Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Myth of Moqtada

What Passes For Progress

From the start of this year, that's Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "What Passes for Progress" featuring Moqtada al-Sadr (and Barack and Nancy Pelosi).

"Where do broken hearts go?" Whitney Houston once asked. A lot of the faux left that sat on their asses for the last years have no doubt gone to a dark room to boo-hoo in private. Al Mada reports Moqtada al-Sadr has declared a halt to all military operations against US forces. They quote Moqtada's spokesperson stating that if the US does not withdraw by the end of 2011, the attacks will resume.

Moqtada's threats are always future tense, aren't they?

KUNA also notes the news: "In a statement, Al-Sadr said out of keenness on stability of Iraq coupled with withdrawal of the American forces "I am obliged to halt military operations of the Iraqi resistance until completion of withdrawal." But Al-Sadr warned the US forces against failing to pull out." Michael S. Schmidt and Zaid Thaker (New York Times) add, "It could not be independently confirmed that the statement was from Mr. Sadr."

So many on the faux left have sat on their pampered asses thinking 'blessed' Moqtada would save them. No need for them to call for an end to the illegal war, especially with St. Barack in the White House, let Moqtada do all the heavy lifting.

But Moqtada al-Sadr is as big a fake as they are.

At best, the last eight years have demonstrated Moqtada's the parent saying, "You kids better settle down back there or I am pulling this car over. I mean it this time. This is for real." Only to not, of course, pull the car over.

When has Moqtada ever followed up on any threat? Even when the US and Nouri's forces were attacking his followers in Basra, he ended up caving. (Sadr City in Baghdad rose up in protest to the attacks. In response, Nouri's forces moved in there as well. How upsetting it must have been for the residents to see Moqtada turn tail yet again.)

He has threatened over and over. He never follows through. His bark has always been worse than his bite -- in fact, does he even have teeth?

Over and over, the history demonstrates, Moqtada has caved. But if you sit on your ass all day in the US reading The Nation blogs telling you how brilliant you are and how stupid Republicans are, you really don't get any information. You get an ego stroking, you don't get any information.

Anyone paying attention to Iraq is aware that Moqtada threatened violence if the UN mandate was renewed at the end of 2006. It was. No new violence from Moqtada. He threatened the same if it was renewed at the end of 2007. Again, no violence from Moqtada. In 2008, the SOFA replaces the UN madate (and it's a three-year agreement, not a yearly one) and guess who threatens violence? Right. And guess what follows? Exactly.

But the myth of Moqtada was important to the faux left because it always gave them the excuse that the war would end without they're having to get off their asses and actually do anything. And the press loved Moqtada. He was the gay actor splashed on the cover of Vanity Fair as a 'ladies' man' providing oohs-and-ahs until his movies came out and Americans realized he couldn't act. (They never caught on how he got the job that propelled him onto the cover of Van Fair, did they? The casting couch is not a thing of the past.) Everything about the actor was invented. A complete press creation. Not unlike Moqtada except the press has a great deal more vested in the creation of Moqtada. (That might change if he had to sell tickets.)

Prior to the start of the war, he was a little nobody. Even at the start of the war, he's a nobody. It's only when he calls in favors from the Iranian government -- markers from his late father -- that he gets a small presence and then the press inflates that to 'leader' Moqtada.

And no one ever calls out his caves. Hey, remember how he was going to let his followers decide who the Sadr bloc would support for prime minister in 2010? Remember that? He held a referendum. Who did they not want? Nouri.

And remember how after he kept insisting he would never support Nouri for prime minister. (Nouri had attacked him with the Iraqi military, after all.) But, remember, by the time October 2010 rolled around, Moqtada was solidly on board with Nouri remaining prime minister?

How many times do you go back on your public promises before people stop taking them seriously?

Al Mada reports that US military spokesperson Jeffrey Buchanan has declared that the Iraqi security situation is not what Iraq wants or deserves." He adds that the Iraqi are uanble to secure the country and that a period of training is needed. Kurdish MP Sardar Abdullah is quoted stating that a withdrawal now would lead to turmoil while a member of Sadr's bloc is quoted stating that 'trainers' are okay if they're really just trainers.

Now for Dumb Ass Squawking: Stephen M. Walt. Walt incorrectly credits Fox News' Tuesday scoop (the 3,000 soldiers remaining in Iraq option) to the New York Times. That's bad enough. Then he writes as though he just learned of the militarization of diplomacy (putting the war operation under the US Embassy in Baghdad -- soldiers and contractors though, no surprise, Walt's missed out on the soldiers aspect -- but then I never saw his ass attending any of the Congressional hearings on this topic this year). But then he really wants to flaunt his ignorance. See if you can pick it out:

My question is: Whom do we think we are fooling? Surely not the Iraqis, who aren't likely to see much difference between U.S. soldiers and U.S. "paramilitary security contractors." Indeed, the Sadrist movement has already denounced these plans, and is holding a major demonstration in Baghdad today to demand a complete U.S. withdrawal. And we aren't fooling the remaining anti-American extremists in the rest of the region, who believe that the United States is an aggressive imperial power seeking to dominate the region with military force and who will use our remaining presence-no matter how it is camouflaged-as a recruiting tool.

Yes, he pins his hopes and dreams on Moqtada. What a fool. But in this blog post at Foreign Policy published yesterday, he declares that the Sadrists are "holding a major demonstration in Baghdad today" -- oh, you sad, sad man. Originally Moqtada was going to participate. The consensus of the State Dept is that he thought he could piggy back onto the September 9th protests (organized by non-Sadrists) but then realized his promise of "millions" would not be covered by the demonstrations planned. So he backed out. It was part of his backing away from the call of the no-confidence vote in Nouri (he and his block had agreed to that vote but backed away the minute the news got out).

Moqtada and his minions did not take to the streets in Baghdad. Stephen Walt has bought into the Myth of Moqtada and looks like an utter fool as a result. Did he not watch any of the footage of Friday's protests? Hey, Dumb Ass, would they be changing the name of Friday's protest to "We Are All Hadi al-Mehdi" if it was a Sadrist protest? No.

Walt's also a dumb ass for not knowing that the 3,000 option is one of several options the White House is considering. All week AP's been reporting on "options" (plural) -- even if NYT couldn't be bothered. Phil Stewart (Reuters) observes, "Sources tell Reuters the Obama administration is now considering options including a training force as small as 3,000 troops in the country. Obama's Democratic base may still feel that is too many and Republican critics say that number is too few to guard against a dangerous escalation in violence." Options. See. There are many. The 3,000 is only one of them.

