Wednesday, July 06, 2011

The never-ending US presence in Iraq

The Obama administration has been debating how large a force to propose leaving in Iraq. It made its proposal now in hopes of spurring a request from Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's government, and to give the Pentagon time to plan, the officials said.
The troops would be based around Baghdad and in a small number of other strategic locations around the country, the officials said.

The above is from David S. Cloud and Ned Parker's "U.S. willing to leave 10,000 troops in Iraq, past year's end" (Los Angeles Times). The article adds more detail to what Lara Jakes reported yesterday. Dar Addustour adds that US Vice President Joe Biden's upcoming trip to Iraq is supposed to include pressuring Iraqis to extend the US military presence and that his scheduled meetings already include Jalal Talabani, Nouri al-Maliki and Osama al-Nujaifi. The Atlantic tries to pretend they're doing that but all they manage is to offer a padded space for Spencer Ackerman to bang his crazy. When you're 'political advice' of 2008 is known and it's 'hang racism around anyone whether they're racist or not to shut them up,' you really shouldn't have an outlet anymore. But Wired isn't a real outlet. Why The Atlantic to do a reach around with Spencer is something Conor Friedersdorf should answer but, try to grasp this, Spencer hurling curse words is about as amusing as a monkey flinging his own feces.

There's a reason Ackerman was fired from The New Republic. It appears he's yet again approaching the Must Seek Medical Help stage. There's no reason for The Atlantic to embrace his sickness. Nor does his rant accurately capture anything. While cursing and condemning the public, Ackerman doesn't know the first damn thing he's talking about. The media lost interest in Iraq. For this week and next, we're basically home. We're not traipsing around the country from one speaking gig to another about the wars. And usually that means one or two speaking gigs four days a week in this general area (Bay Area). That's not the case. I don't do the booking, Dona does and she'd asked if we were okay grabbing as many as she could schedule. We said yes and assumed we'd have maybe ten gigs over five days each week. Wrong. We're wall to wall. I didn't look at yesterday's schedule until I finished working out yesterday morning. We were wall to wall. We're wall to wall today and all week. Spencer Ackerman who stays in one tiny little subsection of a metropolis condemns the people of this country and the reality is that he's not been around the country in some time. By contrast, we're all over the country speaking on the topic of the wars. The interest in the wars is only increasing and Barack can thank his Libyan War for that. Spencer Ackerman's quoted on something he knows nothing about and apparently Conor did that just so he could include some swearing, certainly not to impart any information. And for those who wonder why Ackerman attacks We The People and not The Media, like a good, neutered house pet, he never bites the hand that feeds him.

Yesterday, by a 12 to 1 vote, the Los Angeles City Council passed a resolution calling on the White House to end the wars and to spend the money domestically instead. Council member Bill Rosendahl is quoted by Fox 11 News stating, "We're spending $1 trillion over there. We should be investing in education, health care and infrastructure. We need to focus on ourselves and stop playing big shot all over the earth." Council member Janice Hahn, who is running for Jane Harman's old set in the US Congress, states, "This country, I believe, is war-weary. It's time to invade this country with resources. We know that our schools need more resources. We need to spend more money creating jobs. We need to get our economy back up and running."
Ned Parker and Salar Jaff (Los Angeles Times) have an important report on yesterday's double bombing in Taji. Dar Addustour covers it here.

In Australia, the big news continues to be the government document's revealing the Australian military's knowledge of prisoner abuse in Iraq. Today on 7:30 (Australia's ABC -- link has text and video), Geoff Thompson zoomed in on when the Abu Ghraib crimes were known:

GEOFF THOMPSON, REPORTER: An Australian Army lawyer, Major George O'Kane, was working with US in forces from Baghdad from July 2003 until February 2004 and visited Abu Ghraib prison five times.

Major O'Kane never personally witnessed abuse, but first learned of its possibility when his US commander ordered him to respond to an October 2003 international committee of the Red Cross or ICRC working paper.


GEORGE O'KANE, AUSTRALIAN ARMY LAWYER (male voiceover): "There's an allegation of mistreatment in that report. The thing that stuck in my mind was, you know, panties on the head was a source of humiliation and verbal abuse, laying naked in the cell with an MRE packet covering their genitalia."

QUESTIONER (male voiceover): "That's like a little meal pack?"

GEORGE O'KANE (male voiceover): "Yeah."

(End of re-enactment).

GEOFF THOMPSON: Major O'Kane did not refer the October Red Cross allegations to his superiors in Australia until after the photograph scandal broke in April the following year.

JOHN HOWARD, PRIME MINISTER (May 31, 2004): The first I, and to my knowledge, ministers knew of the serious abuse allegations was in April, Mr Speaker.

GEOFF THOMPSON: Now, Defence Department documents obtained under Freedom of Information laws reveal the true extent of Major O'Kane's involvement. Not only was he dismissive of the Red Cross working paper allegations, but in 2004, Major O'Kane was directly involved in preventing the ICRC from visiting nine detainees in Abu Graib's cell block 1A where the most disturbing pictures were taken between October and December 2003. A transcript of a Defence Department interview with George O'Kane recorded in June 2004 reveals that he personally told ICRC representatives visiting Abu Ghraib that ...


GEORGE O'KANE (male voiceover): "They'll be prevented from interviewing nine persons in cell block 1A and 1B and the hard cells 'cause they're undergoing active interrogation. You know, we won't be giving you access because of imperative military necessity."

(End of re-enactment).

Now Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, in 2003 and 2004 Mike Kelly was Australia's most senior military lawyer in Iraq, advising the Coalition Provisional Authority.

Amy Coopes (AFP) notes, "Now a lieutenant colonel, O'Kane was not alone in reporting the abuse of prisoners -- there were claims from other Australian officers made as early as June 2003 that were 'lost or ignored' by the defence department, it added."

In Iraq, Aswat al-Iraq notes that President Jalal Talabani met with thug and prime minister Nouri al-Maliki yesterday and quotes Kurdish MP Fuad Maasoum insisting it was a success and paves the way for a meet-up next week among all parties. Meanwhile Iraq remains without potable water and Al Rafidayn reports Iraqis are resorting to bottled water which are overpriced. The article estimates it will require $100 million to fix Iraq's water infrastructure alone. Despite the lack of potable drinking water, Iraq is moving forward with plans for an agricultural revival, Al Sabaah reports, including a major investment in livestock.

We'll close with this from Kenneth J. Theisen's "Holder Announces Torture Whitewash" (World Can't Wait):

On Thursday, June 30, 2011, Attorney General Eric Holder announced another of the Obama administration’s cover-ups of the crimes of the U.S. government in regard to torture and death conducted by the Bush regime and now continued by the current administration. Holder stated that the Justice Department (DOJ) is launching a "full criminal investigation" into the deaths of two detainees in U.S. custody. This “investigation” announcement is the result of a “review” as to whether federal laws were violated in connection with the interrogation and murder of detainees in U.S. custody overseas. In August 2009 Holder, in order to quell the outrage at U.S. instituted torture, announced that he had appointed Assistant U.S. Attorney John Durham to review allegations of torture and other crimes.

But the “review” was really part of a wider cover-up effort to whitewash these massive crimes. Now after a nearly two year “review” Holder expects people to believe that justice is being done because DOJ is “investigating” only two of these crimes? Tens of thousands of prisoners have been held by the U.S. and its allies in the U.S. war of terror since 9/11/01. The vast majority was abused and many faced torture by various government agents such as those employed by the CIA or the war department. Many were actually murdered in custody.

And yet Obama and his legal minions have yet to hold any of the top criminal dogs in the Bush regime accountable for these crimes. In fact, the present administration continues many of these same policies and crimes and covers up the past crimes. Extraordinary rendition, torture and abuse, indefinite detention, denial of legal rights, etc, all continue and in many cases have been “legalized” under Obama. Obama’s lawyers were successful this last week in convincing the Supreme Court not to hear a case of 250 civilians tortured and seriously harmed by corporate contractors of the U.S. at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison. These prisoners are now left with out legal redress because of Obama’s actions in their case.

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