Saturday, May 05, 2012








Starting in the US with news of the latest faux left move.  The Coalition to Protest at the DNC talked a good game and got some support.  We didn't support it because they were so obviously fake.  But they fooled a number of people.  Today the organization posted a statement which begins: "It is with great enthusiasm that we announce that the Coalition to Protest at the DNC is changing its name to the Coalition to March on Wall Street South -- Building People's Power during the DNC.  This decision was made unanimously by the steering committee of the coalition, made up of representatives from more than 60 organizations."
Michael Cooper (New York Times) reports on the name change and includes this:
"It shows a real lack of integrity, I think, to let Democrats off the hook," said Cindy Sheehan, the well-known antiwar protester whose son, Casey, was killed in Iraq, adding that the name change was making her rethink her plans to attend protests in Charolotte.  "They are as much the party of war as the Republicans, the party of Wall Street."
Cooper also quotes "veteran antiwar activist" John Penley who wrote "What a sellout!" online.  Penely also wrote:

Listen my OWS friends if you are going to support the Democratic Party and vote for Obama for president and encourage people not to protest at the DNC in Charlotte and only protest the Republicans in Tampa well lets leave as friends I still love ya but please defriend me so I can make room for those who have not joined team Obama or the GD Republicans.
What Penely fears is exactly what took place in 2008.  Here's a few things that would-be sell outs on the left should consider in the future.
1) A Democrat who can't speak up for what's right during the campaign out of fear that he or she will lose the race is not one that normally ever speaks up after the race is won. Because there's always another race and when there's not -- say you've two-termed it out of the White House -- there's still so much corporate dollars to be made.
Right now in Arizona, there's a ridiculous woman running for public office.  She's a War Hawk and a number of left voters (we were in the state on Monday and Tuesday) are kidding themselves that, because when Bully Boy Bush was in office, when she gets into office, she'll suddenly become Dennis Kucinich.  She won't.  She was in peace groups in 2003.  If she wanted to be a part of that, she still would be.  She left those to cheer on War Hawk Barack and that's where she's at now.  She's not playing voters for fools and pretending to be something she's not but a number of voters are willingly playing the fool as they rush to convince themselves that she's really a secret peace vote.
2) If you can't hold someone's feet to the fire right now at this moment, chances are you never will.  In 2007 and 2008, Tom Hayden, Laura Flanders and others made repeated claims that they would hold Barack's feet to the fire but not yet, you understand, he had to win the primary first.  But, buster, once he did, step back because they were going to hold his feet to the fire.
It never happened.  And as they look back, I would hope Tom and Laura both now realize that they were wrong to stay silent when Barack utilized homophobia in 2007 to solidify the primary vote in South Carolina.  (If you missed this in real time, refer to Kevin Alexander Gray and Marshall Derks' "Obama's Big Gay and Black Problem.") If a candidate who wants your vote, who needs your vote, is someone you're not comfortable pressing on issues that matter today, that's someone's feet you'll never hold to the fire.
3) Refusing to make demands and hold accountable someone running for public office leads not to a stronger spine (for you or your candidate of choice) but to more craven actions.  Doubt that?  From 2008's "Editorial: Raw emotions (Ava and C.I.):"

Now maybe everyone's decided to take Katha Pollitt's stated oath which she revealed when she felt 'forced' to call out Tom Hayden's latest sexism last April: "I want to do my bit for Obama, so I vowed I would give up attacking Obama-supporting progressives for the duration of the presidential campaign." Guess what, Katha, we don't do our "bit for" feminism by staying silent. That was in April that she broke (and announced) her vow -- one she's gone back to. So, basically, at the start of the year, Pollitt's admitting, she decided to let sexist attacks from Barack's campaign and his supporters slide until after the election. Wow.
See how quickly doing her part went from not calling out a politician to not calling out his supporters?  Here's reality:  Free speech is meant to be used.  It's not a snazzy little Chanel number that you hide in the closet while you wait for just the right occasion to sport it.
4) Though you're an adult, always grasp that there are people just coming of age and there are children watching.  Remember that when you want to preach silence and not accountability.  And grasp that a large part of the reason Barack is still not held accountable has to do with the behavior you moldeled for others.
Think of the above as guidelines.  There will always be exceptions.  As Betty noted last night, one of the loudest members of the Cult of St. Barack was able to break free.  David Lindorff most recently has compiled a list of the crimes for which Barack should be impeached.  Again, those who self-censor to 'help' candidates create the climate in which hypocrisy regins supreme.  As Glenn Greenwald notes:
One last point: for the full eight years of the Bush administration, Bush, Cheney and scores of other political and media supporters of their militarism who had not served in the military were routinely derided by Democrats and progressives as "chickenhawks" (an accusation, which, with some caveats and modifications, I supported). What happened to that? Now we have a President whom Bergen hails as "one of the most militarily aggressive American leaders in decades" despite having not served a day in the military, and hordes of non-military-serving Democrats who cheer him as he does so. Similarly, George Bush was mercilessly mocked for declaring himself a "war President," yet here is Bergen -- writing under the headline "Warrior in Chief" --  twice christening the non-serving Obama as our "Warrior President." Did the concept of chickenhawkism, like so many other ostensible political beliefs, cease to exist on January 20, 2009?
Early today, AFP's Prashant Rao Tweeted that Tareq al-Hashemi had announced a press conference in Turkey for later in the day. When he faced the reporters, AFP reports, he declared he had "no faith in the Iraqi justice system and fears for his life." Nouri has been calling for al-Hashemi to be tried on charges of terrorism.  Nouri al-Maliki's political slate State of Law came in second to al-Hashemi's Iraqiya. 
The political crisis was already in effect when December 2011 rolled around.  Iraqiya announced a  boycott of the council and the Parliament, that's in the December 16th snapshot and again in a December 17th entry.  Tareq al-Hashemi is a member of Iraqiya but he's not in the news at that point.  Later, we'll learn that Nouri -- just returned from DC where he met with Barack Obama -- has ordered tanks to surround the homes of high ranking members of Iraqiya. Saturday, December 17th, Liz Sly (Washington Post) reported, "In recent days, the homes of top Sunni politicians in the fortified Green Zone have been ringed by tanks and armored personnel carriers, and rumors are flying that arrest warrants will be issued for other Sunni leaders."  December 18th is when al-Hashemi and Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq are pulled from a Baghdad flight to the KRG but then allowed to reboard the plane. December 19th is when the arrest warrant is issued for Tareq al-Hashemi by Nouri al-Maliki who claims the vice president is a 'terrorist.' .  With the permission and blessing of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and KRG President Massoud Barzani, al-Hashemi remained in the KRG.  At the start of April, he left the KRG on a diplomatic tour that took him to Qatar, then Saudi Arabia and finally Turkey where he remains currently.
The Journal of Turkish Weekly quotes him stating today, "I booked a ticket to retun to Irbil last Tuesday after completing my schedule in Turkey, but a colleague called in the last minute and asked me to delay my return for a few days and wait for a more suitable dialogue atmosphere in Iraq."  This delay may have something to do with the current push for a national conference in Iraq.  What is known is that his trial -- in absentia -- was supposed to start yesterday in Baghdad; however, it was delayed until next Thursday.  al-Hashemi believes he can't receive a fair trial in Baghdad.  He's right.
This was demonstrated February 16th though the press wanted to play dumb.  From that day's snapshot, this is where we take the various details and demonstrate how the press could have reported it:
After many claims that he could not receive a fair trial, Tareq al-Hashemi's
assertions were backed up today by the Iraqi judiciary.
BAGHDAD -- Today a nine-member Iraqi judiciary panel released results of an investigation they conducted which found the Sunni Vice President of Iraq was guilty of terrorism.  Monday, December 19th, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki swore out an arrest warrant for Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi who had arrived in the KRG the previous day.  Mr. al-Hashemi refused to return to Baghdad insisting he would not receive a fair trial.  Instead, he was the guest of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and KRG President Massoud Barzani.
During the weeks since the arrest warrant was issued, Mr. al-Hashemi has repeatedly attempted to get the trial moved to another venue stating that Prime Minister al-Maliki controlled the Baghdad judiciary.  Mr. al-Maliki insisted that the vice president return and that he would get a fair trial.
Today's events demonstrate that Mr. al-Hashemi was correct and there is no chance of a fair trial in Iraq.  This was made clear by the judiciary's announcement today.
A judiciary hears charges in a trial and determines guilt; however, what the Baghdad judiciary did today was to declare Tareq al-Hashemi guilt of the charges and to do so before a trial was held. 
Not only do the events offer a frightening glimpse at the realities of the Iraqi legal system, they also back up the claims Mr. al-Hashemi has long made.
That is not how the Iraqi courts work, not according to the country's Constitution.  Judges are impartial.  Judges do not declare guilt outside of a courtroom and no one is guilty in Iraq until convicted in a courtroom.  The fact that the judges felt no need to follow the Constitution, the fact that they held a press conference to announce the guilt of someone in a case they knew wouldn't appear on their docket until May goes to the fact that they are not impartial and that Tareq al-Hashemi would not have received a fair trial.

Friday, May 04, 2012







The other zombie that refuses to die is Colin Powell, former US Secretary of State and Liar to the United Nations.  Tony Capaccio and Roxana Tiron (Bloomberg News) report that in his upcoming book, Collie writes of his lies to the United Nations, "Yes, a blot, a failure will always be attached to me and my UN presentation.  I am mad mostly at myself for not having smelled the problem.  My instincts failed me."
He's still trying to perform that tired song? 
Walters says, unable to look at him while she does -- oh the drama!, "However, you gave the world false, groundless reasons for going to war. You've said, and I quote, 'I will forever be known as the one who made the case for war.' Do you think this blot on your record will stay with you for the rest of your life?"
Powell: Well it's a, it's a, of course it will. It's a blot. I'm the one who presented it on behalf of the United Nations, uh, United States, to the world. And it will always be uh, part of my, uh, my record.
Walters: How painful is it?
Powell: (shrugs) It was -- it *was* painful. (shifts, shrugs) It's painful now.

Has a less convincing scene ever been performed?

Possibly. Such as when Powell informs Walters that the fault lies with the intelligence community -- with those who knew but didn't come forward. Unfortunately for Powell,
FAIR's advisory steered everyone to a Los Angeles Times' article from July 15, 2004:

Days before Secretary of State Colin L. Powell was to present the case for war with Iraq to the United Nations, State Department analysts found dozens of factual problems in drafts of his speech, according to new documents contained in the Senate report on intelligence failures released last week.
Two memos included with the Senate report listed objections that State Department experts lodged as they reviewed successive drafts of the Powell speech. Although many of the claims considered inflated or unsupported were removed through painstaking debate by Powell and intelligence officials, the speech he ultimately presented contained material that was in dispute among State Department experts.
And nearly seven years later, he's still attempting to soften his lie by calling it a "blot" and still insisting he didn't lie and that he was misled and on and on he goes.
On And On He Goes should have been the title of his book.  Instead he's calling the book It Worked For Me.  Well it sure did.  Lying led him to a very cushy post-government life.  Lying held no consequences for him at all.  Except, of course, that he has to live with himself and don't think for a moment that's not eating him up.  Again, Ava and I from 2005:
Powell's mea culpa is not only unconvincing, it's illogical. He's glad Saddam Hussein's gone. So why's he concerned with his "blot?" He's completely unconcerned that we're in a war that's based on lies. "I'm glad" he says. Sure he admits that he lied (by proxy -- it's others faults, you understand, nameless people in the intel community), but there's no moral concern. He's only worried about the slug line that now accompanies his name. The "blot." The tag 'liar, liar.'

Colin Powell lied to the United Nations. Not by proxy, he lied. His testimony. A testimony he made the decision to give. Despite objections from people in the department he headed. His accountability pose is hollow and unconvincing. Shrugs? "What are you going to do?" shrugs? That and the shiftiness during the exchange (he can't sit still during the exchange) back up his words. This isn't any big deal to him, that he lied and we went to war. He's just concerned that he's a known liar. For the rest of his life.

This is how he wants to be remembered:

"A good public servant somebody who truly believes in his country. . . . Somebody who cared, somebody who served."

Yeah well, Nixon wanted to be remembered a certain way as well. Liar's the way many remember him now. Liar's the way many will remember Colin Powell.
He's a liar.  He's a known liar.  He has no one to blame but himself.  So, in his bid to make more money, he revisits the moment's he'll never be able to change.  This is said to be the best 'co-written' book he's ever put his name to.  Due to the whole 'life lessons' approach. (He shares 13 life lessons/bromides.)  It's brief, each little lesson in the 300 page book, so there's no need for Tony Koltz to pretend Collie's a man of deep thoughts and instead reads like a piece for Parade (not at all surprising, considering the roots of the 'book').   And maybe this decision to table faux wisdom is why Joseph E. Persico -- Colin's 'co-writer' on 2003's My American Journey and 1995's Soldier's Way: An Autobiography -- elected not to write this latest tome?
In the book, Collie lies and lies and lies.  Insisting no Iraq War if only they'd known there were no WMD.  If only.  Collie really hopes you're too stupid.  He hopes you forget a great deal or, even better, never knew it in the first place.  Like the big news of May 30, 2003.  From CNN:
Jamie McIntyre:  Adding fuel to the controversy, remarks attributed to Deputy U.S. Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, a largely circulated "Vanity Fair" press release alleges Wolfowitz told the magazine that WMD was stressed for "bureaucratic reasons" and that, in effect, weapons of mass destruction had never been the most compelling justification for invading Iraq. A Pentagon spokesman says "Vanity Fair" only used a portion of the deputy secretary's quote. Their omission completely misrepresents what he was saying according to the spokes spokesman. The Pentagon says the full interview of the transcript, posted on its web site, makes it clear that Wolfowitz said weapons of mass destruction was the, quote, "core reason the U.S. went to war with Iraq."
Alan Greenspan, the former Federal Reserve chairman, said in an interview that the removal of Saddam Hussein had been "essential" to secure world oil supplies, a point he emphasized to the White House in private conversations before the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
We're not done yet.  August 31, 2005, AP reported:
President Bush answered growing antiwar protests yesterday with a fresh reason for US troops to continue fighting in Iraq: protection of the country's vast oil fields, which he said would otherwise fall under the control of terrorist extremists.
And we could go on and on.  We could bring in the Iraq Inquiry in London, all that public testimony which can be boiled down into: Colin Powell is lying. 
Kimberly Dozier wrote a truthful book, Breathing The Fire: Fighting to Survive and Get Back To The FightJim Salemi (Middletown Press) reports the Associated Press journalist spoke Monday evening at Middlesex Community College and signed copies of her book, donating all "the proceeds to the Williams-Rosen Memorial Fund for Veterans."
Kimberly Dozier explained in her speech how she was covering Iraq for CBS News since 2003 and, May 29, 2006, she thought they were getting some standard stock footage, that as thinking that James Brolan and Paul Douglas were going to get film of US Army Captain James Funkhouser shaking hands with Iraqis.
Kimberly Dozier: Just about the moment the Captain reached out his hand, the insurgents command detonated an approximately 500 pound pound car bomb through us.  The car was a Baghdad taxi, parked in that line of vehicles.  It sent a wall of shrapnel through the whole team.  I remember smelling what smelled like a thousand matches.  And landing.  Trying to figure out where Paul and James -- because they're my team -- you think, "Where's my team?"  And trying to figure out what had happened?  I knew a bomb had gone off and that was about it.  I started going through this calculation in my head, "Okay, I'm in pain.  But I remember from our combat medical courses the ABCs of triage: Airway, Breathing, Circulation . . .  In the medical drills we did, you never went to the patients who were screaming. You went to the quiet patients, to clear their airway, restart their heart. So if I scream for help, no one will come."  After a few moments, minutes, I don't know, I was able to lift my head.  And I could see a burning car.  Luckily, I couldn't see the rest of me. I could feel burning in my legs and I thought, "Burning car.  My legs.  I remember the other drill.  There was a live electrical wire and the patient was in danger of being hit by the wire, so it was okay to go get the patient even though the patient was consicous because the patient could have gotten hurt worse.  Okay.  I can call for help."  I start calling, "Help! Help!"  -- thinking, this little voice inside my head, "Oh, you sound like such a cliche."  That little voice in your head is still there even in the worst of times.  Medic [Spc] Izzy Flores was doing his first multi-combat casualty scene  He got to Captain Funkhouser and saw he'd been hit in the head.  He was maybe  12 feet from the bomb. So was Sam [Captain Funkhouser's Iraqi translator].  Neither of them could be helped. He got to James.  James too had a massive head injury.  He couldn't be helped.  He got to Paul.  Paul had a traumatic amputation in one of his legs.  He put a tourniquet on him. He got to me just when I started calling out, "Help! Help! Move me away from the car please!"  And he's like, "Ah, you're good."  And he went to someone else. So thanks, Izzy.  But the fact of the matter is, I will always thank Izzy because the Iowa National Guardsman who later tied the tourniquets on me that saved my life told me that when he ran to the scene, his team had already secured things helping the 4th ID.  They heard the bomb they'd run in to help their brothers in arms. So [Staff Sgt] Jeremy Coke, who kept me alive, was able to tell me, "You were the last one who needed medical aid."  So I never had to wonder later: Did someone else die because I got helped first?
Kimberly Dozier was seriously injured while covering the Iraq War, a war Reporters Without Borders notes became the deadliest war for journalists
Today was World Press Freedom Day.  The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's resource page for World Press Freedom Day is here.  On this day honoring press freedom, the International Women's Media Foundation  announcedtheir Courage in Journalism Award and Lifetime Achievement Award winners:
Each year, the IWMF honors women journalists who have shown extraordinary strength of character and integrity while reporting the news under dangerous or difficult circumstances.
This year's winners are:
  Reeyot Alemu, 31, an Ethiopian columnist currently imprisoned on charges of terrorism after writing critiques of her country's government; Asmaa al-Ghoul, 30, a Palestinian blogger and freelance writer who has received death threats for her commentary on the culture and politics of Gaza; Khadija Ismayilova, 35, a radio reporter from Azerbaijan who was blackmailed and threatened after her investigation into charges of malfeasance against members of the Azerbaijani president's family. These are the International Women's Media Foundation's 2012 Courage in Journalism Award winners.
"I am humbled to work in the same profession as these heroic women," said Katty Kay, co-chair of the IWMF. "It is my honor to be involved with the IWMF as it recognizes their dedication and bravery. It is journalists like Reeyot, Asmaa and Khadija who set an example for all of us."
The IWMF's 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to Zubeida Mustafa, 70, a Pakistani journalist who has worked for three decades at Dawn, one her country's oldest and most widely circulated English-language newspapers.
Theodore Boutrous, Jr., IWMF co-chair, said, "A free and independent press is vital to freedom and liberty. The IWMF believes that no press is truly free if women do not share an equal voice. As the first woman to work at Dawn, Zubeida blazed a trail for women journalists in Pakistan, changing hiring policies and mentoring young women. She showed that women journalists can cover serious topics such as healthcare and economic inequality."
The 2012 awards will be presented during ceremonies in New York on October 24 and in Los Angeles on October 29.
"The IWMF is grateful to the Bank of America, National Presenting Sponsor of the
Courage in Journalism Awards for the seventh year and steadfast supporter of heroic women journalists around the world," said Elisa Lees Munoz, Acting Executive Director of the IWMF.
The Committee to Protect Journalists counts 17 journalists killed so far this year.  Among those recently murdered is Regina Martinez.  Reporters Without Borders notes that the correspondent for Proceso "was found strangled in her home in the Veracruz capital of Xalana on 28 April.  She joins the list of 80 journalists killed and 14 disappeared in Mexico in the past decade, a toll exacerbated by the disastrous federal offensive against trafficking during the past five years."  The International Press Institute will join with others tomorrow in Tunisia for a UNESCO panel discussion about journalists safety.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova issued the following joint-statement to mark the day:

Freedom of expression is one of our most precious rights. It underpins every other freedom and provides a foundation for human dignity.  Free, pluralistic and independent media is essential for its exercise.
This is the message of World Press Freedom Day.  Media freedom entails the freedom to hold opinions and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers, as stated in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  This freedom is essential for healthy and vibrant socieites.
Change in the Arab world has shown the power of aspirations for rights when combined with new and old media.  Newfound media freedom is promising to transform socieites through greater transparency and accountability.  It is opening new ways to communicate and to share information and knowledge.  Powerful new voices are rising -- especially from young people -- where they were silent before.  This is why this year's World Press Freedom Day is centred on the theme of New Voices: Media Freedom Helping to Transform Societies.
Media freedom also faces severe pressures across the world. Last year, UNESCO condemned the killing of 62 journalists who died as a result of their work.  These journalists must not be forgotten and these crimes should not remain unpunished.  As media moves online, more online journalists, including bloggers, are being harassed, attacked, and killed for their work.  They must recieve the same protection as traditional media workers.
The first UN Inter-Agency Meeting on Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity met at UNESCO on the 13 and 14 September 2011.  We produced a Plan of Action for the UN to build a more free and safe environment for journalists and media workers everywhere.  At the same time, we will continue to strengthen the legal foundations for free, pluralistic and independent media, especially in countries undergoing transformation or rebuilding after conflict.  At a time of information overload, we must help young people especially to develop critical skills and greater media literacy.
World Press Freedom Day is our opportunity to raise the flag in the fight to advance media freedom.  We call on Sates, professional media and non-governmental organisations everywhere to join forces with the United Nations to promote online and offline freedom of expression in accordance with internationally accepted principles.  This is a pillar of individual rights, a foundation for healthy societies and a force for social transformation.

Thursday, May 03, 2012









Mosaic News (Link TV, link is text and video) picks up Al-Alam's report: "Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi said that the deployment of US F-22 figher jets to the United Arab Emirates is 'a harmful move' that undermines the region's security.  The US said the deployment was a normal adjustment of US forces in the region, following their withdrawal from Iraq.  As part of its continuing efforts to dominate the Persian Gulf region, the US announced the deploymnet of F-22 fighter hets in the UAE.  US officials confirmed that the fighters were deployed in the UAE's al-Dhafra Air Based."  Meanwhile the Wilkes Journal-Patriot reports 181 members of the the National Guard's 875th Engineer Company will be deployed to Kuwait over the "summer for a nine-month assignment."
Today, Alsumaria reports the Christian Church Saint Khanana, in Dohuk Province, was vandelized and some items stolen.  This is the latest in a series of attacks on religious minorities in Iraq since the start of the Iraq War in 2003. Monday, Aid to the Church in Need reported, "Luis Sako, the Chaldean Catholic Archbishop of Kirkuk, in northern Iraq, has joined with fifty representatives of Sunni Islam, Arab tribal leaders and local government representatives in speaking out against violence and terror.  On the Archbishop's initiative, they signed a document entitled 'Let us build bridges for peace', which was released on the 26.4.2012.  The signatories pledge to live together in peace in Kirkuk, which is an object of contention between Kurds and the central government in Baghdad.  In a meeting with the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Archbishop Sako explained his most recent action to promote on-going dialogue by saying, 'We Christians have a mission of peace and reconciliation that extends to all people, not just Christians'."  
Last March, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom released their 2012 Annual report [PDF format warning, click here] and Iraq made it (again) onto the list of "countries of particular concern. The section on Iraq opens with:
The Iraqi government continues to tolerate systematic, ongoing, and egregious religious freedom violations.  In the past year, religious sites and worshippers were targeted in violent attacks, often with impunity, and businesses viewed as "un-Islamic" were vandalized.  The most deadly such attacks during this period were against Shi'a pilgrims.  While the Iraqi government has made welcome efforts to increase security, it continues to fall short in investigating attacks and bringing perpetrators to justice.  It also took actions against political rivals in late 2011 that escalated Sunni-Shi'a sectarian tensions.  Large percentages of the country's smallest religious minorities -- which include Chaldo-Assyrian and other Christians, Sabean Mandaeans, and Yazidis -- have fled the country in recent years, threatening these ancient communities' very existence in Iraq; the diminished numbers that remain face official discrimination, marginalization, and neglect, particularly in areas of northern Iraq over which the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) dispute control.  Religious freedom abuses of women and individuals who do not conform to strict interpretations of religious norms also remain a concern.
Along with attacks on pilgrims and churches, the report notes attacks on businesses operated by Christian and Yazidi persons such as "liquor stores, restaurants, and hair salones."  Violence and the targeting of religious minorities have caused many to leave.  The report notes:
Half or more of the pre-2003 Iraqi Christian community is believed to have left the country.   In 2003, there were to be 800,000 to 1.4 million Chaldean Catholics, Assyrian Orthodox, Assyrian Church of the East members, Syriac Catholics and Orthodox, Armenian Catholics and Orthodox, Protestants, and Evengelicals in Iraq.  Today, community leaders estimate the number of Christians to be around 500,000.  Other communities also have experienced declines.  The Sabean Mandaeans report that almost 90 percent of their small community either has fled Iraq or has been killed, leaving some 3,500 to 5,000 Mandaeans in the country, as compared to 50,000 to 60,000 in 2003.  The Yazidi community reportedly now numbers approximately 500,000 down from about 700,000 in 2005.  The Baha'i faith, which is estimated to have only 2,000 adherents in Iraq, remains banned under a 1970 law, and Iraq's ancient and once large Jewish community now numbers fewer than 10, who essentially live in hiding.
Whether they leave their homes for other areas of Iraq or leaves their homes and leave Iraq, the targeting of religious minorities has added to the huge refugee problem that the Iraq War created.  The report notes that 1.5 million Iraqis remain internally displaced and that, of the population outside Iraq, Sunnis make up approximately 57% even though "they are approximately 35 percent of Iraq's total population." 
Among the targeted groups have been women and those who are seen as 'different' for any number of reasons.  The report notes:
In the past year, human rights groups continued to express concern about violence against women and girls, including domestic violence and honor killings, throughout Iraq, including in the KRG region, as well as about pressure on women and secular Iraqis to comply with conservative Islamic norms, particularly relating to dress and public behavior.  In recent years, women and girls have suffered religiously-motivated violence and abuses, including killings, abductions, forced conversions, restrictions on movement, forced marriages, and other violence including rape.  Individuals considered to have violated extremists' interpretations of Islamic teachings, including politically-active females, have been targeted by Sunni and Shi'a extremists alike.
In a positive development, the KRG region enacted a law in June making family violence a crime, subject to imprisonment and/or fines, and establishing a special court for such cases; the law's coverage includes abuse of women and children, female circumcision, forced or child marriage, nonconsensual divorce, the offering of women to settle family feuds, and female suicide if caused by a family member.
In late February and early March 2012, reports emerged of numerous killings and threats targeting young people perceived as homosexual or who dressed in the so-called "emo" goth style, particularly in Baghdad.  The number killed reportedly ranged from six to more than 40.  Preceding the violence, the Iraqi Interior Ministry posted a statement on its Web site in mid-February that it was "launch[ing] a campaign to stem the 'Emo,'" whom it called "Satan worshippers," although after the killings were widely reported, the Ministry claimed that the statement was misunderstood.  Many obvservers attributed the attacks and threats to Shi'a militias. However, a representative of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani condemned the killings as terrorism and cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, whose Mahdi Army militia was suspected in past attacks on homosexuals, denied involvement.  According to Iraq press reports, Al-Sadr called emo youth "unnatural" but said they should be dealt with through legal means. The U.S. embassy reportedly raised its concerns with the Iraqi government.
Good for the US Commission on International Religious Freedom for including the targeting of Iraqi youth.  That story was breaking when the report was being written and they still managed to include it -- putting it far, far ahead of the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy refusing to use the term "gay" when speaking to the Security Council to update them on Iraq.
On the religious minorities, Saturday, Jane Arraf (Al Jazeera) reported on the Yazidi New Year.
Jane Arraf: For the Yazidi, this is the start of year 6,762.  They come from  mountain villages, from towns and cities in Iraq, Syria and Turkey -- and from Europe -- to celebrate the New Year.  Yazidis believe in the same God as Muslims, Christians and Jews but they believe they were the first people God created.  Along with Babylonian rituals and elements of other religions, they worship the sun. 
Yazidi woman: We light this rope to bring good.  And anyone who lights a flame here, goodness will come to him.
Jane Arraf: It's a closed religion and misunderstood.
Baba Sheikh Kerto Haji Ismael: Twenty years ago, there were no satellite channels and no mixing with other people.  That's why people can have some suspicion about others. Since the Yazidis were a small religious minority, that's why they face misunderstandings.  Now things are more clear.
Jane Arraf:  Images like this [a snake stretched across the outside wall of a temple] are part of the reason other Iraqis are suspicious of the Yazidi.  A snake is believe to have saved the prophet Noah.  Inside this cave is a sacred spring. Nearby is the tomb of  Shayk Adi [ibn Musafir al-Umawi] a 12th century Suffi saint who reformed the Yazidi religion.  As dusk approaches, they light the flames that are a central part of their faith.  This isn't just the New Year, they believe it marks the creation of the world including the four elements.  For Yazidis, the most important of those is fire.  On New Year's Day, the Yazidi faithful -- along with Kuridsh Muslim and Christian leaders -- pay their respects to the Prince of the Yazidis [Mir Tahsin Ali].  Like the Kurds, the Yazidi were pressured to declare themselves Arab under Saddam Hussein.  150 of their villages were taken.  In the last 30 years, up to half the Yazidi community has left for Europe where there are fears the religion won't survive.   
Prince Mir Tahsin Ali: The older people won't leave the religion but we fear for the new generation when the sons and daughters go to new European schools, our customs will become different. 
Jane Arraf:  By most estimates, there are fewer than a million Yazidi in the world.  It's a small religion, sturggling to survive in a modern world while keeping ancient traditions alive.  Jane Araff, Lalish, northern Iraq.
Turning to violence, Alsumaria notes a former military colonel was attacked in Mosul and shot dead and that a staffer in Ayad Allawi's office was assassinated -- stabbed today while he was near the National Accord Movement headquarters.  (Another source tells Alsumaria the staffer was shot dead.)   AFP states it was a stabbing and identifies the staffer as Latif Ramadan Jassim.  And Alsumaria notes TV reporter Rashid Majid Hamid was injured by a sticky bombing of his car in Baghdad
Hurriyet Daily News observes, "From Somalia to Syria, the Philippines to Mexico, and Iraq to Pakistan, journalists are being targeted for death in record numbers, and in brutal ways. In fact, this year is shaping up to be the most lethal for journalists since the International Press Institute (IPI) began keeping count 15 years ago."   The attack on the journalist comes as a new report on the attack on journalism in Iraq is released.  The Journalistic Freedoms Observatory has released the report covering the last twelve months and they've found an increase in violence and restrictions and attempted restrictions on journalists.   They note an American journalist was arrested and helf for five days without any legal justification while Iraqi journalists were detained in various ways and also attacked and kidnapped by armed groups.   At least 3 journalists were killed in the 12 months and at least 31 were beaten  -- usually by military and security forces who were sometimes in civilian clothes.  65 journalists were arrested.

It's a very bleak picture.  In addition there are various bills proposed that supposedly 'protect' journalists but actually erode the rights of journalists.  The Ministry of the Interior's spokesperson Adnan al-Asadi declared that journalism can be "a threat to domestic security" and that journalsits shouldn't report on any arrests or killings without the express permission of the Ministry of the Interior.  (Clearly, Retuers must agree with that policy since they abolished their daily Factbox that used to cover violence in Iraq.)

The three journalists who died in the 12 months were:  Hadi al-Mahdi who was killed by a gunshot to the head while in his Baghdad home, Kameran Salah al-Din who was killed by a sticky bomb attached to his car (in Tikrit) and Salim Alwan who was killed by a bombing in Diwaniya. 

AFP notes the report states.  "JFO has documented a noticeable increase in the rate of violence against journalists/media workers and restrictions imposed on their work."Multiple bills are being introduced by the government, which threaten to severely limit freedom of the press, general freedom of expression and Internet use."
Freedom of expression in journalism doesn't mean creative fiction.  In the US where journalists are supposed to have the right to practice their trade without restrictions, some self-censor and some just tell outright lies.  V. Noah Gimbel (Foriegn Policy In Focus) notes how the Newseum willfully distorts reality and insults a journalist who died covering the Iraq War in the process:
I was looking for updates on the case of slain Spanish cameraman José Couso, murdered by U.S. troops in Baghdad in 2003 as part of a coordinated attack on the independent media, when I came upon a so-called memorial to Couso on the Newseum's webpage. I wrote a comprehensive piece on the Couso case last year, and a follow-up piece when the indictments against the soldiers responsible were re-issued last fall.
Far from memorializing Couso, the Newseum article repeats de-bunked falsehoods that even the army had backtracked on in 2003.
Gimbel goes on to explain how the Newseum distorts Couso's death.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012




No, preezy is making me queasy because his nonstop campaigning is looking, well, sleazy – and his ad suggesting that Mitt Romney wouldn't have killed Osama bin Laden is just the beginning of it.
In a political culture that long ago surrendered to the permanent campaign, Obama has managed to take things to a new level. According to statistics compiled for a book to be published this summer, the president has already set a record for total first-term fundraisers – 191 – and that's only through March 6. 

Read more here:



Starting in the US with a jury verdict.  Levi Pulkkinen (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) reports a federal Jury in Seattle has returned a verdict "late Monday" which found Catholic Community Services wrongly terminated Grace Campbell's employment upon learning that the Washington National Guard sergeant had been ordered to deploy to Iraq.  It is against the law to fire someone because they are being deployed or will be deployed.  The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act is among the legislation that forbids this.  However, at a February 2nd House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee hearing, many witnesses and House members seemed unaware of this fact.  There was talk of the need for a law.  No, there is only the need for education of that law and enforcing that law is the quickest way in the world to educate employers about it.  They start having to pay hefty fines, they'll suddenly learn that law.
Gordon Thomas Honeywell LLP represented Grace Campbell and they've released the following statement:
A federal jury today in Seattle awarded $485,000 to Washington National Guard Sergeant Grace Campbell and found that her employer had engaged in willful discrimination and harassment based on her military service. In 2008, Sergeant Campbell's civilian employer Catholic Community Services fired her from her position of ten years when it learned that she was set to deploy for active service in Iraq. After her termination, Sergeant Campbell served in Iraq from October 2008 to August 2009, returning home to the Everett area without civilian work.
Catholic Community Services' hostile treatment of Campbell began in 2006 after she returned from active duty at the U.S. Mexican border. During Campbell's activation, her position with CCS was left unstaffed. Campbell's manager and her co-workers resented Campbell's absence and the increased workload. Upon her return, Campbell's manager and co-workers began a systematic campaign of harassment and discrimination that included threats by Campbell's manager to fire Campbell if it was learned that she had volunteered for duty.
Campbell complained repeatedly to multiple levels of management at Catholic Community Services about the discrimination, but it continued unchecked. In an effort to find relief, Campbell made a complaint to the Employer Support for Guard and Reserve (ESGR), the Department of Defense national committee tasked with providing support to the Guard and Reserve in their civilian employment. In December of 2006, a retired Naval Reserve Commander with ESGR met with Campbell's managers in an attempt to resolve the problems Campbell was facing at work. Despite ESGR's involvement, the hostile treatment of Campbell continued on into 2007 and 2008.
In February 2008, Campbell told CCS co-workers that she was preparing to deploy to Iraq later that year with the Washington National Guard 81st Brigade. On March 20, 2008, Catholic Community Services fired Campbell.
Campbell's attorneys James W. Beck and Andrea H. McNeely, Partners at Gordon Thomas Honeywell, are pleased with the verdict. "This was a situation which never should have occurred," said Beck. "Sergeant Campbell told her employer about the ongoing discrimination on at least three occasions, but there was never any formal investigation or decisive action to stop the treatment." The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act ("USERRA") prohibits harassment, discrimination, and retaliation against Guard members related to their service. "This is a vindication of the rights of Grace Campbell and those like her who make sacrifices in their civilian lives to serve their country," said McNeely. "Moreover," said Beck, "when the time came at trial for CCS to produce a key document that it claimed was central to its reason for terminating Campbell, the company had destroyed the document." After a two year job search, Campbell is now employed as a receptionist with the Department of Social and Health Services in Seattle.
What happened is not an isolated incident, it's happened across the country and unless businesses realize it's much smarter to settle out of court, look for more reports on jury verdicts against companies who have illegaly fired people because they were deployed or were going to be deployed.  Again, firing someone for a military deployment is against federal law.
Elsewhere, Kuwait wants justice as well.  The Kuwait Times reports, "Kuwait yesterday 'stressed need' for Ira'qs continuing regular deposits in the UN war compensation fund in line with relevant international resolutions.  Kuwait stressed the need for continuation of reuglar deposits in the Compensation Fund, as provided for in UN Security Council Resolution 1956 (2010), of five percent of the proceeds from all export sales of petroleum, petroleum products and natural gas of Iraq . . ."  This position was made clear by Khaled al-Mudhaf who addressed the Governing Council of the United Nations Compensation Commission yesterday.  al-Mudhaf chairs the Public Ahtority for Assessment of Compensations for Damages Resulting from the Iraqi Agression.  (Kuwait also has a successful international race car driver by that name and a World Champion Trap Shooter by that name -- the latter of which competed in the 2000 and 2004 Olympics.)  The amount still owed, according to al-Mudhaf's statements, is $16 billion. 
The remarks are not just a call for billions to be paid, they're also a bit of realtiy for Nouri al-Maliki, prime minister and chief thug of Iraq.  In the lead up to the March 27th Arab League Summit in March, Nouri made efforts to establish ties to Kuwait and Kuwait ended up standing by Nouri at the Summit, the only major country that did.  Over half the heads of state of Arab countries refused to attend with some, like Qatar, making a public statement that this was an intentional boycott.  But Nouri had Kuwait and some Arab officials whispered to the press that Kuwait was prostituting itself.  If that were true, it would appear that Kuwait has now made clear to Nouri the bill for a paid escort.  If the whisper was a slur against the reputation of Kuwait, then Nouri's still learned that all his visits and public woo-ing didn't mean a thing.  This also hurts  
26 April 2012 –
The United Nations Compensation Commission (UNCC), which settles the damage claims of those who suffered losses due to Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait, today made a total of $1.02 billion available to six successful claimants.
The latest round of payments brings the total amount of compensation disbursed by the Commission to $36.4 billion for more than 1.5 million successful claims of individuals, corporations, Governments and international organizations, according to a UNCC news release.
Successful claims are paid with funds drawn from the UN Compensation Fund, which is funded by a percentage of the proceeds generated by the export sales of Iraqi petroleum and petroleum products.
The Geneva-based UNCC's Governing Council has identified six categories of claims: four are for individuals' claims, one for corporations and one for governments and international organizations, which also includes claims for environmental damage.
The Commission was established in 1991 as a subsidiary organ of the UN Security Council. It has received nearly three million claims, including from close to 100 governments for themselves, their nationals or their corporations.
Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey (Pravda) weighs in calling international compensation a "joke" and insisting that Iraq has been treated unfairly due to the fact that there's "no mention of cross-drilling of oil, tapping into Iraqi fields, there has been no mention of compensation payable to Iraq, and other countries, for the invasion by NATO countries."   On the topic of big money, AFP runs today with the report by the US Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction's report that US taxpayer dollars may have gone to Iraqi insurgents, resistance, al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, etc.  This is the topic Eli Lake (Daily Beast) was reporting on yesterday, "A 2012 audit conducted by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) and released to the public on Monday found that 76 percent of the battalion commanders surveyed believed at least some of the CERP funds had been lost to fraud and corruption."
Yesterday,  the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction released April 2012: Quarterly Report To Congress. As the report notes, the US State Dept is spending $500 million of US taxpayer dollars on training the Iraqi police for the 2012 Fiscal Year.  Let's talk about that training:
AFP reports they're on a US military base being retrained.  BBC reports: "A programme has been under way for more than a month for comprehensive assessment and re-training of all national police unites -- a process called by the Americans 'transofrmational training.'"  James Hider (Times of London) reports that since 2004, "US forces have been re-training the Iraqi police, but the programme has had little impact" and that a "survivor of Monday's mass kidnapping . . . described how half a dozen vehicles, with official security forces markings on them, pulled up and men in military fatigues rounded up all the Sunnis in the shops."
That's not today.  That's from the October 4, 2006 snapshot. Let's drop back to February 8th:
We covered the November 30th House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the MiddleEast and South Asia in the December 1st snapshot and noted that Ranking Member Gary Ackerman had several questions. He declared, "Number one, does the government of Iraq -- whose personnel we intend to train -- support the [police training] program?  Interviews with senior Iaqi officials by the Special Inspector General show utter didain for the program.  When the Iraqis sugest that we take our money and do things instead that are good for the United States. I think that might be a clue."  The State Dept's Brooke Darby faced that Subcommittee. Ranking Member Gary Ackerman noted that the US had already spent 8 years training the Iraq police force and wanted Darby to answer as to whether it would take another 8 years before that training was complete?  Her reply was, "I'm not prepared to put a time limit on it."  She could and did talk up Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Interior Adnan al-Asadi as a great friend to the US government.  But Ackerman and Subcommittee Chair Steve Chabot had already noted Adnan al-Asadi, but not by name.  That's the Iraqi official, for example, Ackerman was referring to who made the suggestion "that we take our money and do things instead that are good for the United States."  He made that remark to SIGIR Stuart Bowen.
Brooke Darby noted that he didn't deny that comment or retract it; however, she had spoken with him and he felt US trainers and training from the US was needed.  The big question was never asked in the hearing: If the US government wants to know about this $500 million it is about to spend covering the 2012 training of the Ministry of the Interior's police, why are they talking to the Deputy Minister?
After 8 years of spending US tax payer dollars on this program and on the verge of spending $500 million, why is the US not talking to the person in charge ofthe Interior Ministry?
Because Nouri never named a nominee to head it so Parliament had no one to vote on.  Nouri refused to name someone to head the US ministry but the administration thinks it's okay to use $500 million of US tax payer dollars to train people with a ministry that has no head?
There's no mention in the report that the Iraqi government is matching that $500 million with $500 million of their own.  That may be one of those facts we have to wait to find out about "later this year," to quote another section of the report.  Going through "Iraqi Funding" notes many efforts but not on police.  And yet last December 7th, Stuart Bowen, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconsturction, specifically raised that required matching fund when he appeared before the House Oversight and Government Reform's Nationl Security Subcommittee.
US House Rep Raul Labrador: So what other problems have you found with the police development program, if any?
SIGIR Stuart Bowen: Several.  Well, Mr. Labrador, we pointed out in our audit that, one Iraqi buy-in, something that the Congress requires from Iraq, by law, that is a contribution of 50% to such programs,has not been secured -- in writing, in fact, or by any other means. That's of great concern.  Especially for a Ministry that has a budget of over $6 billion, a government that just approved, notionally, a hundred billion dollar budget for next year.  It's not Afghanistan.  This is a country that has signficant wealth, should be able to contribute but has not been forced to do so, in a program as crucial as this.
To be clear, this isn't optional.  To be even more clear, the White House should never have committed $500 million without Iraq having met the matching fund requirement -- required by Congress. 
Where is the oversight?
It's not coming from the press.
Eager to flaunt both ignorance and incompetence Kareem Raheem, Aseel Kami and Angus MacSwan (Reuters) and AFP ran with the 'official' figures provided by the Iraqi government for deaths due to violence in the month of April.  The death toll is 126.  That's based on figures from the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of the Interior.
That's what the incompetent wire services told us.  They forgot to tell you that the Ministry of Defense has no minister -- Nouri never nominated anyone so he could illegaly take charge of it -- and the that Ministry of the Interior has no minister -- for the same reason. 
And the Minister of Health?
This may be the worst demonstration of press whoring in Iraq currently.  Salih Mahdi Motalab al-Hasanawi held that post in Nouri's first term and holds it in the second term and is falsely described as "a Shi'ite Muslim, but independent of any political party."  That's not how you describe him -- though the press does and he does on his Facebook page.  Reality: In 2009, he joined what political slate?  State of Law.  Nouri's State of Law.  He's not independent.  He may not be a member of a political party (Nouri's political party is Dawa) but he chose to join -- in September of 2009 -- Nouri's State of Law.  He belongs to a political slate, he is not independent.
So Nouri's flunkies issue some figures and whores in the press who don't have the self-respect or training to do what a reporter does runs with those awful lies.  They make no effort to provide alternate counts or any context at all.  They simply take dictation and say, 'This is what offiicals say.'  It's whoring, it's not reporting.
The IBC count is 290 for the month of April. (Click here for screen snap.)  Iraq Body Count tracks reported deaths in the press and notes that their count is not a complete count.  Once upon a time, the press was happy to provide the IBC count, now they just whore.

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Tuesday, May 01, 2012



Celebrity In Chief





Starting in the US with Bradley Manning.  Monday April 5, 2010, WikiLeaks released US military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Monday June 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.  Since then the court-martial has been scheduled to begin September 21st.  Recent weeks have seen a flurry of pre-court-martial hearings.
On this week's Law and Disorder Radio -- a weekly hour long program that airs Monday mornings at 9:00 a.m. EST on WBAI and around the country throughout the week, hosted by attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights), topics explored include Bradley Manning. 
Heidi Boghosian:   We continue our updates on the Bradley Manning trial.  Senior staff attorney Shane Kadidal from the Center for Constitutional Rights recently returned from one of the hearings in Fort Meade, Maryland.  Welcome, Shane to Law & Disorder.
Shane Kadidal: Thanks for having me, Michael.
Michael Smith:  You know, Heidi and I, were down at the Mumia demonstration in Washington, DC yesterday.   We took the train down from New York.  We're sitting on the train, passing the Fort Meade exit on the train, you were sitting in that courtroom, in that semi-secret trial of Bradley Manning.  And we thought about, 'Well we'll get to talk to you today about what's going on in that semi-secret trial? And what do you think's at stake?
Heidi Boghosian: [laughing]  Are you allowed to talk about this, Shane?
Shane Kadidal: [Laughing.]  We are. It was funny sitting there to contrast, for instance, to Guantanamo occasionally classified hearings and every word of what's said in there is presumed classified until you get told otherwise.  It wasn't like that, but it was odd in other ways.
Michael Smith: Well it's odd because it's not like you can't say what you want to say but because  you don't have access to the court pleadings, you don't have access to the off-the-record discussions with the judge, you don't have access to court orders so a lot of this trial is a secret trial which I always thought to be against the First Amendment of the Constitution.
Shane Kadidal:  Right. It's interesting to note two things about that.  You know, first of all, people think about this First Amendment right to access to judicial proceedings being about basic Democratic values.  It's good to have government in the sunshine just as a philosophical principle.  But that's not what the Supreme Court says about it.  What they said about that very clearly in a number of cases in the late seventies and the early eighties, you know, openness actually helps the truth finding function of trials.  It gives a disincentive to witnesses to commit perjury.  It lets new witnesses come out of the woodwork and so forth.  By having the factual basis for legal ruling sort of exposed to the light of day and having the legal arguments exposed as well, it means that the court is less likely to make mistakes.  And that makes a difference when it comes down to accuracy.  And you can imagine how this might play out in a case like Manning's where an awful lot is riding, for instance, on the testimony of a supposedly quite drugged out and unreliable informer whose name actually happens to be redacted from the few public documents that we do have.  So that's one point, that openness helps the accuracy of judicial proceedings -- and it's especially important in cases like this.  The other is sort of a meta-point about media coverage.  While I was down there, there were only about two or three reporters that came out of the media room  during the breaks and sort of milled about and talked to us which I think was a little bit shocking giving the significance of this case.  You know, supposedly the largest set of leaks in American history, a set of leaks where the documents dominated news coverage globally for a good year-and-a-half.  And yet there are only two or three reporters there.  And I think it shows that when the government manages to choke off the flow of interesting detail about a case by redacting it out of documents or not releasing documents or holding proceedings off the public record, that is almost more effective at diminishing press coverage of an issue than completely barring the press from the courtroom as happens in classified hearings.  Because completely barring the press piques the press interest but simply blacking out all the colorful detail or the stuff that kind of makes a story interesting just results in boring coverage and eventually people sort of give up.  And I think that might be what's happening here.
Heidi Boghosian:  Well, Shane, since the media wasn't there, can you give us a sort of nutshell version of what happened?
Shane Kadidal:  You know, at the Tuesday hearing which I was at, one of the first issues up actually was around our letter to the court -- CCR's letter demanding that the court release its own orders including the protective order that governs what can be sealed off from public access and what can be released and what should be redacted.  So the court's own orders, then all the government's motions and the government's responses to the defense's motions.  And then a third subject which is an awful lot of the argument happens in what are called 802 conferences where the parties can agree to discuss anything in chambers and the public never has any sense of the legal arguments that are made or the conclusions that happen which is kind of different from a lot of public access issues because it means both parties can collude to keep something out of the public sight.  A little different from the usual situation where it's usually the government trying to keep something out.
Michael Smith.  Especially in a shocking case like this with, for example, one of the things that Manning was allegedly accused of releasing was a 39 minute video called The Collateral Murder Video where you've got US soldiers in a helicopter murdering two Reuters journalists and then seriously injuring two children.  It's all on video.  It's a War Crime.  They're trying to cover this up in this semi-secret trial. It's really shocking.  I remember the famous Judge Damon Keith saying, "Democracy dies behind closed doors."  So what do you think your chances are of prying open those doors?
Shane Kadidal: Well I think maybe on appeal they'll be good.  But what we learned on Tuesday was that this judge [Col Denise Lind] doesn't really want to hear it.  So the first thing she said was, 'You know, the Center of Constitutional Rights has sent a lawyer down here and asked for permission to address the court and asked for all this release including making all of these documents public and that motion which is essentially a motion to intervene -- is denied.
Michael Smith:  Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press which I think is 45  press organizations did the same thing which is the same thing you guys did at the CCR
Shane Kadidal:  Right.  They wrote some letters as well.  And, you know, the letters kind of the court had disappeared into a black hole so we sent a second letter to the defense council so that he could kind of read it out in open court.  The judge revealed yesterday that she had, in fact, received both letters, which I guess was good news.  But the bottom line is this allows to go up the chain to the two courts of appeals in the military system  that stand above this judge and demand that we get immediate public access to these documents. And it was a First Amendment case so I was very clear that being deprived of public access to judicial proceedings even for a short period of time is irreparable injury and that kind of principle goes back to the Pentagon Papers case really.
Heidi Boghosian: What did Michael Ratner say in his piece last week in the Guardian?
Shane Kadidal:  A terrific piece which is worth reading.  But, you know, a couple of things. First that Manning's revelations including that the Collateral Murder video you know really were made in the face of military lies about what had actually happened.  You know, the military's initial response was that there was no question that that gunfight involved a hostile force when it turned out that two children and a bunch of journalists were among the people who were shot.  But I think that the bigger picture, I think it's ironic that the government's heavy handed approach -- as Michael said in his piece -- really only serves to emphasize the motivations for whistle blowing of the sort that Bradley Manning is now accused of. It's this kind of blanket approach on the part of the government to secrecy that forces people to reveal things by going outside the letter of the law.
Michael Smith: Shane Kadidal, who is the senior attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights has been down at Fort Meade, Maryland on behalf of the center at the Bradley Manning trial.  We'll keep checking in on you, Shane.  Good luck with your appeal.
Ann Wright spent most of her life in government service.  In the army, she rose to the rank of Colonel.  In 1987, she went to work for the US State Dept and she continued serving there until her March 19, 2003 resignation, the day before the Iraq War started and she resigned in protest of that war.  At The Daily Progress, Wright pens an article on Bradley:
I recently inadvertently and fortuitously ended up at a meeting with a U.S. State Department-sponsored group of young professionals from the Middle East who were brought to the United States to learn more about our country. I mentioned that I was attending the hearings for the alleged WikiLeaks whistleblower Bradley Manning.
The reaction of the group was stunning. Immediately hands for questions went up. The questions began with a comment: Without WikiLeaks, I would never have learned what my own governments was doing, its complicity in secret prisons and torture, in extraordinary rendition, in cooperation in the U.S. wars in the region. WikiLeaks exposed what our politicians and elected officials are doing. Without WikiLeaks, we would never have known!
And that is what Bradley Manning's trial is all about and what the charges against six other government employees who face espionage allegations for providing information the government classified to protect its own wrongdoings -- to silence other potential government whistleblowers.