Wednesday, February 16, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, a US soldier has died in Iraq, protests continue in Iraq, protesters are fired upon and respond, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates explains the US would prefer to extend the SOFA, and more.
BNO News reports that 1 US service member died in Iraq yesterday. DoD doesn't make an announcement until the family has been contacted and the name can be released. So they have nothing. US-F? They use the tax payer dollars somehow. But it's not doing in their job. They didn't issue the announcement and haven't issued any annoucements at all since January 15th. The deaths continue because the war continues. From Monday's snapshot: "Saturday, Al Mada reported on the secret talks taking place to extend the Status Of Forces Agreement and cites Qassim Mohammed Jalal as the source for the extension meetings currently taking place between Nouri's reps and the US inside the Green Zone. Qassam Mohammed Jalal is part of the National Coalition. He is a member of Parliament's Commission on Security and Defense."
This morning the House Armed Services Committee held a hearing on the Defense Dept's budget. Chair Howard McKeon called the hearing to order. Appearing before the Committee were Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Adm Mike Mullen (Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff). We're jumping to the last half first.
US House Rep Dunan Hunter: Let's talk about Iraq for a minute. If the Status Of Forces Agreement is not changed or the Iraqis do not ask for our help and ask us to stay, what is our plan for 2012? At the end of this year, what's going to happen?
Secretary Robert Gates: We will have all of our forces out of Iraq. We will have an Office of Security Cooperation for Iraq that will have probably on the order of 150 to 160 Dept of Defense employees and several hundred contractors who are working FMS cases.
US House Rep Duncan Hunter: Do you think that represents the correct approach for this country after the blood and treasure that we spent in Iraq? My own personal time of two tours in Iraq. There's going to be fewer people there -- and that 150 -- than there are in Egypt right now. Somewhere around 600, 700 of those types of folks in Egypt. How can we maintain all of these gains that we've maintained through so much effort if we only have 150 people there and we don't have any military there whatsoever. We have more military in western European countries than we'd have in Iraq -- one of the most centralized states, as everybody knows, in the Middle East.
Secretary Robert Gates: Well I think that there is -- there is certainly on our part an interest in having an additional presence and the truth of the matter is the Iraqis are going to have some problems that they're going to have to deal with if we are not there in some numbers. They will not be able to do the kind of job and intelligence fusion. They won't be able to protect their own air space. They will not -- They will have problems with logistics and maintenance. But it's their country, it's a sovereign country. This is the agreement that was signed by President Bush and the Iraqi government and we will abide by the agreement unless the Iraqis ask us to have additional people there.
But Duncan Hunter and Robert Gates ignore the fact that the US military switches over to the State Dept if no new treaty replaces the SOFA and if the SOFA is not extended.
Gates was also playing games with regards to a lawsuit. Yesterday, Susan Burke and supporters of survivors of military sexual assaults and some of the survivors filing suit against the Pentagon held a press conference in DC. Congress noticed. We'll note two who raised the issue. First up was Silvestre Reyes.
US House Rep Silvestre Reyes: The other concern that I have is yesterday it became a national story about a lawsuit filed by former veteran women that are alleging what I think is a hostile work environment and sexual harassment and other things. I know you're probably not in a position to comment on that, Mr. Secretary, but I would like to work with your office to better understand exactly the circumstances that led to this lawsuit.
Secretary Robert Gates: If I may, let me just say, and obviously what I can say, is limited -- uhm, uhm, uhm by the fact of the lawsuit -- but let me just say a couple of things because this is a matter of-of great concern, I suspect, to everybody in the room. First of all, I have zero tolerance for sexual assault. And I've worked with Chairman Mullen and the Joint Chiefs and the service secretaries to see if we're doing all we can to prevent and respond to sexual assaults. I've had multiple meetings with, uh, the senior leadership of the Dept over the past four years, established four critical areas of Dept focus: Reducing stigma associated with reporting, ensuring sufficient commander training, ensuring investigator training and resources and ensuring trial council training and resources. We've hired dozens more investigators, field instructors, prosecutors and lab examiners. We've spent close to two million dollars over the last two years to train our prosecutors so that they're better able to be successful. We have expanded the sexual assault response coordinator and victim advocates ten-fold, from 300 to 3,000, and we now have those advocates at every base and installation in the world including in Iraq and Afghanistan. The court-martial percentages have increased from about 30% to 52%. So we are making headway. The fact is we aren't where we should be. It is a matter of grave concern and we will keep working at it.
