Saturday, July 23, 2011









Yesterday on Flashpoints (KPFA, Pacifica), guest host Kevin Pina spoke with journalist Patrick Cockburn about the propaganda on the Libyan War. Flashpoints Radio airs live on KPFA from 5:00 to 6:00 pm PST, Monday through Friday. Excerpt.
Kevin Pina: Patrick recently wrote an article called "Remember the Kuwaiti Incubators! Those Libyan Atrocities: Do They Really Stand Up?" which was seen on Patrick Cockburn, welcome to Flashpoints on Pacifica Radio.
Patrick Cockburn: Thank you.
Kevin Pina: Patrick, obviously we've seen a lot of propaganda, what people would consider propaganda -- what people would consider propaganda -- around the invasion, the NATO attacks on Libya, everything short of an invasion of ground forces at this point. But now of course in the last week we heard that Gaddafi had to go and just two days ago we've heard a complete reversal by France and now seemingly the United States and the United Kingdom seem to be softening their positions as well. How do we make sense out of all of this?
Patrick Cockburn: Well I think it's easy enough to understand when they started the air war in Libya, they thought Gaddafi would go almost immediately and he's still there months later. So it's really the consequence of failure.
Kevin Pina: Well failure but they seem to have been very successful in terms of pulling the wool over a lot of people's eyes. People thought, you know, that Gaddafi was the Great Satan again and the United States was involved in yet another Holy War to unseat a dictator -- and the United Kingdom as well.
Patrick Cockburn: Yeah, I find it pretty amazing after the experience we've had in Iraq and Afghanistan that the propaganda and the acceptance of propaganda has in many ways been worse. I mean initially this was presented -- the armed intervention -- by Britian, France, the United States and some others -- was presented as purely humanitarian venture. This was to keep Libyans alive. And then this very rapidly transmuted into regime change to getting rid of Gaddafi. And systematically throughout atrocities have been exaggerated. You know, you'll remember the mass rape story that Gaddafi's forces had been told to rape and been given viagra to encourage them? Well this story was on CNN, it was elsewhere, people were shocked by it, I think it was even mentioned by Obama, but this has been investigated very carefully by Amnesty International, by Human Rights Watch in New York who had their people in Libya and they found that there was absolutely no evidence for it. Another story was that mercenaries were being used from the rest of Africa. Again it turned out when that was investigated that people being presented on TV as mercenaries from other parts of Africa were in fact undocumented migrant laborers. [. . .] the people who appeared on television, were later in fact released because whatever they were, they weren't mercenaries. So these propaganda stories appear on television, appear in the media and to a greater degree even when they're wrong, they're never refuted, even when it emerges there's no evidence for them.
Another segment started off promising . . .
Kevin Pina: And next we're going to take a look at the human rights situation in Iraq. After all, what on earth did we fight this war for, what have we spent all of this money for on the war in Iraq if not to bring better government and "democracy" to the Iraqi people? Unfortunately what we're hearing is that the government that has replaced -- the US installed government -- is equally as oppressive as the so-called dictator Saddam Hussein who we released them from. Let's go to this clip from Al Jazzera to set this piece up.
Rawya Rageh: 19-year-old Aya Mohammed has seen it all. Her entire family was killed in an uprising against Saddam Hussein soon after she was born and she recently fled from an abusive foster family. Now after joining Iraq's protest movement, Aya and seven other colleagues were sexually harassed and beaten while protesting in Baghdad's Tahrir Square last month.
Aya Mohammed: Pro-government supporters started calling us "whores" and "prostitutes." Then they began molesting and groping us. Five men restrained me and tried to rip my clothes off. When I approached security forces bleeding and with a broken tooth, asking for help, they said its not their responsibility.
Rawya Rageh: Angered by the attack, activists have waged a campaign demanding an apology from the government. Those who assaulted them, they maintain, were members of the security forces. Street molestation is not common in tribal Iraq and until now women campaigners had not been specifically targeted.
Yana Mohammed (Women's Freedom In Iraq): For the first time this happens in Iraq. We have never heard of it. And at this moment, we are telling the society and especially those in the Green Zone that this is an era of women. They cannot lock us into our houses.
Rawya Rageh: In a report on the June 10th assault against both male and female protesters, Human Rights Watch said Iraqi soldiers not only stood by while Iraqi protesters were attacked but also that some of those abusing the demonstrators were carrying police identification badges.
Joe Stork (Human Rights Watch): It's not every day that thugs with clubs flash their police i.d.s at us. The government needs to find out who was responsible for the assaults and punish them appropriately.
Rawya Rageh: Al Jazeera has requested comment from Baghdad Operations Command but we did not get a response. Not a surprise say activists. The sexual assaults on female protesters is symptomatic of a much bigger problem in Iraq, they say. Writer and radio host Ahlam Al Obeidi was also beaten up in the protests. She says women's rights are being flouted all around the new Iraq -- even in Parliament.
Ahlam Al Obeidi: I asked Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, why make claims about freedom and democracy when women are being attacked on every corner? Why claim there's any change when it's for the worse?
Rawya Rageh: She's calling for an open-ended sit-in in the heart of the capitol until the government investigates the attack against them. Rawya Rageh, Al Jazeera, Baghdad.
But after the above, the segment quickly went to Crazy Town. Raed Jarrar's newest lie/fantasy is that reporting on the above, as Rawya Rageh did, is done to argue that the US should stay. Jar-Jar: "These attempts to bring up the crimes of the Iraqi government in the last few weeks are not really about exposing the crimes of the Iraqi government, they are more about justifying a longer US occupation."
Raed is a DUMB ASS.
And that needs to be said because he's now introducing a whole new level of CRAZY into the conversation. As I said in 2008 and 2009 and 2010 and this year, the SOFA didn't mean the Iraq War ended and liars like Raed Jarrar were prolonging the war by LYING and telling people the SOFA meant the end of the war.
And as Dona told Raed at one point when he tried to back peddle on the damage he was doing, Take the damn counter off your site! He has a counter -- it's probably still there -- announcing X Days until the Iraq War is over -- based on the SOFA. He's a stupid, stupid idiot who has done untold damage.
And although he's now apparently an American citizen, he pisses on the Constitution as much Bush and Barack. The SOFA is a treaty. It's an illegal one because it violated the Constitution by refusing to get the advice and consent of the Senate -- this was all established in Congressional hearings in 2008. After Barack's in office, Raed bores the hell out of me and anyone else he can bother by insisting he's doing 'serious' work, he's meeting with House members to get them to sign on to the SOFA. What? Yeah, he wants them to sign off on and support a violation of the Constitution. If that ass took a citizenship test, the United States needs to revamp the citizenship test.
I noted Raed in passing last week when Kevin Pina felt the need to have him on the show. I didn't say anything negative and hoped that since it's been demonstrated HE WAS WRONG ABOUT THE SOFA, he'd have a little humility. But that didn't happen obviously. Now he wants to unleash more CRAZY on this country and Iraq.
His idiotic claim that Rawya or anyone else is reporting on violence to keep US forces on the ground in Iraq? That it's a media plot?
I think he means US media so he'd have to leave out Rawya but if you leave out Al Jazeera, you lose a significant portion of the English language coverage from Iraq. But let's set Rawya to the side. This vast conspiracy? If it existed it would make my days a lot easier. I wouldn't have to repeatedly, in one group after another, explain what happens to Iraqi protesters. Now who's been reporting on that, Raed? Not really the Los Angeles Times. Not really the New York Times. Not really McClatchy Newspapers. The Washington Post did report on it.
If it were a conspiracy, don't you think they all would have? Do you really think that when Iraqi reporters were attacked on February 25th that the New York Times would have been turning in the embarrassing 'some say, Nouri says' piece if they were trying to say "IRAQ'S SENDING OUT AN S.O.S. TO THE WORLD!"?
It must be 'freeing' to do none of the work required to make a charge. You don't have to read the coverage, you don't have to be familiar with it, you don't have to be able to support anything you say, you just blindly make your charge.
Reality: While Raed's beat his little pud in public and insisted "Barack's ending the Iraq War 'cause he's so dreamy and sexy!!" for the last three years, some of us have been calling attention to the realities in Iraq. Raed didn't do a damn thing to draw attention to the attacks on Iraq's LGBT community. Raed hasn't done a damn thing to note the massacres of the Camp Ashraf residents. Despite working with a group that pretends it's a religious group (to be a group of Christians, you have to believe in Christ -- that's non- negotiable, that is the very definition of Christian), Raed's done nothing as Iraqi Christians were targeted.
