Friday, December 11, 2009

Iraq snapshot

Friday, December 11, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, Big Oil goes a'bidding in Iraq, Amnesty International and UNHCR both issue alerts and more.
On the second hour of today's The Diane Rehm Show (NPR), Iraq was discussed.  Diane's panelists were Bryan Bender (Boston Globe), Moises Naim (Foreign Policy) and Nancy Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers).
Diane Rehm: Alright and let's talk about the trip that Secretary [of Defense, Robert] Gates made to Baghdad on Thursday. He was there meeting with Iraqi officials even as a wave of bombings was going on.  Nancy.
Nancy Youssef: That's right, we saw several bombings go off almost simultaneously, 127 people killed, another 450 at least injured. And it triggered a widespread government  outcry about who needs to be held responsible? We saw the police chief of Baghdad province -- who the Americans  believe was sort of a key person in bringing down the sectarian violence -- ousted from office because another failed security breach. There were discussions about whether the minister Jawad al-Boloni needs to be taken out of office as well and Nouri al-Maliki really trying to defend himself in the face of elections coming up, now scheduled for March 7th.  And so the thing that I thought was most interesting is you know the United States will brand this as: "Look the sectarian violence hasn't kicked off yet." But I think that's a too narrow focus because the attacks are no longer a strictly sectarian effort. This is an effort to take the Iraqi people and pit them against the Iraqi government and that seems to be having some effect.  So I think looking forward, we no longer need to look about  whether this is re-igniting sectarian violence but rather it is fundamentally destabilizing the Iraqi government
Diane Rehm: Moises.
Moises Naim: Yes, I would like to introduce two issues here. One is Syria and the other is oil. Syria is, as you know, the place where a lot of Ba'athists and Sunni have fled Iraq and now there is a very large exile community of Iraqis living there.  And President [Prime Minister Nouri al-] Maliki -- Prime Minister Maliki has several times said that these attacks in Iraq have been organized and led by Ba'athists in Syria and that has created a -- has heightened the tensions and the friction between Syria and Iraq.
Diane Rehm: Bryan?
Bryan Bender: I think the real danger in the coming months as we lead up to the Iraqi elections is-is within Iraq and within the political system. You have leaders of the security establishment there who are supposed to be working together but at the same time are running for office and are on these slates from different political parties and I think it has made it almost impossible for the Iraqi government -- in a unified way -- to address some of these threats. It would be like the head of the FBI in this country coming out, talking about a recent terrorist attack but, at the same time, also running for Congress.
Diane Rehm: And of course the Prime Minister Maliki fired the head of the Baghdad security force after the attack.
Moises Naim: And that is under tremendous popular. He spent essentially a whole day in Parliament trying to explain and justify what happened and said this is a new way of showing some accountability.
[. . .]
Diane Rehm: Moises, before we end this hour, I know you wanted to talk about oil.
Moises Naim: Yes, it was about when we were talking about Iraq. Three days after the big, massive bomb attacks that killed hundreds of people, almost all of the large oil companies in the world were there bidding for one of the most important oil fields that was being put up to bid for development by the Iraqi government.  The-the head of one of the oil companies, French oil company called Total, to [. . .] the merger and was reported by the Financial Times saying, 'The volumes are crazy. We know there's a potential to reach maybe 7, 8 million barrels a day and that alone will be a tremendous success.' We're talking about an undeveloped oil field that is one of the largest in the world where a lot of the western oil companies are trying to get into in the middle of this chaos and mayhem and-and highly unstable political situation.  
Diane Rehm: So how does that effect US policy?
Moises Naim: It is -- well the hope is that there will be more development of oil, that the Iraq will have the wherewithall and the funds to sustain its own security, to pay for its own troops and to pay for its own development. So it is all for the good that oil is found there and developed and Iraqi government and Iraqi nation becomes more stable financially.
Diane Rehm: Nancy, you look somewhat skeptical.

