Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Deception sucks and is racially uncomfortable

Deception is a rare TV show -- it has a Black lead.  Meagan Good is the lead and she's actually very good.  In a very bad show.

The whole cast is pretty much White.  Meagan's a friend of a dead, rich White woman and infiltrates the family (she's also a cop -- they don't know that) to find out who killed her friend.

Victor Garber is the father of the dead woman.  He and Meagan (and sometimes guest star John Laraquette) carry the show but they can only carry it so far.

It is a mystery? A love story?  A soap opera?

It never knows what it wants to be and just offers one bad episode after another.  The scripts are awful.

The most recent episode?  I was sitting that for at least a minute asking myself what was going on before realizing the big 'drama' was episodes old (Mia's real mother). 

It's so badly written, so badly paced, with dialogue that's a snooze-fest.

If you're going for soap opera, you really need some strong dialogue.

There's also the whole only-Black-around that kind of irritates me.  (The police and FBI are multi-racial when they are shown  from time to time.) 

There's no way her mother could be Diahann Carroll and she grew up as a next door neighbor?  Seriously, in 2013, Joanna (Meagan's character) has to know the family because her mother was the maid?

Dynasty didn't do enough with Diahann Carroll's Dominique but at least they didn't make her the family maid.  I really am ticked off by that.

And it bothers me that the show is created by a White person (Liz Heldens).  All she can see Black people as is maids or cops?

How much better would the show be if Meagan had a power base of her own?

The way Emily Clarke does on ABC's Revenge?

Instead, it's like a really bad murder mystery version of Imitation of Life.

By being the maid's daughter, we're repeatedly forced to notice -- even though the writers don't -- that she's not welcome in the world and that she's there on a pass.

You do a show about rich people, a wanna-be soap opera, and the only African-American female is the maid's daughter.  Indulged with a job after the funeral of her friend -- a job at the family's corporation -- allowed to stay on at the house after the funeral.

It's really disgusting.

And it's not helped by the fact that it's a really boring show.

I've watched all the episodes through last night's.  And I've tried to be kind and wait for it to improve.  Time's up.

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

Tuesday, February 5, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, French journalist Nadir Dendoune appears before a Baghdad court, more suicide bombs in Iraq (and look what's being targeted), it's the tenth anniversary of War Criminal Colin Powell's dishonest presentation to the United Nations, and more.

We've got two things to add quickly to the snapshot so let's do it at the top.  Danny Schechter reports Media Channel is back up and running.  Good for them and may they be the brave site they were back in the day when they refused to march to the drumbeat of war and regularly held the government accountable.  Disturbing news comes from the office of Senator Patty Murray:

Tuesday, February 5th, 2012
CONTACT: Murray Press Office

Murray Criticizes VA and DoD Decision to “Back Away” from Truly Seamless Medical Health Record System
(Washington D.C.) -- U.S. Senator Patty Murray today released the following statement after the VA and DoD jointly announced changes to their plan to pursue a fully integrated electronic medical record system.
“I’m disappointed that the VA and the Pentagon are now backing away from a truly seamless medical records system. While this is a very complex problem, we must provide the best care for our servicemembers and veterans. That means the departments must meet this challenge by working together. What they are now proposing is not the fully integrated, end-to-end IT solution that this problem demands. VA and DOD have been at this for years and have sunk over $1 billion into making this the cornerstone of a nationwide electronic medical records initiative. I intend to follow-up with both Secretaries to find out why this decision was made.”

Matt McAlvanah
Communications Director
U.S. Senator Patty Murray
202-224-2834 - press office
202--224-0228 - direct

RSS Feed for Senator Murray's office

That is outrageous.  We will address that change in policy tomorrow.  Senator Murray knows full well how much time has been spent on this and all the excuses VA and DoD have given.  For DoD and VA to now announce that they are changing course is not just wasteful of taxpayer money, it's shirking their responsibility.  This is shameful.

