Friday, December 10, 2010

Iraq snapshot

Friday, December 10, 2010.  Chaos and violence continue, 'peace ambassador' Moqtada issues a new decree, the stalemate continues in Baghdad, the US Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy continues throughout the world, attacks on women and rape survivors continue, and more.
Yesterday, "Alsumaria News marked its first anniversary". In Iraq, any press milestones qualify as news since the country remains a war zone and press operating there ends up attacked by many governments.  Alsumaira News is a division of Alsumaria TV which started in September 2004. Last month, the TV channel Al-Baghdadia announced its departure after being targeted by Nouri al-Maliki and shut down.  Meanwhile, at the start of this month, Reporters Without Borders noted al Qaeda in Mesopotami had reportedly issued threats against Al-Iraqiya, Al-Farat and Al-Sumaria TV. The Committee To Protect Journalists counts 220 journalists [and "media workers" -- we label them all journalists]  killed in Iraq since the start of the Iraq War. In September, Reporters Without Borders issued [PDF format warning] "The Iraq War: A Heavy Death Toll For The Media, 2003 - 2010." The report uses the term "media professionals" and counts "close to 230" killed throughout the ongoing war with 172 of them classified as journalists.  Reporters Without Borders notes the following journalists have been targeted this year:
In addition, the Committee to Protect Journalists notes that Saad al-Aossi has been imprisoned since April 14, 2010: "Al-Aossi, editor-in-chief of the critical weekly Al-Shahid, was taken from his home in Baghdad by a 'mixed force of police officers and soldiers,' his brother told local reporters. Local press freedom advocates and journalists said al-Aossi was being held at a facility administered by the Counter-Terrorism Force, a unit responsible for high-level security cases that reports directly to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Al-Aossi was detained six days after publishing an opinion piece that said al-Maliki was secretive in filling high-level government positions. The government would not disclose any information about al-Aossi, including his whereabouts and legal status. Al-Maliki did not respond to CPJ's inquiries."  That's Nouri.  The thug some applauded.  Some like our modern day Brenda Starr: Nir Rosen.  Nir had some "hope"s back in February of this year which he expressed publicly including the "hope Maliki wins" and the "hope Maliki violates the constitution, acts in some kind of authoritarian way to make sure he wins the elections".  How very telling.  Again to Reporters Without Borders issued [PDF format warning] "The Iraq War: A Heavy Death Toll For The Media, 2003 - 2010."
In 2006, Nuri al-Maliki's government regularly threatened to shut down certain newspapers after accusing them of incitement to violence. Television networks were also pointed out as being responsible for stirring up ethnic and religious passions. They were prohibited from broadcasting segments that showed blood or murder scenes. On 5 November 2006, the Minister of the Interior decided to close down the Sunni television networks Al-Zawra and Salah-Eddin for having broadcast footage of demonstrators waving pictures of former dictator Saddam Hussein and protesting against his capital sentence. Both stations are still closed down. 
In 2007, additional restrictions were imposed on the media. In May, the authorities banned journalists from filming bomb-stricken areas. In November of that year, they were also prohibited from going to the Kandil mountains on the Iraqi-Turkish border to meet with PKK rebels.
But, hey, what does free speech matter? Especially to those like Nir Rosen who publicly express desires that Iraq's Constitution is trashed by Nouri?  Please tell us all, who will help Iraq from these 'helpers'?
And of course the US government (and its stooges) would cheer for Nouri (and cheat for him), he is not merely their puppet, he is their reflection.  This week Frankie Donlon (Point Park Globe) reminded how the US government punishes journalists:
Many photographers, such as Zoriah Miller and Stefan Zaklin, have been black-listed from photographing in Iraq. Both photographers pushed the limits of the restrictions and published disturbing but authentic war photographs. Both photographers have now been heavily restricted and are under observation by the U.S. government.
Zoriah Miller's photograph was an image of Marines killed in a suicide bomber attack. Miller then posted the photographs on his personal website and was forbidden to work in the Marine Corps' controlled areas.  The image does portray a harsher view of the war than I am accustomed to seeing, but no faces are revealed and nothing identifies the person in the image.  The image is in black and white and features Marines' bodies lying in the rubble.
Stefan Zaklin took his photograph for the European Pressphoto Agency.  The photograph depicts a soldier who was shot and killed in Fallujah, in a house used as a base for insurgents.  The photograph, however, was only run in European publications. Zaklin was then banned from working with any military unit.
Still no executive government in Iraq but UPI, that eternal optimist, insists that Nouri and the gang "are beginning to sort out key ministerial positions in an effort to form the next government". March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board noted in August, "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. November 10th a power sharing deal resulted in the Parliament meeting for the second time and voting in a Speaker. And then Iraqiya felt double crossed on the deal and the bulk of their members stormed out of the Parliament. David Ignatius (Washington Post) explains, "The fragility of the coalition was dramatically obvious Thursday as members of the Iraqiya party, which represents Sunnis, walked out of Parliament, claiming that they were already being double-crossed by Maliki. Iraqi politics is always an exercise in brinkmanship, and the compromises unfortunately remain of the save-your-neck variety, rather than reflecting a deeper accord. " After that, Jalal Talabani was voted President of Iraq. Talabani then named Nouri as the prime minister-delegate. If Nouri can meet the conditions outlined in Article 76 of the Constitution (basically nominate ministers for each council and have Parliament vote to approve each one with a minimum of 163 votes each time and to vote for his council program) within thirty days, he becomes the prime minister. If not, Talabani must name another prime minister-delegate. . In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister-delegate. It took eight months and two days to name Nouri as prime minister-delegate. His first go-round, on April 22, 2006, his thirty day limit kicked in. May 20, 2006, he announced his cabinet -- sort of. Sort of because he didn't nominate a Minister of Defense, a Minister of Interior and a Minister of a Natioanl Security. This was accomplished, John F. Burns wrote in "For Some, a Last, Best Hope for U.S. Efforts in Iraq" (New York Times), only with "muscular" assistance from the Bush White House. Nouri declared he would be the Interior Ministry temporarily. Temporarily lasted until June 8, 2006. This was when the US was able to strong-arm, when they'd knocked out the other choice for prime minister (Ibrahim al-Jaafari) to install puppet Nouri and when they had over 100,000 troops on the ground in Iraq. Nouri had no competition. That's very different from today. The Constitution is very clear and it is doubtful his opponents -- including within his own alliance -- will look the other way if he can't fill all the posts in 30 days. As Leila Fadel (Washington Post) observes, "With the three top slots resolved, Maliki will now begin to distribute ministries and other top jobs, a process that has the potential to be as divisive as the initial phase of government formation." Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) points out, "Maliki now has 30 days to decide on cabinet posts - some of which will likely go to Iraqiya - and put together a full government. His governing coalition owes part of its existence to followers of hard-line cleric Muqtada al Sadr, leading Sunnis and others to believe that his government will be indebted to Iran." The stalemate ends when the country has a prime minister. It is now nine months, three days and counting. Thursday November 25th, Nouri was finally 'officially' named prime minister-designate. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) explained, "In 30 days, he is to present his cabinet to parliament or lose the nomination." Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) added, "Even if Mr. Maliki meets the 30-day deadline in late December -- which is not a certainty, given the chronic disregard for legal deadlines in Iraqi politics -- the country will have spent more than nine months under a caretaker government without a functioning legislature. Many of Iraq's most critical needs -- from basic services to investment -- have remained unaddressed throughout the impasse." Jane Arraf (Al Jazeera) offered, "He has an extremely difficult task ahed of him, these next 30 days are going to be a very tough sell for all of these parties that all want something very important in this government. It took a record eight months to actually come up with this coalition, but now what al-Maliki has to do is put all those people in the competing positions that backed him into slots in the government and he has a month to day that from today."
Yesterday's snapshot noted: "Al Iraq Net is reporting that Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc is getting the post of Deputy Prime Minister." Alsumaira TV confirms that the Deputy Prime Minister post is going to the al-Sadr bloc. But remember, we told you months ago how Nouri was overpromising what he could actually offer if he did become prime minister -- promising many different people the same posts?  UPI reports that there are going to be three deputy prime ministers and, it gets better, three vice presidents.  For those who mislaid their trading cards, the current exile government in Baghdad has two deputy prime ministers and two vice presidents.  Looks like Nir Rosen got his wish for Nouri to trash the Constitution.
Article 138 of Iraq's Constitution is rather clear -- not that anyone appears to have read it, certainly not Nouri -- that: "The Council of Representatives shall elect the President of the State and two Vice Presidents who shall form a Council called the 'Presidency Council,' which shall be elected by one list and with a two-thirds majority."  The Council of Representatives is the Parliament.  So Nouri's done some extra-Constutional work both in creating a new vice president and in terms of overseeing the selection.
Khalid al-Ansary (Reuters) reports that Moqtada al-Sar has issued his latest decree insisting that "bars and liquor shops in Iraq" be shut down as well as Baghdad nightclubs. al-Ansary quotes an Iraqi writer (unnamed) who states, "What is going on are attempts to turn Iraq into an Islamic republic similar to the one in Iran."  Wednesday, at least seven Iranian pilgrims were injured in a Baghdad roadside bombing. Press TV notes that Hassan Qashqavi, Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister, is calling for tighter security and condemning a wave of attacks. The segment most targeted in the last two months are Iraqi Christians. This latest wave of attacks began October 31st with the assault on Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad. Prashant Rao (AFP) reports that mass was held today at the church: "Teary-eyed parishioners, diplomats, and politicians gathered in the Sayidat al-Nejat (Our Lady of Salvation) Syriac Catholic church, seated on plastic garden chairs as priests read aloud the names of the 46 people who died, recited prayers and sang hymns. Outside the church, dozens of armed soldiers, policemen and private security contractors stood guard as nearby streets were closed off to vehicle traffic, and men and women alike were frisked on entry." Jomana Karadsheh (CNN) adds, "Rafah Butros sat alone, sobbing in a corner as priests prayed for peace and forgiveness. She had not been to church in three years until October 31, when her cousin threatened to stop visiting her if she did not go. That day, militants stormed Baghdad's Our Lady of Salvation Church, killing 51 congregants and two priests in a brutal attack that authorities said was the worst in a recent surge of violence targeting Iraq's Christians. Butros survived. Her cousin, a 27-year-old priest, did not."  And for those unaware, the bulk of alcohol sales in Iraq come via Christian and other religious minority vendors.  Yes, Moqtada al-Sadr is launching a new attack on Christians.  But, hey, he's got a few more months to go before he can launch more attacks on Iraq's LGBT community -- calls for violent deaths, etc.  All the things The Nation and other 'independent' periodicals 'forgot' to tell you about.  John Pilger wonders "Why are wars not being reported honestly?" (Guardian -- link has text and video):
The sheer magnitude of Iraqi suffering in the onslaught had little place in the news. Standing outside 10 Downing St, on the night of the invasion, Andrew Marr, then the BBC's political editor, declared, "[Tony Blair] said that they would be able to take Baghdad without a bloodbath and that in the end the Iraqis would be celebrating, and on both of those points he has been proved conclusively right . . ." I asked Marr for an interview, but received no reply. In studies of the television coverage by the University of Wales, Cardiff, and Media Tenor, the BBC's coverage was found to reflect overwhelmingly the government line and that reports of civilian suffering were relegated. Media Tenor places the BBC and America's CBS at the bottom of a league of western broadcasters in the time they allotted to opposition to the invasion. "I am perfectly open to the accusation that we were hoodwinked," said Jeremy Paxman, talking about Iraq's non-existent weapons of mass destruction to a group of students last year. "Clearly we were." As a highly paid professional broadcaster, he omitted to say why he was hoodwinked.
Dan Rather, who was the CBS news anchor for 24 years, was less reticent. "There was a fear in every newsroom in America," he told me, "a fear of losing your job . . . the fear of being stuck with some label, unpatriotic or otherwise." Rather says war has made "stenographers out of us" and that had journalists questioned the deceptions that led to the Iraq war, instead of amplifying them, the invasion would not have happened. This is a view now shared by a number of senior journalists I interviewed in the US.
Next he can ask why they aren't being reported on at all.  That is the case for many outlets.  Turning to some of today's violence, Reuters reports that a Baghdad roadside bombing has left 2 Iraqi police officers injured, a second Baghdad roadside bombing has claimed 1 life and left five other people injured and a Tikrit police checkpoint was attacked resulting in the deaths of 2 police officers with another two left injured.
Beat down in the market, stoned to death in the plaza
Raped on the hillside under the gun from LA to Gaza
A house made of cardboard living close to the rail
Somebody's mama, somebody's daughter
Somebody's jail
And I feel the witch in my veins
I feel the mother in my shoe
