Saturday, January 26, 2013

Funerals for some of the Falluja massacred

Yesterday, Nouri al-Maliki's armed thugs in Falluja fired on protesters killing at least seven (Alsumaria reports another of the victims has died from wounds raising the death toll)  and sixty more were left injured.  Alsumaria notes the Iraq's Literary Federation and the Association for Defending Press Freedom and the General Union of Writers have all called for the protection of the protesters, decried the violence and are calling for early elections.  Uday Hadim (Association for Defending Press Freedom) states that putting the military out there was a mistake to begin with and now the government and the Parliament must tender the resignations and early elections must take place under the supervision of the United Nations.   Writer Fahmi Saleh points out that the Constitution guarantees Iraqis the right to demonstrate and protest. In the KRG, Alsumaria reports, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (Iraqi President Jalal Talabani's political party) has called on Nouri to remove the military from protests and to show restraint.  All Iraq News notes that the Kurdistan bloc in Parliament also condemned the assault and called for Nouri to stop using the military on internal issues.  They also note that the National Alliance (Shi'ite grouping of various slates -- including Nouri's State of Law but I'm sure they're not part of this) is calling for a prompt and thorough investigation into the shootings.  Alsumaria notes Iraqiya announced they will boycott all upcoming Parliamentary votes that are not a no-confidence vote or votes addressing the demands of the protesters.

Alsumaria reports that the military was withdrawn from Falluja today. Kamal Naama Suadad al-Salhy, Ahmed Rasheed, Patrick Markey, Andrew Roche and Jason Webb (Reuters) quote Mustafa Jamal, the brother on one of the 7 shot dead by the military yesterday, stating, "Withdrawing the army from the city is not enough, I do not know how this will benefit me and it won't get my brother back."   The dead and wounded were taken to Falluja General Hospital yesterday.  Al Mada reports that Falluja residents descended on the hospital in large numbers to donate blood.  Kamal Naama Suadad al-Salhy, Ahmed Rasheed, Patrick Markey, Andrew Roche and Jason Webb (Reuters) report that "thousands" turned out for the five funerals in Fallluja today.  Al Mada adds that the mourners chanted and marches calling for soldiers who executed the 7 citizens to be handed over.  Mohammed Tawfeeq and Chelsea J. Carter (CNN -- link is text and video) report that Sheikh Ahmed Abu Risha who is a tribal leader and a Sawha leader delivered a statement on television in which he "gave Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's government seven days to hand over to Anbar's criminal court those involved in the shootings."  BBC News adds, "Sunni leaders in Anbar province, where Fallujah is located, had earlier told the BBC that they would attack army positions in the province if the government failed to bring the soldiers responsible for the protester shootings 'to justice'."

In other news, Alsumaria reports that four soldiers were kidnapped in Nuaimiya, south of Falluja, 2 soldiers were shot dead in Falluja, the Director of Police Intelligence was shot dead on the streets of Tikrit  and a Mosul armed attack left one person injuredMass arrests continued as well with 97 'terrorists' arrested in Basra alone.  The person shot dead in Mosul is identified by All Iraq News as teacher Shakir Mahmood.  Iraq Body Count counts 318 people killed in violence in Iraq so far this month through Friday.

Wael Grace (Al Mada) reports that Parliament voted today to confine the three presidencies to two terms.  The three presidencies are the President, Prime Minister and Speaker of Parliament.  The Constitution's Article 72 already limits the President to two terms.  170 of the 242 MPs present voted in favor of the law.  Ahmed Rasheed, Patrick Markey and Andrew Roche (Reuters) add, "Lawmakers from Sunni, Kurdish and Shi'ite parties voted for the law, but the legislation still needs the president's approval and will face challenges in federal court after Maliki's supporters rejected it as illegal."

The following community sites -- plus Cindy Sheehan, Susan's On the Edge, Pacifica Evening News, Tavis Smiley,, Law and Disorder and  Ms. magazine -- updated last night and today:

The e-mail address for this site is

Kamal Naama Suadad al-Salhy, Ahmed Rasheed, Patrick Markey, Andrew Roche and Jason Webb

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I Hate The War

Let's blame the very bad article with Tim Arango and Yasir Ghazie's byline on the New York Times.
I have a hard time believing that they would write a report on today's vote barring Nouri from a third term as prime minister and not include obvious background for the piece. 

Otherwise, the two reporters would have to be labeled "whores."  The New York Times clearly is and is comfortable being one.

Let's offer the context that the paper didn't.  Surprising because protests took place yesterday -- Nouri's military launched a massacre in Falluja -- and the paper seems unaware of that too.

