Saturday, January 07, 2012


Hiram Lee (WSWS) reviews The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the new film directed by David Fincher:

Unhappily, Fincher’s film continues the trend. When we first meet Lisbeth, she is a ward of the state whose finances are controlled by an attorney appointed as her guardian. The attorney uses his powerful position to exploit and sexually assault the young woman in his care. The lengthy scenes graphically depicting the most brutal acts carried out against Lisbeth, and the no less brutal revenge she exacts against her guardian, are deeply unsettling to watch.
When it comes time to deal with killers, rapists and other anti-social personalities (and Fincher has dealt with them more often than not during his career), a preoccupation only with the physical brutality of their actions has real consequences for the art and for viewers. Nowhere in Fincher’s films does one find any real sense of the social and psychic make-up of an individual capable of such acts. On the contrary, a great deal is obscured by the filmmaker’s approach.

The only reason I would have seen the film was Robin Wright.  (Would have?  Lee's review means I'll catch it on home video if then.)

I used to like David Fincher's films.  Not all of them.

Aliens 3 struck me as brave and strongly visual.  Aliens (the second film) is my favorite.  James Cameron did an amazing job.  But Aliens 3 stands up as a film.  (I don't think Aliens 4 does.  Sorry.  I may need to see it again but I was really disappointed in that film when I saw it opening day.)

Seven always struck me as a really bad TV movie and, yes, torture porn.  I thought that the acting was awful across the board (that's Morgan, that's Brad, that's Kevin, that's Gwyneth) and the script was cookie-cutter nonsense.

Then came The Game.  I do like how Michael Douglas seized upon the idea of becoming the male Joan Crawford and, in the process, became an actual film star (as opposed to an actor who sometimes was in popular films). And he continues his male Crawford sketch with this film.  He's actually good in it when you factor that in.  But Sean Penn is at his ACTING (in all caps) worst.  Sometimes, it's as though no one can modulate Penn, no director can reign him in.  I also, probably like many, feel that role of "Connie," should have been played by Jodie Foster and not Sean Penn.  And don't believe the lie Fincher's put out.  He did not feel the part was too small for Foster.  Also not true that Foster's work on Contact meant she had to regrettably walk.  I was dating a Polygram exec at the time and heard all the details on that.  Foster had already dealt with one prick -- Robert Redford -- who kept having her role re-written (underwritten) for the film they were supposed to make (Crisis In The Hot Zone).  She was furious (and should have been) and walked on that film.  Then Douglas had these moments he felt his character needed that weren't in the script. So as the script was constantly being rewritten, Foster walked.  I don't blame her.  Michael Douglas' performance makes the film. (Carroll Baker's the only one who rises to his level in the whole film.)  Sean Penn is an embarrassment and comes off like he's on heroin and needs to fix in the next five minutes, needs to fix really bad.

I did (and do) like Fight Club.  And feel it is Brad's only leading performance of note. (His only other performance worth watching is his minor role in Thelma & Louise.)  It helps that Edward Norton does all the heavy lifting allowing Brad to just play a sex symbol.  That's all he's doing.  When he works best in the film, he's generally being homoerotic but I guess we're not supposed to notice that.  (His first scene of interest is on the plane.  Not during the nonsense conversation with Norton but when he gets up to go to the bathroom and makes a point of pondering whether to present Norton with his ass or his crotch as he passes him.)

Panic Room is even better.  I think it has the strongest visual flair of any of his films.  And when you grasp that you're in the house -- in in the panic room -- for so much of the film, it's amazing how much tension and suspense the film packs.  Jodie Foster fills in for Nicole Kidman (who injured herself on Moulin Rouge).  When Jodie calls her ex-husband for help and the new girlfriend answers, that's Nicole doing a voice over performance.   I think Jodie's amazing in the film and, for a change in a Fincher film, there are two strong lead performances -- Forest Whitaker.  Forest could be plugged into any of Fincher's film and be an effective element in a lead or supporting role.  But Foster brings something else to Panic Room, something more than usual for Fincher films and that lets Whitaker make some surprising choices and turn in his best performance ever.

If Panic Room is his best film, and I think it is, all the elements are perfect, Zodiac is a worthy follow up.  I grew up in the area (Bay Area) and was dating as the Zodiac Killer was going wack job nutty.  Meaning, some old person (my grandmother, for one) would always be saying that I'd better be careful.  I mean I was going out on a date and I have to hear that crap?  Every departure from the home is supposed to be a life or death drama?  Please.  I felt the film captured that time perfectly and that the three leads were amazing.  I can't stand Robert Downey Jr. but he's very good in this film.  Jake Gyllenhaal is excellent and Mark Ruffalo is our country's finest actor.  In fact, my big complaint would be: Uh, Robert and David couldn't discuss the case in a steam room?  Two hotties and the director can't give us some lingering moments?

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button should have been called The Boring Brad and his Bad Accent.  I hated that film.  It was boring as hell.  I actually bought a ticket because of the previous films.  I hated it.  When it came out on DVD, I had a friend (Toni) who swore it was wonderful and begged me to give it a second chance.  I did.  Only hated it more.  One night, on the road, I saw it was on Netflix for streaming.  I thought I'd give it a third chance.  I gave it ten minutes and realized I was right the first time I saw it, this is an awful movie.  The sort of crap you'd expect from Ron Howard.  It's Fincher with all the edge smoothed out.

The Social Club.  Continued my loathing of Fincher's latest output.  Does the world need more than one Oliver Stone?  No.  And the world doesn't need any more of Aaron Sorkin's b.s.  I hate that sexist pig.  I wanted to scream shut up at the never ending talkers in this lousy film.

And that brings us to Fincher's latest which I will now be skipping.

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

Friday, January 6, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue, denial that Barack has responsibility continues, the US is not going to support Tareq al-Hashemi, who got punished for Iraq coverage (and who didn't), and more.
Let's start with David Shorr.  He's not interested in honesty, he's not interested in facts.  If you can hold your nose, click on the link and sink into the spin and ignorance.  He doesn't see how Barack Obama "owns" what happens in Iraq.  He doesn't see it because he can't admit the truth.  I haven't read Frederick Kagan and Kimberly Kagan's column, I have no interest in reading it.  I have even less interest in reading Steve Clemons.  I did read Peter Feaver's piece -- awhile back.  (We highlighted it in the December 27th snapshot.)
I'm not in the mood to pretend Shorr's an honest broker, so we'll dismiss with him quickly.  Feaver argued that Barack also owns the war (owns it with Bush).  Shorr has a problem with that. We'll let Shorr's own words betray him:
Feaver cries foul on the attempt he sees by Obama supporters to give him full credit for anything positive in Iraq and saddle President Bush with everything negative. Well, what is the Obama Administration claiming to have done? President Obama claims credit for extricating American forces from nearly nine years of military involvement there.  By the way, can I pause for a moment to say how absurd it is to talk about a hasty exit after nine years?!?
Wow.  Well I'm convinced.  Barack's a saint, a hero and pees rainbows.  In Shorr's  mouth.  The rest of the world, however, may note that Shorr claims the Iraq War lasted nine years.  No, March 2003 is when it officially started.  So let's go with the eight years plus.  (Facts are so hard for con artists.)  So Barack deserves credit because he ended this eight year war?
Bush started and Bush ran it for eight years and just last month, Barack ended it.  Thank goodness Barack Obama was sworn in as president in December 2011 or else the US might still be -- What's that?
Oh, that's right.  Barack wasn't just sworn in.  He was sworn in back in January of 2009. A few weeks short of three years he pretends he ended the war and occupation (he didn't end it).  But he continued it, despite campaign promises.  And he wanted to continue the US military's strong presence even longer.  The "hasty exit" line?  Again? We just called out Media Matters distorting/lying about this.  But, I guess, when independent thought is beyond your capabilities, all you can do is repeat talking points. 
The "hasty exit"  -- as presented by members of Congress -- refers to the fact that in October when Barack ignores the Defense Dept's legal opinion and goes with the State Dept's legal opinion (I don't believe the idiot Shorr is even aware that there were legal opinions) and declares (that phase of) the talks over, that period from the last of October through December, is what they call the hasty exit.  Liars and whores can't make solid arguments so they have to lie.  Barack has not ended the war and occupation.  But let's pretend for a moment that he has.  Was he elected in 2008 with the mandate to follow Bush's actions?  To continue the Iraq War for three more years?  No, he wasn't.  He was voted into office to end the Iraq War.  And during those three years (2009, 2010 and 2011), he repeatedly made one mistake after another.  December 13 on To The Point (KCRW), Warren Oleny spoke with former Iraqi Ambassador Feisal Istrabadi.  Excerpt.
Warren Oleny: Is there anything the Obama administration should be doing differently from what it is?
Ambassador Feisal Istrabadi: Well, I mean, that's hard to say because obviously it's influence is somewhat waning.  The critical mistake the Obama administration made occurred last year when it threw its entire diplomatic weight behind supporting Nouri al-Maliki notwithstanding these very worrisome signs which were already in place in 2009 and 2010.  The administration lobbied hard both internally in Iraq and throughout the region to have Nouri al-Maliki get a second term -- which he has done.  Right now, the betting there's some question among Iraq experts whether we'll ever have a set of elections in Iraq worthy of the name.  I mean, you can almost get odds, a la Las Vegas, on that among Iraq experts. It's a very worrisome thing.  What can they do in the future? Well I suppose it would be helpful, it would be useful, if we stopped hearing this sort of Happy Talk coming from the administration -- whether its Jim Jeffreys in Baghdad, the US Ambassador or whether it's the president himself or other cabinet officers.  We're getting a lot of Happy Talk, we're getting a lot of Happy Talk from the Pentagon about how professional the Iraqi Army is when, in fact, the Iraqi Army Chief of Staff himself has said it's going to take another ten years before the Iraqi Army can secure the borders. So it would help, at least, if we would stop hearing this sort of Pollyanna-ish -- if that's a word -- exclamations from the administration about how swimmingly things are going in Iraq and had a little more truth told in public, that would be a very big help to begin with.
We're opposed to the illegal (and ongoing) Iraq War.  We always have been.  I don't need to distort what someone from the other side says or does to make my argument (see last night's entry).  Let's dispense with David Shorr by noting he hero worshipped Daniel Schorr.  Schorr loved to lie that he was fired from CBS News because of his integrity in ensuring that a Congressional report was printed.  No, he was fired for lying.  He was fired for lying and trying to get someone else in trouble.  As Ava and I noted in "Let's Kill Helen!" (our look at the disgusting trolls attacking Helen Thomas):
Oh my goodness, Helen's anti-war! Strip her of her American citizenship! Truly, that must be a huge offense to Alicia since she likens it to anti-semitism. Can you get more stupid than Alicia Shepard?
Others may not be able to, but she surely can. And did. No reporter for CBS would get away with that, Alicia wanted to insist. And she follows that up by telling Aimee that age can't be to blame because "Dan Schorr" is 91 and he works for NPR.
He does, she's right.
But he doesn't work for CBS, does he?
Nor can he.
Yeah, we'll go there.
Daniel Schorr was fired from CBS. He and his supporters (who funded a year long travel circuit for Danny after his firing) insisted he was fired for doing his job. That is and was a lie. Daniel Schorr was not fired for being a defender of freedom.
Most people are aware of the Church Committee which investigated governmental abuses. The Pike Committee came immediately after, doing the same sort of work, and they wrote a report. They then decided not to issue it. Schorr, in his capacity as a CBS reporter, had a copy of the report. CBS was weighing whether or not to report on the now killed report. Schorr has often (not always) maintained that a decision was made to kill the report and that's why he acted. That's not true. Either he's lying or he was out of the loop. CBS was still deciding. Schorr took the report to The Village Voice which published it.
That could have been the end of it for CBS News because they retained their copy (Schorr had photocopied it and given the photocopies to the weekly). There was an internal investigation at CBS to determine whether or not someone at CBS leaked the report to The Village Voice. Had Schorr kept his mouth shut, the investigation would have been as half-assed as every other internal investigation CBS News conducts. But Schorr couldn't keep his mouth shut.
This is why he was fired, this is why he will never work for CBS again. When asked, as all who had access to the report were, if he had given it to anyone, Schorr didn't stick to "no comment" or a lie that he didn't do anything.
No, instead Schorr chose to finger Lesley Stahl. Schorr told the investigators that The Village Voice published the report (which they knew) and Lesley was dating Aaron Latham (who worked for The Voice) so it was most likely that Lesley Stahl handed over the report to the weekly.
Schorr was not fired for leaking the report. He was fired for lying and for trying to blame someone he knew was innocent.
Think for just a moment what could have happened if Schorr had gotten away with that: Lesley Stahl's career would have been over -- at least at CBS though probably no other network would touch her if they feared she'd take their stories elsewhere.
Aaron Latham (a notable journalist in his own right) would have been outraged that Lesley lost her job because she was dating him. Knowing Aaron, he would have made it his life's purpose to find out who falsely accused Lesley and prove that liar wrong. If he'd been successful, it might have been a messy media moment and then life would have continued. If not? Most likely, Lesley would try to move on from it and Aaron would want to remain in the role of protector/enforcer. Meaning it wouldn't have just effected her professional life, which was bad enough, if would have changed her entire life. Lesley and Aaron married years ago and have had one of the few enduring marriages in the journalistic community. Lesley could have lost everything as a result of Daniel Schorr's lies. He was prepared to destroy someone professionally and personally.

