Saturday, March 02, 2013








We're starting with Iraq War veteran Bradley Manning who confessed yesterday that he passed on documents to WikiLeaks.  Alexa O'Briean has transcribed his statement in full.  We're going to note a section at the top:

The CIDNE system contains a database that is used by thousands of Department of Defense--DoD personel including soldiers, civilians, and contractors support. It was the United States Central Command or CENTCOM reporting tool for operational reporting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Two separate but similar databases were maintained for each theater-- CIDNE-I for Iraq and CIDNE-A for Afghanistan. Each database encompasses over a hundred types of reports and other historical information for access. They contain millions of vetted and finalized directories including operational intelligence reporting.
CIDNE was created to collect and analyze battle-space data to provide daily operational and Intelligence Community (IC) reporting relevant to a commander's daily decision making process. The CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A databases contain reporting and analysis fields for multiple disciplines including Human Intelligence or HUMINT reports, Psychological Operations or PSYOP reports, Engagement reports, Counter Improvised Explosive Device or CIED reports, SigAct reports, Targeting reports, Social and Cultural reports, Civil Affairs reports, and Human Terrain reporting.
[. . .]

I felt that we were risking so much for people that seemed unwilling to cooperate with us, leading to frustration and anger on both sides. I began to become depressed with the situation that we found ourselves increasingly mired in year after year. The SigActs documented this in great detail and provide a context of what we were seeing on the ground.
In attempting to conduct counter-terrorism or CT and counter-insurgency COIN operations we became obsessed with capturing and killing human targets on lists and not being suspicious of and avoiding cooperation with our Host Nation partners, and ignoring the second and third order effects of accomplishing short-term goals and missions. I believe that if the general public, especially the American public, had access to the information contained within the CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A tables this could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general as [missed word] as it related to Iraq and Afghanistan.
I also believed the detailed analysis of the data over a long period of time by different sectors of society might cause society to reevaluate the need or even the desire to even to engage in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations that ignore the complex dynamics of the people living in the effected environment everyday.

I don't get -- or I didn't -- why people still aren't covering counter-insurgency.  Bradley Manning's been behind bars for over 1000 days because he hoped to spark a national dialogue.  24 hours after he states that, there's still nothing in the media. 
For those late to the party, Monday April 5, 2010WikiLeaks 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. Bradley has yet to enter a plea. The court-martial was supposed to begin before the November 2012 election but it was postponed until after the election so that Barack wouldn't have to run on a record of his actual actions. adds, "A court martial is set to be held in June at Ford Meade in Maryland, with supporters treating him as a hero, but opponents describing him as a traitor."

At Rolling Stone, Janet Reitman asks, "Did the Mainstream Media Fail Bradley Manning?" And suddenly it falls together.  Not because of what Reitman finds -- she finds nothing.  Not because of Kevin Gosztola's hypothesis that the Washington Post and the New York Times might have been too scared to publish it.

Check the archives, but we covered the WikiLeaks releases in real time.  Today, a lot of people like to pretend they did but they didn't.  In Little Media, they wrote for magazine websites and for magazines and they had their own programs but they never used them to explore what was released.  They didn't have time for it.  They didn't give a damn until they got their postage of Julian Assange.

They still don't give a damn about Bradley.  But Julian they could get behind. 

Janet Reitman wants to know if the press failed Bradley?  It wasn't about Bradley.  It was about Iraq.

And, yes, the US press failed Iraq.  Failed before the start of the war, failed it after.

Did you pay attention to the recap earlier.  People pretend like there was great interest in the WikiLeaks 2007 video.  No, there wasn't.  There should have been but there wasn't.  And there was even less interest when they began publishing various documents.

The question to ask is "Did the press fail Iraq?"  Yes, it did.  By the time WikiLeaks released the Iraq information, there had been a withdrawal from Iraq -- a press withdrawal.  ABC closed down their operation and lied that they'd grab BBC if there were any developments.  (Use the BBC for their evening news.) They didn't really.  NBC was out.  The networks pulled out.  McClatchy Newspapers was pulling out.  No one gave a damn in the US press about Iraq. 

And if you complained -- and I did to many producers and editors -- you were told that the viewers were tired of Iraq.  I didn't then and don't now see how that's possible.

Among the trash that passes for 'independent' media in the US, Demcoracy Now! couldn't be bothered with the topic, nor could The Nation magazine, nor could The Progressive.

In the spring of 2009, Steven D. Green went on trial.  We covered it every day here.  May 7th Steven D. Green was convicted for his crimes in March 12, 2006 gang-rape and murder of Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi, the murder of her parents and the murder of her five-year-old sister while Green was serving in Iraq. Green was found to have killed all four, to have participated in the gang-rape of Abeer and to have been the ringleader of the conspiracy to commit the crimes and the conspiracy to cover them up. May 21st, the federal jury deadlocked on the death penalty and instead he was sentenced to life in prison. 

This was a War Crime.  It should have been covered widely.  Instead it was Kentucky media.  It was the Associated Press' Brett Barrouquere and Time magazine's Jim Frederick.  That was it for the national mainstream press.  Arianna Huffington deserves credit for sending a reporter down there (Gail Mellor) and even more for realizing the best reporting was coming from high schooler Evan Bright and carrying his coverage at The Huffington Post.  We interviewed Evan for a May 3, 2009 piece at Third.  Evan was covering every day of the trial.  Evan wasn't shy.  Why wasn't he on Democracy Now! during the trial?  Why did Pacifica Radio waste all that money on the garbage that was Mitch Jeserich's Letters from Washington but fail to send even one reporter to Kentucky for a War Crimes trial?  Why wasn't Matthew Rothschild or Katrina vanden Heuvel at all concerned with the gang-rape and murder of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl by US soldiers? 

It's in that climate that Bradley Manning tries to interest the media in what he has.  It wasn't about Brad, it was about the complete lack of interest on the part of the press with anything to do with Iraq by 2010.  If you need a 'reputable source' making that observation, here's PEW on Iraq War coverage in 2010:

The ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were on the periphery of both the American public’s and news media’s radar in 2010. Just 1% of the total news coverage last year was devoted to events related to and policy debates about the Iraq war. In no single week did Iraq consume more than 10% of the newshole. With the exception of a week in September, during a large troop withdrawal, most of the public reported they were not following events in Iraq very closely when surveyed throughout the year.

Get it?  The media didn't fail Bradley.  Long before Bradley tries to interest the media, it had already failed Iraq.

And the Amy Goodmans and Greg Mitchells can pretend they did something but they didn't.  They didn't treat the WikiLeaks releases seriously in real time.  After Julian Assange became a folk hero to some, once they had their poster on the wall, the Goodys and Mitchells suddenly could give a damn . . . about Julian Assange.  Not about Iraq, not about Iraqis, never about Iraq, never about Iraqis.

And what we're seeing yet again, right now, is an attempt to posterize.  We're not talking about the War Crimes, we're not writing about the War Crimes, we're rehashing this and that and blah blah blah.  I'm not going into counter-insurgency today.  Unlike Amy Goodman, we've covered it here (and called it out) regularly.   I don't have the time or space for/in this snapshot today to go over counter-insurgency again.

But we've covered it (including yesterday -- and we first covered it in 2006 when the ridiculous Montgomery McFate got her first press via The New Yorker.  These are the issues of substance.  A whole rag-tag assembly wants to pretend that they support Bradley.  Yet they still won't take the time to write and talk about counter-insurgency.  Even now, 24 hours after Bradley outlined his hope/intent to spark a debate on the policy.

You can't argue whether Bradley was in the right or in the wrong to release the documents if you can't address the importance of the documents.  Support him?  Then kick-start the national dialogue on counter-insurgency.  Yeah, it might take a little work and, goodness knows, a little work's too much for our Panhandle Media.  But if we want the mainstream to cover it and if we want people to know the importance of Bradley's actions, then we're going to need to do a little work. 

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Friday, March 01, 2013








Medina Roshan, Barbara Goldberg, Paul Simao and Tim Dobbyn (Reuters) report, "The U.S. Army private accused of providing secret documents to the WikiLeaks website pleaded guilty on Thursday to misusing classified material he felt 'should become public,' but denied the top charge of aiding the enemy."  He has now been held by the US government for 1005 days.  Janet Reitman (Rolling Stone) explains, "It was only the second time Manning had spoken in court (the first, in November 2012, I detail extensively in my article) and the first time he was allowed to explain his motives. Dressed in his Navy blue Army dress uniform, Manning, in a clear, strong voice, read out a 35-page-long statement in which he described himself as a conscience-stricken young man who, appalled by what he saw as illegal acts on the part of the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan, refused to play along."

This all goes back to  Monday April 5, 2010, when 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. Bradley has yet to enter a plea. The court-martial was supposed to begin before the November 2012 election but it was postponed until after the election so that Barack wouldn't have to run on a record of his actual actions. adds, "A court martial is set to be held in June at Ford Meade in Maryland, with supporters treating him as a hero, but opponents describing him as a traitor."

Free Speech Radio News' Dorian Merina spoke with journalist Kevin Gosztola about today's events:

Dorian Merina:  So what exactly did Bradley Manning plead guilty to today?

Kevin Gosztola: He was pleading to elements of the original charges.  It's easier to say what he didn't plead guilty to committing.  He didn't plead guilty to aiding the enemy, to violating the espionage act, to violating The Computer Fraud and Abuse act, or to committing violations of a federal larceny statute.  So he didn't say that he was stealing or that he'd committed a theft when he [had] the information and it became information he had in his position.  So, uh, what that leads is pleading to the possession of the information, pleading to giving it to an unauthorized person -- someone who wasn't authorized to receive the information and then engaging in conduct that would be service discrediting the military.

Brendan Trembath (Australia's ABC -- link is video and text) picks up there.

Brendan Trembath: He pleaded guilty to ten of the lesser charges of misusing confidential information.  That information included diplomatic cables, it included combat videos -- all sorts of material that the United States wanted to keep private.  He has admitted to these lesser charges but what he hasn't admitted to is the most serious charge of aiding the enemy.  That charge carries a life sentence.

Different reporters emphasize different things.  Speaking to The World's Marco Werman (PRI) today, Arun Rath brought up some important points others left out.

Arun Rath:  It was actually a 35-page written statement that he had worked on.  It took him over and hour to read and, honestly, it's going to be a while that we'll be digesting all of this.  But mainly he talked about the reasons why he did what he did.  He admitted to leaking information to WikiLeaks.  He talked about his time in Iraq and how he grew more and more disturbed over time with what he saw in Iraq, what he considered to be abuses.  He said the US became obsessed with killing and capturing people rather than cooperating. He complained to his superiors and he said that they did nothing.  And most interestingly he said that he actually took some of this information both to the Washington Post and the New York Times  and was essentially ignored.  That's why he went to WikiLeaks.

For England's Channel 4 News, Matt Frei reports (link is video):

Matt Frei: He also told us that he had tried to contact the New York Times and the Washington Post and Politico here in Washington first before going to Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.  Now he left a recorded message on the answering machine of the New York Times ombudsman [public editor -- they don't have an ombudsperson at the Times and resisted that title when they created the position], their kind of editorial watchdog.  He talked to a junior reporter at the Washington Post  who didn't return his call and he never got to see Politico because the weather was too bad.  Had he done any of those three, just imagine how different history would be because they would have presumably leaked some of those documents but they would have filtered them first, they would have protected their source Bradley Manning and this would have indeed become a debate about America's foreign policy and military policy which is what Bradley Manning said he always wanted.

A few things on Frei's remarks.  There is no ombudsperson at the New York Times.  When the post of public editor was created, the ombudsperson title was rejected.  In addition, it's not just a title that a paper can bestow.  To be an ombudsperson, you're supposed to belong to The Organization of News Ombudsmen. Second, if "he talked to a junior reporter at the Washington Post who didn't return his call" then he did not talk to a reporter, he left a message for a reporter.  Third of all, Julian Assange can be faulted for some things to do with WikiLeaks.  He cannot be faulted with regards to protecting Bradley Manning.  Check his statements from the start.  He has stated he did not know who the source was.  Julian Assange did not give up Bradley Manning.  Adrian Llamo snitched and got a little pay day from the government for doing so.  Presumably, had Bradley gone to the other outlets, he still would have found himself needing to talk by chat room and still mistaken con artist Adrian Llamo for someone who could be trusted.

Andrew Beaujon (Poynter) notes that the New York Times' spokesperson Eileen Murphy as has the then-public editor Clark Hoyt.  I can't speak to the public editor issue but on his attempt to contact anyone else at the Times?  Eileen Murphy has not had time -- nor has the paper -- to have certainty behind the claim that no one knows anything of such contact at the paper.  During the early days of the Go Go Green Zone, a New York Times reporter was contacted by an enlisted American soldier with a serious story that the Go-Go Boy in the Green Zone deemed too hot.  I know of that because the soldier then contacted this site.  I wrote about that here shortly after the scandal broke.  He wrote this site and I teamed him with a reporter I knew who was more than happy to have the story.  When I go after someone here, it's usually for several reasons and that 'reporter' then with the Times is someone we will never stop ridiculing for many, many reasons including his running from a 100% real journalism scoop because he didn't want to upset his friends in the US military brass.  So if Bradley says he contacted any reporter at the paper, I believe him because of what happened before when a reporter was presented with a story, with supporting evidence and not just verbal hearsay, and the NYT scribe said that it was "too hot to handle" and would get him in trouble with certain US military officers so he was passing on the article.  For anyone who says I wasn't present for that conversation, I wasn't.  The soldier who contacted this site supplied the e-mails back and for to the NYT reporter.  Again, I can't speak to the public editor, but if Bradley tried to contact a reporter at the paper, I can easily see him being blown off.  Actually, I can speak to the public editor.  I knew Daniel Okrent had an assistant but I really haven't followed any of the public editor's since.  (Daniel Okrent was the paper's first public editor and any mea culpa from the paper on their Iraq 'reporting' resulted from the work Okrent did in his public editor columns.)  I just got off the phone with a friend who's an editor at the New York Times.  Hoyt's public remarks are he doesn't remember speaking to Bradley.  Hoyt has not stated his assistant didn't.  I was told over the phone (over the other phone, I'm dictating the snapshot in one cell phone) that Hoyt's assistant was Mike McElroy.  McElroy could have spoken to Bradley or heard a message Bradley left.