From the Monday, Febrary 7, 2011 snapshot:

Over the weekend, Nizar Latif (The National) reported, "Protesters who stormed government buildings and a police station in a small, poor southern Iraqi town on Thursday continued their demonstrations yesterday, despite a crackdown by security forces." You can refer to Thursday and Friday's snapshots for more on the Diwaniya protests.  Saturday, Alsumaria TV reported, "Hundreds of Iraqis took to the streets of Baghdad on Friday in protest against unemployment, freedom restrictions and other demands. Demonstrators waving the photo of late Argentinean revolutionary leader Che Guevara said they had no one to represent them in Iraq. Iraqi demonstrators urged to change the policies in Iraq and accused Parliament of shortcoming." Al Rafidayn noted that they marched on Muntanabi Street, activist, young people and intellectuals, demanding improved services. Al Rafidayn reported Sunday that approximately 250 people demonstrated in Baghad over the continued problems with basic services with some protesters carrying a coffin upon which the term "services" was written and demonstrations took place in Basra. On the Basra protest, the paper quoted a protester who states, "My children and I depend entirely on food rations and will die without them. " The man is a construction worker who gets temporary jobs and he wonders, since they have been unable to afford kerosene, if the government wants his family to burn each other to stay warm? Ramdi and Mosul also saw demonstrations Sunday according to Al Rafidayn. Xinhua reports the Baghdad protest had 3,000 participants. Al Mada notes that the Basra protests demanded that the provincial governor resign. The UK Morning Star quotes professor Nidal al-Sarmad speaking at the protest Sunday in Basra, "The people feel they have been deceived, they are frustrated.  The change the Americans brought has brought us a new set of thieves, a new set of dictators, not justice and freedom."  Al Mada also features an essay which notes protests in Falluja as well and stresses that these protests are not an attempt to "imitate" either Egypt or Tunisia, that this is the Iraqi people -- with their proud heritage -- demanding that basic services be provided and demanding that the "cake" stop being eaten by politicians while the people starve.

Protests very similar to the ones taking place today.  The above covers Friday, Feb. 5, 2011 through Sunday, Feb. 7, 2011.  With the protests as a backdrop, Nouri made a series of public promises. ("And, starting Friday, Nouri al-Maliki made a series of statements, including that the rations programs would be increased, that there would be no more rations shortages in the provinces, that he would cut his salary in half and that he wouldn't run for a third term. Of course, he's already dropped the last one, insisting he was misquoted. Now his stated position, per his spokesperson, is that he will not run if he is not successful. But, as is apparent from the fact that he ran after his first term, Nouri's definition of 'success' is free floating and highly elastic.") Saturday, February 6, 2011, Sammy Ketz (AFP) interviewed Nouri al-Maliki:

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on Saturday that Egyptians have the right to democracy and pledged not to seek a third term in power himself.Maliki also backed constitutional term limits on his office in an interview with AFP, with his remarks coming amid nearly two weeks of protests in Egypt demanding an end to President Hosni Mubarak's three decades of rule.
"The constitution does not prevent a third, fourth or fifth term, but I have personally decided not to seek another term after this one, a decision I made at the beginning of my first term," said Maliki, who began his second term by forming a government in December.
The premier added that he wanted to constitutionally limit his successors to two terms, which he said was sufficient to enact change. At present, Iraq does not limit terms for prime ministers or members of parliament, but its president is limited to two four-year terms.
"I support the insertion of a paragraph in the constitution that the prime minister gets only two turns, only eight years, and I think that's enough," Maliki said.

And the press received it as gospel -- yes, that includes the New York Times.  Nouri will not seek a second term.  In the 24 hours after Ketz's piece was published, only two outlets acted like journalistic ones.  Liz Sly filed a real report for the Washington Post where she credited AFP for the interview (other outlets like  just printed it up as if they had interviewed Nouri) and' Ben Lando and Munaf Ammar (Wall St. Journal) reported that Nouri's spokesperson, Ali al-Mousawi, declared the day after the interview ran, "We would like to correct this article. Maliki said, 'I think that the period of eight years is adequate for the application of a successful program to the prime minister, and if he is not successful, he must vacate his place'." For over a week, US outlets continued to praise Nouri's decision and ignore the spokesperson's remarks.

So if you're writing about a vote on barring a third term and you're writing about Nouri, a real journalistic outlet includes what Nouri stated on the topic (especially one that once trumpeted Nouri's words on the topic).  I'll blame the paper and assume that as they move further closer to their own demise, they insisted on shorter and shorter foreign articles barring the two reporters from having the space to include the pertinent facts.

"I support the insertion of a paragraph in the constitution that the prime minister gets only two turns, only eight years, and I think that's enough."

That remark is honestly more important to the report Arango and Ghazi filed then the Forever Liar Sami al-Askari claiming that the vote in Parliament today was "unconstitutional." But if you're going to include al-Askari, you have to include Nouri -- at least if you want to be considered a news outlet.

And al-Askari? I thought he chocked to death on his own lies years ago and died.  That must have just been a very pleasant dream.

It's over, I'm done writing songs about love
There's a war going on
So I'm holding my gun with a strap and a glove
And I'm writing a song about war
And it goes
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Oh oh oh oh
-- "I Hate The War" (written by Greg Goldberg, on The Ballet's Mattachine!)

The number of US service members the Dept of Defense states died in the Iraq War is [PDF format warning] 4488.

A few notes, community notes. The most important being, the public e-mail was hacked (others were as well but I'll let them disclose or not).  Mike noted that at his site Tuesday and Ava noted it Wednesday night when filling in for Trina.

If you sent something to the public e-mail, it may not have been seen by anyone intended to read it (Martha, Shirley, Eli, Heather, Dona, Jess, KeShawn, Ruth, Kat, Isaiah, Beth or myself).  If you wrote about something and it was never noted it here, it may not have been seen.

Some of Martha's personal information was seen and did go up here.  My apologies to Martha for that.  This account (the hacked one) was used to send the "Iraq snapshot" to this site every weekday.  I dictate it to one of three friends, they either type as I dictate or record and then type up, and send it to the site.  Using that e-mail address for sending (which is all you need to know to e-mail a post to Blogger/Blogspot), the hacker put Marth's information and a link to Fox News into an e-mail and sent it to the site.

Again, my apologies to Martha.

Why the Fox article? I have no idea.

We've changed the way Iraq snapshots are being done.  Not the dictated part, however.  If, over the next week, one seems shorter than normal, grasp that we're using a different system.  With the friend I dictate to who records, I do 25 minutes non-stop and he makes any edits for space needed.  With the other two friends who type as I dicate to,  generally the K is checked if it's seems like we might be too long.  We're now flying without a K check in the new program we're using.  Before, 90K was the goal for maximum.  Over that and it would bounce back and not post on the site.  Now we don't have the ability to track that as I dictate so you may end up with a shorter snapshot.

Lewis e-mailed to object that I didn't cover John Kerry's confirmation hearing when I was there.  Kat covered it. We covered, in Wednesday's snapshot, the Senate Foreign Relations hearing that day -- Hillary on Benghazi.  Due to the fact that the media immediately began to praise that embarrassing testimony/performance -- as well as some how-could-you-! e-mails -- we had to return to hearing in Thursday's snapshot.  There was a chance that it would go into Friday's snapshot but then Nouri's military turned on the protesters. Please grasp that the number killed and wounded created more victims than the Kent State shooting.  But was it reported as such?  No.

Mohammed Tawfeeq and CNN are the only ones without shame.  (Iraqi outlets reported very well, I'm referring to non-Iraqi.)  The events required that it be the bulk of the snapshot and it was.  I was already, since Wednesday, trying to work in political prisoner Lynn Stewart.  (Lynn would have made it in sooner, forced in if need be, had it not been that topic.  After my own cancer scare, it's the last topic I ever want to discuss here.  Lynn needs to be released immediately and allowed to seek the care from the physician she trusts.)

Lewis, I would love to have written about the Kerry hearing.  I sat through it and had planned to include it.  I'm mad that the House hearing on Benghazi (Wednesday afternoon) didn't get included because there was never time.  I'm less upset over the Kerry hearing because I like John and I would've probably gone to that hearing even if I wasn't doing a thing online. But, yes, when I go to a hearing, the plan is that it gets reported on here.  Events out of Iraq made that impossible.  Those events were important and the right decision was made (to emphasize those events).

On the House hearing on Benghazi Wednesday, we will note a statement.  US House Rep Ileana Ros-Lehtinen was Chair of the House Foreign Relations Committee until this month.  Republicans in the House impose term limits for chairs.  When she was Chair, she did raise questions about the Benghazi attack.  We'll note her statement from Wednesday's hearing:

“Madame Secretary, thank you for the positive working relationship that we have had during your tenure at the State Department. I request that I get written responses for the questions I am going to ask. First, why were you not interviewed by the Review Board investigators? And how can this Review be considered thorough when the person at the top, the Secretary of State, was not part of the investigation? That’s what was said in our open hearing when it was confirmed that you were never questioned for this report and I think that’s outrageous.
Also, the State Department was clearly allowing the false narrative that Department officials were being held accountable for what went wrong in Benghazi, for ignoring the threat, and it was perceived as fact. Look at these headlines: the New York Times, “4 Are Out at State Dept. After Scathing Report on Benghazi Attack”, not true. “Heads Roll at the State Department,” not true. Yet State did nothing to correct the record.
Here we are 130 days after the terrorist attack, why did you not take steps publically to correct this false narrative, even up to today? Even when your deputies, Burns and Nides, testified before us, they both said that steps were being taken to discipline those State Department officials, when in fact no significant action had or has occurred. There was just a shuffling of the deck chairs. Do you find it acceptable that State officials responsible for this lack of leadership and mismanagement, for ignoring security requests during the Benghazi attack and before, remain employed within the State Department?
Also, the Accountability report cites several systemic failures at the Department that cannot be overlooked or ignored. Given that State was aware of the dangerously declining security situation in Benghazi: the assassination attempt on the British ambassador, other attacks on Western interests. Why did State not immediately revamp our security protocols prior to the September 11th attacks? Did State fail to act preemptively because it ignored the threat, or did it fail to act because it was unable to recognize this growing pattern of violence? Either way State did fail to act.
These failures highlighted by the ARB report serve as a blueprint for terrorists on where our weaknesses lie, where we are vulnerable. So what actions have been taken to ensure that when another embassy, another consulate sounds the alarm on security threats, as it happened in Benghazi, that those requests are not yet again ignored? As we examine the willingness and capacity of host countries in the region, we must condition aid to these high threat posts based on their cooperation with the United States, I hope that we do that.
Further, regarding State’s request for more money, it is worth pointing out some State Department officials have stated that budget constraints are not to blame for the loss of lives in Benghazi. However, the State Department is notorious for wasteful spending and continues to have misplaced funding priorities. Between State, Treasury, and USAID, the fiscal year 2012 request for the Global Climate Change Initiative is over $1.3 billion dollars. What do you think is a higher priority and a better use of taxpayer money: national security or global climate change?
This money could have been used for embassy construction, for hiring more Diplomacy Security agents, and for providing our posts and personnel overseas with adequate equipment and training. There is more that I can’t get to, but certainly I would appreciate your written answers, including the 64 specific action items that you will be taking on the task force recommendation. Also, we look forward to getting a detailed report here in Congress explaining their justification, itemized funding layout, etc. Thank you, Madam Secretary, for your time.”

I had planned not to cover the House hearing.  I really don't want to again deal with Hillary's lies and evasions.  If next week slow, Iraq wise, we may end up dropping back to that hearing.  I have my notes, so that's not a problem.  Why may we drop back to it?  Because the media's acted like only one hearing took place.  Especially gas bags on NPR.

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Friday, January 25, 2013

Iraq snapshot

Friday, January 25, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, protesters turn out in Iraq, Iraqi forces fire on Falluja protesters, Nouri uncorks the crazy yet again, Nouri faces calls to back off as well as calls to listen to the protesters, Barack finds another pro-Iraq War man to elevate with a high profile job, and more.

Today Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's forces continued their assault on the Iraqi people who dared to exercise their Constitutional rights.  Yesterday Nouri's forces sent two protesters (and one reporter) to the hospital and that January 7th, Nouri's forces assaulted four protesters in Mosul.  And today?  In Falluja, Nouri's forces fired on protesters.  Kitabat reports Sheikh Abdul-Maliki al-Saadi accused Nouri of attempting to turn peaceful demonstrations into bloody attacks.  What happened?

There are various accounts.    Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports, "The shooting began, according to witnesses, after Iraqi soldiers ordered demonstrators to stop filming security force positions. Protesters, in turn, responded by the throwing tear gas and non-lethal explosive devices known as flashbangs, witnesses said." His is one of the strongest reports and a reminder that, even today, real reporting can be done.  And he Tweets.

Alsumaria reports that 5 protesters are dead and 31 more injured -- six of whom are children -- including 1 Alsumaria TV journalist.  They note that Mohammed Dulaimi used his sermon to call for the judiciary to protect the protesters from the military.  It also notes that the military first attempted to block the protesters from entering the square. Prensa Latina notes that there are accounts which state "that police officers surpassed a religious ceremony and sparked off protests." All Iraq News notes that the 5 killed were attempting to take part in a sit-in. AFP goes with, "The rally had been moving to an area in east Fallujah but was blocked off by soldiers, an army captain said. Protesters began throwing bottles of water at the troops who then opened fire, the officer said."  BBC News concurs, "The clashes erupted after the soldiers prevented people joining an anti-government demonstration in the mainly Sunni city after Friday prayers."   Reuters offers, "A local television channel showed demonstrators approaching the army vehicles and throwing stones and water bottles while troops tried to keep them away by firing in the air. But images also showed one soldier aiming his rifle at demonstrators."  Dar Addustour columnist As Sheik notes that the protesters and their demands have been repeatedly ignored and that it appears any pretext for aggravation has been seized upon by the security forces but that there must be no more Iraqi blood spilled at the hands of the military.  Kitabat explains that the violence is leading to growing chorus of calls for civil disobedience in Iraq.

Dr. Khaled Khalaf, with Falluja General Hospital, tells AFP that the death toll rose to six.  Al Mada reports that by 4:30 pm Iraqi time, Falluja General Hospital could count 6 dead and sixty injured -- all of the injured were protesters.  Hospital sources reveal to Al Mada that three of the dead died from gun shots to their heads.  The same sources state the death toll may increase because a number of the injured have vital injuries (including chest wounds, neck wounds and abdomen wounds).   The shootings did not end the protests, Al Mada reports, not even in Falluja.  A number of protesters stayed or returned in the afternoon and then they let the army know that they could throw stones.  Some of the video that's being pimped online, check the position of the sun in the video and note that it's a small number before you buy into the myth that poor, little Iraqi soldiers were attacked and then had to fire.

Who's the leader in Iraq?  Nouri al-Maliki holds the title of prime minister.  (Iraqi President Jalal Talabani remains in Germany seeking medical treatment after suffering a stroke a few weeks ago.)  But who offered leadership today and who offered clinical insanity?   All Iraq News notes that Shi'ite cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr denounced the violence in a statement and noted that the security forces are tasked with protecting Iraqi citizens and ensuring their safety.  Kitabat quotes the statement noting "We denounce and condemn today's armed assault on demonstrators in Falluja."  The events were a daily double for Nouri al-Maliki's paranoia.  All Iraq News notes his response was to immediately declare that the protesters in Falluja, the injured ones, were Ba'athists or al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. 

Amnesty International issued the following today:

Iraq must immediately investigate the killings of protestors in accordance with international standards, Amnesty International said today after several people died when troops in the city of Fallujah fired on anti-government demonstrators who had reportedly thrown stones at them.

Several others were said to be seriously injured during Friday's protest, the latest in an ongoing and largely peaceful campaign protesting against the government and its abusive treatment of detainees.

"The Iraqi authorities must ensure that the investigation they have announced into these killings is independent, impartial and that the methods and findings are made public.  Anyone found responsible for abuses – including anyone found to have used excessive force against protestors – must be brought to justice," said Ann Harrison, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International.

"The authorities should also ensure that security forces are trained and properly equipped to police demonstrations and other gatherings in a manner which respects human rights, including those where some protestors turn violent."

There were conflicting reports about what had caused the shooting by the Iraqi troops. However, subsequently further clashes erupted and army vehicles were burned. There have been claims that some Iraqi soldiers were also injured in the incident. 

The UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials and the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials both lay down clear standards for the policing of demonstrations and the use of firearms, including by armed forces.

Since last December tens of thousands of mainly Sunni Muslim Iraqis have taken to the streets expressing discontent with the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a Shi'a Muslim, at the continuing discrimination against them in Iraq. The daily and largely peaceful demonstrations took place mainly in predominantly Sunni Muslim provinces, including Anbar, Mosul and Salah al-Din.

The protests were triggered by the detention of several bodyguards of the Finance Minister Rafi'e al-Issawi, a senior Sunni Muslim political leader, on terrorism charges. The move was thought by many Sunni Muslims to be politically motivated. There are concerns that increasing sectarian tensions may result in further violence. 

There continue to be frequent bomb attacks by armed groups targeting civilians. For example, dozens of pilgrims for Shi'a Muslim festival of Arba'een were killed at the end of last month; this week several people were killed by car bombs in Baghdad and more than 20 people were killed by a suicide bomber at a Shi'a Muslim mosque in Tuz Khurmato.

Protesters continue to call for respect for due process and legislative measures - including an amnesty law and a review of anti-terror legislation - and for an end to human rights violations against prisoners and detainees in Iraq.

For years Amnesty International has documented cases of torture during interrogations while held incommunicado; deaths in custody in circumstances suggesting that torture was the cause; detainees being coerced into making "confessions"; and unfair trials, sometimes resulting in the death penalty.

A few days before the protests started, Amnesty International contacted the Iraqi government about dozens of reported cases of human rights violations against detainees and prisoners. The Iraqi government has yet to reply.

In one such case in 2012, four men were reportedly tortured while held incommunicado for several weeks at the Directorate of Counter-Crime in Ramadi, Anbar Province before their release in April 2012. Their "confessions" were then broadcast on local television.

During their trial, they told the Anbar Criminal Court that their "confessions" had been extracted under torture. A medical examination presented to the court of one of the men's injuries indicated bruising and burning consistent with his allegations. 

"As far as we know, no official investigation into these allegations of  torture is known to have been held," said Harrison.

"It is imperative that investigations into this – and the dozens of other cases that we have raised with the Iraqi authorities – are carried out as a matter of urgency, particularly as these men are now on death row.

"Perpetrators of abuse need to know that they will face the consequences of their actions, and victims have a right to truth, justice and reparation."

The four men were sentenced to death on 3 December 2012, convicted of offences under Iraq's Anti-Terror Law.

Ban Ki-Moon is the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the UN issued the following today:

The Secretary-General strongly condemns the recent wave of terrorist attacks across Iraq, which have killed hundreds of people and left many more wounded. He regrets the killing and injuring of a number of protestors today in Fallujah. Recognizing the right to peaceful assembly, he calls on all parties to exercise maximum restraint.

The Secretary-General renews his call of last December to Iraqi political leaders and Members of the Council of Representatives to engage in an inclusive dialogue, so as to strengthen the unity and security of the country. The United Nations, through the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), remains committed and stands ready to assist the people and the Government of Iraq in building a peaceful, democratic, and prosperous country.

In addition, Al Mada notes that 16 Iraqi civil society organizations declared their support for the protesters and called on Nouri al-Maliki to listen to their demands.  Kitabat reports the Chair of the Iraqi Institute for Strategic Studies, Sheikh Khamis al-Dagger, has declared that members of parliament should launch a boycott on all sessions of Parliament until the demands of the protesters are heard and he termed today's events "the Falluja massacre."  Though it's not a boycott of Parliament, Kitabat reports that Yassin al-Mutlaq issued a statement today declaring the National Dialogue Front (whose leader is Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq) is withdrawing from provincial elections to protest the goverment's refusal to listen to the demands of the demonstrators.  Meanwhile at the US State Dept today, spokesperson Victoria Nuland continued her war on the Iraqi people.

QUESTION: Staying in the region, Iraq?


QUESTION: A very quick question: According to reports, five protestors got killed today in Fallujah, Iraq. Have – are you able to confirm – during protests by the Iraqi security forces.

MS. NULAND: I'm not in a position to confirm numbers, but I will say that we are concerned about the use of deadly force during today's protests in Iraq. We understand that the Iraqi Government has now issued a statement indicating that they are initiating a very prompt investigation into the incidents, and that they have called for restraint by security forces. We obviously stand ready to assist in that investigation if asked, but we would also say that as the government and government forces show restraint, the demonstrators also have a responsibility to exercise their right to protest in a nonviolent manner, as well as to continue to press their demands through the political process.

Why have an investigation of any kind?  Didn't Nuland just declare from on high that the "government forces show restraint"?  She's a human rights nightmare.  Nouri and his wonderful forces?  Dar Addustur reports on the Lance Corporal just convicted in Basra for the rape and murder of a four-and-a-half-year-old girl?  Dar Addustour reports that Nouri imposed a curfew on Falluja and 'the Ministry of Defense' announced they would launch an investigation into what took place today.  The Ministry of the Defense?  I forget, who is the Minister of Defense?

Oh, that's right, Iraq doesn't have one.   Back in July, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observed, "Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has struggled to forge a lasting power-sharing agreement and has yet to fill key Cabinet positions, including the ministers of defense, interior and national security, while his backers have also shown signs of wobbling support."  He was supposed to nominate them and have them confirmed by Parliament before December 2010 wrapped up but US President Barack Obama gifted Nouri with a second term via a contract (the Erbil Agreement) which meant Nouri didn't have to do the things -- like form a Cabinet -- that the Constitution demanded he do.  By not nominating someone to head the ministry, Nouri controls it.  That was his point in not nominating people to head the security ministries -- it was a power-grab. 

We'll note another Twet about what took place in Falljua today:

In case you forgot, Iraq is no better off than it was a decade ago: Iraqi Army opens fire on protesters throwing rocks. 

View summary

RT notes today was dubbed "Friday of No Retreat." Zhu Ningzhu (Xinhua) reminds, "Sunnis in Iraq have been protesting for a month, asking Prime Minister Nouri Maliki to quit, after Sunni Finance Minister Rafia al-Issawi's security chief and bodyguards were arrested on terror charges."   Al Arabiya provides this context:

Demonstrators began by criticizing the alleged exploitation of anti-terror laws to detain Sunnis wrongfully, but have since moved on to calling for Maliki to quit.
They were sparked by the Dec. 20 arrest of at least nine of the guards of Finance Minister Rafa al-Essawi, a top Sunni politician.
The government has sought to curb the rallies by claiming to have released nearly 900 prisoners in recent weeks, with a senior minister publicly apologizing for holding detainees without charge.

The Washington Post's Liz Sly Tweets this observation:

  1. The Iraqi army firing at protesters in Fallujah tdy. It's Syria 2011; at risk of fastforwarding to Syria 2013 overnight 

Falluja wasn't the only site of protests.   The Voice of Russia notes, "Earlier today, a major protest rally was held in the city of Ramadi in western Iraq, where demonstrators chanted anti-government slogans."  SAPA and DPA note that protests also took place in Samarra, Kirkuk and Mosul.  On Mosul, Alsumaria reports that protesters continued their sit-in and have the backing of the tribes of Nineveh.  The demonstrators are prepared to cut off the road (with their bodies) linking Mosul with Baghdad if their demands are not met.  The demands include the release of innocent prisoners and detainees and the punishment of any who have tortured or raped women prisoners.   Kitabat notes that protests took place in Baghdad and Baquba as well with protesters chanting for a united Iraq and an end to sectarianism and many banners referring to the issues of the prisoners such as one that declared, "Enough! Break The Prison Door."  AFP's Prashant Rao Tweets:

Pictures by @AFP photographers of anti-government demos in Baghdad, Ramadi, Kirkuk, Hawijah, Samarra:  #Iraq


  1. Pictures by @AFP photographers of today's protests in Baghdad, Ramadi and Kirkuk: 

  2. .@AFP photos of today's #Iraq protests, so from Ramadi and Kirkuk (with more coming): 

Nouri's popularity (and cash) managed a turn-out in support of him.  Alsumaria reports that Baghdad's Firdous Square saw "dozens" of Nouri's supporters marching and chanting.  If this was like previous turnouts by The Wives of Nouri al-Malliki, the area around the square was shut down and soldiers and police were present to protect the faux-protesters.

Elsewhere in Iraq, All Iraq News reports, one Mosul bombing injured one police officer while a second left one dead and two injured. and a Samarra operation found security forces killing 14 suspects.

All Iraq News notes 1 woman died from avian flu (bird flu) in Karbala Province.  She was fifty-years-old.  Province officials held an emergency meeting today to address the topic of the avian flu and prevention.

Best Tweet on Iraq this week?

Only realised now that in a few months we go into "the Iraq war, ten years on" mode. Should be as awful as we can dream it to be.

Nouri has sent his federal forces into the provinces and that's who's attacking these protesters.

In the United States, President Barack Obama has given a key administration position to another man.  This one has quite a history.  Rosie Gray (BuzzFeed) reports on the new White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough:

As the top foreign policy aide to then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, he was crucially involved in crafting the legislation to authorize the use of force in Iraq. The resolution passed the Senate on Friday, Oct. 11, 2002, with 29 Democrats voting for it; many would later say they regretted the vote, or the way the Bush administration used it.

McDonough has not spoken publicly about a period many Democrats would like to forget, but people close to him say the episode was one that shaped his views, which include a firm attachment to "regular order" -- the consultative process that critics say the Bush administration ignored in the march to war.

Daschle, in an interview with BuzzFeed, recalled that McDonough played a lead role in hammering out the resolution.

"These were very, very tough calls and our caucus was almost evenly divided on the war," Daschle said in an interview with BuzzFeed. "It was a real challenge. I had many very serious reservations myself."

Yet again, Barack rewards the wrong on the Iraq War.  Yet again.  Another of Barack's nominees is Senator John Kerry for Secretary of State.  We attended the confirmation hearing yesterday and Kat reported on it at her site last night.  A CIA bagman is targeting the Kerry nomination and honestly thinks he's going to kill it.  He really is delusional.  (Kerry's confirmation is not in doubt.) Another nominee is War Hawk Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense.  A large number of spinners and whores have rushed to prop up Hagel.  Last month, Charlie Davis had a great essay taking on these lies and the liars who tell him:

In this past election, Obama often ran to the right of Mitt Romney, his campaign frequently suggesting the latter would not have had the guts to kill Osama bin Laden. The DNC ridiculed Romney for suggesting he'd consider the war's legality before bombing Iran. "Romney Said He Would Talk To His Lawyers Before Deciding Whether To Use Military Force," read the press release, as if that's a bad thing. Obama, bomber of a half-dozen countries, never forgot to mention the "crippling" sanctions he's imposed.

And J Street, the group that just co-sponsored a rally with AIPAC backing the Israeli state's latest killing spree? Ask a resident of Gaza how "pro-peace" it is.
But, in order to create a sign-this-petition! narrative, one often can't do nuance. So Naiman doesn't. In another post, this one highlighting Hagel's establishment support, because antiwar activists care about that sort of thing, he casually refers to former ambassador Ryan Crocker as among the "diplomacy champions and war skeptics" backing the former senator. This would be the same Ryan Crocker appointed by George W. Buish who has said "it's simply not the case that Afghans would rather have US forces gone," and dismissed the killing of at least 25 people in Afghanistan, including children, as "not a very big deal."
That should give you a good idea of the obfuscation going on in the antiwar campaign for a Pentagon chief. This is a problem. If you're going to play the role of the savvy Washington activist and get involved in the inside baseball that is fights over cabinet appointments, ostensibly to reframe the debate more than anything we must defeat AIPAC! you ought not go about reinforcing adherence to orthodoxy and the perceived value of establishment support and credentials. And you ought not cast as heroes of the peace movement people that really shouldn't be. That's actually really dangerous.
Yet, some would rather play down Hagel's pro-war credentials for the all-important narrative. So we cast him as a staunch opponent of a war with Iran, ignoring his repeated assertions that we must "keep all options on the table" with respect to the Islamic Republic, including killing men, women and children. In a piece he coauthored with other establishment foreign policy figures, Hagel's opposition to war amounted merely to a call to consider its costs – and its benefits.

I'm being told that excerpt won't bold face, sorry.  Now we're winding down with some awful news.  The topic is political prisoner Lynn Stewart whom President Barack Obama could set free tomorrow.  She broke no law.  She issued a press release.  The Janet Reno Justice Department reviewed that action -- it was a violation of an agreement (not a law) -- and Reno wisely concluded there was no offense to prosecute, they asked Lynn not to do it again, end of story.  Then Bully Boy Bush was sent to the White House by the Supreme Court.  Lynn is the people's lawyer -- called that because poverty didn't make someone an unattractive client to her, notoriety didn't scare her off, nothing did.  If someone needed an attorney and no one wanted to take the case for whatever reason, Lynn would be interested.  For that reason, she's an 'enemy' in the minds of people like John Ashcroft.  Remember that when people like Arianna Huffington try to gloss over Ashcroft.  As Bush's Attorney General, Ashcroft made it his mission to go after Lynn.  The same 'offense' that she was 'tried' for under Reno was pulled up again -- that's known as double jeopardy and it's against the Constitution but when has a White House shown any respect for the Constitution lately?  He used 9-11 and fear to convict her, having the trial in lower Manhattan, constantly referencing 9-11.  The same way the Bush administration lied and falsely linked to sell the Iraq War, they lied and falsely linked to put Lynn behind bars.  "Constitutional professor" Barack didn't order Lynn released.  No, his Justice Department took Lynn back to court to get her sentence extended.  She had been sentenced to 28 months behind bars for these alleged 'crimes' but that wasn't good enough for Barack.  His Justice Dept asked for and received a ten year sentence. They have made a mockery out of the American legal system and out of the concept of justice.

She is a grandmother, she is a woman over 70-years-old, she has been a cancer survivor.  This week's. Black Agenda Radio, hosted by Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey (first airs each Monday at 4:00 pm EST on the Progressive Radio Network),  features Lynn's husband Ralph Poynter.

Glen Ford:  Imprisoned human rights lawyer Lynn Stewart is facing a grave health crisis.  Stewart was sentenced to ten years in prison in connection with her vigorous defense of one of her clients, the blind sheikh charged in alleged bomb threats in New York City in 1993.  Stewart has been imprisoned in Fort Worth, Texas.  Her husband, Ralph Poynter, says her cancer is spreading.

Ralph Poynter:  For months, we have been worried about a spot that's shown on Lynn's lung -- one of her lungs.  And we did not want to go public with it until we were sure what was happening.  What is happening is her breast cancer is spreading.  It has spread to the other lung and to parts of her back.  We feel that it is a death sentence in the prison.  We fought in the beginning to keep Lynn out of jail, to make them take her from a local hospital with the doctor's objection because we could see the hand writing on the wall.  This was not taken up as a legal issue and Lynn went to prison and now the other shoe has fallen.  Her cancer is spreading.  She is in Fort Worth, Texas subjected to the regulations of a prison between her and health care.  From the greatest center of health care probably in the world from New York to Fort Worth, Texas and we know cancer is spreading.  And as our daughter the doctor says, cancer has to be nipped in the bud.  But first it has to go through regulations of Fort Worth Texas -- not knowing when you go to the hospital, not knowing who's going to be there.  So we're working on that.  And getting Lynn to the hospital, the getting her treatment --

Mya Shone : Ralph, we should point out that when Lynn does go to the hospital they shackle her.

Ralph Poynter:  Yes, Lynn goes to the hospital as an inmate -- in total shackling of waist and feet and nothing is funny about it.  But Lynn says in her stories about what happens after she goes to the hospital  would be funny if it were a cartoon but her life is at stake -- and how she fell and the guards grabbed her and the guards were burly athletic type of guards and when the guards grabbed her and kept her from falling, they injured her and she had bruise marks for a month but she thanks the guards for grabbing her because she could have fallen flat on her face, out of the van, with shackles at her legs, waist and hands.  So this is the sort of thing that she is involved with and she has to endure.

Glen Ford:  Lynn Stewart's husband Ralph Poynter speaking with Mya Shone on the radio program Taking Aim.