Friday, May 28, 2010

Armchitka in the Kitchen

I was alone and sickly
It was a quarter of a moonlit night.
Oh, I heard him cry through my window shade
And it filled me so full of fright.
But I could not turn my back on him,
I put on a back porch light.
Can I help you, said the Good Samaritan
Can I help you, said the Good Samaritan
"Hunter," written by Joni Mitchell appears on Armchitka

Armchitka is the Greenpeace live album released late last year. Kat reviewed it in November. She noted then, "Greenpeace is selling the two-disc album for a limited time only, click here, and they are also offering it (in full and in individual tracks) for download." We got it in November. My husband's a huge Joni fan (as am I) and we both love Phil Ochs. James Taylor also appears on the album.

I find myself listening to Joni's songs the most and what I love about the album is that, in 2009, we got a new Joni album. Greenpeace released this 1970 benefit concert last year for the first time ever. And it's just amazing to hear Joni with her guitar or at the piano playing these songs. "For Free," for example, is one she goes to the musical bridge on and then comes back to a verse and I'll assume it's due to being new at performing it live. (She notes she's made a mistake.) It's a wonderful moment and there are so, so many.

"Hunter" is the new song of the set. It was recorded for Blue but left off at the last minute. (Read Kat's review.)

I'll note Joni's set.

1) Intro
2) "Big Yellow Taxi/Bony Maroney"
3) "Cactus Tree"
4) "The Gallery"
5) "Hunter"
6) "My Old Man"
7) "For Free"
8) "Woodstock"
9) "Carey/Mr. Tambourine Man"
10) "A Case Of you
11) "The Circle Game"

It's really an amazing set and coming after Joni's most recent studio album (Shine -- which I love and listen to nonstop to this day) it's really wonderful because she sounds so alive during the live set and the same can be said for Shine which sports a Joni still pursuing art and meaning.

I look at Joni and at Carly Simon. They're two different kinds of artists. As songwriters, Joni's more the poet and Carly more the reporter. Equally valid approaches both. But I look at these two singer-songwriters and I look at their peers -- especially the male peers -- and find few who have pursued art the way they have. Except for Neil Young, I honestly see a ton of men who have rested on their fat asses for decades, exploring nothing but how little work can take the most cash out of the audiences' pockets. It just underscores how they were singing for something but art really wasn't it.

Joni, Carly and Neil would compose my Holy Trimutive of art. They're the real deal.

A number of us are weighing in on music tonight. I don't know if everyone will be. Betty is and has asked for one Carly album in particular, reserved it for herself to weigh in on so be sure to check out Betty's site. I also know Elaine's doing music tonight because she's the one who proposed the topic.
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Friday (actually May 28th):

Friday, May 29, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, Newsweek's end seems poetic, Paul Bremer talks to the Iraq Inquiry, and more.
Starting with The Diane Rehm Show and here is how the website notes their second hour and how it was noted in on air promos leading up to the (live) broadcast:
Vice President Biden says U.S. troops will be out of Iraq as scheduled [C.I. note: For the drawdown, this is not a withdrawal, for the August drawdown]. North and South Korea continue to ratchet up their rhetoric. And drug violence in Jamaica leaves dozens dead. A panel of journalists joins Diane for analysis of the week's top international news stories.
Wow. Iraq the first mentioned. At last, it was going to get some serious attention, right?
Wrong. It was one brief minute badly bungled by the biggest idiot on the show. Diane's guests were Elise Labott (CNN), Michael Hirsh (Newsweek) and David Sanger (New York Times). David Sanger's out of his element as a second hour guest. (The paper's Helene Cooper could handle it though international reporters would actually be better.) Elisa Labott covers the State Dept and has an international background. She would have been the best choice if ONLY ONE guest was going to BRIEFLY speak on Iraq. Of the three, Sanger would be the second choice. Michael Hirsh?
Uh, I believe America's rejected Newseek. I believe that's why it can't find a buyer. The trashy weekly (infamous for falsely printing that Jean Seberg was pregnant with the child of a 'Black activist' -- a willing and knowing cooperation with the US government in an effort to destroy Jean) may get some CIA funding but the publishing industry's done with it because it can't grasp reality: There is no Barack publishing market.
Apparently, the Cult of St. Barack has either stopped drinking the Kool-Aid or they don't read. But as one failed book after another, as one hyped magazine cover after another has failed to move, others in the publishing industry have moved on. Newsweek can't stop dry humping Barack. America has no trust in that rag, American has no interest in it.
So Biden says the drawdown is on track? We addressed that in yesterday's snapshot. Joe says the number of US troops in Iraq will be 50,000 by the end of August. Next week is the start of June. June, July and August. 3 months. The Pentagon states there are 92,000 US troops in Iraq (they fed the press that number this week to trumpet that there were more troops in Afghanistan). 92,000 minus 50,000 is 42,000 troops. The average number of troops in a brigade is 3,500. That's well over ten brigades. Candidate Barack Obama promised one brigade a month would be withdrawn from Iraq over his first sixteen months in office if elected (he broke that promise) and stated that it couldn't be more because more than one brigade a month would put too much stress on the system and put too much at risk. (Those are what as known as "lies.") Over 3 troops must be withdrawn in June, 3 in July and 3 in August for the deadline to be met.
Michael Hirsh couldn't offer any of that. He could stammer like the fool he is uh-uh-uh-uh. He could lick the boots of Barack and pass that off as journalism but he couldn't deal with any of the facts. His babbles summed up Newsweek. A piss poor, piece of s**t, that never cared about the facts and never had anything to offer but opinion.
In partnership with the CIA, they published the lie that Jean Seberg was pregnant with the child of "a Black activist" in an effort to destroy Jean Seberg who was both an actress and a political activist speaking out agains the war in Vietnam and racism. The CIA hooked up with Newsweek's foreign correspondent in France who did an interview with Jean that she described as bland. But Edward Behr had already agreed to write up info the CIA wanted in his report for Newsweek. Kermit Lasner would offer excuses for how he, as editor, allowed the statement into print which would include a tough lunch that gave him 'hard gas' and a spill on scooter. Here's what Newsweek printed in the August 24, 1970 issue: "She and French author Romain Gary, 56, are reportedly about to remarry even though the baby Jean expects in Ocotober is by another man -- a black activist she met in California." The US government wanted to destroy her and just knew that was the way to do it. Publishing the lie, destroyed Jean personally for other reasons. She lost the baby. Romain sued. He sued Newsweek.
But the CIA has so many helpers that a huge disinformation campaign has taken place over the last years and allowed Joyce Harber, a gossip columnist, to be blamed. Joyce ran a blind item in May of 1970. It could have been about Jean, it could have been about Jane Fonda, it could have been about any number of women and it caused no ripple. Jean did not miscarry in May. Jean didn't go into the hopsital in May. That happened in August after Newsweek published their lie. But Joyce Harber has been the target of the disinformation campaign and you will read the lie all over the net -- or hear from FAIR in any of its forms -- that Joyce is responsible and was working with Hoover's FBI. Joyce didn't get the tip from the FBI. CIty editor Bill Thomas passed that rumor on to Joyce. Joyce was always clear about where she got the information and how. Bill? Bill lied a million and one times and constantly changed his story. He got his tip from the FBI. He was doing Hoover's bidding.
But that attack didn't work out. Harber was smart enough to know what she could and what she couldn't print. And she also didn't think the tale (which she assumed true) was worth more than any other bit of gossip regarding who is sleeping with whom.
Edward Behr, fed by the CIA, ran with as a non-blind item months later. Kermit Lasner knew better but printed it because Newsweek was but an organ. And Jean Seberg lost her baby. So as Newsweek falters and falters, good. Justice for Jean Seberg.
As illegal wars continue today in Iraq and Afghanistan, anyone considering themselves part of today's peace movement needs to reject the disinformation campaign that blames a blind item by Joyce Harber (which ran in May) for Jean's August miscarriage. Anyone who considers themselves part of the peace movement needs to grasp that Newsweek actively and knowingly worked with the CIA to destroy Jean because she spoke out against American actions in Vietnamand against racism at home. The government wanted to destroy Jean Seberg and Newsweek was more than willing to enlist in that campaign. It is very easy to (wrongly) blame Harber and taking a stand against a (dead) gossip columnist never required bravery. A lot of people have spent a lot of time over the last decades rewriting history. Romain sued one and only one publication: Newsweek. It's amazing how that falls from the public record as a disinformation campaign takes hold.
Who has been the most mentioned US citizen in the London inquiry chaired by John Chilcot into the Iraq War? If you followed the coverage, the answer's obvious and it's in many snapshots such as the February 3rd one: "Paul Bremer is mentiioned in the Iraq Inquiry more than any other American (that includes Bush, Tommy Franks, Condi Rice, Blot Powell and all the rest)." And as we noted as well, Bremer wasn't pleased about that. Nor should he have been. He wasn't occupying the Oval Office (that was Bush), he wasn't running things (that was Cheney). As demonstrated with Jay Garner's firing, when the White House was displeased with the way their orders were being carried out in Iraq, they dumped the person immediately. (The second most blamed by witnesses testifying before the Inquiry? Condi Rice and usually for a multi-page article published in 2000 that had approximately one paragraph on Iraq in it.) So it never made sense to hear one British witness after another repeatedly lay the blame on Bremer.
But it always made sense that Bremer would want his say and he has. In addition to offering testimony, he's issued a lengthy statement. So lengthy that were this Monday or Tuesday, we'd serialize it with excerpts in each snapshot of this week. It's Friday and I don't care for the New York Times' bitchy way of 'covering' Bremer which is to repeat charges against him and ignore his responses except on letters page where they usually fail to print his response in full. So we're noting all of Bremer's statement in full. Again, it is lengthy:
Mr. Chairman, distinguished members of Commission:
Thank you for the opportunity to address this commission. The purpose of my statement is to convey my understanding of the objectives of the occupying authority in Iraq and to account for the major activities that authority undertook. I take this opportunity to summarize for the commission the points that I consider important to its review. After my statement, I am prepared to answer your questions.
At the outset I would make three general points.
  1. I should remind the commission that prior to assuming my duties in Iraq I had been in the private sector for about fourteen years. In the prewar period, I was neither in the US government nor informed of governmental deliberations except through press reports. Therefore I had, and still have, no firsthand knowledge about those prewar deliberations.
  2. While I recognize the focus of the commission is on British government decisions involving the CPA's time in Iraq, my perspective is on American government actions with which I am familiar.
  3. It is impossible to exaggerate the difficulties created by the chronic under-resourcing of the CPA's efforts. This problem, and the fact that the Coalition was unable to provide adequate security for Iraqi citizens, pervaded virtually everything we did, or tried to do, throughout the fourteen months of the CPA's existence.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Three weeks after the fall of Baghdad, President Bush asked me to become Presidential Envoy to Iraq. I spent the next several weeks in a round of meetings and briefings with the relevant departments of the US government in Washington. I arrived in Baghdad on May 12, 2003 and stayed until June 28, 2004. During this period, I served as Presidential Envoy to Iraq and Administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA).
I have written an extensive account of my experience in My Year in Iraq; The Struggle to Build a Future of Hope (2006).
My authorities as Presidential Envoy, enumerated in a letter from the President, were modeled on the standard letter every American Chief of Mission receives and were consistent with American law concerning those authorities. As with the standard Chief of Mission letter, mine affirmed my authority for all American government employees within Iraq, except for American military personnel serving there under the command of military authorities. Thus, consistent with American law and long-standing practice, I was not in the military chain of command.
The Secretary of Defense appointed me Administrator. His letter stated that in that position I was to exercise all executive, legislative and judicial authority over the government of Iraq. I was given to understand that these authorities derived from the Coalition's status as an "occupying power" under international law, as recognized in the relevant UN Security Council resolution.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
In Iraq the Coalition had three major challenges:
  1. To provide security for the citizens of Iraq.
  2. To help the Iraqis rebuild their economy.
  3. To help the Iraqi people put their country on the path to representative government.
The Coalition military had responsibility for the first task; the CPA for the other two.
It was evident to me from the start that the prewar planning had been inadequate, largely because it was based on incorrect assumptions about the nature of the post-war situation on the ground in Iraq.

Pervasive Lack of Security

Even before I left for Baghdad, I was concerned that the Coalition had insufficient troops to carry out its primary duty of providing security for the Iraqi people. I was struck by the evidence to this effect provided in a draft study from the RAND corporation shown to me before I left for Baghdad.
That study examined a number of post-conflict situations to determine in such situations the appropriate ratio of troops on the ground to the host country population. Applying the lessons of that study, the RAND report concluded that the Coalition military in Iraq should number some 480,000. Yet the day I arrived in Iraq, total strength of Coalition forces was less that half that number. Troop strength declined thereafter.
Restrictive Rules of Engagement (ROEs) under which Coalition forces operated in Iraq compounded this numerical deficit. For example, although there were some 40,000 Coalition troops in Baghdad when I arrived, since the collapse of the Saddam regime looters had pillaged at will for more than three weeks undisturbed by Coalition forces. Coalition troops had no orders to stop the looting and the Iraqi police in all major cities had deserted their posts.
The looting was done out of rage, revenge and for profit. It later became evident that some looting was also part of a prewar plan of Saddam Hussein's intelligence services.
The unchecked violence had three consequences. First was the enormous economic damage, not just in Baghdad but throughout Iraq. The CPA's economic experts later calculated the economic cost of the looting to be $12 billion, an amount equal to half Iraq's prewar GDP.
Secondly, focusing much of their rage on hated Iraqi governmental institutions, the looters destroyed a large part of the physical infrastructure of the government. The Baghdad headquarters of 21 of 25 ministries were entirely or largely destroyed. Throughout the CPA's tenure, the crucial Ministry of Finance had room for only half of its civil servants, who therefore worked in shifts throughout that time. The same was true of the Ministry of Education.
All the country's police stations were ransacked, often burned down. Iraq's military bases and barracks in most cases were entirely disassembled -- windows, doors, furniture, pipes and bathroom fixtures--so that often not a brick stood on another.
But the most pernicious effect of the unchecked looting was to send a message to the Iraqi people, and to enemies of the Coalition, that the Coalition military would not, or could not, provide security for Iraqis, the most basic of government functions.
I would like to set the record straight on the decision about the Iraqi army. The decision was based on the nature and role of Iraq's army during Saddam's three decade rule; the status of the army after the fall of Baghdad; and the practical and political considerations about the structure of any future Iraqi army.
Since the establishment of Iraq after the First World War, the army had played an important, and at least initially, constructive role in Iraq. However, for more than three decades Saddam had used that army as an essential element of his brutal repression and terror against the Iraqi people.
During the 1980s, the Iraqi army had conducted a vicious war, considered by some legal experts to be a war of genocide, against Iraq's Kurds. Hundreds of thousands of Kurds were killed, maimed or tortured. More still were made refugees after the army destroyed their homes. This "anfal" campaign culminated in the use of chemical weapons against the Kurdish town of Halabja on March 18, 1988 in which at least 5,000 innocent men, women and children were killed; thousands more were horribly scarred for life.
After the first Gulf War, Saddam used the army to brutally repress a Shia uprising in the South. Again hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi citizens were killed -- machine gunned and thrown into mass graves; for example, one field discovered near al-Hilla the week I arrived contained more than 30,000 bodies. During the 14 months of the CPA, over 300 mass graves were discovered.
Iraq's prewar army had been composed of some 300,000 enlisted men, all of them drafted into the army and the vast majority of them Shia. The officer corps, which was almost as large, was composed almost entirely of Sunnis. The enlisted men were regularly mistreated, even brutalized, by their officers.
When it became clear that Iraq was losing the war, this army had "self-demobilized", as the US Defense Department put it. Shia draftees by the thousands deserted their posts and went back to their villages, farms and families. Before I arrived in Iraq, the top commander of the Coalition forces, General Abizaid, had reported to the Department of Defense that not a single unit of the old army was in place intact anywhere in Iraq.
Thus, any prewar thought of using the army for peaceful reconstruction projects had become simply irrelevant -- unless the Coalition proposed to recall the old army. While some American officers had discussed the possibility of recalling elements of the former army, such a course ran straight into practical and political objections.
The large corps of enlisted men had gone home and would not voluntarily return to serve under brutal Sunnis officers. So the Coalition military would have had to send Coalition troops, already short-handed, into the Shia villages to force draftees back at gunpoint. This was not a course of action which commended itself to anyone of responsibility in the US government. Moreover, since looting had destroyed Iraq's military infrastructure, there would have been no place to train and house the army.
To these practical problems were added decisive political arguments against recalling the army.
Already before the war, the State Department's extensive study for post war Iraq (The Future of Iraq) had stated that: "The Iraqi Army of the future cannot be an extension of the present army, which has been made into a tool of dictatorship." Kurdish leaders, hearing rumors that some Coalition officers were considering reconstituting Saddam's army, made very clear to me that such a move would trigger Kurdish secession from Iraq. That would have provoked an immediate civil war and a broader and more dangerous regional war.
Moreover, Iraq's Shia population, following the counsel of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, was openly cooperating with the Coalition. But they, too, had powerful historic reasons to resent the idea of recalling the Iraqi army. Together the Kurds and the Shia make up about 80% of Iraq's population.
So the best course open to the Coalition, announced in late May, was to build a new professional Iraqi army. This decision had been under review by senior Defense Department civilian and military leaders since it became evident in early April that the former army was no longer intact.
The CPA's senior advisor, Walter Slocombe conducted these discussions, first in Washington, then in London and Baghdad. American officials recognized that any prewar plan to make use of the old army had been rendered irrelevant by facts on the ground. On his way to Bagdad on May 13 and 14 2003, Slocombe briefed senior British officials in London on the plans. His British interlocutors recognized that demobilization was a fait accompli. None of them expressed the view that the Coalition should instead try to recall the Iraqi army. In fact, Slocombe reported that the British officials agreed with the need for vigorous de-Baathification, especially in the security sector.
The first battalion of the new army went into training in late July 2003. We made clear at the outset that this would be an all-volunteer army and that enlisted men from the old army were welcome to seek reenlistment. The CPA also announced that officers from Saddam's army up to the rank of Colonel could apply for positions in the new army.
Recognizing the impact of not recalling all of Saddam's army, the Coalition decided to pay all enlisted men a separation bonus. And because the planned new Iraqi army would be much smaller than Saddam's, we also paid all but the most senior former officers a monthly pension set at a level higher than they would have received from Saddam's government. Those payments, made from Iraqi government funds, continued throughout the CPA period and were continued after the return of a sovereign Iraqi government. It was a mistake not to announce the payments at the same time we announced the Coalition's intent to create a new army. As soon as we did announce the payments (in mid June 2003), unrest and demonstrations by former officers immediately stopped.
No doubt some members of the former army may have subsequently joined the insurgency. But if they did so, for most of them it was not because they had been denied an opportunity to serve their country again or otherwise to live on their pensions. It was because they wanted to install a Baathist dictatorship.
Today the new Iraqi army, built from the ground up, is the country's most respected institution; a significant contrast to the police which the CPA did recall and which continues to be plagued by human rights and criminal abuses.
* * * * * * * * * * * *

