Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Iraq snapshot

Tuesday, April 16, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, silence on counter-insurgency continues, failure to speak on the topic fails both Bradley Manning and WikiLeaks, an Iraqi governor survives an assassination attempt, an Iraqi inspector general and his family flee in the face of arrest warrants, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani is dismayed by the situation in Iraq, and more.

April 8th, WikiLeaks published 1.7 million US diplomatic documents covering 1973 to 1976.  Collin Gordinier (South Lyon East High School's East Edition) explains this release has become known as the "Kissinger Cables" after Henry Kissinger (Secretary of State in Richard Nixon's administration and then Gerald Ford's administration) and quotes Kissinger bragging, "I used to say [before the Freedom of Information Act], 'The illegal we do immediately; the unconstitutional takes a little longer'.  Now I'm afraid to say things like that."   The impact of the release was felt then -- one government had a public servant exposed as a spy, the son of a prime minister was in league with Big Business at the expense of his own country, the Vatican was found to be a massacre denier and more.  The impact continues to be felt this week.  Yesterday Marc Wells (WSWS) explored the Vatican aspect of the cables:

On September 11, 1973, a CIA-backed coup led by general Pinochet overthrew the elected government of Socialist Party President Salvador Allende. In Pinochet’s 17-year dictatorship, thousands of left-wing activists, students, trade unionists and anyone suspected of opposing Chilean and international capital were killed or disappeared by the regime. Hundreds of thousands were jailed and tortured, or sent into exile.
The names of these criminal state operations, such as "Operation Condor" or "The Caravan of Death" are forever embedded in the consciousness of Chilean workers. Pinochet's "struggle against Marxism" remains one of the most violent developments in the history of the 20th century.
The main goal of such struggle was to destroy the working class and its organizations, both physically and through the imposition of aggressive economic policies of privatization and deregulation. These created a model of enrichment by a small oligarchy for the following decades.
Many governments joined this "struggle," with the US leading the pack. President Richard Nixon and his National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger allocated $8 million for the campaign to destabilize Allende. While maintaining an appearance of liberal reforms and a more relaxed policy toward the USSR initiated by John XXIII, the Vatican, led by Pope Paul VI, lent support to the Chilean dictator.
In a cable dated October 18, 1973, Archbishop Giovanni Benelli, Vatican Deputy Secretary of State, denied the crimes committed by Pinochet's junta, expressing "his and Pope's grave concern over successful international leftist campaign to misconstrue completely realities of Chilean situation."
More precisely, the cable documents Benelli's view on the "exaggerated coverage of events as possibly greatest success of communist propaganda, and highlighted fact that even moderate and conservative circles seem quite disposed to believe grossest lies about Chilean junta's excesses."

Press Trust India used the cables Sunday to explore the relationship between Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Richard Nixon (whom Nixon called an "old witch").

Right before those documents were released, WikiLeaks released US cables from the last decade on Venezuela demonstrating how supposedly neutral NGO (supposed Non-Governmental Organizations) enlisted in the US government's war on the government of President Hugo Chavez. This week Ryan Mallett-Outtrim (Green Left) reported on those documents:

The ultimate aims of the embassy were described by then-US ambassador to Venezuela William Brownfield as "penetrating Chavez’s political base ... dividing Chavismo ... protecting vital US business ...[and] isolating Chavez internationally".
According to Brownfield, the "strategic objective" of developing opposition-aligned "civil society organizations[sic] ... represents the majority of USAID/OTI work in Venezuela".
However, among the dozens of groups mentioned in the document, the usual suspects of US interventionism also make appearances.
According to the document, OTI funded a Freedom House program in Venezuela with US$1.1 million, while Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI) provided grants totalling $726,000 on behalf of OTI.
DAI has a long history of working to undermine governments that oppose US hegemony, and this isn't the only time its operations in Venezuela have raised questions.
In 2002, DAI worked with the National Endowment for Democracy to fund a right-wing propaganda campaign during the 2002 oil industry lockout that sought to bring down Chavez’s government.
The groups is now being sued by the family of a subcontractor who was jailed in 2009 while working in Cuba.
Alan Gross was working with a USAID initiative to install satellite communication systems for civil use, when he was arrested by Cuban authorities for "acts against the integrity of the state", and is now serving a 15-year prison term.
His wife, Judy Gross has accused DAI of misleading him, and failing to provide adequate training.

