Saturday, June 25, 2011

Did NYT get 'creative' to help Nouri?

Michael S. Schmidt and Tim Arrango (New York Times) have a confusing article which opens, "Fifteen months after an election that was supposed to lay the groundwork for Iraq's future, the government remains virtually paralyzed by a clash between the country’s two most powerful politicians, who refuse to speak to each other." Are they simplifying for an audience they assume doesn't follow what's going on in Iraq or are they simplifying to mislead?

Nouri al-Maliki and Ayad Allawi have gone through periods in the last months where they didn't speak to one another and periods where they did. They currently don't. And let's look at why.

You and I both want to be prime minister. Your group ends up with more votes than mine in the elections. Per the Constitution, you are supposed to be given first crack at forming a Coalition and then named prime minister-designate and form a Cabinet (which requires nominating people and having Parliament approve them). At which point, you will become prime minister.

But I throw a fit and scream and yell and cry for recounts and still won't allow the process to move forward. I'm a big baby for over nine months and so leaders of all the political blocs -- including your bloc and mine -- go to Erbil for a meeting. There it is decided that I will be prime minister but an independent security commission will be created and you will be the head of it.

Following that meeting, I end up prime minister-designate. I never name a full Cabinet but bully and whine my way into being declared "prime minister" despite having failed to meet the Constitutional requirements. Having become prime minister, I now refuse to create the commisssion I promised to in Erbil.

Would you have any desire to talk to me after that? If you didn't, I don't think any sane person could blame you for avoiding me.

In the above scenario, you're Ayad Allawi and I'm Nouri al-Maliki and that is how events unfolded so it's no surprise that Allawi wants nothing to do with Nouri.

In November, Nouri was supposed to be nominating a full Cabinet. The New York Times and others covered for Nouri and pretended that the failure to do so was no big deal. It was a very big deal. And when you start disregarding a country's constitution, don't be surprised when other parts of it fall out. A constitution is supposed to be a country's supreme law of the land.

Nouri's disrespect for the Constitution demonstrates a disrespect for the law.

Can you catch the mistake in this from the Times: "In December, the two politicians, Ayad Allawi, the leader of the Iraqiya bloc, and the country’s prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, entered into an American-backed power-sharing agreement." The reporters get it correct that the Erbil agreement was "American-backed" but they place that in December. And do so again later in the article, "The power-sharing agreement in December allows . . ." No, November. It was November.

From the November 10, 2010 snapshot:

Leila Fadel (Washington Post) notes the latest rumors that a deal has been reached and explains the expected process: "Legislators are expected to meet Thursday afternoon for only the second time since the inconclusive March 7 election. Under the deal reached Wednesday, the parliament is expected to appoint a speaker from Iraqiya, then name the current Kurdish president, Jalal Talabani, as president. He, in turn, will name Maliki as prime minister. Maliki will then have to put together a cabinet that a simple majority in Iraq's parliament will have to approve." Whomever is named PM-designate -- whenever they're named -- will have 30 days to pull together a cabinet. Nouri's past history of ministers walking out -- as well as his own boasting in April 2006 that he'd put together a cabinet before 30 days -- are forgotten, apparently. Also forgotten is what this says: Elections are meaningless.
If the rumors are true about the make up of the next government and that does come to pass, the message is: "Elections are meaningless, voters stay home." The president and the prime minister remain the same? Only the speaker changes?
They didn't need a national election to change the speaker. Mahmoud Mashadani had been the Speaker and was repeatedly the victim of a disinformation campaign by the US State Dept -- with many in the media enlisting (such as in 2006 when he was in Jordan on business and a certain reporter at a certain daily LIED and said he was in Iraq, hurt and sad and refusing to see anyone -- that lie would have taken hold were it not for the Arab press). He stepped down. When he did so, Iyad Samarrai became the next Speaker and that was done by Parliament, no national elections required. So the message from the 2010 elections appears to be -- if rumors are correct -- that there is no point in voting. Iyad Samarrai got vanished from the narrative. Reporters and 'reporters' like Quil Lawrence (declaring victory for Nouri March 8th, one day after the elections) might have been a little more informed if they'd bothered to pay attention. Mahmoud Mashadani stepped down as Speaker. It took FOUR months for a new speaker to be appointed. And that was in the spring of 2009. Why anyone thought some magical mood enchancer would change things in 2010 is beyond me.
In a bit of classic understatement, an unnamed Iraqi official tells Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor), "It looks a lot like the old government." And for that, people were imprisoned this year and died this year?

From the November 11, 2010 snapshot:

An Iraqi journalist tells the BBC today, "I think a lot of people who voted this time round will have hoped for a change, and will be disappointed to see the same people in charge." John Leland, Jack Healy and Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) add, "Iraq's lawmakers took a small step toward forming a government of Thursday evening, hammering out the details of a deal struck one day earlier to end an eight-months political impasse."
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. They are claiming they have the right to form the government. In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. It's eight months and three days and still counting.

Today the KRG website announces:

Baghdad, Iraq ( - Iraq's political leaders yesterday agreed to hold the parliamentary session as scheduled on Thursday and to name an individual for the post of Speaker of the the parliament (Council of Representatives). The Speaker post will go to the Al-Iraqiya bloc, which is headed by former prime minister Ayad Allawi.
During the meeting, which was attended by the leaders of all the winning blocs at President Masoud Barzani's Baghdad headquarters, agreement was reached on two other points: to create a council for strategic policy and to address issues regarding national reconciliation.
President Barzani, who sponsored the three days' round of meetings, stated that today's agreement was a big achievement for Iraqis. He expressed optimism that the next government will be formed soon and that it will be inclusive and representative of all of Iraq's communities.
Martin Chulov (Guardian) reports one hiccup in the process today involved Ayad Allawi who US President Barack Obama phoned asking/pleading that he accept the deal because "his rejection of post would be a vote of no confidence". Ben Lando, Sam Dagher and Margaret Coker (Wall St. Journal) confirm the phone call via two sources and state Allawi will take the post -- newly created -- of chair of the National Council On Higher Policy: "Mr. Obama, in his phone call to Mr. Allawi on Thursday, promised to throw U.S. weight behind the process and guarantee that the council would retain meaningful and legal power, according to the two officials with knowledge of the phone call." So all is well and good and . . . Ooops!!!! Lando, Dagher and Coker file an update, Iraqiya wasn't happy and walked out of the session. Prashant Rao (AFP) reports that "a dispute erupted in the Council of Representatives chamber when the mostly Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc argued that the agreement they had signed on to was not being honoured, prompting the bloc's MPs to storm out. [. . .] Specifically, Iraqiya had called for three of their lawmakers, barred for their alleged ties to Saddam Hussein's Baath party, to be reinstated before voting for a president." As The Economist noted earlier today, "An actual government is not yet in place; last-minute hiccups may yet occur." AP notes, "A parliament vote on the government could still take several weeks, as the factions work out the details of who gets what posts."

From the November 12, 2010 snapshot:

Yesterday, horse trading allowed Iraq's Parliament to elect a Speaker, , and to elect Jalal Talabani (again) to the ceremonial post of president. Despite assurances and claims to US officials that Nouri would be named prime minister-delegate November 20th, Talabani immediately named him and the US government is currently attempting to figure out whether this was due to concern over the Iraqiya walkout or was part of a deliberate effort on the part of Nouri's bloc and the Kurds to deceive their US benefactors. On the horse trading, Nussaibah Younis (Guardian) weighs in:
If Iraqi politics is to continue in this way, we can all sit back and relax -- waiting every five years for the elections that mean nothing, the backstage horse trading in which politicians nakedly vie for personal advantage, and finally the divvying up of power between groups in a way that promises to hamstring the new government before it has even begun.
The 2010 elections gave Iraq's politicians a rare opportunity to take politics in another direction. Together, Allawi and Maliki gained overwhelming support because they spoke of Iraqi unity, reconciliation, and reconstruction. But when it came to forming a government, self-interest won. Neither could bear the thought of not being prime minister, and both were content to drag the process on and on -- waiting to clinch a political advantage while ordinary Iraqis paid with their lives in the escalating violence.
Jalal Talabani named Nouri prime minister-designate. That is not prime minister. Good for Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) who captures this: "Mr. Talabani then formally nominated Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki for a second term in office, giving him 30 days to form a cabinet of ministers." This is explained in Article 76 of [PDF format warning] the Iraqi Constitution:
First: The President of the Republic shall charge the nominee of the largest
Council of Representatives bloc with the formation of the Council of Ministers
within fifteen days from the date of the election of the President of the Republic.
Second: The Prime Minister-designate shall undertake the naming of the members of his Council of Ministers within a period not to exceed thirty days from the date of his designation.
Third: If the Prime Minister-designate fails to form the Council of Ministers
during the period specified in clause "Second," the President of the Republic shall charge a new nominee for the post of Prime Minister within fifteen days.
Fourth: The Prime Minister-designate shall present the names of his members of the Council of Ministers and the ministerial program to the Council of
Representatives. He is deemed to have gained its confidence upon the approval,
by an absolute majority of the Council of Representatives, of the individual
Ministers and the ministerial program.
Fifth: The President of the Republic shall charge another nominee to form the Council of Ministers within fifteen days in case the Council of Ministers did not win the vote of confidence.
Steven Lee Myers explains, "The long delay in forming a government -- still at least a month away -- frustrated the administration throughout the summer". And he documents some of the efforts by US President Barack Obama himself including phone calls. We've already noted that the US government thought they had a promise regarding the nomination of prime minister-designate coming in on November 20th -- they were either lied to or the walkout changed the dynamics. Eli Lake (Washington Times) emphasizes failed efforts on the part of both Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden to get Jalal Talabani to step aside and to do so in order that the (ceremonial) post could be filled by non-Kurd Ayad Allawi. The president's son, Qubad Talabani, confirms to Lake that Barack pressured his father to step aside and states that "the Kurds were disappointed with the United States" over this.Qubad Talabani states, "The Kurds have been the strongest ally and partner of the United States since before the liberation and certainly during it. And for the United States to be leaning on us, as they are now, in effect handpicking the new leaders of Iraq, is not respectful of Iraq's parliamentary system and touches on all of the insecurities of the Kurds, that the United States will once again betray us." What would the Kurds have received if Talabani had stepped aside? Lake reports that Joe Biden promised them both the post of Speaker of the Parliament and the Minister of Oil.

The power-sharing arrangement was in November. Not in December. November.

The two reporters tell us that Nouri and Allawi "have been unable to agree on who should run the Interior and Defense Ministries, the government's two most important departments."

Do they not know that Arabs read the New York Times? (Al Mada often runs reports on the paper, for example. Dar Addustour frequently mentions it.) Do they not realize how ridiculous they look to foreign readers with absurd statements like that?

Iraq security ministries are well reported on in the Arab press. They are three ministries and all remain without a Minister in charge of them: the Interior Ministry, the National Security Ministry and the Defense Ministry.

Three, not two.

And what's the nonsense of blaming Allawi?

Per the Constitution, Nouri was not supposed to have been moved from prime minister-designate to prime minister until he had put together a Cabinet that Parliament had voted in favor of (Parliament has to give thumbs up to each minister). If he was unable to do that in thirty days, that was the end of him -- per the Constitution.

Nouri didn't follow the Constitution. Unable to create a full Cabinet, he named himself 'temporary' head of those three ministries. There's nothing in the Constitution that allows that. And he should have been tossed aside for trying.

But these ministries should have heads at the end of last year. That's all on Nouri. Why the New York Times wants to haul Allawi into this is beyond me. Nouri and only Nouri was supposed to name a Cabinet. He failed. He's failed ever since. That's on him and to try to turn it into anyone else's blame is nonsense. Nouri was prime minister at the time of the March 2010 elections and fought like crazy to ensure he remained prime minister despite not being the people's choice.

He wasn't even the choice of Moqtada al-Sadr's followers, for those who've forgotten. In April 2010, Moqtada held a referendum to figure out who he would support. He said he'd go with whomever his followers picked as their number one choice. From the April 7th snapshot:

Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc won 40 seats in the Parliament. Kadhim Ajrash and Caroline Alexander (Bloomberg News) report that Ibrahim al-Jaafari "won 24 percent of the 428,000 ballots cast in the internal referendum, ahead of al-Sadr's second cousin, Jafar Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr, who obtained 23 percent, Sadrist spokesman Salah al-Ubaidi said today in the southern city of Najaf." Al Jazeera notes that Nouri al-Maliki received 10% of the vote and Ayad Allawi 9%.

Tim Arango and Michael Schmidt's story today insists, "But at the first session of Parliament, the agreement unraveled when Mr. Maliki appointed himself as the minister of both interior and defense, claiming that because of the country’s tenuous security environment he needed more time to vet the candidates." The first session of Parliament? They actually had a session in June of 2010. But their first real session with actual business was in November 2010. November 11th. We noted it above. In that first session, Nouri did not appoint himself anything. Why are the incapable of getting the facts right?

The Plan for Day 101

Above is Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The Plan For Day 101." And while we knew Nouri would work overtime to distract, who knew a US paper would work so hard to assist him?

After it happens over and over and after it continually paints Allawi in the wrong, you start to feel it's not an honest mistake but an intentional one and that they are intentionally lying in order to trick readers. If that's not the case then the New York Times really needs to hire fact checkers because this article repeatedly makes clear that editors are not up to the job of fact checking.

It's also cute, as the reporters note the war of words between Allawi and Nouri and their camp, that they FAIL to inform readers of last week's developments. The Erbil Agreement was addressed in a Monday meeting at Jalal Talabani's house (Allawi remained in London and skipped the meeting). At that meeting, according to Jalal, it was agreed that State Of Law and Iraqiya would stop using the press to attack one another. Jalal was so very proud of that. But less than 24 hours after Talabani's announcement . . . Nouri's State Of Lawers were attacking Allawi in the press. (We caught it and pointed it out. )

I have no idea why the New York Times is unable to get their facts straight but, reading the article, it appears that facts really aren't that important to the paper and that the omissions are far more telling than anything making it into the article.

Reuters notes 1 Iraqi soldier was shot dead in Kirkuk, an attack on a Mosul military checkpoint resulted in the deaths of 2 Iraqi soliders, 1 "employee of the Electricity Ministry" was shot dead in Baghdad, a Baghdad roadside bombing injured two people, a Baiji attack resulted in 1 suspect and 3 Iraqi soldiers being killed, and, dropping back to Friday, one police officer was shot dead in Baghdad.

Cindy Sheehan has just posted the transcript to her interview with journalist Robert Fisk (to hear the 2010 interview, click here).

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Jalal gets caught in a lie and probably a doorway as well

The Great Iraqi Revolution announces, "On the occasion of the 91st Annivesary of the 1920 Rebellion, that was called The Great, and whose annivesary comes up on Thursday, it has been decided to call the coming Friday, GRANDCHILDREN OF THE 1920 REBELS FRIDAY." Yesterday's protests were Firm Roots Friday. Among those who turn out in Baghdad (and elsewhere in Iraq) at the protests are women whose sons, husbands, fathers or brothers have gone missing in the Iraqi 'justice' system. The Great Iraqi Revolution reports of yesterday's protest in Baghdad, "One of Iraq's Free Matrons recounting what Qassim Atta told her when she met him to ask about her 'disappeared' sons. He told her: 'Consider them dead and if you want any money, we will give you money..'!!!!" Qassim Atta is the Baghdad Operations Command spokesperson.

Meanwhile Al Mada reports that Jalal Talabani, president of Iraq, just finished presiding over a terrorism conference. At the conference -- the paper says it's the first calling for a boycott on terrorism in the entire world -- Jalal insisted that, "We in Iraq have suffered the most terorrism." Apparently, Talabani's never heard of Gaza, Pinochet's Chile or assorted other examples. He spoke of the People's Mujahedeen Organization (Iranian dissidents in Iraq at Camp Ashraf) and stupidly claimed they were trying to destabilize Iraq. Even the Iranian government hasn't made that ridiculous claim. But it's part of Talabani's efforts to close the camp. Apparently Talabani's looking for an internal enemy to blame for Iraq's problems in an attempt to divert the Iraqi people? If so, Camp Ashraf is closely guarded and the approximately 3,000 residents are confined to that area.

How seriously a conference on terrorism will be taken around the world is further thrown into doubt when the conference takes place in Iran. It's cute too that the PKK didn't come up in Jala's speech. The PKK is a group that advocates -- with violence -- for a Kurdish state. Some say the Kurds are said to be the only people in the world without their own homeland. (Again, have these people never heard of the Palestinians?) They regularly attack Turkey from the northern mountains of Iraq where they set up bases -- and have allowed many reporters to tour and report on those bases -- from which to launch their attacks. Northern Iraq is the KRG -- Kurdish Regional Government. Jalal Talabani is a Kurd. Possibly calling out a Kurdish group labeled as a "terrorist" group by not just Turkey and the US but also by the Iraqi govenrment is too much? Along with being a hypocrite or a coward (or both), Jalal's been exposed as a liar. Bloomberg News reports:

Talabani's e-mailed statement said the International Committee of the Red Cross was part of a "tripartite committee" with Iran and Iraq that agreed to close the camp. Red Cross spokeswoman Claire Kaplun said her organization Iraq declined to participate in the committee when approached by Iraq.
"We will not take part in this committee," she said by telephone from Baghdad.

Al Sabaah adds that his flowery speech included talk of fighting terrorism "in all its forms: economic, social, political, religious and intellectual." You know the people of Iraq would probably be pleased just to see Jalal and the rulers focus on reducing physical violence.

And, for the record, I have nothing for or against the PKK. I'm not calling for them to be imprisoned. But if Jalal Talabani wants to stand up at a terrorism conference and accuse less than 3,000 people who are unarmed (the US military disarmed them early on in the war) and confined to Camp Ashraf, surrounded by Iraqi troops, then he's a damn hypocrite if he doesn't mention the PKK which is labeled a terrorist group by the government of the country he is president of. The PKK has bases throughout northern Iraq and they're no secret. In fact, Nouri al-Maliki had a fit when the Times of London was visiting the bases. Not a fit about the bases being there, but a fit about tours being given to the press and photographs taken and publicity of the bases. That's when he issued his decree that no reporters would be allowed in Iraq if they visited the PKK bases. Though Iran and Iraq can't point to one attack that Camp Ashraf residents have been responsible for in the last 8 years, the Turkish government can provide a lenghty list of their dead and fallen who were killed by PKK fighters based in Iraq.

In other news, Al Sabaah reports Iraq's Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi has declared that there will be no extension of the Status Of Forces Agreement due to the fact that there is "a national consensus" opposed to renewing it. But for those that might throw their hats in the air and exclaim, don't go all Mary Tyler Moore just yet. Instead, al-Hashemi supposedly said, there will be a memorandum of understanding that they will ratify and will allow for US forces to remain to continue to arm and train Iraqi forces.

al-Hashemi also notes that Talabani has not accepted Adel Abdul al-Mahdi's resignation (he is one of Iraq's three vice presidents).

Okay, here's what's going on. There were a ton of paragraphs that followed the above -- all on one article. One bad New York Times article. I've critiqued the Times repeatedly and am really not interested in doing so here for the reason that I'm not interested in doing repeats. I am aware that a number of people miss the critiques of the Times. I'm also aware they generate great interest online (within the paper and outside of it). But I've done it. For years, here, we took on the Times every morning. You move forward or you fall back into the past. We're trying to move forward here. That's not to say we don't slam the Times still. It's just we have de-emphasized our focus on it. (And we've always had praise for the Times when it deserved it.)