In June 2010, while he was still alive, Ava and I were telling the truth about the dishonest and corrupt Daniel Schorr.  A month later, he died and there was David Shorr holding him up as a model. That says everything you need to know about the dishonest and uninformed David Shorr.  We're done with David Shorr.
In the real world, Chris Floyd (Empire Burlesque) observes, "And as we noted here last month, the American war crime in Iraq just keeps rolling on. This week saw yet another spate of mass slaughter in yet another series of bombings in the virulent sectarian warfare which was spawned, set loose, empowered and fomented by the invaders, who very deliberately -- with malice aforethought -- divided their new 'Iraqi' government along strict sectarian lines, arming and paying death squads and militias on both sides of the Sunni-Shia divide to rip each other -- and Iraqi society -- to pieces. The mass murder this week is a direct result and a direct responsibility of the Americans who instigated, carried out, supported -- and praise -- the 'extraordinary achievement' of this endless atrocity. 'Nine years in the making,' yes -- and still going strong!"  From the right-wing, we'll note Sheldon Richman (Reason -- link is text and audio):
Obama will campaign on how he ended the war -- which began not in 2003 but in 1991; the U.S. government tormented the Iraqi people for 20 years! -- and conservatives will attack him for it. Both sides will conveniently forget that (1) the U.S. government was obligated to leave on Dec. 31, 2011, under an agreement signed by Bush, and (2) Obama tried his damnedest to get the Iraqi leaders to ask the U.S. military to stay. (Contrary to claims, not all troops have left.)
And let's be clear: An exit from Iraq hardly constitutes an exit from the Middle East. The troops moved down the road to Kuwait, "repostured" for future use.
Meanwhile, sabers are being rattled in the direction of Iran and Syria, where covert warfare is already being waged.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
The Iraq War has entered a new phase.  As people mark the end of the last phase with various stats and numbers, it might be time to note that a few people paid a price for getting it right.  Chris Hedges is the author of many books including Death of the Liberal Class which we picked at Third as one of the ten most important books of the last ten years (2001 to 2011).  The community voted it the number two book of 2010, see "2010 in books (Martha & Shirley)" and the number two book of 2011, see  "2011 in books (Martha & Shirley)."  His most recent book is a collection of his columns,
Host:  When were you with the New York Times?
Chris Hedges:  1990 to 2005.
Host:  And why did you leave?
Chris Hedges: Well we had a little dispute oversomething called the Iraq War. And I'd spent a lot of my life, not only, of course in the Middle East, but in Iraq.  I understood like most Arabists that the arguments used to justify the invasion-occupation of Iraq were non-reality based.  They weren't -- This is not a political discussion.  It's the idea that we would be greeted as liberators and there wouldn't be an insurgency, that democracy would be implanted in Baghdad and emanate outwards across the Middle East, that -- remember? -- the oil would pay for the reconstruction.  I mean these were just spun by people who had no idea what they were talking about.  But to get up and say that, despite the wealth of experience that I had within the region and within Iraq itself became deeply polarizing.  And I gave a commencement address -- I'd been saying it, but it came to sort of a head when I gave a commencement address at Rockford College [text of speech, video of speech with a link to other parts of speech on the right) where I was booed off o the stage, had my microphone cut, people stood up and started shouting things against me.  At one point, they stood up and sang "God Bless America."  I was actually escorted off the platform before the rewarding of diplomas since they didn't want any sort of fracas by close contact with students.  And this got picked up by Fox and sort-of trash talk media -- which looped it, hour after hour.  And the New York Times responded by giving me a formal written reprimand.  Now we were Guild, at the Times, which means we were unionized and the process is you give the employee a written reprimand and the next time they're fired.  So I faced a difficult choice which is that I would have to in essence muzzle myself in service of my career. But, you know, on a fundemantal level, I was very close to my dad.  He was a great minister and an activist in the Civil Rights Movement, the anti-war movement, the gay rights movement  -- his brother who was gay -- and he was very outspoken in support of gay rights.  You know I realized that point to do so would be to betray my father.  And I wasn't going to do that so I left the paper.
It's interesting. You could go on TV and -- reporter or columnist for the New York Times -- advocate for the war -- as many did, before it started and after it started -- and you would not get a written reprimand.  But speak out against the war and suddenly there was a big problem.  That goes to the huge problems with the US press.  If you repeat the government's lies -- even if you know they're lies -- as reality and truth, you don't get into trouble.  Even whent he lies are exposed, even when it's known, for example, that you helped the Reagan administration with Iran-Contra although you were a TV journalist.  You're not punished.  But if you question the government, if you criticize it, you have an "opinion."  And you may have violated your outlet's code.  This despite the fact that skepticism is supposed to be the hallmark of journalism. 
Many were punished for opposing the Iraq War -- Henry Noor (San Francisco Chronicle) and Phil Donahue (MSNBC) are two more.  But the only one who was punished from the other side is scapegoat Judith Miller.  The New York Times let her go because (a) her image and (b) their own embarrassment.  Her reports don't stand up.  Was Judith also an editor?  Was she the publisher?  Why was she the only one at the paper who was let go?  Judith didn't host Meet The Press on NBC or any of the Sunday chat shows that sold the illegal war (often with Miller as a guest).  None of those people were fired from their jobs.  Judith was a guest on Oprah's daytime talk show when Oprah wanted to sell the upcoming illegal war and Oprah even snapped on TV at an audience member who dared to questions the dubious claims presented as fact.  Oprah lost nothing.
Judith Miller's reporting doesn't stand up.  She was wrong.  She was a lousy reporter.  If you ignore that she commandeered a US military unit while she was in Iraq and used them to go find WMD (they found nothing), you could call her a liar.  (Clearly she was tricked or allowed herself to be tricke by the sources she was too cozy with.)
But Judith Miller didn't work at the Washington Post or the Los Angeles Times or any other newspaper.  And Judith Miller hosted no MSNBC, CNN or Fox News program.  And Judith Miller anchored no broadcast network's evening news.  And Judith Miller didn't host PBS' Washington Week or The NewsHour.  So why was she the only one -- out of all those fools, liars and worse?
Because, as a woman, she was a lightening rod in a way that a man can never be. (Bash the bitch is the American pastime, as Ava and I noted.)  And so a lot of men (and less prominent women) kept their heads down and played dumb, just glad to have Judith Miller punished for all of their journalistic sins.
On national, state and local levels around the country, people were fired for being skeptical and/or against the impending war.  And the only one fired who cheerleaded the war was Judith Miller?  Imagine how different today would be if those cheerleading war -- and not the Dixie Chicks -- had been the ones to lose their media access, had been the ones dropped by various media outlets.  But opposing war was controversial.  Blindly going along wasn't.  Because it's never a crime in US journalism to parrot and applaud the US government -- especially the White House.
(And I'm not calling for the censorship of the War Hawks or anyone else -- let opinions compete in the public square.  But I am attempting to underscore that they had access to the media and amplification while those who were skeptical or flat out against the Iraq War were shut out by the media.)
After yesterday's string of bombings across Iraq, today would have to be (comparatively) more peaceful. This being Iraq, that doesn't mean the violence stopped. Jomana Karadsheh (CNN) reports, "At least three explosions struck Friday near Baghdad's Green Zone, where a parade to make Iraq's Army Day was taking place, according to witnesses."  Reuters notes that there was also a Baghdad mortar attack which left three people injured, a Baghdad roadside bombing which left five people injured, another Baghdad roadside bombing claimed 1 life and left seven people injured, a third Baghdad roadsie bombing claimed 1 life and left five more people injured and a Balad Ruz roadside bombing claimed 1 life. That's 3 dead and twenty injured.  Of yesterday's violence, Dan Morse (Washington Post) observes, "At least 72 people were killed Thursday in a series of attacks on Shiites in Iraq, marking the deadliest day since U.S. troops withdrew last month and raising new worries about the country's sharp sectarian divisions."
The political crisis continues in Iraq.  At 8:00 pm EST last night, the White House issued the following:

The White House

Office of the Vice President

For Immediate Release
January 05, 2012
Readout of the Vice President's Call with Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey
In the context of close U.S.-Turkish consultation on matters of mutual interest, Vice President Biden and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed regional issues, including political developments in Iraq, by telephone today. Following up on their conversation during the Vice President's trip to Turkey in December, the two leaders agreed on the need to advance security, support the rule of law and encourage democracy in the region. They agreed that our two governments would remain in regular contact on these issues.
Hurriyet Daily News adds that "Erdogan warned efforts expended so far to protect Iraq's territorial intergrity and stability would become meaningless if Iraq drifted away from democratic culture."  Nouri al-Maliki's attempt at seizing further power has resulted in his swearing out a warrant against Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi.  Former CIA Director (2006 - 2009) Michael V. Hayden offered this summary at CNN of Iraq post Status Of Forces Agreement:
With that agreement unextended and now expired, al-Maliki appears to be acting out the darkest shadows of his own past. Over the last months, he has reneged on a power-sharing agreement with Sunnis in several key ministries, arrested hundreds of suspected Baathists (read Sunni oppositionists) and -- as the last American troops were leaving Iraq and fresh from an audience in the Oval Office -- he has now ordered the arrest of his own Sunni vice president, Tariq al-Hashimi, for alleged "terrorism."
Along with all of this, al Qaeda in Iraq greeted the U.S. withdrawal with a series of deadly bombings against largely Shiite targets. Al Qaeda was always expected to take advantage of the "seam" created by the handoff of counterterrorism operations from American to Iraqi control, but now even a badly weakened al Qaeda can exploit the sense of Sunni vulnerability that al-Maliki's actions have created.
The situation may yet be salvaged. America is not without tools. Ambassador Jim Jeffrey cut short his holiday home leave to return to Iraq and, as he has in the past, he will no doubt use his considerable skills in an attempt to defuse the situation. But the ambassador will have fewer tools at his disposal.
But is James Jeffrey able to address all the issues?  No.  And he wouldn't if he could.  The US government has repeatedly went for the 'big' issue.  Which, under Bush since 2006 or Barack since he was sworn in, has always translated as: Protect Nouri and his position.  That's why Barack was able to ignore the targeting of Iraq's LGBT community even with the US Congress calling it out.  That's why Barack was able to ignore Nouri attacking protesters during the so-called "Arab Spring."  February 25th, Nouri's forces were attaking protesters and journalists.  This continued week after week.  Human Rights Watch covered this repeatedly.  Here's Human Rights Watch from June 2nd:
On May 28, soldiers in four Humvees and two other unmarked vehicles approached the offices of the human rights group Where Are My Rights in Baghdad's Bab al Mu'adham neighborhood, as members met with fellow protest organizers from the February 25 Group. Members of both groups told Human Rights Watch that soldiers raided the building with guns drawn, took away 13 activists in handcuffs and blindfolds, and confiscated mobile phones, computers and documents.

One detained activist who was released on May 29 told Human Rights Watch that during the raid a commanding officer introduced himself as "from Brigade 43"of the army's 11th Division and said another officer was "from Baghdad Operation Command."

"They did not show any arrest warrants and did not tell us why we were being arrested," this activist said:
A female activist complained and asked to see warrants, and they told her to "shut up and get in the car." They blindfolded and handcuffed us, and while they were doing this, they asked, "Why are you having these meetings? Do you really think you can bring down the government?" And they asked who was supporting us.
The activist said that the army took the people it arrested to a detention facility at Division 11 headquarters, where they were interrogated both as a group and individually. "Once we were there, they hit us with their hands in the face, neck, chest, and arms while we were still blindfolded," the activist said. "They kicked us everywhere they could reach. They did not use batons on me, and they talked to each other about not leaving marks or bruises on us."
The released activist and several members of both organizations said security forces are still holding nine of the activists and have released four without any charges. "I asked what crimes we had committed, and asked again about arrest warrants," said the released activist. "They never answered either question."
But that was never anything Barack condemned.  Nouri becomes prime minister in 2006.  Was there a year in there -- 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 -- when Nouri wasn't getting exposed for running another secret prison?  And they tortured in those prisons.  And yet when Nouri's slate came in second in the 2010 elections -- when Iraqis chose Iraqiya for first place and when that meant, per the Constitution, that Iraqiya had first crack at forming a government -- the White House refused to stand up for the will of the Iraqi people or for the Iraq Constitution or for democracy.  They backed thug Nouri.
So Iraqiya would have to be very foolish to think that this is the time that the US finally breaks with Nouri and comes to the rescue of Tareq al-Hashemi, let alone the Iraqi people.  And commentators are noting that James Jeffrey isn't doing a damn thing to help al-Hashemi.  Northsum32 (All Voices) writes:
U.S. Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey said: "There is a serious effort by the Iraqi judiciary to have a free and fair and just investigation," "It seems a lot of care is being taken at this point to maintain judicial independence and to have a very broad investigation." These remarks give support to Maliki in his attempt to discredit Hashemi and portray him as a terrorist.
John Glaser ( observes, "The U.S. ambassador to Iraq has expressed approval of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki's quest to detain Iraq's vice president on terrorism charges, despite almost everyone else recognizing it as part of a troubling pattern of consolidating dictatorial power."  Again, Iraqiya would have to be very stupid at this late date to think the US government was going to help al-Hashemi when they have repeatedly backed Nouri over and over.  Despite the fact that Nouri's a thug.  Despite the fact that I can list five prominent members of the administration who have described him as that.  Despite the fact that I can name more Democratic Senators who describe him as a thug than I can name Democratic Senators who don't.
Al Rafidayn reports al-Hashemi has opened an office in the KRG. In a statement, al-Hashemi noted that his new office was in Sulaymaniyah and that it was temporary. He also called for a stop to the raids and harassment on his home and offices in Baghdad as well as the homes of his staff. Two women who work for him were recently detained with no explanation provided to them. On al-Hashemi, Al Mada reports that Parliament has rejected a request to supervise the investigation of al-Hashemi noting that such an action is beyond the scope of their legal duties. The paper also notes that rumors that he will be going to Jordan have been denied by Jordanian officials. Rakan al-Majali, government spokesperson, states no request from al-Hashemi has been received.

Again, Nouri's political slate is State of Law. al-Hashemi is currently a house guest of Iraq's President Jalal Talabani. Earlier this week, the Kurdish Alliance staged a walkout (Tuesday) during a session of Parliament to register their offense over State of Law MP Hussein al-Asadi calling Talabani (who is Kurdish) a "terrorist.' Al Mada reports that al-Asadi delivered a formal apology and has stated he will travel to Sulaimaniyah to apologize to Talabani in person.
Talabani has called for a national conference among the political blocs to address the political crisis. Alsumaria TV reports on "observers" believing Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc not attending (this was announced over the holiday weekend) could cause a problem and some think the objection is part of a larger issue with claims that the National Alliance wants the list of invitees narrowed while Iraqiya and the Kurdistan Alliance want the conference to be open to various political actors. Alsumaria also notes that Talabani met with Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi in Sulaimaniya and Talabani and Allawi remain committed to a national conference to "dismantle" the political crisis. Aswat al-Iraq covers another meet-up:
Iraqi Kurdistan President Masoud Barzani discussed with Higher Islamic Council leading member Adel Abdul Mehdi ways to deal with the present crisis in the country and the necessity to all parties' agreement on a national projects and the implementation of previous agreements.
Barzani, in a statement, copy received by Aswat al-Iraq, stressed the importance of abiding by the real partnership.
The statement added that both sides stressed that all political parties should agree on a national project, implement previous agreements and solve the present crisis to create a state of stability in the country.

Adil Abdul-Mahdi was the Shi'ite Vice President of Iraq in Nouri's first term. In the second term, he was one of two Vice Presidents originally (himself and Tareq al-Hashemi) and then there were three vice presidents. He turned in his resignation at the end of May and Talabani accepted it formally in June. (Since then, Iraq has only had two vice presidents.) Mahdi has long wanted to be prime minister. He has had the support in that from various international oil corporations. Like most rulers in Iraq (excepting the KRG), Mahdi is an exile. He left Iraq in 1969.

When he stepped down as vice president, he did so with a letter lamenting government excess. The letter and the move was seen by some insiders as Mahdi setting himself up for a potential challenge to Nouri.
We need to wrap up.  We've got two things.  Partner Hub will be hosting a live online discussion with Angelina Jolie Thursday (January 12) starting at 8:00 pm EST (7:00 pm Central, 5:00 pm PST).  Angelina is an Academy Award winning actress and, of course, now a film director with her upcoming In The Land of Blood and Honey.  She also wrote the screenplay.  What impressed me (I saw at the end of last month) the most was just how strong Angelina's visual storytelling is.  She's a gifted director right out of the box.  Many sites will be taking part in the discussion (we won't -- it was a nice invitation but Thursday next week is a hard one and Friday's a nightmare in terms of my schedule).  We wil, however, gladly note any sites that are taking part.  As noted here before when I've felt the need to defend Angelina from some stupid attack (usually when some reporter -- Leila Fadel, I'm thinking of you especially), I've known Angelina since she was a little girl.  (I am much older than Angelina.  I was not a little girl, I was an adult.)  She's directed an amazing movie and she's got the visual gift a director needs, it's there in transitions from scene to scene, it's their in telling moments.  She should be really proud of herself and proud of her film.  And the last word goes to the Feminist Majority Foundation as they address the change in the FBI's legal definition of rape:
Wednesday, January 6, 2012
Contact: Francesca Tarant, 703.522.2214,
Annie Shields, 310.556.2500,
Feminist Majority Foundation Celebrates FBI Approval of New Rape Definition - FBI Director's Action Follows Extensive Campaign By Women's Rights Supporters

"Updating the FBI Uniform Crime Report definition of rape is a big win for women," said Eleanor Smeal, president of Feminist Majority Foundation. "We appreciate the support for this change from the Obama Administration, led by Vice President Joe Biden and by Lynn Rosenthal, White House Advisor on Violence Against Women, and Hon. Susan B. Carbon, director of the Office on Violence Against Women in the Department of Justice, as well as the FBI." The White House today announced that FBI Director Robert Mueller has approved the change recommended by several committees of the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Service.

"With a modern, broader definition, FBI Uniform Crime Report statistics will finally show the true breadth of this violence that affects so many women's lives. Women's groups will work to ensure that this more accurate and complete data will lead to increased resources to combat and reduce the incidence of rape," continued Smeal.

The "Rape is Rape" campaign, a massive grassroots feminist activism effort launched by the Feminist Majority Foundation and Ms. magazine, generated over 160,000 emails to the FBI and the Department of Justice urging this change. For over a decade the Pennsylvania-based Women's Law Project (WLP) had pursued the change. "Ultimately, accurate data is a fundamental starting point to improving police response to sex crimes and improved practice should lead to increased victim confidence in police and reporting," said Carol E. Tracy, WLP Executive Director.

The old definition, adopted over 80 years ago, had been extensively criticized for leading to widespread underreporting of rape. Defined as "the carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will," it excluded rapes involving forced anal sex and/or oral sex, rape with an object (even if serious injuries resulted) and rapes of men, and was interpreted by many police jurisdictions to exclude rapes where the victim was incapacitated by drugs or alcohol, or otherwise unable to give consent. The old rape definition excluded many rapes against women and all against men.

The new definition, as it appears on the FBI website, is: "Penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim."

"This is a major policy change and will dramatically impact the way rape is tracked and reported nationwide," said Kim Gandy, Vice President and General Counsel of the Feminist Majority Foundation. "It is a great day for women and law enforcement because the police can more accurately know what is going on as far as the crime of rape in their communities," observed Margaret Moore, Director of the National Center for Women and Policing of the Feminist Majority Foundation.

Available for interview on the change in definition, its significance and the campaign leading up to it are Feminist Majority Foundation President/Ms. Magazine publisher Eleanor Smeal, FMF Vice President and General Counsel Kim Gandy, Executive Editor of Ms. Katherine Spillar, Women's Law Project Executive Director Carol E. Tracy and Margaret Moore, director of the National Center for Women and Policing, a division of the Feminist Majority Foundation.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Carly Simon and books

This is from Christine Schofelt's book review at WSWS:

Writer Chuck Palahniuk has made a career out of trying to be the literary equivalent of a “shock jock.” First coming to prominence with his 1996 novel, Fight Club (turned into a film in 1999), Palahniuk has ever since made a conscious effort to gross out and disturb his readers. Though often described as a “cult” writer, Palahniuk’s books are put out by Random House, one of the world’s largest publishing entities, and so are hardly obscure.

Since his breakthrough with Fight Club, his books have been lauded as subversive, daring, outrageous and obscene. The novelist’s urge to become ever more offensive to hold his audience’s attention is something to consider. His latest novel, Damned, takes us on a journey characterized by contrived and banal disgust, replete with incessant pop-culture references, half-stolen ideas, and more gross-out “humor.”

Read the book review in full.  And let me use that to remind you that Martha and Shirley's "2011 in books (Martha & Shirley)" went up Saturday.  It's the community picks for the ten best books of last year.  Martha and Shirley's yearly look at books always becomes one of the most popular pieces of the year.  I don't mean instantly.  It's enjoyed instantly, absolutely.  But each year (at least since Jim's been following page views), their book review goes up and is popular but continues to be popular all year.  So that by the end of the year it's one of the ten most popular pieces of the year. (My year in review, by contrast, doesn't make the top ten.  I'm fine with that but I mention it to stress how popular their piece becomes each year.  It always happens that way.)

What book am I reading right now?

It's a book on Carly Simon.  Stephen Davis is the author and the title is "There's More Room In A Broken Heart: The True Adventures of Carly Simon." The title ("there's more room in a broken heart") is from Carly's "Coming Around Again."  (Carly is a singer-songwriter with tons and tons of hits including "Let The River Run," "Jesse," "You're So Vain," "Gimmie All Night," "You Belong To Me," "Nobody Does It Better," "Better Not Tell Her," "Love of my Life," "The Right Thing To Do," "Haven't Got Time For The Pain," and much, much more.)

C.I. got the book from a friend at the publishing company.  When C.I. unopened the box, she said, "Okay, Kat, you get first crack."

So I've been reading it like crazy.  And I am enjoying it and hope there will be many, many more books on Carly -- our country's finest songwriter.

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

Thursday, January 5, 2011.  Chaos and violence continue, bombs slam Iraq, the League of Righteous is "honestly sorry" for killing a British citizen several years ago (and for lying this summer that he was still alive?), the political crisis continues, Nouri saw 'terrorists' trying to overthrow the government but now they're being released, and more.
On this week's. Black Agenda Radio, hosted by Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey, (airs each Monday at 4:00 pm EST on the Progressive Radio Network), Iraq was noted.  Excerpt.

Nellie Bailey: But first, the US and its allies were on a military offensive in 2011 except in Iraq where the Americans were forced to withdraw almost all of their uniformed forces.  But that doesn't mean the Americans are gone.  We spoke with Tony Monteiro, professor of African American Studies at Temple University in Philadelphia.
Tony Monteiro: Don't forget the bulk of the troops might be out of Iraq but they're not out of the region.  When you look at the Obama administration's policy, it is a continuation of the neo-conservative policy of the Bush administration and those policies were defined by the objective of regime change and bringing democracy -- so-called -- to the Middle East.  And Iraq was supposed to be the first domino and the most important domino to fall in this respect. Now the other side of that is while they're allegedly moving out of Iraq, of course the troops are in Kuwait and other parts of the Persian Gulf.  But the US is ramping up its war talk against Iran.  Iran is a neighbor of Iraq.  In fact, Iran sits between Iraq and Afghanistan.  So, it is my opinion that this thing is not over.  That the US, and this is of course Vice President Biden's point of view, the United States should reserve the option of going back into Iraq.  And certainly with the Maliki government under increasing stress and opposition, that government is not beond -- in the not too distant future -- calling for the American troops to come back. And I guess the third thing I would say is that a lot of this has to do with the 2012 election.  After the election, all best are off, we have a new set of options.  And we can not forget that the largest US Embassy in the world is in Baghdad, Iraq -- over 17,000 so-called diplomats but mainly CIA, military intelligence.  So Iraq is not over by a long shot.
Glen Ford: The US had a long list of nations marked for regime change.  There has been regime change in Libya  and it appears that the United States and the Europeans are intent on making regime change in Syria.
Tony Monteiro: And you know, even if they do not bring about complete regime change, they want to make these states -- such as Libya, such as Syria, such as Lebanon, Afghanistan and Iraq -- failed states, states that in order to even exist or to function must rely on the United States and NATO. So you have this attempt on the part of the United States and NATO to manage a political, social and economic chaos in the Middle East.
Political, social and economic chaos pretty much describes the Iraq rocked today by bombings.  An Iraqi correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers shares (at Inside Iraq), "As an Iraqi citizen, I wouldn't really care about our politicians and their fight because I never felt for a moment that any of them represents me or any regular people but the only thing that pushes me to care is the fuel of this fight. Since the political fight ignited between the Iraqi politicians, poor Iraqis were always the fuel that inflames it.  Hundreds of thousands were killed or missed since 2003 and God knows when the bath of blood would stop in my bleeding country. Prayers of mothers, fathers and sons couldn't stop the blood shedding because their political brothers always pray for more blood for political gains since fuel is always available and cheap as they believe."
Baghdad was again slammed with explosions. Early on Jomana Karadsheh (CNN) explained, "A series of bombings in Baghdad left 24 dead and dozens wounded Thursday, intensifying fears of an increase in sectarian violence in the midst of a political crisis." BBC News (link has text and video) adds, "The ministry told the BBC that at least 66 people were wounded in the blasts, which occurred in the capital's Sadr City and Kadhimiya neighbourhoods." Lee Moran (Daily Mail) notes things kicked off with a motorcycle bombing, then a roadside bombing followed by two more bombings.

Adrian Blomfield (Telegraph of London) observes, "For the second time in a fortnight, the Iraqi capital echoed to the wail of ambulance sirens as the fragility of the country's threadbare confessional consensus was exposed once again." Blomfield's noting the December 22nd Baghdad bombings: "Dan Morse and Aziz Alwan (Washington Post) count 17 bombings, 65 dead and 207 injured while Kareem Raheem (Reuters) notes the death toll has risen to 72." With attacks elsewhere in Iraq, the final death toll passed that.
In addition to the Baghdad bombings, southern Iraq was also targeted. Early on,
AP counted 30 dead in a southern Iraq bombing. AFP stated it was a Nasiriyah roadside boombing. In addition to the 30 dead, Adrian Blomfield (Telegraph of London) reported the Nasiriyah bombing has left seventy-two injured. Reuters noted government officials said it wasn't a roadside bombing, it was a suicide bombing.  Jamal Hashim (Xinhua) would report later in the day that the bomber wore a suicide vest and note that the pilgrims killed were making a pilgrimage to Karbala "to commemorate the Arbaeen religious ritual, the climax of which will be on Jan. 13.  Arbaeen is the end of 40 days of mourning for the Imam Hussein, the Prophet Muhammed's grandson who was killed at the battle of Karbala in 680 A.D."   Reuters notes 29 dead from Baghdad bombings (68 injured) and 44 dead in the Nassiriya bombing (81 injured) for a total of 73 dead (74 if the suicide bomber is counted).  In addition, Reuters notes a Mosul roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 child (five women were injured) and 1 man was shot dead in Mosul (with another man, his brother, left injured).
As the violence continues, so does the political crisis. Raheem Salman and Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) quote Iraqi political analyst Dhiya Shikerchi stating, "Definitely . . . there is a relationship between these explosions and the political crisis, but it doesn't mean necessarily that one of the sides in the crisis is directly responsible.  Maybe there is a third side that is exploiting this crisis to fulfill its agenda to return Iraq to sectarian strife."   Ibrahim Kalin (Today's Zayman via Ikhwanweb) reminds:
After the fall of Saddam Hussein, the Shiites of Iraq and the Kurds saw a historic opportunity to have equal representation.  This is fair enough. But it is a grave mistake to depict the Saddam era as "Sunni" and to seek the building o a new Shiite identity based on animosity towards the Sunnis. Luckily, this is not the position of the vast majority of Shiites of Iraq.  Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, for instance, has resisted such temptations and played a key role in lowering tensions between Shiite and Sunni Iraqis.
Reporting from Baghdad, Dahr Jamail (Al Jazeera -- link is video) declared, "These latest attacks highlight just how serious the political deadlock in Iraq has become and only days after the last US forces left the country.  Once again, it's the Iraqis who have been killed and injured.  The victims of a dispute that only Iraq's politicians, whether Sunni or Shia, can resolve."  It wasn't supposed to be this way.  It was only December 12th that Nouri al-Maliki and US President Barack Obama were at the White House and Barack was singing the praises of the US-backed thug.
US President Barack Obama: Today, I'm proud to welcome Prime Minister Maliki -- the elected leader of a sovereign, self-reliant and democratic Iraq. We're here to mark the end of this war; to honor the sacrifices of all those who made this day possible; and to turn the page -- begin a new chapter in the history between our countries -- a normal relationship between sovereign nations, an equal partnership based on mutual interests and mutual respect. Iraq faces great challenges, but today reflects the impressive progress that Iraqis have made.  Millions have cast their ballots -- some risking or giving their lives -- to vote in free elections.  The Prime Minister leads Iraq's most inclusive government yet.  Iraqis are working to build institutions that are efficient and independent and transparent.
Except for "today," pretty much everything Barack said was a lie.  Now yesterday Barack found a way to appoint yet another man to a position.  When the left wanted Elizabeth Warren in that position, Barack didn't know how to appoint her.  But then he really doesn't appoint many women to positions of power.  Which is how he could lie that, "The Prime Minister leads Iraq's most inclusive government yet."  Barack's overweight flunky Jay Carney mentioned Warren in the White House press briefing today, "Richard Cordray is, as she herself has said, the right man for the job -- the right person for the job -- and enormously qualified."  No, Warren never called him "the right man for the job."  But how telling of this White House, so known for its sexism (see Ron Suskind's Confidence Men), that their spokesperson would have to correct himself in front of the press corps and how telling on the press corps that most will never report his telling (Freudian?) slip.
So it's no surprise that Barack would be praising the "diversity" when even women in President Jalal Talabani's family are publicly calling out Nouri's Cabinet (which, when originally named, didn't have one woman in it).
A "democratic" Iraq?  If "democratic" means following the rule of law or the Constitution, forget it.  (See yesterday's snapshot on Nouri's latest efforts to break the Constitution.)  If "democratic" means a country that values free speech, forget it.  Nouri's attacked activists, had then kidnapped and tortured throughout 2011 and the same for journalists.  How sad that Barack cheapened the White House by inviting that thug into it.
"Millions have cast their ballots," declared Barack, "some risking or giving their lives -- to vote in free elections."
Yes, they did.  And in those March 2010 elections they clearly made Iraqiya their first choice.  Ayad Allawi's slate came in first.  Not a "Sunni" slate or a "Shia" slate, a mixed slate that was not about sectarianism.  Some, like Allawi, were Shia.  Some, like Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi, were Sunni.  And in choosing Iraqiya, Iraqis were saying they wanted a national identity, they were done with sectarianism.  Which is why Nouri al-Maliki's political slate came in second.  But the White House wouldn't abide by the will of the Iraqi people or by the Iraqi constitution.  Instead the White House demanded that Nouri stay on as prime minister.  So maybe Barack Obama should quit lying about "free elections"? 
Now, he wants you to know, Iraq's working on being efificent, independent and transparent.  It shouldn't be too hard for them to improve on that last one.  In December Transparency International their latest rankings of 182 nation-states.  Number one would be most transparent, number 182 would be least.  Where did Iraq come in?  Number 175.  There aren't a lot of spots it can drop down too.  This was at the start of December (December 3rd) and yet there was Barack on December 12th, lying yet again.
Upon returning to Iraq from DC, Nouri promptly ordered the homes of political rivals to be circled with tanks.  Then he had Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq, Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi and their bodyguards pulled off an airplane to the KRG on December 18th.  All but three bodyguards were released and the plane was allowed to take off.  December 19th, with al-Hashemi in the KRG for meetings, Nouri had a warrant sworn out on him for terrorism.   December 21st, Nouri held a press conference.  Journalist Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor and Al Jazeera) Tweeted it.
janearraf jane arraf
#Iraq's. #Maliki says judiciary to decide whether confessions were coerced - now trying to explain why they were televised first then.
janearraf jane arraf
#Iraq's #Maliki rejects VP Hashemi's call for Arab observers in terrorism investigation - says won't tolerate outside interference
janearraf jane arraf
#Iraq's #Maliki on defensive in increasingly baffling statements on #Hashemi - 'does any high-ranking official ever say he's innocent?'
The the Fifth Clause of Article 19 from the Iraqi Constitution:
The accused is innocent until proven guilty in a fair legal trial.  The accused may not be tried on the same crime for a second time after acquittal unless new evidence is produced.
It's a point Nouri fails to grasp.  Repeatedly.  Nouri is also calling for al-Mutlaq to be stripped of his position. al-Hashemi and al-Mutlaq are both Sunnis as well as members of Iraqiya. Iraqiya is the political slate, led by Ayad Allawi, which came in first in the 2010 parliamentary elections. (Nouri's own State of Law came in second. They are political rivals.) Al Rafidayn notes the Kurdistan Alliance has declared that they will not support firing al-Mutlaq. (To strip al-Mutlaq of his position would require Parliament to agree with Nouri's proposal.) al-Hashemi is currently a house guest of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani. This has so enraged State of Law that they've taken to calling Talabani a "terrorist" (which led to the Kurdish Alliance walking out on a session of Parliament Tuesday). Al Mada reports that State of Law is admitting that, despite rumors (mainly started and circulated by State of Law), Nouri has no terrorism files on either al-Mutlaq or Ayad Allawi.

Jalal Talabani has been calling for a national conference to address the political crisis. State of Law is stating it should happen mid-month. For months, Iraqiya, the Kurds and the National Alliance have called on Nouri to reinstate the US-brokered Erbil Agreement that ended Political Stalemate I. The parties came together in Erbil and agreed to a variety of concessions. It was agreed Nouri would continue as prime minister (despite his slate's second place showing). That's the only element Nouri honored. As soon as he was named prime minister-designate, he trashed the agreement.  Jomana Karadsheh (CNN) notes:
Iraqiya, a cross-sectarian as well as Sunni-backed bloc, castigated the al-Maliki government, saying it had shunned cooperation despite the power-sharing arrangement.
It said it is considering sending a request to parliamentary leaders to withdraw support for al-Maliki and come up with a new prime minister to form a post-occupation government.
There have also been mounting calls for federalism from at least three predominantly Sunni provinces. Al-Maliki has called federalism a recipe for the partitioning of Iraq.
The bloc loyal to the radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, a key ally to al-Maliki, has called for the dissolution of parliament and early elections.
Tuesday KRG President Massoud Barzani met with US Senator Joe Lieberman Wednesday Barzani met with the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy to Iraq Martin KoblerAl Rafidayn reports that Barzani has joined the call for a national conference to address the political crisis.  Jalal Talabani has been calling for a national conference to address the political crisis. State of Law is stating it should happen mid-month. For months, Iraqiya, the Kurds and the National Alliance have called on Nouri to reinstate the US-brokered Erbil Agreement that ended Political Stalemate I. The parties came together in Erbil and agreed to a variety of concessions. It was agreed Nouri would continue as prime minister (despite his slate's second place showing). That's the only element Nouri honored. As soon as he was named prime minister-designate, he trashed the agreement.
At the US State Dept today, spokesperson Victoria Nuland declared, "With regard to your larger question about our involvement in trying to support the Iraqis in settling their disputes peacefully through political means, as we've said for a number of days now, Ambassador Jeffrey's been very active, Vice President Biden's been active, in encouraging Iraqi politicians to talk to each other, to meet. And as I've said, we are quite encouraged that a number of Iraqi politicians are also calling for such a meeting which we hope takes place soon."  Leaving aside the intelligence in the statement or not in the statement, if the remark seems unremarkable, it's because Nuland and Mark C. Toner have been offering variations on it for weeks now.  And the State Dept thinking is that reporters will grow bored and stop asking.  That would work at the White House.  It may not at the State Dept because the State Dept press corps is a bit more mature and doesn't require training wheels on their Blackberries. 
More on the topic of terrorists only let's jump to real ones and then we'll come back to the ones Nouri just 'knows' exist.  This is a story of dead Americans and dead Brits.  We need to provide backstory because, sadly, US press outlets don't know how many Americans were killed by the terrorist group.  So we'll flashback and, in the midst of the flashback, we'll flashback again.  This "****" will designate the start of the excerpt and this "****" will also designate the end of it.  (The snapshot is reposted and it can be confusing on other community sites where they sometimes put the whole thing in bold.)  So dropping back to July 9, 2011:
Earlier we were mentioning the little scamp Ali al-Lami who was killed a few weeks back. A terrorist, in fact. The US military held him for awhile. They held others with the Shi'ite thug group the League of Righteous. They're responsible for the deaths of 5 American service members. Maybe more. But 5 they are known to have killed.

And Barack let their leader and some of his followers go in a deal in the summer of 2009 -- a deal that the families of the 5 fallen soldiers were not consulted on or even given a heads up to -- because Barack didn't want to be president of the United States. That was too small for Barry. He needed -- his ego needed -- a world stage. So when the British needed something to get their 5 citizens kidnapped by the League freed, Barry said, "Screw dead Americans who were killed doing a job their government ordered them to do, I'm going to free the League -- this rag-tag group of killers -- because I don't give a damn about the safety of Iraqis and because I want to get in good with England."

So Barry released them and, as usual from Princess Tiny Meat, his 'grand gesture' fell quickly. Because the addiction to the Kool-Aid was still so high in 2009, let's drop back we'll drop back to the
June 9, 2009 snapshot with the realization that some who looked the other way in real time will now be outraged:

***********This morning the New York Times' Alissa J. Rubin and Michael Gordon offered "
U.S. Frees Suspect in Killing of 5 G.I.'s." Martin Chulov (Guardian) covered the same story, Kim Gamel (AP) reported on it, BBC offered "Kidnap hope after Shia's handover" and Deborah Haynes contributed "Hope for British hostages in Iraq after release of Shia militant" (Times of London). The basics of the story are this. 5 British citizens have been hostages since May 29, 2007. The US military had in their custody Laith al-Khazali. He is a member of Asa'ib al-Haq. He is also accused of murdering five US troops. The US military released him and allegedly did so because his organization was not going to release any of the five British hostages until he was released. This is a big story and the US military is attempting to state this is just diplomacy, has nothing to do with the British hostages and, besides, they just released him to Iraq. Sami al-askari told the New York Times, "This is a very sensitive topic because you know the position that the Iraqi government, the U.S. and British governments, and all the governments do not accept the idea of exchanging hostages for prisoners. So we put it in another format, and we told them that if they want to participate in the political process they cannot do so while they are holding hostages. And we mentioned to the American side that they cannot join the political process and release their hostages while their leaders are behind bars or imprisoned." In other words, a prisoner was traded for hostages and they attempted to not only make the trade but to lie to people about it. At the US State Dept, the tired and bored reporters were unable to even broach the subject. Poor declawed tabbies. Pentagon reporters did press the issue and got the standard line from the department's spokesperson, Bryan Whitman, that the US handed the prisoner to Iraq, the US didn't hand him over to any organization -- terrorist or otherwise. What Iraq did, Whitman wanted the press to know, was what Iraq did. A complete lie that really insults the intelligence of the American people. CNN reminds the five US soldiers killed "were: Capt. Brian S. Freeman, 31, of Temecula, California; 1st Lt. Jacob N. Fritz, 25, of Verdon, Nebraska; Spc. Johnathan B. Chism, 22, of Gonzales, Louisiana; Pfc. Shawn P. Falter, 25, of Cortland, New York; and Pfc. Johnathon M. Millican, 20, of Trafford, Alabama." Those are the five from January 2007 that al-Khazali and his brother Qais al-Khazali are supposed to be responsible for the deaths of. Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Robert H. Reid (AP) states that Jonathan B. Chism's father Danny Chism is outraged over the release and has declared, "They freed them? The American military did? Somebody needs to answer for it." ******

Agreed. Not only did Barry betray the fallen, he demonstrated yet again no one should trust him at the adult table by himself. His 'big' deal resulted in only one living British citizen released. Three corpses were released.

The fifth kidnapped victim?

Though Barry's 'big' deal was supposed to free all five, the League, years later, is now insisting they want a new deal (and figure Barry's just the pushover to give it to them?).
Al Mada reports they have issued a statement where they savage the US government for not honoring -- and quickly honoring -- the agreement made with them. As a result, they say Alan McMenemy will not be released.

Peter Moore, the only one released alive, was a computer tech working in Iraq. Four British bodyguards were protecting him. The bodyguards were McMenemy, Jason Swindlehurst, Alec MacLachlan and Jason Cresswell. The families of the four have continued to publicly request that Alan McMenemy be released.

They condemn the "procrastionation" of the US government after the deal was made and state that a promise was also broken when "US forces did not stop attacks" -- apparently Barack made very grand promises -- so now Alan McMenemy will not be released. The statement is credited to Akram al-Ka'bi.

What the statement really does is demonstrate what many condemned in 2009: The US government, the administration, entered into an agreement that did not benefit the US or Iraq. They freed known killers from prison. Killers of Iraqis, killers of American citizens. There was nothing to be gained by that act for Iraq or the US. At some point, history will ask how Barack Obama thought he was fulfilling his duties of commander in chief by making such an ignorant move?
We're out of flashback and back in the present.  To briefly recap, the group killed 5 Americans.  Barack Obama was elected president of the United States, not of the United Kingdom.  But instead of pursuing justice for the five Americans killed in Iraq -- killed in a country their government sent them to -- he decided to do a solid for England and release the terrorists.  He didn't even have the decency to see that the families of the five fallen Americans got a heads up. 
Now we're going to December 17th, last month, when Charlie Savage (New York Times) reported on what was termed "a move likely to unleash a political backlash inside the United States."  What was he reporting on?  The White House's decision to release Ali Musa Daqduq to the Iraqi government, the man "accused of helping to orchestrate a January 2007 raid by Shiite militants who wore U.S.-style uniforms and carried forged identity cards.  They killed five U.S. soldiers -- one immediately and four others who were kidnapped and later shot and dumped beside a road."  Reporting on it the same day, Matt Apuzzo (AP) noted the reactions of two US senators.
Senator Mark Kirk (in a letter before the release): "Daqduq's Iranian paymasters would like nothing more than to see him transferred to Iraqi custody, where they could effectively pressure for his escape or release. We truly hope you will not let that happen."
Senator Saxby Chambliss (after news broke of the release): "Rather than ensure justice for five American soldiers killed by Hezbollah terrorist Ali Musa Daqduq, the administration turned him over to Iraq, once again completely abdicating its responsibility to hold on to deadly terrorists. Given Iraq's history of releasing detainees, I expect it is only a matter of time before this terrorist will be back on the battlefield."
The League is back in the news cycle today.  Duncan Gardham (Telegraph of London) reports that they're offering to finally return the body of Alan McMenemy who the UK government has assumed was dead. Richard Norton-Taylor (Guardian -- link is text and video) quotes, ringleader Qais al-Khazali declaring,   "The brothers told me that those four bodyguards tried to escape … they took advantage of a negligent moment and took the weapon of one of their guards and the clash ensued and led to this result. We honestly are sorry for that incident,"
Oh, are you honestly sorry?  Really?  For months, for years, you've let the loved ones of Alan McMenemy continue to hope he might turn up alive. While others found out the truth about their loved ones, you left them hanging even though they went on TV and publicly pleaded for an answer.  For those who may have forgotten, in May 2010, Frank Gardner (BBC News) reported:

The wife of the only British hostage still missing in Iraq has appealed to his kidnappers to end her ordeal on the anniversary of his abduction.
Gunmen abducted five men including security guard Alan McMenemy, from Glasgow, exactly three years ago.
Rosaleen McMenemy has urged those holding him to show "mercy and compassion".
Only one of the men has been released alive, while the bodies of three others have been returned to Britain.

The Telegraph of London quoted Rosaleen McMenemy stating, ""It's now been three years since he's been held captive, which is 1,096 days. This is far too long for myself and our two children and I would ask those holding him to please show mercy and compassion and return him to us immediately and unconditionally. You've showed compassion by releasing his four colleagues and I would ask you to do the same for my family to bring closure to this."
20 months after she makes that public plea, they think they can show up and claim to be "honestly sorry"?
They're "honestly sorry" today, they claim.  They say the four body guards all died in the same attack?  That would have been years ago.  And yet just last July, what did they do? Al Mada reported on it, the headline said it all "League of Righteous: Fifth Hostage Alive, We Want Our Prisoners."  They declared Alan  McMenemy was alive and that they were not going to release him because they were icked off with the US holding some of their members.
Having tortured Alan McMenemy's loved ones repeatedly over the years by leaving them in the dark, the League of Righteous declared in October that he was still alive and now the family of Alan McMenemy learns that he's been dead for at least three years.  And the terrorist want to claim to be "honestly sorry"?  (AFP's Hassan Abdul Zahra, "The group said in July that it would not hand over McMenemy's body, in a statement worded to suggest he was still alive. Britain believes he has been killed.")
For those who missed it, radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has been on a recent tear  denouncing the League  repeatedly.  Sunday, Alarab Online reported, "Anti-US Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr sharply criticised an offshoot of his movement on Sunday, accusing them of killing Iraqi soldiers and policemen and being beholden to neighbouring Iran.  It is the first time Sadr, who is himself judged by critics as close to Tehran, has publicly stated that Asaib Ahel al-Haq, or the League of the Righteous, is supported by the Islamic Republic."  Three days prior, Yusuf al-Murtada (AK News) reported:
The cleric Moqtada al-Sadr launched an attack on the participation of the League of the Righteous (Ahl al-Haq) in the political process, describing it as a group of "murderers" that "follows no religion".
[. . .]
The League of the Righteous announced about its participation in the ongoing political process in the country and its leader Qais al-Khazali in Najaf alluded to the organization not disarming after 2011.
Sadr said: "Didn't I tell you that they are the Chair's lovers? They are a group of murders that follows no religion."

Moqtada denounced them on one of his trips to Iraq last year noting that they were out of control.  That was not the start of the split which is thought to have taken place around 2007.  Despite the split, their "negotiator" (Salam al-Maliki)insisted to Niqash last October that the rupture had been healed.  That does not appear to be the case.  Their 2007 split, supposedly, had to do with actions Moqtada disapproved of.  (Remember, they start under him.  One of the umbrella groups he was denouncing last year.)  His claims have been that they were targeting Iraqi civilians and that his movement did not support that.  He further insists that they refused to stop attacking Iraqi civilians and, at that point, the break began.  There are some Moqtada supporters who insist it was the League's actions that caused Nouri to attack Sadr strong holds in Basra and the Sadr City section of Baghdad in early 2008.  Those defending the League tend to stress that they are among many Sadrist groups who have had to fend for themselves while their leader (Moqtada) was in Iran and that his fly-over visits to Iraq to criticize them underscores how out of touch with Iraqi life he is.  They are among the groups who have hoped to replace Moqtada as a leader of Iraqi resistance.
From the real terrorists of the League of Righteous to the 'terrorists' that only Nouri can see.  It was with great drama (and melodrama) that Nouri repeatedly commented on the "terrorists" and "Ba'athists" that he was 'forced' to arrest because they were plotting an overthrow of the government. His spokesperson insisted the information was solid and had come from the newly installed Libyan government. Dropping back to the October 27th snapshot:

But back to those eyes and ears al-Asadi was claiming, Al Mada reveals that the government is stating their source for the 'tips' about the alleged Ba'athist plot to take over Iraq came from the Transitional Government of Libya. The so-called rebels. A number of whom were in Iraq killing both Iraqis and US troops and British troops, several years ago. And supposedly prepping to rule Libya currently so you'd assume they had their hands full.

Tim Arango (New York Times) maintains that "secret intelligence documents" were discovered by the so-called 'rebels' that provided a link between Libya's late president Muammar Gaddafi and Ba'ath Party members and that Mahmoud Jibril made a trip to Baghdad to turn over the info. Jibril was acting prime minister who stepped down October 23rd. (We're back to when puppet regimes meet!) One would have assumed he had other things to focus on. It's also curious that this 'rebel' would have 'learned' after the fall of Tripoli of a plot. Curious because, unlike a number of 'rebel' leaders in Libya, Langley didn't ship Jibril in from Virginia, he was Gaddafi's hand picked head of the National Economic Development Board (2007 to 2011). One would assume he would have been aware of any big plot long before the so-called rebels began the US war on Libya.

So it says a great deal about the leadership (or lack of) Nouri offers when Al Mada reports that hundreds of those arrested are now being released. And that officials say the government is expected to release every one arrested. When the arrests started taking place weeks ago, the press estimate was over 500, with some noting over 700 but most going with the lower figure. Dar Addustour informs 820 Iraqis were arrested.

Critics of the arrests noted that it appeared Nouri was targeting Sunnis. And the arrests touched off a wave of anger and a desire for independence from Nouri. Thursday, October 27th, Salahuddin Province's council voted to go semi-autonomous. Monday, December 13th, Diyala Province's council passed a decision for the province to become semi-autonomous. Semi-autonomous would make them like the three provinces that compose the Kurdistan Regional Government (Erbil, Dahuk and Sulaymaniyah) and take them out of Baghdad's control (meaning Nouri's control). If Nouri's goal (longterm) was to keep Iraq cohesive, the arrests were a huge error.

Finally, like Mike, we'll note the Center for Constitutional Rights statement on the NDAA:
January 4, 2012, New York -- In response to President Obama's New Year's Eve signing of the controversial National Defense Authorization Act, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) issued the following statement:
"The Center for Constitutional Rights strongly condemns the U.S. Congress for passing, and President Obama for signing, the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which effectively endorses war without end and makes indefinite military detention without charge or trial a permanent feature of the American legal system. This is the first time since the McCarthy Era that Congress has written indefinite detention into law. We had hoped that President Obama -- a constitutional law professor and believer in the aspirational course of American justice -- would uphold his promise to veto this radical law that threatens to roll back both decades-old legislation enacted to combat McCarthy-era excesses and 19th-century limitations on domestic military policing. At the same time that heroic activists in the Arab world are risking their lives to rid themselves of the remnants of their authoritarian and militaristic regimes, the United States is embracing practices contrary to the basic aspirations of any constitutional democracy.
The NDAA reauthorizes and extends the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force, which has been used to justify the detention of men at Guantanamo without charge or trial for the past ten years. The NDAA also goes further and broadens the range of activities that warrant indefinite detention to include undefined 'substantial support' for terrorism. In addition, the NDAA contains no geographic limitation and allows the president to indefinitely detain even American citizens. President Obama did pledge in a signing statement not to use this law to detain American citizens but this provides little comfort, as signing statements have no legal force and he has repeatedly failed to uphold similar promises in the face of political pressure -- including his pledge to close Guantanamo within his first year in office. More important, even if President Obama were to keep this promise, the law authorizes a future President, such as a President Romney, President Bachman, or President Perry, to use this authorization in the most aggressive manner available.
Whatever ambiguity the legislation creates regarding the detention of American citizens, it clearly requires the military detention of non-citizens suspected of an association with al Qaeda or suspected of having committed terrorist acts, even within the territorial United States. The U.S. Army, rather than civilian law enforcement, will be required to make arrests on U.S. soil; and military detention, not the basic constitutional guarantees of our civilian justice system must be deployed. No one should be held indefinitely without the opportunity to challenge their detention. Human rights are not limited by citizenship.
The NDAA continues to place utterly unnecessary and onerous obstacles to closing Guantanamo. The law prohibits the president from transferring anyone to the U.S. for trial, and also prohibits the transfer of innocent detainees to their home countries or to third countries willing to resettle them unless the Defense Department effectively guarantees the detainee will never again commit wrongdoing. According to the Defense Department, these conditions are nearly impossible to satisfy, which effectively prevents the transfer and resettlement of 89 men -- over half of the 171 currently detained in Guantanamo -- who have been unanimously cleared for release by the CIA, FBI, NSC, and Defense Department. Even as we are contemplating a peace deal with the Taliban and have, according to the Defense Department, largely vanquished al Qaeda, the NDAA guarantees that the U.S. carry on a dangerous war paradigm into a second decade."
The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.