Obama Administration To Revive Fatally Flawed Military Commissions (5/15/2009)
Decision Strikes Blow To Due Process And Rule Of Law
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NEW YORK – In a striking blow to due process and the rule of law, the Obama administration has decided to revive the fatally flawed military commissions system to prosecute certain Guantánamo detainees, according to news reports.
The following can be attributed to Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union:
"These military commissions are inherently illegitimate, unconstitutional and incapable of delivering outcomes we can trust. Tweaking the rules of these failed tribunals so that they provide 'more due process' is absurd; there is no such thing as 'due process light.' If the administration's proposed rules really bring these proceedings in line with constitutional requirements, there is no reason not to use our tried and true justice system. If they don't, these tribunals have no place in our democracy.
"Despite the administration's efforts to improve the system, the only explanation for reviving it would be to accommodate the damage that has already been done by the Bush administration's policies of torture, illegal detention and denial of fair trials. As unfortunate as it is to inherit that legacy, to accommodate those policies is essentially to ratify them.
"In this case, President Obama would do well to remember his own infamous words during his presidential campaign: you can't put lipstick on a pig."
The ACLU, through its John Adams Project with the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, has worked with under-resourced military lawyers to provide legal counsel for several of the Guantánamo detainees in the military commissions system. The cases of these detainees would be included in those the Obama administration plans to prosecute through the revived commissions.
I'm not laughing at the ACLU or even with it. I'm appalled. But I do share C.I.'s reaction to the news today of Barry's latest cave: Loud laughter. Then Ava started laughing. Then they were saying stuff back and forth to each other that was hard to understand because they were laughing so hard. At one point Ava laughed something about coming out of the closet with an endorsement and C.I. replied back "he is the leader on understanding the threat to the Constitution and actually taking action, not just mouthing soundbites, on the need to deny torturers space in our nation and to restore the rule of law." That's when I realized they were mocking crazy ass Naomi Wolf who made a complete ass and total s**t out of herself for Barry O!
I can't believe what a liar Barack is and I was never devoted to him. But even I'm shocked. I wish I could do like Ava and C.I. In fairness, they always said they intended to sit back and laugh if Barack got in the White House. They said and they wrote it repeatedly at Third in their TV commentaries.
Earlier this month, Michael Ratner wrote the following (highlighting it because community member Billie asked for it to be highlighted):
As another one of his earliest acts Obama suspended the military commissions at Guantanamo. He did so for a period of four months. It was better than letting them continue, but not much better. For what was to come after the four months? At CCR we were worried. Why did he not end them, get rid of them all together? After all, they were entirely discredited. In seven years there were only two minor trials and evidence derived from abuse and torture was still permitted. Why should there be any kind of special courts in a democracy with a 225 year history of regular trials in regularly constituted courts—U.S. federal courts. The main reason for special courts is that it is easier to convict people when the rules are made up after the fact: the rules are bent toward conviction.
In a depressing and infuriating revelation in the New York Times on May 2, the revival of military commissions is stated as almost a sure thing. The reason according to some administration lawyers is that it would be difficult to prosecute defendants in regular courts because they had been brutalized and because prosecutors want to use hearsay evidence. That is some reason. Let’s just put it starkly. Such trials would be an abomination, an abomination approved by our new President.
And it's happened Michael Ratner. And if I remember C.I. correctly, the reason Barry made that announcement was to prevent the court from weighing in. A point Michael Ratner 'forgets' to include. And, Michael Ratner, if CCR was worried back then, maybe they f**king should have said something back then?
Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Friday, May 15, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, Steven D. Green's War Crimes sentencing hearing takes a breather, Dahr Jamail offers some Iraq realities, US installed puppet Nouri gets even more power hungry, a War Hawk lowers his Iraq ambitions (probably to preach war for other regions) and more.
Steven D. Green was convicted two Thursdays ago in the gang-rape of 14-year-old Iraqi Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi, her murder, the murder of her five-year-old sister and the murders of both of her parents. His sentence hearing is ongoing and yesterday was day four. Brett Barrouquere (AP) reports, "U.S. District Judge Thomas Russell told jurors they should have the case for deliberations by Wednesday. He then adjourned court until Monday, when the defense is expected to present more witnesses." Barrouquere has been covering this case for nearly three years and he's the only one who's filed a report on Thursday's court room proceedings.
If the defense continues to present witnesses as late as Wednesday morning they will have offered 7 days of testimony for the sentencing phase. The trial itself, to determine guilt or innocence, lasted only 8 days. The defense began their presentation May 4th and concluded it May 5th. They offered two days of witness testimony when the jury was to determine whether Green was guilty or innocent. (The jury found Green guilty on all counts.) By contrast, they have already spent twice that amount of time calling witnesses this week.Away from the jury, the defense suffered a setback this week. They'd filed a motion arguing that some of the counts Green was convicted of should be dropped. Judge Russell considered their motion and the motion filed by Marisa Ford arguing the prosecution's case.Yesterday Judge Thomas ruled, "Defendant has moved the Court to (1) dismiss and/or preclude sentencing on counts 3-10, alternatively to (2) dismiss and/or preclude sentencing on counts 13-15, and alternatively to (3) permit sentencing on one murder count per victim. The United States has responded (DN 247). This matter is now ripe for adjudication. For the reasons that follow, Defendant's Motion is DENIED."The motion by the defense was a head scratcher since the time to make such a motion (which most likely would have been denied) was before the conviction, not after. Not after the jury made a determination. The motion continues the pattern of the defense doing more work in the sentencing phase than they did when the jury was determining guilt or innocence.Green is facing the death penalty and to be sentenced to death, every person on the jury must vote in favor of a death sentence. Should the jury be unable to make a determination, the judge would sentence Green and, should that happen, the it would be a life sentence of imprisonment.
Meanwhile Wikileaks posts [PDF format warning] the US Military's Public Affairs Guidance memo on the case from back in 2006 and Wikileaks notes that they refer to Abeer as "a young woman" (at one point the US military was insisting Abeer was 24-years-old). The document identifies its target audience as Iraqis first and foremost.
"We have an update now on Monday's shooting rampage at a US military stress clinic in Iraq in which a soldier gunned down 2 military doctors and 3 other servicemen," declared Jeff Glor last night on The CBS Evening News with Katie Couric (here for video, and Ruth noted this last night). "CBS News has learned the suspect, Sgt. John Russell, was furious with doctors at the clinic, complaining they didn't believe he was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The bodies of three victims arrived at Dover Air Force Base last night." The shooting was a topic on the second hour of The Diane Rehm Show and while Barbara Slavin (Washington Times) was commenting, things were fact based. But Jonathan S. Landay (McClatchy Newspapers) and the 'delightful' Demetri Sevastoulo (Financial Times) had to get creative and, for Demetri, sexist.
Diane Rehm: He was a 21-year Army veteran, Barbara, accused of gunning down five fellow US troops. What were the circumstances?
Barbara Slavin: Well not entirely clear yet. A Sgt John Russell, I believe he was on his third tour in Iraq, and he apparently was very concerned that he was not able to keep up with the mortgage payments on his home in the US --
Which is why he re-enlisted in order to make money.
Barbara Slavin: Yeah. He clearly had mental problems. Unfortunately he was sent, I think, against his will to a mental health facility at Camp Liberty outside Baghdad and that's where he executed five people.
Diane Rehm: He had apparently gotten into a fracas with his controlling officer.
Demetri Sevastoulo: Yeah he did but I think the broader point that needs to be made here is that the military in the last two years has seen a spike in suicides or mental health related incidents like that and it's becoming a big problem. Until about a couple of years ago, the level of suicides in the military or -- or people shooting each other -- wasn't that high compared to the rest of the population. But in the last couple of years, we've seen a spike and you've seen a big push by Adm [Mike] Mullen the chair man of the Joint Chiefs [of Staff] to get people to go for treatment when they have mental health problems.
Diane Rehm: But it's the extraordinary stress that these people are under no matter what their ages generally. Jonathan?
Jonathan S. Landay: The -- the man who's been accused of this shooting in -- in Baghdad in fact according to what I understand, has never been in combat.He was an electronic specialist and attached to an engineering unit. Apparently one of his tasks was to go and salvage electric components from vehicles that had been hit by IEDs by -- bey explosives. And in doing so witnesses the gory aftermath of -- of these attacks. He was on -- nearing the end of his third tour in Iraq.
Diane Rehm: He had also been in Bosnia, Herzegovina.
Jonathan: And Kosovo. That is correct. And I think Demetri hits on the bigger point. There was a study done last year by the RAND Corporation which found that a full 20% of the 1.6 million US service people who have been through Afghanistan and Iraq are suffering from symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that only about half of them seek treatment because they see it as a stigma attached to this --
Diane Rehm: Exactly.
Jonathan S. Landay: Even those half that do seek treatment don't get adequate treatment.
They just make up what ever they want to, don't they? For example, resident pig Demetri Sevastoulo would bring up a general whose name he didn't know who he thought sought treatment (but there's no way to check that, is there Demetri) and went public "to say to the younger guys" -- Demetri, you are aware that women serve in the US military, right? Or are you still too busy lusting for a cat fight between Michelle Obama and Carla Bruni to grasp that? Jonathan S. Landay declared "only about half of them seek treatment because they see it as a stigma attached to this". Did RAND's study find that? No. First off the study [PDF format warning] entitled "Invisible Wounds of War: Summary and Recommendations" was on PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). The study extrapolated:
Assuming that the prevalence found in this study is representative of the 1.64 million individuals who have deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq to date, we estimate that approximately 300,000 individuals currently suffer from PTSD or major depression and that 320,000 veterans report having experience a probabe TBI during deployment.
53% of those studied had sought treatment for PTSD. Landay maintained that the service members see a stigma. They do? Really?
In general, respondents were concerned that getting treatment would not be kept confidential and would constrain future job assignments and career advancement. About 45 percent were concerned that drug therapies for mental health problems may have unpleasant side effects, and about one-quarter thought that even good mental health care was not very effective. Logistical barriers to mental health treatment, such as time, money, and access, were mentioned less frequently but may still be important barriers for many individuals. At the same time, it is possible that servicemembers and veterans do not seek treatment they may perceive little or no benefit.
They see a stigma? Or they're worried that their information won't be kept confidential and will effect job promotions and future tasks? There's a world of difference between a stigma that they would identify as 'I believe seeking treatment is a sign of weakness' and what the study ACTUALLY found which was that they fear they will be stigmatized because their records will not be kept confidential. Considering all the information the VA has repeatedly accidentally made public this decade, that would be a reasonable concern. Their concern also goes to the culture in the military. It does not go to their own personal opinions of therapy which is what Landay suggested.
And actually the number one answer was medications: "The medications that might help have too many side effects." To get their number one answer, the study combined "It could harm my career" with "My coworkers would have less confidence in me if they found out" and should have also tossed in "I could be denied a security clearance" which was ahead of "My coworkers would have less confidence in me if they found found out." (Refer to diagram 2.3 on page 14 of the report.) But the number one single answer was medications.
Today the Las Vegas Sun editorializes, "A tragic crime in Iraq:"Studies indicate that as many as one in five soldiers who have served in the combat zone have anxiety, depression or other mental health issues. The military's handling of those afflictions has been terrible, marked by poor treatment of those seeking help and a high suicide rate among soldiers. The sergeant's father, John Michael Russell, said his son was finishing his third tour in Iraq and thought his commanders were trying to drive him out of the service. He said his son feared losing his job and his military pension. The elder Russell noted the stigma attached to a soldier accused of having a mental health issue. "I think they broke him," he said. [. . .] Because the Pentagon has continually failed to address the problem, Congress should step in and make sure that those who serve in combat are given the help they need. As noted in yesterday's snapshot, Feb. 28th, the US House Armed Services Committee (discussing FY2009 Defense budget) raised this issue with US House Rep Patrick Murphy asking General George Casey if Congress needed to legislate dwell time to ensure that service members were getting the time they needed:
Murphy noted that "we're begging for about 7,000 troops for Afghanistan from our allies" and wondered if Congress needed to "mandate that if you deploy for 15 months, you're home for 15 months, if you deploy for 12 months, you're home for 12 months"? Casey wasn't keen on that idea and claimed it would interfere with the military's ability to do their job. Which makes the 'promise' Casey and Geren made earlier this week seem even more hollow (even more hollow than Casey claimed, in today's hearings, his experiences in the seventies were).