Politico?  Bad weather is probably the best excuse for that rag.  As for the Washington Post.  There were many stories today.  What did the paper focus on?  Something important and news worthy?  No, they let their bloggers play with their own feces publicly at the website.  Until mid-day when finally the adults stepped in and told the 'reporters' to stop filing pieces attacking Bob Woodward. (Late to the party on Woodward?  Click here and click here for Marcia.)   If you were one of those monkey bloggers, let me tell you right now, it's not over and you should be on your best behavior because your work is now being seriously monitored by adults way up above you in the chain of command -- as it should be.  So clearly, a "junior reporter" at the Post doesn't necessarily know news the way a Dana Priest, an Ann Scott Tyson, an Ernesto Londono or, yes, a Bob Woodward would know news. Erik Wemple made clear that he does not know news.  First with his bitchy attack on Bob Woodward earlier today and then with his 'report' late this afternoon which we'll link to because it's so damn awful and so damn stupid.  First off, he worked the phones . . . to call the Times.  Golly, Erik, I just made one call to the Times, to a friend and I got Mike McElroy's name, the fact that Mike could have spoken to Bradley or heard the message.  These are details that you, a supposed professional journalist missed.  You also 'forgot' to speak to anyone at your paper to see about Bradley's call to the Post.  Then again, I understand a lot of people at the Washington Post don't want to speak to you -- and I understand why they don't -- I really, really understand why they don't.  Keep writing crap like the 'report' we're linking to and, Erik, you'll be gone from the paper before the year's up.  With regards to your earlier attack on Bob Woodward, tell me, Erik, what I just put in bold, was it a threat? 

[Oh, look, Erik, Julie Tate and Ernesto Londono manage to do the job you failed at, "Staying with an aunt in the Washington area as a blizzard blanketed the region, Manning said he called The Post, seeking a journalist willing to examine documents detailing security incidents in Iraq. He said he spoke to a female reporter who didn’t seem to take him seriously."]

It appears only one US outlet is emphasizing a very important and news worthy aspect.  Ben Nuckols (AP) quotes Bradley telling the military court:

I felt we were risking so much for people who seemed unwilling to cooperate with us, leading to frustration and hatred on both sides. I began to become depressed at the situation we found ourselves mired in year after year. In attempting counterinsurgency operations, we became obsessed with capturing and killing human targets on lists.  I wanted the public to know that not everyone living in Iraq were targets to be neutralized.
It's amazing how only AP has that aspect of the story among US outlets -- Ed Pilkington reports the remarks for England's Guardian newspaper.  It's probably the most important part.  The weakest report from a name outlet was going to be compared and contrasted but a friend with ABC News just told me that the editor of that paper wrote a thoughtful piece on the attacks on Bob Woodward.  As a result, a really bad reporter gets a pass from me today.  David Martin (CBS Evening News -- link is text and video) notes, "Depressed and frustrated by the wars, he used his job as a low-ranking intelligence analyst in Baghdad to download onto a CD hundreds of thousands of classified documents -- pus a few videos, like this  helicopter gunship attack that killed two journalists in Iraq -- which he found 'troubling' because it showed 'delightful bloodlust'."  CNN's Larry Shaughnessy and Mark Morgenstein (CNN) report:

After Manning's guilty pleas, Army judge Col. Denise Lind asked the defendant questions to establish that he understood what he was pleading guilty to.
In addition, she reminded him that his lawyer had filed a motion to have the case dismissed on the grounds that he was denied his right to a speedy trial -- a motion that Lind denied Tuesday. By entering guilty pleas, Manning loses his right to have an appellate court consider that ruling, if he chooses to appeal.

So today, a little more about Bradley Manning is known.  As Janet Reitman (Rolling Stone) observes:

For the past two and a half years, Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of giving hundreds of thousands of classified documents to Wikileaks, has been the quiet enigma at heart of the largest and most contentious intelligence leak case in American history. As I write in "The Trials of Bradley Manning," my story for the latest issue of Rolling Stone, this silence – imposed by a lengthy pretrial detention that included nearly a year spent in "administrative segregation," the military equivalent of solitary confinement – made it possible for a legion of interested parties on both sides of the political spectrum to graft their own identities and motivations onto Bradley Manning. They have portrayed him variously as a hero, a traitor, an emotionally-troubled misfit and a victim of prison abuse.


And maybe, if people pay attention, a little more is know about US policy.  Counter-insurgency.  Again, Bradley's remarks:

I felt we were risking so much for people who seemed unwilling to cooperate with us, leading to frustration and hatred on both sides. I began to become depressed at the situation we found ourselves mired in year after year. In attempting counterinsurgency operations, we became obsessed with capturing and killing human targets on lists.  I wanted the public to know that not everyone living in Iraq were targets to be neutralized.

Counter-insurgency is war on a native people.  It's an attempt to trick them, to deceive them, to harm them in order to 'pacify' them.  James Dobbins wrote a ridiculous piece for the Council on Foreign Relations' Foreign Affairs magazine where he lamented counter-insurgency falling out of favor during Vietnam:

The dominant lesson drawn from this costly and ultimately futile war was to avoid similar missions in the future. As a result, counterinsurgency was eliminated from the curriculum of American staff and war colleges. When faced with a violent insurgency in Iraq three decades later, U.S. soldiers had to reacquire the basic skills to fight it. During the several years it took them to do so, the country descended into ever deeper civil war.
As American commanders relearned in Iraq, counterinsurgency demands a more discreet and controlled application of force, a more politically directed strategy, greater knowledge of the society one is operating in, and more interaction with the local civilian population than conventional combat. Perhaps the most essential distinction between the two forms of warfare is that successful counterinsurgency focuses less on killing the insurgents and more on protecting the population from insurgent violence and intimidation.
There is a legitimate debate over how deeply the U.S. military should invest in counterinsurgency capability at the expense of conventional capacity. But no one seriously argues that counterinsurgency tactics are not necessary to resist insurgencies.

That's so inaccurate but do we expect accuracy from Dobbins?  He served under George H.W. Bush which means he knows all about lying.  Counter-insurgency in Vietnam included such 'wonders' as: To save the village, we had to burn the village.  In Vietnam, they were a little more open about what took place and that was kill the ones you think are seen as leaders to get the native population to fall in line.  In addition, it fell out of favor because of all the War Crimes -- all the indiscriminate killing, the rapes, you name it. 

Dobbins claims that counter-insurgency was needed in Iraq.  Then why was it developed before the war?  If commanders 'relearned' the importance of this War Crime technique, then who 'knew' to include it before the war started?

"A more discreet and controlled application of force" is a polite way for saying "targeted killings."  In addition, Iraq and Afghanistan saw new War Criminals.  Anthropologists willing to betray the teachings and ethics of their profession agreed to act as spies and snitches on native populations.  They carried guns and they lied.  They did not identify themselves as anthropologists.  They're supposed to practice informed consent.  That means, if I'm an anthropologist and I'm studying your culture, I tell you what I am and I tell you I have some questions and ask you if you'd like to answer.  You're free not to.  But there are no ethics for War Criminals.  So you had them in military garb, carrying guns, going door to door with the US military, leading native populations to believe these foreigners with guns were military and had to be answered.  If they'd known they didn't have to answer, they might have rightly told these Montgomery McFates and others losers, "F**k off" -- and then slammed the door in their faces.

But the US military knew that as well which is why informed consent wasn't practiced.

They forced their way into the lives of a native population, they acted as spies and informers -- for a foreign force that wanted to dominate the country.  That's not anthropology, that's not social science.  That's a betrayal of everything the social sciences are supposed to stand for.  As Elaine pointed out Tuesday night, "Counter-insurgency needs to be loudly condemned.  I fully support stripping people of professional accreditation if they use their academic training to trick or deceive native populations.  The social sciences are supposed to be scientific and professional.  They are not supposed to be used to harm people."  Serena Golden (Inside Higher Ed) reports on the resignation from the National Academy of Sciences by "eminent University of Chicago anthropologist Marshall Sahli:

Sahlins further noted his objection to several recently announced collaborations between the NAS and the U.S. military. One of the projects involves "measuring human capabilities" and "the combination of individual capabilities to create collective capacity to perform"; another seeks to study "the social and organizational factors that present external influences on the behavior of individuals operating within the context of military environments." Both have the stated goal of utilizing social science research "to inform U.S. military personnel policies and practices."
Because of "the toll that military has taken on the blood, treasure, and happiness of American people, and the suffering it has imposed on other peoples," Sahlins said, "the NAS, if it involves itself at all in related research, should be studying how to promote peace, not how to make war."
Sahlins' resignation highlights two serious and ongoing debates within anthropology: one, the appropriate relationship -- if any -- between anthropologists and the military (Sahlins has previously expressed his opposition to any such involvement); two, the role of hard science within the discipline.

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Thursday, February 28, 2013









"Together there's no challenge we can't meet on behalf of our veterans," declared Veterans Affairs Committee Jeff Miller declared yesterday at a hearing where members of Congress heard from Disabled Veterans of America.  Chair Bernie Sanders offered, "It is unacceptable that veterans wait months and months and years and years to get those claims adjudicated.  That is an issue we've got to work on and that we've got to solve."

Two Chairs?  Yes, not a typo.  Yesterday the House Veterans Affairs Committee and the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee held a joint-hearing.  House Veterans Affairs Committee Chair is Jeff Miller, Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chair is Bernie Sanders.

Chair Sanders is the new Chair of the Committee.   Everybody finds their own way as Chair and Ranking Member.  I love Daniel Akaka, he's a great senator.  But I criticized him when he was in the post.  Chair Miller got raked over the coals by me for months.  And then, when he was doing a strong job, the raking was gone and I thought we were all aware that was due to the stronger job but a friend asked me if I hadn't noticed how Miller had adjusted so it obviously wasn't clear so there's a snapshot where I make a point to note that he didn't just improve, he grew into his role and was doing a strong job.  Senator Patty Murray? 

She's the exception.  Over a year before she became Chair, we were advocating for her to be the Chair here.  That was because she had the energy, she had the skills and she had the determination.  She's the rare person who takes over as Chair and hits the ground running.  I don't believe we ever had a need to criticize her negatively as Chair.  By the same token, I am sure she did not get the praise others would have gotten for the same work.  In the coverage of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearings, we advocated for her to be the Chair and when she became the Chair, she really did the amazing job that most knew she was capable of.  And because we expected her to do such a great job, we were able to focus on what she was doing and she probably got short changed in terms of praise here as a result.  So my apologies for that.  She was a great Chair and I wish she was still Chair.  (She now Chairs the Senate Budget Committee and she remains on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.)

I say all of that to note that things just aren't fair.  Miller's performance got critiques that Murray's never did.  I paid attention to Miller's performance because I found it lacking.  I didn't even note Murray's performance because it was so professional -- from day one as Chair -- that we were able to instead focus on what happened in the hearings.  And let's put in an honor that's been bestowed upon Senator Murray.  Her office issued the following today:

Wednesday, February 27, 2013
CONTACT: Murray Press Office
(202) 224-2834

Senator Murray Honored by Military Order of the Purple Heart
Recognized for leadership and distinguished service to our nation's veterans

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) was presented the Inspirational Leadership Award by the Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH) during a private ceremony in her Capitol Hill offices. MOPH National Commander Bruce McKenty presented this year’s award to Senator Murray which read:
“Since being elected to the Senate in 1992, Senator Patty Murray has consistently served as an advocate for veterans, military members and their families.
“Having been raised in the family of a disabled World War II veteran, she came to the Senate fully understanding the sacrifices, as well as the physical and emotional scars the veterans bring home with them.
“Senator Murray was the first female Senator to serve on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee and serves as its Chair in the 112th Congress. She has consistently been a tireless advocate for all veterans.
“She led the battle for increased funding for veterans’ healthcare and increased benefits, and profoundly recognized the importance of specialized programs for veterans suffering from TBI and PTSD.
“Senator Murray continues to support education and employment opportunities, better health care for women veterans and a myriad of other programs that she believes America owes its veterans.
“Senator Murray’s service reflects great credit upon herself, the United States Senate and the United States of America.”
The organization now known as the "Military Order of the Purple Heart of the U.S.A. Inc.," was formed in 1932 for the protection and mutual interest of all who have received the decoration. Chartered by the Congress, The MOPH is unique among Veteran Service Organizations in that all its members were wounded in combat. For this sacrifice, they were awarded the Purple Heart Medal.
Click here to download high resolution photo.

Meghan Roh
Press Secretary | New Media Director
Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray
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So congratulations to Senator Murray on a well deserved honor.

As I stated earlier, Chair Jeff Miller grew stronger and stronger and is a very good Chair today.  Bernie Sanders may grow stronger and stronger.  But this was his first hearing as Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.

In these hearings, the joint-hearings where they hear from one service group, you're really just trying to get your message out -- regardless of whether you're providing testimony on behalf of your organization to the Committee or whether you're a member of the Committee addressing the veterans gathered and outlining what you hope to do or assuring what you plan to do.  One of Chair Sanders' big points -- probably his biggest -- was what follows.

Chair Bernie Sanders:  Last point.  How many people in this room know what a chained CPI is? See, everybody up here knows what a Chained CPI is.  We know.  But most people in America don't know.  So on TV tonight, you're going to hear people talking about the need for entitlement reform for a Chained CPI.  What a Chained CPI is a different way of configuring COLAS for Social Security and for disabled veterans.  A Chained CPI would make significant cuts for some 3,000,000 disabled veterans as well as everybody on Social Security.  Now I feel very strongly that (a) the deficit situation is a serious problem, it has to be dealt with but you don't deal with it on the backs of disabled veterans and widows who lost their husbands in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Anyone see any problems?

First up, don't insult you audience.  Did he mean to?  No.   'We all know up here but you don't' doesn't necessarily sound welcoming and was griped about by three veterans I spoke with after the hearing.  Two more veterans were confused by "COLAs."  They knew he didn't mean sodas.  But what did he mean?  COLA is a Cost Of Living Adjustment.  I doubt anyone is now confused reading "Cost Of Living Adjustment."  The three offended were all over fifty.  Not surprising, COLA questions came from two veterans under the age of thirty.  You're going to have a wide audience of veterans and you need, if you're the Chair, to communicate with them.  Anytime they're stopping to ask "Hey, what's COLA?" or "Did he just insult me?" -- that's time they stop listening because your words have distracted them. The point was important to Sanders -- he's one of the strongest advocates for Social Security in the Senate.  But he lost five I spoke to.  This was the first hearing as Chair of the Committee.  I do feel it was a mistake.  It wasn't a mistake that's going to haunt him or even be remembered in a month.  But it did take place and it was remarked on (strongly) by three veterans.  I did share with them a point that's worth noting here.  That section that we quoted, it wasn't being read.  Chair Sanders was speaking off the cuff and trying to get away from the reading aspect of his statements.  I'm not trying to rescue him.  If I were trying to rescue him, I'd be saying, "And he looked nervous, everybody, it was his first time chairing!"  He didn't look nervous.  He looked comfortable in his environment.  It was a mistake -- in that the wording distracted from an important point he wanted to make -- but it wasn't a major one or the end of the world.

I spoke with twelve veterans after the hearing -- two were unimpressed with the entire hearing -- it was the first one they'd attended that was one service organization.  Those really aren't typical hearings.  There's no real questioning and not a panel of witnesses because usually one person speaks for all.  That left ten veterans.  We've already noted five, the other five?  Two were impressed with Miller (though one confused him with Senator John Boozman, he was praising the remarks Miller had made).  Two felt all the members who spoke did a good job.  And one felt House Veterans Affairs Committee Ranking Member Michael Michaud did a great job.  I thought he did as well and he's been slighted the last two times I've covered full House Veterans Affairs Committee hearings because I've wanted to quote him but there were other aspects of the hearing and other representatives we had to grab. 

Ranking Member Mike Michaud:  As you know, the administration has delayed the release of its Fiscal Year 2014 proposal.  While VA programs are spared from the effects of sequestration, it does not mean that veterans will be left unaffected.  Veterans will lose extended unemployment insurance as well as face cuts in the critical TAP program -- just to name a few.  In addition, all of our citizens will face the effects of sequestration at the state and local levels as well.  The VA is at a crossroads.  Many important decisions will need to be made as we look towards the future.  Working with you and the VA, we'll make sure that the choices are both fiscally responsible and in the best interests of our veterans.  I look forward to your testimony today.  Again, thank you and your organization for the years of service that you have given to make sure that veterans issues and their families issues are heard here on the Hill so thank you very much, Commander.

Commander is Larry Polzin and he is the National Commander of Disabled Veterans of America.  There are many ways a veteran can end up being disabled.  They can be harmed while serving, for example.  When we think of that, we may think of the loss of a limb or of emotional or mental wounds.  Hearing issues actually remain a constant even in the most recent wars of Iraq and Afghanistan.  As Manuel Gallegus (CBS News HealthWatch -- link is text and video) reported last May,  "60% of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have damaged hearing" -- with tinnitus being the most common, followed by hearing loss.  We note that regularly because veterans write to the public e-mail account to note the hearing issues and how they often feel that newer and 'hotter' disabilities get attention while hearing issues don't.  One thing that hasn't gotten attention in the last weeks from me is the victims of burn pits.  I'm an idiot.  My apologies for being an idiot.  My plan was to note regularly the upcoming symposium -- it's next week -- and I believe we only noted it twice, the last time near the start of the month.  Disabilities from burn pits are life threatening.  The Congress passed a burn pit registry bill at the very end of the last session and that is great news but there is so much to be done. 

Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, New York is gearing up to host a symposium on the issue.  This will be their second one, their 2nd Annual Scientific Symposium on Lung Health after Deployment to Iraq & Afghanistan.  The symposium will take place March 4th which isn't that far away.  If you'd like to register to attend, you can click here for the registration info if you're doing it by mail or by fax as well as a registration link if you'd like to register online.  A resource for burn pit issues  is Burn Pits 360

Two key points here.  Friday, March 1st is the last day to register to attend the symposium.  So keep that in mind.  Second, one of the things the Veterans Affairs Committees in both houses have long addressed is rural veterans.  Senator Jon Tester, for example, often notes the rural veterans in his state and how certain computer interaction would benefit them.  If you're a rural veteran or you're no where near Stony Brook, New York, they are offering -- for $50 for veterans or veteran family members -- a live stream of the symposium.  So that may be something that you'll be interested in. 

The Congressional hearing we noted earlier was a joint-hearing of the House and Senate's veterans committees.  Chair Bernie Sanders solos in his first Senate hearing as Chair next month:


There will be a meeting of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs in SR-418, Russell Senate Office Building, on Wednesday, March 13, 2013, at 10:00 a.m. to conduct a hearing titled "VA Claims Process -- Review of VA's Transformation Efforts."


Jeff Johnson
Deputy Clerk/ Systems Administrator
412 Russell Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510 | 202.224.6478

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Wednesday, February 27, 2013








 That's reality.  Sadly reality gets bracketed by spin today.  We had John Bolton already but another War Hawk spoke out today.  He had to because he's under assault and desperate to maintain whatever is left of his tawdry image.  Yes, we're referring to Tony Blair who was Prime Minister of England and was ridiculed as Bully Boy Bush's lapdog and poodle in 2003. That was ten years ago so some may have forgotten or never seen George Michael's "Shoot The Dog" -- which features an animated Bully Boy Bush tossing a ball and Tony Blair fetching it while George sings  "good puppy, good puppy, roll on over."

Cherie baby, spliff up
I want to kick back mama
And watch the World Cup with ya baby
Yeah, that's right!
We're getting freaky tonight
Let's have some fun while Tony's stateside
It's gonna be alright
It's gonna be alright
See Tony dancing with Dubya
Don't you want to know why?

-- "Shoot The Dog," written by George Michael, Philip Oakey and Ian Burden, first appears on George's Patience

The song was a hit, charting in over 13 countries.  MTV reported on the song in July 2002 when it was released:

"People are looking at the song in context of an attack on America, as opposed to an attack on Tony Blair," Michael said from his vacation home in France. "And really, my attack is that Tony Blair is not involving the British in this issue. He's perfectly happy staying up to watch the World Cup and enjoying the Jubilee, all things I'm perfectly guilty of, but there's a serious discussion about Iraq which hasn't taken place. We don't know what Saddam Hussein is capable of, the British public has no idea."

And that criticism of Blair is still apt criticism all these years later as Tony Blair demonstrated in his interview with BBC's Kirsty Wark for Newsnight broadcast today.  Excerpt.

Kirsty Wark: Is daily life in Iraq today what you hoped it would be ten years ago?

War Criminal Tony Blair:  No, because for some people, at least in Iraq, it's immensely difficult -- particularly if you're living in Baghdad and around the center of the country.  There are still terrorist activities that are killing people -- killing innocent people for no good reason.  But the country as a whole, obviously, it's economy is growing strongly, it's got huge amounts of oil revenue but, no, there are still big problems.

Kirsty Wark:  A conservative estimate, since 2003, 100,000 civilians have been killed, 179 British soldiers died.  Don't you think that was too high a price?

War Criminal Tony Blair:  Of course the price is very, very high!

Kirsty Wark:  Is it too high?

War Criminal Tony Blair:  But -- Well, think of the price that people paid before Saddam [Hussein] was removed.  Think of -- Think of the Iran-Iraq War in which there were a million casualties [which ended in 1988; 15 years before the US and UK invaded Iraq in 2003], hundreds of thousands of young conscript Iranians were killed, many of them by the use of chemical weapons [chemical weapons provided by the US government].  Chemical weapons attacks on his own people, the Kurds [again, 1988, over 15 years before the start of the Iraq War], people oppressed, deprived of their rights [like Bradley Manning in the US, a prisoner for 1003 days without trial and counting], tortured and killed on a daily basis [like the victims of Barack Obama's Drone War] --

Kirsty Wark: But there are sectarian killings now.

War Criminal Tony Blair:  Exactly.  So what is the answer?  That's what I'm saying to you.  The answer is not to say to people, I'm afraid we should have left Saddam in charge because otherwise these sectarians will come in and try and destabilize the country.  The answer is you get rid of the oppressive dictatorship and then you have a long hard struggle to push these sectarian elements out too.  Look, Iraq --

Kirsty Wark:  Wait -- But getting rid of the oppressive dictatorship was not why you went in.  You only went in for one single reason.

War Criminal Tony Blair:  Of course!  And-uh-umph-uh the reason that we regarded Saddam as a threat has been set out for many, many -- you know -- many, many reports many, many times and we've gone over this a huge amount -- but if you're asking me [. . .]

Really?  The liar thinks he'll get away with that?  He doesn't need to go over his lie that Saddam Hussein was a threat to England?  Because he's done so "many, many -- you know -- many, many" times before?  Well he's used the 1988 examples "many, many -- you know -- many, many" times before as well.  He's happy to trot that crap out yet again but he doesn't like being confronted with his lies.  And he trots that crap out again in the same interview where he insists, "I have long since given up trying to persuade people it was the right decision."

Kirsty Wark:  You wrote in your memoirs that you think of those who died in Iraq every day of your life.  What do you think about?

War Criminal Tony Blair:  Well, of course, you think about them and the loss of life and the -- and the terrible consequence for the families. But in the end, you're elected as a prime minister to take these decisions and the question is supposing I'd taken the opposite decision.  I mean sometimes what happens in politics and uh-uh-uh unfortunately these things get mixed up with allegations of deceit and lying and so on.  But, in the end, some times you come to a decision where whichever choice you take the consequence is difficult and the choice is ugly.  This was one such case.  If we hadn't removed Saddam from power, just think for example what would be happening with these Arab revolutions were continuing now and Saddam who's probably 20 times as bad as [President Bashir] Assad in Syria was trying to suppress an uprising in Iraq.  Think of the consequence of leaving that regime in power.  So when you say, do you think of the loss of life and the trouble there's been since 2003, of course, I do and you'd have to be inhumane not to but think of what would happen if he'd been left there.

First, Nouri al-Maliki is currently oppressing the Iraqi Spring.  His forces shot and killed 11 peaceful protesters.  They have arrested many more on false charges.  The military is used to keep the press away from the protests.  The military is used to spy on the Iraqi people.

At the US State Dept today, the issue of the protests was raised to spokesperson Patrick Ventrell.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) on Iraq.
QUESTION: Iraq is experiencing a lot of volatility. There were demonstrations all across the country. There are pamphlets in Baghdad for cleansing Baghdad of all Sunnis, and there are bellicose statements by the Prime Minister, who is your ally, actually against the United States and against certain groups in Iraq. Do you have any comment on that?
MR. VENTRELL: Well, the United States remains deeply committed, Said, to supporting the Government of Iraq’s efforts to bring greater stability and prosperity to its people. Our engagement in Iraq remains focused on supporting Iraq’s constitutional system and strengthening institutions. Obviously, we support the rights of those to protest and make their voices heard. We’re also working with them on their institutions. We do, Said, have some concerns about some rising sectarian tensions, and we condemn that. And we’ll continue to work with our Iraqi counterparts to help them as they continue to develop their institutions.
QUESTION: Well, there are certain groups who are collecting names and signatures and so on to have actually the constitution repealed and call for a new constitution. If that is the will of the public, will you support that?
MR. VENTRELL: I mean, look, our broader policy’s always been that we want the Iraqis to work things out through the political process. It’s not for us to determine what it is for them, to determine how their democracy’s going to function, how their constitution works. So we’ll provide support to them, broadly speaking, as they do that.

Tony Blair is a War Criminal and a liar.  He can't face the reality of Iraq today because he has blood on his hands.  Also because he's motivated by greed only which is why he makes the ridiculous argument about Iraq's growing business -- as if the Iraqi people are seeing one sliver of the monies the government sits on.

Second, he makes the decision, he makes the decision, he makes the decision -- Listen to the parrot repeating his phrase.  No, he's elected to serve the public and, in fact, George Michael's criticism of Blair in 2002 remains accurate today:

People are looking at the song in context of an attack on America, as opposed to an attack on Tony Blair.  And really, my attack is that Tony Blair is not involving the British in this issue. He's perfectly happy staying up to watch the World Cup and enjoying the Jubilee, all things I'm perfectly guilty of, but there's a serious discussion about Iraq which hasn't taken place. We don't know what Saddam Hussein is capable of, the British public has no idea.

Blair didn't get honest with the citizens.  Blair didn't respect their input.  He lied and tried to manipulate them.

Third, Wark specifically asked him what he thought about when he thought about those who died in Iraq?  He had no answer because he doesn't think about them.  He tosses off an idiotic one sentence piece of crap and turns the question back to himself.  Point being, all Tony Blair ever thinks about is himself.  Look at how he went on and on about himself and how tough it was.  Someone needs to tell the War Criminal to suck it the hell up.  He's alive, others are dead, climb down from the cross, Tones.

Iraq is a land of widows and orphans, that's the reality Tony Blair doesn't want to deal with.  So many deaths that the median age in Iraq is 21-years.  In Tony Blair's United Kingdom, by contrast, the median age is 40.2 years-old.  Nearly twice that of Iraq.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2013








All Iraq News reports that various leaders in and members of Iraqiya reported to Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq's office today for a meet-up to address "the political situation in Iraq and the file of the current demonstrations."  Iraqiya is a political slate headed by Ayad Allawi.  Along with Allawi, prominent members include Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi and Saleh al-Mutlaq.  One prominent member is the country's Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi; however, al-Hashemi wasn't present since Nouri ran him out of the country early last year with charges of 'terrorism.'  Iraqiya is a non-sectarian slate.  It came in first in the March 20120 elections besting Nouri's own State of Law political slate.   A statement from al-Mutlaq notes that Allawi called the meeting and stressed "the importance of answering the demonstrators' demands."

The demonstrators and their demands become more important each week as their numbers grow.  Friday, Iraq saw massive demonstrations in the ongoing protests with participants number over 3 million -- especially amazing in a country where that would make an estimated 10% of the population.  The BRussells Tribunal and Iraqi Spring Media Center offer two photo essays -- here and here -- on Fridays' demonstrations.  

Nouri has his own way of not ignoring the protesters:  He spies on them.  And Friday, Nouri's forces were taping the protesters.  This happened in 2011 as well.  And then the protesters began to be targeted not at the protests, but at their homes.  The photo is from Iraqi Spring Media CenterZarzis Thomas (Al Mada) reported Saturday about the Friday Mosul protest where complaints about the treatment of the protesters reached Governor Atheel al-Nujaifi who went down to the square to find out what was going on. Protesters reported that they were being arrested and harassed.  al-Nujaifi took down the names of protesters said to have been arrested so his office could follow up.  When he was leaving, the governor reports that federal police (they are controlled by Nouri al-Maliki) attempted to attack his car and his security detail to provoke them into exchanging gun fire.  He states the federal police deliberately attempted to create a crisis, deliberately attempted an attack on a sitting governor. In addition, Tigris Operation Command (Nouri's force) -- specifically Brigades 46 and 47 -- continue to do house raids in the area. 

Nouri's forces attempted to provoke the security detail for the governor of the province into an exchange of gun fire.  You would think this would result in some outcry.  Instead, in a sign of just how bad things are in Iraq, it barely registers.

National Iraqi News Agency quoted Iraqiya MP Hassan al-Jubouri condemning actions taken Saturday in Mosul, "The Third Army Division in Mosul has shut down the Square protest and blocked access in and out and cut the power, prevented the media from covering the events, and the purpose of this measure is an attempt to get the protesters out of their peaceful protest ."

That action and the incident with Governor Atheel al-Nujaifi may have prompted today's Iraqiya meet-up (Atheel al-Nujaifi is a member of Iraqiya and the brother of Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi).  It may also be behind the United Nations sudden desire for meet-ups in Iraq.  National Iraq News Agency reports that the UN  Secretary-General's Special Envoy to Iraq Martin Kobler met with the Iraqi Minister of Finance Rafie al-Issawi Sunday to discuss various issues.  al-Issawi, a member of Iraqiya, states, "the demands of the demonstrators and the importance of meeting them by the government because they are legitimate and constitutional demands."  Yesterday, Alsumaria noted that Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi met with Kobler to discuss the crack down on the protesters and the harassment.  Anadoln Agency adds, "In a written statement on Sunday, Kobler noted that his meeting with al-Nujaifi covered the issues of human rights and the emergency situation in Iraq."  All Iraq News notes that Kobler met with Nouri today.  Also today, they note, US Ambassador to Iraq Stephen Beecroft met with Ruz Mahdi Shawis.

The protests were discussed on this week's Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox as Cindy spoke with Iraq War veteran Ross Caputi and with Dr. Dahlia Wasfi.  Wasfi and Caputi are with The Justice for Fallujah Project.  Excerpt.

Cindy Sheehan:  So, Dahlia, I want to ask you this.  Of course, we are supposed to praise Obama because he ended the war in Iraq.  And part of the problem is that he got a Nobel Peace Prize and people think he's anti-war because he called the war in Iraq "stupid" -- even though he said he's not against war.  So what -- you're Iraqi-American, you have family there.  What is your sense of where Iraq stands today? 

Dr. Dahlia Wasfi:  Well I'm -- I'm watching from a distance and I would sort of I think is a reflection of the repression has continued and worsened today in Iraq is that I can't talk politics with my cousins out of fear of anybody listening to the conversations and that there would be repercussions for them because of it.  But I think, uhm, yes, technically, there was an official troop withdrawal in 2011 but this does not include the thousands who remain -- US military personnel who remain behind to protect at least the US Embassy.  And then there are thousands of mercenaries.  And, by my estimations, its the CIA administrators operating out of the Embassy and I'm not sure how many they have -- involving themselves in government affairs and civil affairs in Iraq today.  But what we can see now is our legacy from the invasion and occupation -- with the government that came to power during our occupation -- is that these unbelievable degrees of repression -- including arbitrary detentions, torture, rape -- this is ongoing for Iraqi society.  And this is what the demonstrations in Iraq are about today.  Now, of course, the mainstream media tells us a story that, 'Well this is a Shia government and these are Sunni who are upset with that and so they are rejecting the Shi'ite government.'  But from all the news that I'm getting on the ground that this is -- and they put the signs in English for western media that say, 'We are against sectarianism.  We reject the tyranny of this government. We reject Nouri al-Maliki.  And there's no sectarianism, this is unity.'  And also as a result of our invasion, religious groups and their militias that were based in Iran crossed over into Iraq, especially southern Iraq, in the earlier years -- 2003, 2004, 2005 -- and became dominant in the south.  And what also happened was under our control of the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Defense, we installed individuals who would orchestrate the death squads in Iraq.  And these individuals like Bayan Jabr also was from Iran, originallly Iraq but was from Iran and was actually a high ranking member, high ranking official of the Bard Brigades.  So the structure that is in place in Iraq today is absolutely -- They call it the second part of the occupation.  Iraqis know exactly what is going on and they are fighting once again to have their -- basically to have their sovereignty.  So this is the legacy that continue today.  Most -- most of the west, as far as I can tell, is turning a blind eye to it.  But this is a real liberation movement.  You can call this a liberation movement.  And meanwhile the US administration continues to deal arms with the Iraqi government.  So it's same-old-same-old.  This is very comparable to the relationship that the United States had with Saddam during the 1980s.  And  I believe that when Nouri al-Maliki no longer satisfies our agenda in the area then we will have to "liberate" Iraq again.  So we'll see what happens.  But the people, their slogan is "NO RETREAT." And they have endured enough and are willing to-to -- They have bled for their future in the past. 

Please note, that's the first time that the Iraqi protests have been discussed on independent or 'independent' media.  Haifa Zangana (Guardian) writes about the protests noting:

The plight of women detainees was the starting point for the mass protests that have spread through many Iraqi provinces since 25 December 2012. Their treatment by the security forces has been a bleeding wound – and one shrouded in secrecy, especially since 2003. Women have been routinely detained as hostages – a tactic to force their male loved ones to surrender to security forces, or confess to crimes ascribed to them. Banners and placards carried by hundreds of thousands of protesters portray images of women behind bars pleading for justice.

[. . .]

No wonder, ten years after the invasion, the Iraqi authorities are accused by US-based Human Rights Watch of "violating with impunity the rights of Iraq's most vulnerable citizens, especially women and detainees". HRW's account is echoed by a report by the Iraqi parliament's own human rights and women, family and children's committees, which found that there are 1,030 women detainees suffering from widespread abuse, including threats of rape.
Responding to these findings, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki threatened to "arrest those members of parliament who had discussed the violence against women detainees". Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Hussain al-Shahristani has acknowledged that there are 13,000 prisoners in custody accused of terror offences, but he only mentioned women detainees in passing:

"We transferred all women prisoners to prisons in their home provinces."
Al-Shahristani's statement is one in a long list of contradictory and misleading statements by the regime's most senior officials – from al-Maliki speaking of "not more than a handful of women terrorists", to his contradictory promise that he will pardon all "women detainees who have been arrested without a judicial order or in lieu of a crime committed by some of their male relatives". That assurance was followed by parading nine women, cloaked in black from head to toe, on the official state TV channel, al-Iraqiya, as a gesture of the regime's "good will".
Protesters and Iraqi human rights organizations estimate that there are as many as 5,000 female detainees. The truth is leaking out, drip by drip. A few weeks ago, 168 women detainees were released and there were promises of another 32 waiting to be released. No one accused of torture, rape or abuse has yet been brought to justice.

Drip by drip.  Now if only the western media could pick up on it?  Instead of avoiding this issue which is at the heart of the protests but never makes it into the wire reports.  It shouldn't be that hard to note this reality.   In a column for Al Quds (in Arabic), Haifa Zangana ends by noting that the Iraqi Spring began with protests against the prison rapes in Mosul and Anbar Province and that the protests are only becoming more popular because their demands strike a common thread.  Bie Kentane (BRussells Tribunal) observes, "Women prisoners have been subjected to torture by electrocution, beatings, and rape by the investigators during interrogation.  Often they were arrested instead of their husbands.  Some of the women have no idea why they were arrested and imprisoned for many years.  Some of the inmates' children were born in prisons.  Have a look at these revealing videos.  This horrendous situation has been created by the US occupation and is continuing under Maliki's puppet government."

Saturday, NINA reported Nouri al-Maliki declared he would ask the judiciary to condemn (that would be a death sentence) "anyone who talks in sectarianism." Sunday,  Kitabat reported that Anbar Province's Sheikh Ahmed Abu Risha has responded that the person resorting to sectarian talk is Nouri al-Maliki himself.  Oudai Hatem (Al-Hayat via Al-Monitor) also speaks with Sheikh Abu Risha:

Abu Risha called on Maliki to “sue himself since he is the main promoter of sectarianism and the reason behind the escalating tension in the country.”
Abu Risha was referring to the statements Maliki made two days ago, in which he threatened to sue “promoters of sectarianism,” accusing some countries, without specifying names, of “entrenching sectarianism in Iraq.”
Regarding the extension of the mandatory vacation of al-Iraqiya List ministers, Abu Risha considered that the “participation of al-Iraqiya ministers in the government will transform them into false witnesses; therefore, I call upon them to withdraw from the government. There’s no point in maintaining their participation.”
Information sources closely tied to the prime minister’s office have revealed that “Maliki has issued a decision to extend the mandatory vacation of al-Iraqiya ministers who boycotted the session for another month.”
Abu Risha denied forming a delegation to negotiate with the government, stressing that “the demands have been handed to the government since the first days of demonstrations. Sending more delegations will be in vain; the protests will continue until the government fulfills the demands.”

When he should be dealing with the above, Nouri is instead jotting down to southern Iraq yesterday for an unneeded event/facility.  Al Rafidayn reports he went to Basra for the Sports City opening.  Iraqis need potable water and dependable electricity, the need a strong rations program, a program that cares for widows and children.  We noted this earlier in the month but, again, Iraqi Women Platform For Lasting Peace has called for unity.  UNAMI notes this statement from the group:


We urge the women of Iraq, mothers and wives from all across the country, to speak with one powerful voice from now on against violence and violations.
We are Iraqi Women Members of Parliament, and in order to ensure a bright future for the men and women of Iraq, we proclaim that we want no part in the loss of more lives and shedding of more blood. On behalf of the women seeking stability and justice in the country, we declare that only through peace can Iraq be built.
The crisis appears to be complicated, with many parties involved, but we all believe that Iraqi leaders - both women and men - are capable of resolving the crisis and tackling its reasons wisely and consciously.
We reject violence in all its forms.  We condemn terrorism and murders all over Iraq. We assert the constitutional rights of the people in peaceful demonstrations. And we further assert the responsibility of the armed forces in protecting the demonstrators and respecting their legitimate prospects.
We express our willingness in active, serious actions: meeting with the demonstrators, listening to the citizens, communicating the demands and institutionalizing and reforming the political and development processes.

We will keep claiming: peace and security for our country. Peace and security for our country.

Again, while he can't address the needs of the Iraqi people, he can rush down to Basra for Sports City.