Monday, March 11, 2013

The Client List (spoilers)

This is from Third Estate Sunday Review's "TV Roundtable:"


Ava: The Client List starts season two tonight on Lifetime.

Jim: Ava and C.I. cover TV here and their plan was to cover that show this week.  I asked them to grab a documentary instead.  Since they're not noting The Client List in a review, I said we'd use it for the illustration and promised we'd get the edition up before the show aired.

Ava: The series stars Jennifer Love Hewitt.  She's a mother of two kids whose husband walks out as they're facing foreclosure on their home.  She takes a job as a massage therapist but the big paying clients want more than a massage.  The show started life as a highly rated 2010 TV movie. Last April, season one of the show began airing.  Along with Jennifer Love Hewitt as Riley, the casst includes Cybill Shepherd as Riley's mother Lynette, Loretta Devine as the owner of the massage parlor Georgia, Colin Egglesfield as Riley's brother-in-law Evan, Brian Hallisay as the runaway husband Kyle, Rebecca Field as Riley's best friend Lacey and Greg Grunberg as Lacey's husband Dale.  Season two starts tonight.

Jim: I think it's an entertaining show but I'm going to play devil's advocate here.  This is a show glorifying prostitution.

C.I.: I don't know that it glorifies prostitution.  Lacey's speech to Riley in season one was pretty clear and you've got Jolene who refuses to provide anything other than a massage.  I know it's confusing with dumb asses these days who mistake portrayals for endorsements, but I don't know that it's glorifying prostitution.  Prostitution exists.  Sex workers exist.  Some women -- and some men -- are employed as such.  I don't know that a value judgment needs to be made on the show.

Jim: What about a message?

C.I.: See we're supposed to love pot so we never worry about the message of Weeds -- Mary-Louise Parker's great Showtime series.  Why are we supposed to be worried about the message of The Client List?  Do people wrongly think it airs as a Saturday morning cartoon?  It airs on Lifetime -- a cable channel whose audience is largely adult women.

Jim: But as feminists, can you endorse the show?

Ava:  We enjoy the show.  Do we endorse it?  Yes, it's well made, it pulls the audience in and it's providing actors with some wonderful opportunities.  Weeds really is the perfect comparison.  In that show, the mother has to move pot to provide for her family.  Riley's got two kids to support and a home she's about to lose.  Repeatedly, she's praised for her strength.  And she is very strong.  Would I choose to be a sex-worker?  Not my first choice, no.  But my life doesn't have to be up there on screen for me to enjoy it.  There's a comedy aspect to the show.  You can argue there's fantasy aspect to the show -- as there was with Weeds -- in that it's showing a very up and positive sex worker experience.  But it's well written and it's well acted.  The women aren't doormats and the women aren't stereotypes.  Lacey is a rounded woman, that just makes her sexy.  She's all the more appealing to her husband.  I praise the show for that.  In a TV world of stick figures, I praise them for having a sexy, fun loving character who is not thin.  Along with body type, there's the fact that Lynette, Riley's mother, is an important part of the show.  Cybill's not comic relief the way Lily Tomlin is on Reba's new show.  Cybill's got an active life on the show.  She's a grandmother, she works a job outside the home, she most recently fell for Brian Kerwin.  It's presenting various women.  Is Lorette Devine a little too sweet to be a madam?  For some people, she may be.  I think she's hilarious and touching in the role.

C.I.:  I'd point out that Love is a producer of the show.  Season one was ten episodes.  That matters because of what I'm about to talk about.  Ava's talking about the great show in front of the camera and how inclusive it is.  That's happening behind the camera too and Jennifer Love Hewitt and Lifetime deserve real credit for that.  Six of the ten episodes were written by women.  Four of the ten episodes were directed by women.  By contrast, it took Weeds three seasons to come up with four women directors -- three seasons and 33 episodes.  Modern Family was on episode 65 when it finally had it's fourth episode directed by a woman.  So give Jennifer and Lifetime and everyone involved real credit for those numbers.  Also, disclosure, as noted before Ava and I both know Jennifer Love Hewitt.

So a show that appreciates women in front of the camera and behind it?

I figured it warranted a viewing from me.

Last night, I watched the season two debut on Lifetime.  It was a lot to absorb.  The police arrested Riley's wayward husband who had just returned after walking out on her and the kids.

Help me out, Georgia (Loretta Devine), is she trying to set up Riley for a fall?

She is trying to unload The Rub (the massage parlor) on Riley.  And the cops are sniffing around and Georgia's crooked pal even tells her he can't keep everyone away forever.

So is Georgia saving her own ass by framing Riley?

