Monday, September 12, 2011

Netflix is in trouble

That's a famous episode. Not the most famous. But a famous one. I wasn't born when the 70s show was airing but I've heard and heard about this one.

Why am I writing about it tonight?

Like other Netflix subscribers, at least those e-mailing me, I'm wondering when I drop Netflix.

The failure to announce anything to replace Starz makes me wonder if Netflix has a plan? And currently Starz is how they get the bulk of their new (or newer) content.

And if you doubt the trouble Netflix is now in, watch the video above.
Going out with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Monday, September 12, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, Iraq loses another chair of the Integrity Commission (though the press doesn't seem aware this is now a pattern and reports fail to mention the previous chair or why he left), Anthony Arnove (thankfully) returns to the topic of Iraq but (unthankfully) launches a slur on the peace movement, Moqtada caves again, new details emerge of what took place the day before journalist Hadi al-Mehdi was assassinated last week, and more.
Over the weekend, Rebecca D. Robbins (Harvard Crimson) reflected on campus life at Harvard:
But today, students at Harvard tend to generally exhibit apathy toward the military. This generation is often described as the 9/11 generation, a term that implies that today's young people have been marked for life by the events of that day. But if such a mark exists at Harvard, it does not appear to apply to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, both of which have their origins in the attacks of 9/11.
Since the start of the wars, 4,474 American troops have died in Iraq, and 1,760 in Afghanistan. But discussion of the two wars is nearly non-existent on America's ivy clad campuses. Protest and organized opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is relatively small, and only about 150 Harvard students have served in Iraq or Afghanistan, according to data collected by the Harvard Gazette in 2010. Just three ROTC-commissioned cadets graduated from the College this past May. Nineteen undergraduates were enrolled in the program last year.
It's doubtful any peace movement could take root at Harvard due to the Carr Center where eternal war is always plotted. The Carr Center isn't mentioned in the article. But she does offer a realistic look at life on her campus. As opposed to a smear on the peace movement. Hold on, we're getting to it. First . . .
Anthony Arnove: The evidence is very clear that the US doesn't want to pull out those 46,00 acitve duty troops. They're trying to find ways to keep a number of them, a number that's often thrown around is 10,000. Beyond that, of course, talk of having "advisers," military "trainers" stay behind And then you look at the US military installations which scatter the country. They're not going to walk away from those easily. And on top of that, you have in Baghdad the largest embassy that any government has ever built anywhere in the world and, of course, that is mean to stay there as an institution for the projection of US power and influence and control in Iraq and they're going to find ways to stay involved in that country for many years to come.
Anthony Arnove is a guest on this week's Law and Disorder Radio -- a weekly hour long program that airs Monday mornings on WBAI (except today due to fund raising) and around the country throughout the week and is hosted by attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights). On the first half of this week's show they spoke with Anthony Arnove about the multiple, continued wars. And the above is about all worth quoting, Arnove goes stupid quickly. He makes a charge of racism in the (non-existant) peace movement -- racism against Muslims and Arabs. An anti-Muslim basis, if it existed, wouldn't be racism. Anyone can be a Muslim, regardless of color or ethnicity. It's a religion. But to get even nuttier -- and I wanted to like this interview -- he backs up his charge of racism in the peace movement by insisting that you hear phrases like "take the training wheels off" and that Iraq is "infantalized."
I'm not one to blow my own horn but no other site has repeatedly called out the infantalization of Iraq by the US press and the US government -- not as much as we have, not as regularly as we have. I'm glad to know we've made the term and criticism popular enough that Anthony can now feel comfortable using it, but that's the US press and its the US government. It is not the peace movement. It has never been the peace movement. Anthony seemed to think he backed up his point, he didn't. But he did smear the peace movement or at least segments of it that aren't named Anthony Arnove.
Again, I wanted to like this interview. He asked that we note Haymarket Books 10th anniversary last Friday and we did . I was more than willing to move on. But I'm not moving on to stupid and if Anthony's worried about racism, he might try examing the racism of his co-workers at Socialist Worker (US) who repeatedly rush to scream that every American except them is racist.
And he might also try getting honest. Betty participated in marches against the war and rallies against the war when there was an active peace movement. What so often irritated Betty? She's written of it (and spoken of it at Third). She didn't enjoy the mocking of Jesus or the attacks on Jews. As she said this evening, "You do not win over the Black community doing that. And I don't know what peace rallies Anthony's been at but I've never been at a major one that didn't feature Arab speakers."
And since we're going there, let's go there. Anthony claims he didn't do anything for Barack and blah, blah, blah. I believe we've exhcnaged e-mails on this and I believe Anthony is aware that when you do a celebatory inaugural ball for Barack, you can't claim you stood on the sidelines. (Anthony's claimed that he and Howard Zinn weren't actually particiipating and attempted to get their names off the event. That's nonsense. If you want your name off, you get your name off.) When has Anthony ever acknowledged that? And if he truly wants to build the peace movement in the US and especially bring in African-Americans, it seems like an issue he needs to have the guts to tackle. Again, I didn't plan to do anything other than offer an excerpt (until I heard it). My thoughts were, "Oh, good, Anthony's finally going to get serious about the Iraq War again. We need him, that's good." Instead, he offers a slur against the peace movement and 'backs it up' by referencing insulting statements the US press and US government has made.
Betty will be addressing the interview tonight at her site (she'll be addressing topics I'm not here) and Elaine's on the phone to Ava as I dictate this saying the interview's "crap" and she's calling it out at her site (I know it will be worth reading, I have no idea what it will cover). I was not planning to call out Anthony. I was going to leave so many things in the past -- things I haven't even gone into here -- but that was provided Anthony didn't use revisionary history. The second segment is Michael Ratner and Michael Smith discussing the Guantanamo Syndrome and it's a must listen and follows with a montage of past interviews on the US government's war on dissent. I'll be kind and again note Haymarket Books 10th Anniversary at the end of the month. They've published many strong books (including ones by Anthony and Anthony sits on the board of directors of the publishing house):
Haymarket Books 10th Anniversary Celebration
Friday, September 30, 2011
Galapagos Art Space
Brooklyn, NY

Haymarket Books is ushering in its tenth year of independent publishing with an evening of drinks, music, and politics at Galapagos Art Space in Brooklyn on Friday, September 30.

We hope you will join us as we celebrate our first decade and lay the foundation for our next decade.

We will be joined by authors Dave Zirin, Chris Lehmann, Frances Fox Piven, Brian Jones, Moustafa Bayoumi, Michael Schwartz, Jose Vazquez, Jeremy Scahill, and Amy Goodman. We will also have special greetings from Arundhati Roy, Omar Barghouti, John Carlos, China Mieville, Mike Davis, Ilan Pappé, Aviva Chomsky, David Barsamian, Wallace Shawn, and other Haymarket writers.

Doors will open at 7 pm and the event will begin at 8 pm.

Tickets are available now


Buy tickets
Susan Glasser (Foreign Policy) isn't a peace activist or ever involved, as far as I know, in the peace movement. But she gets to points Anthony should have in her latest column. She notes the silence on the wars in this country, how the GOP debate found Ron Paul decrying them and Jon Huntsman calling for a withdrawal from Afghanistan but the so-called front runners remaining silent despite the fact that the audience present supported the end of the wars as indicated by applause. And she notes the Democrats silence on the issue as well. We'll note this on Iraq:
In Iraq, a similar calculus seems to be taking effect; Obama, the New York Times reported a few days ago, is now prepared to allow just 3,000 or 4,000 troops to remain after the end of this year, down from the approximately 50,000 still there now -- and far below the 10,000 said to be under consideration until recently.
At the same time that silence reigns over these two long-running conflicts, America's foreign policy elite is falling in love all over again with a new model of war, one that supposedly beckons with modest investment, no boots on the ground, and a convenient narrative of freedom toppling dictatorship. Yes, I'm talking about Libya.

Reuters reports today that NATO will keep a small force (possibly the 130 currently in the country) in Iraq through 2013. Meanwhile Mackenzie Weinger (POLITICO) reports US Senator Lindsey Graham is calling out the proposal (one of several options) to keep 3,000 US troops in Iraq beyond 2011. Graham's objection is based on his belief that 3,000 is too small a number. While this is one proposal, it's one that's received -- with the help of the administration -- a lot of attention. Over the weekend, the Brookings Institute's Kenneth M. Pollack had a Wall St. Journal column in which he noted the option and expressed his belief that real training could easily be done by the Iraqi government hiring contractors and that 3,000 is a number that could leave the US troops in Iraq at risk because he finds it inadequate. Possibly Nouri al-Maliki was supposed to find it inadequate as well? And that's why the 3,000 option was leaked to begin with?
The White House leaked the option and kept it alive all last week -- even Gen Ray Odierno was commenting on it (thereby giving it further credibility) as the work week wound down. Leon Panetta, US Secretary of Defense, was said to favor the option and Panetta was in the news in a manner he hasn't been since last summer.
From the July 11th. snapshot:

Al Jazeera's Rawya Rageh Tweeted today:
RawyaRageh Rawya Rageh

Dar Addustour noted US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta arrived in Iraq Sunday on an unannounced visit. David S. Cloud (Los Angeles Times) adds Panetta made remarks emphasizing his belief that Iranian elements are supplying weapons being used against US soldiers in Iraq: "U.S. officials said 15 U.S. troops were killed in June, the most in any month in two years. More than half of the deaths were caused by rockets, known as improvised rocket-assisted mortars, that U.S. officials say are provided to Shiite Muslim militant groups by Iran." Craig Whitlock and Ed O'Keefe (Washington Post) report, "Unlike some senior Obama administration officials, who have made clear that they would like the Iraqi government to invite thousands of U.S. troops to stay in the country, Panetta demurred when asked if he favored the idea but said he would press Iraqi leaders to make up their minds."
jane arraf
janearraf jane arraf
Adam Entous (Wall St. Journal) states the "Dammit" quote was "delivered . . . to the Iraqi government".

Panetta felt they were taking too long in July. Since July, all that's happened is that Nouri's announced (August 2nd) that the Iraqi government (he) was entering negotiations with the US government about keeping US troops in Iraq beyond 2011. If Panetta (and the White House) felt that Nouri was still foot dragging, what would he do? Especially when Josh Rogin (Foreign Policy) interviewed Iraq's Ambassador to the US August 25th and Samir Sumaida'ie declared, "The principle that there will be some military presence to help train Iraqi military and police has been largely agreed upon. You'll see it when you see it. Americans want everything now or yesterday. We don't do it like this. We do it on our own sweet time."

"Damn it, make a decision!" Panetta insisted in July.
Nouri thinking if he doesn't make a move he might get 3,000 US soldiers when he wants more might be enough to force Iraq's hand. Patrick Cockburn (Independent) offers, "Favouring the retention of some US troops is the mistrust between the three major Iraqi communities leading them often to fear and suspect each other more than they do the US, Iran or Turkey. Sectarian and ethnic divisions, always deep, became unbridgeable after the mass killing of 180,000 Kurds by Arabs in 1988-1989 and the civil war between Shias and Sunnis in 2006-2007."
In related news, the Ventura County Star editorial board needs more time. The Iraq War hits the 9th year anniversary in March but the Ventura County Star editorial board isn't sure yet where they stand. Could they get a make up test? They are sure that if US troops stay in Iraq, US President Barack Obama will not have broken his promise, he will just have "bent" it. Is it funny? Do they think it's funny? "If it bends, it's funny, If it breaks, it's not funny," Alan Alda says in Crimes and Misdemeanors. You know what's funny? An editorial board that all these years later isn't sure where they stand on withdrawal. By contrast, the editorial board of the Toledo Blade picks a side, they're for withdrawal and explain why here. Justin Elliot (Salon) makes the point the Ventura County Star refuses to, "But largely missing from the discussion is the fact that if Obama leaves any troops in Iraq, he will be violating one of the first major promises of his presidency." Erik Slavin (Stars and Stripes) reports, "As U.S. and Iraqi officials negotiate a new security agreement to allow U.S. troops to remain in an advisory and training capacity, many senior U.S. military officers in Anbar province and elsewhere say the Iraqis are ready to take over security without the United States, despite persistent problems with sectarianism and due process."
Hey, remember April 9th? Moqtada al-Sadr's "tens of thousands" protest in Baghdad (where he's supposed to have over 2 million followers) and how he was threatening to bring back the Medhi militia to attack US forces? And remember July:
That is actually probably the biggest news of the week in Iraq, Al Mada reported Moqtada al-Sadr posted a statement to his website announcing that he will not be reactivating the Mahdi militia even should the US extend its occupation beyond 2011. Why?
Well he calls it "growing evil within the ranks." Apparently, there's a cancer on his thuggery. He claims, in his statement, "grief, pain and sorrow" over the current make up of the Mahdi and people claiming to be in. Goodness, if you left Iraq in 2007 and the Mehdi continued without you, if you set up house in Iran all that time and the Medhi lived without you, you ever think maybe that they could get along just fine without your 'leadership'?

Saturday Al Mada reported Moqtada al-Sadr has declared a halt to all military operations against US forces. They quote Moqtada's spokesperson stating that if the US does not withdraw by the end of 2011, the attacks will resume. Moqtada's threats are always future tense, aren't they? KUNA also noted the news: "In a statement, Al-Sadr said out of keenness on stability of Iraq coupled with withdrawal of the American forces "I am obliged to halt military operations of the Iraqi resistance until completion of withdrawal." But Al-Sadr warned the US forces against failing to pull out." Michael S. Schmidt and Zaid Thaker (New York Times) added, "It could not be independently confirmed that the statement was from Mr. Sadr." So many on the faux left have sat on their pampered asses thinking 'blessed' Moqtada would save them. No need for them to call for an end to the illegal war, especially with St. Barack in the White House, let Moqtada do all the heavy lifting.

But Moqtada al-Sadr is as big a fake as they are. He never follows through on his threats and they continue to act as though, somehow, some way, one day, he's going to have a spine. (Well look at who they vote for in the US.)

But Moqtada has announced a non-violent action. Al Rafidayn reports that Iraq's very own Evita Peron will be staging a pro-Nouri al-Maliki love fest in Baghdad this Friday. Moqtada al-Sadr may or may not attend the protest -- no doubt it's dependent upon whether or not he can fine a stylish mumu to show off that girlish figure. Why Friday? Because the Youth Activists already have a Baghdad protest planned and Moqtada knows a lot of journalists will wrongly give him credit for every body in Baghdad. One of the organizers of the real protests in Iraq, the Great Iraqi Revolution, notes today, "The Sadr Movement calls on its supporters to go out in a demonstration this coming Friday in support of the government and in appreciation of its achievements!! This comes as in a sequence of events where the movement had helped the government to withstand the pressure of Feb. 25 protests and again on Sep. 9 when they decided to postpone the movement's participation in the demonstration in an attempt to undermine it" It would be really helpful if 'informed' voices in the US stopped crediting the Youth Movement's actions and accomplishments wrongly to the Sadr bloc. (See this entry from Saturday on Stephen Walt giving credit for the Friday Baghdad protest to Moqtada and company.)
Moqtada drums up support for Nouri, Alsumaria TV notes: "Iraq's Sadr Front was due to stage a demonstration against Iraq's bad services few days ago. The rally however was delayed at the last minute. The party on the other hand called for a new demonstration to support and thank Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki's government for taking Sadrist demands into consideration. Sadrists' new stand surprised Al Iraqiya List which considered it as a shift that would benefit the government but would not satisfy the Iraqi people. This development wasn't the only change in Sadr Fronts positions lately. The party declared, one day earlier, the suspension of attacks against US troops." That rally was supposed to be against Nouri but how can First Lady Moqtada ever stand against the prime minister?
Iraqi is currently (or yet again) in a political stalemate. Political Stalemate I in Iraq was the eight month period after the March 7, 2010 elections when nothing was accomplished, Nouri al-Maliki (whose slate, State of Law, came in second) refused to step down as prime minister (a caretaking government should have been put in place by the UN by March of 2010, the terms had expired for Parliament and for the prime minister, the US government opposed Nouri being replaced because he had promised to keep US troops in Iraq beyond 2011). (Some US elements supported Allawi. The White House, most vocally Samantha Power, supported Nouri.) Political Stalemate I ended in November of 2010 with the Erbil Agreement hammered out in Erbil between the major political blocs (and the US) whereby every one was supposed to make concessions. The Kurds would get to keep Jalal Talabani as president. They thought they would get three vice presidents. Iraqiya won the elections in March 2010 and the political bloc was headed by Ayad Allawi. Nouri wasn't stepping down and the White House was backing Nouri. For Nouri to remain prime minister, Allawi was promised he would head a new, independent council over security issues. He was also promised that the Iraqiya candidates demonized as Ba'athists and forced out of the 2010 elections by Nouri's friends would have their names cleared.

On November 11th, the new Parliament held their first real session. They voted Osama al-Nujaifi Speaker of Parliament (he was from Iraqiya and that was part of the Erbil Agreement), Jalal was named president and Nouri was named prime minister designate (but we were all informed in the following days that this was 'unofficial' -- once named prime minister-designate, you have 30 days, per the Constitution, to put together a Cabinet and get the Parliament to sign off on each member). But what of the security council? What of clearing the names of the falsely accused?

That would come, State of Law insisted, in time.

Allawi and a number of Iraqiya members walked out. They should have refused to participate from that day forward. Instead, they foolishly believed promises (from both State of Law and the White House). Nobember 25th, Jalal 'officially' named Nouri prime minister-designate.

Nouri had created Political Stalemate I by refusing to surrender the prime minister post. He'd done that for eight months. In that time, he should have had some ideas about a Cabinet. But Nouri's problem was he over-promised to get support. So when it was time to name a Cabinet, suddenly the Cabinet had more ministers and deputy ministers than it had previously (from 37 in 2006 to 42 in 2010). And he still couldn't keep his promises to everyone.

December 22nd, the Constitution was tossed by the wayside and Nouri was allowed to move from prime minister-designate to prime minister because he'd assembled a kind of Cabinet. He named 31 out of 42 ministers and people pretended that was good enough. He had failed to meet the Constitutional mandate of naming a Cabinet but everyone looked the other way.

He refused to name the security posts: National Security, Interior and Defense. His defenders (including the White House) swore those posts would be named in a matter of weeks. His detractors saw the refusal as part of a pattern of power grabs on Nouri's part and stated he wouldn't fill the posts. This is the start of Political Stalemate II.

It is weeks away from nine months but Political Stalemate II goes on. Nouri has still not
named people to those posts. (There are two 'acting' ministers in the three ministries.
'Acting' does not count. They have not been approved by Parliament and Nouri can fire them without any say from Parliament. They are not independent and they only have as much power as Nouri allows them.)

The post Ayad Allawi was promised never materialized and the council he was to head never did as well.

Nouri got what he wanted from the agreement and then broke it.

Over the weekend Kurdish officials began floating the notion that the Erbil Agreement should be made public in fool. Aswat al-Iraq reports that Iraqiya is now backing that call "because the Iraqi people have the right to know what is being carried out behind doors."

Thursday journalists and activist Haid al-Mehdi was assassinated in the kitchen of his apartment. Today Al Mada reports on the international outcry over the assassination and the call for a full and complete investigation. They also add this detail, there were security cameras in Hadi's neighborhood and the day before the assassination, a man was observed climbing over a wall to reach a camera. Asked what he was doing, he said he was examining the camera so that similar ones could be installed at the home of an MP but now it turns out that the camera's wires were pulled and it had been disabled. Over the weekend, Jassim Alaiv (Al Mada) reported on the lives of journalists claimed during the Iraq War: 295 journalists killed by militias or insurgents, 32 during mass attacks, 29 by US forces and 12 by Iraqi forces. Alaiv notes that journalists have been kidnapped and held for money, tortured while they were held, and that the status of 18 journalists who have been kidnapped during the war remains unknown. Last week, Aswat al-Iraq reported that journalist Ismail Mustapha has been "detained by a joint Iraqi-US force in western Baghdad" since "last week" and that the Iraqi Society for the Defense of Journalists Rights was calling for his release. Aswat al-Iraq reported Saturday, "The Iraqi Parliament has demanded the protection of journalists, freedom of opinion and demonstration, along with the discovery of the killers of the Journalist, Hadi al-Mahdi, and sending them to justice." Due to the fact that Nouri al-Maliki's forces kidnapped and tortured Hadi February 25th following a protest and due to Nouri's repeated demonizing of protesters (he's called them terrrorists, Ba'athists, etc.), many suspect his involvement in the assassination. Annie Gowan and Aziz Alwan (Washington Post via Gulf News) report, "Friday, Al Maliki's government had no comment on Al Mahdi's death. But its opposition block in parliament, Iraqiya, demanded a full investigation. Iraqiya issued a statement condemning the crime as a 'desperate attempt at muzzling and to bring Iraq back to the republic of repression, fear and despotism'." Aswat al-Iraq noted, "Mahdi, graduate of Baghdad University's Collage of Find Arts in 1989 and father of 3 children, had immigrated to Denmark in the 1990s of the last Century, escaping from the regime of former President Saddam Hussein, which executed a number of his relatives and returned home after the downfall of the regime, where he worked in several media agencies, last of which had been a radio station, in which he had been presenting a program that gained a broad mass support."

In news of violence, BBC news notes that "22 Shia pilgrims" were discovered shot dead in Anbar Province today. Reuters adds 1 beheaded corpse was discovered in Mosul, a clash in Tikrit left 4 people dead and six more injured, an Iskandariya roadside bombing injured two people, a Mosul suicide car bombing left six people wounded (and the driver dead), a Falluja roadside bombing claimed 2 lives and left four people injured and 2 corpses were discovered in Hilla (both shot in the head, one also shot in the chest).
From Friday's snapshot, "Meanwhile there's a battle going on between Nouri and members of Parliament. Dar Addustour reports Nouri is attempting to force out Judge Rahim Ugaili as the chair of the Integrity Commission. At Nouri's request and under intense pressure, Judge Ugaili tendered his resignation and Parliament is saying not so fast. Ugaili ticked off Nouri as a result of his investigation of alleged corruption among government officials and Nouri wants Ugaili out so that he (Nouri) can go public with files on his political opponents while ensuring that members of his own Cabinet -- who do have files as well -- will not be revealed publicly." AFP reported Saturday that Nouri has accepted the forced resignation. Aswat al-Iraq reported:

The Independent Legislature of the Iraqi Parliament, Sabah al-Saedy, has charged Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki with being behind the resignation of the Chairman of the Integrity Commission, Rahim al-Ugeily, from his post, because he had demanded Ugeily to what he had described as "opening unrealistic integrity dossiers."
"The reasons that made the Chairman of the Integrity Commission, Rahim al-Ugeily, to resign from his post, had been his refusal to open unrealistic corruption, false and fabricated dossiers against political personalities, I announce two of their names only – Jawad al-Bolany and Ahmed al-Chalaby," Saedy told a news conference, attended by Aswat al-Iraq news agency, charging that "the demand had been presented by the ruling party."

Raheem Salman (Los Angeles Times) added, "Uqaili's supporters said he was frustrated by political conflicts that kept him from cracking down on corruption, no small problem in Iraq. In its 2010 rankings, the group Transparency International ranked Iraq as the fourth most corrupt country in the world." Today Reuters reports Ugaili has issued an open letter decrying corruption in Iraq and quotes him writing, "The fight over stealing the money of the states and its property is the unspoken part of the struggle for power in Iraq today."

Under Nouri the Commission on Integrity just can't keep a chair, can't it? Nouri ran off the last one, remember? Even threatened him for testifying to the US Congress, remember? That was Judge Radhi al- Radhi Others have provided testimony as well. September 22, 2008, the Senate Democratic Policy Committee heald a hearing. Byron Dorgan was the Chair of the DPC. From his opening statment:
Senator Byron Dorgan: In March, the Senate Appropriations Committee held a hearing at my request, in which we heard from a very courageous Iraqi judge who headed Iraq's Commission of Public Integrity. This agency was established by the Coalition Provisional Authority after the US invasion of Iraq, and charged with rooting out corruption in the new government. Judge al-Radhi estimated that corruption in Iraq's government had resulted in the loss of $18 billion in government funds, and most of those funds had been US tax payer dollars. Judge Radhi said that instead of supporting his efforts to fight corruption, the top levels of the Iraqi government had ultimately suppressed his investigations. [. . . ] Judge Radhi also testified that since the establishment of the Commission of Public Integrity, more than 31 employees have been assassinated as well as at least an additional 12 family members. One would have expected that our own government would have been doing everything it could to support Judge Radhi's anti-corruption efforts. But in hearing of this committee back in May, we heard from two State Dept officials who said that our own government was not interested in ensuring accountability of U.S. funds in Iraq or in rooting out corruption. In fact, one of the officials, retired judge Arthur Brenna, said that some of the stolen funds were steered to the Iraqi insurgency. Yet the administration was generally indifferent to the problem. This indifference has had deadly consequences. We will hear from witnesses today -- one of whom was Judge Radhi's chief investigator in Iraq -- about how stolen US funds have gone to al Qaeda in Iraq. Our earlier hearing with Judge Brennan showed us that the State Dept turns a blind eye when it comes to corruption. Today's hearing will show us what the State Dept turned a blind eye to -- and what the consequences have been.
The hearing was rather important even if the press didn't really cover it.
Abbas Mehdi: The Commission of Public Integrity, the chief anti-corruption agency in the country, has been given neither the authority nor the independence it needs to work effectively. As a result, there have been no prosecutions for the embezzlement of public funds. Even worse, the Iraqi Parliament has now taken proactive steps to obstruct efforts to root out corruption. At the press conference on August 30, 2008, the head of the CPI also complained that the amnesty law passed by the Iraqi Parliament on January 12, 2008 will prevent the investigation of some 700 cases of alleged corruption, some at the cabinet level, in Baghdad alone. The costs of corruption fall most heavily on ordinary Iraqi citizens. They are the ones who suffer from the complete absence of services: no water, no electricity, no oil and too little security. Just to give on example, $17 billion of Iraqi money plus $4 to 5 billion of US money has been spent on the electricity infrastructure in Iraq. But what has more than $20 billion brought the Iraqi people? In Baghdad today, more than five years after the start of war, residents have electricity for about one hour in every seven hour period.
It was interesting because time and again, the hearing revealed two groups interfering with the investigations: the central goverment in Baghdad and US officials.

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