Friday, August 12, 2011

Iraq snapshot

Friday, August 12, 2011.  Chaos and violence continue, the US Army releases data on military suicides, Nouri and State Of Law object to something they previously agreed to (twice0, the AFL-CIO pulls a fake out, and more.
Starting with the Libyan War, Amnesty International issued the following this week:
NATO must take all necessary precautions to avoid civilian casualties during military operations, Amnesty International said today, after allegations by Libyan officials loyal to Colonel Mu'ammar al-Gaddafi that 85 people were killed during an air strike on Monday night.
The organization called on NATO to thoroughly investigate allegations of the deaths of unarmed civilians during the air strike in the area of Majar, south of Zlitan city.
Independent journalists taken to the scene reported having been shown up to 30 body bags, of which the bodies of two women and two children were revealed
On Tuesday, NATO military spokesperson Colonel Roland Lavoie said the "legitimate target" of the strike was several farm buildings taken over by al-Gaddafi forces and said that he had "no evidence of civilian casualties."
"NATO must take all feasible precautions to avoid civilian casualties, even in those cases where al-Gaddafi forces are using civilian facilities for military purposes," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui of Amnesty International.
"NATO continues to stress its commitment to protect civilians. To that effect, it should thoroughly investigate this and all other recent incidents in which civilians were reportedly killed in western Libya as a result of air strikes."
On 2 August, Amnesty International wrote to NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen asking for clarification on incidents in June in which unarmed civilians were reportedly killed and injured in Surman and Tripoli.
On 19 June, several civilians were reportedly killed, including two children and a woman, when a projectile struck their homes in Tripoli.
A NATO Spokesperson later said that during the air strike on a missile site, "a potential weapon system failure occurred and this caused the weapon not to hit the intended target, and reportedly resulted in a number of civilian casualties."
On 20 June, NATO strikes in Surman against what appeared to be civilian homes in a compound belonging to one of Colonel al-Gaddafi's associates, Khweildy al-Hamedi, reportedly killed several civilians, including two children and their mother.
NATO said that the facility was a legitimate military target and assured that precautions were taken before conducting the "strike which minimized any potential risk of causing unnecessary casualties".
Since March 2011, Amnesty International has repeatedly requested access to territories under the control of Colonel Mu'ammar al-Gaddafi in order to investigate allegations of human rights violations and violations to international humanitarian law. These included the sites of NATO bombings where civilian casualties have been reported. The organization received no response.
On 17 March, as fighting intensified in eastern Libya as well as in Misratah, the UN Security Council authorized the establishment of a no-fly zone over Libya and the implementation of all necessary measures, short of foreign occupation, to protect civilians.
The international alliance launched its first military attacks against al-Gaddafi forces on 19 March. NATO took over the military operation in late March.
In their attempt to regain territory under opposition control, al-Gaddafi forces launched indiscriminate attacks and attacks targeting civilians.
Such attacks were particularly widespread in Misratah. Residents faced relentless and indiscriminate rocket attacks from March to mid-May and sporadic attacks in the summer.
On 31 July, three unarmed civilians were killed and another injured when rockets landed in the residential neighbourhood of Magasaba.
Whether attacking hospitals or bombing news outlets, NATO has shown a blood desire to inflict as much destruction and death as possible in what was originally termed a "humanitarian mission" that would "protect" civilians.  At the start of the war, it was also asserted it would be a matter of weeks.  That was six months ago.  Every other week, the media breathlessly announces that the so-called 'rebels' are advancing. Are they crawling across Libya on their bellies? 
The reality is that they're not advancing in any real sense and that's due to the fact that the US government has yet again backed exiles -- decades old exiles -- and just knows that these people who chose to leave the country will have sway on those who remained behind.  Not very likely.  And that's why NATO bombs like crazy, more than willing to kill civilians in the hope that the final result will be Libyans screaming, "I don't care! I don't care! Do whatever you want! Just stop the bombings!"
This week's talking points was "advancing" and "success" just around that corner.  But the week ends with Reuters reporting the so-called 'rebels' attempting to overthrow the current government suffered 11 deaths "in the past 24 hours" while fighting in Brega.
Meanwhile  the Coalition of the Killing got a little bigger today when Russia made an announcement.  Xinhua reports, "Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree Friday backing the U.N. Security Council resolution that authorized international military action in Libya, the presidential press service said. Russia abstained from voting on UNSC Resolution 1973, which imposed a no-fly zone over Libya and tightened sanctions on the North African country, when the measure was presented in March. According to a decree posted on the Kremlin's website, Russia has agreed to ban all flights to Libya in Russian air space with the exception of flights for humanitarian purposes or for making an emergency landing."
2008 US presidential candidate and former US House Rep Cynthia McKinney is speaking around the country, truth-telling, about the Libyan War. Press TV notes today that hundreds turned out in Canada to hear her speak this week and that tomorrow (August 13th) she will be taking part in the Millions March in Harlem.   David Hungerford (Fight Back News) notes hundreds turned out for Cynthia's Newark, New Jersey speak-out and that she quoted Libyans stating, "This is our land and what lies underneath it belongs to  us. We aren't going to let anyone take it away. We wiil fight to the last person and the last bullet." Workers World notes of her speech to a packed crowd at Atlanta's Shrine of the Black Madonna last month, "She declared to the enthusiastic crowd that she would never be a 'team player for war' but was representing the 'peace team' on her travels around the world'."  June 24th, she spoke in DC and this is an excerpt of the speech:
Cynthia McKinney:  I took a rash step because I was so outraged.  I was outraged that our president would launch yet another illegal, unconstitutional, immoral war.  And so I also knew that my government was lying. I knew -- Again, yes, that's right.  I knew also that the press were lying. After all, in this country we've got at least one court decision that says it's okay for the press to knowingly lie to the American people and to the international community. But not only that, we know from just a few years ago with Iraq that 935 times not only were we lied to but our president, vice president and Condoleeza Rice but the press readily, zealously printed all of those lies. And since I'm a student of the counter-intelligence program, I know that it didn't start with the Iraq War, it started a long time ago.  And the demonizing, the targeting.  Our own FBI said that they wanted to neutralize certain leaders who dared to dissent. And while I'm here, I'm staying at the home of John Judge who has dedicated his life to understanding the nature of political assassinations that have taken place in our country and so we know that we have had silent coups and the end of sniper's bullets that have killed our leaders who have dared to dissent.   Faced with all of that, Brother Akbar [Muhammad] that is so vitally important. Black Amrica has been extremely supportive of our president but not in this case. A line has been drawn in the sand with respect to our president bombing Africa.  And Libya in particular because of the history of support when the United States was supporting apartheid in Africa, on the African continent it was the people of Libya and the leadership of Muammar Gaddafi  who were fighting to eradicate apartheid. And for those Blacks and people of color inside this countrty who were fighting to eradicate American style apartheid, the people of Libya and Muammar Gaddafi were supportive as well. Now I don't know that history but Brother Akbar knows that history very well. And that is part of the reason why Black America has drawn this line in the sand because this is something that is a historical relationship that has context that [. . .] that our President Obama has stepped across, he has crossed over the threshold. I have been blessed to be able to travel all over the world and as I have traveled, at one point I was extremely proud of the fact that Black people in the United States all over the world have a moral authority because everyone all over the world understands the plight that we have struggled against and that we continue to have to struggle against. But unfortunately now, the policies of the Bush administration have been enuciated and implemented by Black faces from Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice and now we have a continuation of those polices through the office of President Obama. So I am directly impacted negatively by the actions of these Black people who have decided that they would cast their lot with War Mongerers, War Criminals and people who peddle in death and destruction.  So I decided that as a responsible and conscious Black person, I wanted my voice heard against what these other people were inunciating. And at the same time, I am sick and tired of war. 
Cynthia McKinney's truth-telling tour continues:
A continuing mobilization against the U.S. war on Libya has taken place in cities across the country. Packed, standing room only audiences at major meetings have heard former Congressperson Cynthia McKinney report on her June fact-finding trip to Libya with the Dignity delegation. In every meeting the message rings out: Stop the U.S./NATO bombing of Libya.
In the coming ten days Cynthia McKinney is scheduled to speak at meetings in Boston on Saturday, August 6, in Los Angeles on Sunday, August 7, in Vancouver on Tuesday, August 9. McKinney will speak at the Millions March in Harlem of August 13 along with Minister Farrakhan and other opponents of war and sanctions on Libya and Zimbabwe. She is scheduled to speak at 2 meetings in North Carolina on Sunday, August 14 hosted by the Black Workers for Justice in Rocky Mount and later at a historic civil rights church in Durham.
To see Cynthia speaking at Riverside Church, click here.  The release notes that Cynthia spoke to a standing-room-only audience at Newark's Abyssinian Baptist Church.   Quoting from the release:
A Full listing of the current tour follows and is available at:
National-tour, now to 19 cities, organized by International Action
Center in coordination with many antiwar and
community organizations from July 7 to August 28, 2011.
And we'll note her upcoming events:
August 13, Saturday - NYC with Millions March in Harlem
August 14, Sunday - Rocky Mount, and Durham, NC
August 19, Friday – St Louis MO
August 21, Sunday - Pittsburg, PA
August 25, Thursday - Baltimore, MD
August 27, Saturday – Detroit, MI
August 28, Sunday – Denver CO
Please note if you're planning to see her Sunday in Rocky Mount that the venue has changed.  She will now be speaking at the Imperical Centre.  It will still start at 3:00 p.m.
Turning to Iraq where Nouri al-Maliki's greed was once only fabled and whispered of softly, today it's legendary. As he continues to fleece the Iraqi people, his greed may be the thing that destroys the US-propped up government.

Despite the March 7, 2010 election being seen as a rejection of Nouri -- whose slate came in second despite all of the predictions otherwise as well as Nouri's own abuse of office in an attempt to bring in the votes -- his greed would not allow for anyone else to be prime minister. As Nouri dug in his heels following the election, a few wondered what it would take to get Nouri out of the office he had just lost? Thanks to the US, he didn't have to worry and, after nine months of Political Stalemate I, he and the political blocs agreed to follow the Erbil Agreement. Among other things, the Erbil Agreement called for the creation of a national council on security which would be headed by Ayad Allawi (Allawi's Iraqiya came in first in the March 2010 elections). Then Nouri got named prime minister-designate and promptly trashed the agreement.

Via a series of summer house parties, Jalal Talabani brought together the political blocs and, as late as yesterday, there was praise for Jalal's efforts in the Iraqi press. Political Stalemate II was going to be ended. And before nine months! The political blocs -- including Nouri -- had agreed to return to the Erbil Agreement. Yesterday in Parliament, the most vocal opponents to the creation of the national council were from Nouri's State Of Law. Alsumaria TV reports today, "Iraq Premier Nouri Al Maliki reiterated that he is not convinced by the Higher National Strategic Policies Council as the country is heading towards Ministerial reduction and added that the Council is to be established in order to please some parties and doesn't have any role in solving the problems of the political process. During an interview with Alsumaria TV Maliki said he is not convinced by establishing this council especially that the institutions of the Iraqi State are currently flaccid. Maliki stressed that the situation will deteriorate if politics interfered in security."

Though the body was supposed to be independent and have actual powers, Al Rafidayn quotes Nouri stating that its work would be purely advisory. Nouri's trashing this latest agreement much sooner than he did at the end of 2010. When State of Law carped and complained in Parliament yesterday following the reading of the draft law, many observers knew that they must do so with Nouri's blessing (Nouri is the head of State of Law). Now the surprise over that has been replaced with puzzlement over why Nouri is attacking the agreement he just signed off on? Since the only thing most are aware he got was for others to begin publicly speaking favorably of at least entertaining the thought of US forces remaining on the ground in Iraq beyond 2011, that would appear to be all he got from the summer House Parties -- spreading the blame for a continued US presence all around in the government.
On the subject of whether or not US troops remain in Iraq after the start of the new year,
Robert Naiman (Huffington Post) observes, "John McCain once said that there's no problem with keeping U.S. troops in Iraq forever, just like we do in Germany, Japan, and South Korea.  How liberals mocked him! But that's what the Obama Administration is now trying to do: keep US troops in Iraq forever. [. . . ] The Pentagon doesn't want you to notice that at the same time Washington is seized with debt hysteria, and the nation's mainstream media are demanding cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits on the preposterous claim that 'we can no longer afford it,' the Pentagon is laying plans to keep 10,000 U.S. troops in Iraq forever.  They call these troops 'trainers,' so we are not supposed to notice. But these 'trainers' engage in combat: they kill Iraqis, and they get killed by Iraqis."  Naiman is with Just Foreign Policy and they're asking you to tell Congress no more Iraq War funding after the end of 2011.  And while Americans wait for the day that Barack will speak publicly about the efforts of the US government to extend the US military presence in Iraq, the costs are not only finanical but also human lives. A memorial in California has been tracking deaths in the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars.  Has been.  Jonathan Morales (Contra Costa Times) reports that the memorial in Lafayette has simply run out of space for any more crosses. There is no more space to erect additional crosses to note the deaths and yet the US government wants to continue both wars.
Political intrigue continues in Iraq as well.  For example,  Al Mada reports that the Sadr bloc is calling for an investigation into the alleged fake contracts and alleged theft of funds in the Ministry of Electricity. Over the weekend, Nouri al-Maliki announced he was firing the Minister of Electricity due to fake contracts worth billions. There were two main responses. First, many stated Nouri didn't have the power to do the firing, only Parliament did. Second, the Minister of Electricity floated that he had many stories to tell. It has since emerged that these contracts Nouri claims to be surprised and appalled by carry . . . Nouri's signature. Nouri and State Of Law's latest move is to note that this member of Nouri's Cabinet is also a member of Iraqiya. I'm not sure how that assists Nouri since, over the weekend, Iraqiya was the first to state that they supported the move Nouri made.  Dr. Nimrod Raphaeli (The Middle East Media Research Institute) offers an analysis of what happened:
In July of this year, the Ministry of Electricity signed a contract with a Canadian company, CAPGENT, for $1.2 billion for the construction of 10 power stations with a production capacity of 100 megawatts each. The company was registered in Vancouver, Canada. It also signed a second contract with a German company, Maschinerbrau Halberstadt, for €500 million ($650 million) for the construction of five power stations with a production capacity of 100 megawatts each, to be completed within 12 months from the time a line of credit was extended. It now appears that the two companies are fictitious, and had the contracts been executed they would have would have constituted a monumental case of fraud involving senior officials of the Ministry of Electricity.
The two fraudulent cases came to light thanks to the personal efforts of Jawad Hashim, a former minister of planning in Iraq during the early Ba'thist regime in the 1960s and early 1970s. In a handwritten letter to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, datelined Vancouver, Canada, August 2, 2011, Hashim detailed the fraud.
As a resident of Vancouver, Hashim decided to investigate the available information on the Canadian company while he asked the former minister of economy and governor of the Iraqi central bank, Fakhri Yassin Qadduri, who resides in Germany, to investigate the identity of the German company.

David Baines (Vancouver Sun) reports that Jawad Hashim (the whistleblower) was convicted of "in absentia, of embezzling more than $50 million from the Arab Monetary Fund" and that Hashim maintains that the charges are false and were revenge for his defection from Saddam Hussein's government and his departing Iraq.  Hayder Najm (niqash) questions whether the contracts are indeed with fake companies.

Last Friday, a prison in Hilla saw a riot and a break out. Among the details that were passed on to the media was that guns with silencers were stored in the prison -- by guards. Why do you need a silencer in a prison if you're a guard? That question was never answered.  Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports four prisoners were killed, 1 guard was killed and four guards were injured.  Dar Addustour reports that the prison break was addressed in Parliament today. Now might be a good time to note what's not addresssed: though there was a great deal of grandstanding when protests were taking place repeatedly throughout Iraq, no salaries were changed. That's the presidency and the vice presidency, that's the prime minister.
Reuters notes a Baghdad roadside bombing last night left three people injured and a second one left two Iraqi soldiers injured (other events from last night noted by Retuers were included in yesterday's snapshot). 


"There is no way to fund what we must do as a nation without bringing our troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan. The militarization of our foreign policy has proven to be a costly mistake. It is time to invest at home" - AFL-CIO Executive Council, Aug. 3, 2011



Tom Hayden found the statement amazing and a sign of a 'progressive' victory.  This morning, I disagreed. Tom may have indeed been right.  Because the statement is rather weak and the AFL-CIO has been calling out the Iraq War for years, click here for one 2007 example and although the new statement was approved and passed August 3rd, you can search in favin on the AFL-CIO's website for it.  You'd think such an important statement might make the main  page.  Wrong.  But on the main page you will hear about what you can do for the Democratic Party in next year's elections and about those 'bad' Republicans.  But you won't find the statement. Because it means nothing to the AFL-CIO.  If it did, they'd make it their damn banner already.  It's nothing but an attempt at advertising.  It's nothing but, "We've got to elect Dems!  Who can connect with liberal voters now that Barack's proven to be the golden calf?  I know!  The unions!  Get the AFL-CIO to issue a statement and then when they come to the website we'll lock in their votes for the Democratic Party."  I'm real damn sick of this illegal war to begin with.  But I'm also sick of the partisn b.s. that has surrounded it from day one. It's been used to give Republicans control of Congress (that was the 2002 strategy), it's been used to give Democrats control of both houses of Congress and it's been used to flip the White House.  But the Iraq War has not ended.  And if 'progressives' were serious about ending it today, they'd be talking about the war every time they were in front of the camera or microphone and, in Congress, Barbara Lee wouldn't be writing that embarrassing letter.  Instead, she or someone else, would compose a letter that simply stated: "We will not allow you to continue this war.  We will stop funding." That's all that needs to be said.  And it's not even an issue of votes.  A real filibuster could defeat any and every attempt at continuing to fund the illegal war.
On the main page of US Labor Against the War, the top headline, in huge letters, is about the AFL-CIO resolution. And if they cared about their own resolution, that's what the AFL-CIO would have done as well.  Instead it's a 'progressive.'  Meaning, it tricks and decieves, lies and manipulates because all that ever matters is how you vote every other year in November. That is the true meaning of progressive as they have repeatedly taught us (so-called progressives) since 2007.  They're fakes.  Many of them are adults who are too scared of their own shadow to declare they're Socialists.  Matthew Rothschild, for example, presented as "progressive" and only came out as a Socialist after the 2008 election.  (And no doubt, actual Socialists wish the coward would go back in the political closet.) If you use the links US Labor Against the War provides, you suddenly find the 'statement' at the AFL-CIO website.
Remember progressives are fakes?  Tom Hayden, the mother of all progressives, the one who nursed them with his man boobs, Tom Hayden writes about this 'amazing' statement, turns it into a Huffignton Post article.
Is there a bigger fraud than Tom Hayden?
"There is no way to fund what we must do as a nation without bringing our troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan. The militarization of our foreign policy has proven to be a costly mistake. It is time to invest at home."  Is that not just the sweetest little open the heavens and let in the light statement to be made?
What's the problem with the statement?  It's 42 words.
42 words.  And this 'big statement' that's only 42 words?
It's not really a statement.
If I want to make a statement about the wars, I make a statement about the wars.  I don't bury two little sentences of 42 words in a, pay attention, 1592.word essay.  That 'statement'?  It's the eighth paragraph of their press release that should be entitled "Your 2012 Voters' Guide."  19 more paragraphs follow paragraph eight.  Only paragraph eight -- those two sentences of 42 words, mentions the wars.  And Tom wants to claim it as a progressive victory.  Wants to treat it as major news.  And thought he'd get away with it.  There's nothing worth praising here.
US Senator Patty Murray is also the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  Her office notes this event next week.

(Washington, D.C.) – On Tuesday, August 16th, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, will hold a listening session to hear from area veterans on local challenges and to discuss her efforts to improve veterans care and benefits nationwide. This will be Senator Murray's first discussion with local veterans as Chairman of the Veterans' Affairs Committee. Senator Murray will use the struggles, stories, and suggestions she hears on Monday to fight for local veterans in Washington, D.C.


WHO:          U.S. Senator Patty Murray

                     Local veterans


WHAT:        Veterans listening session with Senator Murray


WHEN:        Tuesday, August 16th 

         1:00 PM PT


WHERE:     Ft. Vancouver Artillery Barracks

                                 600 East Hatheway Road

                                 Vancouver, WA 98661



Still on veterans issues, Joe Fryer (KING5) reports on March Forward's press conference this week where the addressed the issue of military suicides and noted that Sgt Derrick Kirkland repeatedly attempted to take his own life yet was labeled "low risk" by the military. Michael Prysner is quoted stating, "Within 48 hours of being in the care of Fort Lewis, he was dead. The mental health care system is broken. Soldiers are sent on constant, repeated deployments. When they ask for help, they receive notoriously inadequate care."

Tonight at Coffee Strong -- the GI coffeehouse -- a speak-out was held.  Among those telling truths was Mary Kirkland, mother of the late Sgt Derrick Kirkland. Jeremiah Kirkland is a member of March Forward and, like his brother Derrick, he served in the Army. He spoke about his brother's suicide in an interview with March Forward. Excerpt:

MF: What was he like when you talked to him after he was sent home?

Jeremiah Kirkland: He was just totally depressed. It all got to him.

MF: Did he express his frustration with the treatment he was getting?

JK: Yeah, he said all they did was load him up with drugs.

MF: What was your reaction when you heard that he had killed himself?

JK: In all honestly, I was not surprised. I mean, Army mental health care is a joke. You pretty much go there, don't even tell them anything, and they determine whatever category you're in based on different factors and that's the treatment you get. My brother got substandard treatment. The consistently dropped the ball.

MF: Who do you think is responsible for your brother's death?

JK: This government! If he hadn't been deployed, for no goddamn reason but corporate greed, he would still be here.

MF: What do you think about Derrick being rated a "low risk" for suicide by the Army?

JK: Not surprised, honestly. It's just, you know, pretty much whatever they can do to save the government dollar on giving our soldiers actual health care. It just doesn't work.
 The speak-out comes as the US Army delivers the latest monthly results on suicide.  Youchi J. Dreazen (National Journal) explains:  "There were 32 Army suicides in July, the highest monthly toll ever recorded. The grim figure underscores the military's continuing inability to find ways of preventing troubled soldiers from taking their own lives."
Next week, we'll do two days on the UN report.  I forgot it yesterday and just don't have the time tonight.  My apologies.