Where Barack Obama flips the middle finger to the Iraqi people. Let's go back to Kitabat reports
that Brett McGurk, a US State Dept advisor, dined with journalists at
the American Embassy in Baghdad and declared that a majority government
was fine and dandy. We mentioned The Erbil Agreement earlier. It's
amazingly important and so rarely reported on by the western press which
appears to have mistaken a major in whoring for one in journalism.
March 2010, Iraq held parliamentary elections. They have a
parliamentary government and the person with the most members in their
'Congress' is named prime minister-designate and given 30 days to form a
cabinet. Not a partial cabinet. A full cabinet. You do that in 30
days or someone else named prime minister-designate.
of the 2010 elections? Iraqiya headed by Ayad Allawi. It's a mixed
political slate attempting to include of all Iraq. Iraqiya offers and
embraces a national 'we are all Iraqis' identity. It is also the
political slate that has female members of Parliament and not tokens.
(Al-Fadhila's Susan Sa'ad is not a MP I would want to represent me but
she's also not a token. One of the few non-Iraqiya female members who
can make that claim.) In the 2009 provincial elections a thread in
those results was that it appeared Iraqis were moving away from a
(US-imposed) Sunni-Shi'ite split and going for a national identity.
This was confirmed in the 2010 results when Nouri's State of Law was
defeated by the new Iraqiya coalition (whose members were killed in the
lead up to the election, whose members were barred from running by the
Justice and Accountability Commission).
Nouri stomped his feet and demanded a recount. The results were the same.
It was now time for Nouri to step down and for a new prime minister to emerge via the process outlined in the Constitution.
Nouri refused to allow that to happen. It's as though, in January
2009, Bully boy Bush announced he wasn't leaving the White House and
Barack Obama wasn't going to be named president.
Nouri kept the
country of Iraq in an eight-month political stalemate while he refused
to step down as prime minister. He was only able to do that with the
backing of the governments of Iran and the United States. Nouri is a
White House puppet. He was first appointed by the Bush White House when
they didn't want Ibrahim al-Jaafari to become prime minister in 2006.
By 2010, Nouri's secret prisons, torture cells, corruption and much more
were well known and documented. While Barack and others in the White
House love to sneer at the Iranian government's alleged embrace of
torture, their hands are just as dirty.
And the Iraqi people had
gone to the polls. They had expressed their wishes and the votes were
counted and then recounted. And yet the US that supposedly wanted to
introduce 'democracy' to Iraq immediately pissed on democracy, pissed on
the voters, pissed on the Iraqi Constitution.
During the eight
month political stalemate, US officials repeatedly pressured the
political blocs to let Nouri have a second term. No surprise, most said
no and said no repeatedly. After it hit the eight month mark, US
officials began telling the political leaders that Nouri was willing to
go another eight months, that nothing would ever get done in Iraq. So
why not be the adult in the room, give Nouri a second term as prime
minister and, in exchange, we'll put your concerns on paper in a legally
binding contract that Nouri will have to follow.
concerns? One example. Kirkuk is oil rich. Because it's oil rich,
it's disputed. The semi-autonomous KRG in the north claims it and the
Nouri's Baghdad-based government claims it. How do you solve who gets
it? Well Iraq wrote and passed a Constitution in 2005. Article 140
explained how this would be addressed: A census and a referendum. Nouri
took an oath in 2006 to obey the Constitution. He never implemented
Article 140. Before you say, "Maybe he was busy," the Constitution
mandates that Article 140 be instituted no later than December 2007.
Nouri ignored the Constitution.
It is thought that a vore would see Kirkuk go to the KRG. So Nouri's delayed the vote, repeatedly ignoring the Constitution.
say US officials, we'll put it in writing, it'll be a binding contract
and Nouri will have to honor it. [He wasn't honoring the Iraqi
Constitution but he was going to honor a contract?] US officials did
this with the leader of each political bloc to get them to agree that
Nouri would get a second term. This is the US-brokered Erbil Agreement.
is extra-constitutional because it goes around the Constitution which
clearly defines how someone becomes prime minister. For example, Nouri
never formed a full cabinet. Back in July, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observed,
"Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has struggled to forge a lasting
power-sharing agreement and has yet to fill key Cabinet positions,
including the ministers of defense, interior and national security,
while his backers have also shown signs of wobbling support." Those
positions were supposed to have been filled before the end of December
2010. They were not. They are still not filled. Nouri refused to fill
them because once the Iraqi Parliament confirms a nominee, that nominee
is autonomous. Nouri can't fire them, only the Parliament can. (Which
isn't easy. Nouri's gotten Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi convicted
of 'terrorism' and sentenced to death with the Baghdad courts he
controls but he can't get Parliament to strip Tareq of his title.)
he was governed by The Erbil Agreement and not the Constitution, he
didn't have to meet any requirements. And he trashed The Erbil
Agreement. Immediately. A census was supposed to take place in Kirkuk
the first week of December 2010. Nouri called it off, said it was
postponed. It's never been brought up again. He was supposed to
appoint Ayad Allawi to head an independent national security agency.
