Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The blame goes on Nouri

Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 547 violent deaths in Iraq this month.  Today's the last day of April and violence continues. National Iraqi News Agency reports a suicide bomber killed himself in Sulaiman Beg and claimed 2 others lives while also leaving five people injured, and a Kirkuk bombing leaves two Peshmerga injured

Meanwhile Russia Today interviews Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi.  Excerpt:

RT: There are those in the political establishment who accuse Prime Minister al-Maliki of all the disasters going on in the country, though in fact these people are also part of the executive, legislative and judiciary. So why are they trying to shift the blame onto the Prime Minister?

AA: Because it’s the leader and the ruling party that bears the bulk of the responsibility. Now, why is exactly Mr. al-Maliki to blame? The matter is, he’s not only Prime Minister; he is also Commander-in-Chief, Defense Minister, Minister of the Interior, Director of the National Security Council of Iraq, and he is also in charge of security and intelligence services. These agencies have been involved in operations nicknamed ‘Baghdad’, ‘Tigris’, ‘Euphrates’, and others. He is the one who defines the nation’s policies and goals. Of course, he is the one with the most responsibility. His bloc, his party are the ones in charge. He is the head of the state, he controls everything. Unfortunately, the cooperation that we sought so eagerly didn’t take place. Yes indeed, there is a degree of cooperation when it comes to distributing and sharing powers in the executive branch. We have ministers with all the paraphernalia typical of a minister, but do they have any real power? Are they part of policy-making? No, they are not.

There is a relationship between what Allawi's speaking of and the increased violence since the 2010 elections.

Nouri's not supposed to hold all those positions.  At the end of 2010 and start of 2011, he was still claiming -- and the press was still covering for him -- that he'd name a Minister of Defense and a Minister of Interior -- those two are over the military and federal police -- and a National Security Minister.  It was a power-grab, Iraqiya said back when the press was claiming any day now Nouri would nominate people for those positions.  Nouri never did.  It was a power-grab.

He's always feared a coup and this way he was over the military and the federal police.

So since he's grabbed all those posts, he should be held responsible for the security situation.

Linda S. Heard (Arab News) offers this:

On Sunday, the Iraqi authorities pronounced the death knell on even any pretence that the government is adhering to democratic principles such as freedom of the media. The powers that be have chosen to shoot — or rather shut-down — the messenger by revoking the licenses of 10 television stations, including Qatar’s Al Jazeera that have been punished for “sectarian bias” which translated means “critical of the Shiite-dominated regime.” Whoever took that fascist-type decision is delusional if they thought that by doing so sectarian violence would be quelled. It is not only anti-democratic, it is provocative, guaranteed to incite anti-government elements. Moreover, in an era of satellite television and the Internet, closing people’s eyes and ears to news is simply unworkable. The authorities have also crushed another of democracy’s staples by using a heavy hand on protesters peacefully demonstrating.

Human Rights Watch condemns the decision as well in a release today which includes:

“The authorities have admitted that there was no legal basis for their decision, which looks more suspicious given the government's history of cracking down on opposition media, particularly during protests,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “If the Iraqi government is truly committed to ending violence and sectarianism, it should reform the criminal justice system, hold the security forces accountable for attacks on protesters, and stop blocking elections in provinces in which it has little support.”

Mujahid Abu al-Hail, who heads the media commission’s Department of Audiovisual Media Regulation, told Human Rights Watch that the commission suspended the licenses after concluding that the ten stations were “promoting violence and sectarianism.” The stations are: Al-Jazeera, Al-Sharqiya, Al-Sharqiya News, Al-Anwar al-Thany, Al-Fallujah, Al-Tagheer, Al-Garbhiya, Salah al-Din, Babeliya, and Baghdad TV.

Al-Hail told Human Rights Watch that he recommended the license suspensions because the commission’s “Monitoring Department” had concluded, after tracking the stations’ output for three months, that their “messages” encouraged violence and sectarianism. He admitted that he did not make the decision “on a legal basis” but said it was on national security grounds because the stations had “broadcast speeches and fatwas from extremist sheikhs that encouraged violence.”

