Now let me do an obit. Elizabeth Hubbard passed away. The actress was 89-years-old. I immediately group texted that if no one else was writing about it, I would.
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Tuesday:
QUESTION: Thank you very much. I’d like to go back, if you like, to last week, last Friday. It’s been confirmed that three U.S. military personnel were traveling with the SDF’s Mazloum Kobane in northern Iraq on Friday. This was confirmed by the CENTCOM. My question is going to be: Is the United States now putting American lives at risk in providing round-the-clock personal protection to Mazloum Abdi wherever he may go because we all know that this man comes from the ranks of an organization that’s on your list of FTOs?
MR PATEL: I’m not familiar with this case, so I’m going to have to check on – check with our team and get back to you. Obviously, for any comment about force posture or the positioning of American troops, I’d refer you to our Pentagon colleagues.
QUESTION: Do you know of anything, any information at the State Department, that Mazloum Abdi’s dealings in northern Iraq or northern Syria, wherever it may be, that the United States is actually providing some sort of security guarantees so that he can travel safely?
MR PATEL: I just – I don’t have anything to offer on that. But I’m happy to check and see if we can have anything to say.
[. . .]
MR PATEL: That is a hypothetical I’m not going to engage in, Dylan. Again, the – our – you have heard me say, you’ve heard the Secretary say that we intend to reschedule this trip when conditions allow.
Go ahead, in the back.
MR PATEL: Yeah.
QUESTION: You’re aware of that strike? Okay. There are some reports saying that the strike carried out by Türkiye. Can you confirm that the drone was Turkish? If not, who does the U.S. believe carried out the strike?
MR PATEL: So let me say a couple of things, and my colleagues at the Pentagon can speak to some of these – more specifics. Our Department of Defense is investigating the attack on the convoy on April 7th. That convoy included U.S. military personnel. We can confirm that there were no casualties, and we of course forcefully oppose any action that threatens the safety and security of U.S. personnel. U.S. forces remain in Iraq and Syria in support of local partners to achieve the enduring defeat of ISIS. The degradation of ISIS in the region continues to be an important priority of ours.
And broadly, I’m going to defer to the DOD and their investigation before speaking to any source or origination. What I will just reaffirm is that any action in Iraq should respect Iraqi sovereignty and territorial integrity. And we encourage governments to work together to deconflict cross-border military operations.
QUESTION: Has the U.S. – has the U.S. spoken with Türkiye or someone —
MR PATEL: I’m just not going to get ahead of the DOD’s investigation.
QUESTION: That’s something. When I asked the question, you said that you didn’t know what happened on Friday in northern Iraq. Now, you just provide a statement on same subject. That was my question.
MR PATEL: I didn’t – I didn’t understand that’s what you were asking about.
MR PATEL: I thought you were asking about —
QUESTION: I was asking – the three U.S. military personnel were traveling with Mazloum Abdi. Can you confirm that, that they were in the convoy together?
MR PATEL: Understood. I did not realize that that’s what you were speaking to. So I’m not going to get into the specifics of – beyond what I just said. I would refer you to —
QUESTION: (Inaudible), right?
MR PATEL: I would refer you to the Pentagon to speak more specifically. What I can just say is that the convoy included U.S. military personnel and that there are no casualties.
QUESTION: Do you know why the U.S. military personnel were there, specifically?
MR PATEL: Again, that is a question for our colleagues at the Department of Defense.
Q: Hey, thanks for doing this. Two quick clarifications. One, to Jen's question, you wouldn't say specifically how many documents have been shared but can you give us a better idea on the scope of this? I mean, can we say, you know, as many as 100? Without getting specific, just give us some more detail on the scope of that. That's number one.
And then number two, you said you'd talked to allies. Sabrina mentioned that as well. Was Turkey one of these allies that you've spoken to about this? Because they were specifically mentioned in the documents. And when you had that conversation, was there also a conversation about the strike in Iraq over the weekend?
MR. MEAGHER: Thanks, Carla.
So in terms of the scope, I'm just not going to get into any more specifics. We continue to review and assess both the veracity and kind of the scope of what we're looking at there. So I'm just not going to have anything further for you on that.
In terms of our allies and partners engagement, I'm not going to get into the specifics of who we're engaging, other than to say that the Department and U.S. officials are working at high levels to have these conversations. Those conversations began over the weekend and continue today.
Q: So just to follow up, if you can't say if you talked to Turkey about these leaks, can you at least say whether or not Turkey was reached out to as a result of the strikes that happened over the weekend?
MR. MEAGHER: No, I don't have anything for you on that.
In one image, naked detainees with bags over their heads are piled on top of each other in a grotesque human pyramid. An American soldier — Sabrina Harman — leans over them from behind, grinning. Her smiling colleague, Charles Graner, gives a thumbs up.
Majli believes he is one of the men in the human pyramid photograph. He remembers being forced to lie, naked, on the bare skin of another prisoner, and the feeling of being crushed as other naked detainees were piled on top of him. "I was heavier back then, so they put me close to the bottom," he remembers. "I wished for death. I would rather have been dead than to be in that position."
Majli describes a culture of abuse and humiliation inside Abu Ghraib. He remembers an American soldier threw sound grenades into his and other detainees' cells. He recalls guards poking at his genitals with wooden sticks, setting snarling police dogs on inmates and soldiers firing live ammunition around them. Majli says he developed pneumonia after guards flooded his cell with cold water as a tactic to stop the prisoners from getting rest. "They wouldn't let us sleep for days."
But as Mr. Trump surrendered Tuesday on felony document fraud charges, Howell's once-unwavering loyalty to the former president had given way to regret for her role in the insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021.
During an interview with The Citizens' Voice, she said she feels she had been "brainwashed" and that she now realizes Mr. Trump's claims of widespread voter fraud amounted to little more than smoke and mirrors designed to mislead his supporters.
While anchors Lou Dobbs and Maria Bartiromo have been singled out for pushing false claims of a fraudulent election, the fallout has landed primarily on Carlson.
In group chats obtained by Dominion, the network’s biggest names – Carlson, Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity – appeared to doubt claims of election fraud that were featured prominently on the network. At the same time, Fox’s owner, Rupert Murdoch, said in a court deposition that anyone who knowingly allowed lies to be broadcast “should be reprimanded, maybe got rid of”.
So far, Fox is standing by its stars. On Thursday, Lachlan Murdoch, Murdoch’s eldest son, heir apparent and executive chairman and chief executive of Fox Corporation, voiced support for management, its roster of stars and backed Fox New’s editorial standards.
“A news organization has an obligation – and it is an obligation – to report news fulsomely [sic], wholesomely and without fear or favor. That’s what Fox News has always done and that’s what Fox News will always do,” he said.
That might not wash with many observers and media critics. But probably of equal concern, especially for Carlson, are some of the private opinions voiced about Trump. The Dominion lawsuit revealed a text from Carlson declaring: “I hate him passionately.”
Nor is that the only political fight Carlson became mired in last week. Carlson was directly criticized by the White House deputy press secretary, Andrew Bates, for describing the January 6 rioters as “orderly and meek … sightseers” as he began broadcasting footage from the insurrection handed to him by Republican House speaker Kevin McCarthy.
Appearing on CNN This Morning, Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) slammed the decision from Federal Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk of the Northern District of Texas, who ruled Friday to suspend FDA approval of mifepristone, a drug used to perform medication abortions.
“Do you think that a judge in Texas should be able to say that an FDA’s determination about a drug is invalid?” asked Kaitlin Collins.
When Mace said she did not, Collins inquired if Mace agreed with Ocasio-Cortez’s assertion that the Biden administration and FDA should ignore Kacsmaryk’s decision.
Mace replied in the affirmative:
I would, this is an FDA-approved drug. I support the usage of FDA-approved drugs even if I might disagree. It’s not up to us to decide as legislators or even as the court system whether or not this is the right drug to use or not, number one. So I agree with ignoring it at this point, but there are other lawsuits that are happening right now in other states as well over this issue. But to look at the case itself, when you look at the law that the judge used, an old law that the Supreme Court said was unconstitutional, this thing should just be thrown out, quite frankly.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman.
When the U.S. district judge, the federal judge, Matthew Kacsmaryk, ruled Friday in Texas that the Food and Drug Administration’s 23-year-old approval of the leading abortion drug mifepristone violates the law, he cited the 1873 Comstock Act. The so-called anti-vice law prohibits the mailing or distribution of, quote, “obscene materials” and has been dormant for half a century.
After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and the 50-year-old federal right to abortion in its Dobbs decision last year, the Justice Department issued a memorandum that said the Comstock Act does not prohibit the mailing of such drugs as mifepristone. But in his ruling, the Trump-appointed anti-abortion judge, Kacsmaryk, agrees with plaintiffs in the case that the law does in fact prohibit mailing the drug.
For more, we’re joined by Lauren MacIvor Thompson, historian of birth control, specialist in specifically the Comstock Act.
Lauren MacIvor Thompson, if you can explain what this ruling is he invoked from eighteen — from the 19th century, eighteen seventy — what was it? — nine — 1873?
