Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Jury Nullification

Future Hillary

From earlier this week, that's Isaiah's THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS "Future Hillary."

And let me pick up a topic I've been noting all week, Julian Assange.  Julian's a whistle-blower and he's being persecuted.

Ann Garrison (Black Agenda Report) notes:

Former CIA official John Kiriakou, who served two years in prison after exposing the CIA’s official use of torture, predicted that Assange would be indicted in the Eastern District of Virginia during a Unity4J vigil :
The rumor here in Washington is that Julian has been secretly indicted in the Eastern District of Virginia. That’s here where I live. It’s based in Alexandria, Virginia. And they call the Eastern District of Virginia the “espionage court” because almost all national security cases are tried here. And the reason they’re tried here is because this is the home of the CIA, of the Pentagon, and of almost every intelligence-related private contractor in the Washington area. So look who’s going to be onthe jury. It’s going to be CIA employees, FBI employees, military employees, or their spouses. Intelligence contractors or their spouses. Julian couldn’t possibly get a fair trial in a place like this. So they do it on purpose.
And in addition to that, no national security defendant has ever won a case in the Eastern District of Virginia. It’s called venue shopping. Even though no crime was actually physically committed in the Eastern District of Virginia, they know that the judges here are the toughest in America on national security cases, so they would charge him here. You wouldn’t charge him in New Mexico or California because he would probably be acquitted.

No one but the prosecutors know what Assange is charged with, under what law, though the wide expectation seems to be that he’ll be tried under the Espionage Act for publishing classified material. Daniel Ellsberg has said he believes that the Justice Department will use Assange’s case to set a legal precedent, and Trump has such a hostile relationship with the press that he’d no doubt love to break the knees of the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, and the rest with very few exceptions. So would I, (and I’m sure most Black Agenda Report readers would too), though for different reasons.
Because criminal conviction requires a unanimous jury, John Kiriakou said that jury nullification is his best hope for Assange’s freedom:
Jury nullification is when a jury hears a case. The person violated the law, and the jury finds that the law is unfair. The law shouldn’t be the law, that this is a miscarriage of justice. So even though the government has been able to prove its case, the defendant is found not guilty because the law is wrong and it’s unfair. And that’s really my hope for Julian.
“Daniel Ellsberg believes the Justice Department will use Assange’s case to set a legal precedent.”
Most jurors aren’t informed that they can nullify charges by concluding that the law is wrong. (Imagine if they were.) However, it will take only one informed and courageous juror in US Intel’s company town to say that the law is wrong. Assange would no doubt be retried, but he’d be acquitted each time one courageous juror stepped up.

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

Wednesday, November 21, 2018.  The press and the US government continue to pretend with regards to Iraq.

In Iraq, excuses not governance.

Al-Araby Al-Jadeed claims that there is hope of a resolution in the dispute between ’s Al-Fateh coalition and ’s Saeron alliance over the interior ministry portfolio. Sadr rejects Amiri’s candidate, Faleh El-Fayad.
  • Shia leaders are in negotiations with one another to fill the vacant post of Interior Minister in Iraqi cabinet
    In Iraq on Twitter, Sadr tells Ameri that members of Ameri's Fatah & Building coalitions are selling cabinet positions to Sunni politicians. Says that is not how they agreed to govern Iraq.

    Still no full Cabinet.

    All this time later.

    May 12th, Iraq held national elections.  Ahead of the elections, there had been big hopes -- these hopes included a large turnout.   Ali Jawad (ANADOLU AGENCY) noted, "A total of 24 million Iraqis are eligible to cast their ballots to elect members of parliament, who will in turn elect the Iraqi president and prime minister."  RUDAW added, "Around 7,000 candidates have registered to stand in the May 12 poll, with 329 parliamentary seats up for grabs."  AFP explained that the nearly 7,000 candidates includes 2014 women.  THE SIASAT DAILY added, of the nearly 7,000 candidates, "According to the electoral commission, only 20 percent of the candidates are newcomers." Ali Abdul-Hassan and Sinan Salaheddin (AP) reported, "Iraqi women account for 57 percent of Iraq’s population of over 37 million, according to the U.N. Development Program, and despite government efforts to address gender inequality, the situation for Iraqi women has declined steadily since 2003.  According to the UNDP, one in every 10 Iraqi households is headed by a widow. In recent years, Iraqi women suffered further economic, social and political marginalization due to decades of wars, conflict, violence and sanctions." 

    Six months and counting and no full Cabinet.

    And among the posts not filled?  Minister of Defense and Minister of Interior.

    Hopefully, most grasp the importance of Ministry of Defense.  Most countries have some form of a Defense Department.

    But Minister of the Interior?

    In the US, Ryan Zinke is the Secretary of the Interior and he's responsible for the conservation and management of land and resources.  An important job, no question.  But that's not Iraq's Ministery of the Interior.

    In Iraq, the Minister of the Interior is a security post.  It is equal to the Minister of the Defense.  The Minister of the Interior is, for example, over the federal police, over securing the borders, etc.  Iraq is a country at war.  Don't they need a Minister of the Interior?  Don't they need a Minister of Defense?

    And the election was six months ago.  When are they going to get around to naming Vice Presidents?

    The election was over six months ago.  What's the hold up there?

    It's real easy to pretend that this isn't 2010 and it hasn't taken over eight months to form a government.  But that's not really honest.

    A partial cabinet is not a cabinet.  There are 22 slots and only 14 have been filled.  That's eight vacancies.  Then there are the posts of vice president (Iraq has three) and they're empty.

    Why is anyone pretending that this is (a) normal or (b) a functioning government.

    As we have repeatedly noted since 2006, no prime minister-designate has ever followed the Constitution.  Per the Constitution, Parliament names a President who then names a prime minister-designate.  That part's followed.  That's all that's followed.

    Per the Constitution, after being named prime minister-designate, the prime minister then has 30 days to form a Cabinet.  If the Cabinet is formed, the person moves from prime minister-designate to prime minister.  If not?  The President names someone new prime minister designate. (Due to the wording, a president could probably get away with naming the same person for another 30 days as prime minister-designate.)

    That's the only thing you have to do in order to move from prime minister-designate to prime minister: Form a Cabinet.  It's important because it demonstrate that you can lead.  None of Iraq's past prime ministers -- Nouri al-Maliki twice and Hayder al-Abadi once -- managed to form a Cabinet but were moved from prime minister-designate to prime minister.  And they were failures as leaders -- abject failures.

    From THIRD's "Editorial: Iraq's still a mess:"

    All this time later, they still don't have a full Cabinet.  BASNEWS reports:

    After over three weeks of establishing a new government in Baghdad, the Iraqi Shi'ite factions have not yet agreed to have one sole nominee for the position of interior ministry, reports said.
    According to Iraqi media reports, the Alliance of Reform and Building, which consists of Muqtada al-Sadr’s Sa'eroun, Haider Abadi’s Victory and 16 other political groups, cannot agree with the al-Bina Coalition, led by Hadi al-Amiri and Nouri al-Maliki as the latter insists on nominating Falih Fayaz, a former Hashd al-Shaabi official and Iraq’s national security advisor.
    Earlier the year, Abadi dismissed Fayaz from the post of national advisor, arguing that the official cannot hold a political and military position simultaneously, while Sadr is determined to not give ministerial posts to people who have previously held such positions.

    No Minister of Interior.  No Minister of Defense.

    Nor any efforts to meet the demands of the protesters in Basra.  This weekend did see the assassination of protest leader Wissam al-Ghrawi -- but that doesn't appear to have lit any fired under prime minister Adil Abdul al-Mahdi.

    But he does appear frustrated and BASNEWS notes he's making threats:

    Iraqi PM Adil Abdul-Mahdi's threatenings to resign from his position, due to political confrontations among the parties over ministerial posts in his government, is "not just words", a Kurdish lawmaker said on Saturday.
    Abdul-Mahdi has lately started to threaten to step down if the factions continue disputes in the process of concluding the new cabinet in Baghdad.
    "Abdul-Mahdi's threat is, in part, [intended] to get the political factions to arrive at a deal to complete his cabinet," of which "eight ministries have not been voted on," Hoshiyar Abdullah, head of the Change Movement (Gorran) bloc in the Iraqi parliament, told Kurdistan 24.

    All this time later, Iraq remains a mess.  So much for the illegal war that was supposed to be about 'liberation' and 'freedom' and 'democracy.'

    He should resign his position.  Actually, per the Constitution, Adil Abdul al-Mahdi never should have been named prime minister.  His failure to form a Cabinet should have been a sign.  If the Iraqi Constitution were followed, al-Mahdi would not be prime minister.  Yet, October 25th, he was moved from prime minister-designate to prime minister.

    Back then, you may remember the lies, it would only be days before he would name the rest of the Cabinet.  But then the weekend passed and it was going to be the upcoming Tuesday and then that passed and . . .

    22 days later and he still hasn't gone beyond the 14 Cabinet members.

    He can't form a Cabinet, how's he going to lead a country?

    Poorly and that's apparently what the US government wants from Iraqi leaders -- learned helplessness so that the US can continue to occupy Iraq.

    Prashant Rao covered Iraq for AFP.  Let's note a story he shared this month in a series of Tweets.

    As he is now out of office, thought I'd share my story, starring myself, and the Baghdad press corps... 1/n
  • In June 2011, Rohrabacher was part of a Congressional delegation visiting Iraq. After meeting with Iraqi officials, he led a news conference with Iraqi and foreign media at the US Embassy.
    He started out by saying he met with the then-prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, and had raised a subject close to his heart. I assumed he would then talk about the safety of US soldiers (there were around 45,000 in the country at the time), or something similar.
    Instead, he said this:
  • I was totally floored. When the time came for him to respond to questions, I think I got the first one and asked some version of "Ummmm...what?" (For the record, he declined to give specifics)
  • Later in the news conference, , who was sitting next to me, raised his hand to ask a question. Rohrabacher said he couldn't, because he had already asked one. I piped up to say, no, that was me. (Rohrabacher replied that he confused us because we both had beards.)
  • In the end, Iraq said Rohrabacher and his delegation were no longer welcome in the country (because of the repayment comments, obviously)
  • (Tim and I took a photo outside the embassy, so you can judge for yourself if we look alike)

    Back to today, the US government hasn't said a word about the assassination of Wissam al-Ghrawi -- have you noticed that?


    Wissam al-Ghrawi was a prominent figure in demonstrations demanding clean water and reliable electricity in the southern Iraqi city. Basra province generates more than 90 percent of Iraq’s oil exports but suffers from contaminated drinking water and regular blackouts.
    Basra police say al-Ghrawi was shot and killed in front of his house in the city center by unknown assailants late Saturday.
    [. . .]
    “Why was Sheikh Wissam al-Ghrawi killed? Because he asked for clean water? Because he asked for jobs for the unemployed? Is this the price he paid for defending his country?” said civic activist Mohanad al-Ghrawi, a distant relative of the deceased cleric.

    Al-Ghrawi is at least the second activist to be killed in what appeared to be a targeted assassination since protests swept Basra last summer. One of the organizers, Soad al-Ali, was killed by a gunman in September, after protesters began directing their ire toward Iran, which they saw as exerting undue influence over national politics.

    Prior to the assassination of Wissam, there was the assassination of Saad al-Ali.

    Replying to 
    On September 25, a female human rights activist in Basra was gunned down and murdered in broad daylight. Ms. Saad al-Ali had played a significant role in September’s anti-government protests in Basra. Her husband was wounded in the attack.

    Azhar al-Rubaie (ARAB WEEKLY) aobserves the attacks on the protesters:

    Security forces that arrested protesters did not appear to have the proper paperwork from the courts.
    “They did not show an arrest warrant or any other legal document to justify my arrest,” said Mahdi Salah, 26, who said he had been detained in July for six days by the Iraqi Security Forces.
    “During the investigation process, they lashed me with a black rubber pipe, punched me on the face and other parts of my body but their torture and ill-treatment did not prevent me from going back to the protests again,” he said.
    “The investigator asked me a lot of personal and religious questions, not related to protests. For instance, they asked me ‘How many Shia imams are there’ and ‘Are you Sunni or Shia?’” Salah said.
    Loudia Raymond, 24, a Christian activist from Basra, said she does not feel safe in the oil-rich southern city.

    “The policeman who was standing in front of a Basra governorate building asked me why would a Christian protest,” Raymond said. “Because of militias, Basra is not safe at all, for Christians in particular. Thousands of Christians fled Basra on the last ten years for security reasons.”

    The following community sites -- plus Jody Watley, LATINO USA, PACIFICA EVENING NEWS, The Center for Constitutional Rights, NPR MUSIC and THE GUARDIAN --   updated:

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