Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Iraq snapshot

Tuesday, June 30, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, the New York Times does more bad 'reporting,' they fail to provide the context for the LGBT community in Iraq when Hillary Clinton received an e-mail in July 2009, we note the context, we also note a comment on Posner which may indicate Hillary's frustrations with Barack Obama, and a little more.

Where there is wasted resources and bad reporting, there is the New York Times.

It's a fact the paper never seems to stop flaunting.

The ridiculous Peter Baker and Steve Eder rush forward to remind us of that today in an article about . . .

Well is there a point to it?

The State Dept released some of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's e-mails.

This is a paragraph in the blather Baker and Eder offer:

Her policy priorities come through in the messages as well. In July 2009, when an aide forwarded Mrs. Clinton a message about treatment of gays and lesbians in Iraq, both before and after the reign of Saddam Hussein, she wrote back quickly: “So sad and terrible. We should ask Chris Hill,” the American ambassador, “to raise w govt.”

No policy priorities come through in that paragraph.

They fail to establish anything and seem less like reporters and more like two dishy teens at first lunch.

"So sad and terrible," Hillary wrote.

About what?

Despite being paid to be reporters, neither Peter Baker nor Steve Eder care to share that with the readers.

"We should ask Chris Hill to raise w govt"?


The writers fail to establish what the communication was about or what was going on in Iraq at the time or even why the issue was raised?

Here's the reality piss panties Peter and Stevie can't tell you because they're too busy whoring and lying (for this you left the Washington Post, Peter?), life in Iraq had turned deadly for the LGBT community.

Under Nouri al-Maliki.

Not under Saddam.

Under Nouri al-Maliki.

It's a fact, quit whoring and lying, Peter Baker and Steve Eder.

Human trash is that which covers for the crimes of a thug.  By that definition, Peter and Steve are human trash.

Oh, C.I., you always blame Nouri!

Because I pay attention and I'm not in a coma.

And maybe if others paid attention as well, Baker and Eder wouldn't get away with this garbage.

July 2009 is when Hillary's suddenly learning of "so sad" life for Iraq's LGBT community.

Who's raising the issue?

Not the moronic New York Times, never the idiotic and homophobic New York Times.

But July of 2009 is when Ashley Byrne's "Saddam's rule 'better' for gay Iraqis" (BBC News) appears,

What else was the BBC offering as coverage that month?

From the July 7, 2009 snapshot:

Gay Life After Saddam is a documentary the BBC commissioned which was set to air Sunday, July 5th on BBC Radio 5 Live; however, the Wimbledon Men's Final ran late Sunday and the program has been rescheduled to air Sunday July 12th from nine to ten p.m. (1:00 to 2:00 p.m. PST).  Ashley Byrne did the investigative reporting for the documentary and, at the BBC, Byrne explains, "What is clear, and confirmed by separate evidence from various human rights groups, is that some gay men have been subjected to appalling violent abuse. . . . Gay men inside Iraq have been able to seek santuary in safe houses, thanks to the UK-based Iraqi Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) group, which manages them from London.  The documentary team were granted exclusive access to one of the homes on the outskirts of Baghdad".  The people Byrne speaks to maintain it was easier to be a gay Iraqi when Saddam Hussein was in charge of Iraq.  So much for 'liberation' and 'democracy.'  Again, the specail has been rescheduled for this coming Sunday, July 12th. 

Now some whine, 'I'd love to listen but BBC's webpage says it's no longer available.'

How is that my problem?

You didn't pay attention in real time?  How is that my problem?

No, the special's no longer available.  It was six years ago.

But we did cover it in real time and we can offer this lengthy excerpt of the transcript we did of the program:

Aasmah Mir: Since the invasion six years ago a steep rise in sectarian violence has claimed thousands of victims throughout the country but this could just be the tip of the iceberg because murders and attacks against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community are also on the increase but often go unreported. So what is happening to gay people inside Iraq? We've spoken to a range of people -- to those still inside the country and to those who fled to different parts of the world.  The names of victims appearing in this program have been changed to protect their identities.  Researchers from the US-based Human Rights Watch recently spent several months investigating the treatment of gay people in Iraq.
Scott Long: Today we're going to look at a new issue for us --
Aasmah Mir: The director of the organization LGBT program, Scott Long, outlined some of their findings at a briefing in New York.
Scott Long: I'm going to start by reading a testimony, or part of a testimony, from a man we spoke to who was 35-years-old.  He actually developed a severe speech impediment from strain and grief.  This is what he told us: "It was late one night in early April and they  came to take my partner at his parent's house.  Four armed men barged into the house. they were masked and wearing black.  They asked for him by name.  They insulted him and they took him in front of his parents.  He was found in the neighborhood the day after.  They had thrown his corpse in the garbage, his genitals were cut off and a piece of his throat was ripped out.  Since then, I've been unable to speak properly. I feel as if my life is pointless now.  I don't have friends other than those you see.  For years, it's just been my boyfriend and myself in that little bubble by ourselves.  I have no family now.  I can't go back to them."

Aasmah Mir: Back in Britain, I went to see asylum seeker Ali Hilli who runs a group called Iraqi LGBT.
Aasmah Mir: Hello Ali.
Ali Hilli: Hello Ashram, how are you?
Aasmah Mir: I'm fine thank you.  How are you?

Ali Hilli: Good thank you.
Aasmah Mir: Thanks very much for talking to us.
Aasmah Mir: While I was with him, Ali showed me some of the shocking video evidence of torture his group has been collecting. The images he showed me concerned attacks on transsexuals
Aasmah Mir:  People were -- had their heads shaved.  In this video we see one of the victims, his name is Ali also, he was a member of our group in Najaf, a trans person lived all his life as a transwoman.  They took him away.  They had his head shaved.  And they distributed this video everywhere in Iraq and we still don't have an idea
Aasmah Mir: And that's what we can actually see right now, he's sitting on a stool, dressed in female clothes, long hair and someone is shaving his head.
Ali Hilli: Yes and uh it's so degrading.
Aasmah Mir: Yeah.  How do you feel when you watch this kind of video because obviously you probably see a lot of it.  This is the first time I've seen anything like this and, you know, obviously I'm quite shocked by it.  But you, you must see this stuff all the time.  Do you still feel shocked by it or are you almost becoming -- getting used to it in a kind of way?
Ali Hilli: No, I will never get used to atrocities against humanity.  If I see the video for the first time, I'm quite shaken because the only thing that I-I afraid to catch is the moment of death. This is what I-I don't want to see in my life.   I-I can - I can bear anything, I can accept anything but to kill a human?  I just can't.
Aasmah Mir: We were granted exclusive access to one of the so-called safe houses set up and funded and managed by the London-based Iraqi LGBT group.  On the outskirts of Baghdad, in an anonymous street behind heavily curtained windows we found Kassim a man in his late thirties.  Kassim describes himself as a woman in a man's body.  He's had a lifetime of trouble coming to terms with his gender identity.  Kassim's been the victim of violence on several occasions most recently earlier this year
Kassim: One day, um, someone stopped his car by me and he said "Taxi" and I said, "Why?  Why taxi?" Where are you going?  And I said I was going to this certain place.  He took me to an empty house and put a white blindfold on my eyes and then put a gun to my head and I said, "Just give me a time to pray to God before you kill me."  And he said, "I won't give you time to pray."  And he threatened me and I wasn't moving because I was afraid that he would kill me with the gun and then finally he said, "Okay, I'll let you go for this time but your day will come where you will die
Aasmah Mir: Amil's a young Iraqi man whose seeking asylum in London.  A gay friend of his was killed by extremists in Iraq.
Amil: I used to have a friend, he was student with me and they find out he was gay and they kill him and they chop him like a -- like a lamb or I couldn't or I can't - I can't hardly say because it was really awful.  They kill him and they chop it him and they put him in front of the institute, the one I was studying, to show and to scare the people to not be gay or homosexual.
Aasmah Mir: Most shocking of the recent reports to emerge from Iraq is a form of torture used on gay men involving glue.  Hossein Alizadeh is the Middle East and North Africa researcher for the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission
Hossein Alizadeh: The most horrendous form of torture that I have heard and seen is what happened during March and April in Iraq.  Members of the Iraqi Shi'ite militia  al-Mahdi group, they went around posted lists, names of the people who were supposed to be gay and when they arrest them they basically use glue to shut down their digestive system -- the anus. Others who managed to escape go to the hospitals and the hospitals refuse treatment to those people because, again, they look gay or they're perceived to be gay.  So we had numerous cases -- I can tell you about fifty or sixty cases I've heard -- that have been tortured in that way.
Aasmah Mir: Rasha Moumneh is the Middle East researcher for Human Rights Watch
Rasha Moumneh: You know some of the gay men have actually talked about internet entrapment, a lot of men would be kidnapped, blackmailed for money.  We've talked to people whose partners have been killed in the most brutal of ways.
Aasmah Mir: And it appears that it is not just people who are gay, bi or transsexual who find themselves the target of violence
Ali Hilli: Anyone who's gay, who looks like gay, or have an effeminate behavior, certain Western dress, we've heard of so many examples of people who were, they were even married with children      
Aasmah Mir: There seems to have been an increase in violence in recent months but according to the London-based Iraqi LGBT the killings and torture go back a long way.  They claim more than 600 people have been executed since 2003.
Ali Hilli: There are so many other areas like villages, little towns, also big cities, we can't have people reach to or investigate about incidents.  Also sometimes security situation is quite very complicated, people can't travel often to check or find out what's happening in certain areas.  So I believe the number is far more higher than 600.  
Aasmah Mir: Gay people are seeking sanctuary from the violence in Iraq in all parts of the world.  At a secret location by the banks of the Seine in Paris we met Omar a twenty year old gay man who just weeks earlier had been facing death in Iraq. A small, slightly built young man, who looks younger than his age, told us his story.  At times clearly traumatized.
Omar: I was arrested and I was in retention and there I found five other gay persons.  We suffered torture.  There was the electrical way -- to use electricity to torture us.  And there's a position where my head is down through my legs -- and  my head is down, it's something horrible.  While you have another mean of torture using the belts -- you cannot imagine -- a normal person cannot imagine such torture.
Aasmah Mir:  I'm Aasmah Mir and you're listening to Gay Life After Saddam on BBC Radio 5 live. So what was life like for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people before the fall of Saddam Hussein
Scott Long: There was no possibility of leading a particularly public gay life. There are reports from Amnesty International that 2002 as Saddam was attempting to sort of shore up his Islamist credentials, before the invasion, he passed decrees mandating the death penalty for prostitution and for homosexual conduct.  We haven't actually seen those decrees and we can't confirm what they contain.
Aasmah Mir: This Iraqi student who wishes to remain anonymous now lives in New York
Anonymous: I had a pretty, you know, reasonable gay lifestyle under the table -- in terms of, you know,  circle of friends, gatherings, get-togethers, we'd get together at homes.  Before the war, there were a couple of bars, a couple of clubs that on weekends are pretty much publicly gay and everybody knew about it and we used to go and hang out there and that's fine as long as we don't take that out in the streets.
Aasmah Mir:  Ali Hilli was a young gay men in Iraq during the 1990s.  He has fond memories of the underground gay scene that flourished without much interference in Saddam's Baghdad.
Ali Hilli: Well we had - we had lots of theater actually plays that we were -- people always have to refer to the gay character which is always taken as a sense of humor in shows.  We used to go to -- to see lots of theaters and plays.  I don't know, for some reason there is always a gay character in these plays and I quite like it because I know some of the actors who are really gay themselves and we enjoy it because they really make the most of it.  They camp it up.  And there were lots of gay famous singers.
Aasmah Mir: Kassim remembers a better life under Saddam    .  
Kassim: Life was good, everything was okay.  There were clubs, cafeterias and we could choose where we sat.  We could choose any place to sit and meet other gays  and frankly compared to the current situation the times under Saddam were much better.
Aasmah Mir: Haider is an Iraqi seeking asylum in England.  He's been living in Huntersfield.  He left Iraq shortly after the US invasion six years ago.

Haider: If you respect yourself and live and you don't cause any problems nobody is going to kill you we didn't hear of anybody being killed because of his sexuality in Saddam's regime. Now after that, everything got worse, everything got fluctuated.  I fled from Iraq in 2003 because of one of the worst experiences I've had in my life. I was kidnapped for 9 days, they took me in a small car and they send me about to a place about half an hour.  I was.  I was eye-folded, they call it.  [. . .]  on the border of Baghdad. One of the officers there, he raped me. And then he said "if you're going to tell anyone from the rest of the gang, I will kill you directly." I was scared.  Just a one meal a day which is not enough. They were always telling us that they were going to kill you.

This is the context that Peter Baker and Steve Eder -- two people who are paid to do a job -- fail to provide.

The above is being covered by the BBC in July of 2009 when Hillary's having the issue raised to her in some form.

"Some form" because the New York Times fails to provide you with any context but it also fails to provide you with what the e-mail to Hillary said.

If you're among the many late to the party, SPOILER ALERT, it gets worse for Iraq's LGBT community in Nouri's second term as prime minister.

That's when he refuses to nominate anyone to head the Ministry of the Interior (over the police) so that he can control the Ministry.  He then sends Ministry employees into Iraqi schools to tell them that gay men are vampires who will drain their blood and kill them, that exposure to gay men will turn the children day, that gay men must be killed.

When word gets out on this and Alsumaria and Al Mada begin reporting on it, Nouri and his flunkies will deny that the Minister of Interior employees said any such thing.

But then Alsumaria and Al Mada get a hold of the hand outs the Ministry employees provided the students with.

Suddenly, the denials (lies) stop because the hand outs make clear that Nouri was trying (and succeeding) to instigate violence against Iraq's LGBT community with a pack of lies designed to frighten young people.

Now we could walk through that time period -- Goodness knows we owned the story in terms of English language coverage.  We were so good at covering it that Jim ends up showing me a US newspaper report and asks me to read it.  I do, I read along and it seems familiar and then the rhythm sets in and I recognize it as my own writing.  It was.  It appeared here word for word (four paragraphs) but that didn't stop a US newspaper from printing it as their own.

We could walk through that time period but, as Ben Taylor sings, "I'm not going to make you cry or break your heart, Girl, we don't have the time" -- "Wicked Way," written by Ben and David Saw, first appears on Ben's The Legend of Kung Folk [Part1 (The Killing Bite)].

But the point is that if you weren't paying attention then, you're exactly the type of person that Peter Baker and Steve Eder are playing for a fool with their article.

They're not even being fair to Hillary.

"So sad," written by Hillary, takes on a different context if you know what was taking place in July 2009.

Let's go over the e-mails briefly.  On July 6, 2009 at 8:33 a.m., Cheryl Mills forwards to Hillary "BBC: Saddam's rule 'better' for gay Iraqis"  Cheryl is rather infamous (thanks to Benghazi) so we'll assume most are familiar with that State Dept figure.

She is forwarding Hillary the BBC report we linked to at the top.  She's been e-mailed it by Richard Socarides.


From Wikipedia:

Richard Socarides (born 1954) is a Democratic political strategist, writer, commentator and a New York attorney. Socarides was named Head of Public Affairs for Gerson Lehrman Group in August 2013. He was a White House adviser under United States President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1999 in a variety of senior positions, including as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Adviser for Public Liaison. He worked on legal, policy and political issues and served as principal adviser to Clinton on gay and lesbian civil rights issues. Under Clinton, he was Chief Operating Officer of the 50th Anniversary Summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Socarides also worked as special assistant to Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa). From 2000 to 2006, Socarides held senior positions at Time Warner, including at its divisions New Line Cinema and AOL.
Socarides has written extensively on political and legal topics in his regular column in The New Yorker, as well as for The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and Politico. He is a frequent commentator on television.
Socarides is a Trustee of the State University of New York (SUNY), appointed by Governor Andrew Cuomo and of Antioch College, which he attended.

Socarides, who is openly gay,[1] was the founding president of Equality Matters in 2011. He is the son of the late Charles Socarides (1922–2005), a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who was outspoken critic of the American Psychiatric Association's 1973 decision to remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. In 1992 the elder Socarides co-founded NARTH, in response to the American Psychoanalytic Association's 1992 decision to change its position on homosexuality.

Hillary's full response on Iraq (she moves on to other topics in her reply) is:

So sad and terrible.  We should ask Chris Hill to raise this w govt.  If we ever get Posner confirmed we should emphasize LGBT human rights.

If we ever get Posner?

Apparently, Hillary was frustrated with Barack Obama.

At this point, Posner wasn't even nominated for a post.

It would be two days after her e-mail exchange that Barack would nominate Michael Posner for the State Dept position of Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.

At the end of February 2013, New York University Stern School of Business would announce Posner would be joining the faculty the next month.  From that press release:

Since 2009, Posner has served as the top U.S. diplomat on human rights as Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor at the U.S. Department of State. Prior to joining the State Department, Posner was the founder and president of Human Rights First, a non-partisan organization working to advance universal rights and American values at home and around the world.

Throughout his career, Posner has focused on the role of business and the private sector in respecting human rights. His experience across industries – from labor rights in the global supply chain, to freedom of expression in the information and communication sector, to security and human rights in the extractives industry – emphasizes that smart companies work to respect human rights not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because it helps them manage risk, create markets, and meet the expectations of consumers, investors and employees.

NYU President John Sexton said, “Having Mike join the NYU and Stern faculty as a professor and leader of the first-ever center on human rights at a business school is a powerful signal of NYU’s innovative approach to higher education and commitment to meeting the challenges of the 21st century. Mike’s leadership in the area of business and human rights at Stern is an example of the distinctive value that our global network university can provide.”

“Global businesses are confronting complex human rights challenges that demand approaches that go beyond ‘corporate social responsibility’. We need rules of the road that address companies’ responsibilities to respect human rights in their own operations,” said Posner. The center on business and human rights will convene major stakeholders in the business, academic, NGO, investment and government sectors; conduct academic research; and train business students. Posner added, “The center will seek to answer the hard questions 21st century companies face: What can companies do to respect human rights? What should they do? What are the smartest companies already doing?” Posner will teach at NYU Stern in the Business and Society Program Area beginning in the fall 2013 semester.

Posner began his advocacy career in 1978 and is recognized as a pioneer in the human rights movement. He has played a major role in shaping U.S. policy from inside and outside of government on issues ranging from refugee and asylum law and policy, national security and human rights, Internet freedom, and business and human rights. Before coming into government, he was active in several leading organizations in the field of business and human rights, including the Fair Labor Association, the Global Network Initiative, and the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights. Posner holds a B.A. from the University of Michigan and a J.D. from the University of California, Boalt Hall.

The Guardian's coverage -- unlike the Times' -- of the e-mails noted Hillary's strained/skeptical relationship with Barack during the period covered in the e-mails.

Her "if we ever" remarks could feed into that pattern of frustration.

That's another prospect 'reporters' Peter Baker and Steve Eder missed.

(For those wanting to see the e-mails themselves, click here and they're the top two e-mails -- Hillary's is on top, Cheryl's is below.  Don't e-mail next month and say, 'They're not there!"  When next month's batch of e-mails are released, you may have to search.  I searched "Iraq" and used the dates July 1, 2009 through July 30, 2009.  The e-mails are from July 5, 2009.)

LGBT rights are human rights and should be defended by all.  On that point, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America issued the following last week:

NEW YORK (June 26, 2015) — IAVA today applauded the U.S. Supreme Court ruling recognizing the equality of our LGBTQ members and their families. IAVA was the only national veterans organization to support the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) and it submitted an amicus brief arguing for overturning the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). We will continue to work with state, local and national policy makers to ensure an equality of benefits and dignity of our membership effected by today’s decision.

Note to media: Email press@iava.org or call 212-982-9699 to speak with IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff or IAVA leadership.

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (www.IAVA.org) is the leading post-9/11 veteran empowerment organization (VEO) with the most diverse and rapidly growing membership in America. Celebrating its 10th year anniversary, IAVA has repeatedly received the highest rating - four-stars - from Charity Navigator, America's largest charity evaluator.

Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) counts 98 violent deaths across Iraq today.

The plan was to go over counter-insurgency in this snapshot -- we might do it next time.  You were saved my pontificating on the weakness you convey when you continue to refuse to leave the bargaining table, but we may cover counter-insurgency next time.