He can tell us how groovy Barack is. He can tell us what it's like to dream and drool of Barack all night and wake up with his wang stuck to the sheets, but he can't do a damn thing about Iraq. I'm not in the damn mood. I was prepared to let it all just slide by and act as if none of it ever happened. But that was dependent on Raed, at the very least, not starting another harmful wave. But he's doing it again. He's lying and going to Crazy Town. He's trying to start this fear tactic which will mean no one will talk about what bad things in Iraq "because Raed says it's a media conspiracy to keep US troops there!"
I don't have time for his Crazy and Iraq can't afford his crazy.
As he trashed the 'vast media' for their conspiracy to keep the troops in Iraq, he never showed the slightest clue of how little Iraq coverage there actually is. US? There is AP, there is McClatchy, there is the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, Time magazine and CNN. That is it. NPR doesn't have a reporter permantently in Iraq. Kelly McEvers is pulled out anytime something might be happening elsewhere in the Arab world and sent there.
For Raed to suggest -- as he did -- that Ned Parker is part of some vast conspiracy is just deplorable. In fairness to Raed, he didn't name Ned. Because he doesn't know who the hell Ned is. But he does know that a report was just done on the secret prison. That was Ned Parker's report. And, no, he didn't write it because he wants US troops to stay in Iraq or because he wants them to leave Iraq or because he wants to do a Zodiac chart reading on each of them. He reported on the issue because it's news and because it's the issue he's been reporting on forever. And before he was zooming in on the secret prisons? He was reporting on the realities of the Ministry of the Interior (the third and fifth floor especially) which is of course related to the current scandals. But Raed couldn't tell you that either.
But he can go on the radio and insult Ned Parker's nonstop work on this issue and suggest that Ned Parker has just reported on the secret prison for the first time and did so only because Ned Parker wants to keep US troops in Iraq. That's not only insulting to the fine work Ned Parker's consistently done, it's damaging and we can't afford the damage from Raed again.
Repeating, the know-nothing began (WRONGLY) insisting publicly at the end of 2008 that the Iraq War would be over in 2011 due to the SOFA. Come December 31, 2011, all US troops would leave Iraq. They had to, he insisted, it was in the SOFA.
As I said at one point when I was pissed, when you can -- as I have -- break a multi-million dollar contract with a corporation and walk away without being sued, then you come talk to me about contract law. Until then, sit your tired ass down. And for bonus points, let's see you, as I did, walk away with the money the contract promised you.
Raed didn't know what he was talking about then, he doesn't know what he's talking about now. But he's laying down the party line: PANHANDLE MEDIA SHALL NOT REPORT ANY BAD THINGS HAPPENING IN IRAQ BECAUSE TO DO SO IS TO TAKE PART IN THE MEDIA CONSPIRACY TO KEEP U.S. TROOPS IN IRAQ. Fools believed Raed last time, I'm sure many a fool will this time as well. But the ones they're hurting are the Iraqi people. Iraqis who have the guts to protest despite all the obstacles, Iraqis who speak out about the repression under Nouri (aka Little Saddam) need to be heard. They're not as lucky as Raed, they can't run -- with their tail between their legs -- back to the US. You got a serious charge, go into it, establish it. I'll show you how.
Scott Horton: Sounds like it's been a rough time over there in Iraq. You had some reports from a couple of weeks ago about the bombings there. But I think first I'd like to ask you in the context of the recent violence in Iraq, if you could verify that I read it right, that they sort of have made a deal where the Americans have agreed, they're not asking to keep combat troops in the country anymore, just trainers, and that that's basically the loophole in the Status Of Forces Agreement that's going to keep troops in Iraq, that both sides are happy with that and the deal has been made? Do I read that right?
Roy Gutman: I have to be honest, I am not up with the very latest thing of the last 48 hours simply because I've been traveling. There was that possibility though, I know, to have trainers stay on. I think it's inadequate. I think that forces are needed for other purposes and that one should not be satisifed with trainers. That said, my visits to US bases and talks with Iraqis, as well as with Americans, leads me to think that American training is very much prized by the Iraqis and I think the American military really feels it's doing the right thing by carrying on with training. So if that is the deal, it's only partially what needs to be done but it is certainly a very important component.
Scott Horton: Well I guess my question would be is the Parliament representative of the people of the country enough that Maliki and the current government represent the power that would rule Baghdad, would be in charge of the country if America wasn't there helping them or not because if so, it seems like, why would they need American troops, you know?
Roy Gutman: Well, you know, they've had elections. It was in March of last year. A government emerged from that election but it took all of last year. And it is not yet a completed government yet because there is a lot of wrangling at the very top between Maliki and Ayad Allawi who is the other leading politician who actually won more seats than Maliki's coalition but in fact not enough to actually have a majority. So that Parliament is a representative Parliament. No one that I know of has indicated that that election was anything but a real, genuine, fair election and with a minimum of corruption and fraud. So, yes, that's a real Parliament. But now,here's the problem Scott, you get a real Parliament elected with a lot of factions involved and it is very tough to get a bill through that Parliament. Well, look at our Congress, I mean, if you want to look at the debt debate right now. Not an easy thing to get real things done. Why do they need Americans to stay on? Basically it's because the Iraqi army, there was an Iraqi army under Saddam Hussein and it had some very professional officers but on the whole the army was tained by some of the things they did, you know, the use of gas against the Kurds, some of the firing of missiles into Iran, a lot of the things. So the whole officer corps was really tainted by it. with some exceptions. And then the Americans basically dissolved their military. So you have a new institution being created there and it is not easy, it is not fast. And they're training, as I've had it explained to me, was never anything like the kind of training Americans do. They're in a dangerous neighborhood and they recognize that they're not up to speed.
Scott Horton: So this isn't -- you would say then if I understand you right that it's not that the Iraqi army needs the American forces there to keep them as the Iraqi army to prevent internal dissent from taking their power away simply that power is natural enough to them. What they need is specialized training so they can keep other countries from messing with them. Is that what you're saying?
Roy Gutman: Uh - uh, that's right in a nutshell.
Roy continues, he doesn't know what the hell he's talking about especially when he's starts talking 'internal' and 'insurgents.' I've heard what he's describing before. I heard it in 2008 from Joe Biden but Joe knows a thing or two and what Joe was pointing out was that doing this would be CHOOSING SIDES. Roy Gutman has no awareness of that.
And I want to know how Roy Gutman gets to continue to cover Iraq? He shouldn't be allowed to cover Iraq. There are reporters who offered the opposite side of Gutman and were punished. But now every one reading Roy's filings from Iraq knows that Roy feels the US needs to stay in Iraq. How is that shaping his coverage?
Some may insist Roy can be objective. Were it true, that's not the standard. The standard is do your actions provide cause for anyone to question your objectivity?
And the political situation in Iraq is always up in the air. So how does McClatchy justify Roy Gutman's labeling Ayad Allawi "feckless and inept" and "no where near as impressive as Maliki's been"?
And how do you reconcile the praise for Nouri with his secret prisons -- Oh, wait. Roy Gutman never reports on that. Roy Gutman never reports anything uncomfortable for Nouri. Possibly we now know why.
With the interview alone, I've raised questions and documented why. We could do Roy's entire Iraq file. We could do all of his remarks. We could drop back to last year -- want to? -- when Ava and I pointed out his embarrassing appearance on The Diane Rehm Show in June of 2010. From "Media: Let's Kill Helen!"
On things worth hearing, Iraq did surface briefly and accidentally on Diane Rehms's show Friday. Yochi's usual and expected attacks on Iran resulted in Ashraf calling in to correct Yohci's incessant lies. In the process, Ashraf declared, "I think that, for all the reporters, they should be more responsible because what happened in Iraq was because of the reporters. Misinformation and stirring just to get the rage up. "
You just knew Yochi wasn't having any of it. He stopped digging around his asshole with his own tongue long enough to exclaim, "I think all of us who work for a somewhat beleaguered industry would wish that the media was as powerful as to have caused a war. [Roy Gutman is heard guffawing if you listen closely. Shame on him.] There were deep flaws in the reporting pre-war in Iraq. To say that the media caused the war is, I think, a stretch."
First off, Yochi, the economy sucks for nearly everyone, it's a recession, you idiot. Second, the media lied, the media is responsible for helping Bush sell the illegal war. That Roy Gutman's fat ass could be heard chortling on air was disgusting since Roy worked for Knight-Ridder which was the only outlet that refused to play megaphone and actually and consistently do reporting. Shame on you, Roy Gutman. You damn well know better.

