Monday, August 13, 2012. Chaos and violence continue, a Syrian jet crashes near Iraq, violence continues but Nouri feels protests are the real problem facing Iraq, the hype of the "Reform Commission" finally dies, the issue of the electoral commission remains unresolved, Nouri speaks to Iraqi youth in a speech so dark and malevolent he must have been speaking from the heart, one person (and only one person) is responsible for Bradley Manning being imprisoned (no, the answer isn't "Bradley Manning"), and more.
BBC News reports that a Syrian fighter jet went down "near the Iraq border" today either as a result of "technical problems" (the Syrian government) or because it was shot down (the 'rebels' in the Free Syrian Army). Hadeel al-Shalchi (Reuters) adds that it "crashed in flames." The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette notes that "more Syrians are fleeing their country, placing a heavy burden on the United Nations and other humanitarian organizations and the host countries Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey that are struggling to meet their needs." Al Mada notes that there is a call to allow Syrian refugees in Iraq to work and for their children to be able to attend schools. Al Mada also notes that the Minister of Electricity is promising that they will start delivering electrity to those various abandoned buildings they've shoved the Syrian refugees into.
Javier Blas (Washington Post) reports, "Iraq has overtaken Iran as the second-largest OPEC oil producer for the first time since the late 1980s, a symbolic shift that signals the huge impact of Western sanctions on Tehran and the steady recovery of Baghdad's energy industry." Steve Hargreaves (CNN Money) adds, "Iraqi oil production inched over the 3 million barrel a day mark in July, according to numbers released Friday by the International Atomic Agency. That's 300,000 barrels per day higher than the country's average output in 2011."
In other words, Total's 'warning' is a bit like all those letters Iraq's been sending to ExxonMobil since November. They keep sending them. They get no reply. But they keep sending them. Alsumaria notes that Hussain al-Shahristani, the Energy Deputy Prime Minister, is insisting that ExxonMobil's contract is frozen.
If Total doesn't chose a contract, what happens?
Most likely nothing. If Nouri wants to start breaking contracts, he better do so legally. If he doesn't -- and Iraq better pay attention to this -- then he's going to run off business. If contracts only exist if they meet Nouri's whims then they aren't contracts. And if you can't offer legal contracts, business will go elsewhere. Iraq needs major investment right now. Iraqis shouldn't stand for Nouri acting crazy on the world stage and risking Iraq's financial success. If he screws this up -- and it's very likely he will unless he just drops it -- then the impact from his latest tantrum will be felt for many years.
Saturday, Alsumaria reported on their sit-down interview with Nouri al-Maliki who used the interview to blast the Kurds and Turkey and declare that the KRG is not an independent state and he ("we") will not allow it to be. He accused Turkey of harming relationships between Baghdad and the KRG and creating instability. Dar Addustour noted Nouri calling Turkey's actions aggrevations. Kitabat reported on the interview and notes that Nouri declared if Turkey wants to have a relationship with Iraq it must go through Baghdad.
The KRG is a semi-autonomous region which earned its liberation in the early 90s. Baghdad, of course, was 'liberated' by the US invasion and that's when Nouri returned and, three years later, installed as prime minister by the US government (re-installed in 2010). The KRG is three provinces in nothern Iraq. They share a border with Turkey.
To underline Nouri's accusation, he sent out one of his spokespeople on Saturday. Al Rafidayn reported that Nouri's spokesperson Ali al-Moussawi went to the press declaring that the KRG is part of Iraq and no different from Basra and that Turkey is doing harm. al-Moussawi doesn't mention that there have been efforts in Basra to explore splitting off and becoming semi-autonomous. Gizem Erbas (Journal of Turkish Weekly) observes today:
The main issue of the long-running dispute between Baghdat and Erbil governments is the revenue sharings and the management of the oil resources. The Kurdish Region signed international treaties relating to the management of oil sources. However, Baghdad claims that it has the exclusive authority to manage the oil resources in the whole country, including the Kurdish Region.
Irena L. Sargsyan (The National Interest) warns, "The range and complexity of the political and security issues that underlie the rift between Baghdad and Erbil -- such as the lack of progress on a federal hydrocarbons law, conflict over the disputed territories in Iraq's north and the status of the armed Kurdish fighters known as the Peshmerga -- make the growing disagreements between the Arabs and the Kurds increasingly difficult to resolve."
Mass arrests continue in Iraq. Alsumaria reports 15 people arrested in Kirkuk today with 'most' arrested for "terrorism." Five were arrested in Diyala Province for "terrorism" -- the smaller number may result from the fact that mass arrests in Diyala Province have been going on for months now and there is a much smaller pool from which to arrest. Alsumaria reports that 35 people were arrested throughout Iraq today on charges of "terrorism." iraq4allnews notes that the provinces targeted are Diyala and Nineveh and explains that these mass arrests leave front doors to homes smashed and property tampered with, citizens are beat, insulted and cursed at by the security forces and children present are left terrrozied. The news outlet notes that these arbitrary arrests have been taking place since 2003 and rarely have an arrest warrant.
Another increase is noted by Dar Addustour, the increase in the use of silencers in assassinations as documented by the Ministry of Interior with a marked increase in the last weeks alone. Kitabat has a piece on the topic where they noted that the hit man must be quick and fast and the silencer clearly aids in that. AFP reports that the Islamic State of Iraq "has claimed 28 attacks between mid-June and the end of July." Kitabat adds that the Ministry of Human Rights has released figures stating that 70,000 people have died since 2003 from terrorist attacks while another 250,000 have been injured from them.
Staying with violence, Saturday saw an attack that was repeated or copy-catted on Sunday. AFP reported that 6 swimmers were shot dead in and quotes the police chief of Tuz Khurmatu stating, "This is a terrorist act, not a criminal act. Two gunmen attacked them while they were swimming." Alsumaria added that there were four shooters on two motrocycles. Bryar Mohammed and Qader Ismael (AKnews) noted that the four men began questioning all present to find out which teenagers and children were Shi'ite and from Amrlin village. Those that were were then handcuffed and shot in front of everyone. AP stated 7 were shot dead but otherwise reports similar details. Sunday, AFP reported that "between the towns of Amerli and Suleiman Bek," unknown assailants forced 25 men to identify themselves as Sunni or Shia. Those stating they were Sunni were ordered to go and the 8 Shi'ites were then shot dead. Bombs were left for security personnel -- including one under a corpse -- and at least four police officers were wounded by bombings. iraq4allnews notes that Turkmen in Kirkuk are calling for an investigation into the killing of 7 men in Amrla. They also report that late last night Col Nasser Zabaie's Baghdad home was stormed and unknown assailants shot him dead.
In other official figures, Alsumaria notes that Diyala Province states that Iran's actions of cutting off the flow of water into the province has resutled in the destruction of over 6,000 acres of farming and orchards in Diyala Province.
Al Mada reports that another attempt at voting on the provincial election law is expeccted shortly according to MP Mohammed Kayani. One solution to the gridlock, Al Mada notes in another article, is to increase the number of people serving on the Electoral Commission. Alsumaria reports Iraqiya in Kirkuk is calling for a true balance on the commission. That's a move favored by some. Currently there are nine spots on the Electoral Commission. The issue of women on the commission is being raised. The UN has stated that the commission must be representative and that includes with regards to women. July 19th, Kobler appeared before the UN Security Council and stated:
As we speak, my political deputy, Mr. Gyorgy Busztin, is engaged in facilitation efforts to bring about the formation of a new, Independent High Election Commission which is representative of the main components of Iraq -- including women and children and minorities. The urgent selection of the commissioners is essential for ensuring that the provincial council elections due to take place in March 2013 can be conducted on time. I'm concerned that the ongoing political stalemate is hindering the process however. In recent days, I have discussed with political leaders -- including Prime Minister al-Maliki -- the need for a swfit conclusion of this political process and the need for an adequate representation of women and minorities in the commission. Today, I would like to re-iterate my appeal to all political blocs to expedite the selection of professional commissioners. UNAMI stands here ready to actively assist.
The Turkmen made clear over the weekend that they expect to see representation on the commission or they will block the bill from becoming a law. Alsumaria notes that there is a call for a Turkmen and Shabak force to protect the two minorities especially in disputed areas like Kirkuk. In addition, Alsumaria notes that the Shabak protested today asking for Baghdad to intervene in Nineveh Province following Friday's bombing that over fifty Shabak injured.
The political stalemate continues. Alsumaria reports that Kurdistan Alliance MP Barham Saleh is in Baghdad today to look at the National Alliance's proposed reforms. This is what used to be known as the Reform Commission. It's nothing but the National Alliance and there's no great effort to spin it any longer as more and more politician -- in the National Alliance and out of it -- have made clear it's not what Nouri made it out to be. Raman Brosk (AKnews) adds that Barham Salih was also set to meet with Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi. Wafaa Zangana (AKnews) notes MP Shuan Moahmmed Taha has called out the 'reform paper' noting, "The Kurdistan Region supported the withdrawal of confidence from Nouri al-Maliki's government to achieve real and radical changes and not to issue a paper that may not contribute seriously to ending the crisis in the country." Dar Addustour notes that the plan is for the 'committee' to write up reforms and whent hey're done, they'll let other members of the National Alliance know what the list says. (The National Alliance is a grouping that includes Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc, Ammar al-Hakim's bloc, Nouri's State of Law, and more.) After they have shared that with the National Alliance, then and only then will the rest of the political blocs be allowed to see the prorposals.
In other government issues, Al Mada notes Iraqis are calling on Parliament to ensure that demonstrations can take place and can be peaceful. State of Law is insisting that protests are neither needed nor helpful and they say that they do not help with answers but only add to the crisis. The fact that protests are allowed, are guaranteed by the Constitution escapes Nouri's State of Law which will only fuel the rumors that members of State of Law are illiterate and therefore unable to read the Iraqi Constitution.
Yesterday was International Youth Day in Baghdad. UNAMI notes:
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for Iraq, Mr. Martin Kobler, joined Prime Minister Mr. Nouri al-Maliki and Minister for Youth and Sport Mr. Jasim Mohammed Jaafar today in a special celebration of International Youth Day in Baghdad.
Speaking to an audience of over 200 young people, Mr. Kobler pointed out that almost 30% of Iraqis are between 15 and 29 years old. "The voices of millions of Iraqi young people are important. Together you represent the future of this country," he told them.
During his speech, Mr. Kobler announced the creation of a United Nations Advisory Group on Youth Issues. "This group of young Iraqi men and women will advise me on what the young people of this country are thinking. We want the UN's work to be guided by youth." SRSG Kobler also called on the Government of Iraq to consider including a young person in its delegation to the United Nations General Assembly.
Youth empowerment is a key priority for the UN. SRSG Kobler highlighted unemployment, access to information, and education as critical issues for the future of Iraq's young people.
The International Youth Day celebrations were co-organized by the Iraqi Ministry of Youth and Sports, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the World Food Programme (WFP). The UN would like to thank Zain Iraq for its support in marking the celebrations.
It was an important event for Iraqi youth. As UNAMI notes in the first sentence, Nouri also spoke. They don't go into that which is wise. Nouri shouldn't have spoken. He's such a buffoon. Dar Addustour has him yacking away -- to this youth gathering that just needed a speech praising their energy and hopes -- about "dying" and "killing" and how foreigners allegedly want to destroy Iraq and all this hate and fear just poured out of his stupid uninformed mouth. Nouri wanted to be prime minister and he's now been it for over 7 years. It's really past time that the idiot learned how to make a speech and this doom and gloom nonsense was not how to do it. Al Mada covers the speech as well. Nouri insulted the Arab Spring and the young people who took part in the movement (this is the protesters outside of Iraq). He is such an embarrassment. Shudder in horror as you picture what he might deliver for a wedding toast.
Moving over to the US where Bradley Manning's court-martial is scheduled to begin September 21st. Monday April 5, 2010, WikiLeaks released US military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Monday June 7, 2010, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported in August 2010 that Manning had been charged -- "two charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The first encompasses four counts of violating Army regulations by transferring classified information to his personal computer between November and May and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system. The second comprises eight counts of violating federal laws governing the handling of classified information." In March, 2011, David S. Cloud (Los Angeles Times) reported that the military has added 22 additional counts to the charges including one that could be seen as "aiding the enemy" which could result in the death penalty if convicted. The Article 32 hearing took place in December. At the start of this year, there was an Article 32 hearing and, February 3rd, it was announced that the government would be moving forward with a court-martial. Bradley has yet to enter a plea and has neither affirmed that he is the leaker nor denied it.
Michael Smith: Chase, start with Manning joining the military and bring us up to date to the point where he got arrested.
Chase Madar: Okay, so Bradley Manning enlisted in the US Army in October 2007. He's deployed to Iraq after all kinds of training in Army intelligence in October 2009. He allegedly begins leaking things in early 2010 and he is arrested in late May 2010, over two years ago now. He was held in solitary confinement, in very strict, punative isolation at Quantico Marine Corps Base in Virginia from July 29, 2010 'till April 2011 -- almost nine months in pre-trial isolation. And that was against the medical advice of the brig's psychiatrist. And that was against the advice of an independent psychiatrist who was called in to examine Manning. He was transferred -- in large part, due to international pressure -- to Fort Leavenworth where he's in the medium-security population of that military brig in April 2011 and he's been held there for over a year. His court-martial will probably not start until January. So we're looking at two-and-a-half years of pre-trial confinement. That's very problematic. The first nine months of that was in a very harsh, punative and very gratuitous solitary confinement. I think solitary confinement is gratuitous just about all the time but in this case it was especially nasty.
Michael Smith: The material that Bradley Manning leaked has been characterized as just bombshell material. Can you go over just some of that material with us so our audience gets an idea of the significance of the information that came to light because of Bradley Manning?
Chase Madar: You could divide up the WikiLeaks leaks allegedly supplied by Bradley Manning in about three categories. First, you have the Iraq material. And I think the most viral and most sensational document from that is the Collateral Murder so-called video -- the gun site video shot from the gun site of an Apache warship about a mile and a half up in the sky over the Baghdad suburb of New Baghdad, from July 2007. And you can see through that gunsite video, these Apache helicopters opening fire on a crowd of mostley civilians [. . . I am editing out an assertion he makes as fact that cannot be proven as fact, it's not in the video]. And that is just a very stark and very shocking look at what this war has been like for many people. No one would say that that's the whole story but that's a large part of the story and it's important that we all see that. There are also thousands of war logs -- these are SIGACT reports, very raw reports from the field in Iraq, filed by soldiers, about individual incidents. And you get this great moasic portrait of a war going terribly in Iraq. You have a similar set of documents for the Afghan War -- the Afghan War Logs -- which are full of tales of night raids gone wrong, of checkpoints gone wrong and civilians getting killed, of small bases getting built and then abandoned. It's also a composite portrait of a war that is weirdly aimless, unsure of any real mission and not going very well at all.
Michael Smith: When you describe what Bradley Manning leaked -- first with respect to Iraq and then Afghanistan -- it was reminiscent to my mind of what Daniel Ellsberg did with the Pentagon Papers. Had you thought of those comparisons?
Chase Madar: Absolutely and a comparsion to Daniel Ellsberg's famous mega-leak, the Pentagon Papers is a very instructive way to look at Bradley Manning's alleged leaks -- both in the content and in their reception. You see a great deal of difference in how they've been received because Ellsberg is now seen as a national treasure, the State Dept circulates a video worldwide, a documentary about Ellsberg and what a hero he is. But there is not that kind of warm feeling even among most Democratic Party oriented party intellectuals and media for Bradley Manning. And even many of the same people who supported Dan Ellsberg back in the day, say Norman Dorsen, a former ACLU stalwart, are eager to condemn Bradley Manning. I think there's a real generation gap there. I think it has to do with also the fact that these wars don't have the same sense of urgency despite their near total failure for our intellectual class -- in a large part because there isn't a draft anymore and with our all volunteer army, our intellectual class, whether in the media, the law schools, the non-profits, just doesn't have much skin in the game and therefore although they welcomed Ellsberg's leaks, Manning they are quite happy to marginalize and just dismiss as a malcontent and a wierdo and a saboteur when he is really nothing of the kind.
Heidi Boghosian: Many of us were disappointed because Obama came into office pledging to do more to protect whistle blowers and yet his administration has gone after more whistle blowers than any other. Why do you think that disconnect?
Chase Madar: Well it's-it's a huge disappointment, what you're saying, that Obama did campaign as the whistle blower's best friend and he has prosecuted more than twice, no, twice as many as all previous administrations combined using the Espionage Act of 1917 which was never intended as an official secrets act to begin with but there you have it. Why is he doing this? What does he have to gain. Here's one theory that I find very persuasive [. . .]
Heaven help us all.
It makes no difference if Barack prosecutes more because it helps him get off sexually or because it he thinks it'll make it rain. It doesn't matter why. It matters that he does it.
Quit making excuses for him.
By its very nature, the intellecutal class wasn't in threat of being drafted during Vietnam. If you were an intellectual, you were studying or teaching in academia. Therefore, you weren't at risk of being drafted -- look at Dick Cheney's college deferments. The poor were the ones at risk of being drafted. They could try for marriage and child deferments. But the reality is that during that time period if you were going to Yale you weren't getting drafted unless you wanted to. It just didn't happen. There is the mythical story -- and it's told, not surprisingly, by a lot of White men -- about the draft and how it would save us from wars. That's b.s. The draft did not end the war in Korea, it did not end the one in Vietnam.
And this lie needs to stop.
Heidi gave him a chance to get to the truth with her question but he didn't want to take it. What's the difference between Daniel Ellsberg and Bradley Manning. If you set aside that Bradley was active duty and serving while Daniel was working in the civilian world, the only real difference boils down to the White House occupant. Daniel was up against the low class and ridiculed Richard Nixon. (I loathe Richard Nixon, I'm not excusing him in this.) Whereas Bradley's up against the media crush Barack Obama.
I love Barbra but she's not an intellectual or of the intellectual class. I don't say that to imply that she's stupid. She's a very smart woman and far smarter than the bulk of the intellectuals. But Barbra won't do a damn thing for Bradley. She fund raised for Daniel. She answered phones for Daniel. She sang requests over the phone for Daniel. She won't do a damn thing for Bradley Manning.
Why is that?
Because Barbra won't ever do anything that might look bad for a Democratic Party president. And I'm not mocking her for it. That's who she is and who she always was. Cut her and DNC pours out of her veins. She could support Daniel because of the fact that Richard Nixon was a Republican.
People like Barbra don't bother me. It's the ones to the left of Barbra that do. The ones who insist -- when a Republican's in office -- that they'd call out anyone who does what ___ [whatever Republican] does. And then a Democrat gets in office and these same people won't even say "Boo!"
Bradley can't be blamed on Bush. The leak takes place when Barack's in the White House. The arrest takes place when Barack's in the White House. The imprisonment takes place when Barack's in the White House. The person prosecuting Bradley -- hell, he's already pronounced Brad guilty -- is Barack Obama.
You can be as stupid and ridiculous as Chase Madar. You can sound as stupid as he does -- and he does sound stupid since his speaking voice sounds like that of the late Phil Hartman voicing Troy McClure (The Simpsons). But unless you want to bed down and wallow in stupidity, lose the red herrings. It's got nothing to do with the draft. It has to do with people like Chase Madar who can't call out Barack. Grown adults who are too willing to lie to themselves. If it weren't for Barack, Brad would be free right now. Barack has that power. He won't use it.
