Thursday, November 04, 2010








Friday October 22nd, WikiLeaks released 391,832 US military documents on the Iraq War. The documents -- US military field reports -- reveal torture and abuse and the ignoring of both. They reveal ongoing policies passed from the Bush administration onto the Obama one. They reveal that both administrations ignored and ignore international laws and conventions on torture. They reveal a much higher civilian death toll than was ever admitted to. Laura Oliver ( reports on Global Investigative Journalism Network's petition in support of WikiLeaks and quotes from the petition:
We, journalists and journalist organisations from many countries, express our support for Mr Assange and Wikileaks. We believe that Mr Assange has made an outstanding contribution to transparency and accountability on the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, subjects where transparency and accountability has been severely restricted by government secrecy and accountability has been severely restricted by government secrecy and media control. He is being attacked for releasing information that should never have been withheld from the public.
We believe Wikileaks had the right to post confidential military documents because it was in the interest of the public to know what was happening. The documents show evidence that the US Government has misled the public about activities in Iraq and Afghanistan and that war crimes may have been committed.
Today in Geneva, Julian Assange spoke to the press. CBS and AP report that he's calling for an investigation into the incidents documented in all the papers WikiLeaks has released on Iraq and Afghanistan. Stephanie Nebehay (Reuters) quotes him stating, "It is time the United States opened up instead of covering up." Assange was in Geneva as the US prepares to face a UN Human Rights Council review tomorrow in Geneva. AFP notes that "human rights campaigners" are making public their disappointment with the White House and the ACLU's Jamal Dakwar is quoted stating of Barack, "We all thought that was a terrific beginning. However, we are now seeing that this administration is becoming an obstacle to achieving accountability in human rights."
The Rutgers School of Law-Newark Constitutional Litigation Clinci today filed a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari in the United States Supreme Court in a case challenging the invasion of Iraq by President Bush in the absence of a Declaration of War by Congress.
The Plaintiffs in the case are New Jersey Peace Action, a 50-year-old anti-war organization; William Joseph Wheeler, an Iraq war veteran; and two morthers whose sons had been deployed in Iraq -- Anna Berlinrut of Nutley, New Jersey and Paula Rogovin of Teaneck, New Jersey.
The case was dismissed by both the Federal District Court in Newark and the U.S. Court of Appeals in Philadelphia on procedural grounds, without reaching the merits of the constitutional claim.
The plaintiffs are represented by Rutgers Professor Frank Askin, Directof or the Constitutional Litigation Clinic, and Newark attorney Bennet Zuofsky, and students in the Rutgers Law School clinic, who have worked on the case for the past three years.
Plaintiffs' case is based on the original intent of the Framers of the Constitution to take the power of peace and war out of the hands of a single executive and place it in the hands of Congress. Plaintiffs' arguments rely heavily on the records of the Constitutional Convention on June 1, 1787, and the rulings of the Supreme Court in the first half of the 19th century.
The petition notes that since the end of World War II, U.S. presidents have regularly ignored the intent of the Framers and instituted foreign hostilities without obtaining a Declaration of War from Congress. However, the petition also says that in none of the prior wars did the President take the initiative to invade a sovereign nation without provocation. According to the petition, in the first half of the 19th century, the Supreme Court emphasized that the plain language of the Constitution meant that the President could not launch an all-out war in the absence of a Congressional Declaration.
The petition also notes that no federal court has ever examined the debates at the Constitutional Convention on June 1, 1787, when the decision as to the constitutional allocation of the war powers was decided, and asks the Supreme Court to at last take up the issue. Since World War II, the lower federal courts have dismissed suits challening the President's authority to wage war on technical procedural grounds.
The case raises fundamental issues concerning the intent of the Framers of the Constitution and the role of the Supreme Court as the ultimate interpreter of our national charter. The petition reminds the Court of the famous words of Thomas Jefferson that in Article I Section 8 of the Constitution the Framers had provided "an effectual check to the Dog of War by transferring the power of letting it loose from Executive to Legislative body, from those are to spend to those who are to pay."
Media Contact: Professor Frank Askin
Contact: Janet Donohue
Noah Cohen (Teaneck Patch) adds, "Teaneck-resident Paula Rogovin and Anna Berlinrut, of Nutley, both with sons who were deployed in Iraq, are part of the group filing suit. Rogovin has organized weekly vigils protesting the war outside the Teaneck Armory."
Sunday an attack on a church in Baghdad left at least 58 dead. Tuesday Al Jazeera's Inside Story addressed the assault.

