Congressional liberals were heartened when Barack Obama pledged to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell,” but their initial elation has given way to concerns the repeal will stall in the penalty box of presidential promises: the U.S. Senate.
Obama’s historic commitment — featured prominently in his State of the Union speech last month — helped soothe his frayed relationship with the politically powerful gay and lesbian community.
It also sent a strong signal to the Democrats’ demoralized, demobilized progressive base that he’s still on their side, after delays and compromises on the public option, cap and trade and the closing of Guantanamo Bay.
But House Democratic leadership aides tell POLITICO they are growing increasingly worried over the lack of a detailed White House road map for passing a repeal — and that without such a road map, repeal will end up in the same kind of Senate gridlock that hobbled health reform.
That is from Jen Dimascio and Glenn Thursh's "Left frets over fate of 'don't ask'" (Politico) and is has audio option. And the House should be scared, there's no plan and there's no movement. It's just more of the empty words we've grown to expect from Barack.
Read "Put down the pom-poms" that we wrote at Third on Sunday. Read it and absorb the post-2008 presidential election history of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
We've been punked repeatedly. C.I.'s take (and I trust her) is that Patrick Murphy was tricked the same way the rest of us were but Murphy is in the House and he was telling the world that there would be a tour of veterans -- gay and straight -- going around the country to help build support and that he would push repeal in the House and Ted Kennedy would do so in the Senate. We knew that wasn't accurate because Kennedy wasn't healthy enough to go into the Senate for hearings and he's going to lead on it? (Kennedy was dead shortly after.)
So they tricked us. Then, when that was obvious, Barney Frank starts insisting it doesn't matter because it was always going to be part of the Defense Authorization request.
Didn't hear any mention of that last week -- when Gates and Mullen testified to Congress -- and don't hear that anywhere today. But Frank loved to push that.
And it felt like a lie. And it was that much harder to trust.
Then last week, Gates and Mullen testify that it will be repealed . . . if they can study it for a year.
So it won't necessarily be repealed.
A study (of any length) means you need to find out more information and "more" might include, "Uh, we can't do it."
But if you really want to repeal a policy, you don't create a study group to examine the issue for a year.
Barack's just shucking and jiving again.
I don't know who he thinks he's fooling.
Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Thursday, February 11, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, the press thinks they've caugh Joe Biden in an embarrassing moment, the press ignores a public lie told by Robert Gibbs, the US military announces a death, Saleh al-Mutlaq is announced banned, and more.
In one of the more suprising domestic war developments, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley has called out the apathy on the part of the peace movement. WBEZ provides audio clips.
We always believe America is number one. If you start the first World War, the Second World War, then you take Korea and Vietnam and Iraq I and II and Afghanistan -- just think of all the money that we spend on wars to save the world. Today we can't save America. What is this? Why do we always have to go to war continually? Why can't we rebuild America? Why is it we have to take three hundred, four hundred billion dollars and tell people we're only going to be there for a year and we're coming home and we declare victory. What is it? What is it about America? How did we start this century of ten years of war? Ten years of war. We started it and we continue to move forward. Where are the anti-war people? "I looked down at the [. . .] center" -- where are they? Where are they? They've disappeared. What happened? I thought war was evil. Where are the people who believed in their heart against George W. Bush? 'We have to organize and walk down Michigan Avenue and Clark Street.' What happened? I thought they believed in their heart. Oh! It became a political issue. 'Barack won the election, now we go home.' What happened to America?
Cate Cahan (WBEZ) notes "that his son Patrick is being redeployed in the U.S. Army. War looms large when it looms close." Earlier this week, Fran Spielman (Chicago Sun Times) quoted Daley stating, "My son had a responsibility. He served four years in the military, and he's re-deployed. He will serve his country just like evry other son and daughter in this country does the same thing." And Spielman added, "The mayor made it clear that his son did not re-enlist, but was summoned back to active duty."
Staying with US politicians, Jake Tapper, you're sleeping on the job. Robert Gibbs pulled his usual song and dance today. Suprisingly Jake Tapper fell for it. The most recent start point is last night when US Vice President Joe Biden appeared on Larry King Live (CNN -- here for transcript). Asked by Larry about Pakistan, Biden included the following in his answer:
I am very optimistic about -- about Iraq. I mean, this could be one of the great achievements of this administration. You're going to see 90,000 American troops come marching home by the end of the summer. You're going to see a stable government in Iraq that is actually moving toward a representative government. I spent -- I've been there 17 times now. I go about every two months -- three months. I know every one of the major players in all of the segments of that society. It's impressed me. I've been impressed how they have been deciding to use the political process rather than guns to settle their differences.
Andrew Malcolm (Los Angeles Times) noted (this morning, one of the first) that Biden was calling something a 'success' that may not have been what he originally advocated for with Malcolm reminding that Biden advocated for the region to split into three areas -- Sh'ite, Sunni and Kurds. In fairness to Biden (I know Joe but I'm not playing 'rescue' here), he saw it as federaslim and also he dropped this before he dropped out of the Democracy Party primary (in his bid for the presidential nomination). This came to the Senate floor and he had stated publicly before the vote that if it didn't pass, it didn't pass. When it didn't pass, he was done advocating for that plan barring some change and he's made no public statement of any change taking place. Malcolm notes Barack pushed a measure to end the Iraq War -- a meaningless measure and Barack knew it, which Malcolm leaves out -- and that Barack opposed the so-called 'surge' -- Barack opposed it so did many Democrats. Malcolm gives the surge credit for ending the genocide but the surge didn't do that -- not in any helpful way. By the time the surge starts, you already have a refugee population of 4 million and many, many dead. The surge backed up the Shi'ite government. It didn't end the genocide (popular known as a civil war). Malcolm observes, "Now, the Obama-Biden pair that opposed the Iraq war and its tactics and predicted their failure is prepared to accept credit for its success." Joe made a dumb statement. I think of the world of him and I do understand where he's coming from when he says that. I happen to disagree with the statement but it was a dumb statement just because so many would seize upon it. And should. Andrew Malcolm and others in the press aren't behaving unfairly or cruel. And they are asking about the statements.
Now let's go to Jake Tapper's take. Tapper covers what Malcolm has -- including a link to this statement from about Barack being opposed to the 'surge' (and I'm not a Barack fan, by any means, but Barack was correct in 2007 and it's too bad that, in 2008, he wasn't able to stick to that and explain why the surge was a failure when interviewed by Katie Couric). Now here's Tapper on the White House press briefing today by Robert Gibbs and community members should grasp what Tapper doesn't:
Gibbs said the achievement was "putting what was broken back together and getting our troops home, which we intend to do in August of this year."
A reporter pointed out that the Status of Forces Agreement to bring troops home was signed before the president took office.
Gibbs called that agreement "something I think that the political pressure that the president, as a then-candidate, helped to bring about."
Did you catch it because Jake Tapper didn't. And it's the sort of thing that really makes me scream but we'll be kind. Gibbs said Barack's campaign "as a then-candidate, helped to bring about" the SOFA. (So-called SOFA.) For that to be true, candidate Barack would have had to have supported the SOFA.
But Barack didn't support it. Barack opposed the Status of Forces Agreement as a senator and as a presidential candidate. So did Joe Biden. So did every, EVERY, senator on the Senate's Foreign Affairs Committee. This is public record and should be well known. Should be.
Robert Gibbs is a damn liar. Robert Gibbs damn well knows Barack opposed it and CAMPAIGNED on his opposition to it. We can go through all of this if the press can't do their own work but hopefully they'll catch their error and we can just note November 18, 2008 -- after the US presidential election -- when Barack suddenly changed his mind:
During the election, the Obama-Biden campaign website revealed their stance on the so-called SOFA in "Plan for Ending the War in Iraq:"["] The Status-of-Forces-AgreementObama and Biden believe any Status of Forces Agreement, or any strategic framework agreement, should be negotiated in the context of a broader commitment by the U.S. to begin withdrawing its troops and forswearing permanent bases. Obama and Biden also believe that any security accord must be subject to Congressional approval. It is unacceptable that the Iraqi government will present the agreement to the Iraqi parliament for approval--yet the Bush administration will not do the same with the U.S. Congress. The Bush administration must submit the agreement to Congress or allow the next administration to negotiate an agreement that has bipartisan support here at home and makes absolutely clear that the U.S. will not maintain permanent bases in Iraq. ["]
Post election, Change.gov was set up as the official website for the Barack-Biden transition and if you pull up "The Obama-Biden Plan," you will find:["] The Status-of-Forces AgreementObama and Biden believe it is vital that a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) be reached so our troops have the legal protections and immunities they need. Any SOFA should be subject to Congressional review to ensure it has bipartisan support here at home. ["]
I like Joe so I'll stop there (and also note that Joe didn't refer to the SOFA on Larry King). But Barack opposed the SOFA -- the SOFA doesn't end the illegal war and it should have been opposed, it was another move by Bush to do an executive power-grab and render the legislative branch obsolete.
