Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Supreme Court says we are subjects not citizens

Today the Supreme Court ruled in Ashcroft v. Al-Kidd that former Attorney General John Ashcroft cannot be held responsible for the wrongful arrest and detention of U.S. citizen Abdullah al-Kidd under the material witness law. The ACLU represented al-Kidd before the Supreme Court in March 2011, charging that al-Kidd’s arrest was part of a pattern of pretextual material witness arrests that occurred after 9/11, pursuant to a nationwide policy instituted by Ashcroft.

The federal material witness statute allows law enforcement to detain a witness whose testimony prosecutors believe is material at a criminal trial if it believes that witness won't testify voluntarily. Al-Kidd was arrested and detained under horrible conditions, ostensibly so he'd testify as a material witness in the trial of Sami Omar al-Hussayen, who attended the same university as al-Kidd and was charged with visa fraud. Al-Kidd was never called to testify in the case or charged with a crime.

That decision should enrage you. While the Court has worked overtime to grant personhood to corporations and give them Constitutional rights, it has repeatedly ignored the rights of the people. This latest decision really says the government can do whatever it wants and that we the people have no redress because we are not citizens, we are mere subjects.

Subjects are ruled over and have to pray for a generous ruler. They are entitled to nothing but what their ruler decides they may have.

Citizens, by contracts. have inalienable rights, rights they are born with. These rights cannot be taken away.

With their latest decision, the Supreme Court has made it clear that it is not on the side of the American people and that citizenship -- unless you're a corporation -- is dead.

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

Tuesday, May 31, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, the Kurds talk of a sit-in if the Kirkuk issue isn't resolved, a vice president announces his resignation, the US government's desire to extend the military's stay in Iraq gets attention, and more.
Monday was Memorial Day for the United States -- a time to note the sacrifices of the fallen. From Kelley B. Vlahos' "Memorial Day in Wartime" (Antiwar.com):

Another Memorial Day. Of course it's been around for 103 years, but this is our ninth during wartime, which means we're simultaneously honoring dead soldiers, while were putting new ones in the ground at Arlington Cemetery.

As of Friday, 4,454 American servicemen and women have been killed in Iraq; 1,595 in Afghanistan. That doesn't seem like a lot when you consider the more than 58,000 dead in Vietnam and over 415,000 killed in World War II, but we know that today's singular medical capabilities have allowed for tens of thousands of soldiers and Marines to live today who wouldn't have made it off the battlefield 40 years ago. Let's just say it's been a war of a hundred thousand casualties.

Kimberly Hefling (AP) reminds that there are over "4,3000 children of U.S. troops killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars". Yesterday on PRI's The Takeaway, Celeste Headlee spoke with Iraq War widows LaNita Herlem (her husband, Sgt 1st Class Bryant Herlem, was killed in Baghdad April 28, 2006) and Tayrn Davis (her husband Cpl Michael Davis was killed in Baghdad May 21, 2007). Davis has started the American Widow Project.

Taryn Davis: I guess it all started when my husband Michael was killed in Baghdad, Iraq. I was 21-years-old and basically felt ostracized from society -- even though I had family and friends around -- due to my age and it being written off because I was 21. And I found myself on the internet looking for a way to embrace this title that I held as a military widow because I already knew it signified my husband's sacrifice and my own but I wanted to find the answers on how it could one day symbolize my survival. So I typed in "widow" and it came back with "Did you mean 'window'?" Which probably discouraged most. But it led me to doing more and more research and over half of those serving now are married so we're looking at around 3,000 military widows from Iraq and Afghanistan alone and over 83% of those are under the age of 35. So I just saw this need to bring together this new generation of military widows. Not so much find them counselors, but give them peer-to-peer support, let them see other twenty and thirty and forty-something-year-old widows that really had just started out this amazing lives with their spouses and had them torn apart.

Last week, Danielle Berger (CNN -- link has text and video) reported on the American Widow Project and explained, "When a widow first makes contact with the American Widow Project, Davis sends her an introductory packet that includes her documentary film. The website provides a 24/7 hot line that allows immediate connection to another widow, information on support and services, and personal stories from women who have lost their husbands. It constantly reminds the women that they are in familiar, accepting company." And where was the president of the United States? Niles Gardiner (Telegraph of London) reports:
Can you imagine David Cameron enjoying a round of golf on Remembrance Sunday? It would be inconceivable for the British Prime Minister to do so, and not just because of the usually dire weather at that time of the year. Above all, it would be viewed as an act of extremely bad taste on a day when the nation remembers and mourns her war dead. I can't imagine the PM even considering it, and I'm sure his advisers would be horrified at the idea. And if the prime minister ever did play golf on such a sacrosanct day he would be given a massive drubbing by the British press, and it would never be repeated.
Contrast this with President Obama's decision to play golf yesterday, Memorial Day, for the 70th time during his 28-month long presidency. For tens of millions of Americans, Memorial Day is a time for remembrance of the huge sacrifices made by servicemen and women on the battlefield. The president did pay his respects in the morning, laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery, but later in the day traveled to Fort Belvoir to play golf. The story has not been reported so far in a single US newspaper, but was made public by veteran White House correspondent Keith Koffler on his blog.
So, with US troops on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, Barack basically tossed a wreath and then ran to the links, making clear his priorities.
Today Ayas Hossam Acommok (Al Mada) quotes State of Law's Izzat Shabandar stating that it is too soon to determine a position on whether or not to extend the presence of US military on Iraqi soil beyond 2011. Dar Addustour reports that US Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey has stated in a media conference that the issue of withdrawal or remaining remains up in the air. Sunday on Weekend Edition, Liane Hansen wrapped up her strong tenure as host of the program (she will be strongly missed and hopefully will return as guest host from time to time -- she offers her goodbye to Sunday Weekend Edition here) and she examined Iraq with the US weapons inspector sent to Iraq (after the start of the war) to find WMD, David Kay. "We've taken our eye off Iraq," Kay observed and noted of telling the truth about WMD (he was sent to Iraq post-US invasion to locate WMD and there were none) that "you lose some friends by what position you take on various issues. I discovered -- although it really wasn't a new discovery -- that candor is one of the values not valued in Washington. Oh, what I miss most are the friendships that were shattered by that, just had staked too much of their career on there being weapons of mass destruction. And not only didn't we find them, we found that they didn't exist prior to the war." For any who have forgotten the lie of WMD is one of the biggest lies the US government told to start the Iraq War. The Sunday broadcast also featured a report by Kelly McEvers on Nouri's recent declaration that, if the majority of the political blocs agree, US troops can stay on the ground in Iraq beyond December 31, 2011.

