Wednesday, August 15, 2012. Chaos and violence continue, Nouri continues spying on Iraqis, the stalemate continues as well, an Iraqi who came to the US (after snitching on his own father) is charged in a rape, Australians begin to lobby for an inquiry into the Iraq War, we look at two presidential campaigns, and more.
It's war, war, war all the time thanks to no real change in the Oval Office in years. As Syria remains targeted, international law expert Francis A. Boyle weighed in today:
Professor of International Law at the University of Illinois College of Law in Champaign, Boyle said today: "Without authorization by the United Nations Security Council and express authorization from the U.S. Congress pursuant to the terms of the War Powers Resolution, for President Obama to establish any type of so-called 'no-fly zone' over Syria would be illegal, unconstitutional, and impeachable." While serving as the Lawyer for the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1993, Boyle procured the NATO no-fly zone over Bosnia. He is the author of The Bosnian People Charge Genocide (Aletheia Press: 1966).
Staying on the topic of Syria, on yesterday's Flashpoints Radio on KPFA (here for KPFA archive -- after 14 days, the show will only be archived at Flashpoints site), guest host Kevin Pina spoke with a Syrian correspondent. His name was something like Al'a Ibrahim. (Something like? I'm not sure of the spelling.) We'll do an excerpt.
Kevin Pina: My last question is you've probably heard in Damascus the increasing rhetoric by the Obama adminstration, Secretary [of State] Hillary Clinton certainly raising the stakes, saying openly that they are preparing for a post government, a government post-Assad dictatorship -- as they're describing it. Has there been any reaction in Damascua? Have people heard of it, these pronouncements by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton?
Syrian Correspondent in Damascus: Well though it's very useful to call on the statements of the American Secretary of State Clinton and American President Barack Obama, I don't know how much we can count on them. Let's keep in mind, President Obama said last year, in June, that the days of President [Bashir] al-Assad were numbered. Yet, a year later, he's still in power. He still controls the army. He still controls the country and everything seems to be at his hands right now. So as important as these statemens may be as an indication of where the American politics are going and what they will do, I wouldn't count on this? I think one way or anorther we're seeing the events in Syria. They're saying they've been preparing for the post-Assad era and they should worry about all the free army. The Free Army is obviously linked to al Qaeda, is obviously linked to jihadists. Everyone knows that. You have people coming from all over the world to fight the Syrian government, a secular government. [. . .] Who will they attack later on? I've been speaking today with one of my sources inside the Free Syrian Army and he told me something very interesting. There's a rift growing right now between the Free Army and these and when we talk about the when we talk about the Free Army, we're talking about mainy that includes some deserting soldiers, some people who are against the government, some people who have issues with authority one way or the other.
And the other side? The Islamic Movement, the Red Brigade and the front for al Qaeda. The correspondent noted that in addition to the growing rift, he has also observed this second side burying weapons. Why? They're convinced that President Bashar al-Assad will be driven out of the country and that when that happens, that's when they will need weapons to take over the country.
That's who the US government has gotten into bed with. And it does matter who you get in bed with. The US government previously hopped into bed with Jasim Mohammed Hassin Ramadon. The Iraqi should have sent off alarm signals and would have in any thinking person's head. "Turncoat" is the only word for him. He repeatedly turned over Iraqis, snitched on them, to the US military. Some might applaud that but I think even those who applaud would pause when they learned that among those who snitched and saw taken away was his own father. Matt Stafford (KOAA) told the tale of the snitch and as Iraq War veteran Delman Fletcher says in that report, "13 years old; who would turn in their father?" Exactly.
The snitch is making headlines again. The 22-year-old* is now accused of a violent assault. [*22? In the KOAA story already linked to, he is said to be 19. That was last October. All outlets today are reporting he is 22.] AP explains the turncoat "is one of five Iraqis accused of rape-related chartes after a woman suffered serious injuries during a [. . .] assault in Colorado Springs." Andy Koen (KOAA) reports that the police say "a significant of blood" was all over the crime scene and quotes police Lt Howard Black stating, "I would tell you that this is one of the most horrific [. . .] assault crimes I've seen in my career as a police officer." [What's missing? "Sexual." We say over and over -- rightly -- that rape is not about sex. So why are we calling these crimes "sexual assaults"? I don't know. I've heard it questioned by others but only registered as a result of our noting various assaults here. From this point forward, we're not including "sexual" before assaults in these cases.] The other four suspects arrested are Ali Mohammed Hasan Al Juboori, Sarmad Fadhi Mohammed, Yasir Jabbar Jasim and Mustafa Sataar Al Feraji. And, yes, they all are suspects at this point, even Jasim Mohammed Hassin Ramadon. But when you snitch on your father, when you snitch on your own father and get him turned over to foreign forces in your country, no one's going to rush to give you too much benefit of the doubt. All five men are Iraqis.
Jasim Moahmmed Hassin Ramadon has been charged with assault and with being an accessory. Charges are pending against the others. CBS Denver adds that, "Police say she [the victim] sufered significant internal injuries consistent with blunt force trauma and serious bodily injuries that they say they rarely see. Because the men are Iraqis with permanent resident status, the Colorado Springs Police Department says they may be deported if they are convicted." On this story, the US press would do well to stop referring to Ramadon as a "hero." In Iraq, he's not considered a hero. You don't turn your own father over to foreign, occupying forces and get to be called a 'hero.' If he is found guilty, his attorney will most likely (he has a public defender at present) argue against returning him to Iraq by insisting that Ramadon's collaboration with the US military means he is at risk of being killed if he returns to Iraq. Should that argument take place, the American news consumer will grasp it a lot quicker if this 'hero' nonsense was dropped.
The news cycle started today with Australia as Ninesmn reported former Minister of Defense Robert Hill (2001 to 2006) was insisting that Australia didn't need an inquiry into the Iraq War with him declaring, "There's a lot of big challenges out there in the world today, including challenges of peace and security." And that could have been the end of it. Certainly after the miserable inquiry into the death of Jake Kovko, no one can expect much in the way of honesty from the Australian government on the topic of Iraq. But then other voices began weighing in. Radio Australia notes, "Former defence secretary Paul Barratt has told Australia Network's Newsline it is apparent now that in the lead-up to the war there was a great deal of manipulation of intelligence within the US system." Richard Norton-Taylor (Guardian) reports:
Demands for an inquiry are led by former Liberal prime minister, Malcolm Fraser, former defence secretary, Paul Barratt, and former chief of the Australian Defence Force, General Peter Gration.
In a foreword to the publication "Why did we go to war in Iraq? A call for an Australian inquiry", which says Australia was exposed to the accusation of waging an illegal war, Fraser writes that an inquiry would not rake over old coals but rather "develop a better understanding of how warfare decisions are reached and to strengthen the governmental structures against precipitous or ill-considered actions in future."
The call for an inquiry is also supported by a statement signed by 30 leading academics in politics and law, retired senior diplomats and experts in the field of war and conflict.
There are several reasons why an inquiry would be timely, if not overdue. First, 2013 will mark the 10th anniversary of the launch of the Iraq War. A decade on is a good time to reflect back on the reasons, circumstances and decision-making procedures by which a country went to any war.
Second, there is by now widespread, although not unanimous, international agreement that the Iraq War was morally wrong, illegal, unjustified and had many seriously damaging consequences for Western interests. The primary justification for going to war was to destroy an alleged active program of building weapons of mass destruction. This has been proven false. In 2008 former secretary of state Madeleine Albright said that the invasion of Iraq was ''the greatest disaster in American foreign policy'', worse even than Vietnam in its unintended consequences. We need to study the long-term consequences of the war for Australia's security interests.
Third, prime minister John Howard committed Australia to war by citing the ANZUS Treaty. Yet the Iraq War may itself have been in violation of Australia's international obligations under ANZUS. Its Article 1 obligates all members to settle any international disputes ''by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered and to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations''. Australia must reconcile its ANZUS and UN obligations.
Will Australia get an inquiry? It would put it ahead of the US which still hasn't had a real one. Also true is that John Howard, prime minister at the start of the Iraq War, doesn't feel like he's ever gotten the credit he deserves. His envy of all the press attention on War Criminals Bush and Blair could have him itching to appear before ain inquiry board.
Kristina Wong (Washington Times) reports, "The Pentagon's top officer [Gen Martin Dempsey, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff] will travel to Iraq at the end the month to check on progress in a country that has been beset by sectarian violence and political turmoil since the United States withdrew most of its troops in December."
And in Iraq, multiple acts of violence. Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports a Baquba car bombing claimed 3 lives and left nine more people injured while in Muqdadiya a car bombing was quickly followed by a second bombing resulting in 7 deaths and twenty-seven people injured. al-Shorfa adds that Iyad Hussein Ahmed ("lead judicial investigator in Mosul) was shot dead in Mosul. All Iraq News reports a police officer was shot dead in Mosul and a woman and her daughter were left wounded due to an attack on the checkpoint by unknown assailants. AP reports 2 Yazidis were shot dead in Qahataniya (the two were brothers). AFP notes a Dohuk sticky bombing which left two people injured. In addition, Alsumaria notes the PKK has announced they killed 2 Turkish soldiers near the Iraq border. Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) counts 13 people reported dead yesterday in Iraq and another seventeen reported injured. Also today, Ahlul Bayt News Agency reports another mass arrest, this time 7 were arrested in Anbar Province.
The big news out of Iraq today centers around spying. Al Mada reports that Nouri al-Maliki has been provided with sophisticated spying devices which allow him to gather information on his political rivals and, the devices were provided by the US government. These devices are said to have been used to record the recently released 2011 conversation between Tareq al-Hashemi and Ayad Allawi. Along with speaking to various MPs, Al Mada also spoke with security sources and they revealed that the hidden camera was found in Tareq al-Hashemi's former office and that this is one of many such devices Nouri has planted in the offices of his rivals. (For more on the spying topic and for the al-Hasemi and Allawi taped conversation, see "Iraq's sex tape rumors.")
As early as 2008, Parliament was sounding alarms that their private discussions did not appear to be so private. In the years since, it's only been more obvious that Nouri has been illegally spying. From the October 31, 2011 snapshot: Mvelase Peppetta (Memeburn) reports alarm that the government of Syria has "internaet censorship equipment." It's illegal, according to US law, for it to have this Blue Coat Systems 'filter.' How did it get it? Apparently from Iraq. The US government okayed the sale of web censorship equipment to Iraq. Did the US government bother to run that past either the Iraqi people or the American people? No. Nor did it publicize the sale.
Today Khaled Waleed (Niqash) reports on the issue: The US government says it is investigating how the devices got to Syria and Blue Coat Systems of Sunnyvale, the California-based company responsible for manufacturing the equipment, says it is cooperating fully. If the firm deliberately violated the sanctions -- which say special permission is required to import this kind of equipment into Syria -- then it could be liable for a fine of up to US$1 million. Although the 14 web monitoring devices were shipped to Dubai late in 2010 from where they were supposed to be sent to Iraq, Iraq itself has denied any involvement in the transaction. Nonetheless in Iraq, the issue is also causing concern. Since 2004, when the US put into effect the Syria Accountability Act, for what the US sees as Syria's support of "terrorism, involvement in Lebanon, weapons of mass destruction programs and the destabilizing role it is playing in Iraq", goods that contain more than 10 per cent componentry that is manufactured in the US have been prohibited from being exported there. However it is quite possible that Syria has been able to obtain embargoed goods through third parties. The question now is what Iraq had to do with the 13 Blue Coat web surveillance devices.
Now the US government is worried about supplying freedom suppressing techonology? Now that Syria has the technology and might use it to harm the people of Syria. But the US allowed despot Nouri to have the technology even though he has a long record of suppressing freedom.