But as the bad article required more and more comments from me, it became obvious it needed to be its own entry. So all of you community members and visitors who feel that something is lost by not daily taking on the paper of (mis)record can rejoice over the next entry that will go up shortly.

We'll close with the latest at Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox, a transcript of her interview with the Foreign Vice Minister of Venezuela, Temir Porra (for those who would like to listen to the interview, click here).

CS: The reason I wanted to have you on the show and on the documentary (book) is to really expose the differences of the foreign policies of the empire, which is the United States of course, and Venezuela. My first question to you will be very easy, How many wars of aggression is Venezuela currently in, in the Middle East?

TP: None!

CS: Okay, and how many wars of aggression is Venezuela currently in anywhere?

TP: None!

CS: And how many wars is Venezuela currently in?

TP: Zero.

CS: Zero. Okay, that was very easy.

TP: Well, probably one.

CS: One?

TP: The war of aggression on poverty.

CS: Well, we don’t like to call that a war In the United States because that is something that never ends and the resources are just privatized, like the war on drugs which is a similar case down here in South America. Especially that, I know you are not the Charge for South America but there is border skirmishes along the Columbian border are there not?

TP: No, well we don’t have skirmishes between the Venezuelan Army and the Colombian Army. What we have is a very large border, which is about 2,000 kilometers long, and as you know in the United States, Colombia has gone through an internal war for about 60 years. War between the Government, the Guerilla movement and the Paramilitary who have been struggling in an internal conflict for 60 years, and of course Venezuela is a neighboring country has been suffering of the consequences of that war.

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Veterans and the fallen

Spc Micheal Cook is one of 9 US soldiers killed in the Iraq War this month. WMUR reports his wake was today and his funeral will be Monday. John Lynch is the Governor of New Hampshire and his office issued the following yesterday:

For Immediate Release
June 24, 2011 Contact:
Communications Director
Office of the Governor

Governor Lynch Orders Flags to Half-Staff on Monday

CONCORD - Governor John Lynch has directed that flags on all state buildings be lowered to half-staff on Monday, June 27, 2011, to honor Spec. Michael Cook who was killed in action in Iraq on June 6. Cook was a 2003 graduate of Salem High School and will be laid to rest on Monday at the Massachusetts State Veterans Cemetery in Agawam, Mass.

Senator Jeanne Shaheen issued a statement shortly after Cook's death was announced. We noted it then and we'll note it now:

June 8, 2011

(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen released the following statement in response to reports of the death of Pfc. Michael Cook, formerly of Salem, N.H.:
“My deepest condolences go out to the family and friends of Pfc. Michael Cook. Like many brave sons and daughters of New Hampshire, he sought to serve his country and protect his fellow Americans, and he did so with honor and courage.
“My thoughts and prayers are with Michael’s family at this difficult time.”


The above announcement, you would think, would be automatic. But you'd be surprised how few US senators feel the need. One of the 9 soldiers who died this month, for example, is from my state. While Governor Jerry Brown issued a statement, neither of California's two US senators bothered to. While noting US senators, it's important to note that the gold standard was set by Minnesota's Al Franken who not only issued a statement but also attended the funeral this month of his state's fallen.

Like all survivors, Michael Cook's are trying to grieve and make sense out of their loss. Something as simple as an elected official making a public statement can mean so much.

Cook's funeral is Monday and he'll be buried at the Massachusetts State Veterans Cemetery (Agawam, MA).

This week saw the death of US professor Steven Everhart in Iraq. Diana Davis (WSBTV -- link has text and video) reports he had been in Iraq "working on a project to bring a new business curriculum to a Baghdad university." Davis notes Everhart's survivors include three children and his widow Stephanie. She quotes his freind from grad school Joey Smith stating, "Steve is an adventurous guy. He is always taking on challenges that none of the rest of us were willing to take on. He could take the worst of situations and turn it into the best. I never expected to see something like this happen."

Many veterans didn't expect to return to the US and face the struggle that so many have. Unemployment is high among the young veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. They also face a VA system where they may or may not receive treatment for PTSD (if they need treatment) -- they do however stand a good chance of being sexually assaulted at the VA as a House hearing this month addressed. Mainly, they try to adjust to the US. Yesterday's snapshot included, "Earlier this month, Aaron Hughes and other members of Iraq Veterans Against the War -- Malachi Muncy, Scott Kimball, and Sergio K -- appeared on KOOP's Rag Radio which airs each Friday in Austin (airwaves) and online (live from two p.m. Central time to three). This week, IVAW has posted the audio to the hour long discussion." I want to note Aaron Hughes' comments one more time:

Aaron Hughes: I would -- I would argue that it's not so much the transition home as it is the disconnect. This country isn't at war. The service members are at war. And when service members get home and they realize that there's no one in this entire country that understands that and understands what they've gone through and wants to listen to them, when the media is continually talking about American Idol or some other pop issue instead of dealing with the actual issues -- that we are conducting two occupations currently, that we are conducting operations in Pakistan, that we are conducting operations in Libya and Yemen. We have service members on the ground in all of these countries and those service members are experiencing things and they are doing it as they believe on behalf of their country and their country doesn't even know it. The country doesn't even know what we do. And then we get home. And then there's nothing. There's no way to connect that. And that disconnect, that's the crime and that's the PTSD. That's-that's all of the trauma right there -- is the inability to understand what happened and why no one else understands. In fact, that's actually the definition of trauma: It's an experience that you haven't processed and therefore you can't communicate it. You keep rewinding it in your head. You keep trying to relive it over and over and over again which is why you have nightmares, why you have dreams, why you have anxiety. But you can't because you never actually experienced it the first time. And when you get home, there's no one that's experienced these wars. And that's -- that's where the trauma exists.

A number of veterans are trying to raise awareness of the issues veterans face in the US. One such veteran is Troy Yocum.


(Troy Yocum photo taken by John Crosby)

Hike for our Heroes is a non-profit started by Iraq War veteran Troy Yocum who is hiking across the country to raise awareness and money for veterans issues. He began the walk in April 2010 with the plan of 7,000 miles.