Roy of course tried to lie his way out of the above. Insisting that wasn't him laughing (it was him, you can hear it yourself, it was also confirmed that it was him by Diane's staff). (For more chuckles on Roy, see Mike's post here -- killer line "You sort of get the impression that Roy Gutman's spent the last decades covering socials and tea rooms.")
McClatchy's position is not Roy's laughter. McClatchy's official position was represented in the debut of Bill Moyers Journal, "Buying The War" and provided by Warren P. Strobel, Jonathan S. Landay and John Walcott.
Roy rejects that view. Roy goes on the radio with Scott Horton and 'explains' that the US military must stay in Iraq -- a decision that supposedly hasn't been made yet. Readers desperate for independent and unbiased state of Iraq coverage to form their own opinions can still have faith in Roy Gutman's call? I don't think so.
This is the same Roy Gutman, please remember, who made the most siginficant error you can make in print: DISTORTING THE WORDS OF ANOTHER. January 8th of this year -- and we called it out repeatedly -- Roy insisted that Moqtada al Sadr had "called on his followers Saturday to abandon the use of violence" but that's not what he said at all. And McClatchy never issued a correction. Not everyone got it wrong:

In his report of the speech, Jim Muir (BBC News -- video) observed that "he said the resistance goes on by whatever means and so on." (For a text report by Muir, click here.) Here's Aaron C. Davis (Washington Post): "His followers, he said, must continue to focus on fiercely resisting the United States, but perhaps also targeting their own government if it cannot restore services or security and hold to a timeline for a full U.S. military withdrawal by the end of 2011." Does that sound like the end of violence? No, it does not. And here's Ned Parker, Saad Fakhrildeen and Raheem Salman (Los Angeles Times):

Roy Gutman is a lousy reporter. (And incredibly touchy.) His statements to Scott Horton should get him pulled off Iraq coverage. This isn't debatable. He's not a columnist. He's supposed to be a reporter and the editor in Iraq of the moment. He crossed serious lines and we can document doing that over and over throughout his Iraq coverage.
Some might disagree with me. That's their right. And they may be right. But I didn't say, "Oh, there's this vast conspiracy and everytime you read bad news it's because they're trying to extend the US presence! Case closed!" I offered specific examples.
Roy Gutman advocated a position that no reporter's allowed to do unless they're doing particpatory reporting. His comments were out of line and he should be pulled from the beat. (He actually should be written up for what he said during that interview. He won't be. As Chris Hedges and others can tell you, you're only punished by your newspaper for personal opinions when they go against the Embrace of War.)

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Friday, July 22, 2011




"I am particularly sensitive to the fact that only this president - only this one, only this one - has received the kind of attacks and disagreement and inability to work, only this one. Read between the lines."








Turning to Iraq, Ed O'Keefe and Aziz Alwan (Washington Post) report that Iraqi and American officials are both stating that the 'deadline' for informing the US that they want the US military to stay will not be kept. That deadline was Jalal Talabani's deadline. Set and announced by Talabani. Among the problems O'Keefe and Alwan state is that there is some speculation, on the American side, that "a request might not come until March." For those late to the party, the Status Of Forces Agreement extended the US military occupation of Iraq by three years -- unlike the UN mandates which had been used previously and only covered one year at a time. December 31st of this year, the SOFA (negotiated by the Bush administration) expires. If it is not extended it can be replaced with a new agreement or all US forces (except those protecting the sprawling US Embassy in Baghdad and the US consulates sprouting up all over Iraq) can leave.
The White House's primary plan is to reach an agreement and keep the US military in Iraq as is -- meaning under the Pentagon. The back-up plan is sliding them over to the State Dept and keeping them in that way. With Scott Horton (Antiwar Radio), John Glaser discussed the US military staying in Iraq. Excerpt:
John Glaser: Whatever sort of contingent forces remain in Iraq -- there surely will be some amount -- they're going to be in combatant capacity despite the denials of US officials that are saying right now they're going to be noncombat and so on and so forth. They will have to continue to fight against an insurgency whose main aim is to get them out of the country. There's no -- There's really no indication that the national security state in America will treat Iraq any differently than they've treated the many other countries which they continue to okay. Why would they treat it any differently than South Korea where we still have 50,000 some odd troops. There's just no indication that they would. And so we need to either come to grips with the fact that they will be there and they will continue fighting or -- I'm not really sure what the alternative is.
Scott Horton: Yeah, well, I'm already making bumper sticks that say: "End The Iraq War: Ron Paul 2012."
John Glaser: Right.
Scott Horton: Cause Obama sure ain't doing it.
John Glaser: No, absolutely not. I'm glad that Ron Paul is running again. I think he sort of invigoarted a d a distinct class of antiwar and I think he'll build on that this time around and we'll get some more colleagues in that endevaor.
We'll come back to withdrawal and the 'trainers' but they were talking about Ron Paul and yesterday Judy Woodrfuff conducted an interview with US House Rep Ron Paul (who is running for the GOP presidential nomination). Excerpt:

JUDY WOODRUFF: Let's go to some of the international issues you touched on very quickly. You want to bring troops home. What should the U.S. footprint be internationally? What is the U.S. role in the world?

REP. RON PAUL: Well, it should be a footprint of trade and friendship, as we were advised and as the Constitution permits. The footprint shouldn't be a military footprint. It shouldn't be -


REP. RON PAUL: The footprint we're leaving now - our drone missiles dropping bombs and killing innocent civilians, launched from the United States with computers. That's not the kind of footprint I want.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Afghanistan. How quickly would you bring the troops home?

REP. RON PAUL: As quick as the ships could get there. It's insane on what we're doing. And I'll tell you one thing about this business about the military: We just had a quarterly report, and they listed all the money that all the candidates got from the military. I got twice as much as all the other candidates put together on the Republican side, and even more than Obama got, which tells me that these troops want to come home as well because they know exactly what I'm talking about.

Roy Gutman (McClatchy Newspapers) reported earlier this week on Kirkuk, "Nowhere, Iraqi and U.S. officials say, is the argument for keeping American troops in Iraq past Dec. 31 stronger than in Kirkuk." He quotes stating the Governor of Kirkuk Najmeldeen Kereem, "The Iraqi security forces do not have the ability to secure Iraq's borders, its airspace or its sole seaport in Basra." The governor wants the US military to stay on.
While Kirkuk might want the US to stay on, supposedly the KRG (Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq) will be keeping US troops. Al Rafidayn reports the Iraqi president gave an interview to China Central Television in which he explained that the Kurdistan region is planning to keep US forces. And what of outside the Kurdistan region? In the rest of Iraq? Well there are a few problems, Jalal explained. See Iraqi has trouble protecting itself. It can't, he declared, protect its own air space, the land or the sea. I'm confused, what does that leave? By air, land or sea. What else is there? How does that passage in the US Marines' Hymn go?
From the Halls of Montezuma
To the shores of Tripoli
We fight our country's battles
In the air, on land, and sea

What else is there?
I guess we could go Wiccan and talk the four corners? Earth, Air, Water and Fire? So Jalal would be saying that Iraq has the capacity to protect the fire?
Who knows but it's pretty clear that if you're the president of the country and you're maintaining your forces can protect your country . . . except by land, air and water, you've just tossed out a huge "but" and, no, your forces can't protect your country. (Or, at least, you don't think they can.)

To keep the US military in Iraq, Jalal Talabani hid behind "trainers." That's the lie that the Iraqi government currently thinks it can trick the Iraqi people with. The US will remain in "a limited number" as "trainers." Strange. I don't see how "trainers" can protect your air space, or your waters, or your land. Al Sabaah also notes Talabani's non-stop use of "trainers." Phil Stewart (Reuters) notes, "Legal safeguards for U.S. troops could become a major stumbling block to any potential deal with Iraq to keep some American forces in the country beyond a year-end withdrawal deadline."
Nizar Latif (The National) reported at the end of last month that a number of Shi'ites were worried about a possible US departure and fear that civil war could return and they worry about the Mahdi militia of Moqtada al-Sadr: "Critics now worry that the militia, which supporters claim can call up 150,000 fighters will pick up weapons if a new security vacuum opens up when Iraq's army and police take over the departs." Moqtada al-Sadr made many threats to rain down fire and brimstone should the US military stay in Iraq. Then he announced he wouldn't oppose such a decision. NPR's Kelly McEvers (All
Things Considered) reported on the issue on yesterday. Excerpt:
KELLY McEVERS: This is the issue with Sadr's organization. Despite its new image as a political player, it still maintains a militant wing that stands ready to threaten or even fight its rivals. In the case of Hezbollah in Lebanon, the ostensible reason for keeping guns is to resist Israel. For Sadr, it's to resist the U.S. But what happens when the enemy occupier leaves? Here's Thanassis Cambanis again.
Professor THANASSIS. CAMBANIS: If the logic of resistance is what defines you as a movement, you're going to have a lot of trouble shifting to some other footing when the enemy you resist is gone.
McEVERS: That's why following the Hezbollah model too closely might eventually be Sadr's undoing, Cambanis says. Two decades after its civil war, Lebanon remains volatile and divided, and Hezbollah, he says, is losing credibility. In the short term, though, Cambanis says, as long as Iraq's weak and incomplete government remains unable to provide security and basic services, Muqtada al-Sadr will remain a reasonable alternative.
Staying on the topic of Moqtada al-Sadr, we have maintained that he would back down on his 'vow' to reform the Mahdi militia to attack US soldiers. The 'vow' (empty threat) was similar to ones he had made before and not followed through on and there was also the issue of hs long stay in Iran while he was supposedly a 'leader' to 'his people.' More and more US, European and Arab opinion (intelligence and diplomatic community) was that Moqtada had lost hold of 'his people' and was at a very weak point -- one similar to 2008 when the Bush administration elected to attack him (with Nouri joining in) and allow him to play 'dangerous rebel' and up his prestige and 'cred.' By remaining out of Iraq after being seen as strong (after the 2008 attack), he lost what he'd gained. That's what we based our opinion on.
Events have backed up that view. Gareth Porter has a different take on why Moqtada changed his mind. He explains it in his article "What Is Sadr's Game on Future US Troop Presence" (IPS via Dissident Voice) which we've noted twice this week. And he explained it in his conversation with Scott Horton (Antiwar Radio). We noted that interview twice this week. Read his piece but my summary of it is that Moqtada realized he will be the next prime minister and is now interested in perserving the system and not destroying it.
Gareth Porter could be correct. The opinion we've offered here could be completely wrong. But Gareth's opinion really doesn't make sense. And even Scott Horton seems to sense that as he returns to that topic (such as in the interview we noted earlier). It's possible that Moqtada had an about face on this because Jalal Talabani, who's been meeting with everyone, pointed out the details Gareth presents. And hearing that from Talabani, Moqtada did an about face. For Gareth's version to be correct, it appears to require someone points out to Moqtada all that 'will happen.' If Moqtada had come to the realization on his own, the sudden about face makes no sense.
So maybe something like that happened. Gareth could be correct. But I don't think it makes sense and I'm sticking with what we've argued for months. In that scenario, Moqtada has little to command because his refusal to keep 'skin in the game' by staying in Iraq, loosened his hold on his organization and all of its aspects. That hypothesis may be backed up by Moqtada's own remarks that he had to bring the Mahdi militia under control. This is again hit upon today in a report by Suadad al-Salhy (Reuters):
Anti-U.S. cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army has spawned dozens of renegade splinter groups which frequently assassinate Iraqi officials on behalf of foreign sponsors, Sadrist and security officials say.
[. . .]
A popular Shi'ite cleric who leads the militia as well as his own political bloc, Sadr has repudiated the splinter groups, describing them as "murderers" and "criminals", and has called on Iraqi security forces and tribes to expel them.
"They have turned into mercenary groups which have no ideology or specific agenda. They are more like contract killers," said Major-General Hassan al-Baidhani, chief of staff for Baghdad's security operations command.
While Moqtada spent the last years in Iran, time did not stand still and common sense will tell you that if Ida is the leader but Ida's out of the county and Jose, Mia and Bill have to do all the wok in country -- including risking arrest, including risking death -- Jose, Mia and Bill aren't going to be thrilled when Ida pops back into the country three years later and expects everyone to listne to her. Moqtada can't run a 'revolution' by remote.
Gareth Porter may be right and I may be wrong. Wouldn't be the first or last time that I was wrong. But the yarn being told does not add up and that's why Scott Horton's trying to suss it out in his conversation with John Glaser. That's why he keeps returning to it trying to figure out what Moqtada is thinking. Because it doesn't add up.
Why the sudden turn around by Moqtada? In Gareth's version it's because Moqtada realized he would be the next prime minister in a couple of years and realized he couldn't afford to tear down the system he would command. Okay. Well why did Moqtada all the sudden realize that? Every step on the ladder begs another question because on the most basic level -- human nature -- it does not make sense. We've excerpted from Gareth's article and we included lengthy quotes on this from his conversation with Scott Horton. There's a link to his piece several paragraphs up. I'm not trying to distort what he's saying. But what he's saying doesn't currently make sense. It may be missing a step or it may be invalid. I don't know. But my opinion is that Moqtada lost control of his group -- and we've argued that repeatedly pointing to the low turnout for parades and Moqtada's sudden decision to turn a parade into a march by his armed supporters. Moqtada's own remarks appear to back up that he's lost control (but his remarks indicate also that he thinks he can take back control -- maybe he can).

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Thursday, July 21, 2011






Now it all begins, indeed. John Martin (Courier Press) has one of the most important reports of the week but watch most ignore it. He's writing of the 76th Brigade of the Indiana National Guard and "a Notification of Sourcing" -- what Lt Col Mark Weaver says is "the first step on the road" to official mobilization. And what were they notified of? From the article:
National Guard members from Evansville and throughout Indiana are preparing for possible deployment next year, four years since returning from Iraq.
[. . .]
Indiana National Guard officials were told that the next deployment, if it occurs, also would be in Iraq and would be part of Operation New Dawn.
They're awaiting 2012 orders that, if they come in, would mean deployment to Iraq in 2012. Which would be after -- pay attention -- the media and Barack have said US troops would be out of Iraq -- have said that repeatedly for the last three years.
From one 'mispoken' moment to another, Ad Melkert offered happy spin to the UN Security Council. Al Jazeera and the Christian Science Monitor's Jane Arraf observes:
The United Nations Secretary-General's Special Envoy to Iraq knows very little -- or at least that's what he'll claim should Spain put him on the witness stand. But instead of dummying up in front of the UN Security Council yesterday (click here for video), he was full of 'answers' and 'insight.'
Envoy Ad Melkert: This comes at an important time when the Council will be considering UNAMI's mandate renewal next week. "Are you optimistic or are you pessimistic?" has been the question I have been asked most by many. As we know events tend to shape intents -- at least as much as the other way around. In most of what I've witnessed in Iraq, there is ground for cautious optimism provided that determined leadership in the country and a stronger sense of cooperation in the region with Iraq prevails. In some important aspects, Iraq is at the heart of fundamental changes in the region. The Iraqi sense of government incorporates a power-sharing Constitution guaranteeing participation of women and minorities and nuturing a culture of ongoing Constitutional debate. Regular elections have taken place conducted in line with international standards. While drawn out, government formation has indeed progressed. Meanwhile Parliament is taking an increasingly important role in decision making. And in departure from decades of authoritarian regime negotations between all parties has become the predominant feature of political life.
He was just getting started. But instead of just looking bored like Susan Rice did, let's examine those claims.
* "Are you optimistic or are you pessimistic?" has been the question I have been asked most by many.
In a non-dualistic world, people would admit there were additional choices -- including the most important one: Are you being realistic?
Sadly, Ad Melkert was not. But we do understand, he lies to get a UNAMI mandate renewal. He should be a lot of fun on the witness stand.
* In most of what I've witnessed in Iraq, there is ground for cautious optimism provided that determined leadership in the country and a stronger sense of cooperation in the region with Iraq prevails.
Let's leave so-called 'leadership' within Iraq to the side and focus on "a stronger sense of cooperation in the region". To describe the region as in turmoil would strike many as a plain statement. Syria's only the most recent brush fire. If you're positive evaluation depends on a future reality that doesn't exist at present, guess what, you're positive evaluation is worthless. In fact, what you've actually offered, beneath the lies, is a negative evaluation which could turn positive should events on the ground in the region suddenly do a 180.
* The Iraqi sense of government incorporates a power-sharing Constitution guaranteeing participation of women and minorities and nuturing a culture of ongoing Constitutional debate.
Really? While the Christians at least appear stable within the Cabinet -- which, Ad Melkert 'forgets' is going through changes to strip it down -- the big rumor is that women are going to be the big losers in the Cabinet changes. They're already under-represented as ministers. But now they're going to lose the ministry itself. That's the rumor. We'll see shortly.
What good is "a power-sharing Constitution" if it's never followed? Nouri doesn't follow it. The Parliament didn't follow it in terms of prime minister-designate. For five years now, Nouri has refused to implement Article 140 of the Constituion. You have to be a damn liar to get up in front of the Security Council (where you'll fit right in) and declare that the "power-sharing Constitution" is something to note when it's regularly ignored.
* Regular elections have taken place conducted in line with international standards.
Nouri threw a fit. He didn't like the results. He demanded recounts. He bullied and he intimidated. Ad Melkert 'forgets' what Iraq had in 2010 and what Nouri's proposing to do away with. Next week, Nouri's political slate (State of Law) is set to propose in Parliament that the independent Electoral Commission be stripped. That's the commission that managed to allow the elections to take place with some sense of international standards. If you're going to brag about those standards, you damn well better get honest about the attack on the body that enforced those standards.
While drawn out, government formation has indeed progressed.
He said that with a straight face. The period following the March 7, 2010 elections include 9 months of Political Stalemate I. November 10th, it appeared the stalemate was broken. Nouri was made prime minister-designate shortly after and the Erbil Agreement was going to be honored and he'd come up with a full Cabinet within 30 days of being named prime minister-designate and . . .
Political Stalemate II arrived. To this day, there is not a full Cabinet. To this day, the positions of Minister of the Interior, Minister of National Security and Minister of Defense are not filled. Nouri -- in what most see as a power-grab -- gave himself those positions (this was not voted on by Parliament). And all these months later, he hasn't filled the ministries.
* Meanwhile Parliament is taking an increasingly important role in decision making.
Reality: Nouri has insisted that Parliament can't write bills. He has insisted that only his Cabinet can write bills and that Parliament should take the bills that he writes and vote in favor of them or against them.
* And in departure from decades of authoritarian regime negotations between all parties has become the predominant feature of political life.
Since June, all the political blocs have met at Iraqi President Jalal Talabani's house three times. You could say this is "negotiations between all parties" becoming "the predominant feature of political life." But it's also true that they're meeting due to Nouri's inability to keep his word and implement the Erbil Agreement -- the thing that ended Political Stalemate I; therefore, it can also be said that Nouri's returned "authoritarian regime" to Iraq.
Last week, the Carnegie Endowment's Middle East Center's Maria Fantappie (Los Angeles Times) offered an evaluation that was far less rosy than Ad Melkert:
As a stalemate between the State of Law and Iraqiya coalitions continues to paralyze Iraq's central government, Prime Minister Nouri Maliki is looking to the governorates to tilt the political balance in his favor.
In the country's south, Maliki is attempting to defend his base from the growing popularity of the Sadrist Trend. Meanwhile, in Iraqiya's northern strongholds of Anbar, Ninewa, Salaheddine, and Diyala, the prime minister is mounting an ambitious campaign to consolidate his hold over Iraq. By attempting to break the link between provincial leaders and the Iraqiya coalition -- his main parliamentary rival -- Maliki is seeking to bind the governorates to Baghdad.
Already, public demonstrations and a deteriorating security situation in these governorates have challenged the credibility of local political leaders, who came to power following the 2009 provincial election. Governors, deputy governors and heads of provincial councils in all four northern governorates have been repeatedly confronted by protesters calling for service improvements. Recent attacks targeting provincial offices in Salaheddine and Diyala have called into question the competence of police and local security officials.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011






