It's been five days since it was reported that the last of the Ashraf community had left Iraq.
Here's the summary we generally used:
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.
Now they're finally gone.
And a few words.
I didn't like them.
I was supposed to be their biggest online supporter (according to several people including an ANTIWAR.COM contributor who wrote me a very nasty e-mail).
They were a people that the US government made promises to.
Those promises included safety.
That was the issue.
My personal opinion of their beliefs or religion didn't enter into it.
Or shouldn't have.
Glenn Greenwald is not an astute critic.
Right now, for example, he keeps shooting off his mouth and joy about how great it is that reporters are not being objective.
He thinks that's wonderful.
No, it's not.
First off, there are reporters and there are columnists.
Maureen Dowd is a columnist.
She writes opinions.
She doesn't have to be impartial.
Tim Arango is a reporter.
He is supposed to be impartial. (Which is why the public editor objected to a piece Tim did on the Ashraf community that was openly hostile to the subject.)
Does it matter when reporters traffic in opinion?
Yes, it does.
It's not glorious no matter how much part time US citizen Glenn Greenwald thinks it is.
When reporting sheds the effort to be objective, it's no longer reporting.
And it needs to stop pretending it is.
The coverage of Donald Trump is disgusting.
The reporters are doing a lousy job.
And they need to be rejecting the 'advice' from Barack Obama.
Not just because he's campaigning for Hillary but also because he's the President of the United States and, in a democracy, reporters do not take orders from politicians.
If you can't be objective, you shouldn't be covering Donald Trump.
You can hate him, you can find him disgusting.
And you can still be objective in your coverage.
Just as Hillary's followers (including Andrea Mitchell) can love her but still try to be objective.
Reporters are supposed to file reports which inform the public, they're supposed to present the basics so that the public has information which they can use to make decisions.
That's not happening because so many feel they don't need to be objective.
So Hillary's talking points are used as the norm.
They're accepted as reality and that becomes the baseline for the coverage.
It's not fair and it's not helpful.
I never cared for the Camp Ashraf residents beliefs.
I also never felt the need while they were in jeopardy to slam or slime them.
And I'm not a reporter.
We're going to examine this topic in the snapshot.
We're stuck with it this morning because I've had the worst time getting connected online and had to go with what we could offer in five minutes.
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