say also the non-civilian casualties reported here are in the role of fighting against foreign occupiers, invaders, by the standards of the world, the question is raised very much whether their death by the invader is not also to be counted among the murders?

You can view portions of the press conference at World Can't Wait and Press TV's YouTube channel. And you can stream it in full at CSpan. At the press conference, Public Interest Lawyers' Phil Shiner states the documents indicate that US and UK forces looked the other way on torture which is a violation of international law and that the two had "a very clear legal responsibility". UN Special Rappoteur called on Barack to launch an investigation into whether or not the Us was complicit in torture. Tara Kelly (Time magazine) reports on the press conference here.

Sabrina Tavernise (New York Times) reports her impressions of the documents in an analysis:

The reports read like nightmares. In January 2005, a human head was thrown from an Opel Omega into the Mufrek traffic circle in the city of Baquba. The next month, 47 workers from a brick factory were found murdered north of Baghdad. One report noted that a discovery of six bodies at a sewage treatment plant in Baghdad was the third such episode at the same plant in recent weeks. Later during that month, there were also two more similar discoveries there. All the bodies had gunshot wounds to the head. Read the Document »

The Pentagon was slow to acknowledge what had become abundantly clear on the ground -- that Iraq had sunk into sectarian war. The military began to release partial civilian casualty figures in 2005 under pressure from Congress. The word "sect" appears only 12 times in the archive in 2005, the year that systematic cleansing began. Corpses that were surfacing in garbage dumps, rivers and empty lots were blandly categorized as a "criminal event" and seem to have been given about as much importance as traffic accidents. Read the Document »

For many of the years that the documents cover, Tavernise was stationed in Baghdad. Her arrival in Iraq coincides with better coverage from the paper and, no, that wasn't a coincidence. She's one of the unsung heroes of the coverage, someone who broke from the Times' Go-Go Boy coverage of never speak to an Iraqi woman and never trust an Iraqi source to instead actually begin to put a human face on the millions of Iraqis.

In other words, she didn't spend a week in Paris eating every meal at McDonalds.

She's long finished covering Iraq (more recently she covered Afghanistan) so we'll note her accomplishments in bring the humanity into the Times' coverage. Another Times' journalist who has moved on from Iraq is Joao Silva. His photographs have illustrated (and often saved) many a Times' article filed in Iraq -- for example, in the Let's-Meet-The-Awakenings nonsense of 2007, it was Silva's photographs that told the larger truths. Today, the New York Times reports at their blog, Silva -- who has been covering Afghanistan -- was injured after stepping on a land mine.

Chris Floyd (via World Can't Wait) offers
his analysis which includes:

It should also be ntoed that many of the Iraqi "interrogation techniques" noted above have also featured systematically in the American gulag during the Bush-Obama years. In fact, we know that there is a trove of photographic evidence of rapes and tortures that have been seen by top American elected officials, including members of Congress, who talked openly of how sickening these documented atrocities were. Yet this evidence is still being withheld from the American people -- at the express order of Barack Obama, and the connivance of his fellow militarists in Congress.
Speaking of the Peace Laureate, the Wikileaks document show that these countenanced and/or winked-at atrocities by the American-installed structure in Iraq are still going on today. They are not just relics of the bad old Bush years:
And it does continue. With no effective constraint, the logs show, the use of violence has remained embedded in the everyday practice of Iraqi security, with recurrent incidents up to last December. Most often, the abuse is a standard operating procedure in search of a confession, whether true or false. One of the leaked logs has a detainee being beaten with chains, cables and fists and then confessing to involvement in killing six people because "the torture was too much for him to handle".

Al Jazeera offers this video report:

Le Monde (with AFP) reports that the release has led Geoff Morrell (Pentagon flack) and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to grumble dire warnings (they're both making asses of themselves and should cease and desist) with Geoff Morrell demanding the "return of the stolen documents" and that they be "withdrawn[n]" from websites. Le Monde notes that the puppets in Iraq rushed to back up the US repeating the party line of nothing of "any surprise" -- but while Nouri's spokesperson couldn't shut up about 'everyone already knows' about American abuses, he refused to answer any questions about the abuses and torture carried out by Iraqi forces and officials put forward in the documents.

Christian Science Monitor's Jane Arraf and McClatchy Newspapers' Mohammed al Dulaimy team up (link goes to Miami Herald) to report:

In a statement Saturday, al-Maliki's office said the timing of the leaks was questionable, implying that it was motivated by his political enemies. The Shiite prime minister has struggled for the past seven months to keep his job, demanding a recount of votes that left him two seats behind his nearest rival and now trying to patch together a coalition government.
The statement said the documentation of killings by private U.S. security contractors such as Blackwater, accused of a shooting spree that killed 17 civilians in 2007 in an incident that became a symbol of American brutality, could be used in court cases against the company, now called Xe Service.

Salam Faraj (Brisbane Times) gets to heart of the matter:

Al-Jazeera television said the leaked papers included US Army reports about Maliki "and allegations of his association with death squads".
Maliki, who is fighting to form a new government and remain in power for a second term after inconclusive elections in March, said security forces had always acted on the orders of the judiciary, not his office.
After coming to power in 2006, he created security units loyal to him that Iraqis referred to as "dirty forces" for their heavy-handed treatment of suspects and detainees.
The Maliki statement acknowledged that the premier was the overall commander of all security forces, but that they acted on orders from the judiciary.
"We confirm that the prime minister is the general commander of all security forces, who carry out their duties to arrest or punish when ordered by the judiciary, and not on a sectarian or partisan basis as some factions are trying to say."

The revelations do not help Nouri. 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 sixteen days and still counting.

As Nouri continues his fight to remain prime minister, the documents underscore the mini-tyrant the US puppet has been. Jack Healy and John Leland (New York Times) report:

Much of the attention focused on a report from October 2006, shortly after Mr. Maliki took office, that describes the arrest of 17 men wearing Iraqi Army uniforms in the Mansour neighborhood of Baghdad on suspicion of committing robberies. According to the report, the men claimed they were Iraqi special forces "working for the prime minister's office."

Mr. Maliki's political opponents said the report supported their claims that the prime minister had used state forces for nefarious ends.

"For years we have been talking about the armed groups that are working under the name of the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Defense that have direct connections with some leaders in the government," said Maysoon al-Damluji, a spokeswoman for Iraqiya, the secular political bloc that finished first in Iraq's March 7 elections, slightly ahead of Mr. Maliki's State of Law bloc.

Violence continues in Iraq. Reuters notes a Baghdad sticky bombing injured one person, an Abu Ghraib roadside bombing injured seven people (six Iraqi soldiers, one officer) and an assault on a Baghdad police checkpoint injured three people (two were police officers).

Propaganda continues at The Nation magazine. I'm not in the damn mood. 3 Americans ended up in Iranian custody. From the start, we've noted that there was a very good chance they were in Iraq when they were captured and not in Iran. That is a strong possibility and we've always treated it as such. Instead of addressing anything really important in the WikiLeaks documents, anything to do with the many Iraqis who have suffered, The Nation wants to whore. I'm sick of it. 'Babak Sarfaz' plays readers for fools. First off, the article fails to note that there is no "Babak Sarfaz." That's the name an Iranian writes under. You can trust him or not (it's been revealed he's a he). But you should be informed that it's not a real name. Second, he wants you to know the documents says that the hikers were in Iraq!

In Iraq! Not Iran!

And he goes on to LIE that the report establishes this. It does no such thing. American military was not present for the kidnapping. But the US military does offer an opinion and it's an opinion that The Nation magazine ignores:

S2 ASSESSMENT: The lack of coordination on the part of these hikers, particularly after being forewarned, indicates an intent to agitate and create publicity regarding international policies on Iran. The leadership in Iran benefits as it focuses the Iranian population on a perceived external threat rather than internal dissension. Kurdish leaders remain concerned about international perceptions regarding security as they seek to increase investment in the KRG. Expect KRG leadership to intervene to return the 3 individuals and the Iranian government to accuse them of being spies. Additionally, KRG leadership may impose additional restrictions on private activities near the Iranian border.

They were warned (apparently by the US military) and deliberately disregarded the warning so the military saw them as having the "intent to agitate and create publicity regarding international polices on Iran." The report is below:

2/1 07:112

Initial report:

WHO: Tourists/Reporters

WHAT: Arrest, Effective, Confirmed (CF)

WHERE: –– ––––– –––––, Sulaymaniyah / Halabjah

WHEN: 311600JUL09

HOW: MND-N G2 reported a kidnapping of 3 Americans who were being taken to the Iranian border. The Americans were hiking near the Iranian border when taken. A fourth tourist did not go hiking with them and reported that a kidnapped female called him saying that they were being surrounded by armed men.

UPDATE 311630JUL09: the following grid is where the kidnapping incident occurred: 38SNE 267 395.

UPDATE 311631JUL09: DIV reported an updated grid of the kidnappers: 38SNE 969 068.

UPDATE 311632JUL09: JPRC (Corps Personnel Recovery) is reporting that the victims were tourists who came to Iraq to go rock climbing.

UPDATE 311633JUL09: Kirkuk PJCC made contact with Suly JCC. Suly JCC will establish checkpoints throughout Suly.

UPDATE 311633JUL09: CF/CF en route to ––––– –– to make link up with " Meckfessel", ––––– –––––– ––––– –––– –– ––– –––– –– –– – –––– –––– –– –––– ––––– –– –– –––––.

UPDATE 311633JUL09: JPRC reports: victims were hiking the "Ahmad al Waha (variant Waaha, Waah, etc.) Rock face outside of Sulaymaniyah. (––––– ––––– –––––)

UPDATE 311645JUL09: AWT and Pathfinder team are en route to Warrior for refuel. Once complete they will remain on standby at FOB Warrior.

UPDATE 311715JUL09: last known location of vehicle new grid ND898 931.

UPDATE 311718 JUL09: Colonel Latif of the 10th Pesh Murga brigade reports Iranians detained 3x AMCIT for being too close to the border

UPDATE 311724 JUL09: CJ3 reports that President Barzani has been notified and has offered support

UPDATE 311728JUL09: Pathfinder landed, AWT are 5 min out

UPDATE 311733JUL09: F16s on station

–––– ––––: ––––– –––––

-–– –– –– ––––– (–––––– –– –/– –––)

-–– ––––– –––––: –– ––––– (–––––– –– –––-–)

-–– –––– – –––– –– – –––– –– –– –––––

-–– –– ––––– –– ––––– –– –– –––– –– –––– ––––––.

-–– –– –– ––––– –– –– –––––

-–– –––––– –––– –– ––––– –– –– –––––

UPDATE 311744JUL09: OSINT: Iranians report picking up three civilians

UPDATE 311750JUL09: link up with Meckfessel confirmed

UPDATE 311804JUL09: MND-N has confirmed that they will C2 the recovery operations.

–––– –––––––: –– –– –– ––––– ––--–––– –––– –– –––– ––––––, – – –– ––––– –– ––––, –– –––– –––– –––––– –– – –––– ––––, –– –––– –––– – ––––– –––– –––– –– –– ––––––

UPDATE 311826JUL09: CJSOTF will pick up Meckfessel and take him to PB Andrea. Pathfinders will return him to Warrior where a C12 will transport him to Baghdad.

UPDATE 311920JUL09: CPT ––––– and SFC ––––– will escort Meckfessel to Baghdad.

–––– –––––––: ––-––– –– –––– –––– –– –– –––– –– –– ––––, –-–– ––––– –––––––

–––– –––– –––––: ––-––– –– –––– –– –– –– –––– –– –– ––––– –– –– –––––

–––– –––––––: ––––– –––– –––– –––– –– –––– –– –– –––––

–––– –––––––: ––-––– –– –– ––––– ––––– –––– –– –– –––––

UPDATE 312014JUL09: C-12 will arrive at 2040

UPDATE 312036 JUL09: C-12 has landed

UPDATE 312040 JUL09: C-12 departed warrior en route to Baghdad

UPDATE 312145 JUL09: Escorts report landing at BIAP.

UPDATE 312330JUL09: Escorts transfer Meckfessel to Embassy personnel.

UPDATE 010015AUG09: Escorts will fly fixed wing at 1100 hrs on 1 AUG09 to FOB Warrior

BDA: 3x AMCIT Detained by Iranians

PAO ASSESSMENT: All queries referred to the US embassy in Baghdad.

IO ASSESSMENT: IQATF will monitor for atmospherics on this SIGACT.

S2 ASSESSMENT: The lack of coordination on the part of these hikers, particularly after being forewarned, indicates an intent to agitate and create publicity regarding international policies on Iran. The leadership in Iran benefits as it focuses the Iranian population on a perceived external threat rather than internal dissension. Kurdish leaders remain concerned about international perceptions regarding security as they seek to increase investment in the KRG. Expect KRG leadership to intervene to return the 3 individuals and the Iranian government to accuse them of being spies. Additionally, KRG leadership may impose additional restrictions on private activities near the Iranian border.



That's it? That's how The Nation whores. As a general rule, when The Nation can't get off a 'kidnapped' American, that American is CIA. That's accepted around the world. Is The Nation trying to say that the two Americans are CIA? It doesn't matter now. By running that article, the magazine has asserted to intelligence agencies around the world that the two are CIA. It's a shame they couldn't have spent the time highlighting what the report means for Iraqs, actual victims. And it's too damn bad for the two Americans. Katrina vanden Heuvel, publisher and editor of The Nation (and whose father was the original CIA bagman) wants to brag, "This Week at Republicans Gone Wild. Plus: Stalin's forgotten victims." Already they have ignored Obama's pissing on equality and now they ignore WikiLeaks but they can whore for two men who will now be seen as CIA agents and they can whore for the Democratic Party.

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W.I.W. Atika Shubert, 2000 - 2010

Today TV personality Atika Shubert disgraced herself but don't look for CNN to discipline her, she did what government officials wanted, attacked Julian Assange and turned a supposed interview about WikiLeaks into a smear against his person with unfounded rumors. There's no whore like a corporate whore. Danny Shea (Huffington Post) has video of the character attack here. Katherina-Marie Yancy (AP) notes the WikiLeaks documents demonstrate that the body count was far higher than the US government admitted to -- the documents, remember, are US military documents. That would mean, to say what the AP won't, the US government lied. Wikileaks notes: "The reports detail 109,032 deaths in Iraq, comprised of 66,081 'civilians'; 23,984 'enemy' (those labeled as insurgents); 15,196 'host nation' (Iraqi government forces) and 3,771 'friendly' (coalition forces). The majority of the deaths (66,000, over 60%) of these are civilian deaths.That is 31 civilians dying every day during the six year period. For comparison, the 'Afghan War Diaries', previously released by WikiLeaks, covering the same period, detail the deaths of some 20,000 people. Iraq during the same period, was five times as lethal with equivallent population size."

Atika Shubert could have addressed that, instead she wanted to go smutty, she wanted to go whory. It won't be forgotten. News Whore Atika was too damn lazy to do the work required for a real character assassination. Not only is she a whore, she's a damn lazy whore.

If someone's denied charges (that were dropped), you either get the records or you get the witnesses. That's how you do a character assassination. But apparently whores are very limited in the number of tricks they can be taught. Atika Shubert just destroyed her image today. There will be no rebuilding of it. She will not be trusted by large numbers of the public. CNN will have to use her 'sparingly'. Not because they doubt she'll whore for them, she so obviously will. But she's now a known whore. We've all seen her whoring. She can't play journalist now and be believed by many. She had a number of revelations to explore but instead she decided to whore.

Global Research posts a video from The Bureau of Investigative Journalism:

Male announcer: The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has had unrestricted access to the WikiLeaks Iraq War Logs, the biggest leak of files in military history.

George W. Bush 2003: We are taking unprecedented measures to spare the lives of innocent Iraqi civilians

Male announcer: They reveal the story of what really happened in the war. We have uncovered the devastating toll on human lives by US air attacks, al Qaeada in Iraq's repeated use of child suicide bombers, and the abuse of power by US forces.

And that's what Atika chose to ignore when she decide to walk the streets as a whore. Robert Mendick and Richard Spencer (Telegraph of London) report:

The greatest controversy will be over the apparent complicity of the American forces in covering up the widespread and brutal torture of Iraqi civilians.
A senior United Nations official said there should now be an investigation into allegations that US commanders had ignored evidence of widespread abuse by Iraqi authorities.
Manfred Nowak, the UN's special rapporteur on torture, said: "There is an obligation to investigate whenever there are credible allegations torture has happened – and these allegations are more than credible -- and then it is up to the courts on the one hand to bring the perpetrators to justice and also on the other hand to provide the victims with adequate reparation for the harm they have suffered."

Laura Strickler and Catherine Cannon (CBS News) use the documents to zoom in on one week (November 25th through December 3, 2005) to examine the reality on the ground versus the spin issued by the US government. There's no way to really excerpt from their piece which requires you follow it through from start to finish. It's strong reporting and good for them. James Glanz and Andrew W. Lehren (New York Times) use the logs to examine the effects of contractors/mercenaries on the Iraq War:

The archive, which describes many episodes never made public in such detail, shows the multitude of shortcomings with this new system: how a failure to coordinate among contractors, coalition forces and Iraqi troops, as well as a failure to enforce rules of engagement that bind the military, endangered civilians as well as the contractors themselves. The military was often outright hostile to contractors, for being amateurish, overpaid and, often, trigger-happy.
Contractors often shot with little discrimination -- and few if any consequences -- at unarmed Iraqi civilians, Iraqi security forces, American troops and even other contractors, stirring public outrage and undermining much of what the coalition forces were sent to accomplish.

There were any number of ways you could go. For example, Adam Weinstein (Mother Jones) reports that the logs document an Iranian drone which the US military brought down:

What would an unmanned Iranian camera plane want to record in that region? Plenty. COP Cobra is just a few kilometers from Iraq's Camp Ashraf, which since 1986 has been a refugee camp for persecuted members of Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), an Iranian leftist group that advocates the overthrow of the Islamic government in Tehran. Liked by neither Iranian nor Iraqi officials, MEK refugees at Camp Ashraf have essentially relied on US troops for protection sice 2003, enduring a series of attacks that the MEK insists originated in Iran.
They may have a point. Other reports released in the WikiLeaks logs show Iranian elements, including the nation's crack Revolutionary Guard Corps, have provided training, assistance, and munitions to anti-US forces within Iraq. When the February 2009 shootdown was finally acknowledged by US officials, they raised the possibility that Iran's drone was "trying to scout routes to smuggle Iranian weapons into the country." (Since the UAV incident last year, Iran has unveiled a new unmanned aircraft capable of flying at longer ranges and delivering bombs on a target. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called the plane an "ambassador of death" for state enemies.)

Many ways to go, but a whore only knows how to walk the streets, hence Atika's disgraceful performance. Years from now, the few who remember her, will look back on today as the day when her career as a TV personality died.

W.I.W., Atkia Shubert, W.I.W, you will not be missed..

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thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends

Friday, October 22, 2010

Iraq snapshot

Friday, October 22, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, WikiLeaks releases documents, torture, rape, turning a blind eye and much more is documented, Lt Dan Choi continues standing up for equality, the political stalemate continues and more.
US service members serving in the Iraq War and Afghnistan War have been exposed to toxins that can prove as deadly as any roadside bombing or sniper attack, it'll just take longer for the effects to be felt.  Those exposed to, for example, the burn pit in Balad are already experiencing symptoms such as breathing difficulty.  A number of service members have attempted to find justice via the US court system and, thus far, they've had no luck.  Senator Byron Dorgan has long addressed the burn pit issue.  Sadly, Senator Dorgan is not running for re-election and will be leaving the Senate in the new year. Dorgan chairs  Democratic Policy Committee and today his office released the following:
U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) said Friday a preliminary report of an investigation by the Department of Defense Inspector General confirms that the Pentagon dropped the ball in responding to the exposure of hundreds of U.S. troops to a deadly chemical in Iraq. Those failures left some exposed soldiers unaware that they had been exposed to the deadly chemical and without follow up health monitoring and treatment. Monitoring tests performed on other soldiers who were informed of their exposure were so inadequate that the agency that performed them now admits they have a "low level of confidence" in those tests.
A second and more detailed Inspector General's report, originally scheduled to be released this month, has now been moved back to the end of the year, a development Dorgan said he finds "disappointing."
The Senate Armed Services Committee and Dorgan requested IG investigations after he chaired hearings by the Senate Democratic Policy Committee (DPC), in June 2008 and August 2009. The hearings revealed that troops from Indiana, Oregon, South Carolina, and West Virginia were exposed to sodium dichromate, a known and highly potent carcinogen at the Qarmat Ali water treatment facility in Iraq. The DPC hearings revealed multiple failures by the contractor, KBR, and the Army's failure to adequately monitor, test, and notify soldiers who may have been exposed of the health risks they may now face.
The IG is releasing two reports on its investigation, The first report was released in September. The second, expected to be a more detailed response to specific DPC concerns, was originally slated for release by late October.  But the Department of Defense Inspector General now states a draft of that report won't be available until the end of the year.
The first report provides no indication -- seven years after the exposure – that the Army ever notified seven soldiers from the Army's Third Infantry Division who secured the Qarmat Ali facility during hostilities that they had been exposed. It also confirms that the Army's assessment of the health risks associated with exposure to sodium dichromate for soldiers at Qarmat Ali are not very reliable. In fact, the organization that performed these assessments, the U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventative Medicine (CHPPM), now says it has a "low level of confidence" in its test results for the overwhelming majority of those exposed.
Equally troubling, Dorgan said, is the report's finding that the Department of Defense is refusing to provide information to Congress about the incident, because of a lawsuit to which it is not a party.
"I am very concerned about the findings we now have, and I am disappointed in the delayed release of Part II of this report. The IG's investigation and its findings are very important to the lives of U.S. soldiers and workers who were at the site. Details and definitive findings will help us ensure accountability for this exposure and flawed follow up, but even more importantly, they will help ensure that all exposed soldiers receive appropriate notice and medical attention," Dorgan said.
Senator Byron Dorgan addresses the issues in this video also released today.
Iraq was briefly touched on in the second hour of today's The Diane Rehm Show (NPR) and were it not for the fact that James Kitfield was strong on the topic, we'd probably skip it.  But I've called him out so we'll note it to give him his due credit. Diane noted that Shaun had left a message on the program's Facebook page about the cuts in England which include military cuts: "It was the military spending necessary for England's participation in the Iraq War that put them in this predicament. The same is true here.  The Bush administration could not deal with the simple fact that we couldn't afford to invade Iraq, either financially or morally."
James Kitfield (National Journal): I take the point and believe me our government is watching very closely what happens in Britain because, I mean, one thing that is interesting is that those cuts have majority support right now, we'll see if that holds, but there's a concern that if you cut back quickly, this very nascent economic recovery will be reversed and that's exactly what we don't want. So there's a big -- Britain is taking a very bold step. I think it's commendable. I hope it works but there is risk involved in it and I think we are watching it very closely.
Elise Labott (CNN): But there's also a huge concern by the United States about these defense cuts -- it's about a 7.5% defense cuts is that going to make Britain a less reliable partner?  We have British troops in Iraq, you have British troops in Afghanistan.  What about future conflicts, future areas that the US relies on its very special ally the Brits?
[. . .]
James Kitfield: Diane, can I just make a point? I just came back from London, working on this story.  The-the fact is Britain no longer wants to be that ally to us.  You know the Iraq War has really soured them on being America's, you know, ally of first resort. It's an aftermath, blowback from the Iraq War.
Diane Rehm: Who did you talk to?  
James Kitfield: I talked to senior officials in the government, I talked to senior think tank people, all the same thing.  They have investigations now, the whole Iraq War, where they are deposing Tony Blair and others, the Iraq War and how that went wrong and how Britian got --
Diane Rehm: Involved.
James Kitfield: -- brought up into it is very real to them right now, even today. And they have no interest in being the kind of ally of first resort, as I say.
Diane Rehm: But again, is that because of financial problems or is that also the question of moral responsibility?
James Kitfield: Well, I mean, it's partly -- The economic part plays into it.  But it's primarily a feeling that they went to war that their own people did not support and they thought it was on false pretenses with the Weapons of Mass Destruction. You know, we got our election in 2008 and the Republicans lost and I think we went on, moved on from Iraq. The British have not moved on from Iraq. Their populace does not buy this argument anymore that we should stand by America's side, right or wrong.
Late today nearly 400,000 documents on the Iraq War.  Phil Stewart (Reuters) reports that, at the Pentagon today, Col Dave Lapan declared that the Defense Dept did not "expect big surprises" from a rumored upcoming WikiLeaks release. On Democracy Now! this morning, Penatgon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg explained why the Pentagon would not be surprised by the release:
AMY GOODMAN: Now, in the last release of documents [on the Afghanistan War], there were 91,000 documents, but—
DANIEL ELLSBERG: Of which they've withheld so far one out of five, 15,000, for damage control. WikiLeaks has not yet released those. They're working over them to redact.
AMY GOODMAN: Which is the point I wanted to make, released around 75,000—
AMY GOODMAN: -- that WikiLeaks is withholding documents, concerned about issues of --
DANIEL ELLSBERG: Yes. And moreover, they let the Pentagon know what they were releasing. They gave them the files in code to them and asked them actually to identify people that they hoped to be redacted from those. Now, the Pentagon refused, meaning they prefer to bring charges into -- both in court and in the press, of -- endanger, rather than actually to protect these people, showing the usual amount of concern they have over other humans.
AMY GOODMAN: Has the same been done with these 400,000 documents?
DANIEL ELLSBERG: Yes. That's why they're going over them now. They know what's coming out. And they have every ability, if people are endangered  -- which actually is in question to this point. The fact that there's been no damage up 'til now really strongly questions the claims that were made earlier and, as I say, passed on by most of the mainstream press, very uncritically, that there was danger. But if there was, it may well have been in those 15,000 which WikiLeaks is properly going over still.
JUAN GONZALEZ: So, what you're saying is that WikiLeaks has let the Pentagon know precisely what it is about to release?
DANIEL ELLSBERG: To my understanding, they have. I'm not in the process. But I understand that they've said that they did make them aware of what it is and have invited them to cooperate in protecting those names. But as I say, the Pentagon, if there are such names, has preferred to make charges.
Sabrina Tavernise and Andrew W. Lehren (New York Times) zoom in on the civilian death data: "The documents also reveal many previously unreported instances in which American soldiers killed civilians -- at checkpoints, from helicopters, in operations.  Such killings are a central reason Iraqis turned against the American presence in their country, a situation that is now being repeated in Afghanistan.  The archive contains reports on at least four cases of leathl shootings from helicopters.  In the bloodiest, on July 16, w00, as many as 26 Iraqis were killed, about half of themcivilians.  However, the tally was called in by two different people, and it is possible that the deaths were counted twice." Al Jazeera (link has video) zooms in on the torture revelations.
Al Jazeera: It was one of the stated aims of the war to end the torture chambers but the secret files reveal a very different story. In graphic detail, they record extensive abuse at Iraqi police stations, army bases and prison. On more than 1,300 occasions, US troops reported the allegations to their superiors.
Reading from a US service member's report: The detainee was blindfolded, beaten about the feet and legs with a blunt object, punched in the face and head.  Electricity was used on his feet and genitals and he was sodomized with a water bottle.
Al Jazeera: The alleged torturers claim the victim had fallen off his motorbike but the Americans recall that this was
Reading from a US service member's report: Not consistent with the man's injuries.
Al Jazeera: There are many such reports. This one says that --
Reading from a US service member's report: A detainee was jabbed with a screwdriver, struck with cables in the arms, back and legs, electrocuted and sodomized with a hose.
The new logs detail how:
• US authorities failed to investigate hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape and even murder by Iraqi police and soldiers whose conduct appears to be systematic and normally unpunished.
• A US helicopter gunship involved in a notorious Baghdad incident had previously killed Iraqi insurgents after they tried to surrender.
• More than 15,000 civilians died in previously unknown incidents. US 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.
The numerous reports of detainee abuse, often supported by medical evidence, describe prisoners shackled, blindfolded and hung by wrists or ankles, and subjected to whipping, punching, kicking or electric shocks. Six reports end with a detainee's apparent death.
As recently as December the Americans were passed a video apparently showing Iraqi army officers executing a prisoner in Tal Afar, northern Iraq. The log states: "The footage shows approximately 12 Iraqi army soldiers. Ten IA soldiers were talking to one another while two soldiers held the detainee. The detainee had his hands bound … The footage shows the IA soldiers moving the detainee into the street, pushing him to the ground, punching him and shooting him."
The six years of reports include references to the deaths of at least six prisoners in Iraqi custody, most of them in recent years. Beatings, burnings and lashings surfaced in hundreds of reports, giving the impression that such treatment was not an exception. In one case, Americans suspected Iraqi Army officers of cutting off a detainee's fingers and burning him with acid. Two other cases produced accounts of the executions of bound detainees.
And while some abuse cases were investigated by the Americans, most noted in the archive seemed to have been ignored, with the equivalent of an institutional shrug: soldiers told their officers and asked the Iraqis to investigate.
As Al Jazeera notes (earlier link), at least two orders were issued on this to US soldiers.  The first told them to ignore it and do nothing.  The second told them to report it to their superiors and then do nothing unless ordered.  The documents contain many reports -- by US troops -- of abuse but no orders for follow up actions from the command.
Jonathan Steele (Guardian) reports on three US spy balloons which drifted or 'drifted' into Iran after they came unmoored or 'unmoored' from April to October 2006.  In all three cases, only the initial report is available and there appears to hae been no follow up.  A lack of follow up for balloons the US military lost -- with spy equipment on them -- would appear to indicate the 'loss' was planned. Michael R. Gordon and Andrew W. Lehren (New York Times) focus on Iran as well -- in terms of US documents detailing allegations of Iran backing Shi'ite militias and that a plan was hatched to kidnap a US soldier.  Gordon -- who repeatedly sounded the alarms on Iran's alleged involvement in the violence (as he had falsely tapped out the drumbeat in the march to war on Iraq) -- no doubt feels vindicated: "But the field reports disclosed by WikiLeaks, which were never intended to be made public, underscore the seriousnees with which Iran's role has been seen by the American military."  Really?  Really?  It's the WikiLeaks files that "underscores" that and not all the constant daily brieifings at the Defense Dept and in Baghdad where military officials insisted Iran was up to no good? 
Ignore Tom Gjletin and his ridiculous 'reporting' on NPR.  As his actions repeatedly indicate, he's left the reporter role.  Ava and I'll tackle it at Third on Sunday, we'll fold into a piece on the firing of Juan Williams.
Gulf Daily News reports that Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa met with Iraq's Sunni vice president and member of the Iraqiya slate Tareq al-Hashemi. The meeting took place yesterday, as Nouri concluded his regional tour.  
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 fifteen days and counting.

The Toledo Blade editorial board weighs in: "Perhaps most troubling is the fact that, seven months after national elections were held, a government is still not in place. Former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's party finished first and incumbent Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's finished second, neither with a majority of seats in parliament. Mr. al-Maliki has declined to leave office and is still seeking support among other parties and abroad, including in Iran, to remain in power in spite of his electoral defeat. He added the party of anti-American cleric Moktada al-Sadr to his tentative coalition, but that still didn't give him enough seats in the 325-member parliament to form a government."
Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .
Reuters notes a Garma sticky bombing which claimed the life of 1 Sahwa and injured a woman, a Mosul roadside bombing which claimed the life of 1 person and left six more injured, a second Mosul roadside bombing which left 1 Iraqi soldier dead and a Badush roadside bombing which injured "a young girl".
Reuters notes an attack on a Baghdad chckpoint in which two police officers and one Iraqi soldier were left injured and an attack on a Mosul police checkpoint in which 1 police officer was killed and another was injured.
Turning to legal news, Dylan Welch (Age) reports that security/mercenary company Unity Resources Group 'forgot' to inform the Australian government (which uses them to guard Australian officials in Iraq) "that it has been fighting a US civil suit since 2008 regarding a Baghdad shooting death. [. . .] It was involved in two fatal shooting incidents in Baghdad in 2006 and 2007, which resulted in the death of an Australian professor and two local women."   Andrew E. Kramer (New York Times) reported the 2 women killed in 2007 were part "of Iraq's Armenian Christian population" and speak with the family of one of the women, Marany Awanees, and they make it clear that, despite Unity's claims otherwise, they were not being contacted. The other woman was Geneva Jalal.
On September 24th, US Spc John Carrillo Jr. and Pfc Gebrah P. Noonan were shot dead while serving in Iraq. A third US soldier was injured in the shooting and he or she has not been identified at present. US Spc Neftaly Platero's name has been floated in the press as the shooter. Yesterday, USF issued the following:

BAGHDAD – A U.S. service member, Spc. Neftaly Platero, is in pre-trial confinement, in connection with the shooting and killing of two service members and injury of another here Thursday.
The incident remains under investigation.
"Our condolences go out to the families of those service members whose lives were lost. We are saddened by this tragic incident," said Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan.

"Not someone that you'd think would do this," Guy Womack tells Jessica Willey (ABC 13 out of Houston, Texas) of his client, Platero. Willey notes that Womack spent a couple of hours with the soldier "and none of it was asking his client whether he did it."

Womack maintains that there is no hard evidence against his client. He states that John Carrillo Jr. was shot dead on or near his bed with Gebrah P. Noonan shot dead on or near his bed. Between their two beds was a third bed. The third bed contained the soldier who was reported wounded and who has not been identified thus far. Womack states that the three were found in the room and that his client was found outside the room (after the shooting).

Womack also states, "Well I don't need to know what he thinks happened, I need to know what the government thinks happened and what the evidence suggests. And, right now, most of the scenarios you can come up with from looking at the evidence would exclude him as being a shooter."

Womack, a former Lt Col in the Marines, found infamy in some circles when, acting as Abu Ghraib criminal Charles Graner's defense, he stated, "Don't cheerleaders all over America form pyramids six to eight times a year. Is that torture?" Graner received a ten year sentence after being found guilty. Guy Womack & Associates is the firm Womack runs with his son Geoff Womack.
The story of America is a story of the quest for inclusion once travelers came to the occupied Native American land.  (Some would rightly point out that, all these years, the original inhabitants -- Native Americans -- still have to struggle for inclusion.)  Throughout the nation's history, various groups have had to fight for and win the recognition of their equality and of their natural born dignity.  One group fighting for the full range of equality today is the LGBT community.  One of the rights they are attempting to win is to be just like any straight person in the military: Able to talk about their significant other or their wild Saturday night.  Able not to hide who they are or who they love.  The 1993 policy of Don't Ask, Don't Tell (especially as executed which is different than as conceived) makes it impossible and forces lesibans and gay men to hide who they are. 
US Judge Virginia Phillips rightly ruled that Don't Ask, Don't Tell was unconstitutional.  The White House appealed the decision.  She issued an injunction forbiddiing any discharges under Don't Ask, Don't Tell while the White House's appeal was awaiting a decision from a higher court.  The White House didn't like that either.  They got the injunction halted.
Here's  how the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric handled it last night.

Katie Couric: An update on Don't Ask, Don't Tell. It is the law once again after a federal appeals court put a temporary hold on a judge's order that struck it down. So for now, gays are again barred from serving openly in the military. But today Defense Secretary Robert Gates put out new guidelines that will make it tougher to discharge gays who violate Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
And that was it.  The report in full.  As bad as that is -- and it's pretty bad -- note that neither  ABC World News with Diane Sawyer nor  NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams had time for the story.  They had time for other things.  A dog who has been taught 'to pray' on it's owners bare legs (it looked a lot like a tired male dog slolwy humping a leg).  But they didn't have time for Don't Ask, Don't Tell, they didn't have time for the American story.
Katie mentioned Robert Gates.  He did issue new orders -- as Katie and many others have noted.  And that's significant that he finally issued new orders.
That's not me praising me because I'm not a complete idiot (foes would debate how much more I need to qualify for "complete") nor do I suffer from amnesia.
Meaning Robert Gates FINALLY issued new orders.  Instead of applauding that, real news outlets should have been asking why?
They should have been asking why the delay?
Why didn't they ask that question?
Yes, yesterday Robert Gates finally issued new orders on Don't Ask, Don't Tell. But travel back with us to February via the February 2nd snapshot when we watched Robert Gates testify to the Senate Armed Services Committee.  There was Bobby Gates, blathering away and all the sudden, after detailing the study he wanted, he offered this:
Simultaneous with launching this process, I have also directed the Department to quickly review the regulations used to implement the current Don't Ask, Don't Tell law and -- within 45 days -- present to me recommended changes to those regulations that, within existing law, will enforce this policy in a more humane and fiar manner. You may recall that I asked the Department's General Counsel to conduct a preliminary review of this matter last year. Based on that preliminary review, we believe that we have a degree of latitude within the existing law to change our internal procedures in a manner that is more appropriate and fair to our men and women in uniform.
When did those procedures get changed?  This month!  What happened to within 45 days?  As Aimee Mann once sang:
But no one is watching you now
I know no one is watching you now
No one is watching you now
Like I did
-- "No One Is Watching You Now," written by Aimee Mann, first appears on 'Til Tuesday's Welcome Home
A number of people are trying to spin Gates' change into good news.  But all it does, is lock in the discharge and try to cross all the Ts and dot all the Is.  Mark Thompson didn't.  He appeared on TV yesterday when PBS' The NewsHour did what the others couldn't or wouldn't, they treated the struggle for inclusion as the news story it is (link has text, video and audio options).  They started with Kwame Holman reporting on what had changed in the last 24 hours. They zoomed in on Lt Dan Choi as one face in the struggle. They offered exclusionist Tony Perkins and his words on maintaining Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Then Margaret Warner spoke with Time magazine's Mark Thompson who had actually done the work required -- as had Margaret Warner. We'll note this section of the exchange:

MARGARET WARNER: So, on Dec. 1, which was the deadline, or at least when Secretary Gates told Congress he'd have something, will they have just the results of the poll and some sort of outlines, or are they going to have a full policy recommendation laid out about how exactly they'd implement it?

MARK THOMPSON: I think it will be a full menu of options, saying, this is the best way forward, this is how we should do it.

MARGARET WARNER: But, I mean, will they say, we can do it, or is there some pushback now from the service chiefs?

MARK THOMPSON: Well, no, their -- Well, the sense is, No. 1, their mission is not -- their mission is only how we should do it if the law changes, not should it be changed. So, they're going to look for the best path to undo don't ask, don't tell. There is some sense that the service chiefs, especially the Marines and the Army, the ground force guys, are slow-rolling this thing. They don't want it to move out fast. They want it to take a long time. I mean, it's interesting. The papers filed with the courts have said, we have to train everybody before we do this. Meanwhile, you talk to the generals in Afghanistan who are saying, my lord, we have more important things to worry about. This is the last thing on our minds. So, there is some sort of disconnect there.

MARGARET WARNER: So, is that why you're saying it might take -- they might be saying it will take us a year to roll it out? Because there are so many things that would have to be changed, everything from partner benefits to training, sensitivity training?

MARK THOMPSON: Yes, that's the military's mindset. I mean, when RAND studied this issue in 1993, the think tank, they said the way to do this is to do it immediately and do it with leadership. Don't stretch it out. Don't turn it into a taffy pull, which is what it has become. And that's allowed all sorts of polarization to occur. And we're sort of reaping the fruits of that right now.

So the 'end' of Don't Ask, Don't Tell (this is the point being made in yesterday's snapshot, by the way) may be about as real as the Barack's 'end' of the Iraq War August 31st.  Lt Dan Choi appeared on Democracy Now! (link has text, audio and video) today and discussed his reaction to the White House's assault on equality:

Lt Dan Choi: But still, when we found last week that Don't Ask, Don't Tell was struck down by the courts -- and as far as I know about American government, that's the judicial branch -- that's the judiciary branch's constitutional mandate. If there is an unconstitutional law, they strike it down. And for seven days, an entire week, there was no Don't Ask, Don't Tell. It was dead. There were no enormous consequences, like Secretary Gates mentioned. Nobody quit. Nobody protested. No homophobic harassments of gay soldiers happened, as all the fear mongering that happens in many parts of the country, in many political circles, surrounding the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, were just, on their face, invalidated.
And now that President Obama has asked for a stay on that ruling and the injunction, it was very saddening. It was hurtful to me and to people who were in the military that came out or wanted to have that full measure of integrity. It wasn't easy to join back up, go to that recruiting station. But when I realized that the real victims of Don't Ask, Don't Tell are not the gay soldiers that get kicked out, it's really all of America that's the victim of this policy, and when we signal to the rest of the world that our country, even though we say equal justice under the law, we're the land of the free and the home of the brave, that doesn't necessarily apply to some of our citizens.
AMY GOODMAN: So President Obama now, while he says he's against Don't Ask, Don't Tell, it's his government, it's his Justice Department, that has appealed this decision.
LT. DAN CHOI: That's right. And they don't need to. They fulfilled their mandate, the Department of Justice. All they needed to do was put on a court and trial. Many people, legal scholars, have shaken their heads, scratched their heads, wondering what this president is doing. His rhetoric indicates that he wants Don't Ask, Don't Tell repealed. He hasn't said that it's unconstitutional. Well, the courts have done that, and that's their job. President Obama, as a legal scholar, as a constitutional law professor, he should know better. The President has no obligation to defend, with such a full-throated effort, the discriminatory and unconstitutional policies. The courts have done the heavy lifting for him, and his policies, his desires to get rid of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, have essentially been done.

Dan Choi and every other American has the right to dignity and equality.  It's really sad that, at this late stage in the country's history, people still have to fight for inclusion.  But that is the American story the constant struggle for full equality for all.
.As well as being part of the larger history of American inclusion struggles, it's also the story of individuals who are punished for who they love or who they're suspected of loving. In Denver, Hendrik Sybrandy (KWGN -- link has text and video) reports on Luiza Fritz, a sergeant discharged from the army for being gay -- and not only was she thrown out of the army due to her sexuality, the army's billing her $15,000 -- a portion of her signing bonus. Or take Sara Story's KLTV (text and video) report from Tyler, Texas on Troy Carlyle who was also kicked out of the service and became "the first person to be court-martialed under Don't Ask, Don't Tell." He states, "Everything I had worked for was reduced in that one moment to the fact that I was gay. Not to my performance, not to my talent, not to my leadership skills, but that I was gay."

These are not isolated stories. And in the very near future, these American stories will be party of American history, you just apparently can't discover these stories on the network news. But again, a man who trains his dog to assume the prayer position on his pasty bare leg is news.
TV notes. On PBS' Washington Week, Charles Babington (AP), Doyle McManus (Los Angeles Times), Karen tumulty (Washington Post) and Kate Zernike (New York Times) join Gwen around the table. Gwen now has a weekly column at Washington Week and the current one is "Never Let Them See You Sweat: Notes from the Florida Campaign Trail." This week, Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Karen Czarnecki, Melinda Henneberger, Eleanor Holmes Norton and Tara Setmayer to discuss the week's news on the latest broadcast of PBS' To The Contrary. And this week's To The Contrary online extra is on sexual exploits. this week's To The Contrary online is extra is on cyber bullying. Need To Know is PBS' new program covering current events. This week's hour long broadcast airs Fridays on most PBS stations: "The business of third-party administrators who help employers process and challenge unemployment claims; the minerals that help fund the rebels in Congo. Also: journalist Michael Hudson ("The Monster") on the home-foreclosure fraud scandal." Turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:

The 99ers
Even after an extension of unemployment benefits to 99 weeks, many of those about to go off the program are in a quandary. Scott Pelley talks to some of them in California's Silicon Valley. | Watch Video

Jane Goodall
Jane Goodall brings Lara Logan and "60 Minutes" cameras back to the forests of Tanzania, where she began her love affair with chimpanzees 50 years ago, to remind the public that chimps are endangered. |
Watch Video

Top Gear
A quirky British television show about cars has become a hit almost everywhere but the U.S. Steve Kroft reports on "Top Gear," whose witty humor, outrageous speed, destructive vehicle stunts and car reviews attract an estimated weekly worldwide audience of 350 million according to the BBC. |
Watch Video

60 Minutes, Sunday, Oct. 24, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.


michael r. gordon
amy goodman
democracy now
 juan gonzalez
the new york times
sabrina tavernise