Immediately after President Jalal Talabani named Nouri prime
minister-designate, Nouri told Parliament that Allawi's position would
have to wait. It's 'waited' ever since.
The US image in Iraq
wasn't good before then. For obvious reasons (an illegal war that
destroyed Iraq). Barack Obama's election meant that Iraqis thought a
real change might be coming. They were hopeful. They no longer are.
They have seen through Barack Obama and his 'withdrawal' which is
actually more counter-terrorism US troops in Iraq today than at the
start of 2012. (Not surprising because he told the New York Times he'd
do that when he was first running for the presidency.) But what it
mainly did was send the message to Iraqi political leaders that the US
can't be trusted. For example, there is so much damage in the trust
that did exist among Kurdish leaders. They now realize they will be
screwed over every time. It didn't have to be this way.
Washington has little political and no military influence
over these developments [in Iraq]. As Michael Gordon and Bernard
Trainor charge in their ambitious new history of the Iraq war, The Endgame,
Obama's administration sacrificed political influence by failing in
2010 to insist that the results of Iraq’s first proper election be
honored: "When the Obama administration acquiesced in the questionable
judicial opinion that prevented Ayad Allawi's bloc, after it had won the
most seats in 2010, from the first attempt at forming a new government,
it undermined the prospects, however slim, for a compromise that might
have led to a genuinely inclusive and cross-sectarian government."
What The Erbil-Agreement put forward was a power-sharing
government. This week, Brett McGurk announced that the US government
now supports a majority-government. that's what Nouri has been
insisting on all along. He couldn't accomplish that at the ballot box
-- hell, he couldn't even win a term as prime minister at the ballot box
-- but now the US is backing his power grab. This is major news and
will have huge implications on the way the Iraqi people see the US.
went to Karbala today. Speaking alongside his political cronies, Nouri
refused to take off his sunglasses. None of the over 16 people
standing beside him required sunglasses but Nouri had to hide his eyes.
He has to hide a lot. Alsumaria reports
that he accused other political parties and slates of being terrorists.
And what is a reach around to Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq, he
declared that some political parties work to keep smaller ones from
success. (al-Mutlaq is currently the leader of the National Dialogue
Front which is a part of Iraqiya. al-Mutlaq and Nouri have gotten very
tight as al-Mutlaq's leadership has fallen into question.) He
also pushed his desire for majority government -- again, something the
voters did not sign off on -- and declared it was the only way to end
the "political impasse." Kitabat notes
that he declared this is what has kept Iraq from moving forward.
Parliamentary elections are currently supposed to take place in March of
2014. Nouri called for early elections and said the 2010 elections
were marred by vote rigging. This is the piece of crap that the United
States government has backed -- under Bush, under Barack. There's not a
damn bit of difference between Bush and Barack except Barack can speak
properly and Bully Boy Bush knew how to come off human (and not like the
first place winner in a Leonard Nimoy competition).
that Brett McGurk has announced he will be entering discussions with
various political leaders on how to solve the political crisis. Well
it's "crises" -- not crisis. And the roots go back to the failure of
Nouri to honor The Erbil Agreement and the failure of the US to keep
their promise that they would ensure The Erbil Agreement would be
honored. It's 2013. It's a little damn late, even if the US was trying
to strong arm Nouri, for the 2010 contract to be honored (because come
2014, new parliamentary elections will be held). But why would any
Iraqi politician expect either Nouri or the US government to be honest
at this point? With their track record of lying over and over, why
should Nouri or the US government be trusted?
on finds a team of archaeologists from the University of Manchester are
making in Iraq -- specifically in historical Ur. The team is lead by
Dr. Jane Moon and Professor Stuart Campbell. They began with satellite
imagery before going to Ur where they've found a "complex at about 80
metres square -- roughly the size of a football pitch. They believe the
building goes back 4,000 years, going back to early Sumer and was
"connected to the administration of Ur." Ancient Digger explains:
Tell Khaiber, as the site is called, is playing host to one of the first major archaeological projects
with extensive participation by foreign scientists since the hiatus
caused by the political situation and hostilities of the Iraqi war.
Consisting of an international mix of six British archaeologists
representing four UK institutions and four Iraqi archaeologists from the
State Board for Antiquities and Heritage of Iraq, the team expects to
uncover not just monumental buildings, but evidence that may shed new
light on the environment and lifeways of the people who inhabited the
Give us an example, if you would. Is there a piece that is of
particular significance that--or at least significance to you?
GEORGE: Well, at the beginning, you see, we lost some very, very
important masterpieces, like the Warka vase, like the mask of the lady
from Warka, but these came back. But now one of the most important
pieces that is still missing is the headless statue, half-natural-size,
of the Sumerian King Natum(ph), which--we still don't have it. And, by
the way, this piece is inscribed on the back shoulder, and it could be
one of the rare examples, the first examples, of this mentioning the
word 'king' in the history of mankind. So this is -- I mean, every
single piece has its own significance.
We're talking with Donny George, director of the Iraq Museum in
Baghdad. You're listening to TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News. You
mentioned Sumer; this was an early, maybe the earliest, human
Mr. GEORGE: That's right.
CONAN: ...speaking a language that appears to have no relation to any language anywhere else.
Mr. GEORGE: That's right. Yeah.
This is a great mystery and--but these were the people who first
invented the hydrographic civilization that we emerged from.
GEORGE: That's right. I mean, modern scholars believe that the
Sumerians are the descendants of the first people coming to Mesopotamia.
Those were the people coming from the Neolithic period. Those were the
people who started the villages. Those were the people who actually,
with the villages, started the animal domestication and agriculture and a
lot of -- villages planning and, you know -- but then, in about 4,500
BC, we learn that these are Sumerians. We don't have the writing then,
but in about 3,200 BC we started having the writing, the inscription
that they themselves invented at the beginning. It was a kind of
pictographic. And, you see, this is the greatness of the people: Out of
nothing, they invent something, something very important, something that
can exchange ideas and can accumulate ideas between generations and
generations. That was the writing. Now we have it here.
The last major excavation at Ur was performed by a British-American
team led by Sir Charles Leonard Woolley in the 1920s and the 1930s.
After the 1950s revolution, which toppled Iraq’s monarchy, a nearby
military air base put the area off limits to foreign archaeologists for
the next half century. “What Wooley found were these tremendous
monumental buildings, but it’s difficult to tell a coherent story about
them because they were restored again and again and again, and what you
see is neo-Babylonian, 7th century BC – very much later,” says Moon. “He
wasn’t able to see what they were really used for and that’s where I’m
hoping our modern methods might be able to say something.” At Ur,
Wooley also discovered a spectacular treasure trove that rivals King
Tut’s tomb. At least 16 members of royalty were buried at Ur with
elaborate gold jewelry, including a queen’s headdress made of gold
leaves and studded with lapis lazuli. Other objects included a gold and
lapis lyre, one of the first known musical instruments. In the
1930s, the treasures were split between the British Museum and the
University of Pennsylvania, which funded Wooley’s work, and the newly
created Iraq museum. Moon says it’s impossible to tell whether the new site might contain similar finds. “Ultimately
we’re not looking for objects we’re looking for information.… I guess
it’s always a possibility. In archaeology you can always be surprised.”
In 2011, President Obama repealed Don't Ask Don't Tel (DADT),
which finally made it legal for U.S. servicemembers to identify as gay
or lesbian without fear of being fired. That's great news. The bad news
is that many soldiers and former soldiers are
still facing the repercussions of coming out. One of the most recognizable of these soldiers is
Lieutenant Dan Choi, a gay man who made national headlines in 2009 for
publicly coming out and being summarily fired from the U.S. army. He
then spent the next two years using his story to protest DADT, which he
viewed as a homophobic, outdated law that had no place in the United
States. In 2010, the Iraq war veteran was arrested for protesting DADT
in front of the White House -- and slapped with federal charges. While most of the other protesters were charged with a
fine and released, Lt. Choi refused to plead guilty. He believes that
he's being unfairly targeted by the military as a gay man who's
attracting too much attention. Now, he's unable to re-enlist and facing
six months of possible jail time. Lt. Choi is a national hero, not someone who should be
punished for peacefully protesting a policy that violated his
Constitutional rights and left him jobless. Tell the U.S.