Kelly McEvers: Before the speech, few thought Maliki would be bold enough to take such a position in public, mainly because many Iraqis still view an American troop presence as an occupation. Now, though, Maliki's advisers, along with officials in the U.S. military, are working on changing the narrative. They're not combat troops anymore, they say. The soldiers who'd be here next year wouldn't even be advisers. [. . .] Analysts in Iraq say a new agreement between the U.S. and Iraq to authorize some 20,000 American troops beyond December is likely; there are just under 50,000 troops now. But like other political debates in this deeply divided country, analysts say, it's going to be a long and drawn-out fight.

Sunday, on Weekend Edition, NPR became the first US mainstream news outlet to tell the truth about what the US government is working on. For weeks now, relying on the Arab press, we've noted the pressure that is taking place to extend the SOFA or develop a new arrangment. Day after day, the US press has ignored it. And, in the beggar media (the so-called alternative press), they've flat-out lied and told you nothing or told you it's all Robert Gates. Robert Gates is stepping down as the US Secretary of Defense. When that happens, who are these cowards going to hide behind to avoid placing the blame where it rightly goes?
Monday the New York Times' Tim Arango appeared on Talk of the Nation (NPR) and discussed Iraq -- specifically the variables if US forces stay on the ground in Iraq beyond 2011 -- thereby allowing NPR to be out front on the story. Arango observed of Moqtada al-Sadr's threats of violence if the US stays beyond the end of this year, "At the same time, you know, a lot of people, you know, a lot of people believe it's a bluff, and a lot of people say that he would have no chance with the, you know, fighting the Iraqi security forces today. The last time he did so was in 2008, and they've - you know, they're much improved." And, in 2008, he lost in Baghdad and he lost in Basra.

Arango then acknowledges what a minor presensce al-Sadr's bloc is in Parliament ("roughly 40" seats out of 325) but goes on to talk about how Moqtada backed Nouri for prime minister. While that is true, Nouri became prime minister. Unless there's a vote of no-confidence, it doesn't matter if Moqtada supports him or not. (In 2007 and 2008, Moqtada openly refused to support Nouri. Didn't force his government to collapse.) If Moqtada wants to push a no-confidence vote, it needs to be remembered that Moqtada would only be 40 votes and you need to be figuring who would align with Moqtada?

Let's play this out. Say the majority of the blocs vote to extend the SOFA and keep the US military beyond 2011 and Moqtada is against that. Is that issue going to be the one Moqtada rides to a no-confidence vote? Not at all. He can't. If the bulk of the blocs votes that way why would they then turn against Nouri over it? It makes no sense.

Moqtada vowed he would not support Nouri. He also vowed that he would hold a referendum and abide by the vote. Nouri was not the number one choice in the referendum or the number two choice. But Moqtada ran with Nouri when Iran broke down the facts and handed out the orders to Moqtada. What he did in October and November is now meaningless. He can't say, "I take back my October support!" We'll note this exchange.

CONAN: Secretary Gates, who of course retires next month, but he has said if we're going to stay beyond the end of this year, we're going to have to have a request from the Iraqi government for that pretty soon. Any idea of what's the drop-dead date?

Mr. ARANGO: You know, it's funny, when you talk to the military commanders, they'll say, and they'll remark, and it's been a trend throughout the war. Like, the Iraqis march to a different time than the Americans do, and there really is no drop-dead deadline. And I guess the drop-dead deadline is December 31st because I think - which is a bit of an exaggeration, but I think as they're planning the drawdown, they will always have these contingencies, the American military to leave X amount of troops should the Iraqis finally, you know, make this request.

What will happen if there's no extension by December 31st is that any US troops in Iraq will switch to State Dept's oversight and that a significant number will be deployed to Kuwait where they would wait in limbo if the White House believed that an extension of the SOFA was going to take place (though it hadn't by December 31st). That is the actual plan at this point.

(Not my plan. I'm for all troops out now. That's the White House's plan but they don't believe it's going to take that long. They believe they'll have an extension. And, of course, the back up plan has been -- as addressed in open hearings in Congress repeatedly -- to move the troops from the umbrella of DoD to the State Dept.)
As continuing the US military presence is discussed, the US military recently ticked off a community. In Karbala, the US carried out a military operation involving a helicopter as they attempted to raid a home for a man . . . who died four days prior to the raid. And the response in Karbala? Aswat al-Iraq reports:

The deputy chairman of Karbala's Provincial Council disclosed that a letter of denunciation shall be handed to the U.S. Embassy due to the U.S. Army's airborne landing north of Karbala, calling on the central government to exert pressures on the U.S. army to cease its violations.
Nisayif Al-Khatabi told Aswat al-Iraq that "the U.S. forces carried out an airborne landing on house to arrest a citizen without any coordination with the local government or security forces."
Wen Xian (People's Daily -- link is text and audio) reports "According to sources, the United States, still keeping 46,000 troops in Iraq, hopes to keep 10,000 to 12,000 U.S. troops in nine military bases in Iraq after 2011 for as long as more than four years. In other words, U.S. forces will remain in Iraq by the end of U.S. President Barack Obama's second presidency if he is re-elected to a second term in 2012." Aswat al-Iraq notes that Moqtada's bloc is stating they will have no conversations with any blocs about extending the US presence in Iraq. Nouri got what he wanted from Moqtada. He got what he wanted from the Kurds. He promised everything to get to be prime minister. He promised the Kurds a referendum (one that Article 140 of the Constitution mandated be held by 2007) and a December census. But then he got the post and called off the census and backed off the referendum. Aswat al-Iraq explains Kamal Karkuki, Speaker of the KRG Parliament, declared today that if there is no movement to implement Article 140, Kurds will begin staging sit-ins and, he says, "The sit-ins shall be similar to those in Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen to oblige the other party to make the consensus on the fate of the province. The road map to solve this problem is Article 140. We will accept no bargaining in this regard."

Nouri first became prime minister in 2006. Under his leadership, Article 140 was supposed to be implemented. It never happened. Now that he's got his second term as prime minister and things could be different but so far he's shown no indication to honor promises or to lead. Dar Addustour notes that yesterday's big meet-up between political blocs did not go well and the Erbil Agreement was not honored. A source tells Dar Addustour that Iraqiya has reached a decision to pull out of the government in protest. That may or may not be true (the source is unnamed). More curious is the back and forth between State of Law and Iraqiya, specifically members of State of Law speaking to the Arabic press to attack Ayad Allawi. Alsumaria TV also notes the failed meet-up, "Iraqiya List headed by Iyad Allawi announced the failure of talks with the State of Law Coalition. Al Iraqiya blamed the failure of talks on the State of Law and affirmed that it will convene today to announce its final stand." Al Rafidayn also reports that Allawi will be announcing that Iraqiya is withdrawing from the government and has a source who states State of Law refused to budge despite pressure from the other blocs.
Yesterday, Iraqi vice president (one of three) Adel Abdul-Mahdi tendered his resignation. Most of the press (especially US) danced around the topic of Jalal Talabani, President of Iraq, accepting it. Dar Addustour at least notes that Talabani is out of the country. AFP tells you what so many won't: "Hakim said Mahdi's resignation would not be official until it was offered directly to Talabani, who is currently in the United States receiving medical treatment." For years now, we've told you about Talabani's visit to the Mayo Clinic -- and about the collapse he had in the local bookstore shortly after leaving treatment one visit. I have no idea if the press is ignorant or just being dishonest. Ponder the choices as you read the US coverage.

And why did Adel Abdul-Mehdi resign? Ned Parker and Salar Jaff (Los Angeles Times ) report:

Vice President Adel Abdul Mehdi's decision was meant to set an example for the rest of the government, which has been bloated with state ministries and the expansion this year of the vice presidency from two to three positions, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq said.
"I hope this will start a push to slim down the government," party chief Ammar Hakim said on the group's website. The party described the move as "a reaction to the popular will."
The government had not yet formally accepted his decision as of late Monday.

Adel Abdul-Mehdi was the Shi'ite vice president in Nouri's first term as prime minister as Tareq al-Hashemi who also continues a second term as vice president. al-Hashemi is Sunni, Adel Abdul Mehdi is Shi'ite. Iraq added a third vice president this year, Shi'ite Khudayr al-Khuzaie. Though Abdul-Mehdi's term had expired, President Jalal Talabani asked him to hang on until after new vice presidents could be voted in. He said he would and told the press that, after that, he was done, he did not want a second term. Despite that assertion, he took a second term. Not only that but, earlier this month, Aswat al-Iraq reported, "The President of the Republic, Jalal Talabani, has issued a Presidential Decree, naming Adel Abdul-Mahdi, as 1st Vice-President." That declaration took some by surprise and they saw it as an effort to give Abdul-Mehdi more power. He certainly didn't object to it publicly. Nor did he object to the size of the Cabinet. Nouri inflated the size in an attempt to create positions for all the people he'd promised posts if they'd support him in his bid to continue as prime minister.

Granted, Nouri still hasn't named a Minister of Defense, a Minister of National Security or a Minister of the Interior; however, the increase in the size of his Cabinet (deputy ministers and all) was well known before January.

If indeed that's Adel Abdul-Mahdi's objection, it's a new objection or one he's not given much weight to until now. Alsumaria TV paints a different picture of Abdul-Mahdi's displeasure which includes, "The source stated that one of the major reasons for Abdul Mehdi's resignation is the fact that Vice Presidents' issue was included in the present political crisis and due to people's denunciation and religious authority's dissatisfaction over Parliament's vote on three Vice Presidents." Aswat al-Iraq offers Supreme Islamic Council's Jumaa al-Atwany offering the following:

Atwani said that "the struggle for narrow-party interests, on the expense of the supreme national interests, under the current situation passing on Iraq and the Region, and non-sincerity in the activity, all those reasons, as well as the appreciation of the supreme national interest had made Abdul-Mahdi to prefer to withdraw from his post as Vice-President."
"There is an important nucleus point for the resignation, being that the voting by the Parliament on the three Vice-Presidents had taken place in one consignment, that was agreed upon outside the Parliament," he said.
"After the entrance to the Parliament hall and the completion of the attendance by its members, the voting began, and the Legislatures of the Supreme Islamic Council rejected it, along with the refusal of the (Shiite) Religious Authority in Najaf of the voting in 'one basket,' he said, adding that all those reasons have made Abdul-Mahdi withdraw from his post.

Wildest rumor out of Iraq on this topic right now? Abdul-Mahdi, anticipating a vote of no-confidence for Nouri in the next weeks (over the corruption and services issues), is positioning himself to vie for the post of prime minister. Though it's unlikely, it is true that Abdul-Mahdi hoped to be prime minister in 2006 and again in 2010. (And he has many supporters.)
Yesterday, there was an assassination attempt on Nineveh Province Governor Atheel al-Nujaifi. New Sabah reports that while al-Nujaifi was not injured in the attack on him, Ministry of Defense nominee Khalid al-Obeidi was in a Sunday attack. Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) explains, "Khalid al-Obaidi was heading home when the blast struck. He was transferred immediately to an area hospital and is in stable condition." al-Nujaifi had been on his way to Baghdad. He and al-Obeidi both belong to the Iraqiya slate and Ayad Allawi (Iraqiya leader) is calling for an investigation into the attacks. al-Nujaifi is the brother of Osama al-Nujaifi who is the Speaker of Parliament.
Violence continued today. Reuters notes a Kirkuk roadside bombing claimed 2 lives and a Mosul armed clash resulted in three by-standers being injured.
Meanwhile, at CNN, Gregg Keeslin contributes a column on a very important issue:

Two years ago, my son, Army Spc. Chancellor Keesling, died by suicide in Iraq. He was 25 and on his second deployment.
Shortly after his death, my wife, Jannett, and I learned of a long-standing policy in which presidential letters of condolence are withheld from families of American service members who die by suicide.
We wrote to President Barack Obama on August 3, 2009, asking him to reverse this policy, and since then we have tried to keep up a steady drumbeat for change. There has been a fair amount of media attention, including from CNN, and recently U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, co-chair of the Senate Military Family Caucus, and a bipartisan group of Senate colleagues sent a letter to the president on behalf of this issue, echoing a bipartisan request from House members.
We learned in late 2009 that the White House would be reviewing the policy, when then-White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told then-CNN reporter Elaine Quijano that the White House had inherited this policy and was reviewing it. Yet as of this writing, we and the hundreds of other families whose children have died by suicide while at war wait for a result.
I wonder: What is the White House reviewing and why it is taking so long?
An action by the president would send a powerful message throughout the military ranks to take mental health issues more seriously. Suicide among those who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan has become an epidemic. Last year a Pentagon report found that every 36 hours, a soldier commits suicide.