Robert Gibbs lied to the press and claimed candidate Barack allowed the SOFA to come to be. No, he didn't. He opposed the SOFA as it was rammed through by Bush (and he was right to oppose it). Only after the election did the SOFA suddenly become 'okay' with Barack. Had Barack campaigned in 2008 honestly and stated, "We want to end the war now! But I'm going to follow Bush's plan" you can rest assured that even some of his whores -- maybe even Tom Hayden -- would have either rejected him or have to learn to kiss their own asses a little deeper. Tom-Tom, of course, can toss his own salad and does so frequently. The difference between Bush's 'plan' and Barack's is why Jennifer Loven and Liz Sidoti (AP) can note Barack's "big calls for change are unfulfilled in almost every way. . . . America is still at war in Iraq. U.S. combat troops are supposed to be out by this August by the latest presidential deadline -- later than candidate Obama had planned."
Ryan Grimm made an ass out of himself on MSNBC insisting that the right-wing was being a hypocrite for refusing to give Barack credit on Iraq while insisting he was responsible for the economy, unemployment, deficits and the Big Business bail out. Ryan Grim's a damn fool and a damn liar. He works at Huffington Post which pretty much tells you all you ever need to know about his 'qualifications.' Barack is responsible for the Big Business bail out -- after the election, he strong-armed the Black Caucus into supporting it. He is president, that makes him responsible for the unemployment rate, the deficit and everything else. Sorry if that's too damn hard for little Ryan to grasp. As for Iraq? Bush implemented the 'plan' and Barack's following it. It's not a good 'plan' and if you're going to praise it, you better explain why all the sudden George W. Bush is the man to praise on Iraq? Ryan Grimm's a damn idiot -- and a smelly one at that. (Note to Arianna, speak to your people about public hygiene.)
Things are not wonderful for Iraqis. World Focus offers a video report by Charity Tooze:
Ali Katheem: All those who are hearing me, I wish you could remove me and my family from the situation. I can't sustain this and I hope this year something happens.
Charity Tooze: Ali Katheem and his family live in Syria. There one of the thousands of Iraqi families that have been displaced by violence. Ali said he would have been killed if they'd stayed in Iraq. In 2006, a milita group moved into the Katheen's neighborhood and began threatening the family.
Ali Katheem: They said you're sectarian, you're Shi'ite, you're done, you cannot live near us. This week, if you don't leave, we'll kill you.
Charity Tooze: After the initial threats Ali said gunmen began trespassing on his property. He said they heard gunshots all the time.
Ali Katheem: When this happened, I would put my children and wife in a closet and lock them in. I would sit with two machine guns on either side of me in case they came in, so they wouldn't kill my family.
Charity Tooze: When the family decided to flee to Syria, their quality of life quickly went from comfortable to poor and Ali, like all Iraqi refugees, is not legally allowed to work. This is not the first time Ali has experienced adversity. As a young man, he fought in the Iran-Iraq War. When a bomb hit him, he lost his left forearm. Yet Ali went on to become a champion. He trained as a professional runner and in 1990 was the first Iraqi to win a Gold and Silver medal in the Holland . . . [Olympic Festival].
Ali Katheem: Champion of the world. In handicap. Gold medal, 400 meter. Silver medal, 200 meter.
Charity Tooze: But now Ali feels powerless. The country receives the equivalent of 200 US dollars monthly in cash assistance from the UNHCR. Their rent alone is approximately $250. In order to make the rest of their rent, they sell half their food rations. Not only are the Katheen's living in poverty but their children continue to struggle to make sense of their past.
Daughter: Once we were traveling, someone died. Me and my mother went and saw him. He was dead in front of us, so I still remember it and I kept dreaming about it.
