Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A scuffle?

AP is calling it a "scuffle," what happened at Camp Ashraf yesterday when 20 Ashraf residents were left injured.  When the US invaded Iraq, approximately 3,400 people were at Camp Ashraf.   They were Iranian dissidents who were given asylum by Saddam Hussein decades ago.  The US government authorized the US military to negotiate with the residents.  The US military was able to get the residents to agree to disarm and they became protected persons under Geneva and under international law.

Despite that legal status and the the legal obligation on the part of the US government to protect the residents, since Barack Obama has been sworn in as US president, Nouri has ordered not one but two attacks on Camp Ashraf resulting in multiple deaths.  Let's recap.  July 28, 2009 Nouri launched an attack (while then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was on the ground in Iraq). In a report released this summer entitled "Iraqi government must respect and protect rights of Camp Ashraf residents," Amnesty International described this assault, "Barely a month later, on 28-29 July 2009, Iraqi security forces stormed into the camp; at least nine residents were killed and many more were injured. Thirty-six residents who were detained were allegedly tortured and beaten. They were eventually released on 7 October 2009; by then they were in poor health after going on hunger strike." April 8, 2011, Nouri again ordered an assault on Camp Ashraf (then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was again on the ground in Iraq when the assault took place). Amnesty International described the assault this way, "Earlier this year, on 8 April, Iraqi troops took up positions within the camp using excessive, including lethal, force against residents who tried to resist them. Troops used live ammunition and by the end of the operation some 36 residents, including eight women, were dead and more than 300 others had been wounded. Following international and other protests, the Iraqi government announced that it had appointed a committee to investigate the attack and the killings; however, as on other occasions when the government has announced investigations into allegations of serious human rights violations by its forces, the authorities have yet to disclose the outcome, prompting questions whether any investigation was, in fact, carried out." Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observes that "since 2004, the United States has considered the residents of Camp Ashraf 'noncombatants' and 'protected persons' under the Geneva Conventions."

The residents are trapped in a kind of purgatory.  Unable to leave Iraq, they're being moved to former US military base Camp Liberty.  Approximately 2,000 have been moved so far with 400 more scheduled to be moved this week.  Why can't they leave Iraq?  During Bill Clinton's administration the MEK was delcared a terrorist organization.  Ignoring a federal court order for over two years to re-examine that classification, the Obama administration has kept the MEK labeled "terrorists."  As a result of that label, countries are reluctant to take in the residents.

Matthew Russell Lee (Inner City Press) reported late yesterday:

Earlier today, after Ashrafis say they were left to wait three hours in temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, violence broke out. Photos of beaten Ashrafis, including an older man bleeding from the head, have been sent to Inner City Press.
  Inner City Press understands that the UN acknowledges that personnel of its mission, UNAMI, were present on the scene, and that some Ashrafis were hospitalized. This contradicts the claim by Gorges Bakoos, an adviser to Iraq's premier, there there was no violence, nor any injuries.

In other news, Xinhua reports on Tony Blair's appearance at the Discovery Leadership Summitt in Johannesburg Thursday where the War Criminal will be pocketing a large sum of money for speaking, will be protested by the Muslem political party Al Jama-ah and may be subjected to a citizen's arrest.   SAPA notes, "Attempts to arrest him have been made in China outside the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq war and the European Parliament; and in Dublin, Ireland."

Yesterday's snapshot included comments about Julian Assange and perceptions.  To be clear, I have not chosen a side as a few e-mails to the public account insist.  When I decide to let it rip, it will be obvious.  That day hasn't arrived since the defense went to a wiser person after they lost so badly in the British court.  If you're an Assange supporter, you need to be paying attention to the reality of the perceptions.  They have formed.  Public opinion has hardened and it's hardened against Assange.  

Repeating the same crap is not going to change minds.  Nor is bringing in 'beloved Ecuador.'  Stop talking about Ecaudor.  When you start praising that country, people are aware of the abuses and you look like a liar.  That leads people to conclude that you're also lying about Assange.

If you're defending him, you need to be rethinking your entire strategy because it's been ill-thought out from the start and scattershot and the result is that more members of the public are against Assange than for him at this point in time.  

If you're trying to build sympathy for him, you need to be aware of that.  You need to realize what you are doing is not working.  You need to regroup and rethink.

One example, Michael Ratner loves to speak of a grand jury with an indictment against Assange and how Assange will be whisked to the US.  A lot of that is conjecture.

Stop presenting it as fact.  The Assange group has destroyed themselves on the fact.  (Which goes to the idiot lawyer who represented Julian in the trial in London -- not the appeal -- who 'forgot' that Sweden had scheduled a time to question Assange before he left Sweden and, more importantly, seemed unaware that text message records existed which would demonstrate that attorney was lying.)

So if you raise that, beat the jaded to the punch by saying, "Look, maybe this would never happen, but as an Assange supporter, I am concerned that it could and if it did . . ."

Again, you've lost the case in the court of public opinion.  If you want to continue restating the same talking points at a louder volume, go ahead.  But they have failed.  They are not magic beans that will suddenly sprout.  It's not working and you're if worried about what happens to him, you need to come up with another strategy.  And when you do, lose the Glenn Glenns.  They're haughty poses haven't helped either as anyone who's looked through a breakdown of the polling can tell you -- though everyone should have already known that.  When you're appealing to the public, you don't look down your nose at them and still win their support.

Repeating, I haven't let it rip.  When I do, it will be very obvious.

We'll close with this from Sherwood Ross' "Godfather Obama Institutionalized Indefinite Detention" (Scoop):

Rather than scrap it as un-American and authoritarian, Godfather Obama has institutionalized the practice of “unlawful indefinite detention” he inherited from his predecessor in the White House. That’s the view of Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), one of the nation’s foremost authorities on the rule of law. Romero says that instead of closing down the Guantanamo operation and resolving its legal cases in the Federal courts, Obama has done the opposite and, in fact, revived “the illegitimate Guantanamo military commissions.” Romero doesn’t refer to Obama as “Godfather,” of course. Maybe because he doesn’t have to.
Like a true godfather, though, the man in the White House doesn’t want to hear about what went down during those illegal detentions. He refuses to have his Justice Department consigliere investigate the illegal kidnappings and torture by the CIA GoodFellas at any of their secret sites. McClatchy News Service reports this includes dungeons in Poland, Thailand, Romania, and Lithuania. 
While Poland’s President Bronislaw Komorowski wants a “thorough investigation” of what went on at a CIA-run villa about 100 miles north of Warsaw, McClatchy’s Roy Gutman reports, “The U.S. government has stonewalled all known requests for assistance.” 
Likely it’s concealing gross, cowardly, and obscene tortures of the most revolting nature, such as threatening prisoners with murder using power drills, as well as waterboarding them. And that’s just what’s known. Poland has 20 books of as yet unreleased testimony. 

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