Friday, August 26, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, Turkey enters World's Biggest Liar contest with a laughable denial, the Kurdish Parliament demands an apology from the Turkish government, US forces in Iraq beyond 2011 is explored, Iraqi youths get ready for the return of Tahrir Square protests next month, and more.
Monday on KPFA's Flashpoints, Kevin Pina spoke with journalist Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya and he was then trapped in his hotel with shooting going on all around. Kevin Pina noted, "We're asking all of our listeners to please call the Canadian Foreign Affairs Ministry at 1-800-267-8376 and demand that Canada contact the Transitional National Council of Libya and tell them to respect the right of international journalists especially Canadian journalist Mahdi Darius Naemroaya. Again that number to contact the Canadian Foreign Affairs Ministry at 1-800-267-8376." There are, at best, jokes being made about the safety of unembedded journalists and, at worst, threats being made. On Tuesday's show, Dennis Bernstein featured an interview Mahdi gave RT.
And Wednesday night came Richard Boudreaux's "After Six Days, Journalists Freed in Libya" (Wall St. Journal). That article didn't include Mahdi's name but he and others at the Rixos Hotel were moved to another one. Instead of reporting on that -- a minor story -- or on the actual suffering the Libyans are experiencing.
Instead, we have a bunch of pampered little children who are now showing their soiled diapers to the public. And if that seems harsh, so does playing the victim insted of the journalist. No Matthew Chance and Jomana Karadsheh, you are not the story, you are the reporters. And CNN was never going to allow you to be harmed. The most 'damage' you experienced was a bunch of bad pay-per-view TV (or, as Matthew Chance whines, "an old DVD of Point Break" -- oh the tragedy!). Your continued histionics make you sound less like saps and more like tools of imperialism really reaching to sell the notion of 'my hard times under Gaddafi!'
Matthew Chance is such an idiot. Explaining their five-day ordeal -- Gaddafi had assigned youths to watch the foreign journalists. When Gaddafi disappears (to wherever) the youths are unsure what to do. No surprise there, they were flunkies of the lowest level on the chain (meaning independent decisions were not among their strengths so when those issuing orders began to flee Tripoli, the youths were left stupified). That's why they were the ones selected to protect the journalists. So everyone's in a holding pattern for five days (the so-called ordeal). Listen to the 'torture' the 'journalists' experienced: "The hotel's generator, which kept the electricity supply going, ran out of fuel. Then the lights kept going off." Oh, my goodness. Who knew that a war zone wouldn't be the New York Palace in Manhattan!!!! You mean to tell me that going into a war zone means you might not have electriticy around the clock and the lights might keep "going off"? The tragedy. In the future, all wars should only take place at four-star resorts with adequate room service.
And personal trainers!!!!! 'Brave' Matthew confesses, "We survived in the end on crisps and chocolate. It sounds odd but I actually managed to put on weight during my five-day ordeal." No, it doesn't sound odd, it sounds pathetic. Grow the hell up and stop trying to pretend that you were in any danger. You clearly weren't. Young men on orders to protect you didn't know what to do when Gaddafi disappeared so they made you remain at the hotel, which was not invaded, which was not hit by any bombs, which was the safest place you could have been in Triopoli because everyone knew journalists were present. As Matthew tries to paint a picture of himself as the next Patty Hearst, the reality is that, as he lets slip throughout, they weren't in prisoners in their rooms, they roamed through the hotel day and night. They (the journalists) decided they'd all share a common space and not individaul rooms. They (the journalists) they'd check out the basement. On and on it goes, this is not a hostage situation.