In 2011, journalists and activists repeatedly spoke of how they were being spyed on. They noted that the Iraqi government seemed to know a great deal about them. They were threatened on their cell phones and told not to attend protests. A huge wealth of information appeared to be available to Nouri al-Maliki.
In addition to the above, Al Mada notes the Ministry of Communication recently issued a warning that cell phones were being monitored by "international" bodies -- such as the CIA which remains in Iraq.
Guess what else remains in Iraq? That's right, the political stalemate. It might be something Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari would like to speak to the US Ambassador to Iraq about. However, there is no US Ambassador to Iraq. All Iraq News reports he met instead with Robert Beecroft who is the Charge D'Affairs. Al Mada reports that Kurdish MP Muhammad Qasim told them the questioning of Nouri before Parliament and no-confidence vote has not been forgotten, merely delayed until after Eid al-Fitr. Qasim notes that the Constitution allows for the questioning of the PM and that they are doing things according to the law. Earlier, Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi also noted that the questioning had not been disgarged. Eid al-Fitr is a holiday to mark the end of Ramadan and of fasting during that holy month. In Iraq this year, it starts on August 19th and continues on the 20th and 21st. It's a three day celebration. All Iraq News notes that State of Law MP Abdul Slam al-Maliki has issued a statement declaring that the names of the nominees for the Minister of Defense and Minister of Interior will be announced after Eid al-Fitr.
Christophe Ayad (Le Monde via the Guardian) weighs in on the conflict between Nouri's Baghdad-based government and the Kurdistan Regional Government: Baghdad and Erbil have an endless list of grievances, ranging from border controls and the integration of the peshmerga to the Iraqi national army, to the delimitation of Kurdistan and the sharing of wealth between the centre and the autonomous region – especially oil. There is a fear that growing Kurdish independence will serve as an example to the Sunni provinces, or even to the oil-rich Shia province of Basra in the far south of Iraq, which produces 2m of the 2.5m Iraqi barrels a day. "Al-Maliki would far rather be the leader of a large country than the master of a 'Shia-istan' in the south of Iraq," was one western diplomat's analysis. Conversely, Barzani sees himself as the defender of Iraqi minorities in the face of Shia "hegemony". That is why he granted asylum to the Sunni vice-president Tariq al-Hashemi in December 2011, after he was judged in abstentia in Iraq for having headed a death squad during the civil war (2005-2008).
The much anticipated Reform Commission is really just a forthcoming list. Alsumaria notes that the KRG, via Mohammad Ehsan, has made clear that the list better include the issue of Article 140. Article 140 is in the Iraq Constitution -- hence its name -- and it requires that the disputed territories have a census and referendum. It also was supposed to be implemented by the end of 2007. This is not open to debate or dispute, this is written into the Constitution. Nouri al-Maliki becomes prime minister in Iraq in the spring of 2006. But Nouri ignored it, despite taking an oath to uphold the Constitution. He has repeatedly refused to implement this.
Omali Yeshitela: It is time for us to demand that we change the situation where we have people who are running for office, and Barack Hussein Obama is just a glaring example, that can speak to every constituency, make all kinds of promises to every constituency, except the African community. That has nothing positive to say. In fact, the only time he speaks to the African community generally speaking has been negatively while he can give the whole of Jerusalem to the Israelis in order to court the Jewish vote and this country, while he can talk about accepting and promoting same-sex marriages to win the gay vote in this country, while he can even give platitudes to the so-called Latino Hispanic, as he calls it, vote even while deporting more than even Bush did, he cannot even make any promise, he cannot even make a promise specific to the African community which suffers from severe contradictions -- which is not to say that other communities don't. But the fact is we can no longer tolerate a situation where somebody can simply get our vote by being Black and being unwilling to address any of the contradictions specific to our community.
Glen Ford: And isn't this distressing that for the first time Black folks are accepting not being directly spoken to?
Omali Yeshitela: It is extraordinarly distressing and I'm concerned about what it could mean in terms of a certain kind of precedent because how do you come back and make demands on any other president when all we do is make excuses for this guy? I hear people saying, 'Well he's representing all the people so we can't make demands specific to us.' I hear them saying, 'Well the power of the president is so limited so he can't do this and that.' But that's now what people were saying about Bush. And that's not even what a lot of people were saying about Clinton. So this guy gets a free ride. And in doing so, I just hate what it means in terms of politically immobilizing the African community and I believe putting us in bad place in terms of being able to make demands on any person who is in office and certainly the president. But that is one of the things that I believe that makes the Black is Back coalition so important at this juncture in history when the world is going through such incredible transformation -- that the Black Is Back Coalition has been there, has not deserted the African community, has tried to arm the community so that despite the fact that so many are currently less than before but caught up in the Obama Drama that people will be able to have some kind of leadership that they can fall back on as a consequence of what this coalition is doing.
The New York Times reported last month that the Green Party "expects to be on the ballot in at least 45 states." And Stein "will be the party's first candidate to have qualified for federal matching funds -- a milestone for this 11-year-old alternative party and potentially a major boost for a campaign that does not accept corporate donations."
Jill: / Well, there's one thing I should say which is just that the core of the Green New Deal is actually creating jobs and for the cost of the President's first Stimulus Package, which made a small dent but really wasn't a solution. It was not a solution of the magnitude that we need. This would really create the solution that we need for the same amount of money but it would work, because instead of just giving it away to corporations, which was the majority of that Stimulus Package. It was basically tax breaks. That doesn't create jobs. Instead we would do direct job creation like they did during the New Deal. It actually worked. It substantially moved us forward out of the Great Depression. This would put resources and money--
Rob: What does that mean? "Direct job creation?" That sounds like bottom up to me.
Jill: Exactly. It's totally bottom up, so that it would provide the funding from a national level. It would provide the funding, and I'll talk about where the funding comes from in a second. But it provides the funding to communities, so it's an extremely bottom up solution. It provides it to communities. It's not a top down cookie cutter program. It provides resources to communities and certain guidelines that allow the communities to identify what kinds of jobs they need in order to become sustainable; not just ecologically but also economically and socially. So, it provides communities the ability to create jobs which are locally based. So, we're not talking about bringing in a branch of Bank of America or some mortgage foundation or some multi-national corporation: Coca-Cola or whatever. It's about jumpstarting local small businesses and worker cooperatives in a whole broad area of the Green economy and areas that meet our social and economic needs so that we have local economies where the dollars are being re-circulated. Where, as you probably know, every dollars counts for much more because it's passing through the hands--many hands within the community. Every dollar counts for more and the profits are not being shipped overseas to corporate headquarters in the Cayman Islands. They stay right there in small businesses, who've been killed, been killed by both Democratic and Republican policies over the last couple decades. So this re-establishes local small business-based economies and businesses as well as worker cooperatives, because we need to diversify this economy.
It also creates public services and public works which allow you to just go down to the employment office instead of the unemployment office and at the employment office, you can get a job doing a whole variety of services and works that serve your community. And again, this is within that broad spectrum of jobs that range from local food supplies, establishing a relocalized organic agricultural system, which is resilient to the stresses of rising oil prices as well as climate change and all that. There's just innumerable benefits to developing local sustainable agriculture and supporting our small farmers, as well as public transportation, including an active. What we call recreational transportation components, so you can ride your bike to the train, get on the train, have a place to take your bike with your or leave it there, etc. That begins to create an infrastructure for health that allows us to get our exercise, getting to where we need to go safely and conveniently instead of having to go join a health club and pay a big health fee. That's not how you get a healthy society. We need to be able to be active as a component of transportation.
It includes, of course, weatherization, insulation--all those things that can put communities to work that have high unemployment rates but don't have PhDs. You don't even need a high school degree in order to do that insulation and sort of simple construction and weatherization work. So, we can get the jobs into the communities that need them most and I should mention that that is a provision also of the Green New Deal; that it directs the resources to where they're need, not to the places that have political influence, but rather particularly it prioritizes the places with the worst unemployment so we can start providing the relief where it is most needed. That includes, creating green energy as well, solar and wind as well as the efficiencies and as well as the social services, like teachers and nurses, after school daycare, elder care, drug abuse prevention and rehabilitation, violence prevention and affordable housing construction. So, it's a broad range of job.
Communities have full leeway to decide what kinds of jobs are priorities for them and are needed most in their communities. So, it's a win-win because it not only solves the economic emergency, it also solves the climate emergency, because it prioritizes that transition to green energy and it also just so happens, it make wars for oil, obsolete. You don't need oil when you've got green energy here at home. And in doing that, it allows us to cut back on our military budget which has doubled over the last decade without making us twice as secure. Hardly, in many ways, we are not more secure at all. So, we're calling for downsizing and right sizing the military, bringing the troops home and bringing the bases home as well that are scattered around the globe.
Sunday, Roseanne Barr became the first presidential candidate to be roasted on TV. Kenneth Walsh [kenneth in the (212)] notes his favorite moment of the roast was when Roseanne said, "I'd really like to thank [ex-husband] Tom [Arnold] for showing up tonight . . . he was very funny . . . but, Jesus Christ, how many [bleeping] jobs do I have to get for that guy. If I can bury my rolling, boiling, ceaseless hatred for the likes of Tom Arnold, maybe there's a chance we can have world peace."
The P&F Party describes itself as California's Feminist Socialist Political Party and "opposes capitalism, imperialism, racism, sexism and elitism." Though she has no chance to win, she told CNN's Piers Morgan that she hopes to make "socialist solutions part of the narrative."
Answering a Green Party questionnaire earlier this year, Barr says the issues closest to her heart were obliterating the two party system (she calls them the "two-headed beast"); ending corporate personhood; preventing the exportation of jobs to "countries with immoral, inadequate and nonexistent labor laws;" shutting down all U.S. military bases worldwide, and legalizing marijuana.
On her Peace and Freedom platform she also says she also will recognize Palestine, forgive all student loans, and allow third-parties the right to ballot access in all 50 states.
This weekend please join former Congresswoman and presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney along with Roseanne Barr – who is running for President this November! Both of these courageous women will be appearing on the 2nd day (Saturday, August 18) of this 3 day historical event.
The Consciousness Beyond Chemtrails Conference will be held from August 17 – 19, 2012, at the historic Ebell Theater in Los Angeles. The entire event will also be available live online; details for viewing are listed on the website.
At the conference an impressive roster of concerned citizens will examine the global implications of manipulating the weather. In addition to Roseanne Barr and Cynthia McKinney, international bestselling author and GMO expert Jeffrey M. Smith, will discuss the alarming increase in genetically engineered foods and there will also be the world premiere of Michael Murphy's new film, "Why in The World Are They Spraying?"
Cindy Sheehan: It was relevant to say though because everybody thinks that Roseanne Barr is not serious about running for president --
Charles Karel: Right.
Cindy Sheehan: And she's very serious. She's not a clown, she's a comedian. I think you know the difference between being a clown and a comedian. A comedian can like dig down in these serious issues and make them relevant and funny to people so they understand them better.
Charles Karel: Right.
Cindy Sheehan: It's just something that needed to be said.
[. . .]
Charles Karel: GIven that you may not win, what do you want to add to the dialogue of the campaigns?
Cindy Sheehan: There's one very specific thing that we'd like for to happen in California, of course we need to register 48,000 more people to the Peace and Freedom Party and if we get 50,000 people to register to the Peace and Freedom, that sends a message to the Democrats that they're not doing their job. And another thing is my major issue is peace. Of course, Roseanne is a big anti-war, anti-empire, pro-peace person herself, but her big issue is medicinal cannabis.