Rebuilding a devastated Economy

The second challenge facing the Coalition was to get Iraq's economy back on its feet and to begin restoring essential services to the Iraqi people.
Through a combination of large-scale corruption, spectacular misallocation of Iraq's capital resources and UN-imposed sanctions, Saddam's three decade rule had destroyed one of the region's best economies. A few specifics show magnitude of the CPA's economic challenge.
  1. In 1980, Iraq's per capita income had been greater than Spain's. By 2002 it had fallen below Angola's.
  2. During the 1990s, Saddam cut healthcare spending by 90%. The World Bank estimated that Iraq had shortest life expectancy and highest child mortality in region.
  3. The UN reported that at least half of Iraq's schools needed to be entirely rebuilt.
  4. Iraq's industrial sector was dominated by 192 state-owned enterprises (SOEs), value- destroying entities dependent on politically-mandated loans, often buying goods at politically-fixed prices and making products for non-existent markets.
  5. The World Bank estimated that the country needed between $75 and $100 billion in new investment just to repair the country's dilapidated economic infrastructure
The state budget had been a secret under Saddam, but what was clear is that it was in chronic deficit. Every Friday, the central bank would simply print the amount of new currency Saddam estimated would be needed the following week. As a result of this colossal fiscal indiscipline, Saddam's Ministry of Planning estimated that at the end of 2002 inflation had been running at an annual rate of over 100,000%. The same ministry reported that the prewar unemployment was 50%.
Even before the war, Iraq's electricity production was estimated be fulfill less than half demand. At the fall of Baghdad, the entire country was producing less than 300 MW of electricity, about a tenth of prewar levels; no oil was being exported so the Iraqi government had no revenues. Civil servants, by far the majority of the employed population, had not been paid salaries or pensions for months. Hospitals and schools were closed. The primitive banking system was shuttered. In short, Saddam's Iraq had been the equivalent of a well-armed Potemkin village.
The CPA took aggressive action to deal with the economy. Salaries and pensions were increased three to five fold and paid out within a week of my arrival. Barriers to trade were removed by eliminating import tariffs. Taxes were lowered and exchange rate freed to be determined by the market rather than by bureaucrats. Massive employment projects were set on foot to create hundreds of thousands of jobs. Over the next 14 months, the CPA and Coalition military units completed over 22,000 individual reconstruction projects all over the country.
Within 4 months, the CPA's actions had begun reviving the economy. By October 1, 2003, the Coalition had rebuilt over 2,000 schools. The CPA had increased Iraq's healthcare budget by 1300%. All Iraq's hospitals and clinics had been reopened and distribution of drugs had been increased 700%. Electricity and oil production had returned to prewar levels. All the nation's bank branches were reopened (though they still lacked capacity for electronic transfer of funds so Iraqi government expenses had to be paid in cash).
At the same time, the CPA worked with Iraqis to establish principles and institutions fitting for a modern economy. Iraqi ministries, working with CPA advisors, produced balanced government budgets for 2003 and 2004. The CPA introduced the principles of monetary responsibility by establishing the independence of Iraq's central bank and freed interest rates to be determined by the marketplace, not by bureaucrats as had been done under Saddam. Working with the Iraqis, the CPA repealed Saddam's prohibition against foreign investment, except in the oil industry. Despite a primitive banking system, poor infrastructure and a war, the CPA succeeding in replacing Saddam's near-worthless currency with a New Iraqi Dinar which has since floated freely against all world currencies.
The CPA evaluated the SOEs and found that most of them probably could not survive in a free market. The economic arguments for privatizing those that could survive and closing the rest were powerful. But because these firms employed over 500,000 people, the CPA decided that the consequences of privatizing or closing the SOEs in the midst of a growing insurgency were too risky. So the CPA did not privatize a single SOE and instead continued to pay the salaries of the all SOE employees, even of those "employed" at SOEs that were definitively closed.
The CPA's economic record has largely gone unreported. In June 2004, when the CPA handed over to a sovereign Iraqi government, the economy was well on the way to recovery. Oil production had been running at prewar levels for 10 months. Bank deposits were 90% over May 2003 levels. Electricity production was half again as high as prewar levels, though still far short of meeting demand. Monthly inflation had been cut to only 2%. And according to a massive study by the United Nations Development Programme, unemployment was just 10.5%. A later study by the International Monetary Fund found that the Iraqi economy rebounded by over 46% in 2004.
* * * * * * * * * * * *

Helping Iraq's Transition to Representative Government

The major political goal of the Coalition was to help the Iraqis establish responsible representative government. In this goal, the Coalition was pushing on an open door. The remarkable turnout of Iraqis in four elections and one referendum since 2004 is conclusive evidence that Iraqis wanted to replace Saddam's tyranny with democracy.
The first step toward this goal was to deal with the overhang of Baath Party dictatorship. Saddam's party had been the primary political instrument of repression. Dissent and criticism of his rule were answered with summary brutality, torture and death. The party, consciously modeled on Hitler's Nazi party, even recruited children to spy and report on their parents.
The State Department's prewar plan, The Future of Iraq, recognized that "no member of the Baath party has any stature in the country" and urged that if Saddam were overthrown, steps should be taken "to ensure that Baathist ideology in whatever guise does not seep into the public realm" and to "block the appointment or promotion of any figure who has Baathist sympathies or loyalties of who expresses Baathist 'thought'".
Consistent with this plan, on April 16, 2003, General Tommy Franks, commander of Coalition Forces, outlawed the Baath Party and its repugnant ideology. No responsible official that I am aware of, in Washington or any other capital, nor in Iraq itself seriously suggested any other possibility. It was clear that there would be some level of de-Baathification. The questions were: how much and what would happen to Baathists.
Our intelligence estimated that the party had a membership of two and a half million. The Coalition recognized that many Iraqis had joined the party, not out of conviction, but in order to get access to jobs or favors from Saddam's regime.
So the Coalition's deBaathification decree was narrowly drawn in two respects. First, it affected only the top one percent of party members. Moreover, the only restriction placed on them was that they could not hold government jobs. Thus even top party members were free to work in the private sector, to set up businesses or newspapers, to become farmers, etc. Moreover the CPA authorized scores of exceptions even to this lenient policy, permitting many ranking Baathists to remain in high government positions. The myth that deBaathification collapsed the Iraqi government is simply unsupported by the facts.
Although the CPA's policy was intended to target a small portion of party members, it was later abused by Iraqi politicians and became a political tool with large negative consequences. In retrospect, it was a mistake for the CPA to devolve the implementation of the Debaathfication program to Iraqi politicians who then attempted to broaden the decree's effect. It would have been wiser to have set up an Iraqi judicial panel to oversee implementation. The difficulty three successive sovereign Iraqi governments have had wrestling with deBaathification illustrates the strong emotions Iraqis continue to have about the proper role for former Baath party members.
The CPA moved quickly to get a responsible interim Iraqi government in place, working with the UN Secretary General's Special Representative to establish the Iraqi Governing Council (IGC) in just two months. This effort benefited greatly from the professional efforts of British members of the CPA under the able leadership of Ambassador Jonathan Sawers. Hundreds of other able British officials including Ambassadors Greenstock, Sinnott and Richmond, participated in CPA activities over the next 14 months.
All CPA employees were volunteers. They came from 25 different nations and worked long hard hours. But the CPA was never adequately staffed. At its best, the CPA had only 56% of its positions filled.
The IGC was afforded responsibility to oversee drafting a modern constitution for Iraq, a step that all Iraqi political leaders we consulted favored. On September 1, 2003, the IGC also appointed Iraqi Ministers to run the Iraqi government. The CPA gave the Iraqi Ministers responsibility for the policies, personnel and budgets of their respective ministries. I do not recall once overruling a decision by an Iraqi Minister.
After considerable internal debate, the IGC deadlocked over the process by which to draft a constitution. The result was an agreement on November 15, 2003 that the Iraqis would draft an Interim Constitution as an essential step to regaining full sovereignty. This document, the Transitional Administrative Law (TAL) came into being in March 2004, after months of intense negotiations among Iraqis in which the CPA paid an essential and very active mediating role.
The Interim Constitution was the CPA's most important contribution to Iraq's political future. The law established the principles of democracy, individual rights and federalism on which Iraq's permanent constitution came to be based.
The Interim Constitution laid the foundations for open, representative and legitimate government. The document established the architecture of Iraq's government, based on the separation of powers, and a balance between the executive and legislative branches. It also confirmed an independent judiciary and civilian control over the military. The Interim Constitution established basic rights for all Iraqis, irrespective of gender, sect, religion or ethnicity. It committed Iraq to the rule of law and set out principles such as the right of the accused to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, to confront his accusers and to have legal counsel. Through the document recognized that the majority of Iraqis are Muslim, it confirmed the freedom of religion.
This document gave Iraq the political structure and opportunity to remain a united, free and democratic country. And although Iraq has been through very difficult times since 2004, the Iraqi people have remained committed to that structure.


The Coalition faced three enormous challenges in Iraq: providing security for Iraqi citizens; helping Iraq move toward representative government and helping them modernize their economy.
The Coalition military had responsibility for security. This task was never adequately resourced throughout the CPA time. Lack of security impinged on the CPA's ability to deliver in the other two areas. Constant attacks on Iraq's fragile infrastructure complicated the task of restarting essential services. Two leading members of the Governing Council were assassinated in office; others subjected to shootings, bombings and harassment. The CPA itself lost staff to insurgent attacks and its work environment was far short of ideal.
Despite these handicaps, and chronic understaffing, the historic record of the CPA's accomplishments is clear. When the CPA left, Iraq's economy was rebounding smartly, not just from post war levels, but well beyond the prewar levels. And by helping Iraqis draft a modern, liberal constitution, the CPA gave the Iraqi people the political structure to define a path to representative government, a path they have followed despite severe provocation by insurgents and terrorists.
We've called Bremer out repeatedly over the years and our points of disagreement are a matter of record. Due to that and due to the fact that the witness testimony against him during each day of public hearings at the Inquiry were covered in the snapshot, we'll let him have his say above without comment. The Inquiry also met with Australia's Ambassador to the US Kim Beazley, John Bellinger (advised Bush and the NSC), Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction's Stuart Bowen and Ginger Cruz, Eliot Cohen, US Ambassador to Iraq (2007-2009) Ryan Crocker, Charles Duelfer (Iraq Survey Group), David Kay (Ibid), Gen David McKiernan, NSC's Franklin Miller, USAID's (2001-2005) Andrew Natsios, CPA's Meghan O'Sullivan, William Taft IV (State Dept legal adviser, 2000-2004), Philip Zelikow and French Ambassador to the US Pierre Vimont.
Khalid Farhan, Muhanad Mohammed and Michael Taylor (Reuters) report a Najaf bank was robbed today after at least one insider (a security guard) drugged his c-owrkers tea allowing robbers to make off with the US equivalent of $5.5 million. AP adds, "A policeman who was guarding the bank offered cups of tea laced with sleeping medication to four guards at the bank, knocking them out for the night, according to a local police and a bank official." In other violence, Alsumaria TV reports a Baquba bombing yesterday which left seven people injured. Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Thursday Mosul mortar attack which left twelve people wounded, a Baghdad roadside bombing which left three people injured, a Baghdad sticky bombing which left two people injured and, today, Baghdad home bombings "of two Sahwa members and one policeman" which left three bystanders wounded.
In the US, Brian Faler (Bloomberg News) notes, the Senate pushed through the war supplemental bill late last night on a 67 for and 28 against vote. The bill now goes to the House which will debate it sometime after their Memorial Day vacation. At The Huffington Post, US House Rep Jan Schakowsky observes:
As of 10:06 on Sunday, May 30th, we will have spent $1 trillion in Iraq and Afghanistan.
A trillion dollars is a baffling amount of money. If you write it out, use twelve zeros. Even after serving in Congress for over a decade, I, like most Americans, still have a hard time wrapping my head around sums like this.
This month, we mark the seventh anniversary of President Bush's declaration of "mission accomplished" in Iraq, yet five American soldiers have been killed there in May alone. Iraqis went to the polls nearly three months ago, but the political system remains so fractured that no party has been able to piece together a coalition. There are some indications that sectarian violence is again on the rise.
The only clear winner of the Iraq war is Iran. Their mortal enemy, Saddam Hussein, was taken out and fellow Shiites are in charge. Iran has been emboldened to the point of threatening the stability of the region and the world with its growing nuclear capability.
And we'll close with this from Military Families Speak Out:

Contact: Nikki Morse, 347-703-0570,
Deborah Forter, 617-983-0710,

May 27, 2010, Nationwide -- This Memorial Day Weekend, Gold Star Families Speak Out members whose loved ones died as a result of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and Military Families Speak Out members who have a loved one who has previously served or is currently serving in Afghanistan or Iraq, can speak a truth Americans need to hear.

Celeste Zappala, a member of Gold Star Families Speak Out from Philadelphia, PA, whose son was killed in Iraq and was the first Pennsylvania National Guardsman to die in combat since World War II, said,

"With great sadness my family and I recognize Memorial Day and the 7 years since we last saw my son, Sgt. Sherwood Baker alive. On April 26, 2004 he died in an explosion while looking for the nonexistent weapons of mass destruction. We are but one of the over 5,000 American families who mourn the loss of their loved ones in Iraq and Afghanistan; physical and spiritual casualties affect thousands more - and yet the wars that kill our young and drain our treasure do not create peace. It is long past time to bring our troops home, and find real solutions for Peace."

Earlier this month, an ABC News /Washington Post poll found that a majority of Americans are again opposed to the Afghanistan war, with 52% saying it's not worth fighting.

Military Families Speak Out members Larry and Judy Syverson, of Richmond Virginia, said,

"We are the parents of three active duty sons. Our oldest son, Branden, is in Afghanistan with the Second Infantry (our family's sixth deployment in these wars). We are disheartened by Obama's foreign policy. With the 1,000th American soldier killed in Afghanistan this past week and war spending reaching $1 trillion on May 30th, 100,000 troops are in Afghanistan chasing an illusive target that has not made us safer in this country or closer to achieving peace and stability in Afghanistan. In poll after poll, the American people have repeatedly stated they want these wars to end. President Obama should honor the American people's wishes and end both wars and bring our troops home now."

Gold Star Families Speak Out members whose loved ones died as a result of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and Military Families Speak Out members who have a loved one who has previously served or is currently serving in Afghanistan or Iraq are available for interview over Memorial Day Weekend. To schedule an interview, contact Nikki Morse at or Deborah Forter at

ELSEWHERE IN THE COUNTRY: Members of Military Families Speak Out will also be participating in events around the country. To arrange for an interview, contact us at the information above.

Military Families Speak Out (MFSO) is a national organization of over 4,000 families who are opposed to the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and have loved ones who serve or have served in the military since the fall of 2002. Gold Star Families Speak Out is a national chapter of MFSO with families whose loved ones died as a result of these wars.

For more information about Military Families Speak Out, please visit
For more information about the chapter Gold Star Families Speak Out see

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The economy

Mr. CARVILLE: For instance, yesterday I spent three hours at the mouth of the river. I saw no one doing anything, and I was down there with Anderson Cooper, was with the governor, and we were in these marshes, and there was oil everywhere. There was no, not a single person. It was like you were in Antarctica, nothing.
Now, of course, no one is fishing. That's the most productive fishing waters in the world, and we're going to lose all of those wetlands. I mean, they're gone. And I don't think that - and there's no Coast Guard. There's no contractors. There's no anything. There's no scientists.
And now we're finding out that 37, 38 days later, that it's more oil being dumped into the Gulf than BP ever told us. They've lied at every juncture here, at every juncture, and what this government needs to do, what the federal government needs to do, is institute criminal proceedings against BP.
There's a wonderful piece in Bloomberg, I've been calling this forever, and they need to make them put up massive amounts of money to avoid going to jail, because that's where they should go, and the only way they can avoid jail is by paying massive, massive, massive settlements.
There are already - already, BP is trying to rig this case before a pro-industry judge in Houston. It was already in there. They're sending out - the lawyers are sending out memos to tell people how to delay claims, cut people short on these claims.
The people of the Gulf Coast against BP, they're not going to do very well in this litigation. The federal government needs to stand up and put all of its legal resources behind these people on the Gulf Coast.

That's James Carville appearing on NPR's Talk of the Nation and the only aspect of the show worth praising today. It is a huge, huge embarrassment of a show.

I don't want to talk too much about Barack's press conference today because Ava and C.I. were sending up the spin in the roundtable for the gina & krista round-robin tonight (in your inbox tomorrow morning if you're a TCI community member) and we were all saying, "You need to write this up." And they do.

But Barack was a joke and to hear Ron Elving (not that I value him much, he's become a huge embarrassment for NPR) spinning and swilling was just too much. I've also grown, in the space of one week, to loathe Neal Conan (host of the program).

In other news, before I heard the program, I caught the hourly NPR news. They noted unemployment claims were down but had an expert who said they weren't down enough and weren't down to the degree that had been expected.

I'm real sorry but I'm getting damn tired of this nonsense.

Here's reality, summer's the easiest time of the year to get a job -- especially in the service industries. And the big problem will be seen after October 1st.

That's when county, state and city workers will be laid off across the country because October 1st is the start of the fiscal year. I'm reading the e-mails from those of you who work for county, state and city governments and you're talking about 6% reduction minimum -- reduction in the workforce.

In addition, you're being given more furlough days and a pay cut. Many of you are expected to get that.

So this idea that the economic problems are over? No, they aren't. And summer can't be spun in any way to make it good. But the thing to watch for won't take place until October 1st lay offs.

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Thursday:

Thursday, May 27, 2010. Chaos and violence, post-election madness continues, Amnesty releases a new report on human rights abuses, Cindy Sheehan continues demanding peace, and more.

Starting with post-election madness. March 7th, Iraq finished Parliamentary elections. In the time since, Nouri al-Maliki has made clear he will have to be forced out of the prime minister post. This despite the fact that his slate (State Of The Law) came in second, behind Iraqiya (Ayad Allawi's political slate). In the many weeks -- nearly three months worth -- since, al-Maliki has thrown up one roadblock after another while attempting to discredit Iraqiya's win. He's demanded recounts and was granted a Baghdad recount. The recount found the original count to be accurate. Two Iraqiya candidates have been assassinated -- one immediately prior to the election, one earlier this week. Other Iraqiya candidates have been targeted by Nouri's government and had to go into hiding. Yesterday,
Jason Ditz ( observed, "Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission today submitted the final results of the March 7 election to the nation's Supreme Court, raising the possibility that the new parliament could be seated very soon, after two and a half months of legal challenges." But it's never that easy. Muhanad Mohammed, Waleed Ibrahim, Serena Chaudhryqa and Charles Dick (Reuters) report that the country's Supreme Court has issued a statement saying "that there are some legal issues that need clarification from IHEC" and "Amel al-Birqdar, deputy head of IHEC, said the matter concerned Furat Muhsin Saeed, a candidate in Basra province for the Iraqi National Alliance, a Shi'ite bloc with close ties to Iran." Alsumaria TV reports reports that the Kurdistan Alliance plans to head to Baghdad as soon as the results are ratified and that KA's Roz Nuri "Shawes stressed the necessity to implement Constitution article 140." Tariq Alhomayed (Asharq Alawsat Newspaper) notes:Sayyed Ammar al-Hakim, leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, said that the alliance between the State of Law coalition and the National Iraqi Alliance is like a "permanent Muslim marriage." However Muslims can also divorce, which is the most abhorred halal [religiously permissible] act to God, and Muslims are also permitted to marry more than one wife, therefore the question is what kind of marriage are we seeing in Iraq? And is what Sayyed Ammar al-Hakim said realistic?Firstly, what the leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq said about a permanent relationship between the two Shiite allies does not seem realistic. This is based upon what Sayyed Ammar al-Hakim himself said during an interview that was published in our newspaper yesterday when answering a question on the Iranian pressure on the two major Shiite powers in Iraq to form an alliance. He said "it is no secret that the Islamic Republic, in its view of the scene and its complications, was perhaps in favor of these powers joining or converging, and this is an issue that cannot be denied, that there is a desire of this kind." Therefore what is happening in Iraq today is a strictly sectarian operation, and not a democratic operation or state-building. This is something that represents an exclusion, and not just of the Sunnis, but of all Iraqi components, and unfortunately all of this is taking place as a result of clear Iranian planning, and is being justified by some Iraqis. And click here for the interview with Ammar al-Hakim (Ma'ad Fayad interviews him).

As Iraq continues "stumbling into false starts, fumbling around with false hopes, tumbling into false hearts, mainly mine" ("Make Me Feel Something," written by
Carly Simon, originally appears on her Spoiled Girl album), the US doesn't have a whole lot to brag about. On the Senate floor to a 'debate' -- if debates can last mere minutes -- took place as Barack Obama's war funding supplemental -- he swore no more supplementals in April of 2009 but he's not real good at keeping promises. Senator Russ Feingold introduced an amendment -- co-sponsored by Senators Barbara Boxer, Dick Durbin, Jeff Merkley, Sherrod Brown, Bernard Sanders, Robert Byrd and Tom Harkin -- calling for President Obama to "plan for safe, orderly, and expeditious redeployment of the United States Armed Forces from Afghanistan. On the Senate floor, he declared:

This is not a timetable, a binding timetable. It really asks the president to give us a flexible vision, a timetable of when he would intend for this to be over. And the senator from Michigan [Senator Carl Levin] tries to reassure us that the president has announced a start date for us to get out of Afghanistan. Well that doesn't really work because how do you feel the people in that area of the world would be reassured if we're only going to start withdrawing the troops in July of 2011? You can take one troop out. That starts it. That's not a vision of when we intend to complete it. The senator suggests that somehow this sends the wrong message in the region. Well actually the wrong message is that we intend to be there forever. We don't intend to be there forever. But you know what? After nine years, people start wondering. Nine years. Nine years. With no vision of when we might depart. In fact, I think the absolute worst message in the region is an open-ended committment. The worst thing we can do is not give some sense to the people of that region, to the American people and to our troops that there is some end to this thing. And all we ask in this amendment is some vision from the president about when he thinks we might complete this task. So when this admendment is properly characterized. It is actually a way to help us make sure that the Taliban and al Qaeda and others do not win the hearts and the minds of the Afghan people -- because they need to be reassured that we intend to make sure that their country comes back to them and that we will not occupy it indefinitely.

Feingold also noted his disappointment that "a bill providing tens of billions of dollars to keep this war going" was being proposed "with so little public debate about whether this approach makes any sense." Senator Carl Levin responded by characterizing the amendment as one that "would reinforce fear" and stated that there is "already a deep seated fear in Afghanistan" that it would be abandoned by the US. It was not a good moment for Levin and you half expected Russ Feingold to respond by breaking out into
Annie Lennox's "Little Bird" ("They always said that you knew best, but this little bird's falling out of that nest . . .") Instead, Feingold offered a response which included, "The senator suggests that somehow this sends the wrong message in the region. Well actually, the wrong message is that we intend to be there forever."

We're going to
fall back to Tuesday for the following on numbers. Journalists like to hide behind numbers and claim that numbers are objective and they don't lie. They may not lie but journalists damn well do decide what to emphasize and what to ignore. If you want an example of how that works, note this CBS News story by David Martin, this ABC news story by Jake Tapper, and we could go on and on but those are two of the better reporters and if that's what the best are doing . . . . Are they lying about the number of troops in Afghanistan? No, they're hiding behind that number (fed to them by the Pentagon, no reporter did the actual work on the numbers) and avoiding telling you about other numbers.
The most important number this week, as noted in yesterday's snapshot, is
171. That's the number of US service members who have died in the Iraq War since Barack was sworn in as President of the United States. "We want to end the war! And we want to end it now!" He hollered that often as tent revivals causing damp panties for many men and women. Now? End the illegal war now? He's been in office 16 months and the Iraq War drags on. The 'peace' candidate took office 16 months ago and has not ended the Iraq War, has continued it and is responsible for those 171 deaths.

Now the Pentagon didn't supply that number. But they supplied the number Tapper and Martin are quoting. Why are we back to the numbers? It's worth noting the death toll. It's worth noting the numbers Tapper and Martin dealt with Monday for another reason. Here's Martin: "The Pentagon says there are now more U.S. troops in Afghanistan (94,000) than in Iraq (92,000), reports CBS News national security correspondent David Martin."

Keep the 92,000 in mind.
Two years ago Alysha G wrote Yahoo! Answers: "How many people are in a combat brigade? I need to know for a presentation, for the persuasion of Obama." Best anser was: "They vary depending on what kind of brigade it is. Infantry brigades generally have around 3,500 soldiers and are commanded by Colonels. Armor brigades would have less soldiers." We'll be generous and go with 4,000 per brigade. The Pentagon just announced this week that there were 92,000 US troops in Iraq. Yes, math is involved in this but we'll go slowly. Scott Wilson (Washington Post) reports, "The sensitive departure is being managed by Vice President Biden, who says the U.S. military will reduce troop levels to 50,000 this summer, even if no new Iraqi government takes shape."

Let's do the math slowly. 92,000 minus 50,000 is: 42,000. Using 4,000 per brigade, that means there are 10.5 brigades to withdraw. That might seem doable . . . if it weren't May 27th. That leaves three months. For Barack's promise to be met and the US forces to drop to 50,000 by the end of August, that means June will need to see 14,000 troops pulled from Iraq, July will need 14,000 and August will need 14,000.

Candidate Barack and his advisers insisted that one brigade a month was the magic number because it was doable without causing any strain (on the deploying functions within the military or on Iraq). So from 4,000 a month to 14,000 a month?

As we saw when Georgia's forces (the country, not the US state) departed, it is doable. But so is an immediate departure of all US troops. If Barack manages to keep this promise, the real win will be that it will underscore what so many -- including former Senator Mike Gravel and Governor Bill Richardson -- noted which was that the withdrawal could take place much more quickly than Barack was insisting it could.

Monday MP Bashar Mohammed Hamid al-Aqidi (with the Iraqiya slate) was assassinated and Tuesday he was buried.
Amnesty International has issued the following:

Amnesty International has called on the Iraqi authorities to investigate the killing of a politician in the northern city of Mosul on Monday. Bashar Mohammad Hamid al-'Agaidi, who was recently elected to the Iraqi parliament, was shot in the chest outside his home by armed men. His driver is also said to have been injured. "The Iraqi authorities must investigate this killing and bring those responsible to justice in conformity with international law and without recourse to the death penalty," said Malcolm Smart, director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa programme. "More must be done to protect the hundreds of civilians who are being killed or injured in increasing attacks by armed groups, as the ongoing uncertainty over when a new Iraqi government will be formed continues." According to reports, one of the attackers has been arrested by the police. No group has so far said it carried out the attack. Bashar Mohammad Hamid al-'Agaidi was elected to the Iraqi Parliament in the national elections held on 7 March 2010. He was a candidate for al-'Iraqiyya List, led by former prime minister Iyad 'Allawi, which won, narrowly, the largest number of seats but not an overall majority. The elections did not produce any clear winner and the leading political parties have so far failed to agree on who should be forming the next government. This political and security vacuum is being exploited by armed groups fighting against Iraqi and US forces who have intensified their suicide bombing campaign. In the run-up to the elections and after, hundreds of civilians, including political activists, journalists, women and members of ethnic and religious minorities, have been killed by armed groups. On 27 April 2010 Amnesty International issued Iraq: Civilians Under Fire, a detailed report focusing on the plight of civilians in Iraq.
Read More
Iraq must protect civilians at risk of deadly violence (News, 27 April 2010)

Today Amnesty issues "
The State of the World's Human Rights" which is a survey of 159 countries on human rights whose overview notes of Iraq:

Government forces and armed political groups continued to commit gross human rights abuses, although the overall level of violence was lower than in previous years. Thousands of civilians were killed or seriously injured in suicide and other bomb attacks by armed political groups. The government and the US-led Multinational Force (MNF) continued to hold thousands of uncharged detaineees on security grounds, some after several years, but released thousands of others. Torture and other ill-treatment of detainees by Iraqi forces, including prison guards, remained rife and were carried out with impunity. At least
1,100 prisoners were reported to be under sentence of death, many following unfair trials. The government disclosed no information about executions, but at least 120 were reported and it appeared that some were carried out in secret. At least 1.5 million people were still internally displaced within Iraq and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis were refugees abroad. New human rights violations were reported in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region where conditions generally were much better than in the rest of Iraq.

And we'll include this section on armed militias and detentions/imprisonments:

Armed political groups committed gross human rights abuses, including kidnapping, torture and murder. Suicide bombings and other attacks targeted public places, apparently aiming to inflict civilian casualties. Many attacks were mounted by al-Wa'ida in Iraq and by Sunni armed groups. Shi'a militia also committed abuses, including kidnapping, torture and murder. The victims included members of ethnic and religious minorities, journalists, women, gay men and other civilians.
At least 25 boys and men were killed in the first quarter of the year in Baghdad, apparently because they were or were perceived to be gay, after religious leaders in Baghdad's predominantly Shi'a district of al-Sadr City urged their followers to eradicate homosexuality. The perpetrators were believed to be armed Shi'a militia or members of the victims' own families or tribes. Many of the victims were kidnapped and tortured before they were murdered. Some had their bodies mutilated.
On 12 July, five Christian churches in Baghdad were bombed, killing four civilians and injuring at least 21 others.
On 13 August, at least 20 people were killed in a double suicide bombing in the town of Sinjar, a stronghold of followers of the Yazidi religion.
On 25 October, two suicide bombings killed at least 155 people in central Baghdad and injured more than 700. A truck bomb was detonated near the Ministries of Justice and Municipalities; minutes later a car bomb exploded outside the Baghdad Governorate building.
On 1 January, the MNF was holding over 15,000 mostly uncharged detainess at Camp Cropper and other prisons. This total was reduced to 6,466 by early December in accordance with the SOFA, which required that the MNF either release detainees or transfer them to Iraqi custody. Some 7,499 detainees were released after a committee comprising representatives of several Iraqi ministries reviewed their cases and they had been interrogated by security officials. At least 1,1441 others, including some foreign nationals, were issued with arrest warrants or detention orders by Iraqi judicial authorities and transferred to Iraqi detention.
In September, the large MNF-run Camp Bucca prison near Um Qasr in southern Iraq was closed. Its inmates were released, transferred to Iraqi cutody or moved to the two remaining MNF prisons -- Camp Cropper, where most of the detained former high-ranking Ba'ath party members remained held; and Camp Taji, north of Baghdad.
On 8 April, a court in Baghdad's al-Karkh district ruled that there was insufficient evidence against Kadhum Ridha al-Sarraj and ordered his release. However, he was not freed by the MNF until 7 October. He had been arrested on 15 September 2008 at Erbil international airport, handed to the MNF and detained without charge at Camp Cropper, apparently because his medical research led him to be suspected of bomb-making.

Violence continues in Iraq. Will always continue throughout the illegal war and occupation. May continue after the US leaves (and the US will leave at some point, maybe in a year, maybe in two, maybe in ten). That's really an issue for the Iraqi people to sort out and they won't be able to do that while the US military props up 'leaders' who do not represent Iraq. Among today's reported violence . . .


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspaper) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing which left six people wounded, another which left three wounded, a third which left four injured and a fourth which left two injured while a Mosul roadside bombing which wounded two Iraqi soldiers and a Mosul home bombing which left Saleh al-Hadeedi's wife wounded. Reuters notes a Mosul mortar rounds injured eleven people


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Khattab Awni (Ministry of the Interior's Inspector General office) was assassinated yesterday and that 2 guards were shot in Mosul Tuesday. Reuters adds 1 "police captain" was shot dead yesterday in Mosul. Reuters also notes 1 person shot dead in Mosul and that professor Abdul-Kareem Mohammed was shot dead in his Sharia College office in Baghdad.

Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan hosts Cindy's Soapbox (radio program) and is also a founder of Peace of the Action. This week, she is Matthew Rothschild's guest on Progressive Radio:

Matthew Rothschild: These books -- I don't know much about your books, so I wanted to ask you and I'm embarrassed to say that I haven't read them because I usually try to read the books before the guest comes on.

Cindy Sheehan: Right, right.

Matthew Rothschild:
Myth of America: The Ten Greatest Myths of the Robber Class or the 20 greatest myths. What's the biggest myth? Or what's one of the biggest myths?

Cindy Sheehan: Well I wrote 10 Greatest Myths last -- the beginning of last year after Obama was inaugurated and I saw the policies of the Bush administration continuing without much of an outcry from the so-called left. And so I started to think, "What makes us do that? What makes us -- every four to eight years -- believe in a system that is so corrupt and-and really cancerous no matter who's in charge of the system. And so I wrote that. I went on a forty book -- I mean a forty city book tour and I realized through the discussions I had in these towns that I really didn't hit the myths enough. And so then I came back last summer and wrote
The 20 Greatest Myths of the Robber Class. And the myth I started out with is the foundational myth, I think, and that's that America's the greatest nation in the universe. Not on the planet, not in history, but in the universe. And so that makes us believe all the other myths because we, most good people, no matter if they're on the so-called right or the so-called left, we really believe that if our country does something wrong, it must have good intentions. And so that's not the case. And so I wrote the 20 myths. We have to expose the myths and dispell them and then I think we could have true change for the better in this country -- whether it's through, you know -- I call for a grassroots, very localized revolutions, you know -- and, of course, they're non-violent revolutions. But taking back our economy, taking back our government, taking back even our food systems. We have to do that if we truly want to have a more healthy -- not only a more healthy United States of America but a healthier world.

Matthew Rothschild: Cindy Sheehan, this foundational myth -- as you call this -- is really profound. It's this myth of what I call "The American Superiority Complex."

Cindy Sheehan: Yes, exactly.

Matthew Rothschild: And the idea, as you say, is that we don't -- everything we do, as you say, is because of good intentions or if we do something that isn't working out, it's because it's an accident.
Cindy Sheehan: Right, right.

Matthew Rothschild: Or it didn't work out the way that we expected.

Cindy Sheehan: It's an aberration.

Matthew Rothschild: Or a rouge operation!

Cindy Sheehan: Right.

Matthew Rothschild: Or something. Not that it's elemental to the way that US foreign policy operates.

Cindy Sheehan: Right.

Matthew Rothschild: How is that myth propagated? How has it become so ingrained?

Cindy Sheehan: Oh my gosh, it's propagated through our schools, through our media, through our -- even, I talk about in my books, how Martin Luther King Jr. celebrations have turned militaristic. You know, where they roll tanks down the streets in the parade and they fly the Blue Angel planes overhead. And I tell a story about when I was second grade and my second grade teacher asked us a question -- and this was back in, let me see, 1964. They asked a question -- she asked us a question: "If a Communist came up to you and put a gun to your head and told you not to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, what would you do?" So, of course, I raised my hand and I said I wouldn't recite it and I had to stand in the corner. So even when I was seven-years-old, I was being called unpatriotic, a traitor to this country. So, yeah, I mean it's done through fear mongering, through Madison Avenue. Distraction is a really good way to keep us not thinking about if -- that our country is doing these crimes, these crimes against humanity. So there's just a lot of ways that this myth is propagated. And the number one way it starts, it starts in the family.

Cindy's Soapbox is a weekly radio program and her scheduled guest on the show that begins airing Sunday is former US Congress member and 2008 Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney. We'll note another excerpt from Matthew Rothschild's interview with Cindy:

Matthew Rothschild: Why is Obama escalating the war in Afghanistan?

Cindy Sheehan: Well -- you know, that's a -- that's a very good question. And he said he was going to do it when he was running for president. I mean, that was one of his promises. And so he's just fulfilling a campaign promise. And you saw many anti-war, progressive activists that supported Obama saying: "Well that's one promise we hope he doesn't keep." But he has kept that promise.
Matthew Rothschild: Were they just deluding themselves? Or did they think, "Well it's worth it, no matter what."?

Cindy Sheehan: Uhm, I think it was -- And that's another question that I've been really investigating asking myself and trying to come to grips with: For eight years, did we have an anti-war movement or did we just have an anti-Bush movement?

Matthew Rothschild: What's your answer to that?

Cindy Sheehan: I think we had an anti-Bush movement. I've been, like you said, still working really hard in the movement, in the peace movement, in the anti-war movement and in the alternative political movement, even when we have a new president. And it is really, really hard to organize. It's really hard to get people out in the streets anymore. There's such a lack of -- uhm -- intellectual honesty, I think, when it comes to this. A lack of integrity. And so my whole -- my whole focus since Obama's come to power is to get us back to the realities of US policies and not personality. And I started to actually try that when George Bush was still president because I ran for Congress against Nancy Pelosi. She's supposedly the most liberal member of Congress from the most liberal district -- which, of course, are also two myths. She's not -- well it depends upon how you define liberal. But you know, she's a politician, she's a centrist and the Democrats in San Francisco are centrists too. So I started to try and pull people away from partisan politics to humanistic politics and it's just been very difficult. And so now these same people who fifteen, sixteen, eighteen months ago were saying "Well we have to support Obama because he's the peace candidate and he's better than McCain" are starting to say, "Oh, geez, I guess we better start organizing something because he really is fulfilling his promises." And not only is he increasing in Afghanistan, he hasn't fulfilled his promises for the withdrawal from Iraq and we have a nuclear option on the table still for Iran.

And for those who are not able to stream, Cindy then goes into ideas outlined in her article "
Our Complex." And while we're noting Cindy, we'll note this from Peace of the Action:

On July 4th, Peace of the Action will be beginning our Sizzlin' Summer Protests in Washington DC with a protest in front of the White House in Lafayette Square.
Starting at one o'clock in the afternoon, we will protest British Petroleum and its politicians and other friends in our government that led to the conditions that are causing perhaps the worst (and apparently unstoppable) environmental disaster in World History in the Gulf of Mexico.
On July 4th, Peace of the Action will be demanding that the Obama Administration penalize British Petroleum in proportion to the devastation that it is causing.
The money could go for:
Reparations to the people who are losing their livelihoods, homes, and natural beauty.
Wildlife rescue and refuge.
Investing in renewable, recyclable and sustainable forms of energy.
Considering the highly unlikely probability of the U.S. government holding any corporation accountable, let alone an oil company -- Peace of the Action believes that the answer for environmental sustainability and economic stability are in the hands of the people.
If you can't come to DC on the 4th of July to help us protest BP, please consider holding a protest in front of your local BP gas station.
This is just the first step, though. We need to become better citizens of this planet -- and instead of following the establishment's lines about reducing our dependence on "foreign" oil -- we must do everything to Declare Independence from all oil -- as evidenced by the Gusher in the Gulf -- all oil, foreign and domestic is harmful to the planet -- and foreign oil is the reason for this country's addiction to war.
Coming soon: Peace of the Action will have a Declaration of Oil Independence to sign, along with our demands, and these signatures will be delivered to the White House on the 6th of July -- the more the better.
In the meantime: do not purchase gas from BP gas stations, or ARCO AM/PM, which also sells BP gas.
Also, try to do whatever is in your power to cut back on gas purchases -- if you never purchase gas, already -- then CONGRATULATIONS.
These are actions that cost us very little -- but if enough of us participate, we will have a profound affect on the future of life on this planet.

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010


As oozing oil fouls Louisiana’s marshes, Obama has committed to maintaining the semblance of a regular schedule, adhering to his walk-and-chew-gum style of crisis management even as criticism of his administration mounts.
That includes a sit-down to talk hoops with Marv Albert, events touting the stimulus and Duke’s basketball team, a Memorial Day appearance in Illinois and a pair of fundraisers in California that roughly overlapped with a memorial service for 11 workers killed in the April 20th explosion on the Deepwater Horizon platform.

That's from Glenn Thrush, Josh Gerstein and Manu Raju's "President Obama under fire for BP spill response" (Politico). Of course people are outraged, Barack's not doing his job. He was elected to do a job. He's done nothing. He parties too much, poses too often and needs to get to work. All he did his first year was travel. He set a record, according to NPR, for travel outside the country for a first term president. The US economy was falling apart but Barack was traveling.

