Tuesday, October 25, 2011

F**K Danny Schechter

First off, thank you for all the great e-ma. ils you sent and comments you left on "Danny Schechter's latest drama" from last night and I hope you read Wally and Cedric's joint-posts last night:

They also took on Miss Priss Danny Schechter.

Last night, I explained that we didn't do a damn thing to the Drama Queen's e-mails. Tonight I want to deal with his other accusation.

In my case, I suspect this may have been the work of a handful of obsessed detractors who see me as worse than the anti-Christ, while posturing as holier than thou politically. Unwilling to discuss or debate whatever differences we may have, they have recently taken to sending vicious smears to people I work with, alleging and inventing high crimes and misdemeanors on my part (signed with false names and addresses, of course) to disparage and demean me and presumably make themselves feel more important.

If that's aimed at us (as Brenda and so many others believe), then I would reply back as follows.

A) I don't know anyone you work with. I know people you BEG from. I know about the work you did on Tina Brown's show. Your ex-girlfriend told all about that. I've still not aired that here and tried to embarrass you. Maybe I will since you clearly are seeking attention.

B) We don't pose as "holier-than-thou." We expect people to live by the beliefs they espouse. If they can't, then they're hypocrites.

Before Barack got into office, it was easy to like Danny. He called out Bush. And he explained -- over and over -- that he'd do that with any president. And we believed him. And he would write that he believed in being fair. And we believed him. And all this other stuff that turned out to be crap.

He didn't believe any of it. He just used it to make it sound like he wasn't attacking Bush just because Bush was a Republican.

It turns out that is the only reason he attacked Bush.

We saw that with Danny's inability to mock Barack the way he did Bush or to attack him when he circumvents Congress and the Constitution to have his Libyan War.

Danny's full of crap.

If Danny had lived by what he promised, we'd still be cheering him on today.

Our problem was that while he was self-praising, we thought he was telling the truth. We took him at his word.

As for this:

Unwilling to discuss or debate whatever differences we may have, they have recently taken to sending vicious smears to people I work with, alleging and inventing high crimes and misdemeanors on my part (signed with false names and addresses, of course) to disparage and demean me and presumably make themselves feel more important.

Kiss my Black ass. Again, anything I say about Danny I've said here or at Third. I don't even e-mail my friends. I don't have time.

But here's what really pisses me off. (I just replied to an e-mail someone sent here in March, I just replied today.)

But this "unwilling to discuss or debate whatever differences we may have"?

A) Ruth was already to do that. But when Danny realized she wouldn't back down (she established he was a sexist; he didn't like the charge, the charge is true), he dropped the exchange.

B) He wrote about me at his site.

That is when C.I. got pissed at Danny. (The only time I've ever known her to.) And that day's snapshot saw her calling him out. It wasn't the snapshot.

I remembered wrong. I thought C.I. defended me in a few paragraphs in a snapshot.

She did a whole entry defending me. Multiple paragraphs. I'm posting it in full. From October 25, 2009, here it is


Grow up, Danny Schechter

A lovely reader named Marcia wrote a kind note in her blog about how I somehow did not properly link to a Counterpunch article. (Often my links are reviewed and fixed in the morning but she jumped the gun, firing her water pistol my way with other words of warmth and praise, questioning my being and more. How sweet!) In case you missed it, here’s the essence of what Iain Boal writes about the dismal state of Pacifica, the free speech network.

That's Danny Schechter attempting catty and failing miserably. Marcia is lovely. That's about all he got right.

His links?

Like anyone else, his links often have mistakes.

Ava and I have a "mistake" in our current TV commentary. Check the address at TV com, it's supposed to be the page for the show but you get an error message. It's not the end of the world.

Did Marcia post about Danny having a non-working link? Did Marcia have nothing more to say than that?

Please. (Insert Keesha's favorite SNL phrase actually.)

"Barack's assault on a free press" is the title of Marcia's post -- on Monday.

Though Danny pretends to be tres concerned with the press, he has yet to stumble upon Tom Eley and Barry Grey's "Obama continues assault on democratic rights" (WSWS). (This is the article Trina's father -- Mike's grandfather -- has asked for a link to and you've seen it at most sites in the community including this one.)

So Marcia's dealing with real issues and Danny?

Marcia mentions that awful crap Danny linked to not because the link didn't work but because it was crap.

Emerging from his faux collective, a Bay Area reject attacks a woman with a bunch of lies and rumors and things that have nothing to do with the job she is actually doing. She's Grace Aaron, Pacifica National Board chair and interim executive director, and whether or not she stopped going to a church or whatever has nothing to do with her current job.

That was Marcia's complaint and either Danny can't read too well or he's being ghost written again. I'm not in the mood for this crap.

Danny Schechter, you are supposed to be a trained journalist.

If you don't grasp that someone's religion or church has no bearing on what they're doing on air, that a cheap smear is a cheap smear, then you're nothing but a joke and please delink from this site.

I'm not in the mood for this s**t. I don't live at the computer. I've had to find someone I can dictate this to after Martha left a voice mail about the e-mails coming in on Danny's attempt at bitchy -- poor attempt. I'm on the road speaking out against the illegal war.

I didn't make a movie on it and try to turn a profit on it, Danny Schechter. I didn't pretend it was the most important thing in my life and that I was haunted by it only to drop the entire topic a few years later.

I've got real things to do and they don't include begging people for money or kissing ass.

They also do not include being silent when you attack Marcia.

You have deliberately distorted her.

YOU LIED about her.

I won't be silent.

Her critique was that you linked to a baseless article.


Here's what she didn't know. The writer? CS Soong's little buddy and Sasha's as well. It's a hit job and Matthew Lazar could probably tell people about that. He's been attempting to tell the true story of the Battle For Pacifica for some time.

It's not the simplistic fairy tale that's generally told.

I do know what's going on at KPFA and at Pacifica. And I warned here and at Third that this would happen. I warned throughout 2007 and 2008. They didn't want to behave like adults -- let alone journalists. Now discipline's being imposed.

And Sahsa and CS and all their little faux radical buddies can try to again play, "We in danger!" No, you're being held accountable.

Now Danny doesn't know that story because he's not tight with the Pacifica Board.

But the fact that the story was a smear on a woman should have bothered him.

Danny, there's a woman that's been e-mailing this site for two months now with various tales about MediaChannel. Should I be sharing those stories?

I considered those to be smears against you and ordered everyone not to communicate with your ex-girlfriend. But if you think smears are okay, I've got those e-mails and we can post them.

Or you can grow the hell up and grasp that whispering someone was forced out a church is not journalism.

It's a smear campaign. And that was used in the so-called 'battle' for Pacifica. Here's the thing, a lot of us who saved it last time (a) are smarter and (b) saw too much lying this go round.

The tatics used last time will not work this time.

We saw too many lies. KPFA's entire management should have been canned just for their stunt in February 2008. You never called them out, did you? Ava and I did.

For those late to the party, KPFA thought they were going to broadcast the Democratic Party presidential debate. At the last minute, they couldn't. They didn't have the rights to it. That right there, announcing the debate would be broadcast and not broadcasting it, should have resulted in some serious cries for accountability. Didn't happen.

But KPFA broadcast two hours of 'analysis.' They brought on gas bags to 'analyze' the debate. It was between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama -- though they went non-alphabetical for some reason. All those gas bags? They forgot to disclose on air that they had already endorsed Barack.

All those gas bags said Barack won the debate. (Same gas bags also falsely predicted he'd win the Latino vote in Texas' upcoming primary. He didn't. And if Latinos hadn't been disenfranchised in the Texas caucus, he wouldn't have won that either.)

Didn't listeners have a right to know that the 'analysis' was fixed before a word was ever broadcast and it was fixed by booking only those who had endorsed Barack?

Larry Bensky was supposed to take calls. He didn't really. He avoided the calls because the Bay Area (my home) is an area without sexual closets. People are who they are. And Barack's homophobia was already well known in the Bay Area. People were calling in about it and Larry didn't want to take those calls. He also hectored the blog.

KPFA wanted to do a live blog. The live blog was going to be during the debate but then they couldn't broadcast the debate. They still had the live blog.

But 'Free Speech' radio KPFA didn't care for free speech. So people were told that they couldn't share their opinions they could only do this or that. Larry was freaking out over the complaints about Barack on that blog.

It shouldn't have been surprising, Barack wasn't popular. We'd already had our primary in California and Hillary had easily won. She was put over the top by Latino voters, yes, but also by Asian-American voters in the state -- a fact that was too often looked over. But the Bay Area has a huge number of Latinos and Asian-Americans. We also have Gavin Newsom (whom I support as the next governor of California) who came out for Hillary. So for Bay Area listeners, it was appalling to hear one guest after another trash Hillary and slam her and all the time this was supposed to be an unbiased analysis on 'free speech' radio.

Now there are many stunts that were pulled by KPFA and other Pacifica stations but that one had the misfortune of being heard by several Pacifica executives. Two of whom raised it with Ava and I. We didn't listen in real time. But we listened to the complaints that night and we were the ones to point out that Laura Flanders, Tom Hayden, et al had already endorsed Barack. There was already dismay over the broadcast before Ava and I raised that point.

Pacifica can't do that. None of their stations can do that. That's only one example. There's the fact that they buried third party candidates, there's the fact that they tried to be (continue to try to be) an arm of the Democratic Party. That's not allowed either.

CS and Sasha know there are serious problems and they're activating members in their collective to begin smearing a woman. Isn't it funny how the 'Save Pacifica' movement always turns on attacking a woman? And her 'cabal'? That's what it's called in the article Danny linked to.

Along with attacking a woman, the faux radical also attacks listeners. He's furious, just furious, that the 9-11 Truth Movement is getting air time and Pacifica stations are offering premiums. If they're offering premiums, it's because they're making money off the premiums.

And whether you are a 9-11 Truth Member or not (I'm agnostic on 9-11 Truth but wish them all the best), they are a part of the left. Why have they been shut out by Pacifica? (Besides the hissy fit that Norman Solomon threw, why have they been shut out?)

Danny, you believe a conspiracy was behind the assassination of JFK. That's your right to believe it but some people would call you "crazy" for it.

Are you crazy for believing that?

I don't know. I'm always interested whenever you share your JFK talk.

By the same token, refusing to air 9-11 Truth Movement created problems airing it never would have. Airing it would have gotten a discussion going and people would have decided for themselves. Not airing it turned it into a censored subject. It should have been discussed, it should have been aired.

Bonnie Faulkner, one of the few people able to raise money for KPFA, has explored it and has done so with constant attacks and insults from a number of KPFA on-air. They're the idiots, not her. She's provided a place where anything could be discussed calmly and she's trusted that her listeners are intelligent enough to make up their own minds.

That thing you link to? It's trashing the work of Bonnie Faulkner. You should be ashamed of yourself for that.

Bonnie's been attacked and trashed and could have easily had more air time on KPFA if she'd just drop 9-11 completely. She knows that. But she's tried to operate under the belief that free speech matters on free speech radio. She's tried to carry over the things she learned while working with Project Censored. Bonnie's done journalism. Few others at KPFA can make that claim. And I mean: Bonnie has done journalism on air at KPFA.

That article is the whining of the CS Soong and Sasha collective.

The article's offensive and an attack on free speech. It's an effort to create a set of 'bad guys' that the ones now threatened (because they're being held accountable for their actions) intend to rally against. Will it work?

I doubt it. WBAI's already cleared some of their trash and the result has been increased donations and more listeners. Efforts to demonize didn't lead to the big pushback some had hoped.

Pacifica needs to get its act together and that's what's being attempted now. The response to this move towards some accountability results in the unsourced smears that Danny linked to.

Marcia called out an article Danny linked to. He misrepresents her.


And to really drive that home, he doesn't link to her. Or did no one catch that?

Danny, is the only way you can 'win' an argument with a woman to distort what she said and ensure no one can read what she actually wrote?

Again, I'm remembering those e-mails. And their claims. Including why you went to work on Tina Brown's show.

Now we can post those e-mails here if you don't get why Marcia was calling out you, a journalist, endorsing a smear campaign.

Do we need to do that?

I don't know what we need to do but I know you're not going to attack Marcia. I mean, we should be thrilled on the one hand.

An African-American woman finally got attention from some MediaChannel site. We know how rare that is for a woman period, let alone one of color.

But I'm not going to let you attack Marcia. And I'm not going to let you attack the community we've built.

How interesting that Marcia, an African-American lesbian, is your target of choice. But then, MediaChannel has never led on issues of color or issues of gender or issues of sexuality. Why is that, Danny?

You better find an answer for that because your ex-girlfriend is giving 'answers' and if you don't want them to stick, you better offer your own.

The e-mail address for this site is is common_ills@yahoo.com. And I'm not Ruth. She hasn't said one word to me but I damn well know you are the one who initiated a private e-mail 'talk' on sexism with her and I damn well know you did it just to try to get her not to call you out on the sexism of 2008 and how you ignored it repeatedly. I'm not having private conversations, Danny. Each day I avoid calling you out here. You went after, Marcia, and I'm not going to play like that's okay. She's one of our oldest community members -- long before she had a site, she was referenced here repeatedly "as Marcia says . . ." -- Google it. You thought you could distort what she critiqued you on and you apparently thought you could get away with it. Danny, I'm not like the women you're used to. I don't back down and I don't cower.

End of C.I.'s post.

I love that. God bless C.I. :D And I love that last two lines: "Danny, I'm not like the women you're used to. I don't back down and I don't cower." BOOM!

C.I.'s so cool.

F**K Danny Schechter. He's such an ass.

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

Tuesday, October 25, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, a US journalist is reported to have been arrested in Iraq, James Denselow is among those leading the factual charge against spin, Turkey's assualt on Iraq continues, we explore the Special Inspector General on Iraq Reconstruction's grading of the US State Dept, Nouri targets 'Ba'athists' (political enemies) and more.
Dar Addustour has a breaking news report this evening that American journalist Daniel Smith has been arrested in Baghdad by Iraqi forces (the arrest was Friday). If the report is correct and the name is correct, this is most likely Daniel Wakefield Smith who in addition to text reporting is also a photojournalist (not to be confused with retired US Army Col Dan Smith who has offered commentary and analysis on the Iraq War). Dar Addustour is the only one reporting the story currently and they say that there is confusion regarding what he was arrested for with some saying it was for the Friday protests in Baghdad (covering it or participating in it? that's not explained) while others are saying he was arrested for spying on Iraqi officials.
Friday, October 21st, while Barack was spinning the country and the press was sleeping on the job, another US soldier died in Iraq. The Defense Dept issued the following today:
The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation New Dawn.
Pfc. Steven F. Shapiro, 29, of Hidden Vally Lake, Calif., died Oct. 21 in Tallil, Iraq. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Cavalry Divison, Fort Hood, Texas.
For more information media may contact the Fort Hood public affairs office at 254-187-9993/2520 or []
Their address is wrong and you're taken to a site that can harm your computer. You'd think DoD could get this right. It's www.forthoodpresscenter.com/go/site/3439/ The Pentagon's count of US military personnel who've died in Iraq currently stands at [PDF format warning] 4484. That's 63 deaths since Barack Obama proclaimed combat operations ended August 31, 2010. How many US military personnel will die after December 31, 2011 and will the press continue to avert their eyes?
Yochi J. Dreazen (National Journal) examines the issue of Special-Ops and notes they will remain in Iraq and Afghanistan and, "Many conventional troops have done four or five deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. By contrast, Special Operations troops have done 10, 12, and even 14 tours." He quotes Adm Eric Olson who stated back in February that although 100,000 US troops left Iraq, only "about 500 special operations" troops departed implying the bulk of Special-Ops remained. In addition, yesterday Walter Pincus (Washington Post) noted, "Denis McDonough, White House deputy national security adviser, told PBS's News Hour on Friday night that the United States and Iraq woul still conduct periodic naval and air exercises." Meanwhile James Denselow (Guardian) observes "there is a huge gap between rhetoric and reality surrounding the US departure from Iraq." And he goes on to back that up explaining, among other things, the ongoing neogtiations to put US 'trainers' under the NATO mission (a 2004 agreement), the large number of contractors and much more. We'll note this paragraph:
In September, Iraq made the first payment in a 1.9 billion pound deal to buy 18 F-16s. The agreements mean that despite the claim that Iraq took full responsibility for its airspace in October, effective aerial sovereignty will be in the hands of the Americans for years to come as they help to patrol the country's skies and control its airspace, and train its air force. A senior Iraqi politician explained to me last week: "We are absolutely incapable of defending our borders. We don't even have one fighter jet to defend our airspace."
Al Mada reports that before US Vice President Joe Biden visits Iraq, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki will be visiting DC. Both visits will focus on the issue of US 'trainers' as negotiations continue. The paper notes that the Kurdish Alliance is expressing concern over the issue of neighboring countries (Turkey and to a less extent Iran) attacking Iraq. A non-Kurdish government source notes that there is only a short amount of time between now and the end of the year but that he believes they can work out an understanding with the US that will provide a mechanism to ensure the safety of Iraq. Rumors swirling in the Iraqi government include that the US, in this round of negotiations, is pressing for 1500 US troops based out of the Baghdad embassy. Dar Addustour notes both visits as well as Ayad Allawi's trip to London (he's on it now) where he's meeting with David Cameron (British Prime Minister) and others. As Trina pointed out last night, Patrick Martin (WSWS) is also noting Nouri's trip to DC: "Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki is to visit Washington in December for further talks, and Obama held out the possibility of a future agreement to station US troops in Iraq in the guise of training Iraqi soldiers in the use of weapons systems the Iraqi government is buying from American military contractors."

The Pakistan Observer notes Moqtada al-Sadr's comments that the US "is seekign to maintain its occupation of Iraq through keeping trainers and private contractors" in Iraq. The CIA isn't leaving Iraq either. Eli Lake (The Daily Beast) reports:
The programs involve everything from the deployment of remote sensors that scan the wireless spectrum of terrorist safe havens to stealth U.S.-Iraqi counterterrorism commando teams, and their status is uncertain as a U.S. diplomatic team negotiates with Iraqi leaders, according to officials, who made clear the CIA intends to keep a footprint inside the country even as troops leave by Dec. 31.

"There are of course parts of the counterterrorism mission that the intelligence community, including CIA, will be able to take on from other organizations—and there are parts of that mission that it won't," said one U.S. counterterrorism official who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of secret negotiations with the Iraqis.

Also addressing realities is Chris Floyd (Empire Burlesque via World Can't Wait):

So we have a baseline of 5,000 militarized forces remaining indefinitely in Iraq, with no immediate limit on an expansion in their numbers. And of course, all the stories make it abundantly clear that the Americans will quickly negotiate a new "security agreement" with Iraq, which will include -- or even be in addition to -- thousands of military "advisers" to help "train" the Iraqi forces, especially with the multitude of new weapons that Washington's war profiteers are lining up to sell to the "sovereign" government in Baghdad. How many troops will be involved in these "agreements"? Thousands? Tens of thousands? Again, we don't know.
And as Glenn Greenwald and others have pointed out, none of these numbers include the "Special Forces" and CIA paramilitaries that will inevitably be ranging across Iraq, no doubt in large numbers. Iraq is hardly going to receive less attention from the American black ops and death squads than Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia and the dozens of other countries where Washington is waging secret war.
Thus it is almost a certainty that by the end of 2012, there will be, at the barest minimum, at least 8,000 to 10,000 heavily armed personnel under the direct control of the United States government stationed at strategic points throughout Iraq; the actual figure will doubtless be higher, perhaps much higher. But this is a bare minimum -- numbers which tally almost exactly with the final goals of the American war machine in the "failed" negotiations on extending the present form of the occupation.
David R. Francis (Christian Science Monitor) deludes his readers (and possibly himself) that the US is leaving Iraq and the delusions never stop, "Throw in the replacement of vehicles, weapons, equipment, etc., and the eventual tab for the United States could reach $4 trillion to $6 trillion, according to University of Columbia economist Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard University budget expert Linda Bilmes. Those are big numbers." They'd be even bigger if Francis factored in the continued spending on Iraq. All US forces are not withdrawing -- as he wrongly writes -- and neither is the US tax payer money.
As Ed O'Keefe (Washington Post) noted Sunday, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction has released a new report. The report [PDF format warning] is entitled "Iraqi Police Development Program: Opportunities Program Accountability and Budget Transparency." The 18-page report (plus appendices) paints a disturbing picture. As with Congressional hearings we've attended, the State Dept refused to provide SIGIR with needed information and documents. Though the State Dept has planned since 2009 to take over the training of Iraqi police, they have no assessment of the force's current capabilities. To call what they have shared with ISGR "planning" is being extremely generous. In its opening, the report notes: "We believe this audit raises serious concerns regarding the PDP [Police Development Programs]'s long-term viability. The continual downsizing of the program, the planned use of unspent funds, and the lack of transparency regarding the use of program funds for 'Embassy platform' purposes (e.g., security, life support, and aviation) raise red flags about the program's fund requirements."
As the report makes clear early on, these are not concerns about something that will happen in the near future (for instance, January 1, 2012), these are concerns about a program the State Dept is over and executing as of October 1, 2011 and for Fiscal Year 2012, State wants $887 million for this program. This after 8 billion US tax payer dollars being spent in the last eight years "to train, staff, and equip Iraqi police forces to maintain domestic order" and that money was spent on, among other things, increasing the size of the police force. Prior to the start of the Iraq War, police forces numbered 58,000 and today it has increased to 412,000 police. Population estimates for the country range from as low as 23 million to the CIA's 30,399,572 (July 2011 estimate) which would be an estimate of roughly 24 million when you subtract the Kurdish population. (My opinion: The US should not be training the Kurdish police. They do have a training center in Erbil. But they shouldn't be doing it. The Kurds don't need it and it's a waste of money. That is not to say Kurdish forces are perfect -- they aren't -- or that there are not human rights abuses -- there are -- but it is to state that the KRG is not starting from ground zero the way the rest of Iraq supposedly is.) 412,000 police officers for a population of 24 million (CIA figure minus KRG numbers). The US has a population of over 300,000,000. How many police officers -- including federal law enforcement -- does the US have? At the end of 2007, Kevin Johnson (USA Today) reported that figure was 800,000. The US has twice the number of police officers as Iraq (minus KRG) but over 12 times the population (ibid). And US tax payers have spent $8 billion on achieving that. (And at a time when the "Super" Congress must find $1.2 trillion in spending cuts for the US government.)
The report didn't address the above issue, it's "objective for this report is to address whether DoS/INL has a program plan with sound requirements and cost estimates, and whether DoS identified the funds and other resources that the GOI will contribute to the program." In 2009, SIGIR pointed out the need for an assessment and in April of 2011 a grant was given -- "$1 million to conduct a base-line assessment of the Iraqi police." The money was paid out. No assessment was ever completed. Is the State Dept unable to handle even the most basic of duties? If you wasted $1 million of the tax payer dollars, you should have an explanation as to what you did to follow up on that but State doesn't feel they are answerable to anyone on these questions. The report notes:
Without specific goals, objectives, and performance measures, the PDP could become a "bottomless pit" for U.S. dollars intended for mentoring, advising, and training the Iraqi police forces. Meetings held with Iraqi police officials and training courses provided could simply become "accomplishments," without any indicators of changes in the management and functioning of the Iraqi police forces that can be attributed to this costly program.
In addition, the report notes:
DoS has yet to obtain a signed agreement with the GOI [Government of Iraq] for the PDP, although hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars have already been spent on providing program support. It has also not prepared the documents required by the gudielines, which would describe the program cost and the GOI financial participation. SIGIR has reported that working closely with the GOI is essential to long-term program success and to avoid waste of U.S. funds. In prior work, SIGIR recommend that U.S. efforts be based on assurances that the GOI supports the U.S. approach, and that there are measurable indicators of progress. Absent such assurances, the programs are vulnerable to waste.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta have repeatedly BMW-ed in public (bitched, moaned and whined) about how Congress needs to give poor little State more money. Isaiah lampooned Hillary and Leon as pigs at the trough back in August. With the rate of sexual assault in the military, Leon needs to mind his own damn business and focus on the Defense Dept. Hillary needs to buy a damn clue and realize that though she has little control over the Iraq matters (Barack farmed them out), she's the one the public will hold responsible. If she was thinking smart, she'd bail right now and announce she was retiring. Instead, she's being stupid and staying in the position. That means she's about to learn the lesson Colin Powell did as Secretary of State -- one minute your beloved, the next your image is in ruins and some obsessive flunkie spends years trying to repair it for you.
State has a lot of damn nerve asking for a cent from US tax payers when it's not even practicing the most basic fiscal checks. The report makes many recommendations. We'll note these made for Congress:
SIGIR believes that the Congress could consider requiring DoS to provide data on and analysis of PDP plans, requirements, and costs before additional U.S. funds are committed to a program that is currently without budget transparency and measurable goals, and has the potential for significant waste. The Congress could also consider requiring DoS to provide details on how previously provided funds can be used to meet PDP costs in FY 2012, and documentation required by DoS guidance that describes the GOI financial contribution to the program. Further, the Congress could consider whether the GOI's 50% contribution to PDP costs should be calculated by including or excluding security, life support, and other special costs of operating in Iraq.
The office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction came about as a result of 2003 legislation introduced by then-Senator Russ Feingold. In 2006, when Republicans controlled both house of Congress, they moved to shut down the office but Feingold, Senator Susan Collins and others were able to keep it alive. Feingold's no longer in Congress and, as is obvious by State's refusal to cooperate with SIGIR, Democrats no longer appear to value the work done and especially appear determined to evade oversight.
If that seems harsh, SIGIR should not have to remind Hillary Clinton -- in writing (letter dated August 3, 2011, appears on page 30 of the report) -- that State is obstructing the SIGIR's oversight or to remind her that, when information is requested, her department needs to turn it over as Congress instructed in their legislation. And the only one who might need to be more embarrassed than Hillary by this report is Harold Koh, whose legalese doesn't meet anyone's definition of "transparent" -- let alone the definition Barack was applying to his administration before he was sworn in. (Two of Koh's letters are included in the report.) Michael Lawson (Free Speech Radio News) reported on the SIGIR findings yesterday.
Michael Lawson: A report by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction cited inefficiencies in the State Dept's ability to handle a program aimed at training Iraqi police forces. The Department requested nearly $900 million for the project in 2012. The Inspector General's report claims the State Dept has no detailed plan for how the program will operate or what goals are to be accomplished. Only 12% of the 900 million would go to actual advising of Iraqi forces. The balance would pay for security and support for the trainers. An Iraqi government official suggested to the Inspector General's office that the money would be "better spent on the American people." [Just Foreign Policy's Robert] Naiman says Iraqis on the ground see the presence as a remnant of the US occupation.
Robert Naiman: It would probably be better for this not to exist at all. There isn't any strong case that US training at this point is particularly better than any other training that the Iraqis could get.
Still on the topic of Iraqi police, Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) reports traffic police continue to be targeted in Baghdad with three roadside bombing today claiming the life of 1 and leaving eight more injured. In addition, Aswat al-Iraq reports assailants attacked two homes in Babel "killing the wife and son of one of the owners of one of the two houses". Reuters notes 2 Baghdad roadside bombings and 1 sticky bombing which injured police officers leaving 1 dead and four injured plus eight civilians left injured (these are not three more bombings -- I'm noting the difference in the numbers and characterizations between AP and Reuters on the same bombings), an Abu Ghraib roadside bombing which left two Iraqi soldiers injured, a Baquba roadside bombing which claimed the life of 1 Sahwa and left two more injured, a second Baquba roadside bombing which left four police officers injured and, dropping back to Monday night a Kirkuk assault on a real estate office claimed 1 life.
Sunday, Dar Addustour reported, Nouri al-Maliki orhcestrated a campaign of arrests in Kut, Salah al-Din, Kirkuk and Diyala against those he insists are threats because they are "senior" Ba'ahtists and former officials in the Ba'athist Party. In Saddam Hussein's time, most Iraqis were Ba'athists. Many of the exiles, like Nouri, were as well before their exile period. Aswat al-Iraq counts 45 people arrested. If you've forgotten, and Nouri clearly has, the purge against Ba'athists -- implemented by Paul Bremer in 2003 -- is supposed to be over and, in 2007, Nouri signed off on benchmarks which included reconciliation. Reconciliation never happened. The arrests indicate it's not going to any time soon. Today Ahmed Rasheed and Suadad al-Salhy (Reuters) report, "Iraq has arrested at least 240 former members of Saddam Hussein's banned Baath Party and ex-military officers over what some senior officials described as a plot to seize power"; however, Al Rafidayn reports that 350 is the number arrested in the last 72 hours (ending Monday). The arrest warrants were issued by Nouri. Arrests continued today in Dhi Qar with three alleged Ba'ath Party leaders arrested, according to Al Rafidayn. I can't remember where I read this now (I'm juggling phones to see if any US outlet knows about the journalist reported arrested in Iraq and am getting nothing so far) but an Arabic paper (Al Mada?) reported Tuesday that Nouri al-Maliki had announced the Justice and Accountability Commission's term had expired. Though this might mean that the commission was finally being buried, in fact, it meant that Nouri was announcing the current members were part of a commission whose term had expired and that new members would be nominated. Especially in the lead up to the March 7, 2010 elections, Nouri used the commission to shut out political opponents.
In other news, Turkey continues its assault on northern Iraq. Have Turkish ground forces entered Iraq? That's in dispute. AFP reports that the country's military guarding the borders -- citing Iraqi Maj Gen Ahmed Fadheleddin in particular -- as well as the PKK state Turkey has not entered Iraq. By contrast, Reuters reported yesterday that "Turkish tanks and armored vehicles crossed into northern Iraq" while the National Turk reports that Turkish military entered Iraq on Saturday: "Around 20 tanks and 30 military trucks entered Iraqi territory from Siyahkaya village around 15 kilometers east of the Habur border gate in Turkey." Shamal Aqrawi, Daren Butler and Elizabeth Piper (Reuters) note the Turkish military is in Iraq and that is has surrounded the village of Ure (not a PKK base) where theTurkish military, rifles aloft, have marched through the town. A resident of Ure tells Reuters, "They only spread out around the village. We are worried. We don't know what will happen. We are in our houses afraid to go out."

This wave of the Turkish assault has been going on since August 17th. The Turkish government just 'knows' the way to deal with an aggrieved population is to target them with killings and to kill innocent bystanders and that's how you put down a rebellion! Their actions are breeding more violence and the US has egged them on it -- possibly to ensure that Turkey does not come to the prominence so many have been predicting for the country for several years now. Certainly every principle of conflict resolution would tell you this is not how you defuse a tense situation.

The mountains of northern Iraq have many villages. The people in those villages have been terrorized with non-stop bombings for months now. While some were evacuated last week, not all were. It was cute to read the press on the evacuations, about how they were being re-settled in places where millions had been spent. But no press went to those areas to confirm that, did they? It's easy to make claims and especially when the press never bothers to check out your claims.

The PKK is one of many Kurdish rebel groups. The long standing mistreatment of the Kurds by the Turkish government created a large number of Kurdish rebel groups. Until the Kurds are brought into the political process in Turkey with full inclusion, the PKK will continue to be a problem for the government of Turkey.
Liam Stack and Sebnem Arsu (New York Times) report from Cizre, Turkey where yesterday "thousands" mourned "the death of a local heroine [Cicek Botan], a commander in a mountaintop training camp for Kurdish militants seeking autonomy for the country's largely Kurdish southeast." The International Crisis Group's Hugh Pope is quoted stating of the latest Turkish assault, "We have been down this road many times before. Politicians might say they can hit the P.K.K. out of the park this time, but it never has worked and it never can work." From Istanbul, Ron Margulies (Great Britian's Socialist Worker) reportson life for Kurds in Turkey:
This week an earthquake has killed hundreds in south-eastern Turkey, in and around the Kurdish town of Van.
This is a very poor part of the country. The town's population has swollen in the past 20 years from a few hundred thousand to well over a million, as a result of the war between the Kurdish national movement and the Turkish army. Peasants from the surrounding countryside have flooded in to escape the war and to search for work.
The creaking infrastructure cannot cope, and there are no jobs.
When I visited two years ago there were ramshackle, poorly-built buildings everywhere -- even in the town centre. One newspaper has reported that none of the 10 sellers of ready-mix concrete in the town hold the necessary official quality certificates.
It is these buildings, inhabited by the poorest, which collapsed when the earthquake hit. They include a student hall of residence. So far, the official death toll is 366 and this is expected to rise.
The earthquake hit in the middle of extensive military operations by the Turkish army against the Kurdish PKK.
The fighting has been intense for the past two months, with dozens dead on both sides. It was revealed at the beginning of the summer that the Turkish state and PKK leader Abdullah Ă–calan had been holding talks and negotiations for the previous five years. Clearly these have now broken down.
In recent weeks the PKK has been reminding the state that there is no military solution, that the PKK cannot be defeated by arms. Last week, 25 Turkish troops were killed in one day. The army's response, as always, has been to wage further war, blindly and needlessly causing further bloodshed.

© Socialist Worker (unless otherwise stated). You may republish if you include an active link to the original.

The Washington Institute for Near East Policy's Soner Cagaptay (at CNN) argues that the end result of the earthquake will be determining which Kurdish group will dominate, "As Turkey's Kurdish nationalist movement enters a new phase, buoyed by demands for political recognition for the Kurds, the group that performs best in delivering aid to the Kurdish quake survivors will likely emerge as the leader of Turkey's Kurdish nationalist movement. By the same token, groups that fall behind in delivering relief will lose their prestige, as well as the support of the Kurdish population."

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