Adm Mike Mullen: Sir, I uh would uh more than echo what the Secretary said. Zero tolerance. It's been -- actually over the course of the last six or seven years -- it has been an issue of great focus. And it is unacceptable that, uh, we haven't, uh, we haven't gotten to where we need to be on this. We know this is an extraordinarily difficult issue and, uh, I know both as a former service chief as well as knowing the current service chief, it's an area of focus. It wasn't that long ago it was a significant area both in the combat zone in Iraq, there still is enough anecodtal evidence coming out of Iraq and particularly in Afghanistan to certainly be of concern. What the Secretary said in terms of the, uh, investments in terms of improvements and education, the focus on leadership is exactly right. Uh, but we also have, I think, we have -- still have -- significant work to do and the leadership is focused on that.
You know what might help reduce sexual assaults? Gates and Mullen no longer saying "I have a zero tolerance" policy. Sexual assault is a crime. Of course there should be a zero tolerance policy just as they should have zero tolerance for some service member murdering another. Crimes are crimes. With their word choice -- forget what they think they're saying -- they repeatedly infer that there are crimes and then there is sexual assault which is this thing they just don't tolerate. That thing is a crime and it is against the law and anyone 'tolerating' it is subject to criminal charges.
Niki Tsongas asked last and we'll note her because she often addresses this issue. However, one thing to remember with Gates' responses above and below? He's out. He was bragging about it in his opening statements, when he ad-libbed from his prepared remarks (which he otherwise read word for word) to state this was "my fifth and final budget request." So this oversight that he's never provided but he wants to pretend he has? Someone should have asked him, "How much are you delegating to those immediately below you so that there can be a smooth transition when the new Secretary of Defense comes in?"
US House Rep Niki Tsongas: I'd like to come back to the issue of sexual assault in the military. It's obviously one that's much in the news today but really has been a longstanding issue and I think as Representative [Michael] Turner mentioned, something that this Committee has worked hard to deal with and find a way forward. But despite that -- and we've heard testimony from the various services as to all their efforts. But despite that, in 2010, there were 3,230 reported sexual assaults in the military. But by the Pentagon's own estimate, as few as 10% of sexual assaults were reported. And the VA estimates that 1-in-3 women veterans report experiencing some form of military sexual trauma. I can remember several years ago meeting with some people active in the VA in the state of Massachusetts and having a gentleman comment and say that was one of their dominant issues that they had to deal with. The Fiscal Year 2011 Defense Authorization Act required that the Department look into the feasibility of providing a military lawyer to all victims of sexual assault. While this is a good first step, I was disappointed that provisions which guarantee all victims the right to legal counsel and protect the confidentiality of conversations between victims and victim advocates were not included in the final version of the 2011 NDAA [National Defense Authorization Act] though they were in the House version. We would be shocked if conversations between their client or advocate were not privileged in the civilian world. And similar rights must be afforded to service members who may be the victim of a crime. Why would the Dept resist such a common sense measure? And I ask this of Secretary Gates.
Secretary Robert Gates: I hadn't realized the Dept had resisted it and, uh, I must say, uh, along with Mr. Turner's comments, these things sound to me like, uh, reasonable, uh, actions. And so I will take out of this hearing the charge to look into whether -- if we opposed it, why we opposed it and-and why we should not go forward on our own even without legislation.
US House Rep Niki Tsongas: And I would appreciate once you do that, getting back to me in some form so that I and others who felt this was very important. One of the things we have found is that despite all the good efforts on the parts of the services that the follow up procedures legally do not support -- undermine all the efforts you have made in preventing this in the first place, providing access to medical care. But if the follow up legal processes do not sufficiently protect the victim, make them feel comfortable in coming forward that it undermines all the good work you've done. They become suspect of the entire prospect, feel very much at risk. And this was one very common sense way, going forward, in the legal process alone that we felt we could better protect victims as they try to assert their rights.
Let's stay on sexual assault. CBS News' Lara Logan was sexually assaulted while reporting from Egypt. Mary Elizabeth Williams (Salon) gets right to the point: "Here's what you do say when something like this happens. Like countless women around the world, Lara Logan was attacked in the line of duty. She was assaulted doing her job. It was a crime of unspeakable violence. And your opinion of how she does that job, the religion her assailants share with a few million other people, or the color of her hair has nothing to do with it."
But, as Nicole Stockdale (Dallas Morning News) points out, some couldn't grasp that. One was Nir Rosen. Nir Rosen is toxic and that's why we've called him out repeatedly. He made disgusting comments about Lara Logan and Anderson Cooper. (National Review's Jim Geraghty has them here.) Rebecca's going to go into this topic tonight. I'm going to address it here in terms of Iraq.
Nir Rosen is toxic. That was obvious forever and a day. His disrespect for women is nothing new. We noted how he couldn't shut up in a Senate hearing when Senator Barbara Boxer -- on the same side as he was -- was speaking. When male senators were speaking, Nir was more than happy to wait to speak. With Barbara Boxer, he repeatedly cut her off over and over. And that was with a woman he agreed with it. He found the sexual assault on Lara Logan 'funny' because he doesn't like Lara Logan. He then goes on to suggest that more humor could have been found if men could have also sexually assaulted Anderson Cooper.
Nir Rosen is toxic. Rape and sexual assault are not funny. It's not 'great' when they happen -- even if the victim is your sworn enemy. We most recently called out Iraq 'expert' Nir for insisting -- in a guest post at his buddy Thomas E. Ricks' blog -- that, "Frankly this is a rare case where I hope Maliki violates the constitution, acts in some kind of authoritarian way to make sure he wins the elections, because the alternatives if . . ." Blah, blah, blah. When a person is bragging that they hope a country's constitution is broken, they have a problem. They are not about democracy, they are not about the process. The ends justify the means in their ethic-free universe. Now we just mentioned Thomas E. Ricks. In what world, Thomas E. Ricks, is acceptable for you to post nude photos of women to Foreign Policy? Little pin up photos? It's not acceptable. At that point, Nir Rosen's friend Thomas E. Ricks was still pretending to be interested and focused on Iraq. And then, suddenly, there's a T&A nude photo. How is that welcoming to women?
It's not. Nir Rosen, Thomas E. Ricks and other toxic players are not welcoming to women. And they haven't been held accountable. If Thomas E. Ricks wants to start his own version of Playboy, he can do so. But who gave him the right to smutty up Foreign Policy? Who gave him the right to run off readers who no longer felt welcomed knowing that Ricks was now posting nudies and encouraging a strip-club mentality in the comments? What the hell did any of that have to do with foreign policy? Not a damn thing.
But because women were the ones being exploited, the left was silent. Just as they were silent when it came to Scott Ritter. How many times does Scott Ritter have to be busted for seeking sexual encounters with underage females (girls, not women) before he's pulled from the left? In the final days of her Air America Radio program, Laura Flanders could call out some sports team for using a Gary Glitter song due to the statutory rape Glitter committed (14-year-old girl). And that might seem brave -- especially considering the rest of the left. However, Laura booked Scott Ritter for her program repeatedly. In January 2003, it was learned Ritter had been twice arrested for seeking sex with girls. And yet Amy Goodman continued to bring him on her show and treat him like a trusted guest. As we pointed out, was it going to take an underage girl getting assaulted for the left to walk away from Ritter? The whole time they (and he) insisted this was just the Bush administration going after him because he was speaking out against the illegal war. But in November 2009 -- when Barack's president -- he's busted again. For the same thing.
Why weren't the charges taken seriously by the left? Long after they were known, Laura Flanders had him on her show, Amy Goodman was interviewing him repeatedly, Seymour Hersh was touring the country with him, The Nation was publishing pieces by him, on and on it went. Known to be twice arrested for attempting to have sex with underage girls. And it was a-okay. It's toxic and it's past time the left started taking this sort of thing seriously.
You saw it in the St. Julian Assange nonsense as well. Two women may have been raped by Julian Assange. Immediately, it was time to tar and feather those women. They're liars, they're honey pots, they're this, they're that. And Ray McGovern, Dennis Bernstein, Naomi Wolf, John Pilger, Keith Olbermann, Naomi Klein and so many others got away with it because women are nearly the first thing that can be tossed out of the raft. Media Lens disgraced itself by attacking those who defended the women. We defended the women community wide. Defending them never required saying, "Julian Assange is a rapist!" I have no idea what happened, I wasn't present. But I know that if charges are brought, we don't attack victims. We wait for facts. (And, as we've seen this month, Julian Assange's male attorney is one of the biggest liars in the world.) For some time, Julian hid behind his attorney and allowed them to make attacks on women and feminists. Then Little Julie wanted to join in. And no one wanted to call that out either.
The comments of Naomi Wolf, Naomi Klein and all the rest (including the revisionary Nicole Colson) are exactly of the same toxic strain as Nir Rosen's. The two women didn't matter -- just like Lara Logan didn't matter -- because 'other things' were more important. And -- ends justifying the means -- the two women could be attacked, savaged and all victims and survivors of sexual assault could be as well in the process and it didn't matter because nothing mattered more than 1 man (Julian, in this case).
Women are nearly the first thing that can be tossed over the raft. Nearly? Gay males get tossed out by the left even quicker. (The right wing is far worse than the left on these issues, I don't pretend otherwise. But I'm not a right winger and my focus here is on the left and the way the left has damaged itself repeatedly in the last years.) Nir Rosen thought it would be funny if men sexually assaulted Anderson Cooper. He thought that was 'funny.' And he's allegedly an educated person -- apparently one educated at Jim Belushi University on an Andrew Dice Clay scholarship.
The left should have policed their own. They didn't. And that refusal to do so has consequences. If you're failing to grasp that, Amy Goodman pretends she's interested in abortion issues today because it allows her to interview Ann Richards' daughter. That's the only reason for that segment. If there was any segment required today by the news cycle, it was on the women and men who are suing the Pentagon over sexual assaults. (See yesterday's snapshot.) But that's reduced to a headline so that Ann Richards' daughter can speak. Maybe had she spoken in out in 2009, the current anti-choice culture would not be so determined? But speaking out, Cecile, would have required you calling out the White House and ObamaCare's assault on women's health. You weren't prepared to do that. Now that the attacks are coming from the right, Cecile's all ready to speak out. How very brave you are not.
Iraq. The story of Iraq's not been told by our brave leaders of the left. Not just because they all walked away but because look at all they ignored when they were covering Iraq. Naomi Klein is so offended that she got called out for attacking the two women who might have been raped and so offended that she can't hide behind feminist (she's not a feminist, she never was one). But what's really offensive is she supposedly covered Iraq and yet never found time for Iraqi women.
Never. Nir Rosen couldn't make time either. (In fact, of the most highlighted left voices covering Iraq, it's really been only Dahr Jamail and Patrick Cockburn who've covered women.) Manal Omar is the author Barefoot in Baghdad: A Story of Identity -- My Own and What it Means to be a Woman in Chaos. Starting in the 1990s, she has done humanitarian work in Iraq. NGO Coordination Committee in Iraq interviewed her about the status of women's rights in the new 'democratic' Iraq. Excerpt:
NCCI: As the former Regional Coordinator for Women for Women International in Iraq, what do you feel are some of the greatest obstacles facing NGOs which operate in the sector of women's rights?
Manal Omar: The biggest challenge is when women become the negotiating chip. One of the titles of my chapters in my book is "Negotiating Chip," because I witnessed too often how women's rights were used during political or social bargaining. For example, you may have high-level Kurdish representatives that believe 100% in women's rights. However, during political debates, or when it's time to vote on a resolution, they will not vote pro-women. When I would challenge them, they often would say that their primary issue is federalization, and as a result, they would strike a deal on a resolution for women if more conservative parties would vote on the resolution of federalization. The second challenge is what I call the "not now" argument. This argument usually states that because of overall violence and instability, it is not an appropriate time to discuss women's issues. I have witnessed how the "not now" easily becomes the "not ever." Women must maximize the window of opportunity to push their rights forward.
It's amazing that left publications haven't been interested in Manal Omar's book. Until you realize how the destruction of women's rights in Iraq remains the story the left ignored. What else got ignored? How about the assault on Iraq's LGBT community. At a time when you had three members of Congress addressing it, at a time when the Denver Post and New York Times were addressing it, The Progressive and The Nation and Democracy Now! couldn't be bothered. When it did pop up on Pacifica (KPFK), the guest brought it up and the host (Lila Garrett) expressed shock at the news she'd never heard of before. That did not, however, lead her to book someone to address the topic.
The left looks the other way at what Nir Rosen said and the reason is because his comments reflect their own attitude. A gay man being sexually assaulted is funny to them. A woman being sexually assaulted, to them, does have it coming if she's not their 'kind of woman.' And that's been reflected over and over in the coverage. Nir Rosen is toxic and his remarks were toxic but he existed and was encouraged in a toxic culture. Hopefully, he walks away from all of this with -- or develops -- a more inclusive scope than he had yesterday. It'd be really helpful if those who created and fostered the environment for such remarks could learn something.
I suppose both God and the March of Freedom work in mysterious ways. Prior to the past 20 years of U.S. assault on Iraq, there were gay bars and open homosexuality in Baghdad. Now the shiny new Iraqi Constitution sanctions the murder of unfaithful women and of homosexual men whether faithful or not. "Abu Qussay, an Iraqi father who killed his son after the son's homosexuality was revealed, is proud of the murder. 'I hanged him in my house in front of his brother to give an example to all of them and prevent them from doing the same.'" Between 2003 and 2009 at least 455 gay men were brutally murdered , many through a technique that glues the anus shut and then forces the victim to consume a drink that causes diarrhea. Videos of this have been proudly circulated.
Your tax dollars at work, my fellow Americans. You cannot destroy a nation and hire religious fanatics to attack other types of religious fanatics without creating hell on earth. And that is what we have done in Iraq. Meanwhile our own gay activist groups take some interest in advancing the rights to marry or work or obtain healthcare without discrimination, but primarily they have been obsessed with the goal of participating openly in the next sociocide.
Maybe others can follow David Swanson's lead? If not, we (on the left) will quickly become the very thing we once protested against.
Protests continued in Iraq today. David Ali (Al Mada) reports that the government in Baghdad is expressing concerns about the ongoing protests and Ali notes that "hundreds" have demonstrated in Baghad in the last days carrying banners which called for basic services (such as adeuqate sewage) and demanding change. Al Mannarah reveals that Tuesday the Baghdad security resorted to water cannons and batons in order to drive out the protesters and that many of the demonstrators were wounded. There was a sit-in in the Green Zone and that Baghdad army was deployed to surrounding streets and barbed wire and concrete barriers were quickly put up to prevent more people from joining the demonstration. The demonstrators called for many things including no more arrests without warrants, basic human rights, improved basic services, an end to corruption, an end to the pensions for former members of Parliament, jobs, improved electricity, improved ration card systems. Other protests are covered in the article as well but the new feature to these ongoing protests would have to be in Kut where a number of disabled and challenged persons participated in the protests as they called for jobs by marching in front of the Wasit Provincial Council. Alsumaria TV notes, "Hundreds of Falluja citizens took to the streets on Tuesday to voice their demands. Demonstrators called to stop arbitrary arrests, to resume conscription and to dismiss any foreign nationality holder from the government. They called as well to end the US deal." Dar Addustour notes yesterday celebrations were held to mark the anniversary of the birth of the Prophet Mohammad and that Iraq's Sunni Vice President, Tariq al-Hashemi, declared on the occasion that Iraq needs to reform and to do so quickly, to hear the voice of the country's people.
Baghdad's college age youth are calling for a large turnout February 25th in Baghdad. Dar Addustour reports Sheikh Qasim al-Tai has endorsed the students' protest and stated that they have the right to peacefully protest and that no one should attack them, that to attack any one of them is to attack the dignity of Iraq itself. Of the protest in Kirkuk yesterday, the paper notes that it originated with the complaints over the lack of basic services which led to meetings where residents discussed the services, the lack of jobs and the ration card system and then called a protest. Al Mada notes that arrests of protesters has been taking place in Baghdad and, in an editorial, they note reports of violence being used against protesters in Baghdad and call on the security forces to provide protection to the demonstrators, not to attack them.
And whispers of protesters being targeted with violence became reports as the day went on. Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports a protest in Kut resulted in deaths with at least fifty-five people wounded "when private security guards and Iraqi security forces opened fire on hundreds of demonstrators". Following the assault, Tawfeeq reports, "Dozens of protesters stormed the governor's office again and destroyed furniture inside, then set the building on fire. Another group of demonstrators went to the governor's house and set it on fire." Michael S. Schmidt and Duraid Adnan (New York Times) report 3 protesters were killed while demonstrating (and before they stormed the governor's office), that the Youth of Kut was behind the protest and that they hold the governor responsible for unemployment, lack of electricity and allegedly stealing governmental funds. The governor was not harmed in the protests. Liz Sly and Ali Qeis (Washington Post) explain, "The governor fled through a back door with his guards, as crowds swarmed into the compound, looting and ransacking the building and setting it on fire, [Police Captain Mahdi] Abbas said." Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) adds, "In the afternoon, the demonstrators attacked the house of Latif Hamad al-Turfah, the governor of Wasit province, which is located near the government compound and set it ablaze. An Iraqi local television of al-Sharqiyah aired footage showing dozens of protestors rallying around the Turfah's house as a column of thick black smoke was rising in the site, while bullets were resonating at the scene."
Turning to more reported violence, Alsumaria TV reports, "Iraqi authorities uncovered a mass grave north of Baghdad on Saturday with tens of bodies of Al-Qaeda victims, many of them women, children and members of the security forces, police said. Iraqi security forces uncovered a mass grave north of Baghdad on Saturday with 76 bodies killed by Al Qaeda, in the outskirts of Al Naher region in southern Baquba." Saturday's bodies were not victims of 'al Qaeda.' AFP reports 3 Turks were kidnapped from their home in Kirkuk. Al Rafidayn reports that a Karbala car bombing wounded 2 people and a security guard was shot dead in Baghdad and the paper reports Sheikh Ashairma and his brother was shot dead in their home today by unknown assailants dressed in Iraqi military uniforms. Reuters adds that Khawla al-Sebawi was shot dead in Mosul (he had been "head of the provincial government's property registery office"), a Tuz Khurmato roadside bombing injured a police chief, a guard and a person on the street and a Mussayab bombing injured two police officers.
On the political front, Dar Addustour reports that Ayad Allawi, head of the Iraqiya bloc, held a press conference in Baghdad yesterday and announced they are propsoing four nominees for the post of Minister of the Defence -- three soldiers and one civilian -- and that Allawi stated the agreement hammered out to allow Nouri al-Maliki to become prime minister gives Iraqiya the choice in who becomes Minister of the Defense. Al Mannarah reports that despite the fact that Parliament was supposed to review the laws regarding vice presidents yesterday, the Kurdish bloc refused to take part in the session. The President of Iraq, Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, has pushed for a fourth vice president and not the three previously decided upon. This was supposed to be addressed on Sunday; however, it wasn't. The vote is now said to take place "next week."
Shortly before the start of the Iraq War, Ellen Willis wrote the following for Dissent:
The Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz gang has seized on September 11 as an excuse and a cover for an agenda that long predated it: taking advantage of the power vacuum supposedly created by the fall of the Soviet Union to wage a forceful campaign for world domination.
To say that the Bush policy is one of preemptive war is misleading. If we have information that a country is preparing to launch an imminent attack on us, and we attack first, that is a preemptive strike-arguably an act of self-defense. Attacking a specific weapons cache or factory, as the Israelis did with their bombing of the Iraqi nuclear reactor (doing the world a favor, in my view), might also be justified on defensive grounds. But the Bush doctrine goes much further, claiming our right to make war on any nation we, in our sole judgment, perceive to be a threat to us or a hostile competitor for miltary power. It discards the principle that the only legitimate war is one that defends against aggression. While we as well as others have often honored that principle in the breach, openly flouting it invites others to do so and encourages wholesale contempt for internationa law.
The Bush doctrine is also a recipe for permanent war that threatens incalcuable devastation abroad while wrecking democracy at home.
