Friday, September 04, 2015

Iraq snapshot

Friday, September 4, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, that's not egg on's face, the Ashraf community has waited two years for answers and a response to a kidnapping, and much more.

Shock sweeps as the civilian death deniers like Margaret Griffis who have repeatedly and knowingly insisted daily that this bombing killed these 'militants' or 'terrorists' now are confronted with a reality much uglier than anything they've ever seen in the mirror.

Press TV explains:

The US Department of Defense says Canadian fighter jets killed dozens of Iraqi civilians in an airstrike against the Daesh (ISIL) terrorists in the country earlier this year.
The Pentagon documents obtained by CBC News revealed that the warplanes killed as many as 27 civilians during a January attack against ISIL in northwest of Mosul.

Here's how civilian death deniers at described it on that day:

Ahead of attempts to recapture Mosul, Kurdish forces launched an operation that reclaimed a large amount of territory. Airstrikes and fighting in that region reportedly left hundreds of militants dead, but there is, so far, no independent confirmation of any casualty figures. Assuming they are correct, however, that would leave 361 dead and 19 wounded across Iraq.

Kurdish forces killed more than 200 militants in a large operation near Mosul that allowed them to gain back a 300-square-mile area and liberate several villages. In the city, militants killed dozens of members of the Gahaish tribe and arrested dozens more. 

And here's Griffith the day before that:

Canadian troops have been directing air strikes from the ground in northern Iraq, according to Brig. Gen. Mike Rouleau, the commander of Canadian special forces. Also, it was revealed that a firefight involving the Canadian troops last week took place near the Mosul Dam. However, those soldiers were not engaged in directing the strikes at the time.

But here's Alice Ross (Guardian) on the new disclosure of civilian deaths:

The US-led coalition’s bombing of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, which has been described as the “most precise ever”, faces allegations that civilians have been killed in 71 separate air raids.
A spokesman for US central command (Centcom) disclosed the claims to the Guardian. Many of the claims have been dismissed, but he said 10 incidents were the subject of fuller, formal investigations. Five investigations have been concluded, although only one has been published.
To date, the coalition acknowledges civilian deaths in a single strike: in November 2014 a US strike on Syria killed two children, a Centcom investigation published in May found. Centcom said it will only publish investigations where a “preponderance of evidence” suggests civilians have died.

Monitoring groups questioned how thorough the investigations were.

Steven Chase (Globe and Mail) adds:

An English-speaking Peshmerga soldier told the U.S. military that as many as 27 civilians died during aerial bombardment by Canadian pilots, American military documents show.
However, the Canadian military made it clear to the United States shortly after the alleged incident that it felt no obligation under the Geneva Conventions to probe what happened, the Pentagon records show. “It should be noted that Canadian Joint Operations Command [legal advisers] opinion is that, under the Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC) there are no obligations for the Canadian Armed Forces to conduct an investigation,” the documents say.

It seems like just yesterday -- but it was Tuesday's snapshot -- that we were noting how lying -- and it is lying -- by the press and faux press allows war to continue.

Specifically, that's decision to parrot officials claims as facts -- and not even identify them as claims -- is not "antiwar" but "pro war" and continues war.

When the deaths of civilians are covered up, the truth of war is hidden and obscured. has made the decision to daily pimp the lie that bombs dropped from the air only fall on "militants" and "terrorists."   No one forced them to do that.

When Judith Miller did similar things, she and the New York Times were rightly mocked.

And Margaret Griffis and sell war, peddle death, by passing claims and lies off as truth.

If war is sanitized and precise, there's no need to worry about civilian deaths, right?

While Margaret Griffis and go deeper into denial about the harm their own actions have caused, they may tend to hide behind, "One incident."

Actually know.

There are said to be many incidents that the Pentagon can document.

Michael Edwards (Australia's ABC) reports:

The United States Central Command report lists alleged civilian casualties caused by coalition aircraft in Iraq and Syria between September 2014 and April of this year.
One incident details an Australian raid on a suspected IS weapons factory, that appears to have taken place on December 21 last year.
The report said 10 minutes after the last bomb was dropped, a woman and child were observed within the targeted area.
A man then arrived and took the child away on a motorbike, and the woman was seen walking to a median strip where she lay down.
The document is based on reports by coalition pilots and/or ground forces and lists dozens of other possible civilian casualty incidents.

CBC posts an exchange they had with the Canadian government:

Here are the questions posed by CBC's the fifth estate and the answers provided by the Department of National Defence on the issue of a Pentagon report that suggests a Canadian airstrike near Mosul, Iraq on Jan. 21, 2015 may have led to civilian casualties.

the fifth estate: Please provide more specifics about the information that was provided by the source of the allegation.

Department of National Defence: As this particular review was led by U.S. Central Command, for any further information, please contact U.S. Central Command Public Affairs.

the fifth estate: How was it determined through the review that all of the targets hit that day were enemy combatants?

DND: The Coalition Headquarters conducted a review of all available reliable imagery and video. The review uncovered no evidence of civilian casualties. Furthermore, it was re-confirmed that the target struck by Canada was a valid military objective from which ISIS was firing a heavy machine gun (HMG) at Iraqi Kurdish troops. The area in question is still within ISIS-held territory in Iraq.
As this particular review was led by U.S. Central Command, for any further information please contact U.S. Central Command Public Affairs. In addition, the CAF thoroughly reviews all completed Canadian airstrikes. The CAF review identified that there were no substantive grounds to believe that civilians had been killed. Furthermore, subsequent to the allegations, there was no information from the Iraqi Security Forces or government suggesting there may have been civilian casualties.

Hey, you think Margaret Griffith and Justin Raimondo, if questioned about their constantly insisting that air strikes killed "militants," would say, "As this particular review was led by US Central Commnad, for any further information please contact US Central Command Public Affairs"?

Maybe so.

And maybe it's time for people to stop being so stupid or suck-ass?

Dahr Jamail wrote a piece of crap recently that he pretended was about Iraq.

It was partisan whoring -- shame on you, Dahr.

That a middle school student could have written.

But in it, he praised the work done by Griffith.

That work that conceals civilian deaths?

That's how you're going out on Iraq, Dahr?

Disgracing and distancing from your own work as a real reporter in Iraq and not an embed?

Just to suck up?

Do us -- and yourself -- a favor Dahr, just shut up about Iraq.

Before you tarnish your reputation further, just don't cover it.

You clearly haven't kept up.  You clearly don't know current events.

And all you do is embarrass yourself.

So just stop while some of your image is still intact.

It really is something how Panhandle Media has held Corporate Media to a set of standards but feel no need to measure up to the same ethical standards.

Imagine living in a world with standards that were applied equally and fairly -- what would a media in such a world look like?

Meanwhile, has Death Whore Margaret Griffith learned a damn thing?


No, not one damn thing.

She starts her writing on Thursday's violence with this:

The Canadian government is denying reports that their warplanes killed civilians during airstrikes in northern Iraq. A Peshmerga soldier reported the event, which allegedly took place in January. Meanwhile, a U.S. report lists several incidents where Australian forces may have also killed civilians.

But she then quickly insists:

Another eight were killed in Mazraa.

Was this reported?

F to the uck of no.

She's linking to National Iraqi News Agency which has the good sense -- more sense than Griffith or had -- to note these are figures supplied in statements by Iraqi government ministries.

Oh, wait, it gets worse.

We've railed -- for a year now -- against Griffith and parroting officials.

Use those links and realize it's far worse.

Her count of Thursday's deaths?

If that's a typical count, her work is now in shreds.

Use the links and these Thursday deaths are actually Wednesday and Tuesday.

So her daily count is not based upon the number of deaths reported a day but actually the daily count is based upon when she discovers deaths.

Meaning if, on Thursday, she discovers deaths from Tuesday, she just lumps them into her Thursday count.

What great work from Margaret and -- (a) it actually promotes war and (b) the numbers aren't even correct in terms of being reported.

Justin Raimondo has written how many columns trashing disgraced reporter Judith Miller?

At what point does he turn that critical focus onto his own outlet?

He doesn't like the Ashraf community, finds them 'creepy' so he used his outlet's power to ridicule them.

Because that's 'journalism,' right?

Deciding a group of persecuted people are 'icky' so refusing to treat them fairly?

That's 'journalism,' right?

Background:  As of September 2013, Camp Ashraf in Iraq is empty.  All remaining members of the community have been moved to Camp Hurriya (also known as Camp Liberty).  Camp Ashraf housed a group of Iranian dissidents who were  welcomed to Iraq by Saddam Hussein in 1986 and he gave them Camp Ashraf and six other parcels that they could utilize. In 2003, the US invaded Iraq.The US government had the US military lead negotiations with the residents of Camp Ashraf. The US government wanted the residents to disarm and the US promised protections to the point that US actions turned the residents of Camp Ashraf into protected person under the Geneva Conventions. This is key and demands the US defend the Ashraf community in Iraq from attacks.  The Bully Boy Bush administration grasped that -- they were ignorant of every other law on the books but they grasped that one.  As 2008 drew to a close, the Bush administration was given assurances from the Iraqi government that they would protect the residents. Yet Nouri al-Maliki ordered the camp repeatedly attacked after Barack Obama was sworn in as US President. July 28, 2009 Nouri launched an attack (while then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was on the ground in Iraq). In a report released this summer entitled "Iraqi government must respect and protect rights of Camp Ashraf residents," Amnesty International described this assault, "Barely a month later, on 28-29 July 2009, Iraqi security forces stormed into the camp; at least nine residents were killed and many more were injured. Thirty-six residents who were detained were allegedly tortured and beaten. They were eventually released on 7 October 2009; by then they were in poor health after going on hunger strike." April 8, 2011, Nouri again ordered an assault on Camp Ashraf (then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was again on the ground in Iraq when the assault took place). Amnesty International described the assault this way, "Earlier this year, on 8 April, Iraqi troops took up positions within the camp using excessive, including lethal, force against residents who tried to resist them. Troops used live ammunition and by the end of the operation some 36 residents, including eight women, were dead and more than 300 others had been wounded. Following international and other protests, the Iraqi government announced that it had appointed a committee to investigate the attack and the killings; however, as on other occasions when the government has announced investigations into allegations of serious human rights violations by its forces, the authorities have yet to disclose the outcome, prompting questions whether any investigation was, in fact, carried out."  Those weren't the last attacks.  They were the last attacks while the residents were labeled as terrorists by the US State Dept.  (September 28, 2012, the designation was changed.)   In spite of this labeling, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observed that "since 2004, the United States has considered the residents of Camp Ashraf 'noncombatants' and 'protected persons' under the Geneva Conventions."  So the US has an obligation to protect the residents.  3,300 are no longer at Camp Ashraf.  They have moved to Camp Hurriyah for the most part.  A tiny number has received asylum in other countries. Approximately 100 were still at Camp Ashraf when it was attacked Sunday.   That was the second attack this year alone.   February 9th of 2013, the Ashraf residents were again attacked, this time the ones who had been relocated to Camp Hurriyah.  Trend News Agency counted 10 dead and over one hundred injured.  Prensa Latina reported, " A rain of self-propelled Katyusha missiles hit a provisional camp of Iraqi opposition Mujahedin-e Khalk, an organization Tehran calls terrorists, causing seven fatalities plus 50 wounded, according to an Iraqi official release."  They were attacked again September 1, 2013 -- two years ago.   Adam Schreck (AP) reported back then that the United Nations was able to confirm the deaths of 52 Ashraf residents.

It's anniversary time for the Ashraf community and Tweets throughout the week have been noting that:

    1. UN/US should answer Y there's not been indept. investigation of abduction of 7 Ashraf residents in past 2 years?

  • A short video of September 1st 2013 to remember the 52 fallen

  • To note the anniversary, Congress should probably recall the State Dept's Brett McGurk.

    The November 14, 2013 snapshot covered a November 13, 2013 US House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee hearing.  From that snapshot:

     Chair Ros-Lehtinen told McGurk she wanted regular updates on the T-walls and how many are being put up to protect the Ashraf community from mortar attacks. He stated that there were "about 14,000 now" ready to be assembled and put up.  But US House Rep Brad Sherman pointed out there were 17,000 T-walls up when he last visited Iraq, up at Camp Liberty, but now they're are less than 200.  Clearly, T-walls were taken down (by the orders of Nouri al-Maliki although McGurk insists it was because of the desires of the Ashraf community).  US House Rep Dana Rohrabacher had one of his constituents stand.  The man lost family in the September 1st attack. He was one of the Ashraf community supporters who regularly attend hearings wearing yellow (they also turned out in full force to protest Nouri's visit to DC).  US House Rep Ted Poe noted them in his remarks to McGurk,  "These people that are here, working people, Americans, and they are concerned about people that they love in Iraq.  And they constantly are losing friends and family members to attacks."  These attacks have lasting effects and the State Dept has done very little.

    US House Rep Joseph Wilson:  . . . but a real tragedy has been the murders at Camp Ashraf.  Since December 2008, when our government turned over the protections of the  camp to the Iraqi government, Prime Minister Maliki has repeatedly assured the world that he would treat the residents humanely and also that he would protect them from harm.  Yet it has not kept the promise promise as 111 people have been killed  in cold blood and more than a thousand wounded in five attacks including the September 1st massacre, what is the United States doing to prevent further attacks and greater loss of life in terms of ensuring the safety and security of the residents

    Brett McGurk:  Congressman, first let me say thank you for your-your service and your family's service.  Speaking for myself and my team who've spent many years in Iraq and have known many friends we've lost in Iraq, it's something we think about every day and it inspires our work and our dedication to do everything possible to succeed under very difficult circumstances.  Regarding Camp Ashraf and Camp Liberty, the only place for the MEK and the residents of Camp Liberty to be safe is outside of Iraq.  Camp Liberty is a former US military base  We lost Americans, right nearby  there, as late as the summer of 2010.  We lost a number of Americans to rocket fire and indirect fire attacks and our embassy compounds were the most secure facilities  in the country as late as the summer of 2010, that was when we had about 60,000 troops in the country in the country doing everything that they possibly could do to hunt down the rocket teams that we knew were targeting us.  Uh, there are cells in Iraq  -- we believe directed and inspired from Iran -- which are targeting the MEK, there's no question about that.  And the only place for the MEK to be safe is outside of Iraq.  That is why the State Dept and the Secretary have appointed a colleague of mine, Jonathan Winer, to work this issue full time. to find a place for them to go. Right now, there's about 2900 residents at Camp Liberty and Albania's taken in about 210, Germany's agreed to take in 100 and that's it.  We need to find a place for these - these people to go.  It is an urgent and humanitarian issue, an international humanitarian crisis.  And I went to the camp to meet with the survivors, to speak with the families, and what they told me and I promised them to do everything I possibly could to get them to safety.  Uh, it is incumbent upon the Iraqi government to do everything it possibly can to to keep them safe -- and that means the T-walls and the sandbags and everything else.  Uh, but the only place for the residents to be safe is outside Iraq.  Since the tragic attacks at Camp Liberty on September 1st 1300 Iraqis were killed, 52 people were massacred at Camp Ashraf.  This was a tragic, horrifying act.  But since then, 1300 Iraqis in the country have been killed.  The country is incredibly dangerous and the MEK, to be safe, have to leave Iraq and we want to find a place for them to go.  

    US House Rep Joseph Wilson:  Well I appreciate your commitment to that.  After the September 1st massacre, the State Dept called for an independent investigation by the United Nations.  74 days on, nothing's been done, let alone an independent investigation.  Could you tell this Committee whether any independent probe has been carried out or not?  If so, by whom and what is the finding?  If not, why not?  Five attacks have been launched against the residents and not one person has been arrested.  What do we do to maintain promises of protection?

    Brett McGurk: Uh, Congressman, shortly after the attack, we worked with the United Nations to make sure that they got a team up to Camp Ashraf within 24 hours of the attack to document exactly what happened because there was a lot of stories about what happened.  They went there took photographs of the bodies to make sure that it was documented as to how these people were killed and there's no question about it.  We have looked very closely at all of our information I know that I've-I've had the opportunity to brief some members of the Subcommittee in a classified setting which I'd be pleased to do again to update you on the information that we have.  We did call for an independent investigation and for the UN to be involved in this process.  The UN was also involved in making sure that the survivors got out of Camp Ashraf and out of harms way to get to get to Camp Liberty.  But, again, Congressman, I would welcome the opportunity to brief you and discuss with you in a classified setting everything we know that happened on September 1st.

    Here's a question.  Why did it take the September 1st attack for the State Dept to hired someone to work on the issue?  In fairness to Secretary of State John Kerry, maybe the question should be why, in four years, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton didn't hired anyone?  Or how about why did she fight a federal court for years before taking the MEK off the terrorist list?

    And that person hired?  John Kerry's personal friend but no one in the press elected to report that, did they?  He did nothing.  And he no longer has the job.  Must be nice, when you need an extra pay check and something to brush up your resume, to have John Kerry pay you -- well to have the US tax payer pay you -- to do nothing.

    Kerry should be hauled before Congress and asked to explain exactly what his friend did while on the US government payroll?

    The following community sites -- plus Jody Watley  updated: