Friday, October 29, 2010

US Super Spies!!!!

Anne Flaherty (AP) has to write up the claims of the Pentagon with crusty Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn insisting that the documents released by WikiLeaks are being studied by terrorists. By terrorists!!!!!

This sentence, by AF, is priceless: "He did not say which groups, or how the Pentagon knew they were researching the documents."

Too true.

Apparently we have super spies monitoring all over the world. Super spies!

It's too much.

Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, October 29, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, Balad Ruz is slammed with a bombing, the New York Times launches a new attack on WikiLeaks and tries to pollute the minds of America's children, the political stalemate continues and more.
AFP reports a Balad Ruz bombing has claimed the lives of at least 25 people with seventy more listed as injured according police Chief Ahmed al-Tamimi. Press TV notes that the bombing was in a coffee house and that "[s]ome reports suggest that the attack targeted a gathering of local residents inside the building." BBC News notes that "area is said to be home to many Shias of Kurdish origin." Al Jazeera adds, "Al Jazeera's Rawya Rageh, reporting from Baghad, said authorities imposed a curfew in Balad Ruz, and that five people have been arrested." Muhanad Mohammed, Wathiq Ibrahim, Waleed Ibrahim, Michael Christie and Alison Williams (Reuters) report, "The cafe, a popular venue for playing dominoes, smoking sisha pipes and drinking sweet tea, was desroyed, said Colonel Kadhim bashir Saleh, a spokesman in Baghdad of Iraq's civil defence force." And they quote eye witness Sadeq Abbas stating, "I was near the cafe and suddenly a big explosion happened inside and there was chaos in the area. Security forces started shooting in the air to disperse the crowd and prevent people from going near the cafe." Mazin Yahya (AP) notes that the it is said to have been a suicide bomber.
Earlier this week on Antiwar Radio (Wednesday), Scott Horton interviewed journalist and historian Gareth Porter. We'll note this at the very end of the interview.
Gareth Porter: The one thing that I would underline that I was shakiest on was the belief that the SOFA, the agreement that was reached in November of 2008, was something that could be expected -- could be counted on to stick. I'm no longer confident that that's the case.
Scott Horton: Wow. Well now, talk about opening a can of worms up. What you're saying is that the war will start again because Moqtada al-Sadr isn't backing down on that? You're just saying the Pentagon is going to insist on staying?
Gareth Porter: I'm saying, I'm saying that I'm not at all confident the US troops are going to get out. That's right. I think there's a grave danger that we're going to get stuck there.
Scott Horton: Which means fighting against the government we just spent all this time installing. But you know --
Gareth Porter: Well I don't know. Maybe we're going to be fighting Kurds, maybe we're going to be fighting Turks? You know, who knows? Who knows who we'll be fighting? But I do think -- I have very good reason to believe that this is a serious danger at this point. That the Obama administration is going to try to pull another "Oh yeah, we're pulling all of our combat troops out, see? These are not combat troops. Nothing to see here move on."
Gen George Casey is Chief of Staff of the Army and he gave a speech earlier this week. What's interesting is the way the army elected to write it up. Here's the opening paragraph from the army's press release (that they would call a "news article"):

Soldiers can look forward to increased time at home station when the Army has all but completely pulled out of Iraq, leaving a larger pool of units free to do rotations in Afghanistan. But those rotations will continue for a some time, said the Army's top Soldier.

"Can look forward to" casts this sometime in the near future and, according to the army's press release, at that point the US will not be out of Iraq, it will have "all but completely pulled out of Iraq". It's an interesting word choice. Especially coming on the heels of the US State Dept's acknowledgment that the White House is "open" to extending the SOFA and keeping 50,000 US troops in Iraq beyond 2011. From Monday's snapshot:
Today Robert Dreyfuss (The Nation) reports that former US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker spoke last week to the National Council on US - Arab Relations and " that when the dust clears in the formation of a new government in Iraq that Baghdad would come to the United States to ask for an extension of the US military presence beyond the end of 2011. By that date, according to the accord signed in 2008 by the Bush administration, all US troops are to leave Iraq. But Crocker said that it is 'quite likely that the Iraqi government is going to ask for an extension of our deployed presence'." (He also expressed that Nouri would remaing prime minister. Why? The US government backed Nouri as the 'continuing' prime minister after Nouri promised he's allow the US military to remain in Iraq past 2011.) Today at the US State Dept, spokesperson Philip J. Crowley was asked about Crocker's remarks. He responded, "Well, we have a Status of Forces Agreement and a strategic framework. The Status of Forces Agreement expires at the end of next year, and we are working towards complete fulfillment of that Status of Forces Agreement, which would include the withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Iraq by the end of next year. The nature of our partnership beyond next year will have to be negotiated. On the civilian side, we are committed to Iraq over the long term. We will have civilians there continuing to work with the government on a range of areas – economic development, rule of law, civil society, and so forth. But to the extent that Iraq desires to have an ongoing military-to-military relationship with the United States in the future, that would have to be negotiated. And that would be something that I would expect a new government to consider. [. . .] Should Iraq wish to continue the kind of military partnership that we currently have with Iraq, we're open to have that discussion."
During the Antiwar Radio interview, Gareth Porter discussed the WikiLeaks release and the "Report Shows Drones Strikes Based on Scant Evidence" (IPS via Information Clearing House) -- which is his reporting on the leaks. Last Friday, WikiLeaks released 391,832 US military documents on the Iraq War. The documents -- US military field reports -- reveal torture and abuse and the ignoring of both. They reveal ongoing policies passed from the Bush administration onto the Obama one. They reveal that both administrations ignored and ignore international laws and conventions on torture. They reveal a much higher civilian death toll than was ever admitted to.
On the topic of WikiLeaks, a correction for yesterday when I was grossly wrong. A friend was the first to reach me and say, "Was it a joke?" No, I honestly thought ZNet was published (and I thought it had its servers) in Canada. I was wrong, 100% wrong, completely wrong. (See today's snapshot.) My mistake. No one else's. I will be wrong many times again as I was in the snapshot today. I'll include this in tomorrow's snapshot to correct my error. My apologies for my error. We were noting ZNet because they stood alone among independent media in actually covering the WikiLeaks release. They are an American publication (again, I was wrong) and this is some of their WikiLeaks coverage:
There are many ways that the documents can be covered. Ian Alln ( covers the CIA angle and how the US documents can be used to chart the CIA's role in the ongoing war. Sitting down with McClatchy Newspaprs' Sahar Issa, The Real News Network's Paul Jay addressed the civilian death toll.
JAY: So let's talk a little bit about WikiLeaks. There are various pieces of the documents that jumped out, but the one a lot of people have been talking about is the numbers of civilian deaths, over 100,000. How have Iraqis reacted to all of this?
ISSA: Iraqis know this. Iraqis know that they have lost hundreds of thousands.

JAY: So people think the number is low.
ISSA: Iraqis know this. Iraqis know that they have lost hundreds of thousands.

JAY: So people think the number is low.
"To the disgust of many, both Iraq's new leaders and the world as a whole lent a deaf ear to such crimes, shutting their eyes to accounts of atrocities and refusing to investigate reports of intimidation, abuse and killings," Salah Hemeid (Al-Ahram Weekly) observes, noting, as Issa does, what Iraqis knew and what the media and governments didn't want discussed. "However, by giving a fuller picture of the US legacy in Iraq through its leaking of secret American military documents detailing torture, summary execution and war crimes, Wikileaks has both done truth a great service and has proved, once again, that truth is the first casualty of war." Watching America translates an editorial on the topic from Spain's El Pais:
The new leaks from WikiLeaks furnish conclusive proof concerning the cesspool of a war like Iraq, undertaken for motives increasingly seen to have been foolish in the extreme and carried out with a brutality that was in complete contradiction to the propagation of democracy invoked by Bush and his Azorean colleagues* as a justification for war. If the strongest argument against the invasion was that democracy could not be imposed on another country by force of arms, the new leaks from WikiLeaks make it necessary to add a corollary which, until now, might have seemed obvious: even less by means of torture, rape or indiscriminate slaughter of civilians. An end, such as democracy, does not justify such execrable means.
Allan Gerson (Huffington Post) probes another area of the released documents:
For example, the WikiLeaks documents released last week made clear, said the Vice President of the European Parliament, Dr. Alejo Vidal Quadras, that the Obama Administration knew that Iran was rapidly "gaining control of Iraq at many levels" even while it overruled objections not to turn over to Iraqi forces control of Camp Ashraf, an enclave 40km. north of Baghdad where approximately 3500 Iranian dissidents are quartered. Hundreds of parliamentarians in the US, Europe and the Middle East had pointed out that transfer to Iraqi control might lead to mass executions were the Camp Ashraf dissidents forcefully repatriated to Iran by Iraqi leaders anxious to placate Iran.
Nevertheless, the Obama Administration turned Camp Ashraf over to Iraqi forces without ever revealing a material fact: that the rush for "engagement" with Iran was bought at the price of psychological torture of Camp Ashraf's residents, repeated forays, and shooting sprees that killed and maimed hundreds of dissidents. Despite the outrage voiced in many quarters, the intimidation, coercion and atrocities have only been put on hold, in abeyance, ready to be resurrected in full at a more propitious moment. To rectify the situation and avert another tragedy, the US should resume protecting Ashraf or at least ensure that a UN monitoring team is stationed there.
Countless American citizens and their representatives in Congress acquiesced to "engagement" with Iran on false premises. The Obama Administration's readiness to turn a blind eye to the fate of Camp Ashraf's 3500 residents is now public information, in large measure through the release of the WikiLeaks documents. As the price of "engagement" with Iran has been revealed, it is up to the American populace and its representatives in Congress to determine if they are willing to acquiesce in the politics of appeasement -- not least, through the abandonment of Iran's most stalwart opponents.
Steve Fake (Foreign Policy In Focus) dissects the ways in which information that threatens the power-structure is attacked including:
The other tactic employed by opinion shapers, coming to the foreground in light of the extensive redactions of the Iraq documents, is to smear the messenger. The reader of the American press cannot help but be struck by one thought while reading the various reports discussing Assange's reputed authoritarianism and psychological health, the molestation charges he faces, and the factional strife at WikiLeaks: the allegations are of virtually no public policy significance. They amount to scarcely more than gossip fodder.
One attacker has been Miss Susan Hayward of 2010, John F. Burns. And we addressed him at length last night. And while it may seem hard to top a man who co-writes a 2014 word article and then requires 1287 to defend it, the New York Times found some others ready to 'play.' For the record, my kids are out of school (they're adults now) but had they come home with the 'lesson' 'plan' that Shannon Doyne and Holly Epstein Ojalova pen for the New York Times, those two 'teachers' would not be employed at the school anymore. I'd start by noting that neither appears to have majored in education (they're English majors -- English majors -- at last, a group even drama majors can laugh at). Were they emergency certified or did they have a waiver because they're training -- such as it is -- does not qualify them for the subect (the release of government documents) or for preparing a lesson plan or unit. They're not qualified. (Holly has an MA in English lit education. No, it's not the same thing but a friend at the paper insisted that be noted.)
Then there's the crap they churned out. As a parent, I was never bothered if a side of an argument is presented . . . provided more than one side was presented. There's only one side presented in Shannon and Holly's bad lesson: Government right.
These two . . . women would have been out of jobs, I'm not joking. Teachers are expected to be fair and there is nothing fair about what Shannon and Holly designed. Here's there basics:
* have kids brainstorm documents a government might keep on war
* have them focus on the Pentagon, DoD, CIA, etc.
And on it goes. As you scan through, you may wonder when they take the position of human rights attorneys, of peace activists, of a soldier struggling with the issues, etc.? The answer is never. They are asked to think about "What percentage of the documents do you think could pose a threat if they fell into an enemy's hands? What could happen if these documents were made public?" When do they get asked to think about the public's right to know? NEVER. When do they get asked to think about open government and how it is needed in a democracy? NEVER.
The exercises put the students -- intentionally -- into roles at DoD, the CIA and the Pentagon. That's intentional not accidental. I would not tolerate this S**T if my child brought it home. It would offend my politics, yes, but it would offend me most of all for being so damn one-sided and for my children being held hostage to some illegimate and unqualifed teacher's doctrine.
The exercise insists students 'learn' of Julian Assange -- late in the lesson plan -- by reading the hit-job John F. Burns co-wrote. Why? What is the purpose of that? It's not about Julian Assange.
Look at the questions the children will address:
  1. How many secret documents about the war in Iraq did WikiLeaks release? The war in Afghanistan?
  2. Why are some of Mr. Assange's comrades abandoning him?
  3. Who is Daniel Ellsberg, and why does he consider Julian Assange a "kindred spirit"?
  4. Why did Mr. Assange initially go to Sweden, and why did he flee shortly thereafter?
  5. How does Mr. Assange describe the United States in regard to democracy? Do you agree or disagree?
Look at questions two, four and five and explain to me what an American child 'learning' about Julian from the smear piece by Burnsie isn't going to be likely to side against Julian? These questions are chosen to plant the seeds of distrust in and hostility towards Julian. They are the education equivalent of push-polling. They show a motive on the part of the design and that -- along with the lack of educational training -- would ensure that the teachers would be hitting the road and looking for employment in another field (judging by the piece they wrote, they'd probably inquire as to whether there were any openings for torturers at Guantanamo).
And then the point of the lesson:
Is WikiLeaks heroic or villainous for releasing these documents? (Alternatively, you might temper such a stark question by softening the wording slightly, like so: "Is WikiLeaks a force for good or an instigator of trouble?")
Where are the questions about the government? Where are the questions about the actions in the paper themselves? They've created quite a little fact-free world where there are no values and are no ethics there is just an excercise that has them pretend (over and over) that they are the government, briefly 'informs' them of a one Whistleblower via an attack piece, pays a passing nod to Daniel Ellsberg (the lesson plan contains no real unit on Daniel) and then wants to ask for a judgment that will be cast in good or evil.
This isn't teaching, this indoctrination. Should your children's school use it, raise bloody hell. No school should use this crap. It's one-sided and the educational equivalent of smut. The New York Times should be ashamed of themselves. While they regularly pull their stunts on readers, now they want to contaminate the minds of children?
John F. Burns is a piece of trash. But his attack on Julian? It was the equivalent of the town drunk hurling charges in the public square. What the New York Times is attempting now is far more damage and the sort of thing you'd be more likely to encounter in a lesson plan catering to Hitler Youth.
Meanwhile Duraid Al Baik (Gulf News) reports that Iraqi "human rights activists are worried that a rising number of crimes against humanity in Iraq will not be documented unless the current government of Nouri Al Maliki steps down."
March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board noted in August, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality." 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. They are claiming they have the right to form the government. In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. It's seven months and twenty-two days and still counting.
Meanwhile Najba Mohammed (Rudaw) notes, "Although Iraq's budget for the 2011 fiscal year is estimated at nearly $86 billion, the anticipated delay in approving it by parliament is expected to negatively affect reconstruction projects across the country including the autonomous Kurdistan Region in the north. Around $10 billion of the estimated budget is expected to go to the coffers of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)." When your newly elected Parliament's only met once -- and for less than 20 minutes at that -- it can be difficult getting a budget approved. Commenting on the stalemate, the San Angelo Standard-Times' editorial board states, "There was some thought that the leak of nearly 400,000 classified U.S. documents bearing on Iraq might galvanize the parliament into action with its revelations of the torture and killing of civilians, especially Sunnis, by the security services and of meddling in Iraq's internal affairs by Iran, Syria and Hezbollah. Al-Maliki, who was in titular charge of the security services during the worst of the sectarian violence, said that the release was an attempt to discredit his bid for a second term. And the Sunnis renewed demands that the implicated services be disbanded. But most lawmakers, like most Iraqis, perhaps inured to violence, seemed unfazed by the revelations."
Back to the US and Gen Casey's remarks we were dealing with at the top. In his speech, Casey waxed on about the "longterm" war "we" are in with "violent extremism." Someone needs to ask Casey, when did the American people make the decision that they wanted that? Or that they could financially afford it? Or that bombing and killing doesn't breed violent response? When did they decide to throw out every bit of political science and every study on the nature of violence and 'think' up a 'plan' of bullying and cowing the world? No one will ask that anymore than they will challenge Adm Mike Mullen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff when again refers to the Iraq War as a "success" for the US military. By what standards? By the fact that unlike England as summer faded in 2006, they didn't have to abandon a base that was stripped to the ground by Iraqis within 12 hours of the British military fleeing? As Michael Hughes (Examiner -- link has text and video) reports today, Noam Chomsky doesn't see US having 'success' in Iraq by any means that an empire could point to and say, "See there!" Hughes quotes Chomsky:
Iraq is an interesting case because it was a defeat. U.S. goals were defeated in Iraq, very important fact. At the beginning there were of course all sorts of pretexts, "they're tied with Al Qaeda", "weapons of mass destruction", when that collapsed there was a new pretext "we're bringing democracy". The U.S. in fact fought democracy every step of the way. It tried to prevent elections, and when it couldn't prevent them it tried to manipulate them.
By 2008 when it was pretty clear the U.S. was not going to achieve its goals, the Bush administration made strong significant declarations in which they discussed what the outcome must be, and what they said it must include was the U.S. right to use military bases in Iraq indefinitely as a base for combat and other operations and privileged access to Iraqi energy resources for U.S. corporations. At that point it was said pretty explicitly because they were getting pretty desperate.
Well they didn't get either of those because the United States had not been able to suppress Iraqi nationalism. The U.S. could kill any number of insurgents that wasn't a big problem but what they couldn't deal with was the mass popular non-violent resistance. The U.S. was defeated. But it's clear what the war aims were, they were sensible aims.

TV notes. On PBS' Washington Week, Dan Balz (Washington Post), Jeanne Cummings (Politico), Major Garrett (National Journal) and Jeff Zeleny (New York Times) join Gwen around the table. Gwen now has a weekly column at Washington Week and the current one is "The End of Prognostication: 5 Questions for Election Night." This week, Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Avis Jones-DeWeever, Angela McGlowan, Sabrina Schaeffer and Amanda Terket to discuss the week's news on the latest broadcast of PBS' To The Contrary. And this week's To The Contrary online extra is on attempts to win over women voters. Need To Know is PBS' new program covering current events. This week's hour long broadcast airs Fridays on most PBS stations: "The security of the voting system; modern gerrymandering; California's Proposition 23, which would suspend the state's Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. Also: Rebecca Traister and Melissa Harris-Perry discuss the number of female candidates in 2010." And for those confused, Lie Face Harris-Lacewell got married and, like a complete idiot, has again tacked on a spouse's last name to her own. (I'm long on record in believing that you NEVER change your professional name and have noted a very good friend whose marriage ended decades ago and has happily remarried but is still stuck with her ex-husband's last name due to the fact that she changed her professional name after marriage number one.) Turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:

Newton, Iowa
Scott Pelley reports from Newton, Iowa, where the closing of an appliance factory is causing a negative effect on the community's economy.

Tax The Rich
David Stockman, Ronald Reagan's budget director who once preached tax cuts,

is now in favor of putting a one-time surtax on the rich. Lesley Stahl reports and finds just such a proposal on the ballot in the state of Washington. | Watch Video

If Zenyatta wins the Breeder's Cup Classic next week to cap an undefeated

career of 20 straight victories, some say the 6-yr.-old mare might just be the greatest thoroughbred race horse in history. Bob Simon reports. | Watch Video

60 Minutes, Sunday, Oct. 31, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

Earlier this week, we noted a portion of an HRW release and I promised we'd try to get it in a snapshot in full so we'll close with this release Human Rights Watch issued Sunday:

The Iraqi government should investigate credible reports that its forces engaged in torture and systematic abuse of detainees, Human Rights Watch said today. Hundreds of documents released on October 22, 2010, by Wikileaks reveal beatings, burnings, and lashings of detainees by their Iraqi captors. Iraq should prosecute those responsible for torture and other crimes, Human Rights Watch said.
The US government should also investigate whether its forces breached international law by transferring thousands of Iraqi detainees from US to Iraqi custody despite the clear risk of torture. Field reports and other documents released by Wikileaks reveal that US forces often failed to intervene to prevent torture and continued to transfer detainees to Iraqi custody despite the fact that they knew or should have known that torture was routine.
"These new disclosures show torture at the hands of Iraqi security forces is rampant and goes completely unpunished," said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "It's clear that US authorities knew of systematic abuse by Iraqi troops, but they handed thousands of detainees over anyway."
The 391,831 documents released by Wikileaks, mostly authored by low-ranking US officers in the field between 2004 and 2009, refer to the deaths of at least six detainees in Iraqi custody. The reports also reveal many previously unreported instances in which US soldiers killed civilians, including at checkpoints on Iraq's roads and during raids on people's homes.
The documents indicate that US commanders frequently failed to follow up on credible evidence that Iraqi forces killed, tortured, and mistreated their captives. According to the documents, US authorities investigated some abuse cases, but much of the time they either ignored the abuse or asked Iraqis to investigate and closed the file. In one incident on January 2, 2007, Iraqi security forces took detainees to an abandoned house and beat them, resulting in a death. The report stated, "As Coalition Forces were not involved in the alleged abuse, no further investigation is necessary."
Even when US officials reported abuse to Iraqi authorities, the Iraqis often did not act. In one report, an Iraqi police chief told US military inspectors that his officers engaged in abuse "and supported it as a method of conducting investigations." Another report said that an Iraqi police chief refused to file charges "as long as the abuse produced no marks."
The documents reveal extensive abuse of detainees by Iraqi security forces over the six-year period.
In a November 2005 document, US military personnel described Iraqi abuse at a Baghdad facility that held 95 blindfolded detainees in a single room: "Many of them bear marks of abuse to include cigarette burns, bruising consistent with beatings and open sores... according to one of the detainees questioned on site, 12 detainees have died of disease in recent weeks."
On June 16, 2007, US soldiers reported that Iraqi forces interrogated and tortured a terrorism suspect by burning him with chemicals or acid and cutting off his fingers. According to the Wikileaks file, "Victim received extensive medical care at the Mosul General Hospital resulting in amputation of his right leg below the knee[,] several toes on his left foot, as well as amputation of several fingers on both hands. Extensive scars resulted from the chemical/acid burns, which were diagnosed as 3rd degree chemical burns along with skin decay."
In a case reported on December 14, 2009, the US military received a video showing Iraqi Army officers executing a bound detainee in the northern town of Talafar: "The footage shows [Iraqi] soldiers moving the detainee into the street, pushing him to the ground, punching him, and shooting him."
In at least two cases, postmortems revealed evidence of death by torture. On December 3, 2008, a sheikh who a police chief claimed had died from "bad kidneys" in fact was found to have "evidence of some type of unknown surgical procedure on [his] abdomen. The incision was closed by 3-4 stitches. There was also evidence of bruises on the face, chest, ankle, and back of the body."
On August 27, 2009, a US medical officer found "bruises and burns as well as visible injuries to the head, arm, torso, legs and neck" on the body of another detainee. Police claimed the detainee had committed suicide while in custody.
The disclosures by Wikileaks come almost six months after Human Rights Watch interviewed 42 detainees who had been tortured over a period of months by security forces at a secret prison in the old Muthanna airport in West Baghdad. The facility held about 430 detainees who had no access to their families or lawyers. The prisoners said their torturers kicked, whipped, and beat them, tried to suffocate them, gave them electric shocks, burned them with cigarettes, and pulled out their fingernails and teeth. They said that interrogators sodomized some detainees with sticks and pistol barrels. Some young men said they were forced to perform oral sex on interrogators and guards and that interrogators forced detainees to molest one another. Iraqi authorities have still not prosecuted any officials responsible.
Between early 2009 and July 2010, US forces transferred thousands of Iraqi detainees to Iraqi custody. International law prohibits the transfer of detained individuals to the authorities of another state where they face a serious risk of torture and ill-treatment.
"US authorities have an obligation not to transfer any of the 200 or so detainees still in their custody to Iraqi forces or to anyone else who might mistreat them," said Stork. "The US should also make sure those detainees already transferred are not in a dungeon somewhere currently facing torture."
At a Pentagon news conference on November 29, 2005, Gen. Peter Pace, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, responded to a question about Pentagon guidance in situations where US commanders witness abuse by Iraqi forces, saying, "It is absolutely the responsibility of every US service member, if they see inhumane treatment being conducted, to intervene to stop it." Then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who was also on the podium, intervened and said: "But I don't think you mean they have an obligation to physically stop it; it's to report it." Pace responded, "If they are physically present when inhumane treatment is taking place, sir, they have an obligation to try to stop it."
A reporter then asked Rumsfeld if it was his sense that alleged Iraqi abuses were not widespread. Rumsfeld responded that he did not know.
"It's obviously something that the -- General Casey and his troops are attentive to and have to be concerned about," Rumsfeld told the reporter. "It -- I'm not going to be judging it from 4,000 miles away -- how many miles away?"

Thursday, October 28, 2010


E-mails!!!! I plan two more pieces (at least) on Cher before the end of the year (actually before the end of the month of November). That will bring me to 14 for the year (and I only promise 10 a year). In addition, there's an album by a guy that's really growing on me and I think I'd like to review it. Actually, I know I would. But whether I will have the time and whether or not I'll find some way to talk about it, I don't know.

And that will be it for the year unless something's being released that I don't know about (which is more than possible).

Carly Simon is going to be on a documentary soundtrack. It's a new track, "The Letter." Others on the soundrack will be Ben Harper, Norah Jones, Ben Taylor, etc.

Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, October 28, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, WikiLeaks continues to be in the news, the call for an investigation into abuse and torture grows, the political stalemate continues and more.

Late Friday, WikiLeaks released 391,832 US military documents on the Iraq War. The documents -- US military field reports -- reveal torture and abuse and the ignoring of both. They reveal ongoing policies passed from the Bush administration onto the Obama one. They reveal that both administrations ignored and ignore international laws and conventions on torture. They reveal a much higher civilian death toll than was ever admitted to. Calls are coming in from officials in many countries for an investigation -- including from the UK, Norway and Israel -- and from the United Nations High Commissoner for Human Rights and the United Nations' Special Rapporteur on Torture. Russia's RIA Novsoti reports, "Moscow has called on Washington to hold an investigation into mass human rights violations committed by U.S. servicemen during the military campaign in Iraq between 2004 and 2009, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said on Thursday."

Today Robert Fisk appeared on Australia's Lateline (ABC) and, among other questions, host Tony Jones asked him what the documents released by WikiLeaks meant?

Robert Fisk: First of all, the individual items like, you know, there are witnesses, American witnesses to torture, they didn't do anything, that the Iraqis -- security authorities were torturing Iraqis, that American air strikes were killing many civilians. We knew about this, but it was always denied by the Americans. I was doing stories years ago about Iraqis torturing Iraqis and the stories were coming from American officers who were leaking them to me. But of course every time I wrote them in the paper, the Americans denied that it was true. I went to the scenes of US air strikes. They were obviously limbs, hands, arms of children, babies, women, civilians, as well sometimes as armed men, and we wrote about this. What the WikiLeaks does is it proves beyond any doubt that what we reported was correct and that what we were told by the American authorities was mendacious, it was a lie. Just remember, the Americans now are saying, "Shame upon WikiLeaks. It's endangering lives in Iraq." I mean, invading Iraq endangered an awful lot of lives, didn't it? But, you know, if these leaks, if these 400,000 documents had confirmed that the Americans did stop torture, that they didn't kill civilians and air strikes, you know, US generals' be hadning this stuff out free of charge to journalists on the front steps of the Pentagon. It's the fact that it proves how shameful our invasion and occupation of Iraq was that this has come as such a blow to the United States -- and only, I might add, to the West. You know, the reaction in the Arab world, when they looked through all stuff in the Arabic language press, particularly in Baghdad, was, "Well, so what's new? We knew all this. We were the people being tortured. We were the people being bombed by the Americans." It's in the West that we're saying, "My goodness! Is that the case? So the generals lied." That's the big signifance at this particular point of this. One bigger significance, I think -- and it was Al Jazeera who actually picked this up -- was that this famous 242 message, which tells US troops from higher headquarters, presumably Ricardo Sanchez when he was a general in Baghdad, which syas, "If you see abuse taking place, not by Americans, report it, but basically, just do nothing."

In the US, media coverage has tended to fall into two camps "no big deal" and non-existant. For so-called 'independent' media, it has pretty much been non-existant. Danny Schechter -- at ZNet, Canadian media -- examines US MSM coverage and finds it lacking. But readers may find it lacking that, in Danny's criticism, no one appears to do anything. We never get the names of the ones called out. CNN does a crappy interview and we're not told who with CNN did the interview. We noted her Sunday: TV personality Atika Shubert disgraced herself but don't look for CNN to discipline her, she did what government officials wanted, attacked Julian Assange and turned a supposed interview about WikiLeaks into a smear against his person with unfounded rumors. There's no whore like a corporate whore. Danny Shea (Huffington Post) has video of the character attack here. Katherina-Marie Yancy (AP) notes the WikiLeaks documents demonstrate that the body count was far higher than the US government admitted to -- the documents, remember, are US military documents. That would mean, to say what the AP won't, the US government lied. [. . .] Atika Shubert could have addressed that, instead she wanted to go smutty, she wanted to go whory. It won't be forgotten. News Whore Atika was too damn lazy to do the work required for a real character assassination. Not only is she a whore, she's a damn lazy whore. If someone's denied charges (that were dropped), you either get the records or you get the witnesses. That's how you do a character assassination. But apparently whores are very limited in the number of tricks they can be taught. Atika Shubert just destroyed her image today. There will be no rebuilding of it. She will not be trusted by large numbers of the public. CNN will have to use her 'sparingly'. Not because they doubt she'll whore for them, she so obviously will. But she's now a known whore. We've all seen her whoring. She can't play journalist now and be believed by many. Danny's far too kind to call her a media whore but he still could name her. Danny calls out a story in the New York Times which . . . apparently wrote itself? The bylines Danny fails to provide: John F. Burns and Ravi Somaiya. A CJR piece he calls out is easier to understand (the lack of billing) because it has multiple authors; however, the section Danny's calling out was written by Lauren Kirchner and a lot more from that article needs to be called out. Is CJR receiving government funds or taking in government embeds? That's especially a required question when we're dealing with someone (Joel Meares) whoring for I-Hate-Iran Michael Gordon. The report cannot accurately assert, as Gordo and Andrew W. Lehren claim, where kidnapped victims were kidnapped unless they witnessed the kidnapping. That's a basic of journalism and CJR should have caught that. Instead they joined Gordo in his War On Iran by presenting a claim as fact -- and they can't back it up.

And if we're going to criticize CJR (I know three with CJR, I've never shied from criticizing it and they've never shied from hurling zingers back this way) and specifically that piece, let's criticize for their MASSIVE FAILURE. That piece ends how? The last section is a British news channel being evaluated. Justin Peters writes that section and ends it -- and the piece -- with this statement: "We'll be watching for the station's full program on Monday." Well, --

Did Channel 4 air it?

Or -- did they go off the air?

Because Monday came and went and where was CJR? In fact on Thursday, we still don't have a press coverage package as promised. Where is it? Go through Campaign Desk (yes, they're using that whorish name again after retiring it in 2004) and you'll never find it. Now their inattention to the Iraq War is appalling. However, in this case, it's appalling that they can't even deliver what they promise at their own site. No one forced them to write that they would catch Channel 4. They said they would. Why are they unable to keep their word and why should we believe them if they can't keep it? (They will argue this Joel Meares blog post -- in praise of that hideous article written by Burnsie & Snowball attacking Julian Assange -- and this Clint Hendler piece calling out the Washington Post editorial board cover it. No, that's not what was promised. On Monday, we were led to believe that they would address the coverage. Instead, they napped all week basically but managed to toss out two tiny blog posts.)

Danny's article is at ZNet where you can also find this listing:

Julian Assange: Under Siege
Chatterjee/Rosen/Leigh: Contractors
Danny Schechter: Pentagon War

Glenn Greenwald: Nixonian Henchmen
Robert Fisk: The Shaming of America
Juan Cole: WikiLeaks & Iraq Gov.
Patrick Cockburn: Death Squads
Assange: Explaining the Logs

Assange: Defending the Logs
Josh Stieber: Responding to the Leak
Daniel Ellsberg: Logs Released

Look in vain at US 'independent media' because our publications can't be bothered. Not The Progressive, not In These Times, not The Nation. Elaine wrote Tuesday:

Matthew Rothschild wants to maintain -- in his minute long radio spot -- that the WikiLeaks revelations reveal "just how immoral the Iraq War has been." First, I don't use "moral" or "immoral." I'll use "ethical" and "criminal" as terms but I'm not part of the morality police. Second, if Rothschild thinks it's "immoral," here's what twice as "immoral" the refusal of him and everyone at his magazine to write a damn thing on the WikiLeaks.
He's the one tossing around "immoral." So why can't he write about it? Why can't he have everyone write about it, everyone at the magazine?
That would tear away from The Progressive's efforts to turn out the vote for the Democratic Party in next Tuesday's elections.
I'm sick of The Whoring of America and sick of The Progressive and The Nation dropping the ball over and over because they're too damn busy whoring for the Democratic Party.

Elaine's absolutely right. I don't use the "immoral" term either. For the same reasons as Elaine. But if you're going to use it, if you're going to judge in that way and deem something or someone "immoral," you really need to explore the topic for more than fifty seconds or you are the one who will appear "immoral" for refusing to address a subject you pretend to take so damn seriously. Matthew's added another audio commentary. If you put them both together, you almost have two minutes -- minus bumper music -- of coverage of WikiLeaks. That's supposed to cut it? Although, to his credit, Matthew's not wearing garish make up including lipstick that's about 15 years (I'm being kind) too young for him. For that, you have to check out The Nation's website -- or as most refer to it, "Katrina's Bulletin Board." Katrina, marrying your professor may make you feel like the eternal student but you are not, however, still 21. When it comes to appearances, she's quickly becoming the Ayn Rand of the left. At The Nation, you will find a piece by Laura Flanders that has "WikiLeaks" in the title and tosses out the term a few times in the article and led a friend at the magazine to call yesterday evening wanting a quote in the snapshot. But, as it was read to me -- one potential pull-quote after another -- it became obvious the piece is not, in fact, about WikiLeaks. We addressed that this morning and we'll again note: You can't read her today without grasping how consumed with disappointment and envy she is. And maybe that's what whoring brings? She's still whoring. Laura our supposedly pro-choice Socialist is praising anti-choice Tim Kaine as "savvy" in her so-called WikiLeaks column. There's no ass she won't kiss. Meanwhile In These Times is apparently gunning for an "outstanding civilians" award from the Pentagon. How else to explain that WikiLeaks' revelations have never been written about at the site? James Weinstein is groaning from the grave but, hey, they might win a Publications Improvements award from DoD!

Apparently the bulk of Panhandle Media doesn't read anything heavier than (Democratic Party) campaign pamphlets. If that is indeed the problem, please adopt-an-independent-media 'reporter' long enough to read them the following from IPA:

Stieber is a veteran of the Bravo Company documented in the video "Collateral Murder," released earlier this year by WikiLeaks.

The British Telegraph reports: "An American military legal adviser told helicopter crew that Iraqi men were valid targets as they could not surrender to aircraft, the documents show.

"The Apache helicopter killed the two insurgents after being told that they were still legitimate targets even though they were offering to lay down their arms.

"It is thought that the aircraft, Crazyhorse 18, was the same helicopter involved in the killing of two Reuters journalists later in the war."

Stieber said today: "We've been trying even before the initial WikiLeaks video came out to say that this kind of behavior is not out of the ordinary. The fact that the helicopter unit got the go-ahead to kill Iraqis attempting to surrender shows that it's policy."

He is a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, which just released a statement on the Iraq War Logs, "A Call for Accountability".

Last week Stieber wrote the piece "Iraq Vet to Congress: Don't Cover Up Wikileaks' Iraq Revelations."

The Guardian reports: "U.S. and UK officials have insisted that no official record of civilian casualties exists but the logs record 66,081 non-combatant deaths out of a total of 109,000 fatalities."

Jarrar, recently back from Iraq, is an Iraqi-American blogger, political analyst and architect. He was in Iraq during the 2003 invasion where he established and directed the first door-to-door civilian casualties survey in Iraq. He said today: "These documents provide us with candid snapshots of what foreign military occupations look like where Iraqis are killed, injured and tortured. Contrary to the spin many are attempting to put on the disclosure, the take-away point is not that the U.S. just stood there while Iraqis harmed other Iraqis, but that this military occupation has been brutal and destructive, and that it must end now."

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

There's a ton of people they can interview but IPA provides them with two and easy access. Yesterday on The Brian Lehrer Show (WNYC), Lehrer spoke to the Guardian's Simon Rogers.

Brian Lehrer: Is the most important new thing the numbes of dead from the war which seems to be higher than previously reported.

Simon Rogers: I think it's the fact that we suddenly have all this incredible detail on the huge numbers of people who died and how they died and what happened? within the limitations of this enormous data base because big as it is it's not complete.

Reflecting on the revelations to be found in the documents, Osama Al Sharif (Pakistan Observer) offers:

IT is not a leak but a deluge. This is how the release of 391,832 classified intelligence documents on the whistle-blower website WikiLeaks, last week, on America's war in Iraq looked like. The information dump is the biggest of its kind in history. It will take many months for researchers and investigative journalists to sift through this and successive releases in order to piece together missing clues on what exactly happened in Iraq since the US-Anglo invasion of 2003. But the revelations have been stunning concerning the actual civilian death toll, cover-ups of torture in Iraqi prisons, Iran's sinister role in arming Shiite militias, the transgressions of private contractors, the implication of incumbent Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki in running death squads and inflaming sectarian violence, among others. The implications will be far-fetched and will last for many years to come. It is no wonder that the Pentagon and the State Department have denounced the release of this information as they did in previous cases. Their allegation that making such information public will endanger American lives and help the insurgents is preposterous. If anything the WikiLeaks war diaries will become the foundation for future investigations into one of the most controversial, unjustified and unethical wars in modern times. The revelations do only deal with what was actually taking place in Iraq at the height of the war, but bring to light distortions and lies concerning American motives, military conduct, political cover-ups, flawed administration policies, corruption and others.
The wealth of information of day-to-day observations and actions in the field by US military officers will make the Iraq War along with the ongoing one in Afghanistan one of the most documented military adventures in history. The wars are not seen through the eyes of embedded reporters, investigative journalists and future historians, but through hundreds of thousands of written communications produced by combatants in the battlefield. Never before has the big picture been so available through the reconstruction of minute details. The saying that truth is the first casualty of war aptly applies to Iraq. Public opinion and world governments have been led astray by US politicians who lied, fabricated facts and amplified fears about Iraq's alleged WMD capabilities.

Meanwhile, the Guardian examines worldwide media action with
Martin Chulov covering Baghdad:

Iraq's media continues to probe two key themes from the WikiLeaks disclosures. Newspapers and television networks have focused heavily on the claim that prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, directed a counter-terrorism unit answerable only to him, which targeted predominantly Sunni areas. They have also examined disclosures that the numbers of civilian deaths throughout the eight-year war are 15,000 higher than previously stated.
The Iraqi News Network was typical of the tone: "The WikiLeaks documents revealed very important secrets," it said. "But the most painful among them are not those that focus on the occupier, but those that reveal what the Iraqi forces, Iraqi government and politicians did against their citizens. Those leaders who returned to remove Iraq from oppression toppled the dictator but then carried out acts that were worse than Saddam himself.
"If these documents make the US apologise to Iraqis, they should compel Mr Maliki to leave the political arena altogether and apologise to everyone."
The revelations have led to an uncomfortable week for Maliki, who has been battling to cobble together a coalition government that would allow him to lead the country for a second term. Members of Maliki's coalition have taken to the airwaves in an attempt to defuse fears that the leaked documents would make it harder for him to win cross-sectarian support.
March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board noted in August, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality." 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. They are claiming they have the right to form the government. In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. It's seven months and twenty-one days and still counting.

Sunday Richard Spencer (Telegraph of London) reported that Nouri insisted the release of the documents was politically motivated in an attempt to undercut him -- it's been a while since Nouri's trotted his vast paranoia across the world stage but longterm observers will remember it. Spencer noted that "part of the success he has claimed in bringing down the level of violence since he came to power has rested on his projection of a 'strongman' image. He has fought militias, including the Sadrists to whom he is now allied, and formed special security units to target suspected insurgents." Iraqiya points to the documents of proof that Nouri is a despot and Iraqiya spokesperson Maysoun al-Damluji is quoted stating, "Maliki wants to have all powers in his hands. Putting all the security powers in the hands of one person who is the general commander of the armed forces has led to these abuses and torture practices in Iraqi prisons." Iraqiya is calling for an investigation.
On Sunday's
Weekend Edition (NPR, link has text and audio), Kelly McEvers reported, "The documents also detail wrongdoing by units that claimed they were directly connected to current Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. During the sectarian fighting the gripped Iraq from 2006 to 2008, it was widely believed that death squads sponsored by Maliki's Shiite-dominated government carried out killings against Sunnis. In a statement Maliki's office said there's nothing wrong with maintaining special counterterrorism forces, and the documents don't prove anything."
Maher Chmayteli and Nayla Razzouk (Bloomberg News) reported that Allawi is calling out the "oil and natural gas development contracts" Nouri has handed out on the grounds that Nouri's cabinet is outgoing and that, therefore, the contracts are illegal. Nouri's term expired some time ago. He's not supposed to be running anything. The US refused to allow the UN to set up a caretaker government while the election issues were resolved which is why Nouri's remained in his post. Not only is his term up, so is his cabinet. He doesn't even have a full cabinet at present and, in fact, the posts of Ministry of Oil and Ministry of Electricity -- two posts -- are being filled by one person -- without the approval of Parliament which also isn't supposed to take place. All cabinet posts are supposed to be approved by Parliament. Iraqiys presents numerous reasons for the contracts being illegal including Nouri signing off on them "with no reference to current laws such as Law 97 of 1967, which requires the consent of the Iraqi Parliament in the absence of a Federal Oil and Gas Law." Reuters adds, "Some lawmakers say the contracts all need to be approved by parliament, a view opposed by the oil ministry." But it forgets to weigh in on who's right? According to the Constitution, Parliament's approval is needed.
Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor via McClatchy) reports, "Iraqi thirsting for vengeance as much as justice welcomed the death sentence Tuesday of one of Saddam Hussein's best-known officials, Tariq Aziz. Hugh (Corrente) takes issue witha recent New York Times article by Jack Healy:
First, the article's author Jack Healy says that Aziz was "sentenced to death by an Iraqi court on Tuesday, convicted of crimes against members of rival Shiite political parties." Now to me this sounds like Healy is indicating that Aziz is himself Shia. He's not. He's Chaldean Christian. Alternately, Healy could be saying that Aziz was sentenced for crimes against various Shiite groups who are now at odds with each other. However, this too is false. Aziz was sentenced to death for crimes against members of only one Shiite group, Maliki's Dawa party.
And therein lies the story that the Times does not tell. Maliki himself along with most of the Dawa leadership fled to Iran in 1979. The following year about six months before the outbreak of the Iraq-Iran war, Dawa party members tried to assassinate Aziz. 1980 was also the year in which Maliki was sentenced in absentia to death by the Saddam regime. Maliki has scores to settle and he is settling them.
Unrelated except it's also Corrente, Libbyliberal has a piece on Ethan McCord sharing what he experienced in Iraq. Today Iraq continued to experience violence with Reuters reporting a Basra sticky bombing injuring one person, a Baghdad sticky bombing claiming the life of a police officer, a second Baghdad sticky bombing injuring a police brigadier general, a third Baghad sticky bombing which injured an employee of the Ministry of Housing and Construction, a Mosul suicide car bomber who took his own life as well as that of 1 police officer and left eight more people injured and, dropping back to last night, a Baghdad bombing which claimed 1 life and left two more people injured.
To be sure, the parallels should not be overstated. Anderson's documents totaled just a fraction of the tens of thousands of records posted on the Internet by WikiLeaks, whose Web site instantly makes its files available to anyone on the globe with the click of a mouse. In addition, Anderson was a seasoned reporter who took more care to disguise the identities of informants and to gather valuable corroborating information from interviews in the field.
Still, pioneers like Anderson and Assange are rarely respected in their own time by their establishment competitors. Just as the founder of WikiLeaks has been dismissed as a hacker/activist, so Anderson was "not a journalist," another columnist declared back in the day, but "a sewer pipe" whose reporting "goes beyond disloyalty; it sails close to the windward edge of treason." Such contempt was reciprocated by Anderson and Assange, who disparaged the press as mere stenographers for those in power.