Friday, February 08, 2013

Kathryn Bigelow

Hanna Rosen (New Republic) has a really great article entitled "The Auteur of Unease."  It's about the films of Kathryn Bigelow and is really insightful.  Here's a sample:

Bigelow has been heavily criticized for the opening scene of Zero Dark Thirty, in which a CIA agent tortures a terrorist suspect and then later uses some information from him to find the name of bin Laden's courier, which turns out to be a critical break in the case. Various security experts who claim to have seen the relevant CIA documents have been arguing over whether torture did produce such information or if the CIA already knew the name of the informant. This is a pointless debate. Torture was in fact a part of the hunt for bin Laden; how critical it was we won't know for a long time, if ever. And Bigelow has never claimed to be making a documentary.
What she's doing is what she has always done in her films, back to her first student film—forcing us to reckon with extreme violence and our visceral feelings about it. The key moment of that torture scene comes when Maya lifts up her mask and lets her red hair tumble out. She, like us, has been watching.
Bigelow has hit this theme before. In her 1995 sci-fi thriller, Strange Days, the main character watches a rape and murder that has been recorded from the killer's point of view. To some, the scene felt less like a critique of snuff films than an actual snuff film, so much so that several critics walked out of screenings. But Bigelow defended the scene as critical to her movie. The real moments of horror, which recur in her movies, happen when the "main character goes through the looking glass and can never return," she has said. They are moments when the characters are forced in a profound way to "identify with the antagonists" and thus lose their innocence.
Bigelow and her co-producer, Mark Boal, have repeatedly insisted that "depiction is not endorsement." But her depictions are deeply uncomfortable and force a different kind of reckoning than you might find in the usual movie about a war between nation-states. The big finale involves the Navy SEALs moving into a compound, which, in this case, means a domestic scene, shoving aside (with one notable exception) the women and children and gunning down all the men. These men are despicable terrorists, but also husbands and fathers. Even though it's an unquestionably triumphant scene, Bigelow doesn't exactly invite us to cheer, the way most war movies would, nor to feel outrage or despair. She just invites us to witness. The toll it takes is obvious from the last moment of the movie, where we see Maya, alone in a transport plane, crying. 

I liked Strange Days a lot.  It's the only film where I thought Ralph Fiennes was sexy.  And Angela Bassett and Juliette Lewis were really great in the film.  I also loved Point Break (Keanu on the trail of a gang of bank robbers led by Patrick Swayze).  I couldn't get into Blue Steel.  I love Jamie Lee Curtis but I just couldn't get into the movie.  Ron Silver ruins it for me.  I'm sorry, I can't take him.

His politics were (he's dead now) completely to the opposite of me.  But that's not why I can't take him.  I always see him as Brenda's (annoying) boyfriend Gary on Rhoda.

It's like watching a movie and hearing, "This is Carlton, your doorman."

I really did enjoy The Hurt Locker but my favorite Kathryn film was Near Dark.  And I figured it always would be.  Until Zero Dark Thirty.  That really is a great film.

And Kathryn's a great director with a body of work that stands up.  If you haven't seen Zero Dark Thirty yet, make a point to do so this weekend.

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

Friday, February 8, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, protests continue in Iraq, protesters call for an end to tyranny, bombings are condemned, War Criminal Colin Powell remains in focus, and more.

All week long we've been noting the 10th anniversary of War Criminal Colin Powell presenting lies to the United Nation (February 5, 2003) to justify the war on Iraq.  Simon Black (Sovereign Man) remembers he was stationed in Kuwait when Powell lied:

It all came crashing down ten years ago today. On February 5, 2003 Colin Powell, four-star general turned US Secretary of State, made a case to the United Nations that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.
Now, I won’t bother delving into the inaccuracies of the intelligence he presented. In Powell’s own words, making that presentation to the UN was “the lowest point in [his] life” and a “lasting blot on his record.”
For me, it was pivotal. At that instant, I knew without doubt that my government had reprehensibly lied through its teeth. And if they were lying about this… what else were they lying about?
Everything, it turned out.

Norman Solomon has been addressing Powell's lies all week (including this column).  He is a guest on FAIR's CounterSpin which began airing today.

Norman Solomon:  I would contend that Powell's speech at the UN was perhaps the most mendacious speech by a UN diplomat in the last several decades.  And its power was only manifested because, with very few exceptions, the corporate US mass media fell all over themselves to praise it as a brilliant tour de force

Janine Jackson:  Well a couple of days ago, you debated the man who prepared that UN speech, Colin Powell's former aid Lawrence Wilkerson, on Democracy Now! and it was fascinating.  Even now --  Wilkerson has, I know, renounced or walked back his feelings on that speech -- but even now, he still insists, you know, that it's terribly lamentable but we were all wrong.  And when you said, 'No, everyone wasn't wrong. You know, the Institute for Public Accuracy, Scott Ritter, other folks including FAIR weren't wrong," Wilkerson's argument in his defense was to say, "When I said 'we,' I meant those in government -- not people like him" -- meaning you -- "or Scott Ritter or anybody else who were protesting that Iraq didn't have WMD at the time."  That sounds to me like he's saying only people in government have standing to think about policy or be heard on policy. 

Norman Solomon: The reality was that not only did the Bush administration and many of their go-to-war allies among Democrats in Congress ignore the information and critique from Scott Ritter and Hans von Sponeck and other UN weapons inspectors as well as many independent progressive media outlets and protesters in the United States.  And they trashed us to be honest and cast all sorts of aspersions and said that we were ignorant and disloyal and all the rest of it.  So when, ten years later, we have the Chief of Staff for Colin Powell during the lead up to the war and when it was going on now telling me on live national television on Democracy Now! that I had failed to call him and inform him that there were no Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq?  I mean, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. It's just I felt that I had been pulled down Alice In Wonderland's rabbit hole.

Janine Jackson:  Yes, exactly.  He wouldn't have listened to you and yet somehow you were meant to alert him to the realities of the -- of the holes in that evidence.  It was a kind of bizarre line of argument.  And it seems as though there's really no sanction.  Not only has being right about Iraq's lack of WMDs not encouraged journalists to grant legitimacy  to those groups that were right -- they've stayed on the margins --  there really also seems to be no sanction in journalism for being so wrong about something that was so devastating and so horrific.  And we see that because the same way of approaching official claims seems to be in place, intact.

International Law and Human Rights expert, professor Francis A. Boyle addressed Powell's lies on this week's Global Research News Hour (link is audio).

Francis A. Boyle:  These were all lies.  Everyone knew it at the time.  Powell knew it.  Right now, Powell is just shedding some imperial crocodile tears over his report.  Powell aided and abetted a Nuremberg crime against against peace, against Iraq, for which we unanimously convicted [former Supreme Court appointee to the US Oval Office Bully Boy] Bush and [former UK Prime Minister Tony] Blair at the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal.  The two of them are international criminals -- Bush, Blair and I would say Powell too for aiding and abetting.  And they should be apprehended and prosecuted by any state that gets a hold of the three of them.

Michael Welch:  Yes.  And it's interesting because the major media, they held at the time, Mr. Powell -- and I suppose continue to hold these individuals in high reverence and seem to be just allowing that meme of "well it was just a mistake" to continue.  So is there --

Francis A. Boyle:  Well this is a joke too.  This is a joke too in that it's well known that when he was a Major in Vietnam in the army, Powell helped cover up the My Lai Massacre.  So there's nothing, I mean this guy was a bootlicker from the beginning -- which is  how he got his position.  I think he wanted to work for Al Hague and then bootlicked his way up the bureaucracy  there.  So he's been a sycophant and a boot licker and now a War Criminal. 

Iraq has been slammed today with multiple car bombings resulting in what Sinan Salaheddin (AP) calls "the bloodiest day in more than two months" while Duraid Adnan (New York Times) emphasizes that Iraq has "witnessed bombings now on seven consecutive Fridays."   CBS and AP count at least 30 dead.  BBC News notes over 80 injured, two bombings in Baghdad and two in Hilla.  Press TV explains of the Baghdad assualt, "Iraqi security and medical sources reported that bombings targeted a crowded bird market in the Kadhimiyah neighborhood of the capital, Baghdad, just after 9:00 a.m. local time (0600 GMT) on Friday."  In another filing, Press TV notes, "Security sources say the first bomb exploded at the main entrance to the market, and as panicked crowds tried to flee the area, the second device went off. " On the Baghdad assault, AFP reports, "Glass and shrapnel was scattered across the scene, an AFP journalist said, while pools of blood had formed on the ground and a chain-link fence was badly mangled. Several nearby cars were completely destroyed, and while passers-by scanned the wreckage, security forces tried to bar journalists from interviewing people in the area or taking pictures or videos."  Before they were stopped from filming, AFP's Ali al-Saadi and Khalil al-Murshidi filmed this video of the aftermath.   Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) explains, "That type of market tends to be very busy on Fridays, part of the weekend in Iraq, and have been targeted in the past by attackers."  Hou Qiang (Xinhua) notes, "An official with the local police station told Xinhua on condition of anonymity that the area is a Shiite Muslim community and has seen many attacks launched by the Sunni insurgents."

Turning to the Hilla assault,  RTE notes, "A further 13 people were killed in two car bomb explosions at a vegetable market in the Shia city of Hilla, 100km south of Baghdad."  Kareem Raheem, Ali al-Rubaie, Suadad al-Salhy, Isabel Coles and Jon Hemming (Reuters) quote eye witness Habib al-Murshidi stating, "I was shopping when I heard the first explosion.  I was scared and tried to reach my car to run away but before I got in the second explosion went off.  I saw many people, women and old men lying on the ground which was covered with blood and scattered fruit and vegetables."  All Iraq News reports of the two car bombs that one car was paked in a garage and the other near the market

Al Jazeera, the Christian Science Monitor and PRI's Jane Arraf Tweets on another bombing:

  1. Blast near Karbala near Dawa headquarters, PM Maliki's party, kills 2, police say. At least 31 dead in three Friday attacks.

Another car bomb - near Karbala. At least 2 dead, 6 wounded in latest bombing of Shias. Demos in Sunni areas rail against PM Maliki.

Of the Karbala bombing, Alsumaria notes it took place at noon local time and also damaged cars and buildings.

Foreign Office Minister : 'Deeply saddened' to learn of today’s terrorist attacks in

The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq issued the following:
Baghdad, 8 February 2013Following the series of bombings that today hit popular and crowded places in Baghdad’s Khadimiya neighbourhood and in Shomali in Babel province, killing and injuring dozens of innocent victims, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq (SRSG) Martin Kobler said that “perpetrators of these heinous and horrible acts are ruthless criminals whose sole goal is to push the country back to sectarian violence”.
  The SRSG appealed to the Iraqi leaders to unite and work together in order to stop once and for all the language of violence from spreading. “It is their duty and responsibility to sit together to see what can be put in place to stop this heinous, horrible violence,” he added. “It is the duty of the Iraqi leaders to find a solution to the current political stalemate in the country.”

Ken Hanly (Digital Journal) quotes Omar al-Faruq stating, "I have been here for 45 days waiting for my dream to become a reality.  I dream that Maliki will be tried, the same way as Saddam."  He was protesting in Ramadi and he is only one of the many protesters taking to the streets of late.   Iraqi Spring shares photos of the Ramadi protest.

  1. Khalisi School in Ramadi المدرسة الخالصية في الانبار
  2. Khalisi School in Ramadi المدرسة الخالصية في الانبار
  3. Khalisi School in Ramadi المدرسة الخالصية في الانبار

 Alsumaria notes that Anbar Province demonstrators have condemned the bombing and are calling for the government to implement their demands or resign.  Al-Shorfa adds that the spokesperson for the Mosul protesters, Ghanem al-Abd, also condemned the attacks.  World Bulletin explains,  "Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, is facing mass protests by disenchanted Sunni Muslims and is at loggerheads with ethnic Kurds who run their northern region autonomously from Baghdad."  For the seventh week, protests continue in Iraq with today being dubbed "NO to the Tyrannical Ruler."  Morning Star quotes Samarra's Sheik Mohammed Jumaa declaring, "Stop tyranny and oppression.  We want our rights.  You will witness what other tyrants have witnessed before you."    Kitabat reports protests today in Anbar, Mosul, Salahuddin, Kirkuk, Diyala and Baghdad and that protesters are calling Nouri the Pharaoh of Iraq (it's not a compliment) and noting that his State of Law didn't win the 2010 parliamentary elections but he used the Erbil Agreement to grab the post of prime minister then disregarded the partnership agreement.  Najaf demonstrators called this morning for Article IV of the Constitution to be gutted ('terrorists' arrests -- if you can't find your suspect, arrest a relative).  Alsumaria notes "hundreds" demonstrating in Kirkuk and demanding that Nouri's government resign if they are unable to meet the demands of the protesters.  Sinan Salaheddin (AP) notes protesters in Falluja and Ramadi again "blocked the main highway to Jordan."   On the Ramadi protests, Omar al-Shaher (Al-Monitor) reports:

Amid the clamor caused by the ongoing protests in Anbar province in western Iraq, which are nearing their 50th day, demonstrators have pitched huge tents and blocked traffic on the highway linking Iraq to Jordan and Syria. The protest organizers said that the main square was attracting a million people each Friday, including many participants from thousands of miles away, who require food and a place to sleep.
On one such Friday, 200 sheep were slaughtered to provide demonstrators with food. On another Friday, ​​the city of Hit, located 50 miles west of Ramadi, served demonstrators 2,000 dishes of meat and rice for lunch. The demonstration’s organizers said that Friday lunch meals can cost upwards of $60,000.
Qusay Zain, a spokesman for the protest, said that tribal leaders in Ramadi compete to serve lunch to protesters, despite the exorbitant costs. "This time, many tribal leaders in Anbar have taken honorable stances,” he said.

Liz Sly (Washington Post) observes, "With their huge turnouts, these largely peaceful demonstrations have the potential to present a far bigger challenge to Maliki’s hold on power than the violent and still stubbornly persistent insurgency, which continues to claim scores of lives every month without any discernible impact on the political process."   Neoconservatives Kimberly and Frederick W. Kagan have written an opinion piece on the protests for the Washington Post:

Eighteen days of protests in Egypt in 2011 electrified the world. But more than twice that many days of protest in Iraq have gone almost unnoticed in the United States. Iraqi army troops killed five Sunni protesters in Fallujah on Jan. 25, after a month of anti-government protests in Anbar, Nineveh and Salahuddin provinces and elsewhere for which thousands turned out. Al-Qaeda in Iraq and Iranian-backed Shiite militias are re-mobilizing. Iraq teeters on the brink of renewed insurgency and, potentially, civil war.
This crisis matters for America. U.S. vital interests that have been undermined over the past year include preventing Iraq from becoming a haven for al-Qaeda and destabilizing the region by becoming a security vacuum or a dictatorship that inflames sectarian civil war; containing Iranian influence in the region; and ensuring the free flow of oil to the global market.
While tensions have risen over the past two years, the triggers for recent eruptions are clear. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite, had the bodyguards of Finance Minister Rafie al-Issawi, who is Sunni, arrested for alleged terrorist activities on Dec. 20 — almost exactly one year after he ordered the arrest of Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi’ssecurity detail. Hashimi fled to Turkey and is unlikely to return soon to Iraq, where he was sentenced to death after Maliki demanded his trial in absentia for murder and financing terrorism.
The threat to Issawi, a moderate technocrat from Anbar, galvanized Iraqi Sunnis, who rightly saw Maliki’s move as sectarian and an assault on government participation by Sunnis not under the prime minister’s thumb. Three days after the arrests, demonstrations broke out in Ramadi, Fallujah and Samarra. Three days after that, a large protest closed the highwayfrom Baghdad to Syria and Jordan. The popular resistance spread to Mosul on Dec. 27.

Meanwhile Iraqi President Jalal Talabani remains out of the country.  Late on December 17th (see the December 18th snapshot), Jalal Talabani had a stroke and was admitted to Baghdad's Medical Center Hospital.    Thursday, December 20th, he was moved to Germany.  He remains in Germany currently. [Saad Abedine (CNN) reported talk that it was a stroke the day the news broke (December 18th) and January 9th, the Office of President Talabani confirmed it had been a stroke.]  The January 30th snapshot noted that Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani visited Talabani in the Germany -- Barzani was enroute to Davos -- with Barzani stating that Jalal's health was improving.  Talabani's website explains the the United Nations Secretary-General's Special Envoy to Iraq, Martin Kobler, conveyed congratulations on Tuesday, noting Jalal's progress and that his health had stabilized.

Turning to the United States, yesterday saw John Brennnen appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee in his pursuit of the post to be Director of the CIA.  It was covered in "Iraq snapshot," "Thoughts on today's Senate Intell hearing (C.I.),"  Ava's  "The disgraceful Dianne Feinstein (Ava)," Wally's "Brennan likes torture (Wally)" AND Kat's "Brennan tries to weasel."  On that hearing, Jon Schwarz Tweets:

As you listen to the Brennan hearing, remember 6 years ago Jay Rockefeller explained senators have no power vs the CIA:

 In addition, Ruth reported on a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in "If Leon Panetta told the truth . . .."  And, still on the Senate, Senator Patty Murray's office notes the following on veterans' spouses:

Friday, February 8th, 2013
CONTACT: Murray Press Office

Murray Discusses Challenges for Military Spouses at Symposium in Tacoma
(Washington, D.C.) -- Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) discussed employment challenges and opportunities for military spouses at the 2013 Military Officers Association of America's Military Spouse Symposium in Tacoma.  The event, titled "Keeping a Career on the Move," brought service members, veterans, and military spouses together with local business experts and employers.  Senator Murray's remarks focused on the challenges that military spouses face to support their loved ones and her personal experiences from growing up in a military family.  As the former Chair of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, Senator Murray is a leader in Washington on issues to service members, veterans and their families. 
The full text of Senator Murray's speech follows:
Thank you Admiral Ryan for that kind introduction.
“I’m so pleased to be here today as part of this important event, and I have to say that it is so great to see that so many of you came out today to access the resources, advice, and experts that MOAA has made available to help you all in what I know can be trying times.
“So of course I want to thank MOAA and all the people who have volunteered their time and energy to make this event possible.
“But first and foremost, I want to thank all of you.
“Now, often times when I thank the spouses of service members I get the same modest answers back.
“I hear – “oh don’t thank me, thank my husband or thank my wife” - or I hear “it’s not that big of a deal.”
“But the truth is - it is a big deal.
“So I do want to start by thanking all of you for the unprecedented sacrifices that you – and all military spouses – have made over the last decade.
“Thank you for picking up and moving your family – time and time again – in every corner of the country in order to be with your loved one.
“Thank you for braving the uncertainty that every new day brings when a spouse is in harm’s way.
“Thank you for not only being Mom or Dad - but for sometimes being either, or both, when the situation calls for it.
“Thank you for juggling schedules, and practices, and homework when there is so little time in the day, and for making ends meet when money is tight.
“And finally thank you for being courageous enough, and self-assured enough to ask for help when you need it.
“For coming to an event like this to figure out how the country that your family is sacrificing for can help provide you with the skills and training to find work or to get into school.
“I know it’s not easy.
“But I also know from my own life that reaching out can really pay off in the long run.
“As some of you may know, I grew up in a military family.
“My father fought in World War II, was one of the first on the beaches of Okinawa, received a Purple Heart, and came home from war to start a big family in Bothell.
“Growing up, I was not only a twin, but I was one of seven children…..
“So as you can imagine, personal space among us kids was a concept we didn’t quite grasp.
“But we were a close family - not only because we slept and ate elbow-to-elbow - but also because we were a loving family that had food on the table and lived a relatively secure life.
“But when I was 15, things for my family changed.
“My father, who had up until that point run a five and dime store on Main Street in Bothell, fell ill, was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, and within a few short years he could no longer work.
“Suddenly everything fell to my mother.
“My mother who now found herself with 7 children, a husband whose medical bills were mounting, and very few of the skills she needed to go out and find a job that would actually pay her well enough to support our family.
“For a little while we relied on food stamps.
“For even longer my siblings and I thought there was no way we would be able to leave our family and go off to college.
“But my mother was brave enough to reach out for help – and thankfully the country her husband had sacrificed for was there to answer her calls.
“Through a program established by the federal government my mom was able to enroll in courses at Lake Washington Vocational School where she got a two year degree in accounting that helped her find work that would support our family.
“It allowed us get back on our feet.
“It got us through a very difficult time.
“And because that support was there for my mom and for our family, today those seven kids have grown up to be a school teacher, a lawyer, a homemaker, a computer programmer, a sports writer, a firefighter, and a US Senator.
“So these days, whenever I talk to military spouses - who not only faces similar difficulties, but who also must constantly worry about the safety of their loved one.
“It forces me to ask – are we as a nation there for today’s families the way we were there for mine?
“What are we doing to keep today’s military spouses and their children above water?
“The answer is that we are doing some, but not nearly enough.
“I’m happy that in recent years we have expanded many of our employment efforts so that they don’t just focus on veterans and active-duty military members, but also on military spouses.
“In some instances this has worked well.
“We have seen many spouses take advantage of the Military Spouse Employment Partnership, an Army program that works with Fortune 500 companies that pledge to hire our military spouses.
“And now that we have expanded it to the spouses of servicemembers in the Air Force, Navy, and Marines - it is having an even greater impact.
“We have also seen spouses utilize the Military Spouse Career Center which has centralized many important resources online.
“But for other programs, like the Transition Assistance Program that I helped expand, we still have to get the word out that military spouses can also take advantage of the training program.
“And for other federal programs like MyCAA we have been able to attract many military spouses, only to see the government cut back benefits because of limited resources.
“So the truth is that our response to the hardships and the unique situation that you all find yourselves in has been uneven at best.
“And there are still many things that can be done.
“For one, I believe that we need to do a better job of reaching out to corporate America on the benefits of hiring military spouses.
“We talk a lot about, and I authored legislation on, how to help employers understand the skills your spouses gained through their military service.
“But we also have to do more to help them understand what you bring to the table.
“Like your spouses, you are all used to the sacrifices and compromises that come with being a team player, you understand hard work and the day-to-day discipline it takes to succeed both at home and on the job, and importantly, you are resilient and resourceful in ways that I’m sure few other job candidates are.
“These are qualities we have to get across to companies large and small.
“Second, we need to do more to provide opportunities and support for the children of military families.
“One area that I have been working on is in helping military families with children who have disabilities.
“Believe it or not, today many of the behavioral therapies for children with autism, Down syndrome, and other disabilities are not covered by TRICARE. I’m fighting to change that.
“I’m also working to ensure that school districts like the ones here in the Tacoma area that are at a disadvantage because they are on or near federal land – and don’t have the tax base that other schools have – get the support they need.
“Over the years, I have worked to get millions for the Clover Park school district here which has faced these challenges and has been affected by steep declines in enrollment due to parents moving and long-deployments.
“These school districts are in every part of the country – and they need federal support.
“And finally, we need to offer more opportunities like this one today.
“Opportunities for you to join with your peers to swap stories about everything from help wanted ads to help finding a babysitter.
“And to meet with experts on how you can translate your diverse and sometimes even disorganized work history into a resume that will get noticed.
“To learn more about interview techniques and tips.
“To hear about workforce training programs and the skills needed to find a job in the in-demand careers in your communities.
“And to come together the way only our nation’s military community can to ensure that everyone has someone to lean on.
“I applaud you all again for your determination to keep your families and your careers going in what are often difficult days.
“And I promise all of you that I will continue to fight for federal programs that help military spouses, that create opportunities for you to succeed, and that ensure that we as a nation are there for you and your family, just like it was there for my own family.
“Thank you for having me today.”

Sean Coit
Press Secretary
Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Brennan tries to weasel

Senator Richard Burr had a good point at today's Senate Intelligence Committee hearing.  He told the nominee for Director of the CIA, John Brennan, that if the Benghazi information the Committee's been waiting for was turned over, it would be easier to vote to confirm him.

Of course, Brennan insisted he had no control over that.  He's currently the National Security Advisor.  He has a lot of control over that.

Just like he had a lot of control over lodging an objection to torture but he chose not to say a word. He claims he told some one he was against it.  He didn't have a name.  And a former CIA Director has Brennan being wild for torture.  But surely Brennan wouldn't lie just to be confirmed, right?

If you really believe that . . .

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

Thursday, February 7, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, Nouri's son is implicated in corruption, protesters gear up for tomorrow, John Brennan and Dianne Feinstein embarrass themselves in the Senate today, and more.

Starting with War Criminal Colin Powell who, ten years ago, appeared before the United Nations (February 5, 2003) to 'make the case' for war on Iraq by lying.  Lawrence Wilkerson worked under Colin Powell and has spent the last 8 or so years attempting to rewrite history.  Yesterday, Norman Solomon appeared on Democracy Now! to debate Wilkerson. Kim Petersen (Dissident Voice) evaluates the claims put forward in the debate:

Wilkerson was evasive: “I don’t want to get into an on-screen argument with someone who makes comments as if he’d never been in government a day in his life or never been in—associated with power at this level.”
He looked for exculpation: “… when you look at the American people, who in polls showed 70 percent-plus agreed that Saddam Hussein had WMD, it’s not enough to say that Dick Cheney and Colin Powell and others failed in their responsibility to the American people or to their own government. There were a lot of people…”
Wilkerson, perhaps realizing the inference of his words, continued: “I’m not trying … to rationalize or excuse. I’m just saying that there were a lot of people who had the same view that Colin Powell basically presented at the United Nations.”
Many people were wrong. However, what was the point of Wilkerson stating that 70% of the American people believed the propaganda emanating from their government and the reporting of the corporate media? One obvious conclusion is that government administrations are not to be trusted and neither is the corporate media. A second conclusion is that 30% of the people outside the Bush administration loop were better clued in than the administration officials themselves, so it would be prudent to consider objectively all views, especially on life-and-death decisions as waging war.

Attending the Senate Intelligence Committee today was an odyssey into the absurd.  Senator Dianne Feinstein, you may remember, condemned the classic film Zero Dark Thirty.  While some idiots rushed to echo her, we pointed out that of course the Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee would condemn it -- Zero Dark Thirty is an indictment against Feinstein who has served on the Intelligence Committee and looked the other way on torture over and over.  Feinstein was having a hissy fit as a man shouted something to the effect of, "You are betraying democracy when you assassinate justice!"  She also whined about how, she did not feel, there were enough capitol police.  She actually had it cleared twice.  Medea Benjamin (of CODEPINK) yelled, "Why, Dianne, why?" as the room was being cleared.

The shouters were CODEPINKers -- not all CODEPINKers were shouting, however.  Not shouting but in that section was Ann Wright.  Some of the people around her had painted their hands pink, some held up signs -- and I would say they wree the size of construction paper, not big signs, 8 1/2 by 11 inches.  There was one large sign calling Brennan a national security risk.  DiFi had a fit about those as well insisting there would be no signs allowed in the hearing either.  After wasting everyone's time clearing the room twice -- and scowling (sadly, her face has frozen like that), DiFi wanted to then lecture everyone present. 

She wanted those present to know what good citizens didn't do.  "They don't show signs."  What a bully in a bad wig.  And as she lost it repeatedly, it was hard not to think how lucky she is that so many of the Committee's hearings are closed to the public.  Feinstein is the public servant who  loathes the public. 

Why were people upset?  Because President Barack Obama nominated John Brennan to be the CIA Director. 

And probably because they knew Feinstein was going to rubber stamp him. What else was she going to do?  She served on the "Intelligence Committee" when torture took place.  She was briefed on it and she looked the other way.  She buried it and she mitigated it and she's part of the refusal to hold people accountable for torture.  In a functioning government, she would have been forced to resign from the Committee.  Instead, she tries to pretend she has the ethics to criticize a film that exposes the widespread use of torture.

In her ridiculous opening remarks, she pushed the lie that civilian deaths from drone strikes were minimal ("typically been in the single digits") and claimed that she and the Committee had provided strong oversight ("significant oversight") of The Drone War.  She was lying again.  When Feinstein lies, her voice goes flat and in the roof of the mouth.  It's a weird sound but that's her tell.  And she was lying in her opening statements.  Those that don't know her tell had only to listen to Senator Ron Wyden's first exchange to grasp that there has been no oversight and DiFi was lying.

If you're new to The Drone War, The World (PRI) has created this folder of audio reports on the topic.  Drones are robot planes.  The operator isn't in the plane, they're elsewhere.  The drones capture video.  That's generally a live feed.  When we speak of the drones involved in The Drone War, we're speaking of drones with more than video capability.  These drones are weaponized.  John Brennan is usually referred to by the press as the "architect."

DiFI and others would claim that they wanted to focus on CIA issues.  But no one asked the obvious: Can you keep it in your pants or will you also sleep around making yourself a security risk?  That is why the hearing was held in the first place.  CIA Director David Petraeus had to step down because he couldn't keep it in his pants.  When that happens, maybe the first question to the next nominee should be about the topic that forced a resignation?

Brennan noted he joined the CIA in 1980.  That was about all the facts he could muster in his opening remarks but that was probably one more factual truth than Chair Dianne Feinstein managed in her long, long opening remarks.  Brennan was yammering away about his family -- no, that really didn't belong in the opening remarks, when a man began shouting about a teenager (I believe he was referring to 16-year-old Abdulrahman al-Awlaki who was an American and who was killed by a drone) when DiFi felt the need to pause the hearing.  As the man was led away, he urged the Committe,  "Stand up against torture, stand up against drones to not confirm this man."

Brennan then wanted to go on about his own three children.  A woman stood, held a baby doll over her head and shouted, "Speaking of children, I speak for the mothers of children who are killed in the drone strikes in Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia and anywhere else. And the Obama administration refuses to tell Congress.  They won't even tell Congress what countries we are killing children in.  Senator Feinstein, are your children more important than the children of Pakistan and Yemen?  Are they more important?  Do your job!  World peace depends on it.  We're making more enemies -- "

DiFi's not really good with children, never has been.  And she only has one child, for the record.  That's probably confusing because she's on husband number three, but she only has one child.  (And that's obvious by her inability to handle anything that strays from a schedule.) 

"The next time," Feinstein informed Brennan, "we're going to clear the chamber and bring people in one by one."

What a petty little tyrant.  I've been at hearings at the height of the Iraq War.  I've seen real outbursts, prolonged ones.  No one had to call a recess, no one had to pout.  (In fairness, DiFi's unhappy life has made the corners of her mouth sag so she forever appears to be pouting.)   A woman then stood up with a list of the names of children killed in The Drone War.

It was too much for Dianne Feinstein.  She insisted that the room be cleared and "that the CODEPINK associates not be permitted to come back in."

After a recess, the hearing started again and it wasn't good for Brennan.  Without CODEPINK interrupting, it became obvious how like Arvin Sloane he was.  He sounds like him, he looks like him.  Arvin Sloane was the maniac and CIA baddie on Jennifer Garner's Alias.  Ron Rifkin played him.

Despite yammering away forever, neither Feinstein nor Breenan noted the reality that Alice K. Ross, Chris Woods and Sarah Leo did in December with "The Reaper Presidency: Obama's 300th drone strike in Pakistan" (The Bureau of Investigative Journalism).  None wanted to note that, in Pakistan alone, The Drone War has resulted in about 3,468 deaths -- with as many as 893 of those being civilians.  176 of those were children.  So, no, DiFi's lie about each year's civilian killed are not in the single digit.  Well they may be, the 'report' the Senate Intelligence Community gets may say that.  But it's a lie if it does.  DiFi also 'forgot' to mention that the United Nations

Vice Chair Saxby Chambliss:  As Deputy Executive Director, you received the daily updates from the time of Abu Zubaydah's capture throughout his interrogation including the analysis of the lawfulness of the techniques putting you in the position to express any concerns you had about the program before any of the most controversial techniques -- including water boarding -- were ever used.  Now we found a minimum of 50 memos in the documents within the 6,000 pages that -- on which you were copied.  What steps did you take to stop CIA from moving to these techniques you now say you found objectionable at the time?

John Brennan:  I did not take steps to stop the CIA's use of those techniques.  I was not in the chain of command of that program.  I served as Deputy Executive Director at the time.  I had responsibility for overseeing the management of the Agency and all of its various functions and, uh, I was aware of the program.  Uhm, I was uh-uh cc-ed on some of those documents but I had no oversight of it.  I wasn't involved in its creation.  I had expressed my personal objections and views to some Agency colleagues about certain of those EITs such as water boarding, nudity and others where I professed my personal objections to it.  Uh, but I did not try to stop it because it was -- uh -- you know, something that was being done in a different part of the agency under the authority of others.  Uh, and it was, uh, something that, uh, was directed by the, uh, the administration at the time.

So Brennan gave his silent approval.  And he never took it to "the ones directly above you," as Chambliss pointed out by listing all those higher at the time than Brennan in the CIA.  Confronted by Chambliss with AB Krongard's remarks that Brennan was more involved in the torture than he's letting on, Brennan fell back on "I don't recall."  Buzzy Krongard was Executive Director of the CIA.  Asked by Chambliss about the e-mails describing various torture techniques being sent to him, Brennan insisted he got ton of e-mails but he wasn't in the loop on torture.

Senator Ron Wyden started his first round of questioning by noting the meeting he and other senators had with Brennan last week.

Senator Ron Wyden:  As we discussed then, I believe the issues before us have nothing to do with political party and have everything to do with checks and balances that make our system of government so special.  Taking the fight to al Qaeda is something every member of this Committee feels strongly about.  It's the idea of giving any president unfettered power to kill an American without checks and balances that is so troubling.   Every American has the right to know when their government believes it's allowed to kill them.  And ensuring that the Congress has the documents and information it needs to conduct robust oversight is central to our democracy.  In fact, the Committee was actually created in response to lax oversight of programs that involved targeted killings.   So it was encouraging last night when the President called and indicated that effective immediately, he would release the documents necessary for senators to understand the full legal analysis of the president's authority to conduct the targeted killing of an American.  What the president said is a good first step towards ensuring the openess and accountability that's important and you heard that reaffirmed in the Chair's strong words right now.  Since last night, however, I have become concerned that the Department of Justice is not following through with the president's commitment just yet.   11 United States Senators asked to see any and all legal opinions, but when I went to read the opinions this morning, it is not clear that that was what was provided.  And moreover on this point, with respect to lawyers, I think what the concern is, is there's a double standard.  As the National Security Advisor and you volunteered to your credit,  you are not a lawyer, you asked your lawyers and your experts to help you and we're trying to wade through all of these documents and the reason I'm concerned is that it's not yet clear that what the president committed to has actually been provided.  And finally on this point, the Committee has been just stonewalled on several other requests -- particularly with regards to secret law.  And I'm going to leave this point simply by saying, I hope you'll go back to the White House and convey to them the message is not yet following through on the president's commitment.  Will you convey that message?

John Brennan:  Yes, I will, Senator.

Senator Ron Wyden:  Very good.  Let me now move to the public side of oversight, making sure that the public's right to know is respected.   One part oversight is Congressional oversight and our doing our work here.  The other is making sure that the American people are brought into these debate.  Just like James Madison said, this is what you need to preserve a republic.  And I want to start with the drone issue.   In a speech last year, the President instructed you to be more open with the public about the use of drones to conduct targeted killings of al Qaeda members.  So my question is: What should be done next to ensure that public conversation about drones so that the American people are brought in to this debate and have a full understanding of what rules the government's going to observe when it conducts targeted killings?

John Brennan:  Well I think this hearing is one way because I think this kind of discourse between the legislative and the executive branch is critically important.  I believe that there needs to be continued speeches that are going to be given by, uh, given by the executive branch to explain our counter-terrorism programs.  I think there's a misimpression on the part of some American people who believe that we take strikes to punish terrorist for past transgressions.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  We only take such actions as a last resort to save lives when there's no other alternative to taking an action that's going to mitigate that threat.  So we need to make sure that there's an understanding.  And the people that were standing up here today, I think they really have a misunderstanding of what we do as a government and the care that we take and the agony that we go through to make sure that we do not have any collateral injuries or deaths.  And as the Chairman said earlier, the need to be able to go out and say that publicly and openly, I think, is critically important because people are reacting to a lot of falsehoods that are out there and I do see it as part of my obligation and I think it's the obligation of this Committee to make sure the truth is known to the American people and to the world.

It's a damn shame idiots like Glenn-Glenn Greenwald were allowed and encouraged to hijack Zero Dark Thirty because Kathryn Bigelow's film demonstrates what a liar Brennan is.  There is no mistaken impression (the real term, not "misimpression") on the part of the American people.  What's really going on, and this is in Kathryn's film, is that "last resort" is not a last resort.  These people making these decisions are declaring everything a "last resort."  That's what the interrogation in the first act of the film is about.  The prisoner has no knowledge of a bombing that will take place in 24 hours.  He is tortured.  Over and over.  "Last resort" and "threat"?  No, not in the 'ticking time bomb' sense that has taken up the bulk of the discussion of terrorism.

Should people torture?

No.  It cheapens and deadens you, it destroys any real sense of a legal system.  But proponents use the ticking time bomb argument.  This argues that if you could stop Miami from being bombed in 24 hours if you were allowed to torture a suspect, you should do it.  This ticking time bomb argument allowed for a lot of hiding.  The torture was never about something in 24 hours.  It was about getting information -- something interrogation has long done.  Sometimes well, sometimes poorly.  And as the film makes clear, torture was allowed because an attack today or an attack two years from now were all treated as an "immediate threat" and torture was the first choice while being presented as a "last resort."

Brennan grasps what idiots like Glenn-Glenn didn't.  And Brennan is playing word games with a Committee that's either too stupid to grasp that or honestly doesn't care.  And that's very important because if you're going to infer that Americans can't be targeted on US soil and Brennan's playing word games then we're being denied the reality that, as with torture, the never-ending supposed threat (labled "immediate threat" always by the government) will mean US citizens can be targeted with government killings while on US soil.  Anything else is lie and Brennan told a lot of lies in the hearing.  We're going to again note Jameel Jaffer's "The Justice Department White Paper Details Rationale for Targeted Killing of Americans" (ACLU):

Michael Isikoff at NBC News has obtained a Justice Department white paper that purports to explain when it would be lawful for the government to carry out the extrajudicial killing of an American citizen believed to be affiliated with a terrorist organization. Many of the white paper's arguments are familiar because Attorney General Eric Holder set them out in a speech at Northwestern University in March of last year. But the white paper offers more detail, and in doing so it manages to underscore both the recklessness of the government's central claim and the deficiencies in the government's defense of it.

The 16-page white paper (read it here) is said to summarize a 50-odd page legal memo written in 2010 by the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel to justify the addition of U.S. citizen Anwar Al-Aulaqi to the government's "kill lists." That legal memo is one of the documents the ACLU is seeking in an ongoing Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. Needless to say, the white paper is not a substitute for the legal memo. But it's a pretty remarkable document.

The paper's basic contention is that the government has the authority to carry out the extrajudicial killing of an American citizen if "an informed, high-level official" deems him to present a "continuing" threat to the country. This sweeping authority is said to exist even if the threat presented isn't imminent in any ordinary sense of that word, even if the target has never been charged with a crime or informed of the allegations against him, and even if the target is not located anywhere near an actual battlefield. The white paper purports to recognize some limits on the authority it sets out, but the limits are so vague and elastic that they will be easily manipulated.

Moving from the hearing, Salah Nasrawi (Ahram) explores the current trends in Iraq:

The protests raised speculation about the future of the violence-torn nation amid the worst political deadlock and sectarian divisions seen since the US troops departed.
The seven-week demonstrations seem to be a sign of regained Sunni confidence in the face of Shia domination since the US-led invasion that toppled the Sunni regime of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein in 2003.
Iraq has remained gripped in its worst political crisis as the leaders of its divided sectarian and ethnic communities have failed to reach agreement on how to share power and government revenues.
The country’s Sunni and Kurdish leaders have accused Al-Maliki of violating the terms of a power-sharing deal he signed with rival political parties following inconclusive parliamentary elections in 2010.
As the political crisis in Iraq deepens, Baghdad has been embroiled in a long-running dispute over political participation, oil and land and revenue-sharing with the Kurds in the north.
Tensions between the central Iraqi government in Baghdad and the Kurdish region intensified following reports of a military stand-off between Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers and the Iraqi army.

Iraq Body Count notes 80 violent deaths so far this month through yesterday which was only the sixth day of the month.   Violence continues today.  All Iraq News reports a Mosul roadside bombing has claimed the lives of 2 Iraqi soldiers, three homes in nothern Diyala Province were bombed leaving eighteen people injured, a Baghdad car bombing has injured an employee of Irbahim al-Jaafari's -- al-Jaafari is the head of the National Alliance and 1 government employee was shot dead in BaghdadAl Rafidayn identifies the government employee as the Director General of the Ministry of Housing and Construction and  Al Rafidayn identifies the location on the home bombings as Wajihiya ("north of Baquba").

On the topic of violence, Nouri's flunky Muqdad al-Sharifi was insisting to AFP yesterday that the protests were a security threat.  Today the gabby al-Sharifi is telling AP and anyone else who will listen (or anyone who'll practice stenography)  that the electoral commission are receiving death threats from Sunni areas.  Code for "Sunnis be crazy."  It's good to see that al-Sharifi's not interested in even pretending to be objective.  Better the reality of Nouri and his flunkies be exposed early on.  Interestingly enough, he's now just "a member of the election commission" -- that's how AP bills him today.  (He is actually, as AFP noted, "the chief electoral officer of Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission.")  While Nouri and his cronies try to dismiss and attack the protesters, All Iraq News notes Ammar al-Hakim, head of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, has issued a call for the legitimate demands of the protesters to be heeded.  The outlet notes that al-Hakim has been in contact with some of the southern tribal leaders and they are calling for the protesters to be listened to.  Al Rafidayn notes that al-Hakim declared that the protests are a Constitutional right and that the government must listen to the legimate demands.  Meanwhile Kitabat reports that protesters are being targeted for assassination and that in Baghdad alone 13 protests have been assassinate.

Al Mada notes the sit-in in Mousl continues and that belongings of the protesters were stolen from their tents.  Sheikh Saeed Lafi states that Friday's demonstration will rally the people and see tribal leaders and elders taking part in the demonstration and calling for the Federal Court to honor the mandates passed by Parliament (limiting the Speaker of Parliament and Prime Minister to two terms only -- as the president is already limited).  The Sheikh notes that the Federal Court is biased towards Nouri and under the control of Nouri's Dawa political party.  He also states that it is clear that Iran is influecing events in Iraq.  Kitabat adds that Friday's slogan is "NO to the Tyrannical Ruler."  The protesters state that Iraq is headed towards the abyss and they will not assist in the making of a new dictator or in helping the dicator exploit the people.

 Like the protests, questions surrounding a billion dollar deal just won't go away.  From the December 26th snapshot:

October 9th, Nouri was strutting across the world stage as he inked a $4.2 billion weapons deal with Russia. The deal is now iffy if not off (an Iraqi delegation went to Russia  at the start of the month to see if the deal could be salvaged) and it went down in charges of corruption. Among those said to be implicated in the corruption is Nouri's own son. All Iraq News reports that State of Law is attempting to remove Nouri's name from the list of those Parliament is investigating for the corruption in that deal.  In addition, Al Mada reports that Nouri is refusing to answer questions from the Parliament relating to that arms deal.

You may remember that when the rumors started to really swirl, Nouri and his cronies turned on Ali al-Dabbagh, Nouri's spokesperson.  Thing is, they turned to late.  Ali al-Dabbagh had already seen the writing on the wall and left Iraq.  Not before making it clear that he knew a great deal about the Russian arms deal -- and repeatedly maintaining that he hadn't made a cent off it.  He's currently in the UAE.  All Iraq News reports today that Ali's gotten chatty with the Russian press. Who made money off the corrupt deal?  Ali says it was Nouri's advisors and Nouri's son.

Cindy Sheehan is calling on people to write political prisoner Lynne Stewart.  Lynne Stewart early on in her career became the people's attorney.  That means her clients were often not the ones who could afford to pay for legal representation.  It means also that she represented all of the people.  Not just the cuddly types.  This became a problem during the so-called War on Terror -- a never-ending war.  You can't have a Lynne Stewart out there.  Not someone who stands up.  You need cowards.  And they're always in wide supply.  In 2005, Lynne Stewart was found guilty.  Elaine Cassel (Find Law) explained what was taking place:

Prior to September 11, 2001, many attorneys might have sided with Stewart. They would certainly have seen a blatant Sixth Amendment violation in both the SAMs and the eavesdropping regulations - and possibly seen First Amendment violations when it came to the SAMs. And they might also have agreed that to honor the right to counsel, an attorney ought to try to resurrect the traditional attorney-client relationship despite these unconstitutional constraints.
Now, however, the First and Sixth Amendments have been gutted--at least in terms of the attorney-client relationship. Indeed, as I argued in the first article I wrote about Stewart, the government seems to be conducting an all-out assault on the right to counsel.
Defense attorneys who represent alleged terrorists - or even detainees who are merely suspected of some connection to terrorism -- now know that the government may listen in on their attorney-client communications. They also know that this eavesdropping may give rise to evidence that may be used in their own prosecution for terrorism if they cross the imaginary line drawn by the government.
How can these attorneys be zealous advocates with this government-inspired fear overshadowing their every word?
If the attorneys are prosecuted, they can expect, at trial, to be conflated with their clients - just as Stewart was. The prosecution showed an old tape of Osama bin Laden promising revenge if Rahman were not released. In a courtroom only a short distance from Ground Zero, the tape must have meant a great deal. But it related to Rahman, not Stewart. Though Rahman may be a Bin Laden confederate, that does not mean his attorney is.

Lynne is guilty of nothing.  She broke no law. She broke a Special Administrative Measure.  That's not a law.  She broke it by giving Reuters a press release from her client.  That happened when Bill Clinton was president.  Janet Reno was Attorney General.  The Justice Dept looked into the matter.  They didn't file charges against Lynne because Janet Reno knew the law and knew breaking a SAM is not breaking a law.  Life went on.  Then the Supreme Court gave the presidency to Bully Boy Bush and he picked John Ashcroft to be his Attorney General.  Ashcroft went gunning for Lynne and he should have been reigned in by judges.  Instead, he was allowed to let his crazy run free. 

Falsely linking Lynne to 9-11 and holding the trial at Ground Zero allowed Ashcroft to get a conviction -- he linked her to 9-11 the same way the administration linked Iraq to 9-11 when trying to sell the Iraq War.   In October of 2006, US District Court Judge John Koetl sentenced Lynne to 28 months.  He noted, in his remarks, her years of work, her public service.  Lynne began serving her sentence on November 18, 2009.  The delay had to do with medical care for breast cancer.  Bully Boy Bush was gone from the White House.  Barack Obama was President of the United States.  A Constitutional professor, he claimed.  Surely, this would be good for Lynne.  Maybe, as our Elaine's noted, Lynne reminded Barack too much of his own mother?  Whatever the reason, Barack becoming president wasn't good for Lynne.  Under Barack, Lynne's 28 month sentence was replaced with a 10 year prison sentence. 

 As Lynne's husband Ralph Poynter noted on Black Agenda Radio, week of January 21st, Lynne's cancer has returned.

Ralph Poynter:  For months, we have been worried about a spot that's shown on Lynne's lung -- one of her lungs.  And we did not want to go public with it until we were sure what was happening.  What is happening is her breast cancer is spreading.  It has spread to the other lung and to parts of her back.  We feel that it is a death sentence in the prison.  We fought in the beginning to keep Lynne out of jail, to make them take her from a local hospital with the doctor's objection because we could see the hand writing on the wall.  This was not taken up as a legal issue and Lynne went to prison and now the other shoe has fallen.  Her cancer is spreading.  She is in Fort Worth, Texas subjected to the regulations of a prison between her and health care.  From the greatest center of health care probably in the world from New York to Fort Worth, Texas and we know cancer is spreading.  And as our daughter the doctor says, cancer has to be nipped in the bud.  But first it has to go through regulations of Fort Worth Texas -- not knowing when you go to the hospital, not knowing who's going to be there.  So we're working on that.

Lynne's now served over 38 months in prison.  Her original sentence was 28 months.  Stephen Lendman (San Franciso Bay View) explains, "She requested transfer to a New York hospital. She's been successfully treated there before.  She was denied."  Brenda Ryan (Workers World) reports, "The re-emergence of Stewart's cancer was first detected in a PET scan.  [Lynn and Ralph's daughter Dr. Zenobia] Brown noted that it took two months from the time of the scan until Stewart was able to see a doctor.  Stewart's hands and feet are shackled every time she goes to the hospital.  While there she is cruelly shackled to a bedpost by her ankle and wrist."  This is ridiculous.  She's served the original sentence.  She's now dealing with cancer again.  She needs to focus on her treatment.  She cannot do that behind bars.  She is a 73-year-old woman who has never been a threat to herself or others, she needs a medical release right now.  The US Justice Dept allows what is known as a "compassionate release" and it includes criteria such as "extraordinary or compelling circumstances which could not reasonably have been foreseen by the court at the time of sentencing."  That would include the return of Lynne's cancer.  There is no risk to the public in Lynne being released under a "compassionate release."  It is in Lynne's best interest for her to be released, it is in the government's best interest to release her.  On the latter, as University of California San Francisco's Dr. Brie Williams pointed out, "Current compassionate release guidelines are failing to identify seriously ill prisoners who no longer pose a threat to society, placing huge financial burdens on state budgets and contributing to the national crisis of prison overcrowding."