In related news, the US government is attempting to punish whistle blower Bradley Manning and to argue that because Osama bin Laden reportedly had access to information -- that the whole world had -- this demonstrates that Bradley was "aiding the enemy."  As the editorial board of the Los Angeles Times observed earlier this month, "In arguing that Manning aided the enemy, the government's case apparently will rest on the assertion that some WikiLeaks material made its way to a digital device found in the possession of Osama bin Laden. This is an ominously broad interpretation. By the government's logic, the New York Times could be accused of aiding the enemy if Bin Laden possessed a copy of the newspaper that included the WikiLeaks material it published."

Bradley Manning and WikiLeaks are forever entwined.  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. The court-martial was supposed to begin before the November 2012 election but it was postponed until after the election so that Barack wouldn't have to run on a record of his actual actions.  Independent.ie adds, "A court martial is set to be held in June at Ford Meade in Maryland, with supporters treating him as a hero, but opponents describing him as a traitor."  February 28th, Bradley admitted he leaked to WikiLeaks.  And why. 

Bradley Manning:   In attempting to conduct counter-terrorism or CT and counter-insurgency COIN operations we became obsessed with capturing and killing human targets on lists and not being suspicious of and avoiding cooperation with our Host Nation partners, and ignoring the second and third order effects of accomplishing short-term goals and missions. I believe that if the general public, especially the American public, had access to the information contained within the CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A tables this could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general as [missed word] as it related to Iraq and Afghanistan.
I also believed the detailed analysis of the data over a long period of time by different sectors of society might cause society to reevaluate the need or even the desire to even to engage in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations that ignore the complex dynamics of the people living in the effected environment everyday.

Counter-insurgency is war on a native population.  There's been confusion in the '00s because the US government wanted to sell it. Vietnam left counter-insurgency 'off the table' officially because it was publicly reputed.  When Reagan used it in the covert, dirty wars in Latin America in the eighties, it would be 'off the books.'  David Petraeus and others sought to rehabiliate it in the '00s.  That required a lot of money and a lot of greedy academia desperate for that money.  Harvard's Carr Center is only one of the many institutions with blood on their hands -- Sarah Sewall (aka Sarah Sewer) remains at the Carr Center while Samantha Power 'graduated' to the Barack Obama administration.   Sewall herself bragged at the end of 2007 that they could get a candidate to say whatever they wanted which Charlie Rose found very amusing as long as he and she didn't name the candidate (Barack).  Along with the liars of acadmeia there have been the supposed journalists of 'independent' media like Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! who won't let counter-insurgency be mentioned unless its by CIA contractor Juan ColeAs Ava and I noted last month, in (mis)covering the documentary James Steele: America's Mystery Man In Iraq  -- produced by BBC Arabic and the Guardian newspaper,  she insisted that the guest not use the term "counterinsurgency" and, at the end, when the guest did bring it up, Goodman immediately changed the subject.  She was fine with presenting violence in Iraq as caused by the US -- provided it could be presented as random.  But to actually note that it was a pattern and a plan was too much for Amy Goodman.  That's only surprising if you missed how she supported the Libyan War and has largely become a mouthpiece for the US government -- at least the CIA faction.  (If this is news to you, you haven't been paying attention and can start getting up to speed by reviewing Bruce Dixon's 2011 piece for Black Agenda Report: "Are Democracy Now!'s Libyan Correspondents Feeding Us the State Department and Pentagon Line on Libya?")

Counter-insurgency has been the least covered topic in the last ten years despite the US government utilization of it.  It's not been covered because there's no money in telling the truth.  Goody might lose some of her campus bookings where she hawks her latest bad clip job.  The Nation has published only one article on the issue that matters and they had to be shamed into publishing that.  The article is "Harvard's Humanitarian Hawks" and it's by Tom Hayden.  He published it as his own site first and only after Katrina and others were deluged with phone calls about why The Nation wasn't carrying that article did they suddenly show interest.

Instead, they prefer to offer piffle like the crap William R. Polk penned as an open letter to Barack where, in passing, he notes that the Pentagon Papers exposed counter-insurgency as a failure.  But he never condemns Barack's use of it in his open letter.  When I noted how little coverage there's been of counter-insurgency, from time to time, a friend will bring up Ann Jones.  To which I reply, "I was trying to be nice.'  Yes, Ann Jones did write about counter-insurgency in 2010: "Taking a page from Vietnam, they claim their hands are tied, while the enemy plays by its own rules.  Rightly or wrongly, this opinion is spreading fast among grieving soldiers as casualties mount.  It's also clear that even the lethal part of counterinsurgency isn't working."

