Monday, October 17, 2011

Negotiations on hold or stopped?

Barbara Starr, Adam Levine and Chelsea J. Carter (CNN) report the latest on negotiations between the US and Iraq to extend the US military presence in Iraq beyond 2011. Noting the immunity issue as a stumbling block, an unnamed "senior U.S. official" tells CNN, "I think the discussions on numbers are over." The report includes the denials that talks have stopped -- denials in this article by the Pentagon and the National Security Council -- and notes that "while an agreement has not been reached yet, the United States will maintain a military presence nearby should Baghdad and Washington come to terms" -- nearby is Kuwait. If correct, it would now be Iraq's move if the White House knows how to bargain. (Meaning, if the report is correct, the White House should be ceasing all talks on the subject with Nouri and other members of the Iraqi government. The only way, from a position of strength, the talks would resume is if Nouri came back to the table and said, "Okay, we can do that immunity.") Whether this is truly the end of negotiations or yet another negotiation tactic may takes days or weeks to determine. Al Mada reports on AP's report this weekend that talks are now off. They wrongly credit it to AP (Fox News' website was one of the first to feature the AP report on Saturday. Fox News, however, did not report the story. And Greta VanSusteren posted the denials from the White House and the Pentagon to Fox News at her website on Saturday.) Al Mada notes that talks may resume and, pay attention to this detail, it could be very important, Parliament is on break until November 20th.

How could that be important? Nouri has the power to grant immunity by himself. That's now the legal opinion of the White House. If Nouri comes back to the table and wants to state that Parliament can't or won't grant immunity, the immediate response would be to point out that Parliament's not in session and pressure him to move on the immunity issue himself. In other news, the United Nations notes that Ban Ki-moon's special envoy to Iraq, Martin Kobler, met with Nouri al-Maliki yesterday and Kobler "stressed that UNAMI and the UN country team are in Iraq to assist the Government and the people." Aswat al-Iraq notes that Nouri issued a statement after the meeting and declared that they had talked about "the necessity of evacuating Iranian Ashraf camp by the end of this year".

Meanwhile Aswat al-Iraq reports Nouri's calling for the creation of "a higher national council for Iraqi tribes" and that "MP Mahmoud Othman told Aswat al-Iraq that these formations are unconstitutional, and will negatively affect the building of the Iraqi state.

Suha Sheikhly and Adam Joseph (Al Mada) report
on the rise of cancer in Iraq due to the war (radiation and pollution caused by the various weapons -- some of them banned -- used by US and British forces). 54-year-old Noria is one of the people presented in the article. The woman feared she had developed breast cancer so she went in for tests. Six months later, she's awaiting the results. The article notes the long delays in testing and how those who are poor do not have the option of seeking treatment out of the country. The report notes that the number of cancer patients has doubled in the last two years and that the Committee on Health and Environment in the Parliament estimates 700,000 Iraqis have developed cancer. Rasha is another woman in the report. Her four-year-old daughter's head was swollen and she appeared to have a brain tumor. but in four months of medical visits, the doctor never treated the tumor.

On this week's Law and Disorder Radio -- a weekly hour long program that airs Monday mornings at 9:00 a.m. EST on WBAI (didn't air today due to a WBAI pledge drive) and around the country throughout the week, hosted by attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights) -- topics explored include Occupy Wall Street with attorney Magaret Ratner Kunstler as well as extrajudicial murder and the murder of journalist Jose Couso. We'll close with this from Mike Whitney's "Is It Immoral to Vote for Obama?" (Information Clearing House):

Knowing what we know now, we can say with 100% certainty that Obama will continue killing people wherever he deploys the US military, the US intelligence services and US drones. How can anyone in good conscience sign on to that type of thing?
Now I know people will say,”If you don’t vote for Obama, you’re handing the White House and our children’s future over to crackpots and extremists”.
This is a very persuasive argument, but it’s also misleading. The real issue is whether one is willing to support the administration’s policies, policies that we all know will continue to kill defenseless women and children wherever the US is involved.

The e-mail address for this site is

law and disorder radio
michael s. smith
heidi boghosian
michael ratner