Department of Justice: no jail time for Lt. Choi!
Choi stood up. The world could use more people who take a stand. A
lot of people just hang in the background and claim to stand up. For
example, Reporters Without Borders (still) defines their own mission as: Freedom of expression and of information will always be the world’s most
important freedom. If journalists were not free to report the facts,
denounce abuses and alert the public, how would we resist the problem of
children-soldiers, defend women’s rights, or preserve our environment?
In some countries, torturers stop their atrocious deeds as soon as they
are mentioned in the media. In others, corrupt politicians abandon their
illegal habits when investigative journalists publish compromising
details about their activities. Still elsewhere, massacres are prevented
when the international media focuses its attention and cameras on
CPJ promotes press freedom worldwide and defends the right of
journalists to report the news without fear of reprisal. CPJ takes
action wherever journalists are censored, attacked, imprisoned, or
killed for their work. Our advocacy helps to ensure the free flow of
news and commentary.
Wherever journalists are censored, attacked, imprisoned, or killed? Even Iraq? As Elaine asked
of Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists
yesterday, "Why does it always seem that, with both of these
organizations, Iraq always has to come last?"
As covered in yesterday's snapshot, Dar Addustour, Al-Parliament, Al-Mustaqbal and Al-Nas
were attacked in Baghdad Monday evening, their employees threatened
(five people stabbed, more left with bruises and fractures), offices
destroyed and cars set on fire (a fifth Baghdad newspaper, Al Mada, was threatened but not attacked). As Elaine notes, the press was "covering this topic this morning and this evening the Committee to
Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders have still not managed
to issue anything. Not a statement condemning the attacks, not
anything." It's now a day later and still nothing from the 'protectors' of journalists.
newspapers attacked in Baghdad. And not one word from the Committee to
Protect Journalists? No condemnation from Reporters Without Borders?
a funny way to protect the press, a funny way to be an advocate for
journalism. But Elaine is correct, especially with regards to CPJ, when
it comes to Iraq we have seen this over and over. It's like there is
the whole world and then, after they've dealt with everything else in
the world, they may make times to mention something from days or weeks
ago in Iraq. Iraq doesn't matter to these outlets obviously. Monday
evening the attacks took place. It is Wednesday evening now. And
neither press 'protector' could managed to issue a statement. 48 hours
after the attacks and not one damn word.
They can take comfort in
the fact that Arab social media is focusing more on the silence of the
US State Dept and some very funny (and cruel) illustrations of State
Dept spokesperson Victoria Nuland are popping up with her 'concern'
expressed Monday about Egypt. It's noted real concern would require
Nuland -- a neocon married to neocon Robert Kagan -- to express concern
for the Iraqi press. The funniest cartoon features a nude and saggy
Victoria Nuland with the question of where is her remorse for Iraq?
Obviously, no where to be found.
Dar Addustour reports
that the the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council's Sheikh Humam Hamoud has joined those who have publicly
condemned the attacks and he has termed them "disturbing and scary." He has
called on the security forces to double their efforts to find the
assailants. As Sheikh is a columnist for Dar Addustour and today he weighs in
on the attacks noting that the solidarity many Iraqi officials,
politicians and media figures have expressed with the papers attacked
has been empowering. He calls on Iraqis to reject violence and to come
together to build a modern, democratic Iraq. The attacks were a
dangerous precedent, he writes, and must not happen again while the
assailants must be brought to justice because this will affirm Iraq's
commitment tot he law, to democracy and to Constitutional principles.
He ends his column calling for the Almighty's blessing on Iraq and
thanking those Iraqis who stood up and expressed solidarity. Sara Hamdan (New York Times) is expressing
something -- bliss? Maybe something stronger. It's the usual
neo-liberal crap advocating that state banks be replaced with private
banks. While that may not be surprising -- this is the New York Times,
after all -- being low-fact, semi-fact free, may be. Hamdan offers,
"According to the Web site of the Central Bank of Iraq, the country is
served by 7 state-owned banks, 32 private banks and 15 foreign banks.
But analysts say that a handful of state-owned banks -- and two in
particular, Rafidain Bank and Rasheed Bank -- dominate 90 percent of the
business." And that's about all she can handle. Many days this would
be less noticeable. Too bad for Hamdan that she writes on the same day Farid Farid (Transparency International) chooses to weigh in on the topic of corruption in Iraq -- including that $800 million is "said to be unlawfully transferred
out of Iraq every week." Iraq ranks 169 out of 174 countries on
Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index. Maybe today
wasn't the best day for the New York Times to again pimp privatization -- which brings about even less checks and balances?
The big multinational petroleum giants now run the nation’s fields.
Between 2009 and 2010, the Maliki government granted contracts for
developing existing fields and exploring new ones to 18 companies,
including ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell, the Italian Eni, Russia's
Gazprom and Lukoil, Malaysia's Petronas and a partnership between BP and
the Chinese National Petroleum Corporation. When they started, the U.S.
military provided the initial security umbrella protecting all of their
The Ministry of Oil technically still owns the oil, but functions more
as the multinationals' adjunct, while stripping workers of their rights.
Since 2003 the ministry has denied the union its right to exist and
retaliated against its leaders and activists. As the oil corporations
rush in to lay claim to developing fields, ministry spokesman Assam
Jihad told the Iraq Oil Report in 2010, "Unionists instigate the public
against the plans of the oil ministry to develop [Iraq's] oil riches
using foreign development."
In 2011, Hassan Juma'a and Falih Abood, president and general secretary of the Federation of Oil Employees of Iraq, were first subject to legal action by the ministry
and threatened with arrest. Many of the union’s elected officers have
been transferred from jobs they’d held for years to remote locations far
from their families, in an effort to break up its structure and punish
activists. "The government doesn't want workers to have rights, because
it wants people to be weak and at the mercy of employers," said Juma'a.
all the talk about fostering democracy and human rights in Iraq,
workers there continue to be denied the right to freely organize trade
unions and negotiate over the terms of their labor - just as they were
under Saddam Hussein. In the last two years, repression against unions has escalated.
A wave of peaceful strikes has recently swept Iraq as workers seek to
redress grievances and assert their rights. The response of the Al
Maliki government has been to crack down on discontent with disciplinary action againstunion activists, and even criminal complaints against union leaders.
Recently the Ministry of Oil lodged a criminal complaint against Hassan Juma'a Awad, President of the Iraq Federation of Oil Unions*, claiming he was responsible for strikes in the oil industry.
If convicted, he could face stiff fines and five years in prison. He has been ordered to appear in court on April 7th to respond to charges leveled against him.
of union leaders for exercising rights promised by Iraq's constitution
and protected under international treaty must not be allowed to stand
Labor organizations across the U.S., including the AFL-CIO, and around the world have responded by signing a letter to Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki
demanding that all charges against Hassan Juma'a be immediately
withdrawn and that persecution of Iraqi workers peacefully exercising
their rights must cease. They
further demand that the Iraqi government promptly enact a basic labor
and trade union law that guarantees the right of workers to organize and
join unions of their choosing free from government interference and
harassment, and that both public and private employers be required to
negotiateover the terms and conditions of employment with the unions chosen by their employees.
No government that denies these basic labor and human rights can claim to be a democracy.
The U.S. and other governments ought to freeze economic aid to Iraq until these and other basic human rights are respected.
U.S. Labor Against the War calls on its affiliates, members and supporters in unions and allied social justice organizations to sign this petitionsupporting
the rights of Iraq's workers and solidarity with Hassan Juma'a and
other union activists who are being persecuted by the government for
exercising their rights.
As Bacon notes in his article, there have been several protests in Basra by oil workers in the month of February.
course, there are ongoing protests in Iraq that reached the 100-day
mark on Monday. The protesters are calling for a responsive government
that addresses the needs of the people. These are the people who live
in poverty. Billions of dollars come in each month from oil and Iraq
has around 30 million people but the government can't provide. It can't
provide needed jobs, it can provide consistent electricity, it can't
provide potable water, it can't provide needed sanitation infrastructure
(which is why the rainy seasons in Iraq meaning flooding throughout the
bulk of the country -- standing water, up to the knees, in parts of
Baghdad -- such as Sadr City -- even a day after the rain stops). Nouri
al-Maliki's government also attacks political rivals and anyone who
fights for a better life for Iraq, Hassam Juma'a is only one example of
that. Iraqi Spring MC notes
that Nouri's forces killed activist Qahtan Adnan Shalash Hiti yesterday
and then grabbed four other activists and took them away with no one
providing information about where the four have been taken.
multiple newspapers are attacked in one city, it's usually considered
news. And journalistic organizations are usually up in arms. Unless
it's Iraq apparently. At which point Reporters Without Borders and the
Committee to Protect Journalists forget to speak up.
This morning, Alsumaria, citing a police source, reported
an attack on the headquarters of a Baghdad newspaper where four
employees were stabbed with knives. [The number is now five.] The assailants demanded and
recorded the names of all the paper's employees. In a later article, the outlet reveals
that four daily papers were attacked by "paramilitary" members
yesterday. Journalists are decrying the silence and indifference from
the government over the attacks. The Associated Press' Diaa Hadid Tweets:
the four newspapers as: "Al-Dustour (The Constitution), Al-Parliament,
Al-Mustaqbal (The Future) and Al-Nas (The People)" and quotes the
editor-in-chief of Al-Mustaqbal, Ali Darraji, stating, "About 30 men in
civilian clothes entered our offices after forcibly removing the door.
They set fire to my car, and they entered the office, broke all the
computers and everything around. All of this happened in about 20
minutes -- when guards outside opened fire to scare them away, they
escaped, but they escaped after doing what they wanted to do."
Many papers and channels have been shut down in the
'free' Iraq. Al Mada was repeatedly targeted last year by the
government. At one point, the editor and publisher's home was encircled
by military tanks on Nouri's orders. Out of 179 countries in the
world, the World Press Freedom Index 2013 ranks
Iraq at 150. Meaning there are 29 countries in which the press is in
even more danger. And that there are 149 countries in which the press
is safer. The report notes of Iraq, "The security situation for
journalists continues to be very worrying with three killed in
connection with their work in 2012 and seven killed in 2011.
Journalists are constantly obstructed." Ahmed Rasheed, Patrick Markey and Mark Heinrich (Reuters) note, "Now Iraqis have a choice of 200 print outlets, 60 radio stations and
30 TV channels in Arabic and also in the Turkman, Syriac and Kurdish
languages. But while press freedom has improved,
many media outlets remain dominated by religious or political party
patrons who use them for their own ends. The government has also
occasionally threatened to close media outlets it regards as offensive." They also note 5 journalists killed in 2012.
It is in this spirit that UNESCO has chosen to celebrate the event
with the global theme “Safe to Speak: Securing Freedom of Expression in
All Media”. The
main event will be jointly organized by UNESCO, the Government of Costa
Rica and the United Nations-mandated University for Peace in the city
of San José, Costa Rica from 2 to 4 May 2013.
The media landscape has evolved over the past two
decades, creating new opportunities for exchange and dialogue, and for
sharing knowledge and information through new platforms. However, it has
yet to be translated into stronger respect for fundamental freedoms –
particularly as regards the safety of those doing journalism. While
progress has been made over the last 20 years, many old challenges
remain strong, and new threats to freedom of expression are emerging in
the digital news environment.
TheIraq Times notes
that Iraqiya MP Wissal Salim today declared it is the security forces
duty to protect the press and that attacks send a negative message with
the intent of killing off democracy. She noted in a press conference
today that Iraq can enjoy a democratic era with a free press and
freedoms for Iraqis but not if barbaric attacks are to take place on the
instruments of democracy which can lead the country forward.
Baghdad, 2 April 2013 -- The United Nations strongly
condemns the attacks that targeted journalists and media facilities in
Baghdad on 1 April. “Assaults against media organizations or journalists
are unacceptable under any circumstances," the Special Representative
of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq (SRSG) Mr. Kobler said,
urging the government of Iraq to ensure that media professionals are
protected against all forms of intimidation and violence because of
their opinions or thoughts.
UNESCO Director in Iraq, Ms. Louise Haxthausen, expressed her deep
concern about the dangerous impact of such incidents on press freedom
and freedom of expression, and called for bringing to justice and
prosecuting those involved in these attacks. "Freedom of expression is a
crucial element for establishing true democracy and building
sustainable peace in Iraq," Ms. Haxthausen stated.
This morning, Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) could report on the story (and AP was the only Western outlet reporting this morning) and Al Jazeera and the Christian Science Monitor's Jane Arraf could Tweet on it:
Friday, we noted how far All Things Media Big and Small fell in the lead up to the Iraq War and the years since.
Today new details on a US torture scandal break in England. Big Media is going
to avoid as they avoid all things. If it's going to get traction in the
US, it will have to be via Little Media. Joel Bleifuss, editor and
publisher of In These Times, did a mass e-mailing today. As if to drive
the point home about just how useless our 'independent' and
'alternative' media is, they tried to fundraise not by providing
information -- which is what they're supposed to be paid to do, they
grasp that right -- but instead by noting that Chris Hayes used to write
for them and tonight his All In debuts on MSNBC. This really trumps
torture? This back patting is going to help raise money?
all it says is, "We are so worthless that seven years ago we were able
to employ Hayes. For him to do anything of importance he had to leave
us. So go watch MSNBC and realize how unimportant and ineffectual we at
In These Times actually are."