Dareen Aboughaida: An al Qaeda-linked group called the Islamic State of Iraq claims responsibility for attacking the Catholic Church in Baghdad on Sunday. Situated close to the Green Zone, the gunmen held more than a hundred people hostage for hours before security forces stormed the church. The kidnappers were demanding the release of al Qaeda prisoners from Iraqi and Egyptian jails. They also threatened the Coptic Church of Egypt for allegedly detaining female Muslims against their will. The attack is being described as the bloodiest against Iraq's dwindling Christian community since the 2003 US-led invasion. Joining us to discuss this, our guests: In Erbil, Aziz Emmanuel Zedari -- he's a member of the Chaldean Syriac Assyrian Council -- that's an NGO seeking to enhance the rights of Christians in Iraq; in London, we have Iraq Affairs Analyst Abdulmunaem Almula; and in Washington DC, Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, he's the director for the Center of Terrorist Radicalization at the Foundation For Defence of Democracies. Gentlemen, welcome all to the program, thank you very much for your time on Inside Story. Abdulmunaem Almula, let me begin with you and discuss the actual mechanics of the attacks. Now the assailants first battled security at the stock exchange building then it's reported the men fled to the nearby church where they took those people hostage. So what do you make of this? Was the target the stock exchange or was it the Church to avenge for those al Qaeda members held in prisons in Iraq that we were talking about in the introduction?

Abdulmunaem Almula: Well to be honest with you, if anything this operation will demonstrate -- it will demonstrate the lack of professionalism and the training of the Iraqi security forces. Also it will further demonstrate that the-the-the lack of ability of this Iraqi government to handle such a situation. For me, I can look at the attack as it came from a common -- common murderers, common criminals that were trying to-to attack the-the Iraqi Exchange Centre or one of the Iraqi business centers next to the Salvation Church and then they scaled on the wall of the-the Church and they start to-to shoot the civilians there. For me, I think it is -- whoever the group behind this attack -- either al Qaeda or any other terrorists groups -- it is a terrorist act and the only destination that we can blame is the -- is the Iraqi government and the Iraqi security forces.

Dareen Aboughaida: Aziz Emmanuel Zedari --

Abdulmunaem Almula: So many

Dareen Aboughaida: Aziz Emmanuel Zedari, let me bring you in right now. How should we read this attack in your opinion? What significance is it that a Church was attacked?

Aziz Emmanuel Zedari: First of all, I would like to express my condolences for the victims of the largest terrorist attack on the Christian community on the Church in Baghdad. Well the reason the attack is the last in a series of regular and well organized attacks on the Christian community in Iraq with an aim to drive the Christian community from Iraq.

Dareen Aboughaida: Daveed Gartenstein-Ross in Washington, al Qaeda is claiming responsibility for this attack so does the operation carry the hallmarks of al Qaeda in your opinion?

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross: It's difficult to say in this case. There's certain al Qaeda hallmarks that you can attach to well coordinated terrorist attacks. For example, bombings that are near simultaneous in multiple parts of the city. That has the hallmark of al Qaeda. In this case, storming a church? Tactically, strategically, it's something that al Qaeda certainly has done, it's something that they're capable of but one can't tell just by the signature of this attack -- at least not without getting much deeper into tactics, techniques and procedures than has been reported publicly.

We started with the above for a reason. If you believe al Qaeda in Mesopotamia is responsible for the attacks -- I'm not saying you should believe that or shouldn't, make up your own mind -- than you take the statement they issued. You don't get to go 'buffet style' and claim that al Qaeda is responsible but they did it for reasons other than what they listed in their note. A reporter reported on one of the dead priests. We ignored the story. I'm not blasting the reporter for what he filed and am all for reporters filing often and filing completely. But I didn't find it of value and knew how it would be used. Unless you're giving the priest the gift of prophecy -- in which case, start the canonization -- you're giving too much weight to his 'vision' (fear). And a number of articles are being filed claiming that the priest's fear is what happened. Again, if you accept al Qaeda in Iraq as the culprit, they have posted a statement online. They stated their reasons in that posting. If it's not in their posting, there's a reason it's not.

Jim Kouri (NWV) is not being referred to with the above, however, his piece has a headline that the "Christian bloodbath [is] ignored by Obama White House." I'm aware of the NSC making a statement. I'm not aware of the White House -- or Barack himself -- making a statement. And I'm including Kouri's story because this is why there is a perception about Barack. A slaughter took place. Has he commented? If not, then he doesn't need to be surprised when American Christians, so used to him weighing in on Muslim issues, have questions about his devotion or identification to his proclaimed faith.
Barack has no made no comment. November 1st, White House spokesperson Robert Gibbs issued the following:
The United States strongly condemns this senseless act of hostage taking and violence by terrorists linked to al Qaeda in Iraq that occurred Sunday in Baghdad killing so many innocent Iraqis. Our hearts go out to the people of Iraq who have suffered so much from these attacks. We offer sincerest condolences to the families of the victims and to all the people of Iraq who are targeted by these cowardly acts of terrorism. We know the overwhelming majority of Iraqis from all its communities reject violence and we stand with them as we work together to combat terrorism and protect the people of our two nations.
The United States strongly condemns the vicious violence witnessed today, November 2, as a result of multiple terrorist attacks in Baghdad that killed scores of innocent Iraqis and wounded hundreds more. We extend our deepest sympathies to the victims' families and to all Iraqis who suffer from terrorism. We have confidence that the people of Iraq will remain steadfast in their rejection of efforts by extremists to spark sectarian tension. These attacks will not stop Iraq's progress. The United States stands with the people of Iraq and remains committeed to our strong and long-term partnership.
And that's it. And notice, I keep saying to pay attention to this, NSC -- you need to pay attention to the national security council types. That's who's controlling Iraq for the US. It's not out of the State Dept -- despite the lies -- it's the NSC and it's been Samantha Power's baby for some time. AFP reports that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, "criticised the Iraqi government on Thursday for failing to protect religious communities" and they quote her stating, "I believe much more could have been done to protect groups which are clearly targets and who are particularly vulnerable. It is imperative that the Iraqi government intervenes decisively and impartially at the first sign of incitement to hostility and violence against any religious groups or minorities. The authorities should ensure that religious sites and other likely targets are adequately protected, and reach out and demonstrate to different communities that their safety is of paramount concern to the government." And yet Barack remains silent. That's fine if that's what he wants to do but he can then turn around and whine that no one believes him about his religion and expect any sympathy beyond the Cult of St. Barack.
Today Reuters notes that there is a movement in Iraq to take newly elected MPs to court in order "to recover salaries and benefits of almost $250,000 paid to politicians who have barely worked since an inconclusive March election that has yet to produce a new government." Inconclusive?
March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board noted in August, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality." 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. They are claiming they have the right to form the government. In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. It's seven months and twenty-eight days and still counting.
Kelly McEvers (NPR's All Things Considered) reports some believe the violence may force the parties to sit down and form a government and quotes an Iraqi wondering pointing out that Nouri might remain prime minister and yet he can't even secure Iraq currently. And Nouri's not the only one claiming he won't leave. Rudaw is reporting Jalal Talabani, president of Iraq, is stating that he will remain president and not surrender his post to a non-Kurd. This statement would appear to squelch US government hopes that they could slide Allawi into that position -- beefed up or not -- as a consolation prize for Allawi getting more votes but the US government determined to have Nouri remain prime minister. Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) interviews Allawi today who tells him Tehran officials/leaders will not allow him to be the leader and who is quoted stating, "It's very sad. I always maintained that the security improvement was only fragile. . . . Unless the political landscape is changed, then all the surges and awakenings are not going to bring sustainable results. That's why we have been witnessing an escalation of violence. . . . What we have seen and what we know is only the tip of the iceberg. We haven't yet seen the whole iceberg. Assassinations are now a flourishing business throughout the country. There are explosions and violence. But now I think it will continue to take a sharper bend toward the worst."

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