A piece on counter-insurgency that uses terms like "rightly or wrongly," is cowardly.  She never calls it out.  The most she can muster is that it's not working. We've defended Ann many times here but I'm not going to defend her ethical cowardice.  Shame on you, Ann, you damn well know better.

 Some friends point to Peter Rothberg's piece which does liken it to torture.  It also spells it correctly: "counter-insurgency."  That's how it's been spelled for decades before the government decided to rebrand it KFC style.  And that's part of the reason we don't note Peter's piece.  He notes it's torture.  He's right.  But he wrote in 2004 and it was known to be used in Iraq or anywhere else at that time.  That's also why he spelled it correctly: he was writing of it historically.  

Or they'll note a John Nichols piece that fails to illuminate what counter-insurgency is while also failing to condemn it.  Those aren't pieces that matter, those aren't pieces that show bravery.  Bradley Manning spoke out because what was going on in Iraq.  But various so-called 'independent' 'media' outlets don't want to have that conversation.

While we're on the subject of The Nation magazine, we need to note Greg Mitchell.  The never-ending joke failed to cover WikiLeaks in real time -- we did, we covered it here.  We covered the Iraq revelations and waited and waited for others to follow.  But it was 2010 and outside the video, no one gave a damn in independent media.  That's among the reasons that we laughed at Idiot Greg when he suddenly declared himself to be doing 'live blogging' on WikiLeaks.  You live blog an event -- a trial, a sports match.  Just blogging about WikiLeaks every day does not constitute live blogging -- other than you're blogging and you are, yes, alive.  What an idiot.

But, fine, when did Greg call out counter-insurgency?

The answer comes back: He didn't.

Strange because, even now, if you go to WikiLeak's home page you find this -- on the front page:

US (2009) US Special Forces counterinsurgency manual analysis

WikiLeaks released theForeign Internal Defense Tactics Techniques and Procedures for Special Forces (1994, 2004) document, the official US Special Forces doctrine for Foreign Internal Defense or FID. FID operations are designed to prop up "friendly" governments facing popular revolution or guerilla insurgency. FID interventions are often covert or quasi-covert due to the unpopular nature of the governments being supported.
The manual directly advocates training paramilitaries, pervasive surveillance, censorship, press control and restrictions on labor unions & political parties. It directly advocates warrantless searches, detainment without charge and (under varying circumstances) the suspension of habeas corpus. It directly advocates employing terrorists or prosecuting individuals for terrorism who are not terrorists, running false flag operations and concealing human rights abuses from journalists. And it repeatedly advocates the use of subterfuge and "psychological operations" (propaganda) to make these and other "population & resource control" measures more palatable

And if you use the link they provide, you'll be taken to a report by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange which opens:

"[T]he psychological effectiveness of the CSDF concept starts by reversing the insurgent strategy of making the government the repressor.  It forces the insurgents to cross a critical threshold-that of attacking and killing the very class of people they are supposed to be liberating. -- US Special Forces doctrine obtained by Wikileaks"
So states the US Special Forces counterinsurgency manual obtained by Wikileaks, Foreign Internal Defense Tactics Techniques and Procedures for Special Forces (1994, 2004). The manual may be critically described as "what the US learned about running death squads and propping up corrupt government in Latin America and how to apply it to other places". Its contents are both history defining for Latin America and, given the continued role of US Special Forces in the suppression of insurgencies, including in Iraq and Afghanistan, history making.
The leaked manual, which has been verified with military sources, is the official US Special Forces doctrine for Foreign Internal Defense or FID.
FID operations are designed to prop up "friendly" governments facing popular revolution or guerilla insurgency. FID interventions are often covert or quasi-covert due to the unpopular nature of the governments being supported ("In formulating a realistic policy for the use of advisors, the commander must carefully gauge the psychological climate of the HN [Host Nation] and the United States.")
The manual directly advocates training paramilitaries, pervasive surveillance, censorship, press control and restrictions on labor unions & political parties. It directly advocates warrantless searches, detainment without charge and (under varying circumstances) the suspension of habeas corpus. It directly advocates employing terrorists or prosecuting individuals for terrorism who are not terrorists, running false flag operations and concealing human rights abuses from journalists. And it repeatedly advocates the use of subterfuge and "psychological operations" (propaganda) to make these and other "population & resource control" measures more palatable.

I'm sorry, Greg Mitchell, how can you set yourself as the go-to on all things WikiLeaks and refuse to explore counter-insurgency?  Answer: You can't.

William Boardman  covered the documentary last week -- here for Consortium News, here for Global Research.  Excerpt.

The hour-long film explores the arc of American counterinsurgency brutality from Vietnam to Iraq, with stops along the way in El Salvador and Nicaragua. James Steele is now a retired U.S. colonel who first served in Vietnam as a company commander in 1968-69.  He later made his reputation as a military adviser in El Salvador, where he guided ruthless Salvadoran death squads in the 1980s.
When his country called again in 2003, he came out of retirement to train Iraqi police commandos in the bloodiest techniques of counterinsurgency that evolved into that country’s Shia-Sunni civil war that at its peak killed 3,000 people a month. Steele now lives in a gated golf community in Brian, Texas, and did not respond to requests for an interview for the documentary bearing his name.

 In June, Bradley faces military 'justice' and if you want to build support for Bradley, you start explaining what took place, what made him speak out.  Not random death squads, but a plan -- while the US government claimed to be in Iraq for 'democracy' -- to kill and suppress the Iraqi people.  This is what prompts outrage.  This is what drives Bradley to blow the whistle.  And this same counter-insurgency was being used in Afghanistan.

Do you stay silent or do you blow the whistle?

For Bradley, it was obvious, you blow the whistle about this program being utilized in two different countries and you do it because you are trying to protect millions of people in the process.

Do you stay silent or do you blow the whistle?

That's the question that so-called 'independent' media needs to ask itself.  They can start telling the truth about counter-insurgency or they can continue the lie. 

Will you stand up like Bradley Manning and call out counter-insurgency or will you cower like Anatol Lieven did in 2010, writing for The Nation, "How the Afghan Counterinsurgency Threatens Pakistan."  Bradley didn't decry a good or neutral policy that had a few bad impacts, he decried a criminal policy.

What Bradley did was very brave and very important.

We devalue the importance when we refuse to address counter-insurgency and we betray his bravery.

Not everyone's been a coward.   The national radio program Law and Disorder Radio,  an hour long program that airs Monday mornings at 9:00 a.m. EST on WBAI and around the country throughout the week, hosted by attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights), was able to explore the topic of counter-insurgency with journalist Patrick Farrelly who was part of the  BBC Arabic and the Guardian newspaper investigative team behind the documentary  James Steele: America's Mystery Man In Iraq.  In their program that began airing March 18th, they explored the issues at length and why they mattered.  (For those who can't stream or who will not be helped by non-closed captioning streams, there are excerpts of the discussion in the March 18th snapshot, the March 20th snapshot and the March 22nd snapshot.)

Last week, Steve Nelson (US News and World Reports) quoted former US House Rep Ron Paul:

"While President Obama was starting and expanding unconstitutional wars overseas, Bradley Manning, whose actions have caused exactly zero deaths, was shining light on the truth behind these wars," the former Republican presidential contender told U.S. News. "It's clear which individual has done more to promote peace."

Yesterday in Iraq, violence claimed "at least 55" lives (here and here).  Iraq Body Count counts 62 deaths.  Today was another bloody day.

Press TV lied today: "Looking at the situation in Iraq right now, it is very interesting to note that we are seeing the assassination of certain candidates that are standing up in the country's provincial elections.  Specifically those that are showing leanings toward the government which is currently in power in Baghdad." No, all 15 killed were Sunnis, not part of Nouri's Shi'ite coalition.  I said this morning that most were Iraqiya.  Three community members in Iraq e-mailed to state that the 15 were all under the umbrella of Iraqiya.  (Thank you for correcting me.)

Nouri's thugs aren't targeted, they're the ones doing the targeting.  Like the violence late today in Mosul.  Mosul is in Nineveh Province.  Nineveh and Anbar Province are not being allowed to participate in the elections.  There's been no real outcry by this decision by Nouri.  The reason is because Nouri's very unpopular in these provinces where protests have been going over 100 days against his regime.  Iraq is supposed to have a Independent High Electoral Commission.  If elections were to be postponed, it is the body that is granted the right to postpone.

In yet another power-grab, Nouri declared that the provinces wouldn't hold elections.  He did that as 'commander-in-chief.'  You know what kind of a government allows a 'commander-in-chief' to declare elections won't happen?  A junta, a military junta.  Even during the Civil War, US President Abraham Lincoln did not halt elections.

But Nouri did and he appears to have gotten away with it.  The residents of the two provinces are not happy with this.  The Governor of Nineveh has been very vocal in his displeasure.

Governor Atheel al-Nujaifi is a prominent critic of Nouri al-Maliki.  al-Nujaifi is Sunni, a member of Iraqiya and the brother of Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi.

Among the politicians targeted by Nouri in the last three years?  Atheel al-Nujaifi.  It wasn't all that long ago that Nouri was demanding that al-Nujaifi resign.  (al-Nujaifi refused.)

So it's no real surprise that today al-Nujaifi became the latest politician targeted for assassination.  NINA reports that he survived a bombing attempt on his convoy in Mosul today.  All Iraq News notes there were no "human casualties."  Alsumaria adds that an investigation has been launched.

In addition, National Iraqi News Agency reports a Kut car bombing has claimed 3 lives and left eight people injured, 1 generator worker was shot dead in Mosul1 police officer was shot dead in Mosul and his brother was left wounded, a Tarmiyah car bombing claimed 1 life and left five people injured, 2 Sahwa were shot dead in Sharqat and another two were left injured, a Hilla roadside bombing has left two police officers injured,  a Mussayyib roadside bombing claimed 2 lives and a a Jurf al-Sahker attack left 2 Iraqi soldiers dead. Alsumaria adds that 2 guards and 1 bystander were killed last night at a Baghdad polling station, a Falluja car bombing claimed 2 lives and an attack on a Babylon military headquarter base claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldiers and left six more injured.  All Iraq News notes that Major Wail Hashim Rashid, head of Salman Bak Internal Affairs, was assassinated by a sticky bombing in Salah il-Din Province.

As the security situation continues to worsen,  Mohammad Sabah (Al Mada) reports that members of Parliament -- including from Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc -- are saying Nouri al-Maliki's refusal to appear before Parliament to report on the security situation makes him a partner in terrorism.  Alsumaria reports that Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi noted the Iraqi security forces are supposed to be better today than ever before and wonders why they aren't able to repel the attacks?

Back in July, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observed, "Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has struggled to forge a lasting power-sharing agreement and has yet to fill key Cabinet positions, including the ministers of defense, interior and national security, while his backers have also shown signs of wobbling support."  If Barack hadn't given Nouri a second term via The Erbil Agreement, the prime minister of Iraq in 2010 would have had to have formed a full Cabinet -- no empty spaces.  Nouri's failure to form a full Cabinet means he's responsible for those empty positions.  That means any security failures -- including yesterday's -- rest squarely on his shoulders.

Al Mada notes that Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani is said to be more worried about Iraq than ever before.  The violence and the various political crises have greatly alarmed al-Sistani.  Callum Wood (Philadelphia Church of God's Trumpet) notes that, in 2003, the Trumpet's Gerald Flurry predicted where the war would leave Iraq.  Wood observes, "The U.S.-backed [Prime Minister] Nouri al-Maliki originally promised a fair government, but has systematically destroyed his opponents.  Mr. Maliki has accused at least two key rivals of terrorism, driving them into exile.  Whether the claims are true or not, they leave the Shiite government with little to no viable contenders for power in the country."

In other news of violence, NINA reports that 3 men and 1 woman have been sentenced to death by the Criminal Court of Rusafa-Baghdad.  Apparently, coming in third for 2012 wasn't good enough [see Amnesty International released a new report [PDF format warning] " Death Sentences and Executions in 2012" ], Iraq wants to be number one in 2013 with executions.  Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports that they executed 21 people today by hanging.

Meanwhile Saturday is when 12 of Iraq's 18 provinces get to vote.  Alsumaria notes some people will be voting in Nineveh -- as many as 2250 displaced persons.  Due to violence, they fled their own provinces.  While residents of Nineveh proper will not be voting, IDPs will be.

In labor news, Aref Mohammed (Reuters) reports, "Hundreds of local protesters blocked a main entrance of Iraq's giant southern West Qurna-2 oilfield on Tuesday, operated by Russia's LUKOIL, demanding jobs in a sign of the growing challenges facing foreign firms operating in the south."

Finally, Kitabat reports that arrest warrants have been issued against the Inspector General for the Ministry of Health and his wife; however, the two and their children have apparently fled Iraq.

law and disorder radio
michael s. smith
heidi boghosian
michael ratner