From yesterday's snapshot, "Meanwhile there's a battle going on between Nouri and members of Parliament. Dar Addustour reports Nouri is attempting to force out Judge Rahim Ugaili as the chair of the Integrity Commission. At Nouri's request and under intense pressure, Judge Ugaili tendered his resignation and Parliament is saying not so fast. Ugaili ticked off Nouri as a result of his investigation of alleged corruption among government officials and Nouri wants Ugaili out so that he (Nouri) can go public with files on his political opponents while ensuring that members of his own Cabinet -- who do have files as well -- will not be revealed publicly." AFP reports that Nouri has accepted the forced resignation. Aswat al-Iraq reports:

The Independent Legislature of the Iraqi Parliament, Sabah al-Saedy, has charged Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki with being behind the resignation of the Chairman of the Integrity Commission, Rahim al-Ugeily, from his post, because he had demanded Ugeily to what he had described as "opening unrealistic integrity dossiers."
"The reasons that made the Chairman of the Integrity Commission, Rahim al-Ugeily, to resign from his post, had been his refusal to open unrealistic corruption, false and fabricated dossiers against political personalities, I announce two of their names only – Jawad al-Bolany and Ahmed al-Chalaby," Saedy told a news conference, attended by Aswat al-Iraq news agency, charging that "the demand had been presented by the ruling party."


Raheem Salman (Los Angeles Times) adds, "Uqaili's supporters said he was frustrated by political conflicts that kept him from cracking down on corruption, no small problem in Iraq. In its 2010 rankings, the group Transparency International ranked Iraq as the fourth most corrupt country in the world."

Today's violence? Reuters notes a Baghdad cafe bombing claimed 2 lives and left eight people injured, 3 Iraqi soldiers were shot dead in Baghdad (and two civilian bystanders were left injured), a Baghdad police checkpoint was attacked and 1 police officer was killed and, dropping back to Friday night, an Imam was shot dead in Baghdad. Aswat al-Iraq notes a Baquba bombing claimed 1 life and left eight others injured.


We'll close noting Michael S. Schmidt's "Many Iraqis Have Second Thoughts as U.S. Drawdown Nears" (New York Times) where Schmidt interviews a cross-section of Iraq and finds some are less sure US forces should depart.



The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.




























Baha Mousa the tip of the iceberg

Following the whitewash findings of the inquiry into the torture and death of 26-year-old Iraqi Baha Mousa at the hands of the British military, some may be breathing a sigh of relief that the inquiry avoided the obvious by refusing to address that 2003 British soldiers would have to be trained in techniques to utilize them -- techniques the British military supposedly outlawed over thirty years prior. And the inquiry refused to address the chain of command issue and the patterns of abuse going instead for a 'few bad apples.'

That pretense might be hard to keep up. Paul Cahalan (Independent of London) reports that human rights attorney Phil Shriner is calling the Baha Mousa "just the tip of the iceberg" and "there were thousands of allegations of mistreatment from Iraqis detained by British troops. The allegations potentially implicate every single battle group that did a tour, and also the special interrogation team, he said." Meanwhile Jason Groves (Daily Mail) reports the UK Defense Secretary Liam Fox has declared that he will be getting to the bottom of how these outlawed interrogation techniques came back into use.

Meanwhile Jassim Alaiv (Al Mada) reports on the lives of journalists claimed during the Iraq War: 295 journalists killed by militias or insurgents, 32 during mass attacks, 29 by US forces and 12 by Iraqi forces. Alaiv notes that journalists have been kidnapped and held for money, tortured while they were held, and that the status of 18 journalists who have been kidnapped during the war remains unknown. Earlier this week, Aswat al-Iraq reported that journalist Ismail Mustapha has been "detained by a joint Iraqi-US force in western Baghdad" since "last week" and that the Iraqi Society for the Defense of Journalists Rights was calling for his release. And Thursday journalist Hadi al-Mehdi was assassinated. Aswat al-Iraq reports today, "The Iraqi Parliament has demanded the protection of journalists, freedom of opinion and demonstration, along with the discovery of the killers of the Journalist, Hadi al-Mahdi, and sending them to justice." Due to the fact that Nouri al-Maliki's forces kidnapped and tortured Hadi February 25th following a protest and due to Nouri's repeated demonizing of protesters (he's called them terrrorists, Ba'athists, etc.), many suspect his involvement in the assassination. Annie Gowan and Aziz Alwan (Washington Post via Gulf News) report, "Friday, Al Maliki's government had no comment on Al Mahdi's death. But its opposition block in parliament, Iraqiya, demanded a full investigation. Iraqiya issued a statement condemning the crime as a 'desperate attempt at muzzling and to bring Iraq back to the republic of repression, fear and despotism'." Aswat al-Iraq notes, "Mahdi, graduate of Baghdad University’s Collage of Find Arts in 1989 and father of 3 children, had immigrated to Denmark in the 1990s of the last Century, escaping from the regime of former President Saddam Hussein, which executed a number of his relatives and returned home after the downfall of the regime, where he worked in several media agencies, last of which had been a radio station, in which he had been presenting a program that gained a broad mass support."

The following community sites -- plus On the Wilder Side and Random Notes -- updated last night and today:







David Bacon's most recent book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which won the CLR James Award. We'll close with this from Bacon's "SOMETHING LESS THAN PROSPECTIVE CITIZENS: Borrowed hands -- does the H-2A guest worker visa program make it easy to exploit farm workers?" (California Lawyer):


In the fall of 2006 Irma Luna, a community outreach worker for California Rural Legal Assistance in Fresno, got a phone call. Hundreds of farm workers, the caller said, were living in the Siskiyou County Fairgrounds, and many were being fired and sent back to Mexico.
To investigate, Luna and CRLA attorneys Alegria Delacruz and Mike Meuter drove 500 miles north to the tiny town of Tule Lake. Waiting at the local library they found a hundred angry laborers. Over 600 people, workers said, had been contracted in Mexico by Sierra Cascade, a large nursery, to spend six weeks trimming the roots of strawberry plants. The company owns over a thousand acres of nursery ranches in northern California and southern Oregon, where it grows rootstock for berry plants, selling to growers around the world.
The attorneys took declarations and prepared a suit, beginning one of the largest litigations in California over the job rights of contract Mexican guest workers. It became one of the longest as well. The last payments to workers to settle their claims were finally made this spring, five years later. The passage of that much time might not seem extreme to many California lawyers. But to workers who live from one paycheck to the next, waiting five years to get paid is more than a delay. It is an indication that the legal process cannot overcome the vast inequality in power between Mexican contract workers and their employers.
California's 650,000 farm laborers comprise a third of the nation's agricultural workforce, but only about 1 percent of those laborers are here on H-2A visas - a much lower rate than on the East Coast.
However, numbers don't tell the full story. For more than a decade pressure for expanding guest worker programs in California agriculture has been coming from growers and the politicians close to them. More than half of the state's farm workers are undocumented, and though their labor is cheap, growers can't always rely on having it when they need it. And if the prohibition on hiring undocumented workers were seriously enforced in agriculture - as it has been increasingly in other industries - most enterprises would not be able to function.


The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.


















thomas friedman is a great man






oh boy it never ends

















Friday, September 09, 2011

Iraq snapshot

Friday, September 9, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, protest erupt in Iraq, an assassin or assassins killed yesterday but Hadi al-Medhi is not forgotten, Iraqis and human rights and journalism organizations call for his killer(s) to be brought to justice, the Sadr bloc wants to oust the Speaker of Parliament, Nouri wants to hush up the judge heading the corruption investigations, and more.
 
"They promised to serve the people while all they did is loot!" was one of the cries in Baghdad's Tahrir Square this morning. Alsumaria TV observes,  "Massive demonstrations took place in Iraq provinces on Friday."  Dar Addustour notes that protests took place in several cities as protesters demanded basic services, jobs and reforms with some activists calling for early elections as well.  The paper explains that there were attempts to halt the protest in Baghdad by tightening security and blocking off roads; however, citizens turned out in the "thousands"
 
We'll come back to Baghdad but demonstrations took place across Iraq on what is called the Dawn of The Liberators.  The Great Iraqi Revolution posts video of the protest in Ramadi where the chants included "We're coming to Baghdad, we're all soldiers to liberate Baghdad!Aswat al-Iraq reports protests took place in Hilla as well with citizens demands ("handed to the Provincial Council") including "dissolving the council, relieving Babil governor from his post, putting to account all corrupted governmental officials, activation of industrial, trade, service, agricultural and sodial services, protection of civil freedoms and adopting talented people for building the new society."  A council member responded that the governor is "on probation" and that the other issues are issues that the central government out of Baghdad (Nouri) has to address.  The Great Iraqi Revolution reports that in Wasit Province's Kut, "the government refused to grant the activists the permit required.  Anti riot forces armed with guns, armors and armored vehicles, ambudlances and police cars are spread in and around the city specifically Amel Square in Kut; and invidiual searches are carried out as well."  And they report that "security forces in Wasit province arrested a large number of the demonstrations organizers and the number of detainees exceeded 50 people, among them the activists Sayed Jaber and Sajad Salem were arrested in the city of Kut."  Aswat al-Iraq reports on the protest in Falluja where "hundreds of unemployed youths, intellectuals and triable sheiks demonstrated" and organizer Kahmess Jadan al-Lihaibi explains the demands (end to corruption, employment, basic services and a functioning judicial system) included "stopping the work in Kuwaiti Morbarak terminal and calling the UN to intervene to terminate Iranian and Turkish atrocities against Iraqi borders."  The outlet reports on the protest in Diwaniya as well noting that the "hundreds" of participants included members of the Socialist Movment, NGOs, Democratic and Communist parties "and some well-known personalities" and they quote the Communist Party's Jabbar al-Shaibani stating that "the demonstration marched with 500 citizens, including women and children, who raised placards denoucning the government and demanding the central and local governments the implementation of basic services, otherwise these demonstrations shall be repeated in stronger manner."  Al Jazeera notes protests also took place in Basra and Najaf.
 
Back to Baghdad, Alsumaria TV notes, " In Baghdad, an Iraqi army force using batons dispersed a demonstration organized by Abu Ghraib residents, western Baghdad, in protest against administrative corruption. Demonstrators staged three rallies in Al Tahrir Square, central Baghdad. The first demanded the elimination of corruption, the second called for the establishment of FAO port and the abolition of borders' demarcation with kuwait while the third objected the visit of Iraqi speaker Ousama Al Nujayfi, and Iraqi Vice President Tarek Al Hashimi to Saudi Arabia. Security Forces closed all entrances to the Green Zone and tightened security measures in anticipation to any security implications."  Something's left out of that, did you catch it?  Let's move over to Aswat al-Iraq which states that the demonstration in downtown Baghdad (Tahrir Square) lasted over three hours and called for "better services, early elections and termination of corruption" and that they "shouted against Mubarak terminal and the Turkish and Iranian atrocities in the north" (Turkey and Iran's armies are shelling and bombing northern Iraq).  Hmm.  They miss it too.
 
"The martyr was one of the activists in the movement against corruption and the curbing of rights and freedoms, through Facebook and through demonstrations in Tahrir Square.  He was always stressing the need to reject any violation of the constitution and the law."  That's WG Dunlop (AFP) quoting activist Zahir al-Jamaa.  Speaking of?  Journalist and activist Hadi al-Mehdi who was not at the protest today because he was assassinated yesterday.
 
His face was seen at today's demonstrations across Iraq as, in Baghdad and throughout, protesters carried photos of Hadi.  The Great Iraqi Revolution notes, "Our correspondent in Baghdad:: The government forces refused to release the body of the assassinated journalist Hady Mahdy for the public funeral arranged by protestors. The did not allow a symbolic funeral to take place either.// Hady Mahdy , what greatness! They fear you dead or alive."
Dar Addustour calls the assassination of Hadi "a deep wound in the conscience of Iraq" and Hadi "a shining star in the honored sky illuminating the path in the stuggle against tyranny."  In Baghdad today, at the Tahrir protest, activist Hattem Hashem told AFP, "The voice of Hadi will not be silenced, despite his assassination with a silenced weapon."  Al Jazeera quotes Hadi once telling the network, "When we speak up and raise our voices they kill us and tell lies about us."  They describe his weekly radio program:
 
 
Music and humour punctuated his pointed attacks on everyone he thought was ruining Iraq.
Taxi drivers were riveted by the show and callers phoned in to complain about everything - from paying bribes to get running water to politicians who, once elected, moved to the Green Zone, the heavily guarded area where many of Baghdad's government institutions are housed.
Although his favourite targets were corrupt politicians and the Iraqi parliament, he also lashed out at armed groups considered untouchable.
 
Anne Gowen (Washington Post) reports on the protest in Baghdad and notes Hadi al-Mahdi, "On his radio program, 'To Whoever Listens,' Mahdi loudly criticized Iraqi politicians of every stripe, including Maliki. He had a background in theater, and it showed in his delivery. He often used humor in his attacks. Maliki's officials often had complained about Mahdi's views to the radio station that aired the thrice-weekly talk show, supporters said."   Dina al-Shibeeb (Al Arabiya) reports:
 
 

Iraqis reacted to the news of Mahdi's death with condemnation and criticized a government they see as increasingly dictatorial and basically unchanged from the rule of its brutal predecessor, Saddam Hussein.
In response to Mahdi's killing, a Facebook group, "We Are All Hadi al-Mahdi," was created, and has attracted 1,700 members.
"In a cowardice operation a criminal hand killed the activist and the organizer of tomorrow's protest ... " one member wrote, while another commentator said "the path of freedom has become the path of martyrdom … the revolution has begun."
One female reader wrote "write all that comes from your souls and hearts, we are all corpses that will be buried one day," and another group member said, "death to Maliki and long live Hadi al-Mahdi."

 
 
Al Mada quotes Hanna Edwar stating, "Hadi al-Mahdi was a strong voice calling out attacks on freedom and demanding reforms in the system."  Ali Hussein (Al Mada) cals out the assassination and "the silencing of voices of truth and justice" seeing similarities between the current Iraq and Iraq under Saddam Hussein's rule, how "many things have not changed."  The assassination of Hadi is a cae where "a citizen loses his life with the utmost simplicity due ot the absence of law and the lack of knowledge and responsibility on the part of those who are supposed to implement the law."  The assassin accomplished very little because Hadi al-Mahdi remains in the hearts of Iraqis with the same brilliant smile and childlike features.  Ali Hussien writes of knowing Hadi and of Hadi's belief in the future of Iraq, of seeing him last in a Baghdad cafe one evening with friends, full of life and talking about his future and the future of Iraq and he saw Iraq as an adventure and living in Baghdad as an adventure.  Ali Hussein ends the column wondering, "Who killed Hadi al-Mahdi?  I think all of Iraq should be seeking that answer."
 
 
The Committee to Protect Journalists denounced the assassination and CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney declared, "Iraq remains one of the most dangerous places for journalists to work, and the Iraqi authorities' record of impunity for journalist murders is dismal.  Wih this murder, a strong independent voice in Iraq has been silenced.  Those who carried out this killing cannot go unpunished."  Human Rights Watch issued the following:

(Beirut) -- Iraqi authorities should conduct an immediate, full, and transparent investigation into the September 8, 2011 killing of Hadi al-Mahdi, a popular radio journalist often critical of the government, at his home in Baghdad, and prosecute those responsible, Human Rights Watch said today.
"The killing of Hadi al-Mahdi sadly highlights that journalism in Iraq remains a deadly profession," said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "After more than six years of democratic rule, Iraqis who publicly express their views still do so at great peril."
Witnesses at the crime scene told Human Rights Watch that they saw no evidence of a struggle or theft, suggesting that the killing was deliberate. Al-Mahdi's cell phone, laptop, and other valuables were left in the house untouched.
Al-Mahdi, a freelance journalist and theater director, had been openly critical of government corruption and social inequality in Iraq. His popular talk radio program, "To Whoever Listens," ran three times a week in Baghdad before he left the show two months ago. The program's appeal was al-Mahdi's fearless and scathing voice, laced with a sense of humor, Human Rights Watch said. Leading up to the country's "Day of Anger" mass pro-democracy and anti-corruption demonstrations on February 25, he became increasingly involved as a vocal organizer of Iraq's new protest movement in Baghdad.
Human Rights Watch spoke with al-Mahdi during the demonstration on February 25, and he stressed the importance of peaceful protest. As riot police began acting aggressively and groups of protesters started to throw hundreds of rocks, Human Rights Watch saw al-Mahdi take a leadership role with those who locked arms and made a human chain between angry crowds and riot police in an attempt to keep the peace. Many who did so were injured by rocks or by the riot police's use of force.
After the protests, security forces arrested him and three other journalists at a Baghdad restaurant. They beat and blindfolded them, and threatened them with torture during their subsequent interrogation. Al-Mahdi told Human Rights Watch after they were released the next day that interrogators had forced him, while blindfolded, to sign what he was told was a criminal confession and also a pledge to refrain from participating in future demonstrations. He showed Human Rights Watch bruises and red marks on his face, neck, and shoulders, as well as on his legs and abdomen.
Al-Mahdi continued to attend and organize many of the weekly Friday demonstrations that followed in Baghdad's Tahrir Square. He told Human Rights Watch that on March 4, an unknown man in the crowd approached him in an intimidating fashion and said that security forces were watching him, and then listed all of the people al-Mahdi had called on his phone that day. Al-Mahdi said on March 11 that in the previous week he had been threatened several times by phone or text message not to return to Tahrir Square.
Al-Mahdi was also one of the prominent organizers of a big demonstration planned for the first Friday after the end of the month-long Muslim holiday of Ramadan, on September 9. His Facebook profile picture was an announcement for the demonstration, and he posted the following message describing threats against him in the hours before his death:

Enough ... I have lived the last three days in a state of terror. There are some who call me and warn me of raids and arrests of protesters. There is someone saying that the government will do this and that. There is someone with a fake name coming on to Facebook to threaten me. I will take part in the demonstrations, for I am one of its supporters. I firmly believe that the political process embodies a national, economic, and political failure. It deserves to change, and we deserve a better government. In short, I do not represent any political party or any other side, but rather the miserable reality in which we live. ... I am sick of seeing our mothers beg in the streets and I am sick of news of politicians' gluttony and of their looting of Iraq's riches.
The killing of al-Mahdi follows years of targeted violence against journalists in Iraq. Most recently, on August 29, an assailant beat a prominent journalist, Asos Hardi, in Sulaimaniya with a pistol, requiring Hardi's hospitalization and 32 stitches.
Since the start of protests in Iraq in February over widespread corruption and lack of services, journalists have faced escalating attacks and threats, including from members of the government's security forces.
"In Iraq, we're used to journalists being attacked, but this one was close to the bone," Ammaral-Shahbander, head of the Institute for War and Peace Reportingin Iraq and a friend of al-Mahdi's, told Human Rights Watch after seeing al-Mahdi's body lying in the kitchen at his home. "This attack was different because usually journalists here have been killed in the line of duty, and you expect fatalities in war zones. But sitting in your own home and getting shot like this is too much to bear."
Emad al-Ebadi, another friend of al-Mahdi's, told Human Rights Watch that al-Mahdi confided that he was receiving daily death threats via social media and cell phones with blocked numbers: "He would come to me very upset and angry and shows me the incoming calls to support his allegations. I used to try always to calm him down and tell him to not care that much about these phone calls and advise him to be careful at the same time and stay alert."
Al-Ebadi, a television journalist who has frequently criticized parliamentary and government figures, survived an attempt on his life on November 23, 2009, when unknown assailants shot him in the neck and head.
Al-Shahbander expressed hope that al-Mahdi's killing would not deter Iraq's journalists from reporting on events in the country.
"So many journalists have been kidnapped and killed in Iraq but it doesn't matter how many are tortured, intimidated, or killed -- journalists will continue doing their jobs," he said. "This attack just shows how desperate the enemies of democracy have become."


Amnesty International notes:
 
 
The killing of a prominent radio journalist in Baghdad highlights how Iraqi authorities are failing to protect media workers from continued threats and violence, Amnesty International said today.
Hadi al-Mahdi, 44, was shot twice in the head in his flat in the Karrada district of  Baghdad yesterday, ahead of a planned protest he was due to attend in the city's Tahrir Square today.
Friends have said he had feared for his life after receiving a string of threats in recent weeks.
"Journalists continue to pay a high price amid the ongoing violence in Iraq, and politically motivated attacks like this must no longer be tolerated," said Philip Luther, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.
"Iraqi authorities must roundly condemn Hadi al-Mahdi's killing, carry out a full investigation to identify and bring his killers to justice, and ensure other journalists who face threats are given adequate protection if they request it."
Al-Mahdi was an outspoken political critic, and his popular Radio Demozy show "To Whoever Listens" took on a wide range of issues. No-one across the political spectrum was spared his scrutiny, and his analysis was described as irreverent and witty, drawing on his theatrical background.
Officials in President Nuri al-Maliki's government had reportedly complained to Radio Demozy about the show.
Al-Mahdi stopped broadcasting the show about two months ago, reportedly out of fear for his safety.
Earlier this week, al-Mahdi had been using social media sites to publicize a protest planned for 9 September in Baghdad's Tahrir Square, where he had been attending weekly protests in recent months.
Several hours before he was killed on the eve of the protest, al-Mahdi posted a note on Facebook saying he felt he was in danger:
"I have lived the last three days in a state of terror. There are some who call me and warn of raids and arrests of protesters. There is someone saying that the government will do this and that. There is someone with a fake name coming on to Facebook to threaten me."
Earlier this year, al-Mahdi had told Amnesty International about how a group of at least 15 soldiers detained him and three other journalists on 25 February, after they had attended a pro-reform demonstration in Tahrir Square.
The four journalists were detained overnight for interrogation at the headquarters of the army's 11th division, where al-Mahdi was beaten, given electric shocks and threatened with rape, before being released without charge.
In August, Iraq's Parliament passed a new law on legal protections for journalists, who face ongoing politically motivated threats and attacks. However, the law does not provide for their physical protection.
"Al-Mahdi's murder just a month after this new law was passed merely highlights this major loophole in the measure," said Philip Luther.
"Iraqi authorities must redouble their efforts to ensure journalists can carry out their work in safety."

Read More


 
One of the few US reporters, and the first, to take seriously the events immediately following the February 25th protests, was Stephanie McCrummen who filed a report the next day for the Washington Post that opened with, "Iraqi security forces detained hundreds of people, including prominent journalists, artists and intellectuals, witnesses said Saturday, a day after nationwide demonstrations brought tens of thousands of Iraqis into the streets and ended with soldiers shooting into crowds."  Hadi was among those noted in her article:
 
Hadi al-Mahdi, a theater director and radio anchor who has been calling for reform, said he was blindfolded and beaten repeatedly with sticks, boots and fists. One soldier put a stick into Hadi's handcuffed hands and threatened to rape him with it, he said.
The soldiers accused him of being a tool of outsiders wishing to topple Maliki's government; they demanded that he confess to being a member of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party. Hadi told them that he blamed Baathists for killing two of his brothers and that until recently he had been a member of Maliki's Dawa Party.
Hadi said he was then taken to a detention cell, his blindfold off, where he said there were at least 300 people with black hoods over their heads, many groaning in bloody shirts. Several told him they had been detained during or after the protests.
Hadi, who comes from a prominent Iraqi family, and his colleagues were released after their friends managed to make some well-placed phone calls.
"This government is sending a message to us, to everybody," he said Saturday, his forehead bruised, his left leg swollen.

 
And many believe the assassination Thursday of Hadi was another message from the government of Nouri al-Maliki.  NPR's Kelly McEvers Tweeted yesterday:
 
kellymcevers Kelly McEvers
The cold-blooded killing of gov't critic Hadi al Mahdi in #Iraq says as lot about why this country's protest movement petered out.
 
Kelly McEvers was also one of the few US journalists to take seriously what happened immediately after the February 25th protests.  She interviewed Hadi for NPR's Morning Edition (link has text and transcript).
 
Meanwhile there's a battle going on between Nouri and members of Parliament.  Dar Addustour reports Nouri is attempting to force out Judge Rahim Ugaili as the chair of the Integrity Commission.  At Nouri's request and under intense pressure, Judge Ugaili tendered his resignation and Parliament is saying not so fast.  Ugaili ticked off Nouri as a result of his investigation of alleged corruption among government officials and Nouri wants Ugaili out so that he (Nouri) can go public with files on his political opponents while ensuring that members of his own Cabinet -- who do have files as well -- will not be revealed publicly. In other news of Parliament, the Sadr bloc is attempting to oust Osama al-Nujaifi as Speaker of Parliament.  Dar Addustour cites the bloc's Jawad Hasnawi as stating that and tomorrow Parliament meets to review several proposals.
 
 
 
wdunlop87 W.G. Dunlop
#Iraq security forces on Friday found mass grave w/ 40 victims killed in the past two years, police say http://bit.ly/qHSdHr
 
 
In the last two years?  No, the violence didn't vanish after 2007 despite the way some outlets attempt to spin it.
 