While Keesling wonders why the White House won't pay the proper respects to those who have lost a loved one in the service to suicide, Iraq War veteran Miguel Valenzuela wonders what the government's problem with his mother is? Will Ripley (9news.com -- link has text and video) reports that Miquel's mother, Celia Novak, was forcibly deported to Juarez after living in the US for 25 years, with legal residency, and working as a registered nurse. Ripley notes, "Novak's family has hired an immigration lawyer, but her appeal could take months or even years. The Denver Post reports there are 7,200 pending immigration cases in Denver, with an average wait of 501 days for a hearing. Her lawyer is hoping to take the case to federal court." We'll note that Barack has set a record on deportations and has far outdone Bully Boy Bush on this issue and we'll also wonder what US Senators Mark Udall and Micahel Bennet are doing to help this military family?
Yesterday Kat: published three reviews: "Kat's Korner: Give 'em the keys" on Death Cab for Cutie, "Kat's Korner: It was nothing, he insisted loudly" on Ben Harper and "Kat's Korner: The Master of the Teen Drama" on Phil Spector. In addition, Mike posted "Memorial Day" at his site.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Three flicks on the weekend

"Stan, tell us what you really think!:D" e-mailed Joe about last night's post. I know I let it rip. But the idea that someone who is not Black is going to try to speak for the Black community and that this non-Black person is then going to attack two Black men who are strong voices on our behalf?

Uh-huh. Shut up Melissa Parry Lacewell Harris Lieface. We don't need you. I get it. You hate your White mommy. I get it, you hate a Black man you can't push around. I get that everything you do is based on your childhood dynamics.

I wish you lots of luck exploring them with a therapist, probably in a year or two when your latest marriage falls apart.

You should really explore your claim that Barack's marriage to Michelle makes him "Black" in light of the fact that you also are mixed and have chosen to marry a Black man. You should explore that in great detail.

Because, Melissa, you are one SICK, TWISTED F**K.

But what you need to do right now is stop speaking for the Black community.

You are NOT the Black community and you are NOT part of it.

You are mixed. You are bi-racial.

You can go speak for your community. I urge to do so. But you cannot speak for my community.

And what pisses me off about that media whore is that she repeatedly and constantly tries to silence conversations within the Black community by attacking a Black person and insisting that she can do so because she's Black.

She is not Black.

She is 50% Black (actually less than that according to her remarks). She is 50% White.

She needs to shut her damn mouth about what the Black community needs to do. She is not of us, she will never be of us.

Okay, that's politics. Let me go to the movies.


Reese e-mailed Monday with something and I told him I'd write about it on our movie night. He just joined Netflix and did so with the subscription that lets you check out one DVD and stream as much as you want (of what is streamable).

He found that a lot of the films he wanted to stream weren't available. That's true of not just most new releases but most films period. We've written of this at Third and I've written of it here. But, to give an example, of Bette Davis' classic films, you can stream "Of Human Bondage" and "All About Eve." Her classics from the forties -- "Now Voyager," "Dark Victory," etc. -- are not available. Now her 40s films really are the foundation for her fame (deserved fame). You get two of her classic performances, but you're missing the body of her work. So that should give you an idea of what's available and what's not.

While important films aren't available, a lot of unnecessary films are. Reese feels that way and I agree. But it's also true that there are some films worth seeing in that lot. They may not be great (they may be) but they will entertain you.

To test that out, I chose three films I'd never heard of to stream this week with no big stars that I enjoy.

"Unmasking the Idol" is a super hero, super spy movie (with a baboon as a sidekick -- I'm not making that up) from 1986 (and apparently from England) that was rated PG so it made it to some theaters. It was the worst. It was so bad I wanted to stop it repeatedly. 30 minutes in, the thing begged to be destroyed. A waste of time.

"Contract Killers" was from 2008 and rated R. It starred people I didn't know and a director I never heard of. It's an action-adventure. I wasn't expecting a great deal. It was a standard story. CIA agent (female) is having dinner with her loved one when he's killed and she's declared the killer. She has to go on the run and the CIA burns her and tries to kill her. It's a standard story, I know. But the acting was fresh and the visuals and twists were interesting enough to keep the story movie. I actually would give that film four (out of five) stars.

"Scandalous" is from 1984 and rated PG. It stars Robert Hays (who I like in films like Airplane) and Pamela Stephenson (British comedian I didn't know but she was briefly on SNL years ago) and was directed by Rob Cohen (XXX, Fast and the Furious). Hays is a reporter (for Canada) and Stephenson is a con woman. Murder takes place and assorted hijinx follow. A lot of the film was truly unexpected and it made for a strong comedy.

Now if "Confidence Man" -- for example -- was streamable, I would have been streaming that. (I love that movie for Jodie, Denzel, Clive and just about everything.) And if 20 other films were streamable, I'd have never watched those three.

In the case of "Unmasking the Idol" that might have been a good thing. (Although maybe not, that film is awful and I've entertained friends at work all week with tales of various scenes.) But I did like the other two and am glad I saw them.

If Reese wants to drop Netflix, he should. Money's tight for everybody these days. But if the problem is that you're not getting what you want, you might need to figure out what you want?

I like seeing movies I wouldn't normally and that's what the stream choices force me to do.

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

Friday, May 27, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, Memorial Day leads an outlet to hop a high horse (a high horse that maybe needs to be shot), Bradley Manning is back in the news, protests take place in Baghdad, the canonization of Ali al-Lami continues, and more.
Today Michele Martin hops a high horse at NPR -- Memorial Day must be approaching. Although she writes of "two wars our nation is fighting right now," she herself has trouble mentioning the Iraq War and it doesn't pop up until a quote from Capt Vernice Armour and then again from journalist Brian Palmer. It takes nine paragraphs before Martin can mention the Iraq War herself -- typical NPR nonsense of late. (Writes? Audio won't be available until Memorial Day -- her written column is up now.) NPR can't find Iraq and hasn't been able to in some time. The Diane Rehm Show used to carve out seven or so minutes each Friday, during the second hour of the program, for the topic. Not anymore. Not since January, in fact. The Iraq War ended -- at least Diane Rehm's interest in it did. What is Kelly McEvers? Why she's NPR's Baghdad bureau chief. And NPR's moved her to where? Syria. Syria. Where US troops aren't on the ground. Syria. And you wonder why you get no reports on Iraq these days from your NPR station -- your NPR station that just got done using Iraq in its fundraiser, insisting during its pledge drive that it provided coverage of Iraq, coverage you couldn't get elsehwere. Apparently they meant on their blog The Two-Way? (Click here.)
Memorial Day is Monday, a day when the sacrifices of those in uniform are supposed to be acknowledged but NPR can't even make time to acknowledge an ongoing war. 'Oh, but it's so hard, after 8 years, to find a new way to talk about it.' That whine -- and I'm burning a bridge here -- came from a friend with Diane Rehm's show. I note that today that they had time to discuss Israel and Palestine. That conversation predates The Diane Rehm Show -- and since no one's really serious about solving the issue, it will likely still be discussed constantly on NPR (constantly, if unfairly) long after Diane Rehm and I am both dead and gone. It's not that they can't find new ways to discuss it, it's that the war doesn't get enough press attention for Diane and her gaggle of gas bags to breeze through a quick brush up to get informed on the topic in less than ten minutes. (That is what they do. Select the topics and all go online before they go to live to find their talking points. Woops, am I spilling trade secrets?) NPR's Michele Martin might not be standing on quick sand if her peers did their job. Instead, Michele's hopped a high horse with a lame leg and it's not going anywhere.
Memorial Day will come again this year, the US will still have troops stationed on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq, troops still in combat -- despite the lies of the White House as evidenced by the continued attacks on US troops in Iraq and the continued deaths. May 30, 2010 -- the day before Memorial Day -- the US military death toll in Iraq stood at 4400. Last night the count stood at 4457. That's 57 deaths that really haven't registered. That's [PDF format warning] 36 deaths, according to the Defense Dept, since the 'end' of combat operations announced by Barack Obama on August 31, 2010. Michele Martin's not aware of those facts. She's not aware of a lot. She should be aware that her own NPR program -- Tell Me More -- can't find Iraq. That war that takes her nine paragraphs to mention herself doesn't show up on her show. That would be the same show that 'informs' us of such important and life shattering stories as "O Magazine Staff Excited About Oprah Winfrey's Future," "O Magazine To Evolve, Collaborate With Oprah Winfrey Network" and "The Ups, Downs Between Iyania Vanzant And Oprah Winfrey" -- all of those 'reports' aired on Tell Me More's Wednesday broadcast. We'll be kind and call those "advertorials" -- they certainly weren't reporting. Prior to that 'reporting,' this week saw Suze Orman singing Oprah's praises for six of Tell me More's minutes while Dr. Phil was given over 12 minutes by the program to sing Oprah's praises.
I'm sorry, what war did Oprah die in? Battle of the Bulge? Charge of the TVQs? Memorial Day is one day in the year. And Michele Martin thought she could get on high horse for that. After a week of wasting her time and listners time over a faded TV personality (check the ratings, check O's circulation) packing it in before the ratings dropped further. Oprah's departure to cable was treated as more important than the country's ongoing wars and something requiring daily coverage and updates. Michele Martin and NPR owe the listeners a huge apology.
Lance Cpl Tim Horton: I have worked hard to ensure my injuries and other people's perceptions of them do not define my way of life or limit what I am able to accomplish. Receiving timely and quality prosthetics care is instrumental to maintaining my activity level. The quality of care I have received through the Oklahoma City VA Medical Center is outstanding. VA contracts with a number of prosthetic specialists who are familiar with cutting edge prosthetic technology and are able to outfit me with the devices I need to maintain a high level of physical activity. Most importantly, my prosthetics provider has really taken the time to understand who I am as a whole person -- not just a wounded warrior -- and how that shapes my medical needs. So while the quality of care I am receiving is very good, the process of going through the VA to receive those benefits takes far too long. When I need adjustments or replacement equipment, I must schedule an appointment with the medical center to be seen by a member of tehir prosthetics team who will then write the prescription to the provider, further delaying my ability to get an appointment and ultimately receive the adjustments or equipment I need. Why is this the case? I know other veterans who live in close proximity to Walter Reed who are able to walk in and out with the services and equipment they need within the same day, all without ever needing to go through their local VA. It would make sense to me if I were able to see my prosethetics specialist first, who could then communicate with VA about what I need and get the authorization, eliminating the wait time for an appointment. While waiting weeks for an appointment might seem like a minor inconvenicence, for a warrior like myself, spending weeks without the necessary prostehtics equipment, or sometimes even worse equipment that causes extreme discomfort and other medical issues, can be sholly disruptive to our daily lives. The timeliness and consistency of care should not be a function of where warriors happen to live. The most important thing I have learned in navigating my own transition and helping my peers through their own journey is that you must act as your own advocate. There are so many programs and benefits available to assist us, yet often we are never informed of these programs or the information is delivered in a time and place that is not conducive for wounded warriors to absorb it. We receive so much information at the time when we are newly injured. When I was brought to Behtesda, I was completely reliant on my mother as my caregiver. It took me two and a half months to regain the ability to feed myself. My sole focus was on my physical recovery. It was impossible for me to take in the vast amount of information coming at me during that time, I understand that since I have been injured the Federal Recovery Coordination Program has been put into place for severely wounded warriors to assist with this challenge. This is not a program I benefited from, nor did I know of its existence before preparing for my testimony here today. What I do know is that warriors need real help in discovering what benefits exist and how to utilize them so that they can thrive in their lives post-injury. Other veterans are out there spreading the word, but no one from VA is reaching out. That needs to change. I have spent the last several years sharing the knowledge I've gained through my own recovery and plan to continue that work as an outreach worker with the Wounded Warrior Project, but there must be a more systematic VA effort. My hope is that -- by coming before you today and testifying to some of my issues in navigating through the system -- things will continue to improve for the warriors coming behind me.
Iraq War veteran Tim Horton was testifying before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing Wednesday. We noted the hearing yesterday and are doing so today. Horton spoke of the assistance he received not from DoD or VA employees, but from Vietnam veterans who helped him navigate the system. This despite the fact that the US government pays for federal care coordinators, as Ava addressed in "Scott Brown, John Kerry, veterans clearing house" last night at Trina's site. As Ava reported, Senators Bernie Sanders and Johnny Isakson were among those wondering why there wasn't a national hotline, a clearing house, for wounded veterans to call and get help with their care?
May 7, 2008 -- over three years ago -- the VA issued a press release annoucing that their "new Federal Recovery Coordinator Program office is actively at work with dozens of severely injured patients acround the country" -- quoting then VA Secretary James Peake.
The release continued: "In coordination with the Department of Defense and the Department of Health and Human Services, the joint Federal Recovery Coordinator Program is designed to cut across bureaucratic lines and reach into the private sector as necessary to identify services needed for seriously wounded and ill service members, veterans and their families. A key recommendation of a presidential commission chaired by former Sen. Bob Dole and former Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala, the recovery coordinators do not directly provide care, but coordinates federal health care teams and private community resources to achieve the personal and professional goals of an indvidiualized 'life map' or recovery plan developed with the service members or veterans who qualify for the federal recovery coordinator program."
