Saturday, December 04, 2010

Thug Nouri

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki fired dozens of officers from the security and intelligence services early this year and replaced them with inexperienced political officers loyal to his Shiite Dawa party, U.S. officials reported in February, according to newly leaked diplomatic cables.
The firings were carried out under the guise of purging members of Saddam Hussein's long extinct Baath party, but U.S. officials in Baghdad fretted in cables that Maliki would do "serious harm to the intelligence institutions by drumming out experienced and proficient officers," including many Sunni Arabs.
The cables, published on the website of al Akhbar, a left-leaning Beirut daily, bolstered U.S. and Iraqi critics who've accused Maliki of building a sectarian security structure during his first term in office.

The above is from Shashank Bengali's "WikiLeaks: Maliki filled Iraqi security services with Shiites" (McClatchy Newspapers). Max Fisher (The Atlantic) continues:

The Baghdad cables are part of a cache of 183 U.S. State Department communications from the Middle East and North Africa recently published online by Lebanon's Al Akhbar newspaper. It's unclear how Al Akhbar got the cables, which they say are "exclusive," and whether they posted them with the permission of Wikileaks, which has tightly controlled who publishes which of its cables and when.
In the week before Iraq's election began, the U.S. embassy in Baghdad warned that Maliki and his office "directed the removal" of security and intelligence officials, including "some of the highest quality personnel" and "some of the most experienced intelligence officers," over dubious allegations of ties to the long-defunct Baath party. Maliki, the cables say, then replaced those officials with "political officers" from Maliki's Da'Wa party who "lack intelligence or related backgrounds." They cite "troubling" concerns that Maliki's changes were designed "to eliminate internal opposition in the run-up to the elections."
The purges and political replacements targeted the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Interior (which oversees intelligence), the Iraqi Joint Headquarters Intelligence Directorate, and the Iraqi National Intelligence and Investigation Agency. Those agencies handle much of Iraq's internal security and the ongoing battle against still-present sectarian and terrorist groups, both roles that are increasingly important as the U.S. reduces its troop presence. "The politically linked command changes are corrosive to Iraqi Security Force command and control integrity and unit readiness," a February 2010 cable from Baghdad warned. Maliki, they say, was likely "trying to hedge post-election fall-out by seeding security forces and intelligence services with allies."

And that's who is the prime minister-designate today. Nouri has 21 more days to propose cabinet ministers and have them approved -- individually, one by one -- by the Parliament. He's pushed back the census (again) which is having at least a small spillover effect in terms of the Kurds. Whether it will be large enough to cost him votes or not is an unknown.

But he barely put together a power-sharing coalition. When he did put it together, he did so with the promise of the census and the promise of a new post for Ayad Allawi. And neither of those things have come to pass. If they don't come to pass before the thirty day deadline (they've fudged his being named prime minister-designate and are stating it didn't occur until November 25th), Jalal Talabani is supposed to nominate another prime minister-designate and that's written into the Constitution.

Last Saturday, Nouri held a press conference and made noises that could be interpreted as the advance roll out in case he misses his deadline. His remarks could be interpreted as, "If I don't meet the 30 day deadline and someone else is appointed and has to start over, it will toss the nation into further chaos." Nouri's often done that, prepared the press for his failure to uphold and obey the law.

The Constitution was completely tossed aside following the March 7th elections. Nouri knows that. Nouri damn well knows all the laws he's broken since the US first installed him as prime minister in 2006.

For all the fabled talk of "democracy" in Iraq -- talk not just from the lips of George W. Bush, Barack Obama has repeated these lies -- the US government refused to (or was to weak to) stand up for democracy in Iraq during the continuing political stalemate. Which is how the lesson from the 2010 (Iraq) elections is that elections don't matter. A losing party can retain leadership. Elections don't matter and there's no reason to even vote.

Many of the pieces in the last months have echoed Iraqis voicing just that sentiment.

So if Nouri tries to blow off the Constitution, there needs to be worldwide outcry. Or else the world just needs to stop kidding itself that Nouri isn't the new Saddam. He's already ignored the ballot and if he next ignores the Constitution -- and gets away with it -- the message will be very clear that Iraqis were not handed the right of self-governance, they were handed over to a new dictator.

Jack Healy (New York Times) reports Baghdad was slammed with bombings today. Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 4 Baghdad roadside bombings and 2 Baghdad car bombings, all at nine a.m., which claimed 8 lives and left sixty people injured and, four hours later, a Baghdad car bombing claimed 6 lives and left forty-two people wounded. Healy notes Baghdad police barred reporters from the scene of the noon bombing and quotes one snapping, "What do you want to see inside? The world inside is on fire, and people are cut to pieces." Reuters drops back to Friday to note 2 police officers wounded in a Baghdad attack, 1 corpse discovered in Mosul, a Bashiqa explosion (land mine) claimed 1 life and a Kirkuk grenade attack injured three police officers.

WikiLeaks remains under attack. A number of e-mails ask how they find it due to closings? You can -- thus far, anyway -- start with the WikiLeaks Twitter feed and we'll note the latest items from it:

  1. WikiLeaks strikes back. Cut us down and the stronger we become:
  2. Robert McClelland is a US suckhole, worse than Howard on Hicks, and needs to go.
  3. Reporters Without Borders condemns attacks on WikiLeaks,38958.html
  4. WikiLeaks at the Frontline Club (two rightmost journalists)
  5. 'Wikileaks' now twice as known as well known as 'Wikipedia' according to Google.
  6. UK Conservatives promised to run 'pro-American regime' #cablegate
  7. Ellsberg: Boycott Amazon
  8. Great summary the attacks this week on WikiLeaks
  9. US may use Sweden to extradite Assange: Lawyer
  10. Letter to Australian Prime Minister
  11. Sarkozy government moves to ban WikiLeaks
  12. An extraordinary 24 hours. Press roundup
  13. Cut the spin. Julian Assange is NOT a traitor
  14. Digital McCarthyism: U.S. Military Tries to Intimidate Soldiers Into Not Reading Wikileaks
  15. Digital McCarthyism: Columbia students advised not to comment on/link to discussions on Wikileaks.
  16. PayPal bans WikiLeaks after US government pressure Support us:
  17. Facebook group hits 600,000 members Support us:
  18. TIME cover: Why WikiLeaks is good for America
  19. Ron Paul: Why we need more WikiLeaks

Currently this WikiLeaks site is up. On Twitter feeds and WikiLeaks, we'll note this:

Good for Ron Paul. Am I missing it or are all of our 'brave' Democrats cowering in silence right now? Has any Democratic member of Congress come out to defend WikiLeaks? What about our brave Socialist Bernie Sanders? Remember the lie we were told when he was running for the Senate? It went something like this: 'He'll be able to take strong stands now because he won't have to run every two years like he does now.' He was elected to the Senate in the 2006 mid-terms and I'm still waiting for that bravery to emerge. He couldn't even stand up to ObamaCare. Now if you want to see him waste his time and our monies, by all means note his 'hard hitting' MSNBC shouldn't have suspended Keith suck up piece. But guess what, Bernie, you weren't elected to the Senate to defend overpaid millionaires. Where's Baraba -- I STOOD UP TO THE WHOLE WORLD -- Lee? Where are they, the brave speakers in the Democratic Party? How telling and how typical.

Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan should have been elected to Congress but apparently bravery is a liability for the elected left. In her latest column at Al Jazeera, "Surrendering our civil liberties," she tackles the airport insecurity industry:

As a very frequent flyer, I have wanted to write about the abuses of the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) for years now. To tell the truth, since I am such a frequent flyer and often recognised by individual TSA employees, I was a little timid about this because I did not want flying to become an even bigger hassle and more invasive than it already is. But the recent brouhaha over the Chertoff-O-Scanners has given me the courage in numbers to be able to write about my experiences.
The first thing that bugs me is how complacent my fellow travellers are about the civil rights abuses we endure to be able to take the airplane seats we pay hundreds of dollars for. The second we click 'purchase' on the airline's website, we are treated as though we are guilty just for wanting to go from point A to B by plane. This goes against our constitutional right of being presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Every time a TSA operative asks me if he or she can "take a look in my bag," I say: "Sure, if you can show me a warrant." I cannot say how many times a fellow traveller has proclaimed: "It's for your own safety!"
Speaking of "it's for your own safety", who can forget Richard Reid, the "shoe bomber" who allegedly tried to detonate explosives on a flight from Paris to Miami in 2002? That incident is the reason why in the US we have to take our shoes off and put them through the x-ray machine. But did you know that the US is the only country that forces flyers to do this? Reid is a citizen of the UK and was flying from France, but if one flies in either of these countries, or anywhere else for that matter, it is not common practice to remove your shoes. So why are planes not dropping from the skies all over the world? Well, because this has nothing to do with our "safety". Shoe removal and shoe throwing are the same act of disrespect and intimidation unless one is entering a Japanese home or walking on holy ground.
I think the next opportunity for abuse that came from on high to us already weary and grouchy flyers, was when some nebulous plot was discovered in the UK to blow up planes by carrying explosive liquids on board. We were never shown any hardcore proof that our shampoo would blow up an airplane if it was in a four ounce bottle, but that the offending liquid in a 3.5 ounce bottle, safely ensconced in a Ziploc bag, would be okay. I was actually on my way to the airport with a backpack full of naughty liquids when I heard about this one on the radio. I had to throw away about $80 worth of toiletries and make-up and wait in excessively long lines since the glorified minimum wage workers of the TSA were not too sure how to handle this latest threat to our "freedom and safety" - except, of course, to do what they always do and take away more of our freedoms to "protect" us from "threats".

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Not in the damn mood today

I don't claim to be a nice person. I do, however, try to bite my tongue from time to time. I'm not in the mood for it today.

We're pulling Veterans Today from the links. They're a Democratic Party organ as opposed someone committed to veterans issues. Time and again, we get Democratic Party propaganda from them.

That became very obvious due to VT's obsession with the Tea Party -- unnatural obsession. They just can't let it go. A War Hawk published a book this month and some glommed on it. Many more on the left had the good sense to back away. We backed away.

I know Dana Perino and what she and the publishers were hoping for was a huge outcry from the left that would fuel constant news coverage of the book and turn it into a mini-scandal thereby attacting book buyers who would ignore it otherwise and forcing the dedicated right-wingers to buy the book in a show of solidarity. It was quite a plan and it would have worked if everyone on the left had dropped everything and spent weeks and weeks obsessing over the published lies of a well known liar.

The smartest thing for those of us on the left to do was to ignore that book. It has sold. It hasn't been the success they'd hoped it would be because they truly thought they could use the left to sell the bad book via intense media coverage of the 'angry left.'

Related, if you're not in the Tea Party, why are you so damn obsessed with them?

Let's, for a moment, assume that all your demented ravings about the Tea Party are true. In the end, how are they different from the Republican Party? They're not. It's hilarious to read the whines from Katrina vanden Heuvel and others about how the Tea Party gets all this MSM press attention while they refuse to acknowledge that multi-posts daily at The Nation magazine, Veterans Today, et al on the Tea Party fuel the media obsession with the Tea Party.

Today Veterans Today offers the cultural warrior Ashraf Ezzat telling us that the Iraq War is over. Would a real left site do that?

Hell no.

Only a propaganda organ for the Democratic Party would.

And how the hell dare they call themselves "Veterans" Today and print that damnable lie.

I'm not in the mood. One consistent from those serving in Iraq has been that the danger isn't over. (Which is why combat pay continues for those serving in Iraq.) So how dare a so-called "Veterans" news outlet print that lie.

