AS THE BAD NEWS COMES TUMBLING IN, CELEBRITY IN CHIEF BARRY O FACES MORE AND MORE QUESTIONS ABOUT NOT JUST WHETHER HE'S CAPABLE OF LEADERSHIP BUT ALSO IF HE EVEN UNDERSTANDS HIS JOB?
FRIDAY SAW YET ANOTHER LOUSY JOB REPORTS RELEASED, IT'S DAY 79 OF THE GULF DISASTER (WHICH BARRY O HAS INSISTED HE IS IN CHARGE OF) BUT HE'S HEADING TO MISSOURI TOMORROW TO RAISE MONEY FOR A POLITICAL CAMPAIGN OF ROBIN CARNAHAN WHO IS RUNNING FOR THE U.S. SENATE.
IT GETS BETTER, THE LITTLE PRINCESS WILL GIVE A SONG & DANCE SPEECH ABOUT THE ECONOMY IN KANSAS CITY TOMORROW WHICH WILL ALLOW "THE WHITE HOUSE [TO] BILL TAXPAYERS RATHER THAN CARNAHAN'S CAMPAIGN FOR MOST OF THE PRESIDENT'S TRAVEL COSTS."
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
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. Philip Shenon (Daily Beast) reported last month that the US government is attempting to track down WikiLeaks' Julian Assange. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reports Manning has been charged today and that includes "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." These are charges. An Article 32 hearing will be held to determine the strength of the charges. If the case proceeds, it would then move to a court martial. Manning has not spoken to the press. That's an important point and one to remember when the suspect's 'confessions' are bandied about. What crazy ass wipe Adrian Lamo calls truth is certainly open to interpretation and reporters would do well to stop treating what Lamo has supplied them with as fact. Meaning those transcripts of IM-ing may or may not be Manning and when the press -- check out the Guardian's Chris McGreal -- presents those as factual, they are not doing the job of the press. They may be doing the prosecution's job -- which would be the US government's job -- but they are not doing the press' job. Those transcripts may indeed be legitimate. If so, the government will introduce them into evidence and the defense will not dispute them. But a number of reporters are telling you what Manning thought and they don't even know that Manning was the leak. Repeating, Manning hasn't spoken to the press. All they have is a little snitch named Adrian. Sometimes snitches tell the truth, sometimes they don't. In the meantime, Manning's not being 'tried in the media,' he's being 'convicted in the media.' That is not the American justice system. Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) reports on the charges and gets it right. Those confused as to what reporting actually is can refer to his work because he outlines what is known and what isn't. And that's not a slap at Fadel. She also demonstrates how you report. In her case, she ignores the unverified claims and assertions made by Lamo. That's the approach we've taken here. If it is introduced as evidence, we'll deal with it but if Lamo's all we have to go by, we're not wasting our time on it or spitting on the American legal system by using it to mind read. Mannings facing very serious charges (repeating, no guilt has yet been established) and you'd think that people would be very careful about what they claimed Manning has done or has written or has said. Manning has not spoken to the press, Manning has not issued any statement to the press.
There's confusion as to how many charges Manning is facing. The military counts two (as Fadel's article reports) but there are 12 specifications. Mike Gogulski (Help Bradley Manning) has posted the press release and Mike analyzes the charges here. WikiLeaks has not revealed the identify of the person who passed the information to them. At their Twitter feed they note:
If the charges against Manning are true, he will be the Daniel Ellsberg of our times. about 4 hours ago via bitly
In London, the Iraq Inquiry continue. Yesterday the Inquiry headed by John Chilcot heard from Sally Keeble about civilian efforts in Iraq during the early stages of the Iraq War (link goes to video and text options). The thurst of her testimony is Clare Short's lying. I don't believe Keeble. In 2001, in London, I emerged from the ladies' room to be greeted with, "Are you okay?" My response, "I've been trapped in there with Clare Short for 20 minutes." Everyone at the table, including one Miliband brother, laughed knowingly. I know Clare distantly and it stays distant by choice. I'm not a fan of Clare's (nor she of me). But one thing she is and has always been is straightforward. If she makes mistakes, she'll take her lumps and then some. I don't hate her but our personalities do not mesh and never have. (And never will.) However, if she says something happened, it happened. Keeble's testimony blames Clare for the disorder in Iraq, blames Clare's resignation for forcing her (Keeble) to stay on (lest people think she too was resigning for 'political' reasons) and lists various 'projects' that Clare allegedly erred by not backing. Including a 6 million (apparently pounds and not dollars) port project that, to be honest, I don't think anyone would have backed that early into the war. That's a huge sum of money that lower-level Keeble wanted committed. When all of this was allegedly going on, Keeble did not raise objections. She not only waited until Claire was gone to complain, she waited until she (Keeble) had left the department of International Development herself. If there were huge glaring errors taking place, it was Keeble's job to report them in real time. When she finally did make her assertions, they were looked into by Tony Blair's government. Blair had no reason to protect Clair -- who'd walked out on his cabinet -- but the investigation resulted in a conclusion that the charges were unfounded. I don't know Keeble and have no way of knowing whether she was lying or honestly believes her account for whatever reason. But Clare -- and I'm no fan of Clare's -- is known to take her share of the blame pie and then some. I was hoping Chris Ames (Iraq Inquiry Digest) would cover Keeble's testimony but he didn't so I'm stating the above and, with that, we're done with Keeble.
Today the Chilcot Inquiry heard from Andy Bearpark (Director Operations and Infrastructure in the Coalition Provisional Authority, 2003 to 2004), Martin Howard (Director General Operational Policy, Ministry of Defence, 2004 to 2007), and MP Bob Ainsworth (Minister of State for the Armed Forces, 2007 to 2009, Secretary of State for Defence, 2009) (link goes to transcript and video options). Of the three, we'll zoom in on Bob Ainsworth's testimony. He testified that the issue most presented to him by British troops "was the issues of rest and recuperation" on "the welfare package" -- benefits to the families.
MP Bob Ainsworth: I think you have got to look at the individual instances, because I think that there are some provisions that are absolutely ideal for the provision, you know, through the regimental system, but then there are others where that's not -- I mean, when you have a bereaved family -- I mean, we had to do, I think, considerable work to try to make sure that -- I mean, we simply weren't getting it right, to tell you the truth, and there was a need for, you know, improvement there. Again and again, we were letting people down, I think. [. . . leaping ahead over ten minutes] I saw working with the charities and the agencies as a tour, to help us fill in some of those gaps and fill them in appropriately. So, for instance, in the area of dealing with and helping the bereaved, I don't think that that was some of the improvement that we made we could ever have made on our own, and we certainly couldn't have put in a system that would have helped on our own. So we had to have the help and advice of the Legion, the War Widows' Association. We uwed thos organisations to do analyses of how we actually treated people and get some of the complaints back. We organised a forum. It was somewhere off Pall Mall -- I can't remember exactly where the venue was now -- and we used those organisations to do it, where we brought in people who had been bereaved, who were only to happy to help us because one of the main motivations of bereaved families is often to make sure that you learn lessons from the loss, you know, of their loved ones. But we used them to, you know to, pick up all the challenges that we got and try to improve the service. Now, as a result of that, we then got the British Legion to actually run a service for us, which -- I can't remember the title of it now, but it is like a Citizens' Advice Bureau for -- you know, for bereaved families. Now, we could never do that as MoD [Ministry of Defence]. I don't think we could ever establish the trust with the individuals. You needed that kind of bit of independence, that bit of, you know, arm's length, that getting the British Legion to do it for you gives you. So you know, we then employed them to run some of the improvements that flowed from some of the analyses that we had done of where we were not doing a perfect job.
[. . .]
Committee Member Usha Prashar: I want to look at the question of the MoD dealing with the families because one of the issues that has been raised with us is the MoD's attitude towards families and, in view of the families of the service personnel killed in Iraq, they say that the MoD's attitude is either dismissive or overly defensive. To what extent do you think this criticism is justified and were you aware of that view?
MP Bob Ainsworth: People deal with bereavement in different ways and I have met lots of bereaved families. In some cases, almost no matter what you do, you know, you cannot, you know, make things better; anger is a part of bereavement. You just have to accept that and try not to make the situation worse. But there were areas that we were not getting right.
Committee Member Usha Prashar: Such as?
MP Bob Ainsworth: Well, the way that we communicated with people, sometimes we would appoint a visiting officer to a particular family and that visiting officer would get deployed and then they would wind up with another person, having just got used to the person they were supposed to have as liaison. There are some horror stories when you dig into, you know, how people have actually been, you know, dealt with at an individual level and, I mean, you can never fully mitigate -- in a big organisation, you can never fully mitigate those things, and that is why we organised this event with the War Widows and with the -- the War Widows' Association and with the Royal British Legion to try to pick the brains of those who had had to deal with us, you know, to expose our own failings and then to put systems in place that would, to some degree, pick them up better.
Committee Member Usha Prashar: But what priority did you personally give to dealing with families of those killed in Iraq? What did you personally do? Was that a personal priority?
MP Bob Ainsworth: Improving the system was a personal priority. I had to meet a lot of families, some of them on more than one occasion, and it was important that you did. I know that Des Browne did, and he did it when he was Secretary of State almost systematically. It was important that you didn't just take what you were being told through the system, but you actually got ground truth, and you can't do that all the time and people don't want to do that. There are lots of people who have lost their loved ones who, the last thing they want to do is talk to the Secretary of State for Defence or the armed forces minister. You know, they have got other things, you know that -- in dealing with their bereavement, there are other things that are more important to them, but by doing that from time to time, you did get, you know, a personal handle on, you know, the way some of these systems potentially could be improved.
The answers or 'answers' never got any clearer. From death to life, Lourdes Garcia-Navarro (NPR's Morning Edition -- link has text and audio) reports from Hannah Allam's Baghdad baby shower. The McClatchy correspondent joins Deborah Haynes (Times of London) and Nada Bakri (New York Times) in reporting on the Iraq War from Iraq while pregnant. Garcia-Navarro notes, "Since the war started, dozens of women have been sent to cover this conflict. It's been our choice, but for many of us, home and family have had to be parked at the blast wall gates." Leila Fadel (Washington Post), Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) and Liz Sly (Los Angeles Times) are mentioned in the report (they attended the shower and, of course, cover Iraq). Other women reporting from Iraq for US outlets have included Alissa J. Rubin, Ellen Knickmeyer, Nancy A. Youssef, Deborah Amos (author of Eclipse of the Sunnis: Power, Exile, and Upheaval in the Middle East), Cara Buckley, Martha Raddatz, Kimberly Dozier, Sabrina Tavernise, Jill Carroll, Anna Badkhen, Gina Chon, Louise Roug, Tina Susman, Alexandra Zavis, Alice Fordham, Kim Gamel, Katarina Kratovac, Rebecca Santana and, of course, the Iraqi women who are part of McClatchy's Baghdad Bureau. Have included. That is not a complete list. (And it's off the top of my head so anyone forgotten was by accident and not a sleight -- except one -- the most famous Iraq 'reporter' whom I'm really not in the mood to include, the former Ms. NYT for those still waking up, helped sell the war.) Everyone listed has their strengths and a unique quality that set their reports aside from others (male and female) reporting from the region. Women have long covered wars. The Iraq War demonstrated that only more so. Lourdes' report aired this morning -- certain fact checkers might want to check their facts before falsely claiming -- as one has -- that the report aired over weekend. The Iraqi women working for McClatchy include correspondent Sahar Issa (who balances work and family in a war zone) and we'll transition on over to violence her country saw today.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing which injured two pilgrims, a Baghdad mortar attack which claimed the life of 1 pilgrim and left nine more injured, a Baghdad roadside bombing which injured three pilgrims, another which injured five, another which claimed the lives of 2 and left five wounded, another which injured four, another which injured one and two more Baghdad mortar attacks which claimed the lives of 3 pilgrims and left eight wounded. Issa explains the pilgrimage is "to commemorate the martyrdom of Iman Musa al Kathim on July 8." Reuters adds 2 women were shot dead in Mosul and Tikrit was the locale for an assassination attempt on Iraiya member Qutaiba Ibrahim al-Jouburi.
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