I feel the scream in my soul
The blood as I sing the ancient blue
They burned in the millions
I still smell the fire in my grandma's hair
The war against women rages on
Beware of the fairytale
Somebody's mama, somebody's daughter
Somebody's jail
-- "Somebody's Jail," written by Holly Near, first appears on her Show Up
As with Tuesday's snapshot and Wednesday's snapshot, and Thursday's snapshot we have to deal with the attacks on two women over rape charges. Maia (The Hand Mirror) explains, "The charges are actually really clear cut: he had sex with one woman while she was asleep, and he didn't stop when another woman said stop. It doesn't require a very in depth and complex understanding of consent to understand that that is rape. But there is a constant narrative that anything other than stranger rape where force is used is somehow a lesser form of rape. That narrative is really damaging to rape survivors."  wiki leaks observes, "But Assange's status as embattled warrior for free speech is taken as giving permission -- by those on the left as well as right – to indulge in the basest slut-shaming and misogyny. It's terrifying to witness how swiftly rape orthodoxies reassert themselves: that impugning a man's sexual propriety is a political act, that sexual assault complainants are prone to a level of mendacity others are not (and, in this case, deserving of the same crowd-sourced scrutiny afforded leaked diplomatic cables), that not all forms of non-consensual sex count as 'rape-rape'." Amelia Gentleman (Guardian) speaks with the attorney of the two women, Claes Borgstrom, and reports:
In an interview at his fifth-floor office in central Stockholm, he continued: "What is going on now is very, very unfair to them because they are being pointed at as if they have started a conspiracy against Assange and WikiLeaks, and that is not true. There is nothing wrong with their reputation and they have done nothing wrong in going to the police. What they are going through is unfair and absurd."
He questioned whether the women would have pressed charges had they known in advance how their reputations would be attacked. "If they had known what was going to happen, maybe they would not have gone to the police at all … I would not have done it," he said.
Esther Addley (Guardian) observes, "Rarely can there have been a rape case where the personal details of the alleged victims have been so eagerly sought out by so many. "Is [Miss A] a lesbian?" asks one blog, accompanying its text with photographs of Miss A alongside another woman. 'If [she] is gay, and she sleeps with Assange, that's a contradiction. So, I'm inviting the blogosphere to look for the evidence. Be a WikiSleuth! There must be a lot of people who know about [Miss A] and her behavior. Speak up!" And the tarring and feathering has come from all over including Coward Matthew Rothschild.  Matty who wants Russ Feingold to run for president . . . except when he doesn't.  (We'll be ripping apart his latest 'reasoning' at Third.) Matty who wants to hurl the c-word at women in 2008 but was too cowardly to be upfront about his sexism so he hid behind The Weekly Standard.  Matty who questioned the women and declares himself a Socialist and is CEO of The Progressive.  Our 'friend,' women's 'great friend,' Matty Rothschild who wanted to insist this week "I take all allegations of rape and sexual misconduct seriously" seconds before adding that the alleged behavior of the women just struck him as fishy.   Maia (The Hand Mirror) explains the harm that's being done:
But I think that defenders of Julian Assanger do the most damage when they construct a way that rape victims behave and imply that the woman involved isn't acting like a rape victim: she tweeted about him, or she seemed happy, or she saw him again.
I lose it at this point. There is no way that rape victims act - there is no way that rape victims don't act. Seriously. If you don't know this then you have no right to say a word about rape.
It does so much harm to so many women, the idea that there's a way that rape victims act. It's not just some idea that you're spinning off into cyber-space. It's something that women who are going through trauma have to struggle through - their own, and other people's expectations of how they should be behaving. And it doesn't stop - the idea of the acceptable behaviour of a rape victim gets used as a weapon again and again.
Most rape myths are about women, about attacking suvivors of rape, discrediting them trashing them - and there's been a lot of that. But some are about men
John Pilger said that he had a very high regard for Julian Assange. And? The rhetorical rapist - the scary man, who no-one holds in high regard - is a weapon that is used against actual victims of rape all the time.
And what is most ridiculous about this spreading of rape myths by left-wing supporters of wikileaks is that these myths are completely unnecessary to stand in solidarity with the wikileaks project.
It is states and companies that are attacking Wikileaks and Julian Assange, not two women. It is perfectly possible to criticise the actions of prosecuters, interpol, judges and government's without invoking rape myths.

