Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What if it were George W. Bush saying it?

Today on Taking Aim (WBAI), Mya Shone and Ralph Schoenman spent the hour discussing J.F.K., Cuba, Fidel Castro, and other topics using Lamar Waldron and Thom Hartmann's Ultimate Sacrifice: John and Robert Kennedy, the Plan for a Coup in Cuba and the Murder of J.F.K. It was an interesting discussion and included so many topics. Remember you can go to either the show's website or the station's to hear the episode if you missed it (they are archived at the show's website for more than 90 days).

Now, this is what Barack Obama told Rolling Stone, "I said, 'We are going to end the war in Iraq, that was a mistake,' and I have done that." Can you imagine what the reaction -- what the ridicule -- would be if George W. Bush had said that?

Troops are still on the ground in Iraq and will be throughout this year, throughout most of next at best (but may, in fact, go beyond next year) and yet President Obama is claiming he has ended the Iraq War?

As C.I. points out in today's snapshot, 7 U.S. service members have died in the war Mr. Obama 'ended' since he gave his August 31st speech.

Again, if this were Bully Boy Bush, we would be going to town on him right now.

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for today:

Tuesday, September 28, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, Barack declares the Iraq War ended and brags that he ended it, in the shadow of that huge ego the political stalemate continues, 3 US service members have died in Operation New Dawn in less than a week (7 since Barack announced 'combat' was over), Alsumaria celebrates six years of broadcasting, and more.
In less than a week, 'Operation New Dawn' has claimed the lives of at least 3 US military service members. Yesterday's snapshot noted: "Saturday's news noted that Marc Whisenart was killed in Kuwait while on his second tour of duty in the Iraq War. Middletown Press reports Pfc Gebrah P. Noonan died Thursday in Falluja and that Governor Jodi Rell has ordered that state flags be lowered on Noonan's behalf. Friday USF announced: 'CAMP LIBERTY – Two United States Forces - Iraq service members died of injuries sustained in a non-combat-related incident today. One other service member was injured and evacuated to a military medical facility for treatment'." That's three. And correction, it's Marc "Whisenant." My apologies. Whisenant's death is announced by DoD here. The Walton Sun notes, "The mission of Whisenant's regiment was providing escort security for personnel and equipment from Iraq into Kuwait as part of the drawdown of forces under Operation New Dawn. The unit was deployed January 2010 and is expected to return home December 2010." Noonan's death is covered in this DoD announcement:
The Department of Defense announced today the deaths of two soldiers who were supporting Operation New Dawn.
They died Sept. 24 in Fallujah, Iraq, of injuries sustained Sept. 23 in a non-combat incident. They were assigned to 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.
Killed were:
Spc. John Carrillo Jr., 20, of Stockton, Calif.
Pfc. Gebrah P. Noonan, 26, of Watertown, Conn.
For more information, the media may contact the Fort Stewart public affairs office at 912-435-9879 or 912-435-9874.

Mohammed Tafeeq (CNN) report Spc Neftaly Platero is currently in military custody and suspected of killing Noonan and Carrillo. KCRA (link has text and video) reports that's John's mother Dsiree Carillos was not told her son might have been killed by another US soldier when the military broke the news that her son was dead. She states, "It was very devastating to find out he was shot by a fellow soldier. (It) is unbelievable. The military should be embarrassed." BBC News quotes US military spokesperson Barry Johnson stating that there was a "verbal altercation" which allegedly resulted in Platero shooting the other three soldiers. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) notes Platero is 32-years-old. CNN adds, "Several people posted rest-in-peace messages on what appears to be Noonan's Facebook page. The page of 'Gebrah Noonan' also lists 'Neftaly Platero' -- the same name as the suspect -- as a Facebook friend." Kent Pierce (WTNH) quotes Gebrah Noonan's high school track coach, Dean Street, stating, "He was certainly a patriotic guy. He would mention things about it time to time, big into politics, everything that was going on." On his Facebook page, Gebrah's likes include Rob Simmons and Sarah Palin. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's office issued the following:


Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Stockton Soldier Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today issued the following statement regarding the death of Spc. John Carrillo Jr. of Stockton:
"Maria and I were deeply saddened to learn of the death of Specialist John Carrillo Junior. He was a brave soldier who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving our country, and we join all Californians in remembering his courage and commitment. Our thoughts and prayers are with John's family, friends and loved ones during this difficult time."
Carrillo, 20, died September 24 in Fallujah, Iraq, of injuries sustained September 23 in a non-combat incident. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, GA.
In honor of Spc. Carrillo, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

So DoD is announcing 3 deaths above in 'Operation New Dawn.' 4425 was the DoD count on Thursday so the count is now 4428. And since Barack announced 'the end of war' and 'combat operations,' 7 US soldiers have died serving in this allegedly ended war. 'End of war'? Yes, that's what Barack and the press attempted to sell the American people. The current liar in chief learned a great deal about linkage from George W. Bush (who loved to link 9-11 and Iraq -- a trick Barack now echoes). Doubt that was the point of Barry's Oval Office minute?
When I was campaigning, I was very specific. I said, "We are going to end the war in Iraq, that was a mistake," and I have done that.
That's Barack purring into Jann S. Wenner's ear for the latest Rolling Stone Interview. "I have done that." He has ended the Iraq War? That's what he brags about. His gross exaggeration is only matched by his preening ego. The Iraq War has not ended. Repeating, since his 'ending' of that illegal war, 7 more US service members have died. 50,000 remain in Iraq. And that should scare the hell out of the Cult of St. Barack.
If you never doubted how likely it was that US troops would remain in Iraq after 2011, grasp that with 50,000 present currently, Barack's telling Rolling Stone he's already ended the Iraq War.
Saturday, Parks & Recreations' Amy Poehler returned to Saturday Night Live as the host and, on Weekend Update, she and Seth Meyers did their "Really" sketch (click here to stream the episode at NBC, click here to stream it at Hulu and click here to stream the Weekend Update clip at Hulu).
Seth Meyers: But you know what else is crazy? Anyone who says we need to attack Iran because we're definitely in two wars already. Yes, two. Because saying combat operations are over in Iraq when they're are still 50,000 troops is like saying, 'Hey, I quit drinking . . . tequila shots!'
Amy Poehler: Really.
Seth Meyers: Really.
Monday, Gabriel Gatehouse (BBC News) spoke with John Hockenberry and Celeste Headlee on The Takeaway (PRI) about the continuing Iraq War and shared the voices of some US soldiers in Iraq.
Capt Paul Cluverius: We have some soldiers, they were a little angry about it, saying, 'Hey, we're still over here. My personal standpoint? I thought it was humorous that they're saying combat operations are stopped because, I mean, combat operations are stopped? And what are we still doing here now? But our families, the people who know us, they know what we're doing. There is no switch that you can throw to say combat operations are stopped. I believe it was more of a media -- It was something built for the media.
Cluverius is correct, the Iraq War continues. You really think he'd find it humorous that Barack Obama's claiming -- to Rolling Stone -- that he has already ended the Iraq War? Really? You think the families and friends of the seven who have died since Barack declared 'combat' over and (in his mind) ended the war think it's cute that Barack's lying to Rolling Stone that the Iraq War is over?
John: I mentioned the combat operations in Afghanistan not to get your commentary on them because, obviously, you're in Baghdad but most Americans are going to wake up this morning and hear the headline from "American's war" -- singular, in Afghanistan. You would say there are two wars right?
Gabriel Gatehouse: I would definitely say that and I think Captain Paul
Tuesday, September 28, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, Barack declares the Iraq War ended and brags that he ended it, in the shadow of that huge ego the political stalemate continues, 3 US service members have died in Operation New Dawn in less than a week (7 since Barack announced 'combat' was over), Alsumaria celebrates six years of broadcasting, and more.
In less than a week, 'Operation New Dawn' has claimed the lives of at least 3 US military service members. Yesterday's snapshot noted: "Saturday's news noted that Marc Whisenart was killed in Kuwait while on his second tour of duty in the Iraq War. Middletown Press reports Pfc Gebrah P. Noonan died Thursday in Falluja and that Governor Jodi Rell has ordered that state flags be lowered on Noonan's behalf. Friday USF announced: 'CAMP LIBERTY – Two United States Forces - Iraq service members died of injuries sustained in a non-combat-related incident today. One other service member was injured and evacuated to a military medical facility for treatment'." That's three. And correction, it's Marc "Whisenant." My apologies. Whisenant's death is announced by DoD here. The Walton Sun notes, "The mission of Whisenant's regiment was providing escort security for personnel and equipment from Iraq into Kuwait as part of the drawdown of forces under Operation New Dawn. The unit was deployed January 2010 and is expected to return home December 2010." Noonan's death is covered in this DoD announcement:
The Department of Defense announced today the deaths of two soldiers who were supporting Operation New Dawn.
They died Sept. 24 in Fallujah, Iraq, of injuries sustained Sept. 23 in a non-combat incident. They were assigned to 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.
Killed were:
Spc. John Carrillo Jr., 20, of Stockton, Calif.
Pfc. Gebrah P. Noonan, 26, of Watertown, Conn.
For more information, the media may contact the Fort Stewart public affairs office at 912-435-9879 or 912-435-9874.

Mohammed Tafeeq (CNN) report Spc Neftaly Platero is currently in military custody and suspected of killing Noonan and Carrillo. KCRA (link has text and video) reports that's John's mother Dsiree Carillos was not told her son might have been killed by another US soldier when the military broke the news that her son was dead. She states, "It was very devastating to find out he was shot by a fellow soldier. (It) is unbelievable. The military should be embarrassed." BBC News quotes US military spokesperson Barry Johnson stating that there was a "verbal altercation" which allegedly resulted in Platero shooting the other three soldiers. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) notes Platero is 32-years-old. CNN adds, "Several people posted rest-in-peace messages on what appears to be Noonan's Facebook page. The page of 'Gebrah Noonan' also lists 'Neftaly Platero' -- the same name as the suspect -- as a Facebook friend." Kent Pierce (WTNH) quotes Gebrah Noonan's high school track coach, Dean Street, stating, "He was certainly a patriotic guy. He would mention things about it time to time, big into politics, everything that was going on." On his Facebook page, Gebrah's likes include Rob Simmons and Sarah Palin. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's office issued the following:


Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Stockton Soldier Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today issued the following statement regarding the death of Spc. John Carrillo Jr. of Stockton:
"Maria and I were deeply saddened to learn of the death of Specialist John Carrillo Junior. He was a brave soldier who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving our country, and we join all Californians in remembering his courage and commitment. Our thoughts and prayers are with John's family, friends and loved ones during this difficult time."
Carrillo, 20, died September 24 in Fallujah, Iraq, of injuries sustained September 23 in a non-combat incident. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, GA.
In honor of Spc. Carrillo, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

So DoD is announcing 3 deaths above in 'Operation New Dawn.' 4425 was the DoD count on Thursday so the count is now 4428. And since Barack announced 'the end of war' and 'combat operations,' 7 US soldiers have died serving in this allegedly ended war. 'End of war'? Yes, that's what Barack and the press attempted to sell the American people. The current liar in chief learned a great deal about linkage from George W. Bush (who loved to link 9-11 and Iraq -- a trick Barack now echoes). Doubt that was the point of Barry's Oval Office minute?
When I was campaigning, I was very specific. I said, "We are going to end the war in Iraq, that was a mistake," and I have done that.
That's Barack purring into Jann S. Wenner's ear for the latest Rolling Stone Interview. "I have done that." He has ended the Iraq War? That's what he brags about. His gross exaggeration is only matched by his preening ego. The Iraq War has not ended. Repeating, since his 'ending' of that illegal war, 7 more US service members have died. 50,000 remain in Iraq. And that should scare the hell out of the Cult of St. Barack.
If you never doubted how likely it was that US troops would remain in Iraq after 2011, grasp that with 50,000 present currently, Barack's telling Rolling Stone he's already ended the Iraq War.
Saturday, Parks & Recreations' Amy Poehler returned to Saturday Night Live as the host and, on Weekend Update, she and Seth Meyers did their "Really" sketch (click here to stream the episode at NBC, click here to stream it at Hulu and click here to stream the Weekend Update clip at Hulu).
Seth Meyers: But you know what else is crazy? Anyone who says we need to attack Iran because we're definitely in two wars already. Yes, two. Because saying combat operations are over in Iraq when they're are still 50,000 troops is like saying, 'Hey, I quit drinking . . . tequila shots!'
Amy Poehler: Really.
Seth Meyers: Really.
Monday, Gabriel Gatehouse (BBC News) spoke with John Hockenberry and Celeste Headlee on The Takeaway (PRI) about the continuing Iraq War and shared the voices of some US soldiers in Iraq.
Capt Paul Cluverius: We have some soldiers, they were a little angry about it, saying, 'Hey, we're still over here. My personal standpoint? I thought it was humorous that they're saying combat operations are stopped because, I mean, combat operations are stopped? And what are we still doing here now? But our families, the people who know us, they know what we're doing. There is no switch that you can throw to say combat operations are stopped. I believe it was more of a media -- It was something built for the media.
From that broadcast, we'll note this excerpt:
John Hockenberry: I mentioned the combat operations in Afghanistan not to get your commentary, on them obviously, you're in 'Bagdhad, but because most Americans are going to wake up this morning and hear the headline from "America's War," singular, the one in Afghanistan. You would say there are two wars, right?
Gabriel Gatehouse: I would definitely say that and I think Capt Paul Cluverius and Sgt Chris Williams would agree with me. I think most of the US soldiers who are based outside of the large FOBs, outside of the large bases, partnering with Iraqis on a daily basis would agree with you. This war is not over yet.
Of course, the people explaining reality? They're not trying to lie, cheat and spin in order to do well in mid-term elections. It's a damn shame that Barack's been able to tell Rolling Stone magazine that the Iraq War ended and everyone and their dog has gone on to comment since the story broke this morning but no one's zooming in on the Iraq comments (we zoomed in this morning as soon as the story went online). And it's not just the mainstream media ignoring Barack's LIE (although over 420 articles have been published by them since this morning), it's also our left 'independent' press.
There's more to point out. Journalist Ann Jones has new book which was just released this month War Is Not Over When It's Over: Women Speak Out from the Ruins of War. She is Matthew Rothschild's guest this week on The Progressive Radio Show and the two discuss wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Sierra Leone and elsewhere. At one point, Matthew Rothschild brings up the issue of rape.
Ann Jones: [. . .] we think of wars as being fought by soldiers -- mostly men -- and they fight with each other and then some sort of peace is concluded at which men sit down at the negotiating table and make a deal -- one that usually involves their coming to some sort of a power sharing agreement so everybody gets a piece of the pie. And then we say 'the war is over and now this country is at peace.' But in fact, all the time the men are at war and all the time they're talking about peace at the negotiating table, they are raping women and girls all over the country all the time. And when this so-called peace is concluded, they continue to do that. And, what's more, because civil structures, judicial structures, law and order have generally broken down during wartime, civilian men say 'Well look what the soldiers did all this time during the war and nothing bad has happened to them.' And they begin to rape as well so that very often the violence against women not only does not stop with the end of the war, but very often it increases. And the one significant thing that changes in many places is that where the militias have actually been disarmed and weapons have been taken away, men are now on their own. And it's easier for a man on his own, without his buddies to do a [. . .] rape, or to force a woman. It's easier for that man on his own to rape a little girl than it is to rape a grown woman who's going to put up a fight.
But that didn't happen. Ann Jones notes that despite the UN, over a decade ago, passing a resolution that women needed to be involved in all parts of any peace proces, that hasn't been happening in any stages in Iraq or Afghanistan. Maybe that's why US troops remain in both?
Suadad al-Salhy (Reuters) notes yesterday was the self-imposed deadline that the Iraqi National Alliance announced last week by which they and State Of Law would have selected a nominee for prime minister and that they missed the deadline. Selected a nominee? From two people. Last week, it was also announced that they were choosing between Nouri al-Maliki (State Of Law) and Iraq's Shiite vice president Adel Abdul Mehdi (National Alliance). Supposedly an announcement would emerge today. DPA adds:
Though candidates in the National Alliance want the prime minister to come from their ranks, some are opposed to al-Maliki being head of government and favour his competitor, Iraqi Vice President Adel Abdul-Mahdi. In particular, followers of Shiite cleric Muqtada al- Sadr have yet to forget al-Maliki's attacks on their strongholds in March 2008, which killed and injured hundreds of Sadrist supporters.
What happens now? Sam Dagher (Wall St. Journal) states that 14 leaders will vote on one or the other and then there will be a nominee. Has it ever been that easy? Maybe so? Alsumaria TV reported at 5:00 a.m. EST that Hassan Al Sunaid (State Of Law) was insisting that the candidate will be named "within the coming hours." A few hours came and went, then many, many more. No announcement. The political stalemate continues.
March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board noted last month, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality." 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. They are claiming they have the right to form the government. In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. It's six months and twenty-one days with no government formed.
While the US wants Nouri al-Maliki to remain prime minister -- so much so that they pretend it's normal he's remained prime minister all this time despite his term expiring -- Jason Ditz (Antiwar.com) points out, "Iraqis seem far from on-board for a second Maliki term, however, and voted in large numbers for blocs that clash openly with Maliki's. It seems that only foreign force could impose another Maliki government, but the cost to Iraq's fledgling democracy of such a move could be incalculable." The US supports Nouri because Nouri's promised to extend the SOFA (that's not Jason, that's me). AFP reports that US Vice President Joe Biden bellowed over the phone today that an "inclusive" government needed to be formed and that someone needed to speed up. Someone? Allawi. Biden only hectors Allawi. Nouri he feeds out of his own hand -- like a goat at a petting zoo. An Iraqi correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers shares thoughts on the stalemate at Inside Iraq:
We feel so sick because we heard the word MECHANISM for thousands times during the last few days. As normal people, we do not know anything about this word and it looks that our GREAT POLITICIANS also do not know anything about it. The search for this mechanism cost us a lot. Many innocent people die everyday, corruption increases widely and life becomes more difficult.
And the violence never ends.
Bombings?
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad sticky bombing which left police Lt Col Salam Meer wounded, a Baghdad roadside bombing which wounded six people, 2 Baghdad roadside bombings going off one right after the other injured four people, another Baghdad roadside bombing exploded as people were exiting the Muhammed Mosque and 2 were killed with eight more wounded and, dropping back to Monday, a Baghdad roadside bombing wounded three people. Reuters notes a Kirkuk home exploded as police and Iraqi military were raiding the house and three Iraqi service members were left injured. ,
Shootings?
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Mosul home invasion in which Sehikh Hussein Ali was shot dead and, dropping back to Monday, 1 military officer was killed in a Mosul roadside bombing and an Iraqi soldier was left wounded.
Last week, Reporters Without Borders issued a statement noting that finally two people believed to be resonsible for attacks on journalists Iraq -- in this case, kidnapping, were sentenced. In 2004, Christian Chesnot, Georges Malbrunot and their unnamed Syrian guide were kidnapped and held for over 120 days:

"We hail this conviction and we hope that the impunity so long enjoyed by the murderers and kidnappers of journalists will cease to be the rule in today's Iraq," Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Jean-Fran├žois Julliard said.

"It is good that justice has been rendered," Malbrunot told Reporters Without Borders.

In a report entitled "Iraq War: a heavy death toll for the media 2003-2010" released on 7 September, Reporters Without Borders condemned the failure to punish those responsible for killing so many journalists since the start of the US-led invasion in March 2003.

The report noted that majority of the journalists killed have been Iraqis. Yesterday Iraqi journalist Alaa Muhsin was injured in a Baghdad bombing. In addition, many news outlets have been closed (Paul Bremer was the first official to close a publication in Iraq after the start of the illegal war). In that climate, Alsumaria TV has a right to brag, not just celebrate:
September 27, 2004 was the start of a successful journey that made of Alsumaria today a star turn in the media sector.

Alsumaria celebrates its sixth anniversary. For all the past years, Alsumaria has embraced a moderate speech for One Iraq that stands at an equal distance from all Iraqis. Through its programs and news bulletins, the network continuously strives to promote democracy, freedom as well as political and economic openness.

A competent personnel, experienced anchors, skilled technicians and proficient cadre are the backbone of Alsumaria TV which eyes to present the best for Iraqi families.

Backed by a strong production know-how, Alsumaria TV produces almost all of its 24/7 programs in-house giving the chance for Iraqi actors to rise again in addition to a significant compilation of live entertainment, social, political, and game shows hosted by young Iraqis.

Alsumaria rallies high viewership among Arabs and Iraqis according to accurate statistical studies. Leading the way has not come for granted. Alsumaria earned its success thanks to its objectivity, neutrality and concern towards the Iraqi people.

Alsumaria is dedicated for all Iraqis regardless of their political, religious or social backgrounds. It aims to gather Iraqis all over the world around the same interest.

Alsumaria vows to keep breathing life into Iraqis' homes bringing along new hopes for a bright future.

Happy anniversary!
Congratulations to Alsumaria and all the Iraqi media, forever under the threat of attack from the government, forever under the threat of bombings or shootings (you don't even have to be a journalist to be targeted, you can just answer the phones for a news outlet or be one of their security guards and that's enough to get you targeted), but trying each day to inform their readers, viewers and listeners.
One of Iraq's long running issues has been the PKK -- a rebel group which is housed in northern Iraq and uses that area as a staging platform for attacks on Turkey. AFP reports that Turkey's "mandate for military strikes" on the PKK expires October 17th but they will be reviewing renewing it. If renewed, it will be the third renewal. AP reports that the top US commander in Iraq, Gen Lloyd Austin, is in Turkey where he will discuss the PKK with military officials. Hurriyet reports that Turkish government officials today pressured the US to do more with regards to the PKK including pressuring the Kurdistan Regional Government (which governs the northern area) to crack down on the PKK.
Over the weekend, Ed Milband was elected leader of the Labour Party in the UK. The political party held their conference in Manchester today and Ed gave his first speech (other than acceptance speech) in his new leadership post during which he noted the Iraq War.
Iraq was an issue that divided our party and our country. Many sincerely believed that the world faced a real threat. I criticise nobody faced with making the toughest of decisions and I honour our troops who fought and died there.
But I do believe that we were wrong. Wrong to take Britain to war and we need to be honest about that.
Wrong because that war was not a last resort, because we did not build sufficient alliances and because we undermined the United Nations.
As disclosed before, I know Ed and David Milband. The speech in full will either go down as Ed charting a brave direction for Labour (some are seeing an attack on unions in it, there is a very clear call for a living wage) by speaking of the party's strengths (lifting all boats) and renewing the commitment to that (a comitment New Labour tossed aside) or it will be seen in ten years as pretty words that were never backed up. (Labour is currently the out of power party in England -- the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats formed a power-sharing coalition after the May elections allowing David Cameron to be Prime Minister.) (And to be clear, I don't read Ed's remarks on unions as an attack -- but I'm also aware that Ed has not been elected the head of any union and, as a result, has no say in whether a union strikes or not.) The Iraq comments are receiving worldwide attention and some of the press includes the Gulf Times, Sky News, Manchester Evening News, Iain Martin (Wall St. Journal), Mu Xuequan (Xinhua), The Economist. Amnesty International issued the following:
Amnesty International has welcomed comments on human rights from the new Labour leader Ed Miliband in today's conference speech.

In his party conference speech Mr Miliband said his party had "too often" "seemed casual" about British liberties, in particular identifying attempts by the previous government to introduce 90-day pre-charge detention periods and sweeping use of anti-terrorism powers.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen, who listened to the speech in Manchester today, said:

"We've waited years to hear the Labour leadership say - in effect - that it has got the balance wrong on counter-terrorism and that, from now on, it is going to do more to defend human rights.

"This was an important moment and I was delighted to hear these words from the new Labour leader.

"Mr Miliband should certainly ensure that the opposition mounts a robust defence of human rights, including by calling for 'control orders' to be scrapped and the forthcoming torture inquiry to be rigorous and far-reaching.

"Amnesty has always said that defending this country must also mean defending our country's key principles of liberty and fairness. I look forward to meeting Ed Miliband and his colleagues to see how we can help make these aspirations real."


Amnesty recently made a 17-page submission to the Home Office as part of the Coalition Government's review of counter-terrorism measures. The organisation has also written to the head of the inquiry into alleged UK involvement in the mistreatment of detainees held abroad.

Both interventions come against the backdrop of repeated criticism from Amnesty and other human rights organisations of the previous government's record on counter-terrorism policy and practice. In April, for example, Amnesty described the UK as "the most influential and aggressive" promoter in Europe of the policy of seeking "diplomatic assurances" as a means to deport people it labels a threat to national security. Amnesty has long said that these "no torture" deals are unreliable and unenforceable and endanger those deported under such arrangements.
Tom Walker (Great Britain's Socialist Worker) reports, "Ed Miliband made one important break with Blairism in his conference speech on Tuesday when he condemned the war in Iraq. He said, 'I do believe that we were wrong. Wrong to take Britain to war and we need to be honest about that.' There was nervous applause. But he was strongly in support of continuing the occupation in Afghanistan. Miliband tried to balance between those who want an end to Blairism and those on the right of the party. But trying to balance in practice will mean that the Tories win the ideological battle -- and it won't build resistance."
Another thread of the story is David Miliband's reported reaction to the speech, specifically the critique of the Iraq War. George Eaton (New Statesman) reports, "During the leader's speech, ITV news cameras picked up the elder Miliband, with a look of pure murder on his face, leaning towards Harriet Harman as she happily applauded his brother's condemnation of the Iraq war. According to the station's lipreaders, he said: 'Why are you clapping? You voted for it.' To which Harman is said to have replied: 'I'm clapping because he's leader and, as you know, I'm supporting him'." Helene Mulholland (Guardian) adds, "The exchange suggests that the shadow foreign secretary, who was defeated in his leadership bid by his brother by a narrow margin, may choose not to add his name to the list of nominations for the shadow cabinet ahead of tomorrow's deadline." Iain Martin (Wall St. Journal) offers, "This is expected to be all over the bulletins later, and will be viewed through the prism of the brothers psycho-drama and the elder Miliband's struggle to come to terms with being beaten by his younger sibling. It is also quite funny." And BBC News points out, "BBC political editor Nick Robinson said the unscripted aside from David Miliband illustrated how he, and other former Labour ministers, 'deeply resent' the way in which Ed Miliband used his 'rather less than public opposition to the war' to win the party leadership." We'll be kind and not name the left writer in this country (US) who couldn't get it right (we've named him many times before), the Iraq War does matter in England. As Labour Pary polling confirmed -- which is why Rebecca and I both knew about it to begin with -- the Iraq War -- continuing the Iraq War, was an anchor around Gordon Brown's neck and is part of the reason -- a big part according to internal polling within the party -- Gordon is no longer prime minister. It was also a big reason Ed was able to pull ahead of his brother when few (including me) thought he was sincere about winning when the race for leadership first began. (As I've noted before, I was obviously wrong about Ed beging serious about this race.)