Starting with a protest. There was a stupid and time wasting one on Saturday. No one is helped by lying so let's tell the truth.
Amy Goodman can't. She was lapping at the protest today, pretending she gave a damn about anything despite spending five years offering cover and excuses for the administration. Democracy Now! will never live down their Libyan War coverage. Amy better grasp it's the cancer consuming her show. She compromised herself and that's why, here on the left, there is a growing chorus of objection to her and her talk show. Today on the show, she played bits of three speeches including a message from NSA whistle-blower Ed Snowden read by Jesselyn Radack:
We are here to remind our government officials that they are public servants, not private investigators. This is about the unconstitutional, unethical, and immoral actions of the modern-day surveillance state and how we all must work together to remind the government to stop them. It’s about our right to know, our right to associate freely, and to live in a free and open democratic society. We are witnessing an American moment in which ordinary people from high schools to high office stand up to oppose a dangerous trend in government. We are told that what is unconstitutional is not illegal, but we will not be fooled. We have not forgotten that the Fourth Amendment in our Bill of Rights prohibits government not only from searching our personal effects without a warrant, but from seizing them in the first place, and doing so in secret. Holding to this principle, we declare that mass surveillance has no place in this country. It is time for reform. Elections are coming and we are watching you. Thank you.
If that's what Ed Snowden wrote ("from Edward Snowden"? really?), how awful. We support Ed, we call him "Ed" which is how he has introduced himself in his first video taped interview (and has introduced himself since). What he did was brave and needed.
That statement? It's neither brave nor needed. (That's what Democracy Now! played in full. It's an excerpt. The full statement is here. It's not any better.)
As Cedric's "Time wasting cowards" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! FAUX BRAVERY!" noted Saturday, the cowards weren't taking the protest to the White House.
Cowards accomplish nothing. The protest was called "Stop Watching Us."
Which begs the question: Who?
Cowards can't speak they can only sliver off into the shadows and this was embarrassing and humiliating and never need happen again.
Get your ass together, or close your damn mouths.
The protest was against 'government' and location led people to assume it was Congress.
You feckless cowards.
Yesterday on CBS' Face The Nation (link is video and transcript), host Bob Schieffer's guests included House Oversight Committee Chair Darrell Issa. Note this exchange:
BOB SCHIEFFER: Let me also ask you about something else, and this is this brouhaha that's grown up since the German Chancellor Merkel revealed that the NSA had been tapping in and listening to her phone calls. Did we go too far?
REPRESENTATIVE DARRELL ISSA: Well, remember, the NSA works for the President. So it's a question of, did the President want to hear what Chancellor Merkel was saying, because through his National Security Advisor he knew or should have known. The question of whether or not the four eyes, whether or not our key allies are being listened to is an easy one. No, we have an agreement not to do it.
You spineless cowards pretending to applaud whistle-blowing but you can't even protest US President Barack Obama because you're too cowardly and whorish.
As Issa rightly noted, the NSA works for the President.
If you're unhappy with what the NSA is doing -- I am, I'm appalled -- then the person you hold accountable is the president of the United States. That's true if he or she is Anglo White, African-American, Anglo Latino, Asian-Americn, Irish-American, bi- or multi-racial, gay, straight, bi-sexual, you name it.
If your message is "Stop watching us," you've got a lousy message. That's not even a sentence. Where's your damn subject/noun?
"You" should be implied but the "you" is Barack -- a name Snowden didn't mention, a name avoided in the push and promotion for the 'rally' and a name never mentioned by the three speakers The Compromised Goodman played
You can't call out illegal spying if you can't hold accountable the person responsible.
Last night, 60 Minutes (CBS -- link is text and video) aired a report by reporter Lara Logan and producer Max McClellan on the September 11, 2012 attack in Benghazi which claimed the lives of Sean Smith, Glen Doherty, Tyrone Woods and US Ambassador Chris Stevens. As part of the lead up to the airing of the segment, Logan and McClellan participated in an online interview at CBS News. In the interview, Lara Logan notes:
An extraordinary amount of pressure on the people involved not to talk. And an extraordinary amount of pressure on anyone in the government--the military side, the political side--not to say anything outside of official channels. I mean, to the point where people that we've known for years would call people who were no longer in their positions, and they would call someone else that we knew, and messages would be delivered like that because there couldn't be any trail linking you directly to our story.