Ellen Willis passed away in the fall of 2006. Her survivors included her husband Stanley Aronowitz and their daughter Nona Willis-Aronowitz. Nona is an author and writer herself and she's also compiled a number of her mother's writings online and is the editor of the forthcoming Out of the Vinyl Deeps: Ellen Willis on Rock Music which collects her mothers writing on rock music from The New Yorker, The Village Voice. The book comes out in May and, April 30th, there will be a conference at NYU entitled "Sex, Hope & Rock 'n Roll: The Music Writing of Ellen Willis" which will feature a large number of participants including Bikini Kill and Le Tigre's Kathleen Hanna, music journalist Richard Goldstein, Maxim's Joe Levy (formerly of Rolling Stone), the Los Angeles Times' Ann Powers, Rolling Stone's Rob Sheffield, Georgia and Robert Christgau, Elle's Karen Durbin, Donna Gaines, the New Yorker's Alex Ross, Billboard's Evie Nagy, NYU's Susie Linfield and music journalist Joan Morgan. Back to the excerpt, the point is that the Iraq War did not start and then, months after, people start, "Something is wrong here . . ." The war was built on lies. Larry Johnson (No Quarter) gets at that today reminding, that "a senior officer, Tyler Drumheller, warned CIA Director [George] Tenet and Deputy CIA Director  McLaughlin that Curveball was a fabricator. Drumheller told the Deputy Director for Operations (i.e., the guy in charge of all the spies overseas) Jim Pavitt and his Assistant, Steve Kappes. Tyler lays everything out in detail in his book, On The Brink. This is improtant stuff. Senior Officers and Cabinet Officials had enough information to know that the case for going to war in Iraq was bulls**t, but very few had the courage to speak up and challenge authority. It is almost 8 years since the Bush Administration invaded Iraq and the memories of who said waht and when are rapidly fading." The Guardian has published many stories in the last 24 or so hours on Curveball. None have really been news. Let's drop back to November 1, 2007, Clara Jeffrey (Mother Jones) responding to the press release 60 minutes was issuing about their segment on Curveball:
Ok, his name is new. And that's big. But him being a liar, and a thief (and also, a sex offender) and a whole bunch of other things 60 Minutes is claiming to have uncovered have in actuality been known for years. You can read all about the Curve Ball sage in our Iraq War Timeline. And much of the original reporting on Curve Ball was done by the LA Times. And former CIA official Tyler Drumheller, the apparent big source for 60 Minutes, has been speaking out for years.
Which is not say that Bob Simon's two year investigation won't yield some great new stuff. I'm sure it will. But I just wish they'd give credit to the LAT and others who broke or championed the Curve Ball story back before it was fashionable to call out the Bush administration.
You can click here for 60 Minutes report (text and video) from 2007. You'll note the CIA was told (by German intelligence) that Curve Ball's claims could not be confirmed and told the CIA that in December 2002. April 3, 2005, Dafna Linzer (Washington Post) reported on the findings by the Charles S. Robb-led commission:
Blix's U.N. group tested evidence supplied by an Iraqi defector codenamed "Curveball," whose tales of mobile bioweapons laboratories turned out to be fabrications, according to the report. Among Curveball's claims was that an Iraqi facility had been redesigned, with a temporary wall, to allow mobile laboratories to slip in and out undetected.
"When United Nations Monitoring Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) inspectors visited the site on Feb. 9, 2003, they found that the wall was a permanent structure and could find nothing to corroborate Curveball's reporting," the commissioners wrote.
Repeated 'reports' from the Guardian have offered no news. Possibly if Curve Ball was announcing he regretted his actions, that might be worthy of a paragraph. He hasn't offered that. So what's the point of the Guardian's non-stop filings? Michael White's column clues you in -- New Labour Party organ the Guardian is working furiously to excuse and minimize Tony Blair's actions -- and of course doing so in hopes of effecting the final report the Iraq Inquiry is currently working on. While offering excuses and lies to make Tony Blair look better, Michael White has no problem asserting Iraq would have been better if the British military had only stayed longer and blaming the peace movement for England leaving: "I suppose I could interpolate the thought too that the anti-war movement's pressure for withdrawal and for delegitimising the invasion also contributed to the desire to scuttle, and emboldened the suicide bombers and sectarians."
And the 'coverage' from the Guardian isn't just distorting in England. Check out the headline to Helen Kennedy's New York Daily News piece, "Iraqi defector responsible for prompting Bush to invade Iraq admits he made up WMD claim" -- responsible for? No. And Kennedy's own article makes that clear (in the first paragraph, no less); however, more people will see the headline than read the article. On Curveball, Thomas Buonomo (IVAW) announces Iraq Veterans Against the War are calling for an investigation into the matter:
Tens and perhaps hundreds of thousands of deaths have resulted from the invasion and occupation of Iraq. According to UNHCR, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been internally displaced and hundreds of thousands more are forced to subsist as refugees. Human Rights Watch recently reported that torture in Iraqi prisons continues under the authority of elite military units reporting to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Thousands of American men and women have lost their lives and tens of thousands suffer from the wounds of war. Families and communities across the United States are now suffering from veteran suicides, homelessness, substance abuse and domestic violence. The long-term cost of this war, including the provision of VA support for our returning veterans, is estimated to run into the trillions.
There must be accountability. Mr. Janabi manipulated the United States government in a self-confessed effort to precipitate U.S. military action in Iraq. IVAW calls for the Justice Department to investigate whether he acted alone or in concert with others who now occupy senior positions in the Iraqi government.
Media Inquiries: T.J. Buonomo, firstname.lastname@example.org
Curveball was known to be a liar and the Los Angeles Times was able to refute Collie Powell's testimony in real time. Michael White offered revisionary lies earlier today -- revisionary lies which depend upon people forgetting or not knowing a great deal. It wasn't a rush to believe that led the US government to steal from a student's paper and pass it off as 'intel,' after all. Ed Pilkington, Helen Pidd and Martin Chulov (Guardian) 'report' that Colin The Blot Powell is outraged over Curveball and wants an investigation. Collie actually believes the world is full of suckers he can play. Two days after Powell lied to the United Nations, the Institute for Public Accuracy issued "Powell Cited Sham 'Fine Paper'" (February 7, 2003):
"My colleagues, every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we are giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence...
"I would call my colleagues' attention to the fine paper that the United Kingdom distributed yesterday which describes in exquisite detail Iraqi deception activities."
-- Secretary of State Colin Powell to the United Nations Security Council, Feb. 5
Rangwala is a lecturer in politics at Cambridge University in Britain. He has written a report: "A First Response to Secretary Colin Powell's Presentation Concerning Iraq" which takes issue with many of Powell's assertions.
In his analysis of Powell's claims, Rangwala found that substantial portions of "the fine paper that the United Kingdom distributed yesterday" referred to by Powell on Wednesday before the Council (entitled "Iraq: Its Infrastructure Of Concealment, Deception And Intimidation") were plagiarized from pre-existing sources including a paper by a postgraduate student, Ibrahim Al-Marashi, in California. Rangwala noted: "It's quite striking that even Al-Marashi's typographical errors and anomalous uses of grammar are incorporated into the Blair government document. Al-Marashi has confirmed to me that his permission was not sought; in fact, he didn't even know about the British document until I mentioned it to him.... None of the sources [in the Blair government document] are acknowledged, leading the reader to believe it is a result of direct investigative work, rather than simply copied from pre-existing Internet sources."
Collie's sudden interest is his sudden self-interest. He sees a way out of his lies, "Blame Curveball!" Other than saying he had no regrets, this has all been repeatedly reported for years. He wasn't interested then. Collie once told Barbara Walters he wanted to be remembered as, "A good public servant, somebody who truly believes in his country. [Long pause.] Somebody who cared, somebody who served." Powell destroyed any chance of that long ago -- and those who know his real record know he destroyed that during Vietnam.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Gates and the absurd hearing (Ava)
Ava here filling in for Trina to cover the House Armed Services Committee. First thought? I'll be so glad when Robert Gates steps down as Secretary of the Defense.
Republican House Rep Roscoe Bartlett had a very serious question about whether or not the law was violated by the Defense Dept in their circulating papers throughout the Congress (but not to the Armed Services Committee) and Gates didn't even try to act concerned but went out of his way to express his boredom.
He tends to do that fairly often. I keep waiting for the Congressional member in either house who will call him out. Thus far no one has.
Bartlett was very clear in his questions. If he hadn't been, that wouldn't have been an excuse for the rudeness he was shown. The contempt he was shown.
Gates didn't like the question. Too bad.
"We aren't where we should be." He said that afterwards. To another Rep in response to the issue of sexual assault in the military.
When do we get to where we should be?
He took over as Secretary of Defense at the end of 2006 (December). He's been in this job since then. And starting in 2007, I have heard him tell Congress -- over and over -- "we aren't where we should be" and I have heard him say -- over and over -- we are working on this.
Nothing's been accomplished worth praising.
Adm Mike Mullen spoke from time to time but it was clearly Gates' show. And he had so little to say. But did enjoy saying it over and over.
Not that the Committee cared. Most didn't give a damn.
The new Chair (McKeon) came across as silly and goofy, just thrilled to be the Chair. As though Kenneth Parcell (30 Rock) had been made Chair.
There were about six members who offered questions that I thought were relevant or pertinent. That did not include the member (I'm being kind and not naming) who asked the Guan question -- the same member who asks the same question every full committee hearing.
It was absurd. Including Gates declaring that, "starting with Vietnam, we have a perfect record."
Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"