April 1, 2008, US House Rep Shelley Berkley was pointing out to Walter Reed Amry Institute of Research's Col Charles W. Hoge that he'd just stated 12 months was not enough dwell time (he hemmed and hawed but agreed he'd just said it) and she pointed out that some US service members didn't even get that. The Las Vegas Sun is correct, Congress needs to legislate on this and they need to do so immediately.
Though the Congress refuses so far to mandate dwell time, they did vote yesterday to continue the illegal wars by funding them. Thursday Karen Miller (Free Speech Radio News) reported on the House of Representatives voting to fund Barack Obama's $96.7 billion war supplemental which does not include an exit strategy. US House Rep Diane Watson told Miller, "The last admistration never put the funds for the war in the regular budget. They always came as a supplement with all good things that we wanted in it so you were forced to vote for it. I am not voting for another cent for any war anywhere because we will never win a war in that part of the world: Iraq, even Iran -- if we choose or chose to go to war there, Afghanistan, Pakistan. It can only be done through diplomacy, through negotiations, through politics. But never at the end of the gun." Watson was one of sixty House members voting against the supplemental. The others were Tammy Baldwin, John Campbell, Michael Capuano, Yvette Clarke, Steve Cohen, John Conyers, Jim Cooper, Jerry Costello, Lloyd Doggett, John Duncan, Donna Edwards, Vernon Ehlers, Keith Ellison, Sam Farr, Bob Filner, Jeff Flake, Barney Frank, Alan Grayson, Raul Grijalva, Luis Gutierrez, Michael Honda, Jay Inslee, Timothy Johnson, Steve Kagen, Marcy Kaptur, Dennis Kucinich, Barbara Lee, John Lewis, Zoe Lofgren, Edward Markey, Eric Massa, Doris Matsui, James McDermott, James McGovern, Michael Michaud, George Miller, Grace Napolitano, Richard Neal, James Oberstar, Ron Paul, Donald Payne, Thomas Petri, Chellie Pingree, Jared Polis, Royce Dwards, Janice Schakowsky, James Sensenbrenner, Jose Serrano, Carol Shea-Porter, Jackie Speier, Michael Thompson, John Tierney, Edolphus Towns, Niki Tsongas, Nydia Velazquez, Maxine Waters, Anthony Weiner, Peter Welch and Lynn Woolsey. There are a few Republicans on the list and some in the press have interpreted this as an anti-Barack voter but Ron Paul is among those Republicans and his record is consistent on this issue regardless of whom occupies the White House. Perry Bacon Jr. (Washington Post) quotes US House Rep Maxine Waters states "this bill simply amplifies and extends failed policies" and US House Rep Jim McGovern states, "When George Bush was president, I was on this floor saying we need an exit strategy. The same applies with Afghanistan. I'm tired of wars with no deadlines, no exits and no ends." Janet Hook (Los Angeles Times) quotes US House Rep David Obey, who voted for the measure, stating, "This is a bill that I have very little confidence in. But we have a responsibility to give a new president who did not get us into this mess the opportunity to get us out of it." David Lightman and William Douglas (McClatchy Newspapers) quote US House Rep Jim McGovern (who voted against it) stating, "As the mission has grown bigger, the policy has grown even more vague." The measure next goes before the Senate for a vote.
