Thursday, December 16, 2010









Ewen MacAskill (Guardian) breaks big news on one of the Big Six of Big Oil. According to a March 23, 2009 US embassy cable released by WikiLeaks, Nouri al-Maliki told US officials that the California-based multi-national Chevron Corporation had been in negotiations with the Iranian government in Tehran. The official is Patricia Butenis. She is currently the US Ambassador to the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and the Republic of Maldives. When Nouri passed on the information to her, she was the Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Baghdad. In the cable, she wrote: "With regards to hydrocarbons, the PM [Nouri] asked for the US position on direct contracts with US firms and on US firms developing cross-border fields on the Iran border. The PM said he is currently in negotiations with Chevron to develop various oilfields to include a cross-border oilfield with Iran (NFI). The PM claimed that Chevron had told him that it had already raised the issue of a cross-border development with Tehran as well. (Note: We have no independent confirmation of this: end note.)"
The cable documents that Butenis and Nouri also discussed General Electric -- specifically whether or not GE would be receiving their payments (for electricity -- no dollar amounts are noted) and notes Nouri "said that the contracts would be paid even if it had to come out of their own salaries." The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that Nouri, if he moves from prime minister-designate to prime minister, will pull down $360,000 a year -- and that if the power-sharing deal holds, Allawi will make the same. $360,000 is a great deal of money, especially for a 'leader' who hasn't been able to provide either safety or basic services. What services GE's providing and what cost would also be interesting to know. The cable also notes that Nouri doesn't trust the Iraqi police and rejected the notion (presented by the US military) that the Iraqi military should be used for "external threats" and the police should be used for policing. In his post, Nouri controls the Iraqi army which may be why he dismissed the US suggestions.
We'll note this section of the cable on the now former US Ambassador to Iraq Chris Hill (no, he didn't last very long, did he?) and Butenis is "CDA":
Turning to the CDA, the PM asked about the arrival of Ambassador Hill. The CDA said that Ambassador Hill will have confirmation hearings in the Senate on March 25 and that, hopefully, he would arrive in Iraq sometime in April. The Qhopefully, he would arrive in Iraq sometime in April. The PM asked the CDA if she foresaw any problems. She responded that some Senators had expressed concern with Ambassador Hill's lack of experience in the Middle East and over his negotiations with North Korea. She said that Ambassador Hill had already met with Senators McCain and Graham to address such concerns. She expressed optimism that he would be confirmed by the Senate, noting that he was one of the Department's most accomplished diplomats. The PM said that he had discussed Ambassador Hill with President Obama when they last spoke and that President Obama said that Ambassador Hill "had his complete confidence" and that he is "the right man for the job." The PM told the CDA that "we welcome him to Iraq."
Tonight on WBAI, Joy of Resistance airs from nine to ten p.m. (and streams live online) and among the guests will be Jill Filipovic to address the topic of "Swedish and US rape laws and the current wave of misogny that has surfaced in response to rape allegations against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange." (Other guests will be Susan J. Doulgas, Lu Baily and Amanda Marcotte.) On this week's Law and Disorder Radio (aired Monday on WBAI and around the country thoughout the week), hosts Michael Ratner and Michael S. Smith discussed WikiLeaks. Excerpt:
Michael Ratner: Michael, there's been zillions of words and articles about WikiLeaks, Julian Assange. And, of course, in this country he's looked at as a pariah despite the fact that every newspaper in the country is covering what he has done and he's obviously made a major contribution toward our understanding of how our government runs but give us a second on your political take on what you think of WikiLeaks.

Michael S. Smith: You know why I like him? I like him for the same reason I liked it when the Russian revolutionaries opened the books and all the czars secret diplomacy and they showed how the First World War was an imperialist war and they showed the secret deals between France and England and the Russian czar on how to divide up the Ottoman Empire once they won the first great war of the 20th century, the first great imperial slaughter. They wanted to divide up the Ottoman Empire. And in 1916, they had a treaty called the Sykes-Picot Treaty where they racked up all this rich Ottoman stuff between France and England.
Michael Ratner: But even then, Michael, let's just say it wasn't just rich Ottoman stuff, it was oil because what was happening was the ships were turning from coal -- where they need fueling stations all over -- to oil burning. And they recognized that, so when the First World War -- during it, actually -- They were goign to divide up the oil in the Middle East.
Michael S. Smith: Oil. You remember when they stupidly called the war against Iraq "Operation Iraqi Liberation"? O-I-L. And they realized they'd made a dumb mistake and they changed it. It's still about oil.
Michael Ratner: So let's put it into perspective. You're saying the First World War is really about imperial overreach. The second example we have is, of course, the Pentagon Papers.
Michael S. Smith: Same thing.
Michael Ratner: Same thing. Again about showing the lies about the war. Supposedly to help the Vietnamese people, whatever b.s., to stop Communism. But of course it was about the US in the Far East and its role in the Far East and what Ellsberg was able to do. Now let's compare it here. What have we seen in these documents to Wiki that makes you also see that really what he has exposed here is imperial overreach?
Michael S. Smith: Well he's shown the nature of these governments that the United States installed and props up in both oil-rich Iraq, carbon-rich Afghanistan. And that's what's horrifying people like [US Secretary of State] Hillary Clinton. The secrets are coming out. The nature of these governments. How they talk to each other. WikiLeaks provided a service. They opened the books on America's secret dealings the same way Russian revolutionaries opened the books up in 1917. That's what's driving these people crazy. They're threatening not just to prosecute him for espionage. That's the soft line. The right-wing commentators on Fox News and people like Sarah Palin are calling for his death, they're inciting violence.
Michael Ratner: Let's go back here. And I was thinking to myself when you and I were talking earlier, why I like what he's done so much. And I think you put your finger on it. That here the US goes into the Middle East and into Central Asia -- Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran now it's looking like Yemen --
Michael S. Smith: Yemen.
Michael Ratner: -- and it's saying, 'We're doing this because we want to stop terrorism' -- and, of course, that's another question about how this makes terrorism grow -- 'but we want to stop terrorism.' And, of course, Bush said for awhile we want to bring democracy to Iraq. And what these cables do is demonstrate that really this is a central corp of the US mission right now: To control the oil resources and other resources of the Middle East. And they show that the US is doing it sometimes overtly -- of course it lies about Iraq and Afghanistan -- but sometimes it's doing it so that the American people don't even know that it's doing it. And that's Yemen, where it said to the Yemenese, 'Claim that you're doing that bombing even though they all have our names on them.' Or it says that the claims by the government publicly that Iran is helping the Taliban when, in fact, the secret cables show that that wasn't the case, that they didn't have any evidence on that. So what you're seeing from these cables is the focus on where US hegemonic empire is concentrated and how they're lying to the American people about what the US is doing there. So the American people can't even object to the wars. They can't even protest because half of them they don't even know about.
Michael S. Smith: Well that's exactly right and what I really like about WikiLeaks is that it enables the American people to have information on an equal basis as the secret bureaucrats. That's the basis of democracy. Having a free press, that's the basis of democracy. Characters like Joe Lieberman trying to cut of WikiLeaks at the knees shows just how they despise democracy -- what [Noam] Chomsky said to us when we talked to him last week -- they despise democracy and that's why they despise Julian Assange.
Michael Ratner: And I think we do want to say something about the charges of rape and sexual assault going on in Sweden. Charges like that have to, of course, be taken very seriously and have to be investigated. I would hope that everybody's in agreement about that. But in this case, what you also see is a series of questions that make you wonder why it's being treated in a certain way. And, of course, question number one is that he was in Sweden, right, Michael?
Michael S. Smith: He was there for six weeks trying to give his side of the story and they woulnd't talk to him.
Michael Ratner: So then he leaves Sweden, they know he leaves Sweden, he goes to the United Kingdom. They [Sweden] then begin the issuance of a warrant for him -- a warrant not to pick him up on the actual charge, because he hasn't actually been indicted yet --
Michael S. Smith: That's right.
Michael Ratner: -- but just to answer questions. And he was willing to answer those questions by a video monitor, by going to the Swedish embassy. But, no, they want to bring him back to Sweden. And he's going to be facing extradition now to Sweden.
Michael S. Smith: You know why I think they want to bring him back to Sweden? It's easier to get him out of Sweden than it is to get him out of England. England has much stronger tradition of guaranteeing liberty and extradition than Sweden has. They want to snatch him and bring him back here and put him in handcuffs and parade him in front of a federal judge and in front of all the major networks. That's what they want to do.
As the Michaels demonstrate, you can discuss WikiLeaks -- and even Julian Assange -- without trashing the two women. Some other people need to take note. Last week, we repeatedly touched on this topic. We'll touch on it again because "I know he's ___" whatever really don't know a damn thing. But we know them. We know two things about them, in fact.
1) We know that if they were publishing at the early part of the '00s, they were publishing in Larry Fl**t's trashy Hu**ler magazine. That would be Amy Goodman and a whole host of lefty 'friends.' So are we really surprised that these people who thought it was 'cool' to publish in that smut magazine would be attacking women who may have been raped? No, we're not surprised at all. (FYI, Amy did a little collection plate spiel today which is why we're starting with this. She's smart enough not to go that far on her own show but she went that far and beyond while begging for money live over the airwaves.)
2) We know that this group of people told us Scott Ritter was innocent and just framed by the Bush administration because Ritter was telling the truth about the Iraq War. Pig Ritter, in fact, was brought up by Glenn Greenwald. Now if Pig Ritter were only arrested for being a child predator in April 2001 and June 2001, people could debate the issue and whether or not a man caught explaining (to what he thought was an underage girl) that he wanted to first meet up at McDonalds where she could watch him beat off in the men's room and then they could see where the 'magic' next took them (the dollar menu and men's room at Wendys?) but that's not all, is it?
"Scott Ritter was framed by the Bush administration to hush him up! He's innocent!" That was the cry. But Bush left office in January 2009. And Scott Ritter got busted for being a sexual predate a third time: November 2009. Bush was long gone. And what Iraq War secret was Ritter sitting on at that time that made him a victim of targeting? Let's go to Andrew Scott of Ritter's local paper, Pocono Record:

Officer Ryan Venneman was posing as 15-year-old "Emily" in an online chat room when he was contacted by someone using the name "Delmarm4fun." This person, later identified as Ritter, told "Emily" he was a 44-year-old male from Albany, N.Y.

"Emily" told Ritter she was a 15-year-old girl from the Poconos, at which point Ritter asked for a picture other than the one "Emily" had posted on her account. Ritter then sent her a link to his Web camera and began to masturbate on camera.

"Emily" asked Ritter for his cell phone number, which he provided.

Ritter again asked "Emily" how old she was. Told she was 15, Ritter said he didn't realize she was 15 and turned off his webcam, saying he didn't want to get in trouble.

Ritter told "Emily" he had been fantasizing about having sex with her, to which she replied: "Guess you turned it off ..."

Ritter then said: "You want to see it finish," reactivated his

webcam and continued masturbating and ejaculated on camera.

And to think he was taken off cable TV. Imagine the fun Rachel Maddow could have with footage of that! Glenn-Glenn at Salon December 1st: "I genuinely have no opinion of the validity of those allegations, but what I do know -- as John Cole notes -- is this: as soon as Scott Ritter began telling the truth about Iraqi WMDs, he was publicly smeared with allegations of sexual improprieties. As soon as Eliot Spitzer began posing a real threat to Wall Street criminals, a massive and strange federal investigation was launched over nothing more than routine acts of consensual adult prostitution, ending his career (and the threat he posed to oligarchs)." Here's what we know, Glenn-Glenn, if Scott Ritter were Scott Smith, he'd be looking at a three-strikes-you're-out-policy. Instead, he's traded on his diplomatic work, 'stress,' his wife's 'nerves' (I'm referring to what his attorney pitched in the 2001 arrests) to walk away. Hopefully, he won't this time. As for Eliot, some of us called it out in real time. It was a political hit job. The woman involved accused him of no harm so it was also a private matter in this site's opinion. But we noted it was a hit job and we noted -- loudly -- stop sending us your crap and 'funnies' about the arrest. We didn't link to that garbage.
Eliot was taken out. Now he was stupid enough to have sex outside of marriage while holding a public office and making people uncomfortable. Julian may be Eliot. He may be Scott Ritter. If, like Amy Goodman, you'd defended and defended Scott Ritter, maybe you might want to sit this one out because shame still drapes over you like a tacky, knock-off.
RTT News reports, "An appeal launched by Swedish prosecutors against a lower court decision to grant bail to WikiLeaks found Julian Assange would be heard at Britain's High Court in London on Thursday, according to court officials." Luke Harding (Guardian) believes Julian will be out on bail tomorrow. That's really it in terms of Julian unless you're a sexist at The Nation magazine who now live blogs "WikiLeaks." Well, not really WikiLeaks. Julian Assange -- he live blogs Julian Assange. The Nation ignored the WikiLeaks Iraq War Logs release in October. But toss in sexual assault and the chance to go to town on two women, and suddenly The Nation is interested in the soap opera around Julian. That they can almost handle 'live blogging' for. Stan Goff (Feral Scholar) has made a point to play fair -- as have many of his readers such as askod who makes the following important points:
The wise thing for Wikileaks to do would be to change their spokesperson while the legal process runs its course. The accusations were made in August, if a change of spokesperson had been done in October there would have been nothing to smear it with now. That it appears unable to do so does not speak well for its viability as an organization.
No, it does not. Nor does the tabloid coverage and yellow journalism from some defenders do much to help the organization. Julian Assange is not Daniel Ellsberg. Even if Daniel himself says so, it doesn't make true and we should damn well be smart enough to know better. Daniel Ellsberg did a brave thing. Julian Assange is a publisher similiar to the New York Times and the Washington Post (and others) with the Pentagon Papers. It is not the same role, it is not the same risks. If WikiLeaks is a 'journalist' -- one of the many arguments being made -- then it is actually a journalist in the way a book publisher is. It's not reporting, it's not analyzing. That's why it farms those documents out to news outlets. If it's a journalist (I'm fine for calling it a journalist), it's in the role of publisher. Some of the defenders appear to believe if they hurl enough spitballs, something's going to stick to the wall. All it does is confuse the issue.
Bradley Manning may be the issue. The US militiary seems to think so. For anyone not up to speed, Monday April 5th, WikiLeaks released US military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Monday June 7th, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported in August that Manning had been charged -- "two charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The first encompasses four counts of violating Army regulations by transferring classified information to his personal computer between November and May and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system. The second comprises eight counts of violating federal laws governing the handling of classified information." Manning has been convicted in the public square despite the fact that he's been convicted in no state and has made no public statements -- despite any claims otherwise, he has made no public statements. Manning is now at Quantico in Virginia, under military lock and key and still not allowed to speak to the press. As Daniel Ellsberg reminded from the stage in Oakland last September, "We don't know all the facts." But we know, as Ellsberg pointed out, that the US military is attempting to prosecute Bradley. Glenn Greenwald (Salon) sketches out some new details of Bradley's imprisonment:
Bradley Manning, the 22-year-old U.S. Army Private accused of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks, has never been convicted of that crime, nor of any other crime. Despite that, he has been detained at the U.S. Marine brig in Quantico, Virginia for five months -- and for two months before that in a military jail in Kuwait -- under conditions that constitute cruel and inhumane treatment and, by the standards of many nations, even torture. Interviews with several people directly familiar with the conditions of Manning's detention, ultimately including a Quantico brig official (Lt. Brian Villiard) who confirmed much of what they conveyed, establishes that the accused leaker is subjected to detention conditions likely to create long-term psychological injuries.
[. . .]
The U.S. ought at least to abide by minimal standards of humane treatment in how it detains him. That's true for every prisoner, at all times. But departures from such standards are particularly egregious where, as here, the detainee has merely been accused, but never convicted, of wrongdoing. These inhumane conditions make a mockery of Barack Obama's repeated pledge to end detainee abuse and torture, as prolonged isolation -- exacerbated by these other deprivations -- is at least as damaging, as violative of international legal standards, and almost as reviled around the world, as the waterboard, hypothermia and other Bush-era tactics that caused so much controversy.

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