The administration is cracking down so hard on leakers: no one wants to put anything in writing, everybody is scared to talk over the phone, people want to meet in person--all of that makes it that much harder to investigate anything.
I know it doesn't fit in with Dan Choi's Up With People moment of hey-we're-all-in-it-together b.s., but that's what the objections are really about. Al Arabiya reports:
Saudi Arabia and Iraq had 7.8 billion wiretapping incidents from the NSA each, while Egypt and Jordan had 1.8 billion and 1.6 billion respectively, according to Cryptome, a digital library that publishes leaked documents.
Additionally, over 1.7 billion wiretapping incidents were recorded in Iran.
It's not just the offense we feel over the violation of our own individual privacy, its how this invasion destroys democracy. CBS News had to take those precautions because of the illegal spying. The war on whistle-blowers was not addressed from the stage of the faux-text because Barack's declared war on whistle-blowers. As Mike Masnick (TechDirt) noted months ago:
Instead, as we've discussed repeatedly, President Obama has been the most aggressive President ever in attacking whistleblowers and bringing the full weight of the law down on them. In fact, in 2012, rather than promote protecting whistleblowers in his campaign, the campaign bragged about how it cracked down on whistleblowers:
President Obama has done more than any other administration to forcefully pursue and address leaks of classified national security information.... The Obama administration has prosecuted twice as many cases under the Espionage Act as all other administrations combined. Under the President, the Justice Department has prosecuted six cases regarding national security leaks. Before he took office, federal prosecutors had used the Espionage Act in only three cases.The above paragraph is true -- and we've pointed it out in the past as well -- but we thought it was shameful, not something worth bragging about. Furthermore, since he was elected, President Obama has never praised a single federal employee who was a whistleblower. When asked by a reporter from the Huffington Post for an example of President Obama supporting a whistleblower, the White House refused to respond.
Given all of that, it will come as little surprise to read a piece by reporters Marisa Taylor and Jonathan Landay of McClatchy's Washington Bureau, in which they reveal that the White House has a special attack program to deal with whistleblowers called Insider Threat Program (ITP). And, no, contrary to what the administration has claimed, it's not just about "national security" issues. It goes way beyond that:
President Barack Obama’s unprecedented initiative, known as the Insider Threat Program, is sweeping in its reach. It has received scant public attention even though it extends beyond the U.S. national security bureaucracies to most federal departments and agencies nationwide, including the Peace Corps, the Social Security Administration and the Education and Agriculture departments.And, as the reporters note, the program may emphasize classified material, but actually goes way beyond that to cover leaks of just about anything. Furthermore, it encourages the ridiculous view that leaks which expose questionable behavior to the public are the same as aiding the enemy.
You can't support a free press and stay silent about Barack, sorry. It doesn't work that way. Reporters have to go through cloak and dagger right now for the most basic stories. Reporters are being targeted by the White House. This is as outrageous as the administration's attacks on the Fourth Amendment and just as damaging.
But the useless faux-test wasn't interested. Dylan Blaylock (GAP) posts the following, "Media reporting of the event was tremendous, as The Guardian, USA Today, This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Christian Science Monitor, FireDogLake, CNET, Daily Caller, RT, and Mashable (just to name a few) all covered this remarkable occurrence."
Did they? Was it remarkable?
It was pathetic. "Thousands" turned out. That's generous but they didn't matter. It could have been 10,000 and they still wouldn't have mattered.
That's because 'the leaders' had a 'threat.' The 2014 elections are a-coming and we won't be voting for you.
Those elections aren't even 12 months away. And I seriously doubt all 50 states are trembling over the people who showed up at the faux-test Saturday.
One speaker insisted, "And we will hold our public officials accountable!" Yeah, at least the ones not named Barack, right?
