Tuesday, August 23, 2022

I miss Gore Vidal


Videos like the above remind me how much we lost when Gore Vidal died.

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

Tuesday, August 23, 2022.  A war hawk dies (don't praise him), Julian Assange remains persecuted by Joe Biden and Moqtada al-Sadr throws another public tantrum when he doesn't get his way.

That's Dr. Céline Gounder,  Infectious Disease Specialist and Epidemiologist addressing monkeypox.  "It is not limited to that population."  When you hear someone, say a YOUTUBER, who can barely conceal their disgust and anger at gay people, remember not what the YOUTUBER 'learned' but what a medical professional is telling you.  Changing topics . . .

In other news, the persecution of Julian Assange continues.  Julian came up during Kevin Gosztola's discussion with journalist William Arkin on SHADOW PROOF.

GOSZTOLA: Finally I want to put to you the issue of the Espionage Act being part of the conversation. A lot of my work has been watching and monitoring and covering the developments in individual Espionage Act prosecutions over the last decade-plus. Those individuals and their attorneys would also say that they were charged for materials that would not cause exceptionally grave damage, and yet the book was thrown thrown at them and they had their lives ruined and their careers ended. So why shouldn’t the same be true for Donald Trump?

I think it presents a crisis. I think it’s part of this crisis of the liberals and the Democratic Party establishment really feeling strongly about pushing forward with whatever the Justice Department is about to do. What’s your sense of the risk if Donald Trump were to be charged with violating the Espionage Act?

You’re talking to people about the potential charges that could be brought. Is this even a distinct possibility? You said unlawful possession, which can be within that law. But there are other laws. Do you think it would be a more minor law to keep the Espionage Act out of the conversation?

ARKIN: We now know that the Espionage Act was only being referenced because of section 793(d) of the Espionage Act, which is an area of the Espionage Act that deals with if you are in possession of classified documents and the federal government asks you to return them, and you don’t return them, you’re in violation of 793(d) of the Espionage Act.

It’s called the Espionage Act, what it’s been called since 1917, but it also happens to be just one of a handful of laws that deal with security classification. The rest of the security classification system exists under executive order. That’s why Donald Trump and his people are arguing that he declassified everything. But it’s not altogether true. Some elements of classified information do fall under statute, such as atomic energy information or information about the identities of CIA sources, etc. Those fall under statute.

So it’s unfortunate that the Espionage Act is the place where this is contained, this provision about returning classified material in your possession, because it’s abused in a way because we don’t have modern legislation. Perhaps one of the solutions will be that we will finally have a law passed, which will specify what is classified and unclassified information and what is the modern security classification system and where are the authorities and what’s against the law and what’s not against the law.

That does influence Julian Assange’s problems in the courts. It influences other whistleblowers who have been charged with the Espionage Act, and even if they were not guilty of espionage, as we think of it, they are charged under the Espionage Act. So we need to clean this up because I don’t think that we have a law in a proper way that really specifies what the true state of play is here.

If I support Julian Assange, I want Donald Trump to spur along a better articulation of what is the actual purpose of the Espionage Act. To have say for instance Julian Assange, a foreign national charged under the Espionage Act—espionage against who? If he committed espionage against Australia, then he should be charged in his own country of his nationality.

In some ways, if I’m a supporter of Julian Assange, I want to see that Donald Trump helps to clarify what is this law and what it can really be used for. Because in the cases of [Chelsea] Manning, in the cases of Tom Drake, in the case of Julian Assange, I think it’s been misapplied. And in the case of journalism, there have been attempts at various times within our recent past going back to the Reagan administration, where the federal government has sought to use the Espionage Act as a way of suppressing a free press.

Again, if I’m really interested in the future, I would want to see Congress step in finally and establish an omnibus law that deals with security classification in this country. That’s more important than Donald Trump.

For a full transcript of the interview, click here.  The world watches as Joe Biden persecutes Julian Assagne.  Jeff Mackler (LA PROGRESSIVE) notes:

Of the estimated 1.4 million top security clearance U.S. personnel employed by one or another of the government’s 18 branches of its $81 billion annually budgeted “U.S. Intelligence Community,” perhaps one or two individuals each year are designated as “whistleblowers” and persecuted to the high heavens.

Today WikiLeaks founder and journalist/publisher Julian Assange stands at the top of the list, currently imprisoned in London’s Belmarsh Prison and fighting against the Biden administration’s – and Trump’s before him – heinous efforts to extradite him to the U.S. on spurious charges under the witchhunt era Espionage Act. Revealing the truth about U.S. war crimes around the world, not to mention exercising a journalist’s right to free speech and a free press, is unacceptable to the U.S. imperialist beast that daily wages wars against poor and oppressed nations around the world. That the single dissident voice of a far off non-U.S. citizen must be silenced forever, informs us of the disgusting arrogance of those who command the seats of U.S. power.

Similarly, heroes like Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning today, and Daniel Ellsberg, the renowned Vietnam-era Pentagon Papers defendant of yesteryear – whose revelations educated millions about the U.S. horrors committed against the Vietnamese people – are unacceptable to today’s modern day thought police.

And we'll quote again from Eve Ottenberg's column, now at CITY WATCH:

For a good while one could blame Trump for the prosecutorial monstrosity perpetrated on journalist Julian Assange.

But now it’s time for Trump to move over. The single worst assault on the first amendment and a free press in recent centuries is no longer solely his. Biden owns it. Biden could end this state persecution of a journalist today, if he felt like it. A persecution that a U.N. expert has called torture. A persecution that could easily lead to Assange’s death.

But maybe that’s the point. Indeed, if killing Assange isn’t the point, Biden should prove it, by pardoning him now. Biden doesn’t feel like it. Unlike Jamal Khashoggi, whose murder he deplored before he didn’t, Biden never censured the years of abuse heaped on Assange by the U.S. government. He enabled it. Unlike Trump, who may very well have been threatened with impeachment by senators like Mitch “Democracy’s Gravedigger” McConnell, if Trump dared dream of pardoning Assange, Biden was never vulnerable to such a hypothetical menace. In fact, he’s in McConnell’s corner. By his inaction, it’s clear that Biden approves of the criminal state attack on Assange.

Both Biden and Trump look like moral midgets compared to Mexican president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who last month handed a letter to Biden about the besieged journalist. In this epistle, according to Reuters July 18, Lopez Obrador “defended Julian Assange’s innocence and renewed a previous offer of asylum to the Wikileaks founder,” in Mexico. This offer came in the month after the U.K. approved Assange’s extradition to the U.S., where he faces up to 175 years in prison on what everybody knows are trumped up charges under a law that shouldn’t even exist, the Espionage Act.

This law served solely as a bludgeon against political enemies and their speech since it was enacted in 1917. It battered socialists and communists like Eugene Debs, Emma Goldman, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, and whistleblowers like Daniel Ellsberg and Edward Snowden. According to the PEN American Center, this edict “had been used inappropriately in leak cases that have a public interest component.” That’s putting it mildly. One year after enactment, by 1918, 74 newspapers had been denied mailing privileges under the Espionage Act. This law was birthed to harass and jail opponents of what nowadays many knowledgeable people regard as a catastrophe that should never have happened, namely Woodrow Wilson’s blood-drenched folly, World War I. This law exists for one purpose: chilling freedom of speech.

Indeed, that’s why the Espionage Act shouldn’t exist. Lopez Obrador said that arresting Assange “would mean a permanent affront to freedom of expression.” He sure got that right. But nothing other than sour silence about his latest offer has emanated from the white house. In fact, Lopez Obrador never got a response to his first letter to Biden over a year ago. When faced with a gracious gesture to do the humane, moral, civilized thing and end this grotesque perversion of justice, Biden just acts like he hopes this opportunity for compassion will go away and everyone will forget that he’s doing something unspeakable.

Joe Biden stands as a hypocrite on the world stage and everyone is watching.

Meanwhile, David Kay is dead.  Lydia O'Connor (HUFFINGTON POST) writes:

David Kay, the weapons inspector who disproved the United States’ main rationale for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, died earlier this month, his wife told The Washington Post and New York Times.

He died from cancer on Aug. 13 at the age of 82, said his wife, Anita Kay.

Kay was a prominent figure in the early 2000s for his role searching for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. He ultimately resigned when he concluded the weapons stockpiles simply did not exist.

“We were almost all wrong, and I certainly include myself here,” Kay said in bombshell testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee in 2004. “It turns out we were all wrong, probably in my judgment, and that is most disturbing.”

The CIA tapped Kay, who’d already surveyed Iraq for weapons in the 1990s, to lead the search for WMDs there after President George W. Bush’s administration said it had evidence the country was stockpiling weapons. That supposed stockpile was Bush’s main justification for invading Iraq following the 9/11 attacks by al-Qaeda Islamist militants.

By 2004, Kay concluded that CIA intelligence about the weapons had been faulty and that it was extremely unlikely any WMDs would be found in Iraq.

David Kay is dead.  No tears should be shed.  Not for him.  For the Iraqis whose deaths he's responsible for?  Sure.  Cry for those innocents.  But not only did he believe a lie (and offer cover for it when he admitted it was a lie), he also approved of the illegal war on Iraq even after he knew it was a lie.

He was no hero.

He was just a killer and a crook who had little more honesty than most in the Cheney-Bush dynasty.

He died at 82.  He did a lot of damage in his lifetime.  PBS was among his enablers.

In Iraq today, cult leader Moqtada al-Sadr has his followers targeting the judiciary.

Shiite cleric Sadr's supporters launch sit-in outside top Iraq judicial body f24.my/8qVt.t

His attackers occupied the Parliament.  That didn't work for him.  He demanded the judiciary dissolve the Parliament, they explained that they did not have that power.  Now the obsese Moqtada sends his followers to target the judiciary.

Iraqis watch this and they're not impressed.  They weren't impressed when Moqtada failed over and over for months at organizing a government.  Or when he made his MPs resign.  

When he had MPs in Parliament, he could have a move to dissolve the body.

But tubby never knows what he's doing, he's just throws one tantrum after another.

And though the western press laps it up, the Iraqi people see him as the logjam that has created and maintained the political stalemate.  His failures and his tantrums are seen as the biggest reason for a ten month political stalemate.  October 10th, Iraq held elections.  Tubby Moqtada has prevented any prime minister from being named and any president from being named.  It's getting to the point where Iraqis are really suffering -- there's lost wages, for example, sky rocketing food costs, etc, etc.

They're not enthralled with the cult leader -- despite the press pimping him over and over -- the western press, let's be clear.

The following sites updated:

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