Thursday, July 11, 2013





What’s the going rate for the US ambassadorship to London? Apparently around $2.3 million, judging by President Obama’s latest appointment to the Court of St. James’s, the most prestigious diplomatic posting in the world for a US official. This is the amount personally raised by Matthew Barzun, the chief fundraiser (finance chairman) for Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, which raked in $730 million in total. Mr Barzun, an internet businessman, was handpicked by the White House to be Obama’s representative in London, despite the fact he has no connection to modern-day Britain and his main qualification for the job appears to be that he has been an effective “bundler” for Barack Obama's two successful presidential election campaigns. His only diplomatic experience has been his recent stint as ambassador to Sweden, hardly a global powerhouse, itself a reward for his role in helping Obama win election in 2008.



AP reports today that the Pentagon is considering eliminating danger pay for many troops stationed around the world in order to save money.  The report notes, "Under the plans being discussed, troops would still receive the extra money if they serve in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Pakistan, Syria, Yemen and in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula. The U.S. does not have any military members now serving in Iran."

Moving over to Iraq War veteran Bradley Manning whose defense rested today. 

Monday April 5, 2010, WikiLeaks released  military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Monday June 7, 2010, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported in August 2010 that Manning had been charged -- "two charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The first encompasses four counts of violating Army regulations by transferring classified information to his personal computer between November and May and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system. The second comprises eight counts of violating federal laws governing the handling of classified information." In March, 2011, David S. Cloud (Los Angeles Times) reported that the military has added 22 additional counts to the charges including one that could be seen as "aiding the enemy" which could result in the death penalty if convicted. The Article 32 hearing took place in December. At the start of this year, there was an Article 32 hearing and, February 3rd, it was announced that the government would be moving forward with a court-martial. Bradley has yet to enter a plea. The court-martial was supposed to begin before the November 2012 election but it was postponed until after the election so that Barack wouldn't have to run on a record of his actual actions. adds, "A court martial is set to be held in June at Ford Meade in Maryland, with supporters treating him as a hero, but opponents describing him as a traitor."  February 28th, Bradley admitted he leaked to WikiLeaks.  And why.

Bradley Manning:   In attempting to conduct counter-terrorism or CT and counter-insurgency COIN operations we became obsessed with capturing and killing human targets on lists and not being suspicious of and avoiding cooperation with our Host Nation partners, and ignoring the second and third order effects of accomplishing short-term goals and missions. I believe that if the general public, especially the American public, had access to the information contained within the CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A tables this could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general as [missed word] as it related to Iraq and Afghanistan.
I also believed the detailed analysis of the data over a long period of time by different sectors of society might cause society to reevaluate the need or even the desire to even to engage in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations that ignore the complex dynamics of the people living in the effected environment everyday.

Had the US government shown the same concern, Bradley wouldn't have had to step up.  Instead, they gladly supported Nouri al-Maliki in torture and that's what Brad's exposures really prove.  This took place under Barack Obama's administration.  When the dots are connected, it's obvious what the White House has so feared for so long.

Thomas Gaist (WSWS) reports on Monday's proceedings:

While Manning’s defense team made arguments Monday presenting his decision to leak classified documents as motivated by concern for the well-being of the United States, its military, and the Iraqi people, Lind’s ruling prevents the defense from basing their case on the defendant’s principled opposition to US policies.
On Monday, the defense called Lauren McNamara, a woman who corresponded with Manning during the period when he made the leaks. She testified that he was “concerned with saving the lives of families in foreign countries” and that he “considered human life to be valuable above all.” McNamara quoted from her correspondence with Manning, reading his statement that was “concerned about making sure that everyone, soldiers, marines, contractors, even the local nationals, get home to their families.”
US Army sergeant David Sadtler, who oversaw Manning’s intelligence work, testified that Manning was angered by the jailing of 15 Iraqi civilians, with US approval, for distributing written material criticizing the government. “He was upset at the situation,” Sadtler said. Previously, Manning stated before the court that the Iraqis involved had no ties to the armed resistance against the US occupation, and that their materials contained a “scholarly critique” of the current regime.
Manning’s pre-trial statement shows that he was motivated by a growing consciousness of the criminal character of US foreign policy. In the statement, delivered to the military judge in February, the soldier asserted that his actions were intended to initiate a process of “worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms.”
Referring to politically motivated roundups carried out with full US support by the Iraqi regime, Manning said, “I knew that if I continued to assist the Baghdad Federal Police in identifying the political opponents of Prime Minister al-Maliki, those people would be arrested and in the custody of the Baghdad Federal Police and very likely tortured and not seen again for a very long time, if ever.”

As for today,   Xeni Jardin (BoingBoing) reports:


Manning has not, did not, and today told the court he will not testify in his court martial.
The defense rested its case today after having called a total of ten witnesses in the trial. The last was Yochai Benkler, a Harvard professor who is the author a widely-cited paper on the role WikiLeaks plays in what he terms "the networked fourth estate." In his testimony for the defense today, he described Wikileaks as having played a legitimate role in a new world of journalism; he argued that the government's characterization of the group as an Anti-American espionage front was inaccurate."   

Adam Klasfeld (Courthouse News)  explains, "The last witness to testify for the defense, Benkler is considered an academic authority in the evolution of media in the age of the Internet, and the most widely cited scholar on WikiLeaks."  Ian Simpson (Reuters) adds of Benkler's testimony:

 WikiLeaks is "a clear distinct component of what in the history of journalism we see as high points, where journalists are able to come in and say, 'Here's a system operating in a way that is obscure to the public and now we're able to shine the light,'" said Benkler, the co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society.

Brad Knickerbocker (Christian Science Monitor) observes, "The essence of Pfc. Bradley Manning’s defense in his military court martial is that, yes, he released a trove of classified data to the controversial whistle-blower organization WikiLeaks, but that information did not seriously harm US national security – and it certainly did not aid the enemy in the war on terrorism."  RT notes, "The soldier’s court-martial is now recessed until next week, at which point government prosecutors plan to offer a rebuttal. Col. Denise Lind, the presiding military judge in the case, also is expected to weigh in next week on the defense’s recent request that the government acquit Pfc. Manning on four of the more than 20 counts he has been charged with, including aiding the enemy."

 Moving over to Iraq, today was also when UNAMI issued the following:

 SRSG Martin Kobler's message to the Iraqi people for the holy month of Ramadan

Baghdad, 10 July 2013 - As Muslims around the world are observing the holy month of Ramadan, I would like to wish a blessed and peaceful month to all Iraqis on behalf of the entire UN family in Iraq.
 Ramadan is a time of devotion and harmony, a time of charity and forgiveness.
 The country has been struck by an increasing number of attacks and great violence during the past weeks and months. May the spirit of Ramadan bring peace and the hope for a better future to all Iraqi communities.
Ramadan Mubarak!

One of the big  stories in Iraq since last week has been the Under-20 World Cup.  Marcus Ghristenson (Guardian) reports:

On the Saturday night, Ali Yaseen was part of the Iraq squad that stunned Chile to reach the last 16 of the Under-20 World Cup in Turkey. On Sunday morning his club back in Iraq, Karbala, announced that their coach, Mohammed Abbas al-Jabouri, had died from the injuries suffered in an attack by anti-terrorism police during a match the previous weekend.
Yaseen, 19, had taken his place on the bench for the game in the knowledge that his coach was in a coma and that seven of his team-mates had been injured in the attack, several of them critically. He knew, too, that if he had not been selected for the Under-20 World Cup, he would most probably have been playing in the match against Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya and could, quite possibly, have ended up in hospital with life-threatening injuries.

AP explains the results of today's match with this headline "Uruguay spoils Iraq's fairy tale run after penalties, joining France in U-20 World Cup final."  Kevin McCauley (SB Nation) reports:

Ali Adnan, an experienced senior international for Iraq, netted the opening goal with an absolutely stunning free kick, scoring his second goal of the tournament. It appeared that he would attempt to play an in-swinging cross on a free kick from the right flank, 30 yards from goal, but instead he opted to rip a bending shot towards the top corner at the near post. Uruguay keeper Guillermo De Amores actually saw and reacted to the shot well, but it was so well placed and it with so much power that he had no chance to make a save.
Uruguay had a number of good chances throughout the match, but struggled to make the most of them. Iraq goalkeeper Mohammed Hameed was erratic, but ultimately very effective and made a number of big saves and clearances. However, he wasn't able to keep a clean sheet. In the 87th minute, Felipe Avenatti won a header in a crowd and nodded down to Gonzalo Bueno, who finished from 12 yards to level the match and force extra time.

All Iraq News notes that Ali Adnan and Mohamed Hamid were injured when they crashed into one another and that the game "was suspended to transport the two Iraqi players for treatment, then they returned to the field."

 Eric Willemsen (AP) explains, "Streets and cafes in Baghdad and other cities were the scene of jubilant celebrations after the wins over Paraguay and South Korea, but the streets remained calm on Wednesday.  Iraq also drew a lot of Turkish fans, who switched allegiance after the host team lost in the first knockout round."  This was the first time in 12 years that Iraq had qualified for the semi-finals so despite today's outcome, this was a historic victory for them.  In addition to having to compete in the match, they also had to deal today with rumors that sought to disqualify the team.  Eric Williemsen (AP) reports that FIFA cleared them today of charges that any member of their team was 21 or older (which would make them too old to compete).

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