Monday, January 31, 2011

FDL's Jane isn't very brave at all

Hillary Clinton understands what must be done to hold the wolves at bay:

“She warned that the U.S. would not accept two alternatives as potential ends to the current crisis: “democracy of six months or a year and then evolving essentially into a military dictatorship” or – a scarier specter for American policymakers –what she described on NBC’s “Meet The Press” as “faux democacy like the elections we saw in Iran…where you have one election 30 years ago and the people stay in power and become less and less responsive to their people.” [snip]

“We want to see free and fair elections and we expect that that will be one of the outcomes of what is going on in Egypt right now,” Clinton said.”

Those “free and fair elections” must be free of Muslim Brotherhood, Iran, Islamic extremist influence. The rights of women must be respected as well as the rights of religions such as Coptic Christianity. Egypt must not turn into a theocratic misogynistic state like Iran. That is the policy the American government must pursue.

“Clinton, on CBS’s “Face The Nation,” addressed the issue of an Islamic regime following Mubarak. “Well, first I’m not speculating about who goes or who stays. And I’m not prepared to comment on what kind of democratic process the Egyptian people can construct for themselves. But we obviously want to see people who are truly committed to democracy — not to imposing any ideology on Egyptians.”

Hillary Clinton understands better than most that not all CHANGE is for the best:

We do not want to see a change or a regime that would actually continue to foment violence or chaos — either because it didn’t exist or because it had a different view in which in which to pose on the Egyptian people,” she said.

That’s diplo-speak to say: Egypt and the Egyptian people must be protected from the wolves.

The wolves are gathering. The Iron Veil unfurls, ready to fall, and plunge us all into darkness.

Two more years. Ay-yi. Okay, an e-mail came in noting that Jane H. at Firedoglake "also called out Nancy A. Youssef for writing that bad article about Bradley Manning and she also called it out, like C.I., on Friday. How about giving her some credit?" First, I have no idea why you're writing me about that. My post with Friday's snapshot was nothing but a movie review (of "Knight & Day"). It's not as if I wrote: "C.I. and only C.I. calls out . . ."

But whatever.

I looked up this post where Jane H. (according to my e-mail) was calling out Nancy A. Youssef. Here's the Nancy part:

So what does a flailing press operation do when they can’t kill the public momentum building for an investigation? Why put out an anonymous hit piece on Bradley Manning to act as a wet blanket, of course:

Probe: Army was warned not to deploy WikiLeaks suspect

Pfc. Bradley Manning’s direct supervisor warned that Manning had thrown chairs at colleagues and shouted at higher-ranking soldiers in the year he was stationed at Fort Drum, N.Y., and advised that Manning shouldn’t be sent to Iraq, where his job would entail accessing classified documents through the Defense Department’s computer system.

But superior officers decided to ignore the advice because the unit was short of intelligence analysts and needed Manning’s skills, two military officials familiar with the investigation told McClatchy Newspapers.

“Two military officials familiar with the investigation.” Anonymous, of course. It’s an orchestrated hit piece on Manning. How convenient.

And that, boys and girls, is why I don't read FireDogLake and don't see Jane H. as brave or pertinent. Where is Nancy A. Youssef? Jane's sentence that includes "Why put out an anonymous hit piece on Bradley"? That "anonymous hit piece" is written by Nancy A. Youssef. And if she's saying Nancy's sources are "anonymous" she is correct. If she's saying the article is, she is wrong. It carries Nancy A. Youssef's byline.

Jane didn't call out Nancy A. Youssef. Only C.I. did. Jane didn't have the guts to. C.I.'s been warning about McClatchy for some time and specifically about Nancy. She's noted that a number of McClatchy's US reporters are really focused on being 'media players' and that includes Nancy. C.I., not Jane, has repeatedly called Nancy out for lying on The Diane Rehm Show about Bradley Manning.

Bravery? Jane didn't even name Nancy A. Youssef as the writer of the piece nor did she name the outlet as McClatchy. There was nothing brave in what Jane did.

C.I. called it out on Friday (and included it in today's snapshot as well -- which may be why the guy e-mailed me about Jane's post today, I don't know).

Jane may be amazing to FDLers, I don't know. But I know bravery and C.I.'s the one who has repeatedly, week after week, year after year, held feet to the fire. Jane H., by contrast, tried to fool people with the fake public option aspect of ObamaCare. She also refused to call out the sexism deployed by the Obama campaign. In fact, time and again when she should stand up, Jane hides out.

If she'd deserved credit, as the e-mail insisted, I would have gladly given it to her. But she didn't call out Nancy Youssef or McClatchy. Jane's really weak and spineless most of the time.

Doyle McManus (Los Angeles Times) reminds:

It's telling that even Assange, no fan of traditional institutions, felt a need to turn to old-fashioned newspapers and magazines to make sense of all those cables.

Even then, hasty journalism produced some stories that were incomplete. One of the biggest apparent scoops was a report that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had sent a cable ordering U.S. diplomats at the United Nations to spy on their foreign counterparts and even collect samples of their DNA (exactly how was left to the reader's imagination). But officials later explained that Clinton hadn't written that cable (it bore her signature as a formality) and that it was the kind of annual "wish list" from the CIA that most diplomats — the sensible ones — routinely ignore.

Remember when all the liars were repeating that lie. Hey, did Jane take it on? Uh, no. Guess who did? That's right: C.I.

Going out with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Monday, January 31, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, the death toll in Iraq for January is double what it was in December, Nouri al-Maliki attempts to defend his power grab, some rush to again defend Julian Assange while ignoring attacks on Bradley Manning, a new US report finds things are very shaky in Iraq, and more.

We'll start with Julian Assange just because I'm sick of the nonsense. We've said for sometime that Assange is not a journalist and he's not. He might, many months back, have been comparable to a book publisher and qualified as a journalist by that route. But he's not and has never been a journalist. Apologies to
Jim because we toyed with writing about this subject at Third but couldn't pull it together. I'm grabbing it now. David Swanson (War Is A Crime) is outraged by a CBS profile on Julian Assange which aired Sunday. Among David's many complaints, "The CBS program 60 Minutes has just published video of an interview with Wikileaks' Julian Assange -- with the video focused, of course, on Assange himself, with almost no substantive content related to the massive crimes and abuses that have made news around the globe." For the record, 60 Minutes is a TV show; therefore, it "airs" reports, it does not "publish" them. The report aired Sunday night. First off, the profile on Julian Assange was billed as just that. Drop back to Friday's snapshot where we noted the upcoming broadcast and included their description of the segment: "Julian Assange, the controversial founder of WikiLeaks, speaks to Steve Kroft about the U.S. attempt to indict him on criminal charges and the torrent of criticism aimed at him for publishing classified documents. (This is a double-length segment.)" Expressing shock today over what aired *Sunday* is a bit like going to one of Bruce Willis' shoot-em-up-bang-bang movies and leaving the theater complaining that you had no idea there would be violence in the film.

The segment was as advertised. David's also unhappy with Steve Kroft's style. That's fine, call it out. But to read David's long piece is to get that it's not really about Kroft. Take the criticism about Kroft not providing "substantive coverage" of WikiLeaks' 'exposures.' David never wrote the same about Amy Goodman. But
Goody spent an hour (she called it an hour -- more like 45 minutes) with Assange on July 28th and she dealt far less with WikiLeaks' exposures. She wasted time, for example, asking Assange about the damage that might come from the Congress passing a law -- she asked Australian citizen Julian Assange about the US Congress passing a law. A topic he was clearly not qualified to speak on and no one should be surprised by that fact. It takes a real idiot (or maybe a xenophobe who assumes the whole world knows and follows the US Congress and how it makes a law and how . . .). She provided a lot of gossip. Steve Kroft -- we can cover this at Third where we can lay it out all side by side -- covered more of the exposures than did Goodman and where was David's angry article about Amy Goodman putting the BS in Panhandle Media? No where to be found.

The problem isn't
60 Minutes and it's not Steve Kroft. That's not to say either is above criticism. That is to say, Julian Assange agreed to a celebrity profile and that's what he got. It can be argued that at any point with Kroft (or with Goodman), Assange could have been raising exposures but didn't do that.

The problem is Julian Assange is emerging and he's not conforming with his fan base. Here, we called out the CNN 'reporter' who blew an interview with Assange. We called it out because the segment was supposed to be about the exposures but she made it instead about Assange. I have never had as much pressure from CNN friends to correct something. We haven't corrected it, that entry's still up. But as they argued for their reporter, they repeatedly told stories about Assange. He is not the man his fan boy base thinks he is. That's why we began to note immediately after that Julian Assange is the public face of WikiLeaks but he is not WikiLeaks. At this point, that may no longer be true due to the fact that so many have now jumped ship.

CNN refused to go into business with Assange for a reason. Other outlets were happy to go along with the source. Those include
Der Spiegel, the Guardian and the New York Times. And fan boys like David Swanson never called that out. That went against WikiLeaks entire reason for being. WikiLeaks was where the people would find information, information that others tried to hide. Suddenly, the information was being filtered. A filter was completely against WikiLeak's reason for being. (Some have attacked WikiLeaks over not censoring names in an early document release. We didn't attack them for that and I defended them here over that noting that they are not supposed to be altering the documents in any way, they are supposed to be providing sunlight.) As the releases continued to be coordinated with the press, WikiLeaks stopped putting it online. Oh, they'd do so in a week or a few weeks or maybe a month . . .

No, that's not the mission statement or purpose of WikiLeaks. That's when people start leaving. Not because they're jealous of Julian Assange but because WikiLeaks is not living it up to its stated purpose. Julian Assange doesn't believe in the power of the internet. That's why he went to old media. He could have cut in a website -- The Huffington Post, for example. He didn't. He spat on new media and it's so amazing to watch as those spat upon rush to defend repeatedly.

Julian Assange is not a journalist. What he has done is be a source. And outlets have been far too kind to his whims. And maybe if John F. Burns (and his co-writer, but to the world, it is now John F. Burns' article) had been honest enough about what was going on, he could have written an honest article instead of one that read like an attack because it was an attack. Julian Assange isn't a journalist. He chases celebrity.

That's why he agreed to the CBS interview to begin with. Assange has no plans to come to the US. So why is he granting an interview to CBS? To promote WikiLeaks? If so, look at his own answers because Kroft's bringing up more specifics on revelations that Julian Assange does.

In Marcel Rosenbach and Holger Stark's "
An Inside Look at Difficult Negotiaions with Julian Assange," Der Spiegel portrays the source's ego mania in a lengthy article and the most disturbing paragraph for Assange (and his groupies) would probably be this one where, having decided the New York Times is no longer 'in the loop,' Assange is confronting the Guardian and Der Spiegel in a meeting to find out if the Times has copies of the latest cables and how they got hold of them:

The mood was tense. "Does the New York Times have a copy?" Assange wanted to know. He repeated the question, and it sliced through the room, which by now was very still. "And if so, where did it get a copy?" Assange mentioned the written agreement he had signed with the Guardian in the summer, which stipulated that WikiLeaks was merely providing the Guardian with the embassy cables for its review, and that publication or duplication was only permissible with the consent of WikiLeaks. Assange felt that a breach of contract had taken place, which is why he had brought along his attorneys.

Check out the ego mania of Assange and how ridiculous he sounds insisting that the US government cables (which deserved to see the light of day, no question) must not be shared witout his consent and if they were shared with another paper this would be a violation of the written agreement? There's not a big difference between Assange's attacks and postures and those of the US State Dept. And, as the paragraph demonstrates, WikiLeaks was no longer WikiLeaks. It was about making Julian Assange a celebrity. That's what's destroyed the organization and why a number of people have left it and are setting up a new version which will adhere to the beliefs WikiLeaks once espoused. Note this paragraph and, Mascolo is Georg Mascolo, editor-in-chief of the

Assange was using terms like "theft" and "criminal activities," against which he said he would take legal action, because the copy was, as he claimed, "illegal." At that moment, he was apparently unaware of the dual meaning of what he had just said. Mascolo replied: "There are nothing but illegal copies of this material."

Assange sounds like an idiot, granted. But grasp that someone risked their job (at the very least) to provide WikiLeaks with the material and instead of releasing it -- the WikiLeaks motto be damned, apparently -- Assange is having a freak-fest over the fact that it may get released.

None of these documents should have ever gone through the MSM to begin with. The Collateral Murder video got substantial attention and coverage after WikiLeaks published it online. And that's not just my argument, that's also the argument that took place inside WikiLeaks. The question was why, with no announcement (let alone discussion), WikiLeaks was transforming from a conduit of information directly to the people to one now using a filter (the MSM) and refusing to post the documents online?

Bill Keller had a lengthy article (like the Der Spiegel article, Keller's is actually part of a new book) in the New York Times' Sunday Magazine recounting the paper's interactions with Julian Assange:

Three months later, with the French daily Le Monde added to the group, we published Round 2, the Iraq War Logs, including articles on how the United States turned a blind eye to the torture of prisoners by Iraqi forces working with the U.S., how Iraq spawned an extraordinary American military reliance on private contractors and how extensively Iran had meddled in the conflict.
By this time, The Times's relationship with our source had gone from wary to hostile. I talked to Assange by phone a few times and heard out his complaints. He was angry that we declined to link our online coverage of the War Logs to the WikiLeaks Web site, a decision we made because we feared -- rightly, as it turned out -- that its trove would contain the names of low-level informants and make them Taliban targets. "Where's the respect?" he demanded. "Where's the respect?" Another time he called to tell me how much he disliked our profile of Bradley Manning, the Army private suspected of being the source of WikiLeaks's most startling revelations. The article traced Manning's childhood as an outsider and his distress as a gay man in the military. Assange complained that we "psychologicalized" Manning and gave short shrift to his "political awakening."
The final straw was a front-page profile of Assange by John Burns and Ravi Somaiya, published Oct. 24, that revealed fractures within WikiLeaks, attributed by Assange's critics to his imperious management style. Assange denounced the article to me, and in various public forums, as "a smear."
Assange was transformed by his outlaw celebrity. The derelict with the backpack and the sagging socks now wore his hair dyed and styled, and he favored fashionably skinny suits and ties. He became a kind of cult figure for the European young and leftish and was evidently a magnet for women. Two Swedish women filed police complaints claiming that Assange insisted on having sex without a condom; Sweden's strict laws on nonconsensual sex categorize such behavior as rape, and a prosecutor issued a warrant to question Assange, who initially described it as a plot concocted to silence or discredit WikiLeaks.
I came to think of Julian Assange as a character from a Stieg Larsson thriller -- a man who could figure either as hero or villain in one of the megaselling Swedish novels that mix hacker counterculture, high-level conspiracy and sex as both recreation and violation.

Bill Keller has not attacked Assange. But complexities escape the fan boys. (
Doyle McManus has a commentary I haven't read yet but a friend at the Los Angeles Times asked for a link to it. Doyle's generally making several astute points and I'm sure someone in the community will end up quoting from it at their site tonight.) At the end of the day, has Assange been good or bad for WikiLeaks? They have had revelations make big splashes in MSM and that's a plus. Would they have had big splashes if they'd continued to follow the model they preached? No one knows but the fact that they morphed into something in complete opposition to what they preached is a minus. Assange became the story because Assange wanted to be the story. That's why he agreed to the celebrity profile. He is not and never has been Daniel Ellsberg. He is not a whistle blower. That would be the people who supplied WikiLeaks with information. Information which Julian Assange now sits on -- grasp that -- and claims he will release if there are any deaths.

Uhm, I kind of think people who risked (at the very least) their jobs to provide WikiLeaks with information did so because they wanted the information to be out there in the public, not because they wanted to provide Julian Assange with a bargaining chip he could use to whip up even more press attention.

Greg Palast has warned about Julian Assange but the fan boy base wanted to ignore Palast. That's very strange considering I can't think of another time when the fan boy base has shut Palast out. But what Palast saw was an ever increasing gulf between what WikiLeaks stated it was doing and what it actually did. And by that measure, the current WikiLeaks is a failure. Hopefully, those who have left the organization to start
OpenLeaks will fair better with the failure of WikiLeaks as an example. Jim, Dona, Ava and I came up with an outline a few weeks back on what we'd cover if we wrote a piece on WikiLeaks. I have deliberately ignored some of the points Jim and Dona raised so those aspects can be picked up at Third if they want.

But David Swanson has written a lengthy piece about Julian Assange today and about how poor Julian has been mistreated and yet again we're not focusing on real issues as a result. It's really past time that the fan boys stop rushing to defend their hero. He has clay feet, he's far from perfect and they need to let go of the illusions they hold of him and grow up. They have confused the best of WikiLeaks with Julian Assange and have taken to attacking facts because facts don't fit into their scheme. Here's a fact for you, the late and great Jaqueline Susann did more interviews than Julian Assange could ever dream of and, once she became a novelist, in every one of them, she ensured her books would be mentioned by mentioning her books. She plugged her books relentlessly. If she couldn't get on the program -- Johnny Carson had banned her from NBC's Tonight Show, for example -- she'd find another way to get her book mentioned (guest Bette Davis in Johnny's case). If Julian Assange wanted the revelations talked about in the interview with CBS, he would have ensured that they were talked about. Or are his fan boys admitting that Jacqueline Susann was far smarter than he is?

David Swanson picked Steve Kroft to go after and the real question there is why he's yet to defend
Bradley Manning from the hatchet job Nancy A. Youssef did on him -- excuse me, the most recent hatchet job she's done on him. Who is Bradley Manning? Monday April 5th, WikiLeaks released US military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Monday June 7th, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported in August that Manning had been charged -- "two charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The first encompasses four counts of violating Army regulations by transferring classified information to his personal computer between November and May and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system. The second comprises eight counts of violating federal laws governing the handling of classified information." Manning has been convicted in the public square despite the fact that he's been convicted in no state and has made no public statements -- despite any claims otherwise, he has made no public statements. Manning is now at Quantico in Virginia, under military lock and key and still not allowed to speak to the press. Paul Courson (CNN) notes Bradley is a suspect and, "He has not admitted guilt in either incident, his supporters say." If the accusations are true, he's the hero everyone should be worrying about (not Julian Assange). If the accusations ar false (and they're false until proven in court), then an innocent person is being railroaded. In either case, Nancy A. Youssef did a hatchet job in print last week. Maybe people can be forgiven for missing all of her attacks on Bradley when she's been a guest on The Diane Rehm Show. However, when she attacks in print and many other outlets pick up on her smears and attacks, maybe David Swanson should set Julian Assange aside long enough to try defending Bradley? For those late to the party, we spent four paragraphs in Friday's snapshot calling out Youssef's attack on Bradley:

It means we don't link to Nancy A. Youssef's article for McClatchy Newspapers. Why not? Go through our archives, do a search of this site with "The Diane Rehm Show" and "Nancy A. Youssef" and "Bradley Manning" as key terms. Nancy has been on a one-woman witch hunt with regards to Bradley. She has repeatedly convicted him on air on The Diane Rehm Show -- not just once, not just twice, not just three times. She has done this over and over and over. (Though a guest on today's show, she didn't discuss Bradley -- they were obsessed with Egypt -- which had already been an hour long topic on Thursday's Diane Rehm Show but still became the thrust of today's international hour.) Nancy is also very close to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

A number of outlets are putting the claims in Nancy's bad article out there and treating them as fact. Let's review it. (If you must read it, the title is "Probe: Army ignored warnings over soldier" and you can Google that.) Nancy knows about an Army report -- how? Her friends she leaves unnamed. (But I can name them.) This report is the result of an investigation, she says, and it found unflattering things about Bradley. She says. And she can say so, she says, because she has "two military officials familiar with investigation" (but not the report?) who talked to her. Once upon a time, you had to have three sources. Always wonder about unsourced claims with two sources. Though she hasn't seen the report, Nancy yacks on and on about the report -- when not -- FOR NO NATURAL REASON -- bringing in Major Nidal Hasan. That's your clue that Nancy's gone skinny dipping in a cesspool she wants to pass off as journalism. Hasan shot dead many at Fort Hood. So Nance just wants to bring him into the article for . . . local color? Extra seasoning? She knows what she's doing and she knows it's not journalism.

