Saturday, April 12, 2014

Campaigning (and violence) continues in Iraq

Nouri al-Maliki is the chief thug and prime minister of Iraq.  He hides away in the Green Zone most days when he's in Iraq.  He wrongly thought he'd be popular in Basra so he went there to campaign for his State of Law coaltion.  Didn't work out the way he'd planned.  All Iraq News reports he was greeted by a large protest and quotes Baha al-Araji, of the Sadr bloc, stating, "What happened during Maliki's speech in Basra in evidence to the citizens' rejection to him."

In March of 2010, Iraq held parliamentary elections.  Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya beat Nouri's State of Law but the White House refused to let anyone except Nouri be prime minister so they brokered The Erbil Agreement which gave loser Nouri a second term.  Allawi held a press conference in Baghdad today.  Alsumaria reports he decried what happened in 2010 and called it a rape of the will and the power of the people.

Parliamentary elections are supposed to be held April 30th.  Campaign posters are going up all over Iraq.  And apparently coming down.  Ayad Allawi Tweeted the following this week:

In other election news, NINA reports,  "The religious authority, Sheikh Muhammad Ishaq al-Fayyadh stressed on Saturday on the need for national elections that should not be alienate, and changing the situation of the people is vested in good choice."  All Iraq News notes Ammar al-Hakim, head of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, publicly pledged today that those candidates with the Citizen bloc coalition will "reject the privileges of the officials" -- which appears to refer to the pension and other privileges that outraged Iraqis in 2013 but which Nouri's State of Law ended up supporting in the 2014 Parliament vote.

NINA notes that Allawi used the press conference today to call out Nouri al-Maliki's attack on Anbar Province and offered that some have "intentions to abort the elections and to monopolize power by prolonging military operations in those areas." Alsumaria adds that Allawi contrasted the current situation in Anbar today with last year when honorable demonstrators held protests and were verbally attacked throughout 2013 with the attacks on the protesters escalating and now, today, it is in a crisis situation with the people of Anbar being attacked.

In Nouri's ongoing assault on Anbar, more civilians are dead in Falluja as a result of the military's shelling of residential neighborhoods.  NINA reports 3 civilians were killed and nine ("including two women and a child") were left injured.

In other violence, National Iraqi News Agency reports a Baghdad roadside bombing has left four police members injured, a Hammam al-Alil roadside bombing left 1 Iraqi soldier dead and two more injured, an armed battle in Hawi left two people injured, Ninveh security states they killed 1 suspect east of Mosul, a Taza Village home bombing left 1 person dead, and a car bombing in Baquba's Jurf al-Meleh left 4 people dead and eighteen injured.  Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) explains, "Baquba is an ethnically mixed city about 60 kilometers, or about 37 miles, northeast of the capital." Alsumaria adds that a police officer and a professor with the Institute of Fine Arts were injured in a Mosul shooting attack, an armed battle outside Ramadi left 6 rebels dead and eight Iraqi soldiers injured, and an armed attack between Tikrit and Samarra left 4 police officers dead.  All Iraq News notes a Tikrit sticky bombing left 1 police officer dead.   All Iraq News also reports on an attempted assassination of a journalist.  Iraqiya Satellite Channel's Jumana Adnan was targeted with a sticky bombing in Salha il-Din. She survived the bombing.

AP has a brief article here.  We'll note the implications tomorrow -- either at Third or here in "Hejira."  I'm not worried anyone else will explore the implications first because everyone else got it wrong at the start of last year.  I doubt they've learned from their lesson.  Back to Anbar, RT reports:

Iraqi militants have captured a dam just south of the city of Fallujah, in order to strategically flood selected parts of the valley and stall the advance of security forces, which have been shelling the city since its seizure by insurgents last year.

One week ago, militants with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) flooded the area around the city with the waters of the Euphrates by closing all of the dam’s 10 gates to stop the government forces’ siege of Fallujah. 

The following community sites -- plus Susan's On the Edge, Jody Watley, the ACLU,, Z on TV, Pacifica Evening News, Jake Tapper, NPR music, War News Radio and Tavis Smiley -- updated:

  • Lastly, David Bacon's latest book is The Right to Stay Home: How US Policy Drives Mexican Migration  is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press).  We'll close with this from Bacon's "Immigrant Labor, Immigrant Rights" (NACLA Report on the Americas):

    In the late 1970s, the U.S. Congress began to debate the bills that eventually resulted in the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) - still the touchstone for ongoing battles over immigration policy. The long congressional debate set in place the basic dividing line in the modern immigrant rights movement.

    IRCA contained three elements. It reinstituted a guest worker program by setting up the H2-A visa category; it penalized employers who hired undocumented workers and required them to check the immigration status of every worker; and it set up a one-time amnesty process for undocumented workers who were in the country before 1982. Guest workers (i.e. workers whose immigrant status was tied to temporary, specific jobs), employer sanctions, and some form of legalization still occupy the main floor of the debate.

