Saturday, September 14, 2013

At least 41 dead and 52 injured in Saturday's violence in Iraq

All Iraq News reports Iraqi Vice President Khudhir al-Khuzaive hosted  US Ambassador to Iraq Stephen Beecroft and Brett McGurk.  National Iraqi News Agency notes that al-Khuzaive issued a statement afterwards saying they discussed "the importance of holding a social peace conference in Baghdad soon to protect Iraq from internal and external harmful repercussions."  And when will this peace conference take place?  Iraq's not exactly flowing milk and honey these days.

NINA reports that a Dijail bombing claimed the lives of a husband and wife and left three women injured,  a clash between police and rebels in Tikrit left 1 rebel dead and two more injured, a Baghdad roadside bombing claimed 3 lives and left five people injured, a Mosul home invasion left 1 man dead and his son injured, 1 person was shot dead in Ramadi and another was left injured, a Mosul suicide bomber claimed the lives of 10 people with another fifteen injured in the targeting of a funeral, an attack on a Ramadi police officer's home left two by-standers injured, 1 Shabak was shot dead near his Mosul home, an attack on a Falluja checkpoint left 1 police officer dead and another injured, a Badush bombing claimed the lives of 2 Iraqi soldiers and left an army captain injured,  and Friday there was a bombing just outside of Falluja which targeted the Chair of Anbar Council who was not harmed but one of his bodyguards was injured and the bodyguard died from the wounds today at Falluja General Hospital.

Reuters notes the Mosul suicide bomber targeting the funeral was targeting the funeral of a Shabak and that the death toll continued to rise.  Al Mada notes the bomber wore a bomb belt.  Yang Lina (Xinhua) reports it rose to 27 dead and thirty-six injured.  Through Friday, Iraq Body Count counts 453 violent deaths in Iraq so far this month. That's 40 dead (actually, 41, the suicide bomber is among the dead) and 52 injured.

Again, when does the US think they might get around to a peace conference in Iraq?

Of course, working on peace has to wait since the administration -- including the Secretary of State -- is far more interested in demanding war (on Syria).   KUNA notes, "Speakers of Iranian and Iraqi parliaments, Ali Larijani and Osama Al-Nujaifi respectively reiterated on Saturday rejection to any military intervention in Syria."  On the topic of Syria and Iraq, Majid Rafizadeh (The Jewish Voice) points out the hypocrisy of US House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi:

Pelosi seemed to enjoy a good relationship with Assad, when she rejected President George W. Bush’s recommendation to not meet with Syria’s dictator. In 2007, Pelosi ignored the Bush administration’s foreign policies and met with one of the most authoritarian leaders of the world— one who has ruled Syria by killings, torture and oppression. Later, though, Pelosi praised Assad by stating, “We came in friendship, hope, and determined that the road to Damascus is a road to peace.” This rhetoric, these remarks, and the trip to Damascus itself further legitimized Assad’s rule, not only domestically but also regionally and internationally.
Furthermore, Pelosi also critically opposed the war against Iraq. According to her, the war was a grave foreign policy gaffe, based on the fact that it was unilateral, and that not all diplomatic venues and initiatives were explored. She stated, “I say flat out that unilateral use of force without first exhausting every diplomatic remedy and other remedies and making a case to the American people will be harmful to our war on terrorism.”
If Pelosi’s logic and doctrine suggest that unilateral military actions should be avoided, diplomatic efforts should be exhausted and a legitimate case should be made to the American people on the use of military force, then how could Pelosi justify supporting a military strike in Syria?
First of all, the coalition for striking Syria militarily has significantly shrunk as Britain, Australia, Germany, and other Western allies have declared that they will not join United States in the use of military force against the Assad regime. In other words, the Obama administration is in fact going to war unilaterally. The coalition for war against the regime of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was much larger and unified than the one forming against Syria. Yet, though Pelosi decided and voted against war with Iraq due to its unilateral nature, she is supporting entering into a war against Assad.
Even more, the Obama administration has neither made a strong argument, nor made it clear to the American people why the nation will strike the Assad regime. His broad explanations essentially come down to the belief that bombing Syria “may have a positive impact on our national security over the long term.” The American leadership has failed to specify how that can actually assist national security in the long term. More importantly, while the overwhelming majority of the American public is against any military involvement in Syria, Pelosi has continued to push to get authorization from Congress and approval for President Obama’s plan.

It's amazing.  The voters send them to DC and they spit on the voters.  Nancy Pelosi's office has heard very little (3%, I'm told) support for war on Syria.  With 97% of her constituents against it (I am part of that 97%, she's my House Rep), our public servant has decided to yet again screw us over. 

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I Hate The War

Before anything else, please note the following:

I'm not endorsing those segments, I'm noting them.  A CPB friend is appalled that I haven't noted that PBS' The NewsHour is doing a weekend show.  I've said it was stupid not to for years, it was pointed out to me, so why I hadn't I noted it when this was the second weekend that The NewsHour was doing the weekend edition (one hour long show for the weekend)?

I honestly didn't know.  I offered that Ava and I could take a look at it -- because it seems a little skimpy on news content -- but that appeared to make the CPB-er shudder.

For the record, I have stated for nearly two decades that The NewsHour should do a Saturday and Sunday broadcast.  When I pointed that out in tonight's phone call, I was told that the stations around the country wouldn't go for that.

Yeah, they would.  All PBS has to do is stream the broadcast live online Saturday and Sunday and people will start asking why their local stations are not carrying it.

I'm glad they're doing one weekend show.  Clearly, only doing one makes it difficult.  They don't want to be old by Sunday if a stations carries it on Sunday.  So they're going the magazine route.  They could also do some serious US reporting -- from around the country -- use this broadcast, to beef up that coverage.

Anyway, they got their plug.  One more time, The NewsHour now has a weekend edition.

 Let's stay with public programming.  Can you spot the error in this from Friday's Democracy Now! broadcast:

AMY GOODMAN: The former secretary of defense under Lyndon Johnson.

ROBERT REICH: The former Secretary of Defense, when John Kerry was protesting the Vietnam War. I hope this irony is not lost on Kerry or anybody else.

AMY GOODMAN: Chuck Hagel, who opposed the Iraq war, our current Defense Secretary, when asked what will be the cost of these strikes, because very few people are talking about the actual economic costs. He said something like tens of millions of dollars.

The lie that John Kerry opposed the Iraq War got called out last week as well as the week before.  So why is the lie that Hagel opposed the Iraq War still lingering in the air?

In a column today entitled "War must always be viewed as the last resort" (Gannett Newspapers) this appears:

 When I voted against authorization of military force in Iraq as the single then-Republican U.S. senator to do so, those words inspired my opposition.

Guess what?  Chuck Hagel didn't write that column, Lincoln Chafee did.

77 US senators voted for the authorization in October 2002.  This included 29 Democrats and 48 Republicans.  21 Democrats voted against it.  1 Independent voted against it (Jim Jeffords) and only one Republican voted against it, Lincoln Chafee.

Chuck Hagel?  Like Nebraska's other US senator at that time, Chuck Hagel voted for the war:

Yea   R   Hagel, Chuck NE
Yea   D   Nelson, Ben NE

I have no idea why this is 'complicated.'  Hagel voted for war.  Ahead of his vote he gave a speech that some wrongly applaud.  Words don't matter if you don't back them up.  You can say any damn thing in the world.  If you think the authorization for war on Iraq is wrong and you say so then you shouldn't vote for it.  If you do, you're a hypocrite and a whiner.

I have no desire to create false heroes.  I think the US would be in a much better place today if revisionary history -- or lies -- stopped getting broadcast by the media.  When it mattered, Chuck Hagel couldn't be counted on.

Am I remembering wrong?  On The Issues has his voting record or 'voting' record.  It opens, in the war section:

  • Our current Iraq policy is not worthy of soldiers' sacrifice. (Jul 2007)
  • Engage with Iran & Syria; follow Baker-Hamilton. (Jul 2007)
  • Internationalize Iraq or we'll be seen as occupiers. (Jul 2007)
  • Open to withdrawal timelines, but look at other issues too. (Jul 2007)
  • Bush administration wanted to go to war with Saddam. (Jul 2007)
  • No Iraq military solution; focus on political accommodation. (Jul 2007)
  • Outcome in Iraq will be determined by the Iraqis. (Jul 2007)
  • Iraq was a war of choice, like Vietnam. (Jul 2007)
  • Congress should oppose Bush's actions, but not impeachable. (Jul 2007)
  • Soldiers in Iraq deserve a policy worthy of their sacrifice. (Mar 2007)
  • US in "deep trouble" in Iraq. (Sep 2004)
  • Iraq took our eye off the ball in Afghanistan. (Aug 2004) 

I must be wrong!

