Thursday, February 28, 2013

Iraq snapshot

Thursday, February 28, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, Bradley Manning speaks, he decries the US counter-insurgency in Iraq, he notes he tried to speak with two newspapers before he utilized WikiLeaks, Nouri and his State of Law insult the protesters, the UN meets with protesters, and more.

Medina Roshan, Barbara Goldberg, Paul Simao and Tim Dobbyn (Reuters) report, "The U.S. Army private accused of providing secret documents to the WikiLeaks website pleaded guilty on Thursday to misusing classified material he felt 'should become public,' but denied the top charge of aiding the enemy."  He has now been held by the US government for 1005 days.  Janet Reitman (Rolling Stone) explains, "It was only the second time Manning had spoken in court (the first, in November 2012, I detail extensively in my article) and the first time he was allowed to explain his motives. Dressed in his Navy blue Army dress uniform, Manning, in a clear, strong voice, read out a 35-page-long statement in which he described himself as a conscience-stricken young man who, appalled by what he saw as illegal acts on the part of the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan, refused to play along."

This all goes back to  Monday April 5, 2010, when WikiLeaks released US military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Monday June 7, 2010, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported in August 2010 that Manning had been charged -- "two charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The first encompasses four counts of violating Army regulations by transferring classified information to his personal computer between November and May and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system. The second comprises eight counts of violating federal laws governing the handling of classified information." In March, 2011, David S. Cloud (Los Angeles Times) reported that the military has added 22 additional counts to the charges including one that could be seen as "aiding the enemy" which could result in the death penalty if convicted. The Article 32 hearing took place in December. At the start of this year, there was an Article 32 hearing and, February 3rd, it was announced that the government would be moving forward with a court-martial. Bradley has yet to enter a plea. The court-martial was supposed to begin before the November 2012 election but it was postponed until after the election so that Barack wouldn't have to run on a record of his actual actions. adds, "A court martial is set to be held in June at Ford Meade in Maryland, with supporters treating him as a hero, but opponents describing him as a traitor."

Free Speech Radio News' Dorian Merina spoke with journalist Kevin Gosztola about today's events:

Dorian Merina:  So what exactly did Bradley Manning plead guilty to today?

Kevin Gosztola: He was pleading to elements of the original charges.  It's easier to say what he didn't plead guilty to committing.  He didn't plead guilty to aiding the enemy, to violating the espionage act, to violating The Computer Fraud and Abuse act, or to committing violations of a federal larceny statute.  So he didn't say that he was stealing or that he'd committed a theft when he [had] the information and it became information he had in his position.  So, uh, what that leads is pleading to the possession of the information, pleading to giving it to an unauthorized person -- someone who wasn't authorized to receive the information and then engaging in conduct that would be service discrediting the military.

Brendan Trembath (Australia's ABC -- link is video and text) picks up there.

Brendan Trembath: He pleaded guilty to ten of the lesser charges of misusing confidential information.  That information included diplomatic cables, it included combat videos -- all sorts of material that the United States wanted to keep private.  He has admitted to these lesser charges but what he hasn't admitted to is the most serious charge of aiding the enemy.  That charge carries a life sentence.

Different reporters emphasize different things.  Speaking to The World's Marco Werman (PRI) today, Arun Rath brought up some important points others left out.

Arun Rath:  It was actually a 35-page written statement that he had worked on.  It took him over and hour to read and, honestly, it's going to be a while that we'll be digesting all of this.  But mainly he talked about the reasons why he did what he did.  He admitted to leaking information to WikiLeaks.  He talked about his time in Iraq and how he grew more and more disturbed over time with what he saw in Iraq, what he considered to be abuses.  He said the US became obsessed with killing and capturing people rather than cooperating. He complained to his superiors and he said that they did nothing.  And most interestingly he said that he actually took some of this information both to the Washington Post and the New York Times  and was essentially ignored.  That's why he went to WikiLeaks.

For England's Channel 4 News, Matt Frei reports (link is video):

Matt Frei: He also told us that he had tried to contact the New York Times and the Washington Post and Politico here in Washington first before going to Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.  Now he left a recorded message on the answering machine of the New York Times ombudsman [public editor -- they don't have an ombudsperson at the Times and resisted that title when they created the position], their kind of editorial watchdog.  He talked to a junior reporter at the Washington Post  who didn't return his call and he never got to see Politico because the weather was too bad.  Had he done any of those three, just imagine how different history would be because they would have presumably leaked some of those documents but they would have filtered them first, they would have protected their source Bradley Manning and this would have indeed become a debate about America's foreign policy and military policy which is what Bradley Manning said he always wanted.

A few things on Frei's remarks.  There is no ombudsperson at the New York Times.  When the post of public editor was created, the ombudsperson title was rejected.  In addition, it's not just a title that a paper can bestow.  To be an ombudsperson, you're supposed to belong to The Organization of News Ombudsmen. Second, if "he talked to a junior reporter at the Washington Post who didn't return his call" then he did not talk to a reporter, he left a message for a reporter.  Third of all, Julian Assange can be faulted for some things to do with WikiLeaks.  He cannot be faulted with regards to protecting Bradley Manning.  Check his statements from the start.  He has stated he did not know who the source was.  Julian Assange did not give up Bradley Manning.  Adrian Llamo snitched and got a little pay day from the government for doing so.  Presumably, had Bradley gone to the other outlets, he still would have found himself needing to talk by chat room and still mistaken con artist Adrian Llamo for someone who could be trusted.

Andrew Beaujon (Poynter) notes that the New York Times' spokesperson Eileen Murphy as has the then-public editor Clark Hoyt.  I can't speak to the public editor issue but on his attempt to contact anyone else at the Times?  Eileen Murphy has not had time -- nor has the paper -- to have certainty behind the claim that no one knows anything of such contact at the paper.  During the early days of the Go Go Green Zone, a New York Times reporter was contacted by an enlisted American soldier with a serious story that the Go-Go Boy in the Green Zone deemed too hot.  I know of that because the soldier then contacted this site.  I wrote about that here shortly after the scandal broke.  He wrote this site and I teamed him with a reporter I knew who was more than happy to have the story.  When I go after someone here, it's usually for several reasons and that 'reporter' then with the Times is someone we will never stop ridiculing for many, many reasons including his running from a 100% real journalism scoop because he didn't want to upset his friends in the US military brass.  So if Bradley says he contacted any reporter at the paper, I believe him because of what happened before when a reporter was presented with a story, with supporting evidence and not just verbal hearsay, and the NYT scribe said that it was "too hot to handle" and would get him in trouble with certain US military officers so he was passing on the article.  For anyone who says I wasn't present for that conversation, I wasn't.  The soldier who contacted this site supplied the e-mails back and for to the NYT reporter.  Again, I can't speak to the public editor, but if Bradley tried to contact a reporter at the paper, I can easily see him being blown off.  Actually, I can speak to the public editor.  I knew Daniel Okrent had an assistant but I really haven't followed any of the public editor's since.  (Daniel Okrent was the paper's first public editor and any mea culpa from the paper on their Iraq 'reporting' resulted from the work Okrent did in his public editor columns.)  I just got off the phone with a friend who's an editor at the New York Times.  Hoyt's public remarks are he doesn't remember speaking to Bradley.  Hoyt has not stated his assistant didn't.  I was told over the phone (over the other phone, I'm dictating the snapshot in one cell phone) that Hoyt's assistant was Mike McElroy.  McElroy could have spoken to Bradley or heard a message Bradley left.

Politico?  Bad weather is probably the best excuse for that rag.  As for the Washington Post.  There were many stories today.  What did the paper focus on?  Something important and news worthy?  No, they let their bloggers play with their own feces publicly at the website.  Until mid-day when finally the adults stepped in and told the 'reporters' to stop filing pieces attacking Bob Woodward. (Late to the party on Woodward?  Click here and click here for Marcia.)   If you were one of those monkey bloggers, let me tell you right now, it's not over and you should be on your best behavior because your work is now being seriously monitored by adults way up above you in the chain of command -- as it should be.  So clearly, a "junior reporter" at the Post doesn't necessarily know news the way a Dana Priest, an Ann Scott Tyson, an Ernesto Londono or, yes, a Bob Woodward would know news. Erik Wemple made clear that he does not know news.  First with his bitchy attack on Bob Woodward earlier today and then with his 'report' late this afternoon which we'll link to because it's so damn awful and so damn stupid.  First off, he worked the phones . . . to call the Times.  Golly, Erik, I just made one call to the Times, to a friend and I got Mike McElroy's name, the fact that Mike could have spoken to Bradley or heard the message.  These are details that you, a supposed professional journalist missed.  You also 'forgot' to speak to anyone at your paper to see about Bradley's call to the Post.  Then again, I understand a lot of people at the Washington Post don't want to speak to you -- and I understand why they don't -- I really, really understand why they don't.  Keep writing crap like the 'report' we're linking to and, Erik, you'll be gone from the paper before the year's up.  With regards to your earlier attack on Bob Woodward, tell me, Erik, what I just put in bold, was it a threat? 

[Oh, look, Erik, Julie Tate and Ernesto Londono manage to do the job you failed at, "Staying with an aunt in the Washington area as a blizzard blanketed the region, Manning said he called The Post, seeking a journalist willing to examine documents detailing security incidents in Iraq. He said he spoke to a female reporter who didn’t seem to take him seriously."]

It appears only one US outlet is emphasizing a very important and news worthy aspect.  Ben Nuckols (AP) quotes Bradley telling the military court:

I felt we were risking so much for people who seemed unwilling to cooperate with us, leading to frustration and hatred on both sides. I began to become depressed at the situation we found ourselves mired in year after year. In attempting counterinsurgency operations, we became obsessed with capturing and killing human targets on lists.  I wanted the public to know that not everyone living in Iraq were targets to be neutralized.
It's amazing how only AP has that aspect of the story among US outlets -- Ed Pilkington reports the remarks for England's Guardian newspaper.  It's probably the most important part.  The weakest report from a name outlet was going to be compared and contrasted but a friend with ABC News just told me that the editor of that paper wrote a thoughtful piece on the attacks on Bob Woodward.  As a result, a really bad reporter gets a pass from me today.  David Martin (CBS Evening News -- link is text and video) notes, "Depressed and frustrated by the wars, he used his job as a low-ranking intelligence analyst in Baghdad to download onto a CD hundreds of thousands of classified documents -- pus a few videos, like this  helicopter gunship attack that killed two journalists in Iraq -- which he found 'troubling' because it showed 'delightful bloodlust'."  CNN's Larry Shaughnessy and Mark Morgenstein (CNN) report:

After Manning's guilty pleas, Army judge Col. Denise Lind asked the defendant questions to establish that he understood what he was pleading guilty to.
In addition, she reminded him that his lawyer had filed a motion to have the case dismissed on the grounds that he was denied his right to a speedy trial -- a motion that Lind denied Tuesday. By entering guilty pleas, Manning loses his right to have an appellate court consider that ruling, if he chooses to appeal.

So today, a little more about Bradley Manning is known.  As Janet Reitman (Rolling Stone) observes:

For the past two and a half years, Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of giving hundreds of thousands of classified documents to Wikileaks, has been the quiet enigma at heart of the largest and most contentious intelligence leak case in American history. As I write in "The Trials of Bradley Manning," my story for the latest issue of Rolling Stone, this silence – imposed by a lengthy pretrial detention that included nearly a year spent in "administrative segregation," the military equivalent of solitary confinement – made it possible for a legion of interested parties on both sides of the political spectrum to graft their own identities and motivations onto Bradley Manning. They have portrayed him variously as a hero, a traitor, an emotionally-troubled misfit and a victim of prison abuse.


And maybe, if people pay attention, a little more is know about US policy.  Counter-insurgency.  Again, Bradley's remarks:

I felt we were risking so much for people who seemed unwilling to cooperate with us, leading to frustration and hatred on both sides. I began to become depressed at the situation we found ourselves mired in year after year. In attempting counterinsurgency operations, we became obsessed with capturing and killing human targets on lists.  I wanted the public to know that not everyone living in Iraq were targets to be neutralized.

Counter-insurgency is war on a native people.  It's an attempt to trick them, to deceive them, to harm them in order to 'pacify' them.  James Dobbins wrote a ridiculous piece for the Council on Foreign Relations' Foreign Affairs magazine where he lamented counter-insurgency falling out of favor during Vietnam:

The dominant lesson drawn from this costly and ultimately futile war was to avoid similar missions in the future. As a result, counterinsurgency was eliminated from the curriculum of American staff and war colleges. When faced with a violent insurgency in Iraq three decades later, U.S. soldiers had to reacquire the basic skills to fight it. During the several years it took them to do so, the country descended into ever deeper civil war.
As American commanders relearned in Iraq, counterinsurgency demands a more discreet and controlled application of force, a more politically directed strategy, greater knowledge of the society one is operating in, and more interaction with the local civilian population than conventional combat. Perhaps the most essential distinction between the two forms of warfare is that successful counterinsurgency focuses less on killing the insurgents and more on protecting the population from insurgent violence and intimidation.
There is a legitimate debate over how deeply the U.S. military should invest in counterinsurgency capability at the expense of conventional capacity. But no one seriously argues that counterinsurgency tactics are not necessary to resist insurgencies.

That's so inaccurate but do we expect accuracy from Dobbins?  He served under George H.W. Bush which means he knows all about lying.  Counter-insurgency in Vietnam included such 'wonders' as: To save the village, we had to burn the village.  In Vietnam, they were a little more open about what took place and that was kill the ones you think are seen as leaders to get the native population to fall in line.  In addition, it fell out of favor because of all the War Crimes -- all the indiscriminate killing, the rapes, you name it. 

Dobbins claims that counter-insurgency was needed in Iraq.  Then why was it developed before the war?  If commanders 'relearned' the importance of this War Crime technique, then who 'knew' to include it before the war started?

"A more discreet and controlled application of force" is a polite way for saying "targeted killings."  In addition, Iraq and Afghanistan saw new War Criminals.  Anthropologists willing to betray the teachings and ethics of their profession agreed to act as spies and snitches on native populations.  They carried guns and they lied.  They did not identify themselves as anthropologists.  They're supposed to practice informed consent.  That means, if I'm an anthropologist and I'm studying your culture, I tell you what I am and I tell you I have some questions and ask you if you'd like to answer.  You're free not to.  But there are no ethics for War Criminals.  So you had them in military garb, carrying guns, going door to door with the US military, leading native populations to believe these foreigners with guns were military and had to be answered.  If they'd known they didn't have to answer, they might have rightly told these Montgomery McFates and others losers, "F**k off" -- and then slammed the door in their faces.

But the US military knew that as well which is why informed consent wasn't practiced.

They forced their way into the lives of a native population, they acted as spies and informers -- for a foreign force that wanted to dominate the country.  That's not anthropology, that's not social science.  That's a betrayal of everything the social sciences are supposed to stand for.  As Elaine pointed out Tuesday night, "Counter-insurgency needs to be loudly condemned.  I fully support stripping people of professional accreditation if they use their academic training to trick or deceive native populations.  The social sciences are supposed to be scientific and professional.  They are not supposed to be used to harm people."  Serena Golden (Inside Higher Ed) reports on the resignation from the National Academy of Sciences by "eminent University of Chicago anthropologist Marshall Sahli:
Sahlins further noted his objection to several recently announced collaborations between the NAS and the U.S. military. One of the projects involves "measuring human capabilities" and "the combination of individual capabilities to create collective capacity to perform"; another seeks to study "the social and organizational factors that present external influences on the behavior of individuals operating within the context of military environments." Both have the stated goal of utilizing social science research "to inform U.S. military personnel policies and practices."
Because of "the toll that military has taken on the blood, treasure, and happiness of American people, and the suffering it has imposed on other peoples," Sahlins said, "the NAS, if it involves itself at all in related research, should be studying how to promote peace, not how to make war."
Sahlins' resignation highlights two serious and ongoing debates within anthropology: one, the appropriate relationship -- if any -- between anthropologists and the military (Sahlins has previously expressed his opposition to any such involvement); two, the role of hard science within the discipline.

Dobbins says no one seriously argues that counter-insurgency techniques aren't necessary.  It has a Cokie Roberts "none that  matter" ring to it, doesn't it?  It just doesn't have the ring of truth to it.

Anthropologist David H. Price has been a leading voice -- I'd argue the leading voice -- in calling out social scientists helping the military conduct war on a native people.  At CounterPunch, he interviews anthropologist Marshall Sahlins about Sahlins decision to resign from the National Academy of Sciences:

In late 1965 Sahlins traveled to Vietnam to learn firsthand about the war and the Americans fighting it, work that resulted in his seminal essay “The Destruction of Conscience in Vietnam.”   He became one of the clearest and most forceful anthropological voices speaking out against efforts (in the 1960s and 70s, and in again in post-9/11 America) to militarize anthropology.
In 2009 I was part of a conference at the University of Chicago critically examining renewed efforts by U.S. military and intelligence agencies to use anthropological data for counterinsurgency projects.  Sahlins’ paper at the conference argued that, “in Vietnam, the famous anti-insurgency strategy was search and destroy; here it is research and destroy.  One might think it good news that the military’s appropriation of anthropological theory is incoherent, simplistic and outmoded – not to mention tedious – even as its ethnographic protocols for learning the local society and culture amount to unworkable fantasies. ”

Are you getting what Bradley Manning found offensive.  He was sent to Iraq with the same lie everyone else was -- liberation, to help, etc.  And what he found were innocents being tricked and deceived -- innocent Iraqis being targeted:

I began to become depressed at the situation we found ourselves mired in year after year. In attempting counterinsurgency operations, we became obsessed with capturing and killing human targets on lists.  I wanted the public to know that not everyone living in Iraq were targets to be neutralized.

The deaths never stopped.  Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) reports, "Two car bombs ripped off back to back in a Shiite neighborhood in Baghdad on Thursday night, killing at least 16 people and wounding 30 others, a local police source said.Al Jazeera reports the death toll has risen to 19 dead (thirty injured).  In other violence today, the National Iraqi News Agency reports two Baghdad bombs left 8 people injured, another eight are injured in a al-Azizia car bombing (Wasit Province) All Iraq News updates the injured toll for Wasit to fourteen.  And Reuters is stating that 3 people are dead.  That's another thing to watch for, seriously injured may pass away. On the Baghdad bombing, Reuters reports that in addition to the eight injured, 1 person was killed. Aslumaria notes 1 Sahwa leader was shot dead in a Kirkuk attack that also killed 1 bodyguard and left another injured.  Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 316 violent deaths this month in Iraq.

Alsumaria reports that MP Magdy Rady (of Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc) stated that the current government would not survive one week if the Sadrists were to begin demonstrating in all the provinces.  Possibly but the ongoing protests are pretty powerful as is.  Doubt it?  Nouri's State of Law can't stop trashing them.  The National Iraq News Agency reports State of Law MP Kamal al-Saadi told the outlet that the Ba'ath Party is behind the unrest with the help of "regional powers."  State of Law MP Najaf Sadiq tells Alsumaria that "deviants" are the reason for the protests.  The Iraqi people are the protesters.

The deviance is to be found in the government, not in the people.  They want the government to stop allowing women and girls to be tortured and raped in prison, they want basic services that work -- like potable water. Really most of the things they were demanding in 2011 are what they're calling for today.  Layla Anwar (Arab Woman Blues) notes the protesters demands:

- End of Sectarian Shia rule
- the re-writing of the Iraqi constitution (drafted by the Americans and Iranians)
- the end to arbitrary killings and detention, rape and torture of all detainees on basis of sect alone and their release
- the end of discriminatory policies in employment, education, etc based on sect
- the provision of government services to all
- the end of corruption
- no division between Shias and Sunnis, a one Islam for all Iraqi Muslims and a one Iraq for all Iraqis.

Those aren't unreasonable requests.  And the protests have been going on since December with each Friday seeing an increase in the turnout -- last Friday saw over 3 million people take part in the protests -- that's 10% of the country's population.   Iraqi Spring MC notes that Samarra has just seen day 60 of their sit-in.

They protesters had the support of clerics and tribal leaders.  And the United Nations is meeting with the them.  Dar Addustour notes that the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy to Iraq Martin Kobler met with officials and protesters in Kirkuk and that Governor Najmoldeen Omer Kareem told him yesterday that they support the protesters in Kirkuk and Hawija and that they understand the demands the protesters are making.   NINA adds that Kobler states the demands of the Kirkuk protesters include holding local elections.

All Iraq News reports Nouri al-Maliki arrived in Karbala Province today.  The province, in the center of Iraq, has an estimated one million residents and the capital, Karbala, is one of the holy cities in Iraq that pilgrims travel to regularly.  NINA notes that Nouri gave a speech about today's Iraq and declared that there was no place in it "for militias, armed groups and warlords."  Of course not!  It would appear he's recruited all of the thugs to be his military and his police.  That would explain the 11 deaths when Nouri's forces opened fire  on them January 25th in Falluja.

Two US State Dept Tweets.

First is because a Sour Grape Girl felt the need to insult new Secretary of State John Kerry on the radio this week.  Sour Grape Girl just doesn't feel safe, as a woman, with Kerry as Secretary of State.  Sour Grape Girl needs to get a life.  Women are not vanishing because the new Secretary of State has a penis.  Under Hillary Clinton, the State Dept did not ignore men.  Sour Grape Girls really hurt themselves when they open their uninformed mouths but they also hurt the cause and maybe some leaders do need to step away from the microphones after the ages of 70.  (See Kat's argument here and Rebecca's here -- and I'm not referring to Gloria Steinem as the Sour Grape Girl -- it was Robin Morgan.)  John Kerry is in Italy.  Tomorrow he goes to Turkey.

Bulet Aras and Emirhan Yorulmazlar (The Hill) offer their take on the region and note of Iraq:

Ankara-Baghdad relations turned sour after Maliki paradoxically perceived the Turkish position to promote consensual politics not only in Iraq, but also in Syria as threatening. At home he shied away from power sharing, abroad he feared yet another Sunni ascendancy. The resultant equation is the U.S.-encouraged Maliki coalesces with Iran and the Baathist Assad. Turkey sided with the KRG and Sunni minority against an “oppressing” Maliki majority bloc, yet acted reservedly not to alienate other Shiite groups. Iran’s policy has been to aggravate
Shiite-Sunnite tensions in Iraq and the region to hedge against its political losses after the Arab Spring. Meanwhile, Turkey’s burgeoning energy and security needs entailed a rapprochement with the KRG, which was earlier advocated by the Americans but went even further than U.S. projections. Overall, for Ankara, the U.S. siding with Maliki in the name of political stability is a faux pas that requires reparation. This is while the U.S. came out vocal in opposing Turkish-KRG cooperation particularly on energy. Maliki’s ties with Ankara seem irreparable and until US pretension about political stability in Iraq ends both sides will continue to differ on Iraqi affairs.

Cindy Sheehan is a world famous peace activist, an author, the host of Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox and a lot more. She's gearing up for a new action, the Tour de Peace.


Contact: David Swanson  202-329-7847

Sheehan and other riders are available for interviews.

WHAT: Gold Star Mother and "peace mom" Cindy Sheehan will lead a Tour de Peace bike ride across the United States
from the grave of her son Casey in Vacaville, Calif., to Washington, D.C., following the mother road, historic Route 66 to Chicago, and other roads from there on to D.C.  Bicyclers will join in for all or part of the tour, which will include public events organized by local groups along the way.  Complete route:

WHEN: The tour will begin on April 4, 2013, nine years after Casey Sheehan was killed in Iraq, and 45 years after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was killed in Memphis.  It will conclude on July 3, 2013, with a ride from Arlington National Cemetery to the White House.

WHY: This August will mark 8 years since Cindy Sheehan began a widely reported protest at then-President George W. Bush's "ranch" in Crawford, Texas, demanding to know what the "noble cause" was for which Bush claimed Americans were dying in Iraq.  Neither Bush nor President Obama has yet offered a justification for a global war now in its 12th year.  The Tour de Peace will carry with it these demands:

To end wars, To end immunity for U.S. war crimes, To end suppression of our civil rights, To end the use of fossil fuels, To end persecution of whistleblowers, To end partisan apathy and inaction.
Watch the trailer:


the world
marco werman