Monday, May 24, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces more deaths, as of today 4,400 US service members have died in Iraq (and don't look for the press to tell you how many of those deaths were announced after the "Change" president took over), the Iraq War continues to be an issue in England (someone let The Progressive know), an Iraqi politician is assassinated, and more.
Today the US military announced: "JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq -- One U.S. Soldier was killed Monday while conducting operations in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense. The names of service members are announced through the U.S. Department of Defense official website at http://www.defenselink.mil/releases/. The announcements are made on the Web site no earlier than 24 hours after notification of the service member's primary next of kind. The incident is under investigation." This is only one of the deaths announced since Friday. Saturday, the US military announced: "CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, Iraq -- A United States Division-North Soldier was killed Friday near Mosul. The name of service member is announced through the U.S. Department of Defense official website at http://www.defenselink.mil/releases/. 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 under investigation." There were two deaths announced on Saturday but they have still not fixed this at USF:
Which, as we noted Saturday, if you use the link, you'll see USF has linked to a September 2006 death announcement. They still have not fixed it. AP reports on the two deaths announced Saturday here. The three deaths bring the total number of US service members killed in Iraq to 4400. Barack Obama was sworn in as the US President on January 20, 2009 and, as noted in that day's snapshot, the death toll for US service members then stood at 4229. Other than the idiot Raed Jarrar, anyone still pretending the Super Model's a man of peace? 171 US service members have died in Iraq since Barack took the oath of office -- this alleged man of peace, this man who was allegedly going to end the Iraq War. 171 deaths. What a proud moment for War Hawk Obama.
Presumably the latest deaths are part of that "success" Howard LaFranchi (Christian Science Monitor) quoted Bush, er Barack, speaking of at West Point today. Will Inboden (Foreign Policy) observes of the speech:
President Obama's West Point speech on Saturday provides a great example of the structural continuities in American foreign policy. As president and commander-in-chief, Obama now embraces and owns policies that he previously eschewed. For example, after running his campaign denouncing the Iraq War and doubting the surge, he is now essentially declaring Iraq a victory ("this is what success looks like: an Iraq that provides no safe-haven to terrorists; a democratic Iraq that is sovereign, stable, and self-reliant.") After spending much of his first year in office downplaying if not ignoring democracy and human rights promotion, he is now making democracy and human rights promotion one of the four pillars of his national security strategy. After previously rhetorically distancing himself from American exceptionalism, he now says that a "fundamental part of our strategy is America's support for those universal rights that formed the creed of our founding."
The White House has posted Barack's idiotic speech -- one that implies he knows nothing about loyalty to country because he didn't attend West Point (hey, I'm not the moron that wrote it or the one that delivered it -- the point of the speech is that West Point taught them about America and love of country, something most Americans would argue their own families taught them long before they were teenagers). 171 US service members killed in Iraq since he took his oath of office and try to find that awareness in his idiotic ramblings.
While Super Model posed and preened before the cadets, World Can't Wait was outside the gates protesting. World Can't Wait's Debra Sweet offers a rebuttal to Barry O's claims that the Taliban was toppled and a new Afghanistan has 'hope' (apparently Barry O bottled some of his work out sweat and sent it over in soda bottles):
I contest every one of those statements, addressed as much to the world and the troops in Afghanistan and Iraq as to the graduating officers. See this youtube report from Channel 4 News in the UK: U.S. Trains, Backs Afghan Death Squads.
Bagram is the New Guantanamo....Except It's Worse. US Court Rules NO Habeas Rights
I can't say it better than Ken Theisen and Glen Greenwald said it after Friday's US Court of Appeals ruling that men detained by the U.S. in Bagram -- no matter where they were picked up from -- have no right to challenge their detention in U.S. courts.
Ken Theisen runs down the history and implications of the decision. The End of Habeas Corpus: This is "Justice" in Obama's America.
Tina Foster of the International Justice Network, who argued the plaintiff's case, and has traveled the world to find their familes, said that if the precedent set by Obama stands, "Obama and future presidents would have a free hand to 'kidnap people from other parts of the world and lock them away for the rest of their lives' without having to prove in court that their suspicions about such prisoners were accurate.
'The thing that is most disappointing for those of us who have been in the fight for this long is all of the people who used to be opposed to the idea of unlimited executive power during the Bush administration but now seem to have embraced it during this administration,' she said. 'We have to remember that Obama is not the last president of the United States.'"
Shawn Cohen (Lower Hudson Journal News) reports at least a hundred were present and protesting and:
The protesters included several Vietnam era activists and one former member of the U.S. Army, Matthew Chiroux, who gave a speech about his service in Afghanistan.
"I committed a crime when I went to Afghanistan," said Chiroux, who is 26 and from Brooklyn, calling Obama a war criminal. "I am done being a veteran. I am an insurgent for peace."
Barack is a War Criminal. And he's exactly like George W. Bush as he demonstrates every day. Ryan Jaroncyk (California Independent Voter) explains:
Following in the footsteps of George W. Bush, President Obama has requested another $33 billion of "emergency", off-budget spending on the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars.
As a presidential candidate, Obama often criticized President Bush's chronic use of supplemental war spending bills, which added to the national debt. In February 2009, President Obama told Congress, "For seven years, we have been a nation at war. We will no longer hide its price." In April 2009, Obama requested tens of billions more in supplemental funding for the wars, but wrote House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, "This is the last planned war supplemental."
That was the last supplemental. And he's going to pull troops out of Iraq. Tell us another one, Barry. Gregg Carlstrom (Al Jazeera) notes the obvious and possibly a damn breaks for others to address reality as well:
The US will almost certainly maintain a small long-term presence in Iraq - mostly troops serving in training roles - although Obama insists the vast majority of troops will be gone by 2012.
The withdrawal remains broadly popular in Iraq, and Iraqi politicians endorse the timetable in public. But Hussain said many are using different language in private.
"Iraqi forces are begging the US not to withdraw, begging them to stay in order to avoid chaos, because the institutions of the state are not ready as of yet.
"Many parties are asking the US not to be hasty, not to withdraw."
A longer occupation, of course, would require the US to renegotiate the so-called "status of forces agreement," the 2008 deal between the Bush administration and the Iraqi government.
Did you catch it? "Would require the US to regnegotiate the so-called 'status of forces agreement'"? Yes, it can be renegotiated. Fred Hiatt hints at that in the Washington Post but didn't have the guts to say it. Good for Gregg Carlstrom. For those late to the party, this community supports an immediate withdrawal of US forces from Iraq. That's not the point of the excerpt. The point is the SOFA is not "The war ends . . ." It's really astounding how pathetic Tom Hayden, for example, is since he allows that lie to take hold despite his historical knowledge of all the Paris Peace Talks. The SOFA was not a treaty to end the war. Treaties that end wars are highly specific about that aspect. The SOFA replaced the yearly UN mandate. It allowed the US to remain on Iraqi soil for three more years. It does not translate into US TROOPS MUST LEAVE. It is an agreement, a contract. It can be tossed aside, it can be extended. Those who insist it means the end of the Iraq War have never known what they were talking about.
March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The rules say that if no party or slate gets the needed 163 seats in Parliament needed to form the next government, the party or slate that gets the most seats has first shot at forming a power-sharing coalition. Iraqiya (led by Ayad Allawi) came in first with 91 seats. State Of Law came in second with 89 seats. Over the weekend, Leila Fadel (Washington Post) interviewed Nouri al-Maliki (current prime minister and State Of Law head) who stated, "If the government is formed in the wrong way, if it is formed by extremists Sunnis, who are present, or by extremist Shiites, who are also present, the sectarian violence will return and will wipe out everything we have already achieved. I say we should not bow to the pressures of time and make a big mistake." Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) notes that (and Ayad Allawi's meet up with Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani) and observes, "Curiously, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki reversed direction this week and now wants to slow the formation of the new government, citing fears of sectarian violence. Since the March election, Maliki has been using every method available to ensure another turn as Iraq's premier and shutting out the Sunnis." Which most likely means that this is what he's showing while he pulls some sleight of hand to be revealed later. Just as he spent forever loudly challenging the results of the election while secretly attempting to form an alliance, he's now saying that everyone should wait while he's most likely attempt to steam roll over anyone in his path. Alsumaria TV reports, "Head of Al Iraqiya List Iyad Allawi affirmed to Alsumaria News that he has proposed on Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki to hold a meeting together. While the meeting was due on Saturday, Allawi was informed by Al Maliki on Friday night of a request to put off the meeting." Maad Fayad and Huda Jassem (Asharq Alawsat Newspaper) report that the meeting is now postponed -- possibly for nearly two weeks -- and they note, "Other sources from the Iraqiya List attributed the postponement to what they described as hesitation on the part of the State of Law coalition. Moreover, the announcement comes one day after al Maliki stated that the State of Law coalition will keep the premiership. In other words, he will remain in his position as there are no other candidates for the premiership from that coalition." This as Lebanon's Daily Star editorializes, "What Iraq needs is leaders with more than a thirst to rule, but a thirst rectify the country's ills; leaders with a vision for their country rather than a vision for themselves. We have yet to see this from the current crop of politicians vying for power." Today the Washington Post provides a transcription, via K.I. Ibrahim, of sections of Fadel's interview with Nouri and will note this section:
[Leila Fadel] Why is it that every time there is an agreement to meet with former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, it is postponed?
[Nouri al-Maliki]: I said to them if the meeting is to take place it should be based on a certain program or a dialogue. They said, 'No, we only want a meeting and pictures.' In fact, I find that this has no benefit, but still I do not reject that. If any person wishes to visit me he would be welcome, but I feel the country is in need of a dialogue. Why are they refusing that and only want a visit and take some pictures? The road is still open, and I would welcome him and any delegation from Iraqiya. We have informed them if you come with a delegation for talks and negotiations you are welcome. Even if Dr. Allawi wanted to come and visit me, he is welcome. I have no enmity or estrangement with him.
I only want to say there were no dates which were revoked by me at all. No date was ever set, but they only talk of these in the media.
[Leila Fadel] He said that he asked for a meeting with you several times, but it did not happen?
[Nouri al-] Maliki: He wants this type of a meeting only for the sake of picture taking. His cousin was here. I said to him welcome, but what are we meeting for? He said we don't want a dialogue; we want only a meeting with pictures. Still we said you are welcome.
In other election news, Alsumaria TV is reporting that the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Defense have informed the Independent High Electoral Commission that two candidates are being disqualified -- Iraqiya's Abdullah Hassan Rashid Dakhil and the Iraqi National Alliance's Furat Mohsen Said Marzouk. Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) observes, "It did not appear that the latest developments would alter the preliminary results of the vote, which have remained more or less the same despite the flurry of legal challenges and political disputes since Election Day. March 7. Even so, it was not clear why the latest efforts to disqualify newly elected lawmakers came at what seemed to be the 11th hour of the certification process." Supposedly, the de-Ba'athification process is 'complete' in terms of the candidates (Ali al-Lami has announced that he Ahmed Chalabi will now focus on purging the ministries).
"When Paul Bremer, the occupation's first civil administrator issued the [de-Ba'athification] law in 2003," explained Jasim Azzawi on the latest Inside Iraq (Al Jazeera, began airing Friday), "he designed it to bar only the highest echelon of the defunct party but Ahmed Chalabi, the mastermind behind de-Ba'athification, wielded the infamous law as a political weapon to eliminate rivals, settle scores and carve a powerful political position for himself. The latest agreement did not erase the law permanently." So will it continue to pop up and be utilized to do away with enemies? That's the topic Azzawi discussed with guests Mowaffak al-Rubaie (secretary general of the centrist movement) and MP Mustafa al-Hiti.
Jassim Azzawi: Mowaffak al-Rubaie, let us start with a very simple question and that is: This latest agreement among Iraqi politicians to put an apparent end to this de-Ba'athification, is it a good decision or is it a bad? Would you say good riddance to de-Ba'athification or would you say Iraqi politicians committed a grave mistake.
Mowaffak al-Rubaie: I think de-Ba'athification is still alive and kicking but I believe what has been decided recently is a positive step forward. Now the concept of de-Ba'athifcation or better known as Justice and Accountability legislation, this concept is driven or derived from de-Nazification and it is not an American concept please it is not a Jerry Bremer concept. This is a concept we've been discussing since 2001 and 2002 and when we were in the opposition we were reading about the de-Nazification and we made sure that this is not going to be perceived and wrongly understood that this is going to be de-Sunnifcation or to purge all the Sunnis or all the Ba'athists or the Ba'athist as individual. What we need to do is we need to avoid using the de-Ba'athification -- or the Justice and Accountability law -- to use it to settle political scores between different political parties.
Jassim Azzawi: We shall come to that. For the time being, let me ask the same question to Mustafa al-Hiti. Did they make a big mistake or was it a positive step?
Mustafa al-Hiti: We have to differentiate between two terminology: de-Ba'athification and Justice and Accountability. What's going on now in Iraq is a de-Ba'athifciation although the
law name is or the recent name is Justice and Accountability. If you have elements of Justice and Accountability to be applied to the law, there is nothing inside the law which really means it is not Accountability and Justice -- it is far away from that, even it is far from the Constitution. If you go to Clause 135 for the Constitution, point five and six, you will find it is more fair and more compatible with the term Justice and Accountability rather than de-Ba'athification and the law.
Jassim Azzawi: I noticed Mowaffak al-Rubaie used 'this is a positive step.' He neither said Iraqi politicians committed a big mistake by putting an end to this de-Ba'athification nor did he say 'good riddence to this law'. You kind of sat the fence. You're not willing, Mowaffak al-Rubaie, to say that this law is bad or this agreement is good.
Mowaffak al-Rubaie: Jasim, let me tell you something. Or tell your viewers something. This Justice and Accountability legislation was approved, discussed, and approved by the Council of Representatives, by the Parliament, and it was the outcome of a very difficult discussion and negotiation which were the Sunni bloc, if you like, eh-eh-eh and the Shia blocs and the Kurds bloc in the Parliament, they came to this compromise which is Justice and Accountability. Now whether it is just or injust, that's a -- that's a -- now it is a legal issue.
Really? Is that how we're pretending it went down? Nouri had signed off on the White House's benchmarks which included "Enact and implement legislation on de-Ba'athifcation reform." Nouri, yet again, had no functioning government. Massive walk outs. (And this is the man who wants to remain prime minister?) Forced to prove some 'success' to keep US tax dollars flowing into him, Nouri's cronies pushed through a laughable law, one that, when passed (January 2008) Fareed Zakaria (Newsweek) noted:
The national reconciliation that Iraqi politicians promised has not occurred. Some movement has taken place on sharing oil revenue but on almost nothing else. The complicated new law on de-Baathification has been, in the words of a senior Iraqi official, "a big mess, perhaps worse than if we had done nothing." The non-Kurdish parts of the country remain utterly dysfunctional, and chaos and warlordism are growing in the south. Of the 2.5 million Iraqis who have fled the country, a trickle -- a few thousand -- have returned home.
The vote took place January 12, 2008 and wasn't the love-in Mowaffak al-Rubaie tries to pretend. There were 275 members of the Parliament. How many voted for it? 90. (Most of the Parliament chose to sit out that day with 143 bing the number present for the vote.) Analyzing the law for the New York Times (Jan. 14, 2008), Solomon Moore noted "troubling questions -- and troubling silences -- about the measure's actual effects," "confusing and controversial, a document riddled with loopholes and caveats." The Center for American Progress offered, "This new legislation is meant to allow many of these former Ba'athists party members to return to government work or begin receiving pensions. However, the controversial legislation, passed with the support of less than a third of Iraq's members of parliament on a day when the body barely achieved a quorum, has received significant criticism from former Ba'athists and some Sunni groups. [. . .] At the surface level the Justice and Accountability Legislation appears to be a step in the right direction, but a closer reading reveals that it is riddled with considerable loopholes. More than a dozen Iraqi lawmakers, U.S. officials, and former Baathists here and in exile expressed concern in interviews that the law could set off a new purge of ex-Baathists, the opposite of U.S. hopes for the legislation."
In a sign of how little has been 'resolved,' Iraqiya MP Bashar Hamid Agaidi is dead. AFP reports the the 32-year-old was shot outside his Mosul home. Leila Fadel and Jinan Hussein (Washington Post) add, "Agaidi was in his car outside his home Monday evening when three men drove by in a Mercedes. One emerged through the sunroof and gunned down Agaidi, Capt. Suheil al-Karaghouli of the Mosul police said. Agaidi, an engineer and the head of a local student and youth organization, died from his wounds while being treated at a hospital." Jamal al-Badrani (Reuters) quotes Sunni Osama al-Nujaifi stating, "Iraqiya now is the target for the terrorist powers and unfortunately for the government also. There must be a way to protect Iraqiya." Ben Lando (Wall St. Journal) muses, "It isn't clear exactly how the killing might affect the political horse-trading now taking place among Iraq's various political blocs in the run-up to forming a new government. Mr. Lagaidi would likely be replaced in parliament by another member of his slate."
In other violence, Reuters notes two Ramadi bombs targeting the home "of a seinor police officer" which injured four family members and claimed the life of 1 guard, two more Ramadi bombings targeting police officer homes, a Mosul roadside bombing which injured a woman, a Mosul roadside bombing which injured two Iraqi service members, a Mosul home invasion in which 1 "elderly woman" was killed and 1 person shot dead in Mosul.
In other news, Martin Chulov (Guardian) reports that increased violence in Iraq (violence began visibly increasing on a monthly basis beginning in February) is being blamed on the release of prisoners from US prisons in Iraq. Chulov seems confused -- as do his Iraqi sources. The US release just puts the prisoners into the Iraqi system. If the Iraqi authorities feel people are being wrongly released, they are free to accept transfer of them and retain them as prisoners. In other words, it appears Iraq's found yet another way to play the blame game which absolves their own culpability and responsibility. Thomas Erdbrink and Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported Saturday on two Iranians who had been held in US prisons but were turned over to Iran . . . on Nouri al-Maliki's say so. AFP notes that the two were Ahmed Barazandeh and Ali Abdulmaliki and quotes an anonymous Iranian diplomat stating, "Two Iranians have been freed by the Americans after co-operation with the office of the prime minister (Nuri al-Maliki) and the Iranian embassy."
In England, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown (Independent of London) calls out Ed Balls and Ed Miliband who are supposedly vying for the leadership post in the Labour Party and who are making statements regarding the Iraq War being wrong (Ed Balls more so than Ed Miliband), "Too little, too late for the dead, maimed, gas-poisoned Iraqi victims of our savage adventure, too presumptuous." As noted in Friday's snapshot, the dueling Eds are getting attention as well as criticism. Middle East Online notes other criticism:
But rival candidate John McDonnell, who opposed the war from the outset, said their "conversion" was far too late.
McDonnel said many lives could have been saved had they had the "courage" to speak out against the war at the time, but he urged the pair to join him in a call for the immediate withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.
"Others have said [their remarks] smacks of opportunism because of the leadership election but I want to say to them is we have got another war now and it's Afghanistan," McDonnel said.
Miliband and Balls were not MPs when the decision to invade Iraq was made.
Are you beginning to get why Rebecca called out a know-nothing gas bag who insisted the Iraq War was unimportant to England today? Along with criticism of Labour comes advice such as this offered by Bryan Gould (Guardian):, "This is not just a matter of acknowledging the mistakes that, in the end, disqualified Labour from re-election, though those failures -- the shocking invasion of Iraq, the sickening subservience to the City, the 'intense relaxation' about widening inequality, the complicity in torture -- must be repudiated." George Eaton (New Statesman) offers a factoid while attempting to handicap the horse race. I will repeat that Ed Miliband is attempting to wall off Ed Balls and is not making a serious critique -- is intentionally not making a serious critique.
It remains an issue in England and, yes, a Progressive columnist got it grossly wrong. In better news for The Progressive, Cindy Sheehan is Matthew Rothschild's guest on this week's Progressive Radio Show.
And we'll close with this from Sherwood Ross' "Pentagon Contractor Profits Rise -- Along With Casualties" (Pacific Free Press):
The fighting in Afghanistan this week has resulted in the deaths of Canadian Colonel Geoff Parker, 42, of Oakville, Ontario, and U.S. Colonel John McHugh, 46, of W. Caldwell, New Jersey. It also claimed the lives of Lieutenant Colonels Paul Bartz, 43, of Waterloo, Wis., and Thomas Belkofer, 44, of Perrysburg, Ohio. Other fatalities were Staff Sgt. Richard Tieman, 28, of Waynesboro, Pa., and Specialist Joshua Tomlinson, 24, of Dubberly, La.
The four officers were killed in Kabul, The New York Times reported May 21, when "A suicide bomber in a minibus drove into their convoy (of armored sports utility vehicles), killing the four officers, two other American servicemen and 12 Afghan civilians in a passing bus." The total number of U.S. service member deaths since the U.S. invaded Afghanistan eight years ago now stands at 1,064. The number of contractors killed in the fighting has been put at around 300. And in 2008 alone it is estimated that nearly 4,000 Afghan civilians perished.
This writer deeply regrets each and every one of those deaths, especially those of the 12 innocent Afghan civilians this week. They likely would all be alive today if President George W. Bush had not chosen to invade a country that never attacked America and which the U.S. oil industry has long coveted for a pipeline route. They would be alive if President Barack Obama had withdrawn U.S. troops. Instead, he has escalated the conflict and increased "defense" spending to a record $708 billion for fiscal 2011 -- a step which will only make the U.S. military-industrial complex(MIC) more powerful. For those associated with MIC, however, "defense" spending means jobs and prosperity.
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