At best Matthew Chance had an amusing tale to share. Instead, these pathetic 'reporters' are trying to equate their little adventure with the serious danger that the citizens of Libya have been put into with the Libyan War. And, Jomana, when you're in the Red Cross vehicle, it's no time to cry. And when you know a camera's present, stop the waterworks and try to act like a reporter. As the only woman -- or 'girl' -- pictured, your little waterworks do a disservice to female journalists all over the world. Though you were never in any danger up to that point, acting like a cry baby once you're being escorted by the Red Cross makes you look unfit to cover any story (but may distract from the fact that you've clearly put on many pounds since leaving Iraq to mis-cover the Libyan War -- which, please remember, found Jomana repeatedly lying to various reporters about where she was actually from and her ethnicity -- apparently forgetting that she had Tweeted repeatedly about her background in the past and anyone could do a quick computer search and expose her myriad of lies). Your constant cry for sympathy refuses to acknowledge your silence on NATO's bombing of Libyan TV which targeted and wounded and killed journalists. Refused to cover it, refused to cover Amnesty International calling out that attack. Now you want sympathy because you stuffed your fat ass with candy and chips for five days while watching movies and roaming through the halls of the hotel in some sort of pathetic homage to The Breakfast Club. Susan Glasser on today's Diane Rehm Show (NPR -- second hour) stated that the 'journalists' were without food and water. That is incorrect. It is flat out wrong. And she needs to stop saying that.
It is a posh hotel with an indoor swimming pool and much more. It had 24 hour room service. For less than a week, food deliveries stopped. New food being delivered stopped. However, canned food was plentiful. Though some cry babies may not like to eat it, US troops in Iraq eat far less fashionable foods as do the people of Iraq. The cry babies had tons of canned food, Matthew even notes that in his report on the 'ordeal.' They were obviously sugar cravers (looking at the photos of them) and they chose to instead gorge on potato chips and candy. They were never without water. Were they horribly parched to the point of dehydration at any point (they weren't),they could've drawn water from the large, indoor swimming pool. They were in more danger of dehydrating in the hotel's sauna than they were from lack of water. (The hotel had a gym, a health center, two on site restaurants. That's why the claim of running out of food is so laughable. Two food establishments and room service? Food deliveries could have stopped for a month and the remaining guests would not have starved.) They're in far more danger in their new hotel (under 'rebel' control) than they were at the Rixos Al Nasr.
Dennis Bernstein: We're going to take it to Canada now and be joined by Michel Chossudovsky -- he's with the Centre for Research on Globalization. He's been communicating with Mahdi throughout the day, Michel, are you with us?
Michel Chossudovsky: Yes, the situation is extremely serious because what happened is the independent journalists left the Rixos Hotel, that was yesterday. They were escorted to a new hotel under the auspices of the International Organization for Migration which is a UN body and the Red Cross and they were under the protection of these organizations and then they arrived in the new hotel, the Corinthia. The Corinthia turned out to be, in fact, a hotel which was under rebel control. They celebrated their 'liberation' so to speak, they had the promise to leave the following morning at twelve noon, 6 ED, in other words, six o'clock in the morning. And that was cancelled. And then what happened is you had rebel gunmen going around the rooms, using the pretext that they were going after the son of Gaddafi. And the whole place is, in fact, a new prison, and this time more seriously because the rebels control it and they are particularly the journalists who had the courage, determination and commitment to tell the truth about NATO atrocities. Particularly the bombing of the last few days which was devestating resulting in more than a thousand deaths and several thousand wounded.
Let's remember that the last time Mahdi spoke on Flashpoints was Monday and he made a point to stress what Libyans were experiencing and that he wanted out and felt bad for focusing on that when so many Libyans didn't have that option. The soiled diaper crowd never acknowledges the Libyan people, they just whine about the 'horrors' of Keanu Reeves DVDs and the food available in a war zone. Let's also remember the August 16th broadcast of Flashpoints included a segment with Dr. Khaled Al Bazelya is the head of Libyan Television's LEC division (their English language channel):
Kevin Pina spoke with him about the NATO attacks on Libyan TV for the last three weeks, resulting in the deaths of 3 journalists, with twelve more injured. "We are professional journalists. We have nothing to do with -- We are not politicians. We just transfer the news," Dr. Khaled Al Bazelya explained. "[. . .] We report what we see. We ask the International Journalist Association and Human Rights to look into this issue because journalists should be protected all over the world." Kevin noted the silence on the attacks.
Reviewing recent events in Iraq today, James M. Lindsay (Council on Foreign Relations) predicts, that whether the US departs or not, "don't be surprised when Iraq returns to the front pages later this year." While we wait to see if that forecast is correct, AP reports there will be a send-off ceremony this afternoon for approximately 160 Alabama Army National Guard members deploying to Iraq. This as the US and Iraqi governments continue to debate the details of extending the US stay in Iraq beyond December 31st. Dar Addustour reports that there is agreement on both sides regarding tanks, helicopters and armored vehicles but the number is still being debated (Iraq now wants no more than 8,000 troops while the US would like 20,000) and there is disagreement regarding immunity for US troops. From yesterday's snapshot:
Those who still need to believe in fairy tales should avoid the interview Josh Rogin (Foreign Policy) did with Iraq's Ambassador to the US Samir Sumaida'ie who states, "The principle that there will be some military presence [in Iraq beyond 2011] to help train Iraqi military and police has been largely agreed upon." This jibes with both what US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said on Friday and what Ali al-Dabbagh (Nouri al-Maliki's spokesperson) said over the weekend. Sumaida'ie addes, "You'll see it when you see it. Americans want everything now or yesterday. We don't do it like this. We do it in our own sweet time." Rogin adds:
Sumaida'ie tried to explain what's really going on here. He said that there is a consensus among all political players, with the exceptions of the followers of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, that Iraq needs some American military support, particularly when it comes to training, past the end of this year. "However, the form that this will take and the legal details are still being debated," he said.
He said the debate over the number of U.S. troops to remain in Iraq has ranged between 8,000 and 20,000, and that they would be non-combat forces limited to the training of Iraqi military and police forces.
In Iraq, whatever troop draw downs have occurred have been coupled with increases in private military contractors. Replacing American troops with government contracted for-profit troops (we used to call these mercenaries) does not mean we're actually getting out of Iraq.
Joseph Kechichian: During WWII and the Korean War, if we remember, we put hundreds of thousands of soldiers in both theaters. Eventually we would bring the vast majority back to the United States leaving behind core forces in both European theater and South Korea, obviously, under the demilitarized zone. In Iraq, the same situation applies as well. We've put, at one point, over a hundred and fifty thousand soldiers plus 150,000 mercenaries that were not technically soldiers but nevertheless they were Americans for the most part. So we had about 300,000 people there. We're down now to 48,000 or so. We're pulling most of the combat troops out. But we're going to leave behind -- as you said, in a new security forces agreement with the Iraqis -- a new SOFA, if you'd like, as it is known in its acronym -- between 10,000 and 20,000 soldiers for a very long time. I think that an accord will be signed between the two governments very soon. And we're going to have a longterm presence in Iraq for decades to come --
Jerome McDonnell: Now there are folks who think that's not -- There are folks who think that's not a great idea and that, really, we'd be doing better off just going to zero because of what a screwed up mess it is but there are a lot of people in Washington who want to stay there because of Iran and things.
Joseph Kechichian: Well in addition to Iran, Iran obviously is a very serious issue for us in the region for the foreseeable future but I think that there are -- I don't know the merits of leaving any soldier behind are worth contemplating at this point. Simply stated, we have invested way too much in Iraq right now. A pullout, a complete pullout, without having any kind of residue left there will essentially mean one thing and only one thing: That the war for Iraq was for naught and that we made a mistake.
US troops frequently pop up in Moqtada al-Sadr's online advice column "Mama Moqtada" -- in fact, you never know what will pop up as Moqtada attempts to both free style and ramble away in free-association. Al Mada reports that in the midst of a reply in which he wrote of the problem with the security ministries (they lack heads -- two of the three have 'acting' ministers), the threat of a withdrawal of confidence in the government, widowhood, bombings, spiritual love and everything but his recipe for potato salad, Moqtada suddenly launches into the need to "put an end to this farce" and the Iraqi army and police all get shoved aside as he quickly switches -- as if on a manic high -- to the issue of Turkey and Iran bombing Iraq.
Turkey's bombing of Iraq is a popular news item. Especially with the Turkish government's response to their bombing of the Zar Kali village Sunday -- some reports say 7 dead, the mayor of the area has said eight people were killed. Hurriyet Daily News reports, "Turkish General Staff released a press statement on Friday, refuting claims that it killed seven civilians during the bombing campaign against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, on Aug. 21, daily Hürriyet reported on its website." Today's Zaman adds that Turkey's Foreign Ministry "said in a statement released on Friday that reports of the alleged deaths of the civilians do not reflect the truth and that published images of people allegedly killed during the raids were fabricated."
Ivan Watson (CNN) notes, " Iraq's foreign ministry summoned the Turkish ambassador in Baghdad on Thursday to deliver a diplomatic letter protesting Turkey's aerial and artillery bombardment of northern Iraq." Sevil Kucukkosum (Hurriyet Daily News) reports, "Diplomatic relations between Baghdad and Ankara have become strained due to Turkey's cross-border military operations against terrorist bases in northern Iraq." Reuters quotes the Kurdis Parliament stating, "We demand an end to the presence of Turkish military bases and their intelligence agencies in Kurdistan's territory. We demand the Turkish government make a formal apology to the people and the Kurdistan government."
In other attacks, A. Saleh (Kuwait Times) reports, "Three rockets have hit the border area between Kuwait and Iraq, Al Arabiya TV reported yesterday quoting diplomatic sources. The pro-Gaddafi TV channel Al Orouba reported the rockets had targeted Kuwait?s Mubarak port, which is under construction and has been the subject of arguments between oil-producing Iraq and Kuwait, which share a small border." Alsumaria TV reports, "The office of Armed Forces General Commander Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki denied reports saying that Iraqi territories were used to launch attacks on Kuwaiti Mubarak Port, a source told Alsumaria. Security sources in Basra Province revealed on Thursday that unknown gunmen launched three missiles from inside Iraqi territories on the project's site in Kuwaiti Boubyan Island. The missiles landed in Gulf waters, the sources reported." DPA provides this background, "Kuwait began constructing the port in April near Iraq's territorial waters close to the Gulf, which has been a subject of dispute between the two oil-producing states. Iraq says the port interferes with shipping lanes to its own ports. But Kuwait says the port is being built on its land and within its territorial waters." Of the Iraqi government assertions about the rockets, Aref Mohammed (Reuters) reports, "Ali al-Maliki, head of the Basra provincial council's security committee, said the rockets were aimed at the former U.S. prison camp Bucca and had a range of only one kilometre." The Great Iraqi Revolution declares: "The youth of the revolution will not be carried away with emotions in dealing with the issue of Port Mubarak, nor will they fall prey to th the devious schemes which are bent on using public anger against the building of the port agreed upon by the traitor government in the Green Zone.We will not walk into the Iranian - Kuwaiti trap which aims at fabricating a new crisis in the region where we will be the timber to maintain its fire like before. What is important for us now is to bring down the illegal sectarian government which is the epitome of the much hated quota system; and to get the American occupation which is the source of all evil out of the country."
Eight months after the Constitution required Nouri al-Maliki to name a full Cabinet, he's still not named a Minister of National Security, a Minister of the Interior or a Minister of Defense. Two of the positions have 'acting' ministers that Nouri put in those spots -- they're not real ministers. They are Nouri's puppets. Nouri can nominate but the Constitution requires that the Parliament approve (or not) of any nominee. While Nouri and his puppets have been in charge, the violence has gotten worse in Iraq. Reuters notes a Tarmiya roadside bombing injured three children, a Baghdad roadside bombing injured two people, a Baghdad mortar attack left three people injured and a Jbela armed attack claimed the life of council member Thamir Ubaid, "his son and his uncle, and wounding one other relative." Though Nouri can't name a Cabinet (as he should have by December 25th and had it voted on by Palriament), Al Rafidayn reports that MP Mohammed Chichod is blaming Iraqiya for all delays. The National Alliance politician not only blames them for delays in filling the three security posts, he also accuss them of leading a "regionally funded scheme attempting to overthrow Nouri al-Maliki's government.
In Wednesday's snapshot we covered the issues facing foreign workers in Iraq -- subcontractors promising to take care of paperwork that ends going unfiled, subcontractors bailing the country and not paying the workers' the wages they have earned, the awful living conditions, the Iraqi government's decision to not only fine the workers but also to begin deporting them, etc. Rebecca Murray (IPS) reports:
Ukrainian and Bulgarian workers are currently camped out on a construction site of half-built luxury villas in Baghdad's elite "Green Zone" – a vast security enclave housing government offices, embassies and international NGOs - demanding their salaries before being shipped back home. Although the 2005 Iraqi constitution bans human trafficking, Iraq has no anti-trafficking law that prosecutes offenders on the books. Since 2008 an inter-ministerial task force has been negotiating a draft law for parliamentary approval. Over 200 foreign labourers began work on the prestigious Arab League Summit housing site at the beginning of the year, but construction was halted in April due to turmoil throughout the Middle East. However, 35 workers have stayed on, desperate to receive their unpaid wages. Crowded into a rudimentary hall where they live and sleep, they have no legal working papers and little food and water in Iraq's intense summer heat. Their handmade signs posted on the construction site fence a couple weeks ago begged attention. "Please help we are in trouble", said one, while another pleaded: "SOS Ukrainian Workers".
Many foreign firms cut costs by outsourcing work to local or regional subcontractors, some of whom seek profits at the expense of both the quality of their work and the fates of their workers. In a country with few regulatory safeguards against such neglect, it's up to investors to vet their potential partners. It's been a problem for not only private companies but also the Iraqi government and foreign governments, including the United States." Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi (Daily Star) explains the deportations would come under a law that remains a draft and hasn't yet been passed. He adds, "Curiously, however, the addiction to foreign labor has not featured among the declared grievances of protestors who continue to gather (admittedly in smaller numbers) in Baghdad's Tahrir Square every Friday." Protests have not continued every Friday. Most protesters took Ramadan off. The plan is for a new wave of protests to be launched Friday, September 9th, at 11:00 a.m. Al Mada reports that the activists are mibliizing currently and that they will be calling attention to the failure to resolve the security crisis, the failure to provide basic services, the political stalemate and more. A spokesperson for the rally states that it ends the 30 days the protesters gave Nouri al-Maliki's government to resign and apologize (the 30 days is the period when they stopped protesting) and that they return to the streets in the names of the milliions of Iraqis who have suffered from the lack of security, of the Iraqi children whose dreams have been stolen, of the Iraqi youth who cannot find employment, of the Iraqi women who are widows or divorced and live on tiny meager sums, of the Iraqis locked away as detainees or prisoners with no legal recourse. They are calling for a legitimate and responsive government.
Federal agents from the FBI and CIA/FBI Joint Terrorist Task Force tried to get a distinguished international lawyer to inform on his Arab and Muslim clients in violation of their Constitutional rights to attorney-client privilege, this reporter has learned. When the lawyer refused, he said the FBI placed him on a "terrorist watch list." Law professor Francis Boyle gave a chilling account of how, in the summer of 2004, two agents showed up at his office (at the University of Illinois, Champaign,) "unannounced, misrepresented who they were and what they were about to my secretary, gained access to my office, interrogated me for about one hour, and repeatedly tried to get me to become their informant on my Arab and Muslim clients." "This would have violated their (clients) Constitutional rights and my ethical obligations as an Attorney," Boyle explained. "I refused. So they put me on all of the United States government's 'terrorist watch' lists." Boyle said his own lawyer found "there are about five or six different terrorist watch lists, and as far as he could determine, I am on all of them." Despite a legal appeal to get his name removed, Boyle said, "I will remain on all of these terrorist watch lists for the rest of my life or until the two Agencies who put me on there remove my name, which is highly unlikely."
Scott Horton: I have to wonder too about the fact that, just the fact that you're Francis Boyle, professor of international law. So that means you know better, you understand the ins-and-outs of all the legal processes and you know when to not say anything and you know when to wait for the supervisor to come over and what to answer, what not to answer. But what does a non-expert do under that same ammount of pressure that they put you on.
Francis A. Boyle: That's right. I mean, obviously, my guess is that a lot of people -- I was, as far as I can figure out, Scott, just researching this, that summer 2004, I was on a special list of 5,000 Arabs, Muslims and their supporters to be interrogated and I suspect they tried to turn all 5,000 into informants. Now, of course, being a lawyer and a law professor, it's a sacrilege this was done at a law school. Now there are supposed to be special guidelines. You need permission from the Attorney General to mess around with lawyers. But apparently they didn't care. Maybe they had approval from the Attorney General? I don't know. But the bottom line is that I didn't become an informant. How many on that list of 5,000 did become informants? Yeah.
Scott Hoton: Yeah.
Francis A. Boyle: Subjected to that kind of pressure.
Scott Horton: Well really you got off easy compared to say Jose Padilla He refused to become an informant and they turned him over to George Tenet to be tortured.
Francis A. Boyle: Well something like that could happen, Scott. As far as I could figure out, this list of 5,000 is probably the list they will use for a mass round-up after the next major terrorist attack. We know that those plans are in place. We know that after 9-11, Ashcroft rounded up 120 Arabs and Muslims and many of them were abused. So my guess is that the 5,000 is the working list for the next time and I'm on that list.
Scott Horton: Well and news this week has it that at least as of 2004, an FBI agent did a threat assessment recommedning further investigation into Antiwar.com.
And we'll stop there (Antiwar.com and the FBI are not pursued as topics in what follows) to note that Justin Raimondo wrote Sunday about being informed of the spying
According to a memo stamped "Secret," marked as "routine," and dated April 30, 2004, we apparently drew the attention of the feds when we posted a copy of a "terrorist suspect list" [.pdf] which had been supplied by the US government to various corporate and governmental agencies, both here and abroad. These documents – including one posted on the web site of an Italian banking association – contained the names of those on a "watch list," the product of an FBI operation dubbed "Operation Lookout." The memo acknowledges the list "was posted on the internet" in "different versions," but says the FBI "assessment was conducted on the findings discovered on www.antiwar.com."
These guys are using us a resource – so why haven't they contributed to our fund drive?
The April 30 memo – which was issued to FBI counterrorism offices in New York, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and San Francisco – is prefaced with the following rather ominous "administrative" note:
"This document contains information obtained under the authority of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), 50 U.S.C., Section 1801. Such FISA derived information shall not be used in any criminal proceeding, including grand jury proceedings …"
FISA created a special secret court, to which the feds have to go to get approval from a judge to tap your phone, open your mail, and rifle through your garbage. This accounts for the large number of lengthy redactions that pepper the pages of this report. Sneaking around corners, and spying on Americans engaged in peaceful and legal activities, they don't want anyone to know how closely they mimic the methods of totalitarian governments,
Friday, September 24th FBI raids took place on at least seven homes of peace activists -- the FBI admits to raiding seven homes -- and the FBI raided the offices of Anti-War Committee. Just as that news was breaking, the National Lawyers Guild issued a new report, Heidi Boghosian's [PDF format warning] "The Policing of Political Speech: Constraints on Mass Dissent in the US." Heidi and Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner covered the topic on WBAI's Law and Disorder Radio including during a conversation with Margaret Ratner-Kunstler which you can hear at the program's site by going into the archives and the program has also transcribed their discussion with Margaret and you can read it here. The Antiwar.com spying was initiated in 2004 (it may or may not be continuing). Context needs to be provided for the listeners in some form. It would be great if Scott could book Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith or Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights) -- in a perfect world all three for one segment -- and if they could bring him (and Justin) on Law & Disorder to discuss the spying. The programs shares some listeners but they each also have listeners who only listen to one of the two. It would allow the word to get out on what was happening and provide a context for the spying on Antiwar.com -- spying that is part of the criminalization of dissent in this country.