Shame on them.

But they aren't about reality, they're about whoring for Barack Obama. It's why there's so damn little coverage of veterans issues at Veterans Today but so much about pushing the Obama agenda.

I'm sick of it. I'm not in the damn mood.

Roger Hodge is the author of The Mendacity of Hope: Barack Obama and the Betrayal of American Liberalism which he discussed on the latest Law and Disorder Radio. Excerpt:

Heidi Boghosian: Roger, you actually sort of sum up it up in talking about health care by saying: "The health bill is of a piece with Obama's general approach to governance which is to make loud, dramatic claims about his purportedly reformist agenda -- claims that both his supporters and his enemies almost always take at a face value -- while working behind the scenes to make sure that no major stakeholder in his coalition of corporate backers will suffer significant losses." And that could sum up most of what he's done.

Michael Smith: Yeah, that was an outstanding passage in the book, I thought

Roger Hodge: Thank you. Thank you. And we see it again and again. We see it with detentions --

Heidi Boghosian: Guantanamo.

Roger Hodge: Guantanamo. We see it with --

Michael Ratner: State secrets.

Roger Hodge: -- Afghanistan. We see it with Iraq. Supposedly the war in Iraq is over. People take that at face value. 'Oh, he ended the war in Iraq.' Well he didn't.

Michael Ratner: He just said he did.

He didn't end the war, he just said he did. That's reality. For an outlet called "Veterans" Today to declare the Iraq War over, while, not only are US troops still there, but they're still being sent there (a send-off ceremony took place in Dighton, Massachusetts today for members of the National Guard deploying for a year-long tour of Iraq), is outrageous. Grasp that the world does not have the time necessary to provide the remedial training to correct your errors. You aren't helping anyone but Barack Obama. May you breathe deeply from the crotch of Obama and pleasure yourself -- but don't pass of your soft-core porn fantasies for information, truth or actual help.

That was an article published today. For days I've been biting my tongue about the nonsense at Veteran's Today. In addition, I've been biting my tongue about an insulting piece of crap supposedly about Iraqi women.

Boys and girls, America never needed Do-Me Feminism. Yes, it was popular with the (male dominated) press in the US and certainly Esquire's thrilled to have any reason to talk women into posing for pictures in bras and panties. But Do-Me Feminism lifted up nothing other than the breasts squeezed into those push-up bras.

And yet we're left with them, these Do-Me Feminists who don't know a damn thing. Katha Pollitt is the Charlotte Rae, Facts of Life, den mother and Naomi Wolf is their big sister. You'll notice no great intellect is attached to the shopping craze (don't call it a movement) because thinking isn't a fashion accessory.

So these Mud Flap Gals debase the feminist discussion each and every day, lower the standards, obsess over pop cultural trivia and accomplish not a damn thing except the further dumbing down of the country. (And, as Keesha noted, when confronted with their silence on real issues -- like the gang-rape and murder of 14-year-old Abeer -- they immediately whine they're too busy to blog -- while offering 26 posts on trivia masquerading as "feminism.")

Exhibit A, Sophia who cites/praises Jessica Valenti and other mental midgets of the shopping craze. At her blog, why bitch is the new black, Sophia decided she could write about Iraqi women -- she couldn't -- and wraps up her bad article with this concluding -- AND INSULTING -- paragraph:

If the status of women is the indicator of a country's political and economic stability, Iraq is doing poorly. Hopefully, in the future, more women like Mohammed will have the courage to express their views openly, fight for their rights, keep the Personal Status laws in place, and pressure the government into providing women greater protections. The future of Iraq will depend on its women.

Little girl, step away from the make up counter and grow the hell up.

How dare you write of the assault on Iraqi women and include, "Hopefully, in the future, more women like Mohammed will have the courage to express their views . . ." First, you're an uninformed idiot. Any real protest -- as opposed to a Nouri staged protest -- in Iraq will feature Iraqi women. It was, in fact, Iraqi women who took to the streets in 2005 protesting over the Constitution. I'm real sorry that the vast amount of time you spent checking out lip gloss and trying to find a pair of jeans that didn't make your ass look fat failed to inform you of Iraqi women and what they've done for the last seven years and counting of this illegal war.

They have been targeted, they have had their legal rights stripped away, and still the Iraqi women persevere. How dare you, from the safety of the mall you call home, imply that Iraqi women lack "courage," that they need to find "the courage to express their views . . ." Not only have Iraqi women shown tremendous courage, they've done so in a war zone. In the future stick to writing the Team Edward posts that mental midgets like yourself can almost manage or go ahead and pursue your dream of being part of lab coat brigade at the Clinque counter.

Again, I am not in the damn mood for this ___ today.

This site's focus is the Iraq War. I can disagree and ignore you (as I did Marc Lynch last week). But when you're lying -- implying Iraqi women need to find some courage is lying, stating the Iraq War is over is lying -- I can't afford you. I don't have time to correct your errors or to undo the damage that you've done.

The following community sites -- plus Cindy Sheehan whose latest we'll quote from in the next entry -- updated last night and this morning:

And we'll close with Debra Sweet who knows a thing or two about feminism, truth telling and standing up to War Hawks. This is from her "12/3/1970: Confronting Nixon 40 Years Ago" (World Can't Wait):

There’s a longer story to be written here, but for now I’m glad to put this off because there are contemporary heroes making immediate contributions to stopping the current wars, and we are busy defending them and digging into what’s coming out every day in the leaked US cables from Wikileaks. So, today– the brief version of what happened to me 40 years ago, tomorrow…

I was an activist in my high school years, for which I got a series of awards, leading up to receiving the Young American Medal for Service of 1970, annually given by the US President. I learned of that in June, 1970, while I was at The Hague in Holland, attending the World Food Conference, as part of a rag-tag US youth delegation. We had just disrupted a US event there with an anti-Vietnam war protest, “embarrassing” the ambassador and getting us nearly booted. At first I thought the letter from The White House must be a joke, but no, the Department of Justice had called my parents, and was trying to set up a date for the family to come to Washington.