Charity Tooze: In addition to psychological trauma, the children have struggled with school. This year Hussein dropped out to help the family pay the rent.
Things are not wonderful in Iraq. Today the International Press Institute released their latest report on press freedom and they found the first decade of the 21st journalist had claimed the lives of 735 journalists with 170 of those having been "killed in Iraq, making it the most dangerous country in the world for journalists in the last ten years." This comes as Iraq continues to crack down on journalism. Alsumaria TV reports that the Ministry of Industry and Minerals is insisting it did not shut down a paper in Basra.
Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .
Reuters notes a Mosul roadsdie bombing claimed 1 life, a Baghdad roadside bombing left two people injured
Reuters notes an attack on a Mosul security checkpoint resulted in the death of 1 police officer and, dropping back to Wednesday for both incidents, an armed clash in Haditha resulted in three police officers and two assailants being injured and 1 imam was shot dead in Baghdad.
Today the US miltiary announced: "A United States Forces-Iraq Soldier died Feb. 10 of non-comabt related injuries. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense. The names of service members are announced through the U.S. Department of Defense official website at http://www.defenselink.mil/releases/. The announcements are made on the Web site no earlier than 24 hours after notification of the service member's primary next of kin. The incidnet is under investigation." The announcement brings to 4376 the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war.
Layla Anwar (An Arab Woman Blues) writes:
Yesterday, 10th February 2010 in various districts of Baghdad, 25 Baathists have been gunned down with silencers, silent guns by the Badr Brigades of Ammar Al-Hakeem (ISCI) of Iran.Sunni areas in Baghdad are being evacuated.: Amiriya is practically empty now, people are getting very scared because a lot of the men are being arrested.Again yesterday at 6.30 pm, 12 Baathists have been arrested in Sammara by Badr Brigades.Warning : A massive campaign of liquidation and/or arrest has started by the Iranian trained, backed and funded Shiite death squads. As promised by Nouri Al-Maliki.when he said " any Baathist will be meeting his/her black fate ". We are expecting more bloodshed of Sunnis/and seculars under the pretext of a Baathist witch hunt.
UPI reports, "The Iraqi Independent High Electoral Commission moved forward with preparations for March parliamentary elections by printing ballots in January despite the objections. IHEC has now released the names of 6,172 approved candidates for the March elections, reports historiae.org, a Web site devoted to Iraqi analysis." Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) reports the list does not include Sunni's Salah al-Mutlaq and Dhafir al-Ani. Quoted in the article is Ali al-Lami who never admits to being Ahmed Chalabi's lover, boyfriend, boytoy, sexpot or friend with benefits. Thus far.
al-Mutlaq was running as part of the nationalist party the National Dialogue Movement, a non-sectarian party and a strong rival to Liltte Nouri. Tom McGregor (Dallas Blog) informs that neocon Michael Rubin is a strong cheerleader for Chalabi. Ali al-Lami, watch your back. The UN today issued a statement which included:
The top United Nations envoy to Iraq today called on the country's political leaders to step up their efforts to ensure that next month's Council of Representatives election is free and fair, with campaigning for the polls set to start tomorrow.
Calling on them to safeguard the integrity of the democratic process, Ad Melkert, the Secretary-General's Special Representative, underscored that each institution involved in the 7 March elections must operate free of political interference.
"The consolidation of democracy in Iraq will depend on the willingness of Iraq's political leaders to collective ensure a transparent, peaceful election," he stressed.
It's a little late in the day for that announcement. Trudy Rubin (Post Bulletin), whom no one could ever accuse of flying off the handle or jumping to conclusions, offers, "Iraq is holding elections in March that will test whether it has moved beyond the vicious sectarian divisions of the past. Prime Minister Maliki claims that is what he wants. U.S. officials are holding their breath." Meanwhile at Gulf Daily News, Finian Cunningham observes:
While Obama makes a big deal about earmarking $100 billion to tackle unemployment, a much understated but much bigger deal is the allocation of $160bn for America's wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Combined with the regular Pentagon annual budget, that puts US total spending on "defence" (meaning aggression) at $710bn over the next year - 700 per cent more than what it will spend on creating jobs.
To put this largesse in another perspective, US military spending compares with a federal education budget of some $220bn - that is, three times more of the taxpayers' money is spent every year on invading countries, expanding global bases, blowing up villages, testing missile interceptors etc, than developing the talents of young Americans.
What these figures show is not just that the infamous US military-industrial complex is alive and well; they show that the American economy is fundamentally a war economy. While its people are struggling to maintain some modicum of livelihood - jobs, homes, healthcare, education - what is evident more than ever to them is that the year-on-year inordinate US government spending on its military is far from "discretionary". It is compulsory.
Radio notes, Scott Horton of Antiwar Radio interviews professor Francis Boyle:
Francis Boyle, Professor at the University of Illinois College of Law, discusses his legal Complaint demanding the prosecution of Bush administration officials for crimes against humanity, the International Criminal Court's (ICC) jurisdiction over crimes committed by the US in ICC-member countries, the "Marty" report that catalogs the US practice of "extraordinary rendition" and how a less-desirable international prosecution is the result of the Obama administration's failure to uphold the rule of law.
MP3 here. (20:59)
Francis Boyle is a Professor and scholar in the areas of international law and human rights. He is the author of Tackling America's Toughest Questions: Alternative Media Interviews, BREAKING ALL THE RULES: Palestine, Iraq, Iran and the Case for Impeachment and many other publications.
Professor Boyle received a J.D. degree magna cum laude and A.M. and Ph.D. degrees in political science from Harvard University. Prior to joining the faculty at the College of Law, he was a teaching fellow at Harvard and an associate at its Center for International Affairs. He also practiced tax and international tax with Bingham, Dana & Gould in Boston.
He has written and lectured extensively in the United States and abroad on the relationship between international law and politics. His Protesting Power: War, Resistance and Law (Rowman & Littlefield Inc. 2007) has been used successfully in anti-war protest trials. In the September 2000 issue of the prestigious The International History Review, Professor Boyle's Foundations of World Order: The Legalist Approach to International Relations (1898-1922) was proclaimed as "a major contribution to this reinterrogation of the past" and "required reading for historians, political scientists, international relations specialists, and policy-makers." That book was translated into Korean and published in Korea in 2003 by Pakyoungsa Press.
As an internationally recognized expert, Professor Boyle serves as counsel to Bosnia and Herzegovina and to the Provisional Government of the State of Palestine. He also represents two associations of citizens within Bosnia and has been instrumental in developing the indictment against Slobodan Milosevic for committing genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Professor Boyle is Attorney of Record for the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, conducting its legal affairs on a worldwide basis. Over his career, he has represented national and international bodies including the Blackfoot Nation (Canada), the Nation of Hawaii, and the Lakota Nation, as well as numerous individual death penalty and human rights cases. He has advised numerous international bodies in the areas of human rights, war crimes and genocide, nuclear policy, and bio-warfare.
From 1991-92, Professor Boyle served as Legal Advisor to the Palestinian Delegation to the Middle East Peace Negotiations. He also has served on the Board of Directors of Amnesty International, as well as a consultant to the American Friends Services Committee, and on the Advisory Board for the Council for Responsible Genetics. He drafted the U.S. domestic implementing legislation for the Biological Weapons Convention, known as the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989, that was approved unanimously by both Houses of the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President George H.W. Bush. That story is told in his book Biowarfare and Terrorism (Clarity Press: 2005).
In 2001 he was selected to be the Dr. Irma M. Parhad Lecturer by the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Calgary in Canada. In 2007 he became the Bertrand Russell Peace Lecturer at McMaster University in Canada. Professor Boyle is listed in the current edition of Marquis' Who's Who in America.
Currently Professor Boyle lectures on international law at the University of Illinois College of Law.
TV notes. NOW on PBS begins airing Friday on most PBS stations (check local listings):
Even with the recent outpouring of support for earthquake victims inHaiti, Americans' attention span for global crises is usually veryshort. But is there a way to keep American audiences from tuning outimportant global issues of violence, poverty, and catastrophe far beyondtheir backyards? On Friday, February 12 at 8:30 pm (check locallistings), NOW talks with filmmaker Eric Metzgar about "Reporter," hisdocumentary about the international reporting trips of New York Timescolumnist Nicholas Kristof. In the film, Metzgar provides fascinatinginsight into how Kristof breaks through and gets us to think deeplyabout people and issues half a world away.
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