LAUREN MacIVOR THOMPSON: Yeah, 1873. You’re right. So, yeah, this, as a historian, when I read the opinion on Friday afternoon, I was just kind of gobsmacked, although I guess we shouldn’t be surprised, as Jessica and Alexis already pointed out. The Comstock Act of 1873 was the product of a vice reformer, Anthony Comstock, who lobbied Congress in 1873, and the law was passed in March of 1873, so we’re looking at 150 years now just last month. And the law essentially criminalized anything having to do with sex at the federal level, and that included instruments that could be used for the prevention of conception or to procure abortion. And so, for the judge to raise the Comstock law from the dead, essentially, as a viable legal strategy in order to achieve a ban on medication abortion, you know, as a historian, I just really saw us kind of coming full circle, and not in a good way.
AMY GOODMAN: And talk more about this. And talk more about who Comstock was and what this means about where this country is going.
LAUREN MacIVOR THOMPSON: Yeah, that’s such a good question, because I think we do have to look at Anthony Comstock specifically as a person. It illustrates, in many ways, how one person can have a really outsize impact on our democracy. Comstock served in the Union Army, where he was really scandalized by the amount of alcohol, pornography, you know, that his fellow soldiers were taking advantage of during the Civil War. And after the war, he went to New York, where he aligned himself with the Young Men’s Christian Association, and he started a sort of offshoot of that group called the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice. And at that point, he actually went — he was funded to go down to Washington, D.C., and to lobby Congress for this obscenity law. And he was just obsessed with sex, and he was able to get the senators and representatives at the time on board. And it was one of the quickest laws that has ever been passed in American history. There was really, really no opposition to it.
AMY GOODMAN: Um —
LAUREN MacIVOR THOMPSON: And so — yes?
AMY GOODMAN: I was just going to say, Michelle Goldberg writes in The New York Times, “the Comstock Act, the notorious anti-obscenity law used to indict the Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger, ban books by D.H. Lawrence and arrest people by the thousands,” turning 150 last month.
LAUREN MacIVOR THOMPSON: Yes. This was a law with teeth. There were steep fines for violating the Comstock Act. Certainly, you could be sentenced to hard labor. You could be sentenced to years in prison. And this really ensnared ordinary Americans in this kind of vast anti-obscenity legal regime. And it’s one of those things where, you know, when you look at it as a whole, it was absolutely a violation of the Constitution. And it wasn’t until the 1920s that there were cases that began to kind of chip away — First Amendment cases that began to chip away at the Comstock Act. But, really, it was one of those laws that — at the federal law level, that just kind of increased and expanded an already existing anti-abortion legal regime, because there had been state laws existing for 30 or 40 years before that, before the Comstock Act was passed.
AMY GOODMAN: We always talk about resistance. And in 2019, you wrote a piece in the Times, “Women Have Always Had Abortions.” You talk about the 17th and 18th centuries, abortion legal under common law before “quickening,” or when the pregnant woman could feel the fetus move, beginning around 16 weeks. You write later, “Beginning in the 1850s, however, the crusade against abortion began in earnest.” This fascinating history, relay it.
LAUREN MacIVOR THOMPSON: Yeah. So, there were — there’s actually no laws about abortion at all until the — beginning in the 1830s and 1840s. But in the 1850s, particularly with the sort of spearheading of the American Medical Association, physicians in this country began to work with legislators — white physicians, white legislators began to work together to criminalize abortion, essentially by 1900 in every state in the union. And so, what you had was a statewide network of anti-abortion and anti-contraception laws. And then, layered on top of that, by 1873, you have the Comstock Act.
So, somebody seeking to abort a pregnancy or to prevent conception — and, by the way, there were — you know, reproductive control items were everywhere in America in the 19th century. You could order barrier methods from any kind of mail order catalog or obtain them at the pharmacy. Women were managing their fertility at home with these things. But to do so was risking a legal arrest. I mean, it was a dangerous prospect to do so because of the legal regime that gets put into place at both the federal and the state levels.
This hand-wringing never slows down, despite repeatedly being debunked by people who actually understand the issue. That alone should be a sign that we're in midst of a baseless moral panic. But, in case anyone needs more evidence, the recent case out of West Virginia that the Supreme Court (wisely, for once) declined to take up should prove it.
There's been robust traffic for centrists and concern trolls who are ready to ignore all the red flags. It's all because they want so badly to write "just asking questions" columns that imply, falsely, that the left is taking this trans acceptance thing "too far."
Becky Pepper-Jackson v. West Virginia exposes how, in their mindless hysteria, two of the biggest arguments anti-trans people make contradict each other. The case in West Virginia is straightforward: Pepper-Jackson is a 12-year-old transgender girl who sued the state over a law barring her from running track. Laws like this are cropping up across the country, and every time, the people behind them deny that bigotry towards trans kids is the impetus. Instead, they claim to be "concerned" about protecting cis women from having to compete with "biological males," whose puberty allegedly makes them so big and strong that no one assigned female at birth could ever hope to compare.