Nancy Youssef: Well, you know, I mean my heart's with the Iraqis and I just can't help but wonder how long can they sustain every two months, these sensational attacks?  You know, I see a disconnect. There's what the business community sees as a viable Iraq and there's what the Iraqis see as a viable Iraq.
The Total exec Moises Naim was referring to is Christophe de Margerie and he stated that the prediction of 12 million barrels was unrealistic ("crazy") and his quote was, "We know there's a potential to maybe reach 7 to 8 million barrels someday, and that alone would be a tremendous success." Last month, Ben Hall and Carola Hoyos (Financial Times of London) reported, "'Not being in Iraq, seems impossible,' he told the FT in a recent interview. But he insisted the financial terms Iraq was offering for fields that were included in its first bidding round earlier this year were 'less unattractive' but still too poor."  That link to a recent interview (October) is where the quote appears.
Anthony DiPaola and Maher Chmaytelli (Bloomberg News) report Shell Oil (Royal Dutch Shell) has been given the power "to develop the 12.6 billion barrels of oil reserves in Iraq's Majnoon field" beating out China National Petroleum Corporation and Total. Al Jazeera explains it's a joint-contract, a joint-'win' for Shell and Petronas Oil of Malasyia , while CNPC has been given the power to develop the Halfaya oilfield. Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) explains CNPC was in a consortium "with Petronas and France's Total" on that bid.   Missy Ryan and Ahmed Rasheed (Reuters) add, "Despite the anticipation, no one bid for one of the supergiants, the 8.1-billion barrel East Baghdad field, part of which lies under the sprawling Sadr City slum in the Iraqi capital. Baghdad is still wracked by periodic bombings and oil executives considered it unsafe to invest in the field." Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) reports, "Iraqi police and soldiers sealed off roads leading to the Oil Ministry, where the auction took place while [US] helicopters hovered overhead." If you are interested in details on the contracts, please read Jane and not another US outlet which appears confused as to what was bid on or, as they put it, "sold."  Meanwhile Ayla Jean Yackley (Reuters) reports that the Kurds are concerned the bidding has been rushed and that the issues of the hydrocarbon laws (never passed) and the disputed territories (oil-rich Kirkuk) should have been resoloved first. The KRG's Minister of Natural Resources, Ashti Hawrami, states, "Anything that is rushed in this manner is not in the interests of Iraq. It's rushed for political purposes." 
Moises Naim also noted the Ba'athists issue.  Ba'athists were expelled from the government following the start of the illegal war -- expelled by the US.  This was addressed yesterday in the Iraq Inquiry which is taking place in London and is chaired by John Chilcot.  Offering testimony was M16 head John Sawers -- John "SAWERS," not John "Sawyers" as I wrongly dictated yesterday -- that was my mistake and my apologies for the error.  Roderic Lyne is one of the committee members of the Inquiry. He asked Sawers about de-Ba'athification and other issues.
John Sawers: When I arrived in Baghdad on 8 May, one of the problems that ORHA were facing was that they had been undiscriminating in their Iraqi partners. They had taken, as their partners, the most senior figures in the military, in -- not in the military, sorry, in the ministries, in the police, in institutions like Baghdad University, who happened to be there. And in several of these instances, Baghdad University was one, the trade ministry was another, the health ministry, the foreign ministry, the Baghdad police -- the working level were in uproar because they were being obliged to work for the same Ba'athist masters who had tyrannised them under the Saddam regime, and tehy were refusing to cooperate on that basis. So I said, in my first significant report back to London, which I sent on the Sunday night, the day before Bremer came back, that there were a number of big issues that needed to be addressed. I listed five and one of those five was we needed a policy on which Ba'athists should be allowed to stay in their jobs and which should not. And there was already a debate going on among Iraqi political leaders about where the line should be drawn. So I flagged it up on the Sunday evening in my first report, which arrived on desks on Monday morning, on 11 May. When Bremer arrived late that evening, he and I had a first discussion, and one of the first things he said to me was that he needed to give clarity on de-Ba'athification. And he had some clear ideas on this and he would want to discuss it. So I reported again early the following monring that this was high on the Bremer's mind and I needed a steer as to what our policy was. I felt that there was, indeed, an important need for a policy on de-Ba'athifciation and that, of the various options that were being considered, some I felt, were more far-reaching than was necessary but I wasn't an expert on the Iraqi Ba'ath Party and I needed some guidance on this. I received some guidance the following day, which was helpful, and I used that as the basis for my discussion with Bremer -- I can't remember if it was the Wednesday or the Thursday that week but we had a meeting of -- Bremer and myself and our political teams, where this was discussed, and there was very strong support among the Iraqi political parties for quite a far-reaching de-Ba'athification policy.  At the meeting itself, I had concerted beforehand with Ryan Crocker, who was the senior American political adviser, and I said to him that my guidance was that we should limit the scope of de-Ba'athification to the top three levels of the Ba'ath Party, which included about 5,000 people, and that we thought going to the fourth level was a step too far, and it would involve another 25,000 or so Iraqis, which wasn't necessary.  And I thought Crocker was broadly sympathetic to that approach but at the meeting itself Bremer set out a strong case for including all four levels, ie the top 30,000 Ba'athists should be removed from their jobs, but there should be a policy in place for exemptions. I argued the alternative. Actually, unhelpfully, from my point of view, Ryan Crocker came in in strong support of the Bremer proposal, and I think he probably smelled the coffee and realised that this was a policy that had actually already been decided in Washington and there was no point getting on the wrong side of it. I was not aware of that at that stage and, in fact, it was only when I subsequently read the very thorough account by the Rand Corporation of these issues that I realised there had been an extensive exchange in -- between agencies in Washington.
Commitee Member Roderic Lyne: Just to pause on that, this crucial decision, not just to take the top 5,000, which probably was not a matter of argument, but to add 25,000, sweeping up a lot of professionals, teachers, doctors people like that, who had been obliged to become members of the Ba'ath parties, had been stiched up between agencies in Washington but without any consultation with the number 1 coalition partner, Britain, who were going to be vitally affected by that?
John Sawers: I cannot vouch for that because I wasn't in London, I wasn't involved in those exchanges.
Commitee Member Roderic Lyne: But you would have been aware of if we'd been (inaudible), somebody would have told you.
John Sawers: When I was doing my calls in London on the previous week, this was not an issue that had been raised with me. So I don't know in the embassy in Washington or people in Whitehall were plugged into the debate. I would just say, though, Sir Roderic, that we do need to keep this in context, that a lot of parallels are drawn about Iraq in 2003 with Germany in 1945, and I have to say that was the intellectual mindset that Bremer brought with him, there was a parallel with the reconstruction of Germany in 1945. In 1945, the Allies excluded 2.5 per cent of the German population from jobs because of their links with the Naxi party. What Bremer was proposing was excluding 0.1 per cent of the Iraqi population, ie 25 times fewer, proportionately, than was the case in Germany. And in that context he was looking for a policy of -- a scope for giving exemptions.
That was one of the key moments in yesterday's hearing (the Iraq Inquiry did not hold a public hearing today, they resume public testimony on Monday with five witnesses scheduled, Lt Gen John Kiszely, Lt Gen Robin Brims, Lt Gen Jonathon Riley and Gen Peter Wall). Michael Evans (Times of London) reports of Sawers' testimony, "He said that the de-Baathification programme and the disbandment of the Iraqi Army, which many critics claim triggered the Sunni insurgency, had been agreed in Washington -- apparently without prior consultation with Britain. Sir John said that the Government had supported plans to remove the top three tiers of the Baathist regime -- 5,000 officials -- but not the 25,000 lower-grade Iraqis on the fourth tier of the regime, many of whom were teachers. He told the inquiry that he had argued against the decision but that Paul Bremer, the US official in charge of the civilian effort in Iraq, ignored him." Con Couglin (Telegraph of London) emphasizes the exchange and provides context on the decision:
As the Chilcot inquiry heard yesterday from Sir John Sawers, the new head of MI6, who was in Iraq immediately after Saddam's overthrow, the "de-Baathification" policy implemented by the US-led coalition resulted in tens of thousands of Sunnis being thrown out of their jobs because of their support for Saddam's regime, and for his Baath political party. During the insurgency that followed, hundreds of thousands of Sunnis fled Baghdad and other areas to seek sanctuary in Syria. When Saddam was in power, there were an estimated five million Sunnis living in Baghdad. Today, that figure has declined to just a few hundred thousand: Baghdad is now a Shia city, where many prominent politicians are in the pay of their co-religionists in Iran.
Couglin also reminds readers of the benchmarks George W. Bush set with his 'surge' which did include de-de-Ba'athification. Benchmarks?  They're meaningless.  (Remember that as it relates to Afghanistan.)  They were never followed.  The White House benchmarks were supposed to take place by the end of 2007.  They didn't.  Then began the spin of "oh, we wanted progress on these benchmarks."  No.  Those benchmarks were how the Congress and the American people were supposed to be able to measure 'progress.'  There was not supposed to be, "Well, they moved a little towards this . . ."  Many of the benchmarks related to things the Iraqi Constitution already mandated.  They weren't met in 2007, they weren't met in 2008.  Coughlin feels they're forgotten by the Obama administration.  At the end of November, Steven Lee Myers showed the honesty that the GAO has refused to show when he wrote a thought piece for the New York Times (he's a reporter for the paper but the piece linked to is an opinion piece which appeared in the Sunday opinion section, the Week In Review). If you drop back to the September 16, 2008 snapshot, you can see US House Rep Lloyd Doggett grill Joseph Christoff of the GAO on the benchmarks.  Bremer started the de-Ba'athification process.  Ending it (parts of it) was a 2007 benchmark.  In January of 2008, Solomon Moore (New York Times) reported on the much-trumpeted 'progress' on that: the Parliament passed a law -- "a document riddled with loopholes and caveats to the point that some Sunni and Shiite officials say it could actually exclude more former Baathists than it lets back in -- particularly in the crucial security ministries that U.S. officials have called the key to their plans for eventual withdrawal from Iraq."  Back in November of 2004, Jon Lee Anderson (New Yorker) reported on some of the fallout from de-Ba'athification:
[Stephen] Browning recalled a meeting that he and other officials had with Bremer before the announcement. "Bremer walked in and announced his de-Baathification order. I said that we had established a good working relationship with technicians -- not senior-level people -- of the Baath Party, and I expressed my feeling that this measure could backfire. Bremer said that it was not open for discussion, that this was what was going to be done and his expectation was that we would carry it out. It was not a long meeting>'
The order had an immediate effect on Browning's work: "We had a lot of directors general of hospitals who were very good and, with de-Baathification, we lost them and their expertise overnight," he told me. At the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, which was another of his responsibilities, "we were left dealing with what seemed like the fifth string. . . . Nobody who was left knew anything."
The illegal war was both illegal and a disaster from the start.  Built on that, there was little chance that 'good' would bloom.  It did not.  Among the many bad decisions after the illegal war started was the decision to force out the Ba'athists.   
Today the US military announced: "CAMP VICTORY, Iraq -- A Multi-National Corps-Iraq Soldier died Dec. 10 from non-combat related injuries. Release of the identity of the Soldier is being withheld pending notification of the next of kin. The name of the deceased service member will be announced through the U.S. Department of Defense Official Web site at The announcements are made on the Web site no earlier than 24 hours after notification of the service member's primary next of kin. The incident is currently under investigation." The announcement brings to 4369 the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war.
In other reported violence today . . .
Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing which drew security forces to the site as a car bomb went off claiming the lives of 6 lives (2 police officers, 4 civilians) and leaving twenty-one people wounded and a Baghdad sticky bombing which injured a police captain.
Reuters notes a Kirkuk assualt on the Iraqi military in which 1 Iraqi soldier was injured.
Staying on the topic of violence, the UNHCR issued a release today based on the remarks of spokesperson Andrej Mahecic:
UNHCR is shocked and saddened by the recent bombings and continued violence in Iraq which have left hundreds dead and wounded this week.                 
Despite the efforts of the authorities, the security situation remains precarious. For this reason UNHCR's guidelines on Iraqis (last revised in April 2009) should continue to be applied and countries need to refrain from forcibly returning Iraqis originating from the region of Central Iraq back to those governorates deemed to be unsafe, namely -- Baghdad, Ninewa, Salah al Din, Diyala, Tameem (Kirkuk).            
In our guidelines issued last April, we noted that in view of the serious human rights violations and continuing security incidents throughout Iraq, most predominantly in the central governorates, asylum-seekers from these governorates should be considered to be in need of international protection. UNHCR therefore advises against involuntary returns to Iraq of persons originating from Central Iraq until there is a substantial improvement in the security and human rights situation in the country.                  
Concerning asylum-seekers from the three northern governorates, as well as those from the southern governorates and Al Anbar, UNHCR recommends that their protection needs are assessed on an individual basis.                              
While the number of security incidents has reduced many groups continue to face significant threats with UNHCR offices reporting that the numbers of Iraqi refugees returning are being offset by new arrivals.
The UN's alert comes as Niraj Warikoo (Detroit Free Press) reports, "At a forum featuring a senior State Department official, Iraqi-American Christians blasted the U.S. government for policies they said have devasted Iraq's minorities." The official, the loose grip on numbers Michael Corbin, was asked if the Iraq War had hurt Iraq's Christian population and he replied, "I can't answer that. Let's leave that to the historians."  Well, well, a Bush grows in the State Dept.  Corbin should have been fired a long time and if the DC press had half the spirit and guts the Detroit group did, Corbin would have been pressed for answers on any of his many lies regarding refugees. 
Iraq is not safe and while other nations attempt to use it as a dumping ground by forcibly sending refugees back to Iraq, look at how Nouri al-Maliki treats Iranian refugees in his country, specifically the residents of Camp Ashraf.  Amnesty International issued the following today:
The Iraqi authorities must not forcibly relocate about 3,400 members of an Iranian opposition group from a settlement north of Baghdad where they have lived since the mid-1980's, Amnesty International said on Friday. 

Sources have told Amnesty International that residents of Camp Ashraf, which is 60km north of Baghdad, have been given a deadline of 15 December 2009 to leave or they will be forcibly removed and relocated elsewhere in Iraq. Some may also be at risk of being forcibly returned to Iran.           

Camp Ashraf is home to over 3,000 members and supporters of the Iranian opposition group, the People's Mojaheddin Organization of Iran (PMOI). The group have been living there for more than 20 years  and it is now a small town with shops, medical and other facilities.          

"Whatever measures the Iraqi authorities decide to take with regard to the future of Camp Ashraf, the rights of all its residents must be protected and guaranteed at all times," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa programme at Amnesty International.        

"Further no Iranian national in Iraq who is at risk of serious human rights violations in Iran should be forcibly returned there." 

Government officials in Iraq have been quoted as saying plans are in place to forcibly remove people from the camp to other sites within Iraq in the coming days.     

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has reportedly announced that Camp Ashraf's residents will be moved to the southern province of Muthanna.            

Amnesty International fears that forced removals of the residents of Camp Ashraf would put them at risk of arbitrary arrest, torture or other forms of ill-treatment, and unlawful killing.                

Since mid-2008 the Iraqi government has repeatedly indicated that it wanted to close Camp Ashraf, and that its residents should leave Iraq or face being forcibly expelled from the country.       

On 28-29 July 2009 Iraqi security forces stormed the camp and at least nine residents were killed and many more injured. Another 36 who had been detained were reported to have been tortured and beaten. They were released on 7 October in poor health after maintaining a hunger strike throughout their period of detention. 

No investigations are known to have been carried out by the Iraqi authorities into their alleged torture and other ill-treatment or into allegations that Iraqi security forces used excessive, lethal force when taking control of Camp Ashraf last July.
Lastly on Iraq, Tom A. Peter (Christian Science Monitor) has an article on an important topic that we're noting at Third on Sunday (translation, Jim made me agree last night not to cover the topic here) so we'll just quote a section of Peter's article and probably hit on it again in Monday's snapshot.  He's covering the counter-insurgency (war on a native people) program:
Today the program enjoys a core of supporters, but it's done little to address the concerns of anthropologists and, now, rising military complaints that the program has slowed the growth of the military's ability to train culturally sensitive warriors. At a time when the military's ability to conduct counterinsurgency is vital to the success of its operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, determining the value of a program like HTS is increasingly important.
In Iraq and Afghanistan, US military leaders began placing increased importance on understanding local cultures and viewpoints as a critical component of their mission. The question for it is whether HTS helps or hurts that goal.
"I wish I could say I've seen something that made me feel better [about HTS], but I haven't," says Hugh Gusterson, a professor of anthropology and sociology at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., who has had concerns about the program since its inception.
Meanwhile Princess Tiny Meat has not ended the Iraq War.  Strangely, he picked up the Nobel Peace Prize this week and spoke of his Iraq plan -- his?  It's the Bush plan.  You would have thought, War Hawk to War Hawk, sisters under the skin, Barry O would have thanked George W. Bush in his acceptance speech. Cedric's "No one can figure it out" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! EVEN HE'S SHOCKED!" (joint-post), Rebecca's "barry disappoints," Marcia's "F**k Copenhagen and the Environmental movement" and Trina's "Look who's applauding" comment on the absurdity of awarding a War Hawk a peace prize.  (Marcia's actually got a more blistering post -- which no one in this community will disagree with.)   Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan was in Oslo and she spoke out. From her website, here's an excerpt of her speech:
This 'Peace Prize'to Obama was nothing but a slap in the face to people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine, Iran, North Korea, Colombia, Honduras, Venezuela and anywhere that Obama´s boot of Empire is crushing or threatening to crush.
This 'Peace Prize' is a slap in the fact to parents like myself whose child has been killed in the Bush/Obama wars, now approved of by 'Peace committees.'
This award was a slap in the face to us--we who have been sacrificing and struggling for true peace for years.
Yesterday KPFA's KPFA's Flashpoints Radio found Dennis Bernstein addressing the issue with Jody Williams and Kathy Kelly. Excerpt:
Dennis Bernstein: One more question I wanted to ask you. Barack Obama has turned to use Iraq as an example of an effective, successful war -- withdrawing to the country side -- as the model for Afghanistan, Pakistan. What goes through your mind when you hear that?

Kathy Kelly: I do think it's an obscenity, Dennis, to say to people in Iraq that we achieved a success in their country. We've devastated Iraqi society. What have they got? They don't have hospitals, they don't have schools, they don't have a middle class, they don't have electricity in many areas, they don't have much of a future for their children in terms of jobs and employment. Five million people have left the country. Families have been bereaved, millions have lost their lives in the combination of economic sanctions and the war. What have they got? They've got a 'surge'! I mean, you know, do we just say that they're 'lucky'? That the corruption is so high that we've basically been paying people not to attack the United States troops and are we to say that's a successful template that we're going to impose on Afghanistan? Are they then, the poorest country in the world, to be delighted that we've come over to give them bereavement, destruction, bloodshed and a quagmire of our troops being there? As a continuation of war, endless war, who benefits? I think we have to look at the security contractors, Kellogg Brown & Root, Blackwater, DynCorp, Triple Canopy and of course the big, the big weapon makers. These are the ones who are the beneficiaries of this war. But let's not act as though we're doing something kindly and humane for the poorest people in the world.
TV notes. Friday on most PBS stations (check local listings), NOW on PBS asks: "Why are we sending thousands of military personnel to Guam?"

Over the next five years, as many as 30,000 servicemembers and their families will descend on the small island of Guam, nearly tripling its presence there. It's part of a larger agreement that the U.S. signed with Japan to realign American forces in the Pacific, but how will this multi-billion dollar move impact the lives and lifestyle of Guam's nearly 180,000 residents? On Friday, December 11 at 8:30 pm (check local listings), NOW on PBS travels to the U.S. territory of Guam to find out whether their environment and infrastructure can support such a large
and quick infusion of people, and why the buildup is vital to our national security.

This Sunday the History Channel airs The People Speak, Anthony Arnove notes it's "the long awaited documentary film inspired by Howard Zinn's books A People's History of the United States and Voices of a People's History of the United States." It airs Sunday, December 13th at 8:00pm EST and 7:00 Central (8:00pm Pacific as well):

Using dramatic and musical performances of the letters, diaries and speeches of everyday Americans, the documentary feature film THE PEOPLE SPEAK gives voice to those who spoke up for social change throughout U.S. history, forging a nation from the bottom up with their insistence on equality and justice.

Narrated by acclaimed historian Howard Zinn and based on his best-selling books, A People's History of the United States and, with Anthony Arnove, Voices of a People's History, THE PEOPLE SPEAK illustrates the relevance of these passionate historical moments to our society today and reminds us never to take liberty for granted.

THE PEOPLE SPEAK is produced by Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, Chris Moore, Anthony Arnove, and Howard Zinn, co-directed by Moore, Arnove and Zinn, and features dramatic and musical performances by Allison Moorer, Benjamin Bratt, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Chris Robinson, Christina Kirk, Danny Glover, Darryl "DMC" McDaniels, David Strathairn, Don Cheadle, Eddie Vedder, Harris Yulin, Jasmine Guy, John Legend, Josh Brolin, Kathleen Chalfant, Kerry Washington, Lupe Fiasco, Marisa Tomei, Martín Espada, Matt Damon, Michael Ealy, Mike O'Malley, Morgan Freeman, Q'orianka Kilcher, Reg E. Cathey, Rich Robinson, Rosario Dawson, Sandra Oh, Staceyann Chin, and Viggo Mortensen.

Monday December 14th, ABC airs Jennifer Hudson: I'll Be Home for Christmas (8:00 to 9:00 pm EST, first hour of prime time). Academy Award and Grammy winner Jennifer Hudson's guest for her special is Michael Buble. Washington Week begins airing on many PBS stations tonight (and throughout the weekend, check local listings) and joining Gwen around the roundtable are Dan Balz (Washington Post), Janet Hook (Los Angeles Times), Eamon Javers (Politico) and Jeff Zeleny (New York Times). Meanwhile Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Kim Campbell, Melinda Henneberger, Eleanor Holmes Norton and Tara Setmayer to discuss the week's events on PBS' To The Contrary. Check local listings, on many stations, it begins airing tonight. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:

President Obama
In his first extensive interview since his speech announcing his troop build-up in Afghanistan, President Obama talks about his plans for Afghanistan and Pakistan, the economy and the creation of jobs and reacts to the breach in security at last week's White House state dinner. Steve Kroft reports.

Growing Body Parts
Morley Safer reports on the emerging technology of growing body parts from human cells taken directly from patients, providing new hope for amputees and patients on organ-transplant lists. | Watch Video

Ricky Gervais
Lesley Stahl profiles the man who created the hit television program "The Office," which has opened other doors to the stage and screen for the British comedian. | Watch Video

60 Minutes, Sunday, Dec. 13, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

Lastly independent journalist David Bacon explores working conditions in the US in

Ana Contreras would have been a competitor for the national tai kwon do championship team this year. She's 14. For six years she's gone to practice instead of birthday parties, giving up the friendships most teenagers live for. Then two months ago disaster struck. Her mother Dolores lost her job. The money for classes was gone, and not just that.
"I only bought clothes for her once a year, when my tax refund check came," Dolores Contreras explains. "Now she needs shoes, and I had to tell her we didn't have any money. I stopped the cable and the internet she needs for school. When my cell phone contract is up next month, I'll stop that too. I've never had enough money for a car, and now we've gone three months without paying the light bill."
Contreras shares her misery with eighteen hundred other families. All lost their jobs when their employer, American Apparel, fired them for lacking immigration status. {Her name was changed for this article.] She still has her letter from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), handed her two months ago by the company lawyer. It says the documents she provided when she was hired are no good, and without work authorization, her work life is over.
Of course, it's not really over. Contreras still has to keep working if she and her daughter are to eat and pay rent. So instead of a job that barely paid her bills, she had to find another one that won't even do that.
Contreras is a skilled sewing machine operator. She came to the U.S. thirteen years ago, after working many years in the garment factories of Tehuacan, Puebla. There companies like Levis make so many pairs of stonewashed jeans that the town's water has turned blue. In Los Angeles, Contreras hoped to find the money to send home for her sister's weekly dialysis treatments, and to pay the living and school expenses for four other siblings. For five years she moved from shop to shop. Like most garment workers, she didn't get paid for overtime, her paychecks were often short, and sometimes her employer disappeared overnight, owing weeks in back pay.

If that link doesn't work, try this one. David Bacon's latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which just won the CLR James Award. Bacon can be heard on KPFA's The Morning Show (over the airwaves in the Bay Area, streaming online) each Wednesday morning (begins airing at 7:00 am PST).