Thursday, April 12, 2012

That laughable Iraq judiciary

The laughs never stop coming from Iraq where a bunch of uneducated thugs have been installed. And that includes on the Baghdad judiciary. It's really clear, isn't it, why there was the high profile defection to the US and the charges of corruption on the part of the judiciary from Radhi Hamza al Radhi. The former Iraqi judge left Iraq due to the threats against him. As he told Congress repeatedly, when he was put in charge of the Commission on Public Integrity, Nouri al-Maliki prevented him and the commission from doing anything to end corruption involving government officials. Nouri also prevented an investigation of Nouri's corrupt cousing Salam Audah Faleh whom Nouri had made Minister of Transportation.

These facts are in the public record. If they're less than well known? That's not surprising. As noted in the the March 11, 2008 snapshot, the Senate Appropriations Committee heard testimony from al-Rahdi and others in a hearing entitled "Examine Waste, Fraud and Abuse of American Tax Dollars in Iraq" but the press really didn't show prompting then-Senator Byron Dorgan to observe, "This committee room is full when we apportion money but there seems to be less concern for oversight, on how it is spent."

It was in the US government's best interest not to let citizens know how corrupt things were in Iraq. If people knew -- and knew how involved Nouri was in it -- then Barack could never have gotten away with backing Nouri for a second term (especially when the Iraqi voters had said "NO!" to a second term for Nouri). One person who tried to tell the truth was Arthur Brennan who wrote a column for the Concord Monitor back in July of 2010:

A recent press release from the U.S. embassy in Iraq described a visit to Baghdad by federal district court Judge Joseph Laplante and U.S. Attorney John Kacavas. These New Hampshire men participated in a program that led them to make extravagant claims about the commitment of Iraqi judges and law enforcement officers to the rule of law and the fight against government corruption. Unfortunately, the U.S. Embassy has used these two well-meaning New Hampshire officials to help deceive the American people into believing there is a semblance of justice in the government of Iraq, and that therefore the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq "has all been worth it."
I am a retired New Hampshire judge. Like Laplante and Kacavas I went to Iraq to try to help, and in the summer of 2007 I directed the short-lived U.S. Embassy Office of Accountability and Transparency.
OAT's mission included assisting and advising the three Iraqi ministries responsible for fighting corruption in Iraq. The OAT team worked with Judge Radhi al Radhi, the director of the Iraqi Commission for Public Integrity. My tour of duty was cut short, and the OAT program barely outlasted me. This is because Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's corrupt government was in a fight to the death with Radhi and his investigators, who had uncovered evidence of the theft of billions of dollars by Iraqi leaders allied with the prime minister. The CPI had evidence of the murder of hundreds of Sunnis through the operations of the Iraqi Ministry of Health, which was controlled by a close associate of al-Maliki who eventually became the "czar" of the al-Maliki anticorruption program. This is the same so-called anticorruption organization that Kacavas and Laplante visited.
The Iraqi judiciary is corrupt. This is not because any particular judge is dishonest but because an independent and impartial Iraqi judge making decisions against the leadership of Iraq is very likely to end up dead.
As director of the CPI, Radhi spent more than two years trying to bring justice to the people. When Radhi refused to follow orders to stop investigating al-Maliki's allies, al-Maliki tried to have Radhi removed politically. When that failed, attempts on his life began. Radhi's home was rocketed twice. Within days of my arrival in the Green Zone, a group of American law enforcement officers told us that Radhi was a target and that his investigators were in peril: More than 30 CPI personnel had been murdered in the line of duty, as well as numerous family members who had been kidnapped and killed.
The State Department refused to help. Shoring up al-Maliki's credibility was a U.S. priority, and therefore Radhi and his investigators were abandoned.

And, of course, no American reporter tracked Iraq's legal system better than the Los Angeles Times' Ned Parker so you can refer to his thorough coverage on the subject (start with "Corruption plays key role in Iraqi justice" from June 2009). Those who don't understand why Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi would argue that he couldn't get a fair hearing in Baghdad haven't been paying attention to the (rare) coverage of Iraq's judiciary.

al-Hashemi's fears were validated Feburary 16th when nine members of Bahgdad judiciary held a press conference to state Tareq al-Hashemi was guilty of the terrorism charges that Nouri had leveled against him. No one was supposed to notice that no trial had been held or that the Iraqi Constitution has a presumption of innocence for the accused. Article 19: "The accused is innocent until proven guilty in a fair legal trial. The accused may not be tried on the same crime for a second time after acquittal unless new evidence is produced." There had been no trial but there were 9 Baghdad judges holding a press conference to declare someone guilty of crimes. And not just any crimes, mind you, guilty of crimes which result in the death penalty.

When 9 judges stand up in Baghdad and announced someone who has not been tried to be guilty of crimes that can result in the death penalty, you have judicial misconduct.

But it passes for normal in Iraq. Al Rafidayn reports that Baghdad's Supreme Judicial Council -- not a body known for either fairness or wisdom -- is asking Interpol to grab Tareq al-Hashemi who is currently in Turkey. Nouri al-Maliki charged al-Hashemi with terrorism at the same time he demanded Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq be stripped of his post because al-Mutlaq criticized him. Both al-Mutlaq and al-Hashemi are Sunni and members of Iraqiya. Iraqiya bested Nouri's State of Law in the March 2010 elections making them political rivals. Interpol does not get involved in political matters. That's before you get to the fact that Interpol's being asked to grab someone who's not been convicted of someone and before you get to the fact that it would be a slap in the face to the government of Turkey (like the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the Turkish government has stated that al-Hashemi is a visiting dignitary). This is more wasted time and effort on the part of a judiciary that is supposedly backlogged and beleaguered. But, clearly, when there's a political grudge to nurse, the judiciary will put all other business on hold to nurse that grudge.

What a proud moment for them.

In the US, Gregg Zoroya (USA Today) reports, "Improved battlefield diagnosis has led to a record number of concussions detected among U.S. troops fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq last year, with an average of 16 inflicted each day last spring, according to newly released Pentagon figures." PTSD and TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) are the signature wounds of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. (They are not the only wounds. As with other wars, those serving have lost eye sight, hearing, limbs, etc.) Matthew Hansen (Omaha World-Herald) reports on ABMT, a new PTSD treatment that is being tested in Omaha and hopes to allow those suffering from PTSD to seek therapy online:

And sometimes a veteran can't seek help simply because he can't bring himself to leave the house.
The new therapy might erase those barriers to treatment, Badura Brack says.
ABMT treatment is done on a computer, meaning that eventually it could be done anonymously in the home, the Creighton researcher said.
The treatment itself seems less invasive than talk therapy, which often compels the veteran to relive painful past experiences on the path to healing, she said.
ABMT, or attention bias modification treatment, focuses instead on the patient's reaction to everyday situations, essentially trying to retrain the brain to see these situations as mundane instead of dangerous.

We're not campaign central and, as I've already noted, I most likely am not voting in the 2012 presidential race. But I will weigh in on sexism.

Hilary Rosen is a corporatist who has done very little for anyone except herself. She's also a lousy spokesperson for the Democratic Party due to her previous lobbying for the RIAA. But that's their problem. And I wouldn't be weighing in were it not for nonsense Dylan Byers (POLITICO) reports:

Democratic strategist and DNC adviser Hilary Rosen took a swipe at Mitt Romney's wife on CNN tonight, claiming that Ann had "never worked a day in her life" — a statement that led to criticism on Twitter from not just Ann but from the Obama campaign as well.
“I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work,” Ann wrote in response to the comments Rosen made earlier in the evening on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360.

Hillary Rosen owes Ann Romney an apology. She owes all American woman an apology. A stay-at-home mom is not a woman on extended vacation. It is work, it is tremendous work. Those of us in the feminist movement -- apparently that does not include Hilary Rosen -- are aware of that and made a point to note that from day one. The media -- especially bad TV shows written largely by men like the awful 30-something and Everybody Loves Raymond -- like to invent this split where feminists sneer at home makers. That's not reality. "The Politics of Housework" by Pat Mainardi was not decrying the fact that women had extra hours of leisure. It was noting the very real work required to run a home.

Ann Romney made a choice on how to live her life and was fortunate enough to be in a position to make that choice (all women aren't so fortunate -- some are single-mothers, some have economic issues that prevent such a choice). There is nothing wrong with her choice or with her life as a mother. If she had decided to be a mother who works outside of the home, that would have been a valid choice as well.

Hilary Rosen's statements need to be condemned loudly. She needs to be rebuked. What she said is offensive to all women, regardless of what choice we make or we're forced into. Rosen's remarks are sexist and divisive and I'm not in the damn mood to see the sexism we endured in 2008 flourish again. Those of us who are feminists need to stand together and say, "It's not okay, Rosen." It's not okay, it's not acceptable.

My apologies to Ann Romney that someone who will (wrongly) be seen as a feminist made such insulting remarks. They do not represent feminism and they are not appropriate. I don't know Ann Romney, have never met her, but from the press it would appear she's been very happy with her choice. I'm happy for her.

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