Friday, February 18, 2011

Feaver's a dishonest joke

"Kat," emails PF, "is there any chance you'll do a review on Monday since it is a holiday?"

There's a good chance. How about this? I will try. PF, I'm actually listening to the album you mention (listening right now). I would love to write about that but I'm really exhausted so I don't know. We're all pretty wiped out, Ava, Wally, C.I. and myself. We spoke to around seven groups today and hit hard on the military sexual trauma lawsuit. The groups we were speaking to were very interested in that (which is good) and a few (men and women) had some things to share (which is also good) but it can really be draining as well.

I have the worst headache and I know C.I.'s basically gobbling up Trina's Excedrin Tension Headache pills.

We were at the hearing yesterday where Robert Gates launched into a pledge drive mode for the State Department to receive billions for Iraq. The Bushie Peter Feaver insists at Foreign Policy that Gates is right:

I understand the frustration of people who believe the Iraq war was a mistake from the start, but I do not understand their desire to compound what they believe to be one error with strategic blunders of comparable proportions: abandoning Iraq or failing to provide the resources necessary to keep Iraq on a successful trajectory.

You understand s**t. Feaver, for those who don't know, served on Bush's National Security Council. The first thing he should do this week is write about Curveball and whether he knew it was a lie when he was on the NSC. Instead he wants to tell us it would be a mistake to leave.

It would be a mistake to spend more -- after spending trillions in dollars and even more in human blood. Iraq's not on a successful trajectory now. It has a petty dictator who steals from the government. It has nothing to praise. This is the government that the US forced upon Iraq, largely made up of chicken s**t exiles who fled the country and only came back after the US military went in.

Feaver's a dishonest joke.

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

Friday, February 18, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, DoD identifies one of the fallen, protests continue in Iraq, the military sexual assault lawsuit continues to be ignored but Joan Walsh tells America enough's been said about Nir Rosen declaring (rapist mentality) that Lara Logan's sexual assault was something she had coming, and more.
We start again on sexual assault and we start with Nir Rosen's attack on Lara Logan (who was assaulted while on assignment in Egypt). Other than noting this link to NYU Local's interview with Rosen -- mentioned and quoted from yesterday but the link was not included -- that wasn't the plan. Ava and I began taking notes on the various lies from Nir Rosen and his supporters on Thursday for a piece we'll be doing at Third Sunday and that was going to be it. But then there's Joan Walsh, the village idiot. Marcia praised Joan Walsh for her appearance on Anderson Cooper's show Wednesday night. Marcia's kinder than I am and also wants it noted that she thought she had seen all the Tweets Nir did. She had not seen them all. Joan Walsh either hasn't seen them all or she's lying.
Nir Rosen deleted them. Many were rescued. However, there are more than many people -- like Joan Walsh -- have addressed.
In 2008, Joan Walsh would sometimes call out a little of the sexism aimed at Hillary Clinton and then do one of her columns or TV appearances where she tried to soothe the hurt feelings of the pigs she'd called out. (Ava has critiqued Joan's insulting attitude towards Latinas in an Iraq snapshot. That criticism stands.) Ava and I would not praise Joan because we've learned you just can't trust her. (If that's news to you, head over to The Daily Howler and check the archives.)
At Salon today, she shows up to play shirts & skins. Because it's never about the violence against women for Joan, it's about left and right. She trashes the right wing and claims Nir's in the clear (he "has since apologed everywhere imaginable"). I'm not a right winger. I'm never surprised by anything the right wing does. Nor do I have any interest in following them. But on the left we're supposed to believe in equality. And yet we turn a blind eye when Amy Goodman and others elect to publish multiple columns in the most offensive of skin magazines that do far more than objectify women, that target them for violence. Of those who did that, only Noam Chomsky offered a public apology. Many on the left are still not aware of it. In the accusations against Julian Assange, we saw the two women attacked over and over. We saw them attacked -- from the left -- with the same sexist trash and lies that the right uses. And, of course, the Hillary attacks 'from the left' recyled all the right wing garbage as well.
The problem's not the right. The problem's the left. Recently people were surprised that The Daily Kos has an anti-choice ad. Why? Why are they surprised? That site and so many others have been pushing for abortion rights to be tossed aside. The problem's not the right. The problem for those of us on the left is the very real hatred towards women. And it flares up -- and has for decades -- whenever any woman won't go along and attack another who's speaking out about abuse towards women. You saw it on the Journolist. Harper's Luke Wilson rushing in to scream about leave Keith Olbermann alone, his sexism may be offensive, but he's talking about torture!
Well, Luke Wilson, rape is torture, sexual assault is torture, domestic abuse is torture. It's not in your little mind and as long as women like Joan Walsh exist, Luke Wilson will thrive on the left. Joan tells you that "everything there is to say" has been said. Really because I'm not remembering Salon tackling the homophobia in Nir Rosen's remarks. Did I miss it, Joan?
Now, how come you wanna leave me here
Is it something that I said
Or is it just your style that after a while
You've got to get up and get
Oh, now that everything's been said
Now that everything's been done
How come you wanna leave me here
To work it out all on my own
-- "Now That Everything's Been Said," written by Carole King and Toni Stern, first appears on the City's Now That Everything's Been Said
No, Joan didn't cover the homophobia nor did anyone at Salon. But she did allow Nir to rush in with yet another so-called apology. "And yet, in all the tweets, essays and interviews, Rosen has yet to come across and truly contrite and apologetic. Maybe he should use some of his new-found free time to work on that," Julie Gerstein (New York magazine) observed today and she's correct.
Everything's been said, Joan? If you mean blaming the victims of sexual assault, yeah, that's being said, Joan. One-time journalist Thomas E. Ricks' post about his friend Nir continues to gather comments about how Lara Logan (any woman) had it coming. Thomas E. Ricks has failed to jump into that thread and has failed to call it out in a post. So Foreign Policy is now on record as endorsing that women who are sexually assaulted had it coming.
Joan wants to fret about what it says about Muslims to some on the right. Not because she gives a damn but because it deflects from Nir Rosen (someone Salon's long published and plans to continue publishing). If Joan really gave a damn about that -- if Nir Rosen had -- they would have made the obvious point: Egyptian women came to Lara Logan's aid. That can't be minimized. Yes, some can minimize the Egyptian army's actions -- they were supposed to be protecting all the people and when they did step in they were doing that function. They were armed and what they did was their job. But Egyptian women, unarmed women, saw another woman being attacked and sexually assaulted and stood up and said no. If they hadn't, the assault would have continued.
Joan and Nir never find time to talk about that. (Nir because he has no respect for women. His Tweets mocked Egyptian women and his comments since then have been insulting towards Egyptian women.) If McDonalds brings back the McRib tomorrow, I'm sure there are some on the right who hate Muslims that will find a way to turn that into more reasons to hate Muslims. Joan wants to pretend there's some logic to be found. There is none to be found. But it does allow you to pretend like the hatred is all on the right, Joan. I don't really give a damn what some right wing blogger writes or someone says on Fox. It doesn't hugely effect my life.
But Nir Rosen said Lara Logan had it coming. That does effect my life. He's been promoted by the left -- he is still promoted by the left -- and the left refuses to call him out. Joan Walsh went on TV to call him out. She hasn't called him out at Salon, at Salon where she's written many checks to him. In other words, Joan Walsh, you've promoted him, you vouched for him in the past. Probably you're a little concerned about your own image if Nir goes down. That as charitable as I'll be towads you.
Joan Walsh wants to claim that Salon's one article critiquing Nir Rosen said all that needed to be said. We praised that column by Mary Elizabeth Williams. But not being Joan Walsh, I'm not stupid enough to think that 'says it all.' If it said it all, you wouldn't find people at Foreign Policy leaving comments that justify the sexual assault. If that one article said it all, Joan, Mark Memmott wouldn't have had to posted a column at NPR's The Two-Way explaining, "Many of the comments that have come in to our post about CBS News correspondent Lara Logan, who the network says was attacked and sexually assaulted last Friday while reporting in Cairo's Tahrir Square, have been flagged and removed because they violated's discussion rules." Brad Phillips (Mr. Media Training) finds more to talk about, but then he examines the so-called apologies (don't miss his update at the end). Alice in Progress notes the attacks on Logan and the attacks on Senator Scott Brown (Brown just came forward about physical abuse from step-fathers and sexual abuse from a camp counselor) and points out of the attacks, "Both are similar in the sense that they show how an overwhelming majority of people in our society view rape and sexual abuse victimes: that they're not 'victims' at all and somehow got what they 'deserved', for either being too pretty or just standing in a certain location, or for a number of others really stupid reasons." Joan Walsh claims everything's been said and we all need to just MoveOn and, presumably, focus on a more important issue like saving the rain forest or, more likely, elections. Seriously? Duane Gundrum (Dreams of a Lego Spaceman) calls out Nir Rosen's disgusting Salon article (another 'apology') and explains:
But what bothers me about this is not just that it happened, which does, of course, bother me, but how I first found out about it. I follow news through a number of message boards, and it just so happens that there are a couple of computer gaming boards I follow where some of the more brilliant current events people hang out. I take great pleasure in debating all sorts of issues with these individuals, and it was on that particular day when I first read a thread of this event happening. However, what kept bothering me about the thread was not that the event had happened (which again, bothered me a great deal), but that almost all of the commentary was from people indicating that Lara Logan was the one who should be considered at fault, because she should have known better than to be in a place where she might possibly be raped by men.
I remember staring at the screen, thinking to myself, how could anyone even think something like that? In all of the years I've been arguing with these people, not once did I ever think of them as a bunch of Neanderthals who thought that women should be treated as sexual fodder to be used randomly because they're soft and cuddly, and men are going to do what men are going to do. Yet, in post after post, that's all I was reading.
So, I fired off a response in which I indicated that I was shocked that we still have people who think this way in this day and age. I was astonished at this behavior, and I couldn't believe they would EVER blame a woman for the simple crime of, well, being a woman in a man's world. I knew I was going to rile up some people, but right after I posted my response, the usual suspects started chiming in about how "you need to live in the real world" and that the world is a dangerous place, and if I can't handle the way things happen, then maybe I should stay inside and not dare to play with the big boys, because "your panties might get tussled."
And Joan Walsh thinks one column on the subject says everything? Seriously? Kelly McBride (Poynter) notes:
My first instinct, when a reporter told me about Logan's assault, was to be quiet. I thought about Logan's privacy and about how I knew some would respond, blaming her for what happened. I didn't want to add fuel to that fire.
But when we turn away from a sexual assault, we amplify the voices that would blame the victim or minimize the attack. Our instinct to avert our eyes leaves the victim to face a world of judgment on her own.
There is so much we can say about sexual assault. As a society, we rarely talk about it, until a particularly dramatic event. Then we talk about the circumstances of the event: Where was she? What happened? In asking those questions, we allow myths and suspicions to guide our conversations. But we forget to bring in all the facts that we do know.
So if we talk about Logan's ordeal, let's do so in the context of things we know to be true.
"Our instinct to aver our eyes"? So true. And Joan might want explain why she hasn't written about the lawsuit brought by service members and veterans? Feministing's "Military Sexual Trauma lawsuit -- the day after" is a report that everyone should be reading and linking to. The author (unnamed) offers a press survey at the start noting all the silences on this lawsuit from the press. Then it tackles what the Pentagon's been insisting is their latest 'assistance' effort to victims of sexual assault: A chat page! Where you can get help! The author went undercover as a victim of military sexual assault and if you think "Billy" telling her that "I really feel bad for you" qualifies as counseling, you're as crazy as Kaye Whitley.
I though we already noted Natalie Wilson's article but a friend at Ms. tells me we haven't. So we'll note it now to bring anyone up to speech who hasn't heard of the lawsuit yet:
Susan Burke wants to dramatically change this brutal, unjust state of affairs. The Washington, D.C., attorney, who heads the firm Burke PLLC, is preparing to file a class-action lawsuit this summer to revamp how the U.S. military deals with sexual violence and assault committed by its personnel. The suit, in which Burke will represent a number of plaintiffs, including Baker, will ask for damages as well as changes in the military's practices. As Burke puts it, "You shouldn't have to agree to be raped in order to sign up and serve your country."
Burke already has a well-deserved reputation as a crusader against violence by the military and its contractors. She spearheaded a series of lawsuits in 2004 against private security forces who allegedly committed torture and abuse on behalf of the U.S. military in Iraq's notorious Abu Ghraib prison. Later, she sued the infamous Blackwater firm on behalf of Iraqis killed and wounded in two allegedly unprovoked 2007 attacks on civilians in Baghdad. (The Blackwater suits were settled for a confidential amount; the Abu Ghraib ones are pending.)
The original plaintiff in her upcoming lawsuit discovered Burke on the Internet in connection with the Abu Ghraib torture suits. "I was really appalled by what she had suffered through," says Burke of the email she received from the woman. After doing more research, Burke decided, "I should just open this up in case others need help. [The military's] institutional tolerance is creating a culture where rape thrives."
Joan Walsh, since everything's been said, explain to where your column is on the topic above. And then, after you explain you haven't written one (though I'm sure you meant to), explain to me why Salon hasn't reported on the lawsuit? What's that sexist pig lawyer you've got writing for you, Joan? Oh, right, Glenn Greenwald. And he's written about the class action suit when? Oh, that's right, he hasn't. Avert our eyes? Oh, yeah, as a culture we do. Joan Walsh is a little uncomfortable because sexual assault was discussed this week and now she and Salon need to move on to the more 'important' issues like what an underage kid said about abortion. (Who cares, he's a child. Find a real story.)
Tuesday, some survivors of military sexual assault, their supporters and attorney Susan Burke held a press conference announcing their lawsuit against the Pentagon. Burke and military sexual assault survivors Rebekah Havrilla and Mary Gallagher were Diane Rehm's guests for the first hour of Thursday's The Diane Rehm Show (NPR). But Salon can't find the story? Even their attorney can't find the story? When Susan Burke's lead attorney on a case against Blackwater, Salon can't stop writing about the case. When she's lead attorney on a case regarding military sexual assault, Salon's too uncomfortable to cover it.
"Walking Wounded" gets the connection and post a comment at Thomas E. Ricks' blog which includes:
If female journalists (and soldiers) are being attacked and terrorized, and those acts excused even by members of the war correspondent fraternity, consider the individual woman in the war zone, trying to protect herself and her family.
Rosen adding insult to a star reporter's potentially lethal, terrifying injuries mostly hurt himself. But that's a distraction here. Tom, you took this in the wrong direction, imo.
Like Joan Walsh, Thomas E. Ricks hasn't found time to write about the law suit. Nor has he written about military sexual trauma. Despite claiming his focus is military issues. "Avert our eyes"? All the damn time, all the damn time.
Two non-stories came out of Iraq this week. No one wanted to examine them although many wanted to amplify them. In the first, an order of F16 jets was cancelled and the closest to examination was that US corporations would lose money. Straight faced, many reporters lied. Here's Stars & Stripes thinking they're being cutesy. And here's one of the many articles accepting the lie that the purchase was dropped because they wanted to put the money into the rations program. Nouri's spokesperson lies and claims it would have cost Iraq one billion dollars. They were buying 18 F16 jets, those are over a hundred million a piece. (Contracts do include some equipment service and training.) Iraq's going to put two billion into the rations program this year? Another popular and foolish report is the one that Iraq wants $1 billion in damages from the US. Nouri's puppet government wants one billion. They want one billion, they have to cancel a two billion contract. The money is not going into the rations program. Not only has that program been gutted and gutted, Nouri only promised a $15 dollar increase per month and, on top of that, they're looking to purge a large number of people from the rolls. Iraq is a war torn country. Children don't always go to school, adult children don't always go to college. If your family has a drop out, the proposal in Nouri's Cabinet currently is that your entire family will lose rations. That's going to target at risk groups especially. The Iraqi Christians, for example, stopped sending their children to school after the October 31st assault on Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad. But it's going to target a lot more. A friend at the United Nations says if the Cabinet pushes through the proposal, you could see the rations cut for half the people currently receiving them.
So let's stop kidding that Nouri's breaking a contract and demanding a billion from the US is about anything other than the reality that Iraq's leaders are continue to steal from the government. Currently $86.20 is the price of oil per barrel. Dow Jones reports today that from February 1st to February 17th, "Iraq has exported 2.163 million barrels a day of crude oil." Not exported 2.163 million barrels in that time frame, but exported 2.163 million barrels daily. Where's that money going?
As the protesters around Iraq know, it's not going into basic services. They still struggle for electricity and potable water and proper sanitation. So where's the money going and don't pretend it's going into the rations program. That's insulting everyone's intelligence.
Yesterday, the pesh merga opened fire on protesters in Sulaimaniyah. Tracey Shelton (Press TV -- link has text and video -- including video of the shooting) reports on the attack and counts four dead. The protest took place outside the KDP political party (headed by KRG President Massoud Barzani). Aljazeera reports that today the headquarters of Goran (emerging political party, backed by the CIA) were looted in Arbil and Dohuk. Al Arabiya News Channel adds, "Goran has denied any involvement in Thursday's demonstration, which left two dead, men aged 18 and 25, and 54 wounded, according to provincial health chief Raykot Hama Rashid, when security forces fired into the air to disperse crowds."

Protests went on and are going on throughout Iraq. Al Mada reports that yesterday in Kut (Wasit Province), demonstrators pitched tents to prepare for a sit-in calling for their demands to be met. Activist Abu Karar lists their demands starting with the governor stepping down and all detainees being immediately released before noting the unemployment situation and the ration card system. And Al Mada notes that protests over those demands and the lack of basic services have taken place in Baghdad, Karbala, Najaf, Maysan, Basra, Mosul, Diwaniya, Kirkuk, Babil and Muthanna. Aslumaria TV notes that protests are going on in Kut today, confirms that the governor fled the city yesterday and notes Nouri al-Maliki is supposed to visit the province. Al Mada notes Nouri has declared that "troublemakers" will be punished. Al Mada also reports a "campaign of arrests" is taking place in Kut. Carol J. Williams (Los Angeles Times) notes, "Iraqi protesters stepped up their challenges to provincial leaderships throughout the nation on Friday, with more than 1,000 demanding that the governor of Basra step down". CNN adds, "Roughly 200 Iraqi protesters hit the streets Friday in central Baghdad, the latest in a string of Middle East cities to be affected by the wave of unrest sweeping the region." Human Rights Watch issued a press release yesterday which included:
According to multiple news reports, on February 17, security guards reportedly opened fire on a crowd of protesters in Sulaimaniya, killing at least one person and wounding more than 33 others after the crowd threw rocks at the political headquarters of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), headed by Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). On February 16 Iraqi police in Kut, southeast of Baghdad, opened fire on angry demonstrators outside the governorate of Wasit province, killing three and wounding more than 50, according to various news reports and a protest organizer.
"Iraqi forces and their commanders have a lot of explaining to do to justify the use of live ammunition on demonstrators," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "Similar behavior by security forces in this tense time in the region has only ignited more powerful and angry popular reactions."
Al Mannarah reports that the Kurdistan Alliance has issued a warning to Nouri al-Maliki that unless fuel prices are reduced and new power stations set up, the Kut demonstrations will spread throughout the provinces and cities of Iraq. (Wednesday, the protesters were fired upon by guards and Iraqi forces -- after being fired upon, they stormed the provincial government building -- which ended up on fire -- and stormed the home of the governor.) Kitabat (link goes to main page, I'm not able to find an individual link, so scroll down for story) features an essay decrying false arrests on the pretext of inciting riots in Diwaniya, Kut, Nasiriyah and Sulaymaniyah and notes that the Iraqi people have been pushed into fighting for the nobel goals and demanding the gith to live free and that the right to protest is not given by any body or Constitution but is a natural right which does not require government approval or a paper from the Ministry of the Interior (with a sidebar note that Nouri hasn't appointed a minister for the ministry -- sidebar note by Kitabat). The essay argues that if Nouri can't make change happen, then he needs to step down and Parliament needs to provide leadership and follow the model of Jaafar al-Sadr (yesterday he noted his resignation in solidarity with the Iraqi people) because the Iraqi people are the legitimate rulers of Iraq.
In other violence, the Committee to Protect Journalists notes:

In Iraq, Hemin Latif, a journalist working for the Sulaimaniya-based Destur news website, was shot and injured today while covering against unemployment and corruption, Mariwan Hama-Saeed, director of local press freedom group Metro Center, told CPJ. Dozens of protesters attacked the building of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). Local journalists told CPJ that the guards for the building shot Latif while he was taking photos. Latif was briefly hospitalized and one of his fingers was broken. Guards also beat Rahman Gharib, who reports for Metro Center and Al-Sumaria News website, while he was covering the demonstration, Gharib told CPJ. He said three men from KDP's security forces in military uniforms beat him. "I demand an official apology from KDP and an investigation into what had happened," Gharib said.
Two other journalists have been injured, according to the independent biweekly Hawlati. One of them is Alan Mohamed, a photographer with the local photo agency Metrography. The newspaper did not identify the second journalist.
Two people were killed and 57 injured in the protests, according to local news reports.

In addition,
BBC reports 13 people died and over thirty were wounded in a Muqdadiyah car bombing on Thursday. Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) quotes police sources, "The attack occurred when a suicide bomber drove his explosive- laden car into a police checkpoint near the town of al-Maqdadiyah, some 100 km northeast of Baghdad, he said." Reuters notes other violence Thursday included the assassination of Sheikh Jassim al-Mutairi in Kerbala, journalist Hilal al-Ahmadi was assassinated in Mosul, a Taji roadside bombing claimed the lives of 7 people, a Baghdad guard was injured in a drive-by shooting outside an amusement park and 1 university professor's Baghdad home was invaded and he was hanged.
In the US, DoD has issued the following statement: "The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation New Dawn. Spc. Lashawn D. Evans, 24, of Columbia, S.C., died Feb. 15 in Baghdad province, Iraq, in a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 1st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Aviation Regiment, Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan. For more information the media may contact the 1st Infantry Division public affairs office at 785-239-3205." This is the death in the Tuesday snapshot. BNO News and only BNO News reported on it. Reuters didn't even include it in their 'factbox' summary. Last month, 3 US soldiers died in Iraq on the same day with a fourth wounded. The deaths received very little press coverage. Judi Gaston (WISTV) speaks with the grandmother of the fallen (whom Gaston doesn't name) and reports that he was due home and had been counting down the days and that he's survived by a wife (Cierra) who is deployed in Iraq and a brother who is deployed in Afghanistan.
The Iraq War continues and some don't want to end. The choices (in order to continue the illegal war) are weaponize diplomacy or get a new agreement. Walter Pincus (Washington Post) reports on Robert Gates' Congressional appearance yesterday: "In an impassioned plea during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on next year's Pentagon budget, Gates cited the loss of more than 4,000 American lives in Iraq and the expenditure of some $900 billion. He said it is 'a critically urgent concern' that a planned $5.2 billion allocation for fiscal 2012 be approved, so that the State Department can carry on the training of Iraqi police and other programs once handled by the Pentagon."

Robert Gates' sense of entitlement is a sure sign that he needs to leave government immediately. Asked in an opening hearing by a Republican Congress member on Wednesday about whether his Department had broken the law, Gates plead ignorance of the matter. Provided with documents in the hearing, Gates insisted he would need time to review them.

If you're so damn stupid that you don't know if the department you headed broke the law, you've got problems. And maybe part of them is that you're looking over the State Dept's shoulder when you should be doing your own damn job. Robert Gates is not the liason for the White House to the State Dept. He is the Secretary of Defense and should confine himself to those issues. You can't plead something is above your pay grade and then start playing expert on a department you don't head and you're not a part of. He needs to be instructed to close his mouth and to do immediately. Joe Biden is the person Barack Obama has placed in charge of overseeing Iraq. Biden can make the case that the State Dept needs the money. I'll still disagree and I will argue Joe is wrong; however, I will not argue that Joe has no business making the argument.

Wednesday, Robert Gates was asked about the Defense Dept's inability to prevent sexual assaults and he played dumb. He was asked about the lawsuit and he issued a self-serving statement. But now he thinks he can go before Congress and present himself as an expert on what the State Dept needs? Clearly, he has time to do everything but the job he was given. If the Secretary of Agriculture appeared before Congress and argued that another Department didn't need funds, we would all be offended. Our attitude would be that the Secretary needed to confine his or her testimony to his or her own department. Pretending Gates has a right to testify about another department's needs opens the door for the day when a Secretary has the right to testify that another department doesn't need funding. He needs to fccus on his own department. Since he's currently been named in a military sexual assault lawsuit, he should have plenty on his plate already.
In related news, Anna Mulrine (Christian Science Monitor) observes, "It is looking increasingly likely that American troops will stay in Iraq beyond December 2011 scheduled date of withdrawal for the US military – a prospect that appears to be gaining bipartisan support in Congress." A morning where we had more time would allow more on the article but it's built around Gates in the Wednesday hearing (that's covered in that day's snapshot with a full transcript of the exchange between Gates and Duncan Hunter) and yesterday's announcement by US House Rep Adam Smith (Democrat) that he thought Iraq would be asking the US to extend their military agreement. (The article also reflects a development which the editorial board noted months ago though few seemed to pay attention at the time.) The news isn't pretty. From the Democratic Party, there is silence. From the Republicans, there is silence. From the Green Party? Silence. At the libertarian think tank Cato Institute, Christopher Preble weighs in and his observations include:

This assumes that, first, U.S. troops can provide this stability, and second that our strategic interests in Iraq are on par with those in other parts of the world. But leaving U.S. troops in Iraq for another two, five, or seven years will not advance American security. It is not now, and should never have been, the responsibility of U.S. troops to create a functioning state in Iraq. That is the responsibility of the Iraqi people and their government. Likewise, our troops should not serve as Iraq's police force.
There is no doubt that there are political and security challenges in Iraq, but these concerns should not delay the withdrawal. There will always be excuses, especially from those who favored the war at the outset, for a continued presence. And these risks will persist no matter how long U.S. troops stay. The future of Iraq lies with the people of Iraq, and it is well past the time when they must take the reins.
A handover of security responsibilities to the Iraqi people is in America's strategic interest. As we are currently seeing with European defense budgets, the United States has been in the business of doing for other governments what they should be doing for themselves. Now would be a good time to start to change this pattern.

Reality about Iraq reaches US shores next week with this upcoming Iraq Veterans Against the War event:

February 25, 2011 9:30 - 10:30 am
Busboys & Poets, Langston room
14th & V st NW Washington DC
This report back will be to answer questions from media and the peace movement about the recent trip back to Iraq by members of Iraq Veterans Against the War. The war is not over but it is not the same as it was in years past. What is the humanitarian situation in Iraq?
How can we do reparations and reconciliation work?
Speakers are all returning from this delegation and include:
Geoff Millard (IVAW) Hart Viges (IVAW) Haider Al-Saedy (Iraqi Health Now)
Richard Rowely (Big Noise Films)

To make it clear that continued war is unacceptable and that you aren't a Democratic member of Congress, you can participate next month in the march A.N.S.W.E.R. and March Forward! and others will be taking part in this action:

March 19 is the 8th anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Iraq today remains occupied by 50,000 U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of foreign mercenaries.

The war in Afghanistan is raging. The U.S. is invading and bombing Pakistan. The U.S. is financing endless atrocities against the people of Palestine, relentlessly threatening Iran and bringing Korea to the brink of a new war.

While the United States will spend $1 trillion for war, occupation and weapons in 2011, 30 million people in the United States remain unemployed or severely underemployed, and cuts in education, housing and healthcare are imposing a huge toll on the people.

Actions of civil resistance are spreading.

On Dec. 16, 2010, a veterans-led civil resistance at the White House played an important role in bringing the anti-war movement from protest to resistance. Enduring hours of heavy snow, 131 veterans and other anti-war activists lined the White House fence and were arrested. Some of those arrested will be going to trial, which will be scheduled soon in Washington, D.C.

Saturday, March 19, 2011, the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, will be an international day of action against the war machine.

Protest and resistance actions will take place in cities and towns across the United States. Scores of organizations are coming together. Demonstrations are scheduled for San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and more.

TV notes. Washington Week begins airing on many PBS stations tonight (and throughout the weekend, check local listings) and joining Gwen are Jeanne Cummings (Politico), John Dickerson (CBS News, Slate), Doyle McManus (Los Angeles Times) and Jim Sciutto (ABC News). Gwen's latest column is "Meaning What You Say." Meanwhile Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Cari Dominguez, Barbara Lee, Irene Natividad and Genevieve Wood to discuss the week's events on PBS' To The Contrary. Check local listings, on many stations, it begins airing tonight. Sunday on CBS' 60 Minutes:

The Spark
Bob Simon reports from Tunisia, where protests against the repressive government not only toppled its autocratic ruler, but sparked the uprising in Egypt that forced President Hosni Mubarak to resign.

Scott Brown: Against All Odds
The Massachusetts senator describes his traumatic childhood, including revelations of sexual and physical abuse. Lesley Stahl reports.

The King's Speech
"60 Minutes" talks to its starring actor, Colin Firth, and reports on the historic find in an attic that helped make the "The King's Speech" an Oscar favorite. Scott Pelley reports.

"60 Minutes," Sunday, Feb. 20, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Nir Rosen, what a prick

Nir Rosen is nothing but a prick. He still thinks he can explain away what he did and he thinks we're stupid to buy his lies. I agree that Anderson Cooper served him his lunch last night on CNN. But Nir's back and at Salon to 'explain' how his opinion that Lara Logan deserved to be sexually assaulted isn't the problem, it's just a joke, you understand, the real problem is these mean people who won't accept his joke. (Accept his apology? When has he offered a sincere one? Never.)

At Salon he writes: "When I first heard the news about Logan, I assumed she was roughed up like every other journalist -- which is still bad -- but I was jokingly trying to provoke one of my think tank friends on Twitter, thoughtlessly, of course, and terribly insensitively."

Really? What he Tweeted was, "Look, she was probably groped like thousands of other women, which is still wrong, but if it was worse than I'm sorry." Just groped, huh, Nir?

And the prick writes of groping at Salon today: "(This harassment was a preexisting problem that Egyptian women have been increasingly complaining about.)" Women have complained. Complained. Does he not get how insulting his language is?

He probably doesn't. He writes like the most entitled prick in the world.

He goes on and on blaming Lara Logan again. Her "destructive" reporting, her this, her that, her skin color, on and on and he just can't shut the hell up.

I'd wonder why no one suggested he do just that; however, the reality is that probably many have and he's such a prick that even when that advice comes from a friend, he can't hear it.

He needs to hear this: You have yet to apologize. Apologies do not include your attacks on Lara Logan. They do not include your excuses. Take accountability.

You know what's so funny? Nir Rosen thinks he's a man. He's the sort who would tell someone else to 'man up.' But the way he's acting right now? There's nothing mature about it, let alone manly. He's just a little prick.

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

Thursday, February 17, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, a Democrat in Congress believes Iraq and the US will reach an agreement to keep US forces on the ground past 2011, Thomas E. Ricks encourages rape myths at his site, protests continue in Iraq and more.
Julian E. Barnes (Wall St. Journal) notes US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates expressed belief that a continued US military presence in Iraq is necessary. Gates expressed that opinion during the House Armed Services Committee hearing yesterday. From yesterday's snapshot, this is the full exchange:
US House Rep Dunan Hunter: Let's talk about Iraq for a minute. If the Status Of Forces Agreement is not changed or the Iraqis do not ask for our help and ask us to stay, what is our plan for 2012? At the end of this year, what's going to happen?
Secretary Robert Gates: We will have all of our forces out of Iraq. We will have an Office of Security Cooperation for Iraq that will have probably on the order of 150 to 160 Dept of Defense employees and several hundred contractors who are working FMS cases.
US House Rep Duncan Hunter: Do you think that represents the correct approach for this country after the blood and treasure that we spent in Iraq? My own personal time of two tours in Iraq. There's going to be fewer people there -- and that 150 -- than there are in Egypt right now. Somewhere around 600, 700 of those types of folks in Egypt. How can we maintain all of these gains that we've maintained through so much effort if we only have 150 people there and we don't have any military there whatsoever. We have more military in western European countries than we'd have in Iraq -- one of the most centralized states, as everybody knows, in the Middle East.
Secretary Robert Gates: Well I think that there is -- there is certainly on our part an interest in having an additional presence and the truth of the matter is the Iraqis are going to have some problems that they're going to have to deal with if we are not there in some numbers. They will not be able to do the kind of job and intelligence fusion. They won't be able to protect their own air space. They will not -- They will have problems with logistics and maintenance. But it's their country, it's a sovereign country. This is the agreement that was signed by President Bush and the Iraqi government and we will abide by the agreement unless the Iraqis ask us to have additional people there.
Kat reported on the House Armed Services Committee hearing last night with "Freedom hating Buck McKeon," Wally reported on it at Marcia's site with "Loretta Sanchez came prepared (Wally)" and Ava reported on it at Trina's site with "Gates and the absurd hearing (Ava)." Today, Nathan Hodge (Wall St. Journal) reports, US House Rep Adam Smith (Ranking Member on the House Armed Services Committee) declared that he believes an agreement will be reached with Iraq for US forces to stay on the ground after the end of this year, "I think it would be fairly limited -- it's not going to be 50,000 troops, at least perhaps there's 25,000. It's going to be a fairly low number." John T. Bennett (The Hill) quotes Smith stating, "I think they [Iraq] will make the ask." Leo Shane III (Stars & Stripes) quotes him stating, "But if we're talking about a small number of trainers, counterterrorism operations, then I think we're amenable to it."
Tuesday, Susan Burke and supporters of survivors of military sexual assaults and some of the survivors filing suit against the Pentagon held a press conference in DC. Today on The Diane Rehm Show (NPR), Diane's guests for the first hour were the Service Women's Action Network's Anu Bahgwati, attorney Burke and military sexual assault survivors Mary Gallagher and Rebekah Havrilla.
Susan Burke: The lawsuit is brought to try to reform what is clearly a broken system. What we have learned from interviewing hundreds of victims is that there is widespread retaliation against men and women that come forward and report rapes and sexual assaults. The program that Dr. [Kaye] Whitley spoke of are all simply focused on hand-holding to the victim but they lack any kind of clout. The SARCs themselves do not have any power vis-a-vis the military chain of command. Many of the SARCs are in the military chain of command and are willing to work at command's direction rather than actually advocate for the victims. So you have a completely dysfunctional system in which the victims have to face day-by-day workplace retaliation. So we're seeking -- we're seeking a Constitional -- a finding that [Defense] Secretary [Robert] Gates and former [Defense] Secretary [Donald] Rumsfeld have let such an obviously broken system go forward for so long that they have deprived the plantiffs of their Constitutional rights.
Diane Rehm: Tell me how these plantiffs came to your attention.
Susan Burke: I was originally contacted by a civilian, a woman named Christine Smith who had been raped by a service member and ended up going through the military system of justice with just dismal results. The prosecutor lost the physical evidence -- her undewear. The court martial went badly. Then, the poor thing, six months later, after this, she gets a phone call from somebody in the military saying, "Oh, please come pick up your things." And, in fact, it was the underwear. It had been there the whole time. So I was just simply staggered by that level of incompetence in the prosecutorial ranks and I spoke with her about the situation and whether we could help her. That led me to begin to investigate the issue of how rape is handled in the military system. I'm actually a child of career military. So I'm somewhat familiar with, you know, the military system, having grown up on army bases my whole life. But nonetheless, I was just shocked when I read Helen Benedict's The Lonely Soldier book, began to look at the reports, began to look at what Congress has done, because what you see is a lengthy pattern of Congress telling the Dept, 'do something effective, clean this problem up', and the Dept just blowing it off and not taking any type of effective steps.
Diane Rehm: Susan Burke, she's the plantiff's lead lawyer in the lawsuit against the Pentagon.
Let's stop to talk about two of the military rape cases that have received the most attention from the press in the last decade. There was Suzanne Swift who was a victim of command rape. She was deployed to Iraq at that time and there was a "victim's advocate" she could speak to. The 'advocate' wanted to work with Suzanne on what she (Suzanne) could do so as not to be 'tempting'. Suzanne Swift went through the channels and received no assistance. Home on a pass, she self-checked out and refused to return. Donna St. George (Washington Post) described what happened when her pass was supposed to be up.
She had the car keys in her hand, ready to drive to the base. Suddenly, she turned to her mother.
"I can't do this," she remembers saying. "I can't go."
The Army specialist, now 22, recalls her churning stomach. Her mother's surprise. All at once, she said, she could not bear the idea of another year like her first. She was sexually harssed by one superior, she said, and coerced into a sexual affair with another.
"I didn't want it to happen to me again," she said in an interview.
She was arrested and forced to return to Iraq. Kim Gandy (NOW) noted, "She was court-martialed, stripped of her rank and sent to jail. Her assailant and the harassers received a slap on the wrist in the form of reprimanding letters." Sarah Corbett (New York Times Sunday Magazine) covered the story:
As part of a plea bargain, she pled guilty to "missing movement" and being absent without leave. Her rank was reduced to private, and she spent the next 21 days, including Christmas, in a military prison in Washington State. The Army ruled that in order to receive an honorable discharge, Swift was dutybound to complete her five-year enlistment, which ends in early 2009. After finishing her stint in prison in January, Swift says she checked herself into the inpatient psych ward at Fort Lewis's hospital for a few days but ultimately was released back to duty. She told me she was trying generally to ignore the PTSD but had taken to drinking a lot in order to get by. "I kind of liked the Army before all that stuff happened," she said in early February, on the phone from her barracks at Fort Lewis. "I was good at my job. I did what I was supposed to do. And then in Iraq, I got disillusioned. All of the sudden this Army you care so much about is like, well, all you're good for is to have with and that's it." She added, "I really, really, really, don't want to be here."
All the press attention didn't help Suzanne Swift receive justice. The other well covered case involved a woman who was missing. The coverage didn't help rescue her because she was already dead, killed by her rapist. Maria Lauterbach was a Marine. She was raped. She followed the channels. She did what she was supposed to. And doing what she was supposed to, following the rules didn't protect her. Cesar Laurean was her rapist. He was also a Marine. Even after she came forward, she was still forced to work with Laurean and attend meetings with him. The command showed no common sense, let alone sympathy. It gets worse. If there was anyone in a position of authority who did the right thing by Maria it was only Onslow Country Sheriff Ed Brown. Maria was seven months pregnant and missing. Her mother was asking for help. The Marines ignored her. They not only ignored her, they refused to do even a basic investigation. It was Brown and his staff who would locate Maria's body. She'd been brutally murdered and then Laurean dug a pit in his backyard, placed her body in it and attempted to burn her body to destroy the evidence. At this point Sherrif Brown thought he would be arresting Cesar Laurean. Maria had accused Laurean of raping her, she had disappeared just as she was going to testify against him. It should have been simple to pick him up. But it wasn't. Because what was obvious to someone trained to deal with crimes (Brown) was a big mystery to the Marine command. Laurean had already skipped town. And the Marines didn't even know it. Hadn't put him under watch, hadn't even considered him a suspect.
After he was caught (and brought back to the US), Laurean was convicted of Maria's murder and given a life sentence with no parole. Kevin Hayes (CBS News) reported:
After the verdict was read, Mary Lauterbach, Maria's mother, read a prepared statement. "Maria will always be our hero," she said. She told Laurean to look at his mother, saying that her heart breaks for his family too. "Now you will have time to think about your shame, time to think about your failures," she said. "There are many people out there who will die today, people who would love to have the time that God has given you."
These are the two most well known military rape cases of the last decade. In both cases, the women followed the rules on reporting. In neither instance was the woman assisted or protected. Those are the two most well known, they are not the only ones. And there are also cases like LaVena Johnson where she was killed (the facts laid out do not indicate suicide) and her parents, Linda and John Johnson, believe LaVena was sexually assaulted before she was killed. The cases aren't 'out there.' They're not 'extreme.' Service Women's Action Network's Anu Bahgwati explained to Diane's listeners, "Well I think, you know, we need to understand that military culture is completely different than the civilian world. As a service member, you can't quit your job if you're attacked, harassed or raped. You can't transfer to another community. You are stuck with your perpetrator and with the chain of command you have. There's very limited redress which requires, you know, you to take a giant leap of faith and really risk putting your career at an end by stepping forward. You know you're dealing with a system that thrives on power, on rank structure and intimidation. It's very unsafe to step forward unless you are guaranteed protection and, right now, there is no guarantee to your protection or that you'll ever get justice for the crime."
Mary Gallagher was raped while serving in Iraq. She followed the rules and reported the harassment to her supervisor, "And she basically said to me, 'It's he-said/she-said, and, you know, you just kind of need to, like, roll with it. And, you know, I don't really want to deal with it.' And it kept persisting, and so I reported it again. And at that point, she had me go see the chaplain and the chaplain said to me, 'You know, 96% of women are assaulted because they've been drinking.' Well this was a ridiculous statement because you can't drink in -- you know, alcohol in Iraq." That was the 'help' Mary Gallagher received while serving in Iraq and being sexually harassed and that 'help' -- that refusal by the command to do anything -- 'helped' the harassment build and build and Mary Gallgher was raped. Where are the charges for the command that refused to address the harassment?
Diane Rehm: Mary Gallagher, were you worried about being accused of false allegations?
Mary Gallagher: You know, a little bit. But mostly what my -- I was really scared for my life -- especially after the rape actually happened. I was terrified. And, you know, you're already in a war zone situation -- so your senses are up. And my fear was -- is -- that, you know, when I had reported the harassment and they hadn't done anything? When the rape happened, that's why I didn't report it. Because I didn't feel like they were going to do anything. And so it was just like I felt so isolated -- and so alone -- but, as far as, you know, that people would think that it was false? You know, no. But when I did report the harassment? Everybody was like, 'Well you know' -- They would always try to explain it away or dismiss it and so it always leads to a point that, you know, they just don't really want to deal with it.
Rebekah Havrilla was raped while serving in Afghanistan and she spoke of how there was even a training given in Afghanistan, while she was deployed, a PowerPoint training, and that a sergeant present for this sexual assault training "decided that he was going to strip naked and dance on the table. And even as you were going through the slides and you talk about, you know, what is acceptable and what is not acceptable, there'd be comments about how, 'Oh, I just did that last night," or an action from one male to even another male trying to stimulate was was [being] told was just inappropriate behavior."
We're noting the next section (a) to include reality about "restricted reporting" -- a 'device' Kaye Whitley favors and we've long called out here (and remember Whitley can never give Congress the numbers -- she's forever asked but she can never provide the numbers and is forever 'surprised' that she's been asked) and (b) there are two men in the lawsuit and the media has often referred to the plantiffs as all being women.
Diane Rehm: I wonder Susan Burke if you can explain the difference between restricted reporting and unrestricted reporting?
Susan Burke: Yes, this is essentially a unique military creation that has, again, been a misdirected effort. Rather than tackling the omnipresent retaliation that occurs, they created an avenue for those who have been raped and sexually assaulted to report on a completely confidential basis. And there's not much -- There's nothing that comes of it. The problem is that even there, even though that confidentiality is supposed to encourage more and more survivors to come forward in order to access the health care treatment that's available to them, the reality is that it often leaks out and the survivors end up enduring the very retaliation they sought to avoid by going the restricted reporting route. So there's serious issues of the focus of the department's efforts. And the unrestricted reporting -- which is not used nearly as often as the restricted reporting -- is what we would normally think of when a crime occurs.
Diane Rehm: What about the two men who are part of this lawsuit? Explain what happened to them.
Susan Burke: Yes, in both instances, they were -- they were harassed and they were violated. One was groped and then, when he went to report it, he became the subject of a pervasive amount of physical abuse against him as he was on the ship. The other gentleman was raped in the barracks and when he went to report it to his command, they simply laughed at him. So the reality is this is not -- rape and the sexual assault -- is not limited to females. It is also occuring among the males as well and again you have the widespread retaliation, the scorn, the disbelief. In addition, there's the constant statement, "Well you know, you don't, don't rock the boat. You're a trouble maker. Don't be reporting on your own." -- these cultural messages that you really risk your career if you step forward. And most tellingly one of the survivors who has joined the lawsuit is a woman who was actually a criminal investigative unit agent. When she was raped, she opted not to report it because she knew that it would not be taken seriously. It was only after her perpetrator went on for the next two years raping additional women did a CID officer hear of what happened to her and come and ask her to come forward. You know, that is a very telling story of what all of these victims of rape and sexual abuse are confronting.
That was today's Diane Rehm Show and if you can't stream or if streaming will not help you, remember that Diane is now putting transcripts of her show online and you can click here for today's transcript. The full hour is transcribed. (Quotes and excerpts above were done by me and won't match up in sentence structure or punctuation, FYI.) This is an important issue, it's an important legal case and Diane treated it as such devoting a full hour to it (and she and guest host Susan Page have covered the issue of military assault for a full hour segment several times before). It's really amazing how other programs appear to have a real problem (a) finding this story and (b) covering it. Many NPR stations are in pledge drive mode currently. If you have the money to pledge and plan to, consider pledging during The Diane Rehm Show and letting them know that you do appreciate the type of programming that you hear on her show. And if you're local station isn't in a pledge drive or if you're reading this between pledge drives at some point in the future, you can always go to this NPR page and donate online.
We were at two Congressional hearings today and I may note one or both tomorrow. But the above is an important issue and it's not being covered. The reluctance to address it can also be seen in the silence on Nir Rosen's attack of Lara Logan (CBS News -- Lara was attacked and sexually assaulted while doing her job -- drop back to yesterday's snapshot if you're new to this topic). I'm not referring to the MSM, I'm not referring to the right. I'm referring to the left where we continue to refuse to police our own and enable the attacks on women who are raped to be launched. On her program Grit TV, Laura Flanders, to her credit, did address it and you can click here for text and video. Flanders concludes her commentary with, "Lara Logan deserves commendation for going public with her story, and anyone who tries to twist into anything other than a tale of what happens to women everywhere, all the time, still, is simply making apologies for rape. And for that there's no apology." Laura Flanders deserves commendation for addressing Nir Rosen's comments in her commentary. Good for her. It was needed and it is appreciated. So many others offered nothing. At The Nation online, since Tuesday, the most read story has been Laila Lalami's "The Attack on Lara Logan: War of the Words." It was written before Nir Rosen launched his attack on Lara and on victims of assault so it doesn't mention him. But the fact that it has been your most read feature for days now -- and still tops the list -- would indicate your readership actually cares about the issue. By contrast, your refusal to follow it up would indicate that you have ZERO interest in the topic (especially with regards to Nir Rosen's attacks). (Laura's commentary was for her show Grit TV. The Nation is running it, but Laura did that on her own, for her own program.) There's the silence at Mother Jones -- a publication more than happy to publish and praise Nir Rosen. Jen Phillips managed to blog yesterday at four in the afternoon California time (seven p.m. EST) and to share how offended she was that some outlets have gone from "sexual assault" to "rape." While that is an issue, Jen, it's not the big issue. Your silence enables the big issue to continue, now doesn't it? Again, Laura deserves credit for standing up and being the only one thus far at a left opinion print outlet to have done so. (In These Times and The Progressive are strangely silent.) In his attack on Lara Logan, also expressed his desire to see Anderson Cooper sexually assaulted. As Mike noted last night, Anderson had Nir on the show and did not accept the spin Nir tried to offer. Nir's a liar. When I dictated the snapshot yesterday, I knew Nir was going on CNN and had hopes that he would be honest. He's obviously incapable at this time of honesty. That point comes across in Anderson's interview with him (Entertainment Weekly has posted it here) and it comes across in the interview Charlie Eisenhood (NYU Local) did with him. While claiming to apologize initially, Nir can't stick with it, can he?
He regrets it he claims. But later declares, "I think certainly my tweets [he attacked Logan at his Twitter account] have been unfairly attacked and blown out of proportion. Thta does not excuse my lapse of judgement for making them in the first place. I stupidly didn't think that some crude banter would become fodder for thousands" -- we're stopping him. "Crude banter." Oh, he was attempting banter. And it was just "crude." And his tweets saying she deserved to be sexually assaulted (because she was a "war monger") and his wishing it on Anderson as well was "blown out of proportion" and 'unfairly attacked." It just gets worse. "That said," he declares, "I find the reactions sanctimonious and silly. A few crude jokes on twitter do not make a philosophy, they just make you a momentary jerk. I didn't mean it and I have a record of eight years of risking my life for justice to prove my values." No, you don't have a record of eight years on this issue. You have a record of attacking women verbally, you have a record of cutting them off when they're speaking (even if they're US senators and you're appearing before a Senate hearing), you have a record of smarmy remarks that express hostility to women. That is your record and that's why I've called you "toxic" for years now.
He still doesn't get it. He thinks -- and at least one lefty male is sure this is happening -- that he just offers a false apology (to those people whose "reactions" are "sanctimonious and silly") and then keeps his head down for a bit and everything's cool. If you're not getting how disgusting it is, how disgusting the climate it, you can always check out Thomas E. Ricks. We called him out yesterday. Today he posts about Nir Rosen and should he ban Rosen from the blog? I haven't led a cry for Rosen to be banned. I've led a cry for him to be called out and for those of us on the left to do so loudly. Ricks can ban him or not, I don't have an opinion on that. I do, however, take offense to Tommy's description of Rosen's comments: "Stupid, insensitve, inane, wrong-headed. Yup. My feeling in this situation is to hate the sin, not the sinner. I mean, a lot of my friends are dumbasses, and I've been there myself."
Nir Rosen took joy in the fact that Lara Logan was sexually assaulted. He thought it was funny. Thomas E. Ricks likes to play like he's in the military and the military's best buddy -- especially to the enlisted. Well, Tommy, the enlisted includes women and those comments were not just "dumbass," they were deeply disturbing and part of a culture that you should be calling out, not excusing, not minimizing. He did not tell a bad joke. He took joy in the sexual assault of another person. He not only took joy in it, he wished it had also happened to Anderson Cooper -- and said that if it had happened to Anderson, that would be funny. Nir Rosen is the poster boy for the mentality that allows sexual assaults and rapes to thrive in this country. Thomas E. Ricks' refusal to treat Nir Rosen's remarks as seriously offensive allows sexual assaults and rapes to thrive in this country.
And if he's not getting that he needs to step up to the plate and call this crap out, Thomas E. Ricks can read the comments left on his post. Most grasp how offensive and distrubing Nir Rosen's remarks were and one woman makes it very clear that she will not feel welcome on the blog with Nir Rosen around. But then you get the people who cite an out of control drug addict active in their disease (I promised the drug addict's parents I wouldn't mention the drug addict by name at this site and have not but I'll assume we all I know who I mean) which is bad enough but then you get the likes of KRIEGSAKADEMIE posting at 8:33 PM ET and declaring that Lara had 'it coming' because she wasn't like Hannah Allam, Misahl Husain, Lise Doucet and others "They dress very conservatively; they don't flaunt long manes of uncovered hair; they use moderate gestures and body language, and they show a modicum of deference (whether they actually feel deferential or not) when speaking to older people, adult men, officials etc."
Thomas E. Ricks, you need to educate that asshole. "Adult men"? Are you not getting the sexism? Are you not getting that what I've just quote from your own damn blog is sexism. She had it coming because she didn't allegedly show defernece to "adult men," she had it coming because of how she dressed and how she gestured? You don't see the problem, Thomas E. Ricks? The rape myths, the claims that a woman had it coming? You're not picking up on that?
How about when the same Kriegsakademie declares, "Lara has shown herself in the past to be both a bit of a drama queen and a practied femme fatale with respect to the male press corps in Iraq. My best is that the underlying thought that gave rise to Nir's unfortunate tweet was something along the lines of 'this whole story would not have happened to any of the real porfessional women correspondents who know how to operate in the region'."
Thomas E. Ricks, do you not get how you better start educating your damn readers? You created this environment on your blog when you went T&A and posted the nudie photo of the woman. You fostered that environment with your post minimizing what took place. You need to take accountability and that includes breaking down reality for your readers -- many of whom grasp it, but some like Kriegsakeademie obviously need to be informed that no woman "asks" to be sexually assaulted. Sexual assault is a crime, it is terrorism. How Lara dresses or who she shows 'deference' to is unimportant. No one deserves to be sexually assaulted. No one invited it. A criminal sexually assaults. It's not cute, it's not funny. Yesterday Valerie Strauss (Washington Post) posted something that applies here:
Rosen's tweets on Logan more than crossed a line. They were more than cruel and insensitive. They revealed a perverted view of the world that has no place at any university, much less a prestigious one. Differences of opinion -- even extreme ones -- are one thing, welcome at an educational institution. Misogny and distortions of reality are quite another.

That a grown man (Thomas E. Ricks) can't grasp that today is rather amazing. That he once claimed to be a reporter and that he can't issue a strong denoucement of what Nir Rosen did is flat out offensive. There are some things you just do not do. On the left, many of us may not have agreed with Micheal Kelly. He died while reporting (in Iraq, April 3, 2003). His opinion on the war (he was pro war -- I am certainly not) didn't matter. He died doing his job. And members of the press showed him the respect his profession deserved. Lara Logan was attacked and sexually assaulted while doing her job and Thomas E. Ricks can't show her respect? Can't call out Nir Rosen for not showing her respect? Do we not get that? If Bob Woodruff is again injured while doing his job (ABC News, he was reporting in Iraq at the start of 2006 when he was seriously injured by a roadside bombing) is it okay for Nir Rosen to gleefully cackle and take joy in that? The same year, CBS News' Kimberly Dozier (now with AP) was injured in May by a car bombing in Iraq. If Nir doesn't like her career or her looks or whatever is it okay for him to publicly post comments taking joy in her pain, wishing her pain on others? Miguel Martinez was just assaulted in Bahrain -- is Nir Rosen preparing stand up material on that? There is supposed to be a modicum of respect for any journalist attacked while doing their job.
I'm offended on many levels but if Thomas E. Ricks doesn't have any respect for his profession, he can continue to pretend that what Nir Rosen did was no big deal. We have focused on the sexual assault aspect. But Ricks better grasp for one damn minute that the press is not supposed to trivialize attacks on their own while they are doing their job.
Obviously, Thomas E. Ricks doesn't give a damn about military sexual assault. You can tell that by what he's posted in the past as well as the fact that the big military story this week would be the lawsuit and Thomas E. Ricks couldn't be bothered with that. But he makes time to write what reads like a plea for his "friend-of-the-blog" Nir Rosen (even while saying he'll decide whether to ban Nir or not so your input really doesn't matter).
Again, there were two hearings today and they could be noted. There are protests and other important things. But if women don't stand up on this issue, we're begging it to continue. And we should remember what Thomas E. Ricks refuses to grasp, every rapist believes a woman had it coming. Every rapist has the same mind set as Nir Rosen and the poster at Ricks' site that we quoted. Does that mean Nir Rosen is a rapist? No. But that mind-set is found in rapists. It needs to be called out. Loudly. Rebecca's "the disgusting nir rosen" went up last night.
Turning to veterans and service members, two events coming up. To address the realities of Iraq, there is an upcoming Iraq Veterans Against the War event:

February 25, 2011 9:30 - 10:30 am
Busboys & Poets, Langston room
14th & V st NW Washington DC
This report back will be to answer questions from media and the peace movement about the recent trip back to Iraq by members of Iraq Veterans Against the War. The war is not over but it is not the same as it was in years past. What is the humanitarian situation in Iraq?
How can we do reparations and reconciliation work?
Speakers are all returning from this delegation and include:
Geoff Millard (IVAW) Hart Viges (IVAW) Haider Al-Saedy (Iraqi Health Now)
Richard Rowely (Big Noise Films)

To make it clear that continued war is unacceptable, in March A.N.S.W.E.R. and March Forward! and others will be taking part in this action:

March 19 is the 8th anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Iraq today remains occupied by 50,000 U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of foreign mercenaries.

The war in Afghanistan is raging. The U.S. is invading and bombing Pakistan. The U.S. is financing endless atrocities against the people of Palestine, relentlessly threatening Iran and bringing Korea to the brink of a new war.

While the United States will spend $1 trillion for war, occupation and weapons in 2011, 30 million people in the United States remain unemployed or severely underemployed, and cuts in education, housing and healthcare are imposing a huge toll on the people.

Actions of civil resistance are spreading.

On Dec. 16, 2010, a veterans-led civil resistance at the White House played an important role in bringing the anti-war movement from protest to resistance. Enduring hours of heavy snow, 131 veterans and other anti-war activists lined the White House fence and were arrested. Some of those arrested will be going to trial, which will be scheduled soon in Washington, D.C.

Saturday, March 19, 2011, the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, will be an international day of action against the war machine.

Protest and resistance actions will take place in cities and towns across the United States. Scores of organizations are coming together. Demonstrations are scheduled for San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and more.

Veterans are especially hard hit by the economy. Ryan Endicott is a member of IVAW and March Forward! This is from his "Iraq, Afghanistan veterans' unemployment rates soar above national average" (Party for Socialism and Liberation):

The fact is, the vast majority of jobs in the military do not transfer into the civilian work force. Additionally, when our soldiers return home from the wars, their physical and mental health take a back seat to their preparation for another deployment.

This complete lack of care leads many veterans, especially those with families, with no other option than to reenlist. Facing unemployment, criminally negligent health care services provided by the VA and absolutely no civilian job training, many veterans have no other option than to stay in the military. Many veterans have been redeployed back to the wars for their sixth and seventh tours. Many combat veterans have spent more time in combat in the past eight years than with their families.

This epidemic of unemployment could not have come at a worse time for veterans. Homelessness, drug and alcohol abuse and suicide rates among veterans have increased every year since the beginning of the occupations. In the past two years more active-duty troops lost their lives from suicide than the wars.

It is not the unemployed Iraqi who struggles to feed his family that we should be fighting. It is not the impoverished Afghan farmer who tries to survive without basic necessities that we should be fighting. Veterans have been betrayed by the millionaires who walk the halls of Congress and send us to kill and be killed so that Wall Street can turn a profit.

Our veterans' greatest enemies are not found in Iraq or Afghanistan, but right here in our capital city —the ones responsible for mounting unemployment, rising cost of health care, climbing tuition costs, record foreclosures and evictions, and the gutting of basic and essential social services. They have proven that they do not care about us. We can only rely on each other.

Meena Thiruvengadam (USA Today) reports, "Female veterans are twice as likely to become homeless as women who never served in the military, the government's latest data show. The unemployment rate for female veterans of the long-running wars in Iraq and Afghanistan rose to 13.5% in January above the 8.4% that was seasonally unadjusted average for non-veteran adult women." The unemployment rate for young veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars is at 15.2% nationally and they are among the most at risk for foreclosures. Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee which released the following announcement yesterday:

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman, Senator Patty Murray, released the following statement regarding the announcement of a number of new financial initiatives for servicemembers and veterans. This announcement comes just one week after Senator Murray sent a letter to Holly Petraeus, head of the Office of Servicemember Affairs in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau at the U.S. Treasury Department, regarding some financial institutions that were not offering protections to servicemembers provided under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). SCRA is under the jurisdiction of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

"These new programs, which go above and beyond what is mandated by law, will help ease concerns over financial situations at home for servicemembers," said Senator Murray. "I am also thrilled that they include plans to find new ways to harness the skills of servicemembers and veterans as employees. I will continue to fight to ensure that the housing and employment needs of the men and women who serve our nation are met."

Included in the new initiatives, which are being offered by JPMorgan Chase, are:

•A lowering of interest rates to 4% for SCRA-protected eligible borrowers;•A pledge to not foreclose on any currently-deployed servicemembers;
•A pledge to donate 1,000 homes to servicemembers and veterans over the next five years; and
•A pledge to partner with other major corporate employers to hire 100,000 servicemembers and veterans over the next ten years.

As protests continue in Iraq, violence resurfaces (first seen earlier this month when the police attacked demonstrators). Yesterday in Kut, private security and Iraqi forces attacked demonstrators resulting in at least 3 deaths and at least fifty more people injured. Al Rafidayn reports that over 2,000 demonstrators were present in the town's central square, calling out the lack of basic services (water, electricity, sanitation, etc.), the corruption and the lack of jobs. A chant of "Down with al-Maliki" -- referring to Iraq's 'beloved' prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki -- sprang up at one point. Al Mada notes the demonstrators had peacefully occupied the building housing the provincial council when the fores began firing on them which led to an uprising during which, some day, the protesters setting the building on fire; however, one protester is quoted stating that the fire erupted on its own and was not caused by the protesters. The city is now under curfew and martial law while government officials are in hiding or have fled. Dar Addustour notes reports that the provincial governor has fled the city.
Michael S. Schmidt and Duraid Adnan (New York Times) report that protests today included Kut where demonstrates rallied for the release of 45 of their own arrested the day before and that, in Sulaimaniya, protesters targted the KDP offices (KRG President Massoud Barzani's political party) and that the peshmerga fired warning shots and then opened fire. Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports 9 people were killed and forty seven more were left wounded.
Protests have continued all month and Iraq's college-age youth is calling for large demonstrations on February 25th with Baghdad as the center of protests.
Meanwhile Al Rafidayn reports a member of Nouri's "State Of Law" bloc in Parliament, Jafar Mohammed Baqir al-Sadr has submitted his resignation to protest the lack of basic services and show solidarity with the protesters. Nouri's political party is Dawa. State Of Law is the slate he cobbled together to distance himself from the clannish nature of Dawa and indicate to the voters that he was about unity for all Iraqis. In other Parliamentary news, Dar Addustour reports that Parliament voted yesterday to reject the proposal of four vice presidents. Iraq had two vice presidents; however, the decision was made to up the number to three. Last week, Jalal Talabani, President of Iraq, advocated for a fourth vice president, specifically a woman with the Turkmen bloc. He encountered strong resistance including from the Kurdish bloc in Parliament. Though some saw it as an easy move (some also saw the proposal as one the Kurdish bloc would have to support since Talabani proposed it), the indications that it wouldn't be so easy were visible Sunday when Parliament refused to vote on the proposal. Zainab Suncor (Al Mada) reports that another opponent to the proposal was Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi.

His opposition (my thoughts, not the report) shouldn't be surprising. When the Kurdish bloc refused to support Talabani what Iraq was witnessing was, once again, the huge split between Talabani and KRG President Massoud Barzani (each man heads the two major Kurdish political parties). Talabani's stock has been fading for some time with some Kurds arguing he was allowed to continue as president (a purely ceremonial post) of the country only to keep him out of KRG business. Allawi has repeatedly appealed to Barzani and it's unlikely he would go against him on this issue (which was a minor to Iraqiya and had no benefits to them).