There's one reason and only one reason that Bradley's behind bars right now: Barack Obama.
Turning to the US presidential election, there's some news today. We'll note this from US House Rep Carolyn Maloney's office:
New York -- Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) applauded the announcement by the Commission on Presidential Debates that Candy Crowley, the widely respected political journalist and anchor of "State of the Union" on the Cable News Network (CNN), to serve as the moderator of the presidential debate taking place in Hempstead, New York on October 16, 2012. Crowley is the first woman reporter to moderate a presidential debate since Carole Simpson of ABC News in 1992. Today's announcement followed a movement to urge the Commission to select a female moderator, which included an on-line petition drive organized by high school students in New Jersey and a joint letter from several Members of Congress to the Commission that was initiated by Congresswoman Maloney.
"Candy Crowley is an eminently qualified veteran reporter and interviewer, and I am thrilled that the Commission on Presidential Debates has selected her as a moderator. I think it's entirely appropriate that she'll be moderating the debate taking place in New York State, the birthplace of the movement for equality for American women," said Congresswoman Maloney, a former Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Women's Issues.
"I was proud to champion the grass-roots effort to refocus the spotlight on the glaring lack of female moderators in the last four elections, which was launched this year by three young women from Montclair, New Jersey -- Emma Axelrod, Sammi Siegel, and Elena Tsemberis. Their grass roots efforts show how democracy can work if everyone uses their voice and their vote to make things better. Their drive and determination bring to mind the famous saying attributed to Margaret Mead: 'Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world,'" said Representative Maloney.
In their joint letter to the Commission, U.S. Representatives Maloney, Barbara Lee (D-CA), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) wrote "to urge to the Commission on Presidential Debates to select at least one woman as moderator for the Presidential debates this year," and that "it defies reason to believe that there has been no woman with the gravitas to moderate a Presidential debate in the last twenty years."
Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and tomorrow morning there will be a meeting of the South Sound Military & Communities Partnership that she will attend. Her office notes:
(Washington, D.C.) – Tomorrow, Tuesday, August 14th, 2012, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee and a senior member of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, will attend a meeting of the South Sound Military & Communities Partnership (SSMCP) in Lakewood to discuss the importance of military communities working together with the common purpose of improving the availability of critical resources to local servicemembers and veterans. SSMCP has gained Joint Base Lewis-McChord leadership's respect in finding constructive paths forward to solving community problems that involve their soldiers, airmen, employees and families. Senator Murray will discuss her work to support the military community, including her work on veterans employment, ending veteran homelessness, and servicemember and veterans' behavioral health care.
WHO:U.S. Senator Patty Murray
Andrew Neiditz, City Manager, City of Lakewood
Anthony Chen, Director, Pierce County Health Department
BG Bret Daugherty, The Adjunct General, Camp Murray (State)
COL Edward Peterson, Deputy Chief of Staff, JBLM Garrison
Dawn Masko, City Administrator, City of DuPont
Debbie LeBeau, Superintendent, Clover Park School District
Don Krupp, Manager, Thurston County
Gary Brackett, Manager, Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce
Kevin Dayton, Regional Administrator, WSDOT
Kevin Phelps, Deputy County Executive, Pierce County
Lon Wyrick, Director, Thurston Regional Planning Council
Rick Allen, Executive Director, United Way of Pierce County
Scott Spence, City Manager, City of Lacey
T.C. Broadnax, City Manager, City of Tacoma
Tom Knight, Chief of Staff, JBLM Garrison
Cathy Wolfe, Commissioner, Thurston County
Doug Richardson, Mayor - City of Lakewood
Pat McCarthy, Executive, Pierce County
Robert Thoms, SSMCP Coordinator
WHAT: Senator Murray will attend a meeting of the South Sound Military & Communities Partnership