This month, see Frank Lombardi (New York Daily News) report, Troy was in NYC and held a press conference at Modell's Sporting Goods with the company's CEO Mitchell Modell where they announced that in addition to the $200,000 Troy has raised, Modell had raised $260,000 for Troy's cause and "that his 147 stores - and an alliance of other big-name retailers with another 653 stores - will ask their customers at checkout time if they would like to donate $1 to help military families." Allison Ruppino (New Jersey Newsroom) reports:

New Jersey’s Celebrity Magnet Tom Murro attended the Hike for Heroes cocktail fundraiser at the Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers in New York City on June 15th. The CEO of Modell’s Sporting Goods, Mitchell Modell, held the event for Iraq War Veteran Troy Yocum.
32-year-old Troy Yocum decided to embark on an incredible journey to help raise awareness and money for military families. The project, which is sponsored by the nonprofit Solder’s Angels, is assisting returning war veterans and their families with medical, housing, and personal problems. Therefore, Yocum, his wife, Mareike, and their two dogs have created a mission to walk 7,800 miles across America in hopes of raising $5 million for their cause. They began the hike on April 17th 2010 and plan to return home September 3, 2011. So far, they have clocked in at 6,400 miles, but have only raised $200,000.
After walking an exhausting 13 months, and being hospitalized twice, the Yocum family was doubtful that their end goal could be reached. That is when Modell stepped in to help the family. He rallied friends and raised an additional $260,000 in three months. During a press conference held on Wednesday, Modell announced he will be asking the customers of his store, along with customers of other big-name retailers, to donate $1 to help military families. This small donation could accumulate to $1 million for the cause.

The following community sites -- plus NPR -- updated yesterday and today:

Ann and Mike's posts are not showing up on the feed. But they have posted. Ann's "3 men, 3 women" continues her daily coverage of the booking on The Diane Rehm Show and Ann also notes some Stevie Nicks coverage while Mike's "Comic Book movies that need to be made" offers the comic he thinks need to be turned into a movie as well as eleven other choices from his readers.

We'll close with this from Sherwood Ross' "Troops Obama is Withdrawing Have Been Recently Replaced By Allies" (OpEdNews):

President Obama alleges “the tide of war is receding” in Afghanistan, thus allowing him to reduce U.S. forces there by 10,000 this year, but the fact is overall Allied strength has been rising, not falling.

That's because the 10,000 U.S. fighters the president plans to bring home by the end of this year have already been replaced in advance, so to speak, by troop surges of NATO allies and other nations.

What the New York Times June 23rd called President Obama's “Rapid Troop Cuts” is not only hardly “rapid” but is part of an overall strategy for continuing a pointless, illegal, 10-year-long war whose casualty rates are higher than ever!

There are more than 40 countries that have dispatched troops to Afghanistan and a majority of them have increased their forces since July, 2009, according to a nation-by-nation report in the current

The UK, for example, from July, 2009, to June, 2011, increased its troops from 9,000 to 9,500, up 500; Spain from 780 to 1,550, up 770; Germany from 4,050 to 4,800, up 750; Italy from 2,800 to 3,900, up 1,100; Canada, from 2,800 to 3,000, up 200; Czech Republic from 340 to 500, up 160; Bulgaria from 470 to 600, up 130; Poland from 2,000 to 2,500, up 500; Romania, from about 1,000 to 2,000, up 1,000; and France, from 3,100 to 3,900, up 800. No wonder Mr. Obama can make a token withdrawal in force now: he has already largely replaced his announced troop cuts for 2011 with foreign fighters.

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Friday, June 24, 2011

Iraq snapshot

Friday, June 24, 2011.  Chaos and violence continue, Katty Kay confesses the education system failed her, more reactions to Barack's bad speech, Scott Horton and Patrick Cockburn talk Iraq, Iraq War veteran Aaron Hughes talks about the disconnect ("And when service members get home and they realize that there's no one in this entire country that understands that and understands what they've gone through and wants to listen to them, when the media is continually talking about American Idol or some other pop issue instead of dealing with the actual issues -- that we are conducting two occupations currently, that we are conducting operations in Pakistan, that we are conducting operations in Libya and Yemen.  We have service members on the ground in all of these countries and those service members are experiencing things and they are doing it as they believe on behalf of their country and their country doesn't even know it.  The country doesn't even know what we do.  And then we get home. And then there's nothing.  There's no way to connect that.  And that disconnect, that's the crime and that's the PTSD. That's-that's all of the trauma right there -- is the inability to understand what happened and why no one else understands."), Iraqis take to the street to protest, and more.

Kevin Pina: What has he offered? What has President Obama put on the table in his speech yesterday?
Gareth Porter: I'm afraid my analysis is not a very optimistic one in the sense that I'm afraid he's offering a scam which is very similar to that that he's undertaken in Iraq.  And I say that because what he did in his speech if you really carefully read through it, there's a passage that really demands parsing in light of the Iraq experience -- where he talks about the "responsible withdrawal" from Afghanistan being similar to what we did in Iraq.  By that, he's talking about essentially, you know, once he's withdrawn the full increment of the so-called "surge" troops, that is the 33,000 that he added as a result of a decision in 2009 -- in December 2009 --
Kevin Pina: Subsequent to George Bush's committments --  troop committments.
Gareth Porter:  Well that's right. I mean, first of all, he put in an increment that the Bush administration had already agreed on, he kind of taking up the burden of the Bush administration, that is in March 2009.  But then in Decemeber 2009 came the big 33,000 increment which now he's talking about withdrawing that by the end of 2012 -- sorry, not the end of 2012 but September 2012, excuse me.  And that is not everything that the military and the Pentagon wanted but I calculate that it's about 80% of what they asked for. [ . . .]  My concern is beyond 2012.  He's completely, without any details going to manuever.  What he's going to do about Afghanistan once the surge troops have been removed.  And what he has said is that it will be, like I said, it will be like Iraq.  There will be a responsible withdrawal.  He says there'll be some withdrawal after 2012.
Kevin Pina:  And a larger role for contractors? 
Gareth Porter:  He doesn't talk about that but we know that there are contractors in Afghanistan.  But look, there's -- The big problem here is that what he's talking about is the potential for a perpetual war in Afghanistan.  He's really conceeded to the military the idea that even beyond 2013 -- 2013 -- the United States will continue to have combat troops there.  Now he's being very vague in terms of what the policy is going to be like afterr 2013.  But it's clear if you look at what happened in Iraq that this is what's going to happen.
Dana Milbank (Washington Post) heard echoes of George W. Bush's "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED" and also questioned the veracity of the claims Barack made:
"Drawdown from a position of strength" sounds eerily like the "return on success" phrase that George W. Bush used in Iraq -- and the similarities did not end there. "We take comfort in knowing that the tide of war is receding," Obama told the nation. "We have ended our combat mission in Iraq, with 100,000 American troops already out of that country. And even as there will be dark days ahead in Afghanistan, the light of a secure peace can be seen in the distance."
To be sure, the president was characteristically muted in his celebration, warning of "huge challenges" ahead. His staff was rather less restrained; speaking under the cloak of anonymity, his aides held a teleconference Wednesday afternoon with audible chest thumping. "We haven't seen a terrorist threat emanating from Afghanistan for the past seven or eight years," one boasted, finding "no indication that there is any effort within Afghanistan to use Afghanistan as a launching pad to carry out attacks. . . . The threat has come from Pakistan over the past half-dozen years or so, and longer."
So if there hasn't been a terrorist threat coming from Afghanistan for seven or eight years, why did Obama send tens of thousands of additional troops into a conflict that has claimed more than 1,500 American lives? And why is he leaving most of them there?
Ah yes, those glorious days of "unity" -- when no one, save a brave few, dared stand up against the war hysteria. When anyone who looked vaguely Muslim was attacked in the streets. United in hatred and fear -- what a grotesque nostalgia for our "progressive" president to give voice to! Like his predecessor, Obama has often praised this mystic post-9/11"unity," including twice in this speech, and therein lies the mark of the tyrant, who always welcomes the unthinking submission to authority wartime brings.  
This war-narrative is getting threadbare, however, and has some significant gaps: suddenly, we are told that, seemingly out of nowhere, "our focus shifted," and "a second war was launched" – apparently all by itself, by means of spontaneous combustion. One hardly expects him to mention of the key role played by his own party, which stood by and cowered -- or cheered -- as George W. Bush led the nation down into the quagmire, banners flying. But the distancing act -- "by the time I took office" – is a little too glib: Bush gets all the blame for Iraq, and the decision to escalate the Afghan war is pushed off on "our military commanders." But isn't Obama the commander-in-chief? 
Our president, a prisoner of history, bravely confronts circumstances shaped by others. He praises himself for making "one of the most difficult decisions I've made as President," the launching of the "surge" in which 30,000 more troops were sent to the supposedly neglected Afghan front. "We set clear objectives," he avers, and yet our ultimate goal was -- and still is -- obscured in murk: does anyone, including the President, know what victory looks like?  

And in what may be the first editorial board of a daily newspaper since Barack's speech earlier this week to call for an immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Santa Fe New Mexican offers "Light? What Light? Bring 'em All Home"

The president couldn't have chosen worse words Wednesday as a framework for announcing a minimal troop withdrawal from Afghanistan: "The light of a secure peace can be seen in the distance."
Shades of Lyndon Johnson, linked forever to the "light at the end of the tunnel" he sought to show a press and public increasingly and properly wary of our war in Vietnam. That war, fought on behalf of a corrupt regime with our military's hands tied, would go on for another half-dozen years after Johnson's public-relations campaign on behalf of futility and 60,000 American deaths before we abandoned the place amid chaos.
Let's move on over to Iraq and let's start by noting The Diane Rehm Show (NPR).  When Diane ignores Iraq on her Friday 'round up' of pretend stories and non-issue, it's disgusting because she knows better, she knows when the US is at war, it is the job of the US press to cover it.  But Diane, for all her faults, was not a War Whore.  Katty Kay was.  The trash from England -- who forever thinks she's about to step into a time machine and be transported back to the 90s where she can Chris Matthews can cackle as they trash Hillary Clinton (Katty's always jumping at the bit to trash Hillary to this day) -- shouldn't be allowed on NPR to begin with.  Truly, the media needed to get accountable after selling the illegal war on Iraq. Accountability would mean two-bit whores like Katty Kay weren't put back on the airwaves.
Of course if that happened, we wouldn't realize just what a stupid imbecile Katty Kay is. 
There was Katty, in the second hour, avoiding Iraq even when National Journal's Michael Hirsh managed to work it in for one sentence.  Katty quickly changed the subject.  At the end of the show, Katty found there was time to fill.  So she launched into China -- where no US forces are on the ground.  Maybe Brit's shouldn't host American programs that the US government pays for if they're so stupid that they really think that after the violence in Iraq this week, China was the way to go?
But there was Katty, wanting to talk abot Syria and proving she's the stupidst and sorriest excuse for a journalist today.
KATTY: How nervous are people, Nancy?  I mean, not just in Syria, of course, but in all . . . I mean -- uh, how many countries does Syria border?  I can't count them, but it's right there in the middle of that area.  And it's causing -- the ripples of what is happening in Syria are being uh watched very carefully from Israel --
Nancy A. Youssef: That's right!
KATTY: -- from Lebanon, of course, from Turkey, from Iran.  They must all be watching what's going on there.
Do they not teach geography in England? 
She doesn't know what borders Syria but managed to cheerlead the impending Iraq War?
Iran does not border Syria.  Iraq, howevver, does.  What a stupid moron.   She wants to talk about Syria but doesn't know the countries around it.  In 2002 and 2003, you couldn't escape Katty insisting that the US must go to war with Iraq.  And today she doesn't even know that Iraq borders Syria.  (And that Iran doesn't.)
NPR can't deal with Iraq these days and not just Diane's bad show, but all of NPR -- forty dead in four Baghdad  bombings yesterday and not one damn story on any of their three major "news magazines" NPR airs daily.  That's putting the Crock in the Joan B. Kroc Fellowship.  Iraq does get discussed elsewhere, it can be done.  On Antiwar Radio, Scott Horton spoke with journalist Patrick Cockburn about Iraq.

Scott Horton: My first question, if it's alright, is going to be about the sujbect of your book there, Moqtada al-Sadr, and the future of Iraq and whether or not that includes the American occupation after the end of this year which is the deadline for withdrawal in the Status Of Forces Agreement.  I'm sure you're aware that the Secretary of Defense and others in the administration have made it pretty clear that they want Malki to "invite us" to stay longer.  I just wonder, of course, you've always told me on this show is that Moqtada al-Sadr is the answer to that question.  Is that still the case and is his position still the same?
Patrick Cockburn: If US troops remain then this is not going to be without opposition -- particularly from Moqtada, from the Sadrists.  So, you know, up to now the assumption has been that they would not stay. I don't think they've quite taken on board that having some troops -- depending on how many troops -- stay, having troops remain and trying to be some sort of player in Iraq you know is going to create a reaction in the opposite direction.
Scott Horton: Well so I mean as far as the oversimplified math of it goes, is it still a matter of Maliki, the prime minister, needs Moqtada al-Sadr's support and Sadr will not support him if he makes this compromise and therefore he will not? Is it that easy?
Patrick Cockburn: No, everything in Iraq is sort of complicated because everybody has the ability to  checkmate everybody else. I mean Maliki got back in because ultimately the Sadrists backed him.  He got support from the US and -- excuse me [coughs] -- he got support from Iran.  Somebody, an Iraqi leader, said to me, you know it's a lucky Maliki, you know, he's got support from the Great Satan -- which the Iranians call the US.  And he got support from the Axis of Evil -- which is what the US calls Iran. Now he needed Moqtada to get back. He needed various other people to get back. He did deals. Now is he going to drop everybody say now he's back in and return to what made him so unpopular previously and try and sort of set up an autocracy.  We don't know. He keeps sort of ducking and diving. But I don't think having a continued US presence is going to stabilize Iraq.
The Youth of Iraq continue attempting to save their country with protests demanding the basic rights owed alll human beings.  Today's protests were called "Firm Roots Friday."  The Great Iraqi Revolution notes, "Our Correspondent in Baghdad: Streams of crowds approaching Tahrir amidst pressures and hurdles imposed by heavily deployed security forces around the Squar while the crowds chant 'THEY ARE ALL THIEVES!'"  Here for video of the Baghdad protesters chanting "'Jethab Nourie Al Maliki' (Nourie Al Maliki is a Liar)!!!"  And they note:
A witness in Tahrir stated to GIR that the streets leading to Tahrir have been cutoff at some distance from Tahrir - he also stated that the police questioned him about his camera and was told by a soldier that journalists should get permission from them before entering Tahrir! He was cursed and insulted by them and so were all journalists!
Youngman Haider Hamzouz: I was harassed in Tahrir, today by Police, Army and some individuals in plain clothes... after they had insulted me ; there was an attempt to beat me up by a soldier and was forced to delete some of the videos I had shot of ambulances passing through Tahrir.. I was questioned for 45 minutes close to Tahrir..I am well now... but the Press isn't...It is in Danger.
Meanwhile Tony Clarke is a member of the House of Lords in England (he's Labour Party, for those who wonder) and he's penned "Obama must tackle Iraq's new dictator" (Independent of London):

Few could have expected it. Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, once the darling of bi-Partisan US administrations, today seems engulfed in domestic upheaval as the Arab Spring has shown no sign of abating in Iraq.
But rather than choosing to resign power respectfully like in Tunisia and Egypt, al-Maliki seems to have made up his mind to hold a firm grip on power using deadly force like fellow dictators in Libya and Syria.
No longer able to tolerate the weekly demonstrations by Iraqis in central Baghdad's al-Tahrir Square, and with widespread arrests failing to subdue the population irate over corruption and lack of basic services, earlier this month al-Maliki sent his thugs under the disguise of ordinary government supporters to brutally attack protestors demanding the resignation of his government.
Iyad Allawi, a former Iraqi Prime Minister and the de-facto leader of the opposition movement, recently launched a stunning televised attack on al-Maliki accusing him of running a new dictatorship in Iraq and owing his Premiership to Iran's theocratic rulers.

Will the cry for Barack to face reality get larger? Will Nouri continue to be the designated thug of the occupation?

Al Mada reports
that Nouri spent yesterday blaming others for his problems including insisting that politicians and the media worked together to malign his 100 Days and that the 100 Days program he implemented was a success. As per usual, Moqtada al-Sadr issues statements of support for Nouri. He did the same when protests were really taking hold last February. Moqtada al-Sadr has apparently cast himself in the role of First Lady of Iraq.

Al Mada also offers a profile of Ayad Allawi based on anonymous sourcing and it paints him as depressed, considering ending political participation, weighing whether to make London home, etc. He is said to be depressed over the continued upheaval in Iraq and Nouri's inability to lead. Al Rafidayn reports on another political player in the mix, Ammar al-Hakim. The Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq president is calling for all participants to continue dialogue and he cautioned against reaching the "point of no return."  In related news, Aswat al-Iraq reports, "The head of the National Alliance Ibraheem al-Jaffari discussed today with Vice-Premier Saleh al-Mutlaq the most prominent question in the Iraqi arena and means of providing the best of services to the citizens. H called for an end to the dilemma with the security ministries and dialogue to bring viewpoints closer for national interests."
Reuters notes a Baijia home invasion resulted in the murder of 1 police officer and his wife and a children's doctor was kidnapped in Kirkuk today. Aswat al Iraq notes 1 police officer was shot dead in Baghdad and 1 clothing store owners was shot dead in Mosul.
In the US, an Iraq War veteran is in legal trouble. He is 26-year-old Elisha Leo Dawkins. Susannah Nesmith (New York Times) reports Elisha has been "in federal lockup" for a month with the government planning to deport him because of a passport application and his apparently not being a citizen. His attorney explains that Elisha was raised in this country and led to believe he was a citizen. He was never informed he wasn't. The US military considered him a US citizen and gave him a very high security clearance. The State Dept issued him a passport. Kyle Munzenrieder (Miami New Times) adds, "Dawkins applied for a passport in order to serve in Guantánamo. A question on the form asked if he'd ever applied for a passport before. He checked no. That wasn't entirely true. He had begun an application for a passport before deploying to Iraq but never finished the process. That single check on a box is why he now sits behind bars." Carol Rosenberg (Miami Herald) explains, " His lawyer says he grew up fatherless and estranged from his mother, staying with relatives in Miami, believing he was a U.S. citizen. He even obtained a Florida Birth Certificate to get a passport to travel to war as a soldier, with neither the Navy, the Army nor the state of Florida apparently aware of a two-decade-old immigration service removal order issued when he was 8 years old."

He joined the military, the US sent him into war. That should be the end of the story, he should be considered a citizen if he wasn't before. But that's not how the policies work. What actually is required is for him to apply for citizenship. And now that he knows he's not a citizen, he could apply but a conviction -- yes, a conviction on what he's being charged with -- would mean that he would be barred from becoming a citizen.

If anyone in the government really valued the service those being sent to war zones are doing, this wouldn't be happening. Barack Obama should be ashamed that his administration is prosecuting this case.

And he should be ashamed because as much as Elisha deserves to stay in the US and have citizenship, so do many others and Barack's done nothing on that issue despite a lot of pretty words in 2008 about citizenship for immigrants.  Elisha's attorney might want to explore whether Elisha has PTSD.  If he does, I don't understand how the US government could legally deport him and believe they would have to provide treatment immediately as well as drop deportation efforts.
Earlier this month, Aaron Hughes and other members of Iraq Veterans Against the War -- Malachi Muncy, Scott Kimball, and Sergio K --  appeared on KOOP's Rag Radio which airs each Friday in Austin (airwaves) and online (live from two p.m. Central time to three).  This week, IVAW has posted the audio to the hour long discussion.  We'll do an excerpt where they were discussing PTSD.
Aaron Hughes:  60% of the service members that are veterans of these occupations that have applied to the VA -- which is only a quarter of the service members that have served in Iraq and Afghanistan -- that's only a quarter of the service members serving in Iraq and Afghanistan -- of that quarter, 60% of them are diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Thorne Dreyer: Now what do we mean by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?  I mean, back in the old days of war, we talked about people being shell-shocked.
Aaron Hughes:  Yeah.
Thorne Dreyer:  What -- As a clinical diagnosis, what are we talking about?
Aaron Hughes: Well the diagnosis changed.  In the Civil War, it was Soldier's Heart. In WWI, it was Shell-Shock.  And in WWII, it was Battle Fatigue.  And in Vietnam, it was Combat Stress.  And now -- now it's called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  They syllables keep getting longer as George Carlin pointed out in a comedy sketch.  But basically, it's -- it's everything from nightmares to anxiety, to depression, to anger issues.  And they can be subtle.  Like these-these issues, I think, you know for me, I was home in 2004 but it wasn't until 2006 that I realized I was dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder when I had a basically a psychotic break.  I lost it.  And that was triggered by listening to 50 cal. rounds in a audio tape going off.  And I -- I just disappeared emotionally and psychologically.  But, you know, I think -- I think what a lot of service members don't realize is how deep these issues and how much they're underneath the surface.  And that's why a lot of service members, they may even volunteer to go back on a third deployment like Malachi did and he can talk to you a little bit about that.  But before he does, I just -- I just want to point out that the percentages go up every time somebody goes on a deployment.  And these brothers that are going -- brothers and sisters -- that are going on their third, fourth and fifth deployment, some of them are never going to come home.
Thorne Dreyer:  Malachi -- and you guys, when you signed up, you weren't signing up for -- you weren't expecting to be going back and back and back.  I mean, that wasn't part of the deal.  Tell us about that and tell us about your multiple deployments.
Malachi Muncy: Yeah-yeah.  I actually volunteered for my second deployment.  You know, I had a really, really rough first deployment.  My wife had tried to kill herself and I didn't get to go home for that.  My mother has another psychotic break and was institutionalized.  My father died while I was deployed.  I did get to go home for that. And on top of that, 36 hour missions and roadside explosives like you said and uhm -- So it was a really rought deployment.  I didn't really get to take in everything, I couldn't compute everything.  And so when I came home, I was cut loose pretty quick -- cut loose to being a civilian -- civilian-soldier, you know, National Guard.  And, uh, got in trouble with the law for shoplifting.  I was taking a lot of methamphetimes and anything that could get me up and going, driving fast, doing all sorts of crazy adreneline stuff and I ended up trying to commit suicide in October of 2005.  And -- and after that event, I came to the conclusion that I needed -- I either needed help or I needed to get back to Iraq because all these problems weren't in Iraq, these problems were here at home.  And so I volunteered to go back and they took me back and it wasn't a big deal to them that I had tried to kill myself.  It wasn't a big deal to them that I had pointed a weapon at an NCO on my first deployment.  They didn't have any problem with where I was mentally so long as I took specific meds and there was no oversight as to whether or not I took those meds.  It was just, 'Here we have on this piece of paper that you're taking those meds.  Good to go."
Thorne Dreyer: Is transitioning back one of the real problems because they don't -- they don't -- they prepare you to kill but they don't prepare you to, you know what I mean, let go of that stuff?  Right?
Aaron Hughes: This is Aaron again.  I would -- I would argue that it's not so much the transition home as it is the disconnect. This country isn't at war.  The service members are at war.  And when service members get home and they realize that there's no one in this entire country that understands that and understands what they've gone through and wants to listen to them, when the media is continually talking about American Idol or some other pop issue instead of dealing with the actual issues -- that we are conducting two occupations currently, that we are conducting operations in Pakistan, that we are conducting operations in Libya and Yemen.  We have service members on the ground in all of these countries and those service members are experiencing things and they are doing it as they believe on behalf of their country and their country doesn't even know it.  The country doesn't even know what we do.  And then we get home. And then there's nothing.  There's no way to connect that.  And that disconnect, that's the crime and that's the PTSD. That's-that's all of the trauma right there -- is the inability to understand what happened and why no one else understands.  In fact, that's actually the definition of trauma: It's an experience that you haven't processed and therefore you can't communicate it. You keep rewinding it in your head.  You keep trying to relive it over and over and over again which is why you have nightmares, why you have dreams, why you have anxiety.  But you can't because you never actually experienced it the first time. And when you get home, there's no one that's experienced these wars. And that's -- that's where the trauma exists.
Each Monday morning (except during pledge drives), the latest Law and Disorder Radio airs on WBAI and around the country on various radio stations throughout the week.  Attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and  Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights are the co-hosts of the program.  On this week's program, Michael Ratner spoke with former FBI agent and now an attorney Mike German about the war on dissent in this country.  Michael Ratner has teamed with Margaret Ratner Kunstler for the new book Hell No, Your Right To Dissent.  And until it's August 9th release by the New Press, you can read the column that Michael Ratner and Margaret Ratner Kunstler have written (The Progressive) about the current war on protest and dissent in the US.  Excerpt:
President Obama campaigned on protecting our civil liberties, so you might have expected his attorney general, Eric Holder, to provide people with greater protections from FBI snoops. But he has not. And it is about to get even worse.
The new Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide will empower the FBI to dispatch surveillance teams, to follow targets, to dig through trash, to search commercial databases and to expand the use of informants to infiltrate a wide range of organizations.
If you are part of a group that disagrees with government policy in Iraq or Afghanistan, or that dislikes nuclear energy, the next time you throw out your trash, an FBI agent may be examining it a few hours later -- from what you eat to what you buy to what you read and think.
The next time you attend a meeting to fight for better schools, protest drug testing on animals or criticize almost any aspect of government policy, the person next to you may be an informant, recording everything you say. Or perhaps the informant will participate in the meeting, steering the organization's activities in ways the government wishes.
It is now almost ten years after 9/11, the event that frightened many into giving the FBI broad spying authority -- authority that now threatens the very essence of democracy. Piece by piece, the constitutional protections for dissent are disappearing.