Let's pretend I'm a leader. Let's leave politics for a moment. We're all in a band and I'm the lead singer. We're at a club, you and the others are making fantastic music, I step up the microphone to sing our great song and suddenly I'm Leslie (Wendel Meldrum) on Seinfeld -- the low talker. No one can hear what I'm singing and, since this isn't the mid-80s, the incomprehensible delivery of Michael Stipe is no longer in fashion. People who planned to sing along are bored. They want me off the stage. You've done everything you're supposed to do but I failed to deliver and brought us all down.
That's what Saturday's faux-test was.
It was a complete and utter failure. Basic protest politics: Leaders have to motivate. If you want people calling out the spying, you've got to speak strongly. If you want hesitant people to join your chorus, you've got lead with strength.
Failure to call out Barack is not leadership.
Do you get how fake and ridiculous this faux-test was?
If not, you missed Dennis Kucinich's ridiculous speech. In fairness, he was echoing the fat Jewish woman who shouldn't have been on stage since she publicly attacked Ed Snowden. This isn't about one party, this isn't about . . . The weak turn out, the weak enthusiasm from those who did is in direct contrast to when Kucinich was able to call out Oval Office occupant Bully Boy Bush.
Dennis, try to remember, you can't stand tall when you're on your knees.
US House Rep Justin Amash could and did mention Barack, even noted Barack's efforts to stop the Amash-Conyers amendment. There were a few people present in the crowd who got what needed to be confronted -- many wearing large plaster Barack heads. But the leaders? They were cowards who pulled in a crowd and had no idea what to do with them. The faux-test's biggest accomplishment? Ensuring that an announcement of a second effort will be met with even less enthusiasm. That event helped no one. It certainly did nothing to raise awareness of the targeting of reporter James Risen.
Iraqis in Samarra on March 15th with a message for the world (photo via Iraqi Spring MC).
If you Cannot Hear Us
Can you Not See Us?
The Iraqi people show more courage than the leaders of the DC faux-test.
They've been calling since December 21st for the world's attention.
With Nouri al-Maliki, chief thug in and prime minister of Iraq, scheduled to meet with US President Barack Obama on November 1st. Nouri's a thug, he's a despot, he's had his forces kill peaceful protesters. January 7th, Nouri's forces assaulted four protesters in Mosul, January 24th, Nouri's forces sent two protesters (and one reporter) to the hospital, and March 8th, Nouri's force fired on protesters in Mosul killing three. All of that and more appeared to be a trial run for what was coming, the April 23rd massacre of a peaceful sit-in in Hawija which resulted from Nouri's federal forces storming in. Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk) announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault. AFP reported the death toll rose to 53 dead. UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured).
In addition to ordering the deaths of protesters, he's paying, arming and outfitting Shi'ite militias to kill Sunnis in Iraq. Last month, Tim Arango (New York Times) broke the news that Nouri was funding, arming and outfitting Shi'ite militias. Arango observed:
In supporting Asaib al-Haq, Mr. Maliki has apparently made the risky calculation that by backing some Shiite militias, even in secret, he can maintain control over the country’s restive Shiite population and, ultimately, retain power after the next national elections, which are scheduled for next year. Militiamen and residents of Shiite areas say members of Asaib al-Haq are given government badges and weapons and allowed freedom of movement by the security forces.
Yesterday, aleppoinmyheart Tweeted a question, "Will american help maliki and shia militias doing more blatant ethnic cleansing?"
It's a question more should be asking.
That's the background, the ugly reality, that too many in America just don't want to deal with. They're aided by a lazy and compliant media that runs interference for the White House (which really doesn't want Iraq on the radar). Life just got a little harder for the White House and Nouri. The New York Times just published online (in print tomorrow) Ramzy Mardini and Emma Sky's "Maliki's Democratic Farce:" Mardini is with the Institute for the Study of War. Sky is with Yale's Jackson Institute for Global Affairs and she was also a political advisor to US Gen Ray Odierno from 2007 to 2010.
The political crisis Mr. Maliki triggered has endured, undermining years of American efforts to integrate Sunni Arabs into the Iraqi political process. Tensions have worsened as the civil war in neighboring Syria has turned into a sectarian, regional proxy war. The instability has breathed new life into Iraq’s Sunni insurgency, rejuvenating the coffers and confidence of militants, and eroding the cooperation of tribal leaders, which was crucial during the American “surge” of 2007.
Violence in Iraq has risen to levels not seen since 2008, now approaching 1,000 fatalities a month; Al Qaeda in Iraq has gained strength; the threat of a Shiite militia comeback has increased; and fear of a return to cycles of sectarian retribution is high.
In the midst of this storm, Mr. Maliki is scheduled to return to the White House this week, seeking security assistance from the United States. Combating terrorism is a mutual interest. But as Mr. Maliki prepares to seek a third term in 2014, Mr. Obama should insist that he adhere to democratic norms as a condition of American aid.
The White House likes to pretend that Nouri -- like the Iraq War -- is Bully Boy Bush's issues. Hell no. It is true that Nouri was the puppet the Bush administration installed in 2006. (The Iraqi Parliament wanted Ibrahim al-Jafaari.)
But then came a little thing called the 2010 parliament elections.
Iraqiya, headed by Ayad Allawi, won those elections but the White House refused to honor democracy or respect the process or Iraqi voters.
Sunday, Allawi was on BBC Radio 4 speaking with James Naughtie. Excerpt.
Ayad Allawi: They are advocating sectarianism and they are supported by Iran. Unfortunately, there was a missed chance when the last elections were won by Iraqiya . Iraqiya was denied both by the Iranians and the United States the chance to form a government. [. . .] Iraqiya then had a lot of Sunni members -- Shias, Sunnis and Christians. We are secular, nonsectarian groups. Unfortunately this has also contributed to the ill feelings of a lot of Sunni constituents. And this is where the government sticking to the chair and Mr. Maliki sticking to his position, he does not accept the Constitution. He is the commander in chief of armed forces, he is the Minister of Interior and the chief of security as prime minister, he is the head of national security so-called agency. So he runs all security. He runs them on a party basis.
James Naughtie: You're describing something which sounds, in your description, rather like one-man rule.
Ayad Allawi: It is, it is. The explosions in Baghdad today are a catolog of failures and, God forbid, what happens in Syria is going to have an impact on Iraq -- let alone what's happening in the region.
[. . .]
James Naughtie: Do you believe Iraq in its current form can survive this violence?
Ayad Allawi: No, it can't. It can't. And the violence will increase, I'm sure of this. The problems will increase and I don't think the elections are going to solve the issue.
James Naughtie: You're saying that you think and this is a terribly depressing conclusion for you to reach, that there's no way back.
Ayad Allawi: We'll try. We'll continue to try to resolve the situation as peaceful as possible but I cannot see this existing now, I cannot see the scope of this. I can see only violence on the increase because of the loss of the [foundation] that security relies upon. And that's why I believe frankly speaking I don't have a very nice picture for the future.
I've added "[foundation]" -- I can't make out the word he's saying. It's a bad connection (you have six days to stream and then it's gone).
The White House can't pin 2010 on Bully Boy Bush. He was long gone. This was Barack. From John Barry's "'The Engame' Is A Well Researched, Highly Critical Look at U.S. Policy in Iraq" (Daily Beast):
Washington has little political and no military influence over these developments [in Iraq]. As Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor charge in their ambitious new history of the Iraq war, The Endgame, Obama's administration sacrificed political influence by failing in 2010 to insist that the results of Iraq's first proper election be honored: "When the Obama administration acquiesced in the questionable judicial opinion that prevented Ayad Allawi's bloc, after it had won the most seats in 2010, from the first attempt at forming a new government, it undermined the prospects, however slim, for a compromise that might have led to a genuinely inclusive and cross-sectarian government."
The White House did much more than acquiesce. Acquiesce would be their being silent when Nouri refused to step down as prime minister -- just being silent. Instead, they backed him. For over eight months, the White House backed Nouri in his petty tantrum.
And as Barack prepares to meet with the despot the Iraqi people rejected but that Barack kept in office, America needs to be paying attention.
The US government overturned the votes of the Iraqi people in 2010.
It is why the violence increased.
So this visit matters for that reason alone.
But grasp, they didn't just back him. Barack authorized Americans in Iraq to broker a contract that would give Nouri a second term. The contract was The Erbil Agreement. Nouri got in writing that he would get a second term and the leaders of the other political blocs got promises in writing from Nouri.
But when it was signed and Parliament finally met on November 11, 2010, Nouri refused to implement. He gave a song and dance about how he'd do it but it couldn't be done now. So Ayad Allawi walked out. And the President of the United States, Barack Obama, phoned him. From that day's snapshot:
Martin Chulov (Guardian) reports one hiccup in the process today involved Ayad Allawi who US President Barack Obama phoned asking/pleading that he accept the deal because "his rejection of post would be a vote of no confidence". Ben Lando, Sam Dagher and Margaret Coker (Wall St. Journal) confirm the phone call via two sources and state Allawi will take the post -- newly created -- of chair of the National Council On Higher Policy: "Mr. Obama, in his phone call to Mr. Allawi on Thursday, promised to throw U.S. weight behind the process and guarantee that the council would retain meaningful and legal power, according to the two officials with knowledge of the phone call."
This is not a minor issue. Barack destroyed democracy in Iraq by refusing to back the winner in the election. In addition, he set in place the cycle of violence by failing to demand that Nouri honor the US-brokered contract.
Nouri is a a beast, a rabid dog. Barack took him off the chain the Bush administration kept him on and let Nouri run wild. No one died at Camp Ashraf while Bush had Nouri on a tight leash. Those deaths happen after Barack becomes president.
July 29, 2009, Katie Couric asked, "What happens when the US abandons some good friends?" Lara Logan explained the assualt on Camp Ashraf on the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric (link has text and video).
Lara Logan: Since the US invasion, the camp's roughly 3,000 residents have been living under US protection. That ended in January when the Iraqis took control under the security agreement. Now the US appears to have washed their hands of the people of Ashraf.
Hillary Clinton (speaking at the State Dept): It is a matter now for the government of Iraq to resolve.
Lara Logan: Images captured by the inside Ashraf showed the dead and wounded. Residents told CBS News at least 11 people were killed, hundreds wounded and thirty arrested. The number's impossible to verify because the Iraqi government has sealed off the camp. The attack was seen as the latest sign American influence in Iraq is waning as Iranian influence rises. Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his government increasingly pro-Iranian.
Camp Ashraf in Iraq is now empty. All remaining members of the community have been moved to Camp Hurriya (also known as Camp Liberty) as of last month. Camp Ashraf housed a group of Iranian dissidents who were welcomed to Iraq by Saddam Hussein in 1986 and he gave them Camp Ashraf and six other parcels that they could utilize. In 2003, the US invaded Iraq.The US government had the US military lead negotiations with the residents of Camp Ashraf. The US government wanted the residents to disarm and the US promised protections to the point that US actions turned the residents of Camp Ashraf into protected person under the Geneva Conventions. This is key and demands the US defend the Ashraf community in Iraq from attacks. The Bully Boy Bush administration grasped that -- they were ignorant of every other law on the books but they grasped that one. As 2008 drew to a close, the Bush administration was given assurances from the Iraqi government that they would protect the residents. Yet Nouri al-Maliki ordered the camp repeatedly attacked after Barack Obama was sworn in as US President. July 28, 2009 Nouri launched an attack (while then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was on the ground in Iraq). That's the attack Lara Logan reported on. In a report released this summer entitled "Iraqi government must respect and protect rights of Camp Ashraf residents," Amnesty International described this assault, "Barely a month later, on 28-29 July 2009, Iraqi security forces stormed into the camp; at least nine residents were killed and many more were injured. Thirty-six residents who were detained were allegedly tortured and beaten. They were eventually released on 7 October 2009; by then they were in poor health after going on hunger strike." April 8, 2011, Nouri again ordered an assault on Camp Ashraf (then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was again on the ground in Iraq when the assault took place). Amnesty International described the assault this way, "Earlier this year, on 8 April, Iraqi troops took up positions within the camp using excessive, including lethal, force against residents who tried to resist them. Troops used live ammunition and by the end of the operation some 36 residents, including eight women, were dead and more than 300 others had been wounded. Following international and other protests, the Iraqi government announced that it had appointed a committee to investigate the attack and the killings; however, as on other occasions when the government has announced investigations into allegations of serious human rights violations by its forces, the authorities have yet to disclose the outcome, prompting questions whether any investigation was, in fact, carried out." Those weren't the last attacks. They were the last attacks while the residents were labeled as terrorists by the US State Dept. (September 28, 2012, the designation was changed.) In spite of this labeling, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observed that "since 2004, the United States has considered the residents of Camp Ashraf 'noncombatants' and 'protected persons' under the Geneva Conventions." So the US has an obligation to protect the residents. 3,300 are no longer at Camp Ashraf. They have moved to Camp Hurriyah for the most part. A tiny number has received asylum in other countries. Approximately 100 were still at Camp Ashraf when it was attacked Sunday. That was the second attack this year alone. February 9th of this year, the Ashraf residents were again attacked, this time the ones who had been relocated to Camp Hurriyah. Trend News Agency counted 10 dead and over one hundred injured. Prensa Latina reported, " A rain of self-propelled Katyusha missiles hit a provisional camp of Iraqi opposition Mujahedin-e Khalk, an organization Tehran calls terrorists, causing seven fatalities plus 50 wounded, according to an Iraqi official release." They were attacked again September 1st. Adam Schreck (AP) reported that the United Nations was able to confirm the deaths of 52 Ashraf residents.
Barack has indulged Nouri.
As a result, many Iraqis have died.
This is on Barack.
He never should have sided with second-place Nouri in 2010 and should have insisted that the Constitution be followed.
Some of his defenders -- very few because so few pay attention to Iraq -- will insist that Nouri had court verdicts backing him.
Nouri controls the Baghdad court. Nouri pulled those decisions out -- those decisions, those rulings which came down before the election. Before. Courts do not make secret rulings.
If a court rules on some aspect of an election, it does so publicly.
The fact that these were secret rulings -- which never would have been made public if Nouri had come in first -- go the fact that Nouri has the Baghdad court in his pocket and it's not a real court and has no real independence.
Again, Barack and Nouri are scheduled to meet up November 1st.
Violence continues to roll Iraq. Iraq Body Count counts 978 violent deaths so far this month through yesterday making this October the most violent in Iraq since 2007. That's what Nouri's actions have produced. Violence continues today. National Iraqi News Agency reports 1 Sahwa was shot dead in Mada'in, 1 farmer was shot dead in an attack in Hamra village, a Falluja sniper injured one police officer, a Tikrit roadside bombing left 1 person dead and another injured, an Abu Ghraib roadside bombing left 2 people dead and five more injured, and a Falluja sticky bombing killed 1 employee of the Ministry of Oil. Xinhua reports, "Six people were killed and 14 others wounded in a roadside bomb attack near a popular cafe in the Arab Jubur area in southern Baghdad, a police source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity. [. . .]
Two policemen were killed and one was wounded in an attack on a police checkpoint in Fallujah, 50 km west of Baghdad, he said, adding that one civilian was killed and one injured when a roadside bomb struck their car in a village, 20 km west of Fallujah."
In other news, NINA reports independent Kurdish MP Mahmoud Othman is saying that the voting law must be passed by November 15h, before Parliament goes on holiday. Othman makes no mention of his last offering -- the one that predicted the law would already be passed. All Iraq News reported that Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi traveled to the Kurdistan Regional Government Saturday to meet with KRG President Massoud Barzani to discuss the plans to hold parliamentary elections in Iraq on April 30th. To do that, a law needs to be passed by the Parliament. However, al-Nujaifi has stated that if no law is passed, they can simply use the old one.
Alsumaria reports today that Barzani says: No, you can't. If a new law is not passed, Barzani says, the KRG will not participate in parliamentary elections -- that would mean three provinces would not vote.
That announcement is not surprising. When al-Nujaifi made his original statement, it was treated as "issue resolved." But we pointed out here how difficult it was for Iraqi MPs to agree and how the notion that a previous law could be used seemed very optimistic.
national iraq news agency
michael r. gordon
the new york times
all iraq news