    The AFL-CIO supported sanctions, believing they would stop undocumented immigration (and therefore, presumably, job competition with citizen or legal resident workers). Employers wanted guest workers. The Catholic Church and a variety of Washington DC liberals supported amnesty and were willing to agree to guest workers and enforcement as a tradeoff. Organized immigrant communities and leftist immigrant rights advocates opposed the bill, as did local labor leaders and activists, but they were not strong enough to change organized labor's position nationally. The Washington-based coalition produced the votes in Congress, and on November 6, 1986, Ronald Reagan signed the bill into law.

    Once the bill had passed, many of the local organizations that had opposed it set up community-based coalitions to deal with the bill's impact. In Los Angeles, with the country's largest concentration of undocumented Mexican and Central American workers, pro-immigrant labor activists set up centers to help people apply for amnesty. That effort, together with earlier, mostly left-led campaigns to organize undocumented workers, built the base for the later upsurge of immigrant activism that changed the politics and labor movement of the city. Elsewhere, local immigrant advocates set up coalitions to look for ways to defend undocumented workers against the impact of employer sanctions. Grassroots coalitions then began helping workers set up centers for day laborers, garment workers, domestic workers, and other groups of immigrants generally ignored by established unions.

     The e-mail address for this site is

    I Hate The War

    Does it matter?

    I ask that question repeatedly every day.  In fact, these days, more and more.

    I don't care if we're 'borrowed' from.  That's pretty much why we're here so borrow freely.  (I do care when you borrow but credit it to another outlet.)

    Tony Blair's would-be-lover at the Independent was playing the fool again yesterday.  I was desperately scrambling for a snapshot last night (in case you didn't notice) and I knew I could get eight or more paragraphs out of the idiot's nonsense and that I could pull from September 20, 2005 to really show what an idiot he was.

    But did it warrant that or was I just wanting to fill out a snapshot quickly?

    Does it matter?

    I decided "no" it did not matter and we ignored his nonsense.

    Does it matter?

    I ask it with regards to topics in the news.  We have way too much each day to try to squeeze in so it becomes an issue of what has to go in.

    There is so little Iraq coverage from US outlets -- both news outlets and left outlets.

    So I sit here staring at Eric Zuesse's embarrassing nonsense at OpEd News entitled "President Obama Will Decide Whether to Accept Iraq's Legalizing Rape of Children."

    It's so stupid in the extreme.

    Does it matter?

    Yeah, it matters enough to be called out.  Last March we spent the bulk of the month writing about the proposed law regarding marrying off girls as young as nine (or, it turns out eight), stripping wives of their right of consent to sex, stripping custodial rights away from mothers, etc.

    And I think I would have called out Zuesse's column even if it had been published March 10th.

    It's filled with one mistake after another (yet supposedly had something corrected shortly after it went up -- boggles the mind to think it could have been even more wrong than it currently is).

    On Tuesday, April 8th, Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki's Shiite-led Iraqi Government placed before his Parliament a bill, strongly supported by Iraqi men, and approved by the governing coalition of Shiites and Sunnis, which will allow men to rape girls even in forced marriages (Iraqi law already allows forced marriages), and which will allow men to divorce any wife who is above the age of 9. 

    Well, no, it wasn't this month.  Though protests took place at the start of last month, the bill wasn't even introduced last month.   There's a section in the above that we'll come back to.

    Right now let's move to this section:

    There also are problems in Iraq regarding the rights of homosexuals. On 14 December 2013, the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq bannered "Campaign of Iraqi Gay Killings by Smashing Skulls with Concrete Blocks," and opened: "New barbaric attacks started against the Iraqi lgbt in many cities like Baghdad and Basra while using inhumane methods such as hitting the head and body parts of gay victims with building concrete blocks repeatedly till death or by pushing them over high building roof which took place in Basra city. The actions of killings, torture, and dismembering against those who were described as 'adulterous' by Islamic Shia militias, besides hanging lists on the walls of several sections in Al-Sadr city and in Al-Habibea region, had all terrorized the society at large and especially the Iraqi lgbt community."

    My mouth dropped when I read that and I felt like I'd wasted every day since December 14th because we defend Iraq's LGBT community and I had said one word about these new attacks -- which sounded so much like the 2012 attacks.

    So I click on the link.

    It's the 2012 attacks.  For whatever reason, OWFI did post it December 14, 2013 but if you scroll to the bottom, you'll see it's a March 1, 2012 piece ("1\3\2012").

    So, to be clear, the LGBT attack above is from March 2012.

    I kind of get the feeling that it will be huge news to Zuesse because he doesn't appear to have paid much attention to Iraq.  He's one of the useless bitches, in fact, who can call out Bully Boy Bush for Iraq but not call out 'blessed Barack.'

    At some point, someone's going to serve the tainted Kool-Aid to the last remaining members of the Cult of St. Barack and you won't catch me sobbing when that day comes.

