Where is the functioning press in the United States?
Off inventing fake news?
"There has been no greater privilege . . . than serving as the Commander in Chief of the greatest military in the history of the world."
That's Barack Obama, US president, at the farewell military parade he staged for himself yesterday and it's a statement the White House elected to promote.
No greater privilege?
A functioning press would be questioning this just on the basis of the US is not supposed to be a junta. They'd also be combing through his statements in his campaigns. They might even note that this is just more sucking up from a liar who repeatedly changes his remarks to flatter whomever he speaks before.
We don't have a functioning press.
We have, instead, crap like this.
That wouldn't qualify as news in a high school paper.
It's an advertorial and NPR's running it. Using tax payer dollars in one of the biggest cons of all time. ('Most goes to member stations!' Yes, and NPR receives it back via fees for NPR programming the member stations pay NPR.)
NPR won't put a reporter in Iraq but they will waste money running advertorials or last month's infamous one-sided report which featured 'diversity' via a sub-literate who doesn't grasp that you don't put two verbs together without at least an "and," whose 'news outlet' prints lies that, when exposed, are left uncorrected. But, hey, you got your check on the diversity box so who cares if no other outlet would features that person as a trusted source.
The nonsense never ends.
Want to waste ten dollars?
If so you can buy the special issue of THE NATION devoted to Barrack.
Iraq is really not noted and then, when noted, it's with detachment.
As though Barack didn't win the White House on his promise to end the Iraq War?
As Obama leaves office, the U.S. is once again mired in a major ground war in Iraq. That should define his "legacy."
Click here for Michael Tracey's piece on this topic at MEDIUM.
But at THE NATION?
Multiple people weigh in with 'essays' and Iraq isn't a main topic for anyone.
While Chris Hayes does at least mention Iraq -- in passing and, shades of Judith Miller, deep in the column, Patrica J. Williamson does not.
Why should Patricia J. Williamson write about Iraq?
Well in 2008, she repeatedly stated that Barack Obama voted against the 2002 resolution on the Iraq War.
That's also known as lying.
And, no, it wasn't a mistake. She was corrected -- at one point, she was even corrected on air.
Dropping back to March 6, 2008:
The clue should have been Professor Patti going on KPFA and maintaining that Bambi voted against the 2002 authorization and having an on-air meltdown when a caller pointed out that he didn't because he wasn't in the Senate and that he had voted non-stop for war funding since getting into the Senate.
And what a meltdown it was.
Could that be why she doesn't note Iraq?
Because she's humiliated that she whored herself out and got caught?
One good thing about Donald Trump in the White House?
THE NATION will yet again begin grandstanding on war.
They'll go back to front page editorials (like the one on how the magazine would not support any candidate for office who had supported the Iraq War -- a promise they forgot in 2015 and 2016 as they cheered Hillary on).
Katrina vanden Heuvel will suddenly remember war as a topic to write about.
Hopefully, America will remember that after treating the Iraq War as one of the most serious world and domestic issues up until 2008, Katrina dropped the issue when Barack was sworn in.
No, the Iraq War did not end.
THE NATION's objection to it did.
Because few people in the country have integrity.
They will scream when someone they do not like carries out a war (or illegal spying) and then coo and self-soothe (and self-stroke) when their own personal hero does the same.
It's hypocrisy and, more and more, it appears the two-party system breeds it.
And certainly, the US press rewards it.
Today, Amnesty International issues a new report -- and, provided there's no tech gadget to promote, NPR might end up covering it.
The report is entitled [PDF format warning] "IRAQ: TURNING A BLIND EYE THE ARMING OF THE POPULAR MOBILIZATION UNITS." The popular mobilization units are the militias -- the ones Iraq outlawed once Barack became president of the United States. Give up your militias or you can't be a political party running in the 2010 elections (that were supposed to take place in 2009).
The report notes:
The PMU are comprised of large, well-established militia groups, such as Munathamat Badr (or Badr Brigades or Badr Organization), Saraya al-Salam ( Peace Brigades, formerly Mahdi army), Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq (League of the Righteous) and Kata'ib Hizbullah (Hizbullah Brigades), that were either formed before the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003 or emerged in opposition to the US- led invasion and occupation of the country. Other groups emerged and grew as the fight against IS progressed. There are no official statistics available on the number of militias within the PMU . Media reports quote unspecified officials estimating that there are between 40 and 50 militias. The 2016 Federal Iraqi Budget indicated that there were 110,000 persons in the PMU. In December 2016, Ahmed al-Asadi, the spokesperson of the PMU, claimed that there were 141,000 fighters affiliated with the PMU.
We will return to the topic of The League of the Righteous in the next snapshot. They are an important topic all by themselves, I know. We've covered them repeatedly and we will again tomorrow.
The PMU's participation in the armed conflict to oust IS had been marred by war crimes and other violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law, mostly against members of the Sunni Arab community, including extrajudicial executions and other unlawful killings, torture and deliberate destruction of civilian homes and other property . Militias subjected thousands of men and boys to enforced disappearance. Despite the well-documented patterns of PMU militia abuses since 2014, representatives of the PMU militias have tended to deny accusations. For instance, in July 2015 Qais al-Khazali, head of ' Asa'ib Ahl al - Haq told media:
"Despite the media whirlwind and exaggeration, no media outlet has been able to accuse the Shi'ite Hashd al-Sha 'abi [Popular Mobilization] of one (act of) genocide or of killing one innocent citizen".
In the run up to the military operation to retake Mosul, Qais al-Khazali was quoted in the media as stating that recapturing the city represents "revenge and vendetta" for the killing of Imam Hussein, one of the most revered figures by Shi'as in the seventh century. In the same statement, he claimed that revenge would be directed at the descendants of Imam Hussein's killers, 30 raising fears of revenge attacks against the Sunni community.
The report then breaks down various documented abuses by region. But we're going to note this section about supplying weapons:
Joint military operations and potential sharing or loaning of equipment means that tracking which specific unit is using specific types of equipment is complex. According to a heavily redacted Quarterly Progress Report from the US Department of Defense examining compliance under Section 1236 ( Iraqi Train and Equip Fund), released in April 2016, the US and coalition forces "do not accompany ISF units on operations", making it impossible for US authorities to document equipment use in conflict zones. However, visual evidence suggests US equipment is being deployed by a variety of PMU militias accused of serious human rights violations.
While it is difficult to verify if armoured vehicles flying militia flags are under the control of any given group, footage of a Kata'ib Hizbullah military convoy shows a range of US - manufactured military vehicles including an M1 Abrams tank, M113 armoured personnel carriers, Humvees, and Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles (MRAP). Amnesty International has documented serious human rights violations committed by Kata’ib Hizbullah, including extrajudicial executions and other unlawful killings, in the context of the operation to retake Falluja from IS. The US Department of State designated Kata'ib Hizbullah as a foreign terrorist organisation on 2 July 2009.
The Badr Organization, which has committed widespread violations across the Governorate of Diyala, has been photographed posing alongside a US M1 Abrams tank. Unverified footage released by the PMU also shows the deployment of a M1A1 Abrams tank during the assault on Ramadi in March 2016. According to one report, a US M1 A1 Abrams tank was delivered to a US service facility in Baghdad, repurposed with a Russian machine gun using Iranian ammunition, contrary to US end user agreements. Between 2010 and 2012, the US sold 140 refurbished M1A1 Abrams tanks to the Iraqi army.
Why is a quarterly progress report being heavily redacted?
There's little chance anything 'classified' is in it.
There's a huge chance that the report documents the US government's supply of weapons to the militias which is against both international law and US law.
Other US-made equipment in the hands of PMU militias includes artillery guns, small arms and light weapons. According to a photograph taken on 7 March 2015, on the outskirts of Ad-Dawr, north of Baghdad, US-supplied M198 howitzers are operating under the flag of Kata'ib Hizbullah. US equipment delivered to the Iraqi army post-2014, including M16-pattern rifles still bearing US government-applied inventory stickers, has been photographed in the hands of the Badr Organization and the Saraya al-Khorasani.
Images assessed by ARES show US-made licensed Swedish Saab AT4 light unguided anti-tank weapons being deployed by Farqat al-Abbas since at least July 2015, possibly sourced from a reported delivery of 2,000 items announced in May 2015. 121 The US-made Mk 1 9 automatic grenade launcher also in use by Farqat al-Abbas may have been sourced from US transfers to Iraq of 1,000 launchers in 2015 or 144 in 2008. According to images assessed by ARES, Kata’ib Hizbullah operates four US-made 155 mm M198 howitzers; with Farqat al-Abbas operating two US M109A5 self-propelled howitzers. Both types were transferred by the US to the Iraqi army in 2011.
Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, author of the Leahy Law (see below) has told the Washington Post that: "It increasingly seems like end-use monitoring is more of a goal than a reality... Not enough policy concern is being placed on the real likelihood that U.S. foreign military funds to the Iraqi government are enabling Iranian-backed militia forces".
Since the US government loves to ignore international law, let's note the report on US law:
In the USA , for instance, provisions in the Leahy Law, first introduced in 1997 and subsequently incorporated into the Foreign Assistance Act, halt assistance -- including weapons, funding and training -- to military units credibly linked with gross human rights violations. The law is, however, subject to a waiver when required "by extraordinary circumstances". One of the goals of The United States Conventional Arms Transfer Policy is to ensure "that arms transfers do not contribute to human rights violations or violations of international humanitarian law." Three of the criteria that must be taken into account are:
• " The risk that significant change in the political or security situation of the recipient country could lead to inappropriate end-use or transfer of defense articles.
• The human rights, democratization, counterterrorism, counterproliferation, and nonproliferation record of the recipient, and the potential for misuse of the export in question.
• The likelihood that the recipient would use the arms to commit human rights abuses or serious violations of international humanitarian law, retransfer the arms to those who would commit human rights abuses or serious violations of international humanitarian law, or identify the United States with human rights abuses or serious violations of international humanitarian law."
US law also prohibits sales of military equipment to governments whose armed forces or government-supported armed groups, including paramilitaries, militias, or civil defense forces, recruit and use child soldiers. Iraq is included in the 2016 Child Soldiers Prevention Act List, which is published by the US Department of State.
The report's 40 pages (with two annexes that take it to 46 pages).
This report is news.
It's doubtful many US outlets will treat it as such.
The following community sites updated: