Thursday, February 03, 2011

SOTU fibs and fibs to the court

For many Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, the exhaustive analysis of last week's State of the Union address failed to hold President Obama accountable for what they claim to be a glaring factual error contained in the speech.
Last Tuesday, Obama said, "Veterans can now download their electronic medical records with a click of the mouse."
It was a reference to the Blue Button Initiative, which launched in August 2010 as the product of a partnership between the Department of Veteran's Affairs and the Department of Defense, and allows veterans to access an online health profile.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, the program enables registered users of My HealtheVet to access "self-entered health metrics," including "blood pressure, weight, and heart rate." The online program rests on self-provided health data however, and does not provide a medical record, as the President claimed.
"You cannot download your medical record as it exists in the VA's actual database," Adam Bryant, who served in the Army National Guard in Afghanistan, told The Huffington Post. "You can only download what you put in, like demographic information and prescriptions you get through the VA."
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) issued a statement calling on the White House to "set the record straight."

The above is from The Huffington Post's "Veterans Refute Obama's SOTU Claim." Last week, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) issued the following statement:

“Last night, veterans did not hear a concrete plan of action to tackle the most urgent issues facing our community. We heard nothing on veteran unemployment and nothing on the staggering rates of military and veteran suicides.
In addition, the President said, ‘Veterans can now download their electronic medical records with a click of the mouse.’ This is not true. Contrary to the President’s comment, the only thing a veteran can download from the VA’s system are pharmaceutical records and personal health information that he or she has self-entered. This is a critical distinction.
The President’s comments are misleading to service members, veterans and the American public who now think that this system is in place and functional, while it is clearly not. In the last 24 hours, IAVA has heard from hundreds of members who have expressed surprise and outrage that the President could get something so wrong in arguably the most important speech of the year.
IAVA requests that the White House set the record straight on the current capacity of the medical records system. This is a crucial step in building trust between the Administration and all veterans across the country. The White House and Congress must also move aggressively to improve the system so it is robust and useful for all veterans,” stated IAVA Founder and Executive Director Paul Rieckhoff.

Turning to legal news and dropping back to the November 3, 2009 snapshot:

In the US, Noor Faleh Almaleki has died. The 20-year-old Iraqi woman was intentionally run over October 20th (see the October 21st snapshot) while she and Amal Edan Khalaf were running errands (the latter is the mother of Noor's boyfriend and she was left injured in the assault). Police suspected Noor's father, Faleh Hassan Almaleki, of the assault and stated the probable motive was that he felt Noor had become "too westernized." As noted in the October 30th snapshot, Faleh Hassan Almaleki was finally arrested after going on the lamb -- first to Mexico, then flying to London where British authorities refused him entry and he was sent back to the US and arrested in Atlanta. Karan Olson and CNN note that the judge has set the man's bail at $5 million. Philippe Naughton (Times of London) adds, "Noor died yesterday, having failed to recover consciousness after the attack. The other woman, Amal Khalaf, was also seriously injured but is expected to survive. "

Elias Johnson (KPHO) reports that the jury heard tapes of Faleh Hassan Almaleki being questioned by the police after he was captured. He apparently resorted to "I don't know" as his response to what happened. Then he told them he was only trying "to scare" the women with his car and that he also had a knife with him (which he'd also use to scare). He ranted about his daughter's refusal to go along with a marriage he had arranged for her with a man living in Iraq. Johnson notes that Amal Edan Khalaf is scheduled to testify today. For the record, you don't 'scare' someone by aiming a car at them, you threaten them, you terrorize them. Michael Sheridan (New York Daily News) adds: "During the trial's second day, Dr. Kevin Horn, a Maricopa County medical examiner, testified regarding Noor Faleh injuries and how she died. The 20-year-old suffered severe brain injuries, as well as wounds to her body, he explained, KPHO News in Phoenix reported. She was also partially paralyzed when brought to the hospital."

The following community sites -- plus Cindy Sheehan, NPR, Jane Fonda and -- updated last night and this morning:

And we'll close with this from the Bradley Manning Support Network on today's call-in:

Join us in calling the White House in support of Bradley Manning this Thursday!

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011
White House switchboard: 202-456-1414
(or White House comments: 202-456-1111)

Call the White House Thursday to voice your support for accused WikiLeaks whistle-blower US Army PFC Bradley Manning, specifically that his human rights be respected by the Quantico, Virginia, brig authorities. Bradley has been held in solitary confinement-like conditions for over eight months, and his trial is still months away. This American citizen-soldier has been convicted of no crime, yet continues to endure inhumane conditions of pre-trial confinement like no other inmate at the Quantico brig. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs recently stated that the White House was not paying attention to Bradley Manning’s extreme confinement conditions, or the fact that recent pre-approved visitors of Bradley’s have been detained and interrogated by military police in order to block their scheduled visit. It is critical that we educate the White House of this ongoing injustice!

Recommended points to make:

  • US Army PFC Bradley Manning, the accused WikiLeaks whistle-blower being held at the Marine brig in Quantico, Virginia, is an American citizen who is innocent until proven otherwise. Yet, he has been subjected to continuous illegal pre-trial punishment since his arrest in May 2010. Based on these abuses alone, Manning should be freed pending court martial.
  • Military pre-trial confinement is supposed to be about ensuring a soldier’s presence at court martial, yet for eight months now Manning has been subjected to extreme pre-trial punishment through the arbitrary use of rarely applied regulations–specifically the “maximum security classification” and the “prevention of injury” order. If he is not freed pending court martial, then at the very least, Manning’s human rights need to be respected, and the illegal pre-trial punishment must end.
  • The arbitrary restrictions placed on Manning, and no other inmates at Quantico, mean that: Manning is allowed no meaningful physical exercise, he is allowed no social interaction with other inmates, he is kept in his cell at least 23 hours per day, and he is not allowed out of his cell without restraints.
  • If the charges against him are true, then Manning is a patriot acting to advance an informed democracy. There is no allegation that Manning did anything but share truthful information with the American public regarding the realities of our nation’s ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with absolutely no benefit to himself, in order to spark public debate regarding foreign policy.

Remember to tell your friends about our call to action, spread it on Facebook, Twitter and via email.

The Bradley Manning Support Network:
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thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends