Monday, February 11, 2019


mean old girl

Isaiah's latest THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS "Mean Old Girl."

Bryan Singer's Red Sonja has been placed on “indefinite hold" amid the multiple sex abuse allegations against Singer.

Good.  Bryan Singer's been given a pass for far too long.

And on the issue of pedophiles . . .

20 years, 700 Victims Southern Baptist sexual abuse spreads as leaders resist reform. "Roughly 380 Southern Baptist church leaders & volunteers have faced allegations of sexual misconduct." "She was 14 ... first molested by her pastor"

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

Monday, February 11, 2019. Bombings, the IMF, reporting on a Senate Committee hearing and media criticism all in this snapshot today.

At Human Rights Watch, Belkis Wille notes:

It is well known that civilians have been killed during the US-led coalition’s military operations against ISIS in Iraq and Syria since 2014, but almost two years on from some of the heaviest bombing in the cities of Mosul and Raqqa, the coalition’s own estimates of civilian deaths are far below public estimates.
One coalition member deserves praise for choosing transparency over the normal wall of silence. As it has done in previous incidents, on February 1, 2019, the Australian Defence Force (ADF) acknowledged it might have caused between 6 and 18 civilian casualties in a strike on a Mosul neighborhood on June 13, 2017.
Australia has come a long way from March 2017 when the ADF admitted it did not track data on civilian casualties in Iraq and Syria.
However, the ADF concluded in last week’s report that it could not identify the exact number killed, adding “It is also not possible to determine if the civilian casualties occurred as a result of the Australian airstrike, the nearby Coalition airstrikes, or from other actors.” It could also not confirm other details including locations of the civilians at the time of the strike.
While the willingness to review historical cases is welcomed, the delay in the findings laid out in the statement are concerning, as is the failure of ADF investigators to visit the strike site and to interview survivors. It took the Australian Broadcasting Corporation less than 12 hours to find and interview survivors after the ADF publicly released its findings. Those survivors said that 35 civilians were killed in the attack.
If Australian journalists can swiftly identify and interview eye witnesses nearly two years after the fact, then surely the ADF could have done this too. Conducting thorough investigations is a key step in ensuring Australia is meeting its obligations to civilian victims in Iraq. If after conducting robust investigations, Australia concludes any of its attacks were unlawful, then it should also ensure reparations for the families of the victims. A mechanism should be put into place to make this possible.

The ADF’s choice to set a better standard than other coalition members and review historical claims is laudable, and it should continue to do so. But it must ensure investigations are rigorous and can lead to redress for victims.

This follows Amnesty International's statement covered in the February 1st snapshot.  As noted then:

Will other governments come clean?  Will the US government specifically?  Probably not.  The US government is involved in countless wars while currently working for war with Iran and Venezuela.  Bombing from war planes has always been less 'offensive' to the American people.  It's boots off the ground and, in an operation like Mosul, there's little chance of American fatalities since a group like ISIS (being a terrorist group and not the military of another country) doesn't have a fleet of airplanes.

So they know they can blindly bomb an area for weeks, months, in Mosul's case, years and the American people won't pour into the street or even bat an eye due to being lied to that these are 'precision' strikes and that the government of the United States has done 'everything possible to minimize civilian casualties.'

No, they haven't.

They haven't done anything to minimize civilian casualties.  As for doing 'everything' to minimize, doing everything would include not bombing civilian areas.  But they did bomb civilian areas -- over and over and over.

The US government will most likely never get honest about civilian casualties.  At some point in the near future (say, five years on down the line), they'll offer an under-count of the civilians killed in the Mosul bombings -- but only when they can claim some new technology has come along to make the strikes even more 'precise.'  They'll use that to sell more strikes.

It's really outrageous how little the media cares about the bombs being dropped.  (And if the media doesn't cover it, the American people have a hard time hearing about it.) 

And it's really outrageous how never ending wars never end and how the military is used for tasks that are not their responsibility.

"Military force cannot create strong economies.  It can only help provide safe, secure conditions for them to develop."

Did you know the military could do that?  It's debatable.  It's certainly not the role of the military in most conflicts.  But it's what CENTCOM Commander, Gen Joseph Votel, told the Senate Armed Services Committee last Tuesday.

He also stated, "Currently, CENTCOM is conducting or supporting military operations with Coalition partners in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and limited counter-terror operations in Yemen. We represent a U.S. presence with military basing and support in seven countries, have bilateral or multilateral military engagements with nearly a dozen countries, and security cooperation agreements with 16 countries. Across much of the AOR, however, where there is a U.S. presence, there is almost always an existing or developing presence by China, Russia, or both."

In his prepared remarks, he noted:

Iraq’s mil-to-mil relationship with the U.S. is as strong as it has ever been, and Iraq has both the potential and desire to become a formidable ally in combatting terrorism. The Office of Security Cooperation-Iraq (OSC-I) is conducting programs to enhance professionalization of the ISF, coupled with prudent implementation and oversight of FMF and Foreign Military Sales (FMS). Transforming OSC-I into a permanent Title 22 Security Cooperation Office is key. Our authority for OSC-I to conduct training activities with ISF is more important than ever in the evolution of an ISF that is effective,inclusive, sustainable, affordable, and cements our long-term bilateral partnership. 
 Key Challenges: Reform of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) to achieve the goal of “One ISF” remains a challenge. Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) are officially part of the ISF, however, the forces are comprised of disparate groups, some of which are not totally responsive to the direction of the Government of Iraq (GoI), the worst of which are affiliated with Shia militia groups directed by Iran.Iraq’s Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs (MoPA) is largely treated as a less-than-equal organization by the government. While some tensions between the Kurdish Regional Government and Baghdad have eased, challenges with revenue sharing, disputed territory and control of oil resources remain problematic. It is critical the ISF consolidate its gains against ISIS and evolve from a war footing to a steady state, which must be effective, affordable, and protect Iraqi people and their infrastructure from terrorism. As ISIS continues to build a clandestine insurgency, the GoI must form an effective cabinet and government entities to manage the country and improve economic resilience and quality of life for its people. This includes meeting the needs of Iraq’s youthful population who demand better economic opportunities, access to essential services, and an end to endemic corruption in the GoI. Failure by the 24 newly formed government to address the basic needs of Iraqi citizens may facilitate the reemergence of ISIS or other VEOs, which capitalize on public dissatisfaction to increase their support. Iran’s meddling in the selection of Iraqi cabinet members, notably the Minister of Defense and the Minister of Interior, has prevented the GoI from addressing pressing national security issues
Key Opportunities: CENTCOM, through OSC-I, is working with our Iraqi partners to re-integratethe GoI with its Arab neighbors. These efforts have paid dividends in reinitiating cooperation between Iraq and countries such as Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Turkey, and Qatar; illustrated by the reopening of shared borders. OSC-I can le verage its authorities to support the ISF’s evolution into an effective,sustainable, and affordable force through mil-to-mil relations, security sector reform, security cooperation, while coordinating broad-based reform with regional partners. Key objectives include the further professionalization of the ISF, rebalancing the ISF’s force structure to meet future threats, and reforming the ISF’s human resources and professional military education systems with increased emphasis on force design, force management, and policy development.
2019 Prognosis:Iraq’s May 2018 elections resulted in the formation of a new, generally representative government. Newly elected Prime Minister Abd al-Mahdi vowed to improve public services and prioritize reconstruction of areas devastated by the conflict with ISIS. It is likely that Iraq will retool its budget to focus on Government goals however, Iraq must also rebuild its security forces, which are exhausted by four years of operations against ISIS. 

Senator Jack Reed is the Ranking Member of the Committee.  He raised the issue of US troops withdrawing from Afghanistan.  He noted that currently the US government gives $4 billion a year to Afghanistan for their military and he wanted to know if this giving (of US tax dollars) would have to continue if the US withdrew troops.  Votel agreed that the money would continue to go to the Afghanistan military and offered this 'insight,' "That money there without us does make it challenging."

Never was it questioned that the US government had any right to give away $4 billion -- money the US taxpayers hand over to the government -- to Afghanistan each year for their military.

We can't have Medicare For All because it's supposedly too expensive but we have to give four billion dollars -- 4,000,000,000 -- each year to Afghanistan for their military?

War is deadly and was is wasteful.  It's why so many people around the world see no point to it.

Oh, and Reed feels that US troops need to remain on the ground in Afghanistan to make sure this money "gets to where its going."  Again, I'm missing the lesson in military warfare where this is a stated goal or objective of war.

We'll note this exchange from the hearing.

Senator Tom Cotton: We've heard a lot about what might happen in the future against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq but I don't think we've heard yet just a simple answer about how the fight is going so could you tell us how the fight is going against the Islamic State right now?

Gen Joseph Votel: In-in-in Syria, as-as you know we are-we are focused on completely the liberation of the physical caliphate, that is --

Senator Tom Cotton: Where in Syria are you doing this?

Gen Joseph Votel: In the  southern, uhm, uh-uh Euphrates Valley, up against the border with,uh, with Iraq.  That fight is going-is going is progressing as we envisioned it.  As I mentioned in my opening comments, it is limited to a relatively small area.  It's dense -- dense urban terrain.  And certainly there is a lot of pressure on ISIS in there.  The area is laden with explosive hazards in there that pose significant threats to our partners on the ground. So they're having to proceed very closely.  And I would add, Senator, that there's a civilian component as there are families of fighters, there are civilians left in town, there are refugees that are attempting to part this area.  So what we have seen as we have kind of closed in on this last area here is our Syrian Democratic Force partners, with coalition assistance, moving very deliberately fully recognizing the situation on the ground so they don't exacerbate this any more than it is.  But we remain confidant that we will finish this aspect of it. When we get done with this, we should expect that there will be -- we will do what you would remember as back clearance -- going back and re-clearing areas, removing explosive hazards, instituting local security and then continuing to keep pressure on-on the remnants of the network that have gone to ground and are operating in a much more insurgent background.  In Iraq, that is the case.  We do see ISIS operating in a guerrilla or insurgent fashion.  They are at a level where, for the most part, Iraqi security forces, with the assistance of the coalition, are able to address those threats.  That will be important to continue to do that in the future.  So in Iraq and Syria, that's where we are with the current fight right now, Senator.

[. . .]

Senator Tom Cotton:  In Iraq and, very soon, we hope, throughout Syria as well, you've talked about countering that insurgency or those gorilla tactics, the back clearance -- Could you give the American people a little bit of sense of what our troops are doing or is it more like, you know, the Rangers that you once led, kicking down the doors and shooting bad guys?  Are we providing them logistics, intelligence, aerial support?

Gen Joseph Votel:  The technique that we have used in both Iraq and Syria is what we refer to as "by, with and through."  And we have relied on our partners, the Iraqi security forces and the Syrian Democratic forces to do the fighting.  And our job has been to enable them with our fires, with our ISR, with our advice.  Sometimes, we do employ our fires in support of them and directly engage the enemy.  But our-our people are not actually -- as you suggest -- kicking in doors at this point.  "By, with and through" puts the emphasis on our partners to do this and then we enable them with our capabilities to do this.  And this has been, I think, a very effective approach over the last several years and I think it is -- In the end, our partners 'own' what is left behind.  We don't.  They own it. They own the security, they own the responsibility for this .  This has been a different approach for us but it is one that I think has worked very well for us.

He noted that battle was moving to a different stage.  He was asked by Cotton about the 30,000 estimated Islamic State fighters and were they -- or the majority of them -- in the less than 10% of territory still held in Syria?  No, they were not.  About 1,000 remained there according to Cotton.  The majority were underground and dispersed, engaging in guerrilla warfare.