My immediate response was “hell no…I won’t go! Why would anyone take an award from a war-monger like Richard Nixon?” I was conflicted, ambivalent, and irritated to be put in that position. As the months went by, and the event kept being re-scheduled, I thought I might get to skip it. But suddenly, on December 3, 1970, me, my family and friends were flown to Washington. We were escorted into the office of the Attorney General John Mitchell where there was small talk. In shuffled J. Edgar Hoover, and the whole strange experience got very real, very quickly.

Back into the limo and up to the door of the White House, into the Blue Room with what seemed to be the entire world press corps and a million cameras. For the kids getting the awards? No, because this was the first time the press had gotten to see the (well-hated) Nixon in months. I still didn’t know what to say. Then Richard Nixon made it easy. He went on a rant about how these kids are the “good” ones, they’re not out protesting, they’re for America. I thought, with my 19-year-old brain, “Oh no, you just slandered my generation. We are about changing the world, and taking it away from people like you.”

The drill was a simple hand shake with Nixon, present the medal, pat the kid on the arm, smile for the cameras. I was the last of 4 recipients, and it was almost over, when he grabbed my hand. What came out of my mouth: “I can’t believe you’re sincere in giving this award for service, when you’re killing millions of people in Vietnam.” We weren’t miked, and I spoke quietly. Nixon, despite make-up, turned completely white, and stammered, “We’re doing the best we can.” Then he pivoted, looked at his watch, muttered something about an appointment, and walked out.

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thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends

Friday, December 03, 2010

Iraq snapshot

Friday, December 13, 2010.  Chaos and violence continue, Nouri 'solves' overpromising cabinet posts by announcing he'll invent additional ones, WikiLeaks is under attack, the Senate's Drama Queen John McCain announces his intent to filibuster on repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and more.
"I will not agree to let this bill go forward."  The US Senate Armed Services Committee held another hearing on Don't Ask, Don't Tell today and the big news in the long hearing took place a little after noon when Ranking Member John McCain declared, "I will not agree to let this bill go forward."  The sentence really demands an explanation point but McCain wasn't being forceful when he made the statement, he was being whiney.  In fact, today he offered one long whine, like an ambulance siren, only higher pitched.
Senator Carl Levin is the Committee Chair and he noted at the start, "The Committee meets this morning to continue receiving testimony on the Department of Defense's report on implementation of a repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.   Yesterday we heard from Secretary [of Defense Robert] Gates, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Adm [Mike] Mullen and the co-chairs of the Deptartment's working group on this issue.  Today we hear from the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen James Cartwright, and from the senior military office of each of the services: Army Chief of Staff Gen George Casey, Chief of Naval Operations Adm Gary Roughead, Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen James Amos, Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen Norton Schwartz and Commandant of the Coast Guard Adm Robert Papp.  The chiefs are tasked to organize, train and equip our military forces. That's an important and challenging task and we are all grateful to the service of each of you to this nation.  If we repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell, as I believe we should, the legislation stipulates that repeal will not take effect unless and until there is a certification by the President, Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs that they have adopted the necessary implementatin steps to assure that we maintain our standards of military readiness and effectiveness, unit cohesion and recruiting and retention."
In the first round of questioning, Chair Carl Levin established via the witnesses Casey and Amos that the task could be carried out.  Amos quoted back Levin from yesterday ("If not now, when?") in his response.  When Ranking Member McCain went, he played repeatedly with his ink pen which only drew attention to his power pink tie begging the question: How often do you see a man in a power pink tie who is opposing LGBT rights? 
"I don't have a lot of questions," he would say after a mini-sermonette.  And it was strange that he didn't have a lot of questions when he stated before that, "It's very obvious to me that there is a lot more scrutiny and work to be involved before passing this legislation."  If more hearings are needed -- and he would advocate that throughout the hearing -- one would assume that this was to get answers and answers generally are preceeded by questions.  Possibly the bulk of McCain's thinking cap moments Friday ended with the selection of his tie?
While McCain was the most annoying, it was Senator Roger Wicker that appeared to be beamed in from another planet.  He used his hearing time to argue against repeal because service members (his opinion) would never support serving with gays and lesbians and, in some sort of book-end argument, insisting that Don't Ask, Don't Tell discharges resulted from gay members coming forward and saying they wanted to discharge because they were gay.  So, orbiting the planet earth from who knows what galazy, Wicker believes that gays and lesbians don't want to serve with straight or straight passing people who also don't want to serve with gays and lesbians.  It was a circular kind of irrationality.  Early on, Wicker stated, "I do have to wonder if the American people watching this are wondering why are we here?"  Probably a lot of people wondered why Wicker was here and what planet he was visiting from.
Senator John Thune, who opposes repeal, tried to float the need for another step in the process.  He stated that there was a difference between the chiefs appearing before the Committee today giving their advice and them being able to sign off.  It wasn't a smart move on Thune's part.  The response was universal: They all feel they are listened to by Gates and Mullen and that the Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is where the decision belongs.  Thune also accused the working group  from the Defense Department which composed the study of manipulating data by emphasis (particularly page 49). Having failed at both efforts, he then declared readiness was his primary issue -- strange since he asked no questions about his primary issue. 
Were it not for McCain's drama, the big story coming out of today's hearing might be Senator Scott Brown announcing he supports repeal.  (As Ava guessed yesterday.)
Casey stated in the first round (to McCain) that he supported the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell "eventually."  (He repeated "eventually" twice in his answer.) Schwartz stated he did not favor repeal now "but, not in 2011, but 2012 at the earliest, that would be an acceptable approach to me."  Yet when Levin asked him what the difference was between 2011 and 2012, Schwartz couldn't name one leaving the impression that he was just throwing up road blocks.  Levin had to use the bulk of his second round time correcting distortions made by Jeff Sessions and John Thune about Levin's remarks. 
John McCain wanted to give a lecture about "it's tough" -- a long lecture.  Rather surprising considering his rude remark where he dubbed Levin's questioning a "lecture."  You really see such open bitchery in the Senate but few are as catty as John McCain.  After insisting it was tough and bobbing around in his chair for about three minutes, he finally declared, "I will not agree to have this bill go forward and neither will, I believe, that 41 of my colleagues will either  because our economy is in the tank -- our economy is in the tank and the American people want that issue addressed." 

What a drama queen.  This is the same John McCain who turned nervous nellie in 2008 and announced he was suspending his campaign for president and wanted a debate postponed.  Now, please note, in the midst of the Civil War -- as well as during WWII -- the country held elections.  But McCain thinks only one thing can be done at a time?  Maybe he has low energy levels and needs to retire?  If he can't handle more than one issue at a time, it may be a sign that the mind is gone.
His snide and bitchy ending was so bitter it will probably even overshadow Jeff Sessions trying to argue his case by insisting "I think I am in accord with the ACLU in that view."  It was the sort of once-in-a-lifetime statement.  (He was stating that the ACLU knew that the Court would not repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell and that he knew it too.)  John McCain, scene stealer.
Yesterday the Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing on the Don't Ask, Don't Tell review the Pentagon conducted. Ava's covered it at Trina's site with "Senators Scott Brown and Roland Burris (Ava)," Wally's covered it at Rebecca's site with "Senate Armed Services Committee" and Kat's covered it at her own site with "Where I find time to praise Ben Nelson."  A better moment that was not included in the above was Senator Evan Bayh noting, "There just seems to be something fundamentally wrong when we ask men and women to lay down their lives for their country and yet they cannot be honest about who they are."  One person had more "worst moments" than anyone else: John McCain who marched against equality and attempted to mow down several witnesses, his colleagues on the Committee and the American justice system.  On the last one, McCain declared of WikiLeaks and its revelations, "So far all we know is that one Private First Class is responsible for all of this."  Is he trying to say PFC Bradley Manning is running WikiLeaks?  Or is he trying to say Bradley Manning was the leak to WikiLeaks?

Neither makes any sense because Bradley Manning hasn't had a trial, hasn't entered a plea. In the United States, you are innocent until proven guilty. It's not a difficult concept but, for some reason, John McCain struggles with it. Today, WikiLeaks' Julian Assange declared, "For the past four years one of our goals has been to lionise the source who take the real risks in nearly every journalistic disclosure and without whose efforts, journalists would be nothing.  If indeed it is the case, as alleged by the Pentagon, that the young soldier -- Bradley Manning -- is behind some of our recent disclosures, then he is without doubt an unparalleled hero." Assange was taking questions in an online news conference at the Guardian.
Where in the world is WikiLeaks? Currently click here. Ravi Somaiya and Alan Cowell (New York Times) report, "An American provider of Internet domain names withdrew its service to the WikiLeaks Web site after a barrage of attacks by hackers that threatened to destabilize its entire system, according to the provider and WikiLeaks itself on Friday. But within hours, WikiLeaks said it had registered its domain name in Switzerland." The WikiLeaks Twitter feed has remained up:

  1. WIKILEAKS: Free speech has a number:
  2. You can also easily support WikiLeaks via
  3. WikiLeaks,org domain killed by US after claimed mass attacks KEEP US STRONG
  4. Pilger: The War You Don't See (interview on new film)

Victoria Ward (Telegraph of London) explains
, "WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said the development was an example of the 'privatisation of state censorship' in the US and is a 'serious problem'. [.. .] WikiLeaks has released a file that it dubbed its 'insurance policy'. The file is encrypted with a code that is so strong it is deemed impossible to break. It is said to be planning to release a key that unlocks the files if anything happens to the site or its founder, Julian Assange." Jane Wakefield (BBC News) adds, "The net appears to be closing in on Wikileaks as more and more companies it relies on distance themselves from it. Shutting down the main .org site will cause problems but it is by no means the end. Its Twitter feed remains defiant, urging fans to log on via its IP address with the tweet 'Free speech has a number:'. In some ways, any attempts to cut off Wikileaks could be a case of too little, too late."  Matthew Campbell (Bloomberg News) reports, "It is 'not acceptable' for servers in France to host the site, French Industry Minister Eric Besson said in a letter to the CGIET technology agency. The minister asked for measures to bar WikiLeaks from France, where it is partially hosted by Roubaix, France-based OVH SAS." It's already lost one French host. Deutsche Welle reports,  "A second French host, Octopuce, based in Paris, was also a WikiLeaks host for approximately the last six weeks up until this week, when the WikiLeaks site sustained a decent-sized cyberattack of 10 gigabits per second." Who's doing these attacks?  The one on the US server should result in Eric Holder assigning an investigative team.  Failure to do so will result in more rumors that it is indeed the US government attacking WikiLeaks in an attempt to take it offline for good.  Tara Kelly (Time magazine) notes, "It's not known where the cyber attacks are coming from, however, WikiLeaks claimed that intelligence agencies from the U.S. and elsewhere have been targeting its site. The reason? It's spilled thousands of embarrassing U.S. diplomatic cables as well as classified U.S. military documents that has angered the U.S. and other governments." A caller to the second hour of The Diane Rehm Show (NPR) today asked about the cyber attacks.  James Kitfield responded,  "I assure you there are some reporters who are on that story.  Whether they will get to the bottom of it, I don't know.  It's very hard, as we've seen, in all the hacking done against our systems, it's very easy to hide the fingerprints of who the hackers are.  But it wouldn't suprise me at all if this was the US government.  I mean we have an offensive cyber war capability. This is obviously seen -- as [demonstrated by] a Justice Dept investigation of him for spying -- obviously seen as a national security threat.  And for them to actually try and take down the sites would not -- I have no proof, no evidence -- but it would not surprise me."
The Library of Congress has joined in censorship and so have others as Gawker reports:
U.S. soldiers in Iraq who try to read about the Wikileaks disclosures -- or read coverage of them in mainstream news sites -- on unclassified networks get a page warning them that they're about to break the law.

The federal government seems to have lost its mind in a manic game of internet whack-a-mole aimed at getting the Wikileaks State Department cables thrown down the memory hole: First, Sen. Joe Lieberman successfully nudged Amazon into kicking the site off its servers. Then the Library of Congress blocked the site for all employees and users of its computer terminals. Now we learn that the State Department is warning prospective hires that if they write about Wikileaks on Twitter or Facebook, they might not get that job. And now Gawker has learned that military installations in Iraq are trying to keep soldiers from reading about Wikileaks.

Mohammad Fadhel:  Good morning. My name is Mohammad Fadhel from Agence France Presse. My question is to Secretary Clinton. In order to contain the damages which have been caused by all these leaks through WikiLeaks, what are you going to tell your allies, especially those in those parts which touches your allies exactly? Thank you.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:  Well, of course, we have very clearly stated that this action was illegal and regrettable, that we have close and important relationships that will not be affected, or certainly not damaged, but that the United States will continue to engage in the important diplomatic work that I am doing here, bilaterally, and more broadly tonight.  And I think that many people who are experienced in diplomacy, as many of the diplomats here in Bahrain are, know that many of these alleged statements are taken out of context. But most importantly, they do not represent the policy of the United States. The policy of the United States is made in Washington. The President and I are very clear about the direction that the United States is taking in supporting our partners, and that will continue.
The attacks on WikiLeaks are coming from all over.   Wednesday, Marcia noted some of the attacks including that Amazon had dropped WikiLeaks after hearing from Senator Joe Lieberman's staff.  Marcia announced she's now boycotting Amazon over the censorship. That night Betty debunked the sillies and the crazies.  If you've missed it, a number of Hillary supporters in the 2008 Democratic Party primary have created 'theories' that WikiLeaks exists to take Hillary down. They also maintain that Julian Assange "called" for Hillary to resign.  (And some news outlets have also printed that false charge.)  Betty provided the walkthrough on how you call for a resignation and what actually happened with Assange (Time magazine asked him if Hillary should resign -- at the end of a long interview).  Betty then noted how Lambert (Corrente) was attacked by Hillary zealots for insisting there was a standard of behavior that all had meet -- which is what led to hostility aimed at Lambert in the comments of that post.  Betty rightly argued (at her own site):
Now I understand the reaction to a degree. Hillary has been wrongly and unfairly blamed and accused for so many things and that was especially true in 2008 when so-called Democrats were hurling mud at her from the gutter of Matt Drudge and beyond. And I understand the need to defend her.  
But I don't defend her when she's wrong. If she's broken a treaty or a law, then she's wrong.  
Sadly, a lot of us are becoming as knee jerk as the Cult of St. Barack. We need to take a strong look at that. And we need to prove that we were right, Hillary was the best choice in 2008.  
She was the best choice because she was smarter, she had more experience, she had a better record and her core supporters were not afraid to say, "Hillary, you're wrong." 
Contrast that with the so-so intelligence of Barack, the lack of experience, the sorry record and his core supporters who insist that, as Ava and C.I. like to mock, he pees rainbows. 
We're not those people, we're not the Cult of St. Hillary. We know she's not perfect and we know she makes mistakes. We know we have to hold her and every other politician to a standard and we also know that even if she disagreed with us on what we saw as a standard, she would support the holding of her feet to the fire. We know that because she spoke of it time and again, how she wanted to work for us.

This is Julian Assange answering Richard Stengel's (Time magazine) question of whether Hillary should resign as Secretary of State.
JA: I believe ... I don't think it would make much of a difference either way. But she should resign if it can be shown that she was responsible for ordering U.S. diplomatic figures to engage in espionage in the United Nations, in violation of the international covenants to which the U.S. has signed up. Yes, she should resign over that.
That's not controversial.  If you break the laws, you resign.  Regardless of whom you are.  I personally like Sandy Berger but have noted here that when he copped a plea that should mean he could no longer hold appointed office.  He could run for office and if the voters of whatever area wanted to trust him, that was one thing.  But having agreed that he violated the law and a trust, he shouldn't be appointed to any government position.  Again, I like Sandy.  But right is right.  I like Hillary as well.  But if she broke laws -- that includes treaties the US is a signatory to -- then she would need to resign.  If.  The documents released thus far do not prove that she did.  (Which is something Wally and Cedric were tackling this week.) Even Julian Assange says "if it can be shown".  But the myth that he's calling for her resignation has led all the loons to come out charging.  Some, see Marcia's take down of Riverdaughter last night, are so stupid that they (a) accept the lie that something's been proven regarding Hillary and (b) then insist that it doesn't matter as they minimize what the documents show.  (The cable shows law breaking -- that's reality, know the law -- it does not show Hillary authorized it.  "Of course, we don't know asked by whom," Diane Rehm pointed out on the second hour of today's The Diane Rehm Show. Watch this weekend and you may see a walkback by several outlets as they try to address the CIA involvement and need to figure out how -- since they don't want to run corrections, though they should -- they twist the story around.) 
Let's stay with realities.  Reality: I'm not attracted to mincing men so I avoid Robert Gibbs when possible.  But the White House plus-size spokesmodel came up yesterday afternoon when we were speaking with a group of students.  WikiLeaks has stolen government documents!  It's true because Tubby Gibbs said so!  Eric Holder hasn't said that.  Robert Gibbs is a professional liar -- that job requires one.  Robert Gibbs declared that there was "an ongoing criminal investigation about the stealing of and the dissemination of sensitive and classified information."  WikiLeaks didn't steal anything.  They have copies of government documents.  Gibbs is a fat-ass liar.  Or, in fairness, he may just be that ignorant.  This issue has been dealt with repeatedly in this country.  Let's use the Pentagon Papers.  Copies were passed on to the press.  Not the original.  To have been in possession of the original would have put the press in possession of government property.  WikiLeaks did not steal information and they are not in possession of stolen government documents. Bradley Manning -- who has not been found guilty of anything -- is charged with leaking material -- even he is not charged with theft.
The Cable Gate archive has been spread, along with significant material from the US and other countries to over 100,000 people in encrypted form. If something happens to us, the key parts will be released automatically. Further, the Cable Gate archives is in the hands of multiple news organisations. History will win. The world will be elevated to a better place. Will we survive? That depends on you.
As noted in Tuesday's snapshot, among the revelations in the batch of cables WikiLeaks relased was that the US government pressured the Spanish government to kill the case against the US military for killing journalist Jose Couso in 2003. Emma Pinedo (Reuters) reports, "Couso and Reuters cameraman Taras Protsyuk, a Ukrainian, were killed on April 8, 2003, when Sergeant Thomas Gibson, Captain Philip Wolford and Lieutenant Colonel Phil de Camp fired a tank shell at the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad. The Couso family has been campaigning for the three U.S. soldiers to be tried in Spain. They said the WikiLeaks revelations undermined the whole process. They are now working with their lawyers on how to proceed." Giles Tremlett (Guardian) adds, "Spain's governing socialist party and the opposition People's Party, both of which have been embarrassed by the cables, have remained tight-lipped. Socialist ministers have called the Madrid cables – which deal with US attempts to stop court investigations into torture at Guantánamo Bay, CIA rendition flights and the Couso case – as 'decontextualised' and 'partial'."

Amnesty International issued the following today:
Amnesty International today strongly condemned a call by the Iraqi Interior Minister for the swift execution of 39 alleged al-Qai'da members as they were paraded before journalists, handcuffed and clad in orange jumpsuits.
"For Jawad al-Bolani to abuse his position as Interior minister by parading these men publicly and calling for their execution before they have even gone to trial, flagrantly flaunting the requirement for defendants to be presumed innocent until proven guilty by a court, is absolutely outrageous," said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International's director for the Middle East and North Africa.
"It makes a complete mockery of any suggestion that these suspects will receive a fair trial, and sets a most ominous precedent for others."
Jawad al-Bolani said at a press conference in Baghdad on Thursday:
"Today, we will send those criminals and the investigation results to the courts that will sentence them to death. Our demand is not to delay the carrying out of the executions against these criminals so that to deter terrorist and criminal elements."

According to media reports he also said that most of the 39 suspects had rejoined al-Qai'da linked groups after being released from Iraqi prisons administered by the USA. One of them was identified as Hazim al-Zawi, al-Qai'da in Iraq's third-highest leader.
Amnesty International highlighted serious concerns about human rights abuses suffered by the many thousands of detainees in Iraq, many of whom were transferred from US to Iraqi custody in the months up to mid-July 2010, in its report New Order, Same Abuses: Unlawful detentions and torture in Iraq, published in September.
The report detailed how many detainees were arbitrarily held, sometimes for several years without charge or trial, and often tortured to obtain forced confessions.
"We have been saying for a long time that 'confessions' in Iraq are regularly extracted under torture, so any 'confessions' these 39 suspects have made, which may be used in their trial, must be thoroughly investigated to ensure that they have not been made under duress, torture or other ill-treatment," said Malcolm Smart.
"What chance can there be for any defendant to receive a fair trial if so senior a government minister shows such contempt for the rule of law?"

Amnesty International has called on the Iraqi government to ensure that these and other detainees awaiting trial must receive fair trials that conform to recognized international standards.

The organization said it recognizes that the security situation in Iraq remains precarious and that it is the government's duty to protect its population, including members of religious and ethnic minorities. However this must be done with full respect of human rights and the rule of law.

Amnesty International has on numerous occasions strongly condemned human rights abuses committed by armed groups in Iraq.

Amnesty International said it opposes the death penalty unconditionally as a violation of the right to life and the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.

The organization has called on Iraq to end executions as a step toward complete abolition of the death penalty.

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Last night, Mike noted  Sam Dagher (Wall St. Journal) report which opened with, "Iraqi Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani paraded in front of reporters on Thursday 39 suspected members of the Islamic State of Iraq, an al Qaeda-linked terror group responsible for some of the bloodiest attacks in the country." Mike observed, "Jawad and Ministry of the Interior are thugs as the Los Angeles Times has reported for years. I think Dagher did a good job in his report and I think "paraded" really captures it. As a Catholic, I'm opposed to the death penalty. In fact, the Pope is calling for Iraq not to execute Tariq Aziz. But Jawad's not. He's not opposed. And it really drives home how he's using these people as pawns. People who may or may not be guilty. Iraq's famous for their show confessions. But if they are guilty, for Jawad, it's parade them in a guilt parade before killing them." Mike goes on to note how Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad's first mass after the October 31st attack found Father Mukhlis praying for those who suffered in the attack and those who inflicted the suffering ("We will pray for those who assaulted our church and shed the blood of our martyrs."). 
Turning to the lack of a government still, Salah Hemeid (Al-Ahram) observes that one of Nouri al-Maliki's biggest problems  "is the precise make-up of his new cabinet, amid fierce jockeying for power and reports that ministerial seats are being bought and sold. [. . .]  Al-Maliki has said he intends to appoint some 39 ministers in an attempt to maximise cabinet seats and satisfy ambitious politicians, even if this leads to millions of dollars of extra expenses in salaries and other expenditure."  And how many posts will Nouri have to create? We noted it months ago, Nouri was promising cabinet positions repeatedly -- the same ones. Now he's got the deal he wanted and he's having to create cabinet positions in an attempt to make good on his promises. Will everyone be taken in by his sucker deals? Real cabinet positions come with power and not just a title. From yesterday's snapshot:

A number of reports are being filed on Hussain al-Shahristani. Ben Lando (Iraq Oil Report) is the only one so far who gets it right: al-Shahristani is not just the Minister of Oil, he's also the Minister of Electricity. Nouri named him that when the Minister of Electricity quit in May. No, it's not a real post because all cabinet ministers must be approved by Parliament and Parliament never approved al-Shahristani to the post of Minister of Elecrticity. The news today is that al-Shahristani has been nominated Deputy Prime Minister for Oil and Electricity Issues.
Does that sound strange? It should. It's not a real position. Nouri just created it. We warned you he had overpromised on posts -- promising several people they could be the same post -- and now he has to create new posts just to give the appearance of keeping his promises.

Hassan Hafidh (Wall St. Journal) reports
today, "People close to Mr. Shahristani, an ally of Mr. Maliki's, said he would accept the new job provided that he keeps a hand on the tiller of Iraq's energy sector even if Mr. Maliki is forced to hand the oil ministry to other rival political blocs." Repeating, real cabinet positions come with power and not just a title.

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 eight months, twenty-six 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."  Reidar Visser (Foreign Affairs) offers:

But so far, the power-sharing deal has been disconcertingly lacking in substance. Right now, it appears that the notion of power-sharing in Iraq is nothing more than a spin-doctor operation by the Obama administration -- to which Iraq's dominant Shiite Islamist parties are happy to pay lip service. Looking at the distribution of influential positions in the new government, only one player has been given true power: Nouri al-Maliki.
Iraqiya, besides having gained the speakership of the parliament -- an important position but one that remains checked by deputy speakers with relatively strong powers -- has only been promised a castle in the air: the presidency of a projected National Council for Strategic Policies. The council, which ostensibly would give Iraqiya influence in all major decisions regarding defense, internal security, and economic and energy-related issues, is thus far being treated by Maliki and his allies as a deliberative think tank whose main function would be to offer advice.
As for the Kurds, they have apparently received promises from Maliki on key demands regarding disputed territories and possibly the oil sector; in terms of specific cabinet positions, however, they, too, have few guarantees. The presidency, which the Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani had demanded for personal reasons, is now an essentially powerless position. This new office lacks the strong veto power of the transitional three-man presidency council, which expired when Talabani was elected as an ordinary president without any deputies on November 11, bringing the five-year transition stipulated in the Iraqi constitution to an end.

How bad are things in the government-forming process? Xinhua reports, "U.S. Vice President Joe Biden will chair a high-level UN Security Council meeting on Iraq later this month to 'recognize the very real progress' that country has made so far, Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the UN who also holds the rotating presidency of the Security Council for December, told reporters here on Thursday." UPI adds that United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon yesterday "described the nomination of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for a second term as a 'breakthrough' in the democratic experiment under way in Iraq. Delays in forming a new government, however, were cause for some concern for U.N. member states." And they don't expect, even if a cabinet is pulled together, anything to "develop before early 2011". The meet-up will take place December 15th -- or that's the plan currently -- and interestingly there will be talk of taking Iraq out of receivership. Nouri desperately wants control -- and that includes the oil dollars from pre-war that the UN controlled via their program -- and the US desperately wants the theft of Iraqi oil laws passed.


Reuters notes an Abu Ghraib roadside bombing left three people injured and, dropping back to yesterday, a Baghdad roadside bombing which claimed the life of 1 Sahwa.
Reuters notes 1 Sahwa was shot dead in Baghdad, 1 Iraqi soldier was shot dead in Baghdad and police Brig Ahemed Salih was left wounded from a Baghdad shooting.
Turning to legal news, and dropping back to November 17th:
Chiyomi Sumida and Charlie Reed (Stars and Stripes) report that the House passed an ammendment yesterday "in response to the case of Hotaru Ferschke". Rick Maze (Navy Times) adds: "It is called the Marine Sgt. Michael H. Ferschke Jr. Memorial Act, named for a sergeant who discovered just as he was deploying to Iraq that his Japanese girlfriend, Hota, was pregnant. The couple married in a ceremony conducted over the telephone. About one month later, Ferschke was killed. One month after that, the child, Michael III, was born, according to [John] Conyers. The Defense Department recognized the marriage, paying death benefits to the widow, but the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees immigration law, did not, said Rep. John Duncan Jr., R-Tenn., the chief sponsor of the bill."
Rick Maze (Marine Corps Time) reports the bill passed in the Senate today and will now return to the House.
TV notes. On PBS' Washington Week, Yochi Dreazen (National Journal), John Harwood (New York Times) and Doyle McManus (Los Angeles Times) join Gwen around the table. Gwen now has a weekly column at Washington Week and the current one is "One-Week Wonders: We Pay Attention So You Don't Have To." This week, Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Melinda Henneberger, US House Rep Barbara Lee, Mariam Memarsadeghi, US House Rep Shelley Moore Capito and Genevieve Wood 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 about environmental concerns in low-income and minority neighborhoods. Turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:

The Chairman
The chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke gives a rare interview to Scott Pelley in which he discusses pressing economic issues, including the unemployment rate, the deficit and the Fed's controversial $600 billion U.S. Treasury Bill purchase.

Mark Zuckerberg, the 26-yr.-old founder and CEO of mega-social media site Facebook, talks to Lesley Stahl about his life and his business, now worth an estimated $35 billion. (This is a double-length segment.) | Watch Video

60 Minutes, Sunday, Dec. 5, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.