Monday, July 08, 2013

Iraq snapshot

Monday, July 8, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, Kelly McEvers plays the dunce yet again in a self-indulgent 'documentary' that makes MTV's The Real World look like Hearts & Minds and The Panama Deception rolled into one,  we take a look at a bad panel on Iraq, the State Dept continues to obsess over Ed Snowden,  a judge rules on the Guantanamo force-feeding, and more.

Blessed Saint Barack removed all US troops from Iraq, praise be, Barack.  That's the lie, right? The damn media lie that so many whores pretending to be journalists repeat?  Well if Barack removed them all at the end of 2011, poor  Matthew Harless must have been forced to walk home from Iraq.  How else to explain his arrival home on July 4th?

The obvious way, Barack didn't remove all troops and at this late date you have to be an idiot in the news industry to pretend that he did.  Jed Gamber (WITI) has the video of Army Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Harless surprising his family by returning home last week -- they were surprised because they didn't know he was back and also because his original deployment required that he stay in Iraq another two months.  Barack did not remove all troops.  He got to tell that lie in the debates, he lies about it every damn day and the pathetic press in the United States lets him get away with it over and over, aids and abets him in the deception.  Not only did all not leave at the end of 2011, he's also begun sending more back in.  We'll go into that more later in the snapshot but considering how pervasive the lie has been that all US troops are out of Iraq, we'll open today with link to video of Harless' return.

A very dear friend called me today about a faux documentary.  He's an award winning investigative reporter of many years. I always say, "He does the hard job, not the herd job."  He's not running after the latest water cooler topic.  He's doing a job that really matters.  So he's upset about this piece of crap documentary -- radio documentary.  He calls it self-indulgent and notes that it is "all 'I' and 'me' and totally fact-free."  I say back, "Why am I picturing Kelly McEvers?"  He laughs and says it is Kelly.

What an embarrassment.

Heaven save us all from this crap put out by "A Showcase & Workshop for New Public Radio."  If this is "New Public Radio," the big news is public radio has found a way to be even worse than it currently is.

"Diary of a Bad Year: A War Correspondent's Dilemma" ("by Kelly McEvers with Jay Allison") is not only indulgent -- self-indulgent to the extreme -- it's not only offensives and sexist (yes, it's very sexist though Kelly will claim talking about her daughter was about 'letting it all hang out' -- you're a reporter, it's not supposed to all hang out, buy some emotional spankx and keep those inner thoughts and feelings packed in tight), it's one damn lie after another.

At one point, after Kelly flees Syria (or Syria-adjacent)  for Yemen to avoid attending Anthony Shadid's funeral (she 'knows' he would want her to go cover Yemen), and after War Hawk Marie Colvin dies, as Kelly babbles on about "the tribe" and other nonsense that makes it sound like she's on a shroom trip because she didn't know anyone who could score her some peyote, she starts damning the news consumers, the entire world population, because Shadid and Colvin are dead and this hasn't made the people demand that Syria be addressed.

Someone slap Kelly to help her down from her high.

Syria doesn't need foreign troops.  That's my opinion and the opinion of many.  When NPR let Kelly report on Syria, they should have ensured that her goal was to report, not to start a war. 

NPR did allow Kelly to 'report' on Syria from Beruit (Lebanon).  Ava and I called it out repeatedly.  Such as here:

It's her reporting on Syria that's destroyed her reputation, as each day seems to find her filing yet another breathless report of the violence being witnessed in Syria, the outrageous violence, the deaths, the destruction . . . All of which she observes from Beirut. (That's in Lebanaon for those not familiar with the MidEast and, no, Lebanaon is not in Syria, it is its own country which, like Iraq, shares a border with Syria.)
Sometimes, after dispensing 'facts' on bombings and deaths and shootings, 'reporter' Kelly will add something like "the activists and witnesses and citizen journalists who we talk to on a regular basis" tell her this is what is taking place. Such a statement -- not always included -- will usually pass quickly. And no one will question whether her sources are one-sided (they certainly sound one-sided). Last week, when she was 'reporting' on rockets destroying a neighborhood and a hospital (unverifiable claims on her part) this exchange did take place:

INSKEEP: Now, Kelly, we should be clear: Few, if any, journalists are inside Homs, or in any of the contested areas in Syria. We're getting information from activists here. How confident are you of the picture that's emerging, of what's happening in Syria right now?

MCEVERS: It is so difficult to verify the numbers. And over the weekend, we saw that there were discrepancies about how many, exactly, had died in some of these government offensives. You had one activist group saying it was over 300. Another activist group saying no, it was only 60. And without being able to go there ourselves and verify it and see it with our own eyes, it's very difficult.

It's very difficult? We'd say it's impossible. And when the administration is pounding the war drums on Syria, we'd say the last thing the US needs is 'reporters' 'reporting' on something they can't verify with their own eyes. Speaking to people with vested interests and basing your report on that? Not only is that not objective journalism, it doesn't even rise to the level of news reporting. At best, it's a feature article -- a lighter category.
But nearly every day, there's Kelly on Morning Edition (or All Things Considered), breathless and insisting that violence is taking place all around her . . . Well, she watches some streams online from her echo chamber inner circle -- apparently while preparing meals based upon what she declared on Morning Edition last week. Is she doubling as a Sous-Chef at Chez Sami?

Ava and my critique above?  Published February 12, 2012.  A month and four days before Anthony Shadid died.  A month and ten days before Colvin died.  What's the title of that piece Ava and I wrote?  "No One Gets Out Alive."

Nothing that happened after we wrote that piece was surprising, nor should it have been surprising before we wrote it.

