CELEBRITY IN CHIEF BARRY O THOUGHT HE HAD A GREAT PLAN. (HE MAY BE THE ONLY ONE WHO STILL BELIEVES IN HIS PLAN.) SEND A COUPLE OF BORDER AGENTS INTO MEXICO CITY TO POSE AS THE FIRST FAMILY OF MEXICO AND TRICK JUSTIN BIEBER INTO BELIEVING HE'D MET THE PRESIDENT OF MEXICO. LET JUSTIN TWEET THAT. THEN WHEN THE MEXICAN PRESIDENT RESPONDS HE'S NEVER MET JUSTIN, BIEBER WILL LOOK LIKE THE WORLD'S BIGGEST LIAR AND NO ONE WILL EVEN BE THINKING ABOUT BARRY O'S OWN LIES.
BUT, AS THE DAHLIBAMA ADMITTED TO THESE REPORTERS TODAY, THE ONLY ONE TO REALLY CARE ABOUT THE ABOVE STUNT WAS TMZ "AND I'M STILL BEING RAKED OVER THE COALS!"
JOHN DICKERSON OF SLATE MAKES LIKE RACHEL GREEN'S MOTHER ("ONCE A CHEATER, ALWAYS A CHEATER") BY DECLARING, "ONCE A PRESIDENT LOSES HIS CRED, IT'S HARD TO GET IT BACK."
AND ONCE YOU'RE KNOWN AS THE LIAR, PEOPLE START LOOKING AT YOUR OTHER CLAIMS -- LIKE THE CLAIM, IN THE LAST WEEKS OF THE 2012 ELECTIONS, THAT THE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE HAD DROPPED.
BUT BARRY O ISN'T WORRIED, HE TOLD THESE REPORTERS, BECAUSE HE'S GOT A PLAN TO MAKE BRITNEY SPEARS THINK SHE'S MET THE PRIME MINISTER OF CANDADA.
"OH, YEAH," HE SAID CHUCKLING, "THAT'S GOING TO CHANGE THE CONVERSATION!"
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
US Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Budget Committee and serves on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. Today her office issued the following:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Murray Press Office
November 19, 2013 (202) 224-2834
MURRAY SPEAKS OUT AGAINST MILITARY SEXUAL ASSAULT
VIDEO: “These are dangers that cannot be accepted, and none of our courageous servicemembers should ever have to face.”
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, as the Senate debates the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) joined a bipartisan group of female Senators on the floor to speak out against sexual assault in the military and call on her colleagues to support some of the historic changes being made to prevent this scourge. Sen. Murray also highlighted her legislation with Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), which has been included in the NDAA bill, to provide trained military lawyers to victims of sexual assault in all service branches.
“When our best and our brightest put on a uniform and join the United States Armed Forces, they do so with the understanding they will sacrifice much in the name of defending our country and its people. But that sacrifice should never have to come in the form of abuse from their fellow service members,” said Senator Murray in her speech. “Thanks to bipartisan cooperation, the work of thousands of dedicated advocates, and the voices of countless victims who have bravely spoken out we are poised to make a difference on an issue that women everywhere have brought out of the shadows.”
In August, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel directed immediate implementation of several measures to “gain greater consistency of effort and enhance oversight, investigative quality, pretrial investigations and victim support” in cases of military sexual assault. Among other measures, the directive includes implementation of trained lawyers to provide victims in all branches with guidance through the legal process, similar to the legislation introduced by Senators Murray and Ayotte.
Full text of Senator Murray’s speech below:
“I first want to thank Senator Mikulski and Senator Collins for helping to bring many of us to the floor today to discuss an issue that: cuts across partisan lines, has plagued our nation’s military, and has gone unaddressed for far too long.
“Military Sexual Assault is an epidemic. And it has rightly been identified as such by the Pentagon. It is absolutely unconscionable that a fellow servicemember, the person you rely on to have your back and to be there for you, would commit such a terrible crime. It is simply appalling they could commit such a personal violation of their brother or sister in uniform. But, what’s worse, and what has made change an absolute necessity - is the prevalence of these crimes.
“Recent estimates tell us that 26,000 servicemembers are sexually assaulted each year. And just over 3,000 of those assaults are reported. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, about one in five female veterans treated by VA has suffered from military sexual trauma. One in five.
“That is certainly not the act of a comrade. It is not in keeping with the ethos of any of the services. And it can no longer be tolerated. And that is why the women of the Senate have been united in calling for action.
“There has been much made of the fact that there are now 20 women in the Senate – a historic number that I think we all agree still needs to grow. But it’s also important to remember that the number alone should not be what’s historic. Instead, it is what we do with our newfound strength to address the issues that are impacting women across the country. With this bill, the first Defense Authorization of this Congress, we are doing exactly that.
“We are taking historic action to help servicemembers access to the resources they need to seek justice without fear. And, one way this bill will help do just that, how it will: protect our servicemembers, assist victims, and punish criminals -- is through the inclusion of a bill I introduced, across party lines, with Senator Ayotte.
“Our bill, which is included in the base bill, creates a new category of legal advocates, called Special Victims’ Counsels, who would be responsible for advocating on behalf of the interests of the victim. These SVCs would also advise the victim on the range of legal issues they may face.
“For example, when a young Private First Class is intimidated into not reporting a sexual assault by threatening her with unrelated legal charges -- like underage drinking -- this new advocate would be there to protect her and tell her the truth.
“Since January, the Air Force has provided these advocates to over 500 victims through an innovative new pilot program. Ten months later, the results speak for themselves: 92% of victims are “extremely satisfied” with the advice and support their SVC lent them throughout the military judicial process, 98% would recommend other victims request these advocates, 93% felt that these advocates effectively fought on their behalf.
“In describing their experience with an advocate, one victim shared that, “Going through this was the hardest thing I ever had to do in my life. Having a Special Victim Counsel helped tremendously . . . No words could describe how much I appreciate having one of these advocates.”
“Through our bipartisan efforts the Defense Authorization bill will also enhance the responsibilities and authority of DoD’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office – also known as SAPRO.
“This improvement will help to provide better oversight of efforts to combat military sexual assault across the Armed Forces. SAPRO would also be required to regularly track and report on a range of MSA statistics, including assault rates, the number of cases brought to trial, and compliance within each of the individual services.
“Some of this data collection and reporting is already being done.
“So this requirement would not be more burdensome, but it would give that office authority to track and report to us on the extent of the problem.
“I believe the great strength of our military is in the character and dedication of our men and women who wear the uniform. It is the courage of these Americans, to volunteer to serve, that are the Pentagon’s greatest asset. I know it is said a lot, but take a moment to really think about it.
“Our servicemembers volunteer to face danger, to put their lives on the line, to protect the country and all its people. When we think of those dangers, we think of IEDs. We think of battles with insurgents, we shouldn’t have to focus on the threats they encounter from their fellow servicemember.
“And we should never, never allow for a culture in which the fear of reporting a crime allows a problem like this to fester year after year.
“These are dangers that cannot be accepted, and none of our courageous servicemembers should ever have to face. Earlier this year when I asked Navy Secretary Ray Maybus about the sexual assault epidemic, I was glad that he told me that “concern” wasn’t a strong enough word to describe how he feels about this problem. He said he is angry about it.
“And I know many of us here, particularly many of my female colleagues who have dedicated so much time to this issue, share this feeling and want to put an end to this epidemic. So, I am hopeful that we can work quickly to do right by our nation’s heroes.
“Because when our best and our brightest put on a uniform and join the United States Armed Forces, they do so with the understanding they will sacrifice much in the name of defending our country and its people. But that sacrifice should never have to come in the form of abuse from their fellow service members.
“I’m proud that the women of the Senate have taken this issue head on. And what should never be lost in the effort to enact the many changes that have been proposed, is that for too long this was an issue that was simply swept under the rug. That’s no longer the case.
“Thanks to bipartisan cooperation, the work of thousands of dedicated advocates, and the voices of countless victims who have bravely spoken out -- we are poised to make a difference on an issue that women everywhere have brought out of the shadows.”
Press Secretary | New Media Director
Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray
Mobile: (202) 365-1235
Office: (202) 224-2834
From the Senate, let's note the way the US government spends the money they collect in taxes. Kristina Wong (Washington Times) reports that while other countries are below poverty level and Iraq rakes in over $100 billion in oil, Iraq remains the target of charity. Specifically, there's a reconstruction fund that two countries are pulling out of -- but not the United States. And the US government gave Iraq $470 million of US tax payer dollars in Fiscal Year 2013 and, for Fiscal Year 2014, the US government plans to give $500 million. This has nothing to do with the $573 million dollar loan -- again these are US tax payer dollars -- the US government is granting Iraq to purchase military weapons.
There is some concern over all the US tax dollars being poured into Iraq. Last week, Brett McGurk, the State Dept's Deputy Assistant Secretary for Iraq and Iran Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, appeared Wednesday before the US House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa (see last week's "Iraq snapshot," "Iraq snapshot" and "Iraq snapshot").
US House Rep Brad Sherman: I want to focus on finances. How much money did we give Iraq this year? How much do they get from oil? And are they pumping oil as quickly as they can or are they constraining their production in accordance with OPEC rules?
Brett McGurk: In terms of money, we're not really giving Iraq much money at all anymore. Our assistance levels have gone down dramatically.
US House Rep Brad Sherman: But it's still well over a billion?
Brett McGurk: Uh, no. I believe that the most recent request is now of under a billion. It's gone from 1.5 billion last year to, uh, FY13 [Fiscal Year 2013] to about 880 million. And I can again brief you on the glide path in terms of our overall presence.
The actual request by the State Dept is $1.18 billion. What Wong's reporting on? It's in addition to that. So Wong's reporting $1.073 billion for Iraq in FY14 plus the $1.18 billion the State Dept is requesting for Iraq.
As we noted last week, Brett McGurk lied to Congress over and over.. Let's stay with that theme for a moment. Today the UNHCR issued the following:
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) calls for renewed efforts from states to relocate former Camp Ashraf residents, also known as Camp New Iraq.
Since the 1 September 2013 attack on Camp New Iraq where 52 residents died, there has been limited progress in moving the remaining residents to a third country. UNHCR encourages all Member States to share in the international efforts, admit residents and offer them a long-term solution.
UNHCR and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) also call upon the Government of Iraq to take all possible measures to ensure the safety of the residents. UNHCR and UNAMI remain gravely concerned about the fate of seven missing individuals formerly residing in Camp New Iraq who disappeared on 1 September and call on the authorities to locate them, ensure their wellbeing and safeguard them against any forcible return.
Since 2011, UNHCR, together with UNAMI, has been engaged in an effort to find relocation opportunities outside Iraq for some 3,200 former residents of Camp New Iraq. In total, UNHCR has so far been able to secure the relocation to third countries of 300 residents.
As of September, Camp Ashraf in Iraq is empty. All remaining members of the community have been moved to Camp Hurriya (also known as Camp Liberty). Camp Ashraf housed a group of Iranian dissidents who were welcomed to Iraq by Saddam Hussein in 1986 and he gave them Camp Ashraf and six other parcels that they could utilize. In 2003, the US invaded Iraq.The US government had the US military lead negotiations with the residents of Camp Ashraf. The US government wanted the residents to disarm and the US promised protections to the point that US actions turned the residents of Camp Ashraf into protected person under the Geneva Conventions. This is key and demands the US defend the Ashraf community in Iraq from attacks. The Bully Boy Bush administration grasped that -- they were ignorant of every other law on the books but they grasped that one. As 2008 drew to a close, the Bush administration was given assurances from the Iraqi government that they would protect the residents. Yet Nouri al-Maliki ordered the camp repeatedly attacked after Barack Obama was sworn in as US President. July 28, 2009 Nouri launched an attack (while then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was on the ground in Iraq). In a report released this summer entitled "Iraqi government must respect and protect rights of Camp Ashraf residents," Amnesty International described this assault, "Barely a month later, on 28-29 July 2009, Iraqi security forces stormed into the camp; at least nine residents were killed and many more were injured. Thirty-six residents who were detained were allegedly tortured and beaten. They were eventually released on 7 October 2009; by then they were in poor health after going on hunger strike." April 8, 2011, Nouri again ordered an assault on Camp Ashraf (then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was again on the ground in Iraq when the assault took place). Amnesty International described the assault this way, "Earlier this year, on 8 April, Iraqi troops took up positions within the camp using excessive, including lethal, force against residents who tried to resist them. Troops used live ammunition and by the end of the operation some 36 residents, including eight women, were dead and more than 300 others had been wounded. Following international and other protests, the Iraqi government announced that it had appointed a committee to investigate the attack and the killings; however, as on other occasions when the government has announced investigations into allegations of serious human rights violations by its forces, the authorities have yet to disclose the outcome, prompting questions whether any investigation was, in fact, carried out." Those weren't the last attacks. They were the last attacks while the residents were labeled as terrorists by the US State Dept. (September 28, 2012, the designation was changed.) In spite of this labeling, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observed that "since 2004, the United States has considered the residents of Camp Ashraf 'noncombatants' and 'protected persons' under the Geneva Conventions." So the US has an obligation to protect the residents. 3,300 are no longer at Camp Ashraf. They have moved to Camp Hurriyah for the most part. A tiny number has received asylum in other countries. Approximately 100 were still at Camp Ashraf when it was attacked Sunday. That was the second attack this year alone. February 9th of this year, the Ashraf residents were again attacked, this time the ones who had been relocated to Camp Hurriyah. Trend News Agency counted 10 dead and over one hundred injured. Prensa Latina reported, " A rain of self-propelled Katyusha missiles hit a provisional camp of Iraqi opposition Mujahedin-e Khalk, an organization Tehran calls terrorists, causing seven fatalities plus 50 wounded, according to an Iraqi official release." They were attacked again September 1st. Adam Schreck (AP) reported that the United Nations was able to confirm the deaths of 52 Ashraf residents. In addition, 7 Ashraf residents were taken in the assault. This month, in response to questions from US House Rep Sheila Jackson Lee, the State Dept's Deputy Assistant Secretary for Iraq and Iran Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, Brett McGurk, stated, "The seven are not in Iraq."
So today the UNHCR issues a call for action. It's by no means the first time they've done that and they'll do it again as needed. But we're not talking about the United Nations, we're talking about Brett McGurk and the US State Dept.
US House Rep Joseph Wilson: . . . but a real tragedy has been the murders at Camp Ashraf. Since December 2008, when our government turned over the protections of the camp to the Iraqi government, Prime Minister Maliki has repeatedly assured the world that he would treat the residents humanely and also that he would protect them from harm. Yet it has not kept the promise promise as 111 people have been killed in cold blood and more than a thousand wounded in five attacks including the September 1st massacre, what is the United States doing to prevent further attacks and greater loss of life in terms of ensuring the safety and security of the residents
Brett McGurk: Congressman, first let me say thank you for your-your service and your family's service. Speaking for myself and my team who've spent many years in Iraq and have known many friends we've lost in Iraq, it's something we think about every day and it inspires our work and our dedication to do everything possible to succeed under very difficult circumstances. Regarding Camp Ashraf and Camp Liberty, the only place for the MEK and the residents of Camp Liberty to be safe is outside of Iraq. Camp Liberty is a former US military base We lost Americans, right nearby there, as late as the summer of 2010. We lost a number of Americans to rocket fire and indirect fire attacks and our embassy compounds were the most secure facilities in the country as late as the summer of 2010, that was when we had about 60,000 troops in the country in the country doing everything that they possibly could do to hunt down the rocket teams that we knew were targeting us. Uh, there are cells in Iraq -- we believe directed and inspired from Iran -- which are targeting the MEK, there's no question about that. And the only place for the MEK to be safe is outside of Iraq. That is why the State Dept and the Secretary have appointed a colleague of mine, Jonathan Winer, to work this issue full time. to find a place for them to go. Right now, there's about 2900 residents at Camp Liberty and Albania's taken in about 210, Germany's agreed to take in 100 and that's it. We need to find a place for these - these people to go. It is an urgent and humanitarian issue, an international humanitarian crisis. And I went to the camp to meet with the survivors, to speak with the families, and what they told me and I promised them to do everything I possibly could to get them to safety. Uh, it is incumbent upon the Iraqi government to do everything it possibly can to to keep them safe -- and that means the T-walls and the sandbags and everything else. Uh, but the only place for the residents to be safe is outside Iraq. Since the tragic attacks at Camp Liberty on September 1st 1300 Iraqis were killed, 52 people were massacred at Camp Ashraf. This was a tragic, horrifying act. But since then, 1300 Iraqis in the country have been killed. The country is incredibly dangerous and the MEK, to be safe, have to leave Iraq and we want to find a place for them to go.
"It's an urgent and humanitarian issue, an international humanitarian crisis," insisted McGurk to Congress last week.
And the State Dept supposedly takes the issue seriously.
It was the UNHCR fueling the conversation on the Ashraf community today. Not the State Dept. They issued no statement. They didn't even raise the issue at their press briefing today.
Or Wednesday -- the day McGurk testified to Congress.
Or . . .
Do we see the pattern?
McGurk lies to Congress last week claiming that the US is providing leadership and raising awareness but it's done nothing on the most basic terms.
They only hired a person in the middle of September to oversee the issue in response to the over-fifty deaths and 7 kidnappings.
And, here's a little info the administration doesn't want the MEK thinking about, due to the Geneva obligations the US government owes to Camp Ashraf residents, the US government is now legally liable. It didn't honor international law -- law which the US signed onto -- so survivors of the dead can file charges -- international court would be the best place, since this is international law -- against the US government and so could the families of the kidnapped.
Considering the fact that the US government's reputation is mud on the world stage thanks to all the wars and all the illegal spying, international courts could be harsh on the US.
And when the US didn't provide security?
People probably grasp this because the law is so rarely reported on.
The US government is liable.
People get hurt all the time!
Yes, indeed they do.
But, under Geneva, the US was supposed to guarantee the safety of these people.
And the US government can't even argue human error, act of god or any other legal claims.
That's because the US stationed no one, not one person, to protect the residents. But that was the US obligation. And they failed to honor it and people died as a result.
That's a lot of money.
Most likely, the US would reject any legal finding -- which would just demonstrate, even more, to the global community that the US government has no respect for the law.
In other words, if I were MEK, I'd be looking for a lawyer to file charges right away.
To get rich? No. To force the US government to address the 7 hostages and get them out of harm's way.
And, FYI, the court to file in would, in fact be, the International Court of Justice. -- it has jurisdiction over Geneva issues.
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