Yet neither Tim Horton nor Afghanistan War veteran Steven Bohn were provided with federal care coordinator. Ranking Member Richard Burr asked, "Steve, were you ever offered a federal care coordinator?" Bohn replied, "Negative. Me and my family -- I've never even heard of that unitl a couple of days ago." In last night's "Senate Veterans Affairs Committee," Kat reported on Burr's statements regarding DoD's refusal to submit their prepared (written) remarks in a timely manner. In his opening remarks, Burr wondered, "How much is enough time to prepare testimony before this committee?" He noted DoD was informed of this hearing on May 11th, yet 24 hours prior to the hearing, DoD still hadn't submitted -- as required -- their prepared remarks. There seems to be a great deal of problems with providing information. Maybe one answer is to, let's just take the federal care coordinators, for the federal government to post how many there are and how many veterans are utilizing them? In last night's "Senate Veterans Affairs Committee (Wally)," Wally gathers several strands from the hearing to make a strong case that the VA, DoD, etc are very happy to announce programs and get patted on the back but to actually provide these services to the veterans who need them seems to be another story. If, for example, the federal care coordinator program was required to be publicly posted -- how many are there, how many veterans are utilizing them, etc. -- maybe there would be more of a push by department heads to ensure that these programs are utilized? But this information, like so much other information, is difficult even for the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee to get. (VA estimates that they have assisted 1,300 veterans since the program started in 2008 and that there are around 660 veterans currently being assisted by their 22 federal care coordiantors.)
As Kat noted, Burr asked the DoD witness George Taylor (Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense) why his prepared remarks were not submitted to the Committee on time (prepared remarks are supposed to be submitted to the Committee or Subcomittee 48 hours in advance) and Taylor said he'd have to follow up on that. As Senator Bernie Sanders observed, "I think the pity is we spend a fortune and sometimes at the end of the road the care is excellent if people can get to it. And yet I suspect that there are thousands of young men and women who've returned to who don't even know what they're entitled to, what is available to them, how to access it." Again, Sanders went on to recommend that a 24-hour hotline be created for wounded veterans to call and speak to someone who could tell them of the services that are available. From the hearing:
Senator Johnny Isakson: It's my understanding, I know we've got well over 100,000 people deployed in the Middle East right now and we have 22 federal coordinators -- federal care coordinators, is that right? [Lorraine nods] That's 22 coordinators and we've got people coming home every day with the same needs that Tim and Steve have talked about.
Moving to the second panel, VA and DoD staff, the Committee was told that DoD has "approximately 150" federal care coordinators. Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Committee and she asked if there were enough federal care coordinators and the reply was that they've just hired more and "there are 28 in class today". When the Chair asked specifically, "Do we have more soldiers coming home than the infrastructure is prepared for?," DoD replied that they believed the infrastructure was in place. The VA's Deborah Amdur would state she was "extremely disturbed" to hear Horton and Bohn's testimony; however, she offered no apology to either. (Senator Burr made a point to apologize to Bohn for the treatment he experienced, noting that someone should have apologized on behalf to Bohn a long time ago.)
Committee Chair Patty Murray: I want to turn to an issue that I am deeply concerned about and that is the issue of suicide. The number of service members and new veterans we have lost to suicide is now on par with the number of those who've been killed in combat. That should be disturbing to everyone in this room. Last week, at this hearing, we talked about the very high rate of suicides among those participating in the Joint Disability Evaluation process. Those service members are actually under constant supervision of the Department and that occurred. We do know that there is progress being made in suicide prevention and mental health treatement. Dr. Kemp, your program has been outstanding, I've heard a lot of good reviews about that. But there is a lot of work that remains to be done. And I want to ask this Committee what do we need to do to address this problem?
Dr. Janet Kemp: Yeah. Uh, first Chairman Murray, I want to say the numbers are appalling. And we know that and recognize that and no one who serves their country and comes back alive should die by suicide ever. Uhm, and I think that we, uhm, have worked very hard in the past two years to put programs into place One of the things you mentioned earlier was the crisis line which we have opened up now to service members and families and friends of service members and continue to get calls from that population. But we need to continue to communicate its availability, we need to make sure that people know that there is someone there 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We need to work more closely with our DoD partners and we are in the process of doing this, to be able to communicate to our suicide prevention coordinators in the VA, sooner and earlier that someone may be released and someone needs services and we need to start that care ahead of time. We also need to do more work, and this is also in progress, in the area of training all providers and the people who do these disability examines to do screenings, to ask the right questions -- that just because someone's being evaluated for physical injury, we have to ask the emotional --
Committee Chair Patty Murray: How long will that take to train all the providers?
Dr. Janet Kemp: We've started the process with the providers who do the examines in the VA and we will start the process --
Committee Chair Patty Murray: At every facility across the country?
Dr. Janet Kemp: Yes. Yes. And we've also started training all of our primary care providers across the country to really work with emotional issues as well as regular mental issues. I anticipate that this is something we can do rather quickly and I will make a promise to you to, uhm, move that process along.
Committee Chair Patty Murray: Okay, we'll be following that and I want to know when those people have been trained.
Dr. Janet Kemp: Exactly.
Committee Chair Patty Murray: I -- You know, the data released at the end of April showed that the number of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who are now utilizing VA care for mental health needs is more than half of all Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who are using the VA care. In a way that's a more positive sign that more veterans are willing to come forward and ask for care. But I want to know if the system's adequately equipped now to handle those rising numbers and meet the criteria that we set out?
Antonette Zeiss: We are resourced to provide that care in mental health. Certainly, I can defer to other staff members here for some of the other physical health concerns that are also very much a part of what they bring to us. But, in terms of mental health, in 2004, VA recognized that there were gaps in staffing and services, developed a comprehensive mental health strategic plan, began to implement that in 2005 and, really, with a stronger pace in 2006. Since then, we have increased our staffing for mental health services to over 21,000 -- it's an increase of over 40% percent in our core mental health staff. As we track the number of veterans who are receiving mental health services, those also have increased during that time period but have not increased to the same proportion as the percent of staff that we have added and we think that's the right balance because, as I said, we had gaps when we started. So we've been able to fill gaps for those patients who were seeking VA care and intensive VA care earlier in this decade and to enhance our status in such that we can continue in a proactive way to meet the needs of returning service members who come to us as veterans while sustaining care for those veterans who are with us throughout their lifetimes. We will continue to track that very closely, of course, because we don't know when there may be significant numbers of additional service members returning. We look forward to working with you and keeping pace in terms of the data on are we adequeately resourced to provide care.
This was the second of a two-part hearing. The first-part of this series of hearings was held May 18th and for more on that you can refer to that day's snapshot as well as Ava's "Scott Brown questions DoD's concept of streamlining," Kat's "DoD embarrasses at Senate hearing" and Wally's "VA can't answer a basic service question." In addition, you can stream the hearing at the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee's hearing page or, if you're having problems with that page, you can stream audio of the hearing from this CSpan page. [For the second panel of Wednesday's hearing, I relied on the stream because I left to attend the House Foreign Affairs Committee -- see Wednesday's snapshot and Ava's report "Ron Paul (Ava)" (at Trina's site).] To stay on veterans issues for two more topics. At the airport today, we were talking about this hearing and a veteran approached. He's a Gulf War veteran and he wanted to note a problem with VA care that isn't covered in hearings. It's when a veteran needs care and is not taken to a VA facility. He had collapsed from the heat earlier in the week, an ambulance was called and instead of being taken to the nearest VA, he was taken to a for-profit hospital. He later learned that the VA hospital was just a mile away. He stated he was talking and able to sit up in the ambulance but they insisted that the VA hospital was too late. The care he received at the for-profit hospital was grossly inadequate. He arrived at noon. They gave him liquids three hours later. (Three hours later.) Prior to that he was sitting and waiting. He repeatedly had to provide an inventory of his medical history and any allergies (at the VA his records would have been on file). After he was given fluids, he was ignored for many hours. Finally at ten p.m. he was told he was being discharged. He complained about thirst and hunger (he'd been there since noon) and was told there were snack machines in the lobby. He won't be footing the bill, the VA will pick it up. But he argues (I think rightly) that the service was inadequate and that, at best, the for-profit hospital should be paid for an hour's care. (He suspects the VA will be charged for the entire duration and considers it an example of fraud and waste.) Second, Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chair Patty Murray will be touring the Portland VA Medical Center this coming Tuesday to hear from veterans and review the process at that VA:

(Washington, D.C.) – On Tuesday, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, will tour the Portland VA Medical Center and discuss her priorities as Chair of that critical committee charged with protecting the health care and benefits of our nation's veterans. The tour comes at a critical time for local veterans as more Iraq and Afghanistan veterans enter the VA in the Portland region. During the tour, press will get the opportunity to see the Portland VA's prosthetic and limb loss facility, including a demonstration of that facility's technology. There will also be a demonstration of adaptive vehicles used for disabled veterans and a tour of the women's veterans facility.

Following the tour, Senator Murray will discuss her priorities as Chair of the Veterans Committee including improving employment opportunities, health care coordination, and secure housing opportunities for homeless veterans.

WHO: U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee

WHAT: Tour of Portland VA Medical Center and Press Availability

WHEN: Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

2:00 PM PST

WHERE: Portland VA Medical Center

3710 SW U.S. Veterans Hospital Rd.
Portland, OR

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Matt McAlvanah

Communications Director

U.S. Senator Patty Murray

202-224-2834 - press office

202--224-0228 - direct


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Monday is Memorial Day. There may not be a snapshot that day. It will depend upon the news coming out of Iraq.
Turning to Iraq, where so much of the US press has rushed to canonize Ali al-Lami. Let's drop back to the January 22, 2010 New York Times' editorial "Sunnis and Iraq's Election"
The accountability commission is the successor to the destructive de-Baathification commission that sought to keep anyone with ties to Mr. Hussein out of government. Its chief, Ali Faisal al-Lami, is hardly an impartial judge. He is a candidate on the slate led by the Shiite leader Ahmed Chalabi, a relentlessly ambitious force in Iraqi politics who lured the Bush administration into the 2003 invasion and wants to be prime minister.
Both the accountability and the election commissions are part of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki's government, and he issued a statement supporting their decisions. But American officials say Mr. Chalabi is the main manipulator. Mr. Chalabi's absurd charge that the United States wants to return the Baath Party to power is typical of his divisive and destructive brand of politics.
Ali al-Lami's destructive decisions cannot be taken away or wiped away. They helped create and foster an undemocratic enviornment going into the elections. There is no excuse for what he did, no justification. He was a petty tyrant abusing an office and hurting Iraq in the process. Please note, the New York Times and McClatchy Newspapers are two US outlets who have refused to white wash Ali al-Lami. That's in stark contrast to Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) carefully asserting, "Lami, who lived in Sadr City, was a symbol of the battle against the former Baath Party." In real time (August 28, 2008), AP noted, "The military says the suspect is believed to be behind a June bombing in Baghdad that killed four Americans and six Iraqis, and that he is believed to be a senior leader of "special groups" — Iranian-backed rogue militiamen in Iraq." He was part of the League of Rightous -- admittedly part of it. When the mini-thug was released from the US prison, Rod Nordland and Sam Dagher (New York Times, August 17, 2009) reported, "Mr. Lami said his release was part of a government deal with the League, though he described himself as a 'supporter' of the group rather than a member." The League used their barganing skills to secure the release of their most important assets only. Lami was among the select few whose release they secured. He was more than a supporter. From the February 16, 2010 snapshot, here'sthe then-top US commander in Iraq, Gen Ray Odierno:

al-Lami is a Sadrist by trade. He was arrested after an operation in Sadr City where both Iraqi security forces, U.S. civilians, and U.S. soldiers were leaving a meeting that they had with the local government in Sadr City, and their vehicles were attacked with IEDs as they left the meeting. There were some accusations. We had some intelligence that said that al-Lami was the one who directed these attacks on these individuals. He was released in August of '09 as part of the drawdown of our detention facilities because we did not have the actual prosecutorial evidence in order to bring him in front of a court of law in Iraq. All we had was intelligence that linked him to this attack. So, as we had some others, we had to release him. He has been involved in very nefarious activities in Iraq for some time. It is disappointing that somebody like him was in fact put in charge or has been able to run this commission inside of Iraq, in my opinion.
He is -- him and Chalabi clearly are influenced by Iran. We have direct intelligence that tells us that. They've had several meetings in Iran, meeting with a man named Mohandas, which is an ex-council representative member -- still is a council representative member -- who was on the terrorist watch list for a bombing in Kuwait in the 1980s. They are tied to him. He sits at the right-hand side of the Quds Force commandant, Qassem Soleimani. And we believe they're absolutely involved in influencing the outcome of the election. And it's concerning that they've been able to do that over time.

Ali al-Lami was released as part of a deal that the White House authorized and, yes, oversaw. Ali al-Lami made it clear in his statements to the New York Times why he was being released. The deal was with the League of Righteous and it was supposed to mean that the five British hostages the League had were released. As part of that "special relationship," with England, Barack entered into negotiations with the League of Righteous to figure out what they wanted in order to release the British citizens they had kidnapped. From the June 9, 2009 snapshot:

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

These realities are missing from the bulk of the US coverage. Missing is any violence today in Iraq. Reuters couldn't find any. Really? Aswat al-Iraq reports 2 corpses were discovered outside Mosul and, in Kut, a young boy accidentally shot dead his cousin "while playing with his father's pistol".,
It's Friday, protests are taking place in Baghdad. The Great Iraq Revolution reports, "TAHRIR BAGHDAD - 4 activists were arrested this morning while entering Tahrir - Security forces are using ambulances for arrest wagons!!!" Aswat al-Iraq adds, "They were within a 250 demonstrators criticizing the government for not providing suitable service and the deterioration in living standards, despite the near-end 100-day period given by Premier Nouri Al-Maliki to achieve better services." One protest sign read, "8 Years of Maliki's and the Occupation's Accomplishments -- Should you need to use electricity! Go and buy a Generator!" Following the arrest, Aswat al-Iraq notes that some of the protesters took the protest from the square to the Baghdad Provinncial Council where they staged a sit-in and one protester is quoted stating that "the demonstration will continue in the square, at a time other demonstrators are pouring despite security blockade around the area, unlike early morning precaution where the security forces are limited." Great Iraqi Revolution highlights this essay by Layla Anwar which includes the following:
They hang saints in Iraq, they lynch them at an early age, they penetrate their insides with words...and words become swords, daggers, knives...slashing, beheading, tiny anonymous faces with no names...the slaying of Saints...of little Saints...
She was found thrown away in one of the streets of Baghdad...her name is Rita, like Saint Rita, the Saint who answers your prayers...
She was abandoned in the streets of Baghdad, with her name written on a cardboard, attached to her neck like a dog who was once owned. A three years old dog, puppy, girl, blind...Rita is blind. Totally blind. You bastards, call it in your politically correct jargon - visually impaired - because you are so f[***]ing sensitive arent'you ?!
Well Rita is blind, and she is 3. She is not only blind, she has a severely deformed face, a cleft lip that goes up all the way to her nose...split in the middle, a mirror reflection of how you split us in the middle...in all ways. A small mirror of your own deformities, your soul deformities...
She was feeling her way around, blind, with a cardboard sign around her neck - my name is Rita.
The local police took her to a hospital, the doctors did not know what to do with Rita...the little Saint Rita...she was left in the corridors of a hospital, a hospital that looks and feels like a public toilet, because your whores stole the money, the money for the little Saints...

We really don't have room for the essay but we have to make room because it's important. As a result we'll pick up other things on Tuesday (or possibly Monday, if there's a snapshot that day). New Sabah reports Iraqiya's Ayad Allawi is calling for the issue of US troops staying in Iraq past 2011 to be discussed openly in an emergency and public meeting of Parliament. Allawi announced his call at a news conference and noted that they didn't know if an agreement had already been made with the US by Nouri. Allawi declared the issue needed to be put under the light. Aswat al-Iraq quotes National Alliance MP Fuad Al-Douraki stating that Allawi's call is "unrealistic." Al Mada reports that there is continued pressure on the political blocs to extend the agreement for US troops to remain in Iraq. They also quote Hussain al-Shahristani, Deputy Prime Minister for Energy, stating that there will be no extension and that Iraqi forces are sufficient to maintain the country's security. Dar Addustour reports that the study on the Iraqi military and its capabilities is due to be released shortly.

Lastly the topic of 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 has been at Quantico in Virginia, under military lock and key, for months. In March, David S. Cloud (Los Angeles Times) reported that the military has added 22 additional counts to the charges including one that could be seen as "aiding the enemy" which could result in the death penalty if convicted. David E. Coombs is Bradley's attorney and he provided a walk through on Article 104.
I was asked to note this nonsense from World Can't Wait. I support WCW. I don't support nonsense. They get their link. They also get critiqued.
Bradley Manning is innocent. He is innocent because he has not been found guilty of anything. When a trial does take place -- supposedly a court-martial will take place this summer and a trial in the fall -- the defense will enter a plea. No plea has been entered at present. The defense will not be able to argue he didn't do it but if he did that's okay. They will have to argue one way or the other. He did it or he didn't do it. (They can argue that he did it but argue that what he did was legal.)
The idiots who think they help Bradley have been idiots for some time. In this space, we have screamed and yelled that they needed to stop saying Bradley was guilty. I noted, several times, that in the 70s we didn't say, "Angela Davis did it! Leave her alone!" We argued Angela was innocent. We also didn't jump to a 'she did it' when she had not said she had.
After repeated screaming in this place and elsewhere, the 'supporters' finally grasped that they were hurting Bradley and prejudicing news consumers to believe that he had released materials -- at a time when he has not acknowledged doing that. So they started adding in their 'if he did this' b.s. The link goes to audio that's a joke. There are two speakers who make sense. Only two.
When a speaker says she turned "to my partner" in bed and told him that "We need our Daniel Ellsberg," not only has she given us too much information (we don't need to know your sex habits or possibly sex role play), she's getting at the problem and why she is the problem. Your need for a new Daniel Ellsberg does not trump Bradley Manning's right to have a fair trial. The same woman plans to be a teacher some day and shares that it's her "hope to invoke Bradley Manning" with Daniel Ellsberg some day.
Her hopes don't mean a damn thing. She needs to let go of her comfy life and grasp that Bradley Manning -- whether he pleades innocence or guilt -- is looking at very serious charges.
Kevin Zeese hails Bradley as a hero at one point and then wants to whine that Barack Obama has influenced the case by saying Bradley "broke the law." While Barack has more power and may have sunk any chances of Bradley receiving a fair trial (see Third's "Barack finds a way to cut costs!!!!" for some of our coverage of that in this community), we can object to what others do but we can control what we do. It's really a bit hypocrital for Kat's BFF Kevin Zeese to call out Barack for saying Bradley released materials when Kevin makes the case that Bradley did in every other statement.
The defense of Bradley until or unless he enters a plea of guilty is very basic: Bradley is innocent. He's been held for over a year. The government has not moved quickly. Bradley should be released. He is not a threat to the community. There is no good reason to imprison him prior to trial. The inability to move forward with charges speaks poorly of any potential case or evidence the government has against Bradley. The comments made by Barack Obama prejudice all potential jury pools. Bradley should not only be released, charges against him should be dropped.
It's that basic. Instead, the 'supporters' are now working overtime to portray him as a wounded bird who entered the military. Are we trying to get him placed on suicide watch again? He was a functioning adult. He entered the military. Quit victiimizing, quit infantilizing him, quit proclaiming his guilt while you insist you're trying to help.