Staying with the Congress, Dahr Jamail appeared on KPFA's Flashpoints and we'll note that again later in the snapshot but first this section where he's speaking of counter-insurgency:
Dahr Jamail: It's a really insidious form of neo-colonialism that the US is involved in both Iraq and Afghanistan now and this is a program called the HTS, the Human Terrain System. And what it is is they're employing social scientists so the likes of primarily anthropologists but also social psychologists and sociologists. They're bringing these people in, they're embedding them in military units in teams of between two and five social scientists to go out with combat units. And the goal is well first of all it's basically sold to the American public and gotten a lot of corporate media coverage in this light 'Well if we bring these people along, these people would have a better understanding of the culture and it's going to prevent civilian casualties, it's going to help the military make better decisions.' The reality is how these people are actually being used. First of all, they were used during the raging sectarian conflict in Iraq in 2006 up to mid-2007 to basically find fissures that existed between the Shia and the Sunni primarily and then exploit these so actually help the military stay out of the conflict and actually were involved in some cases in literally giving information to commanders to target certain individuals. And when we look at, for example, how does this stack up to the code of ethics of anthropology? The two primary aspects of their code of ethics is (1) you have to your subject's permission before you're going to do a study [informed consent] and, second, do no harm. So clearly they're in direct violation to both of the primary ethical codes of anthropology and it's caused massive outcry across most anthropologists -- where people, organizations have been formed, people are very much against this HTS program. It's a very insidious form of colonialism. And it's continuing on despite protests, most anthropologists being against this, we've seen no change. We don't know if it's been augmented and expanded but we definitely know that it's continuing on and it's not being disassembled whatsoever. So this is another very disconcerting way that the Obama administration is carrying on Bush policy in Iraq today.
Actually, we do know that it is being expanded and more money spent on it. That was clear in one hearing after another in the last weeks. The US Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support April 22nd was where US marine Gen James F. Amos not only repeatedly confessed to his fears of 'emasculation' but also that the marines weren't ready for war with North Korea or Iran "right now because we're predominately a counter-insurgnecy, a regular warfar focus Marine Corps right now. So all those other skills -- combined armed fire manuever forcible entry -- those things -- we'd have to fjure out, we'd have to figure out, 'Okay, what do we need to do for this new -- this new contingency?'" May 7th the House Armed Services Committee's Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee heard from a wide range of War Hawks including Lisa Schirch who insisted the NGOs needed to work with the miltiary and provide "information" to help with counter-terrorism and more money (always more money from the War Whore Beggar) would help those "on the ground who have cultural intelligence information to share". Big Boy Pull-Ups David Kilcullen also testified to beg for more money (and the committee was all for it -- please note, the committee booked only pro-counter-insurgency witnesses) and also for the US to alter or dispose of some of those pesky laws that his home country of Australia apparently doesn't have:
Fat Ass Kilcullen: And one final legislative issue. We had a lot of trouble uh in Iraq uh trying to counter al Qaeda in Iraq propaganda because of the Smith-Mundt act which meant that we couldn't do a lot of things online uh because if you put something on YouTube uh and it's deemed to the information operations and there's a possibility that an American might log on to that page and read that and be influenced by that's technically illegal under the Smith-Mundt Act and we had to get a uh uh a waiver as you may recall to be able to do that. I think for Congress it might be worth looking at uh how that legislation may need to be relooked at or re-examined in the light of a new media environment so that it still has the same intent but doesn't necessarily restrict us from legitimate things that we might need to do in the field.
Kilcullen, note, wanted to counter what he dubbed al Qaeda in Iraq propangada with . . . propaganda. Not with truth. There's no law barring the US military telling the truth to domestic (US) audiences. There is a law against propaganda. Kilcullen whined to the subcommittee -- a pathetic subcommittee eager to whore itself out -- that he couldn't use the propaganda he wanted as easily as he wanted because of pesky US laws. In case Kicullen's missed it, there are 14 or so connecting flights each weekday out of Dulles to Melbourne Airport -- any of which Kicullen could easily grab to return to his own country where, apparently, propaganda is legal. And of course, yesterday's Senate Armed Services Committee found the Republicans objecting to the big increase in counter-insurgency while what they feel are defense items (missile systems, etc.) are being short changed. Kat shared her thoughts on yesterday's hearing here. Wednesday's snapshot covered some of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee's Innovative Technologies and Treatments Helping Veterans hearing and Kat covered that hearing here.
Meanwhile in Iraq, puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki makes another power grab. Missy Ryan, Mohammed Abbas and Dominic Evans (Reuters) report Nouri is insisting that the agreements on power sharing among Shi'ites, Sunnis and Kurds need to be weakened and watered down. al-Maliki appears to want simple majority rule which is rather ironic since he's only sitting on his throne due to being installed by the US military and the fact that the US military remains on the ground in Iraq. The reporters note, "His comments were likely to fuel suspicions of Sunni Arabs, dominant under Saddam Hussein, and Kurds, who have their own semi-autonomous region in northern Iraq, that minority groups could be subject to majority Shi'ite tyranny." On the subject of the tensions, Wednesday's snapshot wrongly credited "Violence Rises in Iraq's Tense North" to the New York Times' Timothy Williams when the author was Campbell Robertson. My apologies. The morning entry has been corrected and we'll note it in tomorrow's snapshot (snapshot corrections run in later snapshots, that's the policy that allows people to easily copy and paste them -- if you're confused, you're new to the policy). It was my mistake and I apologize for the error and thank community members Mia and Charlie as well as a visitor e-mailing the public account for pointing out my error. Souad Jaroush (Asharq al-Awsat) reports that some Ba'athists currently outside the party see a power vaccum in Iraq and quotes an unnamed official stating they are preparing to enter Iraq as the US draws down to "restore our control on the ground, returning Iraq to its rightful place, as well as expelling all the [foreign] agents that came with the occupation forces." Foreign agents could mean the likes of al-Maliki and the bulk of his cabinet since they were all exiles who chose to live outside of Iraq for years and decades and only returned to the country after the US invaded and exiles could be so easily installed. Alsumaria reports that the country's Parliament is calling for a new committee to be created in order to investigate "the dismissal of 114 officers from the Defense Ministry" by al-Maliki's government. As the tensions escalate, War Hawk and part of Team Colin! during the lead up to the illegal war Richard Haas, Viola Gienger (Bloomberg News) reports, tells Bloomberg's Political Capital with Al Hunt (airs this weekend) that, "There's a ceiling on how good it can ever get, given the nature of Iraqi society, given the schisms. I'd be happy, quite honestly, in two or three years, if Iraq looked no worse." The program beings airing tonight at 6:30 pm EST (believe that's the debut) and repeats throughout the weekend (check schedule) and it also is available as a podcast.
Yesterday the US military announced: "BAGHDAD -- A Coalition forces Soldier was killed and four injured Wednesday morning while conducting combat operations in Duluiyah, approximately 80 km northwest of Baghdad, when their unit came in contact with enemy forces. The unit was conducting operations to rid Iraq of a weapons facilitator and suicide vest cell known to be operating in the area. The Soldiers names will not be released until 24 hours after next of kin notification." The announcement brought to 4295. the number of US service members killed in the Iraq War, five away from 4300. How nice for Richard Hass that they apparently died for the war he cheerleaded so that Iraq didn't look any worse than it does today.
Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .
Sahar Issa and Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) report a Baghdad grenade attack which wounded two people, journalist Khalida al-Mawla was targted with a Mosul sticky bombing but was warned before she got into the car (which exploded while she was outside of it) and a Baghdad roadside bombing Thursday night which injured two people,
Sahar Issa and Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) report 1 person shot dead (internal refugee) in Baghdad, 2 police officers injured in a Mosul shooting and two police officers and one Sahwa were injured when unknown assailants attacked a police and Sahwa checkpoint in Samarra.
Wednesday, independent journalist Dahr Jamail appeared on KPFA's Flashpoints and discussed Sahwa and the rise in violence in Iraq.
Dahr Jamail: I attribute it directly to US policy on the ground there. Just for a little context back in April 2006, well before Bush's so-called 'surge' strategy began which was in February 2007, the US got involved in basically bringing back to life a policy that actually Saddam Hussein used to control areas of Iraq that were very volatile and tended to fight against his dictatorship and so what Saddam did was to basically pay off tribal sheiks, find those who would collaborate with him, pay them off, pay them handsomely under the guise of so-called 'construction contracts' so that they would control people in their tribe and keep them from launching resistance attacks. Well the US basically incorporated the same policy. They called it the formation of the "Awakening" Groups which are now referred to in Iraq as the Al-Sawha, the "Sons Of Iraq." The Sunni militia grew to be 100,000 strong, they were all being paid 300 bucks a month, most of them former resistance fighters according to the [US] military and some of them even members of al Qaeda. But it worked very effectively in keeping violence down and the problem is that, as of last October, these forces were supposed to have been rolled into the government security apparatus -- of the government in Baghdad led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Rather than that actually happening, to date, 5,000 of the 100,000 have actually been given government jobs. The rest of them, in addition to not being paid -- many of them not since October, they've been undergoing attacks from government forces and sometimes even US forces. So as a result, they're not targeting al Qaeda as they used to be so that's why we're seeing a dramatic increase in these spectacular car bomb attacks at mosques and Shia markets, etc. And also that's why we're seeing an uptick in the number of attacks against American troops because some of these people are going back into the resistance since they are not being paid anymore and deciding to basically renew their attacks against occupation forces. So this is really the main reason as I see it why there's been a pretty dramatic escalation in violence. It started slowly in January, it increased in February, it increased more in March and then literally exploded in April and we're seeing it continue on into May.
Nora Barrows Friedman: And Dahr given this acceleration in attacks, what do you think will happen with the people who are in Sahwa forces over the next few months? Do you think the US has stepped into a potential landmine here? Could it actually effect Obama's policy in Iraq?
Dahr Jamail: Well, you know, this is a bigger discussion if we're going to talk about Obama's so-called policy in Iraq because it's really just a continuation of Bush policy. There is -- there is no change on the ground in Iraq. But really I see the situation continuing to degrade because there's a couple of things the Obama administration could do if they were serious about changing the direction things are going on the ground in Iraq. And one would be to pressure the Maliki government to hold true to their promises to incorporate the Sahwa into the government forces, start paying them, stop attacking them. And this is not happening. And instead of that even we saw Obama dispatch Hillary Clinton over to Baghdad a couple of weeks ago and the primary purpose of her mission was basically to assure the Maliki government, 'Look we're not going to abandon you, we will stay. We know the Status Of Forces [Agreement] deadline is coming the end of June, but we're going to be sticking around. So don't worry.' And as a result we're seeing -- if we talk about what is going to happen there, you know, everyone believes that as of June 30 all US troops are going to be out of all Iraqi cities, according to the SOFA. Well the reality is, for example, let's just look at the base Camp Victory which is right nearby Camp Liberty where the American soldier slaughtered five other soldiers on Monday. Camp Victory, over 20,000 US troops stationed at this base alone, it's also simultaneously Baghdad International Airport, Camp Liberty - Baghdad Airport -- I'm sorry, Camp Victory - Baghdad Airport. Same thing. Those are in Baghad. So they're not going to be moving this base because that would entail moving Baghad International Airport as well and it's simply not going to happen so there's your Status Of Forces Agreement for you right there. In addition to the fact that the SOFA also does not prohibit US military from patrolling every city in Iraq if they so please so we're not going to see a cessation in patrols either. So these are things that I see continuing on and it's going to continue to degrade. In fact, as the Brits pull out of southern Iraq, we're starting to see more and more attacks on American forces down there who are filling in for the Brits in the Basra area. In fact just a couple of days ago we had another American soldier killed in Basra by a roadside bomb.
Sunday Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox features Russell Baker to discuss his new book Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, The Powerful Forces that Put It in the White House and What Their Influence Means for America. Bonnie Faulkner (KPFA's Guns and Butter) interviewed Baker Wednesday and you can click here for the audio at Information Clearing House. TV notes, NOW on PBS begins airing tonight on many PBS stations (check local listings):A record 115,000 U.N. peacekeepers are now deployed in 20 countries, and their mission is more vital than ever. But critics and insiders alike are openly worried that the current peacekeeping model is overstretched -- and at risk of failure.This week, NOW travels to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to witness today's largest and most expensive peacekeeping operation. There, 17,000 U.N. troops are tasked with protecting millions of people over a rugged and dangerous territory the size of the Eastern United States. But the effort is struggling--last November, local rebels massacred civilians less than a mile from one of the U.N. bases. How can U.N. peacekeeping be improved so that it fulfills its promise of protection to the world? This show is a co-production with the Bureau for International Reporting (BIR), a non-profit video news production company. PBS is celebrating Sausage Fest. They tend to do that every week. Bill Moyers plans to have multiple guests tonight who all share one thing in common. Can you guess what? Gwen stacks her show but provides a token female on Washington Week: John Dickerson (Slate, CBS News), Michael Duffy (Time), John Harwood (CNBC, New York Times and John Dickerson's doppelganger) and -- TOKEN ALERT! TOKEN ALERT! -- Ceci Connolly (Washington Post). Gwen and Bill, proving each week that the "P" in PBS stands for "penis." Both sausage fests begin airing tonight. Be sure not to watch them with young girls unless you're prepared to explain, "Apparently the TV dinosaurs ate up all the women, honey. Gwen? Well they spit her back out." As a fix you can watch (and starts airing tonight on many PBS stations, check local listings) as Bonnie Erbe sits down with Latifa Lyles, Genevieve Wood, Melinda Henneberger and Rosemary Jenks to discuss this week's news on To The Contrary. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:Secretary Of WarDefense Secretary Robert M. Gates discusses the war in Afghanistan in a candid and wide-ranging interview with Katie Couric, who accompanied him to Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan. Watch Video
AIGEd Liddy, the man who took over the reins of out-of-control American International Group – the failed insurance giant to which the government has made $180 billion available in aid – speaks to Steve Kroft about the gargantuan task ahead.
Anna WintourThe sunglasses come off the high-queen of haute couture in this rare and unprecedented interview, in which the Vogue editor reveals why she always wears them and much more to Morley Safer in her first long-length interview for U.S. television. Watch Video
60 Minutes, Sunday, May 17, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
This week saw Barack Obama break another promise. The torture photos aren't going to be released. Despite promises to the contrary. Debra Sweet (World Can't Wait) notes:
Wednesday, while flying across the country, I was able to watch CNN all day as the news rolled out from the White House that the Obama administration was making an about face, and deciding to fight the court order to release the torture photos. It's an extraordinary story, and people are right to be outraged.
Kevin Gostzola, a student at Columbia College, pulled together the tortured logic of the Obama argument in Obama Employs Bush Administration Tactic to Halt Release of Detainee Photos.
The moment my plane landed in San Francisco, the voice mails, texts, emails began...people thinking about what to do in response. A quick conference call Thursday united World Can't Wait chapters to go Friday to media outlets (FOX in New York; CNN in Atlanta) with the demand:
Release the Torture Photos! Prosecute the War Criminals!
World Can't Wait is planning actions to protest the torture of the previous administration and the cover up of the current one (plus, Barack's policies have not ended torture -- in some cases it has farmed torture out). From "Thursday MAY 28 National Day of Resistance to U.S. TORTURE!:"
On or by May 28, the Obama administration is being forced to release 2000 photos of detainee abuse in US facilities from 2001-2006. The Abu Ghraib photos, released in 2004 only because a solider was horrified over the torture, brought an international storm of protest against the US torture state. The new photos, including many from Bagram, where the detention facilities have just been doubled to hold 60,000 Afganis, will show that US torture was widespread, sustained, and systemic, not an "aberration," but an integral part of the "global war on terror."
Weeks after 4 more torture memos revealed the detail with which George Bush's lawyers managed the torture of individual detainees, calls to prosecute those responsible -- from the White House principals, to the legal torture team, to the CIA agents who tortured -- have met objections from Washington. Cheney and the open advocates of torture scream that they must be able to use "harsh methods" to win the global war on terror. The Obama administration, after deciding to continue indefinite detention, CIA rendition, and Bush's executive powers, says prosecution would stop them from "moving forward." Democratic party leader Nancy Pelosi knew about the torture and waterboarding since 2002, saying and doing nothing to stop it..
It's up to the people to act! World Can't Wait and other groups are planning non-violent civil resistance protests, programs digging into the substance of the charges, waterboarding and rendition re-enactments, and film showings in communities around the country to demand prosecution of the Bush era war criminals. More information, listings, posters, flyers & background on the war criminals at warcriminalswatch.org.
Wherever the Bush era war criminals are appearing this month, raise the cry "Torture is a War Crime! Prosecute!"
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