And, speaking of NPR, yesterday on Morning Edition, Ari Shapiro had an interesting report:

But even if every agency had been fully staffed months ago, people in and outside of the administration say this is a controlling White House by its nature.
Projects that the Bush and Clinton administrations might have entrusted to the departments of Justice, State or Defense are now centered at the White House instead. That's true of national security policies, legislative initiatives and more.
Outside groups working on the Kagan confirmation complain that the White House is overbearing.
Advocates say they felt pressure to endorse Kagan before they were ready, and they complain that the White House tries to micromanage interview requests for outside groups.
There's a daily conference call and a weekly meeting in person, to make sure the outside groups are singing from the White House's hymnal.
That's on top of the regular memos establishing talking points for each day.
One recent example read, "By making public Elena Kagan's college thesis, Elena Kagan and the Obama White House are raising the bar on transparency."

I would hope the dishonesty and the manipulation would displease -- if not outrage -- most Americans but I think, for my side anyway, there's a sense for some of, "Yeah! We're playing like Republicans now!" Like that's ever been the answer for Democrats. There's a world of difference between truth telling and an echo chamber.

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Wednesday:

Wednesday, May 26, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, Nouri 'suffers' for his public, Barack proves his presidential cry is "MEOW!", to avoid debt payments Iraq breaks up an airplane company, and more.

Last night, catty Barack Obama teamed up with catty Barbara Boxer who appears to be begging California to vote her out of office. Barry was droning on in his stop-stop, Sandy Dennis manner -- so many vocal tics you expect him to ask for a Coke. With. Crushed ice. Come Back To The Speech Therapist, Barry O, Barry O. He ended up heckled. And between his vanity and
his well known bitchery, you knew Barry wasn't going to stand for it. As he scowled, Barbara Boxer snarls that "it's the same guy" who heckled Barry last time. The guy was Kip Williams and Barbara only likes it when closeted lesbians heckle Karl Rove. That she'll get behind and cheer.

Rafael Corral (KFRC) posts video of the exchange.
Barry: I have to say. You know. I saw. ThisguydowninLA. At a Barbara Boxer event.

Bitchy Barbara: That's right!

Barry: At. A. Barbaraboxerevent. About a month and a half ago. And -- uhhhh- I would -- two points I'd like to make. Number one. Uhhh. I hate to say this but he should -- I hate to say this but he really should like buy a ticket to -- Uhhhh. If-if he wants to demonstrate, buy a ticket to a guy who doesn't support his point of view and then you can yell as much as you want there. The other point is maybe he didn't read the newspapers.

That's enough of Barack's bitchy tirade against an American citizen. Forever low class, that's Barry O. And the holler monkeys assembled -- sounding like the same wet dreamers for George W. Bush in 2003 -- lap it up. Like many other things, Barack isn't good at math. A month and a half ago? Go to the
April 20th snapshot to read about the last California heckling on April 19th.

On the joke of 'repealing' Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
Carolyn Lochhead (San Francisco Chronicle) notes GetEQUAL's Lt Dan Choi:But Iraq veteran Lt. Dan Choi, who is facing dismissal for publicly stating that he is gay and who twice chained himself to the White House gates in protest, argued that there should be no compromise on ending discrimination and said the White House could stop dismissals now."If any groups are saying this is a reason to rejoice, they need to wake up to the reality of soldiers on the ground," Choi said. The policy "is still in place and (gay and lesbian personnel) are still going to get fired for telling the truth."At Newsweek, Dan explains:

I'm not going to lie. This compromise isn't what I, or any of my fellow advocates, wanted or expected. The compromise does not end the firings. Nor does it restore our integrity. It is the result of a White House that has been AWOL on "don't ask, don't tell" repeal for the last year and a half, and now is desperately trying to find a solution -- any solution, regardless of how unworkable -- to a problem and a promise it would rather just go away. Our "fierce advocate," as the president promised the gay community he would be, has presented us with a last-minute Hobson's choice, and it is no cause for celebration. As the clock continues ticking toward a Thursday vote in Congress, the president is asking the lesbian and gay community to praise this compromise because it's the best we could possibly get. My question for the president that I ask
in this video is simple: under your compromise, when will the discharges end? How long can we ask gay service members to live a lie? How long can we deny existence to their families? How long do we need to study the injustice in order to understand that discrimination is un-American? Poll after poll shows that the American people don't need another study in order to know what's right. Nearly 80 percent of Americans, from all walks of life, already understand what the president and the Congress still find so hard to grasp. The people support a full repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" now. When will their leaders do the same?

At Blue Oregon, Iraq War veteran Eric Zimmerman explains:

The last sections of the amendment by Sen. Lieberman strike all concern for a timeline, implementation, and any actual substantive qualities of the effort to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Unfortunately there is no meat to this amendment and it quickly becomes a talking point rather than a policy change and a piece of anti-discrimination legislation. Would we have settled for such weak legislation, lack of timelines, and lack of implementation for any of the civil rights legislation of generations past? Absolutely not!
Contrast this amendment with racial civil rights legislation. Race would have remained a point of discrimination legally until the President of the United States, and members of his cabinet decided it was time to change. They would have received a report about implications; the report would have sat on their desk for weeks, months, years? Perhaps an entire term of the Presidency. Nothing in this bill holds decision-makers' feet to the fire. Congress, who enacted the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policies of the early nineties, washes their hands of the issue. No longer are the individual representatives and senators who represent us responsive to us on this issue because this amendment puts power in the hands of the President, his Secretary of Defense, and his Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The President could of course replace the other two positions until he found people who would put their name to this policy change- but I don't have that kind of confidence in the President's agenda, nor should I. Politically, this issue does not warrant that kind of maneuvering. This is the right thing to do; it's a matter of just doing it. The SECDEF and the CJCS are good at what they do, they shouldn't be replaced for their lack of movement on the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. It shouldn't be their decision at all. Congress needs to repeal the ban and the President needs to sign the repeal into law. Bottom line.

What's really amazing, looking at this issue, is thinking of all the people who came of age after the March On Washington and other landmark events. They always like to say, coming of age after the battle, that they would have been on the right side. Reality is far different. They wouldn't have the guts then because they don't have it now. Instead of applauding Dan and Eric and everyone else fighting for a more equal America, they slam them. They say, as an idiot does at Blue Oregon, that you need "comrpomise. This is a compromise that will work". And they sneer "purity" at those striving for full equality.

People like that? That attitude? They were the same ones who felt that a few morsels tossed out justified continuing racial discrimination. Social change does not come about easily and look and see who today is on the side of equality and who is too busy carrying water for a president who will be out of office in two or six years. See who believes in equality and who believes in worshipping false gods. There is a very real battle going on for equal rights today. And it's not the within We The People. We The People have decided we want Don't Ask, Don't Tell ended. The battle is between We The People and our alleged representatives in the federal government. History doesn't come with do-overs. The present quickly becomes the historical record. People better be keeping that in mind when they decide whether they stand for equality or whether they're lustful teenage groupies making fools of themselves.

Meanwhile Joan Crawford in all her 'working girl' films never faced as much drama as Nouri al-Maliki attempts to create for himself.
Caroline Alexander (Bloomberg News) reports the desperate-to-remain prime minister is claiming numerous assassination attempts have taken place and, here's the kicker, he didn't order them, he was the target. At one point, he insists that, in 2009, an airplane he was on was targeted: "A missile was fired against the plane but thermal decoys diverted it." He's seen far too many movies. AFP quotes the drama queen claiming, "There have been several attempts like this but they have all failed." Is he attempting to paint himself as indestructable or goading his alleged assassins on?

Each day brings us more laughable Nouri 'news' and it's getting so bad you expect to discover shortly that his agents trying to plant items in
Liz Smith's latest column. Elections took place March 7th. The Iraqiya political slate won the most seats in Parliament (91). Nouri al-Maliki has repeatedly attempted to circumvent his slate's second place showing (State Of Law won 89 seats). Yesterday, the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative to Iraq, Ad Melkert, gave a report to the UN Security Council. The UN News Centre quotes him stating to the Council, "At this juncture, Iraq would probably be better served by a broadly inclusive Government as a radical alternative to exclusion and disenfranchisement that many communities have experienced in the past. [. . .] Failure by the next government to address the needs and aspirations of the population will predictably be a source of increasing instability and undermind the gains of the democratic process so far." So tight with the US government that you can't tell them apart, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace weighs in with a post-election analysis by Marina Ottaway and Danial Kaysi:

Fissures are also appearing among the Kurdish parties, although they had announced after the elections that they would participate in national politics as a unified bloc. According to some reports, the agreement reached by State of Law and the INA when they formed the National Alliance assumed the Kurds would back the Alliance, and that they would keep the presidency in return for their support. Statements made recently by various Kurdish leaders call that idea into question. There is no doubt that current President Jalal Talabani and his Patriotic Union of Kurdistan Party want to retain the presidency and will back the INA-State of Law alliance as a result. But the leaders of Gorran, the party that broke off from the PUK and remains its main rival, is now suggesting that the Kurds should not demand the presidency, but the speakership of the Council of Representatives. Ostensibly, this is because the latter position is more powerful. Not incidentally, if the Kurdish parties accepted Gorran's position and opted for the speakership rather than the presidency, Talabani would be deprived of the position he covets. Even more revealing of dissension among the Kurds is that fact that Massoud Barzani, the president of the Kurdistan region and the leader of the Democratic Party of Kurdistan, appears to be distancing himself from Maliki. Barzani has stated that Iraqi politicians must respect the constitution and the people's will, and thus Allawi, whose Iraqiya coalition won the largest number of seats, should receive the mandate to form the government.

It is impossible to determine at this point whether Barzani's position is just an opening gambit to win more concessions from the Shi'i parties or whether there is a possibility that at least some Kurdish parties will break ranks and back Allawi. Two conclusions are clear, however. First, State of Law is both angry and worried about Barzani's position, because it needs Kurdish support to form a government. Speaking for the State of Law, Ali Dabbagh angrily declared that the Kurds were welcome to side with Iraqiya if they wanted, but then thought better of it and denied having made such a statement. Second, the Kurds are trying to exact a high price for their support. Reports indicate that they are demanding the implementation of Article 140 of the constitution, which calls for a referendum in Kirkuk; control of the presidency plus at least one of the sovereign ministries; an oil law that defends their interests; and a commitment by the government to provide funding for the peshmerga forces even though the peshmerga have a degree of autonomy from the Iraqi security apparatus. Baha'a Aaraji of State of Law has declared that the Kurds will have to reconsider their exorbitant demands if they plan to negotiate seriously.

Press TV reports the government or 'government' out of Baghdad continues to insist that the UN sanctions be lifted. This as Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports, "The Iraqi council of ministers decided to dissolve Iraqi Airways and liquidate its assets after the airline dropped flights to England and Sweden in a row with Kuwait over war reparations." Nayla Razzouk (Bloomberg News) adds, "Kuwait Airways Corp. is seeking $1.2 billion in compensation for 10 planes taken by Iraq, under the rule of Saddam Hussein when his forces invaded Kuwait in August 1990." Left unstated in both reports is that Nouri and his council really shouldn't be doing this because they really aren't in power. It's amazing what Nouri is pushing through in this post-election period and amazing how news outlets seem to work overtime to ignore that its taking place. Representing Kuwait Airways is Chris Gooding of Fasken Martineau LLP who tells BBC News:

This is not an action that's being pursued by the government of Kuwait. It's being pursued by Kuwait Airways company against Iraqi Airways company. So attempts to portray it as a political witchhunt are sadly misplaced. [. . .] It relates to the incorporation of airpcraft and spare parts taken from Kuwait International Airport by Iraqi Airways as part of an attempt to encorporate Kuwait Airways into Iraqi Airways. [. . .] These are not reparations, these are commercial court judgments totaling $1.2 billion. As I say, Iraq has defended itself throughout this action as far as the courts are concerned, these are commercial court judgments.

Hassan Hafidh and Daniel Michaels (Wall St. Journal) add, "Kuwait Airways, also state owned, has in recent years been awarded some $1.2 billion by British courts in compensation from the Iraqi carrier for the theft of 10 airplanes and millions of dollars worth of spare parts during Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Iraqi Air hasn't paid the award, so Kuwait Air recently sought to freeze the company's assets world-wide."

In other bad news for Nouri,
Hassan Hafidh (Wall St. Journal) reports the one time head of South Oil Co (state-owned Iraqi oil company) is criticizing the oil deals Nouri's cabinet awarded and is calling for them to be re-examined. Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) and Mohammed al-Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) report Nouri's running another secret prison, this one on Muthanna Iraqi Army Base, according to an Iraqi security forces member. This one appears to target Sunnis (based on the way the prisoners are described -- for example, Shi'ites aren't usually accused of being part of al Qaeda in Iraq) as did the last one but it also includes children, such as "an infant and a 3-year-old named Tiba." Along with children, wives are also being held:

In some cases, the women were being interrogated as possible suspects, but in others they were being used to try to extract confessions from their husbands. Using threats against women to elicit confessions from male relatives is a practice well-documented by rights groups.
"Four days ago when one of the men wouldn't confess they said, 'Bring in his wife.' They put her in a separate room nearby and beat her so he could hear her screaming," says the witness. "They went back to the man and said, 'We will rape her if you don't confess.' "

As part of another report, on prisoner abuse,
Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) notes, "As the US prepares to withdraw from Iraq, serious concerns are surfacing about systematic torture by Iraqi forces in a country where ending human rights abuses was one of the main American goals."

Reuters reports a Tuesday Mosul clash in which 2 police officers were shot dead, a Tuesday Kirkuk attack in which an old man was shot dead and his corpse then hung and a 1 "agricultural crops guard" killed in Daquq Tuesday. Yesterday Baghdad saw the big gold robberies. Hannah Allam (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, "A nearby four-man police patrol responded to the sound of the grenades and got into a shootout with the attackers. All four officers were wounded, one attacker was killed and the other robbers fled with the loot, according to the Baghdad command center." Liz Sly and Usama Redha (Los Angeles Times) add, "On a street dotted with pools of blood and piles of broken glass, residents wondered how the gang had managed to launch such a well-organized attack in an area surrounded by blast walls and many checkpoints."

And as if Iraq hasn't suffered enough,
Dan Healing (Calgary Herald) reports Canada's WesternZagros Resources were drilling a well in noterhn Iraq's Kurdamir and the village had to be evacuated -- everyone it -- and will apparently be homeless for "about 30 days" and everyone's supposed to rejoice that the company's chief executive has announced that "a temporary camp for the people" was built.

In the US
RTT News reports the unethical Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (aka "Gimmie freebie tickets to all events!") joined with Democratic Party boi toi Jon Soltz of the front group VoteVets to accuse Republicans opposed to the war supplemental of not providing service members with what they need for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Special shame on Senator Jack Reed who actually does know right from wrong and shouldn't have participated in that garbage. (Reid and Soltz are apparently amoral judging from their past actions.) The best way to protect US troops is to stop funding the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. I really don't care why some Republicans aren't for the measure. It doesn't matter. What's needed is a large number of "no" votes. (Republican objection, by their designated spokespersons public remarks, is to the supplemental war bill being stuffed with domestic agenda items.) And for those rubbing their eyes, yes, we are talking about a war supplemental and, no, you are not dreaming. Despite claiming in spring 2009 that he was doing his one and only war supplemental and despite offering a campaign promise of no war supplemental funding measures, Barack's back at the trough.

Also in the US,
Bryan Mims (WRAL -- link has text and video) reported on a video apparently shot in Iraq -- by someone with the US military -- which was posted on Facebook May 14th by Robert Rodriguez and has the voice of a US male questioning two small children, apparently Iraqis, who do not understand English and making derogatory comments about sexuality and calling them terrorists. Sarah Netter (ABC News) quotes US Army Maj Bill Coppernoll stating, "The content in the video is disgraceful. [. . .] The vast majority of soldiers are doing the right thing, and I think the public knows that." Netter goes on to offer some pros and cons of a random sample of videos posted online by service members.

Weighing in on the Iraq War and how things are headed within the US,
Andrew J. Bacevich (American Conservative) observes: Whether out of self-delusion or pure, unvarnished cynicism, those who promoted the invasion of Iraq as an appropriate response to 9/11 are now declaring the entire enterprise a great triumph. Celebrating the putative achievements of the surge, they evince little interest in recalling either the several years during which the war was grotesquely mismanaged or the very reasons conjured up to justify the invasion in the first place. "Bush's War," in their telling, has now been rechristened "Petraeus's War." Barack Obama has made himself party to this calculated revisionism. Keen to focus on their own agenda (to include their own war in AfPak), ostensibly liberal Democrats -- the ones who promised to change the way Washington works -- collaborate with neoconservatives and other right-wing militarists to put Iraq in the nation's rearview mirror. Will Washington succeed in perpetrating this fraud? The answer is almost certainly yes. No doubt the Congress will soon take up the business of commissioning an Iraq War memorial to be erected somewhere on the Mall amidst all the other memorials commemorating past American wars. What Congress will not do, however, is demand a full accounting of all that our long misadventure in Iraq has wrought. Nor will the American people insist on such an accounting. Truth will remain unwelcome. Our preference for sanitized history will persist.

Santized history may already be hear courtesty of Broadcasting & Cable and John Eggerton.
Eggerton writes: "CNN has launched a Web subsite devoted to a list and various stats about the 1,761 U.S. and coalition casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan." Were this accurate, CNN would be a dumb ass. We all know, for example, that the number of US service members killed in Iraq currently stands at 4400. CNN doesn't say that but Eggerton hasn't learned to navigate the web yet. Someone get him a laptop with training wheels. When you go to the page, you do see "1,761" when the page finishes loading. But you are clearly on the Afghanistan tab. You have to hit the "IRAQ" tab to get "Showing 4,7171 US and Coalition casualties." CNN's John King USA on Memorial Day will devote the program to the fallen. Someone needs to explain how Broadcasting & Cable -- an industry news journal -- could be so out of it that they would actually print "1,761" as the number of fallen for US and ALL coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan? It's not that they got the number wrong. Getting the number wrong would be their being off by twenty or, if you want to be generous, by a hundred. But they are off by thousands and the writer didn't know that? And no one caught the mistake? Do they even register that the US is involved in two wars? Did they spend the last seven to nine years snoozing?

We'll close with an excerpt of Elaine Brower's "
Philly: Army Experience Center Protesters Acquitted" (World Can't Wait):

On Monday, May 24th six co-defendants (Elaine Brower, Debra Sweet, Richie Marini, Joan Pleune, Beverly Rice and Sarah Wellington, appeared in a Philadelphia courtroom in front of Judge DeLeon to stand trial for arrests dating back to September 12, 2009.
On that date, hundreds of protesters converged on the "
Army Experience Center", a place that literally takes small children and turns them into video thrill-seeking killers, on the taxpayer's dime. If you are not familiar with the place, it was built after the Pentagon decided to shut down five other recruitment centers in the Philadelphia area, and combine them into a high-tech, $14 million facility, complete with 19 gaming stations all equipped with the latest versions of murder software.
The DoD filled the place with nice looking recruiters, which they say are not recruiters, but mentors for the "children" who just want to "understand" today's Army. Really, a "PsyOps" program.
On that date last year, seven protesters were plucked out of the crowd of hundreds which was escorted into the mall by the local Philly PD, and civil affairs personnel, and selectively arrested. All were charged with "Conspiracy and Failure to Disperse". One was a
journalist, who battled with the Philly DA and got her case dismissed, but the remaining six waited 8 months for our day in court. Our attorney, Paul Hetznecker, a Philadelphia civil rights attorney, did an amazing job of protecting our freedom of speech, and First Amendment rights.
Considering that we had been escorted into the privately owned mall, but were protesting a federally owned recruitment center, many issues came into play. Mr. Hetznecker spent months preparing his trial, actually serving a subpoena on the AEC to deliver the photos and video tapes of inside the center from that day.

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