Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Iraq snapshot

Tuesday, May 15, 2012.  Chaos and violence continues, the secret prisons and torture continue in Iraq, Tareq al-Hashemi's trial starts without him, Jason Ditz is a dunce, and much more.
Today is a really sad day as the BBC spits on human rights and treats 'confessions' most likely stemming from torture as being real.  Americans (wrongly) built a shrine to the BBC in 2003.  And, yes, by comparison to American outlets, the BBC coverage of the lead up to the war was better.  But compared to the basic standards of journalism, the BBC didn't even cut it.  It was as much a failure as the American outlets.  (And the providing of a confidential source's name to Blair's cabinet goes far beyond any known crimes of US outlets.)  No surprise that it would again be Iraq that saw the BBC reveal its true nature.
KUNA reports, "The first session for the trial of former Vice President Tareq Al-Hashemi began here Tuesday with the charges being guiding and financing terrorist attacks."  Tareq al-Hashemi (pictured above) has been a vice president since 2006.  He is currently serving his second term.  Currently serving.  He has not been removed from office so this trial is legally not supposed to take place.  But the law's never mattered in Nouri's Iraq.  Nouri waited until the bulk of US forces had left to Iraq to suddenly declare his political rival al-Hashemi a "terrorist."  The vice president remains in Turkey.
Iraq practices forced confessions and, despite the Iraqi Constitution insisting upon innocence until proven guilty, the Baghdad court declared al-Hashemi guilty back in Februray.  Tareq al-Hashemi has repeatedly requested that the trial be moved elsewhere -- a request that should have been honored the moment the Baghdad judges declared him guilty in February at their press conference and while one judge was stating that he had been threatened by al-Hashemi! (He actually claims to have been threatened by 'supporters' of al-Hashemi -- he can't even make the claim if press for proof that it was by a bodyguard of al-Hasehmi.) Today, after being pushed back twice, the kangaroo court finally hopped into session.

Chen Zhi (Xinhua) reports that, as the trial started this morning, the court sent out spokesperson Abdul-Sattar al-Birqdar to insist, "There are many crimes that Hashimi and his bodyguards are accused of and we have confessions from them, including the assassination of six judges."  A court that's dropped even the pretense of being impartial is exactly the sort that would send out a spokesperson to declare they had confessions.
AFP had a confusing report which was confusing for many reasons including: "Three other witnesses gave testimony, accusing Hashemi of masterminding the assassinations, before reporters were led out of the room."  If reporters are led out of the courtroom while a trial is going on, hate to break it to AFP, but that's your lede, not the fifth sentence and fifth paragraph of your report.  And that's all the more true when there were calls for international observers in advance of the trial and that call does not appear to have been heeded.  Equally true, if reporters are led out of the courtroom, you explain why they were.  And if no reason given to the reporters, you include that: "Reporters were ushered out of the courtroom.  No reason was given for the removal."
AFP declares there were three witnesses who testified after "families of three victims whose deaths Hasemi is accused of orchestrating."  They tell you nothing about those three witnesses.  As noted this morning, "But I do expect to know if these people could even offer any testimony against al-Hashemi. By that I mean, victims families can testify to losses. That's all they can do unless they're eye witnesses.  Even if they are eye witnesses, they have no testimony on al-Hashemi."  This was confirmed by this afternoon by Sinan Salaheddin (AP) when Salaheddin reported of the family witnesses, "They said they did not witness the attacks, and only complained against al-Hashemi after hearing the accusations against him in Iraqi media." Salaheddin also states there was one other witness, someone who was an ex-employee of al-Hashemi's (worked in the vice president's "media office") and that reporters "were ordered to leave the court during" that testimony. Suadad al-Salhy, Ahmed Rasheed, Barry Malone and Alistair Lyon (Reuters) note two bodyguards and "five relatives of people allegedly killed by the death squads" and that the court is now adjourned until May 20th. 
BBC files a report that indicates they had no one in the courtroom and that they didn't bother to do anything other than scan the wire reports quickly and then (also quickly) dash off a 'report.'  It's very shoddy.  But let's skip their bad journalism to note their shame: "Mr Hashemi's supporters have also claimed that some of his bodyguards made allegations about death squads under torture. The Iraqi judiciary dismissed the accusations of torture." How very sad that the BBC chooses to self-embarrass and self-shame on a day when the world learns (yet again) that Nouri al-Maliki is still running secret prisons and torture chambers.  Equally true,  Human Rights Watch and Amnesty are not "supporters" of Tareq al-Hashemi.  They are human rights organizations. 
March 23rd, Human Rights Watch called for an investigation into the death of Amir Sarbut Zaidan al-Batawi, a bodyguard of al-Hashemi's who died in custody, whose family states he was tortured to death and whom photos show "a burn mark and wounds."  The Iraqi government tried to say his kidneys failed.  As though he had some pre-existing condition (which the family denies). If he did, that would still be on the Iraqi government.  If someone has a medical condition when you take them into custody, you're having custody of them means in you're responsible for their well being.  Had the alleged kidney failure resulted from natural causes, the Iraqi government would still need to explain how they failed to provide treatment for a known condition?  But most likely the kidneys were damaged in torture which isn't at all uncommon, especially in Latin America.  Especially in Latin America?  The US government taught the thugs of Iraq to behave like the death squads of El Salvador in the 80s.
The Prospect has learned that part of a secret $3 billion in new funds tucked away in the $87 billion Iraq appropriation that Congress approved in early November will go toward the creation of a paramilitary unit manned by militiamen associated with former Iraqi exile groups. Experts say it could lead to a wave of extrajudicial killings, not only of armed rebels but of nationalists, other opponents of the U.S. occupation and thousands of civilian Baaathists up to 120,000 of the estimated 2.5 million former Baath Party members in Iraq.
"They're clearly cooking up joint teams to do Phoenix-like things, like they did in Vietnam," says Vincent Cannistraro, former CIA chief of counterterrorism.  Ironically, he says, the U.S. forces in Iraq are working with key members of Saddam Hussein's now-defunct intelligence agency to set the program in motion.
[. . .]
But the bulk of the covert money will support U.S. efforts to create a lethal, and revenge-minded, Iraqi security force.  "The big money would be for standing up an Iraqi secret police to liquidate the resistance," says [John] Pike. "And it has to be politically loyal to the United States." 
Rasha Narneer Jaafer al-Hussain and Bassima Saleem Kiryakos were arrested by security forces at their homes on 1 January.  Both women work in the media team of Iraqi Vice-President Tareq al-Hashemi, who is wanted by the Iraqi authorities on terrorism-related charges. 
Al-Hasehmi has denied the charges, saying the accusations are politically motivated. 
"The arrest of the two women appears to be part of a wider move targeting individuals connected to Tareq al-Hashemi," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnest International's Deputy Director for Middle East and North Africa.
"The Iraqi authorities must immediately disclose the whereabouts of Rash al-Hussain and Bassima Kiryakos.  At the very minimum they should have immediate access to their family and a lawyer.
"The circumstances of their arrest and their incommunicado detention when we know that torture is rife in Iraq can only raise the greatest fears for their safety," she said.
One of the two women working for the Iraqi Vice-President's Office who were arrested on 1 January has been released. The other woman's whereabouts are still unknown. 
Rasha Nameer Jaafer al-Hussain, who was working at the Iraqi Vice President's Office, was arrested without a warrant at her parents' house in Baghdad's al-Zayuna district on 1 January 2012. The security forces claimed they were taking her away for questioning and that she would return two hours later.  Since her arrest her family has not known her whereabouts.  However, the Iraqi media reported on 30 January that a Human Rights Parliamentary Committee had visited several of the Iraqi Vice-Preisdent's employees, including both arrested women, who claimed they had been tortured in detention.  It is believed she was arrested in connection with a warrant for the arrest of the Iraqi Vice-President Tareq al-Hashemi, who has been wanted by the authorities since December 2011.  He is accused of terrorism-related offenses, an accusation which he has publicly said is politically motivated.
But let's all make like the BBC and pretend as if torture never happens in Iraq and that the only ones claiming it does are "supporters" of Tareq al-Hashemi.

Let's stay with the topic of torture and then we'll do an Iraq fact check.  Human Rights Watch issued the following today:
(Beirut) -- Iraq's government has been carrying out mass arrests and unlawfully detaining people in the notorious Camp Honor prison facility in Baghdad's Green Zone, based on numerous interviews with victims, witnesses, family members, and government officials. The government had claimed a year ago that it had closed the prison, where Human Rights Watch had documented rampant torture.
Since October 2011 Iraqi authorities have conducted several waves of detentions, one of which arresting officers and officials termed "precautionary." Numerous witnesses told Human Rights Watch that security forces have typically surrounded neighborhoods in Baghdad and other provinces and gone door-to-door with long lists of names of people they wanted to detain. The government has held hundreds of detainees for months, refusing to disclose the number of those detained, their identities, any charges against them, and where they are being held.
"Iraqi security forces are grabbing people outside of the law, without trial or known charges, and hiding them away in incommunicado sites," said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "The Iraqi government should immediately reveal the names and locations of all detainees, promptly free those not charged with crimes, and bring those facing charges before an independent judicial authority."
The government should appoint an independent judicial commission to investigate continuing allegations of torture and other ill-treatment, disappearances, and arbitrary detention in Camp Honor and elsewhere, Human Rights Watch said.
Multiple witnesses told Human Rights Watch that some detainees arrested since December 2011 have been held in the Camp Honor prison in Baghdad's International Zone, known as the Green Zone. In March 2011 the government announced it had closed Camp Honor prison, after legislators visited the site in response to evidence Human Rights Watch provided of repeated torture at the facility.
The two most sweeping arrest dragnets occurred in October and November 2011, detaining people alleged to be Baath Party and Saddam Hussein loyalists, and in March 2012, ahead of the Arab summit in Baghdad at the end of that month.
In April two Justice Ministry officials separately told Human Rights Watch that since the roundups began in October, security forces often have not transferred prisoners into the full custody of the justice system, as required by Iraq law. Instead, the officials said, security forces have transported dozens of prisoners at a time in and out of various prison facilities, sometimes without adequate paperwork or explanation, under the authority of the military office of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.
Fourteen lawyers, detainees, and government officials interviewed by Human Rights Watch said that recent detainees have been held at Camp Honor prison. Some of the officials said that detainees have also been held at two secret detention facilities, also inside Baghdad's Green Zone. These allegations are consistent with concerns raised in a confidential letter from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) obtained by Human Rights Watch in July 2011 after the letter's existence was made public by the Los Angeles Times.
Officials, lawyers, and former detainees also told Human Rights Watch that judicial investigators from the Supreme Judicial Council continue to conduct interrogations at the Camp Honor prison. Between December and May, Human Rights Watch interviewed over 35 former detainees, family members, lawyers, legislators, and Iraqi government and security officials from the Defense, Interior, and Justice Ministries. Without exception, they expressed great concern for their own safety and requested that Human Rights Watch withhold all names, dates, and places of interviews to protect their identities.
"It's a matter of grave concern that Iraqis in so many walks of life, officials included, are afraid for their own well-being and fear great harm if they discuss allegations of serious human rights abuses," Stork said.
"Precautionary" Detentions ahead of March 2012 Arab Summit
The most recent mass arrests occurred in March as the government dramatically tightened security throughout Baghdad in preparation for the Arab League summit there on March 29. Family members and witnesses told Human Rights Watch that arresting officers characterized the roundups as a "precautionary" measure to prevent terrorist attacks during the summit. Six detainees released in April told Human Rights Watch that while they were in detention, interrogators told them that they were being held to curb criminal activity during the summit and any "embarrassing" public protests.
Legislators from Prime Minister al-Maliki's State of Law party have denied in the news media that any preemptive arrests took place, claiming that all arrests were of suspected criminals and in response to judicial warrants. All detainees and witnesses interviewed, over 20 in all, said they had not been shown arrest warrants.
In Baghdad neighborhoods where multiple arrests were made, including Adhamiya, Furat, Jihad, Abu Ghraib, and Rathwaniya, residents told Human Rights Watch it appeared that a large proportion of those detained had previously spent time in prisons run by the US military, including Abu Ghraib, Camp Bucca, and Camp Cropper. Some family members and legislators concluded that people were being arrested not because of suspected current criminal activity, but simply because they had been detained before.
In May an Interior Ministry official told Human Rights Watch that "security forces, in the interest of keeping security incidents to a minimum during the summit, while the world was watching, sometimes decided it was easier to just round up people who had been imprisoned years before, regardless of what crime they may have committed." In April a Justice Ministry official told Human Rights Watch that of the hundreds arrested, "some have been released, about 100 will be officially charged within the justice system, and the rest are somewhere else. We do not know where."
During an April 9 parliament session, Hassan al-Sinead, head of the parliament's Security and Defense Committee and a member of Prime Minister al-Maliki's State of Law Party, held up what he said were official security reports of Baghdad Operation Command and said, in response to allegations of pre-emptive arrests by other legislators, that there were only 532 arrests in all of Baghdad during the month of March, and that none were pre-emptive.
Two other members of the parliamentary committee subsequently told Human Rights Watch that this figure greatly underreported arrests that month. At the April 9 session an investigative committee was formed, made up of members of the Security and Defense and Human Rights committees. Members of the investigative committee told Human Rights Watch that plans to visit detainees never happened. To date, no investigation results have been released.
"Baathist" Arrests
In October and November 2011, security forces arrested hundreds of people in Baghdad and outlying provinces, almost all during nighttime raids on residential neighborhoods. State television reported that Prime Minister al-Maliki ordered these arrests. Government statements, including by the prime minister, claimed that those arrested were Saddam Hussein loyalists plotting against the government. Family members told Human Rights Watch that security forces came to their doors with lists and read off names. Some of those listed were former Baath party members and others were not, including people who had died years ago. Three officials separately told Human Rights Watch that the total number arrested in the campaign approached 1,500.
A man whose 57-year-old father was arrested along with 11 neighbors on October 30 told Human Rights Watch in December, "A week after my father was arrested, some of the same police officers who arrested him came back and found family members to give them belongings [of neighborhood men who had been arrested], like clothes or money or IDs, but they still said they had no information about where they were being held, or what they were being charged with."
The man's son showed Human Rights Watch a document the police had given to him that listed the date his father was arrested but left blank the space reserved for the name of the detention facility.
Upon learning that some prisoners were being held in Baghdad's Rusafa prisons, run by the Justice Ministry, Human Rights Watch asked Justice Minister Hassan al-Shimmari on January 4 for access to the prisoners. The request was refused.
Though not all arrests have been on the same scale as those in October, November, and March, regular arrest campaigns have taken place, often in largely Sunni neighborhoods in Baghdad as well as in several outlying provinces, said witnesses, family members and media reports. Strict government secrecy regarding the number of arrests and exact charges makes it difficult to assess the scope.
While some prisoners were released within hours or days and say they were not mistreated, others told Human Rights Watch they were tortured, including with repeated electric shocks. Most said interrogators forced them to sign pledges not to criticize the government publicly or to sign confessions. They said interrogators threatened that unless they signed these documents they would suffer physical violence, female family members would be raped, or they would never be released. Some families told Human Rights Watch that they were told to pay thousands of dollars in bribes to secure their loved ones' release. In two cases known to Human Rights Watch, detainees were released after the families made such payments.
Camp Honor Prison
Camp Honor is a military base of more than 15 buildings within Baghdad's fortified International Zone, which Iraqis and others continue to refer to as the Green Zone. The Iraqi Army's 56th Brigade, also known as the Baghdad Brigade, which falls under direct command of the Office of the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, controls the Camp Honor complex and is responsible for the security of the Green Zone.
On March 29, 2011, Justice Minister al-Shimmari told Human Rights Watch that the government had closed the camp's main detention facility, Camp Honor prison (often simply referred to as "Camp Honor"). Al-Shimmari said that authorities had moved all its detainees, whom he alleged were terrorists and Islamist militants, to three other facilities under the control of his ministry.

Contrary to this assurance, Human Rights Watch has received information from government and security officials indicating that some detainees from the "Baathist" and "Summit" roundups were held in Camp Honor prison and that it is still being used at least as a temporary holding site, or as a place to extract confessions before moving detainees into the official correctional system. This use of military prisons outside the control of the Justice Ministry is consistent with known procedures at other publicly acknowledged facilities outside of the ministry's control, such as Muthanna Airport Prison and a facility in western Baghdad run by the army's Muthanna Brigade, both of which have also housed hundreds of detainees from the recent arrests, according to government officials and former detainees.
A security official from the Defense Ministry told Human Rights Watch in April that judicial investigators attached to the Supreme Judicial Council go to the Camp Honor prison on a regular basis, where they participate in investigations and interrogations, alongside military investigators from the 56th Brigade. A lawyer who works for the government but did not want his department identified corroborated this allegation in an April interview with Human Rights Watch.
Three former detainees who spoke with Human Rights Watch between December and April gave credible accounts of what they said were their interactions with judicial investigators in Camp Honor prison. These allegations are consistent with judicial procedures known to have taken place there in the past. One detainee told Human Rights Watch in April that he had been held for over a month in Camp Honor prison, from late October to early December.
In a March interview, another man told Human Rights Watch he had been detained in Baghdad in early November and taken to a prison inside the Green Zone, which guards and other detainees told him was Camp Honor prison. His description and a sketch he made of the layout of the cells and interrogation trailers were consistent with the known layout of the facility.
Another detainee said in early December that he could confirm that he was in Camp Honor prison in May 2011 by the proximity of clearly recognizable surrounding buildings. When he was taken from the main holding facility to adjacent trailers for violent interrogations on three separate occasions, he said, he was not blindfolded. "The Defense Ministry and the old Council of Ministers [Hall] are right there," he said. "I'm a former military man, and I used to work very close to there, so I knew right where I was."
In July Human Rights Watch obtained a copy of a May 22,2011 letter written by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which said the ICRC had "collected reliable allegations" of two separate secret detention facilities attached to Camp Honor military base, plus another facility next to the headquarters of the Counter-Terrorism Service, also in the Green Zone, "that are used to this day to hold and conceal detainees when committees visit the primary prison."
In the letter, the ICRC also documented the methods of torture used inside Camp Honor prison and affiliated facilities, consistent with torture methods Human Rights Watch had previously reported.The ICRC addressed the letter to Prime Minister al-Maliki and copied Farouq al-Araji, head of al-Maliki's military office, General Mahmoud al-Khazraji, commander of the 56th Brigade, other defense officials, Justice Minister al-Shimmari, and Judge Midhat al-Mahmoud, head of the Supreme Judicial Council.
After the Los Angeles Times made public the letter's existence on July 14, the ICRC released a statement declining to confirm or deny its authenticity, as per long-standing policy to confine its communications to officials of the government concerned. In July and August, two Iraqi government officials and one former official familiar with the letter assured Human Rights Watch of the letter's legitimacy.
Two defense lawyers separately told Human Rights Watch in May 2012 that clients of theirs had been held in Camp Honor prison as recently as August 2011. Another lawyer told Human Rights Watch that while working at the Supreme Judicial Council over the past year he encountered frequent references in comments by judges and others, as well as in court paperwork, to prisoners being held in Camp Honor prison and in "two other prisons in the Green Zone also run by the 56th Brigade." Four officials from the Defense and Justice ministries, plus two former officials, also told Human Rights Watch of the existence of these secret prisons, one also part of the Camp Honor complex, unofficially called "Five Stars," and another outside the base, but still within the Green Zone.
Treatment of Detainees
Statements to Human Rights Watch by those captured in the roundups and detained in various prisons, including those run by the Justice Ministry, varied in describing the treatment they received. Some said they were not physically mistreated. Three people detained in the "Summit" dragnet told Human Rights Watch that security officers assured them that they just had to wait until the Arab Summit was over and they would be released -- that holding them "was just a precautionary measure." Others described multiple beatings and threats and some described abuse that amounts to torture.
In May, a 59-year-old man told Human Rights Watch that he was arrested in late October in a southern province of Iraq and transported with more than 60 other prisoners to a detention facility in Baghdad, which he identified but asked Human Rights Watch to keep confidential. "When I first arrived, I was blindfolded and had my hands tied behind my back, and I had to walk down a long line of men, each of whom punched me in the face and hit my head with wire cables as I passed them," he said. "After that, I was in solitary confinement for some time, and then they brought me before the judicial investigators. I couldn't believe that they beat so hard and gave me electric shocks for three continuous hours, without even asking me any questions."
He also said that during other interrogations his captors stripped him naked, hit him with wire cables, boxed his ears, poured cold water over him, and shocked him with electrodes attached to his back.
He was released in March, five months later, after his family paid over US $10,000 in bribes and an influential politician intervened on his behalf. Before leaving custody, he was forced to sign what he said was a confession, though he is not sure of its contents, as well as a pledge to never speak "against the government" and never to talk to the media about his arrest. "They told me that if I break any of these rules, they will bring in my sons and destroy them, and rape my wife," he said. "As I left, they told me, 'We will arrest you again, and make sure you're executed.'"
Family members of detainees who spoke with Human Rights Watch said they had no idea where their loved ones were being held, despite multiple inquiries to the Ministry of Human Rights and the headquarters of the security forces that arrested them. In cases in which the government disclosed where prisoners were being held, security forces hindered or completely blocked detainees' access to legal and family visits.
"On paper, a defendant can be defended by a lawyer, but in real life, it is next to impossible," said a defense lawyer who is attempting to represent two men arrested in the "Summit" sweep in March. He told Human Rights Watch that when he is actually informed of the location of a detainee and allowed in, he is kept waiting for hours, and then told to go home because it is the end of the day. "Any lawyer attempting to see his client will be subjected to threats by the security forces holding the detainees," the lawyer told Human Rights Watch. "Several times in the past few months, they said, 'So, you want to represent a Baathist and a terrorist? I wonder what is making you do this, why you are on his side.' This is clearly an attempt to intimidate attorneys from standing up for their victims."
Families who tried to hire lawyers to defend relatives arrested in the "Baathist" sweep gave strikingly similar accounts. In December, one man told Human Rights Watch that his family went to four separate criminal defense lawyers who were at first cooperative. But when they learned that his father was taken in the "Baathist" arrests, he said, "each immediately told us that they could not interfere in this case because the arrests were by order of the prime minister's office." He cited one lawyer as saying: "This case is already decided. It's a lost case, and I can't be part of it, because they were arrested by the order of the prime minister.'"
"It is amazing that all four had the same reaction and this made us lose hope," the family member said. "We did not try to get another lawyer, and have no idea where my father is."

 The Los Angeles Times can't find a writer in Iraq to touch it so it's left to Carol J. Williams to note, "The continued operation of the Camp Honor detention site was disclosed by Los Angeles Times staff writer Ned Parker in July, four months after Maliki's government said the facility had been closed at the urging of Iraqi lawmakers and human rights advocates."  Ned Parker can't cover it because he's currently on sabbatical (he's an Edward R. Murrow Press Fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations).  The Telegraph of London adds, "Amnesty International also said in a February 2011 report that Iraq operates secret jails and routinely tortures prisoners to extract confessions that are used to convict them."

What can I say this time
Which card shall I play
The dream is not over,
The dream is just away
And you will fly
like some little wing
straight back to the sun
The dream was not over
The dream has just begun
-- "Straight Back," written by Stevie Nicks, first appears on Fleetwood Mac's Mirage
Which card shall I play?  How about the fact check one?
In a post, Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) at one point includes this, "Martin Kobler, head of the U.N. mission in Iraq, said, 'all our figures indicate that there is no deterioration in the security situation of the country' and that 600 people have, so far, died in violence this year."
That is wrong.  That is false.
It is not, however, surprising.  Drop back to Friday's "Iraq snapshot" and you'll find:
Kobler also attempted to spin the violence today insisting 600 people died this year.  Pay a little closer attention and you realize he's just talking about Baghdad.  Since the UN's supposedly concerned with all of Iraq, Kobler's little stunt is pretty offensive.  Iraq Body Count not only notes 55 dead so far this month, they noted 290 dead for the month of April, 295 for the month of March,  278 for the month of February and 458 for the month of January.  That's 1376 reported deaths from violence in Iraq since the start of the year.  That's twice as many as "600."  Again, Kobler was being deliberately misleading.  When the United Nations whores what people remember are the rapes by UN peace keepers (many, many times, but try these two who raped a 14-year-old boy in Haiti), the times the UN did nothing while countries were attacked (Iraq for starters -- and then-UN Secretary General Kofi Annan declared the Iraq War illegal) and so much more.  Kobler didn't just make himself into a cheap whore with that little stunt, he reminded everyone of just how flawed -- some would say criminal -- the United Nations can be.  A far more realistic picture on the continued violence came not from Kobler but from a business decision.  Jamal al-Badrani (Reuters) reports, "Mobile phone operator Asiacell has closed its offices in the Iraqi city of Mosul, an al Qaeda stronghold, after attacks and threats by militants, security officials and employees said this week."
See, we called it out for a reason, Kobler's wording ensured that there was a good chance people would misunderstand the 600 figure and assume it applied to all of Iraq when it only applied to Baghdad.  Griffis' mistake will most likely be made by many others and Kobler seems to have intentionally sought that rection.
While Griffis' mistake may be understandable, there's no excuse for what Jason Ditz has done here. He laments that the residents of Camp Ashraf might be taken off the terrorist list, this "is almost certain to be delisted in the next 60 days, in a mover that is likely to dramatically increase tensions between the US and Iran."  And he amplifies his error and ignorance with this: "Technically speaking, officials say, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hasn't made an official decision on the matter, but has promised to do so in the next 60 days."
No, she hasn't.
Maybe before you write about something, you should read several different reports and not just one outlet.  Had Ditz bothered to do that, he would know that the attorney representing the State Dept and Hillary in court refused to give a deadline when prompted by the judge and specifically stated that anything they discovered in the 60 day time period, in the search of Camp Ashraf, could add additional time.
Again, we covered this Friday in the snapshot:
Ashish Kumar Sen (Washington Times) maintains, "Mrs. Clinton will decide on removing the MEK from the list no later than 60 days after Camp Ashraf has been vacated, and data gathered from the relocation has been studied to verify the group's claims that it is not a terror group, Mr. Loeb said."  However, that's not accurate.  The sixty days is a projection, it's not a promise and Loeb stated in court that information may result from a search of the then-empty Camp Ashraf that could delay any decision by Hillary on the issue beyond the 60 days.  How far beyond the sixty days?  Loeb didn't have specific numbers.  This is among the reasons Dinh made the argument that the residents want a decision even if it's a decision against them because they can appeal that.  The limbo status that they've been in for two years now is something very different.  
How very sad to show up days after (Ditz published Monday) and not have nailed down any of the facts.
But what do facts matter to Antiwar.com?  Apparently damn little.  Ditz has been allowed to be 'creative' with 'news' if the topic was the MEK.  He does so again in a way -- take a warning, I know Ed -- that could result in a lawsuit.
Ditz writes, "The move would be a great relief to several officials, including former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, who violated federal law by taking funds from a still-listed terrorist organization in return for giving speeches on their behalf." That's not just a lie, Jason Ditz, it's one that can get your ass sued. 
Again, I know Ed and I wouldn't be the least surprised if, months from now, he filed a lawsuit over that statement.  He'd win too.  Justin Raimondo better start providing supervision of his little outlet and that includes telling Scott Horton and Jason Ditz that they can't liable (Ditz) and slander (Horton).  They've been given free reign by Raimondo on the MEK and allowed to say any crazy ass thing they wanted.  Not as opinion, mind you, but to lie and present as fact.
Does Justin want the next fundraiser to be about Antiwar.com's legal fees?
If you click on the link that Jason Ditz has supplied, what you find is another bad article by Jason Ditz from March with a link to this Philadelphia Inquirer article that speaks of "reportedly" in terms of a probe. 
Ed Rendell has not been found guilty of anything nor has he entered any plea on any charge.  In what's supposed to be a news report from Antiwar.com -- an outlet that promotes itself as a news outlet every time they beg for money -- Jason The Ditz is declaring that Ed "violated federal law by taking funds . . ."  Jason The Ditz can't prove that.  If he can prove it, he should consider filling in for the federal prosecutor.
If Antiwar.com wants to be an opinion journal that's fine and dandy but while they're promoting themselves as an alternative news outlet and while Ditz is billed as the "news editor," they need to learn that you can't write a news story and call someone guilty before they've either admitted guilt or been convicted.  One careful word could have taken Ditz's 'report'  from potential lawsuit to just bitchy.  That word is "allegedly."  Ditz should try to familiarize himself with the term.
The superficial libertarian media lobby has spoken, if you missed it, Glenn Greenwald among them.  He weighs in today playing tough talker. ("Superficial libertarian media lobby" does not refer to all libertarians in media.  Adam Kokesh, certainly, is not superficial.  But there is a set among the lobby that is.  Glenn Glenn represents them.)
Everytime Little Glenn Glenn tries to legalize, you realize just how uninformed he is and why he's such a joke in legal circles.  He dealt with civil liberties -- specifically those of people accused of -- and convicted of -- violent crimes.  There's nothing wrong with that and there is a need for it but don't turn around and try to pimp that as "I'm a Constitutional lawyer."  No, you weren't. 
Glenn manages to fool people because most don't know what a litigator is.  That's not about the Constitution and, as he rightly notes sometimes, he was a litigator. 
There are Constitutional attorneys.  Glenn doesn't have the academic background or the courtroom history to be trusted with those issues by anyone but the most desperate.  Constitutional cases go before the Supreme Court.  Glenn argued before them how many times?
Yeah.  Exactly.
In his bad column today, Glenn provides an 'update' where he explains, having just learned (oh, he's a smart one!), that the Bush administration originally declared the residents of Camp Ashraf terrorists -- specifically the residents of Camp Ashraf not just MEK.  That would be news to anyone not paying attention to the issue.  Good going, Glenn, you 've established that you've written repeatedly about a subject you knew nothing about.
Being on that list is why the US had them disarm.  This was all known by the adults long ago.  Who knows what Glenn was doing while the rest of us were paying attention?
Camp Ashraf residents have to leave Iraq.  That is a reality.  They have been twice attacked by Nouri's forces.  That is a reality.  It is why Amnesty issued an alert.  Glenn and his boy squad of faux crusaders want to pretend they're doing something.  But all they're doing is slamming the residents of Camp Ashraf.  The residents -- my opinion -- have been used as a political football by many including some MEK spokespeople.  It's a damn shame that here in the US you have the Glenn Brigade working overtime to trash a people who are basically a sinking lifeboat and need assistance immediately.
But that's how the Glenn Brigade rolls. 
And Antiwar.com better their act together real damn quick because, as I understand it, their house of cards could collapse real quick and they can't afford a law suit.  The very smart thing to do right now would be for Jason Ditzy to do a correction to that post -- immediately.  But, again, Justin's provided no oversight and allowed Scott Horton (Antiwar Radio) and Jason Ditz to slander and libel repeatedly if it was MEK related.
I'm going to repeat it one more time and hope that even Jason Ditz can grasp what I'm saying: What you have written is actionable.  You can be sued for it.  I would not make a point to go after Ed Rendell period (I like Ed) but, if I were to do so, I'd be damn sure I didn't say or write anything that left me open to a lawsuit.  Hopefully that's clear enough for even Jason Ditz.
In Iraq, the political crisis intensifies, Al Rafidayn reports that MP Mohammed Jawad (of Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc) is stating that, should a no-confidence vote take place, the names on the list to replace Nouri al-Maliki are Ahmed Chalabi, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, Hussein al-Shahristani and Khudayr Musa Jafar Abbas al-Khuzai.   Ahmed Chalabi -- like Nouri -- has very tight connections to Iran.  So much so that his compound was raided by the US military despite the fact that he was once one of the prized exiles (he was also Dexter Filkins' favorite Iraqi source for 'reporting').  Ibrahim al-Jaafari was previously prime minister.  (The US refused to allow him a second term in 2006 and demanded that Nouri al-Maliki be named prime minister.)  Hussain al-Shahristani is the Deputy Prime Minister for Energy. He was educated in London and Toronto.  He's a nuclear scientist who fled Saddam Hussein's Abu Ghraib prison during the first Gulf War and went through Iran onto Canada. al-Khuzai is the Shi'ite Vice President.  Alsumaria notes that MP Abdul Amir Mayahi (also of the Sadr bloc) stated that Ibrahim al-Jaafari is their ideal candidate, calling him a national figure and a moderate. (al-Jaafari was prime minister from April 2005 until May 2006.)  Meanwhile Al Mada has interesting article where State of Law and Dawa officials state that, if Nouri is replaced, the replacement must come from the National Alliance.  The argument goes that Nouri wouldn't have been prime minister without the consolidated support and backing of the National Alliance therefore they should be the pool from which a different prime minister was selected.  All the names being tossed around are from the National Alliance (a slate of various Shi'ite political groups).  What makes it interesting is that Dawa -- Nouri's own political party -- and State of Law -- Nouri's own political slate -- appear to be preparing for the possibility that Nouri might be replaced.  Prior to this, they've insisted that it wasn't happening.  Now their public presentation is: If it does, the prime minister has to come from the National Allaince.  This shift in public strategy may result from the meeting Alsumaria reports took place last night and was chaired by Ibrahim al-Jaafari.  All the political blocs of the National Alliance were present.