Saturday, July 09, 2011

Hard at work at not working





Yesterday on Flashpoints (KPFA, Pacifica), guest host Kevin Pina spoke with Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya who has left Canada to report from Libya on the illegal war.

Kevin Pina: We're now joined again by our special correspondent on the ground in Tripoli, Libya Madhi Nazemroaya. He is also a research associate for the Center on Globalization based in Canada. Mahdi, welcome back to Flashpoints on Pacifica.

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya: Thanks for having me again.

Kevin Pina: So what's going on now? I understand you've been seeing on the ground some of the aftermath of the recent bombing campaign by NATO.

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya: Yes, I just to my shock found out today -- I should be out of this shocked phase -- but I found out today that just down the street from me, a couple of minutes, that a children's center was bombed. And this is a place where lists of children with Down Syndrome and handicapped children -- all these types of children and there lists are there and it was a place where vaccinations were given out and children were helped. That was bombed to smitherrens. And all the records of vaccinations for children were destroyed. And the night before, the United Nations had somebody there working on the files and after 12 o'clock, when they left, the place was bombed to smithereens. And an American couple informed me of this. I was also at a ceremony today, a children's festival, held in honor of some children that were killed in the NATO bombings on the state of Libya.

Kevin Pina: You're listening to Flashpoints on
Pacifica Radio and we're talking directly with Tripoli, Libya with our correspondent Mahdi Nazemroaya. Tell me what is the sense on the ground right now? We understand that yesterday the rebels were announcing that several key towns that they were making their drive toward the capitol of Tripoli. What your sense of it there?

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya: I disagree with those reports. From what I've seen, they're still trying to live in a normal street here in Tripoli. The gates of the city have not fallen to anybody. Yes, it's true that there have been shootings in Tripoli at night -- and it only happens at night. Checkpoints do come out at night but this is part of the destabilization effort against this country. The shootings are random, they're not -- they have no objective. They're at police and they're meant to cause chaos. It's purely for destabilization. Even as I mentioned earlier, their initial protests were held at night. They weren't even real protests. They were destroying property and stuff like that. So I disagree with those reports.

Kevin Pina: Now yesterday we'd also talked a little bit about the US banking role in fomenting the crisis there in Libya and we'd talked a little bit about JP Morgan Chase and I think you were meaning to refer Goldman Sachs as well -- although JP Morgan Chase was involved. You were describing to us how a billion dollars went out of this sort of sovereignty and that Goldman Sachs was responsible.

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya: Yes, Goldman Sachs. I wanted to clarify that. It was Goldman Sachs who was responsible and it happened before the war. Their money went missing and Goldman Sachs -- and there was no record of this. And they made the Libyans an offer -- for them to invest and buy a share in Goldman Sachs. What happened was they pushed for this war as well, it's being said in Libya, as a means to keep that money because they stole Libya's money. And there is some sort of a conflict across the Atlantic between HSBC, Goldman Sachs and a group of other banks in the United States for control over Libya's assets right now. This is something that is being talked about in this country. And I'm very sure in the coming days in the United States, Canada, Britain, France, this will become part of the bigger picture and part of the news.

Kevin Pina: Well who's now doing the banking for the National Transitional Council, the so-called rebel forces that are controlling cities like Benghazi?

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya: Well in Benghazi, the Transitional Council's national bank is run by HSBC. They sent specialists there immediately to do this and to set up the new central bank there. The problem with the central bank -- one of the problems we're having with the central bank, they don't have the authority yet to do certain things and there was three keys -- I haven't found out what these keys are exactly -- and two of them were in Tripoli for the central bank and one was in Beghazi and the one in Benghazi so this delayed things for them. In regards to the national bank in Benghazi, I want to point out that it's following the same pattern as the Central Bank in Bosnia, the central bank in Bosnia, because in Bosnia, that central bank was also run by foreign banking companies and under the Bosnian Constitution cannot be run by a Bosnian citizen, it's run by a foreigner. This is very important to know. What type of a country's constitution says its own nationals can't run its own bank? That's what happened in Bosnia and essentially that's what's happening in eastern Libya in Benghazi.

Kevin Pina: Now we hear that there is resumption of oil exports. But HSBC is, of course, a British bank. And the British government is heavily invested and behind the NATO bombing campaign and the NATO military campaign against Libya, correct?

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya: Yes, that is correct. The British are heavily invested in this project -- as are the French, as are the Americans, and, strangely enough, the Italians and the Turks who are two -- And the Italians and the Turks are losers in this. The Turks were the second biggest trading partners to this country and the Italians were huge -- 40% of Italy's trade would be to Libya. These two countries -- It was a shock to many people that these two countries would turn their backs on the government here and the country here. They are two big economic losers and unless they regain everything -- all their contracts -- they are on the losing end of this war.

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya goes on to discuss other topics including that he sees a strong connection between the US backed-war and currency issues. Kevin Pina and Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya will continue their conversation on Tuesday's Flashpoints Radio -- Flashpoints airs Monday through Friday on KPFA at 5:00 pm PST and on other stations around the country.

Moving over to the United States, there is no justice in a company town. Vile KBR's corporate headquarters are located in Houston. They bring a lot of blood money into town. KHOU is the CBS outlet in Houston, this is from their video report.

Brad Woodward: After a month of testimony and just ten hours of deliberations, the jury sided with KBR sending Jamie Leigh Jones out of the courtroom in tears. Jones claims she was drugged and raped six years ago while working for defense contractor KBR in Iraq and was suing for $145 million. The jury not only decided that Jones was not raped but that KBR did not commit fraud by inducing her to work for them.

A KBR attorney, Dan Hedges, appeared in the report to explain that KBR intends to continue it's military work -- which presumably means killing US soldiers and contractors via the KBR burn pits and doing so much more to harm the world. KBR, bringing evil to a neighborhood near you. Dan Hedges meanwhile intends to return to the pits of hell until Satan next needs an attorney or a sexual play thing. On Houston's ABC13, Deborah Wrigley filed a report:

Deborah Wrigley: The jury actually announced their verdict about 30 minutes ago and for the former KBR employee who was suing her former employer, it was a stunning legal defeat. Jamie Leigh Jones was hired by KBR in 2005, just in July of that year, and she was stationed in Iraq at a KBR facility. She said that a few days after her arrival there, she was drugged and gang-raped by other KBR workers and part of the allegation not only the rape, but that KBR failed to protect her by failing to disclose "a sexually charged work environment." That amounted to what was a fraud allegation against the company in its hiring of her. Today after just about a day and a half of deliberation, the jury came back immediately said that Jamie Leigh Jones was not raped and that KBR did nothing wrong
in its hiring of her and disclosing the working conditions. [. . .] The verdict stunned Jones. She could be heard crying very loudly in the courtroom and sobbing. She has not yet come out of the courthouse, neither have her attorneys.

I do not know Jamie Leigh Jones, I have never spoken to her. My guess is she was raped. But what I do know is that she was attacked in the court room. Stephanie Mencimer calls herself a reporter. She's actually something else; however, though I have often thought that word in my head I have, to date, never said that word. I'll try to go my grave never saying that word -- even though it so perfectly describes Stephanie Mencimer. The hack who now works for Mother Jones and whose 'reporting' has resulted in numerous objections (including from National Journal columnists), decided to do a little hit piece on Jamie before the verdict was announced.
Stephanie's such a you-know-what.

We're not linking to that garbage. Mother Jones is already a joke -- a Whoreathon for Barack Obama from the rag that once pretended to be independent and unaffiliated with any political party. Now they just whore and do their little attacks on this Republican or that one and pretend that they've really contributed something when all they've done is demonstrated what trash left out in the hot sun smells like.

Little Stephie shows up to list numerous ways in which Jamie's wrong. It's a little piece where Stephie whores for the corporations. I get it, Stephie, you have to grab whatever is thrown at you. I get it. And you're jealous of Jamie because she's strong and she's beautiful. I get it, Little Stephie. Let's you attack the pretty girl and play kill-Mommy, works out all your issues at the same time. Got it.

Not counting cruise-by-the-table junkets, my record for most interviews in one day is 52. I bring this up for a reason. When you give 52 interviews in one day, you can do them by rote and repeat everything you said 52 times. Or you can do a little research on the people who will be (briefly) interviewing you and cater your responses to their interests. So if I was speaking to someone who was known for their sense of humor, I would stress the antics of a day. If I was speaking to someone who was known for their love of food, I would stress the catering, etc. Point being, if you looked at those 52 interviews, if you tried to examine them, you would find many differing details. Not because I was lying but because I emphasized different things.

I don't make a point to talk about myself in my own life let alone here unless it's needed. It's needed now because the thrust of Little Stephie's attack on Jamie's integrity is that in five years, some details of her story have varied. In one day, with 52 interviews, details of the basic stories I shared careened around the room.

That was in one day. It is the nature of memory that we will emphasize different details at different times. I don't think anyone doubts that Daniel Ellsberg is the brave whistle blower responsible for bringing the Pentagon Papers to the public. But if you listen to an interview he gave in 1976 or one he gave in 1996 or one he gave last year, you will hear different details.

There's also the issue of condensing and Daniel or anyone can tell you that when you're told to condense for time (or know yourself you need to), you will leave out certain elements.

Little Stephie offers nothing that I see where Jamie had contradicted herself in the public record. I do see that Jamie sometimes emphasizes this and sometimes emphasizes that.

Let me go personal one more damn time. I was sexually molested long before puberty. It's not a story I like to discuss, it's nothing I ever mentioned to the MSM or alternative press. It is something I will and do speak about with feminist groups. If I'm speaking about it, one of the issues is how much do I want to reveal, how much do I feel like hurting right now at that moment? And to decide that, I look around at the other women and see if there's someone there who looks like she wants to talk, needs to talk but needs a push, looks like she needs to hear some details someone else suffered through in order to have a comfortable place she can step onto and tell her story. If I don't see or sense something like that, you're not getting details from me, you're getting the basic overview and that's all you're getting.

Little Stephie seems to think that if you've experienced a sexual assault, you wind yourself up like a mechanical toy and recite verbatim the same details over and over, never varying from the script. That's not reality. But, again, Little Stephie's 'reporting' tends to get called out repeatedly so reality is like a tropical destination Little Stephie hopes to make it to some day but will probably never visit.

First she should probably try finding a solid editor. Jamie Leigh Jones has stated she was held in a container over in Iraq. Little Stephie writes, "The false-imprisonment allegation didn't surface until two years after Jones' original rape complaint, when Jones hired a new lawyer." If she means what she writes, Little Stephie is writing that Jones never made the allegation until she "hired a new lawyer" over "two years after Jones' original rape complaint." That is what Little Stephie wrote. If that's what she meant, she's a stupid as she is ugly because Jones -- and US House Rep Ted Poe -- have long maintained that. It has always been a part of the story. If Little Stephie meant what she wrote she needs to learn to at least function with the English language -- mastery of it obviously being far beyond her grasp.

According to Stephanie, Jamie can't suffer from agoraphobia -- literally, fear of the market place -- because she had two children and she spoke out and she testified to Congress and she gave interviews and she did this and she did that and blah, blah, blah. Little Stephie lives in a little world where her small thoughts touch the low ceilings and she therefore fancies herself grand. I speak in front of dozens of groups each week about the wars. I can do that if my hair looks like crap, I can do that if I'm about to fall over from lack of sleep. I can do that because it has nothing to do with me, it has to do with what is needed. By contrast? In my personal life that's not the story. If I'm invited to a party (I don't mean a group of us decide to go out, I'm talking arrive at ___ p.m.), my bedroom's going to have at least 20 dresses on the floor none of which provided me the courage to make an entrance. And I may come across no dress that does, ring up the florist to send flowers with my regrets for being unable to show. I am someone who is known to literally sweat over the thought of picking up a ringing phone (unless I use a fake voice to answer). (Strangely, cell phones don't bother me. They're less formal.) No one who knows of me or knows me casually would ever suspect that I have any 'shyness' to me or that I suffer from panic attacks. But Little Stephie seems to think she can stand outside Jamie Leigh's life and diagnose her. I wasn't aware Little Stephie was a trained therapist.

Jamie Leigh can be gripped with fear and not even be able to walk out to the porch to get her mail (as far as I know, she's never claimed that to have happened, I'm using it for an example) but if her child needs milk for the cereal, she can force herself to go to the grocery store. She can be having the worst day of her life and just want to lock herself away in the bathroom, but if ABC News is saying, "Jamie Leigh, we want to tell your story and that of two other women who say they were sexually assaulted," Jamie Leigh can pull herself together and do it. Not because she doesn't suffer from agoraphobia but because it's something she feels she has to do.

I think Jamie Leigh Jones' current attorneys made two mistakes. The first one is asking for that amount of money. I am not saying she doesn't deserve it. I wish rape victims were awarded billions. But I'm saying when you're using a figure that large, you are going to risk turning off a jury. My opinion, the figure was too high. I could be wrong, I often am and it wouldn't be the first time. The second mistake? I'm not sure they could have fixed this one during the trial. But KBR presented a psychological portrait of Jamie Leigh Jones that they tried to insist was at odds with reality or with the way a rape victim behaves or speaks, etc. Her attorneys would have done well to have anticipated that (and it might not have been possible -- what seems so obvious right now may seem so obvious because we know now exactly what KBR did) and to have provided expert witnesses to explain to the jury there is not victim m.o. There is no standardized response.

I don't think Jamie Leigh Jones got a fair trial at all. I can understand if some women choose not to talk or write of this trial. It is frightening and there are times when I do think myself, of similar instances, "We'll let's bury this so it doesn't get used again." "Burying it" doesn't refer to Jamie Leigh. It refers to what was done to her and I really fear we're going to see more corporations attempt this sort of smear. If it happens, attorneys for the victims need to be prepared to do a walk-through for the jury. The victim is being put on trial and her responses are being judged to be out of the 'norm.' So the jury needs to hear (over and over) that there is no norm. Each victim -- female or male -- will respond in individual ways that have to do with their own issues, their own attitudes. The assault leaves an impression, it does not create them, it does not birth them, they do not emerge from an assault alll walking and talking exactly the same. Five people shot in five different robberies are not expected to conduct themselves in exactly the same manner. There is no reason that sexual assault victims should be expected to all act alike.

Jamie Leigh Jones fought for the rights of victims over the last years. That can't be denied. She stated she was raped and, again, while I can't know that it happened, I believe her. As awful as what happened to her in Iraq was, I'm willing to bet today was pretty awful as well. And, again, I can understand a desire on the part of some women to bury this for fear that highlighting it will lead other corporations to attack in the way KBR did Jamie Leigh but I do hope that we're not going to all be slient and let Little Stephie's stab in the back be the last word. What this really does is encourage victims of sexual assault to be silent. If you talk about it, if you think it through -- as one does every traumatic event in life, there's a good chance a corporation's going to use that against you. That's the real message in today's verdict and I feel we need to push back against that. For that reason I'm sharing things here that I wouldn't normally.

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Thursday, July 07, 2011

Unloved and unwanted?







Yesterday on Flashpoints (KPFA, Pacifica), guest host Kevin Pina spoke with Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya who has left Canada to report from Libya on the illegal war.
Kevin Pina: So give us an update, what's going on on the ground there?
Mahdi Darius Nazemoraya: Well I did look at some of the press reports being released saying that the gates of Tripoli had been reached by the rebels. That is totally untrue. That is not happening whatsoever. Nothing like that has happened whatsoever. In fact what I am hearing here is contradictory to what the press is saying in North America and Western Europe and that's the western mountains have been regained by the Libyan military -- or as they call it in their reports pro-Gaddafi forces. So there's total contradictions on the ground here and from what I'm seeing there. I also went to the Washington Post, Reuters today. They seem to be getting information from some person named 'Niz.' They all -- If you look through the wires, you're going to see 'Niz said this, Niz said that'. And most of the reports are unverified. They're just quoting Niz, but they're unverified. And I happen to notice while looking through these reports that they're saying he's been talking to them or contacting them through secure internet services. Secure internet services or secure internet lines usually mean like an embassy or something like that. So what is the press doing here? Another thing that was brought up by a Libyan I was talking to while looking at these reports was that the United States government -- especially President Obama -- is establishing shadow internet and shadow phone lines in so-called authoritarian countries as a means to remove the regime. Now if somebody did that in the United States, I think that would be seen as an act of aggression. That's unacceptable. We can't have these type of double standards. And, yes, today was -- today and actually for a while tensions have been brewing between south Sudan and north Sudan. nothing is said Barack will occupy western Sahara where they've actually built fences, you know, fences just like the Israelis have in the West Bank and nothing was said there. The ICC is out to lunch about what happened in Georgia, they still haven't come up with a verdict. But they look at Gaddafi and, in a couple of days, they come up with convictions based mostly on media reports from what I've went through looking at everything that ICC's putting together. So people here are united. They're united more than ever. And that's the feeling you get in Tripoli. It's not what the media is portraying. It's not going to fall anytime soon. There's no rebels at the gates. It's totally different on the ground from what I see here than what the press is reporting.
Kevin Pina: You're listening to Flashpoints on Pacifica Radio and that's the voice of Mahdi Nazemoraya. Mahdi is speaking to us directly from Tripoli, Libya. Mahdi, what about news reports -- Well, explain to me first, what is this shadow phone system you're referring to.
Mahdi Darius Nazemoraya: Well reading through the press releases, the wires, there's talking about how secure alternative -- not as in alternative media but alternative internet sources that the governments of these countries can't control are being set up in these countries as a means for so-called activists or opposition groups to organize to overthrow the government. That's basically what they're doing. And this is in the press. Take me to task, listeners should take me to task and look this up. You can find this in the mainstream media where they're talking about shadow internet and shadow phone lines the government can't control. If anybody did that in my country Canada or the United States or they did it in Britain, France, Belgium -- they would end up -- It would be seen as an act of treason. You can't do that. I'm not saying the state [has] to control the internet but you can't set up a system to overthrow the government. That's a hostile act.
Kevin Pina: And you know of course that they barely averted a vote in the US Senate yesterday to support the NATO-led war effort in Libya. It looks as if they're going to try to -- the Democrats are going to try to -- push another vote later next week. And all of this is, of course, predicated upon what is being called a victory that is in sight.
Mahdi Darius Nazemoraya: I don't see a victory in sight. I think that's just talk. I think it's part of the psychological warfare against this country and it's people -- yes, against its people. I want to point out there's a war against the people of this country. When you bomb places that are food storage sites and you bomb places where money is made and when you bomb civilian structures, it's a war against the people, trying to break their spirits.
Former US House Rep Cynthia McKinney (2008 Green Party presidential candidate) was part of a fact finding mission to Libya earlier and Lucy Grider-Bradley -- who has worked with various members of the US Congress including Cynthia and US House Rep Gwen Moore and who is the former program director for Northeast Georgia Black Leadership Council -- also took part in the fact finding mission. On this week's Black Agenda Radio -- hosted by Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey, first airs each Monday at 4:00 pm EST on the Progressive Radio Network -- they highlight remarks by lucy Grider-Bradley and Cynthia McKinney.
Glen Ford: We asked Lucy Grider-Bradley if what she saw felt like a war to her?
Lucy Grider-Bradley: Absolutely. I felt bombs, the effect of bombs dropping in the distance. I saw billowing clouds that came up after the horrible sound and the building that I was in shaking. Billows of white, smoke-like substance that turned black as if watching a horror movie. I saw the effects of that bomb. I saw a 30-fooot crater in the middle of a home that belonged to Muammar Gaddafi's son -- where his son was killed and 3 of his grandchildren also murdered from the effects of that bomb. I mean, how do you get a 30-foot hole in the middle of your house? Well I can tell you what I saw -- the results of a UN-US-NATO bomb. The delegation saw a lot. We saw people trying to go about their daily lives, not knowing when the next bomb was going to drop or knowing where the bomb was going to drop. But in spite of it all, they gathered ever evening at the place where the grandchildren and the son were killed to show their support for their leader. I wonder if that kind of thing was happening in the United States, if we would get out and rally behind a leader who was dropping bombs and murdering people -- Black people especially. I don't think I'd be part of that party. But the Libyans definitely support their leader and show it every night despite the fact that there might be bombs dropping. And I also want to say civilians have been murdered. Not just military folks. So the bombs aren't dropping just on what the UN calls military outposts, they're dropping in residential areas in Libya. I think it's important that that point is made over and over and over again.
Glen Ford: And when President Obama denied that he had to comply with the War Powers Act because he was not engaged in hostilities with Libya, how did you feel having just returned from there?
Lucy Grider-Bradley: Well can I just say that I don't listen to him so I didn't hear him say that so I really don't have an opinion. I think about him like I felt about President Bush: If you see his mouth moving he's probably lying.
The Cynthia McKinney excerpt is from her speech at the National Black Theatre in Harlem.
Cynthia McKinney: During the time that I was in Congress, I was asked to take positions that were absolutely not true but people wanted to use my Black face in order to put forward their own agenda. And their own agenda was anti-Black. So they wanted to use the integrity that I had, they wanted me to lease it to them for a small price. In fact, one person, a media person from New York told me that if I just took a particular stand against Sudan then I could be be in Congress for the rest of my life. But what they wanted me to say was a lie. And I did my research, as I always do my research, and I understood what they were asking me to say was not true and so therefore I declined. [Next sentence is drowned out from applause to previous sentence.] But this leasing of the Black face and oppressing people of color within black face was something that moved me and, in fact, when I filed the Articles of Impeachment against George Bush and Dick Cheney, it was important for me to include Condoleezza Rice because she knowingly chose the wrong side. And I went to an elementary school in my district as I was trying to campaign for re-election and there big as day the school, Black History Month, is celebrating who else but Condoleezza Rice. So Condoleezza Rice becomes the role model for our young people. Colin Powell, who lied to the world, becomes a role model for our young people. So this is what they want us to become but this is certainly not what I can contence. So as I am blessed to be able to travel around the world, one of the things that sticks out to me is how Black America, at one point, had moral authority no matter where you went in the world. And if you had a USA passport and your skin was Black, you were respected. You were loved. Because people around the world understood our struggle, understood our oppression and they understood our resistance to the imperial face of the United States. But not so anymore. How long do you think we're going to get a free pass? And now the ultimate insult to my integrity is that we have a Black man bombing Africa. The ultimate insult.
Jason Ditz ( reports that a vote in the House came close to cutting off approproations: "A broader bipartisan amendment from Reps. Amash (R - MI) and Kucinich (D - OH) narrowly failed, with a vote of, 199 - 229. [. . .] Still, the Cole (R - OK0 Amendment, a less ambitious version, managed to pass, which prohibits any funding for equipment, training or advice related to the Libya War in the bill." This morning, before the vote, US House Rep Dennis Kucinich's office noted, "A bipartisan agreement to support an amendment with the broadest coalition of support has been reached by 15 Members of Congress. The bipartisan amendment is cosponsored by Justin Amash (R-MI), Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Ron Paul (R-TX), Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), Walter Jones (R-NC), John Conyers (D-MI), Dan Burton (R-IN), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Ted Poe (R-TX), Pete Stark (D-CA), Tim Johnson (R-IL), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Tom McClintock (R-CA), Mike Honda (D-CA) and Richard Nugent (R-FL)." Alan Silverleib (CNN) notes of the Amash-Kucinich measure, "A relatively slim majority of Republicans voted in favor of the measure, while a large majority of Democrats opposed it."
One of the most interesting aspects about US coverage of the Status Of Forces Agreement being extended or replaced is how the White House keeps saying Iraq will have to ask and reporters run around DC looking for unnamed officials to comment while ignoring what's been and is being reported in the Iraqi press. You might say, "Well the US press feels it's more professional and therefore isn't interested . . ." To which the obvious rejoinder is, "The US isn't interested in Iraqi press or Iraqi reaction? That makes the US press just like the US government.

Today Al Sabaah reports that a unified statement is expected before the end of the month from Parliament. Of course, if recent reports that Nouri intends to sign off on a memorandum of understanding with the US government prove to be correct, the Parliament can say whatever it wants, they will have been bypassed (not unlike the way he bypassed them at the end of 2006 to extend the UN mandate and, again, at the end of 2007 for the same reason). Hossam Acommok (Al Mada) reports that State of Law insiders (Nouri's slate) say Moqtada al-Sadr is the stumbling block currently and that Nouri is weighing the threats Moqtada has made to reactivate the Mahdi milita. State of Law worries about the so-called 'gains' that have been made being lost if the US military leaves. Not all in the political slate are worried about Moqtada and some point out that Nouri is the leader of the Armed Forces as well as the Minister of Defense and Interior so he will have the support of most political blocs when he makes his evaluation. From outside the political slate, some are less optimistic and many point out that the decision should not be Nouri's alone (Osama al-Nujaifi, not noted in this article, has repeatedly maintained that this is a decision that must come before Parliament). Adm Mike Mullen, the Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, weighed in this afternoon. David Alexander (Reuters) reports that Mullen was "at a luncheon with reporters, maintained that "Iran" (presumably the government of) was supplying Shi'ite militias in Iraq with "high-tech weapons" to kill US soldiers "the forensics prove that." Any agreement to keep US troops on the ground in Iraq beyond 2011, Mullen argued, should include some provision that Iraqi forces will address this alleged supplying of weapons to Shi'ite militias. Viola Gienger (Bloomberg News) observes, "The condition for a U.S. troop extension poses a challenge to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, whose Shiite Muslim political party has struggled to manage Iran's political and military influence." Meanwhile Charley Keyes (CNN) puts the red across White House flunkie Jay Carney's freshly-facialed face by reporting, "Mullen confirmed that discussion are underway. 'Negotiations are ongoing,' Mullen said, adding that any final decision would be for the presidents of Iraq and the United States. He said any agreement with Iraq 'has to be done in conjunction with control of Iran'." Tuesday at the White House, Carney played dumb (you were playing, right, Jay?) and insisted about any extension that "I really don't have any more information on that possible outcome, because, again we haven't even gotten a request." If negotiations are going on, there are requests on both sides. Helen Thomas (Falls Church News-Press) explains:
As for pulling our troops out of Iraq, don't hold your breath. There are all kinds of official hints that our withdrawal from Iraq may take a longer time than the end of the year deadline.
James F. Jeffrey, the U.S envoy to Iraq, told reporters recently that the U.S would consider keeping some of the 40,000 troops in Iraq to provide security. Of course, some Iraqi officials who have played ball with the U.S. occupation would like us to remain in the country. But the car bombings and explosions have not stopped.
Obama has ordered the withdrawal of 10,000 troops from Afghanistan, the beginning of the end of the 10-year war. As for Afghanistan, we had more reason to go in (although there were neither Afghans nor Iraqis involved in 9/11).
Obama had one big chance to pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan - the day after he took the oath of office. He could have saved thousands of lives and would have been called a hero by many. Instead, Obama maintained the Bush War scenario and kept the wars going.
America has to decide who we are -- and why we are trying to sell democracy with guns and bombs.
RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"

He'll have to find someone new to blame





Starting with Libya. Yesterday on Flashpoints (KPFA, Pacifica), guest host Kevin Pina spoke with Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya who has left Canada to report from Libya on the illegal war.
Kevin Pina:The US Congress delayed a vote for a resolution supporting the NATO-led air campaign in Libya amidst reports of new bombing raids on Tripoli just this weekend. This comes on the heels of last week's revelations that France had flouted a UN resolution barring arm shipments to Libya by providing guns, ammunition and rocket launchers to Libyan forces opposed to Muammar Gaddafi The French government has since said that the armaments provided to elements aligned with the Libyan National Transitional Council were intended for defensive purposes only. However, no sooner had the French provided that qualifier, Libyan rebel commanders announced offensive military plans to take the capitol of Tripoli. And you're listening to Flashpoints on Pacifica Radio and now joining me from Tripoli, Libya is once again our special correspondent Mahdi Nazemroaya. Mahdi, welcome back to Flashpoints.
Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya: Thanks for having me, Kevin.
Kevin Pina: So I understand that the bombs fell again this weekend on the capitol Tripoli. Give us an update, what's going on on the ground there?
Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya: Well the last time I talked to you, right after we finished our discussion, bombs had started falling and very close to me actually. I was in a civilian residential area at a fact-finding NGO, talking to the organizers there and during the middle of our conversation: Bombs. I've talked to foreigners living here. Italians, people from other Arab countries and Europe, even a Canadian who lives here. They've gotten so used to the bombs they can tell the difference between a missile and a bomb from the noise -- what's hitting what. Their lives have changed. The Italian lady I talked to who lives here, she was never into politics or the media or scrutinizing it until she lived here because she's saying what the media is reporting is her life and a total contradiction of reality. She can't get the reality of her life to-to correspond with what she's saying about Libya. She's totally disgusted about what's happening. So, yes, they've been bombing at night, they've been bombing during the day and there's been flights overhead on the hour almost.
Kevin Pina; And so what are the effects of the bombings been? Have they been hitting military targets? Have they been -- saying they're hitting military targets but striking civilian neighborhoods again as they did in the past?
Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya: They have not been hitting military targets. There's no more military targets to hit after the first two days. There's nothing military left. All they've been doing is carpet bombing this place. That's essentially what it's coming down to. It's a watered down form of carpet bombing and they've been giving aerial support to the forces opposed to the government and Col Gaddafi here. That's what they've been doing. They've been bombing places that have nothing to do with war, have nothing to do with commanding control, they've been bombing civilian areas. I've taken pictures of them, others have. They've bombed food storage facilities. They've bombed a place where bank notes are made. They've bombed the university -- one of the main universities. They've bombed medical facilities and hospitals. They bombed a place used to bring oxygen for people in the hospital. Like oxygen needed in hospitals. They haven't bombed any military -- Libya really doesn't have a strong military at all. In fact, I was telling somebody today, what we're seeing on the ground is mostly volunteers and semi-organized people, people of all walks of life. They're fighting against the Libyan people, they're not fighting against the Libyan military because all or most of these people are volunteers who are fighting for their country.
Kevin Pina: Now we had talked about this last week, you had said that there was going to be a large demonstration in Tripoli against the war and against NATO's bombing campaign. We had this discussion about whether they were coming out pro-Gaddafi or whether they were coming out pro-Libya. And you had made it very clear that they were pro-Libya more than they were pro-Gaddafi. What happened with that demonstration? Did it happen? Did it occur?
Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya: Let me point out that many of these people like Col Gaddafi, not all of them. It is pro-Libya first, yes. But a lot of them, they know or they see Col Gaddafi and Libya as being on the same line. And, yes, I was at the protest. It was remarkable, it was big. It was energized and no one forced these people to come. And I want to point something out, Kevin. All the people in Tripoli -- not just Tripoli, in Libya, the part of Libya that are not of the rebels are armed. The government's armed them. Every house is armed here. They have civilian defense contingency plans here that's been put into effect. It's not that organized but there's neighborhood watches, there's neighborhood armories, there's green tents in every neighborhood, every house has weapons that have been distributed. If these people wanted to get rid of Col Gaddafi, believe me, they could have. They all have arms --
Kevin Pina: So let me just interrupt real quick, Mahdi. So you're saying that there has been a campaign by the Libyan government to arm the population. And that if the population wanted to overthrow Gaddafi, they're armed and could do that now?
Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya: 100% there have been independent journalist here who have verified this. And you can easily find this on the internet now with pictures, with descriptions of these civilian defense contingency plans. And it wasn't recently that this happened. Col Gaddafi said at the start that they were going to arm the people and if they wanted to get rid of him, they could have.
Turning to the illegality of the LIbyan War, at Antiwar Radio, they've posted Horton's interview with Matthew Rothschild where they discuss his article "Stop the Bombing of Libya" (The Progressive). Excerpt.
Scott Horton: You start out by describing the extent of the war going on over there --whatever the president wants to call it. And you know I think, gee there's so many wars for people to keep up with, it can be hard. I'm amazed when I saw your assertion here that NATO has conducted 11,500 sorties in Libya thus far.
Matthew Rothschild: Isn't that amazing? I mean here we have a campaign that was started ostensibly to protect civilians and to impose a no-fly zone. Well it didn't take 11,500 sorties to impose a no-fly zone and to protect civilians in Libya from an imminent massacre -- that was what we were sold. No, this is a campaign that's entirely different from it's intentions right now. It may have been entirely different from the intentions that were sold to us at the very beginning because, look, there's no reason why these bombing raids should have continued after the no-fly zone was imposed because, at that point, Muammar Gaddafi could not have sent in his pitiful airforce to bomb those people who were supposed to be in such peril. So the no-fly zone and protection of civilians in Libya was accomplished really within 48 hours and everything else since then has been something designed to do quite a great deal more than what the UN signed off on and that was to protect civilians. Now what's going on now is a campaign to get rid of Gaddfi and seize the oil in Libya for US control of the oil supplies in the Middle East which is, of course, what the Iraq War was largely about to and what our connivance with Saudi Arabia's been all about for the last many decades.
Scott Horton: Well now, there's so much there. I guess first of all, it's probably worthy of note that "no-fly zone"? It's been months since we even heard anybody talk about that. I kind of almost forgot it's supposed to be a no-fly zone.
Matthew Rothschild: Yeah and it's certainly not applying to NATO. NATO's flying all over the place. And the amazing thing about Obama's doctrine here is that the War Powers Act doesn't apply. And the reason he's saying the War Powers Act doesn't apply -- and if Bush had said that I think the peace movement in the United States would be in the street in the tens of hundreds of thousands. Obama's reasoning just gives a justification for the next president to go in and attack any country that doesn't have a decent air force or surface to air missiles because what he is saying and what his lawyers are saying is that the War Powers Act doesn't apply right now because our military is not at risk of being killed because essentially we've so wiped out the Libyan air force and surface to air missiles that there's no chance that our bombers are going to be shot down -- or almost no chance -- and so they're not really in a zone of hostilities which is what the War Powers Act was dealing with. Well that's -- this is a crazy doctrine then because the United States now has carte blanche to go attack any weaker country as soon as its air force has been obliterated.
Scott Horton: Well, yeah, and funny about that, the lawyer for the Pentagon and the lawyers at the Justice Dept, they didn't buy that argument for a minute. They were over-ruled by the president.
Matthew Rothschild: Yeah, it's extraordinary when the president's own lawyers want to follow the law and the president of the United States doesn't. That gives you an idea of just how far out there Obama has gone in expanding presidential war powers. This from a presidential candidate who played footsie with the left, played footsie with the progressive peace movement, said he would never unilaterally engage the US military overseas unless there was an imminent threat against the United States which there wasn't. Gaddafi didn't attack the United States, he didn't represent a threat to the United States. [Former] Secretary [of Defense Robert] Gates even admitted that on TV. I saw him when he said it. And my jaw kind of drops because, you know, why are we there if he's not a threat to us? And yet Obama has expanded this idea that he, the president of the United States, and, of course, future presidents can go start a war or at least a bombing crusade anywhere they want without asking Congress' permission, without getting Congressional authorization. After all the Congress has the sole power to declare war under Article I, section 8 of the Constitution. And now he wants to completely violate the War Powers Act which he's violated three times now. He violated it at the beginning because the War Powers Act says a president can go in without Congressional permission at first if there's an imminent threat against the United States -- there wasn't an imminent threat. And then within 60 days of that the president has got to get approval from Congress -- Obama didn't get approval from Congress. And then 30 days after that the president is supposed to withdraw those troops if he hasn't gotten Congressional approval -- and, of course, Obama hasn't gotten Congressional approval and hasn't withdrawn the bombers. So he's really in illegal territory here and he's kind of gloating about it.
Onto Iraq. Yesterday Lara Jakes (AP) reports 10,000 is the number of US soldiers the White House is floating to Iraq to keep with an understanding that Iraq will respond by September to the offer. Jakes reports, "Already, though, the White House has worked out options to keep between 8,500 and 10,000 active-duty troops to continue training Iraqi security forces during 2012, according to senior Obama administration and U.S. military officials in interviews with The Associated Press." Today David S. Cloud and Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) add that the White House has "made its proposal now in hopes of spurring a request from Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's government, and to give the Pentagon time to plan, the officials [in the administration] said. The troops would be based around Baghdad and in a small number of other strategic locations around the country, the officials said." Dan Murphy (Christian Science Monitor) explains, "While that word 'offer' has been repeatedly used by US officials named and unnamed in recent months, a better word might be 'pleading'." ABC News Radio adds, "In Washington, D.C. keeping American support forces in Iraq past the deadline could start a mutiny in the president's own party." Zeke Miller (Business Insider) points out, "The plan would put Obama on the wrong side of his promise to remove all U.S. troops from the country by the end of 2011." Ryan Blethen (Seattle Times) observes, "We have no business staying in Iraq. We shouldn't have been there in the first place. Obama must live up to his campaign promise to get us out of Iraq. We have wasted too many lives and too much money. It is time to leave the rebuilding of Iraq to Iraqis and turn our attention to fixing our own country." Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) notes that offer is being made "despite vows to bring U.S. forces home by the end of the year." She also notes Vice Adm William McRaven told Congress a "contingent of commando forces should remain in Iraq." Last Tuesday, McRaven appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee and this was the exchange:
Ranking Member John McCain: Adm McRaven, do you believe that the United States should have a residual force in Iraq in order to assist -- with particularly special operations, functions and intelligence?
Vice Adm William McRaven: Sir, I think that it would be mutually beneficial to us and the Iraqis if in fact that was the case. Obviously, remains to be seen whether the Iraqis will want us to stay past the intended drawdown time. But clearly there is still a threat in Iraq. And a small, soft presence there I think would be advisable.
Ranking Member John McCain: And if you look at recent US casulties, the situation -- at least in some respects -- politically as well as militarily has shown some deterioration. Would you agree?
Vice Adm William McRaven: Sir, I would. Statistically that appears to be the case, yes, sir.
And the denials grow even less believable. Pentagon spokesperson Col Dave Lapan declared today that stories about the US government having a number in mind that they would like to remain in Iraq? Untrue, huffs Lapan. "The process for troops to remain in the country after the date begins with an official request from the Iraq government and no such request has been made. Until the government of Iraq makes a request, there is no number."

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Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Tweeting Fool





David Zahniser (Los Angeles Times) reports the vote was twelve for and one against today when, "The Los Angeles City Council called Tuesday for the federal government to end its wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, saying money for those foreign wars should be invested in cities and other domestic needs." This follows the June 20th by the Annual Conference of US Mayors, held in Baltimore, passing the resolution demanding the wars be brought to an end and the vast amounts of money spent on these wars be spent instead on domestic needs in the United States.
The LA City Council's move comes as Lara Jakes (AP) reports 10,000 is the number of US soldiers the White House is floating to Iraq to keep with an understanding that Iraq will respond by September to the offer. Jakes reports, "Already, though, the White House has worked out options to keep between 8,500 and 10,000 active-duty troops to continue training Iraqi security forces during 2012, according to senior Obama administration and U.S. military officials in interviews with The Associated Press." This happening after Robert Gates has left his post as US Secretary of Defense may force even some members of the Cult of St. Barack to face the fact that Barack is the one pushing to extend the US military presence in Iraq, not Gates who, repeating, is gone. VoteVets' Ashwin Madia has not been among the foolish; however, today at Huffington Post, he writes, "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid -- the president's top ally in the Senate -- came out forcefully today against a continued American presence in Iraq, which most observers believe President Obama is for. Senator Reid said, according to the Associated Press, "As Iraq becomes increasingly capable, it is time for our own troops to return home by the end of the year and for these precious resources to be directed elsewhere. There is no question that the United States must continue to provide support for the Iraqis as they progress, but now is the time for our military mission to come to a close."
Madia links to an AP article (one that quotes Madia) and Reid's statment is actually about the 15 US soldiers who died last month. The idea that Harry Reid is going to lead the fight is hard to believe. He did lead the fight . . . against the House efforts to end the Iraq War when Bush occupied the White House. Madia sees Reid's statements as meaningful. Others could disagree. Reid's not saying anything.
Reid's comments -- made in response to June's 15 deaths of US soldiers in the Iraq War -- are not inconsistent with Barack's (and Bush's) claims that "we will stand down as they stand up." Harry Reid didn't call for an end to the Iraq War or even that the SOFA be followed.
He says "our military mission is over." How does that differ with Barack's (false) assertion August 31st that 'combat missions' were over? It doesn't. And on 'stand up' does no one follow the violence in Iraq? Here's Washington Post's Ed O'Keefe discussing it with Washington Week's Gwen Ifill on tonight's NewsHour (PBS -- link has text, video and audio):
GWEN IFILL: Well, if the U.S. says the Iraqis should step up and do something about it, what does this tell us about the state of Iraqi security right now?
ED O'KEEFE: Well, part of the reason -- or part of the frustration among American officials is that, while their pleased with how the Iraqi security forces have responded -- they have taken the lead in several counterterrorism measures -- they have targeted insurgent groups over the past several weeks and months -- they feel that perhaps they could be doing a little more. Part of it, the problem, is that the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, still hasn't named a new defense minister and a new interior minister, and that, if there were leadership at the top of those two important ministries, perhaps there would be clearer direction given to the Iraqi security forces to go out and target these groups a little more.
That said, for the most part, if you talk to military officials here, they say a lot of progress has been made, that, whether you're an infantry soldier in the Iraqi army or part of the special forces, you are better trained today than you were even just a year ago.
Reid has issued a brief statement acknowledging 15 deaths where he states the US will 'stand down as Iraqis stand up' and that the US 'military mission is over.' That's perfectly in keeping with Barack's remarks. Wish it wasn't. Wish Harry Reid was finally going to find a spine and lead a mission worthy of the post of Senate Majority Leader. And it could happen but it doesn't seem likely. Reid was the stalling block for Democratic efforts in the House to put a minimum of restrictions on the Iraq War when Bush was in office. This isn't my hypothesis, this is fact. Nancy Pelosi has spoken publicly -- including to the
San Francisco Chronicle's edtiorial board -- about Reid on the Iraq War. She got very angry when a reporter questioned her (rightly) about the refusal to end the Iraq War and began listing off what the House had attempted and told the reporter that people needed to ask Reid why the Senate refused to act.
Jay Carney: I will have to bump that to the Defense Department. I don't have a specific answer for you on that. We are, as of now, on track to withdraw all of the U.S. forces in Iraq by the end of this year, as dictated by the agreement we have with the Iraqi government and as promised by the President of the United States. So we have said for a long time now if the Iraqi government asks us to maintain some level of troops beyond that end-of-the-year deadline, we would consider it. That doesn't necessarily mean we would do it. We would just consider it. And I really don't have any more information on that possible outcome, because, again, we haven't even gotten a request.
There's Carney's lies and there's reality. Saturday Ed O'Keefe (Washington Post) reported US Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffery spoke with reporters today about the US mission in Iraq beyond 2011 and stated that "keeping thousands of troops in Iraq" after 2011 is a possibility. Also over the weekend, Tim Arango (New York Times) reported on the US Special Forces in Iraq and how they're training the Iraqi Special Operations forces to bash in the doors of suspect's homes in the middle of the night ("the sound of glass shattering and screams pierced the nighttime stillness" really doesn't sound like freedom or democracy) and quoted Iraqi Maj Gen Fadhel al-Barwari stating, "The Americans need to stay because we don't have control over our borders." On the Fourth, a US Senator weighed in. US Senator John McCain tells Anna Fifield (Finanical Times of London -- link has text and video) that the US neeeds to keep troops on the ground in Iraq, "I'm talking 10,000-13,000 specifically for intelligence capabilities, air capabilities and also as a peacekeeping force up in the disputed areas around Kirkuk and that area." McCain was visiting Afghanistan with (among others) Senators Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham. Also weighing in that day was Sabah Jawad of the London-based Iraqi Democrats Against Occupation who told Iran's Press TV (link has text and video):

Yes it's quite obvious they don't want to withdraw, they don't even want to withdraw now more than before because of the uprisings that have taken place in the Arab world; they want to keep their military presence in Iraq. As you said they have the biggest embassy here in Iraq and also that this embassy is supposed to staff over 16,000 employees. I don't know of any other country where the Americans have a 16,000 staff in their embassies. This is an indication that these people will be in full control of the security situation in Iraq -- security operations. They will control Iraq's air space and the Iraqi economy. They will advise every important minister in Iraq and they will continue to interfere in the internal situation in Iraq for the foreseeable future. So these all are indications for the future that the US does not want to withdraw from Iraq. They have invested a lot of money in the occupation of Iraq and they continue the occupation of Iraq and they want to be there to steal even more oil and to tie up Iraq in its entirety to the so-called free market and to multinational oil companies.

Al Mada reports that "well-informed sources" (unidentified by the paper) are stating that the discussions taking place between the government and the US Embassy on US troops staying beyond 2011 continue and that what is being discussed currently is a memorandum which would allow for US forces to remain in Iraq for another five years and it is thought that going that route (memorandum of understanding) would allow Nouri to bypass the Parliament. (Al Mada also does a write up of Tim Arango's NYT report on US Special Forces.) Al Rafidayn reports Ammar al-Hakim is calling for a series of "extended meetings" to discuss US troops remaining on the ground in Iraq beyond 2011. He wants the heads of all the political blocs to attend a general meeting to address the issue. On The NewsHour Ed O'Keefe offered a summary of the various talks going on:
As one U.S. official joked to me a little while ago, he said, look, six months from now, one of these reports will have gotten it right. But, tonight, there is no discussion going on between U.S. officials and the Iraqis over how many troops might stay on beyond December. We had a conversation with the U.S. ambassador here over the weekend. And he said, look, if the Iraqis come to us with some kind of proposal for troops to stay, we will consider it. For us, it's not about the numbers. It's about what exactly U.S. troops would do. Most of them in the last year have focused on what is called advise-and-assist responsibilities. They essentially hang back when Iraqi forces go out to conduct counterterrorism measures or target other groups, and only jump into it if, for some reason, it's not going well. But you talk to military officials they say things are going pretty well. The problem is, Iraq still can't defend its skies, still can't defend its big port down in Basra, and military officials say that the Iraqi still want some more training, whether it's basic infantry training or more specialized training. So it's there that U.S. officials believe the Iraqis will come to them with some kind of a request. We're expecting the Iraqi president, Jalal Talabani, to meet with the prime minister, Maliki, and other political leaders as early as this week to once again talk about this. There have been several meetings, and no big conclusions just yet. But the thought is that perhaps we're getting much closer to some kind of a request that would be given to U.S. officials. And at that point, it lands back in the lap of President Obama and the Pentagon. They will have to discuss this, figure out what exactly they could do, how many more troops could stay here beyond December.
CNN reports that the US opened a consulate in Basra today (and notes the last one shuttered its doors in 1967). Ed O'Keefe noted Monday that the US plan was 15 consulates around Iraq staffed by "roughtly 17,000 US diplomats, contractors and security personnel."

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