Not only with Cotton, but with other senators throughout the hearing, this issue was addressed which made it all the more shocking when tired ass Barbara Starr showed up Sunday to play Christopher Columbus and announce her 'discovery' of Votel's position via a Sunday interview.  She didn't discover anything, nor did she understand what he was saying.  Maybe if she'd been at the hearing last Tuesday, she would have.  For over two hours, he spoke in response to questions and he gave a delivered statement.

Barbara Starr's b.s. was indicative of both how tired ass she is and how chicken s**t CNN is.  If they had not merged with TIME WARNER - AOL - TIME MAGAZINE -- DISNEY - ABC - LIQUID PLUMBER, they might not be so craven.

In 1998, April Oliver and Jack Smith reported on the Valley of Death.


Operation Tailwind was a covert incursion into southeastern Laos during the Vietnam War, conducted between 11–14 September 1970. The purpose of the operation was to create a diversion for a Royal Lao Army offensive and to exert pressure on the occupation forces of the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN). It involved a company-sized element of US Army Special Forces and Montagnard commando (Hatchet Force) of the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam Studies and Observations Group (MACV-SOG or SOG).
Nearly 30 years later, Peter Arnett narrated a CNN/Time magazine investigative report about Operation Tailwind produced by April Oliver, Jack Smith, Pam Hill, and others. The report Valley of Death claimed sarin nerve gas had been used, and other war crimes had been committed by US forces during Tailwind. The reaction to the controversial assertions prompted an internal investigation that ended in retraction of those claims by both news organizations, the firing of the producers responsible for the report, and the reprimand, followed by the resignation, of Arnett. 

It's called CRAPAPEDIA for a reason.  In real time, Barry Grey (WSWS) noted:

Two CNN journalists, fired after the network retracted their story alleging US use of nerve gas during the Vietnam War, are vigorously defending their report. April Oliver was the lead producer of the program "Valley of Death," broadcast June 7 as the premier installment of a joint CNN and Time magazine venture. She and her immediate superior, senior producer Jack Smith, have charged that CNN caved in to pressure from top military and intelligence figures, including Henry Kissinger and General Colin Powell.
The media have uniformly endorsed CNN's renunciation of its segment on Operation Tailwind, as well as the victimization of those who produced it. Numerous articles and editorials have appeared associating the CNN program with recent cases of journalistic fraud and suggesting that any controversial exposure of wrong-doing by the military or the CIA is either too risky or too speculative to see the light of day.
In its current issue, for example, Newsweek boasts that it attacked the CNN- Time report after it was broadcast, and highlights the following blurb: "Did US Special Forces use nerve gas to kill American defectors in Vietnam? No." Even Salon, an internet magazine that generally maintains a somewhat higher journalistic standard, accepted uncritically CNN's retraction and, in an article by Ted Gup, stated that "both organizations [CNN and Time] admitted that the story was unsupported by facts (emphasis in the original)."
Such characterizations are false. Neither CNN nor Time have stated that the story broadcast by the network, and subsequently published by the magazine, was factually untrue. On the contrary, the report commissioned by CNN and issued July 2 by attorney Floyd Abrams concludes: "The broadcast was prepared after exhaustive research, was rooted in considerable supportive data, and reflected the deeply held beliefs of the CNN journalists who prepared it...we do not believe it can reasonably be suggested that any of the information on which the broadcast was based was fabricated or nonexistent."
This makes all the more disturbing the rush by CNN and Time to retract, and the no less indecent haste of the rest of the media to join them in denouncing the report on Operation Tailwind. The argument put forward by Abrams and CNN is that the program did not sufficiently present the views of officers and participants in the 1970 raid in Laos who contradict eye-witnesses accounts and statements by other military figures acknowledging the use of sarin gas in an operation aimed at wiping out US defectors.
The network also charges that Admiral Thomas Moorer was misquoted in the TV report. Moorer, who was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the time of the raid into Laos, appears on the broadcast and concedes that nerve gas was used in Tailwind, as well as other operations during the Vietnam War. This past week April Oliver told a TV interviewer that she gave Moorer a transcript of the entire program prior to the broadcast, and he approved it. Oliver went on to describe how, the day after the broadcast, Moorer came under immense pressure and began to back away from his earlier statements.