Oh, wait, that crap doesn't belong in Hagel's voting record because none of it is votes.  Scroll down and you see his actual voting record.

  • Voted NO on redeploying non-essential US troops out of Iraq in 9 months. (Dec 2007)
  • Voted NO on designating Iran's Revolutionary Guards as terrorists. (Sep 2007)
  • Voted NO on redeploying US troops out of Iraq by March 2008. (Mar 2007)
  • Voted NO on redeploying troops out of Iraq by July 2007. (Jun 2006)
  • Voted NO on investigating contract awards in Iraq & Afghanistan. (Nov 2005)
  • Voted YES on requiring on-budget funding for Iraq, not emergency funding. (Apr 2005)
  • Voted YES on $86 billion for military operations in Iraq & Afghanistan. (Oct 2003)
  • Voted YES on authorizing use of military force against Iraq. (Oct 2002) 
 He not only voted for war in 2002, he also voted for funding (2003) and he voted against pulling US troops out of Iraq (June 2006, March 2007 and December 2007).  Excuse me, when did his voting record ever demonstrate that he was against the Iraq War?

He voted for it and repeatedly voted against pulling US troops out of Iraq.

Those are votes.   The b.s. foaming out of his mouth?  He never backed it up with actual votes.

I have no desire to pretend that Hagel was against the war.  In his Senate vote in 2002, or his later votes,  I see no opposition to the war.

It's over, I'm done writing songs about love
There's a war going on
So I'm holding my gun with a strap and a glove
And I'm writing a song about war
And it goes
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Oh oh oh oh
-- "I Hate The War" (written by Greg Goldberg, on The Ballet's Mattachine!)

The number of US service members the Dept of Defense states died in the Iraq War is [PDF format warning] 4488.

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Friday, September 13, 2013

Iraq snapshot

Friday, September 13, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, twin bombings target a mixed section of Iraq, the Ashraf community remains in turmoil, Desmond Tutu speaks on the topic of Syria, new IRS scandal revelations, and more.

Sunday, in the Bay Area, there's an event:

Sunday, September 15, 2013
12:30pm to 5:00pm

Walnut Park
downtown Petaluma, CA


Daniel Ellsberg - Pentagon Papers whistleblower, supporter of Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden 
Jill Stein - 2012 Green Party Presidential candidate
Norman Solomon - author, activist, community organizer 
Therese Mughannam-Walrath - Palestinian peace activist
Michael Nagler - Director, Metta Center for Nonviolence
Marc Armstrong - Director, Public Banking Institute
Kamal Prasad - food issues activist
Also speakers on:
  • Immigration issues
  • Stopping mass incarceration
  • Fukushima nuclear plant
  • Unite Here labor campaign
  • Labeling GMOs


The Pounce & Denounce PlayHouse - Occupy Petaluma's own theater troupe
De Colores with special guest, Francisco Herrera (Música de las Americas)
Spoken Word & Drums by Masaba (the Last Poets), &
Michael Rothenburg
(100K Poets for Change)

Many Social Justice, Environmental, Labor, and Community Organizations will have Informational booths/tables.

The event is produced by the Petaluma Progressives and is cosponsored by KPFA 94.1 FM, the Peace & Justice Center of Sonoma County, The Bohemian and the Committee for Immigrant Rights, Sonoma County. It takes place at Petaluma Blvd South and D Street, downtown Petaluma. It is free to the public.

Tamales, Rice, Beans, Other Goodies & Drinks Available.

For more info, call 707.763.8134
Or by email:

A KPFA friend asked if we could note the event and note that, from one p.m. to three p.m., KPFA will be covering the event live. That's over the airwaves (94.1 on the FM dial) in the Bay Area and around the world online (KPFA offers live streaming and archives -- some archived program is archived briefly, I didn't think to ask how long this would be archived, sorry).

From an announcement to a quandry, what's wrong with this paragraph:

George W. Bush once flubbed an aphorism (granted, an easy to flub aphorism) about being fooled once, shame on the fooler, being similarly fooled twice, then the shame was on you.1 Barack Obama has turned the scenario on its head. Obama was not fooled by Bush and the neocons pushing for an attack on Iraq. In 2002, while a United States senator, Barack Obama said, “I don’t oppose all wars. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. … That’s what I’m opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics.”2 For Obama, invading Iraq would be a dumb war.

That's Kim Petersen (Dissident Voice) making a common mistake.  Barack Obama was not a US Senator in 2002.   He was in the Illinois state legislature.  He would run for the US Senate in 2004.  And his opposition to the Iraq War?

And I'm so sad
like a good book
I can't put this 
Day Back
a sorta fairytale
with you 
a sorta fairytale
with you 
-- "A Sorta Fairytale," written by Tori Amos, first appears on her album Scarlet's Walk

For those who can't remember, let's revisit former President Bill Clinton's 2008 remarks:

"But since you raised the judgment issue, let's go over this again. That is the central argument for his campaign. 'It doesn't matter that I started running for president less a year after I got to the Senate from the Illinois State Senate. I am a great speaker and a charismatic figure and I'm the only one who had the judgment to oppose this war from the beginning. Always, always, always.' "
[. . .]
"Second, it is wrong that Senator Obama got to go through 15 debates trumpeting his superior judgment and how he had been against the war in every year, numerating the years, and never got asked one time, not once, 'Well, how could you say that when you said in 2004 you didn't know how you would have voted on the resolution? You said in 2004 there was no difference between you and George Bush on the war and you took that speech you're now running on off your website in 2004* and there's no difference in your voting record and Hillary's ever since?' Give me a break.
"This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I've ever seen."

"*" It was 2003 when it was first disappeared as Glen Ford has pointed out.

Barack took no stand against the Iraq War as a US Senator, instead choosing to vote to fund it over and over.  In 2008, Ted Glick became a two-bit whore for the Cult of St. Barack.  At the start of 2007, he was much more honest about just how warlike and centrist Barack Obama actually was (and is).

Today Iraq makes Ana Marie Cox's number one item the topic of Syria's crowded out of the news in recent weeks.  In a column for the Guardian, she notes:


Hey, there's still a war going on there! A milder, less deadly one, but sectarian conflict did not end with the official US military exit (over 5,000 armed private security contractors remain). Of all the other stories Americans should be aware of as the Syria debate continues, this is the most significant – and not just because the disaster looms so large in American memories, but because of the disaster that continues today – and has recently escalated. Car bombings and suicide attacks were killing a manageable 200-300 people per month last year; in July, that number was 900, and 700 in August – the deadliest months in five years. While far less than the 2,500 per month that died at the height of US involvement, the higher tolls are linked to Sunni extremists morbidly encouraged by the chaos next door in Syria.
Arming or aiding the Sunni rebels in Syria could give Iraqi Sunnis even more reasons to react with greater violence to the repressive techniques of the Shi'ite-led government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Ana Marie Cox is correct that contractors remain.  Marines remain to guard the US Embassy and consulates.  The US military remains as 'trainers.'  As Ted Koppel pointed out in December of 2011, various others would (and did) remain behind.  And we'll yet again note Tim Arango's September 25th New York Times report which included, "Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions.  At the request of the Iraqi government, according to [US] General [Robert L.] Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence."

On the ground in Iraq, violence continues.  Twin bombings result in a large death toll on the edge of Baquba.  AP identifies the location as Umm al-Adham village.  AFP reports, "Iraqi officials say a bomb has struck a Sunni mosque during prayers north of Baghdad, killing 28 people in the latest eruption of violence to rock the country." at least forty-one more people are said to be injured. BBC News adds, "Two roadside bombs were detonated as worshippers left the al-Salam mosque after Friday prayers, police said." Lu Hui (Xinhua) reports:

At least 30 people were killed and 42 others wounded around midday when a car bomb hit worshippers as they completed their Friday prayers and went out of a mosque in the town of Ottomaniya, 15 km southwest of the provincial capital city of Baquba, a provincial police source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

Meanwhile, one was killed and five others were wounded in a roadside bomb attack near a Sunni mosque in Qarataba, some 110 km northeast of Baquba, he added.

Raheem Salman, Isabel Coles and Mark Heinrich (Reuters) explain the two bombings "occurred about ten minutes apart in the ethnically and confessionally mixed city, situated around 65 km (40 miles) northeast of the capital Baghdad. The second explosion tore through a crowd of people who had rushed to help those hurt in the first blast."   KUNA notes the death toll rose to 35.

The attacks comes during an already violent September.  Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 403 violent deaths in Iraq so far this month.

In other violence today, National Iraqi News Agency reports a Mosul home invasion has left 6 family members dead, Khalaf Humeed Mohammed (Board Chair of Shura county local council) was shot dead in Mosul, a Ramadi sticky bombing left one police officer injured, an Ishaqi car bombing targeting a bus filled with people journeying from Samarra to Balad and left 3 dead and twelve more left injured, and, early this morning, 1 Khadija preacher was shot dead and a Alaadheim car bombing left four people injured.

One week shy of the nine month anniversary, the ongoing protests in Iraq continue today.  Iraqi Spring MC notes protests took place in Ramadi, in Falluja, in Tikrit, in Mosul and in Baiji.The protesters are demanding basic rights and freedoms. They have to demand them because Nouri fails to honor the most basic promises fails to honor the most basic promises government makes to its citizens.  AP notes today, "Members of Iraq's Sunni Arab minority have been protesting against the Shia-led government since December, angered over what they see as second-class treatment of their sect and what they see as unfair application of tough anti-terrorism measures."

In Nouri al-Maliki's Iraq, everyone's a target.  The Ashraf community was attacked two Sundays ago in Iraq.  They are a group of Iranian dissidents and the latest attack on them led UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to issue  a statement:

The Secretary-General deplores the tragic events in Camp Ashraf today that have reportedly left 47 killed.  He expresses his sorrow and extends his deepest condolences to the families of the victims.
The Secretary-General reiterates his full support for and his absolute confidence in the relentless work of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI).  He appeals for the urgent restoration of security in the Camp as it is the responsibility of the Government of Iraq to ensure the safety and security of the residents. The Secretary-General calls on the Government of Iraq to promptly investigate the incident and disclose the findings.

Adam Schreck (AP) reported that the United Nations was able to confirm the deaths of 52 Ashraf residents.  Al Mada noted that Nouri's declared he should be over the Iraqi investigation since he's commander-in-chief.  And that's exactly why he shouldn't be over it.  Are we really surprised that the concepts of "independence" and "integrity" would escape Nouri?  

US Senator Robert Menendez is the Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and his office issued the following yesterday:

September 12, 2013
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, released this statement condemning the attacks on Camp Ashraf residents, and called on the Iraqi government to protect the community and secure the release of seven hostages taken after the massacre at Camp Ashraf.

“I condemn the brutal violence targeting Camp Ashraf residents in the most forceful of terms and personally offer my deepest sympathies to the families of this horrific act of terror. The surviving residents have been moved to Camp Liberty, but serious threats endure for the community and they remain targets of future attacks even as they are relocated. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq must proceed with their independent investigation and thoroughly ensure the safety and wellbeing of those residents now in Camp Liberty.

“I hold the Iraqi government directly responsible to protect the community, to investigate this matter thoroughly, and to prosecute the perpetrators of this heinous act. I am deeply concerned for the seven hostages who were taken during this attack. The Iraqi government should act swiftly to determine their whereabouts and ensure their safety. There is added urgency for the global community, as well as for the United States, to help resettle this community outside of Iraq, and end this cycle of ongoing terror attacks.”


Press Contact

Camp Ashraf housed a group of Iranian dissidents who 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. This is key and demands the US defend the Ashraf community in Iraq from attacks.  The Bully Boy Bush administration grasped that -- they were ignorant of every other law on the books but they grasped that one.  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 repeatedly attacked after Barack Obama was sworn in as US President. 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."  Those weren't the last attacks.  They were the last attacks while the residents were labeled as terrorists by the US State Dept.  (September 28, 2012, the designation was changed.)   In spite of this labeling, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observed that "since 2004, the United States has considered the residents of Camp Ashraf 'noncombatants' and 'protected persons' under the Geneva Conventions."  So the US has an obligation to protect the residents.  3,300 are no longer at Camp Ashraf.  They have moved to Camp Hurriyah for the most part.  A tiny number has received asylum in other countries. Approximately 100 were still at Camp Ashraf when it was attacked Sunday.   That was the second attack this year alone.   February 9th of this year, the Ashraf residents were again attacked, this time the ones who had been relocated to Camp Hurriyah.  Trend News Agency counted 10 dead and over one hundred injured.  Prensa Latina reported, " A rain of self-propelled Katyusha missiles hit a provisional camp of Iraqi opposition Mujahedin-e Khalk, an organization Tehran calls terrorists, causing seven fatalities plus 50 wounded, according to an Iraqi official release."

Today Ramesh Sepehrrad (UPI) offers:

Addressing the Syrian situation, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry recently told Congress, "The word of the United States must mean something."
Back in 2003, it was the very words of the U.S. government that guaranteed the residents of Camp Ashraf of U.S. protection, words that remain unfulfilled today.
In early 2009, in a breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention, Washington recklessly transferred the protection responsibility for Camp Ashraf to the Iraqi government.
There was ample evidence at the time that Iraq's loyalty to Tehran was making it less than willing or capable of providing the level of protection stipulated by the international law.
Since then there have been five deliberate deadly attacks against the unarmed residents who are members of Iran's opposition group, the People's Mujahedin Organization of Iran.
Every attack has been a test of America's willingness to stand by its words and effectively pressure the Iraqis. Escalating violence against this group shows the United States has failed in every test.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees issued the following statement today, "UNHCR remains deeply concerned about developments in relation to Camp New Iraq, most notably the security of the remaining residents, not least in light of the horrific events leading to the death of 52 residents last week. UNHCR urges that a peaceful solution be found and calls in particular on the Iraqi government to ensure the security of the residents."  Meanwhile the acting special envoy in Iraq for the UN Secretary-General, Gyorgy Bustin, spoke with the press today.  Adam Schreck (AP) quotes Bustin stating, "What has happened at Camp Ashraf on the first of September is a game changer. It should be a wake-up call to all countries who are in a position to help to come forward. Resettlement is the ultimate guarantee of their security."

Though any country can come to the aid of the Ashraf community, the US government has a legal obligation.  It's really amazing that over a year ago the US took the MEK off the terrorist list nearly a year ago (September 28th) and yet they have failed repeatedly at relocating the Ashraf community out of Iraq.   That is an obligation and its one the State Dept is failing.

 Dropping back to yesterday's snapshot for another Ashraf issue:

AFP reports, "The UN has urged Iraq to investigate the disappearances but there has been 'nothing so far', [UNAMI spokesperson Eliana] Nabaa told AFP."  The National Council of Resistance of Iran states:

Kamal Amin, spokesman for the so-called Ministry of Human Rights of Iraq said today: “Iraqi security forces have detained these individuals for attacking their own forces (Iraqi security forces).” (Voice of Free Iraq, September 12, 2013).
As such, 11 days after repeated denials, the Iraqi government accepted responsibility for the abduction of seven members of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI) and said that the seven missing PMOI members have been detained by the security forces. He preposterously claimed that they had been arrested because they had attacked the security forces.
The Iranian Resistance’s President-elect, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, demanded urgent action by the US Secretary of State, the UN Secretary General, the High Commissioner for Refugees and the ICRC to secure the immediate release of the seven hostages and their return [to Liberty].
In recent days the seven hostages were seen in blue prison uniforms in Maliki's Golden division.

Today UNHCR issued the following statement:

These seven are all known by UNHCR to be asylum-seekers, and the agency hopes to have an opportunity to interview them. In light of the numerous and persistent reports over the past week that these individuals may be at risk of forced return to Iran, UNHCR calls upon the Government of Iraq to locate them, to ensure their physical security, and to safeguard them against return to Iran against their will.

Turning to the US,  Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu spoke at Butler University last night.  Robert King (Indianapolis Star) reports:

And characteristic of a man who didn't hesitate to blast a repressive regime in his own country, Tutu didn’t hesitate to wade into the issue of the moment. He praised Americans for being skeptical of an attack on Syria given the “illegal, immoral invasion of Iraq” in 2003.
“I salute the American people because they learned a lesson in 2003, because now a majority of the American people are saying no to a military intervention,” Tutu said. He added: “You Americans are some of the most generous creatures God ever created. Why don’t you drop food and not bombs?”
Tutu’s legacy of speaking truth to power, of seeking justice for the oppressed and for reconciling relationships broken by violence and war is one he has been building for decades. But despite his animated performance, it’s not clear how much longer Tutu -- described by [Rev Allan] Boesak as “one of the greatest living icons of our time” -- would be able to carry on himself. He hobbled to the stage in a leg cast (he has tendonitis) and seemed fatigued backstage when his speech was over.

US war on Syria is not a vanished prospect.  But a number of pushbacks -- such as the protests and public opinion -- and a blunder have combined to avert it at least for now. 
 Martin Michaels (Mint Press News) reports, "About half of all Americans oppose military intervention in Syria, but opposition to attacks is much higher among current service members, according to recent opinion polling by the Military Times -- which found that 75 percent of the military now oppose a U.S. military strike in Syria."  Aaron David Miller (CNN) explains:

The American people are their own experts this time around on what constitutes a vital national interest for the United States and what they want done about it.
After two of the longest and most profitless wars in American history, the public has a more discriminating assessment of what's worth fighting for and what's not. And, deeply dismayed by the standard for victory -- when can we leave, not how do we win -- most Americans rightly see a U.S. military strike on Syria as an imperfect option that is likely either to be ineffective or to draw the U.S. into another country's civil war.

And yet Barack, even now, can't stop trying to push for war.  Jason Hirthler (CounterPunch) points out, "With almost pathological haste, Western governments have moved to undermine Russia's sensible proposal for Syria to hand over its chemical stores, thus avoiding the needless carnage being proposed by the United States. In an interview with CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley not hours after the proposal gained the tentative acceptance of the Syrians, Obama grudgingly conceded it was a positive development, but quickly added that it would never have been possible without 'a credible military threat,' and sounded all the appropriate reservations."  Hirthler observes:

In his national address Tuesday night, Obama rather cynically attempted this when he insinuated that the diplomatic solve had emerged from his talks with Vladimir Putin. However, the solution was evidently stimulated by John Kerry’s moment of thoughtless candor, in which he did what no warmongering deputy should ever do—offer the villain an escape route. Kerry said in London on Monday that, sure, if Syria gives up its chemicals, we won’t attack it. The Russian Foreign Minister smartly seized on the admission, quickly secured Syrian acquiescence, and announced a diplomatic breakthrough. Kerry was left dumbfounded, slumping back to Washington with a laurel leaf in hand, instead of the uranium-tipped arrows the White House was so poised to launch “across the bow” of international law.

International law isn't the only thing Barack's disrespecting.  John Glaser ( notes US House Rep Justin Amash's Tweet:

  1. Under , you'd be indefinitely detained w/o charge or trial if you sent weapons to opposition forces in . Gov't is breaking law.

Glaser writes:

I take it Amash is referring to the clause of the USA PATRIOT Act which prohibits giving material support to groups designated by the United States as terrorists. In Holder v. Humanitarian Law Projectthe court found that “training,” “expert advice or assistance,” “service,” and “personnel,” all qualified as material assistance.
Last year, the U.S. State Department officially designated the Syrian rebels’ foremost fighting group, Jabhat al-Nusra, a terrorist organization. The U.S. has maintained all along that they are employing a “vetting process” to make sure all the material support they send to Syria’s rebels doesn’t go to the bad guys. But U.S. officials told the Washington Post last year that the CIA knew very little about who was receiving U.S. support, nor could they control exactly where it ended up. The New York Times also reported that the Obama administration has been “increasing aid to the rebels” even though “we don’t really know” who is receiving it.

It's amazing that sad fools like Nancy Pelosi would rather get offended by Russian President Vladimir Putin's column yesterday than by the fact that the White House is in bed with al Qaeda and any military action the US takes in Syria would assist and enable al Qaeda.  What a way to 'honor' the victims of 9-11.

Wednesday, Ruth noted, "One year ago today, Glen Doherty, Sean Smith, Chris Stevens, and Tyrone Woods were killed in Benghazi.  We still do not have the needed answers."  In this community, Ruth does the heavy lifting on Benghazi.  (And does a great job.)  We note it mainly in terms of Congressional hearings here.  The right-wing Newsbusters (a media watchdog) e-mails to note their piece by Matthew Balan which opens, "As of Thursday morning, CBS's morning and evening newscasts have yet to mention a revelation made by their own investigative correspondent, Sharyl Attkisson, on Tuesday -- that Secretary of State John Kerry told Congress 'he will not honor the request to make Benghazi survivors available for questioning'."  The basis for the claim?  This Tweet by CBS News' Sharyl Attiksson:

Secy Kerry tells congress he will not honor the request to make Benghazi survivors available for questioning.

That requires a report and not a Tweet.  CBS needs to report it.  They can put that up against footage of John Kerry testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee if they're unaware of how this is news.  Not only does such a move warrant a report, it also requires a statement to the public from the State Dept and reporters at the department's semi-daily press briefing should be demanding a response to why Kerry is refusing.

We cover the IRS scandal here.  Newsbusters also notes Geoffrey Dickens piece on that:

The Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) networks have colluded with the Obama administration to censor the latest IRS scandal news. The latest: On September 11 the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page, in an article headlined “Lois Lerner’s Own Words,” reported the following: “In a February 2011 email, Ms. Lerner advised her staff—including then Exempt Organizations Technical Manager Michael Seto and then Rulings and Agreements director Holly Paz—that a Tea Party matter is ‘very dangerous,’ and is something ‘Counsel and [Lerner adviser] Judy Kindell need to be in on.’ Ms. Lerner adds, ‘Cincy should probably NOT have these cases.’

That’s a different tune than the IRS sang in May when former IRS Commissioner Steven Miller said the agency’s overzealous enforcement was the work of two ‘rogue’ employees in Cincinnati. When the story broke, Ms. Lerner suggested that her office had been unaware of the pattern of targeting until she read about it in the newspaper. ‘So it was pretty much we started seeing information in the press that raised questions for us, and we went back and took a look,’ she said in May.”

The article also offers a review of many developments in the ongoing story.  Of those, I would note: "On August 6, as reported on, the vice chairman of the Federal Election Commission, Don McGhan, revealed 'he has seen numerous undisclosed e-mails between FEC staffers and the Internal Revenue Service that raise new questions about potential collusion between the two federal agencies in the alleged targeting of conservative political groups'."  Otherwise?  We've covered this stuff.  Reading their list and what has or hasn't been covered, I was surprised that there was no coverage of the targeting of pro-life groups.  I am 100% pro-choice.  That's not the issue.  The issue is free speech without being hindered or penalized by government.  Dropping back to the May 17th snapshot:
US House Rep Aaaron Schock had a number of issues to raise about what the IRS did. A pro-life was group was asked about the content of their prayers and [then-Acting IRS Commissioner Steve] Miller couldn't weigh in on whether or not that was an appropriate question for the IRS to ask.  Another pro-life group was asked if they taught "both sides of the issue."  As anyone knows, I'm firmly pro-choice.  That does not mitigate my offense at these questions the IRS asked and, especially with regard to prayer, they crossed a line.  It's a damn shame Steve Miller didn't know how to respond but a clear indication he was never up for the job. Schock noted another pro-life group was asked to reveal what writing would be on signs they carried at a protest?  Again, Miller had no comment. Popular responses from Miller included: "I don't know," "I don't believe so," "I have no reason to believe . . .," "I don't think so," "I don't have exact knowledge on that," "I'm really not sure" and "I'd have to go back and check."  He wasn't sure if he had notes.  He wasn't sure about timelines.  He was sure about this or about that. 
 The targeting of pro-life groups was apparently news to The National Review when they came across it in August.  With Benghazi and the IRS, the biggest surprise for me personally is how little so many people know about it.  And by 'people,' I mean those writing about it.  Bob Somerby has strengths.  Benghazi is not one of them.  He was very good at repeating what made the papers about hearings.  He was lousy with facts because he wasn't at those hearings.  A six hour hearing, even with the best reporter, will not be accurately captured in a news article or a TV report. (Nor does my covering a hearing here does not accurately capture the full hearing.) And to hear Bob pontificate about what this or that means and make one factual mistake after another was as frustrating as it was hilarious.  Point being, the IRS scandal is a real scandal.  The press has done a poor job explaining the whys of that.  Josh Hicks (Washington Post) reported today:

House Republicans on Thursday rekindled a months-old controversy by releasing what they described as new evidence that the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative groups for political reasons. Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, revealed e-mails that he said show “high-level IRS employees in Washington were abusing their power to prevent conservative groups from organizing and carrying out their missions.”
In one message, IRS official Lois Lerner told her staff: “Tea Party matter very dangerous. This could be the vehicle to go to court on the issue of whether [a Supreme Court decision] overturning the ban on corporate spending applies to tax exempt rules … Cincy should probably NOT have these cases.”