Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Former Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, who previously proposed scaling back the armed drone operation run in Pakistan by the Central Intelligence Agency, is now urging that program be publicly acknowledged and placed in the hands of the U.S. military.

"Covert action that goes on for years doesn’t generally stay covert," Blair said during a forum Monday at the Aspen Institute's Washington office. "You need a way to make it something that is part of your overt policy. I think that the way that we know about to do that is to make it a military operation and therefore, when you are going to be using drones over a long period of time, I would say you ought to give strong consideration to running those as military operations."

I don't like Dennis Blair but I do agree with him. I don't support a drone program at all. And hopefully that will become a standard belief in the US and we can then abandon it but while we have it operating, I think it should be under the military and not the CIA.

And that Blair thinks that with his CIA background says a great deal.

Now the snapshot. I called C.I. to tell her that the scum Spencer Ackerman had rewritten his piece that she links to. She thought that was hilarious. I confirmed with Elaine that this was a genuine reaction. I was surprised because if it had been me, I would have been pissed and I'd be rewriting the snapshot. But she (C.I.) said let it stand. She'll address it tomorrow. She thinks it's hilarious. (I understand why to a degree after talking to Elaine.)

So here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Wednesday, November 30, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, Nouri announces he's fine with US troops being 'trainers,' Joe Biden, continuing his Iraq visit, rushes to say that they can do that and more, a video of an Iraqi woman being tortured by police emerges, Parliament was attacked by a suicide bomber on Monday, the Senate decided yesterday not to end the Iraq War, realities for women living in Iraq, and more.
In what will hopefully be a front page piece on tomorrow's New York Times, Mark Landler reports that Nouri announced today that "he was open to the eventual return of American troops as trainers." That, of course, is not new. It's long been noted by the Iraqi press, you've had people with State of Law explaining that Nouri needed to be able to say he got all the troops out (and we've noted that Barack needed to pretend on that point as well). So welcome to the party, the appetizers and salad are gone, we just finished the entrees but maybe we can re-slice the dessert for your late arrival?
Mark Landler's piece will be an important one in tomorrow's paper and I applaud him for it but if it just doesn't feel all that amazing to me it's because we've been going over this now for almost two months while others have been silent or lied. Or while others have offered fantasies of Barack Obama.
One of the few not serving up fantasies of rainbows and lollypops was Spencer Ackerman. He writes for Wired and my thoughts on Wired are known but he gets credit for what he did. He gets a link today because a friend called in a favor. He's covering what Nouri said and also what Joe Biden, US vice president, said. And offering, "If Biden gets his way, then U.S. troops returning to Iraq next year won't just be training their Iraqi counterparts, even if that's how Maliki sells it to a skeptical Iraqi populace."
US troops going back in should remind you of something. It reminds me of filling in for Kat last night and noting, "What AFP doesn't tell you is that Rand Paul's measure would have ended the Iraq War, key point coming up, which means if Barack wanted to send US troops back into Iraq, he would need to get permission from the Congress." What was that about? Senator Rand Paul's bill to end the Iraq War finally had a vote on the Senate floor yesterday. Donna Cassata (AP) noted, "The Senate also rejected an amendment by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., that would have ended the authority for using force in Iraq. The vote was 67-30." AFP reported: Senator Carl Levin voted against it and insisted, "I just am unwilling to take this risk during the critical transition period." What risk? Hadn't Barack declared the Iraq War over? What does Carl mean about "transition period"?
He means (a) it's not a withdrawal, (b) negotiations continue and (c) Barack might send troops back in. Rand Paul's measure would have ended the Iraq War which meant that if Barack wanted to send US troops back into Iraq, he would need to get permission from the Congress. 30 senators voted for Rand Paul's bill, 67 voted against it. Here are the ones who voted in favor of the bill:

Baucus (D-MT)
Bingaman (D-NM)
Boxer (D-CA)
Brown (D-OH)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Cardin (D-MD)
DeMint (R-SC)
Durbin (D-IL)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Franken (D-MN)
Gillibrand (D-NY)
Harkin (D-IA)
Heller (R-NV)
Klobuchar (D-MN)
Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Leahy (D-VT)
Manchin (D-WV)
McCaskill (D-MO)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Merkley (D-OR)
Murray (D-WA)
Nelson (D-NE)
Paul (R-KY)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Sanders (I-VT)
Snowe (R-ME)
Tester (D-MT)
Udall (D-CO)
Udall (D-NM)
Wyden (D-OR)

25 Democrats, 4 Republicans and 1 independent (Socialist Bernie Sanders). If you've forgotten, in 2007, candidate Barack stated that he was comfortable, after withdrawal, sending US troops back into Iraq if Iraq wasn't 'stable.' For more on that refer to the November 2, 2007 snapshot and this piece by Third. So passing Senator Paul's end the war bill would have been highly problematic for the administration. After the vote, Paul declared, "This year we have seen the President commit our armed forces to combat, while Congress has been ignored or remained silent. No present or future administration should be given an indefinite blank check to conduct military operations in Iraq by Congress. Congress must reclaim its constitutional authority over the decision to go to war, or to end a war -- is it one of the body's most important powers."
Let's move over to the violence reported today. Reuters notes a Balad Ruz car bombing left seven people injured, a Mosul roadside bombing claimed 1 life, 1 corpse was discovered in Mosul (a person "kidnapped in 2008"), a Kirkuk sticky bombing claimed 1 life and, dropping back to last night for the rest, a Udhaim roadside bombing injured a shepherd and a Samarra home invasion resulted in the deaths of "a fortune teller, his wife, sone and two guests."
In major news on violence today, Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers via the San Francisco Chronicle) reports that the Monday attack on Parliament was a suicide car bomber and Issa observes, "The admission that a suicide car bomber had penetrated the fortified Green Zone, the first suicide attack there since April 2007, sent a wave of concern across the capital about the abilities, and loyalties, of Iraq's security agencies." As Sheikah (Dar Addustour) notes the questions about the attack in terms of how heavily protected the Green Zone is and how a "strange car with unknown identities" was able to penetrate the Green Zone. Al Rafidayn notes the need for permits to carry explosives in the Green Zone and indicates that some aspect of the attack was caught on cameras "deployed" in the area. This is major news and has been treated as such in the Iraqi press for two news cycles. As part of Monday's violence, it was noted as an aside in the small number of US outlets that cover Iraq. And a large number of that small number treated the notion that it could be a suicide bomber as some sort of Iraqi delusion. But it was a suicide bomber (not a mortar or a rocket) and the US press is strangely silent.
The answer why can be found in CNN's write-up: "Violence in Iraq remains at its lowest overall level since 2003, according to the White House."
Of course, the press isn't supposed to run with a party line. The press is supposed to be independent and skeptical. It's supposed to be a watchdog forever questioning official pronouncements. But it doesn't do that. As noted this morning, in reply to visitors who felt their favorite news outlet had been treated harshly by me in yesterday's snapshot with regards to the coverage of Joe Biden's visit to Iraq, I was more than kind. Read those articles again, but do so after you go to Time magazine. and read Mark Halperin's "Surprise Visit." You'll note all the details you thought the press had hunted down on their own were in fact spoon fed by the White House.
While the White House pretends violence is at a record low, earlier this week Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reported violence was on the rise in Iraq with over 100 recorded deaths this month in Baghdad alone. Who was telling the truth? Sahar Issa who doesn't need to worry about how the truth will effect personal polling or an upcoming election.
On Biden's visit, Al Rafidayn reports that "hundreds" of Moqtada al-Sadr's followers protested Biden's visit by taking to the streets of Najaf and Basra. In Basra, they chanted slogans such as "No, no, to America! No to colonization!" and "Death to America! Death to Israel!" while carrying banners with statements such as "We demand the Iraqi government expel the Zionist Biden from Iraq." Aswat al-Iraq report that Biden's scheduled to visit Erbil today. Erbil is in the KRG and the Kurdistan Regional Government is in the news today for another reason. Al Rafidayn is reporting a crackdown is taking place with the arrest of approximately 2636 people -- a list that includes journalists and activists.
Still on Biden's visit, we're about to present a press release from the White House and do so without comment. Without comment? I agreed to run it before I knew how long it was (and also after an administration friend insisted that they "really don't get to have a say here" -- whatever). This is the White House's official statement and we still have to address the topic of Iraqi women so we don't have time to dispute or reply to it.
For Immediate Release
November 30, 2011

Joint Statement by The United States of America and The Republic of Iraq Higher Coordinating Committee

The United States of America and the Republic of Iraq are committed to forging a strong partnership based on mutual interests that will continue to grow for years to come. Our two nations are entering a new phase in our relationship. We have a historic opportunity to strengthen our ties beyond security and build a multi-faceted relationship through trade, education, culture, law enforcement, environment, energy, and other important areas.
Three years ago, our nations signed the Strategic Framework Agreement (SFA), affirming both sides' desire to establish long-term bonds of cooperation and friendship. The SFA is a lasting agreement, and one that serves as the foundation on which we are building a durable and mutually beneficial relationship. Today, we gather again in Baghdad to reaffirm our commitment to this important partnership and to the principles of cooperation, sovereignty, and mutual respect articulated in the SFA.
Vice President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki convened the SFA's Higher Coordinating Committee on November 30. Together, they affirmed the significant accomplishments under the SFA thus far and charted a course for further joint efforts.
Cultural and Education Cooperation
The Republic of Iraq seeks the cooperation of the United States in its efforts to build a stronger higher education system, expanding English language programs, and preserving Iraq's rich cultural heritage, especially through assistance in conserving archeological sites such as the Babylon historical site, which the United States has helped preserve, and through support to the Iraqi Institute for Conservation of Antiquities and Heritage.
Energy Cooperation
The United States is committed to supporting the Republic of Iraq in its efforts to develop the energy sector. Together, we are exploring ways to help boost Iraq's oil production, including through better protection for critical infrastructure. The U.S. also supports Iraq through training in operations and maintenance, the provision of spare parts, and the development of the Government of Iraq's Electricity Master Plan, which will guide Iraq's electricity sector development over the next 30 years.
Law Enforcement and Judicial Cooperation
The United States and the Iraq believe that an independent judicial system is an essential component of a stable, democratic Iraq. The United States has provided assistance and professional support to develop and professionalize the Iraqi corrections system through judicial training programs for Iraqis through the Judicial Development Institute. Under the Police Development Program, the United States will continue providing advisory and technical assistance to the Iraqi police, including an exchange program that will bring groups of Iraqi police to the United States for leadership development over the next three years.
Political and Diplomatic Cooperation
The United States will continue to cooperate closely with Iraq in international fora in pursuit of shared interests. The United States also reaffirms its support for efforts aimed at resolving all remaining Chapter VII issues. In December 2010, the U.S. chaired a special session of the United Nations Security Council to bring closure to several Chapter VII issues dating to the time of the former regime in Iraq.
Services, Technology, Environment, and Transportation Cooperation
The United States is committed to supporting the Iraqi government's plans to improve services, develop its system of roads and bridges, and bring its airports up to international standards. We will improve agriculture and irrigation, support trade, and generate export opportunities through exchange programs between U.S. and Iraqi businessmen. The United States is providing Iraq the expertise it needs to design and implement an advanced banking system that will meet Iraq's current and future needs. The United States pledges to support Iraq in developing its health care services, improving public health, and health awareness campaigns.
Trade and Finance Cooperation
The United States and Iraq will continue their efforts to reinforce their financial and trade cooperation and to strengthen ties between our nations' business communities. For the first time since 1988, the U.S. participated in the recent Baghdad International Trade Fair, showcasing 85 American businesses and organizations and building on the success of the Business and Investment Conference held in Washington, D.C. in 2009. The United States is supporting the Government of Iraq's efforts in the financial sector by providing the technical expertise needed to develop private banks and microfinance institutions. In this context, the United States is developing new lending products for small and medium enterprises, in addition to the roughly $50 million set aside for such loans. Our governments are looking forward to the next meeting and recommendations of the U.S.-Iraq Business Dialogue, a forum of Iraqi and U.S. companies that promises to strengthen commercial ties between our countries.
Security and Defense Cooperation
The United States and Iraq recognize the importance of working closely together in the area of security and defense to strengthen our two countries' security and stability. Through the Strategic Framework Agreement, we have committed ourselves to continuing and strengthening our cooperation, guided by our common interests and shared goals. At the dawn of a new chapter in our relationship, the United States and Iraq stand shoulder to shoulder in increasing our efforts to build a better future for our two nations
I'd argue the purpose of the never-ending press release is to distract from the 'trainer' remarks by Nouri and Joe today.
In yesterday's snapshot, we noted that Minority Rights Group International had issued a new report by Preti Taneja entitled [PDF format warning] "Iraq's Minorities: Participation in Public Life" and it notes that female minorities are especially at risk of abuse and that "Minority women are subject to fiolence and discrimination both because of their sex and their minority affiliation." Pages 23 through 28 deal specifically with women.
UNAMI's "16 Days Campaign" at the end of 2010 to raise awareness about violence against women is noted as are these statistics from the campaign:
It was said that domestic violence is a major problem in the country with one in five women reporting that they have suffered physical violence at the hands of their husbands. Fourteen per cent of these were pregnant at the time. Thirty-three per cent said they have suffered emotional violence and 83 per cent have been subject to emotional abuse by their husbands. The report also highlighted the other specific problems women face -- including early marriage, trafficking, female genital mutilation, a lack of access to care and justice, and a lack of awareness about their rights.
Let's stay with human trafficking. Earlier this month, Social Change through Education in the Middle East released a report entitled [PDF format warning] "Karamatuna: An investigation into the sex trafficking of Iraqi women and girls."
SCEME's founder and director Iman Abou-Atta explains in the report's foreword, "When I heard of women trafficking in the Middle East, I simply never believed it. Being an Arab female, I never witnessed any talk or a history of women-trafficking within the Arab world and to find out that this was happening in Iraq, made me want to discover the facts. I started two years ago and as someone who has lived under occupation and suffered attacks due to their ethnicity, I was inspired by those who searched for truth and justice and was determined to find out the reality of this awful sitatuion. What I came across was closed doors, shame, the unwillingness of authorities in Syria and Jordan and the quietness of civil society on this issue. Questions were met with aggression from authorities, letters of dismissal from British Ministers and the unwillingness of families and women to talk about what happened."
The KRG and the Baghdad-based central government both have done little to address the issue of sex trafficking. The report sketches out the reality the Iraq War has provided women:
The occupation; its resulting chaos; the absence of the rule of law; corruption amongst government authorities; the rise of religious extremism; economic strife; as well as familial pressures, have all been identified as contributing to the rise in transnational trafficking. [. . .] The human rights violations taking place against women have been exacerbated by war, moving them into a new dimension in which young women and girls are trafficked, no longer primarily within state borders, but internationally, to countries including Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Kuwait, UAE, Turkey, Iran and Yemen. Children are especially vulnerable to being trafficked because they are often poorly educated, easy to overpower and easy to convince that they must do what an adult tells them to do. As witnessed in the case of Iraq, children may also be sold and trafficked across state boundaries by family members to support their families.
There's also the Baghdad sex-trade, "Brothels (some of which have been established purely to meet the demand created by United States service personnel), restaurants, beauty salons and places of entertainment are used for the purposes of exploiting women and girls; as well as night clubs, legal in the capital since 2009, which constitute a major supplier of young girls who have been exploited into the sex industry."
The report finds that young girls and women targeted within Iraq are targeted by professional sex traffickers -- often women, sometimes men. They use methods such as kidnapping, misleading a young girl or woman into believing they are in love and want to elope, etc. Cab drivers and female sex workers are often used to lure the girls and women. Throughout the report are personal stories such as this one about Farrah exploited by a health worker:
Following the death of her father in 2003, Farrah was taken to a Baghdad orphanage. Befriended by a nurse who offered to adopt her in order to protect her from the death she faced over the shame she had put upon her family; Farrah was lured to leave the orphanage whereupon she was kidnapped by the nurse and tortured for three weeks, while negotiations were made over her price with a bidder in Dubai. With the help of a local boy, Farrah managed to escape and her captor was arrested. Farrah and her captor shared the same prison for the following 6 months, before Safah was released back to the orphanage.
There's Salma's story of being exploited by her own family:

Salma was forced by her father into a mut'a marriage with her cousin at age 15. After 48 hours, upon sexually exploiting her, he abandoned her. Her father refused to take her back; instead insisting that he take her to Syria to find her mother. At the border, her father left, selling her to a stranger who subjected her to a series of rapes and forced her into sex work in a Damascus nightclub for 2 years. Upon becoming pregnant, she was once again abandoned to the streets of Damascus.
Last week, Andrew E. Kramer (New York Times) noted that "across Iraq women now outnumber men." And that was a huge step for the paper that's fallen back to its habit of ignoring women. Under the go-go boys Dexy Filkins and Johnny Burns, NYT wasn't interested in Iraqi women, it took real reporters to start covering women but in the last year or so women again vanished from the paper's coverage of Iraq. It's interesting to note that when a strong reporter who happened to be a woman, I'm thinking of Sabrina Tavernise, was assigned to Iraq, women suddenly began to appear in the coverage. And while other strong reporters who were women -- Alissa J. Rubin, Erica Goode and Cara Buckley being three examples -- were part of the team providing covergae, Iraqi women were covered. But when it became a frat boy atmosphere in the last year or so -- when it again became a frat boy atmosphere -- the first thing that happened was women vanished. That it happened is appalling, that it happened when the New York Times is, for the first time ever, headed by a woman, when the executive-editor is a woman, is beyond sad. But while Kramer took a huge step in focusing on Iraqi women (and hopefully indicating a change in the paper's coverage of Iraq), he seemed completely unaware of divorced women in Iraq and the ways in which they are victimized (he wrongly stated that the term "female head of household" was used to denote a widow in Iraq -- no, that's only one of the many designations). Salma was forced into a marriage and then tossed aside. She's far from the only Iraqi women to experience that are something similar.
For example, Charlotte Ashton (BBC's The World Tonight) spoke with Iraqi women this month to determine how they see their lives since the start of the war. Note the mother in the report, lamenting how divorce changed the way her daughter was seen:

Mariam, who is 38, has six children and has lived in Sadr City all her life. We find the family watching cartoons on a massive TV screen in the corner of their spacious living room. She says their lives have changed for the better since the US-led invasion.
"We have democracy now, freedom of expression. People can breathe and the economy has improved, so it's good for us."
But Mariam has one big worry. Her 19-year-old daughter got married last year but divorced shortly afterwards.
"My daughter used to be a star in the neighbourhood but now people look down on her. They never blame the man. Only the woman. They say she must have done something wrong."
For most women in Baghdad the democracy the US and her allies delivered has not brought more freedom. In fact, Lubna says women's rights have deteriorated.
"Women used to behave in a more liberal way under Saddam. And I hate to say that, because I hate Saddam so much, but women were freer under Saddam."

In 2006, Nouri became prime minister. He's now had a longer run -- five years and counting -- than any of the post-invasion prime ministers. But Iraqi women have seen no improvement in their lives as a result of Nouri's 'leadership.' Over the weekend, however, Nouri wanted to grandstand. Aswat al-Iraq reported:

"We need laws to be activated , as well as education, enlighten and reform to prevent violence against women", he [Nouri] confirmed.
He praised Iraqi women role in the society, particularly in scientific, cultural, media and security spheres.

And Nouri exclaimed that 100 women were currently in the police academy. Yet he failed to point out that when building his cabinet -- November to December 2010 -- he managed to ignore women. Not one minister was a woman. It took extreme pressure on Nouri to even get a woman in the post of the Minister of State for Women's Rights. Mohammed Sawaf (AFP) quoted that minister, Ibtihal al-Zaidi, declaring today, "One-fifth of Iraqi women are subjected to two types of violence, physical and psychological, constituting a very serious danger to the family and society. The most dangerous violence against woman is family violence, from the father, the brother, the husband or even the son."
Women in violence were in the news cycle today as Al Mada reported on a video recording that was spreading across Baghdad like wildfire and one which captured a blindfolded woman in a police station who was tortured mentally and physically. It's being stated that the woman is from Wasit Province and the officials there insist that this video, which was spread via cell phones, is going to be investigated. Deputy Haider Mohammed states that while the woman is from the area, the torture took place somewhere else.

Back to Social Change through Education in the Middle East's [PDF format warning] "Karamatuna: An investigation into the sex trafficking of Iraqi women and girls" which explains, "IMC monitors noted that it is not unusual to see women abused by officials at all levels, from police and security men, to those who work for politicians or state officials, or who have close ties with religious parties or who have personal bodyguards. Such people operate in a climate of impunity, protected by their status and material wealth." Rape has increased in Iraq. In some communities, the actual numbers are not known. The Mandaean community notes 11 rapes since the start of the Iraq War; however, that number is thought to be higher but the stigma attached to rape keeps some families from discussing what's taken place. The Mandaeans do note that 33 females of their community, since 2003, were "forced to convert to Islam." That's usually due to abduction and forced marriage. On that topic:
Yezidi activists have reported that, since 2003, there have been around 30 known cases of Yezidi women being abducted and forced to marry members of the Kurdish security force Asayish. Yezidi families are threatened with reprisals if women and girls refuse marriage with militia members. Such marriages not only condemn women to a life with a man who has proven himself to be capable of violence and abuse, they also effectively seal off these women from their families and communities. Both the Yezidi and Mandaean faiths prohibit marriage outside the religion, and those who undertake such vows thereby renounce their faith.
These threats and others limit women's mobility in Iraq and increase the stress and fears that they have to live with. Christian women report pressure to wear Muslim dress, such as the hijab, Sabean-Mandaeans report pressure not only to convert to Islam but also to cover their heads while they are out in public. 57% of respondents basically state that they cannot be who they are and must pretend to be something else: "Fifty-seven per cent of respondents to the IMC survey said that they believed that women needed to hide their religious affiliation, either by not wearing their religious symbols or traditional makeup, by covering their heads even if they are secular or non-Muslims, or by not speaking in their traditional languages".

My ex-girlfriend in HD

No, I didn't blog last night. Sorry.

I couldn't. It was one long, long argument. I didn't even call Ruth and my cell was going off repeatedly and I knew some of it (three calls) were Ruth (we usually talk every night before we blog).

I think I've figured out how to destroy a relationship: Blog about it.

I feel so stupid for mentioning here awhile back that I was in a new relationship.

If I hadn't said a word, I wouldn't need to say a word now.

But it's over.

And I took her to my parents for the holidays. I really thought it was moving along nicely.

Then yesterday, I get home and she's there (I gave her a key) and she's confronting me about this picture in this photo album and that picture in that one and on and on. I finished college in the early 90s. (I started at the end of the 80s.) I bring that up because one of my photo books is labeled 1991. Now why she felt I had to explain various female friends and girlfriends I was photographed with in 1991 or why I owed her any kind of explanation for having been with other women before in my life (a fact that was verbally discussed weeks ago), I have no idea.

But she was talking about how "You really loved!" and waving around this photograph and that. And it pissed me off but I stayed calm. But it made me made. You snooped, that's not good, but you took my photos out of my photo albums?

On top of that, one of them is one of my best friends who is straight and who I've never been involved with and she's ruined the photo. I don't know what she did to it after she took it out.

But she was screaming and yelling and after about 30 minutes, I asked her point blank, "Are you drunk?"

Because to me there wasn't a lot of other things that would explain this behavior besides booze or pills.

So I finally said, "HD" (I started calling her that last night) "give me back the key and take your drama and take it home."

"HD" not because of "High Definition" but because of "High Drama."

She gave me back the key.

But then proceeded to yell at me for over an hour and a half.

She only ended up leaving, finally, because my aunt came over. She was in the neighborhood and had gotten lost looking for a clothing store (we don't have a Cloth World, she had the wrong address). After driving around and around, she was lost and came over to my place which is the only address she really knows on the east side. So when there's a knock at the door, I go to open it. My aunt's standing there with a look on her face -- she'd clearly heard my now ex-girlfriend yelling.

And HD starts attacking my aunt. "Oh, so she called you and you're going to butt in now?"

My aunt said, "Bitch, don't you start with me." I just laughed.

But that's what finally made her leave. So then my aunt stayed for about a half hour and we talked about what had happened. And then she was on her way and I went straight to bed and crashed.

I was in too much of a pity party to blog, sorry.

This morning, C.I.'s got two great pieces up already:

And if I'd blogged last night, I would've forgotten to note those two when I blogged tonight.
Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" from yesterday:

Tuesday, November 29, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, Joe Biden arrives in Baghdad, Iraq's minorities get some attention, the Bradley Manning Support Network is linking to the publication that has misled on Bradley from the beginning, and more.
Mercer Consulting has released its 2011 Quality of Living survey and, out of 221 cities worldwide, Vienna is ranked first for quality of living. And who came in last? Baghdad. Apparently unrelated to the findings, US Vice President Joe Biden arrived in the Iraqi capital today. AP notes, "During his visit, Biden is expected to hold meetings with Iraqi officials over what the future U.S.-Iraqi relationship will look like." Carol E. Lee, Julian E. Barnes and Jay Solomon (Wall St. Journal) add, "While in Iraq, Mr. Biden will chair a meeting of the Higher Coordinating Committee of the Strategic Framework Agreement, a body that was launched to examine the non-security aspects of the U.S.-Iraqi relationship. Boosting Iraqi oil production is an ongoing part of U.S.-Iraqi discussions." Mark Lander (New York Times) explains Nouri al-Maliki and Biden are co-chairs of that Higher Coordinating Committee and that this is Joe's eighth trip to Iraq since being sworn in as Vice President in January 2009. Lander notes reported surprise that Biden was put in charge of Iraq instead of Hillary Clinton (Secretary of State) or Robert Gates (Secretary of Defense until last July). I have no idea who was surprised by the move. It took place during the transition planning (after the election, before being sworn in). Hillary wasn't considered because, at that point, her joining the administration was not a given. Gates was a holdover from the Bush administration and it would have been an early slap in the face of Barack's supporters to put Gates in charge. (The two also pointedly disagreed over the "surge.") Joe had the best relationship with Iraq of any Democrat due to repeat visits to the region, reaching out to the various leaders while serving in the Senate (remember, he chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee) and more. He also had the strongest relationship with the Kurds of anyone in Barack's administration (during the transition phase or since).
Maybe the persons who expressed surprise to Mark Lander are the same ones he refers to in this statement: "Analysts said the United States and Iraq are likely to resume negotiations next year for a small American force that would train a Western-style Iraqi officer corps, manage tensions with the Kurds, and help with counterterrorism operations." Did "analysts" say that? Did they whisper it? Was it pillow talk?
I have no idea. I know that PUBLICLY it was stated by US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, stated this month, that negotiations continue -- they haven't ended CNN, you stupid liar -- and that Panetta stated PUBLICLY that he expected a deal to emerge early next year. I know that because we attended and covered the November 15th Senate Armed Services Committee hearing: see the November 15th "Iraq snapshot," the November 16th "Iraq snapshot" and the November 17th "Iraq snapshot" and other community reporting on the hearing included Ava's "Scott Brown questions Panetta and Dempsey (Ava)," Wally's "The costs (Wally)" and Kat's "Who wanted what?" ]. And let's drop back to the November 15th snapshot for this exchange from that hearing:

Senator Joe Lieberman: Let me, Secretary Panetta, pick up from that point. I've heard from friends in Iraq -- Iraqis -- that Prime Minister Maliki said at one point that he needed to stop the negotiations -- leave aside for one moment the reasons -- but he was prepared to begin negotiations again between two sovereign nations -- the US and Iraq -- about some troops being in Iraq after January 1st. So that's what I've heard from there. But I want to ask you from the administration point of view. I know that Prime Minister Maliki is coming here in a few weeks to Washington. Is the administration planning to pursue further discussions with the Iraqi government about deploying at least some US forces in Iraq after the end of this year?
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta: Senator, as I pointed out in my testimony, what we seek with Iraq is a normal relationship now and that does involve continuing negotiations with them as to what their needs are. Uh, and I believe there will be continuing negotations. We're in negotiations now with regards to the size of the security office that will be there and so there will be -- There aren't zero troops that are going to be there. We'll have, you know, hundreds that will be present by virtue of that office assuming we can work out an agreement there. But I think that once we've completed the implementation of the security agreement that there will begin a series of negotiations about what exactly are additional areas where we can be of assistance? What level of trainers do they need? What can we do with regards to CT [Counter-Terrorism] operations? What will we do on exercises -- joint-exercises -- that work together?
When Panetta has testified publicly to the Senate Armed Services Committee this month that negotiations continue and that yhe expects additional negotiations, I have no idea why you have to go to "analysts." Panetta's testimony was on the record. Or at least, it was if you paid attention to it. CNN might need to.
If they wish to call Leon a liar, have at it and hopefully they can establish why they're making that charge. But until they've got the guts to do so, they need to stop LYING. Negotiations continue, he testified. In addition, many outlets need to catch this part of the testimony: "There aren't zero troops that are going to be there," Panetta testified. "We'll have, you know, hundreds that will be peresent by virtue of that office assuming we can work out an agreement there." CNN isn't stupid enough to claim zero US troops will be in Iraq or that all US troops in Iraq will return home. But a lot of other outlets are doing it. At Third Sunday, we took on The NewsHour and Judy Woodruff at the request of a woman who's brother will continue to serve in Iraq beyond December 31, 2011. Since then, a lot of e-mails are coming in from the families of troops who are going to be stationed in countries surrounding Iraq and they are furious that the media keeps saying ALL are coming HOME. I don't know how stupid the media is or if they're deliberately trying to be insensitive. I can't imagine having a loved one who will remain in Iraq or move over to Kuwait, for example, and have to hear on PBS that ALL are coming HOME when I know damn well that my loved one is not coming home yet. It's insulting and it goes to how shallow their pretense of caring about military families actually is. If they gave a damn, they'd tell the truth. They obviously don't give a damn.
Still on the silly, these claims of "surprise" visit. That it's today is a surprise. But the Iraqi press has been reporting that this visit was coming since October. It's only the US press that's kept their lips sealed. NBC's Shawna Thomas may be stupidist of all the press, not only does she claim "surprise," she also insists all troops are leaving. What an idiot. Someone might also want to tell her that a reporter does not say "He will also meet with . . ." They say, "He is scheduled to meet . . ." Will implies it will happen. Life can alter events. Reporters are not psychics, something they apparently need to be drilled on repeatedly. Ann Currey (NBC's Today) Tweets:
Ann Curry
AnnCurry Landed Bagdad lights off, pilots in infrared goggles.
Ann Curry will have an interview with Joe Biden on Thursday's Today Show (NBC). Biden arrives in Iraq on the day Al Sabaah reports that the Iraqi Parliament's Security and Defense Committee has declared it is close to making an agreement which will put NATO forces on the ground in Iraq, according to a statement read by the Security and Defense Committee Chair Hassan Sinead. Sinead states it will be a one-year agreement and that it can be renewed.
AFP is the only outlet that has any knowledge of Iraq apparently. Only AFP notes, "Biden's visit comes after a bloody seven days for Iraq, during which at least 61 people were killed in a wave of attacks." That's the kind of detail that the others should have included. But missed. Demonstrating how little they and their outlets pay attention to Iraq. Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) noted yesterday that violence is on the rise in Iraq with over 100 recorded deaths this month in Baghdad alone. (Had McClatchy the wisdom to allow Sahar, Laith Hammoudi or any of their Baghdad correspondents to cover the visit, they might have had a story worth linking to instead of one that I delayed the snapshot for 30 minutes for at the request of a McClatchy friend only to be read the copy over the phone and ask, "Someone got paid to write that crap?" Lesley Clark got paid to write that crap. And, no, we're not linking to it.)

Al Rafidayn reports that yesterday's attack on a Taji prison is thought by sources in the Ministry of the Interior to have been carried out by a new al Qaeda splinter group (Eagles Paradise). The sources state the the group operates out of northern Baghdad. Iraqi papers focused more on the Parliament attack than the prison attack. Al Sabaah notes that Osama Nujaifi's office has stated that bombing was an attempted assassination (Nujaifi is the Speaker of Parliament) and that he was the target. They also maintain it was a suicide bomber and not mortars. The article notes a National Alliance insists it was a mortar while a police source states it was a suicide bomber. Sources tell Dar Addustour it was a suicide bomber in a car (black GMC) and that al-Nujaifi was the target. In addition, Dar Addustour reminds that following the April 16, 2007 attack on Parliament, security measures were beefed up. Dar Addustour's report indicates that had the man not raised suspicion by his actions, he would have gotten closer to the Parliament. Alsumaria TV picks up that thread as well, quoting al-Nujaifi's spokesperson Aidan Helmi stating, "The suicide bomber tried to join Parliament Speaker's convoy but Green Zone's guards suspected him and stopped his car. The driver changed his direction and slammed into a high sidewalk before the explosion." Aswat al-Iraq adds, "Northern Iraq's Kurdistan Alliance has expressed surprise towards a booby-trapped car being snuck into west Baghdad's fortified Green Zone, calling for an investigation to uncover 'those responsible' among the security bodies inside the Green Zone, according to a statement made by the Alliance and received by Aswat al-Iraq news agency on Tuesday." Liz Sly's covered Iraq for a number of publications including the Los Angeles Times. Currently her reporting is carried by the Washington Post. On the Parliament attack, she Tweeted today:

lizsly Still disputed whether it was a car bomb or Katyusha that hit #Iraq parliament yesty. Mps competing to prove they were the real target.
Today's reported violence? Reuters notes a Baghdad attack in which a Ministry of Oil official was shot and injured, a Mosul roadside bombing which left four people injured, a Hit truck bombing which injured three people (two are Iraqi soldiers who were the apparent target), a Baghdad roadside bombing which left four people injured, a Mahmudiya sticky bombing which injured one Sahwa, a Tarmiya grenade attack which injured two Sahwas (the target) and three bystanders, a Mosul roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer and left two more injured, one police offer was injured in a Mosul shooting and, dropping back to Monday, 3 Kirkuk roadside bombings (apparently targeting a Turkman provincial council member) left 1 person dead and fifteen people injured.
Today Minority Rights Group International issued a new report by Preti Taneja entitled [PDF format warning] "Iraq's Minorities: Participation in Public Life" and it notes, among other things, that "the situation for minority women is still largely ignored in policy and media." The 32 page report comes with a list of recommendations for the Iraqi government, Parliament, the KRG and NGOs. Within the report are recommendations as well. Chief among what is needed is "a comprehensive anti-discrimination law and amendments to various laws and policies that dscriminate against minorities, and minority women in particular." Of minorities, the report notes:
The Iraqi population is extremely diverse in terms of ethnicity and religion. The three largest groups are Shi'a Arbas, Sunni Arabs and Kurds. In addition, Iraq is home to communities of Armenians, Baha'is, Black Iraqis, Chaldeans, Syriacs and Assyrians, Circassians, Faili Kurds, Jews, Kaka'i, Palestinians, Roma, Sabean Mandaeans, Shabaks, Turkmen and Yezidis. The last eight years of conflict have seen the numbers of minorities diminish as many have fled the country. Others have abandoned their traditional locations for new areas of the country. Statistics on the number of people who have fled, or current populations of minority groups remaining in Iraq, are disputed. Government treatment that set minorities apart under the old regime continues to have ramifications for these communities. Some restrictive legislation remains in force, such as limitations on Baha'is freedom to access basic rights. In other situations, such as in the case of Palestinian Iraqis, old resentments based on perceived favourable treatment by the Ba'ath regime continue to stoke current prejudice.
Early on the report notes, "The research highlighted a number of concerns. It emerged that members of minorities are unable to access public services or employment because of ethnic or religious prejudice, or because they do not belong to the right political party." Later in the report, it's noted, "Leading representatives of minority communities, including Christian, Sabean Mandaean, Shabak and Yezidis have reported that access to work, eeducation and employment, freedom of movement and freedom to worship, and access to resources and recreational services are high on their list of concerns. Addressing discrimination, improving participation in and access to government, and achieving greater self-governance, which would all
For Iraqi Christians, 2010 was "the worst of years." There was the October 31st attack on Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad (in which "56 Christian and 12 others were killed") prompting further displacement of Iraqi Christians with 4,000 to 8,000 Iraqi families fleeing Baghdad -- most for the Kurdistan Regional Government others for the Nineveh Plains and some leaving Iraq all together. And while the minority groups are usually harmed by either the Shi'ite or the Sunni group (Kurds in disputed areas), they can also harm one another. For example, the report notes that Shabak and Christians have long-standing tensions that predate the Iraq War. A Shabak tells the researchers, "When trying to enter into the car park of the Hamdaniyah hospital, I was prevented from entering by the Christian guards and they allowed other Christians to enter."
The brain drain is noted -- the war and violence has caused many of Iraq's professional class to leave the country -- and that conditions in hospitals have gone down hill which effects all Iraqis; however, minorities face additional problems and minority women even more so. One example noted, "Yezidis in Sinjar have claimed that there are no women's health services to be found in their area; they must travel to Dohuk in the Kurdistan Region." I believe that's approximately 61 miles (check my math) that they would have to travel. Like the conditions of hospital, the issue of potable water is one that effects all Iraqis; however, here too, minorities are more harshly impacted. 71% of the minorities surveyed "said they suffer from the absence of sufficient water in their area." In addition, there areas are not high priority when it comes to repairs as evidenced by the July 10th attack on the Shabak's Bazwaya village by the Harkia tribe which was attempting to take over "the water and electricity resources" but succeeded only in damaging the plant. The report notes, "Around 12,000 Shabak people have been left without water and, at the time of writing, the authorities still have not addressed this issue."
Minorities suffer in terms of access to education. The hardest hit is thought to be the Roma who, as a result, have "the highest rates of illiteracy (29 per cent) and only 7 per cent held a university degree." The areas they are concentrated in are without "primary or secondary schooling." Minorities with access to 'Iraqi schools' suffer as well due to the bais in curriculum "towards 'a sect, nation or bloc, or a reference in favour of certain parties, or against them', according to 90 per cent of survey respondents." I'm using the term 'Iraqi schools.' The report has no term of that kind. But they're referring to schools teaching the state curriculum -- whether they are public or private. I'm calling those 'Iraqi schools' because some minorities -- such as Assyrian Christians -- have their own schools with their own curriculum. Some, not all. It's noted in the report that Human Rights Watch has interviewed "a Sabean-Mandaean elder in Basra [who stated] there are no schools that teach their children in their language, Mandaic."
The report notes how much easier life would be for many minorities in Iraq if the national ID card were not noting ethnicity and religion:

Some have argued that the Iraqi government should speed up development and issue of national identity cards that do not state religious or ethnic identity;113 ID cards that include this data can easily be used to discriminate in access to rights, and even to target people for violence. Including towns and villages of residence or birth on such cards can also be an indicator of religion or ethnicity.
The benefit of disaggregating data by minority in any research and evaluation of their situation cannot be underestimated. Only then can a clear picture of the situation for each group, and for women from those communities, emerge, and improvements pertinent to their particular history and present conditions begin to be found. Collecting disaggregated data does not require the existence of national ID cards stating religion or ethnicity and, as the survey conducted for this report shows, such material can be gathered anonymously.

Of course, women in Iraq are the majority of the population but they are a political minority when it comes to rights and representation. Though they would benefit, as all Iraqis would, from the step proposed above, such a step would not conceal gender. Women in Iraq face many problems, some covered by the report, some not covered. We'll note the report with regards to women tomorrow as well as several other issues relating to Iraqi women's rights and status.

Turning to the US and the topic of Bradley Manning who is finally headed for a military courtroom and an Article 32 hearing on December 16th at Fort Meade, Maryland.
Monday April 5th, WikiLeaks released US military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Monday June 7, 2010, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported in August 2010 that Manning had been charged -- "two charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The first encompasses four counts of violating Army regulations by transferring classified information to his personal computer between November and May and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system. The second comprises eight counts of violating federal laws governing the handling of classified information." Manning has been convicted in the public square despite the fact that he's been convicted in no state and has made no public statements -- despite any claims otherwise, he has made no public statements. Manning has been at Quantico in Virginia, under military lock and key, for months. In March, David S. Cloud (Los Angeles Times) reported that the military has added 22 additional counts to the charges including one that could be seen as "aiding the enemy" which could result in the death penalty if convicted. David E. Coombs is Bradley's attorney and he provided a walk through on Article 104.
What's going on with Bradley is very important. Shirley passes on that a number of people have e-mailed the public account about an item at the Bradley Manning Support Network. Note what we did there: Linked to the network, didn't link to the item.
Not interested.
Not interested for two big reasons. We reported on the filings yesterday and, excuse me, but I did a damn better job of it than Wired did. (And thanks to my attorney who went over two points with me.) There's no reason for us to repeat ourselves here after we've analyzed the filings by going to an inferior report on them. That's (A). (B)? I don't like Wired. If we link to it, we do so only because I have had a friend call in a favor. Otherwise, we ignore them and you should be able to count on one hand the number of times we've linked to Wired since this site started in 2004.
Among the reasons I don't care for Wired? They're very tight with paid government snitch Adrian Llamo. They've misled in their coverage -- as Glenn Greenwald has established many times. They've failed to release the alleged transcripts in full. They've shaped the story -- the attack on Bradley -- from the start and it really appears they did so with US government help.
So why the hell the Bradley Manning Support Network would link to them is a question that needs to be asked of Kevin Zeese and everyone else involved. If you're not getting, there is no DAMN reason for the support network to ever, EVER, link to Wired magazine after what Wired did to Bradley. If that's still not clear, let's drop back one year. This is Glenn Greenwald writing at Salon last December:
For more than six months, Wired's Senior Editor Kevin Poulsen has possessed -- but refuses to publish -- the key evidence in one of the year's most significant political stories: the arrest of U.S. Army PFC Bradley Manning for allegedly acting as WikiLeaks' source. In late May, Adrian Lamo -- at the same time he was working with the FBI as a government informant against Manning -- gave Poulsen what he purported to be the full chat logs between Manning and Lamo in which the Army Private allegedly confessed to having been the source for the various cables, documents and video that WikiLeaks released throughout this year. In interviews with me in June, both Poulsen and Lamo confirmed that Lamo placed no substantive restrictions on Poulsen with regard to the chat logs: Wired was and remains free to publish the logs in their entirety.
Despite that, on June 10, Wired published what it said was only "about 25 percent" of those logs, excerpts that it hand-picked. For the last six months, Poulsen has not only steadfastly refused to release any further excerpts, but worse, has refused to answer questions about what those logs do and do not contain. This is easily one of the worst journalistic disgraces of the year: it is just inconceivable that someone who claims to be a "journalist" -- or who wants to be regarded as one -- would actively conceal from the public, for months on end, the key evidence in a political story that has generated headlines around the world.
You should read the piece in full but just the above should make it clear that there's no reason to link to Wired. (That's not "Link to me!" Unlike Kevin Zeese, I don't write people asking them to link to me -- and I would prefer not to be linked to by what is striking me right now as the so-called Bradley Manning Support Network. But POLITICO's Josh Gerstein and others have covered the topic as well and Wired was not the so-called BMSN's only option.)
Grasp that the Bradley Manning Support Network praising a Wired article is a bit like Iraq's Association of Muslim Scholars praising Judith Miller for her Iraq coverage in the lead-up to the Iraq War. In other words, it just shouldn't happen.
How did it happen? Most likely no one's paying attention.
F**k mic check, reality check: You can't do everything, no one can.
Meaning, in less than 20 days, Bradley has his Article 32 hearing. If you're the Bradley Manning Support Network, you can't have any other focus right now. I grasp that Kevin Zeese has half-assed his way through life but that has to end now. If you're going to help Bradley that means you're going to stop whining about OWS and everything else under the sun. That means you're going to stop defocusing from Bradley.
Every damn day between now and the Article 32 hearing, you're going to find some way to get people talking about Bradley. If you're the "Bradley Manning Support Network," that's your job, that's your role. Nothing else.
My personal opinion: The Article 32 hearing will be a rubber stamp as it was in Ehren Watada's Article 32 hearing, as it was in Camilo Mejia's Article 32 hearing, as it was . . . But Barack Obama, US president, can, in his role as commander in chief, call a halt to everything. He can do that before the Article 32 hearing, he can do it after. He can do it in the midst of a military trial (which I believe the Article 32 hearing will lead to). Would he call a stop to it? Barack's nothing but vanity. You have to be very vain to dress the way he does (and grasp this manner of dress is only after he's been repeatedly advised to "dress down"). You have to be very vain to write two books about your life -- when you've failed to even make partner at the law firm that employs you, let alone do anything monumental. You have to be very vain to be completely unprepared for the US presidency but think, what the heck, you'll run anyway and, if you win, you can always learn as you go. Barack's vanity is the only thing the might hold him in check.
Grasping that he's in danger of being a one-term president, grasping that what's being done to Bradly, the railroading of this young man, the torture of this young man, is outrageous to Americans today, he is smart enough to realize that what's outrageous today usually doesn't become acceptable tomorrow. He's vain enough and aware enough to be worried about his historical meaning. And, as he was saying recently to a group of people, he hopes he's going to be something "more than a symbolic president" when history is written. Generate some outrage, make people aware, Barack just might pay attention especially at a time when he's already aware of just how much support he's lost.
What do I think the chances are? I'd give it a single-digit percentage of happening. But I have no faith in Barack, I haven't since I met him during his Senate run. A lot of other people do or did have faith. They voted for him. They need to hold him accountable.
And even if Barack doesn't do the right thing with regards to Bradley, the historical record needs to show objection to the railroading of Bradley, to the ignoring of the Sixth Amendment and his right to a speedy trial, to the failure of Barack to honor the most basic premise in the American judicial system: Innocent until proven guilty. They don't have that in every country. In many countries, the accused is assumed guilty and has to prove innocence. In the United States, we have innocent until proven guilty. When Barack took it upon himself to announce that Bradley was guilty, he crossed many lines. Not just the lines of commander in chief -- though surely those lines were crossed. How comfortable, for instance, is someone serving in the military going to be declaring Bradley innocent in a trial knowing that their commander in chief has stated Bradley is guilty? That's a serious issue. Even more troubling is that the president of the United States took a giant piss on the American legal system, showed complete ignorance of it and disregard for it.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Celindawhore

the non-apology

That's Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The Non-apology" about Barack's habit of insulting the people he needs for re-election. It went up yesterday and so did Kat's "Kat's Korner: Doris Day, Rob Crow and what's left unsaid" which I also loved. And, sorry, but I won't be getting Doris' album. I'm not in the mood for an idiot who thinks she can lie to me. She told NPR (see Kat's review) that she had no idea Rock Hudson was gay. And she couldn't even say "gay." Miss Religious needs to check her Bible for what it says about lying. And remember, she was in her forties when she made those films with Rock Hudson, not some naive, dewey-eyed little girl. She was all over the road starting at 16. She was never the virgin she was portrayed as and for her to now pretend ignorance on Rock's sexuality is just the last straw for Doris and me.

Another ass that's pissed me off is Celinda Lake.

Do you know that trash?

I used to like her. I'd be flipping through my copy of Ms. and there would be some poll Celinda did. And I'd think, "Good for Celinda! Good for women!" Of course, she wasn't presented as a "Democratic strategist" by Ms.

But that's what trash is. Which makes all her polls suspect in my opinion. If she were non-partisan, I'd still have faith in her polls.

Democrat Barney Frank's not running for re-election to the House. That's not good news for the party. If he'd run for re-election (and won) and Dems had a chance at taking back the House, he'd be chair of the Finance Committee again. If he thought that was possible, he wouldn't be retiring. But here's what 'unbiased' pollster Celinda told POLITICO, "The key to taking back the House is to make sure our donors realize how doable it is and put up the resources. I worry the most that retirements like these might incorrectly discourage them"

Make sure our donors realize?

Does she not grasp how ridiculous she sounds? A pollster?

I don't take that whore seriously and no one should. Her polls are laughable -- as demonstrated in the Martha Coakley race (failed race) -- and now we know why: She just whores, grabs the result she wants and fits the polling around it.


Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Monday, November 28, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, Parliament is attacked, Nouri al-Maliki wants a wall around Baghdad, Jalal Talabaini wants US troops to remain in Iraq, discovery motions by David Coombs (Bradley Manning's attorney) reveal just how much the US federal government has ignored the law, and more.
In Iraq today, a suicide bombing attack on a prison resulted in multiple deaths. AGI notes today's bombing was "a suicide attack on Hout prison in Taji". Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) reports the assailant "slammed a car packed with explosives into" the prison's gate and RTT adds, "The attack took place at about 8:00 a.m. local time (0500 GMT)". The spokesperson for Baghdad Operations Command, Quassem Ata, told Alsumaria TV, "Ambulances rushed to the explosion site and transported the wounded to a nearby hospital for treatment and the corpses to the Department of FOrensic medicine." AFP observes, "It was not immediately clear if the attack was part of a prison escape attempt, which are fairly common in Iraq." Citing an unnamed security source, Aswat al-Iraq reports, "He said that among the victims were visitors to their imprisoned relatives and prison guards." Adnkronos Security notes that the bombing also "killed and maimed guards, police and other staff while they were arriving for work." Sky News reveals, "Police officials said the death toll increased after cleanup crews found more bodies while removing debris at the site." BBC News reports 19 dead and twenty two injured in the attack. Kareem Raheem (Reuters) notes the last reported attack on the city: "The town of Taji, the site of a major Iraqi military base, was hit by bombers in July, when two blasts in the parking lot of a municipal government building killed at least 28 people and wounded scores of others." Al Jazzera provides this context, "Monday's bombing comes amid a surge of violence across the country." Al Rafidayn words it this way, "Despite toppling the regime of Saddam Hussein eighty years ago, Iraq continues to be plagud by near daily violence leaving tens of thousands dead."
The attack hit the US morning news cycle. It wasn't the end of attacks today in Iraq. In the one that will probably have the most impact the Baghdad-based government, Parliament was attacked. Confusion remains as to what it was attacked with. Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) puts it this way, "Also Monday, a mortar round landed inside the heavily fortified Green Zone, killing at least two people, police said. The round landed on the outdoor car park that belongs to the Iraqi Parliament compound and hit a car. " Citing the news channel Al-Arabiya, Adnkronos Security maintains it was a rocket. KUNA states mortars and that it "hit a parking lot near the parliament" leaving at least four injured. Aswat al-Iraq notes Parliament's Mohammed al-Khalidi states it was a car and a suicide bombing, "the car exploded outside the parliament building, where the driver was trying enter, but blocked by a military hummer, which obliged him to commit suicide." AFP emphasizes the confusion over details, "The explosion in the parking lot of the Iraqi parliament was caused by a mortar round, said Baghdad security spokesman Qassem al-Moussawi and several other sources. However, at least two sources at parliament said it was a car bomb." Parliament's spokesperson Aidan Helmi declares the attack was an attempted assassination of Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi and states the car involved was similar to the cars used in Nujaifi's security detail and that when asked to display a security badge, the car slammed into anothe car, the driver got out and detonated a bomb on his person. Jack Healy, Yasir Ghazi, Andrew E. Kramer and Zaid Thaker (New York Times) observe, "An attempted bombing steps outside Parliament would represent a serious security breach inside one of the capital's most heavily guarded sectors, raising questions about the competence -- or complicity -- of security forces. Parliament sits inside the Green Zone, the locked-down expanse along the Tigris River that houses many Iraqi governmetn buildings and the American Embassy."
"In the one that will probably have the most impact the Baghdad-based government, Parliament was attacked"? That's a statement based on past precedent. In the rush-rush effort to forever pimp the newest cause (OWS currently) and ingore actual news in favor of what you wish was news, many things get forgotten. The Bremer walls? Does anyone remember why they went up? Because of attacks in Baghdad. Yeah, but it was one attack in particular that got them up real quick.
Dropping back to the June 23, 2006 snapshot:

The ten day old "crackdown" in Baghdad, which has had little measurable impact on stopping violence, sprouted a new development today: "State of emergency." As Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted this morning, "Earlier today, insurgents set up roadblocks and opened fire on U.S. and Iraqi troops close to the US-run Green Zone." The Associated Press reports this was done as fighting forces seemed intent on breaching "the heavily fortified Green Zone." As Sandra Lupien noted on KPFA's The Morning Show, amidst the violence, US troops "rushed to the area." Current prime minister Nouri al-Maliki has "ordered everyone off the streets" of Baghdad, provided "broader arrest powers" and placed "a ban on carrying weapons."
Iraq last declared a state of emergency (or martial law) in November of 2004 for the entire country (exempting only Kurdish areas in the north).Then prime minister Iyad Allawi declared it when violence broke out through much of the country as US forces geared up for their attack on/slaughter of Falluja. Current prime minister al-Maliki has declared a state of emergency for Baghdad only. A state of emergency was declared for the city of Basra in May of this year. Euronews notes that the Basra state of emergency "has not deterred militants." Omar al-Ibadi and Haider Salahaddin (Reuters) report that today in Basra a car bomb went off (police say ten killed, hospital says five).
Sam Knight (Times of London) reports that "the 5 million inhabitants of the Iraqi capital [were] given just two hours notice of a curfew" (started at 2:00 pm in Baghdad, as Knight notes, but it was set to end at 5:00 pm and not, as Knight reports, on Saturday -- since Knight filed, al-Maliki shortened the curfew). Knight notes the paper's Baghdad correspondent Ned Parker terming the "extended gun battle . . . just north of the fortified Green Zone" a "free-for-all." Along with gunfire and mortars, Reuters reports that two US troops died today "when their vehicle struck a roadside bomb southeast of Baghdad."
What followed were mutliple bombings in Baghdad for mutliple days and Nouri floating that there could be 'forgiveness' for 'insurgents' and then the wallas and walls and walls throughout Baghdad.
When the Green Zone was almost breached, when that safe area for Iraq's rulers was in danger, suddenly there was no tolerance for violence. When it was outside the Green Zone, when it remains outside, the tolerance is high and little is done by the Baghdad-based central government. So it is very likely that today's attack on Parliament will be taken more seriously than other recent attacks.
Before we get to the pattern of recent attacks, let's note the Baghdad government's 'new' plans for protection. Saturday Al Mada also reported that Major General Qassim Atta, head of the Baghdad operations command, declared that they will be putting up cameras to monitor the streets of Baghdad. And there's more. Remember after the walls started going up, Nouri also wanted to put a moat around Baghdad? Edward Wong reported on that with "Iraqis Plan to Ring Baghdad With Trenches" on September 16, 2006:

The Iraqi government plans to seal off Baghdad within weeks by ringing it with a series of trenches and setting up dozens of traffic checkpoints to control movement in and out of the violent city of seven million people, an Interior Ministry spokesman said Friday.
The effort is one of the most ambitious security projects this year, with cars expected to be funneled through 28 checkpoints along the main arteries snaking out from the capital. Smaller roads would be closed. The trenches would run across farmland or other open areas to prevent cars from evading checkpoints, said the ministry spokesman, Brig. Gen. Abdul Karim Khalaf.
"We're going to build a trench around Baghdad so we can control the exits and entrances so people will be searched properly," he said in a telephone interview. "The idea is to get the cars to go through the 28 checkpoints that we set up."

Well they never got the moat. But let's drop back to the May 4, 2010 snapshot:

Occupied Iraq, ruled over by a US puppet whose fighting like crazy to hold on to the position. If US service members leave the Green Zone, Nouri falls. He knows that. The US military knows it, the US government knows it. So he's proposed madcap schemes to ensure his reign since he became prime minister in April of 2006. Two Circles Net reports, "Iraqi authorities have started the construction of a security wall around the capital Baghdad, reports the country's Al-Iraqiya TV citing a Baghdad security spokesperson. The concrete wall with eight checkpoints is to be completed in mid-2011." Once upon a time, Nouri proposed building a moat around Baghdad. A moat. Stagnant water. Just what Baghdad needs more of. Especially with all the cholera outbreaks. Nouri never got his moat but he will apparently get his walled-in-city.

But he didn't get that either. Yet he still hasn't give up on it. Dar Addustour quotes Atta from the same press conference today declaring that Nouri has ordered a security wall be constructed around Baghdad in early 2012. If there's anything sadder than having run out of ideas it would have to be repeatedly promising you're about to implement one of your tired ideas. At what point do those ruled note that you promise and promise but fail to deliver? It's not just that he can't stop the violence, it's also that Nouri can't follow up on his own announcements to increase security.

The most current pattern of violence is every two days for a major attack. So Basra is slammed with bombs on Thursday (Saturday Andrew E. Kramer noted the death toll for the Basra attacks had risen to 25). Two days later, Saturday, it was Baghdad. Al Mada reported Baghdad awoke to bombings Saturday. Laith Hammoudi (Miami Herald, McClatchy Newspapers) explained, "Some analysts fear that this year will mark a return to that bloodshed after the last two months, when the Shiite-led Iraqi government has undertaken a nationwide crackdown on former members of Saddam Hussein's Baathist party, especially in the country's southern provinces, where Shiites are the majority. The arrests have been criticized by Sunni Muslim leaders as illegal, but the government has defended them, claiming those arrested have ties to terrorist activities and are based on warrants issued by courts." And some analysts feel that point has already arrived and you're seeing the slow awakening of a renewal of that fissure (which never went away).

Andrew E. Kramer (New York Times) reported the bombings "shattered the stillness of a crystalline autumn day in the desert". Zhang Xiang (Xinhua) provided a walk through, "In the morning, eight construction workers were killed and 13 others wounded when two roadside bombs went off almost simultaneously near their bus while travelling in the Abu Ghraib area, some 20 km west of Baghdad, a local police source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity. [. . .] Separately, up to seven people were killed and 28 wounded before midday when three bombs went off successively at the crowded commercial area of Bab al-Sharji, where dozens of stalls scatter at the popular open market, an Interior Ministry source anonymously told Xinhua." Press TV quoted an eye witness, "Three bombs exploded one after the other. I saw a woman serving tea to customers, lose a leg in one of the explosions." Of the construction workers, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) quoted police officer Ahmed Salman, "The victims were traveling every day in a minibus from Abu Ghraib to Falluja to work in a number of reconstruction sites."

Thursday, Saturday, Monday. And there was other violence on those days and there was violence on Friday and Saturday. The violence has not gone away.
And as it has increased in the last eighteen or so months, it's been very obvious that Iraq's security ministries remain headless. There is no one heading them. And no one's supposed to note Nouri's failure with regards to that. Al Mada reports that Iraqi officials are a twitter over 'news' (rumors) that Nouri al-Maliki will fill the posts to head the security ministries before the end of the year (Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Interior and Ministry of National Security). These are the posts that have been vacant all along. When Nouri was named prime minister-designate, he had 30 days to name nominees for these posts and to get the nominees approved by Parliament. Instead of following the Constitution, and with the US government strong-arming everyone, the Parliament and the presidency looked the other way and allowed Nouri to move from prime minister-designate to prime minister despite his inability to meet the only Constitutional requirement for being named prime minister.

When that happened in December 2010, the US newspapers which are supposed to be skeptical -- because the nature of journalism -- and independent and watchdog proved to be toothless and cowardly. Instead of barking, they assured readers that, by January (2011), Nouri would have filled those three posts. That didn't happen. Sadly their continued failure to predict the future hasn't steered any of them away from playing amateur prophet. They continue to ignore facts -- such as ALL US troops are not coming HOME at the end of the year from Iraq -- and instead offer fantasies served up as 'reporting.'

Equally delusional is Iraqi President Jalal Talabani who insists that Nouri al-Maliki cannot be replaced, that no one else in Iraq -- with a population of 26 million within the country -- no one else can do the job. With a population of 26 million, including two who have been prime minister before Nouri al-Maliki -- the National Alliance backed Ibrahim al-Jaafari and head of Iraqiya Ayad Allawi. No one else, Jalal insists, can do Nouri's job. Maybe he meant to say that no one else can do it as poorly as Nouri does? Saturday Al Sabaah noted Iraqi President Jalal Talabani gave an interview to Iraqi Satellite TV in which he bemoaned the state of Iraq but insisted that the answer was not a vote to withdraw confidence in Nouri al-Maliki because, he claims, there is no alternative to Nouri. Not everyone agrees. The same day Jalal was insisting Nouri was the sole path of salvation for Iraq, Aswat al-Iraq reported:

A Legislature of al-Iraqiya Alliance, led by former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, has said on Saturday that Iraq's current problem lies in the political programing, followed by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, to steer the State.
"The current problem in Iraq is not linked to the Presidency or the Legislative authorities, but to the political programs of the Prime Minister, especially as regards to the security dossier, being the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces," Legislature, Haider al-Mulla told Aswat al-Iraq news agency.

How many more bombings, how many more shootings, how many more kidnappings have to take place before the Parliament demands Nouri nominate ministers to head the three security ministers or steps down as prime minister? Or will the pennies tossed their way buy their silence? Dar Addustour notes that Parliment agreed to provide the families of the Basra dead with 500,000 dinars ($427.53 in US currency) and the wounded with 250,000 dinars ($213.77 in US currency).

Over the weekend, Jalal wasn't just pretending he was Deniece Williams singing "Let's Hear It For The Boy" (while actually sounding like the character Deniece sketches in "Silly"), he was also insisting Iraq needs US troops on the ground in Iraq. W.G. Dunlop (AFP) reports, "Iraqi forces need an American troop presence or at least US training forces, President Jalal Talabani has said, according to a Saturday statement on the Iraqi presidency's website." As noted earlier this week, negotiations between the US and Iraq are ongoing, the Kurds are pressing for US troops, and the numbers that political blocs are throwing around currently: 8,000 to 15,000.

Al Sabaah reports that Kurdistan Alliance MP Chuan Taha, who serves on Parliament's Security and Defense Committee notes that Iraq cannot defend their own skies and states they should sign an agreement with a foreign power such as the United States (the US is mentioned twice by Taha, no other country is named) to patrol the skies and this would be fine because the US bases in Qatar and other countries could be used preventing the building of a new US base on Iraqi soil. Kurdistan Alliance's Fuad Masum is quoted on what he sees as the need for Iraq keeping "a small number of trainers and American experts" in Iraq because, he says, Iraqi forces will not be fully ready to protect the country until 2020 and he states he awaits the results of the negotiations he expects to conclude with Nouri's DC visit next month. Ministry of Defense spokesperson Major General Mohammed al-Askari is quoted stating trainers will be needed and this does not mean Iraq's forces are "defective" just that they need additional coaching and assistance. This follows Iraqi President Jalal Talabani's remarks this weekend. Alsumaria TV notes, "Iraq needs an American presence after 2011, Talabani said in a TV interview arguing that Iraqi security forces are still facing difficulties in air and marine defense as well as in the use of new weapons. Reports of Air, marine, Armored and Infantry Forces' commanders reveal that Iraq needs an efficient US presence in Iraq or at least American trainers' presence, Talabani said." Dar Addustour notes US Vice President Joe Biden's upcoming Iraq visit to discuss these issues.
Regardless of whether anything additional is agreed to, Jason Ditz ( notes that the supposed 'end' doesn't mean billions of US tax payer dollars won't still be headed to Iraq, $6.5 billion for 2012 alone, "And most of that is going to be military spending, with the operational budget some $6.2 billion and another $300 million going to 'refugee programs'." Since the US has not lived up to the set goals for Iraqi refugees being admitted into the US -- a detail the US press has intentionally ignored to cover for the White House -- Congress should be asking for a detailed accounting of that $300 million request. Most likely "refugee" is a cover and we're looking at more walking around, CERP-type funds.
One of the few reporters who hasn't forgotten Iraqi refugees is the Philadelphia Inquirer's Trudy Rubin. This is from her latest column "An Iraqi regrets helping United States:"

Salam Hamrani is safe -- for now. My Iraqi fixer and friend endured two years in a Baghdad jail. His crime: helping American troops nab Shiite militants who were killing his Sunni neighbors. He was finally freed and escaped with his family to Greek Cyprus.
Our reunion in Larnaca, Cyprus, was emotional and full of laughter. But Salam's story is a sad tale of U.S. failures and betrayals in Iraq.
A Shiite whose uncle was hung by Saddam Hussein, Salam was thrilled when U.S. troops ousted the dictator. As Iraq collapsed into civil war, he was furious when the militant Shiite Mahdi army moved into his mixed neighborhood and started killing Sunnis. So he started tipping U.S. officers at a forward operating base in his district about the worst of these killers.
When U.S. troops withdrew, family members of one of these thugs got friends in the Iraqi army to arrest him, along with his two sons. A Shiite army general who was chummy with the killer's mother and sister made sure Salam stayed in prison.

Turning to the US and the topic of Bradley Manning who is finally headed for a military courtroom and an Article 32 hearing on December 16th at Fort Meade, Maryland.
Monday April 5th, WikiLeaks released US military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Monday June 7, 2010, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported in August 2010 that Manning had been charged -- "two charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The first encompasses four counts of violating Army regulations by transferring classified information to his personal computer between November and May and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system. The second comprises eight counts of violating federal laws governing the handling of classified information." Manning has been convicted in the public square despite the fact that he's been convicted in no state and has made no public statements -- despite any claims otherwise, he has made no public statements. Manning has been at Quantico in Virginia, under military lock and key, for months. In March, David S. Cloud (Los Angeles Times) reported that the military has added 22 additional counts to the charges including one that could be seen as "aiding the enemy" which could result in the death penalty if convicted. David E. Coombs is Bradley's attorney and he provided a walk through on Article 104. Last week, Coombs noted:
Recent accounts in the media regarding defense tactics, strategy, or intended courses of action at the Article 32 hearing are inaccurate. A pretrial hearing is not the appropriate venue for the defense to reveal its case. Instead, this hearing provides the defense with an opportunity to test the relative strengths and weaknesses of the government's case and to obtain needed pretrial discovery.
The defense appreciates those who choose to support PFC Manning. However, these individuals or organizations should not be treated as official sources of information regarding his legal defense. All official statements will come through public releases from this office.
As part of the discovery process, Coombs filed [PDF format warning] a request last week and it includes asking the government to provide the evidence they will be presenting. It also includes:
2. On 18 January 2011, the defense was notified that PFC Manning, at the direction of [redacted], was placed in suicide risk. This decision was made over the recoomendations of [redacted] and the defense appointed expert [redacted]. When PFC Manning was being ordered to surrender his clothes as part of the unnecessary suicide risk, the Brig made the decision to videotape this event along with an interrogation of PFC Manning by [redacted] and others. On 19 January 2011, the defense filed a preservation of evidence request with the government and a request for production of the video. The defense believes the video will support PFC Manning's claim of unlawful pretrial punishment. The government has yet to respond to the defense request. See R.C.M.405(e) Discussing (stating that inquiry into other issues such as legality of searches or the admissibility of evidence is proper by an Article 32 Investigating Officer).
3. The defense has previously requested a copy of all adverse administrative or UCMJ action, all supporting documentation, and any rebuttal materials to such action based upon the 15-6 investigation conducted by [redacted] or any other governmental investigation with regards to any individual that was subject of such an adverse action in relation to the alleged leak of classified information in this case. The previous requests included, but was not limted to, the following individuals: [redacted]. The government has so far only provided information in relation to [redacted].
The filing mainly underscores how the government has refused to follow the law. Not only has Bradley been held all this time, making a mockery of the Sixth Amendment, but the government has repeatedly refused to produce evidence -- whether it be on the computers allegedly involved and who had access to them or something as basic as an internal report. For example:
White House: [redacted] was tasked to lead a comprehensive effort to review the alleged leaks in this case. He has completed a report detailing the rather benign nature of the leaks and the lack of any real damage to national security. The defense requests a copy of this review and any assessment given, or discussions concering, the WikiLeaks disclosures by any member of the government to [redacted]. The defense requests any e-mail, report, assessment, directive, or discussion by [redacted] to the Department of Defense concering this case in order to determine the presence of unlawful command influence. See R.C.M. 405(e). Additionally, defense requests any e-mail, report, assessment, directive, or discussion by [redacted] to the Department of State or Department of Justice concerning this case;
For those who are confused, in the US, this is news. No, it's not being treated as such as we hear indulgent interviews with OWS-s who want to talk about their camp outs. But it's actual news. It has tremendous value both today and in the future. Bradley Manning is not a sidebar for you to rush over to the topic of Julian Assange with. You can beat off to Julian on your own time. In a few weeks, Bradley has his Article 32 hearing. While they are almost always a rubber stamp, it's also true that enough public attention could make the White House call off their witch hunt. Unless Barack's attempting to celebrate the government's treating of the Rosenbergs and wants that to be his historical legacy. Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were executed in 1953 and I'm not implying Bradley could be (the prosecution insists they're not after the death penalty -- however, that doesn't mean, in a military trial, not an Article 32 hearing, the judge might rule otherwise). But the railroading of the Rosenbergs by the US government has been a stain on the nation that does not and will not wash away. As Barack frets more and more that he might be a one-term president, would he really want a similar miscarriage of justice on his small record? Show trials rarely deliver justice and Barack could step in and halt the proceedings at any time but only if he was pressured by the public to do so.