    Iraq's current crises all stem from the US government interfering in Iraq.  That's not under Bully Boy Bush.  That's under Barack.

    In 2010, Nouri lost the elections and was supposed to step down as prime minister.  The White House wasn't going to stand for that so they ignored the will of the people, they ignored the principles of democracy and they overrode the Iraqi Constitution with The Erbil Agreement -- that's what gave Nouri his second term.

    I'm sick of all the lying, useless people who keep trying to find a way to word it so that the US government isn't involved.  Go the archives, go to November 10, 2010 and go one week forward.  You will see exactly what happened.

    I'm sorry that you're a useless piece of trash that thinks you can rewrite the public record.

    It wasn't Iran -- much to Brookings disappointment.  It was the US, it was Barack.  You'll see the first session of Parliament -- finally, after eight months of no sessions.  You'll see Nouri use The Erbil Agreement to be named prime minister-designate and then immediately announce that he'll have to put the contract on hold until later.  You'll see Ayad Allawi walk out of the session.  You'll see Barack personally call Allawi to get him to go back in.

    Barack told him The Erbil Agreement would be followed.

    To get what Barack wanted (a second term for Nouri), the contract had to include things that the other political blocs wanted. And this is what Nouri put on hold, the promises he'd agreed to.

    And he never implemented those promises.

    First, he put them on hold, then he spent four years ignoring them while Barack played dumb and pretended like he'd never said The Erbil Agreement had the full backing of the White House.

    None of that's on Bully Boy Bush.

    BBB is a War Criminal.  Hold him accountable for what he did.  But Barack's accountable for Barack's actions.

    No one wanted to speak up in the US (we did) when this went down in 2010, when the Iraqi people discovered that "democracy" really means: You're vote doesn't matter and the White House will pick your leader for you.

    So this is on Barack's hands but it's also an indictment of the useless US media which stood by while this took place.

    Girls, Zuesse tells us, are going to be raped.


    No, all wives, regardless of age, would lose the right to consent to sex.  (There's a lying myth going around right now -- whorish press can't call it out as usual -- that this would only apply to the Shi'ites.  No, it really wouldn't.  By the letter of the law, yes.  By custom?  No.)

    So why is Zuesse up in arms about 9-year-olds only?

    Zeusse wrongly argues in his factually challenged and offensive piece that if Barack stops supplying weapons to Nouri (a) Iraq will fall to al Qaeda and/or (b) US troops will go back in.

    US troops are in but I'm tired of spoon feeding on that.

    Iraq's not going to fall to al Qaeda.

    al Qaeda is a catch-all used by the press and wrongly used.  The White House finally agreed with us on that with regards to their own image.  Self-interest can be a great motivator for the government.

    What is termed 'al-Qaeda' in Iraq is actually a group of bodies.  Their only common issue at present is opposting to Nouri's rule.

    Want to break them up right now?  Pay attention, Barack -- remove Nouri from power.

    That requires no troops.  It only requires an honest election (as took place in 2010) and that the results be honored (which did not happen).

    If Nouri is not prime minister for a third term, you're going to see the bond that binds the various groups break away.

    Violence, once another person is named prime minister-designate, could actually fall as a result.

    Let's pretend for a moment that this coalition of interests managed to overthrow a government and take over -- as a fretful Zuesse feels is possible.

    If it did happen -- big if -- it wouldn't last.  There are too many people at crosspurposes -- both in the larger Iraq and within the current coalition engaging in armed struggle.

    Domestically, I focused on elections when I was a poli sci major.  Internationally, I focused on revolutions and rebellions.  I know what I'm talking about here.

    The idiot is the White House which has failed to realize, you eliminate Nouri and you will eliminate the current armed opposition.

    And eliminating Nouri doesn't require a bomb or a gun.

    It just requires honesty.

    That maybe means that, at a State Dept press briefing, Marie Harf takes a question on the increased violence in Iraq over the last years and she notes, in her response, that the increase took place as Nouri refused to nominate people to head the security ministries.

    That point then gets picked up by the press -- a press that's ignored this in the US with the exceptions of Mohammed Tawfeeq at CNN and Laith Hammoudi when he was still with McClatchy Newspapers.

    They don't have to reveal secrets (though they could do that as well), they just need to note the facts that are already but not being covered.

    So Jay Carney, for example, declares at a White House press briefing, "Nouri al-Maliki promised to abide by the contract known as The Erbil Agreement and then broke his promise.  I think that sends a message that he is not someone who keeps his word."

    With the administration making remarks like that, the press would have to stop their rush to crown Nouri to a third term -- before a single vote's been cast -- and instead provide an honest accounting of Nouri's actions in his second term.

    But back to Zuesse's nonsense.

    The choices are arm a tyrant or put US troops on the ground?

    That constitutes the full range of choices in an adult world?

    Is Zeusse even aware of US law or the Leahy Amendment?

    And while the proposed bill is offensive, it's not yet passed.  It needs to be loudly decried so that it does not pass.

    However, right now, human rights abuses are taking place, War Crimes are taking place.  Is it going to take three or four years before Zuesse and company leave their comfort zones and call out Nouri's bombing of civilians neighborhoods in Falluja?

    These are War Crimes.

    There is no ambiguity here.  There is nothing left to interpretation.

    As defined in Geneva, these are War Crimes.

    And they take place every day.

    Does it matter?

    You damn well better believe it does.  Each day brings news of more civilians killed and wounded in Anbar by the Iraqi military Nouri commands.  These are War Crimes.  He's targeting civilians and doing so in what is termed "collective punishment" which is legally defined as War Crimes.

    At what point is Zuesse going to call them out?

    After Barack's out of office when it won't make a damn bit of difference?

    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] 4489.

    The e-mail address for this site is

    Rumsfeld Personifies Our Society (David Swanson)

    This is from David Swanson's War Is A Crime website:

    Rumsfeld Personifies Our Society

    By David Swanson

    When Donald Rumsfeld used to hold press conferences about the Iraq war, the press corps would giggle at the clever ways in which he refused to actually say anything or answer any questions. 

    In a new film about Rumsfeld called The Unknown Knowns, the aging criminal is occasionally confronted with evidence that what he's just said is false. He maintains a frozen grin and acts as if nothing has happened.  The film's director, interviewing Rumsfeld, never presses the truly uncomfortable points.

    The closest the film comes to asking Rumsfeld about the wrongness of launching a war on Iraq is with the question "Wouldn't it have been better not to go there at all?"  Not "Wasn't it illegal?" Not "Do you believe 1.4 million Iraqis were killed or only 0.5 million?" Not "When you sleep at your home at the Mt. Misery plantation where they used to beat and whip slaves like Frederick Douglass how do you rank the mass slaughter you engaged in against the crimes of past eras?" Not "Was it at least inappropriate to smirk and claim that 'freedom is untidy' while people were destroying a society?"  And to the only question that was asked, Rumsfeld is allowed to get away with replying "I guess time will tell."

    Then Rumsfeld effectively suggests that time has already told.  He says that candidate Barack Obama opposed Bush-era tactics and yet has kept them in place, including the PATRIOT Act, lawless imprisonment, etc.  He might have added that President Obama has maintained the right to torture and rendition even while largely replacing torture with murder via drone.  Most crucially for himself, he might have noted that Obama has violated the Convention Against Torture by barring the prosecution of those responsible for recent violations.  But Rumsfeld's point is clear when he notes that Obama's conduct "has to validate" everything the previous gang did wrong.

    I've long included Rumsfeld on a list of the top 50 Bush-era war criminals, with this description:

    "Donald Rumsfeld lives in Washington, D.C., and at former slave-beating plantation "Mount Misery" on Maryland's Eastern Shore near St. Michael's and a home belonging to Dick Cheney, as well as at an estate outside Taos, New Mexico. He took part in White House meetings personally overseeing and approving torture by authorizing the use of specific torture techniques including waterboarding on specific people, and was in fact a leading liar in making the false case for an illegal war of aggression, and pushed for wars of aggression for years as a participant in the Project for the New American Century."

    The National Lawyers Guild noted years ago:

    "It was recently revealed that Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, George Tenet, and John Ashcroft met in the White House and personally oversaw and approved the torture by authorizing specific torture techniques including waterboarding. President Bush admitted he knew and approved of their actions. 'They are all liable under the War Crimes Act and the Torture Statute,' Professor [Marjorie] Cohn testified. 'Under the doctrine of command responsibility, commanders, all the way up the chain of command to the commander-in-chief, are liable for war crimes if they knew or should have known their subordinates would commit them, and they did nothing to stop or prevent it. The Bush officials ordered the torture after seeking legal cover from their lawyers.'"

    This doesn't come up in the movie.  Rumsfeld does shamelessly defend abusing and torturing prisoners, and maintains that torturing people protects "the American people," but he passes the buck to the Department of Justice and the CIA and is never asked about the White House meetings described above.  When it comes to Abu Ghraib he says he thought "something terrible happened on my watch" as if he'd had nothing to do with it, as if his casual approval of torture and scrawled notes about how he stands up all day and so can prisoners played no part.  (He also claims nobody was killed and there was just a bit of nudity and sadism, despite the fact that photos of guards smiling with corpses have been made public -- the movie doesn't mention them.)  Asked about abuses migrating from Guantanamo to Iraq, Rumsfeld cites a report to claim they didn't.  The director then shows Rumsfeld that the report he cited says that in fact torture techniques migrated from Guantanamo to Iraq.  Rumsfeld says he thinks that's accurate, as if he'd never said anything else.  Rumsfeld also says that in the future he believes public officials won't write so many memos.

    The central lie in Rumsfeld's mind and our society and The Unknown Knowns is probably that irrational foreigners are out to get us.  Rumsfeld recounts being asked at his confirmation hearing to become Secretary of So-Called Defense "What do you go to sleep worried about?"  The answer was not disease or climate change or car accidents or environmental pollution or starvation any actually significant danger.  The answer was not that the United States continues antagonizing the world and creating enemies.  There was no sense of urgency to halt injustices or stop arming dictators or pull back from bases that outrage local populations.  Instead, Rumsfeld feared another Pearl Harbor -- the same thing his Project for the New American Century had said would be needed in order to justify overthrowing governments in the Middle East.

    Rumsfeld describes Pearl Harbor in the movie, lying that no one had imagined the possibility of a Japanese attack there.  The facts refute that endlessly repeated lie.  Then Rumsfeld tells the same lie about 9-11, calling it "a failure of imagination."  What we're going through is a failure of memory.  These words "FBI information ... indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York" appeared in an August 6, 2001, briefing of President George W. Bush titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S."

    The movie does a decent job on Rumsfeld's pre-war lies.  Rumsfeld tells the camera that nobody in the Bush administration ever tied Saddam Hussein to 9-11.  Then the film shows old footage of Rumsfeld himself doing just that.  Similar footage could have been shown of numerous officials on numerous occasions.  Rumsfeld has clearly been allowed such levels of impunity that delusions have taken over.  He rewrites the past in his head and expects everyone else to obediently follow along.  As of course Eric Holder's Justice Department has done.

    Rumsfeld, in the film, dates the certainty of the decision to invade Iraq to January 11, 2003.  This of course predates months of himself and Bush and Cheney pretending no decision had been made, including the January 31, 2003, White House press conference with Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair at which they said they were working to avoid war, after Bush had just privately proposed to Blair a string of cockamamie ideas that might get a war started.

    Bizarrely, the film's director Errol Morris asks Rumsfeld why they didn't just assassinate Saddam Hussein instead of attacking the nation of Iraq.  He does not ask why the U.S. didn't obey the law.  He does not ask about Hussein's willingness to just leave if he could keep $1 billion, as Bush told Spanish president Jose Maria Aznar that Hussein had offered.  And even the question asked, Rumsfeld refuses to answer until he makes Morris complicit.  Morris had used the word "they," as in "why didn't they just assassinate him?" whereas he clearly should have used the word "you," but Rumsfeld makes him repeat the question using the word "we" before providing an answer.  We?  We were lied to by a criminal government.  We don't take the blame as servants to a flag.  Are you kidding?  But Morris dutifully asks "Why didn't we just assassinate ... ?"
    Rumsfeld replies that "We don't assassinate" and tries hard not to grin.  Morris says "but you tried" referring to an attempt to bomb Hussein's location.  Rumsfeld excuses that by saying it was "an act of war."  This is the same line that human rights groups take on drone murders.  (We can't be sure if they're illegal, because President Obama may have written a note and hid it in his shoe that says it's all a part of a war, and war makes murder OK.)

    Rumsfeld blames Iraq for not avoiding being attacked.  He pretends Iraq pretended to have weapons, even while blaming Iraq for not turning over the weapons that it claimed not to have (and didn't have).  The veteran liar lies that he thought he was using the best "intelligence" when he lied about Iraqi weapons, and then passes the buck to Colin Powell.

    Rumsfeld and the nation that produced him didn't turn wrong only in the year 2001.  Rumsfeld avoided Watergate by being off to Brussels as ambassador to NATO, a worse crime one might argue than Watergate, or at least than Nixon's recording of conversations -- which is all that this movie discusses, and which Rumsfeld describes as "a mistake."  Asked if he learned anything from the U.S. war that killed 4 million Vietnamese, Rumsfeld says "Some things work out, some things don't."  I think he expected applause for that line.  On the topic of meeting with Saddam Hussein in the 1980s, Rumsfeld is allowed to describe his mistake as having been filmed shaking hands with the man he calls a dictator.  But he's never asked about having supported Hussein and armed and assisted him, including with weapons that would later (despite having been destroyed) form the basis of the pretended cause of war.

    After giving the fun-loving sociopaths of fictional dramas a bad name for two hours, this real person, Donald Rumsfeld, blames war on "human nature" and expresses pretended sadness at future U.S. war deaths, as if 95% of the victims of U.S. wars (the people who live where the wars are fought) never cross his mind at all.  And why should they?


    David Swanson's wants you to declare peace at  His new book is War No More: The Case for Abolition. He blogs at and and works for He hosts Talk Nation Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.  

    Sign up for occasional important activist alerts here

    Sign up for articles or press releases here

    This email may be unlawfully collected, held, and read by the NSA which violates our freedoms using the justification of immoral, illegal wars absurdly described as being somehow for freedom.

    Pope Asks Forgiveness for “Evil” of Church Sex Abuse Epidemic. Survivors Highlight Concrete Actions He Must Take If Serious

    This is from the Center for Constitutional Rights:

    April 11, 2014 – In response to Pope Francis’s statement today asking for “forgiveness for the damage [some priests] have done for having sexually abused children" and promising “sanctions”, the Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, issued the following statement:

    "Actions speak louder than words. If Pope Francis wants to meaningfully address this crisis and the institutional impunity that perpetuates it, there are three steps he must take.

    1. Remove all priests known to have raped children or others, and require reporting to secular authorities. Today, throughout the world, priests who are known to church officials continue to hold posts in congregations, schools, orphanages, and elsewhere, unbeknownst to local communities. The church has shown over and over that it cannot police itself. These matters must be turned over to the proper authorities, and it is well within the scope of  Pope Francis’s power to make sure this happens.
    2. Punish church officials who have covered up cases of rape and sexual violence by clergy, failed to report them, and obstructed investigations by law enforcement. Pope Francis’s promised “sanctions” must address the systemic impunity that helped to create the culture of rape and sexual violence that exists today within the church.
    3.  Encourage and protect church whistleblowers who have come forward with information about the crisis of sexual violence. So far church officials have intimidated and retaliated against whistleblowers. Pope Francis can and must work with whistleblowers to get to the root of the problem.

    The Catholic Church is governed as a monarchy with the Pope having “supreme, immediate and universal ordinary power.” Pope Francis has all the authority he needs to move from words to action and stop further abuse."
    The Center for Constitutional Rights represents the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests in their effort to hold high-level Vatican officials accountable for enabling and covering up widespread and systematic sexual violence against children in the Catholic Church. Learn more about this work, visit

    The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.

    Friday, April 11, 2014

    Iraq snapshot

    Friday, July 11, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, election season heats up in Iraq, what is the status on Iraq's president who's been out of the country for over year, and more.

    Let's start with some wisdom from Noam Chomsky.

  • I mean, suppose it was true that Iran is helping insurgents in Iraq. I mean, wasn’t the United States helping insurgents when the Russians..

    1. ... invaded Afghanistan? Did we think there was anything wrong with that?

    From wisdom, let's move to confusion: the status of Iraq's president.  

    December 2012,  Iraqi President Jalal Talabani suffered a stroke.   The incident took place late on December 17, 2012 following Jalal's argument with Iraq's prime minister and chief thug Nouri al-Maliki (see the December 18, 2012 snapshot).  Jalal was admitted to Baghdad's Medical Center Hospital.    Thursday, December 20, 2012, he was moved to Germany.  He remains in Germany currently.

    This week, Rudaw noted the rumors that Jalal might "soon return to Kurdistan" and quoted his son Qubad stating Jalal was "willing to return."  Dropping back to the April 3rd snapshot:

    Here are all three photos:

    Jalal may not be able to fulfill his duties as president but he's clearly the new reverse Streisand.  For years (up until Funny Lady), Barbra hated to be filmed from an angle that emphasized the right side of her face.

    For some reason, Jalal refuses to show the left side of his face.

    That's true in the photos above, true in all of the photos released so far including back in May of 2013 when  Jalal was posed for his first series of photos (below is one example).


    What's wrong with Jalal's right hand?  And why does the Talabani family keep releasing still photos instead of video?  Can Jalal speak?  What range of motion is he capable of?

    Like all the previous photo releases, the latest ones don't answer those questions.

    The only advance evident in the latest photos is that Jalal can now smile and show teeth.  That's not sarcasm.  Whether he can do a full smile or not is unknown.  He may only be able to manipulate the right side of his mouth.  Clearly, his recovery has not been the 'progress' that the Talabani family has repeatedly announced.

    Rudaw noted this week:

    Since December 2012 when Talabani was rushed to Germany after a serious stroke, the PUK has only released some photos of the ailing leader. But there have been no videos to show the extent to which Talabani -- who is also Iraq’s president – is able to move or talk. The pictures alone have not been enough for the public to gauge the degree of the ailing leader’s recuperation.
    Latif Rasheed, who is the husband of Talabani’s sister-in-law and appeared in the president’s latest photos, said those pictures were taken last Newroz.
    [. . .]
    Rasheed also added that, “In the future videos and photos of Talabani will be released.” But he did not say when that would be, nor did he give any other details.
    However, a source close to the Talabani family denied speculations both of his imminent return or that videos of him would be released anytime soon. “No videos of Talabani will be released,” the source said.

    Why no videos?

    What is clear is that Jalal should have been relieved his duties.

    He's not done is job since December 2012.

    APA reported Thursday on the rumors that Jalal was dead -- rumors which include he's dead and has been dead and that the Talabani family plans to announce the death immediately after the elections are held.

    And as elections approach, the need for a president is felt even more.  Mushreq Abbas (Al-Monitor) reports:

    On April 4, the Iraqi Council of Ministers endorsed the “national safety” bill, which regulates the state of emergency and defines the prime minister’s powers and the steps he can take during “emergency” measures, which mostly fall under “martial law.”
    However, the bill sparked a controversy when it reached parliament and was published. Most of the debate focused on fears that “the law could be abused by the government to liquidate its opponents,” according to former Vice President Adil Abdul-Mahdi, who pointed to a number of deficiencies in the bill’s mechanisms and loopholes.
    Other political parties wondered why the bill was proposed just ahead of the elections, and suspected that the timing pointed to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s intention to cancel the elections and dissolve parliament. 
    Raising suspicions further was the fact that the bill, which requires a two-thirds vote in parliament in accordance with Article 61 of the constitution, is being put forth at a time when parliament is unable to hold a regular session to approve the budget. This prompted the parliament’s rapporteur, Mohammed al-Khalidi, to say, “The government sending the National Safety Law to parliament is evidence of [its] failure to provide security, which it hasn’t achieved in the last 10 years.” He expected the bill to be moved to the next session. 

    Nouri wants a third term as prime minister -- many fear it.  After two failed terms, it should be obvious how little Nouri has to offer other than attacks. His State of Law coalition should be a concern all itself.  Ali Mamouri (Al-Monitor) reports:

    Kadhem al-Haeri, a cleric who has close ties with the Islamic Dawa Party and the Iranian regime, issued a fatwa March 30 banning the election of secular candidates in the upcoming elections. Large banners were hung in many areas of Baghdad and included a picture of the marja (spiritual guide) and the signature of the party’s office. The banners read: “It is forbidden to elect secular candidates.” The banners, hung late in March, are still present in some areas in Baghdad.
    This fatwa has come in tandem with a media attack by ruling Islamic parties against the secular movement. The official media outlets of these parties are constantly instilling fear among the people regarding the “dangerous agendas” of secular candidates, claiming they have links to foreign parties and ties with the former regime.
    A good example of this drive is what recently happened to civil activist Hanaa Edwar, known as the "Mother Theresa of Iraq" for the large-scale humanitarian services she provides there. Almasalah, affiliated with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, accused Edwar of raising the old Iraqi flag from the era of deposed President Saddam Hussein and of being involved in corruption cases, without presenting any documents or supporting evidence. The website also described her critical stance against Maliki and the Iraqi government’s violations of human rights during a conference held by Maliki himself in 2012 as “exhibitionist, theatrical and characterized with overreaction and self-inflation.”

    Related, Hamza Mustafa (Asharq Al-Awsat) notes,  "In a press conference last week, Sadr called on Maliki not to run for a third term. He said: 'Brother Maliki thinks he served Iraq. Let him rest for four years, and see if whoever comes next would serve better.' "

    Saad N. Jawad (MiddleEastOnline) offers:

    Meanwhile, al-Maliki is already working hard and effectively to eliminate his rivals and critics. His policy is to alienate possible rivals by discrediting them through the courts, accusing them of involvement in criminal acts or corruption (even if they have not been sentenced) or of being former Baathists (through the de-Baathification committee, known as the High Commission for Justice and Accountability). It has also been rumoured that al-Maliki has been giving loyal members of the armed forces two electoral cards, and not distributing these cards properly in areas where he thinks his popularity is low.
    These tactics of rigging elections and referenda have been used before. During the referendum on the permanent constitution, the government tampered with the results in order to prevent three provinces from rejecting it. There are indications that the US embassy, which was pressuring all the political coalition to approve the constitution in order to justify the US strategy of pulling out of Iraq, approved of this method by not objecting to it. When the results from Anbar and Salahuldin (Tikrit) provinces were negative, the government then tampered with the results from Ninevah (Mosul), claiming the no votes did not constitute the majority needed to reject the constitution. Another method was not to send ballot boxes to areas regarded as being against the constitution.

    One of Nouri's rivals  almost didn't have more time to serve today -- he was the target of an assassination attempt today.   World Bulletin reports, "Iraqi Deputy Premier Saleh al-Mutlaq and lawmaker Talal al-Zawbai survived an attempt on their lives in western Baghdad on Friday."  DPA notes the attack took place in Abu Ghraib.  al-Mutlaq is running for re-election.  Parliamentary elections are supposed to take place April 30th.  al-Mutlaq is a Sunni and, until 2013, was considered part of Iraqiya (the coalition that won the 2010 parliamentary elections besting Nouri al-Maliki's State of Law coalition).  AFP reports:

    While an interior ministry official said only that gunmen attacked the convoy, Mutlak's assistant specifically blamed the army.
    "We were the target of an assassination attempt by the army who opened fire on us, and the bodyguards responded in the same way," the assistant said, without elaborating.
    There is widespread anger among Iraq's Sunni Arab minority, which complains of being marginalized and mistreated by the Shiite-led government and security forces.

    BBC News notes that al-Mutlaq's "office said the gunmen were in fact Iraqi soldiers, and a source described the encounter as a 'scuffle'."  National Iraqi News Agency reports:

    Al-Arabiya Coalition headed by Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq, counted on Friday the assassination attempt against al- Mutlaq as an attempt to get rid of the national symbols and personalities.. for the implementation of suspicious projects and schemes.
    A spokesman for the Coalition Muhannad al-Bayati said in a statement to the National Iraqi News / NINA/ that the assassination attempt against al- Mutlaq aims to remove him from the concerns of people.

    Saad Abedine (CNN) reports, "One of al-Mutlaq's bodyguards died in the attack, and five others were injured."  BBC offers, "His office also told the BBC that, contrary to earlier reports, nobody was killed in the fighting."  AP notes, "A group of armed men in army uniforms and driving military vehicles opened fire at their convoy, triggering a shootout with guards and soldiers protecting al-Mutlaq, said al-Zobaie." Sherif Tarek (Los Angeles Times) explains, "In the upcoming elections, more than 9,000 candidates will compete for 328 seats in parliament."

    al-Mutlaq and al-Zobaie weren't the only politicians who were targeted today.  NINA reports:

    A bomb exploded on Friday outside the home of a candidate for / Arab Kirkuk / Coalition in Wahed Huzairan neighborhood in Kirkuk .
    A security source told the National Iraqi News Agency / NINA/ that the bomb was exploded outside the home of a candidate for / Arab Kirkuk / Coalition Yacob al-Emara, and the blast wounded his wife and son , as well as causing major damage to the house .
    It is worth mentioning that al-Emara has been subjected three years ago in to an assassination attempt by adhesive bomb in his car led to his badly injured.

    In other election news, Alsumaria reports a candidate has been arrested for attempting to buy electronic voting cards.  They offer this report on why some citizens might sell the cards (poverty).  All Iraq News reports,  "The Kurdistani Alliance announced its rejection to the nomination of the Premier, Nouri al-Maliki, for a third term of the Prime Minister's post."

    If elections do take place April 30th, parts of Anbar Province will not be participating in the elections.  From Tuesday's snapshot:

    Dar Addustour reports that IHEC's Muqdad al-Shuraifi held a press briefing with the Supreme Security Committee in Baghdad today  in which he announced that not all areas of the Sunni-dominated Anbar Province will be able to vote because the IHEC will not send staff and supplies into areas they deem unstable. That's hilarious and sad at the same time.  Baghdad will be allowed to vote, its inhabitants will vote in polling stations throughout the city.  But Baghdad's experienced high levels of violence -- see-sawing with Falluja in the last nine months for who was most violent.  But Baghdad will be allowed to vote.
    March 31st,  All Iraq News reported, "The employees of the Independent High Electoral Commission in Siniya district of nothern Tikrit have resigned due to the threats of the armed groups."
    But Tikrit will be allowed to vote.
    It's really hard to believe that the decisions are really just about fear of violence.  It's hard to believe that the strong opposition to Nouri isn't part of the reason.  (Yes, Tikrit is Sunni dominant.  It saw protests against Nouri -- as did Sunni dominant Mosul.  But the protests were nothing like the ones which took place in Anbar.)
    But if it really is about fear of violence, possibly it's about the fear that Nouri's military will start bombing the polling centers.

     Jason Ditz ( notes the continuous efforts to disenfranchise Anbar:

    Yet that seems to be what is happening in Iraq’s Anbar Province, where the central government is treating it less and less like an equal province and more like a tribal frontier where locals enjoy fewer rights.
    We’ve been seeing the first steps toward this for months, with the conspicuous exclusion of Anbar from official government monthly reports on violent deaths, even though it is the province with the largest number of such deaths.

    Nouri has no leadership skills and lacks common sense as well.

    When an area already feels disenfranchised, if you're seeking peace, you don't make them feel even more disenfranchised.

    At every opportunity to bring Sunnis into the fold, Nouri has instead attacked.

    He has no skills, he has nothing to show for 8 years as prime minister -- nothing but a death toll.

    Nouri al-Maliki's ongoing assault on the civilians in Falluja continues and he got three 'kills' today.  How proud the thug must be.  Alsumaria reports three children were wounded in the bombing of the residential areas of Falluja and 3 more children were killed.

    If you missed it, every outlet attempted to cover Saleh al-Mutlaq today.

    It's a real shame that the Associated Press, the BBC, and so many others refused to show the same concern when it comes to 3 dead children.

    But they never do.

    The treat any politician almost harmed -- almost -- as news but left children die and they look the other way.

    Let's turn to some of today's violence.  National Iraqi News Agency reports a Ghatoon-Razi roadside bombing left 1 man and a child dead (with three more people injured), 2 rebels were killed in a battle near Aladheim, a Halawah Village bombing left 1 person dead and nine more injured, and Joint Special Operations Command announced they killed 44 suspects in Anbar.  All Iraq News notes that 1 woman (a teacher) was shot dead in Mosul.   Alsumaria adds the corpse of a police member was discovered outside of Kirkuk, hours after he was kidnapped and that two people in Ramadi were injured by a rocket attack.  Margaret Griffish ( counts 54 dead today.

    mushreq abbas