Saturday, July 02, 2011



TODAY THE ASSOCIATE PRESS REPORTED, "A roadside bomb ripped through a van carrying a family Saturday in southern Afghanistan, killing all on board -- the deadliest incident in a string of attacks that killed 18 civilians, according to officials." THESE REPORTERS WERE CAUGHT SNEAKING AWAY FROM WORK BY HIDING OUT AT CAMP DAVID TODAY BY CELEBRITY IN CHIEF BARRY O WHO WAS . . . ARRIVING AT CAMP DAVID TO SNEAK AWAY FROM WORK AND HIDE OUT.





Starting with Libya. Yesterday on Flashpoints (KPFA, Pacifica), guest host Kevin Pina spoke with Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya who has left Canada to report from Libya on the illegal war. Michael Birnbaum (Washington Post) reported, "French officials announced Wednesday that they had armed rebels in Libya, marking the first time a NATO country has said it was providing direct military aid to opponents of the government in a conflict that has lasted longer than many policymakers expected." Actually, they didn't just 'announce' it was taking place. Philippe Gelie (Le Figaro) reported that France was dropping weapons to the 'rebels.' Only after Gelie's report got traction and the pressure was on the French government to answer the charge did they 'announce' -- which most of us would call "admit" -- that this had happened. Nick Hopkins (Guardian) explained, "The revelation surprised officials in Nato's headquarters in Brussels and raised awkward questions about whether the French had broken international law -- UN resolution 1973 specifically allows Nato nations to protect civilians in Libya, but appears to stop short of permitting the provision weapons." This is the topic Kevin Pina and Madhi Nazemoroaya are discussing at the start of the excerpt.
Kevin Pina: So let's talk about this. Has the word reached there in Libya that France has openly flaunted the UN resolution?
Madhi Nazemroaya: Yes, yes, it has. And it's no surprise in Tripoli that the French have been involved with this breach of the United Nations resolution.
Kevin Pina: And so what has the reaction been? Has there been any official reaction from the Gaddafi government?
Madhi Nazemroaya: I was at the Rixos Hotel which as your listeners might know is the media center where the government spokesman is. There's been no official statements yet but speaking to the people there at the media center, as I said, they're not surprised. But they are outraged. I'm sure that tomorrow the manifestation of this outrage will appear in Triopli because there is a major protest -- a major protest that is going to take place.
Kevin Pina: And you're listening to Flashpoints on Pacifica Radio and that's the voice of Madhi Nazemroaya coming to us direct from Tripoli in Libya. Madhi, have there been any other sorties of NATO bombers within the last 24 hours?
Madhi Nazemroaya: Well in Tripoli there have been no bombings that I know of but I can tell you that NATO jets have been flying robustly over Tripoli and there noises can be heard to the point where at some points I think I've been woken up to this very moment by them. They've been flying a lot during the day. Most likely going south towards Fezzan bombing God knows what because there are no military sites south of here. But there have been robust flights, that's for sure.
Kevin Pina: And what about actual battles between the so-called rebels and the forces of the Libyan Army?
Madhi Nazemroaya: Well I could tell you this in regards to the front between -- between both sides, between the Benghazi based Transitional Council forces and the military of -- the Libyan miltary of Col Gaddafi . In regards to the front, it was announced yesterday that one city fell. Now I know this because I was witness to the official government spokesperson, Dr. Moussa Ibrahim --
Kevin Pina: This is a city that fell back to Gaddafi forces?
Madhi Nazemroaya: No, it was said to have fallen to the rebel forces. Now this is reported by the rebels and by the mainstream media but Dr. Moussa Ibrahim and the Libyan government, the Libyan regime, have contradicted it and denied it. And what they have dones is actually taken international press with them to this city to prove that it did not fall as was reported. Now I bared witness to them leaving on a shuttle towards the city and they returned this morning. I actually talked to some of the reporters before they left. They came from places such as France, Britian and Hong Kong. So we have misinformation being given about the front when one city's been reported to have fallen when, reality, it hasn't. So this I can tell you right now about the front.
Kevin Pina: Now you've also spoken about the psychological warfare that's been used by NATO and its allies against the people of Libya. Give us a sense of where that's at now. You said there were still fly-bys and they were making a lot of noise over the capitol. Obviously, that's got to make the people very nervous.
Madhi Nazemroaya: Yes, these flights -- these flights are a daily event here in Tripoli and in the districts around Tripoli. And it does make them -- it does make the citizens here think of NATO on a constant basis. This has become a part of their lives. Now I said before too that they're trying to live normal lives and I'm actually very impressed with their efforts to live normal lives here in Tripoli and the districts around Tripoli. But the facts are that these flights make one really nervous and especially at night. Even I myself have trouble sometimes sleeping at night because sometimes these noises wake you up and you might have a problem, like a fear and mistake even a car noise for these flights over Tripoli. It's very disturbing and I have to point out that I've come at a time where the bombings in this area have been reduced compared to what they were. The war is nothing like it was -- the bombings are nothing like it was prior to my arrival. Still, it's a very scary thing, Kevin, it's a very scary thing.
Kevin Pina: It seems like the bombings really fell off after it became clear that NATO was responsible for killing civilians -- that they were claiming they were bombing military targets but civilians were being killed at the same time. And there was an incident that happened about a week ago, right, where it was really clear and they could no longer deny it and it seems that they have fallen off since then. Right?
Madhi Nazemroaya: Well in Tripoli, like I've said, the bombings have been reduced, they're far less [unknown word] to the citizens than before but other places are being bombed. Like these planes are flying south of Tripoli. God knows where they are bombing because there's nothing of military value in Fezzan. And south of Tripoli, I can't imagine what they're bombing down there except for small cities and villages and the desert. But they are bombing south of here, they're bombing places. And we have reports of them bombing the areas in [. . .] south of here. These things are of no military value at all which actually is an indicator that this war is wrong and that NATO is involved in War Crimes, bombing civilian structures.
Kevin Pina: Now you had also said in a previous interview that there was evidence of depleted uranium in bombing -- in the bomb casings that were being dropped on the population. Where's that at now? I understand there's some evidence that's going to be released soon.
Madhi Nazemroaya: That evidence will come forward. It's something that's being waited on. The machinery here -- There is machinery here that's been ordered that will detect radioactivity levels. It's only a matter of time before it comes. I don't know exactly when it will come up but the machinery is here and there would have actually been more machinery had it not been for the disaster in east Asia, in Japan specifically, because a lot of this machinery ended up going there. But I spoke to an American gentlemen the other day about it and they will be using this machinery to prove to the world that depleted uranium has been used here. And not only have I mentioned this but so have others and so has the Stop the War coalition in the United Kingdom.
Kevin Pina: Well Madhi, this is the voice of Madhi Nazemroaya our special correspondent on the ground in Tripoli, Libya. This is Flashpoints on Pacifica Radio.
In related news, AFP reported this week that the 'rebels' (National Transitional Council) has received the equivalent of $100 million in "international donations" according to England's Foreign Secretary William Hague who was speaking to the House of Commons.
Former US house Rep Cynthia McKinney is attempting to raise awareness of the illegal war and this is from her "What America Stands For In Libya" (Information Clearing House):
At a time when the American people have been asked to tighten their belts, teachers are receiving pink slips, the vital statistics of the American people reveal a health care crisis in the making, and the U.S. government is in serious threat of default, our President and Congress have decided that a new war, this time against the people of Libya, is appropriate. This comes at a time when the U.S., by one estimate, spends approximately $3 billion per week for war against Iraq and Afghanistan.
Today protests continued in Iraq. This was "Grandchildren of the 1920 Rebels" -- a not to the Iraq Revolution of 1920 in which the Iraqis -- Shia and Sunni -- protested the British occupation and the policies put in place by British Bwana Arnold Wilson. It kicked off in May 1920 and saw 6,000 Iraqis and 500 British and Indian forces killed from May to October. To avoid further risk, the British handed control over to Faisal bin Hussein bin Ali al-Hashemi who ruled as the King of Iraq from August 1921 to September 1933. Revolution of Iraq features videos of the Baghdad protests filmed by Rami Hayali. During the demonstration, they burned to the United States flag to show their rejection of the occupation. A characteristic of the Baghdad protests are the women with photos of their loved ones who are missing -- some lost in the Iraqi 'justice' system and there are least two such women (plus other women as well) in this video. Families have no idea where their loved ones are. They just disappear one day. Maybe they're seen being hauled away by Iraqi forces, maybe that's not seen. But they disappear and the government is of no use to them, provides no assistance to find them. Southern Iraq protests in the last months have also noted the difficulties in visiting imprisoned/detained Iraqis that the system seems to practice intentionally by repeatedly swapping prisons and by keeping them far from their home base where family would be closer. In this video, the protesters wash their hands of Ayad Allawi and Nouri al-Maliki stating that both men are useless and two-of-a-kind, thieves unwilling to help Iraq. Alsumaria TV reports that they called for Nouri's government to be toppled and to end corruption and that they were joined by "employees from the branch centers of the Independent High Electoral Commission rallied for the second time in Tahrir Square calling to be employed as fixed term employees."
Protests have continued every Friday despite the attacks on the peaceful protesters. Dan Murphy (Christian Science Monitor) reports:

Human Rights Watch charges today that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki appears to have ordered the beating, stabbing, and sexual assault of protesters earlier this month.
"It's pretty worrying," says Joe Stork, the head of the Middle East department at Human Rights Watch. "There are a few things that we hadn't seen before, like the sexual molesting, that kind of thing. The pattern of using plain clothes people who to all appearances were working with the connivance of the security people, that's certainly not new … we saw that when the so-called Arab spring protests started in Baghdad in February. This use of 'thugs' who may or may not be security is itself not unique to Iraq; in fact, it seems to be right out of the Egyptian playbook."

In other news out of Iraq, Alaa Fadel (Dar Addustour) reports that Nouri's spokesperson, Ali al-Dabbagh, announced that the increase in oil prices (meaning more income for Iraq) will be used to increase the payment for wheat and barley to Iraqi farmers. The government is planning to spend trillions of dinars on these crops. While that takes place, Al Mada reports UNICEF is calling on Iraq's government to invest some of the money into a one billion a year fund to assist Iraq's disadvantaged children. There are an estimated 4 million severely disadvantaged children thought the number could be much higher and Iraq's estimated to have 15 million children. 15 million children is a large number by itself but especially when you consider that population estimates for Iraq are generally somewhere between 25 million and 30 million. Iraq is a young country, a country of widows and orphans thanks to the illegal war.

And the protests that take place in Iraq are about these issues, the war, the effects of the war, the occupied government's refusal to provide basic services such as potable water, the lack of jobs and much more. Iaq needs housing and every six months or so Nouri shows up at a newly built housing project for a photo-op. Iraq needs many things. So there should be more than enough jobs to go around. Somehow that's not the case. (Also true, a lot of the government funded projects never see the funds because someone uses the money to line their own pockets.)

Al Mada reports on the Iraqi government's reaction to the US State Dept's annual human rights report on human trafficking which finds being put on the "watchlist" good news. Hassan Rashed explains it's so much better to be on the watchlist than on the blacklist. They have no reason to be proud, the report notes:
The Iraqi government demonstrated minimal efforts to protect victims of trafficking during the reporting period. Government authorities continued to lack a formal procedure to identify victims of trafficking among vulnerable groups, such as women arrested for prostitution or foreign workers, and did not recognize that women in prostitution may be coerced. As a result, some victims of trafficking were incarcerated, fined, or otherwise penalized for acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked, such as prostitution. Some victims of forced labor, however, were reportedly not detained, fined, or jailed for immigration violations, but they were generally not provided protection services by the government. Some Iraqi police centers have specialists to assist women and children who are victims of trafficking and abuse; the number of victims assisted and the type of assistance provided is unclear. The government neither provided protection services to victims of trafficking nor funded or provided in-kind assistance to NGOs providing victim protection services. All available care was administered by NGOs, which ran victim-care facilities and shelters accessible to victims of trafficking. However, there were no signs that the government developed or implemented procedures by which government officials systematically referred victims to organizations providing legal, medical, or psychological services. Upon release from prison, female victims of forced prostitution had difficulty finding assistance, especially in cases where the victim's family had sold her into prostitution, thereby increasing their chances of being re-trafficked. Some child trafficking victims were placed in protective facilities, orphanages, and foster care, while others were placed in juvenile detention centers. Since trafficking is not established as a crime in Iraq, the government did not encourage victims to assist in investigations or prosecutions or provide legal assistance or legal alternatives to removal to countries in which they may face hardship or retribution for foreign victims of trafficking into Iraq.
The Government of Iraq did not report efforts to prevent trafficking in persons. The government has not conducted any public awareness or education campaigns to educate migrant workers, labor brokers, and employers of workers' rights against forced labor. There were also no reported efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts beyond enforcing anti-prostitution laws. The Iraqi government does not consistently monitor immigration and emigration patterns for evidence of trafficking, but there are reports of isolated instances in which Iraqi border security forces prevented older men and young girls traveling together from leaving Iraq using fake documents.

Their fallback position was to do nothing. When pressed, they did the "minimal." The report also notes:
Iraq is a source and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. Iraqi women and girls are subjected to conditions of trafficking within the country and in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Iran, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia for forced prostitution and sexual exploitation within households. Women are lured into forced prostitution through false promises of work. Women are also subjected to involuntary servitude through forced marriages, often as payment of a debt, and women who flee such marriages are often more vulnerable to being subjected to further forced labor or sexual servitude. One NGO reports that recruiters rape women and girls on film and blackmail them into prostitution or recruit them in prisons by posting bail and then holding them in situations of debt bondage in prostitution. Some women and children are forced by family members into prostitution to escape desperate economic circumstances, to pay debts, or to resolve disputes between families. NGOs report that these women are often prostituted in private residences, brothels, restaurants, and places of entertainment. Some women and girls are trafficked within Iraq for the purpose of sexual exploitation through the use of temporary marriages (muta'a), by which the family of the girl receives money in the form of a dowry in exchange for permission to marry the girl for a limited period of time. Some Iraqi parents have reportedly collaborated with traffickers to leave children at the Iraqi side of the border with Syria with the expectation that traffickers will arrange for them forged documents to enter Syria and employment in a nightclub. The large population of internally displaced persons and refugees moving within Iraq and across its borders are particularly at risk of being trafficked. Women from Iran, China, and the Philippines reportedly may be trafficked to or through Iraq for commercial sexual exploitation.
Iraq is also a destination country for men and women who migrate from Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nepal, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Pakistan, Georgia, Jordan, and Uganda and are subsequently subjected to involuntary servitude as construction workers, security guards, cleaners, handymen, and domestic workers. Such men and women face practices such as confiscation of passports and official documents, nonpayment of wages, long working hours, threats of deportation, and physical and sexual abuse as a means to keep them in a situation of forced labor. Some of these foreign migrants were recruited for work in other countries such as Jordan or the Gulf States, but were forced, coerced, or deceived into traveling to Iraq, where their passports were confiscated and their wages withheld, ostensibly to repay labor brokers for the costs of recruitment, transport, and food and lodging. Other foreign migrants were aware they were destined for Iraq, but once in-country, found the terms of employment were not what they expected or the jobs they were promised did not exist, and they faced coercion and serious harm, financial or otherwise, if they attempted to leave. In addition, some Iraqi boys from poor families are reportedly subjected to forced street begging and other nonconsensual labor exploitation and commercial sexual exploitation. Some women from Ethiopia, Indonesia, Nepal, and the Philippines who migrated to the area under the jurisdiction of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) experienced conditions of domestic servitude after being recruited with offers of different jobs. An Iraqi official revealed networks of women have been involved in the trafficking and sale of male and female children for the purposes of sex trafficking.
The Government of Iraq does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, but is making significant efforts to do so. The government did not demonstrate evidence of significant efforts to punish traffickers or proactively identify victims; therefore, Iraq is placed on Tier 2 Watch List for a third consecutive year. Iraq was not placed on Tier 3 per Section 107 of the 2008 Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, however, as the government has a written plan that, if implemented, would constitute making significant efforts to bring itself into compliance with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is devoting sufficient resources to implement that plan. Nonetheless, the government did not enact its draft anti-trafficking legislation and has reported no other efforts to prosecute or punish traffickers. The Government of Iraq continues to lack proactive victim identification procedures, persists in punishing victims of forced prostitution, and provides no systematic protection services to victims of trafficking.
Violence has increased in the last months in Iraq. Aswat al-Iraq reports that MP Hakim al-Zamili has declared, "The premier [Nouri al-Maliki] is the first responsible for the deterioration in the security situation. He has to solve this question by appointing the security miniters who should be specialized and knowledgeable."

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Friday, July 01, 2011








Yesterday US President Barack Obama held a press conference. It was rather creative. Calvin Woodward, Nancy Benac, Erica Werner and Matthew Lee (AP) noted many 'errors' in Barack's remarks such as:
OBAMA: "Moammar Gadhafi, who prior to Osama bin Laden was responsible for more American deaths than just about anybody on the planet, was threatening to massacre his people."
THE FACTS: Gadhafi's history of supporting terrorist acts lethal to Americans did not stop the Obama administration, like the Bush administration before it, from cultivating a relationship with him after he renounced terrorism. Gadhafi's government shared information on its nuclear program, tipped Washington about Islamic militants after the 2001 terrorist attacks and persuaded Western nations to lift sanctions.
Elaine took on the lies of the administration noting, "They know what they're doing is wrong. But they have contempt for the law, contempt for democracy and contempt for citizens. [. . .] As awful as that is, has anyone explained to you why the US went to war with Libya. Excuse me, Barack doesn't call it war. Has anyone explained to you why the US is heavy petting with Libya? No, because there's no reason for the war. Did Libya attack the US? No. There's no reason for the war." Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) calls out the nonsense Barack was spewing yesterday:
Calling it a "limited operation" doesn't render the War Powers Act null and void.
Nor does saying the action is against one of the "worst tyrants in the world."
And Obama's insistence that we send "a unified message" is the same undemocratic claptrap that we hear from every war President who wants the Congress and the citizenry to shut up and keep silent and not dare question his royal judgment.
Madhi Nazemroaya: This war has not only hurt Libya, it's hurt the rest of Africa because Libya is a major investor in the rest of African and a pan-African leader. So many agricultural and development projects have been abandoned or frozen in the rest of Africa. And there's going to be famine underway in other parts of Africa because agricultural programs have just been frozen and stopped. And tens of thousands of people, tens of thousands of people in different countries have become unemployed. Like in Mali a huge agricultural project has ended because of this war and this was directly has to do with British, French and American -- specifically American interests in the rest of Africa. What they've done by attacking Libya and putting sanctions on it and stopping all of these development projects is they've blocked -- they've blocked Libya from developing these countries and have kept them in a position of dependence on the European Union and the United States. I was clearly told by their Minister of International Cooperation whose specific area is Africa because Libya is in Africa and most of their projects are in Africa, I was specifically told by him that the United States, France and the countries were not happy about what Libya was doing in Africa.
Kevin Pina: That's the voice of our special correspondent Madhi Nazemroaya who's speaking to us directly from Tripoli, Libya. He's also a research associate with the Center for Research and Globalization, I should say. Madhi, what you're describing isn't just effecting Libya although it's having a devestating effect on the Libyan people, this bombing campaign that continues by NATO but also it's having a regional effect in Africa because of the role Libya has played in funding other projects throughout the region.
Madhi Nazemroaya: Exactly, Kevin, exactly. You hit it right on the bull's eye. That's exactly what it's doing here. And there's a lot of Africans from other places who've come here to show their support by working in NGOs and by trying to help the world see that Africa, the African people, stand behind Libya. Libya is an African country as well as an Arab country and a country of the Mediterranen. And I've even talked to them about the devestating effects it's having on the rest of Africa. Another thing the war has done, it's stopped a pan-African railroad that was going to go north across North Africa and through Libya to the south. They stopped this and it's going to have a longterm devestating effect on Libya if the war does not stop. And everybody in Libya has just heard that in the United States, Senator [John] Kerry and a group of senators are talking about providing funding or support for the war to go on another year. So that is very dire news
Kevin Pina: Well Madhi let's talk about on the ground, the face of the so-called resistance or opposition to Libya. Is there a clear indication that they're being funded, that they've been built by the international community, specifically the US and Britain and Canada? That they built this opposition this resistance against Muammar Gaddafi's regime?
Madhi Nazemroaya: First of all, the rebels here, the resistance, the revolutionaries, the transitional council, whatever you want to call them, terrorists, whatever you want to call them, they have a lot of different names to a lot of different types of people. They're not a monolistic body. They are ecletic. They're a group of different people together. And fighting each other. We know that they're fighting each other. They've been fighting each other. Just like how, during the Chinese civil war, The Nationalist and the Marchists fought each other but they were also fighting the Japanese. These guys, they're also fighting their Libyan government in Tripoli, Col Gaddafi's government and they're fighting each other at the same time. In fact, they're -- they found out that they're giving each other's coordinates to NATO saying that these are enemy forces to have each other bombed. Now --
Kevin Pina: Wait, wait. Madhi, Madhi, you mean there's indications that the resistance or whatever you want to call them that they're actually targeting each other to get NATO to wipe out the other so that they can be the lead force?
Madhi Nazemroaya: Yes. I've been told that by numerous people, that they're fighting, yes, there's inter-competition. If these people take over Libya don't think -- Let's say, hypothetically for argument sake, that the transitional council in Benghazi takes over Libya which I doubt will happen. There will be another blood bath and another civil war. They're already fighting with each other in Benghazi, they're separate militais. This is not a monolithic body. They're fighting each other. They're kiling each other. There's actually more than one government. In Darnah they've declared an Islamic emierate, okay ? In Misrata there's another group which has tense ties to the groups in the east. They're all fighting each other. There's also even Communists involved in this. There's Islamists, Communists and former regime members as well and the -- specifically speaking about the Islamists, there's the Libyan Fighting Group which is a well established and old group and most people refer to it as al Qaeda because it is al Qaeda-like and has ties to al Qaeda as well as the CIA, it has ties to the CIA. Now a lot of these people have been caught and they've been giving explanations of foreign support and foreign funding. Yes, there's foreign funding because they're talking about how they've been helped from abroad. And these indigenous forces? There's a lot of foreigners fighting. I'm not talking about security forces or NATO forces, I'm talking about the jihadists coming in from other parts of the world. We have people coming in from Egypt and Saudi Arabia, people who used to be in Afghanistan. And they're part of these forces that are fighting the Libyan military right now.
Kevin Pina: Well Madhi, let me remind our listeners that you're listening to Flashpoints on Pacifica Radio and that's the voice of Madhi Nazemroaya who is speaking to us directly from Tripoli, Libya. Mahdi, I guess what I'm getting at is that there was a point where these forces were called "rag tag forces" and then suddenly we heard that there were advisors going in by Britain. We heard that there were advisors coming in from the United States that were assisting them to get their act together. And then there was talk that there was a lot of funding and assistance that were going to these groups. And I'm wondering, can we say that they're really indigenous or is most of this happening because of foreign funding and assistance?
Madhi Nazemroya: Okay, most of this is happening -- This wouldn't have happened without foreign funding and assistance. That's -that's very clear on the ground here and by talking to people who've come from Benghazi and by talking to Libyans in Tripoli, okay? This could -- This would have never been possible. They without even NATO air support without the political support without the financial support without any of that without the media support, this would have never happened. Col Gadhafi's support's gone up in this country. Call him a dictator or not, his support's gone up in this country. And it's very evident when you walk the streets of Tripoli and the district around it that his support has grown. And that's the bulk of the country's population, just to inform your listeners. My sense of the situation, and I also spoke to the pope's envoy in Tripoli days ago, the Bishop of Tripoli. His sense is the same as mine that this country's probably going to be Balkanized and divided in two cause NATO has no way of winning the war and neither do the transitional council forces based in Benghazi. They have no way of winning this conflict. The only thing they can do is make a settlement where the country is divided. Right now, they're pushing to get as much territory as possible and as much oil fields as possible. They're not going to come to Tripoli, I highly doubt it. Unless you see a NATO invasion. And if there's a NATO invasion, there will be a worse blood bath here than there was in Afghanistan or Iraq, that's very sure. The people's spirits are up, they're getting ready, they're training and they have contingeny plans for a ground invasion.
That's an excerpt. Those who don't benefit from streaming options (due to computer operating systems or hearing issues) can find more from Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya in this article, published yesterday, that he wrote about Libya for Global Research.
Out of Iraq this morning comes the news of more US soldiers killed. Ed O'Keefe and Tim Craig (Washington Post) report that 3 US soldiers were killed yesterday making 15 for the month. The reporters tell you 39 US troops have died in Iraq this year. We'll do hard numbers but first, George Prentice (Boise Weekly) notes, " Fifteen American soldiers were killed in June, the highest number of combat fatalities since June 2008, when 23 soldiers and Marines were killed."

4469 is the number of US military deaths in the Iraq War as yesterday at ten a.m. So add three and you have 4472. (The DoD number does not increase until after DoD announces names of the fallen, FYI.) But the number is "48" (and, again, add 3 to get the current number of 51).

What is that number? What is 51? Well it's not a prime number. But it is the number of US service members killed in Iraq during "Operation New Dawn" you're soaking in it, as Isaiah's September 6th comic noted.
Operation New Dawn began September 1st. Remember why? Barack declared combat over on August 31st. His own little "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED." Barack show boated and, yes, LIED. Since his little photo op, 51 US troops have died in the Iraq War. That would be the war he falsely and wrongly has received credit for ending.

Tim Arrango (New York Times) notes that 15 is the sort of "monthly toll not seen since 2008." Arango notes 14 of the fallen were killed "in hostile incidents." That may be 15. One of the three killed on Sunday was killed, according to what the military told his family, while he was doing a house sweep. That's Sgt Matthew Gallagher and his death is under investigation, according to the military. The Boston Channel (link has text and video) reports Cheryl Ruggiero, his mother, is asking that US Senator John Kerry help the family find out what happened because the military's changed their story, "We're getting bits and pieces from different people and I don't know what to believe. And when it's your child, you want to know." John Basile (Fall River Herald News) cites Capt Matthew Merrill stating that the statements about Matthew Gallagher doing a home sweep were mistaken and that he died "inside the wire".

Again, the Iraq War is not over. Many people wrongly believe it is and not just due to the pretty words of Barack but due to a media that's refused to cover Iraq. We'll come back to that but let's yet again note the memo AP Deputy Managing Editor for Standards and Production Tom Kent sent out at the start of September 2010 (following Barack's 'combat's over, boys and girls!' speech):

Whatever the subject, we should be correct and consistent in our description of what the situation in Iraq is. This guidance summarizes the situation and suggests wording to use and avoid.
To begin with, combat in Iraq is not over, and we should not uncritically repeat suggestions that it is, even if they come from senior officials. The situation on the ground in Iraq is no different today than it has been for some months. Iraqi security forces are still fighting Sunni and al-Qaida insurgents. Many Iraqis remain very concerned for their country's future despite a dramatic improvement in security, the economy and living conditions in many areas.

As for U.S. involvement, it also goes too far to say that the U.S. part in the conflict in Iraq is over. President Obama said Monday night that "the American combat mission in Iraq has ended. Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country."

However, 50,000 American troops remain in country. Our own reporting on the ground confirms that some of these troops, especially some 4,500 special operations forces, continue to be directly engaged in military operations. These troops are accompanying Iraqi soldiers into battle with militant groups and may well fire and be fired on.
In addition, although administration spokesmen say we are now at the tail end of American involvement and all troops will be gone by the end of 2011, there is no guarantee that this will be the case.
Our stories about Iraq should make clear that U.S. troops remain involved in combat operations alongside Iraqi forces, although U.S. officials say the American combat mission has formally ended. We can also say the United States has ended its major combat role in Iraq, or that it has transferred military authority to Iraqi forces. We can add that beyond U.S. boots on the ground, Iraq is expected to need U.S. air power and other military support for years to control its own air space and to deter possible attack from abroad.
Unless there is balancing language, our content should not refer to the end of combat in Iraq, or the end of U.S. military involvement. Nor should it say flat-out (since we can't predict the future) that the United States is at the end of its military role.

It's a shame more outlets couldn't follow the AP's lead.

Thursday, June 30, 2011







Eight years after the start of the illegal war and the installation of exiles into a puppet government in occupied Iraq, there's little that can pass for 'progress' and "political stagnation" has become the watchword. Will US troops remain in Iraq? The issue, Al Mada reports, is little more than a "political pressure card" within Iraq used by various blocs in various ways. A political scientist at Baghdad University tells Al Mada that he fears that politicians are not factoring in what's best for Iraq but how to posture on the issue. Aswat al-Iraq adds that US Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani met and Talabani's office issued a statement which includes: "The bilateral relations between the Republic of Iraq and the United States were discussed in the meeting, and necessity for their expansion and development, especially the bilateral future cooperation, within the Strategic Agreement, concluded between the two friendly countries."
What the White House wants is an extension of the SOFA or a new agreement which would allow US troops to stay on the ground in Iraq beyond 2011 and under the US Defense Dept. If that is not possible, the plan is to take the troops remaining in Iraq and slide them under the umbrella of the US State Dept in which case their presence is covered under the Strategic Framework Agreement of 2008. Ed O'Keefe does the "Federal Eye" beat for the Washington Post. For the next several weeks, he is in Iraq. This morning, he Tweeted:
edatpost edatpost
In his article on this issue he explained that the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, in a GAO Office report, "acknowledged it is not designed to assume the military's mission in Iraq and will have to rely on its own resources and the assistance of the host country to protect the U.S. mission in the absence of the funding, personnel, equipment, and protection formerly provided by the U.S. military." He was referring to the report entitled [PDF format warning] "Expanded Missions and Inadequate Facilities Pose Critical Challenges to Training Efforts." The report stood as prepared remarks by GAO's Jess Ford as he appeared this afternoon before the Senate's Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, Federal Workforce and DC. Senator Daniel Akaka is the Subcomittee Chair. He noted, "This Subcommittee held a hearing in 2009 to examine staffing and management challenges at the State Dept's Diplomatic Security Bureau which protects State Dept employees and property worldwide. Today's hearing will build on the previous hearing, as well as examine the results of a Government Accountability Office (GAO) review of Diplomatic Security training challenges."
There were two panels. Ford was on the first panel with the State Dept's Eric J. Boswell. The second panel was Susan R. Johnson of the American Foreign Service Association. We'll excerpt this from the first panel.
Subcommittee Chair Daniel Akaka: My question to you, what planning is underway to make sure DS [State Dept's Diplomatic Security] will be able to be prepared to protect diplomats and US civilian personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan as the military withdraws?
Ambassador Eric Boswell: Mr. Chairman, thank you for that question. We are engaged -- we the Dept of State and DS -- are engaged in a marathon of planning. I think that's the right way to describe it. It's probably -- The planning for the transition in Iraq is probably the most complex planning effort ever undertaken by the State Dept and perhaps one of the most complicated civilian planning efforts ever undertaken by the US government. We've been working on it for years. We think we have a very good planning strategy and we think we have a good plan and the short answer to your question, sir, is that I think that we will be able to be in a position to provide the security for our people in Iraq after December 31st of this year when all US troops will be gone from the country. Having said that, as I said, it's a very, very complex and difficult task. We are going to be dramatically increasing the number of security personnel at post in Iraq. And we will be increasing also the use of contractors in part for some of the things you mentioned and Mr. Ford mentioned, certain functions and activities that are not mainstream State Dept functions and were we are taking over functions now provided by the US military. We think we've got the structure in place to do it. I'l -- I-I-I should make the point that combat operations in Iraq ceased over a year ago, US military combat operations in Iraq ceased over a year ago. We have been providing security to our very large US embassy in Baghdad for over a year without any assistance from the military beyond certain very specialized funtions and we expect to be able to continue to do so. You asked about Afghanistan also, sir. Obviously, we are not there yet, there is not a transition yet. The president has just announced the beginning of a drawdown in Afghanistan but I can assure you that we have learned a lot in the planning process for Iraq and we will apply those lessons in Afghanistan.
Subcommittee Chair Daniel Akaka: Thank you. Ambassador, as the military withdraws from Iraq and Afghanistan -- later Afghanistan -- DS will provide certain security and protective services that the military is performing now such as downed aircraft recovery and explosive ordinance disposal; however, the military provides many services such as intelligence collection and providing a visible deterrence in ways that DS cannot. How will the loss of these important capabilities effect the way DS provides security in Iraq and Afghanistan? And is DS equipped to handle all of the functions it will be asked to assume?
Ambassador Eric Boswell: Uhm, senator, Mr. Chairman, I was in Iraq several years ago and the security situation in Iraq now, I think it's fair to say, is infinitely better then it was at the worst of times: 2005 to 2007. You are right, sir, in saying that certain key functions of the US military will be absent. They can't be replaced by DS -- notably, uh -uh, counter-rocket fire. We are not an offensive unit in DS. Some intelligence functions as well. We are going -- As Iraq normalizes as a nation, we are going to rely as we do in most countries on the Iraqi forces and the Iraqi police for these functions to the maximum extent that we can.
Subcommittee Chair Daniel Akaka: Well, Mr. Ford, in 2009, GAO recommended that State conduct a security review of diplomatic security's mission, budget and personnel as part of State's Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review. While State agreed with the recommendation, the QDDR did not include this strategic review. Will you please discuss how inadequate the stategic planning may effect DS operations?
Jess Ford: Uh, yeah, Mr. Chairman, let me respond to that. First of all, I can say that we were disappointed that the QDDR did not take a more strategic look at DS operations. Our 2009 report suggested that DS has been required to expand a number of missions that it's asked to support by the Dept overall and that they're often put into what I would characterize as a reactionary posture which we don't think is good from a planning point of view and our goal of that 2009 was that the Dept would take a longer look at DS and come up with a more strategic way of asessing needs, resources and requirements. I think I can say that our current report which is focused on the training parts of DS suggests that there still seems in my mind to be a gap here.
Asked about the use of security contractors, Boswell insisted this was a must, that multiple studies demonstrated this and he cited his 2007 visit as somehow proof. He then suggested that at some point, as Iraq becomes more 'stable,' they might be able to replace the foreign security contractors with "nationals" (Iraqis) and stated that they currently use "nationals" in Erbil. He also claimed "about eighty" DS employees would be providing contract oversight to ensure that contractors were behaving properly (in his opening remarks, Subcommittee Chair Daniel Akaka noted the Nassar Square slaughter in September 2007 by Blackwater mercenaries guarding the State Dept). He noted there were two kinds of security contractors: contract guards and the bodyguards -- contract guards = static guards; bodyguards = protective security details, "the movement people who travel in the motorcades and who run the motorcades."

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011






Three US soldiers died in Iraq Sunday. L. Finch (Boston Globe) reports that one of the three is 22-year-old Sgt Matthew Gallagher who was on his deployment to Iraq and who was supposed to have a brief leave to return home next week for his 23rd birthday. James Ruggiero, Matthew Gallagher's step-father, states, "He loved the Army so much he was talking about reenlisting when the time was up." Sean Teehan (Cape Cod Times) adds a quote from Katie Gallagher, Matthew Gallagher's spouse, "He died a hero." In addition to his wife and his step-father, his survivors include his mother Cheryl Ruggiero and his biological father Peter Gallagher. His mother explains the military told her that he was doing "a house sweep" when he had been shot and she states, "I'm a gold star mother. But I'd give that gold star back if it could bring my baby back." WCVB offers a video report which includes Katie Gallger speaking of her late husband, "He's the most generous nice person that I've ever met in my life. He was everything to me. He was my best friend."

Manny Gamallo (Tulsa World) reports
20-year-old Pfc Dylan Jeffrey Johnson was killed by "a grenade attack in Iraq on Sunday, his father said" in Jalula and that another soldier (a sergeant) was killed as well. Jeff Johnson says of his son, "He knew they were going to Iraq, but he didn't know when. He was really excited about going over there."

The three deaths Sunday brought the number of US soldiers killed in Iraq this month to 12, with 11 of them dubbed combat deaths and 1 under investigation. Please note, if parents above are accurately remembering what they were told (and I'm sure they are), there are 12 combat deaths. The 1 under investigation is from Sunday and was a single soldier. Now we learn that soldier was shot dead while doing a house sweep? Unless it was by a fellow US soldier, that was combat or else there's another death that hasn't been acknowledged. This needs to be cleared up by the Pentagon and it needs to be cleared up very quickly.

June 6th there was an attack that resulted in the deaths of 6 soldiers (5 died that day, one of the wounded died after he had a medical transport back to the US). One of the six who died June 6th was buried yesterday, 27-year-old Spc Micahel Cook Jr. CBS3 Sprinfield provides a video report which includes, "While family members of Cook declined to go on camera, they tell us Cook leaves behind his wife Samantha and two young children. Even though Cook is not from Pioneer Valley, family and friends say it's special for him to be buried with full military honors at the Massachusetts Veterans Cemetery in Agawam because his uncle, who also served in the military, is buried there as well." I'm going to go ahead and be rude here and not give a damn about it. It's your job to know what you're saying. If you're on camera or you're in print, it's your damn job. You need to learn to do it. CBS 3 wrongly states June 5th was the worst attack (based on US deaths) in Iraq in 2 years. No. That was the week of June 6th. Go back to June 12th here and you will find "Another US soldier dead from the Iraq War" and the Defense Dept annoucement:

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation New Dawn.
Spc. Marcos A. Cintron, 32, of Orlando, Fla., died June 16 at a medical facility in Boston, Mass., of wounds suffered June 6 at Baghdad, Iraq, when insurgents attacked his unit with indirect fire. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan.
For more information, the media may contact 1st Infantry Division public affairs office at 785-240-6359 or 785-307-0641.

That took the number to six dead from that attack. June 12th. It's now June 28th. There's no excuse for not knowing about Marcos A. Cintron's death now. It's disrespectful to him and makes you look like a lazy ass when you can't get your facts straight. 6 US soldiers were killed in that attack, not 5. That is so disrespectful. It's not like DoD just announced the death yesterday. Nor is it like you're doing a podcast. You've got a whole newsroom behind you and you can't get your facts right.

Here's DoD's June 9th release on the 5 who died on June 6th:

DOD Identifies Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the deaths of five soldiers who were supporting Operation New Dawn.
They died June 6 in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their unit with indirect fire. They were assigned to the1st Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan.
Killed were:
Spc. Emilio J. Campo Jr., 20, of Madelia, Minn.;
Spc. Michael B. Cook Jr., 27, of Middletown, Ohio;
Spc. Christopher B. Fishbeck, 24, of Victorville, Calif.;
Spc. Robert P. Hartwick, 20, of Rockbridge, Ohio; and
Pfc. Michael C. Olivieri, 26, Chicago, Ill.
For more information, the media may contact the 1st Infantry Division public affairs office at 785-240-6359 or 785-307-0641.
Here's George Graham (The Republican) writing about Cook in a story published yesterday at 5:00 pm, "U.S. Army Spc. Michael Benjamin Cook Jr., one of five soldiers killed in action in Iraq earlier this month, was laid to rest here Monday at the Massachusetts Veterans Memorial Cemetery." But, as we've established, he wasn't "one of five," he was one of six. Again, there's no excuse for this. I am appalled.

Jake O'Donnell (Patch) notes, "During the funeral ceremony Cook was honored with several posthumous awards and medals, including the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart and the Good Conduct Medal. Cook has also been honored with the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Overseas Service Ribbon, the Iraqi Campaign Medal, the Combat Action Badge and the Army Service Ribbon." O'Donnell provides a photo essay of the service here. David Roback (The Republican) offers a photo essay here.

There are two who were seriously wounded this month. There are probably more than that but they aren't getting noted by the Pentagon. One lost both his legs, a 28-year-old soldier. June 11th, Ryan E. Little (The Ledger) reported that Spc Charles Lemon has arrived back in the US early after surviving a bombing ("improvised explosive device in An Najaf") June 8th. Lemon has "lost both legs and suffered other injuries including burns to his body" according to his sister Kimberly Lemon. June 18th, Matthew Pleasant (The Ledger) reported on the event (Clicks For Charles) Brianna Towns was doing to raise funds for her cousing Charles' immediate family who were at Walter Reed with Charles Lemon and Pleasant noted, "On Tuesday, he was strong enough for doctors to remove him from life support, but he is still undergoing surgeries." Updates can be found at Charlie's Change for Change where secure donations can also be made. Judy Zavalla (Alvin Sun) reports Joseph L. Finney was injured in the June 6th attack. Zawalla notes of the father of three and husband of Heather Kinsey Finney, "He is doing better at this time. His brain has experienced trauma and he still has serious injuries to his right shoulder. The last report said the doctors were keeping him sedated to let the brain swelling subside. When he is awake, he will not rest because he is constantly texting his family to assure them he is alright."
Yesterday on the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley, Pelley (link has text and video) introduced Bill Whitaker's latest investigative report, "On any given day in this country, more than 75,000 military veterans are homeless. So we were shocked to discover what's become of land in southern California that's meant to house homeless veterans and once did." Whitaker's report reveals how the city of Los Angeles is misusing land that was given to the city for veterans housing and how the city can't explain why they've misused the land for over a century or where the money has gone that they've charged various companies they've rented it out to in that time. Today CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley (link has text and video) reported on military families whose loved ones take their own lives receive no letter of condolence from the president of the United States. Elaine Quijano reports on Gregg and Jannett Keesling whose 25-year-old son, Spc Chance Keesling, took his own life while serving his second deployment in Iraq. In addition, the president sends no condolence letters to those like Jessica Conckling's family whose loved one dies "in stateside training accidents." Sara Conkling tells Elaine Quijano, "She was willing to put her life on the line and she did lose her life doing it. But it doesn't count as much to them."
Senator Patty Murray is Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. For some time she has been raising the issue of veterans employment -- young veterans of today's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from a very high unemployment rate -- as she's pointed out in hearings and in news conferences, many are worrying that listing their service is harming their employment chances. Tomorrow her Committee will address proposed legislation and her office notes:
(Washington, D.C.) -- Tomorrow, Wednesday, June 29th, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, will hold a hearing on pending legislation. During the hearing, the committee will vote on pending legislation. Included among the bills to be considered is Senator Murray's Hiring Heroes Act, a major veterans employment bill that make jobs skill training necessary for the separation of service members from the military and provides new pathways to federal and private sector employment. A full list of the bills the committee will vote on is available HERE.
WHO: U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee
WHAT: Markup on Pending Legislation

WHEN: TOMORROW - Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

3:00 PM ET

WHERE: Russell Senate Office Building
Room 418

Washington, D.C.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2011







Sunday, Tim Craig (Washington Post) reported, "Two U.S. service members were killed Sunday in northern Iraq, making June the deadliest month for American combat fatalities in more than two years, officials said." 11 combat fatalities in June 2011 . . . when Barack declared an end to combat on August 31, 2010. "So tonight," Barack cooed, "I am announcing that the American combat mission in Iraq has ended."
You like roses and kisses and pretty men to tell you
All those pretty lies pretty lies
When you gonna realize they're only pretty lies
Only pretty lies just pretty lies
-- "The Last Time I Saw Richard," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on her album Blue
Ben Armbruster (Think Progress) observes, "But depite the fact that Americans are still dying combat related deaths in Iraq, President Obama announced last year that the U.S. ended hostilities in Iraq and said as recently as last week in his speech that America's combt mission there was already over: 'Yet tonight, we take comfort in knowing that the tide of war is receding. Fewer of our sons and daughters are serving in harm's way. We have ended our combat mission in Iraq with 100,000 American troops already out of that country'." Today comes news of another death. Press TV quotes the US military statement: "A US service member died Sunday in a non-hostile incident in sourthern Iraq." USF (formerly MNF) has recieved much criticism from me for being unable to do the job they're paid for (announce deaths) so if you click here you will see that they did issue announcements on the Sunday deaths -- too bad that they can't get their website to actually function (clicking on the June 26th or June 27th announcments currently take you to April announcements). 12 deaths in the month of June -- so far. 11 are combat deaths, 1 is a death that's under investigation. Al Jazeera's Rawya Rageh Tweets:
Rawya Rageh
That would be Moqtada al-Sadr's militia. Alsumaria TV adds that the Promised Day Brigade is asseting they are behing "ten mortar and Katyusha attacks that targeted US bases in certain Iraqi povinces. While it asserted that a number of Iraqi soldiers were killed and wounded in these operations, it vowed to launch further attacks."
"Dear Moqtada" became an online feature over the weekend, advice from a tubby tyrant.
Chelsea J. Carter (CNN) reports on Moqtada al-Sadr's online "exchange between a follower and al-Sadr on his website" in which Moqtada cooed at his 'followers' (it was one person as I read the article) promising that, if called on by Moqtada, they will launch suicide missions against US military targets in Iraq. Carter quotes the misguided (misguided? we'll get to it) typing, "We intended to be martyred, if you intend to lift the freeze of Imam al-Mehdi Army to defend Islam, doctrine and Iraq. Our martyrdom will be restricted only on activities against the infidel occupier without harming the civilians or any public proprieties." And First Lady of Iraq Moqtada al-Sadr coos, "Thank you dears. . . May God preserve you and watch over you." Let's hope it was an exchange between Moqtada and Moqtada.

If not, it's past time for the press to start doing their job and noting that suicides aren't part of Muslim tradition or teaching. It's not. And maybe it's past time that the press stopped slobbering over Moqtada and started pointing out that a 'religious authority' preaching suicide in a faith that opposes suicide, is a 'religious figure' who has lost his way. Moqtada's insane ramblings do more to distort Islam than anything else. Islamic teachings forbid suicide. The belief is that you committ suicide and you're sentenced to jahannam (an equivalent of hell, not purgatory). Less 'orthodox' and more 'reform' (I'm using those phrases, they're not the accurate phrases) Islamic teachings and faith tend to take a view of suicide that is more forgiving and registers the various things weighing on a person but those things do not include 'suicide bombing.' There is no promised heaven to suicide bombers in Islamic teaching (and in the 'orthodox' view, a suicide bomber would be damned to jahannam for all eternity). Moqtada's desire to bastardize the teachings of the faith may go a long way towards explaining why he is estranged from so many other religious authorities in Iraq.
And it probably should be pointed out that he's more than willing to send his followers in on suicide missions but he won't send his own fat ass on one. In fact, most of his time these days is spent in Iran in order to ensure his safety. If a suicide bombing is so wonderful and promises a rewarding afterlife, why isn't Moqtada heeding the call?

As Dar Addustour reports the story, the online chat wasn't real. A letter was written and the letter was condensed to the 'comment' Moqtada allegedly replied to. As they report it, a group of young followers sought guidance. This is the guidance a religious leader gives? This should be decried. This should be condemned and called out. He is in a position of authority and he's going to mislead young followers. (If you read Arabic, check out Al Rafidayn's quote of his which appears to include a 'shout out' to an online outlet.) Please note that Moqtada gave this 'advice' while pilgrims were commenmorating the death of Imam Moussa al-Kadhim. Moussa al-Kadhim was an Imam as was his father. He lived from 745 AD to 799 AD. A leader of the Shia community, Caliph Haruan al-Rashid ordered him thrown into prison in 795 and persecuted and during all of this, Moussa al-Kadhim never took his own life. He died in 799 when Caliph Haruan al-Rashid ordered him poisoned. Does no one find it offensive that Moqtada's not only encouraging people in the wrong belief that suicide is noble in the Islamic faith and that he's doing so at a time when Moussa al-Kadhim's memory is being honored? Is the disrespect not disgusting?
Al Rafidayn reports that Iraqi President Jalal Talabani noted the Imam today and declared that need to remember Imam Moussa al-Kadhim's memory and how he emerged a victor over injustice, tyranny and imprisonment, how his life was a testament to the values of goodness, justice and reunification. It's a lesson apparently lost on Moqtada al-Sadr who would rather mislead his followers on the issue of suicide than to hnor Imam Moussa al-Kadhim. That's a very strange way for a 'religious authority' to practice their religion.

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