You've been repeatedly warned about McClatchy of late and about Nancy in particular who is sending off alarms at McClatchy. What she's done is write a smear-job, she has not reported. For her friends in the Defense Dept, she has attacked Bradley in an unsourced article that doesn't pass the smell test. There is a term for it, "yellow journalism." She should be ashamed of herself and everyone running with the claims she's making in this article needs to ask how they think they're helping Bradley?

They also should note that Nancy made no effort to get a comment from Bradley's attorney. While painting Bradley in an unflattering light throughout her article, she never tries for a quote, she only repeats what her Defense 'chums' and . . . tell her. She's becoming the new Judith Miller and that's her fault but also the fault of a lot of people who should have been calling her out months ago but let her slide and slide.

Innocent or guilty of leaking, Bradley needs defenders. He's not traipsing around an English manor.

Today the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction issued a 156-page [PDF format warning] "
Quarterly Reports To Congress." Walter Pincus (Washington Post) notes, "In recent months, the Interior Ministry has reported the assassinations of 'nearly 240' Iraqi Security Forces and intelligence personnel and about 120 civilian government employees, according to the report." It's these attacks as well as economic issues that lead to conclusions that the government set up in Iraq is not very sturdy. AP's lede on this story is: "Without more help -- and quickly -- Iraqi security forces may not be able to protect the fragile nation from insurgents and invaders after American troops leave at the end of the year, according to a U.S. report released Sunday." And that's offering the sunny side of a report -- ignoring the institutions that are so lacking in Iraq. The UK's Morning Star is much more upfront about the report than AP, "US fears that a popular uprising will overwhelm Iraq's shaky security forces were exposed today in a report by the occupation's special inspector general for reconstruction. It warned that legal systems were still unstable and access to basic services such as water, sewage disposal and electricity could be flashpoints for mass unrest among ordinary people - "more so than political or sectarian disagreements." The people. The Iraqi people who have had this government imposed upon them by outsiders.

Basic services result in protests all the time in Iraq, the vast majority of them go unreported -- even when they take place in Baghdad. Yesterday,
Ayas Hossam Acommock (Al Mada) reported on a Sunday demonstration held in Firdous Square with "intellectuals and the media" participating to show their solidarity with Arab people in Egypt. In addition, the participants called for the elimination of restrictions on freedoms in Iraq and called for basic services to be provided. Speakers spoke of "the long revolution" as Arabs have fought against dictatorships. Again, these protests are nothing new. And the lack of reliable public services are among the reasons that Kirkuk's brief decision to cut off electricity to Baghdad was so popular throughout the country.

Staying with the issue of the press,
Josh Halliday (Guardian) reported in the middle of this month that the Guardian had, on appeal, won in the libel case brought against them by Nouri al-Maliki's Iraqi National Intelligence Service over this article. Meanwhile al Furat reports that Kata Rikabi, secretary to Nouri al-Maliki, is suing the Euphrates newspaper and the paper's editor Hussein Khoshnaw over articles al Furat published. Established a month after the start of the Iraq War, Al-Furat was previously (2007) targeted with a bomb threat at their Sydney offices.

