Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Iraq snapshot

Tuesday, October 12, 2010.  Chaos and violence continue, some faux 'leaders' take Iraq details and pass them off as Afghanistan ones to avoid addressing the ongoing Iraq War, Don't Ask Don't Tell gets an injunction, the political stalemate continues, Iraq's regional neighbors circle, and more.
Well look who crawled out from under his rock, Pockmarks On His Soul Tom Hayden.  Tom's suddenly interested in wars again which can only mean one thing: Bob Woodward's new book will be one of the top five best sellers of the year.  So Tom shows up at The Nation to write, "Only public opinion and a forceful Congressional bloc can accelerate Obama's slow transition out of Afghanistan."   What a brave and helpful little soul.  Is there a rest home for useless?  Tom wants to show up and immediately cast himself in a leadership role (Boomer White Male Entitlement) and tell us all how the Afghanistan War can be stopped . . . but note how he says nothing about the ongoing Iraq War.  That's because the old fool had plenty of advice there and none of that worked out either.   In fact, people did what Tom Hayden told them to do, they mobilized opinion against the Iraq War (actually they did that before Tom started saying it needed to be done), they gave Democrats both houses of Congress and the White House. Yet the Iraq War goes on.  And instead of apologizing -- let alone calling out the elected Democrats -- Tom Hayden thinks he can brush it all under a rug, pretend like the Iraq War doesn't stil go on and tell us how it's going to be?  Tom Hayden sit your ass down.  No one needs to hear from you, Pock Marks.  No one.
Your bravado is embarrassing.  Your silence on Iraq shameful.  Just sit your tired ass down because no one needed to hear from you since those who can't take accountability cannot be trusted.
The Washington Post is currently doing an unofficial survey, "The Cost of War: Are Americans disconnected from the country's wars?" Obviously, Tom Hayden is.
And while "Tom Hayden Democrats"  (Barack's slur if Tom-Tom has a problem with it) express selective outrage about selective wars, libertarian Brian Irving (Nolan Chart) speaks with Libertarian presidential candidate R. Lee Wrights who states, "Most Americans are untouched by the war, other than having to endure invasions of their civil liberties when they try to get on an airplane.  During the Vietnam war, the anti-war movement was galvanized by the images of death and destruction on their television screens.  Sadly, today Americans are either numb or indifferent to very similar images coming out of Iraq and Afghanistan." 
Numb or indifferent?  Tom Hayden's the latter.  Completely indifferent.  By their actions, they will reveal themselves; by their lies, you will know them.
Doubt it? To grasp the truth on Tom, we need to turn to  Bradley Manning. Monday April 5th, WikiLeaks released US military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Monday June 7th, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video. This month, the military charged Manning. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported in August that Manning had been charged -- "two charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The first encompasses four counts of violating Army regulations by transferring classified information to his personal computer between November and May and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system. The second comprises eight counts of violating federal laws governing the handling of classified information." Manning has been convicted in the public square despite the fact that he's been convicted in no state and has made no public statements -- despite any claims otherwise, he has made no public statements. Manning is now in Virginia, under military lock and key and still not allowed to speak to the press.  The Bradley Manning Support Network notes that today is day 139 of imprisonment for Bradley.  They recap the video he is charged with releasing:
The video, available at www.collateralmurder.com, shows Americans shooting and killing 11 individuals who do not return fire. Two of those killed were Reuters' employees, including 22 year old Reuters' photojournalist Namir Noor-Eldeen and his driver, 40 year old Saeed Chmagh.   
The video includes an audio recording of the internal commentary by the American soldiers before, during and after the shooting. The soldiers repeatedly request and are granted permission to open fire, encourage one another and joke about the dead and dying civilians. (Full transcript available here)   
A total of 11 adults were killed. Two children, passengers in a van that arrived on the scene after the first bout of gunfire had ceased, were seriously injured when the Apache helicopter opened fire on their van.  
In 2007, Reuters called for an investigation into the attack. In response, a spokesman for the multinational forces in Baghdad stated: "There is no question that coalition forces were clearly engaged in combat operations against a hostile force."   
Read the Army's report on the death's of two Reuter's employees and the wounding of the two children.  
There was no investigation of the nine other deaths. 
No charges have been filed against the American soldiers in the Apache helicopter who shot and killed the civilians in the video.
A slaughter in Iraq, captured on video is released and where's the leader of the "Tom Hayden Democrats"?  Penning a piece of garbage for The Nation entitled "Despite WikiLeaks Revelations, Congress Votes for War Funding" (July 28, 2010).  By their actions, you will know them; by their LIES, they will reveal themselves.  In that column -- linked to, read it an see -- Tom-Tom bemoans a Congressional vote.
Never was the case so weak for throwing another $33 billion into the Afghanistan sinkhole, but that's what a defensive US Congress did anyway on Tuesday evening. The vote was 308-114, with Republicans supplying most of the prowar votes.
Let's fact check the whore.  New York Times, Carl Hulse and Jackie Calme reporting on that House vote the day it went down, "The House on Tuesday approved and sent to President Obama an overdue measure to pay for combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq [. . .]".  Get it?  The moneys went to fund the ongoing was in Iraq and Afghanistan but the whore Tom Hayden deliberately lied to Nation readers.  Deliberately?  Read the entire damn article and watch Tom Hayden take one Iraq detail after another and transpose it to Afghanistan.  For example, read this section and try not to laugh at Tom for being such a transparent whore:
The Pentagon also is seeking to muzzle and imprison the American Private First Class Bradley Manning, 22, charged with downloading the documents and sending them to Assange.
What was Bradley charged with?  Chris McGreal (Guardian) reported:
A US army intelligence analyst was today charged with leaking a highly classified video of American forces killing unarmed civilians in Baghdad and secret diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks.     
Private Bradley Manning, who had a top-secret security clearance, has been held in military custody in Kuwait since his arrest in Iraq in May over the video, which caused great embarrassment to the US military establishment. It showed an air strike that killed a dozen people, including two Iraqis working for Reuters news agency. The air crew is heard falsely claiming to have encountered a firefight in Baghdad and then laughing at the dead. WikiLeaks gave the video the title Collateral Murder.
R. Lee Wrights stated, "Most Americans are untouched by the war, other than having to endure invasions of their civil liberties when they try to get on an airplane.  During the Vietnam war, the anti-war movement was galvanized by the images of death and destruction on their television screens.  Sadly, today Americans are either numb or indifferent to very similar images coming out of Iraq and Afghanistan."  What happens with WikLeaks?  Video of an Iraqi slaughter is ignored by Tom Hayden in real time and then, three months later, he uses revisionary tactics to make it about Afghanistan.
That's disgusting and it dishonors the Iraqi dead.  Tom Hayden's filth needs to be called out, not published by The Nation magazine. Look it, we all get it.  Tired and ugly Tom whored for Barack like no one else in 2007 and 2008.  He trashed bi-racials in order to do so (that 2008 'joke' was offensive and he's very lucky that only California papers picked up on it), he trashed the truth.  Tom-Tom was forever going to hold Barack's feet to the fire but never did.  He did manage to threaten violence in Denver if Barack didn't get the nomination -- poor Tom-Tom, that's the same video footage that features him FORCING his female assistant to stand in front of the camera and twirl around to show how 'pretty' she is, always the sexual harasser -- and he did manage to pimp the lie that Barack would pull all US troops out of Iraq ten months after being sworn in.  None of that came to pass, now did it?  So the little whore tries to ignore Iraq instead of taking accountability.
As the cry goes: No accountability, no justice.  It's past time that faux activists like Tom Hayden were called out.  A sexual aggressor who makes his young female assistant 'pose' for news cameras should have been more than in 2008 but he got a pass.  Now he gets a pass for taking the pain and suffering of Iraqis and transposing it on Afghanistan.  Tom Hayden is the reason that the Iraq War continues -- the inability of those opposed to the wars to hold people like him accountable, to let them continue to think they're 'leading lights' of the peace movement, to refuse to shout him down.  Until the movement finds the strength to check Tom, it's not going anywhere.  But he will continue to attempt to play the face of the movement before the cameras.
The Mid-Missouri Fellowship of Reconciliation's Jeff Stack demonstrates (at the Columbia Tribune) that straight talk isn't impossible:
We should promptly and completely end the U.S. occupations/wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and immediately end the drone attacks in central Asia, recognizing these as good first steps toward making our nation and world safer, healthier and more stable economically.
Nine years ago last Thursday, the United States initiated war in Afghanistan with its bombing campaign, now morphed into an occupation in the midst of a civil war.  Congress abdicated its constitutional charge the following year on Oct. 10, 2003, "authorizing" President George W. Bush to invade Iraq -- home to, not coincidentally, then the world's second-largest known oil reserves. 
The toll from these U.S. interventions is staggering. More than a million Iraqis have been killed (300,000 by U.S. troops, the rest through sectarian violence), according to the British medical journal Lancet. Tens of thousands of Afghans have died.
The Iraq War continues.   Vatican Radio reports:
The Synod of Bishops for the Middle East drew attention to Iraq on Tuesday, demanding an end to the conflict.    
The Synod Fathers gave interventions in the presence of Pope Benedict XVI, and said dialogue is needed for peace and stability in Iraq.    
Attention was also drawn to the exodus of Christians from the country, with the bishops saying Christians do not want to leave, but need to be able to live in peace and freedom.

Meanwhile Chan Lowe (Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel) reposts a five-year-old cartoon on Iraqi security forces which doesn't seem all that out of date today. NYU adjunct professor Patricia DeGennaro visits Iraq and reports at Hurriyet Daily News:
Everywhere I traveled I was escorted, usually in armored vehicles wearing the necessary bulletproof vest and Kevlar helmet. It was clear that security was still tenuous. My conversations with Iraqi provincial leaders confirmed that they too are apprehensive about what will happen when the U.S. withdraws. Many provincial governors I spoke to want the U.S. to stay. They fear the Iraqi military is still not capable of providing security against external influences. While the governors did not seem to be very worried about Al Qaeda, which they see as weak, they are concerned about "the militias.'
Most Iraqis fear the rising groups of militias who terrorize communities and prevent progress in governance. These groups, both Shiite and Sunni, are at the heart of the continued violence across the country. The Sunni militias, most notably the Sahwa, also known as the Awakening Councils or Sons of Iraq, who were directly supported by the U.S. military during the surge, now feel neglected by their benefactors and focus on challenging a weak Shiite led government by exploiting the country's inability to provide basic protections to its citizens. Shiite militias like the Badr Organization and the Mehdi Army are known to fight to protect the government. Both are feared by Iraqis trying to work toward a stable and normal life.
She pinpoints one influence on the increase in violence due as being the inability to form a government (and she points out that when one is formed, the US and Iraq can renegotiate the Status Of Forces Agreement).  The political stalemate . . .
March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board noted last month, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality." 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. They are claiming they have the right to form the government. In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. It's seven months and five days and counting.

Jason Ditz (Antiwar.com) reports that the pact between Nouri and Moqtada al-Sadr has led to some objections within Iraq where some see al-Sadr as a criminal and outside the country where some neighbors will object due to the influence or perceived influence of Iran the pact indicates.  Phil Sands (National Newspaper) reports on the meet-up between Syria's President Bashar Assad and Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Damascus yesterday where the two publicly "expressed concern [. . .] over Iraq's extended political crisis" and they warned against a government that excluded Iraq's Sunnis. They also bonded over mutual dislike for the Kurdish rebel group PKK. Xinhua (link has text and audio) quotes Erdogan stating, "Turkey is in close cooperation with the groups in Iraq and their leaders as it was a country sharing agony and happiness with Iraq.  We will try to help if they ask us to.  The failure in the establishment of a new government in Iraq and the continuation of uncertainties make not only Iraqi people but also surrounding countries uneasy."   Today's Zaman quotes the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council's Ammar al-Hakim stating on Sunday, "Turkey has played a constructive role in the last seven months."  al-Hakim is part of the Iraqi National Alliance and has not yet publicly gotten on board with Nouri.  AFP reports Nouri is set to visit Syria tomorrow to speak with Bashar al-Assad and they note the "year-long spat" between the countries.  The "spat" stems from Nouri's public, verbal attacks on Syria and the Syrian government and his demands that the same country that gave him asylum and refused to turn him over to Saddam Hussein should now turn over Iraqis just on Nouri's say so.  Jim Muir (BBC News -- link has video) exsees the Kurds as
Jim Muir: Less than 20 years ago the Kurds of Iraq were a broken people fleeing into the mountains from the wrath of Saddam Hussein now they run their own affairs in their autonomous region in the north.  It's much more prosperous and peaceful here than other parts of Iraq. But they also have a big slice of the power in Baghdad.  The President [Jalal Talabani] and the Foreign Minister [Hoshyar Zebari] are among Kurds with top Iraqi jobs.  In the marathon, byzantine negotiations that have been going on here for more than seven months, it's the Kurds above all who are being wooed by the main contenders.
Political analyst Salam Smeisem: They will say who will be the prime minister because, as you can say, their weight in the balance.  It's very important.  Now it's their role, the Kurds role to choose.
Jim Muir: So they will choose the prime minister?
Political analyst Salam Smeisem: Yes.
One issue dear to the Kurds is the resolution of who has claims to the oil-rich Kirkuk. Kurds note that Saddam Hussein drove them out of the region and Arab-ized it.  The central government or 'government' in Baghdad, however, claims they have rights to it.  Iraq's Constitution mandated that a census be held followed by a referendum.  That was supposed to take place in 2007.  Nouri al-Maliki, installed as prime minister in April 2006, has repeatedly refused to hold that census.  The International Crisis Group's Joost Hiltermann sees Nouri's latest delay as a good thing, writing at Foreign Policy:
One of the silent victims of Iraq's political paralysis has been the country's long-delayed census. On Oct. 3, the census was postponed for the third time since 2007, when the cabinet pushed it back from Oct. 24 to Dec. 5. The main reason for the latest delay was the concern of some Iraqi politicians, neighboring states such as Turkey, and the United States that going ahead with the census now could just foment unrest in the disputed territories that border the federal Kurdistan region in northern Iraq.
Given the current configuration of the census, however, a delay is not such a bad thing. If anything, Iraq's caretaker government should give serious consideration to delaying the census even further, until the new government can correct its flaws and turn it into something that will be truly useful for the whole country.
The Iraqi census stands to play a critical role in the country's development. Its data will help in drawing electoral districts, allocating funds, projecting future population growth, and planning education, public health, housing, transportation, and other essential elements of a well-regulated state. Particularly in Iraq, which has witnessed several false starts in reconstruction following the 2003 invasion, having accurate socioeconomic data will be indispensable to sound economic planning.
But there's reason to believe that this census, as it is currently designed, will polarize rather than unify Iraqi society. The problem lies in a question that asks Iraqis to define their ethnicity, aiming to get a sense of how big the country's various ethnic groups are. Although such a question will no doubt provide interesting information for academics and analysts, it is not in Iraq's national interest and risks destabilizing some of Iraq's most sensitive hot spots.
Mustafa Mahmoud (Reuters) reports that the delay is only increasing tensions, "Turf battles and tensions between Arabs and Kurds are resurfacing in oil-rich Kirkuk as Iraq's central government delays a national census that was supposed to help resolve long-standing disputes in restive areas of northern Iraq."  There are reports of Arabs being threatened with death if they don't leave the region.  Reuters also  notes that today's violence includes attacks on security checkpoints in Baghdad which resulted in the death of 1 Iraqi soldier with six more injured, 1 civilian was shot dead ("by mistake") by Iraqi forces in Mosul and a Mosul roadside bombing left two Iraqi service members injured.
Turning to the US, at Firedoglake, Teddy Partridge reports on how a DCCC fundraiser denied Iraq War veteran and one-time Democratic Congressional Candidate Anthony Woods' admission, returning his $5,000 fee to the event. Why was he blocked from attending? Because he's gay and apparently Barack can't be at an event with gay people. The homophobic president of the United States and his team feared Anthony might dare to ask about Don't Ask, Don't Tell -- the policy Barack pledged to overturn as a candidate but now states demands and requires multiple surveys and studies before it might get addressed.  Related news, Ed O'Keefe (Washington Post) reports that US Federal District Judge Virginia A. Phillips "has issued an injunction" on the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy which has been used to throw gays and lesbians out of the military: "Her ruling bars the Pentagon from enforcing or applying the policy and orders the military to immediately suspend and discontinue any investigations, discharges or other proceedings related to potential violations of the law."
I'm not endorsing anyone running for the US Congress.  David Swanson (of War Is A Crime) says the following 98 candidates "are opposing any more funding for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq:"

Candidates for U.S. House of Representatives:
Ken Adler, AR-01, Batesville, Green | Statement
Nick Coons, AZ-05, Tempe/Scottsdale, Libertarian | Statement
Rebecca Schneider, AZ-06, Phoenix, Democrat
Richard Grayson, AZ-06, Apache Junction, Green | Statement
Carol Wolman, CA-01, northwest corner, Green
Clint Curtis CA-04, northeast corner, Democrat | Statement
Ben Emery CA-04, Nevada City, Green
Eugene E Ruyle, CA-06, Marin/Sonoma, Peace and Freedom | Statement
John Dennis, CA-08, San Francisco, Republican
Larry Allen, CA-09, Oakland, Peace and Freedom Party | Statement
Dave Heller, CA 09, Berkeley, Green |
Jeremy Cloward, CA-10, Pleasant Hill, Green | Statement
Mark Williams, CA-12, San Carlos, Libertarian
Mary V. Larkin, CA-17, Monterey, Libertarian | Statement
Les Marsden, CA-19, Yosemite/Mariposa, Democrat | Statement
Randall Weissbuch, CA-26, Arcadia, Libertarian
Richard R. Castaldo, CA-30, Peace and Freedom Party
Marcy Winograd, CA-36, Los Angeles, Democrat | Video
William Hedrick, CA-44, Riverside/San Clemente, Democrat | Video
Ken Arnold, CA-46, Orange and L.A., Democrat | Statement
Mike Paster, CA-49, Fallbrook, Libertarian
Tracy Emblem, CA-50, San Diego, Democrat | Statement
Michael Benoit, CA-52, San Diego, Libertarian
Lisa Ann Green, CA-53, Venice, Green
Gary Swing, CO-01, Denver, Green | Statement
Jerell Klaver, CO-05, Manitou Springs, Libertarian |
G. Scott Deshefy, CT-02, New London, Green
Doug Tudor, FL-12, Riverview et al, Democrat
Marleine Bastien, FL-17, North Miami, Democrat
Regina Thomas, GA-12, Savannah, Democrat
Laurel Lambert Schmidt, IL-03, Riverside, Green
Rob Burns
, IL-04, Green
Matt Reichel, IL-05, Chicago, Green
Bill Scheurer, IL-08, Lindenhurst, Green / Independent
Simon Ribeiro, IL-09, Evanston, Green | Statement
Rodger Jennings, IL-12, Alton, Green
Doug Marks, IL-14, Carpentersville, Libertarian | Statement
David Gill, IL-15, Democrat
Sheldon Schafer, IL-18, Peoria, Green
John Duncan, IN-04, Libertarian | Statement
John Wayne Cunningham, IN-08, Terre Haute, Libertarian | Statement
James E. "Jim" Holbert, KY-05, London, Democrat | Statement
Philip Dunkelbarger, MA-09, Westwood, Independent | Statement
Peter White, MA-10, Cape Cod, Independent
Charlie Shick, MI-03, Wyoming, Green
Anna Janek, MI-09, West Bloomfield, Republican
Julia Williams, MI-12, Fraser, Green
Diana Longrie, MN-04, Democrat |
Michael Cavlan, MN-05, Minneapolis, Independent Progressive |
Kevin Craig, MO-07, Springfield, Libertarian
William OBrien, MO-09, Mexico, Libertarian |
Thomas Hill, NC-08, Fayetteville, Libertarian
Lon Cecil, NC-12, High Point, Libertarian
Steven Welzer, NJ-04, East Windsor, Green | Statement
Anthony Gronowicz, NY-07, New York City, Green
Jonathan Tasini, NY-15, New York City, Democrat | Statement | Video
Emin Eddie Egriu, NY-28, Buffalo, Democrat
Marc Johnston, OH-02, Blue Ash, Libertarian | Statement
Chris Henry, OR-01, Portland, Green
Michael Meo, OR-03, Portland, Green | Statement
Chris Lugo, OR-05, Oregon City, Green | Statement
Ebert G. Beeman, PA-03, Lake Erie, Libertarian |
Vernon Etzel, PA-05, Oil City, Libertarian
Ed Bortz, PA-14, Pittsburgh, Green | Statement
Jake Towne, PA-15, Nazareth, Independent | Statement
David Segal, RI-01, Providence, Democrat
Robert A. Dobbs, SC-01, Myrtle Beach, Green | Statement
Eric Schechter, TN-05, Nashville, Democrat
Christopher J. Claytor, TX-03, Plano, Libertarian | Statement
James Arthur Strohm, TX-21, Austin/San Antonio/Kerrville, Libertarian | Statement
Steve Susman, TX-22, Houston, Libertarian | Statement
Martin Nitschke, TX-23, El Paso to San Antonio, Libertarian | Statement
John Jay Myers, TX-32, Dallas, Libertarian | Statement
Claudia Wright, UT-02, Salt Lake City, Democrat
Gail Parker, VA-01, Independent Green
John Kelly, VA-03, Independent Green
Janet Murphy, VA-04, Independent Green
Jeff Clark, VA-05, Independent Green
Floyd Bayne, VA-07, Independent Green | Statement
Ron Fisher, VA-08, Arlington, Independent Green
David Gillis, VA-11, Independent Green
Larry Kalb, WA-02, northwest corner, Democrat
Diana McGinness, WA-02, Bellingham, Democrat | Statement
Roy Olson, WA-09, Olympia, Green | Statement
Natale Straccuzzi, Washington D.C., Green

Candidates for U.S. Senate:
Duane Roberts, CA, Green | Statement
Gail K Lightfoot, CA, Libertarian | Statement
Marsha Feinland, CA, Peace and Freedom Party | Statement
John Finger, CO, Libertarian | Statement
Bob Kinsey, CO, Green | Statement
Richard A. Weir, NC, Green | Statement
Cecile Lawrence, NY, Green
Dan La Botz, OH, Socialist | Statement
Rick Staggenborg, OR, Green
Mel Packer, PA, Green | Statement
Bob Burr, WA, Democrat |
Ben Masel, WI, Democrat (2012)
Jesse Johnson, WV, WV Green Party aka Mountain Party