Thursday, November 27, 2008

Barack sings "Hero"

"Iraqi lawmakers today approved a pact allowing U.S. forces to stay in the country through 2011 after winning support from skeptics by promising a public referendum on the plan," explain Raheem Salman and Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) and they go on to note that "[a]ccording to the agreement" troops out in 2011! Which agreement? The Arabic one the puppet government thinks is final or the English one the White House refuses to release because, as Adam Ashton, Jonathan S. Landay and Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) reported, "Officials in Washington said the administration has withheld the official English translation of the agreement in an effort to suppress a public dispute with the Iraqis until after the Iraqi parliament votes." This was noted last week in a Congressional hearing as well so it's really past time to stop speaking of the agreement singular. Salman and Susman do a better job explaining this:

The pact, while not explicitly stating that an extension can be sought, allows for amendments if both sides agree to them.U.S. officials have indicated that they interpret that as permitting a possible extension, if security conditions in Iraq are deemed too shaky to leave Iraqi security forces in charge. "There is a provision for extension, by agreement of both sides," one U.S. official said in discussing the pact.

Yeah, it's a one-year agreement. Only 2009 cannot be changed or cancelled. Everything else that the White House says is set-in-stone is actually a conditional option that can be wiped away by either side.  Today the White House finally released the agreement in English.  We'll jump in at Article 30 The Period for which the Agreement is Effective:
1) This Agreement shall be effective for a period of three years, unless terminated sooner by either Party pursuant to paragraph 3 of this Article.
Get it?  Paragraph three: "This Agreement shall terminate one year after a Party provides written notification to the other Party to that effect."  Meaning only 2009 is set in stone.  It is too late for either party (US or Iraq) to give one year's notice and cancel it in 2009.  They can give notice to cancel in 2010 or 2011.  The second clause is also worth noting because it weakens the strength of any agreement as well: "This Agreement shall be amended only with the official agrement of the Parties in writing and in accordance with the constitutional proceudures in effect in both countries."  That's the aspect that allows for a change and all the 'flowery' respect for Constitutional procedures is hog wash.  The Iraqi Parliament needed to have two-thirds of all members (not just members present) to pass the treaty today.  They did not have that.  According to their Constitution and their laws, that's what was needed.  In the US, Congressional approval is needed over all treaties and we know that has not take place.  We further know that Barack Obama -- alleged Constitutional scholar -- doesn't give a damn about the Constitution.  He show boated and did his little pretty words number while campaigning but despite all his insisting that the treaty would have to come before the Congress -- including becoming one of thirteen co-sponsors on Hillary Clinton's Senate bill insisting upon that -- he shut his corporate mouth and put his tiny tail between his legs to slink off like the disgusting, cowering trash he is.  He's not going to stand up for the Constitution 'later.'  He couldn't stand up for it right now. 
An agreement built upon a systematic disrespect for the rule of law does not suddenly develop one.  An agreement built upon lies does not suddenly embrace honesty.  The treaty is built on lies and they include the lies to the American people.  Why is the US pursuing this treaty?  The White House keeps talking about these 'recent' gains in Iraq.  Today is November 27th of 2008.  Recent would, for most of us, go back no further than the end of spring.  But Article 25 explains Nouri al-Maliki and Condi Rice notified the United Nations that the Security Council's mandate would be cancelled at the end of this year . . . last year.  al-Maliki's letter was dated December 7th, Rice's December 10th.  'Recent' events? 
The agreement the White House has released may not be the official agreement or the final one.  It is the one that US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker and Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari signed November 17, 2008. The note above their signatures states: "Signed in duplicate in Baghdad on this 17th day of November, 2008, in the English and Arabic languages, each text being equally authentic."
That version is published online by the White House in PDF format (click here).  The Bully Boy of the United States released the following statement today:  "Earlier today, in another sign of progress, Iraq's Council of Representatives approved two agreements with the United States, a Strategic Framework Agreement and a Security Agreement, often called a Status of Forces Agreement or SOFA. The Strategic Framework Agreement sets the foundation for a long-term bilateral relationship between our two countries, and the Security Agreement addresses our presence, activities, and withdrawal from Iraq. Today's vote affirms the growth of Iraq's democracy and increasing ability to secure itself. We look forward to a swift approval by Iraq's Presidency Council. Two years ago, this day seemed unlikely -- but the success of the surge and the courage of the Iraqi people set the conditions for these two agreements to be negotiated and approved by the Iraqi parliament. The improved conditions on the ground and the parliamentary approval of these two agreements serve as a testament to the Iraqi, Coalition, and American men and women, both military and civilian, who paved the way for this day."
But wasn't this day 'paved' in December of 2007 when Rice and al-Maliki notified the UN that there would be no extension of the mandate following its December 31, 2008 expiration? 
Rumors abound that al-Maliki has consolidated his power with the passage.  For the so-bad it's good reporting, check out Alissa J. Rubin, Campbell Robertson and Stephen Farrell of the New York Times proving that reporters can serve up camp too.  In the real world CBS News' Elizabeth Palmer explains that this means an extension of US troops in Iraq and link includes video.  Meanwhile Ruth explained how certain members of the press are actively participating in the manufacture of consent and deliberately distorting what the treaty says (Ruth utilizes Ayad Allawi's "US-Iraq agreement needs work" from the Boston Globe) to make her point.  What happens now in Iraq?  The treaty now goes before Iraq's presidency council where the president or either of the country's two vice-presidents can veto it.  To pass it requires all three give thumbs up.  Only one need give a thumbs down to veto. 
The referendrum was included in the vote today and the Los Angeles Times notes: "If voters rejected the agreement in the July 2009 referendum, Iraq's government would have to cancel SOFA or demand changes to it. The terms of the agreement allow either side to give the other a year's notice of cancellation, so if Iraq scrapped the pact, U.S. forces would have to leave the country in July 2010."
War resister Robin Long was extradited in July.  Last month Gerry Condon (Soldier Say No!) wrote an indepth piece on Long and the movement in Canada:

Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who argued fruitlessly five years ago that Canada should join George Bush's invasion of Iraq, was eager to deliver the first deportation of an Iraq War resister. The order to arrest Robin Long came from the top. It was Harper's insurance policy. If he couldn't deport Glass, he would deport Long.

While the Canada Border Services Agency shuttled Robin Long from one prison to another, keeping him isolated from friends and supporters, a last-ditch attempt to stop his deportation was mounted by Vancouver lawyer, Shepherd Moss. A hearing was scheduled in Federal Court in Vancouver for Monday morning, July 14. But Robin Long's luck ran out when his case was assigned to Judge Anne McTavish, the author of damaging decisions against Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey, the first two GIs to seek refugee status in Canada.

Canadian authorities had failed to inform Long of his pending deportation, thus denying him his right to appeal. But Judge McTavish refused to delay Long's deportation. The legal reasons for Corey Glass's were not yet published and could potentially apply to Long. Such was the rush to deport a war resister, however, that Judge McTavish was willing to risk having opposing court decisions on the same issue, within a one week period.

"Here, we've got a deserter for you."

Robin Long was not allowed to attend his own hearing and he was not informed of its outcome. Instead, on the morning of Tuesday, July 15, Canadian immigration police drove him to Canada's border with the U.S. near Blaine, Washington, and loudly announced to their U.S. counterparts, "Here, we've got a deserter for you."

Stephen Harper and the Bush Administration got what they wanted, international headlines trumpeting, "Canada Deports U.S. Deserter."

The Canadian people learned about the deportation of Robin Long from sketchy media reports. The Canada Border Services Agency, citing "the Privacy Act," refused to give the media any details. How was the deportation carried out? Where did it occur? Who handed Robin Long over to whom? Where was Long held in Canada? Where was he being held in the U.S.?

The Privacy Act, enacted to protect the privacy of individuals, was abused by the Conservative government in order to isolate Robin Long and keep Canadians in the dark. Why didn't the Conservative government want Canadians to know the details of this deportation? The word "deportation" connotes an unfortunate but orderly and lawful procedure. What Canadian and U.S. authorities did to Robin Long was more like a "rendition," an extralegal government-to-government kidnapping supposedly reserved for terror suspects. Canadians will be outraged when they hear the truth.

War Resister Assaulted and Threatened in Canadian Jails

Robin Long was arrested unlawfully on false grounds and for political reasons. He was held incommunicado. Over a ten-day period, he was transferred to three different Canadian jails. In the Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre, Long was assaulted twice by a group of prisoners who objected to his dreadlock hairstyle. Although he is short and slight, Long was able to fight off his attackers once, and a guard halted the second assault. But Long decided to cut his hair.
That's the definitive piece on Long and thank you to a mutual friend who first called to ask, "Why are you ignoring Gerry?" and then steered me to that essay which I wasn't aware of.  Gerry Condon ends his essay noting that you can write Robin care of Courage To Resist and that "You can also contribute to Robin's brig account that he uses to pay for phone calls to friends and family."  And for those wondering if Robin is due to be released before the holidays, Fort Carson Public Affairs Office's Karen Linne explained here August 22nd that he had been sentenced to 15 months and would be credited for "about 40 days" for the time he was held at the Criminal Justice Center in El Paso County prior to the court-martial.
Moving over to US politics, Marie Cocco (Washington Post Writers Group) observed last week, "It is time to stop kidding ourselves.  This wasn't a breakthrough year for American women in politics.  It was a brutal one."  With that in mind, we'll note John Ross' election observations via Counterpunch:

I don't buy Barack Obama as the Messiah. I didn't vote for him (I voted for another Afro-American) and I haven't filed an application to join his regime. He ran a duplicitous, multi-million dollar campaign that masqueraded as a social movement and because it was a gimmick and a shuck, will thwart and demoralize the re-creation of real social movement for years to come.  
The suckers packed shoulder to shoulder in Grant Park on Election Night were not a movement. 40 years ago, the Left stood in that park and were burning American flags, not waving them - although the reasons were equally specious. Back then, it was the denial of another false Messiah's rightful place on the Democratic Party ticket. We ran a pig for president to underscore our disdain for the electoral process and when Mayor Dailey's cops kidnapped and barbecued our candidate, we turned to yet another Afro-American who was also not the Messiah. In August 1968, the Mayor of Chicago, whose son is now Barack Obama's most trusted political advisor, sent in the real pigs to beat us into the Grant Park grass like so many baby harp seals.   
Now that was a social movement… 
Eduardo Galeano does not get it. When he tells Amy Goodman that he has high hopes for El Baracko because black slaves once built the White House for which the president-elect is now measuring the drapes, he does not consider that Obama himself is a slave, a slave to Wall Street and General Motors and Big Oil and Big Ethanol, a slave to the War Machine and U.S. Imperialism and Israel, a slave to We're Number One jingoism, avarice, and greed and the American Nightmare, a slave to the free market and free enterprise and free trade and the flimflam of corporate globalization, and most of all, a slave to the Democratic Party puppet masters who now move his strings.  
Galeano doesn't seem to recall that Afro-Americans can be mass murderers too. Condi is a killer and Barack's big booster Colin Powell once obligated the United National Security Council to cover up a reproduction of Picasso's "Gernika" before he could lie that contaminated body in the eye about Saddam's make-believe WMDs and jumpstart a war that has now taken a million Iraqi lives. So far. The bloodletting has hardly abated. 
We are in garbage time. The adulatory garbage being spewed about the virtues of Barrack Obama are a toxic trick on the peoples of the earth. One glaring recent example: 100,000 marched from sea to shining sea in the U.S. last weekend (Nov. 16th) in support of same sex marriage and no one had the moxie to even mention that Barack Obama does not support same sex marriage.  
On the issue of equality, Ruth, Kat and Marcia covered the Florida circuit judge overturning Anita Bryant's ban on gay adoption yesterday.  Elaine noted US House Rep Rosa DeLauro's Congressional work on breast cancer and Mike covered the judge who yelled "tyrant."   Independent journalist David Bacon covers immigration and Obama in a new article at The Nation:
So far, the choice of Janet Napolitano is not encouraging. The Tucson "Operation Streamline" court convenes in her home state every day, and the situation of immigrants in Arizona is worse than almost anywhere else. Napolitano herself has publicly supported most of the worst ideas of the Bush administration, including guest worker programs with no amnesty for the currently undocumented, and brutal enforcement schemes like E-Verify and workplace raids.

But Obama does not have to be imprisoned by the failure of Napolitano to imagine a more progressive alternative. In fact, his new administration's need to respond to the economic crisis, and to strengthen the political coalition that won the election, can open new possibilities for a just and fair immigration policy.

Economic crisis does not have to pit working people against each other, or lead to the further demonization of immigrants. In fact, there is common ground between immigrants, communities of color, unions, churches, civil rights organizations, and working families. Legalization and immigrant rights can be tied to guaranteeing jobs for anyone who wants to work, and unions to raise wages and win better conditions for everyone in the workplace.

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