Signature wounds of the current wars are TBI and PTSD. When the US military brass testifies before Congress they like to emphasize TBI and bury PTSD. That may be changing, not because the military brass really wants to address PTSD but because TBI may have even more risks than have been previously known. Albertina Torsoli (Bloomberg News) reported yesterday that a new study on TBI, presented in Paris at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference, found TBI "may more than double the risk of dementia in military veterans." AP added, "The veterans study was led by Dr. Kristine Yaffe, a University of California professor and director of the Memory Disorders Clinic at the San Francisco VA Medical Center. The Department of Defense and the National Institutes of Health paid for the work." Today in the Senate, TBI was addressed. Senator Patty Murray's office notes:
VETERANS: Senator Murray Reminds Senate of Critical Need to Pass Veterans and Military Construction Spending Bill
The bill includes life-saving investments in Traumatic Brain Injury, PTSD research as well as mental health care for those struggling with 'invisible wounds of war'
Watch the speech HERE (Senator Murray begins speaking at 44:50).
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, senior member of the Military Construction Appropriations Subcommittee, gave a speech on the Senate Floor urging her colleagues to pass the critical health care and benefits investments included in the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs spending bill the Senate is considering this week. Among many other things, the bill includes life-saving investments in Traumatic Brain Injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder research as well as mental health care for those struggling with the invisible wounds of war. The bill also makes a significant investment in preparing the VA for the influx of new Iraq and Afghanistan veterans while supporting housing opportunities and care for older veterans.
"No matter what fiscal crisis we face, no matter how divided we may be over approaches to cutting our debt and deficit, no matter how heated the rhetoric here
in Washington, D.C. gets, we have to keep our commitments to our veterans and service members," said Senator Murray. "We have to move this bill forward and we have to provide those who wore -- are are wearing -- the uniform with the peace of mind that we are keeping up our promise to them."
For details on the critical veterans and military construction priorities included in the bill click HERE. The bill also includes over $500 million in investments for Washington state military bases.

Funding broken down by base appears below:

  • Naval Station Bremerton – $13,341,000
  • Naval Station Kitsap – $121,844,000
  • Fairchild Air Force Base – $27,600,000
  • Joint Base Lewis McChord – $331,300,000
  • Naval Air Station Whidbey Island – $25,000,000

Read the full text of the speech below:

"Madame President, there is no question that we need to make smart decisions to
tighten our belts and reduce our nation's debt and deficit.
"American families have done it around their kitchen table, and we owe it to them
to get our fiscal house in order.
"But there is also one group of Americans that we owe an even greater promise to.
"A group who we can never allow to become pawns, fall through the cracks, or be
forgotten altogether in these budget debates.
"And that is our men and women in uniform -- and the veterans who have protected our nation for decades.
"And that is why I'm here today -- in the midst of the whirlwind of debt and deficit
rhetoric -- to remind us all of the critical nature of the bill we have on the floor this
"To remind us that no matter what fiscal crisis we face, no matter how divided we
may be over approaches to cutting our debt and deficit, no matter how heated the
rhetoric here in Washington D.C. gets, we have to keep our commitments to our
veterans and service members.
"We have to move this bill forward.
"And we have to provide those who wore -- or are wearing -- the uniform with the peace of mind that we are keeping up our promise to them.
"Now Madam President, a couple of years ago we took a proactive step to ensure
that the non-stop wrangling over appropriations bills here in Congress didn't interfere with the health care that our veterans have earned.
"Thanks to the work of Senator [Daniel] Akaka -- and many others -- VA spending for health care is now appropriated a year in advance.
"Protecting it from an imperfect budget process that is so often affected by politics.
But I remember that when we passed advanced appropriations we were very clear.
"Our foresight was not going to be an excuse to sit on our hands when VA funding
was up for consideration.
"We were not going to allow a precautionary measure to get in the way of passing
timely increases in veterans health care.
"And so this bill is the test.
"Can we put politics aside for the good of our nation's veterans and service
"Can we show them that -- despite our differences -- we will work as diligently
toward getting them the benefits and care they've earned as they have worked
for our nation?
"I hope we can.
"And I say that because the investments in this bill are a lot more than numbers
on a page.
"They are life changing programs for veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
and Traumatic Brain Injury.
"It's support for suicide hotlines that are seeing more callers than ever before.
"It's providing roofs over the heads of our service members and their families.
"It's timely investments -- in the the very biggest priorities of our nation's heroes.
"And so today I want to talk about just a few of the investments included in this bill
and how they translate into the lives of our service members, veterans, and their
"Madam President, there is an influx of young veterans coming into the VA system
right now like we have not seen in a very long time.
"In fact the VA estimates that the number of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in its
health care system will reach well over half-a-million at some point next year -- that's an over 100% increase since 2008.
"This is a big challenge -- and one that we have no choice but to step up to meet
if we are going to avoid many of the same mistakes we saw with the Vietnam
"That is why this bill includes nearly $3 billion to meet the health care needs of veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan -- a nearly $600 million increase over last year.
"But it's more than just the sheer number of new veterans that will be coming home to the VA in the near future -- it's the extent of their wounds -- both visible and invisible -- that will require untold resources from our nation.
"Through the wonders of modern medicine, service members who would have been lost in previous conflicts are coming home to live productive and fulfilling lives.
"But they will need a lifetime of care from the VA.
"And that's part of why this bill includes significant investments for research in a
number of areas including: Traumatic Brain Injury, spinal cord injury, polytrauma
injuries, and sensory loss.
"It includes funding that will go to maintaining world-class prosthetics like the one
worn by Sergeant Leroy Petry who I saw at the White House last week shake the
hand of a grateful President Obama as he was awarded the Medal of Honor.
"It's also funding that comes at a critical time as amputations have sharply increased among soldiers in Afghanistan -- many of whom are getting out of protected MRAP and Humvees to engage Afghan citizens and at the same time putting themselves at far greater risk of severe IED injuries.
"According to a recent Washington Post article 'twice as many U.S. soldiers wounded in battle last year required limb amputations than in either of the two previous years.'
"This funding also comes as mental health concerns continue to rise and suicides
among active duty troops and veterans from these wars have risen to a level now on par with combat deaths.
"In April, the VA's suicide hotline [1-800-273-TALK] took 14,000 suicide calls -- more
than they had taken in any month the previous four years.
"This bill ensures that we are putting someone on the other end of that call.
"This bill funds efforts to give veterans access to mental health professionals.
"This bill ensure we are not leaving our veterans to go it alone.
"But Madam President, this will do much more than help our newest generation of
"For generations we have faced the problem of homelessness among our nation's
veterans without making real headway.
"But recently, through the success of programs like HUD-VASH and the Grant and
Per Diem program, we are seeing real progress toward putting homeless veterans into safe and secure housing and the bold goals laid out by the Obama Administration to end veterans homelessness once and for all.
"This bill includes nearly $1 billion in direct assistance to homeless veterans."
"This bill also helps those who have taken on the monumental but deeply personal task of providing care to an injured veteran in their family.
"Those people who have left behind careers, personal lives, and even their own health care and benefits to care for those who can't care for themselves.
"It includes major investments to meet the unique needs of one of the fastest growing groups of veterans: women veterans
"Who through health care and construction upgrades that improve privacy will benefit from VA facilities that are more conducive to their needs.
This bill also includes major investments to fund military construction projects world-wide, including readiness centers, barracks, hospitals, clinics, and schools.
"It also supports family housing construction projects that ensure military families
have a satisfactory roof over their heads.
"And will create thousands of good-paying construction jobs.
"As we all know well, the strength of our military is rooted in the strength of the
families that support them.
"Investments like these are what allows service members to go abroad knowing
their loved ones are being looked after by the nation they are protecting.
"Madam President, after nearly a decade at war, the consequences of sending our
service members into combat and the sacred obligation we have to care for those
injured in service have become clear.
"But so have the shortcomings and the challenges we have to meet.
"Last week, I chaired a hearing on the gaps in mental health care that still exist at
the VA [to stream that hearing, click here] and the stories we heard were deeply
"I heard the stories of two separate veterans who attempted suicide but were still
left to wait for weeks and months for appointments at the VA.
"We have to fix the VA in a way that makes it flexible and responsive to the needs
of these veterans.
"And we have to do it in a cost effective way by ensuring that we are getting the
most value out of every dollar that a bill like this one provides.
"Next week I will be examing the long term costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to our newest generation of veterans because I believe we need to address this problem openly and honestly.
"Madam President, like generations of service members and veterans before them, today's heroes have done everything that has been asked of them.
"They have been separated from their families through repeat deployments.
"They have sacrificed life and limb in combat.
"And they have done all of this selflessly and with honor to our country.
"We can't allow our commitment to them to lapse or to get caught up in politics.
"We need to pass this bill.
"And we must also come to a budget agreement that avoids default and the
consequences it would have on our veterans.
"We have to keep our promise. No matter what.
"Thank you."
Senator Patty Murray is also the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. For community coverage of the hearing she referred to, see "Iraq snapshot," "Scott Brown asks if it is a staffing issue (Ava)," "Burr: I'd heard it before, I just hadn't heard it from you," and "The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing."
Turning to active duty military personnel, yesterday on Adam vs the Man (RT, airs at 7:00 pm EST), Iraq War veteran Adam Kokesh reviewed active duty military personnel donations to the contenders for the GOP presidential nomination in the last financial quarter.
Herman Cain $6223
Mitt Romney $5000
Michele Bachmann $2550
Newt Gingrich $1025
Tim Pawlenty $250
Rick Santorum $250
Gary Johnson $0
The above donations total $15398.
Who go the most? With $36,739, Ron Paul. He got double what all the other candidates took in. He also got more donations from active duty personnel in the last quarter than President Barack Obama ($28,833).
Last Friday, Ned Parker had an important story that we did note in the morning but I forgot to include in the snapshot. For the Los Angeles Times, Parker reported:
Elite units controlled by Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's military office are ignoring members of parliament and the government's own directive by operating a clandestine jail in Baghdad's Green Zone where prisoners routinely face torture to extract confessions, Iraqi officials say.
Iraqi legislators and security officials have been joined by the International Committee of the Red Cross in expressing concern about the facility, called Camp Honor. In a confidential letter to the prime minister, the Red Cross requested immediate access to the jail and added that there could be three more connected to it where detainees also are being mistreated.
Iraq's Justice Ministry ordered Camp Honor shut down in March after parliament's human rights committee toured the center and said it had uncovered evidence of torture. The Human Rights Ministry denied Wednesday that it was still in operation. But several Iraqi officials familiar with the site said that anywhere from 60 to 120 people have been held there since it was ordered closed.
This is a topic Ned Parker has long reported on and it's a topic that helped spark the protests in Iraq this year. As January wound down, Ned Parker. reported on the secret prisons for the Los Angeles Times and Human Rights Watch issued their report on it. Parker's January report on the secret prisons and how they were run by Nouri's security forces, the Baghdad Brigade followed up on his earlier report on how the Brigade was behind the prison that he and the paper exposed in April 2010. But despite the January 2011 prison revelations, Nouri kept insisting there were no secret prisons in Iraq. Such as February 6th when Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reported, "The Iraqi government on Sunday denied a human rights organization's allegation that it has a secret detention center in Baghdad, run by Prime Minister Nur al-Maliki's security forces." The report then quoted Nouri's spokesperson Ali al-Moussawi stating, "We don't know how such a respectable organization like Human Rights Watch is able to report such lies." Camp Honor is a prison that's under Nouri's control, staffed by people working for him. Amnesty International would also call the use of secret prisons out while Nouri continued to deny them. In the middle of March, the world was supposed to forget all the denials and rejoice that (yet again) Nouri had been caught operating a secret prison and that he was saying (yet again) he would close one and saying that (yet again) secret prisons did not belong in the 'new' Iraq and would not be part of it. The lie would continue until March 15th. From that day's snapshot:
Today Raheem Salman and Salar Jaffe (Los Angeles Times) note, "The jail in Baghdad's high-security Green Zone, called Camp Honor, fell under the nominal supervision of the Justice Ministry. But it was actually controlled by two elite security branches affiliated with Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's military office, the Baghdad Brigade and Counter-Terrorism Bureau. [. . .] After a scandal last spring over a secret prison at another military base, Maliki ordered that Camp Honor should be opened to detainees' families and lawyers. Instead, the jail remained closed to visitors and allegations of abuse emerged in late January in reports by the Times and Human Rights Watch." AP reports that the Minister of Justice's spokesperson is stating that "Camp Honor" will be shut down. New Sabbah quotes the spokesperson stating that the prison runs "contrary to international human rights standards."
Despite insisting that they were closing the prison in March, it has not been closed. In part, Nouri's been able to keep it open by refusing to appoint a Minister of Defense and a Minister of Interior. The power grab has prevented any accountability. Many of the prisoners (estimated to be as many as 120) are said to be political prisoners.
Last week, Jane Arraf (Al Jazeera, Christian Science Monitor) Tweeted:
jane arraf
janearraf jane arraf
And she's correct, this has been Ned Parker's story for years (plural) now.
Yes, it is the same secret prison. In part, Nouri's been able to keep it open because he's assumed the post of Minister of the Defense. Had someone from Iraqiya been appointed to the post, as was agreed to in the Erbil Agreement, Nouri wouldn't have had control
While Nouri's made nice in China, he's wanted in Spain. New Sabah reports on the decision by the Spanish court to call Nouri al-Maliki, prime minister and chief thug of Iraq, before them along with members of Iraq's Defense Ministry and representatives of the United Nations in an attempt to make sense of the massacre on Camp Ashraf in April in which 35 people were killed. Nouri's official spokesperson (and president of his fan club) Ali al-Dabbagh insists that no other state can do what Spain thinks it can and that it encroaches "on national sovereignty" and, apparently, on Nouri's inalienable right to slaughter freely.

Camp Ashraf is where a group of Iranian dissidents leave. Marxists, they took part in the early stages of the Iranian revolution of the late 70s. They ended up in Iraq where Saddam Hussein granted asylum. Throughout their long stay in Iraq, they are not known to have created any internal problems. But Iran doesn't want them in Iraq. Not an issue when Hussein was in power; however, a big deal to the current installed government. Following the US invasion, the US disarmed the group. The residents of Camp Ashraf turned over their arms with the promise from the US that they would be protected. That has not been the case. Since 2009, Nouri has repeatedly sent the Iraqi military into the camp to terrorize the people and he, Hoshyar Zebari, Jalal Talabani and others have been making public statements in Iran and elsewhere promising to evict the residents of Camp Ashraf by the end of this year. They have also repeatedly lied including recently insisting that the International Red Cross was helping them with forcing the residents out of Iraq. The Red Cross immediately issued a statement explaining that they were doing no such thing.

The Spanish court is calling for Nouri to appear before it in October. Ali al-Dabbagh insists that Nouri is under obligation to do so. So are they about to curtail Nouri's traveling? They do realize that should he try to avoid a subpoena, certain countries have agreements that would compel them to take Nouri into custody and turn him over to Spanish authorities. This isn't a civil case. BBC News notes, "Under Spain's universal justice doctrine, grave crimes committed in other countries can be prosecuted." The BBC's article omits Nouri's name (maybe everyone's still recovering from Friday's strike?) but AP notes that Nouri is being asked to testify and they note that Judge Fernando Andreu plans to explore the April 8th massacre as well as the July 2009 one in which 11 Camp Ashraf Residents were killed. We'll remind that the same judge had earlier offered to kill the probe of 2009 (this offer was made at the start of the year) if the Iraqi government would launch their own probe. They refused to do so.

While Nouri bends over backwards to appease Iran, the Iranian military boasts of their control over Iraq. Press TV reports:

A senior Iranian military commander says the Islamic Republic will continue efforts to completely weed out the Party for Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK) terrorist cell.
Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) clashed with PJAK terrorists and inflicted heavy casualties on them during recent days with the purpose of establishing sustainable security and fighting against insecurity and instability in northwestern areas of the country, commander of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Ground Forces Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour said on Monday.
A top Iranian military commander, Delavar Ranjbarzadeh, said on Monday that the IRGC has taken full control of three bases of the PJAK terrorist cell near the Iraqi border.

Alsumaria TV offers
the weakly worded: "Iranian Revolutionary Guards Chief in Sardasht, northwestern Iran, announced that Iranian Forces took over three rebel camps of the Kurdish Party for free life in Iraq." Wait. Wasn't Ali al-Dabbagh whining about "national sovereignty"? Iran invades Iraq and he's got nothing to say about sovereignty? Al Sabaah notes that Iran's military has "penetrated deep into Iraqi territory" and that at least 30 Iraqi families have been displaced as a result. They also note the Iraqi woman injured yesterday by the shelling from the Iranian military. AFP reports that Kurdistan officials are stating that "Iran must respect its borders with Iraq" and quotes KRG spokesperson Qawa Mahmud stating, "We demand Iran respect the sovereignty of the Kurdistan region as part of the sovereignty of Iraq. There was Iranian infiltration along the Iraqi border. If there is any border problem, the best way to resolve it is through negotations and peace, not by bombing civilians." Meanwhile MP and Deputy Chairman of Parliament Iskandar Witwitt thinks he's solved the issue. Aswat al-Iraq reports he's declared the blame for the attacks goes to . . . the United States! He states, the US dismantled Iraq's military when it invaded in 2003 and, as a result, Iraq cannot defend borders today.

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