Saturday, March 29, 2014

Only US officials who travel to Israel can talk Iraq?

Let's start with the violence.  National Iraqi News Agency reports Nouri's continued assault on Anbar has resulted in more deaths as he has continued to shell residential neighborhoods in Falluja.  Tonight, that means 6 civilians -- "including a child" -- are dead and twenty-one people ("including 4 women and 3 children") are injured.  These are War Crimes but the White House doesn't seem to care.

Does anyone?

How many civilians does Nouri get to kill before people get outraged?

This is from the BBC's "Pol Pot: Life of a tyrant:"

Pol Pot's death in April 1998 heralded the end of the brutal career of a man responsible for overseeing one of the worst genocides of the 20th century.
Between 1975 and 1979 his regime claimed the lives of more than 1m people - through execution, starvation and disease - as the Khmer Rouge tried to turn Cambodia back to the middle ages.

For many survivors of that era, the joy of his demise will only be tempered with the regret that he was not called to account for his crimes against humanity.

So how many people did Pol Pot have to kill before it was acceptable to call him a tyrant?

With Nouri, just since the end of December and just in the city of Falluja, he's killed 400 civilians.

At what point does the press find its comfort level with calling him a tyrant?

The Economist has no problem doing so.  It deserves applause for that.  It's a shame so many others have been so reticent.

In other violence,  National Iraqi News Agency reports 2 people were shot dead in Ramadi, 1 person was shot dead in Maalmeen and one person was left injured, 1 man was shot dead in al-Hay al-Senaay, an al-Maghrib roadside bombing left four people injured, a Baghdad sticky bombing left two people injured, a Zauwbaa Village suicide car bomber took his own life and the lives of 2 Iraqi soldiers (four mroe were left injured)Joint Operations Command announced they killed 7 suspects in Falluja, 1 Shabak was shot dead in eastern Mosul, and 1 corpse ("gunshots on the head and chest") was discovered dumped "on the edge of the Euphrates River in Haditha."

The month is winding down.  Through Friday, Iraq Body Count counts 917 violent deaths so far this month.

It's a shame there's not an Iraq Media Count to note how little coverage any of this ever gets in the US.

Take a proposed law.  March 8, 2014, International Women's Day, Iraqi women protested in Baghdad against Nouri al-Maliki's proposed bill which would allow father's to marry off daughters as young as nine-years-old, strip away the need for consent to sex,  and would strip custodial rights from mothers.  But it's like pulling teeth to get the US media to cover it.  At Truth Dig, Liesl Bradner writes:

Iraq has recently put forth a controversial draft law that would allow men to marry girls as young as 9 years old and force their wives to have sex without consent. Women would also not be able to leave the house without their husband’s permission.
Approved by the Justice Ministry Cabinet in February, the Jaafari Personal Status Law, named after Jaafar al-Sadiq, a Shiite imam, has yet to be approved by Iraq’s parliament. Analysts say it’s unlikely to make it through before the April 30 parliamentary elections.

By the way, Perez Hilton covered it. I asked a friend if she could please find a way to work it into her outlet (not a news outlet) and she did.  Her doing so really helped start the US conversation.  Perez is a gossip site and I don't have time in my life for that so I didn't know he'd covered it but my friend asked if I'd work in a link for Perez as well (which I've now just done). And good for Perez for covering it as well.

Iraq, the topic US leaders and officials won't speak of.  At least, not on US soil.  Apparently, if you're going to Israel, you speak about Iraq.  Gen Martin Dempsey, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is headed to Israel (fifth trip since he became Chair of the Joint Chiefs) and the Pentagon notes:

Millions of refugees from Syria’s civil war are straining resources in Jordan and Turkey and there is the threat that the conflict could spill over Syria’s borders. Insurgents continue attacks in Iraq. Egypt – the largest Arab nation – is going through its own political transition. Iran is negotiating over its nuclear program while continuing to support terror groups including Hezbollah that threaten Israel.

So if you're a US official going to Israel, you can talk about Iraq.  And if you're a former US official you can talk about Iraq.  Or around it as former US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates demonstrates.  Roy Wenzl (Wichita Eagle) speaks with Gates:

One casualty: Alex Funcheon from Bel Aire, a 21-year-old Army sergeant killed in April 2007 by a roadside bomb in Baghdad.
Six weeks after he died, his parents, Bob and Karen Funcheon, climbed the steps of Air Force One during a visit to Wichita by President George W. Bush. They asked Bush whether he was going to make the soldiers’ deaths mean something.
Over this past weekend, the Funcheons passed along a question they hoped Gates could answer this week – the same question they posed to Bush seven years ago: Given that the purpose of the wars “was to make the world a safer place,” Bob Funcheon wrote in an e-mail, and given that “terrorism is essentially the same ... can you tell us it was worth it?”
The short answer, Gates said, is yes. The Afghan army, created and armed by the U.S., is fighting hard, holding territory, holding the Taliban down. Iraq has the chance to become a stable democracy someday.

Read more here:
That's the short answer?  Because it seems to me like a non-answer.

Alex Funcheon was killed in Iraq and Gates is talking about the Afghan army?

He has a 'longer' answer and that's no major terrorist attack in the US.

That's even more of a non-answer.  Iraq had nothing to do with 9-11.

In real news, NINA notes the Iraqi Parliament is attempting to shut down the Justice and Accountability Commission (which needs to happen).  Iraqiya MP Lega Wardi points out voting is going to be very difficult for Anbar in the expected parliamentary elections (April 30th) since Anbar residents have been displaced.