Want to raise money, Joel? You do an e-mail like this:
British media broke the news of systemic US torture in Iraq that took
place during and after Abu Ghraib. Testimony from British soldiers
reveals torture as bad and worse than what was reported about Abu
Ghraib. Do you think the New York Times will front page this story?
No. That's why In These Times needs your support. To grab these
stories and amplify them, to provide coverage of what Big Media doesn't
want you to know about. As we face an austerity crisis that threatens to undo the very fabric
of our social safety net, In These Times is proud to bring you the news the corporate media would rather keep from you.
• Iraqi prisoners being held for prolonged periods in cells the size of large dog kennels. • Prisoners being subjected to electric shocks. • Prisoners being routinely hooded. • Inmates being taken into a sound-proofed shipping container for interrogation, and emerging in a state of physical distress.
The new account reveals the extent to which the unit members
mistreated prisoners months before and after the photographs of abuse
from Abu Ghraib were made public in April 2004, and it helps belie the
original Pentagon assertions that abuse was confined to a small number
of rogue reservists at Abu Ghraib. The abuses at Camp Nama
continued despite warnings beginning in August 2003 from an Army
investigator and American intelligence and law enforcement officials in
Iraq. The C.I.A. was concerned enough to bar its personnel from Camp
Nama that August. It is difficult to compare the conditions at the
camp with those at Abu Ghraib because so little is known about the
secret compound, which was off limits even to the Red Cross. The abuses
appeared to have been unsanctioned, but some of them seemed to have been
well known throughout the camp.
"Reported"? I have no
problem with Eric Schmitt's reporting. In the years when we regularly
tracked Carolyn Marshall's 'reporting' here. We don't have time to
review all of her nonsense. 'We know little and we'll tell little'
really seems the point of the article with a rushed, 'Now move along
now,' tacked on. Move along is what the torture did, though Schmitt and
Marshall missed that in their 2006 'report.' In the summer of 2004,
most likely in a panic over the two Navy Seals who tried to take photos,
Camp Nama's torture was halted because, Cobain explains, "the secret prison was moved to Balad, a sprawling air base 50 miles
north of Baghdad, where it became known as the Temporary Screening
Facility (TSF). The Army Air Force and RAF troops continued their role
Do the British soldiers going public have knowledge of
the torture at Balad? They may very well. But what they've already
revealed is damaging enough to the lie that what happened at Abu Ghraib
was more accident and not policy. It was policy.
In the 2006
article, Schmitt and Marshall could note a then minor figure in terms of
public awareness, mention him at the end of a sentence: "Lt. Gen.
Stanley McChrystal, who leads the Joint Special Operations
Command, the headquarters at Fort Bragg, N.C., that supplies the unit's
most elite troops." Cobain notes today, "One person who has been widely reported to have been seen there frequently was General Stanley McChrystal,
then commander of US Joint Special Operations forces in Iraq." And yet
what brought this torturer down was shooting off his mouth about US
Vice President Joe Biden? Torture wasn't just policy, it was approved
policy or President Barack Obama wouldn't have put McChrystal in charge
The news that President Obama picked General Stanley McChrystal to run the war in Afghanistan put an old story of mine
into the national spotlight last week. In 2006, Esquire sent me around
the country to interview military interrogators with a Human Rights
Watch investigator named Marc Garlasco.
One of those men worked at Camp Nama, a small base near Baghdad where a
Special Forces task force was interrogating Iraqis in an effort to find
the head of Al Qaeda in Iraq. It was so secret that the officers went
by false names there. Bad things happened. They doused people in cold
water, used isolation and stress positions and sleep manipulation. These
methods all appeared on a checklist. To use each one, they had to check
the appropriate box and get approval.
The chain of command for that approval went through General
McChrystal. Even more damning, the interrogator told us that he actually
saw McChrystal in the camp while such acts were occurring. He also said
that his supervisor told him and his colleagues that McChrystal had
made a personal promise that the Red Cross would never be allowed into
the camp — a violation of our treaty obligations under the Geneva
Conventions, which is a violation of the law that we used to follow
before the Bush administration.
aren't the torture criminals forced to appear before Congress, to
testify in open session? Because a lot of members of Congress signed
off on the torture with their silence. You saw that when Zero Dark Thirty
came out and members of Congress attacked the film. 'That did not
happen!' three senators insisted (Carl Levin, John McCain and Dianne
Feinstein). And idiots used that as 'proof' that Zero Dark Thirty was wrong. No. As former US House Rep Jane Harman and former CIA Director Leon Panetta noted, it was pretty accurate.
looks the other way because many of them were complicit in the
torture. That's why they refused to launch
an investigation into
Abu Ghraib. They are supposed to provide oversight. They have been
derelict in their Constitutional duty, they have ignored their
Constitutional oaths. And they've gotten away with it, year after year.
McChrystal's confirmation hearing in June 2009, he was lucky to have
senators who didn't want to ask about torture -- despite even the editorial board of the New York Times insisting those were the relevant questions.
Instead, helpers like John McCain asked him about Pat Tilman allowing
him to grandstand on that (the lies told about Tilman's death) and look
like a truth teller instead of the human waste that oversaw torture.
unimportant remarks about Pat Tilman (we already knew, years prior,
that the military and White House lied about Tilman's death -- this was
established by the Congress and by the
press) did what they were supposed
to, lead idiots -- Taylor Marsh to name one -- to applaud him and
insist he be immediately confirmed. (The idiots also seemed unaware
that McChrystal's position and immediate knowledge of the truth about
Tilman's death meant he was required to immediately notify the family;
something he refused to do. And they weren't at all concerned about the
mistreatment of the Tilman family when McChrystal joined Joining Forces which is a White House group that's supposed to help military families.)
when John McCain wasn't whoring, Harry Reid was. Or have we all
forgotten that there was reluctance to McChrystal and Reid took to the
floor of the senate to deliver an impassioned speech insisting that
McChrystal be immediately confirmed?
Congress always wants to
rush . . . except when it involves them doing more
than voting yes or no.
There's no rush -- now or then -- to investigate the torture. Harry
Reid is fine with torture as long as he is Senate Majority Leader. Let
him lose that position and believe that decrying torture can help him
win it back, and Harry will be the biggest anti-torture senator. And
what of Dick Durbin? Illinois' blubbering senator cried -- more for
himself when he issued an apology -- over Abu Ghraib.
After all the senators signed off on McChrystal, Justin Rood (ABC News) reported
that then-Senator Russ Feingold (who voted for McChrystal) stated
McChrystal wasn't forthcoming on torture. But they all voted for him,
Torture was policy, not happenstance, not accidents. That's what the latest revelations drive home.
David Petraeus was sent back into Iraq in 2004 to implement counter-insurgency. At the start of last month, Jim White (Empty Wheel) noted
the US military order Frago 242 which was issued in June 2004 ("an
order to ignore reports of torture carried out by these Iraqi groups")
and that this order was issued the same month Petraeus returned to Iraq.
While Abu Ghraib prison, just a few miles to the west, would achieve
global notoriety after photographs emerged depicting abuses committed
there, Camp Nama escaped attention for a simple reason: photography was
banned. The only people who attempted to take pictures – a pair of US
Navy Seals – were promptly arrested. All discussion of what happened
there was forbidden.
Terror detention cells. Ethnic/sectarian cleansing. Butchers in
place. Design, spark, initiate, support, fund, sustain and lead
sectarian cleansing and civil war. That’s how America “played” with the
national and sectarian life in Iraq for decades to come; that’s how they
suppressed – factually speaking – sunni insurgency against America. The
aim of America was to distract resistance, mainly sunnis, by pitting
them against their conventional sectarian rivals – i.e. shias who were
brutally oppressed by widely hated and un-Islamic ruler Saddam Hussein –
from its real object: foreign occupation. This news of US exploiting the fault line of Muslim ummah shouldn’t
come as a surprise. However, this whole revelation of convincing and
unequivocal evidence of US triggered civil war in Iraq is fresh: exposed
by Guardian, which broadcasted on internet on 6th March 2013 a
documentary on a US veteran, James Steele, the counter-insurgency ‘hero’
who led this campaign of terror and torture. Just as RAND think tank
had advised US leaders when asked to work out a strategy to win war: “Align its policy with Shiite groups who aspire to have more
participation in government and greater freedoms of political and
religious expression. If this alignment can be brought about, it could
erect a barrier against radical Islamic movements and may create a
foundation for a stable U.S. position in the Middle East.” James Steele was a crucial element in executing the strategy.