Meanwhile Ayad Allawi appears to have lost any remaining bits of trust in Nouri al-Maliki.
Al Rafidayn reports that he has requested Massoud Barzani, President of the KRG, be present for a mediation between Allawi and al-Maliki. Despite promising Allawi he would head the National [Security] Council, it has still not been created. Earlier this month, a meeting was held with Ibrahim al-Jaafari attending and that moved no mountain. Al Mada reports that Iraqiya is accusing Nouri of working against the agreements formed to allow him to continue as prime minister and they accuse him of preventing the formation of the National Council. An unnamed source with the Iraqi National Alliance tells Al Mada that no National Council issues will be resolved until Nouri has named the security posts that remain empty in his Cabinet and the source expects that will take at least two weeks. Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya slate was the winner in the March 7th elections. After nearly nine months of no progress, he entered into an arrangement with Nouri al-Maliki to allow al-Maliki to be prime minister. The trade-off for Nouri being prime minister included clearing the names of several Sunni politicians and making Allawi head of the National Council -- a new body that would be created. Allawi objected in the first meeting of Parliament after the arrangment had been made because the aspects of the deal involving Iraqiya were being set aside for a later date. He walked out of the session. He was right to worry because it's over a month later and there's still no creation of the National Council. Nouri got what he wanted and may or may not live up to the bargain he made.

In the past, Nouri has rarely lived up to the deals he brokered. Had the Parliament and political parties known, when the arrangement was made, that Nouri had gone to the Supreme Court (December 18th) to have powers pulled from independent outsiders and placed under the prime minister, it is doubtful he would have become Prime Minister December 25th (the thirty days prior to that he was prime minister-designate). The power-grab only became known last week.
AFP reports that Nouri al-Maliki defended his power-grab Sunday insisting that his appeal to the Supreme Court to have the central bank, the electoral commission, the human rights commmission and the anti-corruption body placed under his control was forthe good of Iraq. AFP notes:

Several of the agencies affected have themselves criticised the supreme court ruling, saying it harmed their non-partisan reputation, while opponents of the decision have called it a move by Maliki to consolidate power.
Maliki, who formed his cabinet last December after political bickering that left Iraq without a government for more than nine months, also said there was still was no agreement on the four key defence, intelligence, security and interior ministry portfolios, which remain vacant.

Fadi al-Issa (Zawya) reports Nouri was not the only one addressing his power-grab yesterday:

The adviser of the Iraqi Central BankIraqi Central Bank (ICB) warned on Sunday of the repercussions of the Federal Court's recent ruling that links the bank directly to the council of ministers in exposing Iraqi funds to risks.
Muzher Mohammed Saleh told AKnews today that the international financial environment is risky and instead of referring the Central Bank to a judicial power, there is need to make diversity in the management of foreign financial reserves in the countries to escape any legal proceedings affecting the debt of the Iraqi government that are protected under resolution 1483 of the international security council.

Saif Tawfeeq (Reuters) reports that Nouri insisted today that the bodies would continue to be autonomous ones despite his control of them. Alsumaria TV adds, "Iraq's Parliament is due to host on Tuesday heads of the independent commissions to discuss the ruling of placing certain institutions under ministerial control. The Parliament is expected to receive head of the Integrity Commission Rahim Al Ukaili, the High Electoral Commission Chairman Faraj Al Haidair and Central Bank Chief Sanan Al Shabibi, a source from the Parliament speaking on condition of anonymity told Alsumaria News."

In news of violence,
Saad Abdul-Kadir (AP) reports four Baghdad bombings have left seven people wounded and that 1 employee of the Ministry of Electricity was shot dead. Reuters reports eight were wounded including police Brig Gen Adday Mahmoud and they note 1 security contractor was shot dead in Baghdad yesterday and a Baghdad sticky bombing yesterday injured a cleric. That's 2 people dead and nine wounded and there was no violence reporting on Sunday (even Reuters was obsessed with other stories in other countries). Excuse me, today IBC reports that 4 security forces were killed in Baghdad and 1 PUK in Kirkuk on Sunday. That's 7 dead and nine wounded. So let's add the numbers. From The Third Estate Sunday Review's "Editorial: The silences on Iraq:"

Let's review. January 1st, 1 person was reported dead and nine injured. January 2nd, 9 people were reported dead and six wounded. January 3rd, 5 were reported dead and twenty-eight wounded. January 4th, 3 were reported dead and five wounded. January 5th, 2 were reported dead and eleven injured. January 6th, one person was reported injured. January 7th, 5 were reported dead. January 8th, 9 were reported dead and eight injured. January 9th, 1 person was reported dead and another reported wounded. January 10th, 4 were reported dead and sixteen injured. January 11th, 4 were reported dead and nineteen injured. January 12th, 4 were reported dead and four were injured. January 13th, 3 were reported dead and fourteen injured. January 14th, 2 people were reported dead. January 15th, six people were reported injured. January 16th, six people were reported wounded. January 17th, 1 person was reported dead and nine injured. January 18th, 60 people were reported dead and one hundred and sixty four injured. January 19th, 25 people were reported dead and forty-two injured. January 20th, 68 were reported dead and one hundred and sixty injured. January 21st, no reports of deaths or injured. January 22nd, no reports of deaths or wounded. January 23rd, 8 people were reported dead and thirty-seven wounded. January 24th, 34 people were reported dead and one hundred and fifty-six people were reported wounded. January 25th, seven people were reported wounded. January 26th, 6 were reported dead and one injured. January 27th, sixty-three people were reported dead and one hundred and four injured. January 28th, 2 were reported dead and eight injured. January 29th, five were reported dead. Through Saturday, at least 320 people have been reported dead and eight hundred and three injured. In addition, 6 US service members have died in Iraq so far this month.

Today reports of 7 dead and nine wounded. At least 327 people were reported dead in January with at least 805 reported wounded. (As always, check that math.) The always laughable
Iraq Coalition Casualty Count lists 210 dead (that's 11 ISF with 199 "Civ" -- deaths are deaths and I believe after the SIGR report people should pay a lot more attention to 'security' deaths than they have been). Last week, Ammar Karim (AFP) noted December's death toll was 151. It's a dramatic increase. Especially when you consider that just last week, US President Barack Obama stood before the American people, delivering his State of the Union address, and claiming 'progress' in Iraq. Historians Against the War offer this reply to the State of the Union Address:

The peace movement is critical of Mr. Obama's desire to maintain a significant military presence in Iraq, despite his earlier advocacy of complete withdrawal of our fighting forces from that country. We need to bring a complete end to our unjust intervention in Iraq. Although 60 percent of the U.S. public now believes that the war in Afghanistan is "not worth fighting," the administration's December 2010 review of Afghanistan policy led to dubious claims of successes, which the president repeated in his State of the Union address, and to a decision to continue the war for four more years. The choice to continue a policy which the government's own National Intelligence Estimate makes clear is failing is a grave error. How many more people must die before the forces in conflict sit around a table to negotiate an end to an unwinnable war? With the government making use of private corporations to carry out its military enterprise and warfare, military expenditures have continued to grow under Mr. Obama, reaching over one trillion dollars in 2010 alone. How can the government meet the needs of the people of the United States when military expenditures are at such a level?
Peace forces are also troubled by the administration's human rights record, by its failure to close the Guantánamo prison as promised, by the opening of military trials of detainees in defiance of international human rights standards, by the many deaths of civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan in attacks that amount to war crimes, by continuing interventions against left-wing governments in Latin America, by the recent FBI raids against peace activists, and by the U.S.'s failure to pressure Israel to end its denial of Palestinian rights. Although peace and justice activists support the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," we do not agree that democratic reform should be used to promote further militarization of our society as Mr. Obama did with his call to universities to open their doors to the ROTC and military recruiters. Our university graduates are needed in fields that meet people's needs and that develop the country's infrastructure rather than in staffing an overextended empire.
The human cost to the civilians in societies where we are intervening and to our own and other combatants is tragic and unsustainable. Continuing down the path of spending almost as much on the military as all other countries put together is bankrupting the country, failing to achieve the control our government seeks, and making us less safe.

david swanson
the associated press
the washington post
walter pincus
60 minutes
cbs news
al mada
ayas hossam acommok
the guardian
josh halliday
al furat
al rafidayn
historians against the war

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