We've seen the sexism of the left yet again.  You get the usual women who operate as instruments of patriarchy, women who either have done nothing for women's rights (Naomi Klein would fit in here) or who lost interest in feminism long, long ago (Naomi Wolf).  They need these women to hide behind.  They've rewarded these _____ _____ types for years because those women only fawn over them and never 'make trouble' by noting, for example, their sexual harassment practices.  And the men form a circle whenever they fear one of them might be held accountable for something that, let's be honest, is fairly common behavior for the males at the top of the power pyramid.  Cute phone call this week from the friend of a media 'god' who wanted to know if I was planning on outing him for his attempted rape  some years and years ago? (Newsflash, Rebecca outed him at her site back in 2005.)  I bet there are a lot of conversations like that, a lot of men on the left sweating it out, and I bet that has a lot to do with the attacks on these two women.  Attack them and, hopefully, scare off all women.  The attacks send a message and it's damn hard to believe that the message is unintended.
It's similar to their attacks on Hillary Clinton and it's the same gang.  People like Danny Schechter, for example, who repeated sexist attacks on Hillary at his website and then, when Ruth was calling him out -- RIGHTLY her website because he bills himself as a media critic but managed to go the whole year and after without ever noticing the sexism, Danny suddenly cared and rushed forward with e-mails.  (Ruth never told me and I never asked.  It was obvious that Ruth was doing a hard hitting series and that only one person -- Ruth didn't name the man at her website -- had a vested interest in attempting to derail Ruth's series.)  So Ruth calls him out and the best he can offer is that if Hillary didn't call it out (she did call it out) then why should he?  If you're going to call yourself a media critic, it's incumbent upon you to call it out.  Not that we expected it, we've certainly gotten a ton of e-mails filled with allegations of sexual harassment and sexism in hiring, retaining and pay at Media Channel.  [Sidebar: Ava and I were not paid when Media Channel reposted our article. I've never discussed that here and I'm not sure I've discussed it at Third.  We have no business relationship -- and have never had any business relationship -- with Media Channel. Had we been asked about our article being reposted, we would have said no.  We would have said no because (a) Media Channel is notoriously sexist and (b) they have received Soros money and we didn't want to be tainted with blood money.  Repeating, "Friendly faces aren't who we meet" was written -- by Ava and myself -- for Third and published there.  We were never asked about it being reposted.  The first we knew of it was when e-mails arrived at Third.  And it did nothing but cause us problem -- with women who've suffered from Media Channel's work practices and with those who rightly decry the blood money Soros amassed.  And in this sidebar, you've got a pretty telling comment on the sexism of Media Channel.  Without ever contacting us, Ava and my work -- the work of two women -- was reposted in full at a site that seeks donations and we were never thanked or notified.  Is that really how they would have treated two men? No, it's not.  And that's not a whine for money.  Ava and I both will never, ever hurt for money.  It is noting that our work product was used without our permission, without notification to us and distributed on a site that seeks money for the work 'they' (the 'mens') do.  It's very telling and jibes completely with the stories Danny's ex-girlfriends been informing many women of.]
While we have tried to avoid that topic, Ava and I called out Danny's bulls**t that Tina Turner owed Ike something.  Tina (whom I know and love) owes Ike nothing.  He was a terrorist.  It's cute the way these Danny Schechter types whine about abuse except when it's done to women.   And what's he done all week? Passed on false information.  When Judith Miller did that, he was outraged.  But he thinks as long as he quotes false information from others (presumably from others, his new layout makes it impossible to tell when he's writing or when he's quoting) it's okay and his hands aren't dirty.  He's quoted disgusting trash and linked to false trash attacking the women.  As late as yesterday, a whine that no one would even say what the charges were.  Uh, charges were reported Tuesday by many outlets including the Guardian which live blogged the court appearance.  That's a fact that and facts aren't as easy to bend so liars ignore them. And December 8th, Danny pimped: "Roman Polanski, who during his Hollywood time recongizably raped a minor who later forgave him."
What the hell is that?  Is murder dependent upon what the victim may have thought of the attacker?  Then why would rape be?
I know Roman.  I have no respect for him, but I know him.  And he damn well knew what he was doing.  But it's cute the way murder is 'real crime' and rape is just a 'so-so crime' that can be dimissed for any number of reasons.  Torture's the same way.  If we're talking about it under the Pinochet regime, it's torture and unspeakable.  If it's a man torturing his girlfriend,lover, wife, it's fine and dandy and understandable and a personal matter.  As Marlo Thomas has so often noted, before the second wave of feminism, domestic abuse didn't even have a name.  That's the world that the attackers on the women promote: When victims didn't speak out.
And I just mentioned Pinochet.  Augusto Pinochet is a War Criminal.  And a US-backed one.  The US-backed and funded coup that brought him into power -- and assasinated Salvado Allende and Chile's hopes of a free society -- launched non-stop torture.  It's funny that so many lefties overlook the way women were targeted specifically.  The easiest starting point?  Women being attacked by the junta's military for wearing pants.  They were forced back into dresses.  It's not that different from what's taken place in Afghanistan or what they've pretty much succeeded in doing in Iraq -- instute clothing 'purity' for women.  But don't look for Danny Schechter or burqa loving Naomi Wolf to tell you about that.  After all 'real problems' are the ones that effect men only.  What was done to the women of Chile was far more brutal than our 'brave' left ever wants to talk about.   
But women are always under attack, even from our 'friends.'  And women are always expendable.  That's the history in the US.  Wait for the vote, wait for ERA, take a hit for the team, again and again and again.  Rape is a real crime.  Julian Assange may or may not be guilty.  I have no idea.  I've expressed my hope that he's not.  I've not attacked him.  It's a shame that so many feel attacking is the way to go when it comes to women. It's not cute, it's not funny and it hurts women.  Again, read Ann's "This rape survivor says: Naomi Wolf, go f**k yourself." And if this is still an issue come Monday, we'll note what the attackers don't want noted but the past can be a portent.
Staying on the topic of discrimination and oppression: Don't Ask, Don't Tell.  The latest Gallup Poll finds that 67% of respondents would vote in favor of repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell -- the policy by which the US military regularly launches witch hunts. And yet Thursday Don't Ask, Don't Tell was up for another vote in the Senate (it's in the Defense Authorization bill). And how did that go? Mark Sappenfield (Christian Science Monitor) reports that 57 senators voted to advance the bill to the floor of the Senate (for a vote) and 40 voted not to advance it. (60 votes are needed to advance it to the floor.) The House has already passed this bill. Not just voted to vote on it, they've passed it. Before the mid-terms, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid refused to allow Republicans into the process and they responded by refusing to allow a floor vote on the Defense Authorization.

So did Harry Reid's ineptitude kill it again?

Lisa Mascaro (Los Angeles Times) reports
, "Some Republicans do support a repeal of the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy but objected to how Democrats proceeded in bringing the legislation to the floor." Mark Thompson (Time magazine) makes this call, "The move all but kills any chance of over-turning the 17-year old ban on gays serving openly in the U.S. military for the foreseeable future."

Last Friday, Senator Scott Brown announced he would support repeal. He did not vote to advance the bill. Nor did Senator Lisa Murkowski who announced Wednesday that she supported repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell. The two are both Republicans. So is Susan Collins whose office issued the following:

Washington, DC - U.S. Senator Susan Collins, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and the only Senate Republican to vote in favor of a motion to proceed to the Defense Authorization bill which includes language to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell, released this statement following today's vote.
"It is extremely unfortunate that the Majority Leader scheduled a vote on the Defense Authorization bill today, knowing that it would fail, when he could have chosen another path forward. I am also troubled and perplexed as to why the leader walked away from bipartisan negotiations which were making progress.
"This is not only a debate about repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." This bill includes many provisions that are important to the men and women in our military, including a pay raise for troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, a provision to expand the number of mental health providers to care for our service members, and a provision to make it easier for DoD to transfer health care information regarding wounded warriors to the VA.
"The bill also includes important provisions for my home State, including investments to modernize and improve the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and authorizing the full funding of ship construction at Bath Iron Works."
"That is why Senator Lieberman and I have been working for weeks to negotiate a reasonable agreement that would enable the Senate to pass this important bill.
"As the only Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee to support including a carefully constructed repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell in the Defense Authorization bill, I am disappointed that the Democratic leadership refused to help pave a successful path to the 60 votes needed to consider this legislation. This goal clearly was within reach, but this bill, like so many others, has become an unfortunate victim of politics.
"I recognize time is at a premium, but there's no reason why the Majority Leader could not have kept the Senate in session day, night and all weekend in order to finish the bill extending tax relief, the DoD Authorization, and other top legislative priorities.
"The leader's decision today was a set-back for proponents of this bill and for efforts to overturn DADT. Senator Lieberman and I will continue our efforts, despite this set back, and will look at other avenues, including introducing a separate, free-standing bill to overturn DADT."
Immediately following today's vote, Senator Collins joined Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) in introducing a bipartisan stand-alone bill to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell that is similar to the provision included in the Fiscal Year 2011 National Defense Authorization Act.

And the two senators that support repeal but voted against advancing the bill to the Senate Floor? Mark Sappenfield (Christian Science Monitor) explains, "But Senators Brown and Murkowski, as well as other Republican moderates, are holding firm on their pledge not to allow any business to take place until the Obama-GOP tax deal has been passed."  KTVA reports, "Repeatedly over the last week, Sen. Murkowski said she would vote to repeal the law if democrats allowed unlimited debate and amendments to the Defense Reauthorization Act, which includes the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'." So despite Senator John McCain vowing last Friday that the measure wouldn't make it to the floor, Harry Reid thought he could ignore discussions and promises and just push the measure through?

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force issued the following statement:

December 09, 2010
Inga Sarda-Sorensen
Director of Communications
(Office) 646.358.1463
(Cell) 202.641.5592
WASHINGTON, Dec. 9 — The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force strongly denounced the U.S. Senate's failure today to allow a vote on the National Defense Authorization Act, blocking action on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" repeal.

Statement by Rea Carey, Executive Director
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

"The Senate's failure to allow a vote on 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' repeal is a huge disgrace and disservice to our country. Senators had an opportunity — and an obligation — to move toward ending an outdated, unnecessary and costly policy that discriminates against courageous and qualified people willing to risk their lives by serving in the military. How many more personal and painful stories of discrimination must these lawmakers hear before they act to end this harmful policy? How many more exhaustive Pentagon studies need to be done that affirm it's time to end the ban? Three-quarters of Americans say 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' should be repealed, as do top military leaders. People from every background, every faith, every community across the country know that qualified, patriotic Americans willing to risk their lives by serving in the military should be able to do so, free of discrimination.
"Despite today's obstructionism by a few politicians, 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' will end. We will continue to work to ensure all qualified Americans who wish to serve their country openly and freely are able to do so. We must, because the lives and livelihoods of thousands of dedicated service members hang in the balance."

To learn more about the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, follow us on Twitter: @TheTaskForce.


The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund, founded in 1974 as the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Inc., works to build the grassroots political power of the LGBT community to win complete equality. We do this through direct and grassroots lobbying to defeat anti-LGBT ballot initiatives and legislation and pass pro-LGBT legislation and other measures. We also analyze and report on the positions of candidates for public office on issues of importance to the LGBT community. The Task Force Action Fund is a 501(c)(4) non-profit corporation incorporated in New York. Contributions to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund are not tax deductible.

Is Harry Reid serious about repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell? Is Barack Obama? The little dog and pony show they've been putting on has produced a lot of crap, just no results. 
 TV notes. On PBS' Washington Week, Charles Babington (AP), Jackie Calmes (NYT) and Lori Montgomery (Washington Post) join Gwen around the table and NPR's Tom Gjelten will offer a report on WikiLeaks. Gwen now has a weekly column at Washington Week and the current one is "Deconstructing the President." This week, Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Danielle Belton, Cari Dominguez, Tara Setmayer and Patricia Sosa to discuss the week's news on the latest broadcast of PBS' To The Contrary. And this week's To The Contrary online extra is a discussion on the state of romance. Turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:

The Next Speaker
Rep. John Boehner will become the speaker of the House next month, but few know this Ohio Republican beyond his life in Washington. Lesley Stahl profiles the man whose new role will place him at the top of the Republican Party and third in line for the presidency.

As the U.S. and most of the world's countries limp along after the crippling recession, Brazil is off and running with jobs, industry, and resources. The economic juggernaut is poised to become the fifth largest economy in the world. Steve Kroft reports.

Jerry Jones
A disappointed Cowboys owner, GM Jerry Jones says even his friend, the late George Steinbrenner, would fire him for the poor performance of his Dallas football team that many predicted would go to the Super Bowl. Scott Pelley reports.

60 Minutes, Sunday, Dec. 12, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.