The following community sites -- plus Tavis Smiley, Cindy Sheehan, Susan's On the Edge, Jody Watley, Jake Tapper, the ACLU, Pacifica Evening News and --  updated:

  • Etc.
    14 hours ago

    The e-mail address for this site is

    turth dig


    I Hate The War

    We're going to deal with a few e-mails on this "I Hate The War."  First up, a woman wrote, "I'm not a member of your community so my opinion may not matter but I still can't get over that you highlighted some actress's right-wing talk show.  I don't think I'll ever forget that."

    I'm so glad that something left a lasting impression on you.

    Thing is, though?  You're not the only person who reads this site.  And, honestly, I didn't even know you existed until you e-mailed.

    The woman's e-mailing about Thursday's snapshot:

    March 8, 2014, International Women's Day, Iraqi women protested in Baghdad against Nouri al-Maliki's proposed bill which would allow father's to marry off daughters as young as nine-years-old, strip away the need for consent to sex,  and would strip custodial rights from mothers.  The State Dept only commented when pressed during a briefing.  The White House -- despite pretending to support women -- has still had no public statement.

    While Women's Media Center and Ms. magazine's blog have still not had time to address the issue a conservative radio talk show has.

    Actress Janine Turner first garnered attention on Behind The Screen and then played Laura Templeton on General Hospital, Maggie on Northern Exposure and Dana on Strong Medicine.  Janine's way to the right of me (and I'm way, way to the left of her), which is fine.   I didn't know she had a radio show.

  • Ashe Schow: In Iraq: Girls can marry @ 9 yrs. old- In America: Feminists are trying to "Ban Bossy": LISTEN HERE:

  • We'll do an excerpt of her show but, to be accurate, Ashe Schow is characterizing a bill as a law.  The offensive bill has not yet been passed by the Iraqi parliament.  (It did pass Nouri's Council of Ministers.)

    Asche Schow: Well, in Iraq, they just passed this law that's basically saying a man is basically entitled to have sex with his wife whenever he wants, whether she wants to or not -- it's essentially spousal rape.  The law also allows for girls to be married as young as nine and basically says that a woman can't leave her house without a man's permission -- basically nothing without a man.  And this is a law that they passed to put these old, old world -- decades old things into law, legitimizing it all.  Meanwhile, in America, feminist women aren't talking about that.  They want to ban the word "bossy," saying that this hurts girls and this stops girls from achieving things when what really stops girls from achieving things is being marries at the age of nine and being told that you are property and that kind of stuff.

    Janine Turner:  I agree with you.

    Ashe Schow:  But the word "bossy"?

    Janine Turner:  I know, it's just unbelievable.  I'm glad you brought this to everyone's attention, Ashe, because not only that, it says here that in Iraq some things that stand out to me in your article, in your opinion and editorial here, one is that they automatically can get married at -- no, girls can get married now by law by the age of nine and the husband automatically gets custody of these girls.  Nine!  Nine.  And another thing that appears to me is that they had a protest in Iraq -- and this speaks volumes, I believe -- two dozen women protested, it's only 24 women.  That goes to show how frightening it is and how they really worried about probably their lives and why more couldn't go out and protest. 

    Ashe Schow: Right.  Exactly.  And meanwhile I protested this article like I put up a meme saying basically the same thing is in the article and a whole bunch of American feminists attacked me for it saying like, "How dare you equate the two."  It's not me who's equating the two, it's them that are saying that the word "bossy" is just as terrible in America as spousal rape is in the Middle East. That's equating the issues.  I'm saying they are not the same and you need some perspective and you need to take a look and say, "Maybe this isn't such a big deal after all when they [. . .]"

    "Bossy" is a word.  Were it to be banned, a new word would pop up. The problem isn't the word, it's the way girls are seen.  And that could be addressed and should be.  But that's not what the ban campaign is about.  It's about a faux feminist, Sheryl Sandberg, promoting her tired wares.  This is corporatism, it's not feminism. [If this is news to you, refer to Susan Faludi's "Facebook Feminism, Like It or Not" (The Baffler).]

    The e-mailer didn't like that.

    But the Iraqi women that read this site?  The ones in Iraq who feel like they have little support from the global community?

    Three of them e-mailed to say they were glad that Janine Turner addressed the issue of the law which would make spousal rape legal, allow fathers to marry off their daughters as young as eight-years-old, and many other awful things.  One even knew who Janine was.  She knew her from the film Cliffhanger which, she explained,  is very popular on the pirated DVD market there.  (I'd only noted Janine's TV work, my bad.)

    To the two who'd never heard of Janine Turner before the snapshot and to the one who knew her from Cliffhanger, it mattered that an American radio talk show addressed the issue.  They weren't caught up in right or left labels, just glad to know that the issue mattered to women outside of Iraq, mattered enough for them to speak out.

    For those who've missed it (and many have unless they read Arabic), after women protested against the bill March 8th, Nouri's people had women take to the streets for support rallies in favor of the law.  That lasted about a week because it became too humiliating for them.  (We mocked them here but I'm referring to what Arabic social media did.  They shut it down and, hopefully, shut it down for good.)

    The e-mailer in a tizzy sure is lucky to live in the US because, in Iraq, the people who proposed this hideous and offensive bill still think they're doing the right thing.  In the US, if some member of Congress proposed the same bill?  They'd be mocked non-stop -- on MSNBC, yes, but on CNN and even on Fox News.  They would be ridiculed, their sanity questioned.

    So the e-mailer in a tizzy has it a lot better off than the women in Iraq and instead of being offended that 'evil' Janine Turner got recognized in the snapshot, she should be asking herself why Janine can speak out about it while most women and men in America have remained silent?

    Hillary's campaigning for president right now -- whether she decides to run or not, she is campaigning.  The reason she had support in 2008 from so many women is because she treated issues effecting women as the very real issues they are and not a sidebar.  She can certainly find time, Hillary Clinton, to bully and bluster about how the US needs to attack this person or that but this rebooted Hillary can't find time to speak out for Iraqi women?  She could even get in a dig about how this is what happens when men control decision making (Nouri's Cabinet approved the bill which Nouri then forwarded to the Cabinet -- Nouri really only has one woman as a Cabinet Minister) "from Iraq to around the world, this is what happens and why women need to take part when decisions are being made."

    But instead of making a statement like that, Hillary's convinced that what America really wants in the next president is someone who'll declare a new war every six weeks.

    Another e-mail says I've called out Jason Ditz "before so I was surprised that you would praise him this week."  First, he deserved to be praised.  Second, I've called out pretty much everyone at some point.  This site has lasted far too long.  In most cases, if you're called out for behavior, that's not the forever stance.  For most, they can get better and improve.  Alissa J. Rubin was awful when she started reporting for the New York Times.  Her work got better.  We had little but praise for her in the final stretch.  She earned that praise.

    Jason Ditz earned his praise last week.

    There's also the possibility that Alissa or Jason may have been just fine and wonderful when I called them out.  These are critiques which are opinions so they can be wrong.  And I can be wrong and frequently am.  The "Iraq snapshot" is a look at Iraq on that day but every entry here really is just a snapshot of that moment in time.

    With Ditz -- and I'm not doing this with everyone so don't e-mail about your pet opinator and my comments on them -- I don't remember what he did that earned him my wrath but I do remember it was part of a larger problem with at that time.  (And actually, I now do remember.  And I'm not unpacking it.  I remember it though and I stand by my comments from then.) I remember going back and forth on whether to call him out because I hadn't up to that point.  You usually get at least three strikes.  The first two, I roll my eyes and don't say anything.  By the time we're up to number three, it's on.

    But he can get praise or he can get slammed based on the work.

    We're not a fan site.  We're not a public relations firm.

    Repeatedly, e-mails from others (Ditz has never e-mailed this site) have whined that you catch more bees with honey.

    Why the hell would I want to catch bees?

    What would I do with them?

    Some have written I would catch more flies with honey and that's even more confusing.

    With bees, presumably, I could start my own honey production.  But what, pray tell, would I do with a cluster of flies?

    Another e-mailer insists, "You never compliment anyone!"

    Actually, I do.

    I'm not Vanna White on Wheel of Fortune meaning I don't applaud everyone just because they're going to spin the wheel.

    But I do offer compliments.  And when they're offered they may actually mean something because I'm not endlessly praising everything -- regardless of merit.

    An e-mailer wrote, "I'm bored with Iraq."

    That was the entire e-mail.

    Here's my reply: I'm bored with you.

    Iraq was devastated and destroyed by an illegal war.

    The US government didn't stop with an invasion.  Though Iraq was a populated country, the US installed exiles to rule over it. That was the first step for an illegitimate 'government.'  Then the US, in 2006, insisted not just on installing groups in charge but on selecting the person who would be in charge.  In 2010, Barack insisted on keeping the same individual.

    Iraq's about to have another election.  Oh, and the board of commissioners of the Independent High Electoral Commission all submitted their resignations this week.

    That bores you?

    I'm sure your life is far more fascinating than any thing that could happen in Iraq.  Tell me, who is winning The Amazing Race and who do you think will be crowned American Idol?

    Another e-mail wishes there was more Iraq coverage here at this site.  There should be.  If it were six years ago, there would be.  But I've gone on too long.  This was supposed to be an effort that was brief and would surely end after the 2008 US elections.  That didn't happen.

    I should do more but I'm so tired of writing and so tired of being online.  There's never a day off as I churn out copy, copy, copy day after never ending day.  And because our focus is Iraq, there's never a day where I'm not having to read and write about death and dying.

    All these e-mails are from non-community members, FYI.  I use the newsletter columns to respond to community members more and more.  Last e-mail we'll include is this, "Do you ever start to praise someone in a snapshot and then decide not to?"

    I don't think so.  Many times, I do start to negatively criticize and  then decide not to.

    (Ava and I are calling out a 'feminist' in a piece we'll write for Third this week.  We spent 30 minutes debating whether we should.  Yeah, she's rewriting history and she's being presented as a victim when a man who did what she did -- which was so offensive -- would be called out and has been.  But there was Hillary and Valerie Jarrett praising her and they don't know s**t and should probably slink away.  Hillary was blathering on about how hard it had been for the 'feminist.'  No, it was hard for the woman she victimized.  It wasn't hard for the feminist at all and a man who sleeps with women non-stop and betrays them is considered a pig and so is the 'feminist' hero Hillary and Valerie were praising.  The 'feminist' was brought down, in the end, because she was a damn cheapskate. During that 30 minute deliberation, I also called two friends who knew 'out and proud' back in the 70s and they said go for it because 'out and proud' such a revisionary joke. And we decided that hagiography had to be called out as did the cheating husband -- even when the husband is a woman.)

    (And a friend who knows the liar and fake 'feminist' just called to say she e-mailed me an article from May, 1981 that we should use in addition to her notes on the serial carousing of said fraud.)

    In terms of praise, what's more likely to happen is that I intend to praise someone but then the news of the day requires we focus on something else or there just isn't space.  One example from last week, Reidar Visser. I saw a Tweet he did and considered noting it.  We had to focus on something else.

    I don't think Visser has been accurate as an analyst.

    I also think he posted something that only humiliated him and damaged his reputation.

    Which is why I wanted to offer some praise.  He's attempting to focus on Iraq and make it about the work and move beyond the Margot Kidder - Anne Heche moment of public crazy.

    Anne did.

    Reidar can as well.

    (I love Anne and if you're sensing reluctance on my part with regard to Margot?  She destroyed her career.  Not by her public crazy but by her  appearance on NBC many, many years ago.  Crazy, the entertainment industry can forgive.  Bad manners -- I'm being kind here -- is something else.  I won't condemn Margot but I'm not going to defend her either.)

    We have all had our own public humiliations.

    It can be very hard to get back on your feet, dust yourself off and carry on when you know everyone's still thinking about your humiliation.

    I applaud Reidar Visser for  returning to his work.

    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] 4489.

    The e-mail address for this site is

    Lies About Rwanda Mean More Wars If Not Corrected (David Swanson)

    This is from David Swanson's War Is A Crime website:

    Lies About Rwanda Mean More Wars If Not Corrected

    By David Swanson

    Urge the ending of war these days and you'll very quickly hear two words: "Hitler" and "Rwanda."  While World War II killed some 70 million people, it's the killing of some 6 to 10 million (depending on who's included) that carries the name Holocaust. Never mind that the United States and its allies refused to help those people before the war or to halt the war to save them or to prioritize helping them when the war ended -- or even to refrain from letting the Pentagon hire some of their killers. Never mind that saving the Jews didn't become a purpose for WWII until long after the war was over.  Propose eliminating war from the world and your ears will ring with the name that Hillary Clinton calls Vladimir Putin and that John Kerry calls Bashar al Assad.

    Get past Hitler, and shouts of "We must prevent another Rwanda!" will stop you in your tracks, unless your education has overcome a nearly universal myth that runs as follows.  In 1994, a bunch of irrational Africans in Rwanda developed a plan to eliminate a tribal minority and carried out their plan to the extent of slaughtering over a million people from that tribe -- for purely irrational motivations of tribal hatred.  The U.S. government had been busy doing good deeds elsewhere and not paying enough attention until it was too late.  The United Nations knew what was happening but refused to act, due to its being a large bureaucracy inhabited by weak-willed non-Americans.  But, thanks to U.S. efforts, the criminals were prosecuted, refugees were allowed to return, and democracy and European enlightenment were brought belatedly to the dark valleys of Rwanda.

    Something like this myth is in the minds of those who shout for attacks on Libya or Syria or the Ukraine under the banner of "Not another Rwanda!"  The thinking would be hopelessly sloppy even if based on facts.  The idea that SOMETHING was needed in Rwanda morphs into the idea that heavy bombing was needed in Rwanda which slides effortlessly into the idea that heavy bombing is needed in Libya.  The result is the destruction of Libya.  But the argument is not for those who pay attention to what was happening in and around Rwanda before or since 1994.  It's a momentary argument meant to apply only to a moment.  Never mind why Gadaffi was transformed from a Western ally into a Western enemy, and never mind what the war left behind.  Pay no attention to how World War I was ended and how many wise observers predicted World War II at that time.  The point is that a Rwanda was going to happen in Libya (unless you look at the facts too closely) and it did not happen.  Case closed.  Next victim.

    Edward Herman highly recommends a book by Robin Philpot called Rwanda and the New Scramble for Africa: From Tragedy to Useful Imperial Fiction, and so do I.  Philpot opens with U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali's comment that "the genocide in Rwanda was one hundred percent the responsibility of the Americans!"  How could that be?  Americans are not to blame for how things are in backward parts of the world prior to their "interventions."  Surely Mr. double Boutros has got his chronology wrong.  Too much time spent in those U.N. offices with foreign bureaucrats no doubt.  And yet, the facts -- not disputed claims but universally agreed upon facts that are simply deemphasized by many -- say otherwise.

    The United States backed an invasion of Rwanda on October 1, 1990, by a Ugandan army led by U.S.-trained killers, and supported their attack on Rwanda for three-and-a-half years.  The Rwandan government, in response, did not follow the model of the U.S. internment of Japanese during World War II, or of U.S. treatment of Muslims for the past 12 years.  Nor did it fabricate the idea of traitors in its midst, as the invading army in fact had 36 active cells of collaborators in Rwanda.  But the Rwandan government did arrest 8,000 people and hold them for a few days to six-months.  Africa Watch (later Human Rights Watch/Africa) declared this a serious violation of human rights, but had nothing to say about the invasion and war.  Alison Des Forges of Africa Watch explained that good human rights groups "do not examine the issue of who makes war.  We see war as an evil and we try to prevent the existence of war from being an excuse for massive human rights violations."

    The war killed many people, whether or not those killings qualified as human rights violations.  People fled the invaders, creating a huge refugee crisis, ruined agriculture, wrecked economy, and shattered society.  The United States and the West armed the warmakers and applied additional pressure through the World Bank, IMF, and USAID.  And among the results of the war was increased hostility between Hutus and Tutsis.  Eventually the government would topple.  First would come the mass slaughter known as the Rwandan Genocide.  And before that would come the murder of two presidents.  At that point, in April 1994, Rwanda was in chaos almost on the level of post-liberation Iraq or Libya.

    One way to have prevented the slaughter would have been to not support the war.  Another way to have prevented the slaughter would have been to not support the assassination of the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi on April 6, 1994.  The evidence points strongly to the U.S.-backed and U.S.-trained war-maker Paul Kagame -- now president of Rwanda -- as the guilty party.  While there is no dispute that the presidents' plane was shot down, human rights groups and international bodies have simply referred in passing to a "plane crash" and refused to investigate.

    A third way to have prevented the slaughter, which began immediately upon news of the presidents' assassinations, might have been to send in U.N. peacekeepers (not the same thing as Hellfire missiles, be it noted), but that was not what Washington wanted, and the U.S. government worked against it.  What the Clinton administration was after was putting Kagame in power.  Thus the resistance to calling the slaughter a "genocide" (and sending in the U.N.) until blaming that crime on the Hutu-dominated government became seen as useful.  The evidence assembled by Philpot suggests that the "genocide" was not so much planned as erupted following the shooting down of the plane, was politically motivated rather than simply ethnic, and was not nearly as one-sided as generally assumed.

    Moreover, the killing of civilians in Rwanda has continued ever since, although the killing has been much more heavy in neighboring Congo, where Kagame's government took the war -- with U.S. aid and weapons and troops --  and bombed refugee camps killing some million people.  The excuse for going into the Congo has been the hunt for Rwandan war criminals.  The real motivation has been Western control and profits.  War in the Congo has continued to this day, leaving some 6 million dead -- the worst killing since the 70 million of WWII.  And yet nobody ever says "We must prevent another Congo!"


    David Swanson's wants you to declare peace at  His new book is War No More: The Case for Abolition. He blogs at and and works for He hosts Talk Nation Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.  

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    UN Committee Issues Scathing Report U.S. Government's Human Rights Record (CCR)

    This is from the Center for Constitutional Rights:

    March 27, 2014 - Today, the UN Human Rights Committee issued highly critical concluding observations on the United States’ compliance with international human rights requirements. CCR had submitted several detailed reports to the committee in advance of its hearings March 13-14, and much of their substance was reflected in both the committee’s questioning and its conclusions.  The committee expressed deep concern over:

    • the U.S. “targeted killing” program;
    • the lack of progress in the closure of Guantánamo, urging the U.S. to expedite the process of transferring detainees out of the prison, including to Yemen, and reiterating its position that the U.S. must end its practice of indefinite detention without charge or trial;
    • the secrecy and lack of accountability around Bush-era abuses, including the limited number of investigations, prosecutions and convictions of contractors and high ranking U.S. officials for killings and torture of detainees;
    • the imposition of the death penalty in a racially discriminatory manner and the conditions on death row;
    • reports of criminalization of people living on the street for everyday activities such as eating, sleeping, and sitting in particular areas, raising concerns of discrimination and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment;
    • the use of prolonged solitary confinement, particularly for at-risk people and those in pretrial detention, urging the abolition of solitary for people under 18 and for people with serious mental illness, and strict limitations on its use, overall; and
    • the targeting of Muslims by the NYPD, and racial profiling overall (while underlining its support for recent plans to reform the use of stop and frisk).

    CCR applauds the UN and the international community for holding the US accountable to its international obligations and shedding a necessary light on areas where it is falling short. However, we regret the HRC failed to question the U.S. government on the devastation the invasion and occupation of Iraq has brought to both Iraqi civilians and U.S. veterans.

    The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.

    Friday, March 28, 2014

    Iraq snapshot

    Friday, March 28, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, the assault on Anbar continues, reaction continues to multiply to Barack Obama's attempt at revisionary Iraq War history, the American Legion has a problem with women veterans, and much more.

    We'll start with Congress.  In yesterday's snapshot, we covered some of the Wednesday joint-hearing of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  Kat covered the hearing in "When stupid talks to stupid (Congressional hearing)" and Wally covered it in "Rural veterans (Wally)."  The House Committee Chair is Jeff Miller, the Ranking Member is Mike Michaud (Wally covered Michaud in his post).  The Senate Chair is Bernie Sanders.  The Ranking Member is Richard Burr who was not present.  Senator Johnny Isackson acted as Ranking Member.

    The testimony came from the Veterans Service Organization The American Legion -- and the testimony was mainly presented by National Commander Daniel Dellinger.  We'll note two more who accompanied him as we note the three questions Chair Bernie Sanders had.

    Senate Committee Chair Bernie Sanders:  Right now there are tens of thousands, mostly women, who are taking care of disabled vets -- in some cases 24-7 under great stress and this is just not easy to do.  Some of us would like to see the Caregivers Act that we passed for the 9-11 veterans be extended.  I would like your feelings on that.  Should it be extended to all generations of veterans?

    Daniel Dellinger:  We do agree with your assessment on that, Mr. Chairman.  It needs to happen.  Our -- actually our Veterans Rehabilitation Committee Chairman [Ralph] Bozella has been looking into that and I'd like to ask him to give some comments on that.  

    Senate Chair Bernie Sanders:  Thank you. Mr. Bozella?

    Ralph Bozella:  Thank you, Commander, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Chairman and members.  The Caregivers Act is the three pieces: the primary, the general and the family.  And, as you stated, Mr. Chairman, the current way that it works is that with this new generation The Caregiver Act of the OIF and OEF is where the lion share of the funding is going.  And what we would really like to see is that funding extended to the general and the family portion with the understanding that all veterans who need that care should be given the same financial resources to have that done in their homes.

    Senate Committee Chair Bernie Sanders:  Thank you.  Second issue I'd like you to comment on, historically VA has covered dental care for service related problems.  You have an oral problem?  They're there. But for veterans who have dental problems that are not service related, there really is no care.  Do you think we should begin the process through a pilot project or whatever expanding VA health care into the area of dental care. 

    Daniel Dellinger:  We definitely agree with the assessment also because as we all know if you -- if you -- dental hygiene directly relates to-to the body which in turn would-would alleviate some infections and also improve the overall health of your body and would also -- should actually decrease the amount of treatments necessary for veterans.  

    Senate Committee Chair Bernie Sanders: Finally, one of the last things I want to touch on has been that some 2300 men and women have come home with wounds that make it difficult or impossible for them to have babies and have families. And some of us believe that the VA should help with in vitro fertilization, with the adoption process, to give them the opportunity -- if they want -- to have families. Is that a sensible proposal to you, Mr. Commander?

    Daniel Dellinger:  We've been looking at that.  That was part of your bill.  And we actually do not, at this time have a resolution on that.  I'd like to turn this over to our legislative because they've been looking into this since your bill was introduced. 

    Brett Reistad:  Senator, Mr. Chairman, indeed this is something that we are taking a look at.  There are a lot of different issues associated with costs and types of procedures that would take place if this were something that the government funded.  Uh, we anticipate that this is something that we will have a stance on at some point in time upon further study by our organization.

    Okay, let's get real.  For those late to the party, "your bill," the comment by Daniel Delligner, refers to the last week of February when there was a vote.  Thursday, February 27th, Senator Patty Murray (who is the Senate Budget Committee Chair and was the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chair prior to Sanders) went to the floor of the Senate to make an incredibly strong argument for why this was needed.  Late Thursday, as noted in the February 28th snapshot, the vote was shot down in the Senate.

    And if you're as stupid as The American Legion hopes you are, that's not just where the story ends, it's also where it begins.

    Poor American Legion.  Last week of February and they can't just pull an opinion out of their ass.

    That's what they hope you believe.

    But thing is, it didn't start there.

    When Senator Patty Murray was the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, she introduced  S. 3313, The Women Veterans and Other Health Care Improvement Act of 2012 to address this issue.  She explained it at a June 27, 2012 Committee hearing (we covered that hearing in the June 27th and June 28th snapshots). 

    And am I mistaken or did Dellinger not tell the same two Committees September 10, 2013 that they'd place a special priority on health care for female veterans (I'm not mistaken, my notes show that he said they had a task force which did research from November 2012 to April 2013 which "focused on women veterans' health care").

    So the point here is this has been proposed since 2012.  The American Legion has refused to take a position on the issue.

    And let's note something else about Commander Dellinger.

    Did MST stop?

    Did Military Sexual Trauma vanish?

    Last time he gave the American Legion testimony, he could give lip service to the problem.  If it's too much for you, maybe you should step down.  I'm looking at my notes and when Fang Wong was National Commander of the Legion, he could address MST.  It's really strange that Delligner came in so recently with so many promises and none of them are being met.  If the Legion finally has the Women Veterans Outreach Coordinator, Wong noted (September 21, 2011 to the joint-hearing of the Veterans Affairs Committees) that they would be hiring one, the Legion doesn't value the position very much.  I can see endless men and two two or three token women (like the "historian") as I flip through the Legion's webpages of various 'officers' or 'officials' or whatever b.s. titles they give themselves.  I don't see the Women Veterans Outreach Coordinator.  In in those miles and miles of elderly White men occupying one position after another, I don't see anything that young veterans can relate to.

    Now I know at one point in 2011, the Legion had Amanda Leigh in that role -- while also making her hold down the post of Assistant Director of Veterans Affairs &  Rehabilitation Division.  And if you search the Legion's website for her, you'll see they haven't noted her since 2012.  So is she gone?  Is the position gone?  Seems like if you have a Women Veterans Outreach Coordinator, you note it at the website.  Like maybe on your "Women Veterans" page.  If the position still exists, how is any outreach taking place when a female veteran visiting the website would never find out about it?

    Dellinger's doing a lousy job.  Wednesday, he read a long statement -- which didn't note MST once in the 18 pages -- and then had no little to no knowledge of what he had just read.  It was embarrassing.

    I don't have any respect for the current leadership because they show no respect for Congress (or the people's dime) by showing up and thinking they can b.s. their way through a Congressional hearing and (b) they show no respect for women.

    To be clear, there are a huge number of issues facing veterans.  Stating publicly that you have no position?  Many do say that -- some because their membership has no position, some because they don't want to get in the middle of a Congressional squabble.  And I can respect that.  I can even respect someone coming out against a needed measure.  But the American Legion didn't just play the 'oh, we don't know' card this week, they've played it since 2012 and you're being played if you buy for a minute that this was a new issue for them.  And it wasn't a 'new' issue in 2010 when the American Legion representative (attorney) for a veteran didn't show up in court to represent them -- do we want to go there, because I can go there.

    So let flow the hydrants
    And we'll dance in the spray
    And we'll wash our dirty laundry
    In the alleyway
    -- "Put Your Love Out In The Street," written by Carly Simon, first appears on her Playing Possum

    The American Legion has a really sad record on the in vitro issue.  And maybe women veterans need to be aware of that when they're looking for a VSO that will serve them.  15 typed pages.  Single-space.  That's how long Dellinger's opening remarks were (he didn't get to read it all but was told it would go into the record).  Yet he never mentioned MST.  Not one damn time.

    Women veterans need to know that.

    Women veterans need to know that the American Legion is not a friend to them.

    And if that truth hurts, Dellinger, maybe it's time the AL started delivering on all the public promises they've made to women veterans in the last three years.

    In Iraq, another journalist has been killed.  All Iraq News reports that Wathiq al-Ghadhanfari was shot dead in Mosul.  He had hosted "a TV program over the history of Nineveh at Mosul local TV stations" and he was "also the candidate of Motahidon Alliance chaired by Speaker" of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi.

    At today's US State Dept press briefing, Marie Harf declared:

     We are deeply concerned about the circumstances surrounding his death and we call on the Government of Iraq to conduct a full investigation into the incident and to hold the perpetrator of this criminal act to account. The killing of any innocent is to be deplored. The murder of a journalist is a particular affront because it strikes at a fundamental pillar of democracy.

    Oh, wait, she didn't.  That was her on Monday when a Voice of America/Radio Free Iraq employee was killed.

    How did she open today's briefing?  "Hello. Happy Friday, everyone. Welcome to the daily briefing. I have a few items at the top, and then we will open it up for questions."

    Happy Friday, Marie!

    Good for you for making it clear to Iraqis that the US government doesn't give a damn about Iraqi reporters or Iraqis at all.

    That's really not the message the diplomacy arm of the US government is supposed to send but, hey, Marie was honest.

    Why try to pretend that deaths matter in Iraq when the White House so clearly doesn't give a damn.

    Hadi al-Mahdi?  Unlike the propagandist shot by the Peshmerga on Saturday, Hadi al-Mahdi was assassinated, he was murdered.  He was a reporter, he was an activist.  He called out Nouri al-Maliki -- something western journalists generally refuse to do.  Hadi had the guts, Hadi had the courage and he was shot dead in his own home.  His killer -- most likely following Nouri's orders -- was never found.  You know outside his apartment?  There are surveillance cameras.  Guess what?

    No footage.  For the time of his murder, there is no footage.

    But let's pretend this wasn't a government hit.  Let's pretend like something other than Nouri could have both (a) ordered Hadi assassinated and (b) ensured that the cameras were off during the murder so no one could see the assassin arriving or leaving.

    The day of Hadi's death?

    The US State Dept didn't say one damn word.

    Didn't have anything to say the day after either.

    And today they didn't care about Wathiq al-Ghadhanfari.

    But, "Hello. Happy Friday!" right back at you, Marie Harf.

    Doubt Wathiq's family feels it was a happy Friday but that doesn't really matter to the State Dept, now does it?  Doubt the victims of Nouri's shelling of Falluja residential neighborhoods with have a "Happy Friday!" either.  NINA notes 2 civilians are dead and thirty-nine injured from today's shelling.

    These are War Crimes but "Happy Friday!," Marie.

    In other violence, RT notes fighting in "Anbar province has left at least 30 people dead and injuring 50 others."  National Iraqi News Agency reports Baghdad Operations Command says they killed 2 suspects in Latifya, rebels "blew up a strategic bridge in Hadeetha district western Anbar province" and rebels "blew up a second bridge in Ramadi city center of Anbar province."  Alsumaria reports 1 suicide bomber was shot dead in Mosul, the corpse of 1 truck driver was found near a farm in Dohuk, 3 Baghdad bombings killing 2 people and wounding eight, a Baghdad car bombing left one person injured, a Mousl fight left 3 dead and two injured, and, dropping back to last night, an Iraqi soldier was injured in a roadside bombing near Baiji.

    Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 905 violent deaths so far this month.

    April 30th, Iraq is supposed to hold parliamentary elections.  Tuesday brought the news that the entire board of the Independent High Electoral Commission was submitting their resignations.  Mohammad Sabah (Al Mada) reports the commissioners say there are three possibilities:

    1) Parliament passes some form of immunity that would bar the commissioners from being prosecuted for their decisions regarding who can run for office.

    2) The election law itself can be modified.

    3) The elections can be cancelled. 

    All Iraq News reports Iraqiya's Hamed al-Mutleq states the elections must not be postponed.  The leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq Ammar al-Hakim has stated Parliament should refuse to accept the resignations.    Harith Hasan (Al-Monitor) reports:

    Many were convinced that the government had succeeded in using the judiciary to target its political opponents after the 2011 indictment of former Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi on terrorism charges and after similar charges were made against a former finance minister, Rafi al-Issawi, in December 2010.
    This perception has grown in the weeks leading up to the legislative elections scheduled for next month. The Electoral Judicial Committee has barred participation by a number of would-be candidates known for their harsh opposition toward Maliki. For example, the committee ruled that Issawi is ineligible because he faces arrest warrants stemming from corruption and terrorism charges and because he has refused to appear in court to defend himself. 
    Based on a complaint by Hanan al-Fatlawi, a parliamentarian in Maliki’s coalition, the committee also voted to ban a parliamentarian from the Sadrist movement, Jawad al-Shahaili, because he has been accused of embezzlement. Although the same committee overturned decisions prohibiting Sabah al-Saadi and Mithal al-Alusi, both anti-Maliki deputies, from running, it did not change the prevailing belief that most of the time, the judiciary sides with the government. Maliki’s opponents provide another example as evidence — the acquittal of Mishan al-Jubouri on charges of corruption and financial support for terrorism. Jubouri is a former Maliki opponent who recently became his ally.
    The problem surrounding qualifying for elections is primarily due to the interpretation of a clause in the electoral law that provides that a candidate must have a record of “good conduct.” This clause has allowed Maliki’s coalition to challenge some potential candidates because they had been accused of crimes.

    On Iraq,  Bitch magazine notes:

    Award-winning filmmakers Sabine Krayenbühl and Zeva Oelbaum have a passion for telling the stories of trail-blazing women who are often overlooked by historians. Their latest project is Letters from Baghdad, the story of Gertrude Bell who drew the borders of Iraq after World War I and founded the Baghdad Museum of Antiquities which was ransacked in the 2003 American invasion. You can support Letters from Baghdad on the project’s Kickstarter page. [] 

    Gertrude Bell and her Iraq work are considered by some to be part of the problem -- a colonialist imposing borders on a foreign land.

    Speaking of colonialists, Wednesday, US President Barack Obama made a fool out of himself as he attempted to justify and re-sell the illegal Iraq War.

    It is true that the Iraq War was a subject of vigorous debate – not just around the world, but in the United States as well. I happened to oppose our military intervention there. But even in Iraq, America sought to work within the international system. We did not claim or annex Iraq’s territory, nor did we grab its resources for our own gain. Instead, we ended our war and left Iraq to its people and a fully sovereign Iraqi state could make decisions about its own future.

    His lies are still causing a stir.  Let's note some of today's Tweets on the topic.

  • Everything Obama has said on Iraq makes me want to dig my own eyeballs out do you understand

  • Emperor Obama claims a referendum in Crimea worse than illegal war which has killed c1m people. Does he think we're all total cretins?

  • Dear fans, Please explain why Obama would DEFEND our invasion of Iraq. Thanks.

  • Obama Suddenly Defends U.S. Invasion [Annihilation] of Iraq - Mainstream Media Shrug

  • James Schlarmann (Political Garbage Chute) wonders, "Uh, guys?  What kind of high-powered, supermegahardcoreholy***damneds**t halluciongen would I have had to take wherein I would find myself hearing President Barack 'I Am Not George W. Bush' Obama defending the U.S. invasion of Iraq?"  Nebojsa Malic ( asks, "Whatever possessed Mr. Obama to say that 'even in Iraq, America sought to work within the international system' when this was clearly not the case, and Bush II’s war was prosecuted without UN approval, without even NATO approval, but by an ad-hoc 'Coalition of the Willing'?"  Sheldon Richman (CounterPunch) calls out the lies:

    [Barack;]We ended our war and left Iraq to its people and a fully sovereign Iraqi state that could make decisions about its own future.

    The war indeed ended in 2011. But let’s not forget that before (most of) the troops left, Obama begged al-Maliki to let U.S. forces stay beyond the deadline set in the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). Al-Maliki — who didn’t need the United States when he had Iran in his corner — demanded conditions so unacceptable to Obama that most forces were withdrawn as scheduled. (SOFA was signed by Bush, but that doesn’t stop Obama from claiming credit for “ending the war.”) The U.S. government continues to finance, arm, and train al-Maliki’s military, which represses the minority Sunni population.

    Jonathan Cohn (Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, and Trees) points out,  "Obama also conveniently forgets how he wanted to extend the troop presence, but such negotiations broke down because of Pentagon demands for immunity for such troops--a demand clearly in violation of Iraq's sovereignty." Paul Craig Roberts (Dissident Voice) offers, "Obama recently declared that Washington’s destruction of Iraq–up to one million killed, four million displaced, infrastructure in ruins, sectarian violence exploding, a country in total ruins–is nowhere near as bad as Russia’s acceptance of Crimean self-determination. [. . .]  Who can possibly believe that Obama, whose government is responsible for the deaths of people every day in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, and Syria, cares a whit about democracy in Ukraine."

     RAZFXPro (News From A Parallel World) offers:

    It’s come to this, an American President taken such leave of his senses that, while a domestic audience is presumably comforted, the rest of the world struggles to find language sufficient to describe his arrogance and flagrant dishonesty.

    America did not seek to ‘work within the international system.’ To the contrary. Denied the support of even most of its traditional allies, the U.S. forged what it clumsily termed a ‘coalition of the willing,’ giving the astonishing destruction we rained on an innocent and essentially defenseless population a rhetorical fig leaf which fooled no one excepting U.S. news commentators and maybe some school children.  

    Jessica Desvarieux files a report for The Real News Network (link is transcript and video).  Excerpt:

    YANAR MOHAMMED, PRESIDENT, ORGANIZATION OF WOMEN'S FREEDOM IN IRAQ: Sovereignty for whom? I think he's talking about the 275 or 300-something parliamentarians who are living inside the International Zone. (And that's the new name for the Green Zone. It's not "Green" anymore.) It's only the sovereignty for those people. And they have the whole wealth of Iraq, while the people are suffering. And there's a number that was produced by the UN reports: almost 38 percent of the Iraqi people are living under the poverty line. Sovereignty for whom?

    DESVARIEUX: Many questions still remain for the people of Iraq after, almost 11 years ago, troops toppled the government of Saddam Hussein and brought to power the Shiite government of al-Maliki.

    Iraqi labor organizer pointed out how the U.S.-backed al-Maliki government is more concerned with amassing wealth and seizing resources, and it aims to crush organized labor movements and remain in power.

    FALAH ALWAN, PRESIDENT, FEDERATION OF WORKERS COUNCILS AND UNIONS: The new government, busy with how to redivide the wealth and how to seize the resources of the society and how to spend mountains of dollars and gold--and this corrupted government, supported directly by the U.S. government.

    The new Iraqi authorities, despite the tragic situation in Iraq, they want to impose a new legislation, which enable them to be in power and [incompr.] in power by controlling the so-called elections and to issue new labor laws to control the workers and prevent them from expressing their demands and their interests, and keeping the old laws of Saddam, which would prevent the workers from organizing themselves, from holding strikes, from negotiating, from calling for their interests. All--we can talk about the tragedies day and night.

    Francis A. Boyle is a professor at the University of Illinois College of Law. His books include Foundations of World Order (Duke University Press: 1999) and, most recently, United Ireland, Human Rights and International Law.  Boyle explains:

    In March 2003 the United States launched an illegal and criminal war of aggression against Iraq based on false pretexts, a Nuremberg Crime against Peace. The United States destroyed Iraq as a functioning state and effectively carved-up Iraq de facto into three mini-statelets that are at war with each other today, killing an estimated 1.4 million Iraqis in the process. Suicide bombings in Iraq continue to be a fact of everyday life. By comparison, the Russian annexation of Crimea was almost bloodless.

    Finally, David Bacon's latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which won the CLR James Award. We'll close with this from Bacon's  "How Change Happens: The Immigration Uprising" (Truthout):

    This is only the most dramatic action of a wave of activity around the country, in which community and labor activists, and now deportees themselves, have refused to quietly endure increased immigration enforcement.  They are mostly young, deriving much of their inspiration from the Dreamers who forced the administration two years ago to begin providing legal status to some of those who'd otherwise be deported.  These activists refuse to wait for Congress to enact its immigration reform proposals, and in fact many reject them as fatally compromised.
    Two weeks ago hundreds of people inside the Tacoma Detention Center launched a hunger strike against its private operator, Geo Corporation, demanding better conditions and a moratorium on deportations.  Activists, who have held vigils outside the center for years, now gather every day to support those inside.  A week later the strike spread to another Geo facility in Texas.  According to Maru Mora Villapando of Latino Advocacy in Tacoma, in both locations the company has isolated the strikers and in Tacoma threatened to force-feed them.

    Monday, we'll cover more of Nickolay Mladenov's UN Security Council testimony.  I'd hoped we'd continue to that today (and I think I said so in yesterday's snapshot) but there's just not room.

    jessica desvarieux
    the real news network