Friday, February 24, 2012. Chaos and violence continue, the press loves to play, can you be both something and also linked to that something (no), Iraqi youths turn out to protest and make new demands, the 2012 budget is finally passed in Iraq, Veterans For Peace calls on the White House to drop the charges against Bradley Manning, and more.
Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports the US Embassy in Iraq has issued a statement on yesterday's attacks throughout the country which includes, "These heinous acts targeted people going to work and shopping, children going to school and security forces working to protect the citizenry." Yes, that would be wrong. Which is why, of course, that the US government evacuated every Iraqi out of the country in February 2003 in anticipation of the invasion. It's why the US ensured that no one was in Falluja before they started their November 2004 assault. What's that? Oh, right. The US government didn't do either of those things. It launched a war and didn't give a damn about children going to school or people going to work or people shopping or anything. It launched an illegal war of choice and now it thinks there's some high ground that can be stood on? There is none.
I do not see any contradiction in feeling sympathy for the dead American Marines and soldiers and at the same time feeling sympathy for the Fallujans who fell to their guns. The contradiction lies in believing that we were liberators, when in fact we opprssed the freedoms and wishes of Fallujahs. The contradiction lies in believing that we were heroes, when the definition of "hero" bares no relation to our actions in Fallujah.
What we did to Fallujah cannot be undone, and I see no point in attacking the people in my former unit. What I want to attack are the lies and false beliefs. I want to destroy the prejudcies that prevented us from putting ourselves in the other's shoes and asking ourselves what we would ahve done if a foreign army invaded our country and laid siege to our city.
I understand the psychology that causes the aggressors to blame their victims. I understand the justifications and defense mechanisms. I understand the emotional urge to want to hate the people who killed someone dear to you. But to describe the psychology that preserves such false beliefs is not to ignore the objective moral truth that no attacker can ever justly blame their victims for defending themselves.
Matthis Chiroux: Hey everybody, I'm Matthis. I haven't spoken out in awhile. I've been going to college and learning about the corruption in the market places and the courthouse and right here in these military recruiting centers. And on these US military bases all over the world. These abuses are not part of the story these recruiters are trying to sell your kids. They're trying to sell your kids the Boy Scouts. They're trying to sell your kids the Girl Scouts. They're trying to sell your kids the Peace Corps. The mission they are selling is to engage and destroy so called enemies of the United States of America. Killing bombing writing through streets with guns doesn't help people, is not the Boy Scouts, is not the Girl Scouts, is not fostering democracy. It's fostering a lot of debt. It's fostering a lot of hatred. It's fostering a lot of abuse. And the military, it bears the face of that abuse You see it in vets who come home and can't ever feel normal again. You've seen soldiers who are still in the military can't picture a life without war.
Matthis is an Afghanistan War veteran and Iraq War resister. He and Ross Caputi made some very important observations that appeared to escape our 'wise' press. Fortunately, on the second hour of today's The Diane Rehm Show (NPR), Diane and guests Abderrahim Foukara (Al Jazeera) and Moises Naim (El Pais) were able to discuss yesterday's violent attack across Iraq in an adult manner.
Abderrahim Foukara: Obviously, these bombings in Iraq have happened in a very interesting context because Maliki has been touting himself as the leader of the Iraqi Spring. He's been saying, 'My government' which is a Shi'ite dominated government 'has brought stability to Iraq.' The Iraqis are actually gearing up for hosting the Arab Summit in Baghdad as another sign that the government in Iraq thinks that Iraq is stable. The Saudis, to placate the Iraqis and reward them for joining the boycott of the sanctions against Syria, have said that they will actually -- that they have actually appointed an ambassador for the first time to Iraq since 1990. So I think this spate of bombings is really the answer to all this talk coming out of Baghdad that the situation is under control.
Diane Rehm: Could this be sectarian warfare?
Abderrhaim Foukara: There is definitely sectarian warfare. Nouri's government is Shi'ite dominated government and it's seen by many Sunnis -- not just in Iraq but also in the neighborhood of Iraq -- it's seen as a proxy of Iran.
Moises Naim: It is sectarian and has sectarian elements but let's remember it is also about power. These are the use of sectarian sentiments and manipulation of religious feelings and ethnic divides this is a very, very basic fight for power and how to share power between different groups that are jockeying to dominate politics and government in Iraq.
So what do you know, there are political aspects and social aspects and things that go so far beyound the simplistic narrative of "al Qaeda branch" and "al Qaeda llinked" and "al Qaeda adjacent with a stunning turn of the century cottage out back." Reality, the attacks were carried out by Iraqis. It sure makes things simpler if you just pin it all on "al Qaeda" and deny the reality that there are serious splits in Iraq to this day and deny that there is strong opposition to the Nouri al-Maliki government on the part of some Iraqis. If you ignore that, of course, then you'll never, ever have to way in on how authoritarian his goverment has gotten. Which is what most of the US press does over and over. They avoid the issues, they avoid exploration because crowing "al Qaeda! al Qaeda!" means you can have 'fun' conversations where you pretend what if you were an FBI agent tracking a terrorist or 'terrorist' and how you'd conduct yourself. By all means, sit on the couch and explore your own personal fantasies -- but with Oprah off daytime, maybe you should take those sessions to a licensed therapist and instead use media time to discuss realities in Iraq?
Lara Jakes apparently needs therapy desperately. She opens her AP report with, "A spokesman for al-Qaida in Iraq" -- not linked, not branch, not franchise, not chain food establishment, it is, Lara Jakes tells us, "al-Qaida in Iraq." Strangely, in her very next paragraph she insists that Abu Muhammed al-Adnani, the spokesperson she's referring to, is the "spokesman for the al-Qaida-linked Islamic State of Iraq." Which is it? Is it al Qaeda or is al Qaeda linked? Can we at least whatever today's lie is straight? Is that too much to ask?
Reading Jakes' report is distressing on every level including on the news consumer level.
Patient exhibits the signs of dissociative identity disorder as evidenced by her appearing to speak in one voice and then quickly shifting to another voice. The first voice maintains a man is the spokesperson for al Qaeda in Iraq. The second voice, or personality, chimes in that he is a spokesperson for "the al-Qaieda-linked." Neither personality appears aware of what the other stated. At this stage in the treatment it's too soon to determine if either is the host personality. Possible etiological roots of the reporter's disease may stem from her long-term assignment to conflicts and war zones which may have created higher levels of stress than the host personality could handle, causing a disruption which manifested itself in at least one additional personality.
You're either "linked to" or you "are" them. You can't be both. So let's try to figure out what today's lie is before rushing copy off to the wires, okay?
Lara Jakes does, fortunately, tell us that the translated remarks she's parading came from Rita Katz's SITE Intelligence Group. Ugly Rita's done a great deal of damage over the years. Robert F. Worth gushes about Rita and what a big help she was to him when he was covering Iraq, "Rita really knows what she's talking about -- who's responsible for attacks, what's a legitimate terrorist organization and what's not." Does she? Because I'm not remembering any great arrests resulting from Rita's 'information.'
But in this community, we remember 'reporter' Robert F. Worth and his accomplice Carolyn Marshall. We remember them in relation to their coverage -- excuse me, their pre-coverage -- of an Article 32 hearing into the March 12, 2006 gang rape and murder of 14-year-old Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi, the murder of her parents Qassim Hamza Raheem and Fakhriya Taha Muhasen and the murder of her five-year-old sister Hadeel Qassim Hamza. These crimes were War Crimes and the criminals were US soldiers. We may have last noted Robert and Carolyn's 'amazing' 'reporting' in the April 6, 2009 snapshot:
Friday, June 20, 2006, Steven D. Green was arrested in the US (Asheville, North Carolina) having already been discharged in May. He was charged with murder and with rape. Green appeared in a Kentucky federal court November 8, 2006 and entered a plea of not guilty. Green was out of the US military, Paul Cortez, Jesse Spielman, Bryan Howard and James P. Barker were still in. An Article 32 hearing was scheduled for August (2006) and, strangely, Robert F. Worth and Carolyn Marshall (New York Times), ahead of the Article 32 hearing, presented the defense's argument. That was strange not only because the defense hadn't presented their argument yet but also because the defense argument was a strange one. After the defense had made the argument,
Andy Mosher (Washington Post) would quote the go-to-military law expert for the press, Eugene Fidell stating, "This is not a defense known to the law. But this kind of evidence could come in during the court-martial, and it might be pertinent to the sentence. They could be setting the stage to avoid a death penalty." Wow. So will Robert F. Worth and Carolyn Marshall ever be asked to explain how they offered the defense -- excuse me, how they made the defense argument in an alleged article of reporting? They didn't quote the defense. They didn't have to. They didn't present this as an argument, they presented it as what happened.
Talk about great reporting, Robert and Carolyn knew the defense's strategy before the defense revealed it. Or, possibly, lazy writers like Robert need someone to present them with a framework to put their easy conclusions into. So it's Rita Katz or it's whispers (uncredited in the article) from the defense. Once upon a time, if you presented the defense's case (before they did) in an article, if you made their case or tried to in what supposed to be a report, your editor would ask you who your source was. And if your source was the defense, if you were turning over your space in the paper to allow the defense to fight their case and you weren't even noting that you'd gotten this from the defense, you'd be out of a job. Rita Katz is the 'answer' for reporters who don't like questions and don't like doing real work. Just run with what Rita tells you and try to ignore the long, long history of grudge f**king she's done to that region and that she'll never get over Daddy being executed for being an Israeli spy.
And that suspect motive (I say her entire motive for breathing), but that suspect motive, that used to be enough to get you considered questionable as a source. And that's before you go on 60 Minutes pretending to be someone other than who you are.
It says a great deal about the lack of standards on the part of AP, the Washington Post, the New York Times and others using Rita's 'reports' and 'information.' It also says a great deal about their Islamophobia. And let's be very clear that we have objected to this for years publicly and we're not the only ones. When history reviews this time period and recoils in disgust at the witch hunts which took place, when those news outlets try to pretend that it was 'normal' and complaints were never raised about Rita Katz and her demented "Terrorist! Everywhere!" (she's sort of like Eleanor Abernathy, the crazy cat lady on The Simpsons), let it be known that those outlets are liars and that they were urged repeatedly to stop using the work of a woman who was well and widely known for her prejudice against Muslims. They were urged to but they chose to continue to use it and they made sure that they participated in this modern day McCarthyism. They'll try to turn Rita Katz into the great villain when they're the people who give her the megaphone.
Standards don't matter when the press is feeling frisky and wants to play. Charles Duelfer recalls (at the Washington Post) how a press corps entertaining itself (my description, not his) ended up having real world consequences on Iraq. He concludes his piece with: "It is worth recalling this today as we discuss equally signficant decisions regarding Iran and, in many ways, are equally ignorant about Iranian leadership -- and vice versa." Also worried about how the press could influence a war on Iran, Reza Marashi and Trita Parsi (Huffington Post) stress the need for the media to explore:
According to the Congressional Research Service, total war-related funding for Iraq has exceeded $800 billion -- an average of approximately $100 billion per year. With these numbers in mind -- and at a time of over 8 percent unemployment and unprecedented government bailouts -- how will we pay for a war with Iran?
Looking back at America's recent wars, the American people trusted that their elected leaders accurately assessed the pros and cons of their policies. It didn't take long before protracted quagmires collapsed that trust. With the notable exception of neoconservatives, most Americans eventually realized the sad truth: their leaders didn't have a plan beyond bombing; they knew little if anything about the country in question; and they failed to conduct a realistic cost assessment -- in both blood and treasure -- of the endeavor. By the time Americans realized all of this, the damage had already been done.
Avoiding another war of choice will require a media that digs beyond agenda-driven analysis and prevents the debate from being curtailed. It will require a media that doesn't permit a question of life and death to be framed in a simplistic manner that leaves the U.S. with a false choice of either bombing Iran or accepting an Iranian bomb. It is the responsibility of reporters -- not congressmen, senators, neoconservatives or foreign governments -- to not only get answers to their questions, but also to define the questions properly.
On Iraq, the mainstream media did not ask the right questions until disaster was a reality. On Iran, those questions need to be asked now so that disaster can be avoided.
Friday, February 25, 2011, protesters turned out throughout Iraq and they would continue to protest each subsequent Friday. In Baghdad, they gathered in Tahrir Square. Many were beaten, many were killed (at least 16 were killed). A number of journalists covering the demonstrations were later rounded up and tortured. That included Hadi al-Mahdi who was assassinated September 8th in his Baghdad home.
Today, the first anniversary is being observed. Kitabat notes that the protesters were demanding change and reform and that, back then, Moqtada al-Sadr was describing Nouri as a dictator. (Notice Nouri never went after Moqtada the way he has Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq.) A protester states that there demands were not met and that they will continue protesting until they are. AFP reports that police officers and the military made their presence known in Baghdad's Tahrir Square today with weapons ("wooden clubs, pistols and assault rifles . . . police vehicles mounted with machine guns"). They quote chant leader Muayid al-Tayyeb stating that "when the government faced these demands with repression, our request became new elections." Anissa Haddadi (International Business Times) notes, "Youth and pro-reform movements took to the streets in Baghdad to call for greater political reform and new elections." Aswat al-Iraq notes the protesters plan to "continue their protests on Saturday (Feb. 25) in memory of the first demonstration against corruption" and that on February 27th of last year, "Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki gave his cabinet 100 days to improve the delivery of services to Iraq's people or face 'changes,' but no one was ultimately fired." Nor were the services improved. Al Mada reports today saw crowds and verbal exchanges and scuffles and that the protest was no different than the ones which came before. But one thing, the paper reports, did change and that was the number attending which was far greater than the number who took part last Friday. The protesters noted the expected national conference (to resovle the political crisis) and stated if the conference should fail, Iraq would have no choice but to call new elections. They also called for a public debate between one of their own and Nouri to address issues such as Nouri's authoritarian rule. Dar Addustour also reports on the call for a public debate.
I am speechless. I have no real words can describe my feelings now. Those people who claimed they would work for Iraqis think about no one but themselves. While the bodies of the people who voted for them scattered to pieces, they think about nothing but gaining more and more before the coming parliamentary election.
I felt so ashamed when I read the news about approving this law especially when i read sentence (the Iraqi parliament) because those group of people who carry the Iraqi citizenship prove with no doubt they are Iraqis only because they carry official Iraqi documents not because they are real Iraqis who care about Iraq and Iraqis.
Al Mada notes that the Sadr bloc (Moqtada al-Sadr's representatives) did put forward a motion (which passed) that 25% of oil export revenues to spending on the Iraqi people (Al Rafidayn states it's 20%); however, though it passed, the measure would still need the approval of Nouri's Cabinet.
Veterans for Peace has issued a press release on Bradley Manning, they are calling for all charges to be dropped:
In May 2010, the Army arrested PFC Manning, then 22, in Iraq, where he was working as a low level intelligence analyst. He is accused of leaking classified information, including an Army video that shows US soldiers in Baghdad shooting down unarmed civilians, including two Reuters employees, from an Apache helicopter. The video, dubbed "Collateral Murder," has been viewed millions of times on YouTube.
Prosecutors have also accused Manning of giving Wikileaks thousands of Army diaries from its occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. The Army's own reports reveal that the killing of civilians was a regular occurence and that the Army regularly lied about it. The diaries also show that the Armyw as lying to the American people about the progress of the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
"It is not a crime to reveal evidence of war crimes, but it is a crime to cover up evidence of war crimes, as the Army has apparently done," said Leah Bolger, a former Navy Commander who was recently elected the first woman president of Veterans For Peace. "The American people deserve to know the truth about the wars being waged in our name," continued Bolger. "Our soldiers should not be asked to die for a lie, and those who tell us the truth should not be the ones being punished."
Bradley Manning has been confined for 21 months, including 8 months in solitary confinement at the Marine brig at Quantico, Virginia, where reports of his abuse bordering on torture caused an international outcry. Manning is now at another military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and the Quantico brig has been closed down. The US government has declined repeated requests by United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Mendez, to interview PFC Manning privately about his treatment.
Private Manning's lawyer, David Coombs, has complained on his blog that most of his requested defense witnesses were denied by the Army judge, while all of the prosecution witnesses were allowed.
"This is a kangaroo court martial," said Gerry Condon of Veterans For Peace. "It is now obvious that the US Army will not give PFC Manning a fair trial. That is why Veterans For Peace is calling on Army Chief of Staff General Ray Odierno, Defense Secretary Leon Panneta, and Commander-in-Chief Barack Obama to drop all the charges against Bradley Manning."
At its national convention in 2010, Veterans For Peace awarded Bradley Manning for his courage. "If he actually did what he is accused of doing, then he is a hero," said Mike Ferner, Interim Director of Veterans For Peace.
US political prisoner and attorney, grandmother and breast cancer survivor Lynne Stewart remains behind bars for the 'crime' of issuing a press release. Her sentecing is the subject of a hearing on February 29th. Before that:
FREE LYNNE STEWART!!!!
Come and Support Lynne's appeal!
VIGIL -- February 28, 2012 sundown until @ Tom Paine Park, NYC
OCCUPY THE COURTS
February 29, 2012 -- Lynne's Appeal @ 500 Pearl Street, NYC 9am
"A Large Outpouring of Support in Folely Square and Tom Paine Park and in the Courtroom will signal to these abriters of 'Justice' that attention must be paid, the 99% are watching them with suspicion and tallying up the roads not taken."
Lynne's a very strong woman. I don't think many people could survive what she has -- the attacks from the Bush administration (the witchhunt against her, the desire to punish her for 'crimes' the Clinton Justice Department had already ruled weren't crimes -- the press release) and then the Barack administration which increased her sentence. But she can because she's strong. The thing is, with all she's given to so many people over the years, she really shouldn't have to be strong. After her dedication to helping the poor and the ones who would have no attorney and no legal voice, she really should be able to be home rallying NYC to support OWS and other things. Ralph Poynter, her husband, is no weakling either. But it is very hard on him to see his life partner and best friend locked away on these ridiculous 'crimes'. Stephen Lendman (URUKNET) writes about what's at stake and, most importantly, he writes about the meaning of an attorney like Lynne and why they would be targeted to begin with. Excerpt:
For 30 years, Stewart worked tirelessly defending America's poor, underprivileged, and unwanted. They're never afforded due process and judicial fairness without an advocate like her.
Where others wouldn't go, she did courageously, defending controversial figures like Weather Underground's David Gilbert, United Freedom Front's Richard Williams, Black Liberation Army members Sekou Odinga and Nasser Ahmed, and many more like them. She knew the risks, but took them fearlessly and courageously until wrongfully indicted for doing her job.
Her case sent a chilling message to other lawyers that it's dangerous defending unpopular clients ruthless prosecutors want to convict.
Throughout her career, she scrupulously observed the American Bar Association's Model Rules. They obligate lawyers to:
"devote professional time and resources and use civic influence to ensure equal access to our system of justice for all those who because of economic or social barriers cannot afford or secure adequate legal counsel."
She did that and much more. She's a model attorney and human being. Now she's wrongfully imprisoned for 10 years. On February 29, her skilled legal team will argue persuasively for justice. For Lynne, it's long overdue.
Her original sentence was unjust. Increasing it fourfold constituted cruel and unusual punishment. The Eighth Amendment prohibits it.
A single prison day ignores her lifetime commitment to community, the rule of law, society's poor, underprivileged and unwanted, and the profession she chose to represent them honorably and courageously.
Many worldwide support Lynne. This writer's proud to call her a friend. On February 29, join others in Manhattan's federal court on her behalf.
Lynne says her case is "bigger than just (her) personally." She'll always struggle for justice and urges others to as well in her signature comment, saying: