Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Cranky Will Not Be Stopped







The increasingly ridiculous US State Dept issued the following today:

The U.S. Department of State launched its fourth annual “Free the Press” campaign today as part of the Department’s efforts to honor the fundamental importance of a free and independent media in the days leading up to World Press Freedom Day on May 3.
As in years past, the Department will profile on a daily basis journalists or media outlets that are censored, attacked, threatened, disappeared or otherwise oppressed because of their reporting. The purpose of the campaign is to speak out for reporters who otherwise cannot; to call on governments to protect the right to free expression; and to emphasize our own commitment to promoting free expression here in the United States and around the world.
From April 27 to May 1, the Department Spokesperson will highlight emblematic cases of journalists or press outlets under threat around the world at the Daily Press Briefing. The cases will be profiled on www.HumanRights.gov and they will be tweeted out using the hashtag #FreethePress.
For more information, please contact Chanan Weissman at weissmanc@state.gov or 202 647 4043.
For more information on the State Department’s work on democracy, human rights, and labor rights follow @State_DRL or @HumanRightsGov, or visit http://www.state.gov/j/drl/

Why does the State Dept even still exist?

It mistakes itself for the Defense Dept.  It doesn't do diplomacy.  It's a crooked organization that fails to even attempt its mission.

And now they want to pretend to care about the press?

In the same month when they couldn't say one damn word at even one daily press briefing about journalist Ned Parker who had to leave Iraq due to threats made on social media, Iraqi TV and verbal attacks by Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

As if that wasn't bad enough, the vile Luay al-Khatteb and Abbask Hadhim then attacked  Ned.  We called that out April 18th.  John Bundock (Now Lebanon via Business Insider) takes on the vile nonsense noting:

Abusing their positions, certain sectarian 'fellows' are resorting to networks of calumny and demagogical hate speech to score points for their respective camps.
Take, for instance, Luay Al-Khatteeb, Brooking Institute's non-resident fellow.
Al-Khatteeb was a victim of Saddam Hussein's regime, having been interrogated at age 10 and spent years as an internally displaced person. It's understandable if he bears a grudge against the ex-Baathists whom ISIS appeals to for constituents.
Such feelings, however, cannot excuse ignoring the threats many of his countrymen and journalists now face from Iran-backed militias.
Writing for Huffington Post with Dr. Abbas Kadhim (a professor at John Hopkins' SAIS), Al-Khatteeb dismissed an Asaib Ahl al-Haqq affiliate channel's targeting of Ned Parker, saying Parker's departure "could be handled in a better fashion" and that "such [a] headline is God's sent gift to Bathists [sic] and pro ISIS as it put the future of free journalism in Iraq at stake," before writing a paean to Iranian-infiltrated Popular Mobilization Units.
[. . .]
As one Iraqi researcher remarked, "Ganging up on international reporters when they say something you don't like actually asserts Ned Parker's claims."

The State Dept can't even verbally defend Ned Parker but we're supposed to pretend that they're going to defend other members of the press?

Nor did they even note Iraqi journalist Thaer Ali who was executed by a firing squad in Mosul today -- an ISIS firing squad.

In other State Dept embarrassments, let's note this from today's press briefing by spokesperson Jeff Rathke:

QUESTION: Okay. So on Iraq, there are reforms in the Iraqi armed forces – it happened in the past and still happening, and also in the Peshmerga divisions. Is the United States behind these reforms or endorsing these reforms in any way? Because one of the Iraqi lawmakers accused the United States of appointing or forcing Iraqi Government to appoint one of the Sunni leaders for the Mosul operations. And that’s one.
The other one is on the U.S. veterans joined Peshmerga in Iraq. What is the status for them when they come back or when they’re injured or killed – for their family and also for themselves?

MR RATHKE: Well, the first question, I’m not aware of those reports to which you’re referring so I don’t have any comment on those specifics. Of course, we have joint operations centers in the Kurdish region as well as in Baghdad, and we work closely with our Iraqi counterparts as they – as they look at how they want to carry forward the fight against ISIL. But I don’t have any comment on those.
And certainly, decisions about how Iraq’s forces will respond, whether it’s in Mosul or anywhere else, are decisions made by Iraq’s leaders, not by the United States.

QUESTION: And there was a response by the U.S. Ambassador to Baghdad Stuart Jones about this, and I was wondering if you have any more than that that he had, that he said that the appointing commander of the Mosul operations was not U.S.-initiated.

MR RATHKE: Well, I think that’s exactly right.


MR RATHKE: And so I don’t have anything --

QUESTION: The second question?

MR RATHKE: -- to add to it. The second question?

QUESTION: Was - did the U.S. – some – voluntarily some U.S. veterans joining --

MR RATHKE: Oh, well, we have long advised American citizens against travel to Iraq. No American citizens who might possibly be there in any kind of capacity fighting or doing so with approval or any sort of support of the United States Government, so I don’t have any comment on the --

QUESTION: Will it be an issue when they come back to U.S.?

MR RATHKE: I don’t have any specific comment on that.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MR RATHKE: Well, again, I don’t have any comment on that.
Yes, go ahead --

QUESTION: Wait, no, no, no, just to follow this up --

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MR RATHKE: Okay, sorry. Brad, go ahead.

QUESTION: I mean, he raised a good point. Is it – is this a criminable offense, fighting for the Peshmerga?

MR RATHKE: Well, that would be a Department of Justice question.

QUESTION: What are you advising American citizens about --

MR RATHKE: Well, we’re advising American citizens against travel to Iraq.


MR RATHKE: And that applies across the board. So --

QUESTION: But you’re not putting out any specific warning – this government – about taking a weapon and joining a non-state military group and fighting?

QUESTION: Or even another --

MR RATHKE: Well, again, that’s --

QUESTION: -- country’s military.

MR RATHKE: Well, that’s – I think is a separate – would be a separate question. But that would be a Department of Justice question. I’m happy to check with them and see if they have guidance that they’re able to offer.

QUESTION: Are you aware – are you aware of whether Homeland Security officials would be taking a closer look at Americans who say they’re coming back from Iraq?

MR RATHKE: I’d encourage you to ask – I’d encourage you to ask DHS colleagues about that.

First, for weeks now the press has been reporting on this US veteran or that US veteran who's gone back to Iraq to fight alongside Iraqi forces against the Islamic State.

If idiots like Rathke need a legal opinion that, they've certainly had plenty of time to get one.

The US government is backing the Iraqi government against the Islamic State.

Historically -- and legally -- there are no charges to be brought against American citizens for that.  (They can be charged with War Crimes if they participate in those.)

If Americans go to Iraq to fight on behalf of the Islamic State, it's less clear cut.  On the face of it, an American could face charges for that upon returning from Iraq.  But it's also true that a strong defense attorney might be able to successfully argue against charges based upon the fact -- pay attention here, Barack -- that Congress has not authorized the White House's current operations.

So the issue of fighting itself wouldn't be the way the government pursued charges.  Instead, they'd most likely go with "aiding terrorists" or terrorism itself with their argument grounded on the declaration of the Islamic State as a terrorist group by the United States. (The US government designated the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant a terrorist organization on December 17, 2004.)

As for urging Americans not to travel to Iraq or any other area, that's a warning for their own safety, it's not an edict, it's not a law, it has no teeth and is not enforceable.

In the real word, AFP reports that United Nations spokesperson Eliana Nabaa states that a UN worker ("a liason in Iraq's Diyala province") was kidnapped Sunday in Baquba.
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