i don't believe it

last night, i wrote 'ben affleck: crazy or genius?' and thought it was an easy topic and 1 people would enjoy.  i did not mistake it for 'political.'

so imagine my surprise when i read alynda wheat (people) today:

Guess what just popped up in my inbox? A change.org petition to drop Ben Affleck as the next Batman. Really, folks? Everyone adored this double Oscar winner just a few months ago. Now it's, "Argo blank yourself, Ben?" Let's just calm down and be little Fonzies about this. After all, this isn't the first time we've collectively freaked out over Batman.

you are kidding me.

a change.org petition?

just yet more proof that barack and his cult were never about real issues.

maybe change.org can next start a petition about bringing back mcdonald's mcrib sandwich?

or a petition to remain north west (the child of kim kardashian and kanye west)?

there must be many trivial issues that change.org can focus on.

trivial is the distraction, after all, that keeps the spotlight off their failed leader barack.

debra  e-mailed to note she's a huge 'scandal' fan and wondered what the 1 thing i wanted from this season was?

simple, i want fitz to leave his wife and take up with olivia.

but i know that's not happening - probably not until the last episode of the show.

let's close with c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot:'

Friday, August 23, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, Nouri concludes oil deals with India (and gets  mocked on Facebook), the protesters reach the eight month mark and vow they will not be run off, Kevin Gosztola puts the Chelsea Manning coverage in perspective, rumors of Nouri asking the US to take over a base in Iraq continue,  and more.

Wednesday, Iraq War veteran and whistle-blower Bradley Manning was sentenced to 35 years in a military prison by Colonel Denise Lind who presided over the government's witch hunt of Manning.

Monday April 5, 2010, WikiLeaks released  military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Monday June 7, 2010, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported in August 2010 that Manning had been charged -- "two charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The first encompasses four counts of violating Army regulations by transferring classified information to his personal computer between November and May and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system. The second comprises eight counts of violating federal laws governing the handling of classified information." In March, 2011, David S. Cloud (Los Angeles Times) reported that the military has added 22 additional counts to the charges including one that could be seen as "aiding the enemy" which could result in the death penalty if convicted. The Article 32 hearing took place in December. At the start of this year, there was an Article 32 hearing and, February 3, 2012, it was announced that the government would be moving forward with a court-martial. Bradley had yet to enter a plea at that point. The court-martial was supposed to begin before the November 2012 election but it was postponed until after the election so that Barack wouldn't have to run on a record of his actual actions.  Independent.ie noted, "A court martial is set to be held in June at Ford Meade in Maryland, with supporters treating him as a hero, but opponents describing him as a traitor."  February 28th, Bradley admitted he leaked to WikiLeaks.  And why.

Bradley Manning:   In attempting to conduct counter-terrorism or CT and counter-insurgency COIN operations we became obsessed with capturing and killing human targets on lists and not being suspicious of and avoiding cooperation with our Host Nation partners, and ignoring the second and third order effects of accomplishing short-term goals and missions. I believe that if the general public, especially the American public, had access to the information contained within the CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A tables this could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general as [missed word] as it related to Iraq and Afghanistan.
I also believed the detailed analysis of the data over a long period of time by different sectors of society might cause society to reevaluate the need or even the desire to even to engage in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations that ignore the complex dynamics of the people living in the effected environment everyday.

 Tuesday, July 30th, Bradley was declared guilty of all but two counts by Colonel Lind. Yesterday, Manning issued a statement through NBC's Today show thanking supporters and declaring, " I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition. I also request that, starting today, you refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun (except in official mail to the confinement facility). I look forward to receiving letters from supporters and having the opportunity to write back."  These developments and more were addressed today in the first segment on KPFA's The Morning Mix which, Fridays from 8 to 9 in the morning, is Project Censored's radio program. (The program is briefly archived at KPFA but it is also archived permanently at this Project Censored radio page.)  The guest was Firedoglake's Kevin Gosztola.  Excerpt.

Mickey Huff: Can you comment a little more on the disturbing trend that you see and what you think this case may mean for-for journalism.  And if you want, tag on what happened this week to David Miranda with Glenn Greenwald and what's going on at the Guardian and the Independent.

Kevin Gosztola: The general point that I'll make that I think addresses just everything that you just said there is this incredible thing going on in the culture of US media, it seems.  And  people who are being targeted by the Obama administration and work in media actually have realized and brought forth this-this disconnect, this thing that really needs to be addressed  which is to say that we've got journalists who are publishing leaks and benefiting from these stories and this is like a life force, this is like a life blood.  They're getting hits from the internet, they're getting spread farther and father and wider.  You're probably  newspapers because you can sell newspapers and you can run front page headlines from these sensational scoops about the NSA or you even had WikiLeaks publishing those stories.  You're probably able to sell newspapers off of that, maybe even win awards.  But yet your newspaper is vigorously championing the Obama administration's crackdown on individuals who are giving you this information.  You think Bradley Manning deserves justice in the courtroom and that his sentence is 'reasonable.'  And we don't know why because they don't take a stand on that, they don't really define it.  They sometimes say what they don't want to happen to people but they'll let the Obama administration go and they'll let the military go and have their way with Manning.  And then, in  the case of [NSA whistle-blower] Ed Snowden it's, you know, 'Bring him back from Russia, he shouldn't have fled' and entertaining anything the Obama administration might have to say about him being abroad.  And in terms of news abuse, I think of how James Risen is being forced to testify against his source and is willing to go to jail [to protect his source].  And then you have this ruling come down and there was no coverage at all in the media really outside of the New York Times being the most major because it is their reporter [Risen] who is being targeted.  And you have some alternative and independent press giving it attention.  But it didn't enter into regular cable or evening news programs that Americans around the country watch.  And then you have David Miranda abroad, being detained and searched for information and the Obama administration --

Mickey Huff: Being detained under a terrorism law.

Right.  And [the Obama administration] pretending, pretending like they don't want this or they weren't involved in this happening and this is just an escalation.  You see an escalation on the war on journalists being waged as a war on leaks, being waged as a war that goes after whistle-blowers.  And I think --  I thought that the press was going to wake up when the Associated Press had its records seized by the Justice Department and we were talking about that and when we knew that [Fox News reporter] James Rosen was being labeled an aider, abettor and co-conspirator of a leak from former State Dept employee Stephen Jin-Woo Kim.   And you didn't see that happen.  I thought it would be a good backdrop going into the Bradley Manning trial -- now Chelsea Manning -- and I thought that that might get organizations to take a second look at everything that had happened [. . .]. But it didn't really happen. And that particularly with the sentencing phase which is one point I want to make here.  The sentencing phase of the trial. When you actually have damage and/or harm evidence that is supposed to be brought forward and the news networks should be -- every day -- going back and saying, "This is what was presented.  This is what  United States government officials said two or three years ago.  This is how we can see if they were being truthful or they were being hyperbolic and lying."  But that didn't happen.  And there was no interest in getting actual information out there to people on whether the government was proving that Manning's leaks had been causing damage or harm.

What kind of media do we have in the United States?  A War Whore media -- as NPR demonstrates but Ava and I'll cover that Sunday at Third.  Media Lens Tweets this media critique:

  1. It was a 'given' for Guardian Iraq had WMD. Now: 'Nor is there much doubt about who committed the [Syrian] atrocity'

Still on the media, this is outside our scope for this dicussion, but I'll note that Kim Petersen has a critique of The Real News Network at Dissident Voice and Aura Bogado (The Nation) calls out the Whiteness of Orange is the New Black (joining Yasmin Nair's  "White Chick Behind Bars: Netflix's Orange is the New Black gets an 'A' on queer issues, a 'C' on race and an 'F' on class" (In These Times) and Matthew Wollin (Pop Matters), as well as Ava and my "Media: Orange is still orange").  Auro Bogado posted a column yesterday evening entitled "An Open Letter: How I Failed Chelsea Manning:"

Your statement hardly comes as a surprise. You had already made perfectly clear that you believed the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan dehumanized people, and that that dehumanization made it easier to kill innocent people with impunity. And yet, I didn’t really listen. I skimmed articles, skimmed analysis, but never made the decision to support you like I should have. I’m sorry, Chelsea. I’m sorry, at the very least, that I wasn’t a better listener.
I understand now that you wanted to make the world better for women of color like me. Now it’s up to me to make the world a better place for women like you.

Aura is to be applauded for her attempt but after her Twitter insensitivity that she recently apologized for, she probably shouldn't attempt to mind read or speak for White women -- a group she clearly has serious issues with.  More to the point, it's a damn shame that she only feels bad because Chelsea has spoken about women. Aura should have been outraged about counter-insurgency -- which Bradley exposed, which he spoke of in his February statement to the military body and which witnesses during sentencing noted.

I like Aura but her being touched that Chelsea Manning spoke of women doesn't change the fact that Chelsea spoke out against counter-insurgency and hoped her leaks would start a national discussion on counter-insurgency -- a discussion Aura never chose to take part in.  She should apologize for that and she's not the only one who needs to (see Monday's "Those up for self-examination . . .").

But she Tweeted Chelsea Manning's statement yesterday and seems to have missed large points in her open apology:

  1. We inexplicably turned a blind eye to torture and executions by the Iraqi government.
  2. We held individuals at Guantanamo for years without due process.
  3. Patriotism is often the cry extolled when morally questionable acts are advocated by those in power.
  4. In our zeal to kill the enemy, we internally debated the definition of torture.
  5. we elected to hide behind the veil of nat'l security and classified information in order to avoid any public accountability
  6. Whenever we killed innocent civilians, instead of accepting responsibility for our conduct,
  7. When we engaged those that we perceived were the enemy, we sometimes killed innocent civilians.
  8. We consciously elected to devalue human life both in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  9. It was at this time I realized in our efforts to meet this risk posed to us by the enemy, we have forgotten our humanity.
  10. I started to question the morality of what we were doing.
  11. It was not until I was in Iraq and reading secret military reports on a daily basis that
  12. I initially agreed with these methods and chose to volunteer to help defend my country.
  13. and due fact we've had to alter our methods of combating the risks posed to us and our way of life.
  14. We've been at war with an enemy that chooses not to meet us on any traditional battlefield,
  15. Since the tragic events of 9/11, our country has been at war.
  16. The decisions that I made in 2010 were made out of a concern for my country and the world that we live in.

  17. Tweeting Chelsea Manning's entire brilliant stement yesterday, 140 characters or less at a time.

I like Aura and we've applauded her here many times but crap like this needs to stop:

I'll take your word that that's true--but even still, it's bothersome that those stories are authenticated by a white voice.

View conversation

I know the topic she's speaking of; however, important stories being authenticated is good and skin color doesn't need to enter into it.  I'm not calling for Aura to be fired from The Nation (if I wanted that, I'd give them a large donation the way everyone does to get someone fired) but I do think she needs to take a strong look at what she's putting out there.  Equally true, when she has a valid complaint against any person, she needs to make it.  But a valid complaint is about a specific person or persons, it's not about a race.  When we engage in attacks on groups of people based on race, we cheapen the conversation and create or perpetuate the never-ending concept of "The Other."  Aura is and has been an important voice but Tweets like that are not enlarging her base, they're restricting any valid points she may have (and I think she has many) to a small echo chamber.

She has a problem and needs to address it.  For those who missed her Twitter apology:

  1. I apologize to everyone who read this tweet . I was wrong to send it. However... (cont.)

    1. I apologize to for sending this tweet: I recognize that I, too, stooped down and made it personal.

      Even more anti-climatic moment of : when a black man with a white girlfriend attacks you when you use the hashtag.

The "White girlfriend" had nothing to do with the exchange Aura had with the man but Aura chose to attack the woman (and many of her followers called her out for it).  She did so because she sees White women as "The Other."  Again, she needs to address this.  Her attacks are not playing well and are making real journalists question her judgment and sanity.  I had turned several TV producers onto her, insisting she would make a great guest.  Two of them saw her Tweets and called to let me know they have no interest in Hate Speech TV.

Aura, you're harming yourself.

And you're also missing Chelsea Manning's point about counter-insurgency which is hugely surprising for someone who supports Native rights.  Counter-insurgency is colonization.  That's why we called out Buffy St. Marie's idiotic remarks about and support for Barack and counter-insurgency supporter Samantha Power.  It is lies, trickery and deceit used in an attempt to isolate those native people who stand up to imperialism from the rest of the native population.  It encourages violence against those who stand up and it usually includes the invading force also practicing violence on the native population.  It's been used over and over.  During Vietnam, we (the left) called it out.  The US government's spread a lot of money around to various academic institutions -- including the Carr Center -- to buy silence in the 00's on the subject of counter-insurgency.

Today protests continued in Iraq.  Iraqi Spring MC notes protests took place in Baquba, Tikrit, Baji, Mosul, Falluja, Baghdad's AdhamiyaSamarra, Rawah, Jalawah, and Ramadi.

This wave of protests has been going on since December 21st. and this week marked eight months of continued protests.

This is the 8th month of continued protests.

As part of the Pride and Dignity campaign, protesters participated in a blood drive for the victims of bombings in IraqIn Ameria, a preacher spoke to those assembled and stated that it is not enough for Nouri al-Maliki to say he recognizes the crimes committed against the people, he must release the innocentNational Iraqi News Agency reports:

Preacher of the unified Friday prayer in Samarra, Sheikh Khaled Hatem al-Samarrai called on Iraqis to end silence towards what is happening in Iraq that took a long time without getting an answer from the Government of unfair and kill of Sunni component without mercy under the name of /revenge of the martyrs / in a Baghdad belt areas specially.

Sheikh Khaled Hatem al-Samarrai decried the targeting of Sunnis.   Where is the United Nations?  They have yet to decry this.  Not only that but UN Secretary-General has yet appoint someone to be his Special Representative to Iraq. (Martin Kobler's gone and "acting" Special Representative is not the same -- the current acting official is doing a strong job but does not have the authority he would have if he was named the Special Representative by Ban Ki-moon.)  NINA also reports:

Preacher Sheikh Hussein al-Dulaimi said in his Friday sermon in Ramadi sit-in Square: " The security forces in Baghdad belt deliberately violating human rights, even these forces confiscate illegally livestock of citizens and practice torture,kill or arrest them, wondering if such a practices are security measures?.

NINA notes that thousands turned out in Ramadi and Falluja:

 Sheikh Mohammed Fayyad, one of the organizers of Anbar sit-ins ,said to NINA reporter : "The citizens participated in the prayers that held in the courtyard northern Ramadi and eastern Fallujah cities , stressing that the goal of this trickle is to send one again a message to the governing in Baghdad that our demonstrations are peaceful and backed by citizens deep conviction.

Al Mada reports that protests took place in multiple provinces and a Samarra preacher called on Nouri to empty the prisons of the innocents and also decried the international silence (from the UN and the Arab League) while pointing out that the government is deliberating violating the rights of peaceful assembly in Baghdad.  Tuesday,  Human Rights Watch issued another in their ongoing reports about the assault on basic freedoms and protesters in Iraq:

Baghdad’s new governor, Ali al-Tamimi, should immediately declare that he will support Iraqis’ right to exercise free assembly, Human Rights Watch said today. He should revoke regulations that allow police to prevent peaceful protest. On August 2, 2013, security forces invoked the regulations, which breach safeguards contained in Iraq’s constitution, to detain 13 people who attempted to protest against corruption and Iraq’s continuing slide into violence. Al-Tamimi became governor of Baghdad a month ago.
Soldiers detained three protesters, held them for 36 hours and then released them. The police arrested 10 more as they gathered in a central Baghdad square, then charged them with “disobeying police orders,” a criminal offense based on the 2011 regulations, because they had failed to obtain official permission to demonstrate. On August 4, al-Rusafa criminal court threw out the charges, declaring them “fabricated.”
“These latest arrests show just how far Iraqi authorities will go to prevent peaceful protests despite the major problems engulfing the country,” said Joe Stork, acting Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The new governor should start fresh, revoking these unfair regulations to show that he supports the right of people to express their grievances peacefully. It would go a long way to restoring trust in the government.”
The regulations effectively give authorities unfettered power to determine who may hold a demonstration.
Human Rights Watch spoke separately to five of the 13 detained protesters, all of whom said that federal police and soldiers arrested them when they and others tried to gather in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square at around 7 a.m. on August 2. The soldiers detained Ahmed Suhail, his cousin Hussein Abbas, and a third man, took them to the headquarters of the 11th division, and held them there until their release late the following day. By then, the men’s families had “started to ask powerful people to intervene,” Suhail told Human Rights Watch.
Police arrested the other 10 after initially warning demonstrators who were making their way to the square that “the army will arrest you and maybe hurt you” and then telling them that they could not enter the square because they did not have an official permit to demonstrate. A federal police general offered to help the demonstrators get a permit, but instead took four protesters who agreed to accompany him to seek the permit to Bab al-Muatham police station, where police arrested them. Police then brought in six others they had arrested, including two news cameramen who had been among the demonstrators.
Three of these six told Human Rights Watch that soldiers from the army’s 11th division assaulted them before police arrested them. One said soldiers forced them to the ground, beating two of them, after first tying an Iraqi flag around his head to prevent him from seeing. The soldier “beat and kicked us, and called us ‘traitors,’’’ he told Human Rights Watch, and “asked us, ‘Who paid you to come demonstrate?’”

Al Mada added that the Samarra preacher noted the eagerness with which the government now attacks the Iraqi people and notes Nouri didn't feel such a need when the American occupier was present in large numbers in Iraq.  Sheikh Mohammed al-Jumaili noted that the Parliament passes laws to protect the animals but seems unconcerned about the protesters' safety.  He noted that violence and militias will not force the protesters to retreat.

And why would it?

After eight months of threats, arrests, gunshots and more, they haven't stopped protesting.  They've seen leaders assassinated and that hasn't led them to retreat.  Even the Tuesday, April 23rd massacre of the sit-in in Hawija by Nouri's federal forces didn't stop them.  Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk)  announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault.  UNICEF informed the world that 8 of the dead were children and twelve more children were left injured.

 When they started, eight months ago, many in the (international) press felt it would last a month or two.  Then they assumed the brutal summer or Ramadan would stop the protests.  Nope and nope.  The Iraqi spirit is alive and well in the protesters.  They do not give up.

Al Mada, Iraqi Spring MC and NINA are among the very few covering today's protests.  No Western media could be bothered, not even to Tweet.  You'd think on the eight month anniversary, they'd manage to at least take a moment to note the protests.

Yesterday,  All Iraq News noted  Nouri al-Maliki had arrived in India.  Today, they shared the statement Nouri's office issued:

The statement assured that “During the visit, Prime Minister Maliki will call on President Pranab Mukherjee and Vice-President Mohammad Hamid Ansari.”
“He will hold bilateral talks with Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, who will also host an official banquet in honour of the visiting Iraqi leader on August 23,” the statement continued.
“His other engagements would include meetings with the Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj, and External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid,” the statement concluded.

AFP's Prashant Rao Tweets:

  1. Iraqi Facebook page makes fun of PM Maliki on India trip, dubbing him 'Nuri Kapoor', Photoshopping him with dancers:

Dr. Manmohan Singh is the Prime Minister of India.  His office Tweeted:

  1. PHOTO: Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of Iraq and Prime Minister Singh at Hyderabad House after the bilateral talks
  2. "Relations between India and Iraq rest on a strong foundation." - Full text of PM's statement -

 The spokesperson for India's Ministry of External Affairs is Syed Akbaruddin who Tweeted:

  1. Iraq offers 3 oil blocks in Middle Furat Oil Field - Kifil, West Kifil, & Merjan- on nomination basis to Indian public sector oil companies

  2. prequalifes Indian companies such as ONGC Videsh Limited, MRPL and Reliance for participation in the Nasiriya Project Bid Round

Al Rafidayn reported yesterday that Nouri had stated he expected to complete deals on crude oil while in India.  On diplomacy, Al Rafidayn notes that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has announced the Deputy Secretary at Iraq's Embassy in Riyadh (Saudi Arabia) has been fired due to remarks which were judged to be offensive to Sunnis.

Staying with Tweets but moving to events in Iraq, CNN's Arwa Damon offers:

at least 28 killed & 36 wounded when suicide bombers blew himself up in a crowded park in , most of dead women & children.

Kareem Raheem, Raheem Salman, Sylvia Westhall, Sonya Hepinstall and Ken Wills (Reuters) quote police officer Ahmed Jassim stating, "There was a crowd of people, and the suicide bomber detonated himself right inside it. Most of the people were killed or injured by ball bearings from the device."
Sinan Salaheddin (AP) adds, "Later in the night, gunmen in Baghdad's northern Azamiyah neighbourhood killed four men walking down a street, an army officer and a medical official said. The motive behind the shooting wasn't immediately clear."

AFP observes, "Friday's violence struck across the country -- in Baghdad and to its north and south -- with gun and bomb attacks hitting both Shiite and Sunni areas."   National Iraqi News Agency reports a Tikrit home invasion left a husband and wife dead and two more relatives injured, and a Falluja roadside bombing claimed 1 life and left another person injured.  All Iraq News adds a southern Baghdad bombing claimed 1 life and left four people injured, a northern Iraq bombing claimed 1 life and left five people injured, a western Baghdad bombing claimed 2 lives and left five people injured, and a woman whose profession was tailor was killed in a Mosul home invasion.  Alsumaria notes 1 male corpse was discovered in Zaidan village (blindfolded and strangled), a Mosul car bombing has left two Iraqi soldiers injured, and a bombing near a Baquba mosque claimed 4 lives and left thirteen injured.  "Meanwhile," Xinhua observes, "a bomb planted in the house of a soldier in northern Mosul detonated in the evening, wounding the soldier's wife and two of his sons, the source said, adding that the soldier himself escaped unharmed as he was not at home during the attack."    Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 567 violent deaths so far this month.

Back to diplomacy, NINA reports US Ambassador to Iraq Robert Beecroft met yesterday with Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq:

A statement issued on Thursday, Aug. 22, by the Deputy Prime Minister's Office said that in the meeting the two discussed the relations between Baghdad and Washington and means to develop them for the interest of both, Iraq and American people. They stressed on the situation in Iraq and Mutlaq's initiative that calls for making political, economic and social reforms as well as a comprehensive review of the security issue.

It added that both sides discussed the importance of the Strategic Frame Agreement concluded between Iraqi and American governments; they also touched on the situation in the area, including dangerous developments a number of countries are witnessing, mainly Egypt and Syria.

The US Embassy in Baghdad released the following yesterday:

The U.S., Iraqi Ministry of Trade and Federation of Chambers of Commerce Partner to Improve Business Registration

August 22, 2013
On Thursday August 22, the Ministry of Trade (‘Ministry’) in cooperation with the Federation of Chambers of Commerce (‘Federation’) launched Iraq’s first “One Stop Shop” for company registration. The Ministry of Trade was represented at the event by Deputy Minister Waleed Habeeb Al-Mosawy; the Federation was represented by Secretary General Abdulhuessein Almubaraka.
The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) supports the Ministry and the Federation through ‘ISRAR’ (“Iraqi Solutions for Regulatory and Administrative Reform”), a component of the USAID-Tarabot Administrative Reform Project. In his remarks, the USAID Mission Director, Mr. Thomas H. Staal, congratulated the Government of Iraq, noting that the One Stop Shop is a model for further reform to ease the cost, time and difficulty of doing business in Iraq. “We are very pleased to be part of this important launch today. USAID has been working hard with its Iraqi partners to improve the business environment. This launch is part of this effort,” Mr. Staal stated.
The new One Stop Shop will allow businesspersons to reserve a company name at the same location where they file for company registration. Before the One Stop Shop, this action required three separate visits to different offices. In addition, an online database was recently launched (http://iraq-trade-names.com) that allows businesspersons to verify immediately if a trade name is already in use. Iraqi businesses will save money and time with the new One Stop Shop and other reforms supported through ISRAR and USAID’s Tarabot project. This in turn will help accelerate the generation of new jobs and economic opportunities for people throughout Iraq.
USAID-Tarabot works with the Government of Iraq as outlined in the Strategic Framework Agreement to help it strengthen public management institutions and improve delivery of services to its citizens.

When I note State Dept press releases, I've usually gotten a heads up from one friend or more at the State Dept.  If anything of interest on Iraq comes up at the White House, I will get calls and e-mails from White House friends.  I've noted this before but am putting it in now because I have the least friends in the Pentagon.  I've got three friends there and if they don't give me a heads up, I'll miss it.  I say that because the US military mission in Iraq posted, in April of this year, a report on the provincial voting in 12 of Iraq's 18 provinces.  A friend, the same one who alerted me to a DoD video on PTSD which we covered, wanted to know why "since you harp on the fact that we're still in Iraq over and over," I hadn't noted that the US military had written, in April, about the April elections?  Because I didn't know.

But I'm happy to note it now.

Especially since it gives me another chance to "harp" on the fact that the US military is still in Iraq.

For nearly a year, US news outlets have ignored  Tim Arango's September 25th New York Times report which noted, "Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions.  At the request of the Iraqi government, according to [US] General [Robert L.] Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence."

Caslen has now moved onto to West Point, to be its superintendent.  But the unit of Army Special Operations soldiers remain in Iraq.  And that agreement Tim Arango reported was being negotiated, the one "that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions"? 

December 6, 2012, the Memorandum of Understanding For Defense Cooperation Between the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Iraq and the Department Defense of the United States of America was signed.  This is the military agreement.  My Pentagon friend who feels I "harp" on this states that the Pentagon interprets  the "D" clause of the third part of Section Four of the MoU as a way to pull out US troops if they face legal charges but that a stronger immunity clause is currently being negotiated -- if it is successfully negotiated, it will likely be announced next month when Nouri is supposed to visit DC. Al Rafidayn, citing Iraqi government sources, reported Wednesday that Nouri was to officially request that the US military take over a military base in Iraq and that this has already been informally agreed to by the US government.  Citing different sources, the Iraq Times also reported on the rumored base request Wednesday.

We covered the MoU in the December 10th and December 11th snapshots, but let's note a few things from it again. Section Two notes "counterterrorism cooperation" and "joint exercises."   Direct quote: "Host and facilitate participation in defense-related theoretical and practical training courses, seminars, conferences, roundtable discussions, and symposiums and lead engagement through other combined military training and education, combined military exercises, and exchanges of information related to those activties".

Yesterday, Congressional Research Services issued the latest [PDF format warning] "Iraq: Politics, Governance, and Human Rights" by Kenneth Katzman. From that report:

On August 19, 2012, en route to a visit to Iraq, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey said that “I think [Iraqi leaders] recognize their capabilities may require yet more additional development and I think they’re reaching out to us to see if we can help them with that.” 45 Aside from accelerated delivery of U.S. arms to be sold, 46 Iraq reportedly has expressed interest in expanded U.S. training of the ISF and joint exercises. 

After the Dempsey visit, reflecting the Iraqi decision to reengage intensively with the United States on security, it was reported that, at the request of Iraq, a unit of Army Special Operations forces had deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence, presumably against AQ-I. 47 (These forces presumably are operating under a limited SOFA or related understanding crafted for this purpose.) Other reports suggest that Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) paramilitary forces have, as of late 2012, largely taken over some of the DOD mission of helping Iraqi counter-terrorism forces (Counter-Terrorism Service, CTS) against AQ-I in western Iraq. 48 Part of the reported CIA mission is to also work against the AQ-I affiliate in Syria, the Al Nusrah Front, discussed above. 

Reflecting an acceleration of the Iraqi move to reengage militarily with the United States, during December 5-6, 2012, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy James Miller and acting Under Secretary of State for International Security Rose Gottemoeller visited Iraq and a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed with acting Defense Minister Sadoun Dulaymi. The five year MOU provides for: 

• high level U.S.-Iraq military exchanges 
• professional military education cooperation 
• counter-terrorism cooperation 
• the development of defense intelligence capabilities 
• joint exercises 

The MOU appeared to address many of the issues that have hampered OSC-I from performing the its mission to its full potential. The MOU also reflects some of the more recent ideas put forward, such as joint exercises. 

The concept of enhanced U.S.-Iraq cooperation gained further consideration in mid-2013 as the United States sought to prevent the violence in Syria from affecting neighboring states, including Iraq. In late June 2013, General Dempsey said that the United States is looking for ways to improve the military capabilities of Iraq and Lebanon, two countries extensively affected by the Syria conflict. According to Gen. Dempsey, enhanced assistance could involve dispatching training teams and accelerating sales of weapons and equipment. During his August 2013 visit to Washington D.C, conducted primarily to attend meetings of the U.S.-Iraq Political and Diplomatic Joint Coordination Committee (JCC), Foreign Minister Zebari indicated that Iraq 45 wants to expand security cooperation with the United States to enhance ISF capability. His visit came several weeks after the July 21, 2013 Abu Ghraib prison break, discussed above, that caused many experts to say that the lapsing of U.S.-Iraq security cooperation had caused ISF proficiency to deteriorate. Some experts believe the U.S. departure and lapsing of security programs has caused the ISF to lose focus on counter-insurgency strategy, for example. 

From Wednesday's snapshot:

Wael Grace (Al Mada) reported yesterday that more and more Iraqis are refusing to provide the government forces with information about insurgents, rebels or 'terroists.'  All Iraq News notes  National Alliance MP Susan al-Saad has declared Nouri's failure to provide security, security companies should be hired to provide security.  Wael Grace (Al Mada) notes today that Iraq is unable to secure its airspace or to protect Bahgdad International Airport.  (On the first, Elisabeth Bumiller reported many years ago for the New York Times that it would be 2014 at the earliest when Iraq could secure its own airspace.)  Kitabat notes that there are some who argue Nouri has intentionally allowed the security to worsen to allow more US troops to return to Iraq as part of the security agreement that Iraq has with the US.  The Iraq Times reports that Iraqi officials are speaking privately of a new US military base in Iraq which will be used to launch attacks on al Qaeda in Iraq or perceived members of al Qaeda in Iraq.

Moving over to the United States and, specifically, to Alaska where a Senate committee field hearing will take place Monday morning:

There will be a meeting of the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs at the Southcentral Foundation in Anchorage, Alaska on Monday, August 26, 2013, at 9:30 a.m. to conduct a field hearing titled “The State of Veterans Services in Alaska”.
Heather L Vachon
Chief Clerk
Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
SR-412 Russell Senate Office Building

Field hearings are open to the public.  Veterans, their families and their supporters are encouraged to attend as are people interested in the workings of Senate committees.

Turning to US political prisoner Lynne Stewart, banished to a prison for the 'crime' of issuing a press release on her client to Reuters.   Law and Disorder Radio,  an hour long program that airs Monday mornings at 9:00 a.m. EST on WBAI and around the country throughout the week, hosted by attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights) this week provided an update on Lynne.  Michael Smith explained that "New York City federal Judge [John] Koeltl stated he couldn't consider Lynne Stewart's request for compassionate release because, by law, it needs to come from the Bureau of Prisons.  Judge Koeltl also pointed out that the Bureau of Prisons didn't properly consider Lynne's medical evidence by saying that her condition was improving. Meanwhile Lynne's doctors have given her a prognosis of 24 to 18 months to live.  At her website, her husband Ralph Poynter requests:

Please join Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former Attorney General Ramsey Clark, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Dick Gregory, Alice Walker, Cornel West and thousands of others who are calling for Lynne’s immediate Compassionate Release!

Lynne Stewart has been in jail for almost 4 years for what should have been a minor violation. Her real crime? She defended a Muslim cleric on trial back in 1995 for terrorism – which she did at the request of former Attorney General Ramsey Clark. After 9/11, Pres. Bush wanted to make an example of Lynne.
READ about Lynne’s case on this website.  If you have questions, call Lynne’s husband RALPH POYNTER at (917) 853-9759.  Then…
President Obama (202) 456-1111
Attorney General Holder (202) 353-1555
Director of Bureau of Prisons Samuels (202) 307-3250/3062
~ SIGN THE PETITION ~ see the side bar.  Sign either petition.
~ JOIN THE VIGIL ~ Meet Lynne’s husband, RALPH POYNTER in front of THE WHITE HOUSE! ~ CALL Ralph @ (917) 853-9759
“Thank you!” – Ralph Poynter

On this week's  Law and Disorder Radio,  the hosts spoke with Lynne's attorney Jill Shellow-Levine.  Excerpt.

Jill Shellow-Levine: Cancer is a terrible thing.

Michael Smith:  Particularly when you're trying to cope with it in prison.

Jill Shellow-Levine:  Particularly when you are trying to cope with it in prison.

Heidi Boghosian:  Jill, is the reluctance on the Bureau of Prisons part purely political to send another message of this anti-terrorism climate, to be fearful of speaking out in ways that Lynne did?

Jill Shellow-Levine:  I don't know the answer to that.  I can say this, that if the Bureau of Prisons denies her second request, she's asked for reconsideration in light of her new prognosis, from the Bureau of Prisons' own doctors.  When they turned her down in the first time in June, they said she wasn't sick enough.  If they turn her down now, when she clearly -- when their doctors say she's sick enough, than that becomes a very good question.  And I hope that Judge [John] Koeltl will order discovery so that we can find out the answer.  

Heidi Boghosian:  We'll keep our fingers crossed and send our warmest wishes -- and many letters -- on behalf of Lynne

FYI, Heidi has a new book  Spying on Democracy: Government Surveillance, Corporate Power and Public Resistance.  We discussed it at Third Sunday in "Spying on Democracy: Government Surveillance, Corporate Power and Public Resistance."





law and disorder radio
michael s. smith
heidi boghosian
michael ratner