Saturday, January 26, 2013

It's called justice



Finally, in the US, Aaron Swartz has passed away.  John Halle (Corrente) explains:
Aaron Swartz, who committed suicide on Friday, was by all accounts a remarkable person. But he was by no means a radical. In his brief role as an organizer with the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, he was among those who were convinced that with sufficient pressure from its activist base, the Obama administration would eventually reveal its deeply obscured roots in traditional New Deal/Great Society liberalism.
It hardly needs to be said that those of us who argued against him at the time, as I did, take no pleasure in having been proven right in the years since. The most tragic indication came two years ago when the Obama justice department charged Swartz himself with a 12 count violation of the 1986 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act for his attempt to acquire, via the MIT server, the JSTOR scholarly archive and make it available to the general public.
[. . .]
Those of us who only know of Swartz's work in passing shouldn't feel any compunction about doing so, and there is plenty of blame to go around.
Most conspicuously, there is the Obama administration, and its deep pocket contributors in the high tech, publishing and entertainment industries who have attempted to make what they call the "theft" and what Swartz regarded as the liberation of intellectual property a crime meriting the most severe punishment. A ridiculously disproportionate 35 year sentence was being aggressively pursued by Massachusetts Federal Attorney, Carmen Ortiz who likely viewed the prosecution as an opportunity to raise her profile within the party. The strategy seemed to be working: Massachusetts Governor and close friend of Obama Deval Patrick mentioned her as a likely successor.

JANUARY 15TH: "Aaron Swartz is a computer genius who took his own life because the Dept. of Justice was being used as a corporate enforcer/assassin."






Today Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's forces continued their assault on the Iraqi people who dared to exercise their Constitutional rights.  Yesterday Nouri's forces sent two protesters (and one reporter) to the hospital and that January 7th, Nouri's forces assaulted four protesters in Mosul.  And today?  In Falluja, Nouri's forces fired on protesters.  Kitabat reports Sheikh Abdul-Maliki al-Saadi accused Nouri of attempting to turn peaceful demonstrations into bloody attacks.  What happened?

There are various accounts.    Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports, "The shooting began, according to witnesses, after Iraqi soldiers ordered demonstrators to stop filming security force positions. Protesters, in turn, responded by the throwing tear gas and non-lethal explosive devices known as flashbangs, witnesses said." His is one of the strongest reports and a reminder that, even today, real reporting can be done.  And he Tweets.

Alsumaria reports that 5 protesters are dead and 31 more injured -- six of whom are children -- including 1 Alsumaria TV journalist.  They note that Mohammed Dulaimi used his sermon to call for the judiciary to protect the protesters from the military.  It also notes that the military first attempted to block the protesters from entering the square. Prensa Latina notes that there are accounts which state "that police officers surpassed a religious ceremony and sparked off protests." All Iraq News notes that the 5 killed were attempting to take part in a sit-in. AFP goes with, "The rally had been moving to an area in east Fallujah but was blocked off by soldiers, an army captain said. Protesters began throwing bottles of water at the troops who then opened fire, the officer said."  BBC News concurs, "The clashes erupted after the soldiers prevented people joining an anti-government demonstration in the mainly Sunni city after Friday prayers."   Reuters offers, "A local television channel showed demonstrators approaching the army vehicles and throwing stones and water bottles while troops tried to keep them away by firing in the air. But images also showed one soldier aiming his rifle at demonstrators."  Dar Addustour columnist As Sheik notes that the protesters and their demands have been repeatedly ignored and that it appears any pretext for aggravation has been seized upon by the security forces but that there must be no more Iraqi blood spilled at the hands of the military.  Kitabat explains that the violence is leading to growing chorus of calls for civil disobedience in Iraq.

Dr. Khaled Khalaf, with Falluja General Hospital, tells AFP that the death toll rose to six.  Al Mada reports that by 4:30 pm Iraqi time, Falluja General Hospital could count 6 dead and sixty injured -- all of the injured were protesters.  Hospital sources reveal to Al Mada that three of the dead died from gun shots to their heads.  The same sources state the death toll may increase because a number of the injured have vital injuries (including chest wounds, neck wounds and abdomen wounds).   The shootings did not end the protests, Al Mada reports, not even in Falluja.  A number of protesters stayed or returned in the afternoon and then they let the army know that they could throw stones.  Some of the video that's being pimped online, check the position of the sun in the video and note that it's a small number before you buy into the myth that poor, little Iraqi soldiers were attacked and then had to fire.

Who's the leader in Iraq?  Nouri al-Maliki holds the title of prime minister.  (Iraqi President Jalal Talabani remains in Germany seeking medical treatment after suffering a stroke a few weeks ago.)  But who offered leadership today and who offered clinical insanity?   All Iraq News notes that Shi'ite cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr denounced the violence in a statement and noted that the security forces are tasked with protecting Iraqi citizens and ensuring their safety.  Kitabat quotes the statement noting "We denounce and condemn today's armed assault on demonstrators in Falluja."  The events were a daily double for Nouri al-Maliki's paranoia.  All Iraq News notes his response was to immediately declare that the protesters in Falluja, the injured ones, were Ba'athists or al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. 
Amnesty International issued the following today:
Iraq must immediately investigate the killings of protestors in accordance with international standards, Amnesty International said today after several people died when troops in the city of Fallujah fired on anti-government demonstrators who had reportedly thrown stones at them.

Several others were said to be seriously injured during Friday's protest, the latest in an ongoing and largely peaceful campaign protesting against the government and its abusive treatment of detainees.

"The Iraqi authorities must ensure that the investigation they have announced into these killings is independent, impartial and that the methods and findings are made public.  Anyone found responsible for abuses – including anyone found to have used excessive force against protestors – must be brought to justice," said Ann Harrison, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International.
"The authorities should also ensure that security forces are trained and properly equipped to police demonstrations and other gatherings in a manner which respects human rights, including those where some protestors turn violent."
There were conflicting reports about what had caused the shooting by the Iraqi troops. However, subsequently further clashes erupted and army vehicles were burned. There have been claims that some Iraqi soldiers were also injured in the incident. 
The UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials and the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials both lay down clear standards for the policing of demonstrations and the use of firearms, including by armed forces.
Since last December tens of thousands of mainly Sunni Muslim Iraqis have taken to the streets expressing discontent with the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a Shi'a Muslim, at the continuing discrimination against them in Iraq. The daily and largely peaceful demonstrations took place mainly in predominantly Sunni Muslim provinces, including Anbar, Mosul and Salah al-Din.
The protests were triggered by the detention of several bodyguards of the Finance Minister Rafi'e al-Issawi, a senior Sunni Muslim political leader, on terrorism charges. The move was thought by many Sunni Muslims to be politically motivated. There are concerns that increasing sectarian tensions may result in further violence. 
There continue to be frequent bomb attacks by armed groups targeting civilians. For example, dozens of pilgrims for Shi'a Muslim festival of Arba'een were killed at the end of last month; this week several people were killed by car bombs in Baghdad and more than 20 people were killed by a suicide bomber at a Shi'a Muslim mosque in Tuz Khurmato.
Protesters continue to call for respect for due process and legislative measures - including an amnesty law and a review of anti-terror legislation - and for an end to human rights violations against prisoners and detainees in Iraq.

For years Amnesty International has documented cases of torture during interrogations while held incommunicado; deaths in custody in circumstances suggesting that torture was the cause; detainees being coerced into making "confessions"; and unfair trials, sometimes resulting in the death penalty.
A few days before the protests started, Amnesty International contacted the Iraqi government about dozens of reported cases of human rights violations against detainees and prisoners. The Iraqi government has yet to reply.
In one such case in 2012, four men were reportedly tortured while held incommunicado for several weeks at the Directorate of Counter-Crime in Ramadi, Anbar Province before their release in April 2012. Their "confessions" were then broadcast on local television.
During their trial, they told the Anbar Criminal Court that their "confessions" had been extracted under torture. A medical examination presented to the court of one of the men's injuries indicated bruising and burning consistent with his allegations. 
"As far as we know, no official investigation into these allegations of  torture is known to have been held," said Harrison.
"It is imperative that investigations into this – and the dozens of other cases that we have raised with the Iraqi authorities – are carried out as a matter of urgency, particularly as these men are now on death row.
"Perpetrators of abuse need to know that they will face the consequences of their actions, and victims have a right to truth, justice and reparation."
The four men were sentenced to death on 3 December 2012, convicted of offences under Iraq's Anti-Terror Law.

Ban Ki-Moon is the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the UN issued the following today:

The Secretary-General strongly condemns the recent wave of terrorist attacks across Iraq, which have killed hundreds of people and left many more wounded. He regrets the killing and injuring of a number of protestors today in Fallujah. Recognizing the right to peaceful assembly, he calls on all parties to exercise maximum restraint.
The Secretary-General renews his call of last December to Iraqi political leaders and Members of the Council of Representatives to engage in an inclusive dialogue, so as to strengthen the unity and security of the country. The United Nations, through the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), remains committed and stands ready to assist the people and the Government of Iraq in building a peaceful, democratic, and prosperous country.

In addition, Al Mada notes that 16 Iraqi civil society organizations declared their support for the protesters and called on Nouri al-Maliki to listen to their demands.  Kitabat reports the Chair of the Iraqi Institute for Strategic Studies, Sheikh Khamis al-Dagger, has declared that members of parliament should launch a boycott on all sessions of Parliament until the demands of the protesters are heard and he termed today's events "the Falluja massacre."  Though it's not a boycott of Parliament, Kitabat reports that Yassin al-Mutlaq issued a statement today declaring the National Dialogue Front (whose leader is Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq) is withdrawing from provincial elections to protest the goverment's refusal to listen to the demands of the demonstrators.  Meanwhile at the US State Dept today, spokesperson Victoria Nuland continued her war on the Iraqi people.

QUESTION: Staying in the region, Iraq?


QUESTION: A very quick question: According to reports, five protestors got killed today in Fallujah, Iraq. Have – are you able to confirm – during protests by the Iraqi security forces.

MS. NULAND: I'm not in a position to confirm numbers, but I will say that we are concerned about the use of deadly force during today's protests in Iraq. We understand that the Iraqi Government has now issued a statement indicating that they are initiating a very prompt investigation into the incidents, and that they have called for restraint by security forces. We obviously stand ready to assist in that investigation if asked, but we would also say that as the government and government forces show restraint, the demonstrators also have a responsibility to exercise their right to protest in a nonviolent manner, as well as to continue to press their demands through the political process.

Why have an investigation of any kind?  Didn't Nuland just declare from on high that the "government forces show restraint"?  She's a human rights nightmare.  Nouri and his wonderful forces?  Dar Addustur reports on the Lance Corporal just convicted in Basra for the rape and murder of a four-and-a-half-year-old girl?  Dar Addustour reports that Nouri imposed a curfew on Falluja and 'the Ministry of Defense' announced they would launch an investigation into what took place today.  The Ministry of the Defense?  I forget, who is the Minister of Defense?

Oh, that's right, Iraq doesn't have one.   Back in July, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observed, "Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has struggled to forge a lasting power-sharing agreement and has yet to fill key Cabinet positions, including the ministers of defense, interior and national security, while his backers have also shown signs of wobbling support."  He was supposed to nominate them and have them confirmed by Parliament before December 2010 wrapped up but US President Barack Obama gifted Nouri with a second term via a contract (the Erbil Agreement) which meant Nouri didn't have to do the things -- like form a Cabinet -- that the Constitution demanded he do.  By not nominating someone to head the ministry, Nouri controls it.  That was his point in not nominating people to head the security ministries -- it was a power-grab. 

We'll note another Tweet about what took place in Falljua today:

In case you forgot, Iraq is no better off than it was a decade ago: Iraqi Army opens fire on protesters throwing rocks. 
View summary

RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"
"More blood on Nouri's hands: 5 dead, 31 injured"
"Editorial boards and members of Congress weigh in"
"Quesadillas in the Kitchen"
"Where's the recovery?"
"Thoughts on Hillary's bad testimony"
"That awful Tell Me More"
"The effects of reality TV"
"unconstitutional rules the court"
"the drone warrior may face push back"
"Diane Rehm and her Three Idiots and Her Fake Show"
"It is on Hillary"
"Alexander Cockburn is dead and CounterPunch decaying"
"The Drone War and Kerry's confirmation hearing"
"Another JJ Abrams film?"
"JJ Abrams: Genius or fool?"
"No tears for the Justice Dept"
"He's Going To Scare You To Death"
"Free Lynn!"
"Nikita: Aftermath"
"The Drone War"
"Saluting a strong voice"


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