I have no idea.  But it was a good show, it held my attention.  I do not care for Riley's husband Kyle.  I prefer her with her brother-in-law Evan.  But this was my first episode so longterm viewers may feel differently. 
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for today: 

Monday, March 11, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, officials are among the targeted, Nouri's forces/thugs shut down protest at Tikrit University, Iraqiya notes how many of their candidates have been assassinated in recent days, Amnesty International issues a report about the lack of progress in Iraq, Nouri's State of Law is accused of running a brothel,  the PKK and Turkey have an interesting development,  the VA is caught (yet again) lying about the wait times for claims, and much more.

Let's start in the US with the Veterans Affairs Dept.  We've repeatedly asked why Eric Shinseki continues as VA Secretary and where the accountability is -- see, for example, "Veterans issues and the failure of Shinseki" about the backlog and about Shinseki's failures with regards to the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

We've noted repeatedly how the VA shows up before Congress and lies and lies and lies some more.  As the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hold hearings among the various VSOs (veterans services organizations), one of the saddest things has been hearing them go out of their way to praise the VA.  One VSO leader even testified praising the VA's Allison Hickey.  Allison Hickey?  You may remember Bob Filner -- now Mayor of San Diego, then Ranking Member on the House Veterans Affairs Committee -- having little time for Hickey's nonsense.  Such as the June 20th hearing where Hickey refused to provide the Committee with a plan.

But of all the exchanges Hickey took part in last year with members of Congress, the one that probably most applies today is the July 18th exchange when Hickey thought she could show up with out of date numbers and stonewall and fool the Committee.

Jason Chaffetz:  Madam Under Secretary,  Mr. Manar,  I think accurately points out in his testimony that in order to solve the problem, you need to know exactly what the problem is.  And I see a major discrepancy in some of the numbers and I want to help clarify that.  In your testimony in talking about the integrated disability evaluation system, you say, "We went from 240 day average in the legacy system to 56 days" and it goes on.  And there's a definition of the backlog.  The House Armed Services Committee staff and the House Veterans Affairs Committee staff on July 13 of this year which was not too long ago gave a briefing to these two Committees.  It says in here that the current monthly average completion time is 408 days.  You say it's 56 days -- 54 days -- yeah, 56 days -- and they say it's 408 days.   Can you help clarify that for me please?

Allison Hickey:  Thank you, Chairman Chaffetz for your question. First of all, allow me to clarify by stating a few basic definitions so also, as I say things, you can understand what words I'm using and their context  We have, in the inventory and pending an overall number of 854000.  That's not backlog.  Those are claims that even as we've been sitting here for the last ten to fifteen minutes, more claims have come into us from veteran service members  and

Chair Jason Chaffetz:  Okay, let me stop you -- let me stop you right there. Let me stop you right there.  On July 16th, which is not very long ago, the Monday morning workload report says there are 919,461 claims.  You say that number is -- what did you say that number is?  860,000 something?

Allison Hickey:  The numbers I'm using are 854,000 --

Chair Jason Chaffetz:  Okay, so we're off by about 50 or 60 thousand.  And we're talking about something that is just  couple of days old.  Why the discrepancy on those number?

Allison Hickey:  Chairman Chaffetz, our backlog -- I mean our inventory is a dynamic inventory.

Chair Jason Chaffetz:  I know but that's less than ten days so --

Allison Hickey:  Chairman, I'm happy to answer the questions if I'm allowed an opportunity.

Chair Jason Chaffetz:  Sure I want to know.  You're saying that that number is 800 and something thousand and I'm just saying that the VA's report says it's 919,461.  That's of July 16th --

Allison Hickey:  Chairman, I'm happy to answer the question if I'm allowed an opportunity.

Chair Jason Chaffetz:  Ma'am, just answer the question.  Yes.

Allison Hickey:  Thank you very much.

Chair Jason Chaffetz:  --  That's why I asked the question.

Allison Hickey:  Thank you very much, Chairman.  The numbers that I'm using are from the endpoint of a month.  Probably the end of May.  So you probably are using the end of this week's report.  I chose not use a floating number that continues to change over time and over dates and over weeks.  So I used an end of month number to be able to to talk to you, to be able to have a solid number to have a discussion around.

Chair Jason Chaffetz:  If you --

Allison Hickey:  Regardless of what it is -- Regardless of what it is, I will tell you that our inventory and our pending is not our backlog.  And typically, the statistics show 61% of that backlog are supplemental claims that people -- veterans who are already receiving compensation from us are coming back with a second, third or a fourth claim in that process.  So of the number I will use 854,000, I could use your number as well.  And I could use the weekly reports number in backlog it would be exactly the same thing which is about 65 to 66% of our claims are in -- they are more than 125 days old.

Chair Jason Chaffetz:  Okay --

Allison Hickey:  That is the --

Chair Jason Chaffetz:  Okay, that's great.  More than 125 days old.  You say in your testimony -- I mean, to hear your testimony, these things are getting so much better.  We went from a 240 day average in the legacy system to 56 days?

Allison Hickey:  Chairman Chaffetz, I'd be happy to answer the question in the disparity for the briefing which you just handed out.  I have different processes that have different standards.  The process you described is our end of b -- our integrated disability evaluation system that we work with DoD for our most wounded and ill -- injured service members.

Chair Jason Chaffetz:  In your testimony --

Allison Hickey:  The numbers that you are --

Chair Jason Chaffetz:  I'm sorry --

Allison Hickey:  -- describing are the VA -- the 56 days are the VA numbers in that complete process --

Chair Jason Chaffetz:  I'm -- I'm --

Allison Hickey:  -- where VA has the responsibility for --

Chair Jason Chaffetz:  Hold on.  Hold on.  Let's tackle them one at a time.  This is your testimony, "We are closely collaborating with DoD through the Integrated Disability Evaluation System."  You say that's 56 days.  This report, this briefing that went to another Committee just last week says it's 408 days.  That's not exactly close.  Which --

Allison Hickey:  Chairman Chaffetz --

Chair Jason Chaffetz:  -- one is it?  Is it --

Allison Hickey:  The VA days for those 10,000 we have done in FY12, the VA days, the days that I have responsibility for doing them are 56 for those 10,000.

Chair Jason Chaffetz:  Are you saying this is accurate or inaccurate?

Allison Hickey:  I'm saying I do not know what's on that slide.  If you were to give me that slide and give me some time to digest that slide I'd be happy to do that, Chairman.  You have access to that information right at this moment, I do not.

Chair Jason Chaffetz:  We will make -- we will make --

Allison Hickey:  I will be happy to take that for the record and respond to you.

Chair Jason Chaffetz:  How -- In it's simplified format here, how bad do you think this problem is?  I'm trying to quantify it and I'm concerned because we're not off by a couple of 100 people here,  we're talking about hundreds of thousands of people.  And in your testimony, you would lead the American people to believe that it's getting much better.  But if you look at it over the course of time, it's getting worse.  It's --

Allison Hickey:  Chairman, I have clearly stated --

Chair Jason Chaffetz:  It's getting worse.

Allison Hickey:  -- in my testimony that two -- that -- that, uh, 65% of people in more than 125 days, from a VA perspective, is unacceptable.  I've clearly stated that.

Chair Jason Chaffetz:  And you say that this is a decade's old problem --

Allison Hickey:  It is a decade's old problem and for the first time we have an integrated plan that goes after the way we're organized and trained to do the work, the processes that we've done that we have streamlined, the technology that we're bringing in that under this administration and this Secretary [of VA Eric Shinseki], VBA has never had an emphasis on it's IT infrastructure to get from a paper bound process to a paperless system that we have right now.  We are implementing it right now.

Chair Jason Chaffetz:  Okay, my time is far expired.  The numbers and the discrepancies here are absolutely stunning. 

Well Hickey lied to the Committee about the numbers that day (we went over that in the snapshot) and, no surprise except for those who live to play the fool, the VA's been yet again caught lying about the numbers with regards to veterans claims.  Aaron Glantz (Center for Investigative Reporting via The Daily Beast) reports today:

The Department of Veterans Affairs’ ability to quickly provide service-related benefits has virtually collapsed under President Barack Obama, according to internal VA documents obtained by the Center for Investigative Reporting and authenticated by the agency.
Those documents, which the VA has yet to share with Congress or the public, show that the delays new veterans face before receiving disability compensation and other benefits often are far longer than the agency has publicly acknowledged. The documents also offer insight into some of the reasons for those delays.
The agency tracks and widely reports the average wait time: 273 days. But the internal data indicates that veterans filing their first claim, including those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, wait nearly two months longer, between 316 and 327 days. Those filing for the first time in America’s major population centers wait up to twice as long—642 days in New York, 619 days in Los Angeles, and 542 days in Chicago.

Those figures are beyond unacceptable.  That's the reason the VA's being hiding them from Congress.  Again, where's the oversight and where's the accountability?  When veterans had to take out loans to celebrate Christmas 2009 with their children because the VA couldn't get their act together to provide education checks that were due months prior, heads should have rolled.  Instead, we got a song and dance and we got blame the veterans (they didn't fill out the paperwork properly).  Finally, Shinseki admitted to Congress it was his 'whoopsie.'     October 14, 2009, he told the House Committee on Veterans Affairs:

Secretary Eric Shinseki: I'm looking at the certificates of eligibility uh being processed on 1 May and enrollments 6 July, checks having to flow through August. A very compressed timeframe. And in order to do that, we essentially began as I arrived in January, uh, putting together the plan -- reviewing the plan that was there and trying to validate it. I'll be frank, when I arrived, uh, there were a number of people telling me this was simply not executable. It wasn't going to happen. Three August was going to be here before we could have everything in place. Uh, to the credit of the folks in uh VA, I, uh, I consulted an outside consultant, brought in an independent view, same kind of assessment. 'Unless you do some big things here, this is not possible.' To the credit of the folks, the good folks in VBA, they took it on and they went at it hard. We hired 530 people to do this and had to train them. We had a manual system that was computer assisted. Not very helpful but that's what they inherited. And we realized in about May that the 530 were probably a little short so we went and hired 230 more people. So in excess of 700 people were trained to use the tools that were coming together even as certificates were being executed. Uhm, we were short on the assumption of how many people it would take.

But he didn't inform Congress of the January discovery.  He didn't fix the problem.  And when, in the fall of 2009, the problem became evident and the media started covering it, the VA's initial response was to deny a problem and to blame the veterans.  Shinseki should have tendered his resignation October 14, 2009, immediately after he testified that he knew, in January, that there would be problems, that the VA's plan "was simply not executable."  He failed to tender his resignation.  President Barack Obama failed to ask him to resign.  Veterans have suffered repeatedly because there is no real leadership at the VA.  How much longer is this going to continue?

Don't look for other voices to amplify Glantz' reporting.  It's all about distract and cover these days.

Oh, look, today Media Matters discovers Iraq.  Perfect example.  It's only 17 days since they last 'cared' and it's utter nonsense but  that's what we've come to expect from the naval gazer?  Last week's big news was the investigative documentary (James Steele: America's Mystery Man In Iraq) the Guardian newspaper and BBC Arabic  produced  about the US utilizing and training death squads in Iraq -- these are War Crimes.  And, of course, they have echo to this day.  Then there's the big news of the week, the just released [PDF format warning] "Iraq: A Decade of Abuses"  from Amnesty International.  Both are these are major news.

And now Media Matters wants to discover Iraq?  Or they want to distract?  In fairness, it may be that they finally found an issue they could finally care about: Money.  So they focus on Stuart Bowen's money discoveries.  Beggars may always put money ahead of human life.

Of the Amnesty report, Patrick Cockburn (Independent) observes, "Forced confessions are at the heart of the present legal system with prisoners being given life and death sentences on the basis of false statements extracted by torture. In one case last year, cited by Amnesty, four men were arrested in Ramadi, held incommunicado and tortured by various means, including being hung up by the wrists and beatings, until they confessed."  Carsten Jugernsen is with Amnesty International Germany and he tells DPA of the report, "Neither the Iraqi government nor the former occupying power act according to basic standards of human rights, and the people of Iraq are paying the price for that."  Holly Yan (CNN) notes, "The report said government forces commit torture with impunity, targeting particularly those arrested on suspicion of carrying out terrorism acts." 

Olivia Ward (Canada's Spec) notes:

Early last September, Mundhir al-Bilawi and his father were stopped at a checkpoint in the Iraqi town of Ramadi and seized by security forces. Then, said the 13-year-old, they were tortured with electric shocks.
He told a lawyer he was pressured to denounce his father, a local pharmacist, as a terrorist — in the presence of an investigating judge. Mundhir’s father, 38-year-old Samir Naji Awda al-Bilawi, died in custody, and an autopsy confirmed that he had been tortured to death. But the family’s pleas to name the torturers and bring them and their superiors to justice have been ignored.

Tim Moynihan (Scotsman) notes the report  "highlights the case of Ramze Shihab Ahmed, a 70-year-old dual Iraqi-UK national who was given a 15-year jail sentence after a hearing that lasted only 15 minutes."  A really important report.  Maybe in a week or 17 more days, Media Matters can find it?  Probably not.  Despite having an hour to fill, Amy Goodman and Democracy Now! couldn't note the report -- not even in a headline.  See, it's easy to note what Media Matters notes because they present it as the distant past.  To address what is actually taking place in Iraq?  That might lead to criticism of President Barack Obama and they just will not tolerate that.  Writing about whistle blower and political prisoner Bradley Manning last week,  Naomi Spencer (WSWS) points out that these alleged lefties can't summon the nerve to call out Barack,  "Organizations that orbit the Obama administration-- including the International Socialist Organization, which has published a handful of articles about the case -- have likewise avoided uttering the name of Manning’s oppressor: the Democratic administration of Barack Obama. The most recent report in the Socialist Worker, the ISO’s publication, was a reprint of a February 22 Belfast Telegraph op-ed which made no mention of Obama."   The Voice of Russia (link is audio) explores what so many in the US are ignoring.  Excerpt.

Brendan Cole:  It may be a decade since the fall of Saddam [Hussein, former President of Iraq] but violation of human rights in Iraq are still rife.  That's according to Amnesty International whose report says that attacks on civilians, the torture of detainees and unfair trials are still prevalent.  It found government forces commit torture with impunity especially against those accused of carrying out acts of terrorism.  Methods of torture include electrical shocks, partial suffocation, beatings and the deprivation of food, water and sleep.  Carsten Jugernsen is the author of that Amnesty International report and he said torture has always been widespread in Iraq but now forced confessions were at the heart of the country's present legal system.

Carsten Jugernsen:  And we hear over and over again that this torture is done to coerce suspects to confess, to confess to all sorts of crimes, torture crimes, but also other crimes.  Then again, we hear confessions which are made under these circumstances and which are later withdrawn are yet used in the trials as evidence against people and people have been sentenced to very harsh sentences including to death.

Brendan Cole:  He said that thousands of Iraqis were detained without trial or serving prison sentences after unfair trials and now Iraq was one of the world's leading executioners.  Last year, 129 Iraqi prisoners were hanged.

It's really amazing that since the middle of December, certain posers have pretended to give a damn about torture but Amnesty International issues a report on torture late Sunday night and they're all silent.  That's because they didn't give a damn about torture.  It was about attacking a woman -- Kathryn Bigelow.  That's why the idiots at World Can't Wait announced their protest before anyone with the group had seen the film.  It was about attacking a woman.  Dexter Filkins and The New Yorker deliberately distorted the film ('reviewing' a scene not in the movie, not ever filmed, not ever written) and it launched a hundred and one attacks on Zero Dark Thirty.  Dexy Filkins, of course, when not whoring around in Iraq and destroying his marriage, was covering the second assault on Falluja, lying about it, letting the military vet his copy -- which is why events of November 15, 2004 made the front page of the November 21, 2004 New York Times. Dexy's a known liar but when he attacks a woman, watch the crowd rush to embrace him.  Zero Dark Thirty does not embrace torture (you can see Ava and my "Media: The never-ending sexism" for recent coverage on that, and for the opposite take, the only intelligent article written was this Z-Net piece by Tom Hayden).

It's strange how silent they are, these sudden obsessive types.  But then it's so much easier to attack a woman and to join in on Bash The Bitch, right?  A lot harder to call out torture.  Bad teethed Peter Maass is one of the ones who attacked Kathryn and her film.  Let's drop back to Maass' article for The New York Times Sunday Magazine (May 1, 2005):

The program we were watching was Adnan's brainchild, and in just a few months it had proved to be one of the most effective psychological operations of the war. It is reality TV of sorts, a show called ''Terrorism in the Grip of Justice.'' It features detainees confessing to various crimes. The show was first broadcast earlier this year and has quickly become a nationwide hit. It is on every day in prime time on Al Iraqiya, the American-financed national TV station, and when it is on, people across the country can be found gathered around their television sets.
[One paragraph deleted by me because we have not treated the videos as reality and I'm not going to include his mocking descriptions of people who were tortrued to get 'confessions.']
Before the show began that evening, Adnan's office was a hive of conversation, phone calls and tea-drinking. Along with a dozen commandos, there were several American advisers in the room, including James Steele, one of the United States military's top experts on counterinsurgency. Steele honed his tactics leading a Special Forces mission in El Salvador during that country's brutal civil war in the 1980's. Steele's presence was a sign not only of the commandos' crucial role in the American counterinsurgency strategy but also of his close relationship with Adnan. Steele admired the general. ''He's obviously a natural type of commander,'' Steele told me. ''He commands respect.''
Things quieted in the office once the episode of ''Terrorism in the Grip of Justice'' began. First, a detainee admitted [deleted by me for the same reason as before] and their confessions were taped, just hours before, in this very office. Adnan sat smoking Royals and watching the show like a proud producer.
''It has a good effect on civilians,'' he had told me, through an interpreter. ''Most civilians don't know who conducts the terrorist activities. Now they can see the quality of the insurgents.'' Earlier he said: ''Civilians must know that these people who call themselves resisters are thieves and looters. They are dirty. In every person there is good and bad, but in these people there is only bad.''
The episodes of the program I have seen depict an insurgency composed almost entirely of criminals and religious fanatics. The insurgency as understood by American intelligence officers, is a more complex web of interests and fighters. Most of the insurgency is composed of Sunnis, and it is generally believed that Baathists hold key positions. But the commandos, who are the stars of ''Terrorism in the Grip of Justice,'' are also led by Sunnis and have many former Baathists in their ranks, so the Sunni and Baathist aspect of the insurgency is carefully obscured.
Of course, propaganda need not be wholly accurate to be effective. The real problem with the program, according to its most vocal critics -- representatives of human rights groups -- is that it violates the Geneva Conventions. The detainees shown on ''Terrorism in the Grip of Justice'' have not been charged before judicial authorities, and they appear to be confessing under duress.

That's the real problem?  That no charges have been brought? Seems to me if Peter Maass wants to slam Kathryn Bigelow, he better have called out torture when he 'reported' on it.  (It's a first person, feature article, it's not reporting -- not even what passes for magazine reporting.  It reads like Are You There Saddam? It's Me Peter.)

We've called out torture from the start.  Not just because it's 'ineffective' but also because it's unethical.  It torments the victim and it dehumanizes the oppressor.  It destroys who we are as a people and leads us down a pathway that is hard to return from.  The breaking of laws is not the issue.  Breaking laws just go to the fact that it's criminal behavior.  The issue is why the laws were put in place, why these barriers were put in place.

Iraq didn't need to be introduced to torture by James Steele.  Steele is the subject of the new BBC Arabic and Guardian Newspaper documentary James Steele: America's Mystery Man In Iraq  which Ava and I reviewed Sunday at Third.  But what Steele and the American government did was betray the proclamation of 'a new Iraq,' 'of a free Iraq.'  There's no question that the US government broke the law with Steele and that War Crimes took place.  But it's the results of those crimes, the aftermath, that is why we have laws in place against torture.  In 'new Iraq,' the US sent James Steele in and allowed him to show the real face of counter-insurgency.  And these crimes became the norm in Iraq making clear that there would be no 'new Iraq.'  That's why the torture continues to this day.  The American occupation made it the norm and gave it the stamp of approval.  Amnesty's report notes:

The Ministry of Human Rights has gone some way towards acknowledging this reality, observing that detainees are "subjected in some instances to torture and ill-treatment in order to coerce them to confess or to obtain information."  Once they have "confessed" in this way, detainees are generally taken under guard to appear before an investigating judge, often under threat of further torture or other ill-treatment if they refuse to confirm their confession or complain of mistreatment.  In some cases, detainees are reported to have been threatened or assaulted by their guards in the presence of the investigating judge to force them to confess.  Investigating judges are supposed to ensure that any incriminatory statements have been freely given, without coercion or duress, yet cases continue to be reported where they appear to have preferred to "look the other way" and accept self- incriminating statements from detainees without question despite their allegations or other evidence of abuse.  This, when it occurs, may have profoundly damaging consequences for the detainee.  For example, the Central Criminal Court in Baghdad [case number 1479 of 2012, Branch 2] ruled on 3 December 2012 that it would accept as evidence a confession made in pre-trial detention by a defendant although that defendant "denied any relation with the accusation brought against him and stated that his previous confession in front of the investigating judge was not true as it had been obtained by pressure and coercion that he was subjected to by the investigator".  The court said it found the confession acceptable because it was "elaborate and detailed" [mufassal wa daqiq], then convicted the defendant under the Anti-Terrorism Law and sentenced him to life imprisonment.  As experienced Iraqi criminal lawyers have attested to Amnesty International, courts place great weight on "confessions" recorded by investigating judges and tend to accept them even though defendants withdraw and repudiate them at trial.

Torture destroys the lives of the victims.  It dehumanizes those who practice it.  And it destroys an open society.  If you torture to get a 'confession' and it's false but you convict, you not only put the innocent behind bars, you let the guilty walk.  More importantly, the lesson is absorbed in the society that truth and reality don't matter.  The people take the message, they understand what repression is and the open society dies as does every freedom.  That's what so many Iraqis taking to the streets to protest for the last months are fighting against, the death of an open society.  They are fighting for that "new Iraq" that they were promised but still haven't seen.

What Iraq is seeing is ever more violence because the violence is supported by the US which continues to back Nouri al-Maliki, Little Saddam.  Officials are targeted with violence.  All Iraq News notes that Iraqiya issued a statement decrying the attacks on their members including five who have been killed in the last days:  Nafa Daoud, Rafa Daoud, Mithaq Ali Jiad, Hussein Ali Jiad and Yusif Ali Jihad.    Sunday, National Iraqi News Agency reported Muthana Jorwan al-Kubaisi, Chair of Rutba City Council, was shot dead while leaving a mosque, Rawa City Council member Muna'im Abdul Salam was shot dead outside his home, and  "the General Coordinator of the popular committees overseeing the sit-ins of Kirkuk Bunyyan Sabbar al-Obeidi was killed today."  Of Sunday's assassination of Bunyan-Obeidi, Alsumaria notes the activist was killed by unknown assailants in a civilian car who began shooting as they passed.  AFP added, "Obeidi’s death comes two days after activists said security forces fired on a demonstration in Mosul, another north Iraq city" --  3 protesters died in Mosul assault Friday. From that day's snapshot:

Responses to the attack?   Alsumaria reports cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr is calling for an investigation into this assault on the Iraqi people.  Al Mada reports that the Kurdistan Alliance is calling for an investigation and for the perpetrators to be punished.   All Iraq News notes that Mosul has been placed on curfew.   Ahmed al-Saddy's Facebook page carries the announcement that there will be a strike at the University of Mosul March 10th (Sunday) as a result of the attacks on the protesters.   Alsumaria reports the immediate reaction also includes Ezz al-Din al-Dawla resigning as Minister of Agriculture as a result of the killing of protesters in Mosul and he stated that the voices that sent him to Baghdad are not being represented by the government.
That protest was actually today.  I must have read the announcement wrong, my apologies.  Here for video, here, and herehere, here and here for photos.  Nouri's forces harassed the protesters and then forced them out of the protest area and then forced them off the university campus.  Also Nouri has sent 708 Hummers and 200 additional troops into Anbar -- surely to 'protect' the protesters, right?  That's what he's been doing, right?  Protecting them?  Nouri's a thug and, shamefully, he's a US government supported thug.

National Iraq News Agency reports that Nouri spoke on the phone today with US Secretary of State John Kerry.  Nouri probably forgot the call immediately after his office issued the statement.  After all, it's not every day that Nouri gets accused of running a brothel.  All Iraq News reports  Ali al-Timimi, an MP with the Sadr bloc, states that Nouri sits atop a mountain of corruption and that Nouri's State of Law MP Ezat al-Shabander has acted as a broker (pimp) of women for politicians within the Green Zone.

Alsumaria notes that Iraqi girls continue to face forced marriage -- some as young as ten-years-old.  A fourteen-year-old who was married off to an elderly man because her family was poor and despite her holding up her end of the forced (and illegal marriage) her family remains poor and she has no rights.  Alsumaria also reports that there were 60 suicides in Dohuk Province last year, the majority of which were women.  On the subject of women and girls in Iraq, let's return to Amnesty International's "Iraq: A Decade of Abuses."  Excerpt.

More than a thousand of the 37,000 inmates of Iraqi prisons and detention centres in mid- 2012 were women. The Human Rights Committee of the Iraqi parliament reported in November 2012 that 1,130 women were then being held, 639 of whom had been convicted of offences. 
In October 2012, following a visit it had conducted to the Women's Prison   in Baghdad’s al- Resafa district in September, jointly with representatives of the Ministry of Human Rights, the Hammurabi Human Rights Organization (HHRO) reported allegations by women inmates that they had been subjected to torture, includi ng electric shocks, beatings and sexual abuse, while being detained and under interrogation.  HHRO reported that some women prisoners were suffering from skin ailments and that th e authorities were apparently unable to call on sufficient women police officers to manage transfers of female detainees. 
More than three years before, members of the Human Rights Committee of parliament who visited the earlier women’s prison that was then located in al-Kadhemiya told reporters in May 2009 that two women inmates they had seen had testified that they were repeatedly raped in detention after their arrest and before they were transferred to the prison. 
Sabah Hassan Hussein, 41, a journalist, was reportedly arrested on 29 February 2012 when she went to the offices of the army’s Fifth Bri gade in Baghdad’s Saydiya district to collect a car belonging to one of her relatives that th e authorities had confiscated. She was detained and told that she was a suspec t in a murder investigation. She was then transferred to the Directorate of Major Crimes (Mudiriyat al-Jara’im al-Kubra) in Tikrit, where she was held incommunicado, for about two months during whic h, she alleges, she was tortured. According to a member of her family interviewed by Amnesty International, she alleges that her interrogators burnt her with cigarettes, doused her with icy cold water and forced to undress in front of male police officers. The Journalistic Freedoms Observatory (JFO) reported on 26 November that she had identified the police officers responsible for her alleged torture and that their names had been submitted to the Ministry of Interior. 
Sabah Hassan Hussein was returned to Baghdad from Tikrit in May 2012 and held at al- Sayid For detention centre she was acquitted by the Resafa Criminal Court at the first session of her trial on charges brought under the Anti-Terrorism Law on 23 January 2013. Another defendant charged with her, however, was convicted and sentenced to death. Despite her acquittal, Sabah Hassan Hussein remained in prison until 18 February 2013, when she was released and allowed to return to her family. She subsequently told Amnesty International that she filed a formal complaint with the authorities about her torture and other ill-treatment in detention. They were previously alerted to her torture allegations in November 2012; however, they are not known to have taken any steps to bring those responsible to justice.
Addressing the National Assem b ly on 20 November 2012, one of Iraq's female MPs, ‘Atab Jasim Nasif al-Duri, questioned the security forces' practice of detaining the wives or other female relatives of wanted male suspects an d obtained the Assembly’s agreement for an investigation into the situation of women prisoners. 46 Eight days later, the head of the parliamentary Human Rights Committee presented an initial report which expressed concern that women detainees were liable to harassment and abuse when they in the custody of male only guards when they were being moved between detention facilities. The report also drew attention to a reported recent incident at al-Taji, north of Baghdad, where members of the Sixth Brigade of the Federal Police (al-Shurta al-Ittihadiya) had detained 10 women and two girls without arrest warrants in place of several men whom they were seeking to arrest. The police had then held the women and girls, who were named in the parliamentary committee's report, at a police detention facility for four days, where they were reportedly “tortured and pressured”, before being transferred to al-Sayid For detention centre in Baghdad. 47 An investigation of the same incident by Huma n Rights Watch concluded that in November 2012 federal police had “invaded 11 homes” in al-Tajji and detained 41 people, including 29 children, overnight in their homes, and had taken “12 women and girls ages 11 to 60 to 6th Brigade headquarters and held them there for four days without charge. The sources said the police beat the women and tortured them with electric shocks and plastic bags placed over their heads until they began to suffocate.”  The 12 women and girls were released.

Turning to today's violence, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observes, "As the 10th anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq nears, violence still plagues Baghdad and other cities in the nation."  Sunday night/early Monday morning saw a riot in Baghdad Central Prison.  Alsumaria reports that the former Abu Ghraib Prison riot was stopped today and that no prisoners escaped.  Meanwhile AFP's Mohamad Ali Harissi Tweets:

15 killed and dozens wounded in attacks on Sunday night and Monday, among them 3 killed and 165 wounded in a suicide attack in

Click here for Mohamad Ali Harissi's AFP report.   Citing "official sources," Prensa Latina notes 3 police officers were killed in the bombing and two other people died as well.  Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) also counts 5 dead (3 police officers) and notes, "The huge blast caused severe damages to the police headquarters as well as to the school and a government building, the source added."

All Iraq News reports 1 Iraqi soldier was shot dead in front of his Mosul home. and 1 prison guard was shot dead in his Mosul homeNational Iraqi News Agency notes a Mukhisa store owner was shot dead near his store,  and last night 1 Baghdad store owner was shot dead inside his store,  also today 1 corpse (smashed head) was discovered in Kirkuk. Alsumaria reports 1 corpse was discovered today in Baquba, and 1 Iraqi military lieutenant was killed by a Qayyarah roadside bombing (Nineveh Province), 1 provincial council candidate was shot dead in Hermat, and 1 shop owner was shot dead in front of his Baquba homeAll Iraq News adds 1 corpse was discovered (gunshot wounds) yesterday in Mosul.  Mu Xuequan reports that "two civilians were killed by gunmen using silence weapons in Sabie al-Bour area in north of Baghdad, an Interior Ministry source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity."

The third month of the year isn't even half over and already AFP counts over 480 violent deaths this year.

In other news, there may be some news on improving relations between the government of Turkey and the PKK.  Aaron Hess (International Socialist Review) described the PKK in 2008, "The PKK emerged in 1984 as a major force in response to Turkey's oppression of its Kurdish population. Since the late 1970s, Turkey has waged a relentless war of attrition that has killed tens of thousands of Kurds and driven millions from their homes. The Kurds are the world's largest stateless population -- whose main population concentration straddles Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria -- and have been the victims of imperialist wars and manipulation since the colonial period. While Turkey has granted limited rights to the Kurds in recent years in order to accommodate the European Union, which it seeks to join, even these are now at risk."  Today?

Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) reports, "A Turkish delegation will go to northern Iraq on Tuesday to bring back 10 Turkish officials kidnapped by the outlawed Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK), Turkish Interior Minister Muammer Guler said Monday.Huseyin Hayatsever (Hurriyet) adds:

The government is adamant that the handover of eight public servants and soldiers held by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) should not be turned into a show of force, at the risk of derailing the ongoing peace process.

The greatly anticipated handover is expected to take place at the Habur border crossing on March 12, following tough negotiations

Cengiz Candar (Al-Monitor) offers this perspective, "It would be excessive daydreaming to expect the Kurdish issue that dates back to the declaration of Turkish Republic to solve it in a week or two, in a couple of months and even one or two years. The said process, no matter what it is called, is fragile enough to be derailed any moment. But then we have never had such a process that created so much optimistic expectation of the right course for a solution and peace."

At Media Channel, Danny Schechter has posted his documentary WMD: Weapons of Mass Deception.  For those who've forgotten or were too young to catch the selling of the Iraq War by the press -- selling that did not end with the invasion -- Danny's documentary is an important document.  As one of the few documentaries that addressed the role of the press and did it in a manner beyond, "Oh, look what Fox did!," his documentary is an importnat and truthful film.  There were other documentaries that received more press attention and one that was actually a hit in the theaters but Danny's documentary said more than all of them.

In addition, Media Channel notes:

Thanks to the efforts of our indefatigable Executive Director, Mr. Ian Escuela, Mediachannel will now be updated every day except Saturday. Mediachannel is very fortunate to be taking shape under his stewardship and I hold the man in no less a place than in my personal pantheon of heroes.

To everyone who made a donation since our return, I am pleased to say that your eBook copy of Dissecting the News and Lighting the Fuse will be emailed to you at the end of this week. Anyone who intended to donate, but has not gotten around to it, now would definitely not be a bad time. Irrespective of those trifling economic considerations, thank you all for your support even if that support is just a kind email or praises sung to a friend.

aaron glantz