Shameful?  Colin Powell.   Yesterday, we noted CIA spook Ray McGovern's efforts to whitewash War Criminal Colin Powell who made the case for illegal war with a pack of lies he presented to the United Nations on February 5, 2003.  As Mike pointed out last night, Noam Chomskey discussed War Crimes on Press TV last week (link is video and transcript):

Press TV: And how important was the principle of ‘starting a war of aggression’ as we talked about earlier, or ‘crimes against peace’ in proceedings at Nuremburg that led to the hanging of many leading Nazis?   Can the International Criminal Court prosecute these crimes?

Chomsky: Yes, it was a major factor in hanging of Nazi war criminals; in fact, if you look closely, it’s even more pertinent to the present. So, [Joachim] von Ribbentrop, [German] Foreign Minister, one of the charges against him was that he supported a preemptive war against Norway. The Nazis knew that the British were thinking of invading from Norway, so they preempted it and established a quisling government there. That was one of the crimes against von Ribbentrop.   How about Colin Powel? He justified a preemptive war against no threat. So if von Ribbentrop was hanged, OK!...   So could the International Criminal Court do something like that? Only if it wanted to be immediately destroyed.

Today Jonathan Schwarz (Huffington Post) explains:

As much criticism as Powell has gotten for this -- he calls it "painful" and says, "I get mad when bloggers accuse me of lying" -- it hasn't been close to what he deserves. That's because there's no question that Powell was consciously lying: he fabricated "evidence" and ignored repeated warnings that what he was saying was false.
We know this because of some good reporting and what's seeped into the public record via one of the congressional investigations of pre-war Iraq intelligence. The record is still incomplete, because Congress never bothered to look at how Powell used the intelligence he received, and the corporate media has never taken a close look at what happened. But with what's available we can go through Powell's presentation line by line to demonstrate the chasm between what he knew and what he told the world. As you'll see, there's quite a lot to say about it.

And Schwarz goes on to back that up, line by line.  Norman Solomon called out Colin Powell's lies in 2003 and has many time since.  (This 2005 column finds Norman calling out Colin Powell and his attendant Lawrence Wilkerson.)  Today, Norman Solomon points out:

Ten years later -- with Powell’s speech a historic testament of shameless deception leading to vast carnage -- we may not remember the extent of the fervent accolades. At the time, fawning praise was profuse across the USA’s mainline media spectrum, including the nation’s reputedly great newspapers.
The New York Times editorialized that Powell “was all the more convincing because he dispensed with apocalyptic invocations of a struggle of good and evil and focused on shaping a sober, factual case against Mr. Hussein’s regime.” The Washington Post was more war-crazed, headlining its editorial “Irrefutable” and declaring that after Powell’s U.N. presentation “it is hard to imagine how anyone could doubt that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction.”
Yet basic flaws in Powell’s U.N. speech were abundant. Slanted translations of phone intercepts rendered them sinister. Interpretations of unclear surveillance photos stretched to concoct the worst. Summaries of cherry-picked intelligence detoured around evidence that Iraq no longer had WMDs. Ballyhooed documents about an Iraqi quest for uranium were forgeries.

Maybe Ray McGovern is just confused as to what truth is?  Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) explained February 5, 2003, what truth was:

Powell managed to say with a straight face, "We wrote 1441 not in order to go to war. We wrote 1441 to try to preserve the peace." Such rhetoric aside, the U.N. gambit was always a set up. And now Powell is playing his dutiful, shameless part in the denouement.
Any decision by the United States to go to war must take into consideration the possible negative consequences of such action.
These consequences are grave.
Thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of Iraqi civilians may die; hundreds of thousands may be injured; millions may be rendered homeless or exposed to disease or starvation.
The U.S. attack might prompt a chemical or biological attack on U.S. soldiers, which could expose them to horrific suffering.
And Bush's war could lead to increased terrorism against the United States. Already, the FBI and homeland security officials are on heightened alert, fearing that the onset of war may trigger attacks on our own soil by Al Qaeda or Iraqi agents.
Colin Powell didn't mention these exorbitant costs of war. All he said, essentially, was suck it up: "We must not shrink from whatever is ahead of us."

Phyllis Bennis also called out the nonsense in real time.  And, in real time, Linda Heard noted the reality Powell ignored, "What Powell failed to mention was the horrendous human tragedy that would be suffered by the Iraqi people if he gets his wish. Aid agencies envisage over half-a-million displaced persons, as well as food shortages and high civilian death tolls."  Powell's a War Criminal.   Back in June, Charles Davis and Medea Benjamin summed up Powell's 'career,' "What you might have missed is that Powell is a war criminal in his own right, one who in more than four decades of 'public service' helped kill people from Vietnam to Panama to Iraq who never posed a threat to America. But don’t just take some anti-war activists’ word for it: Powell will proudly tell you as much, so long as he can make a buck from doing it in a book."

Disturbing news of Iraq comes via Serkan Demirtas (Hurriyet Daily News) who reports:

Turkey and Iraq have no choice but to pursue strong ties if they want to optimize the use of Iraq’s resources and export them via Turkey, a top U.S. envoy has said, warning both that failure to do so “could lead to a more violent conflict and disintegration within Iraq.”

“If Turkey and Iraq fail to optimize their economic ties, the failure could be worse than that. There could be a more violent conflict in Iraq and [the chances of] disintegration within Iraq could be [strengthened],” Francis Ricciardone, the U.S. ambassador to Turkey, told Ankara bureau chiefs yesterday. “Economic success can hold Iraq together. Failure could support those forces’ attempt to disintegrate. And that would not be good for Turkey, for the U.S. or anybody in the region, I believe.”

Disturbing?  Ten years later and US officials still make it all about oil.  As Demitras notes, this is being interpreted as a call for the government of Turkey to toe Baghdad's line re: oil exports and to cease or decrease business with the Kurdistan Regional Government.  Now that does against free markets and democracy, so someone might want to ask Barack to explain that.  More importantly, the ongoing, decades long war between the Turkish government and the PKK has had more talks and more efforts in the time since the Turkish government and the KRG have begun making serious business plans than in the three decades prior (80s, 90s. 00s).  So realize that the US government is calling for that to be gutted too -- as it yet again sticks its big, ugly nose into matters that don't concern them.  It is curious, isn't it, how the Barack Obama remained silent as Iraq's LGBTs were openly slaughtered on the streets of Baghdad, how they were targeted by Nouri al-Maliki's Ministry of the Interior (which he heads) just last year, how when that Ministry denied involvement, the leaflets they handed out at schools calling for the deaths of LGBTs and Emos surfaced.  But Barack Obama didn't say one damn word as Iraqi youth lived in fear, as they were terrorized.  But when corporate America puts a twenty in his g-string, watch Barack do that lap dance. 

For the third day in a row, Iraq sees a suicide bombing aimed at security forces.  Sunday, the attack was on police in Kirkuk.  Monday, the attack was on Sahwa in Taji.  Today?  Kareem Raheem (Reuters) explains it's Taji again but the Iraqi military was the focus as a suicide car bomber went after a military checkpoint.  AFP reports 6 people were killed, three of which were soldiers.  All Iraq News notes that sixteen people were also injured (ten of those are soldiers). 

Alsumaria notes a Baquba armed attack has left one person injured, 1 corpse was discovered in his Baghdad home where he was apparently shot to death, a Baquba roadside bombing claimed 1 life and late last night 1 person was shot dead in MosulAll Iraq News notes a Mosul attack on a member of Nouri's State of Law and states the man is "seriously injured."  The month has just started but, through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 68 people killed from violence. 

Discussing recent violence with Renee Montagne (NPR's Morning Edition -- link is audio and transcript), Al Jazeera and Christian Scientist Monitor correspondent Jane Arraf explained, "In Kirkuk this week also there was another suicide bombing, a very dramatic one, that was actually a group which involved suicide car bombs, gunmen, trying to free prisoners from one of the prisons."  In addition, All Iraq News reported this morning that Monday's Taji attack was an attempt to free prisoners (that's what the Ministry of Justice has announced today).  Jane Arraf files this report (text and video) for Al Jazeera today and notes, "The deadly attack on Tuesday was part of an attempt to break into the jail and free the prisoners."

Arraf notes people are blaming al Qaeda in Mesopotamia.

I'm sure they are.  Stupid people.

Let's pretend for a moment it's al Qaeda.  The US war created al Qaeda in Mesopotamia (al Qaeda had no Iraq presence prior to the start of the Iraq War).  So it will be ten years old shortly.  So for ten years, Iraqi and US forces have been fighting it.  US troops remain in Iraq for counter-terrorism operations.  They never left.  And last fall they were beefed up.   Tim Arango (New York Times) reported at the end of September, "At the request of the Iraqi government, according to [US] General [Robert] Caslen [Chief of the Office of Security Cooperation - Iraq], a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence."  So nearly ten years and what do they have to show for it?  Not a damn thing.

So maybe the question isn't "Who?" but "Why?"

Why are they attacking prisons?

There's Iraq's death penalty.  Dropping back to the November 12th snapshot:
Staying with violence, as noted in the October 15th snapshot, Iraq had already executed 119 people in 2012.  Time to add more to that total.  Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reported last night that 10 more people were executed on Sunday ("nine Iraqis and one Egyptian").  Tawfeeq notes the Ministry of Justice's statement on the executions includes, "The Iraqi Justice Ministry carried out the executions by hanging 10 inmates after it was approved by the presidential council."  And, not noted in the report, that number's only going to climb.  A number of Saudi prisoners have been moved into Baghdad over the last weeks in anticipation of the prisoners being executed.  Hou Qiang (Xinhua) observes, "Increasing executions in Iraq sparked calls by the UN mission in the country, the European Union and human rights groups on Baghdad to abolish the capital punishment, criticizing the lack of transparency in the proceedings of the country's courts."

Does 129 seem like a lot of people?  It is a lot of people.  And it appears that 2013 may top that figure.  Already, in the second month of the year, the 100 mark looms.  Dropping back to the February 1st snapshot:

AFP reported yesterday that already this year Iraq has executed 91 people -- yes, we're still at the start of 2013 -- 88 men and 3 women.  The United Nations Secretary-General has personally called on Iraq to put in place a moratorium on executions but Nouri al-Maliki has rejected that.  Iraq's recent prison breaks have often been tied to executions.  Most press outlets (non-Iraqi) simply report that some death row prisoners escaped. But often, the escape follows the news that prisoners will be moved to Baghdad (to be executed). 

91 executions and the year is just starting.  Sunnis feel they are the ones being executed.  Nouri al-Maliki's refusal to honor United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's call for a moratorium on executions is seen as an attempt by Nouri to kill off as many Sunnis as possible.

How are so many people in Iraqi prisons to begin with?  Mass arrests which take place every day.  'Terrorists' are arrested under Article IV.  Article IV, you may remember, has been at the heart of the current and ongoing protests in Iraq.  They want Article IV tossed.  Article IV allows the Iraqi government to do what the US military did in the early years of the war, arrest innocent people -- known to be innocent but known to be related to someone they want to arrest.  So a mother, a daughter, a son, a grandfather, a spouse, anyone related to a suspect is arrested as a 'terrorist.'  These people then disappear into the 'justice' system.    From the January 14th snapshot:

First for the wave of Happy Talk.   Adam Schreck Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) report that some 'prisoners' were 'freed' today with some ("dozens') at a ceremony presided over by "one of the prime minister's most trusted political allies" Deputy Prime Minister Hussain al-Shahristani who distributed candy and Korans.  Having a hard time seeing Nouri okaying candy for Sunnis?  You're not alone.  Though they're trying to spin this as prisoners being released to meet the protesters demands, they won't give details about the prisoners (including whether they are Sunni or not).  Schreck notes that some of those 'freed' had already completed their sentences.  That's really not 'freed,' that's sentence was completed and they were released.  Suadad al-Salhy, Patrick Markey and Angus MacSwan (Reuters) also note the 'release' aspect, "Officials said a ministerial committee had freed 335 detainees whose jail terms had ended or whose cases had been dismissed for lack of evidence."  In other words, people who should have never been held got released.   And how many are women?
The western outlets -- except for AFP -- have ignored that aspect.  Women are said to have been raped and tortured in the prisons.  The protesters have demanded the women prisoners be released, it's not a minor point.  The Arabic press grasps that.  Alsumaria leads with the claim that 335 prisoners have been released over the last days and only four of these were women.  Four.  Alsumaria notes the mass demonstrations that have been taking place and that the demands have included demands about women prisoners.

Eventually, the laughable Hussain al-Shahristani would claim 3,000 had been freed.  Cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr would point to the releases as proof that innocent people are being held in Iraqi prisons and jails and needed to be released immediately.  The four women?  They would disappear.  And when the Iraqi press noted that the four women had not gone home to their families (so who paid the 'bail' Nouri demanded?)  and that there were questions about the women's release, there would be no more talk of women prisoners being released.

Last week, Human Rights Watch released "Iraq: A Broken Justice System:"

Most recently, in November, federal police invaded 11 homes in the town of al-Tajji, north of Baghdad, and detained 41 people, including 29 children, overnight in their homes. Sources close to the detainees, who requested anonymity, said police took 12 women and girls ages 11 to 60 to 6th Brigade headquarters and held them there for four days without charge. The sources said the police beat the women and tortured them with electric shocks and plastic bags placed over their heads until they began to suffocate.
Despite widespread outcry over abuse and rape of women in pre-trial detention, the government has not investigated or held the abusers accountable. In response to mass protests over the treatment of female detainees, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki issued a pardon for 11 detainees. However, hundreds more women remain in detention, many of whom allege they have been tortured and have not had access to a proper defense.

Getting why prisons are an issue?  Getting why prison breaks might happen?  And note the mass arrest took place where?  That's right Taji.  Same place, for the last two days, there have been two attempts at breaking into a prison.

Now the useless and stupid can continue to do Nouri proud and squawk "al Qaeda in Iraq, al Qaeda in Iraq," but thinking people should have long ago grasped that the problem is Nouri al-Maliki who orders these mass arrests.  The problem is Nouri al-Maliki whose State of Law continues to block an amnesty law in Parliament.  The problem is the nonsense being treated as fact.  Back to Morning Edition today:
JANE ARRAF:  Now, the Iraqi government, when you talk to them, blames the increase in the tax on other countries, on Ba'athists. When you talk to people like the governor of Kirkuk, for instance, they blame it on Baghdad. They say there's no coordination left between intelligence services or the Iraqi army or any of the police forces that are trying to fight organizations like al-Qaida.  So they say that those increases in the tax are a direct result of the fact that there is political turmoil and there's a lot of tension here between Baghdad and pretty much every other province in the country.

MONTAGNE: And just a moment ago, when you say Ba'athists, that of course was the party of Saddam Hussein, mostly secular party, and those Ba'athists would be, what, sympathizers of his?

ARAFF: If we're talking about Ba'athists in the way that the Iraqi government talks about them, Ba'athist is a very wide term, and that's part of the big problem here. The Ba'athists, the hardcore Ba'athists, that the government refers to are actually loyalists to the executed dictator, Saddam Hussein, but it's become more than that.  And al-Qaida also has become more than that. They've launched alliances with other groups that surprise a lot of people.


Toby Dodge's new book is Iraq: From  War To A New Authoritarianism.   In it, he takes on -- at length -- some of the nonsense about 'Ba'athists' -- he takes it on, he doesn't repeat Nouri's psychotic claims as fact.  Excerpt.

Sectarian rhetoricism, far from being treated, has become entrenched.  As detailed in Chapter Five, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, has from at least 2010 onwards, repeatedly evoked the 'Ba'athist threat' as a key part of his political strategy to unite the Shia electorate behind his continued rule.  The idea that the Ba'ath Party, universally discredited after 35 years of brutal and corrupt rule, purged from government in 2003 and persecuted by the security services ever since, could pose any sustained threat to Iraq is simply ludicrous.  In evoking the 'hidden hand of Ba'athist conspiracy', Maliki is deploying a coded sectarian message.  He is seeking to widen the guilt for the abuses commited in the party's name to the whole of the Sunni section of society, using blame by association, for the myriad ills and abuses of past and present Iraq.  With the prime minister so frequently reverting to a sectarian message, it is clear this test has also not been met, and there is little hope in the near future that Iraqi politics will move beyond the communalist rhetoric that justified its civil war.

Alsumaria reports Nadir Dendoune appeared before Baghdad's Criminal Court today wearing a jacket, jeans and handcuffed.  Who?  Good question because Nadir's not supposed to exist.  Just Saturday, Karin Laub and Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) reported  Nouri declared, "There are no detained journalists or politicians."  But Nadir Dencoune was 'deatined' and had been for weeks.  From the January 29th snapshot:


As we noted this morning, Nadir  Dendoune, who holds dual Algerian and Australian citizenship was covering Iraq for the fabled French newspaper Le Monde's monthly magazine.  His assignment was to document Iraq 10 years after the start of the Iraq War.   Alsumaria explains the journalist was grabbed by authorities in Baghdad last week for the 'crime' of taking pictures.  (Nouri has imposed a required permit, issued by his government, to 'report' in Iraq.)  All Iraq News adds the journalist has been imprisoned for over a week now without charges.

Nadir is the latest journalist to be targeted in Nouri's Iraq.   A petition calling for his release has already gathered 15,594 signatures and a Facebook page has been created to show support for himThe Journalistic Freedoms Observatory in Iraq, Reporters Without Borders and The Committee to Protect Journalists have called for his release.

Alsumaria reported Sunday that the Association for the Defence of Press Freedom was demanding Nadir's release and stating that his arrest exceeds the law and is unconstitutional.  Al Mada adds that  Australia's Foreign Ministry has expressed concern via Australia's Embassy in Baghdad.  AFP quotes Muayad al-Lami who heads the Iraqi Journalists Syndicate stating that he was questioned by the police on Sunday "and today [Monday] he should be presented before a judge.  Hopefully he will be released this week."  He didn't appear before a judge Monday as planned.  AFP reported that the appearance has been postponed.  Today he appeared before the court.

Alsumaria notes that a representative from the French Embassy in Baghdad was present for the thirty minute court appearance.  The judge in the case declared that Nadir would continue to remain imprisoned.  AP has a very bad write-up here and here.

Today Iraq's Parliament convened.  Alsumaria notes that the federal budget was among topics discussed by the 250 MPs present.  Another issue was Nouri's crony Jassim Mohammed Jaafar who is the Minister of Youth and Sports -- a post around which rumors of corruption and theft of public money swirl.  The Parliament had attemtped to question him last month; however, he failed to show up. So, January 14th, they 'questioned' him in absentia.   Mohammad Sabah (Al Mada) observes that the mood going into the session was that Parliament would vote to withdraw confidence in Jaafar which would strip him of his Cabinet post.  Alsumaria notes State of Law MP Abbas al-Bayati is gloating that the vote failed and that only 102 of those present voted to dismiss.  (This Alsumaria article quotes him stating 255 were present -- in quotes.  Alsumaria, as noted earlier, reports only 250 were present.  Five more may have showed up or al-Bayati may have his count wrong. All Iraq News also reports only 250 were present.)   The Iraq Times notes that 163 votes were needed to dismiss Jaafar.

Iraqiya refused to vote on the federal budget.  They announced ahead of time they would not vote for it.  Kitabat reports Iraqiya spokesperson Maysoun al-Damlouji explained that they feel too much money is allocated for the Cabinet and that they strongly object to the $2.5 million a day Nouri wants allocated for his office alone.  al-Damloujis explains that Iraqiya's position is that this money would be better spent on infrastructure repairs, on schools and providing basic services to the people.

The Iraq Times has a strong article charting Nouri's attacks on the press.  Time and space permitting, we'll cover that topic in the snapshot today. All Iraq News notes 10 deaths related to H1N1 -- Avian or Bird Flu -- despite, the Ministry of Health insisted, providing all the necessary medicines to treat it. Hou Qiang covers the deaths for Xinhua.

Turning to the United States, for three things quickly.  First Senator Patrick Leahy's bill on security for US diplomatic posts passed the Senate last night as his office notes:

February 5, 2013
WASHINGTON  -- The U.S. Senate Monday night approved legislation authored by Senator Patrick Leahy to transfer surplus funds for Iraq to U.S. embassy security needs in several locations that have been identified in the post-Benghazi review. 
Leahy’s bipartisan bill would authorize the State Department to transfer to embassy security purposes up to $1.1 billion in previously appropriated funds that are no longer needed in Iraq because of reduced operations there.  Leahy chairs the Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on State Department and Foreign Operations.  Cosponsors of the bill include Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.); Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), ranking member of the State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee; Senator Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee; Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.); Senator Bob Casey (D-Pa.); and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.). 
The bill is based on the Leahy Amendment that the Senate approved in December during debate on the Supplemental Appropriations Bill for Sandy and other purposes.  House Republican leaders dropped the Leahy provision in the House’s version of the bill.
Leahy said, “Hardening our embassy security is something that everyone agrees is needed.  We all want to do what we can to prevent another tragedy like what occurred in Benghazi.  The State Department has done a review, and these funds will be used to expedite construction of Marine security guard posts at overseas facilities, and to build secure embassies.”
Leahy continued, “There already has been unnecessary delay in Congress that has prevented getting this work underway.  I hope the House will give this serious and prompt attention so these security improvements can begin.”
# # # # #

Press Contact
David Carle: 202-224-3693

Second, Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  Her office issued the following yesterday:

Monday, February 4th, 2012
CONTACT: Murray Press Office

Senator Murray's Statement on the Completion of Army-Wide PTSD Review

(Washington, D.C.) -- Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray released the following statement after Secretary of the Army John McHugh announced that the Army had completed a review of behavioral health diagnoses going back to 2001.  Murray pushed for the review after hundreds of of service members at Joint Base Lewis-McChord had their PTSD diagnoses taken away then, in many cases, restored over the past two years.  Secretary McHugh made the announcement at a media availability at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

"While I'm pleased that the Army has announced they have completed this study, it's far more important that they take quick action to remedy the problem.  The Pentagon should also follow through on their commitment to extend this review to all branches of the military so servicemembers aren't slipping through the cracks.  In the coming weeks, I will be meeting with Secretary McHugh to get the specific recommendations that came out of the study."

"We cannot ever have a repeat of what happened at JBLM.  We cannot allow those who have served or their loved ones to be dragged through a system that leaves them with more questions than answers.  We must provide a uniform approach to dealing with the lasting mental wounds of war if we are going to help stem the tide of military suicide and ensure that we are easing the transition home for those who serve."


Matt McAlvanah
Communications Director
U.S. Senator Patty Murray
202-224-2834 - press office
202--224-0228 - direct

RSS Feed for Senator Murray's office

And lastly, the Drone War provides targeted assassinations of many civilians, including Americans.  This from Jameel Jaffer's "The Justice Department White Paper Details Rationale for Targeted Killing of Americans" (ACLU):

Michael Isikoff at NBC News has obtained a Justice Department white paper that purports to explain when it would be lawful for the government to carry out the extrajudicial killing of an American citizen believed to be affiliated with a terrorist organization. Many of the white paper's arguments are familiar because Attorney General Eric Holder set them out in a speech at Northwestern University in March of last year. But the white paper offers more detail, and in doing so it manages to underscore both the recklessness of the government's central claim and the deficiencies in the government's defense of it.

The 16-page white paper (read it here) is said to summarize a 50-odd page legal memo written in 2010 by the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel to justify the addition of U.S. citizen Anwar Al-Aulaqi to the government's "kill lists." That legal memo is one of the documents the ACLU is seeking in an ongoing Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. Needless to say, the white paper is not a substitute for the legal memo. But it's a pretty remarkable document.

The paper's basic contention is that the government has the authority to carry out the extrajudicial killing of an American citizen if "an informed, high-level official" deems him to present a "continuing" threat to the country. This sweeping authority is said to exist even if the threat presented isn't imminent in any ordinary sense of that word, even if the target has never been charged with a crime or informed of the allegations against him, and even if the target is not located anywhere near an actual battlefield. The white paper purports to recognize some limits on the authority it sets out, but the limits are so vague and elastic that they will be easily manipulated.

jane arraf

No comments: