Friday, March 30, 2012. Chaos and violence continue, camp cheerleaders try to find "success," Iraqis continue to suffer, US not so quick to sell Iraq high-tech enemy, the US Congress talks military sexual traum and military suicides, and more.
Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) wants you to know that, as Sly Stone once sang, everybody is a star, that we're all winners. Probably Charlotte Caffey and Jane Wiedlin were closer to the truth with, "We're all dreamers, we're all whores" ("This Town," first appears on the Go-Gos' Beauty and the Beat). Journalists are supposed to be critical thinkers not advance men for the company. The Arab League Summit was only a success if we're all toddlers and everyone gets a trophy for showing up. Or if you're stupid enough to think something's true just because a two-bit thug like Nouri al-Maliki says it is.
There are 22 countries in the Arab League. Hamza Hendawi and Lara Jakes (AP) put the number of Arab League leaders who attended at 10 and they pointed out that Qatar, Saudi Arabi, Morocco and Jordan were among those who sent lower-level officials to the summit. Patrick Martin (Globe & Mail) explains that Sheik Hamad Bin Jassem Bin Jabr Al Thani (Prime Minister of Qatar) declared on television that Qatar's "low level of representation" was meant to send "a 'message' to Iraq' majority Shiites to stop what he called the marginalization of its minority Sunnis." Yussef Hamza (The National) offers, "Iraq has looked to the summit, the first it has hosted in a generation, to signal its emergence from years of turmoil, American occupation and isolation. It wanted the summit to herald its return to the Arab fold. But the large number of absentees told a different story." That's reality.
Who's the liar pimping success? Why it's not just Nouri al-Maliki, it's Jane Arraf and Prashant Rao's Twitter buddy, the idiot Reider Visser. A fool not qualified to discuss legalities of the Erbil Agreement as evidenced by his dime store 'legal' 'analysis' that makes Elle Woods look, by comparison, like a legal giant along the lines of Thurgood Marshall. And of course Jane and Prashant and the others weren't trained in the law either so they idiotically retweet Reider's ignorance there by multiplying it as well as endorsing it. Reider's a Nouri al-Maliki groupie so he's hardly an impartial voice. He's also buddies with trash Nir Rosen. Though Nir's more famous right now for turning over the names of Western reporters to the Syrian government (that's what led to the recent charges that he was a spy), he of course became infamous for presenting the 'legal' 'analysis' that Lara Logan 'had it coming.' Nir really wasn't qualified for anything other than blowhard status but the Circle Jerk -- the same one that Jane and Prahsant employ on Reider's behalf -- ensured that a man was elevated and it didn't matter that he pisses on women or anything else. It's really past time that so-called professional journalists started examing their own ethics. At best, Reider is nothing but a whore for Nouri. There's no reason to treat him as impartial. There's no reason to treat his 'legal' renderings as worth passing on.
And to make his lack of value clear, he's pronounced the summit "a landmark achievement." (You sort of picture him panting that as he pulls on himself for a minute and ten seconds.) (Though I may be implying more endurance than he actually has.)
Only a whore for Nouri would pronounce the summit "a landmark achievement." It's cute the way he and Jane Arraf and Prashant Rao and the rest ignore the assault on the Communist Party in Baghdad this week. That took place in Baghdad. That took place as supposedly part of 'security sweep' on the neighborhood for the summit. 12 people were arrested and forced to sign papers they hadn't read. And that's not news? But what a little pig and prig named Reider Viseer thinks is supposed to carry weight?
Because like the 'professional journalists,' he ignores what was done to the Communist Party this week. It's really interesting and illuminating to see what gets covered and what gets ignored and, excuse the hell out of me, but let's also point that when we spent a week here covering the assault on Iraqi youth, Prashant, Jane and their beloved Reider couldn't be bothered with the story.
I guess it's easy to judge Iraq a success when you ignore all the people who suffer and die. I guess it's real damn easy -- real damn easy to lie.
