Monday, January 23, 2012

NYT covers for Nouri

Yesterday was to have been a meet-up in Iraq among political blocs to plan a national conference to address the political crisis Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki started and kicked up another notch (after massive arrests starting in October) by declaring Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi was a terrorist and demanding Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq be stripped of his post. Last month, President Jalal Talabani and Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi began calling for a national conference. Two Sundays ago, some political blocs met up to work on preliminary details of such a conference. The plan was to meet up again yesterday; however, Talabani had to leave the country instead. Aswat al-Iraq notes that the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan's Adel Murad states, "President Jalal Talabani shall return to Iraq within one week after his successful spinal surgery in Germany; he is feeling well now."

Michael S. Schmidt (New York Times) tries to recap major recent events of the political crisis. In some parts, he's wrong on his chronology, leaves out a key detail, more disturbing -- and blame the paper for this, it's already covered for Nouri which is why it was the Washington Post and NPR -- not the New York Times -- which reported on the February 25th arrests of protesters in downtown Baghdad and the torture of them and the kidnappings of reporters covering the February 25th arrests and their torture. This was by Nouri's forces. To this day, those counting on the New York Times to provide them the truth really don't know what happened. That's not fair to the paper of record. Let me correct that. Readers of the Sunday, February 27th Washington Post discovered Stephanie McCrummen's report and learned that protesters were rounded up, that journalists were kidnapped (at least four) after they were at the protests (covering them) and had gone on to lunch, and all were stating they were tortured and supplying evidence of torture. Readers of the the New York Times?

Well that 'protest' coverage would be the embarrassing nonsense of "We present the protests the way Nouri wants us to" as written by, yes, Schmidt and Jack Healy. Click and chuckle.

Again, the paper covers for Nouri and it always has. It's really more that it's a coward in the face of power. The official reason given by higher ups is that by being 'neutral,' they are able to make requests when, for example, journalists are detained. That's nonsense. Neutrality is not covering up for human rights abuses. Human Rights Watch released a report yesterday entitled [PDF format warning] World Report: 2012 (we noted it yesterday, we'll note it in the snapshot) and that's the main reason that the paper offers an Iraq report today. To minimize the findings by Human Rights Watch. Only 3 paragraphs of the 22 paragraph report address or even allude to the findings. Two of which come half way through the report. Covering for Nouri also means that they mention conflict between Nouri and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan by just mentioning that Erdogan spoke to Iraqi politicians and US Vice President Joe Biden.

Oh, how the New York Times LIES.

They leave out Nouri's public remarks, threatening remarks, and they leave out the Wednesday attack on the Turkish Embassy in Baghdad. And Nouri's remarks and State of Law's that came before the attack on the Embassy.

From the January 13th snapshot:

In Iraq, the political crisis continues. Nouri started it and now he wants to expand it, apparently, to go beyond Iraq's borders. How else to explain his attacks today on the Prime Minister of Turkey? Today's Zaman reports, "Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has harshly criticized Turkey for its what he said 'surprise interference' in his country's internal affair, claiming that Turkey's role could bring disaster and civil war to the region -- something Turkey will itself suffer." Interfere? Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has cautioned that the political crisis could lead to a civil war in Iraq and has called on parties to start a real dialogue to resolve the issues. That's really not "interfering." But what has Nouri so ticked off is that Erdogan also stated the very plain fact that Nouri started the political crisis. It's a fact, Nouri doesn't like facts, but that doesn't change the status. AFP quotes Nouri stating, "Recently, we noticed their surprise interventions with statements, as if Iraq is controlled or run by them. Their latest statements interfered in domestic Iraqi affairs . . . and we do not allow that absolutely. If it is acceptable to talk about our judicial authority, then we can talk about theirs, and if they talk about our disputes, we can talk about theirs. Turkey is playing a role that might bring disaster and civil war to the region, and Turkey itself will suffer because it has different sects and ethnicities." It's always funny when Nouri unleashes his crazy in public. That was what bothered the French government the most about the White House backing Nouri in 2010, that Nouri was clearly unstable and that's who Barack wanted to rule Iraq? Crazy Nouri. KUNA reports Nouri and Erdogan were on the phone Thursday discussing the situation in Iraq. And now, today, Nouri's parading the crazy. At this rate, the bullet to the head so many observers feel is in Nouri's immediate future just may come from his own gun.
While Nouri was showing the world how unhinged he is, the Turkish Press reports that Erdogan was speaking on the phone with US Vice President Joe Biden about Iraq: "Reportedly, Erdogan said to Biden that if Iraq distances itself from the culture of democracy, efforts previously exerted for peace and stability will be wasted. Sources added that Erdogan and Biden also indicated that authoritarian and sectarian policies will never benefit Iraq and that Turkey and the US consider benefit in holding dialogue and consultations regarding the developments in Iraq." In addition, Erdogan spoke with President Barack Obama. The White House issued the following today:
Office of the Press Secretary

President Obama and Prime Minister Erdogan spoke by telephone today about issues related to democracy, security and development in the Middle East and North Africa region; this was their first conversation in the New Year. The two leaders discussed recent developments in Iraq and their continued support for an inclusive, partnership government that brings stability, democracy and prosperity to the Iraqi people. They agreed that the U.S. and Turkey should continue to support the legitimate demands for democracy for the Syrian people and condemned the brutal action of the Assad regime. The two leaders discussed Iran's nuclear program and how Iran should engage with the international community in this regard. They agreed that U.S. and Turkish teams would remain in close contact on ways that Turkey and the U.S. can support the democratic transitions underway in the Middle East and North Africa.

Did you catch that last part? I said Schmidt left out a key detail, that was it. Schmidt notes that Biden and Erdogan spoke. Schmidt doesn't note that US President Barack Obama spoke with Erdogan about the same matter (on the same day). Barack's the president. If you're going to mention only one conversation a foreign leader had with the US government you go with the highest ranking one. (That would be the president.)

From January 15th:

Not content at lashing out at politicians in his own country, Nouri appears determined to expand the political crisis into the entire region. Al Mada notes that Nouri is stating the remarks of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will cause a catastrophe. Hyperbole's always been a part of Nouri's make up. Kitabat also notes Nouri's attack on Erdogan and how he accuses Erdogan's call for Iraq to resolve the political crisis as Turkey interfering in Iraq's domestic affairs. You've heard of a pep squad? Well Nouri has a thug squad. And Al Mada reports that State of Law, on Saturday, joined Nouri in attacking Edrogan and the country of Turkey.

After all those public attacks, is it really a surprise that the embassy was attacked with rockets?

And if you're not grasping how much Schmidt's story is nothing but damage control, click here and read Dan Morse's report for the Washington Post. His report also includes reaction to the report from Nouri's spokesperson Ali Hadi al-Moussawi whose comments include, "Their number [protesters in Baghdad's Tahrir Square] is gradually decreasing, and they do not reflect strong opposition to the government."

Of course the number has decreased. Nouri's forces attacked and tortured journalist and organizer Hadi al-Mahdi in February 2011 and then Nouri's forces or his supporters killed Haidi in September. As Jane Arraf reported for Al Jazeera yesterday, Nouri 'supporters' shout down protesters in Tahrir Square. This was one in a series of reports, another recent report was noted in the January 10th snapshot:

Jomana Karadsheh: Last month, Oday al-Zaidy and a small group of people gathered in a Baghdad square to celebrate the US media withdrawal planning to burn the US flag. But more than 200 security forces swarmed around them, banned us from filming and stopped the protests because they said the group had not obtained a permit. But they still managed to burn the flag. Oday and others were beaten up and detained for a day. Security officials say, they assaulted policemen, something the group denies. "Democracy in Iraq is an illusion," Oday says. "An American illusion and an American lie. Whoever wants to see that for themselves, should come and see what's been happening in Iraq since February 25th." That's when thousands of Iraqis -- partly influenced by the Arab Spring -- took to the streets of cities across the country protesting against corruption and a lack of basic services. [Gun shots are heard and security forces move in.] But from the start, they were met by a fierce crackdown. The government denies an orchestrated effort to put down protests, saying there were just minor violations committed by to put down protests by individual security officers. Activists groups disagree. Human Rights Watch says the violations have been systematic and ongoing documenting dozens of cases where protesters were beaten up, detained and, in some cases, even tortured.
Human Rights Watch's Samer Muscati: People are afraid to go to demonstrations, are afraid of being rounded up, of being assaulted, of being beat up, of being followed to their own homes.

Bonnie reminds that Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "State of the Union" went up last night. This week on Law and Disorder Radio -- a weekly hour long program that airs Monday mornings at 9:00 a.m. EST on WBAI 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 an update on Mumia Abu-Jamal, Guantanamo Prison, the murder of Iranian scientists, Occupy Chicago Tribune lawsuit, Bradley Manning, the whistle blower site Honest Appalachi (with Jimmy Tobias as guest -- to interact/submit with the website, you need to install something on your computer first to interact with the site.)

The e-mail address for this site is

jomana karadsheh

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