Turning to the whitewash of the murder of Baha Mousa, a 26-year-old Iraqi who was beaten and tortured to death in less than two days by the British military in 2003.  The British inquiry into it has issued the laughable findings. For reality, we'll note Timothy McDonald's report for The World with Eleanor Hall (Australia's ABC -- link is audio):
 
 
Timothy McDonald: Baha Mousa was working at a hotel which British soldiers raided in search of weapons in 2003. He was detained with nine others and within forty-eight hours, he was dead. An autoposy showed that he suffered 93 injuries including fractured ribs and a broken nose.  His mother wants the men responsible to be prosecuted.
 
Baha Mousa's mother: Of course he died as a young man. He was deprived of his youth and his children.  His sons are deprived by the British soldiers. They killed him so how could the court release them? We call upon the British government to reconsider the report.
 
Also worth noting is a video report by  Laurence Lee (Al Jazeera -- link is video).
 
Laurence Lee: Baha Mousa died at the hands of British soldiers who were supposed to be making Iraq a better place.  Instead this innocent 26-year-old was subjected to abuse described by this inquiry as "vile and cowardly," "a grave and shameful episode for Britian. ... Here's the crux of it: The soldier being filmed [in the video] called a violent bully was the only one to be jailed even though many more are implicated. The techniques as they're called, like hooding, are illegal under the Geneva Convention.  Yet Baha Mousa and nine others were subjected to two days of this. The military unit was operating in a building without doors in the open.  Soldiers boasted about what they were doing. It was described as "a free for all."  Even before Baha Mousa died, the detainees were described as looking like they were in a car crash.  The soldiers were using the so-called five techniques: hooding, sleep deprivation, use of noise, wall standing and food deprivation. All had been banned by the British government in 1972. Yet somehow the soldiers knew all about them.
 
Somehow they knew these techniques.  In 2003, techniques that had been banned 31 years before, before any directly involved had even been born, the soldiers knew these techniques.  Was it past-life recall?  More likely they knew what to do because they were told what to do.  They were trained to do what they did.  And the inquiry refused to go there.  At the same time, the inquiry refused to blame those higher up the chain of command.  If the soldiers weren't doing what they were instructed to do, then the command should have known about it.  Their refusal to monitor those serving under them is dereliction of duty.  The report refused to indict the chain of command in any way or form.
 
 
Laurence Lee: The report calls for better training and says soldiers may not have been clear what was allowed.  Lawyers for the Iraq detainees say that's absurd.
 
Phil Shiner: We've seen the training materials.  They've managed to lose the training materials from before the war but we've managed to see the training materials from 2005 and 2008. And they're riddled -- those materials -- they're riddled with techniques which were clearly unlawful -- harshing, get them naked and keep them naked if they won't cooperate.
 
Laurence Lee: This was the biggest inquiry into professional standards in the British army since the Bloody Sunday investigation into the killings of unarmed Catholics in Northern Ireland forty years ago.  It tries simultaneously to say that mistreatment of Iraqis wasn't a one-off but that there was no general culture of abuse. Based on the evidence, some are likely to read it as the continuation of a historical pattern.
 
 
The final key failure was not holding those in positions of authority accountable. It is perhaps not surprising that a corporal was the only person punished. The laws of war, which the British government promotes elsewhere in the world, states that those in a position of authority who knew or should have known about a serious offence and failed to prevent it, or to hand the matter over for prosecution, are themselves guilty of crimes.
Senior officers should have been aware of the abuse Mousa was enduring. The inquiry heard that Mousa and his fellow detainees endured repeated beatings and hooding. Hooding is one of the "five techniques" that the British government said 40 years ago it would never use again and is prohibited by the Geneva conventions. Such acts are not just a few soldiers out of control, but require training and orders. In fact, given the knowledge of abuse in Iraq in 2003, the most senior officers and the politicians ultimately in charge should have been aware of the extent of the abuse that was taking place. There is precious little evidence of any steps being taken to stop it.
 
The editorial board of the Arab Times observes, "Predictably, the British Army response has been that this was an isolated incident. It was not as isolated as they would believe. It was not the only British military crime in Iraq. There was Ahmed Kareem, forcibly drowned in May 2003, allegedly by four British soldiers. Many will say that it was just the most recent in a long line of British military atrocities, stretching from its colonial period in India, South Africa, Kenya and elsewhere to, more recently, the troubles in Northern Ireland."  In addition, Nina Lakhani (Independent of London) reports, "The Ministry of Defence is facing legal action by the families of 32 dead Iraqi civilians, who they say were killed unlawfully by British troops, unless it agrees to hold an independent inquiry into the deaths so that lessons can be learnt. Among the dead are Hanaan Salih Matrood, an eight-year-old girl, who died after being shot by a British patrol in August 2003. The MoD denies the deaths were unlawful."
 
As we wind down, in the US an important tenth anniversary is approaching at the end of the month:
  
 
Haymarket Books 10th Anniversary Celebration
Friday, September 30, 2011
Galapagos Art Space
Brooklyn, NY

Haymarket Books is ushering in its tenth year of independent publishing with an evening of drinks, music, and politics at Galapagos Art Space in Brooklyn on Friday, September 30.

We hope you will join us as we celebrate our first decade and lay the foundation for our next decade.

We will be joined by authors Dave Zirin, Chris Lehmann, Frances Fox Piven, Brian Jones, Moustafa Bayoumi,  Michael Schwartz, Jose Vazquez, Jeremy Scahill, and Amy Goodman. We will also have special greetings from Arundhati Roy, Omar Barghouti, John Carlos, China Mieville, Mike Davis, Ilan Papp√©, Aviva Chomsky, David Barsamian, Wallace Shawn, and other Haymarket writers.

Doors will open at 7 pm and the event will begin at 8 pm.

Tickets are available now

Info:

Buy tickets
Congratulations to Haymarket on ten years, a populace that reads is not only educated, it's (more importantly) informed.  Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  We'll close with this from her office on another 10th anniversary, the 9-11 annivesary this Sunday:
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                     CONTACT: Murray Press Office
Friday, September 09, 2011                                        (202) 224-2834
Senator Murray's Statement on 10th Anniversary of 9/11 Attacks

(Washington, D.C.) -- Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray released the following statement as the United States prepares to commemorate the 10th Anniversary of the September 11th attacks this Sunday.
"Ten years ago terrorists attacked our country, our financial center, our military headquarters, and our sense of security. The shocking pictures from that day are still fixed in our minds. Our collective history was changed and none of us will ever be the same. On that day, no matter our differences, where we came from in life, the region of the country, our race, religion, or political party - we were all one thing: Americans.
"This somber anniversary should serve as a reminder to everyone that there truly is more that binds us than divides us. It is our freedom: to live, to prosper, to govern ourselves, and yes – even to disagree. This makes us all Americans.
"Our great nation has withstood many challenges. We have learned and grown together as a result of the attacks of September 11th, and we will never forget that terrible day ten years ago. Our hearts will forever go out to the victims, their friends and family, the volunteers and workers, and the police and firefighters and other first responders who answered the call.
"Our nation must also pay tribute to the men and women in uniform who have answered the call to serve after that fateful day ten years ago. Since the attacks, brave American service members have stepped forward to serve our nation. Many of these service members have done more than one tour of duty abroad – sometimes serving, three, four or even more tours.
"Many who have served have come from the ranks of our National Guard and Reserves and have turned a part time commitment into a full time job protecting our nation. These men and women, who chose to join our all volunteer force, come from all walks of life and from every corner of our nation. They serve as a constant reminder of what our nation can accomplish when differences are put aside in order to move our country forward, and it is our solemn duty to care for them when they return home.
"So as we commemorate this unspeakable tragedy, as we remember the thousands lost, and as we recount the stories of the heroism and compassion, I urge all Americans to remain vigilant, to remember and to revisit the common good that still exists between us all."
###

Meghan Roh

Deputy Press Secretary

Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray

@SenMurrayPress

202-224-2834

Get Updates from Senator Murray

 
 
 
 
 

Protests erupt in Iraq

9-9

Throughout Iraq today, protests have taken place. The above is a screen snap of the protest in Ramadi from the video The Great Iraqi Revolution has posted. Today is being called "Dawn of the Liberators." TGIR reports that at least 50 demonstrators were arrested in Wasit Province while in Baghdad (below), the protesters were attacked by the police (watch Samir al-Iraq's video of screen snap until the end and you'll see the protesters running as the forces advance).

9-9-2011

The photos the Baghdad protesters are holding up are of the assassinated journalist Hadi al-Mahdi. The Great Iraqi Revolution notes, "Our correspondent in Baghdad:: The government forces refused to release the body of the assassinated journalist Hady Mahdy for the public funeral arranged by protestors. The did not allow a symbolic funeral to take place either.// Hady Mahdy , what greatness! They fear you dead or alive."

And yet the New York Times files a 113 brief on the assassination. You know, if I'd have screwed up the Feburary 25th coverage, I think I'd be working overtime right now to make up for it. But that's the New York Times for you -- intentionally obtuse. And on their way towards becoming The Saturday Review. The what? Exactly.

In fact, not only did they screw up the February 25th coverage -- their Saturday Feb. 26th coverage was a lengthy he-said-she-said article giving all the weight to Nouri al-Maliki -- at the same time that the Washington Post had been and was breaking the news that Nouri's security forces had gone around beating and abducting protesters and journalists. NPR would cover it, other outlets would cover it but the Times' single story on what took place couldn't tell you what took place, couldn't tell you about the four journalists eating lunch when Iraqi forces came up and began attacking them with the butts of the guns.

And not only could they not tell it then, but they can't tell it now in Yasi Ghazi's brief. There is nothing in the meager 113 word write up that acknowledges that Hadi was one of the journalists rounded up on February 25th and tortured by Iraqi forces. There is nothing to note that Nouri was called out by Hadi or that forces under Nouri's command tortured Hadi.

Human Rights Watch issued the following:

(Beirut) – Iraqi authorities should conduct an immediate, full, and transparent investigation into the September 8, 2011 killing of Hadi al-Mahdi, a popular radio journalist often critical of the government, at his home in Baghdad, and prosecute those responsible, Human Rights Watch said today.

“The killing of Hadi al-Mahdi sadly highlights that journalism in Iraq remains a deadly profession,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “After more than six years of democratic rule, Iraqis who publicly express their views still do so at great peril.”

Witnesses at the crime scene told Human Rights Watch that they saw no evidence of a struggle or theft, suggesting that the killing was deliberate. Al-Mahdi’s cell phone, laptop, and other valuables were left in the house untouched.

Al-Mahdi, a freelance journalist and theater director, had been openly critical of government corruption and social inequality in Iraq. His popular talk radio program, “To Whoever Listens,” ran three times a week in Baghdad before he left the show two months ago. The program’s appeal was al-Mahdi’s fearless and scathing voice, laced with a sense of humor, Human Rights Watch said. Leading up to the country’s “Day of Anger” mass pro-democracy and anti-corruption demonstrations on February 25, he became increasingly involved as a vocal organizer of Iraq’s new protest movement in Baghdad.

Human Rights Watch spoke with al-Mahdi during the demonstration on February 25, and he stressed the importance of peaceful protest. As riot police began acting aggressively and groups of protesters started to throw hundreds of rocks, Human Rights Watch saw al-Mahdi take a leadership role with those who locked arms and made a human chain between angry crowds and riot police in an attempt to keep the peace. Many who did so were injured by rocks or by the riot police’s use of force.

After the protests, security forces arrested him and three other journalists at a Baghdad restaurant. They beat and blindfolded them, and threatened them with torture during their subsequent interrogation. Al-Mahdi told Human Rights Watch after they were released the next day that interrogators had forced him, while blindfolded, to sign what he was told was a criminal confession and also a pledge to refrain from participating in future demonstrations. He showed Human Rights Watch bruises and red marks on his face, neck, and shoulders, as well as on his legs and abdomen.

Al-Mahdi continued to attend and organize many of the weekly Friday demonstrations that followed in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square. He told Human Rights Watch that on March 4, an unknown man in the crowd approached him in an intimidating fashion and said that security forces were watching him, and then listed all of the people al-Mahdi had called on his phone that day. Al-Mahdi said on March 11 that in the previous week he had been threatened several times by phone or text message not to return to Tahrir Square.

Al-Mahdi was also one of the prominent organizers of a big demonstration planned for the first Friday after the end of the month-long Muslim holiday of Ramadan, on September 9. His Facebook profile picture was an announcement for the demonstration, and he posted the following message describing threats against him in the hours before his death:

Enough ... I have lived the last three days in a state of terror. There are some who call me and warn me of raids and arrests of protesters. There is someone saying that the government will do this and that. There is someone with a fake name coming on to Facebook to threaten me. I will take part in the demonstrations, for I am one of its supporters. I firmly believe that the political process embodies a national, economic, and political failure. It deserves to change, and we deserve a better government. In short, I do not represent any political party or any other side, but rather the miserable reality in which we live. ... I am sick of seeing our mothers beg in the streets and I am sick of news of politicians’ gluttony and of their looting of Iraq's riches.

The killing of al-Mahdi follows years of targeted violence against journalists in Iraq. Most recently, on August 29, an assailant beat a prominent journalist, Asos Hardi, in Sulaimaniya with a pistol, requiring Hardi’s hospitalization and 32 stitches.

Since the start of protests in Iraq in February over widespread corruption and lack of services, journalists have faced escalating attacks and threats, including from members of the government’s security forces.

“In Iraq, we’re used to journalists being attacked, but this one was close to the bone,” Ammaral-Shahbander, head of the Institute for War and Peace Reportingin Iraq and a friend of al-Mahdi’s, told Human Rights Watch after seeing al-Mahdi’s body lying in the kitchen at his home. “This attack was different because usually journalists here have been killed in the line of duty, and you expect fatalities in war zones. But sitting in your own home and getting shot like this is too much to bear.”

Emad al-Ebadi, another friend of al-Mahdi’s, told Human Rights Watch that al-Mahdi confided that he was receiving daily death threats via social media and cell phones with blocked numbers: “He would come to me very upset and angry and shows me the incoming calls to support his allegations. I used to try always to calm him down and tell him to not care that much about these phone calls and advise him to be careful at the same time and stay alert.”

Al-Ebadi, a television journalist who has frequently criticized parliamentary and government figures, survived an attempt on his life on November 23, 2009, when unknown assailants shot him in the neck and head.

Al-Shahbander expressed hope that al-Mahdi’s killing would not deter Iraq’s journalists from reporting on events in the country.

“So many journalists have been kidnapped and killed in Iraq but it doesn’t matter how many are tortured, intimidated, or killed – journalists will continue doing their jobs,” he said. “This attack just shows how desperate the enemies of democracy have become.”



The Baghdad turnout was significant as evidenced by this photo Rami al-Hayali took for the Great Iraqi Revolution.

9-9-2011 a

The only other thing that has to be noted this morning is this Al Mada article in which Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari declares that Nouri's Cabinet and Parliament must decide on how many US troops would remain in Iraq beyond 2011 as the negotiations continue while Nouri's flack maintains that an agreement would be under the sole jurisidiction of his Council of Ministers and would not need input from the Parliament. That's not a new position by Nouri. What makes it news is that Zebari seems unaware of it.

ADDED: Sorry, I forgot, the following community sites -- plus Antiwar.com and Cindy Sheehan -- updated last night and this morning.




Since I am adding, let me quickly answer an issue in the e-mails to the public account. Alissa J. Rubin was on Fresh Air yesterday. A friend asked me to note it, there wasn't room. I hate that show but I would've noted it in the snapshot if there'd been room or time. (And may note it today.) A number of visitors stumbled across this entry on Alissa J. Rubin. A few readers also did and both groups e-mailed about it. (No community members did, probably because they know how it goes here.) I have praised Alissa J. Rubin (for readers) and I would rate her work for the Times in Iraq overall to be very good. I would also rate Tim Arango's work overall to be very good. But I'm not here to hand out gold stars. Most of the time, we're commenting on the day to day coverage and doing so daily. We regularly called out Rubin on math. (Math is not my strong suit either unless it's currency.) We called out an easy acceptance on Sahwa. From the title, I had no idea what the entry was about so pulled it up to read it. Then didn't. I saw the date: November 28, 2008. I'm sure the entry is calling her out for claiming that the Iraq War ended in 2011 because of the then-just approved SOFA.

I like Alissa J. Rubin's work overall. I rate it highly. But I do not forgive any of the misinterpretations of the SOFA. The Iraq War might be over today if the SOFA hadn't been misreported on. If people hadn't been lied to repeatedly and told that the SOFA meant that the Iraq War was over by 2011 and all US troops home, then people would have stayed focused.

Some did try to warn in real time. We certainly did here. Go to the archives and pull up Thanksgiving Day 2008. We're calling out the SOFA then (the first time it was actually published -- we also have the entire text of the SOFA via the White House website which finally published it Thanksgiving Day). We continued to call it out.

It was not a minor issue. The SOFA never meant the Iraq War ended. I wrote here over and over and over about this. Not once, not once a year. I did it over and over despite the nasty e-mails, the threats of never (or, in one case, "never ever") being linked to again by certain sites. I did it when the nasty e-mails came in announcing The Common Ills was now delinked to because we either wouldn't stop writing about the SOFA or because we were wrong about the SOFA.

We were right about the SOFA. If we were wrong negotiations wouldn't be taking place right now.

I do know contract law. And I have no respect for anyone that didn't know contract law and didn't have the brains to pick up a phone and find out what it entailed. The SOFA was a contract. It had three options for renewal. If it ran all the way through, it could then mean US troops left, it could mean the SOFA was renewed, it could mean the SOFA was replaced with a new agreement.

We went over and over this in 2008, in 2009, in 2010 and this year. I grew so very tired of this topic but kept bringing it up because so many were lying and claiming the SOFA meant that US troops all left Iraq at the end of 2011. At one point, I even used Rick Springfield's General Hospital contract to illustrate the point thinking that might make it more clear. I tried to talk about it every way possible.

The date of the Rubin entry is November 28, 2008. I'm sure it's about the SOFA. She was far from the only one either lying or wrong. I stand by that entry. Thing is, I doubt she'd stand by the article I'm commenting on. If she did and tried to claim that no one could have known, our entire archives from Thanksgiving Day 2008 forward demonstrate how easy it was to know the truth about the SOFA and its meaning.

I'll also add that some people got it right in real time. Including one friend who was so savaged for reporting reality that they gave up. I have never trashed ___ and never plan to. I have trashed many people I know here (and will again) including friends. But ___ told the truth about the SOFA. ___ walked away when all the nasty e-mails came in. And shortly after ___ was assigned to another region. I do not blame ___ for one minute for walking away from the topic.


The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.