Here's reality: Anthony Shadid is not dead today because of an asthma attack.

Anthony Shadid is dead today because of his own actions which include bailing on the Iraqi people.  Yeah, I said it.  Going to Syria didn't mean he deserved to die.  But stop pretending that this was the sign of a great reporter.  No, it was the sign of a dabbler and he wasn't the only one.  Dropping coverage of what was taking place in Iraq in order to rush off to cover Syria and get a fresh war high. 

Apparently in need of more awards and not feeling Iraq would produce them, the former Washington Post journalist who had moved over (with his wife) to the New York Times and was assigned to cover Iraq decided to up and leave Iraq and go to Syria.

That's real sweet, isn't it?  How lucky he was that Iraq had ceased to have problems, right?

Oh, wait, Iraq was and is an ongoing tragedy, a world crime aided and abetted by an active press that wanted -- as Kelly let's slip that she wanted to with Syria -- to start a war.

What's really cute is listening to Kelly pour on the drama.  I love it when she's crying and pretending like she's talking to someone on the cell phone as she dictates her juvenile audio diary.  It's so perfectly stupid, so totally self-involved and the xenophobia still manages to waft over in that moment.

It's cute to listen to her babble on throughout the special, crying in her microphone about her "tribe" and her never grasping that she's an embarrassment and a racist.

See, British Marie is part of her tribe, American Anthony is part of her tribe, but what of the Iraqis?

From 2003 to 2009, the Committee To Protect Journalists notes that 117 Iraqi journalists died from violent attacks.  They're apparently not part of the 'tribe.'  Last April, Dahr Jamail (Al Jazeera) explained:

By 2010 Reporters Without Borders had recorded the deaths of 230 media professionals, 87 per cent of which were Iraqis.
The infamous day when [Tareq] Ayoub was killed along with the two Reuters' cameramen unfortunately became a warning of what was to come for journalists working in Iraq. As high as both the CPJ and Reporters Without Borders tallies are, another group, the Brussells Tribunal, closely tracked Iraqi media worker deaths in detail, and provides a detailed account of each death, concluding with the current total number of 382 journalist and media worker deaths when combining Iraqi and non-Iraqi. However, Iraq's impunity rate, or the degree to which perpetrators have escaped prosecution for killing journalists, is the worst in the world at 100 per cent. Even today, as Iraq has moved beyond the US conflict, both Iraqi and US governmental authorities have shown no interest in investigating these murders.

None of those murdered journalists are mentioned.  In a 'special' about reporting.  They don't get to be part of Kelly's 'tribe.'  It's called racism.  Most people today are smart enough not to use a derogatory word to signal their racism.  So what you're left with are their actions and their remarks.  Kelly repeatedly explains how important this death and that death and this tribe member and that tribe member is and was.  She can reach back years to include some.  But none of them are Iraqis.

February 8, 2011, Kelly reported (NPR's Morning Edition) on how Iraqi journalist Hadi al-Mahdi had been abducted from a Baghdad cafe by Nouri's forces (abducted along with other journalists) and tortured.  September 8, 2011, Hadi was assassinated in his home.  Assassinated by a person or persons smart enough to have turned off the neighborhood video camera that would have caught the assassin or assassins on tape.  Assassinated by a person whom Hadi trusted enough to let into his home and to serve tea to.  And Kelly was off with the so-called 'rebels' of The Free Syrian Army.

In all her time advocating on behalf of The Free Syrian Army and passing this advocacy off as 'reporting,' Kelly never managed to offer a realistic view of her charming buddies.  August 3, 2012, Hannah Allam and Austin Tice (McClatchy Newspapers) reported:

The issue of rebel conduct has come to the forefront this month largely because of a video posted online showing the aftermath of apparent executions of pro-Assad militiamen during the rebels’ capture of an intelligence center in Aleppo, Syria’s largest city.
A reporter for the Turkish newspaper Milliyet witnessed the incident Tuesday and confirmed in a first-person account the circumstances of the killings: More than a dozen men were captured alive and then summarily executed in what advocacy group Human Rights Watch called an apparent “war crime.”
The men “were forced into a building, then brought before a court of the Free Syrian Army on the back of a pickup truck, after which they were lined up and shot at lightning speed,” the Milliyet reporter wrote.
The incident doesn’t appear to be isolated, either. A McClatchy reporter traveling with a unit of the Free Syrian Army was told that rebels had captured about 45 Assad loyalists in fighting in Al Tal, north of Damascus. Asked later what had become of the prisoners, a rebel said eight had been executed, 25 had been released and the rest were being held in hopes of a future prisoner exchange.

Read more here:

Hey, remember the 'report' where Kelly cried on microphone for her 'dear friend' with The Free Syrian Army who had just died?  Kelly does a lot of whimpering, most of it ill or uninformed. 

No ethical boundary or fact has ever constrained Kelly from serving up her emotional outbursts passed off as reporting. 

She is paid to be objective and unbiased but her 'reporting' on Syria made clear that she was no such thing.  She was one-sided and it was always in favor of the 'poor' 'rebels.'  She admits she wanted US troops on the ground in Syria -- admits that in her little documentary.  NPR should be appalled by the documentary, McEvers should be ashamed of how far she will go in her attempt to sell a war, that's she's so quick to turn herself into a one-woman William Randolph Hearst. 

But the major problem is -- and remains -- that 'reporters' were allowed to leave Iraq.  The US press sold the illegal war.  They should never, ever be allowed to leave Iraq.  They should always have a ton of reporters present.  Instead, they're no better than a con artist at a bad used car lot.  They sold it, when it broke down, they didn't want to know.  They did just enough to get it going and off the lot and then they were focusing on other things.

There's a lot of stupidity in the press.  For example, all the 'emirs' did not come to Baghdad for the 2012 Arab League Summit.  It was not a success.  From the March 30, 2012 snapshot:

There are 22 countries in the Arab League.  Hamza Hendawi and Lara Jakes (AP) put the number of Arab League leaders who attended at 10 and they pointed out that Qatar, Saudi Arabi, Morocco and Jordan were among those who sent lower-level officials to the summit. Patrick Martin (Globe & Mail) explains that Sheik Hamad Bin Jassem Bin Jabr Al Thani (Prime Minister of Qatar) declared on television that Qatar's "low level of representation" was meant to send "a 'message' to Iraq' majority Shiites to stop what he called the marginalization of its minority Sunnis." Yussef Hamza (The National) offers, "Iraq has looked to the summit, the first it has hosted in a generation, to signal its emergence from years of turmoil, American occupation and isolation. It wanted the summit to herald its return to the Arab fold. But the large number of absentees told a different story."  That's reality.

The claim was made last month during a panel on Iraq sponsored by the New American Foundation.  The Washington Post's Rajiv Chandrasekaran was the moderator, Iraqi journalist Ahmed Fadaam, photojournalist New York Times' Michael Kamber and McClatchy's Hannah Allam were panelists.  Click here for audio.

I had hoped to work it in back in June but every time I looked at my notes, I thought, "Why bother?"

Kamber wants his book -- that stopped selling in May -- to be a tool that could make people think before the next war ("hopefully, they'll stand as a warning").  Really?  Because until we started talking here about the realities of his war porn, he was happy to do one War Hawk interview after another.  So did Kamber really change his opinion or, when the interest in the book and its sales both dropped, did he figure he needed a new marketing strategy?

I vote the latter. I found him dishonest throughout the panel including when he noted how much legwork and research the Iraqis were doing for the reports with, for example, a Dexter Filkins byline.  He told just a little bit of truth and then quickly rushed to walk it back and defend Filkins.  (Dexter is the 'reporter' who was present for the second assault on Falluja in 2004 but somehow 'forgot' to report about white phosphorus and other illegal chemicals used by the US military -- he also let the military vet his copy and they're slow vetters which is why his 'award winning' story was printed in the paper -- on the front page! -- over a week after the event actually happened.)

I also didn't care for the blaming of the public, which we'll get back to.

Hannah Allam:  A pet issue of mine is the special immigrant visa, the SIV.   Uhm, you know, Congress has approved since 2008, 25,000 special immigrant visas for Iraqis for Iraqi translators who worked with media, who worked with military.  These were our eyes and ears on the ground.   How many have they issued to date?  Like 4600.  And the program expires in September unless Congress extends it.  So that is something forward looking to take from this because, you know, you still have people -- We were just talking about a mutual friend of ours in Baghdad who sat out that first round because he believed that things would improve and he could stay and he could work as a journalist and 'I'm Shia, this is my government, I voted for these guys, this is my community, I'm fairly safe.  Uhm, my sect is in power, what's there to fear?'  And, here we go again, I just got the news that he too has applied for this -- for this resettlement option.  And to me, that's the greatest tragedy personally of this.  We thought, 'Okay, one day our bureaus will shutter and we'll all go home and the American public's attention will shift elsewhere -- as it has -- but at least we'll leave this legacy of a, you know, of a d -- of a free press, a probing press, an independent press and all but one, two, maybe three?, of our original eight team person staff -- the ones that are still alive, uhm, have -- have, uh, fled.  And they're in Sweden, they're in Ukraine, they're in Atlanta and Massachusettes, DC.  So that's  -- You know, we haven't left that legacy even. And we were a bureau that really took pains to -- You know we would -- in between on slow days -- we would talk about journalism and they would, you know, they had their own blog, Inside Iraq, uhm, they would report, shoot, do all of their own stories and, you know, we really promoted that.  And to what end?  None of it exists  anymore.

How do you unpack that?  Iraqi refugees who qualify for the special immigrant visa are a "pet issue" of Hannah's and she's really concerned because only approximately one-fifth of the number approved have been admitted and the program is set to expire in two months.

She also didn't have her facts for what she termed her own "pet issue." 4600 admitted?  5,500 is what Joseph Hammond (The Foreign Report) reported June 6th.

Hmm.  You know there are things I'm concerned about.  For example, when a journalist friend is outraged about a bad 'documentary' and calls me to complain, I make that the opening of the snapshot.  I'm concerned about political prisoner Lynne Stewart as well and we cover her regularly and have for years now.  If I'm concerned about something, I do something about it.

Hannah made her remarks June 10th.  Since then, we've all waited in vain for the article she was surely writing on this issue that matters so much to her.  There's been no article.

Maybe her editors nixed it?  Damn the editors.  If only the printing press weren't so new and novel and reporters had a way to speak directly to the public outside of the printed word.  What's that?  Yes, Twitter!  Hannah Allam has a Twitter account.  She can't stop Tweeting.

And though she's had time for everything including Rick Perry's decision not to seek another term as governor, she hasn't Tweeted about the refugees.  Not just since June 10th, she's never Tweeted about them.  Rick Perry?  Of the McClatchy women covering Iraq back in the day, Leila Fadel was the one who hailed from Texas.  Fadel, now with NPR, might or might not have interest in Tweeting that news due to Texas being her home state.  Why's Hannah doing it?  She's not from Texas, she's not a political reporter.  Her beat has been foreign issues, the State Dept and the Middle East.

But she can make time to Tweet about that.  While ignoring what she insists is her "pet issue"?

Maybe she's not insincere.  Maybe she's just stupid.

See, if you have a "pet issue" and it's that nearly 19,000 slots have yet to be filled in a program to provide sanctuary to Iraqis and that program expires in two months, you write about it, you Tweet about it, you call everyone you know.  Saturday, we noted a possible execution in Iraq.  Why?  I didn't know about it.  A friend with McClatchy called me and asked me to note it.  Because the friend cared about what happened.  If Hannah really cares about her so-called "pet issue," she's doing a lousy job.  You also, when asked to discuss it by an audience member don't respond, "What he said" -- which, for the record, Hannah does.  It's her "pet issue" but, apparently, don't ask her about it because she can't muster anything than to point out Michael and says, "What he said."  That's a professional wordsmith?  On an issue that matters to her?  What an embarrassment.

At one point, Michael Kamber insists, "People, the American people, in particular, didn't seem to know what I knew."  Oh, well that's a surprise.  You're a photo journalist in Iraq where the media is heavily censored (during the panel discussion, Hannah admits to knowing of US soldiers' suicides in Iraq but not reporting on it because the US military asked her not to), you should know more than the American people.

But here's the thing, you don't know what you're talking about.

Kamber talks about the attack in Falluja on the contractors where their corpses were strung up and beaten.  He whines about how he and others took pictures even though they knew they'd never be printed. He pats himself on the back, "We know we can't get it out there now but some day people will be willing to look at this."


I remember the day after that attack very well.  I was actually home for a change -- I'd get there at six in the morning actually -- because I'd been speaking at two California colleges the day before.  I stop at the grocery store for tomatoes and assorted other items and grab the Chronicle even though it's going to be at home (due to subscription).  I grab the Chronicle because of that story, the one Kamber thinks didn't get out.  It did get out.  The photos as well.  The San Francisco Chronicle ran Khalid Mohammed's photos from the AP.  You can click here now and see the story and they've got the photos in a clickable essay (the date is April 1, 2004).  I remember because I'm looking at the photos and the cashier says to me that those photos shouldn't be printed and I say the war is the "shouldn't" and once it started we deserved every bit of information on it.  USA Today has an online gallery that they published in real time.  They also ran a photo in the paper in real time. I subscribe to a ton of papers.  But I do remember that Michael's paper, the New York Times, front paged it.  As I'm seeing it in my mind now, two-thirds of the above the fold front page was a photo of Iraqis cheering facing the camera with the bridge and the hanging corpses in the background.  The other third of the above the fold section?  An article with a headline like "Four from U.S. killed in an ambush in Iraq: Mob drags bodies."  I don't remember if the Los Angeles Times front paged it -- Oh, great, I don't have to remember. On the other cell an NPR friend just returned a call (I'd called him about McEvers) and he heard me dictating and told Kat to interrupt me.  This was a significant news day, April 1, 2004, because of the contractors killed the day before.  Therefore, he informed me, I need to go to the Newseum.  I'm there now.  And as he said, this page shows all the front pages that day for over 100 US newspapers.  And after they finish with Wyoming's papers (it's alphabetical), they show the front page for foreign newspapers as well.  You'll clearly see that almost every US daily front paged -- with a photo -- the contractors deaths.

So his conspiracy theory of those images being blocked?  Maybe he's completely nuts, maybe he doesn't know what ran and what didn't, maybe he's just a liar happy to toss aside facts so that he can have a 'better' tale to tell.

 He explained that he was fighting with editors all the time and, "They'd tell us people don't want to see this.  They don't want to see this over their morning cornflakes.  I heard this constantly from different editors all over the world."  He had a photo, he claims, that was taken of a man who exploded from a land mine walking right behind him and cut in half.  And his editor "put it under lock and key."  Where it remains to this day. They told him it was just too violent.  And here's where he really goes to town on the American people:

But I also gotta say there was no clamor from the American people.  I know people have to go on with their lives and they're busy and the war's going on seven, eight, nine years and that's just -- that's just Iraq. Not even talking about Afghanistan.  But there was no clamor from the American people that 'we've got to see these images.'  I mean, you've got to know if you've got 5,000 dead Americans and you've never seen a picture of a dead American, you know, people have to step up and put pressure on the news organizations and the editors.  You know, there has to be some public push on the editors.

First off, there was a clamor.  That's the only reason coffin photos finally appeared.  Second off, the people were demanding the media stop selling the Iraq War before it started and that didn't stop the selling.  Thirdly, why don't you do your damn job and stop blaming others?

The public doesn't own the press.  They can write all the letters they want, make all the calls they want, it doesn't usually do a bit of good.  But if you felt that you had photos that should be published but weren't, you could go public.  When Lara Logan felt CBS was trying to circumvent her on Iraq, she would go public.  She did so several times seeking support.

The American people can't make a demand for things they don't know exist.

At Third yesterday, we offered "Editorial: SIlence or stupidity (media coverage of Iraq"

While al-Bayati's Wall St. Journal's column was mostly lies, it did serve a purpose.  It was aimed at American audiences -- an audience that's largely unaware of the column.   He is part of the roll out for the official return of US forces to Iraq (see last week's "Editorial: The important words").  That's obvious when al-Bayati writes:
While security coordination through military sales and financing programs continues, an expedited delivery of promised sales, better intelligence sharing, and stepped-up assistance in counterterrorism and training is essential for Iraq's fight against terrorism—a clear national security interest of the U.S. Implementing this agreement should not be linked to regional issues, such as the conflict in Syria.
From the April 30th Iraq snapshot:

December 6, 2012, the Memorandum of Understanding For Defense Cooperation Between the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Iraq and the Department Defense of the United States of America was signed.  We covered it in the December 10th and December 11th snapshots -- lots of luck finding coverage elsewhere including in media outlets -- apparently there was some unstated agreement that everyone would look the other way.  It was similar to the silence that greeted Tim Arango's September 25th New York Times report which noted, "Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions.  At the request of the Iraqi government, according to [US] General [Robert L.] Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence."

US forces never left Iraq.  Not all of them.  And last fall, Barack sent in another unit of Special Ops.  But under the December MoU (which calls for joint-patrols of Iraqi and US troops), this can now be done a little more openly.  Which is how you got the announcement from the Chair of the Joint-Chiefs two weeks ago. 
At the end of last week, Dale McFeatters (Chicago Sun Times) became the first columnist to write about those remarks:

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, has recommended that U.S. commanders find ways to improve Iraq’s military capabilities. This would involve additional weapons and training and, although neither government would say so publicly, some level of U.S. involvement in operations.

The language accompanying the proposal suggests that it is a done deal. We could hardly let the Iraqis say they were open to military cooperation with the U.S., an embarrassing admission in itself, and then humiliate them by slapping down the offer.

The Pentagon called it a "drawdown," not a withdrawal, throughout 2011.  And not all troops left in the drawdown.  Secretly more troops have been sent back in.  Now the White House gets ready to send them back in a little more publicly.
And where is the outcry?
With the exception of McFeatters, we've got silence or stupidity in the US press when it comes to Iraq.  We're not sure which of the two is worse.  Silence or stupidity -- both are needed ingredients in any box of Iraq War Helper and when both work in tandem, no one wins, least of all the news consumers or the Iraqi people.

AP wrote a really bad article on Dempsey's remarks (a US correspondent; the next day an Iraqi correspondent wrote a better article) and who else bothered to write about it?  Where are the editorials?  Where are the broadcasts leading with Dempsey's remarks?

 As we noted this morningCandy Crowley,  CNN's State of Union yesterday, spoke with Gen Martin Dempsey, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. But she never got around to asking him about Iraq.

Here's what Martin Dempsey said June 26th  at a public Pentagon press conference:

We have a mil-to-mil relationship with the Lebanese armed forces now.  I've had since I -- since I commanded CENTCOM, actually, about four or five years ago.  And we've made a recommendation that as we look at the challenges faced by the Lebanese armed forces, the Iraqi security forces with a re-emerging al-Qaeda in Iraq, and the Jordanians, that we would work with them to help them build additional capability.  But this -- when you say would we send the United States Army or the United States military into Lebanon, I'm talking about teams of trainers, and I'm talking about accelerating foreign military sales for equipment for them.  This is -- this is about building their capability, not ours.

11 days after those remarks, Candy Crowley couldn't be bothered with even noting them.

I guess Michael would say that's the fault of the American people as well.  I guess he would argue that its the American people's job to demand that journalists do their jobs.  Who knew reporters were so damn lazy that without someone taking a whip to them daily, they just can't do their jobs?  Now I know many newspaper owners who have that opinion of reporters, I just didn't realize that the reporters thought so poorly of themselves.

For years now, Nineveh Province's Governor Atheel al-Nujaifi has been the target of multiple assassination attempts.  He has managed, thus far, to survive them.  Today, his spokesperson was not so lucky.  NINA reports that Qahtan Sami was shot dead today.

In other violence, National Iraqi News Agency reports a Mosul roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier and left another injured, a Ramadi roadside bombing left three people injured,  a Tikrit bombing injured Taha Ali (a Salahuddin provincial council member), and a Mada'in bombing left three people injured.   All Iraq News adds that a Mosul car bombing claimed 1 life and left five more people injured , 2 brothers were shot dead in Baquba, 2 people were shot dead in Kobbah village, a second Mosul car bombing claimed 1 life and left two people injured, and a grenade attack on a Sahwa checkpoint in Tikrit left two Sahwa injured. Alsumaria notes that an armed attack in Qasim Khayat left 1 person dead, a Baghdad bombing inside a youth center left 4 people dead and five more injured, a Ramadi roadside bombing left three police officers injured, and another Mosul bombing claimed the lives of 3 children and 2 women while leaving six more people injured. That's 18 reported dead and 31 reported injured. Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) reports on today's violence here.

On the topic of violence, Al Mada reports that some MPs are calling out the violence targeting Baghdad bars and social clubs. 

NINA notes that KRG President Massoud Barzani met today with Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi.  All Iraq News adds that Iraqiya issued a statement which included this statement: "They reviewed the political situation in Iraq in addition to regional as well as Arab developments."

Yesterday, Barzani met with Nouri al-Maliki (prime minister) and Osama al-Nujaifi (Speaker of Parliament).  UNAMI issued the following:

Baghdad, 7 July 2013 – The Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for Iraq, Mr. Martin Kobler, welcomed Kurdistan Region President Masud Barzani’s visit to Baghdad today to hold talks on outstanding issues with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, Parliament Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi and other political leaders.

“This second meeting within a month is an encouraging step,” Mr. Kobler said. “It confirms that there is political will to address outstanding issues between the centre and the region through direct dialogue and in accordance with the constitution.”

“I hope that these discussions will improve the relations between the federal government and the Kurdistan Region’s government, and that the outcomes will impact positively on the Iraqi people,” he added. “The UN continues to stand ready to provide support to this process.”

The US Embassy in Baghdad issued the following statement:

July 7, 2013
The United States welcomes the July 7 visit of Kurdish Regional President Masoud Barzani to Baghdad and the meeting between him and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.  We urge all of Iraq’s leaders to maintain a spirit of national reconciliation and unity to overcome the threat of terrorism, strengthen the country’s democratic institutions, and promote prosperity for all Iraqis.

At the KRG website,  they issued a release in Arabic.  The press release notes that the meeting was to resolve outstanding issues and differences, that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki welcomes ZBarzani and his delegation to Baghdad at a joint-press conference Nouri and Barzani held and Barzani noted the challenges, risks and that the current crises are pregnant with problems.

Barzani declared that, on Syria, the KRG and the central government out of Baghdad are in agreement.  (Which is bad news for the US government which was hoping to be able to leverage the KRG to get Nouri to agree with the White House's view of Syria.)  After Barzani spoke about Syria, the release states Nouri declared that, with regards to Syria, it is an issue for the Syrian people first and not an issue which can or should be resolved by another country (he means the US).

All Iraq News reports that Iraqiya MP Talal Hussein has called out the visit declaring, "We think that the political process that is based on sectarianism is going to collapse where all sides will be affected and that is why the political leaders started to unite to preserve the political process and keep their posts in Iraq."  NINA noted the meeting with Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi and with the Islamic Supreme  Council of Iraq leader Ammar al-Hakim.

 In other political news, Alsumaria reports Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc is meeting with the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq to strategize for the 2014 parliamentary elections.  The outlet notes the two groups have been meeting a great deal since the April 20th provincial elections in 12 of Iraq's 18 provinces.  Nouri's out of control SWAT forces are at it again.  A member of the US trained and equipped forces have attacked an MP.  All Iraq News reports Sadr bloc MP Hussein al-Mansouri was beaten and "The parliament Speaker, Osama al-Nujaifi, instructed to hold an investigation over beating Masnouri by one of the officers of SWAT."

Turning to Barack's NSA spying scandal, Jeff Cohen (CounterPunch) pens the strongest column he's done in over six years.  Excerpt.

So there I was watching Obama’s lips move about NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden at a June 27 press conference. Saying he wouldn’t be “scrambling military jets to go after a 29-year-old hacker,” Obama added that he would not “start wheeling and dealing and trading on a whole host of other issues, simply to get a guy extradited.”
I didn’t believe a word of it.
Given Obama’s war on whistleblowers and journalists who utilize them, and given the Army’s abusive treatment of military whistleblower Bradley Manning (apparently aimed at getting him to implicate WikiLeaks), it’s inconceivable that Obama was truly blasé about Snowden. To deter future whistleblowers, Snowden would have to be caught and made an example of – and probably mistreated (like Manning, in hopes of getting him to turn against WikiLeaks and even journalist Glenn Greenwald).
As his lips were moving, Obama knew well that he would go to extreme lengths to prevent this articulate young man from securing asylum in some Latin American country, where he could continue to inform the world’s media about the Surveillance State that has blossomed alongside the Warfare State under the Bush and Obama administrations.
That Obama wasn’t truthful became clear when the U.S. campaign of “wheeling and dealing” led to possible asylum countries retreating in fear one after another (Vice President Biden was deployed to pressure Ecuador’s president by phone). And even clearer with last week’s outrageous, international law-breaking that effectively forced down the presidential plane of Bolivian President Evo Morales.

Norman Solomon also weighs in on the latest developments:

The same government that continues to expand its invasive dragnet of surveillance, all over the United States and the rest of the world, is now asserting its prerogative to drag Snowden back to the USA from anywhere on the planet. It’s not only about punishing him and discouraging other potential whistleblowers. Top U.S. officials are also determined to -- quite literally -- silence Snowden’s voice, as Bradley Manning’s voice has been nearly silenced behind prison walls.
The sunshine of information, the beacon of principled risk-takers, the illumination of government actions that can’t stand the light of day -- these correctives are anathema to U.S. authorities who insist that really informative whistleblowers belong in solitary confinement. A big problem for those authorities is that so many people crave the sunny beacons of illumination.
On Sunday night, more than 15,000 Americans took action to send a clear message to the White House. The subject line said “Mr. President, hands off Edward Snowden,” and the email message read: “I urge you in the strongest terms to do nothing to interfere with the travels or political asylum process of Edward Snowden. The U.S. government must not engage in abduction or any other form of foul play against Mr. Snowden.”

Some day, Henry Kissinger or some other US War Criminal will be on a plane and find out that it's going to be forced down and watch the US government bitch, moan and whine then.  But they're the ones who started it.  They're the ones who refused to respect international law.

The State Dept has a ton of problems including that Secretary of State John Kerry's Middle East produced nothing, that the State Dept (like the White House) was caught by surprise by what is now taking place in Egypt (military coup) and that they got caught lying Wednesday when the Secretary was out boating but the State Dept was lying and insisting he was in DC and the press reports were wrong.  (They had to fess up after pictures of him on the yacht emerged.)  Despite the Department's serious public mis-steps, they continue to publicly obsess over a whistle-blower instead of focusing on their jobs.  Ed Snowden was a topic raised in today's State Dept press briefing conducted by Jen Psaki:

QUESTION: Okay. It is regarding Mr. Snowden, as you probably are aware that Mr. Snowden has been granted asylum. Venezuela has granted asylum to Mr. Snowden among two other countries in Latin America. I was wondering if you have any reaction on that or if this is going to have any impact considering that the U.S. and Venezuela are trying to work on their bilateral relation.

MS. PSAKI: So let me say first that, of course, as in all of our communications with foreign governments regarding Mr. Snowden, we have advised the Government of Venezuela of the felony charges against him and urged that he should not be allowed to proceed in any further international travel other than as necessary to return him to the United States. We’ve had our differences with Venezuela on some issues, but we’ve also been able to work together on some. And this is a case where, as someone who’s facing felony charges, we’re hopeful that any government involved would take that into account and support his return to the United States.
As you know, this is all, at this point, a hypothetical given he still remains in the transit room, if that’s the right term, in the airport in Moscow.

QUESTION: Is it your determination that in order for him – that he is physically unable to make it from Russia to Venezuela or Bolivia or one of those countries without transit – without having to refuel through a third country that wouldn’t necessarily provide him with – that wouldn’t agree not to – would agree to extradite him?

MS. PSAKI: Well, it’s speculating a few steps down the path here, because obviously we know that he would need to transfer somewhere out of there. We’ve been very clear to governments across the board of our desire to have Mr. Snowden returned to the United States. I don’t think there’s any secret of that. In terms of the paths or steps, I mean, you’d have to either look at the airport maps or talk to the various governments that could be the options.

QUESTION: So where do things stand right now in terms of – is your – kind of – I know you’re casting a wide net in countries not to admit him or to extradite him and not to give him asylum, but, like, where is kind of the frontline of your diplomacy right now in this? This is with Russia, to try and urge them to send him back or --

MS. PSAKI: Well, I don’t want to get into too many levels of specifics here, but obviously we have been in touch with a wide range of officials. It’s no secret where he is located now. We agree with the comments of President Putin last week that we wouldn’t want this to impact our relationship. We certainly feel that anyone – any country granting asylum to Mr. Snowden would create grave difficulties in our bilateral relationship, and that’s a message that we’ve conveyed publicly and, of course, privately in conversations as well.


QUESTION: Specifically on Venezuela, you said we’ve had our disagreements with Venezuela, but we have been able to cooperate on some issues. Is that what you said?

MS. PSAKI: I did.

QUESTION: Can you name one issue since the election of Chavez that the United States and Venezuela have cooperated on?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, I think I was making a broad point there and making a point about the fact that the Secretary also --

QUESTION: In other words, no.

MS. PSAKI: Let me finish. The Secretary also had a meeting, as you know, with the Foreign Minister that was a potential opening. We’re not getting ahead of where we are, but of course we would look closely and it would certainly impact our bilateral relationship if any country, including Venezuela, were to grant him asylum.

QUESTION: Right, right. No, no. I just want to – so you would point to the meeting that happened in Guatemala as a sign of cooperation, as one of the few areas of cooperation between Venezuela and the United States since President Chavez was elected. I realize this is now President Maduro.


QUESTION: But I’m asking you if you can – you would say that that’s evidence of cooperation, a meeting?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, I think what we’re looking to do --

QUESTION: Can you name --

MS. PSAKI: -- is re-step our relationship here. That’s where we’re hoping to go.

QUESTION: Right. And this would be a problem?

MS. PSAKI: This would be a problem. Absolutely.


QUESTION: Jen, can I ask – Kommersant Daily in Russia has reported today that – quoting State Department sources – that the Putin administration has been told that if this is not resolved by September, this could threaten a potential state visit by President Obama.

MS. PSAKI: I believe the White House disputed that this weekend. I would point you to them for any specific comment on that.

QUESTION: I don’t think they did, because my White House colleague said that he wasn’t getting any information from the White House about this.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I would point you to them for any comment on that specifically.

QUESTION: But, I mean, is the State Department – is there any knowledge at the State Department that this would be the case?

MS. PSAKI: None that I’m aware of.

QUESTION: Can I make a follow-up on what you said regarding that you have told Venezuela about the inconvenience of granted asylum to Mr. Snowden?

MS. PSAKI: And just to be clear, it’s not – it’s broadly any country where he could move through transit --

QUESTION: It’s not specifically to Venezuela, so you have --

MS. PSAKI: It is any country where he may be moving in transit, where he could end up, and certainly any country that were to grant asylum, that could have an impact, of course, on our bilateral relationship.

QUESTION: But you haven’t been in touch with Venezuela or with any government official in that regard?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I know we’ve communicated that publicly. I’m not aware of the most recent private calls or private conversations.

QUESTION: Because I wanted to know if it’s with the new person, the charge d’affaires, who is coming to Washington. Did you make that specific request to him, or --

MS. PSAKI: I’d have to check on the channel for you and see if that’s something we can share more details on.

QUESTION: On that, do you know if there’s been a second meeting between Roberta Jacobson and Venezuelans?


QUESTION: Has the rapprochement gone beyond --

MS. PSAKI: Sure, Matt. I’m not aware. I’d have to check on that for you as well.

QUESTION: If I could follow up on the question of the – Mr. Snowden. There seems to be an indication that the Russian Government has given its blessing to his going to Venezuela. Will there be an effort by the United States and its allies to deny passage to any airplane that will carry him there?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to speak to that. Of course, our position here is very clear. I don’t think there’s any secret that we would like to see him returned. We’ve communicated that publicly and privately to any area where he may be stopping in transit, any area where he could possibly end up. So it’s hard for me to see where there would be anybody who’d be confused about where we stand.

QUESTION: So you’re just – so just to put a fine point on it, you will – you don’t want to characterize the lengths that the United States Government would go to to prevent Mr. Snowden from going to a – to get asylum in Venezuela or any other country.

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to speculate on that. I’m not going to speculate on that. It’s purely a hypothetical.

QUESTION: But you could see though where leaders feel that you’re – especially in Latin America, when you see what happened with the President of Bolivia’s plane and all the speculation that the U.S. was involved in getting – being – forcing it to land and being checked for whether he was on it – you can see where the leaders of particularly Latin America think you’re taking extraordinary measures.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I don’t think any of that, Elise, has been validated or confirmed out there, in terms of the sources of that or the reasons for it, and I would refer you to any of those countries to speak to that. But beyond that, this is an individual who has been accused of three felony charges, who’s been accused of leaking classified information. We’ve been clear we would like to see him returned, and I don’t think it should come as a surprise that if he were granted asylum that would impact our bilateral relationship.

QUESTION: So does this issue of Mr. Snowden kind of supersede all other interests that you have with any of these countries?

MS. PSAKI: Certainly not. Certainly not. This is an issue where, again, we’ve been very clear where we stand. But we work with all of these countries on a range of different issues. It’s different from country to country. But the Secretary met with Foreign Minister Lavrov, as you know, just maybe ten days ago, and this was an issue that was discussed briefly. But the thrust of their conversation was on Syria.

QUESTION: I think it was less than ten days ago.

MS. PSAKI: Was it less than? Maybe it’s just time is taking longer than I thought. So that is a good example. But there are countless examples, country by country, on all the issues we work together on.

QUESTION: Does the U.S. condemn explicitly that what happened with the Bolivian President? Because tomorrow is going to be a meeting to this at the OAS to this (inaudible) specifically what happened with the Bolivian President. So what will be the U.S. position on that?

MS. PSAKI: I would just refer you to any of the countries there who were involved –France, Spain, Italy, Portugal – for any further comment on that.

QUESTION: There’s been a report that Snowden has obtained a second passport. Have you heard about this?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything on that for you. I haven’t actually heard that.

QUESTION: Is there concern by the State Department that the question of Snowden here is providing, as Chairman Rogers and Senator Menendez said, a way for the Latin American nations to get back at the United States because of its supposedly mining of information in Latin America?

MS. PSAKI: Again, I think you’d have to speak to any of these individual countries. But we have broad bilateral relationships with a number of these countries. We hope that will continue. We hope to work with them on a range of issues, and our focus here is not targeted at any one country, it’s targeted at having Mr. Snowden return to the United States.

QUESTION: Do you deny though that you urged any of those countries to kind of deny airspace to the President of Bolivia’s plane in order to check the plane?

MS. PSAKI: We just haven’t had any specific comment on that, Elise, and we’re referred everybody to the specific countries for more details.

QUESTION: Jen, I mean, the Turkish Government has request an explanation for these eavesdropping allegations. Do you have anything to share with us on it?

MS. PSAKI: Just that we’ve been in touch bilaterally with any country that raises an issue. I mentioned that the Secretary has been in touch with Foreign Minister Davutoglu. They speak quite frequently, as you know, about a range of issues – Egypt, Syria. I’m not aware of whether this has come up or not in any recent conversations; I would refer you to them. But certainly we take up this issue as it’s brought up, we enjoy important relationships on a range of issues, including sharing of information with a number of countries, and we’ll continue those conversations diplomatically.

on this week's 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) topics addressed include political prisoner Lynne Stewart, spying, NSA whistle-blower Ed Snowden, Jim Lafferty on the militarization of the police and more.  We'll note Guantanamo:

Heidi Boghosian:  Michael, what's happening with the hunger strike at Guantanamo?

Michael Ratner:  The hunger strike, unfortunately, is still continuing and it's necessary to continue, sadly, because despite Obama's nice, fancy words again in May of this year that he wanted to close Guantanamo, he would lift the restrictions on Yemen, etc.  But he hasn't released one person since then, not one. And he has the authority under the waiver provisions of the US statutes governing this to release people to Yemen immediately.  55 people have been cleared for release to Yemen.  He could do that tomorrow.  But instead, he does nothing but blame Congress when, in fact, it's right at his feet.  So the hunger strike is continuing.  106 people have joined the months long hunger strike.  It's been over four months and they're continuing to do that.  Now there have been a series of objections based on the forced-feedings because that's what they're doing -- and considering it a violation of the detainees' human rights to be force fed.  You have a right under both ethical rules as well as  international law to make your own medical decisions about your life and that includes your right to starve yourself to the very end.  And they're interfering in that right and that is a gross violation of human rights.  And they're interfering in it in a way that's the most painful for the people at Guantanamo, which I'm sure people are familiar with, the chair -- the restraining chair which you're strapped into and then a large tube shoved down your nose -- and that is the way they do force-feeding.  In what can only be seen as the impossible to believe category, the military puts out a statement this week, as we're recording this, that they will continue force-feeding but they will obey the rules of Ramadan.  So you won't be fed -- force-fed -- between the morning and the evening but only force-fed during Ramadan that day is over [after sundown].  Ramadan, meanwhile starts on July 8th, Monday, in the evening.  So from then on, people at Guantanamo will be forced-fed only after sunset.

Michael Smith: That reminds me of the 'courtesy' they showed the [Ethel and Julius] Rosenbergs because it was a Jewish sabbath so they [the US government] didn't execute them until after the sun went down.

On the force-feeding,  Michael Doyle (McClatchy Newspapers) reports on a verdict issued today:

Ruling just before Ramadan, the monthlong holiday when pious Muslims fast during the day, Senior U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler said she lacked the legal jurisdiction to stop the force-feeding program challenged by four detainees. At the same time, Kessler all but urged President Barack Obama to take action as she underscored the unpleasant feeding regime that’s being meted out to detainees who’ve gone on hunger strikes.
“It is perfectly clear . . . that forced-feeding is a painful, humiliating and degrading process,” Kessler wrote.

Read more here:

dahr jamail


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

 qassim abdul-zahra
 the associated press