Al-Hail was unable to provide Human Rights Watch with details of any occasions when the suspended stations’ broadcasting output amounted to actual incitement to particular and imminent acts of sectarian or other violence. Both international law and the Iraqi constitution would require similar incitement for the broadcasts to fall within the ambit of permissible content-based restrictions on freedom of expression. He said the commission had documented examples of such incitement in a report that it would make available to Human Rights Watch, although it has not yet done so. It has also not provided this report to the affected channels.

“At a time when the security forces are attacking protesters without punishment, it’s hard to believe the government’s claims that it canceled these channels’ licenses out of its concern to protect citizens from violence,” Whitson said. “The authorities have a responsibility to protect citizens, but also to protect their free speech and access to information. The media commission’s inability to cite any specific examples of incitement to violence by these ten TV stations it has decided to shut down is telling.”

I'm sure not the only one shaking their head over Sandra Day O'Connor this morning.  The former Supreme Court Justice is making news.  Debra Cassens Weiss (ABA Journal) explains:

In an interview with the Chicago Tribune editorial board, O’Connor said the court may have been wrong to accept the case involving the disputed vote count in Florida in the 2000 presidential election. The court’s decision effectively paved the way for George W. Bush to become president.
“Maybe the court should have said, ‘We’re not going to take it, goodbye,’ ” O’Connor said.
The retired justice told the Tribune that the case “stirred up the public” and “gave the court a less-than-perfect reputation.”

James Turnage (Guardian Express) states, "Now, at 83, 13 years too late, she has finally said she would like a do-over."

"Maybe we were wrong" isn't, "I wish I had a do over."

Nor is anything reported from O'Connor's lips remotely honest.

Quickly, in November 2000, the vote in Florida was so close it triggered an automatic recount per the state's laws.  That recount didn't take place.  Instead, we got court battles.  As the world would learn after the fact, Al Gore received more votes than Bully Boy Bush and should have been President.

Let's deal with ethics first.  Widely reported is the story that on election night 2000, at a party, when Gore was announced the victor, Sandra Day O'Connor uttered an expletive and walked away from guests leaving her husband to explain that she wanted to retire but if Gore was elected, she would have to remain on the bench for at least four, possibly eight, more years or a Democrat would appoint her replacement.

She's refused to comment on that.  That's the first thing, if she's ever going to be honest, that she needs to comment on.  If true, she was required to recuse herself from the case.  Ethically, she was required to because she had a vested interest in the outcome of the case.

Now let's talk law.

Former Supreme Court Justice O'Connor still can't say whether or not the Court should have taken the case?

What kind of idiot is she?

The Court never should have taken the case.

The Court is not Judge Judy and is supposed to set precedent not make one-time-only rulings.

The media was stroking fear.  As usual.  And that's what allowed Bush to steal the elections.

There was never a need to panic and everyone of those journalists who tried to cause panic should have lost their jobs.

There were disputed elections before.  Twice the House of Representatives resolved the matter (which is how it is legally supposed to be resolved).

To stop the recount -- which is what the Court did -- they had to assume that Bush would be wronged by votings being counted.

He would have been, they were right.  If the recounts had continued, he wouldn't have been in the White House because he didn't get the votes.  But the Court choosing to side with Bush (or with Gore, if they had) was making a call they weren't qualified to make.  The interests in this case were not Bush or Gore.  The interests were the American people.  And the answer in an election is always to let a recount go forward.  You want to verify any questionable tally.

I'm not real big on foot-in-the-grave requests for forgiveness to begin with but that's not even what O'Connor's done.  She just raised the issue all over again and reminded American just how stupid she was (and probably the rest of the Court) because they never should granted cert.  It should have carried out in the Florida courts.  If there were questions after that, the voting should have been done in the House.

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