Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Reuters can't report accurately on Camp Ashraf

How stupid is Reuters' Jeremy Pelofsky? And all the people who read his copy before it went out on the wire? His piece is entitled "U.S. urges court to stay out of decision on Iranian group" and it's the usual factoid-factoid-error-error-State Dept line-factoid . . .

The errors are glaring. But what's really amazing is the stupidity.

Paragraph eleven:

Representatives for the group, which has also received support from several former senior U.S. government officials, had urged the court to intervene and force the administration to act or take the step itself of removing the group from the list.

Forget errors for a moment. Read that and grasp that's the only time you read about any government official. Now *go* to paragraph fifteen and sixteen:

A lawyer for Iranian opposition group, Viet Dinh, said that they would respond by the April 2 deadline set by the court.
"The important thing to recognize from the brief is that the Secretary recognizes her responsibility to delist the PMOI if it does not meet the statutory criteria, and she does not have any discretion to keep the group on the list simply out of national security concerns," he told Reuters.

Catch the problem?

I did. Am I the only one who remembers political foes? Viet Dinh was in the Bush administration. Were the torture memos not emphasized over everything else, Dinh would probably be the most infamous member. Dinh crafted the PATRIOT Act.

Not only should it have been noted he was a former Assistant US Attorney General, his role in the PATRIOT Act should have been noted as well.

But apparently no one at Reuters had ever heard of Viet Dinh before. Or, if they had, they had forgotten. It's sloppy journalism.

It's also sloppy to put Camp Ashraf and the MEK or PMOI or whatever alphabet soup you prefer together. Yes, the State Dept is trying to conflate the two -- and too many people have helped them do just that. But they are two different issues. The residents of Camp Ashraf are protected people because of promises and arrangements between the United States government and the residents.

Camp Ashraf houses a group of Iranian dissidents (approximately 3,000 people -- 400 were moved to Camp Liberty last week). Iranian dissidents were welcomed to Iraq by Saddam Hussein in 1986 and he gave them Camp Ashraf and six other parcels that they could utilize. In 2003, the US invaded Iraq.The US government had the US military lead negotiations with the residents of Camp Ashraf. The US government wanted the residents to disarm and the US promised protections to the point that US actions turned the residents of Camp Ashraf into protected person under the Geneva Conventions. As 2008 drew to a close, the Bush administration was given assurances from the Iraqi government that they would protect the residents. Yet Nouri al-Maliki ordered the camp attacked twice. July 28, 2009 Nouri launched an attack (while then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was on the ground in Iraq). In a report released this summer entitled "Iraqi government must respect and protect rights of Camp Ashraf residents," Amnesty International described this assault, "Barely a month later, on 28-29 July 2009, Iraqi security forces stormed into the camp; at least nine residents were killed and many more were injured. Thirty-six residents who were detained were allegedly tortured and beaten. They were eventually released on 7 October 2009; by then they were in poor health after going on hunger strike." April 8, 2011, Nouri again ordered an assault on Camp Ashraf (then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was again on the ground in Iraq when the assault took place). Amnesty International described the assault this way, "Earlier this year, on 8 April, Iraqi troops took up positions within the camp using excessive, including lethal, force against residents who tried to resist them. Troops used live ammunition and by the end of the operation some 36 residents, including eight women, were dead and more than 300 others had been wounded. Following international and other protests, the Iraqi government announced that it had appointed a committee to investigate the attack and the killings; however, as on other occasions when the government has announced investigations into allegations of serious human rights violations by its forces, the authorities have yet to disclose the outcome, prompting questions whether any investigation was, in fact, carried out." Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observes that "since 2004, the United States has considered the residents of Camp Ashraf 'noncombatants' and 'protected persons' under the Geneva Conventions."

The Reuters article disappears approximately 400 people in its total. That's interesting. It's also interesting how only former government officials are interested in Camp Ashraf -- according to Reuters which omits people serving in the US Congress. We reported -- even if the bulk of the press corps was too busy playing gossip rags (McCain was angry with Panetta!) -- on the November 15th Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. In fact, we took the hearing so seriously we reported on it in the snapshot on the 15th, on the 16th, on the 17th and on the 18th. How very sad that most outlets (the only exception was the New York Times with a report by Elisabeth Bumiller) offered nothing but a bit of gossip when it was such a serious hearing. On the 17th, we focused on the hearing with regards to the issue of Camp Ashraf:

"The status of the residents at Camp Ashraf from the Iranian dissident group MEK remains unresolved," Senator Carl Levin declared Tuesday. "As the December 2011 deadline approaches, the administration needs to remain vigilant that the government of Iraq lives up to its commitments to provide for the safety of the Camp Ashraf residents until a resolution of their status can be reached. We need to make it clear to the government of Iraq that there cannot be a repeat of the deadly confrontation began last April by Iraqi security forces against Camp Ashraf residents."
He was speaking Tuesday morning at the Senate Armed Services Comittee hearing while delivering his opening remarks as Chair of the Committee. Senator John McCain is Ranking Member on the Committee. The first panel the Committee heard testimony from was composed of US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and the Chair of the Joint-Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsy. Camp Ashraf came up in Chair Levin's opening remarks and it came up later during the first panel.

Senator Lindsey Graham: Do you think -- do you think the people in Camp Ashraf, do you think they're going to get killed? What's going to happen to them?

General Martin Dempsey: The, uh, as you know, Senator, the State Department is leading an effort to ensure that -- work with the Iraqi government ---

Senator Lindsey Graham: Can you tell the people back here that the likelihood of their friends and family being killed has gone up greatly if there are no American forces up there policing the problem?

General Martin Dempsey: I won't say anything to those people because I'm not involved in the outcome.

Senator Lindsey Graham: Fair enough.

In what was now the second round, John McCain went on to laugh with Leon Panetta and to thank him for appearing before the Comittee and putting up with pointed questions. He brought up a request that Panetta had made to him and Senator Graham (formally, in a letter) and noted they were working on that issue (defense funding). We're not going to excerpt that but since so much was made of the first round of questioning between Panetta and McCain, we will note that both laughed with one another in an exchange in the second round. (The hysterical gossip corps portrayed McCain being testy as new or novel and may have left many with images of poor Leon struggling for the vapors. Neither person was harmed by the exchange in the first round nor appeared to hold a grudge or ill will towards the other.) Near the end of his second round, McCain did bring up the issue of Camp Ashraf.

Ranking Member John McCain: Could I just say finally on the Camp Ashraf issue, I know the Secretary of Defense -- I mean, Secretary of State is addressing this issue, but it is American troops that are protecting them now. I hope that you can give us some idea of what disposition is going to be because I think it's -- I think it's very clear that the lives of these people are at risk and I thank you, Mr. Secretary.

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta: I appreciate that.

Chair Carl Levin: Well, just on that, to turn it into a question -- and, maybe, General, this needs to be addressed to you too -- what -- There's obviously a greater risk to folks there unless the Iraqis keep a commitment. What's going to be done to make sure, to the best of our ability, that they keep that committment and what about the question of removing them from the list of -- not them, the organization from the terrorist list?

General Martin Dempsey: Well, Senator --

Senator Carl Levin: We're all concerned about this --

General Martin Dempsey: And we share your concern. [General] Lloyd Austin
shares your concern. And I know that Ambassador Jeffreys shares the concern and there is no -- we're not sparing any diplomatic effort to encourage the Iraqis to do what we think is right in this regard to ensure the protection of those folks in Camp Ashraf. But right now, actually, the Iraqi security forces guard Camp Ashraf with our advisory and assistance group with them. And so the concern, when we do leave that capacity, is a real one. And But I actually think we've got to put the pressure on the Iraqi government diplomatically to have the outcome that we think is correct.

Senator Carl Levin: Just assure them if you would that there's a real strong feeling around here that if they -- if they violate a committment to protect those people -- assuming that they're still there and that they haven't been removed from the terrorist list so that they can find other locations -- that if they violate that commitment to us, that is going to have a severely negative impact on the relationship with the -- I think I can speak here -- the Congress although I'm reluctant to ever say this. I think there's a lot of concern in the Congress about it and this will, I believe, in my opinion, will severely negatively impact their relationship with the Congress. Let me leave it at that.

Secretary Leon Panetta: Senator, I want to assure you that Ambassador Jeffrey has made that point loud and clear, loud and clear the Iraqis.

Senator Carl Levin: Senator Lieberman?

Senator Joe Lieberman: Thanks, Mr. Chairman. And add my voice and I think you can speak for Congress members of both parties in both houses in expressing our concern about the safety of the people in Camp Ashraf.

It was an important hearing. Most outlets that 'reported' couldn't report accurately because a little over a half of them weren't present for the hearing and about 1/3 of those present left 35 minutes into the hearing while even more left after the first round of questions. Why can't the press report accurately? Because they're not doing their damn job. (In fairness, most who left were leaving because that was only one assignment that they had that day. That goes to their outlets inability to hire a large enough staff and, having refused to hire wisely, the outlet's failure to prioritize.)

In addition to the exchange quoted above, you might want to check with California members of the House because in California we have a large Iranian dissident population and they are vocal -- as is their right as Americans -- and they do demand that Congress ensure the protection of the residents of Camp Ashraf.

The article tells you that the State Dept is insisting it has a process of review to do (on MEK) and that no court should compell it to rush its review.

Idiots or liars at Reuters didn't feel readers were entitled to know that the court ordered the State Dept to review the status of the MEK back in 2010. It is now 2012. No, it does not take that long for a review.

Reuters was either too stupid to know that or thought readers didn't have a right to.

It's cute the way so many liars pass themselves off as reporters. Sorry, let's be fair to the Reuters reporter -- liars and incompetents.

The article has no redeeming value, is riddled with false 'facts' and fails to cover the basics.

In the meantime, the people of Camp Ashraf are a protected people who do live under threat. When Americans, especially those under 30, wonder how so many Jews, gypsies, gays and lesbians, etc could have been killed by the Nazis without a peep from most American institutions, they need to realize they're seeing how right now. Those people weren't considered important or worthy by most American institutions. So their fate didn't matter, not even enough for a strong editorial (yes, the New York Times was among those silent during the slaughter that was the Holocaust). You don't have to like the people of Camp Ashraf. No one's attempting to fix you up or marry you off to one of them. But you do have to respect that they are a threatened people and that international law and the Geneva Conventions are supposed to be currently protecting them.

They're not protecting them.


The State Dept's in bed with Nouri. Hillary Clinton and the craven State Dept aren't concerned with the law, aren't concerned with humanity. She realizes now that she should have gotten out, that's she is going to be left holding the bag on Iraq -- not Bush, not Barack -- and she's willing to do anything, betray any group or law, to try to keep Nouri's Iraq floating along until she's no longer Secretary of State.

Which is the other reason the Holocaust happened: Too many with self-interests who didn't give a damn about others.

The following community sites -- plus NPR music, NYT, On Edge, Antiwar.com and World Can't Wait -- updated last night and this morning:

Desperate Housewives

Plus Ann's "
Hunger Games" which isn't showing up on the links currently.

Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and her office noted an event taking place today:

Monday, March 26, 2012
CONTACT: Matt McAlvanah (Murray) -- (202) 224-2834
Jesse Broder Van Dyke (Akaka) -- (202) 224-7045
Julie Hasquet (Begich) -- (907) 258-9304
Bill will provide servicemembers and veterans using the Post-9/11 GI Bill and other VA education programs with an ONLINE GUIDE to help them judge a school's performance with other veterans, among other resources
New tools will help root out poor performing schools and questionable practices to help protect taxpayer money and give our veterans the best opportunities for success in school and in the job market
(Washington, D.C.) -- On Tuesday, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, will join with Iraq and Afghanistan veterans from across the country to introduce legislation that will give servicemembers and veterans using the GI Bill and other VA education benefits access to information that would help make informed decisions about the schools they attend sot hey get the most out of the benefit. This bill would also require that VA and DoD develop a joint policy to curb aggressive recruiting and misleading marketing aimed at servicemembers and veterans using the GI Bill.
WHO: U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA)
U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI)
U.S. Senator Mark Begich (D-AK)
Paul Rieckhoff, Executive Director, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America
IAVA Veterans from across the country
WHAT: Press Conference on GI Bill Consumer Awareness Act of 2012
WHEN: Tuesday -- March 27th, 2012
12:00 NOON EST
WHERE: Senate Vistors Center -- SVC 215

Matt McAlvanah

Communications Director

U.S. Senator Patty Murray

202-224-2834 - press office

202--224-0228 - direct


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