And to whine. I seem to remember these 'professional journalists' and their whines about it took two hours or four hours or they didn't have phone service wah, wah, wah. Did any of those self-obsessed fools stop to write one damn article about the Iraqi journalists who were denied the right to cover the summit?
Did they note that printing presses were down?
Did they mention that outlets like Dar Addustour were basically forced into a holiday for the entire summit?
No, they didn't. But they did let you know that, golly, they ate their breakfast and it was digesting but now it was two hours later and their tummies were rumbling and goodness knows the bus they were on should be moving towards food a whole lot faster.
Everyone pimping the damn lie that the summit was a success should be ashamed of themselves. Not Reider Visser -- his kind is immune to shame. But so-called 'professional journalists,' I don't know what the hell you think you did this week but most of you didn't do reporting.
Not only did you ignore the threats to the Iraqi people, you ignored the staples you usually cover. Radical cleric and online tween advisor Moqtada al-Sadr takes questions from his followers and posts answers. These are usually the 'quotes' of Moqtada's that you see in the press. They love to cover this -- often forgetting to note it was written and it's an online exchange -- but they love to cover it. Strangely, they ignored what he said this week.
He said the US citizen that was released was a soldier. We're talking about Randy Michael Hills. He was in the news March 17th and 18th. The most fitting headline of all the coverage went was on Jack Healy's New York Times article: "Militans Free American No One Knew Was Missing." Randy Michael Hills, a 59-year-old American, former US military or current US military (take your pick) was released by forces once attached to Moqtada al-Sadr who explained that they had held the man for nine months (that he was held for nine months was confirmed by Victoria Nuland in a US State Dept press briefing).
Maha al-Douri, a lawmaker and a member of the al-Sadr movement, said Michael had been in captivity for nine months. A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad said officials were working "to verify the information regarding the alleged U.S. captive." A Pentagon official said the Defense Department is also looking into the reports, but added that to the best of defense officials' knowledge, no active duty military person has been missing in Iraq. The website of the Defense Prisoner Of War/ Missing Personnel Office on Saturday showed three Defense Department contractors as still missing from Operation Iraqi Freedom. Michael was not among them.
Al Mada's coverage made clear that the Sadr brigade considers him a soldier and states they captured a US soldier (not contractor) and they state he took part in the 2004 attack on Najaf and Sadr City as well as 2008 attacks in southern and Central Iraq -- what is known as the Charge of the Knights -- that begins March 25th and is a joint US-Iraq operation targeting Moqtada's forces. And this week, Moqtada answered a question about this released hostage and again stated he was US military, not former military, not a contractor. He may or may not be telling the truth or he may be telling what he thinks is the truth and be mistaken. But Moqtada al-Sadr does know the difference between a US soldier and a contractor. It's interesting that no one wanted to quote Moqtada this week. They usually break their necks trying to follow Moqtada. (Moqtada was a press created 'political figure.' Had it not been for the international press -- as well as Paul Bremer's demonization of Moqtada throughout 2004 -- he would not be the celebrity and power player he is today.)
There are many other stories that they ignored. I think they were highly foolish to ignore KRG President Massoud Barzani but there's a distaste for him among a certain element in the US press.
The summit was a failure and maybe pretending otherwise allows some people -- including those who didn't file a thing until after the summit -- to pretend that they weren't failures as well. But they were.
Some of the idiots want to tell you that the number of Arab heads of states who did not attend doesn't matter and that you should look at the ones who attended and decided to support Iraq.
That insanity (from Reider among others) comes from extreme whoring. It's the after effects of some sort of veneral mental disease turning them all into some sort of modern day Oswald Alving. Clearly Reider has not only never planned a large, successful function, he's never planned anything. It was not the "Iraq League." It was a summit for the Arab League. About half sent heads of state. That had little to do with Iraq and more to do with attempting to honor the organization. It was a failure. Iraq's neighbors are probably laughing at the turnout. They're surely laughing at the idiot claims Nouri made and at his repeated attempts to present himself as someone who has battled 'terrorism' and brought about 'peace.' That wasn't his only bone-head move. Youssef Hamza (The National) observes that, "Iraq's Shiit prime minister, Nouri Al Maliki, may have stunned his Arab guests when he told them his government's handling of Iraq's sectarian conflict 'can be an example to follow in other Arab Nations'."
Again, as Gulf News pointed out, "In addition, the idea that fortified areas such as the Green Zone can exist is also not the solution. As a matter of fact, the very existence of such isolated and protected enclaves proves that there is much to be done to ensure stability and peace."
To hold the disappointing summit, Baghdad had to go into lockdown. Airline traffic had to stop. Barricades had to go back up throughout Baghdad. A national holiday had to be declared for the week. Over 100,000 extra security forces had to be deployed. Supposedly a large amount of money was spent on armored vehicles for these forces -- these vehicles came from Jordan and the fact that the order was last minute and had to be rushed significantly increased the cost. If the Parliament were to explore that, people might question the planning and the vast cost overruns. Whether it's half-a-billion that was spent on the summit or a billion, that was money that has not been spent on the Iraqi people. And how the hell does that make for a success? We're not that many months away from the regular cholera outbreaks in Iraq. The main reason these happen every year is due to the fact that potable water isn't readily available. (Potable water is water that is safe to drink as is -- no boiling of the water is necessary nor purification tablets.)
UPI reports that, "Iraq is acquiring an array of missiles and other sophisticated systems for the 36 Lockheed Martin F-16s it's buying to build an air force but Washington is reluctant to provide Baghdad with the most advanced U.S. weapons." Somewhere Reider's Tweeting: "Landmark achievement" -- with Prashant and Jane rushing to retweet. And Reider's insisting that it's an achievement because, in 2002, the US wasn't selling Iraq F-16s!!!!!!
Al Mada noted yesterday morning that the Iraqi public and Parliament would be judging the summit a success or not based upon whether the leaders turned out for the summit. On that scale, it wasn't a success. In other words, attendence needs improvement and absences hinder progress. In addition to snubs and rebukes, Liz Sly, Aziz Alwan and Asaad Majeed (Washington Post) also note, "The blast at the Iranian Embassy undermined the government's boasts that it had managed to pull off the summit without incident, although it would have gone unheard in the conference room deep inside the vast palace. Zebari and Elaraby both seemed surprised when asked about it by a journalist." Not a success. Sam Dagher (Wall St. Journal) points out, "It spent almost $1 billion on preparations that included unprecedented security measures -- jamming cellphone networks and mobilizing 100,000 security-force members -- and rolling out a catered menu for dignitaries that featured a dessert of 24-carat-gold-laced dates."
Putting on the dog for visitors while the people went without?
One's left to wonder how Jane and the gang would cover Marie Antoinette? "A success by any standards. Today, October 16, 1793, the one-time Dauphine of France was beheaded via the guillotine . . . so that the many admirers throughout the land might have not just a corpse to remember her by but a corpse and a head! And La Veuve Capet looked simply gorgeous clad in a simple white shift as she approached the guillotine clearly having followed a strict diet in the last weeks allowing her to show off a sleaker and slimmer figure."
From the failed leadership of Nouri to the failed leadership of Tony. One time British prime minister and Bush family pet, Tony "The Poodle" Blair barged back into the news cycle. Richard Norton-Taylor (Guardian) reports that yesterday Clare Short accused Blair of distorting reality in order to start the Iraq War. Specifically, he lied when he asserted the French would nix any attempt at a second resolution from the UN Security Council.
Backing up. The UN authorized weapons inspectors to go into Iraq. The UN did not authorize the war. Many citizens of the US and UK felt their rulers (Bully Boy Bush and Toy Poodle Tony) were committed to and, in fact, required to get a second resolution from the UN Security Council if war was the next step.
Clare Short was a Labour MP serving in Blair's Cabinet in the lead up to the Iraq War. Richard Norton-Taylor reports Short told an international tribunal yesterday that Tony Blair deliberately distorted the French government's attitude towards a second resolution. Short states (this is correct) that Blair maintained that the French would veto any attempt at a second resolution. (This is correct? The second resolution was established in the Iraq Inquiry. We pointed this out when the Inquiry completed their public testimony. We also noted that based on the public testimony and documents, Blair was not the passive one led by the genius Bush but, in fact, the one steering Bush through technical waters.) From Norton-Taylor's article:
The Foreign Office is trying to overturn a decision by Christopher Graham, the information commissioner, to disclose records of a conversation between Tony Blair and George Bush about the UN and the French position, days before the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. Disclosing that the evidence was "fantastically important for the people of Britain and the historical record", Short told the tribunal. The tribunal heard that Blair claimed that in a television interview on 10 March 2003, the French president, Jacques Chirac, said France would veto any new UN resolution backing war. This enabled Blair to argue before his cabinet, parliament and the British public that the UK could go to war with no further UN backing because of French opposition. The tribunal heard on Thursday that what Chirac actually said was that France would reject a new pro-war resolution at that particular moment since the UN weapons inspectors had not been given enough time to carry out their mission in Iraq.
In the June 29, 2010 snapshot, we addressed the resolution at length as a result of the British Ambassador to France (2001 - 2007) John Holmes' testimony to the Iraq Inquiry. A second resolution was not desired by the US or the UK. It would hem them in. Holmes testified as to the French government's position and to being baffled that Jeremy Greenstock was told by Blair that he could not ask the French government what their position on UN resolutions were. This was during the exchange with Committee Member Roderic Lyne. From that exchange, we'll note this:
Committee Member Roderic Lyne: If the second resolution had contained a longer deadline for Iraqi compliance, do you think that France would have considered supporting it?
Ambassador John Holmes: I think it is possible because that's what essentially they were suggesting. They were suggesting -- they didn't like the six tests or whatever they were called, but they said "If you give -- if you put in a period" -- I think 120 days was the period they wanted -- "for the inspectors to operate, so they can do their job properly without being put against impossible deadlines, then that's something we could contemplate", but of course, they were still wanting to say that-that a second resolution of that kind would also not have any automatic trigger in it. You would still need to come back at the end of that, the Security Council would need to come back at the end of that, and take a view on what the inspectors were saying to them. So you know, at that stage, you were into third resolution territory. So that is a reason why we weren't particularly attracted, perhaps, to that route, but in any case in those timescales it was simply not available.
Both Blair and Jack Straw misled the British people and, later, the Iraq Inquiry. This might be further underscored if the conversation between Bush and Blair was released (that Short was giving testimony on). Joel Shenton (Public Service) explains, "The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is fighting calls to release details of a 2003 phone call between Tony Blair and George Bush which was made just seven days before the Iraq War began."
Ed Miliband was facing renewed criticism of his leadership of the Labour party after George Galloway swept back into parliament, achieving one of the greatest byelection upsets in recent history.
As Miliband said he would learn the lessons from the defeat in Bradford West, the shadow public health minister, Diane Abbott, said Labour had underestimated the popularity of Galloway and the Iraq war remained "unforgotten and unforgiven".
Now we're dropping back to Wednesday afternoon to note military sexual assault and suicides. The Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel was hearing about various programs the Pentagon was working on to address the needs of their uniformed and civilian personnel. We'll note this exchange between Senator Richard Blumenthal and Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Jo Ann Rooney.
Senator Richard Blumenthal: [. . .] I want to focus on one though that may not be directly related to the budget, I know the budget consumes a lot of time, but you've discussed in your testimony, Secretary Rooney, the issue of sexual assault which I know troubles you and the Secretary greatly, a great concern to you and there's a zero tolerance policy, it's a leadership issue. You say in your testimony that the estimates now are about 19,000 sexual assaults a year which is down from the estimate of 34,000 in 2006. Are you suggesting that the rates are numbers of sexual assaults has been reduced over the last six years.
Secretary Jo Ann Rooney: Sir, the way we get to that number is that we look at the number of reported sexual assaults as a percentage of the overall force and then actually multiply it. The number appears to come down but quite frankly, as you indicated, our concern is that there are any. And 19,000 is 19,000 too many or whatever the exact number is because, again, that was extrapolated from actual reported numbers. So while we believe that the attention being focused, the programs being put in place and, frankly, the leadership taking this on as such a critical area to be able to address because it goes right to the heart of what our military believes in terms of their work and their respect for each other, that that number will come down but we realize we have a lot of work to do.
Senator Richard Blumenthal: But it may not have come down in the last six years. Obviously, you're objective is to make it come down. But I'm just asking whether you have confidence in that number because, quite honestly, I'm not sure that I do.
Secretary Jo Ann Rooney: I believe that number indicates that we have a substantial problem yet. But, again, it's not a specific number. It's extrapolated from those reports we have.
Senator Richard Blumenthal: Of the defendants who reported and in those incidents 3,192 in FY '11, what percentage faced court-martial?
Secretary Jo Ann Rooney: Sir, I'll take that question for the record and get back to you on the specific.
Senator Richard Blumenthal: The information I have is fewer than 21% and I was going to ask you --
Secretary Jo Ann Rooney: That percentage is correct.
Senator Richard Blumenthal: What is the reason that they are not brought to court-martial?
Secretary Jo Ann Rooney: Often, sir, it's many of the same challenges that we see on the civilian side which is, in order to go through the court-martial, obviously we need to be able to get the evidence and make sure that our folks are trained to be able to prosecute those particular cases. Those are specific areas we are working on now -- to make sure people are trained in the specific areas of how to be able to not only get that evidence but be able to present that forward. And that's often the road block.
Senator Richard Blumenthal: So you're upgrading the procedures for collection of evidence. And what about retention of evidence?
Secretary Jo Ann Rooney: Uh, yes, sir. We actually are retaining the evidence at this point -- if it's an unrestricted report, for fifty years.
Senator Richard Blumenthal: And are you making efforts to speed the process? In one instance that has been reported to me -- and I can get you the name and perhaps you can give me more details -- there was a three year gap -- and, by the way, I'm very familiar with the defense in the civilian area since I was -- [Attorney General of the state of Connecticut from 1990 through 2010]
Secretary Jo Ann Rooney: I know you are, sir.
Senator Richard Blumenthal: -- involved in it so this is by no means to say you should use it as a model necessarily. But I know the military sets its own standards for what excellence is and you have your own goals. But that three year gap, as you know, makes evidence, even if it's collected -- that is the eye witness testimony that, if provided, may prove more difficult to get [three years after when memories are less fresh] and I just wonder what steps are being taken to make sure that these cases are brought to court-martial -- brought, in effect, to trial -- more quickly?
Secretary Jo Ann Rooney: Actually, we're working directly with the services on this and the Joint Chiefs [of Staff] have been actively involved in looking at how do we not only streamline the actual court process but also streamline from the point of reporting to -- we have such things in place now, as you know, as expedited transfers -- so all through the process making sure that we are able to protect due process, if you will, for the accused. But move that through the system from the first report through. So that's something that we're actually engaged right now with the services to do.
Senator Richard Blumenthal: Do you have numbers as to the median or average length of time it's taken and what percentage involves eventual findings of guilt, culpability? And also what the eventual penalities are in those cases?
Secretary Jo Ann Rooney: Sir, we do have those numbers but if I could take that for the record and give them to you as opposed to trying to get them from memory. But we do have them. I have seen them, sir.
Senator Richard Blumenthal: I would appreciate that.
Secretary Jo Ann Rooney: We will.
Senator Richard Blumenthal: And do you also -- Can you also provide percentages as to what numbers -- in what rate you give defendants the option of a discharge or a resignation in lieu of court-martial?
Secretary Jo Ann Rooney: I can get the information as to what the eventual resolution was. As to whether that was a negotiated plea or something in that regard, that will be a little harder. But I can certainly tell you Article 15 and various section penalties.
Senator Richard Blumenthal: And finally on this subject, can you tell me when [Defense] Secretary [Leon] Panetta is going to be releasing the recommendations? He's going to be having both administrative and legislative. Do you know?
Secretary Jo Ann Rooney: Actually, we've been working on the possible legislative proposals as recently as today. So I'm expecting those to be coming up soon and then, within the next three to six months, we'll also have some additional ways forward on specific recommendations coming out from the services as well as follow-up on the ones we mentioned -- the expedited transfer and the document retention.
Senator Richard Blumenthal: Thank you. On the issue, and you raise it in your testimony, concerning suicides, can you talk a little bit about what steps are being taken to address this issue?
Secretary Jo Ann Rooney: Absolutely. And you're right that the numbers right now -- despite many of our efforts -- have not shown a significant decrease. But what we have done in fact is -- taken the task force that had their report forward, one of their recommendations was to create a specific suicide office which we have done in the last few months. And the purpose of that office is not to create yet another layer but it's to look across all the services and actually be the conduit for what are our best practices, where are we missing some opportunities, getting rid of some of the redundancies. So that has, at this point, a temporary staff. But in the fiscal '13 budget, we have the full appropriations we're requesting on that to have that staff stand up. In addition to that, we're working directly with the services in each of their component areas to see what practices they have in place. The next thing, and I think you've seen it also from the medical side, we're embedding behavioral health not only within the units but also making it available to the families through a number of our family programs. And, again, we're continuing to monitor what has been the outreach and where have we seen some successes or not, as it were. So those are the steps at this point with many more coming forward. And, also, collecting data has been a big challenge that we've had. Contemporaneous data. So we're working closely with the VA, in particular, at this point to share information not only from the DoD side but also what the VA is getting. We're doing a lot of joint work with them. So we're getting data that is between thirty and sixty days old as opposed to a year or two -- which is what we had been getting because that's the way states are gathering it -- and sharing that information and trying to trend directly with the VA. So those are some of the ideas.
Etan gets the last word:
Groups Urge U.S. Not to Sell Attack Helicopters to Indonesia
Contact: John M. Miller, +1-718-596-7668; mobile: +1-917-690-
The groups warned that the helicopters will escalate conflicts in Indonesia, especially in the rebellious region of West Papua: "Providing these
helicopters would pose a direct threat to Papuan civilians."
The Indonesian military (TNI) regularly conducts "sweep operations,"
involving attacks on villages where innocent villagers are forced from their homes. The groups write that "Papuan civilians either flee the attacks to neighboring villages or into the surrounding forests where many die or face starvation, cut off from access to their gardens, shelter, and medical care."
Sweep operations are now underway in the Central Highlands region of West Papua.
The letter was organized by the U.S.-based East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) and the West Papua Advocacy Team and signed by human
rights, religious, indigenous rights, disarmament and other organizations
based in 14 countries.
Signers include: Faith-based Network on West Papua, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Peace Action, International Lawyers for West Papua, Land
Is Life, KontrS (Indonesia), and Pax Christi Australia. A complete list of
John M. Miller, National Coordinator East Timor & Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) PO Box 21873, Brooklyn, NY 11202-1873 USA Phone: +1-718-596-7668 Mobile phone: +1-917-690-4391 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Skype: john.m.miller