It is impossible to avoid asking the question: why is this story--dealing with the secret murder of American citizens and the use of deadly toxins--being retracted, even though it is acknowledged to have a basis in fact, at the same time that the media retails the most outrageous and unsubstantiated allegations concerning Clinton's sex life, a matter of no intrinsic importance?

As CNN lost any independence it might have had and became just one more tentacle in a large corporate octopus, people like Barbara Starr internalized the real lesson: Don't upset any generals -- retired or serving, don't investigate anything, just note the official line.  It's vapid and it's nothing more than press releases but that's what CNN has come to and why idiots like Chris Cuomo waste so much time.  Let's be clear that Larry King did a celebrity program back in the day on CNN.  But that program had more actual news value in one week than anything outrage addicted Cuomo does in a year.

CNN reported, rightly, that US defectors from the Vietnam War were targeted by the US government.  This report was solid.  April Oliver and Jack Smith wrote a rebuttal to the Floyd Abrams and David Kohler's 'finding' and you can read it in full at LA WEEKLY but here's an excerpt:

The AK Report virtually ignores the third and most important interview with the Admiral in May 1998, referring to it in only a single paragraph. In that off-camera interview with April Oliver, Admiral Moorer was asked whether killing defectors was the mission in Tailwind and replied, "I have no doubt about that." In that interview, he also clearly and unambiguously confirmed that sarin nerve gas was "by and large" available for search and rescue missions, that it was "definitely available" in the Vietnam War and that it saved American lives in Laos. "We are going to report the U.S. used nerve gas in combat during Tailwind. Will we be correct in saying this?" "Yes, I think so." None of these confirmations are even given passing mention in the AK Report, which concludes that none of Moorer's statements are "sufficiently clear to be relied upon as a true confirmation or anything like it."
Confidential Sources
[One] confidential source is a military official who the AK Report acknowledges "has been highly placed for years," and, in the words of the AK Report itself, is "particularly knowledgeable about chemical weaponry, [and] intimately familiar with nerve agents." This source also has detailed knowledge of Operation Tailwind. His credibility is not attacked by the AK Report.
This confidential source was the original lead for the story. [He], like Admiral Moorer, ultimately reviewed and approved the script for the Tailwind broadcast, giving the "thumbs up" signal a number of times as he read it, including in particular with respect to the use of CBU-15 on Operation Tailwind. The AK Report, however, proceeds to state that "[t]here are serious weaknesses in this confirmation . . . " [Yet] no reference is made to the following exchange [between Oliver and the source] in the AK Report: "Offensive use of nerve agent unusual?" "I know of only one instance of this, this one." This exchange represents actual knowledge, not reasoning.
When asked whether getting defectors was a part of the mission, the source replied, "It's a no-brainer. You want to kill defectors. They are a huge embarrassment, particularly in context of the times with the antiwar movement. And they can be a big military problem, with the codes and language, and working with the radios . . ."
[Another] confidential source is a former senior military official, intimately familiar with SOG operations and Tailwind. His intimate knowledge is confirmed by multiple other sources.
His credibility is not attacked by the AK Report.
With respect to this confidential source, the AK Report states that what was said by the source "is doubtless supportive of the broadcast but with some of the same problems we have seen elsewhere - a producer overstating her case to the source and a source responding positively but with ambiguity to the producer."
This source confirms that CBU-15 was used on Operation Tailwind and that the target was defectors:
"Just one last time, your own personal understanding of Tailwind is that it was a mission in which CBU-15, GB, was used at least twice on the village base camp and on extraction, and that the target was a group of American defectors?"
"You are not going to use my name on this are you?"
"No, sir, you are on background as a senior military official."
"Yeah. That's my view."
[. . .]
In a June 18 meeting, [CNN Worldwide President] Rick Kaplan said this was a public-relations problem, not a journalism problem, and that he did not want this controversy to progress to congressional hearings with "3,000" members of the establishment on one side of the room and CNN and members of the Special Forces on the other. During that same meeting, Kaplan and [CNN CEO Tom] Johnson expressed their concern about the pressure they were receiving from Henry Kissinger and Colin Powell and the threat of a cable boycott by veterans groups.
During that time, Kaplan and Johnson gagged us from publicly defending the broadcast, and pulled Pamela Hill and Jack Smith from a scheduled appearance on CNN's "Reliable Sources" program. Nevertheless, CNN continued to air unopposed criticism about the broadcast without any fairness or balance on the "Reliable Sources" program and with a news report from the Special Forces convention.

Ava and I have repeatedly noted this event in our media criticism at THIRD over the years because it's a major moment and its effects are still felt.  For example, from 2006's "Katie was a cheerleader:"

Some trotted out Dan Rather as the anti-Katie. He is that. As freakish as he came off, he certainly wasn't Katie Couric. (He was a lot like Nimoy's Mr. Spock discovering emotions for the first time or Jodie Foster's Nell on her first trip to the grocery store.) He also didn't fight the good fight. He read copy, which he wrote or helped to write at times, and he relied on producers.

Mary Mapes, a former producer who worked with Rather, is a name that's popped up as well this week. Some have taken to recommending her book. It's a really bad book. We feel for Mapes but her ignorance shines through in the book. Why did Mapes feel the need to write a personality book (as opposed to leaving out the bits on grandma and making a case as a reporter)? Because she's a product of broadcast journalism and has internalized all the principles at play.

She seems to think she's the first victim of a cowardly corporation. With no historical evidence at her finger tips, she writes a really bad book that tells you she's a nice person (we're told she is) and that she got screwed over (we'd agree with that). She offers nothing on what was done to April Oliver -- either because Oliver is "too hot" to mention or because she's unaware of what happened less than a decade before CBS fired Mapes. Too bad, because what was done to Oliver was done to Mapes and until Mapes can discuss the issues from that perspective, she's wasting everyone's time except for a few partisans.

We support Mapes reporting on the National Guard. The corporation stabbed her in the back. The "investigation" wasn't a journalistic inquiry. Take out "National Guard" and you've got the April Oliver story all over again. When Mapes is ready to connect the dots, she may have something to say. Until then, she's just twisting in the wind.

Looking over that piece, from 13 years ago, it's amazing how it still holds up.  I believe we are still the only ones to seriously examine ABC's corporate sexism with regards to Elizabeth Vargas who was forced out of the news anchor chair.  That should have resulted in serious articles but that's how different the world was only 13 years ago.  The corporation got away with sexism and the 'brave' Water Cooler Set looked the other way.  I also wonder if Katie ever got credit for giving a portion of her salary up when CBS was threatening to fire news employees?  We covered Katie a lot but I don't think we ever covered that.  I think I can cover it by quoting someone else (I know Katie and we've been accused by several male journalists in nasty little e-mails of showing her favoritism).  I'll do so in tomorrow's snapshot.

 In other news, Salman Zidane (AL-MONITOR) reports:

Iraqi President Barham Salih approved the controversial 2019 budget on Feb. 4. The budget passed the parliament Jan. 23 after long debates over allocations for the Kurdistan Region and southern provinces and amendments that ignored Iraq's obligations under an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) mandating austerity measures until 2021. 
The Iraqi parliament approved draft legislation for the 2019 budget amid objections from authorities in the southern provinces. At 133.1 trillion Iraqi dinars ($112.6 billion), the budget, if passed, would be the country's third largest, behind those for 2013 and 2014. With a 27.8% increase in spending, it would appear to blow up the IMF agreement.


Who could have seen that coming?

Uh, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.  Who publicly rebuked the IMF deal.  And I believe we're alone in reporting that in the west.

Isaiah's THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS "Mean Old Girl" went up last night.

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