Saturday, August 23, 2014

I Hate The War

Iraqis, especially Sunni Iraqis, need to learn two word of English, "F**k you."  The f-word rhymes with "puck."  It's among the ultimate insults you can say to someone in English.  You can also curl your thumb and three fingers into your palm leaving only the longest finger extended.  This is the same as "f**k you" and is known as giving someone the middle finger or flipping the bird.

I feel the need to share and teach this cultural vulgarity -- which will get the point across to American officials very quickly -- because I just read Ben Hubbard's "Response to Attack Reflects Iraq's Sectarian Divide" (New York Times):

The negotiations to form a new government were already fraught before the attack, as Sunni politicians pushed demands that they considered necessary but had little chance of being accepted. They included a halt to government shelling and airstrikes on Sunni areas where ISIS is present; the withdrawal of Shiite militias from predominantly Sunni cities; the release of Sunni detainees who have not been convicted of crimes; the dismissal of criminal charges against a number of Sunni politicians, which they call politically motivated; and the cancellation of the law banning former members of Saddam Hussein’s regime from holding government posts.
Foreign diplomats in Baghdad were concerned that those demands would prevent a deal, and urged Sunni leaders to be more flexible.

Are foreign diplomats concerned?

Well aim the middle finger at them or toss the f-you phrase at them and maybe they'll get that these demands need to be addressed.

The negotiations to form a new government were already fraught before the attack, as Sunni politicians pushed demands that they considered necessary but had little chance of being accepted. 

I'm sorry, expert Ben, why the hell do these demands have "little chance of being accepted"?

You tell the readers that they have little chance but you never tell them why that is?

What's so outlandish about the demands?

They included a halt  to government shelling and airstrikes on Sunni areas where ISIS is present; 

I'm sorry but that's not unreasonable.  And if the international community had a spine and wasn't a bunch of international liars passed off as leaders, they'd be joining the Sunnis in saying no to these "government shelling and airstrikes" which are illegal under international law.

And, golly gee, let's include the New York Times on the list of spineless and liars because Benny boy didn't think his readers needed to know that this demand the Sunnis are making is a demand that the Baghdad government comply with the law.

Is that unreasonable, Ben Hubbard?

What else do they demand?

the withdrawal of Shiite militias from predominantly Sunni cities; 

I can understand that as well. 

And since all militias were supposed to have been disbanded, I don't see this as unreasonable either.  (Nouri armed and paid the Shi'ite militias beginning in 2013 -- Tim Arango broke that story.)

Now that one may not take place because the Shi'ite militias are so entrenched in the current -- hopefully outgoing -- government.

What else are Sunnis demanding?

the release of Sunni detainees who have not been convicted of crimes;

Where's Amnesty International?

This is exactly why they formed in the first place.

If you're not convicted of a crime, you shouldn't be in prison.

Benny boy may be an idiot but he may be a liar as well.

Sunnis are actually demanding that the detainees who have not been convicted of crimes be released and the ones who've been charged with nothing be released and the ones who are relatives of family members and were thuggishly 'arrested' without warrants and tossed in prisons because the security forces couldn't find the wanted relative be released.

It's not unreasonable to demand, for example, that a woman married to a suspect be released when she's accused of nothing.  It is unreasonable -- and inhumane -- to imprison someone because of who they married, gave birth to, fathered, is a sibling or child of, etc.

Does Benny Hubbard not know about this?

He writes like he doesn't.

Considering that the fall of 2012 exposed that women and girls -- yes, Nouri's 'arrested' girls as well -- were being tortured and raped in Nouri's prisons -- by prison officials, not by prisoners -- the demand is especially not unreasonable.

If Ben's lying, I hope the universe bites him in the ass -- hard.  If he's just uninformed, he can try to educate himself.  We'll do a little spoon feeding for him, this is from Human Rights Watch's February 2014 "Iraq: Security Forces Abusing Women in Detention:"

Iraqi authorities are detaining thousands of Iraqi women illegally and subjecting many to torture and ill-treatment, including the threat of sexual abuse. Iraq’s weak judiciary, plagued by corruption, frequently bases convictions on coerced confessions, and trial proceedings fall far short of international standards. Many women were detained for months or even years without charge before seeing a judge.

The 105-page report, “‘No One Is Safe’: Abuses of Women in Iraq’s Criminal Justice System,”documents abuses of women in detention based on interviews with women and girls, Sunni and Shia, in prison; their families and lawyers; and medical service providers in the prisons at a time of escalating violence involving security forces and armed groups. Human Rights Watch also reviewed court documents and extensive information received in meetings with Iraqi authorities including Justice, Interior, Defense, and Human Rights ministry officials, and two deputy prime ministers.

HRW's report, an important one, comes over a year after this was exposed and investigated by Parliament and after, in early 2013 (February, in fact), Nouri did a staged release of a small number of prisoners which included a smaller number of women.  It was reported, in the Iraqi press -- not by the western press which didn't give a damn about Iraqi women -- that none of the women 'released' returned home.

So were they released?

Maybe they were.  Maybe they knew going home might not be wise due to what they had experienced.  (If one of the woman was raped, for example, some lunatic might feel she needed to be killed as a result -- these are known as 'honor' killings.  They are acts of murder.) 

So what's Hubbard's 'reasonable' reaction to this?

What else are the Sunnis asking for?

 the dismissal of criminal charges against a number of Sunni politicians, which they call politically motivated; 

That's understandable.  

Politicians are outgoing -- some of them.  If they did not get re-elected, they no longer have protection from the charges.  Although they didn't have it under Nouri in most cases, the Constitution does say that MPs cannot be tried while serving unless the Parliament votes to strip them of their offices.  When a term expires, they have no such Constitutional protection.

Again, Nouri refused to follow the Constitution but this is why so many are demanding this.

What else?

and the cancellation of the law banning former members of Saddam Hussein’s regime from holding government posts.

Wait, Benny, you sorry excuse for a reporter?

You're saying the thing that Nouri agreed to in 2007, the White House benchmarks, the de-de-Ba'athification?

You're saying that this thing the Baghdad government was supposed to have accomplished in 2007 -- but never did, this thing also put into The Erbil Agreement of 2010 that Nouri signed off on, you're saying this move that was supposed to have taken place over 7 years ago but still hasn't, you're saying this is unreasonable of Sunnis to demand.

When exactly are they supposed to demand it, Ben Hubbard?

I don't have a demand but I do have a request:  Any Iraqi who sees Ben Hubbard, please feel free to flip him the bird as well.

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] 4491.

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Iraq snapshot

Saturday, August 23, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue and we explore how the White House blew it in 2010 and has blown it again on Friday.

Pretend you were beat up every day by some other kid.  And the other kid got sympathy while you got scorn.

That's how a lot of Sunnis feel in Iraq and while feelings are neither right or wrong, the Sunnis feelings are more than understandable.

In the anti-Sunni world so many of us live in, Iraq's problems started a few weeks ago.  The last four years didn't matter, the targeting of Sunnis didn't matter.

Friday, a horrifying event took place and if it were known to be carried out by the Islamic State, the White House would be condemning it in strong terms -- as they have so many times before.

AP reports an attack on Imam Wais Village's Mosque has left 65 dead and sixty injured.   RT says it was an attack carried out by a Shi'ite militia and reminds, "In July, Shia armed groups executed 15 Sunni Muslims and hung them from electricity poles in a public square in Baquba. Meanwhile, Iraqi security forces killed more than 255 Sunni prisoners in retaliation for the killing of Shias by the Islamic State."  Jomana Karadsheh, Jason Hanna and Chelsea J. Carter (CNN) report it this way, "Suspected Shiite militiamen opened fire Friday inside a Sunni mosque in northeast Iraq, killing dozens in an attack that appeared to derail the formation of a new government -- something world leaders have said is a must if the country hopes to defeat Islamic militants."  Abigail Hauslohner (Washington Post) notes, "It was the single deadliest assault in months on Sunni civilians in Iraq."

The US State Dept issued a statement:

Press Statement
Marie Harf
Washington, DC
August 22, 2014
The United States strongly condemns the vicious attack today on innocent men, women, and children inside a mosque in the village of Imam Wais in Diyala province.  The United States stands with the people of Iraq against this violence, and will continue to support all Iraqi citizens, from all parts of the country, as they work to root out violent extremists from any sector of society, and promote a religiously tolerant, diverse, and unified country, as envisioned in the Iraqi Constitution.  
This senseless attack underscores the urgent need for Iraqi leaders from across the political spectrum to take the necessary steps that will help unify the country against all violent extremist groups.  In that light, we note Prime Minister-Designate Al-Abadi’s condemnation and call for unity in defiance of this attack.  We further call on all Iraqi leaders to complete the process of forming a new government on the constitutional timeline, and to stand united against violent extremist groups regardless of their cause or persuasion.  
We express our deepest sympathies to the families of the victims of today’s senseless attacks, and call on the Government of Iraq to immediately investigate and bring to justice anyone shown to be behind these heinous crimes.  

Not good enough.

Marie started off strong.

But going with "senseless"?

Some reports have reduced the statement to Marie Harf only using "senseless to describe

"Senseless" isn't good enough.

You don't think the Sunnis have been persecuted in the last years, fine.  But at least acknowledge that they feel they have been persecuted.  (I agree with them.)

The worst attack they've seen in months and the term being run with is "senseless"?

After Thursday's briefing involving US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and the Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen Martin Dempsey used terms like "savagely" and "ruthless" and "barbaric."  And terms like these used over the murder of one person.

And  many people will read and hear of Harf's describing the attack on the Sunnis as "senseless."

People are paying attention.

Maybe not the State Dept or the White House.

In fairness to Marie Harf, she and and the State Dept are supposed to be int he business of diplomacy.

That said, did we all catch John Kerry's statement?

The US Secretary of State used the term "barbaric" in a statement yesterday:

Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
August 22, 2014
Secretary Kerry spoke with the Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari today to discuss the situation in Iraq. The Secretary expressed his strong support for the formation of a new government and encouraged the Foreign Minister to press all parties on the need work together and avoid preconditions to expedite the formation of a new and inclusive cabinet.
Foreign Minister Zebari acknowledged the importance of moving quickly with government formation and also expressed his sincere condolences over the brutal murder of James Foley by ISIL. Secretary Kerry offered his condolences to Foreign Minister Zebari for the countless Iraqis from all religious and ethnic communities who have fallen victim to ISIL’s barbaric attacks.
Both leaders recognized that Iraq is on the front line in the war against ISIL and that Iraq, the United States, the region, and the international community must stand together to face this threat. Mr. Zebari welcomed and noted appreciation for U.S. support in combatting ISIL.

'Savage' and 'barbaric' are not diplomatic terms.  I personally recoil when someone uses the terms to describe people (or to describe animals -- but I have no problem with "savage" and "barbaric" being used to describe the weather or, for that matter, the films of Michael Bay). But these are the terms the administration has trafficked in and the world  -- and specifically Sunnis around the world -- are not necessarily going to put on their decoder rings to decipher why DoD is calling Sunnis who attack 'savages,' 'ruthless' and 'barbaric' while when Sunnis are attacked by presumably Shi'ite assailants, the attacks are lamented with a sigh as 'senseless.'

Iraq is in a very unstable state currently.  For the country to come together, all the players are going to have to feel that they are treated fairly and will be treated fairly.

The US-installed tyrant Nouri al-Maliki is hopefully on his way out the door (he's never truly gone until he's in the ground so I'll breathe easy only when a new prime minister is named).  Installing him in 2006 was a mistake on the part of the Bully Boy Bush administration.  (You can use a stronger term than "mistake," I'm trying to move quickly and trying to be as kind as possible  -- or as kind as I possibly can be.)  Barack Obama's administration insisting he remain in 2010 -- after he lost the elections to Iraqiya -- was worse than a mistake.

That spat on the Iraqi voters and also sent the message that elections don't matter and that all the talk of 'democracy' -- from two consecutive US administrations -- was nothing but hollow talk.

Insisting the loser of an election -- a polarizing figure -- get a second term the voters did not give him is not instilling faith in democracy nor does it help democracy take root.

The 2010 decision, ignored by so many in the US, is not a minor thing and will figure greatly in the history of Iraq.  It's also why the violence got to where it did.

Nouri didn't win the election.  His State of Law came in second to Iraqiya.  Though some try to spit polish Nouri and his State of Law, they were a sectarian coalition.  They were a new grouping -- Nouri refused to run as part of Dawa, his political party, much to Dawa's dismay -- and they talked 'security' which was code for "We kill Sunnis."  You can pretend it meant something different the way so many pretended in the 1988 US elections that invoking Willie Horton's name wasn't about appealing to fear and, yes, sending a message of racism.

Siderbar: Horton was an African-American who was sentenced for life -- for murder -- but given passes as part of a furlough program and, on one furlough, he didn't bother to return but did commit a series of crimes. Criticizing the program, as Al Gore had, was not appealing to racism.  Making Horton the poster boy of the program might not have been racism.  No one was lying about the facts involved.  The way the controversy was sold via ads and comments from George H.W. Bush's campaign was an appeal to racism.  And, to be clear, I'm not calling George H.W. Bush a racist.  I have no idea where he stands but would hope he's not. But the thing about racism is that it can be used by a lot of people who aren't racists.  They can do that by trafficking in it or by being silent about it.  They can do it any number of ways.  They can do it by, in 2014, creating a new sitcom for Netflix -- yeah, I'm talking about Jane and Lily's sitcom -- and refusing to cast leads of color -- Martin Sheen has passed for Anglo White his entire career so don't toss out that he's Latino.  There is no reason in the world that two preachy liberal women who are played by Jane and Lily couldn't have married an African-American man. I believe the current president of the United States is the son of an interracial couple.  He's 53-years-old and Jane can't catch up with the times -- the time of 53 years ago?   Instead, the show is an elderly -- yeah, I said it -- white bread White cast and why the 'new' world of the internet needs that is beyond me.  I have problems with the White at the top of the pyramid structure of Orange Is The New Black -- the White 'missionary' teaches every one of color in a manner not that far from a Shirley Temple movie -- but at least Orange does offer a diverse cast.  Jane's show is so White it could be on CBS.  Sidebar in a sidebar: Jane is an active producer of the show with a long history of producing, Paula is producing as well -- Paula, what would you mother say about your all White productions?  Lily Tomlin is a producer.  Why am I not calling out Lily?  Lily is producer to protect herself.  That's all.  Lily's not going into any production where she's going to be at the mercy of others.  She's not an active producer but she's got the title and position to protect her character and her art.  That's why I'm not calling out Lily.  (If her character or performance is a mess, I will call that out when Ava and I review the show.)

Back to State of Law, Nouri used coded messages to appeal to Shi'ites.  By contrast, Iraqiya, led by Shi'ite Ayad Allawi, was a mixed coalition with Sunnis (such as Osama al-Nujaifi, the previous Speaker of Parliament, and former Deputy prime minister Saleh al-Mutlaq) and its success built on the 2009 elections which found the Iraqi people moving away from identities of division and towards a national identity as Iraqis.

That was an incredible shift and one that should have been encouraged by world leaders.  It should have been encouraged and fostered.  2010 was a time of such hope.

Instead, this got shoved aside when the White House decided Nouri must remain prime minister.

If we're all honest for a moment, maybe we can all agree the above US response in 2010 was at least a mistake.

But it got worse.

Nouri didn't win.  Even with his kangaroo court verdict, he didn't win.  So the US brokered a legal contract, known as The Erbil Agreement.  This contract was signed by the leaders of all the political blocs -- including Nouri -- and came after Nouri had brought the government to a standstill for over 8 months -- Parliament wasn't meeting, nothing was happening.  The US officials went to the leaders of various political blocs and told them Nouri could hold out for another 8 months so, be the bigger person, do the right thing for the country, just give him a second term and we'll do it with a contract and since you're giving up a lot by letting a loser have a second term, we're going to write something into this contract for you and the people you represent.  So Iraqiya was promised, among other things, the head of an independent national security body, the Kurds were promised Article 140 of the Constitution would finally be implemented, etc.

The White House swore this contract had their full backing.  November 11, 2010, the day after it was signed, Parliament finally met.  Some idiots and liars say Iran -- in mid-October -- ended the political stalemate.  Big lie.  Parliament only finally met after The Erbil Agreement.  Check the archives, learn  what you're talking about because the lies are helping no one. If it's pride that's forcing them to stick to a lie, let it go.  We all get things wrong.  On this issue, I was an idiot myself and thought the Erbil Agreement was a supplement to the Constitution.  It was not -- I was big time wrong in real time -- it was a circumvention of the Constitution.

Those new to the issue may be thinking, "C.I., a contract was used to settle the elections.  It's no different than the backroom deals political parties used to have in the US during the early part of the 20th century."  Maybe so but those promises tended to stick.

Nouri signed a contract -- a contract the White House brokered and backed -- to get a second term and then refused to honor the contract.  At first, he made it sound as if it would be a few weeks.  By summer 2011, the Kurds, cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr and Iraqiya were publicly demanding Nouri implement The Erbil Agreement.  He refused to do so.  In March of 2012, leaders -- of the groups just named and other groups including ISCI and its leader Ammar al-Hakim -- began fairly public discussions about what to do.  A big meet-up took place in April 2012.  It was decided they would move to a no-confidence vote in Parliament.  Signatures were collected and all the steps outlined in the Constitution were followed.  As signatures were being collected, Moqtada stated publicly that Nouri could end the effort by implementing The Erbil Agreement.  Nouri refused to do so.

As May was winding down there was hope among many Iraqis that fairness was going to be restored.

Then the petition was handed to Iraqi President Jalal Talabani for him to, as the Constitution dictated, officially present it to the Parliament.  Then a vote would take place.

Never happened.

Under pressure from the White House*, Jalal announced he would check the signatures.  This was a petition signed by MPs (Members of Parliament).  Jalal didn't just ask, "Did you sign it?" He asked, "Would you still sign it if it was presented to you today?"  That's not how a petition works.  But Jalal claimed a number backed out -- wouldn't say who -- and said he couldn't present it to Parliament and 'screw all you people insulting me and members of the press calling me a coward, I'm off to Germany for life threatening surgery!'

It emerged Jalal actually had elective knee surgery.

But it let the coward hide out and avoid the fall out for his decision and action.  He would sneak back into the country in September 2012.  Maybe as a karmic 'reward,'  he suffered a stroke and did end up in Germany.  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 returned to Iraq in July of this year.

*Iran forced Jalal's hand!!!!!  No.  Iran was not the player on that issue, the US government was.  Iran was the player on the issue of Jalal remaining president.  The US government told Iraqi politicians they had no opinion on replacing Jalal -- he should have been replaced a month after his stroke -- and were staying out of the matter.  The Iranian government did not take a pass.  That is why when Hero Ibrahim Ahmed, First Lady of Iraq, spent almost as much time in Iran as she did in Germany -- she repeatedly darted in and out of Iran to plead with Shi'ite leaders to continue to back Jalal as president despite a health crisis that left him unable to govern or speak.

And we're all clear that he can't speak, aren't we?

He can make some noises but nothing that the public would turn out for.  That's why his big return was a big bust.  A lot of hoopla and no Jalal talking to the public.

The Talabani family lied to -- defrauded -- the people of Iraq who would have been loudly demanding a president had they not been repeatedly told Jalal was recovering and that he'd be back in a matter of months.

The Iraqi people had voted divisive 'leader' Nouri out of office only to have the US insist he get a second term.  The contract that outlined a power sharing government was tossed aside by Nouri and the White House didn't say a word. And then things really got bad.  Which is why the Iraqi people went back into the streets in December 2012 to launch protests that would last over a year.

Nouri's response to the peaceful protests?

He called them 'terrorists' and had his security forces, attack them, arrest them and kill them.

None of this would have happened had the White House not demanded he get a second term.

So now the White House is 'involved.'  Nouri is said to be gone (again, only when he's in the ground).  And it's 'evil' and 'bad' and 'barbaric' Sunnis, to hear the White House talk.

But Friday comes a spectacular attack, apparently carried out by Shi'ites, against Sunnis -- against Sunnis who are at a house of worship -- and the administration can't speak in the strong language they use when decrying Sunni assaults?

The White House swore they would stand by The Erbil Agreement.

When the Parliament finally met, Nouri said The Erbil Agreement would have to wait a little bit. Ayad Allawi walked out.

Remember that?

From the November 11, 2010 snapshot:

Martin Chulov (Guardian) reports one hiccup in the process today involved Ayad Allawi who US President Barack Obama phoned asking/pleading that he accept the deal because "his rejection of post would be a vote of no confidence". Ben Lando, Sam Dagher and Margaret Coker (Wall St. Journal) confirm the phone call via two sources and state Allawi will take the post -- newly created -- of chair of the National Council On Higher Policy: "Mr. Obama, in his phone call to Mr. Allawi on Thursday, promised to throw U.S. weight behind the process and guarantee that the council would retain meaningful and legal power, according to the two officials with knowledge of the phone call." 

Empty words from Barack.

The position was never created and the White House stayed silent.

Nouri broke the contract that the White House brokered and the White House did nothing.

It betrayed the people they gave their word to.

And that's especially why the attack on the Sunnis yesterday should have resulted in strong words.

A friend in the administration used to get so ticked off with what I did here -- noting the government of France issuing this or that statement of support or the government of England or both and noting how the US government was silent.

They were just words -- insisted a member of an administration that's offered little more than words since being sworn in back in January 2009.

But words are followed.  The Iraqi press?  Most of them do not have a budget that allows a US correspondent.  So when reporting on US reaction, they are looking to statements and briefings that the administration publishes.  It does matter.  A statement ignored by the US press, for example, may lead on Iraqi TV broadcasts and be front paged on many Iraqi newspapers.

(The same friend now gets it -- it took long enough -- and regularly asks that we note this or that.  When we can, we do.)

Friday's horrible assault was the chance for the US government to show they were not taking sides, that they supported all Iraqis.  That chance has now pretty much passed.

And to be fair to Marie Harf, she is not the entire administration.  She is a spokesperson for the State Dept and, certainly, she spoke more wisely on Friday than her boss (John Kerry) did.

It's a shame John Kerry had nothing to say about the attack on the Sunnis at the mosque.  It's a shame Chuck Hagel had nothing to say -- Chuck without words?  Who knew that was possible?

But what was said and what was not said did register in Iraq.  It's now going to be that much harder for the US to be seen as an honest broker in Iraq -- and at a time when they really need to be seen as that.  Sunnis have not just announced a walkaway period from government talks (hopefully a brief one) but they've also now seen that the US government is gravely concerned when Shi'ites are attacked but less interested when the victims are Sunnis.

the wall st. journal
sam dagher
ben lando
chelsea j. carter

Friday, August 22, 2014

Grab a drink, NYT has a tale for you

The family of James Foley, the journalist beheaded by the Islamic State in Iraq, had asked for privacy and we were trying to honor that here; however, two of his siblings have given an interview to Katie Couric (Yahoo News) so we'll link to that.  There is a Foley related issue that we'll be addressing at Third.  It has to do with the government response.

One government response has been the remarks US President Barack Obama made and what followed them.

Peter Baker and Julie Hirschfeld Davis (New York Times via NDTV) try to soap opera it up in their coverage:

Unusually emotional, President Barack Obama declared himself "heartbroken" by the brutal murder of an American journalist, James Foley, and vowed to "be relentless" against Islamic radicals threatening to kill another American.
But as soon as the cameras went off, Obama headed to his favorite golf course on Martha's Vineyard, where he is on vacation, seemingly able to put the savagery out of his mind. He spent the rest of the afternoon on the links even as a firestorm of criticism erupted over what many saw as a callous indifference to the slaughter he had just condemned.

Peter Baker used to be an outstanding journalists but, as we've noted for awhile now, he's gotten seduced by the narrative.  That wouldn't have played at the Washington Post but one of the hallmarks of the departed Jill's era -- one that still remains at the NYT -- is soap opera it up, turn everything into a feature story.  Which explains the lack of reporting in the Times these days.

Like Baker, Howard Kurtz used to work for the Post. Now he does media criticism for Fox and he offers:

What is striking now is a growing sense, fairly or unfairly, that Obama is not capable of rising to the occasion, that he just doesn’t like politics, that he’s disengaged, that despite his soaring rhetoric in 2008 he has a passion deficit.
All the criticism about him playing golf and being at Martha’s Vineyard is kind of a code for his supposedly being unplugged from the job.
A Times news story opens with a killer anecdote about the president meeting with Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell, which turned to Democratic complaints that the GOP was bottling up a number of Obama’s ambassadorial nominees.

“Mr. Obama quickly dismissed the matter. ‘You and Mitch work it out,’ Mr. Obama said coolly, cutting off any discussion. Mr. Reid seethed quietly for the rest of the meeting.”

Kurtz has often avoided taking on his peers.  It's really sad that an anecdote is what one takes away from a "Times news story."

While the Times traffics in cocktail party chatter, Gavin Hewitt (BBC News) observes, "In a matter of days, Europe's leaders have dropped the early assessment that the crisis in Iraq was principally humanitarian. The helicopter rescue missions of the Yazidis gave that impression but the reality is different."

It's good that it changed.  I mean, if it hadn't, governments might have had to do something other than attack inside Iraq.  They might have had to, for example, make like France and open their borders to Iraqi refugees. It's so much easier just to drop some bombs, right?

For governments, it is.  And for a silly press obsessed with snubs and sleights -- real and imagined -- of officials, the suffering of the people matters very little.

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Iraq snapshot

Thursday, August 21, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, where is the peace movement?, Barack launches more air strikes and more US troops may be headed to Iraq, and much more.

Let's start with Doug Henwood.  His low rated program Behind The News was evicted from WBAI.  He must be very proud of it because he bothered to keep it alive -- listeners be damned.

He has one more week in August.

If Doug doesn't note Iraq next week, he'll have ignored it for two months.  He covered soccer, mind you, on Behind The Gossip.  He just didn't cover Iraq.

Remembering the high horses he and his wife Liza Featherstone were once on, I'm surprised by that.  Doug insulted a friend of mine (now deceased) who was a leftist but supported the Iraq War.  I didn't support the Iraq War and we just agreed not to speak of it.  But Doug got insulting.

Like he cared.

Now I have to wonder if he did?

Two months of shows and not one damn word on Iraq?

I'm sorry, I thought he was an economist.  He did a show on the sluggish job market in the US back in July.  How much has the Iraq War effected the economy?  As it's drained the US treasury?  As it's left the country in debt for generations?

And now Barack is kicking it back up?

That's not worth a story?

Well, Doug, on behalf of my late friend, "You're full of s**."

Doug probably feels like , goodness, he did a show this week on Ferguson!

Yeah, and that's exactly the problem.

White hosts on Pacifica.  They remember race when ever tensions flare. Then they bring on guests.

Why are there so few African-American hosts on Pacifica?  If you don't count the DC station -- and no one does -- where are the African-American hosts?

I would suggest the world really doesn't need White Doug Henwood deciding to give a show over to Ferguson.  I'd suggest that's exactly the problem.  White hosts controlling the Pacifica airwaves and race being a discussion only when the noble Bwana Doug decides to focus on the topic.

Related: I don't support censorship.

And I allow art wide latitude.

I like Dead Prez.  I have no problem with them being on the air -- most of the time.

I don't understand how playing a song encouraging violence is in keeping with Pacifica's mission statement.  I wouldn't care normally but tensions are high in the US and I'm failing to see how playing this helps:

Backseat of the 'lac, big gat in my lap 
Ready for combat, feelin like Geronimo Pratt 
We had the windows cracked, headed up the strip 
Black rag in my hand, don't want no prints on the clip 
Hollow tips cuz we thorough with this shit my ni**a 
This ain't no game, we bang for uhuru my n**ga 
I take a left at the light, turn off the headlights and ride real slow 
Now holla at me when you see the 5-0 (there they go, there they go!) 
Alrite Dirty, yall boys ready? 
We 'bout to turn drive-bys revolutionary 
Look at 'em run, too scared to pull they guns 
Outta shape from them coffees and them cinnamon buns 
This s**t is fun, how I feel when the tables is turned 
Hollow tips hit yah flesh through yo vests and it burn 
That's a lesson you learn, comin strait from the slums 
And it don't stop till we get full freedom!

As art, I have no problem with it.  Were it to be from autobiographical notes, they still turned it into art.  And I love confessional songwriting.  I don't have a problem with it being played on the airwaves of other stations right now but for Pacifica to be playing it right now?

I'm not sure how that fits the role Pacifica early on cast itself in?

It becomes more problematic when the song is used at the end of a program about the killing of Brown.

And if this is supposed to pass for 'strength' and a position we need to embrace?  I thought Pacifica was created by pacifists for pacifists.

Is playing it meant to foster violence?  Stroke hate?

I have no idea.

But it is interesting how there is so much outrage over the death of one man killed in the US.  (Dead Prez released their song in 2004.  It reflects many deaths similar to that of Michael Brown's but it was written over a decade ago.)

The anger stems in part from the fact that the police are supposed to protect.

I'm not calling anyone guilty, FYI.  I'm not following the case and I trust that Attorney General Eric Holder will ensure that there is a real investigation into what happened.  (Disclosure, I know and like Eric.)

But I'm saying one death prompts such huge outrage across the country and even beyond.

Partly, that's because a police officer -- protect and serve -- was the one firing the fatal shots.

The anger is also based on historic patterns of violence targeting African-Americans in the US.

There have been many Micheal Browns and many Michelle Browns -- though African-American women who have been killed or injured are frequently overlooked by communities when it's time for activism.

But Brown wasn't the first African-American to be killed by the police.

So his death is preceded by many more, many millions more would be my guess -- although it's a guess and I don't know if anyone's ever attempted to arrive at a historical number on this.

But here's the thing.

The police are supposed to protect and serve.  (And maybe they did.  I wasn't there and the main reason to have an investigation is to determine what happens.  Plus, in the US, everyone is presumed innocent unless they're proven guilty.)  (That goes for the police officer and it also goes for Michael Brown with regard to the videotape the police released.)

But what's the government supposed to do?

I ask because the US government is bombing Iraq.

Iraqis are dying.

Millions already have just in the last two decades.

Where's the outrage on that?

I'm not taking anything away from the late Michael Brown -- and we ran US President Barack Obama's words on Brown last week.  (I thought Barack spoke wisely on the issue.  We've ignored others 'speaking' -- tea leaf reading -- on the issue.  Stop sending it.  I won't be part of a mob to convict before facts are known.  And I also don't see this site as a place to pour flammable hate onto an already tense situation.)

But I am asking why suddenly Iraqi lives are worth so little?

By suddenly, I mean the apathy of today versus the mood in 2002.

I'm not asking anyone to stop grieving for Michael Brown.

I am asking why we're not able to enlarge our notion of suffering and to call out what's taking place in Iraq.

Some might argue that with Christians being targeted (as well as Yazidis and other minority religions), the American public feels torn.

They're conflicted, someone might argue insisting that they feel something must be done.


But is bombing the only thing that can be done?

If you're worried about Iraqi Christians, for example, shouldn't you be arguing that the US needs to be opening its arms to them -- especially when other countries are announcing they'll be taking in these targeted refugees.

Michael Brown was apparently a very loved person by all who knew him.  His death -- whatever the cause -- is very sad.  But so are the Iraqis being killed.

"They're terrorists!"

Because the people killing them say that?

Civilian have been dying in the US' bombings of Mosul.  The Western press doesn't really care but Americans should.  Their government is killing innocents -- undisputed innocents -- while trying to target what they say are terrorists.

In and out of Iraq, the US government has a long history of killing 'terrorists' who later turn out to be farmers or wedding guests or reporters or . . .

Where is the outrage?

Jane Fonda  is so upset over Michael Brown's death but she can't say a word about Iraqis?  (Well why be surprised?  For all of her concern over race, African-Americans have never figured prominently in any of the films she produced or the TV show she produced -- 9 to 5 -- or in the one that's she's now producing but has yet to air.)

Jane swore silence wasn't an option on Iraq.  She swore that in 2007.  When a Republican occupied the White House.  Today?

Apparently silence is an option.

And I've decided to follow my friend Jane's lead.

I am going to be silent this fall as I speak on college campuses.  Last spring, I wasted a lot of time defending Jane from a campus craze rumor that's spread from Florida to Washington state and back again: Jane got away with her Vietnam activities because she was really CIA.

I denied it.

Now I'm going to follow Jane's lead of silence and just say, "I don't know."

United for Peace and Justice is silent too.  Not about Jane being CIA -- or maybe they're silent on that as well.  But I mean they're silent on Barack bombing Iraq and  Barack's efforts to send more US troops into Iraq.

I guess these days Leslie Cagan's united for something other than peace?

Fox News notes:

The Defense Department reported Wednesday afternoon that U.S. aircraft have conducted another 14 strikes near the Mosul Dam, which Kurdish and Iraqi forces recently re-took from Islamic militants. The latest strikes took out militants’ Humvees and other targets.

A senior U.S. official also told Fox News that military planners are weighing the possibility of sending more American forces to Iraq mainly to provide additional security “in and around Baghdad,” at the request of the State Department.

Even World Can't Wait is silent other than Debra Sweet.  Dennis Loo's written another one of his reactionary rage pieces (he knows just what happened in Ferguson -- stop the investigation, Dennis knows everything!) but he can't stop to think of Iraq, can he?

Tom Vanden Brooks (USA Today) reports:

U.S. military commanders in the Middle East are urging the Pentagon to intensify the air war against Islamic State targets in Iraq, two Defense Department officials said Wednesday.
Top officers at Central Command, which oversees military operations in the Middle East, are urging that the list of targets be expanded, according to the officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the plans.

Michael Franti used to sing, with conviction, "We can bomb the world to pieces but we can't bomb it into peace."

Where's that voice today?

Today, the world heard from US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel who declared:

Given the nature of this threat, at President Obama's direction and the request of the Iraqi government, the U.S. military has provided assistance to Iraqi security forces in order to protect U.S. personnel and facilities and support Iraq's efforts to counter ISIL in addition to providing humanitarian assistance.
American air strikes and American arms and assistance helped Iraqi and Kurdish forces blunt ISIL's advance around Irbil, where American diplomats and troops are working, and help the Iraqis retake and hold-Mosul Dam. A breach of the dam would have threatened the lives of thousands of Iraqis as well as Americans at our facilities in Baghdad and prevented the Iraqi government from providing critical services to its citizens.
The United States led an international effort to address the humanitarian crisis that unfolded at Mount Sinjar. As there continues to be an acute humanitarian need elsewhere in Iraq, the U.S. appreciates the partnership of the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Italy and Australia and the United Nations in helping provide relief. I expect more nations to step forward with more assistance in the weeks ahead.
Overall, these operations have stalled ISIL's momentum and enabled Iraqi and Kurdish forces to regain their footing and take the initiative. As Iraqi and Kurdish forces continue to take the initiative, the United States will continue to support them.
But addressing the threat posed by ISIL to the future of Iraq requires political reform in Iraq. The country's peaceful transition of power last week was important, and the United States will continue urging Iraq's new prime minister to establish an inclusive government that is responsive to the needs of all Iraq's citizens. A united Iraq will be a more secure and prosperous Iraq.
Political reform will make it harder for ISIL to exploit sectarian divisions. The United States and the international community will increase support for Iraq in tandem with political progress.
The president, the chairman and I are all very clear eyed about the challenges ahead. We are pursuing a long-term strategy against ISIL because ISIL clearly poses a long-term threat. We should expect ISIL to regroup and stage new offenses.

  And the U.S. military's involvement is not over. President Obama has been very clear on this point. Our objectives remain clear and limited -- to protect American citizens and facilities, to provide assistance to Iraqi forces as they confront ISIL, and to join with international partners to address the humanitarian crisis.

Does it sound like the US military is moving on?  Or does it sound like they're staying?

The Defense Dept noted today, "Since Aug. 8, U.S. Central Command has conducted a total of 90 airstrikes across Iraq. Of those 90 strikes, 57 have been in support of Iraqi forces near the Mosul Dam."

Where's the outcry?

A functioning peace movement would be calling out the bombings?

But a functioning peace movement would also note that Barack's pushing the US back in on the same 'logic' that Bully Boy said would lead to withdrawal.

As they stand up, we will step down.

That was the way Bully Boy Bush put it.

As Iraq's military stood up, there would be no need for the US military and they would fall back to the US.


Barack says that as the Iraqi military stands up, they will receive more US military support.

It's like a never ending cycle.

And now Barack's doing what with the UN?

From what Marie Harf said in today's State Dept press briefing, you'd assume our 'brave' 'peace' 'leaders' would be up in arms.

QUESTION: You think, Madam, this is going to be major discussion of issue at the United Nations upcoming General Assembly meetings, and because who is funding them and who’s arming them and how to stop this new – many people call new face of terrorism or al-Qaida?

MS. HARF: I think it will be. And as we’ve talked about a little bit, the President will be chairing a Security Council session on foreign fighters, particularly Syria and Iraq. I think it will be an incredibly important decision – or discussion, excuse me – around the General Assembly. When you have this many world leaders in one place, I don’t know, quite frankly, how it couldn’t be.

QUESTION: And you think you need major powers with you like China and Russia?

MS. HARF: We need everyone who will join us in this fight against ISIL.

At the Los Angeles Times, Robin Wright asks what the point of the mission or 'mission' Barack has launched is and how success can be measured:

What does "win" actually mean this time around? It's pretty fuzzy right now. We're in that feel-good phase of having helped prevent a genocide. But what's next specifically — and beyond?
An American role is not likely to stop at the Mosul dam, where fighting reportedly resumed a day after Obama said Iraqi forces, with backup from American air power, had reclaimed it.
How long could this mission last, if the Islamic State does not crumble as quickly as the Iraqi army did? I wouldn't bet on weeks. Or even months. This is a new phase in confronting extremism.

Iraq is a new phase but most in the media prefer to ignore that.  It's not 'sexy' enough apparently.  But it's in a new phase and it could get worse or things could improve.

You never asked for trouble but you've got fire that burns so bright… bright
You turn and face the struggle when all the others turn and hide… hide

You hold your head above the waves above the war they try to wage
You are stronger than their hate

Time for you to walk out walk in your own shoes
 -- "In Your Shoes," written by Sarah McLachlan, first appears on Sarah's new album Shine On

The editorial board of the Christian Science Monitor offers:

Iraq took a big step in that direction last week when Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was forced to relinquish power, marking the country’s first peaceful transition of power in more than a decade. His tyrannical, violent rule had not only set the majority Shiites against minority Sunnis, it had also set Shiite against Shiite. His own ruling Islamic coalition had come to realize that sectarian-based politics had failed, threatening not only Iraqi democracy but the country itself. A political vacuum had left Iraq open to attack by the militants of Islamic State (IS), the group previously known as Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant or ISIS.
A newly designated prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, was chosen to counter the threat from IS – precisely because of his ability to work with disaffected Sunnis as well as ethnic Kurds. “The country is in your hands,” whispered Iraq’s president, Fuad Masum, as he charged Mr. Abadi with the task of forming a new government.

Before the April elections, we pointed out that not only did Nouri create the problems but that his continued presence at prime minister provided a common enemy to a variety of groups that, if Nouri weren't prime minister, would find less commonalities amongst themselves and probably splinter.

Shane Harris (Foreign Policy) feels the splintering is taking place:

 ISIS and JRTN aren't natural allies. The former wants to erase Iraq's current borders and establish a caliphate, while the latter has been a largely secular movement that seeks to regain the official power and influence it held before the U.S. invasion in 2003. But they are aligned in their opposition to, and hatred of, outgoing Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Shiite-dominated government. Each side wants him to go, and JRTN recognizes that ISIS stands the best chance of violently overthrowing the Iranian-backed regime in Baghdad.
"The Baathists and ISIS had a marriage of convenience at the start of the takeover of Mosul," said Letta Tayler, a senior researcher with Human Rights Watch and a former journalist, who has reported extensively from Iraq on ISIS's human rights abuses and persecution of Shiites and religious minorities. "Baathists got muscle from ISIS, and ISIS got local legitimacy through the Baathists."

But now that marriage may be fraying, to the possible benefit of Washington and Baghdad. 

Regardless of fraying or not, the violence continues.  Margaret Griffis ( reports, "At least 31 people were killed and 28 more were wounded. The low numbers, however, are deceptive. The Iraqi military also reported dozens of militant deaths across the country but gave no solid numbers."

Lastly, music.  Last night, community sites focused on a favorite disco song.  So you got Kat with  "Heart of Glass," Elaine with "Lead Me On,"  Mike with "Rock The Boat, Don't Tip The Boat Over," Marcia with "We Are Family," Ruth with "Enough is Enough," Rebecca with "love to love you baby," Betty with "Upside Down,"  Ann with "Love Hangover" and Trina with "Don't Stop Till You Get Enough."  Without disco would the world even have the dance music of today?  One of the queens of dance music is Jody Watley and she's offered "Connecting Through Music. Paradise.."

New Veterans Congratulate General Loree Sutton

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America issued the following:

CONTACT: Gretchen Andersen (212) 982-9699 or

New Veterans Congratulate General Loree Sutton 

Retired Army Brigadier General named New York City Commissioner of Veterans Affairs 

New York, NY (August 18, 2014) – Retired U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Loree Sutton has been named Commissioner of the Mayor's Office of Veterans Affairs (MOVA) today after a formal ceremony at City Hall. Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization representing post-9/11 veterans and their families, today commends Sutton on her new position in the Mayor’s Office of New York City. 

Sutton, a psychiatrist and Co-Director of Threshold GlobalWorks, has worked with IAVA in the past, including this year’s Storm the Hill where she participated in a panel on mental health. 
IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff issued the following statement: 

“IAVA congratulates General Sutton on this well deserved honor to head Veterans Affairs for the city of New York,” said IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff. “New York is home to one of the largest communities of veterans, who face the same issues as veterans across the country, including homelessness, unemployment, suicide, waiting on disability benefits, and more. General Sutton knows the problems veterans face and is uniquely positioned to help solve them. As a New York based organization, IAVA looks forward to continuing our work with General Sutton as she continues to improve the lives of veterans.”

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America ( is the nation's first and largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization representing veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan and has more than 270,000 Member Veterans and civilian supporters nationwide. Celebrating its tenth year, IAVA recently received the highest rating - four-stars - from Charity Navigator, America's largest charity evaluator.

First Gitmo Conviction Invalidated By New Ruling, Attorneys Say

The Center for Constitutional Rights issued the following:

Material Support Not a War Crime

August 20, 2014, Washington, D.C. – Today, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and co-counsel Joseph Margulies filed a motion asking the Court of Military Commission Review to vacate former Guantánamo prisoner David Hicks’s conviction in the military commissions for “material support for terrorism.” Hicks appealed his conviction in November, following the D.C. Circuit’s 2012 decision in Hamdan v. United States, which held that material support for terrorism is not a war crime and, thus, is beyond the jurisdiction of military commissions. Hicks’s appeal was stayed pending the ruling in Al-Bahlul v. United States, which similarly held last month that material support is not a war crime and cannot be tried by military commission. Hicks – who was also a party to the historic Supreme Court ruling in Rasul v. Bush – pled guilty in 2007, the first prisoner to be convicted in a military commission.

“The D.C. Circuit ruled unanimously that material support could not be tried in a military commission under any set of facts or theory of law before 2006. No matter how this case is framed, David Hicks was convicted of a non-offense,” said CCR Senior Staff Attorney Wells Dixon. “The principled and just result is to set aside his conviction without delay, as would happen in any ordinary criminal case. David Hicks committed no crimes, but has suffered horribly from his ordeal at Guantánamo, and he deserves relief.”

In a 74-page affidavit released in 2004, Hicks detailed torture he suffered at the hands of U.S. forces during the five and a half years he spent at Guantánamo, including beatings, forced sedation, and sexual assault. In 2007, he pled guilty while continuing to assert his innocence. According to Hicks, the plea was coerced and he only agreed to it because he believed it was the only way to get out of Guantánamo and escape the ongoing abuse and torture.

“I am looking forward to the day when I can finally move on with my life and put Guantánamo behind me. This is yet another step on the long road towards justice,” said Hicks.

After his release from Guantánamo, Hicks returned to his native Australia and was placed under a one-year gag order that prohibited him from speaking to the media. As part of his plea, he was also required to withdraw allegations that the U.S. military abused him and agree not to take legal action against the United States.

Joseph Margulies and military defense counsel Samuel Morison and Major Justin Swick are co-counsel in the case. David Hicks is represented in Australia by Stephen Kenny.
The case is Hicks v. United StatesRead a summary of today’s filing here.

CCR has led the legal battle over Guantánamo for nearly 12 years – representing clients in two Supreme Court cases and organizing and coordinating hundreds of pro bono lawyers across the country to represent the men at Guantánamo, ensuring that nearly all have the option of legal representation. Among other Guantánamo cases, the Center represents the families of men who died at Guantánamo, and men who have been released and are seeking justice in international courts.

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.

Admiral Mike Mullen To Be Honored at IAVA's Heroes Gala in New York

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America issued the following:

CONTACT: Gretchen Andersen (212) 982-9699 or

Admiral Mike Mullen To Be Honored at IAVA’s Heroes Gala in New York
Brian Williams will emcee November 13th Event Celebrating IAVA’s 10th Anniversary

NEW YORK (August 14, 2014) – Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) the largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization representing post-9/11 veterans and their families, announces Admiral Mike Mullen, 17th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as the honoree at the Eighth Annual Heroes Gala in November celebrating IAVA’s 10th Anniversary. IAVA will present Mullen with the 2014 IAVA Veteran Leadership Award on Thursday, November 13th, 2014 at 6:30 p.m. at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York City. Brian Williams, anchor of NBC Nightly News, will serve as the Master of Ceremonies for the sixth year in a row. 

The IAVA Heroes Gala is the premier fundraising event of Veterans Week in New York. Tickets can be purchased here.

“IAVA is extremely excited to honor Admiral Mike Mullen for his incredible service to our community,” said IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff. “Each fall we look forward to the Heroes Gala, where we celebrate our new greatest generation of veterans and those who have shown the utmost support for them. Admiral Mullen has been a courageous leader throughout his entire military career and that has only increased since his retirement. We are proud to present the Veteran Leadership Award this November to Admiral Mike Mullen, who will be accepting on behalf of all veterans.”

A Los Angeles native, Admiral Mike Mullen graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1968. He commanded at every level in the Navy and became the Navy’s highest-ranking officer, the 28th Chief of Naval Operations (2005-2007). He also served as the 17th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff  (2007-2011), and was the principal military advisor to President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama.

Mullen led the military during a critical period of transition. He advocated for the rapid development and fielding of innovative technologies, championed emerging and enduring international partnerships, and advanced new methods for combating terrorism – all of which directly culminated in the termination of Osama bin Laden. 

Mike Mullen and his wife, Deborah, remain staunch advocates of veterans, their families and the families of the fallen. Both interact with a broad range of issues including drawing public attention and institutional focus to the challenges of post-traumatic stress, combat-related brain injury, death by suicide, care of the wounded, veteran employment and homelessness. Admiral Mullen is also on the board of the Robin Hood Veterans Initiative, which provides grants to IAVA and other Veteran Service Organizations. 

IAVA’s 1Oth Anniversary Celebration

IAVA is the country’s first and largest nonprofit organization for veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, with more than 200,000 member veterans and supporters nationwide. Our mission is to improve the lives of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and their families. IAVA fulfills this mission by delivering services in four key impact areas: health, education, employment and building a lasting community for veterans and their families (HEEC). IAVA is the only organization that provides a robust and transformative support network for new veterans from their deployments, through their transition home, and throughout the rest of their lives.

As one of the premiere Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) in the country, IAVA has been designated as a “Four Star Charity” by the nonprofit charity evaluation organization Charity Navigator—it’s highest ranking. IAVA has also been given an A rating from the American Institute of Philanthropy, and was named one of the Best Charities in America by the Independent Charities of America. Time Magazine said in an article that “IAVA is the most important organization representing the new generation of veterans.”

Each year, IAVA recognizes individuals who have shown an immense dedication to the veterans community. Past honorees include Jon Stewart, Host of ‘The Daily Show; Peter G. Peterson, co-founder of the Blackstone Group and founder of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, and Joan Ganz Cooney, co-founder and visionary of Sesame Workshop; Stephen Colbert, host of Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report; David Gelbaum, CEO of Entech Solar and founder of the Iraq Afghanistan Deployment Impact Fund (IADIF); President of MTV Networks Van Toffler; Arnold Fisher, Senior Partner of Fisher Brothers; Medal of Honor recipient Staff Sgt. Sal Guinta, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, best-selling author and Army veteran Wes Moore, “Dancing with the Stars” winner and veteran J.R. Martinez, NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly, Council on Foreign Relations President Emeritus Leslie Gelb, Craigslist Founder Craig Newmark, MSNBC’s anchor Willie Geist, Super Bowl Champion Coach Bill Cowher, Singer Nora Jones, OAR’s lead vocalist Marc Roberge and Honorary Chairman of the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund and ABC News Anchor Bob Woodruff. 

IAVA’s Eighth Annual Heroes Gala top sponsors, as of Aug. 14, 2014, include MillerCoors, USAA, Turner Broadcasting and Western Asset Management. To sponsor the Heroes Gala click here.

Note to media: Email or call 212-982-9699 to arrange an interview with IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff or other IAVA leadership. 

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America ( is the nation's first and largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization representing veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan and has more than 270,000 Member Veterans and civilian supporters nationwide. Celebrating its tenth year, IAVA recently received the highest rating - four-stars - from Charity Navigator, America's largest charity evaluator.