Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Thoughts on shutdown

President Barack Obama should have taken the Republican deal in some form.  The Senate should have gone along.


For one thing, the federal government would not be in the midst of a shutdown.

For another, time could have been used.  Delay the rollout of ObamaCare.

It is obviously not ready to be implemented -- even MSNBC today reported on the glitches people trying to sing up are facing.

Most importantly, Spanish speakers cannot go online because somehow that part of the program is not working.

When you already have set the record for most deportations, as Mr. Obama has, do you also need to roll out your new program in part -- ignoring the Spanish speakers?

The smartest thing would have been to say to Republicans and the House, "Look, we will push back the start date by six months and that is our compromise."

And that would have allowed the budget to pass and allowed the White House to get the bugs out of ObamaCare.

Vanity and stupidity have yet again harmed the country.

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

Tuesday, October 1, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, the monthly death tolls are released, those 'only' wounded aren't in a lucky boat, US Senator Patrick Leahy makes an Iraq announcement,  the ruins of an ancient city are discovered in northern Iraq, we discuss political prisoner Lynne Stewart, and more.

On this week's Law and Disorder Radio,  an hour long program which first 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) topics addressed included political prisoner Lynne Stewart.  Here's that portion in full.

Heidi Boghosian:   Michael as each day passes we grow more concerned about the health status of our friend Lynne Stewart.  What's the latest?

Michael Ratner:  She's in prison in Texas.  The head of the Bureau of Prisons, [Charles E.] Samuels, is keeping her there.  The law, as recently articulate by Attorney General Holder says that she qualifies for compassionate release.  The prison doctor himself has written that she's got less than 18 months to live.  She's going to be 74-years-old on October 8th and we're trying to get her out of there, back here, home to New York, where she can get better medical care.  And we've relaunched a new petition because they turned down the last one -- although the judge said that if he got a new petition in front of him, he indicated that he would let her out.  So the trick here is to get Samuels, the head of the Bureau of Prisons, to allow her out.  The Bureau of Prisons has to make a motion to the court --  the court's going to grant the motion -- but they [BoP] have got to do it.

Heidi Boghosian:  And I think it's worth noting that Samuels turned down the lawyers' first request for compassionate release but they filed new papers which are apparently sitting on his desk so it's all the more important that we mount public pressure.

Michael Smith:  Well we had 30,000 people -- plus a number of organizations -- that signed a petition the last time.  We want to do even better than that.  You can go to or -- we'll link to it -- get the information and help Lynne out here, wish her a happy 74th birthday.

The radio program is a great one and I'd rank it in my own top ten of programs airing in the US on the radio.  In fact, top five.  Sometimes, inspiration just doesn't come.  Believe me, I understand that.  That can be especially true when it's a subject that matters (such as a dying friend) and especially if you address the subject regularly.  With Lynne, there are weeks when I've addresses her case in groups we've spoken to and I just don't want to do it here that evening because a) I don't want to cry, b) I don't have time to redo my eye makeup after I finish dictating the snapshot because I'm finishing it as I stand on the sidelines waiting to speak, and c) I just can't destroy myself one more time (emotionally wreck myself to say all that needs to be said).  Then there are the times when I'm drained completely and I'm typing up an entry and the well has run completely dry.

The Michaels and Heidi are not robots who can just spit out the same facts and details every time.  They care about Lynne tremendously and they cover Lynne repeatedly.  I get that.

All of the above and more may go to why this week's segment was the worst coverage they've done.

Pretend WBAI can attract new listeners for a moment or grasp that, on one of the many other radio stations the program airs, new listeners heard about Lynne for the first time with that episode.

What do they now know?


Lynne's some woman in some prison with cancer.  And set aside cancer because that's was bad as well, the presentation.

In prison for what?  Who is she?  Why should I sign a petition for her?

Glen Ford:  People's lawyer Lynne Stewart continues to fight for a compassionate release from prison where she's serving a ten year sentence for zealously defending her client.  Stewart is suffering Stage IV breast cancer but the Obama administration has turned down all of her pleas to be released to her family and doctors.  In Birmingham, Alabama, we spoke with David Gespass, a former president of the National Lawyers Guild.

That's Glenn Ford on last week's Black Agenda Radio (airs each Monday at 4:00 pm EST on the Progressive Radio Network)  -- a program which also covers Lynne regularly.  (I believe those are the only two who do so.)  Glen's established who Lynne is in that brief intro. 

Here, we do a much longer intro.  What we're using here covers more because it's what I say when I raise the topic of Lynne when we're speaking to a group.  We turn it into a story and name the 'bad guys.'  Because there is time to do so (which isn't the case in the radio intro to one of several segments) and because it carries our larger theme of how Barack Obama has taken the crimes of Bully Boy Bush and not only run with it but managed to make them even worse.  When Barack came into office, the intro had to be changed to include him -- he is part of this story just by being president.  Near the end of his first term, he ordered Lynne behind bars (Bush hadn't, he let her stay our during the appeal process) and that and other actions had to be included as well.  My point being, we go long, yes, but we offer a narrative and it makes clear what Lynne's up against.  It works and it works because I'm able to see faces as I speak and tell when I'm losing people or when they're carried along by the narratives which has allowed me to make changes as required.  Here's the three paragraph into I've been using for a couple of months now (in speaking and then carried over to the snapshot).

Lynne Stewart. is a political prisoner in the United States.  For the 'crime' of issuing a press release, she was eventually tossed in prison.  The 'crime' happened on Attorney General Janet Reno's watch.  Reno has her detractors who think she was far too tough as Attorney General.  She also has her supporters who see her as a moderate.  No one saw her as 'soft.'  Reno had her Justice Department review what happened.  There was no talk of a trial because there was no crime.  No law was broken.  The Justice Department imposes guidelines -- not written by Congress, so not laws -- on attorneys.  Lynne was made to review the guidelines and told not to break it again.  That was her 'punishment' under Janet Reno.  Bully Boy Bush comes into office and the already decided incident becomes a way for Attorney General John Ashcroft to try to build a name for himself. He goes on David Letterman's show to announce, after 9-11, that they're prosecuting Lynne for terrorism.

Eventually tossed in prison?  Even Bully Boy Bush allowed Lynne to remain out on appeal.  It's only when Barack Obama becomes president that Lynne gets tossed in prison.  It's only under Barack that the US Justice Depart disputes the judge's sentence and demands a harsher one (under the original sentence Lynne would be out now).  Lynne's cancer has returned.

She needs to be home with her family.  Her time is limited and it needs to be spent with her loved ones.  Lynne's a threat to no one -- not today, not ten years ago.  She's a 73-year-old grandmother who has dedicated her life to being there for people who would otherwise have no defenders.  Even now in prison, she shows compassion towards those who have had none for her.  Barack Obama needs to order her immediate release.  If he fails to do so, then it should be a permanent stain on his record.

Lynne has been the victim of now one but two administrations.  That's an important point.  And when Lynne is raised by me, I can always count on one woman to raise the fact that Barack's own mother died of cancer (usually prefacing it with, "I don't get why Obama's not doing something since his own mother died of cancer").  That's an important point because Barack can pretend to be distracted and busy and a hundred other lies.  The reality is he knows what it is like to lose a mother to cancer so why is he allowing Lynne to remain in prison or -- as another person will usually point out -- keeping her confined to a prison in Fort Worth, Texas when her family, friends and doctor are in New York?

Because, frankly, Barack's a little s**t.  And when enough people grasp that, he'll be embarrassed enough to help Lynne.  Not until then.

Barack is no where in the narrative the Michaels and Heidi offered.  That never needs to happen again.  He could order her a compassionate release right now.  He's president of the United States.  He could pardon her.  Again, last week's Black Agenda Radio.

Glen Ford:  Yes, in terms of administrations, how does this one rank on the compassionate scale?

David Gespass:  I'd say at the bottom.  This administration has yet to pardon a single convict.  And I think that's probably a first.  Given particularly now when people are talking about how draconian and counter-productive these mandatory minimum sentences are for drug offenses especially, the fact that this administration refuses to even consider releasing people who have been low level involvement in drug transactions that have gotten these absurdly long sentences, it's just indicative of either just meanness or political cowardice.

Making these points about Barack when discussing Lynne are important not just to Lynne but to others who should be pardoned.  Equally true, Barack  could commute Lynne's sentence.  He could do any number of things.  Lynne is an attorney.  She's guilty of no crime.

And Barack knows about commuting and pardons.  He lied in a debate in 2008 and his campaign lied and his little whores (David Corn among them) lied until we did push back such as with "There was no pardon, Barack (Ava and C.I.)."  For those who've forgotten what a little bitch Barack actually is, let's travel back to that debate.

SEN. OBAMA: George, but this is an example of what I'm talking about.
This is a guy who lives in my neighborhood, who's a professor of English in Chicago, who I know and who I have not received some official endorsement from. He's not somebody who I exchange ideas from on a regular basis. And the notion that somehow as a consequence of me knowing somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago when I was 8 years old, somehow reflects on me and my values, doesn't make much sense, George. The fact is, is that I'm also friendly with Tom Coburn, one of the most conservative Republicans in the United States Senate, who during his campaign once said that it might be appropriate to apply the death penalty to those who carried out abortions. Do I need to apologize for Mr. Coburn's statements? Because I certainly don't agree with those either. So this kind of game, in which anybody who I know, regardless of how flimsy the relationship is, is somehow -- somehow their ideas could be attributed to me -- I think the American people are smarter than that. They're not going to suggest somehow that that is reflective of my views, because it obviously isn't.

SEN. CLINTON: Well, I think that is a fair general statement, but I also believe that Senator Obama served on a board with Mr. Ayers for a period of time, the Woods Foundation, which was a paid directorship position.
And if I'm not mistaken, that relationship with Mr. Ayers on this board continued after 9/11 and after his reported comments, which were deeply hurtful to people in New York, and I would hope to every American, because they were published on 9/11 and he said that he was just sorry they hadn't done more. And what they did was set bombs and in some instances people died. So it is -- you know, I think it is, again, an issue that people will be asking about. And I have no doubt -- I know Senator Obama's a good man and I respect him greatly but I think that this is an issue that certainly the Republicans will be raising.
And it goes to this larger set of concerns about, you know, how we are going to run against John McCain. You know, I wish the Republicans would apologize for the disaster of the Bush-Cheney years and not run anybody, just say that it's time for the Democrats to go back into the White House. (Laughter, applause.)
Unfortunately, they don't seem to be willing to do that. So we know that they're going to be out there, full force. And you know, I've been in this arena for a long time. I have a lot of baggage, and everybody has rummaged through it for years. (Laughter.) And so therefore, I have, you know, an opportunity to come to this campaign with a very strong conviction and feeling that I will be able to withstand whatever the Republican sends our way.

SENATOR OBAMA: I'm going to have to respond to this just really quickly, but by Senator Clinton's own vetting standards, I don't think she would make it, since President Clinton pardoned or commuted the sentences of two members of the Weather Underground, which I think is a slightly more significant act than me --

Barack knew it wasn't a pardon when he uttered the lie.  It was a lie and he knew it at the time.  This is confirmed by a friend who was part of the debate prep.  In 2008, I sat on the info because that probably gives a way who one of the sources was.  (I'd noted various things -- often before they happened -- about the 2008 campaign here and would explain I had three friends working on the campaign -- who were actively attempt to recruit me -- me offline, not 'C.I.' -- to publicly endorse Barack.)  The reality is 'Mr. Truthful' lied and did so intentionally.  His campaign then lied (also intentionally) leaving out the weasel aspect of  "or commuted").  "Or commuted" was put in at the insistence of my friend who stated that if Barack just said "pardoned" and the press did their job (my friend can be so funny -- the press doing their job! he cracks me up), Barack would walk away from the debate looking like either a liar "or Dan Quayle."  So they put in "commuted."  (Commuted is what happened.  There was no pardon.)

Let's note the press first because they didn't do their job.  In fairness to some, this was before everything was documented by the internet (the Clinton era) and hard to do a fast fact check on.   That said, there are two reporters that have to be noted.  Jake Tapper (now with CNN) and David Corn (Mother Jones).  Both, like all of their peers, ran with the campaign's claim of a pardon.  When confronted with reality, what happened?  Jake Tapper actually cares about fairness and accuracy.   He immediately corrected his error.  David Corn?  He was as nasty and as rude as the receptionist at Mother Jones.  Maybe he was worse.  He bellowed and hollered during a campaign conference call with the media about the "pardon" (which had a friend with Hillary's campaign -- as I noted here in real time -- ask me if Corn was for real or some sort of Howard Stern-like prank).  He made a complete fool out of himself and did not one but three posts on the 'pardon' that he refused to correct.  As did Mother Jones when it had to do with people calling the receptionist -- when MoJo was confronted face-to-face, Corn was ordered to do a correction.  And instead of admitting his mistake, he had to mock Bill Clinton and bring up Marc Rich.

So let's repeat it: Jake Tapper, serious journalist, immediately does a correction.  David Corn, fake journalist, whines and bitches and moans when he's finally forced to issue a correction and tries to make his error Bill Clinton's mistake

Barack knows he could pardon, knows he could commute.  He won't.  And if the press had done their job -- and here I'm talking about Corn and the other beggars of Panhandle Media, not the corporate or MSM -- a better Barack might be in office.

As usual, the Cult of St. Barack cared only about Barack.  But the reality of that 2008 exchange should have been obvious and should have been called out.  Barack was arguing that it wasn't wrong with him to be friends and business partners with someone some Americans saw as a terrorist.  (I don't see Bill Ayers as a terrorist.  He's never been anything but Bernardine Dohrn's trophy spouse.)  Barack was arguing what he did was okay but Bill Clinton pardoning or commuting someone's sentence was wrong. 

Bill Clinton commuted the sentences of two women.  And Barack thought that was something to mock, to make fun of, to use as a weapon.  A real left would have grasped the danger in those remarks.  Instead, Panhandle whores (including FAIR) whined Barack was asked 'hard' questions.  Next time, if they can take a candidate's penis out of their mouth long enough, they might want to stop whining about questions and actually attempt to discern the meaning of what was said.

Cancer.  Lynne will not survive.  I really don't think we need to stress "better medical care."  We can stress better comfort but you're losing women when you talk about lethal cancer and 18 months to live and then state she could receive "better medical care" in NYC.  You can't make that claim and be believed by most women.  There is no "better medical care" when you're dying of cancer.  There is the comfort factor -- being near your family and friends.  But "better medical care"?  Not unless there's a cure for cancer discovered in the next months. 

Again, the Michaels and Heidi cover the topic regularly, they are among the few who have not abandoned Lynne.  Again, it's a difficult topic and inspiration does not always come.  I give them credit for covering Lynne and also for providing us with a way to discuss Lynne's case that we haven't before.   There will be demonstrations in support of Lynne next Tuesday:

From Deep in the Belly of the Beast ... that is, Texas.
Now another month has passed and I am getting increasingly irritable that these jokers are so cavalier with my life and what time I have left. (I also am getting weaker.)
My application for compassionate release is moving but glacially (Are there any glaciers left? Only in the bureaucracy...). We learned that the request has left the General Counsel's office of the Bureau of Prisons in Washington and is now being considered by an "Independent Committee" (whatever that means). From there it will ostensibly go to the Director, Mr. Samuels, for the final recommendation and request for a motion to the Judge. 
As you can appreciate there is still plenty of room for slips between cup and lip. I truly understand that I, with the strong and consistent support of all 30,000+ of you, do constitute a "threat" in their small universe. That is to say that, the will of the People cannot be ignored forever. With that in mind, I want to urge everyone to come on out on




If you can do this please notify Ralph of your location by sending an email to my web site [1lawyerleft at]  or to this site. We hope this will be nationwide and we can spread the word of the senseless cruelty in the way the Bureau of Prisons administers a program that is supposed to be compassionate. I may be the "poster child" but this is done on behalf of all the prisoners who are languishing, in pain or worse, trying to go home.

Be out there on October 8. It is already an historic day. Let's make it More So!!! Let's Win.

Lynne has repeatedly spoken out against the Iraq War -- under Bully Boy Bush and under Barack.  She knew it would not result in democracy or peace.  She was right.

National Iraqi News Agency reports an armed attack in Tikrit left 2 police officers dead and a third injured,  a Ramadi car bombing left one police officer injured, a Falluja roadside bombing left two police officers injured, a Falluja sticky bombing left a couple (wife and husband) injured3 Tikrit suicide bombers took their own lives and that of an Iraqi army colonel and 2 police officers (seven more police officers were injured), retired military colonel Maan al-Hayali was shot dead near his Mosul home,  the Mosul homes of 2 Shabak families were blown up leaving one person injured, a Tikrit suicide bomber took his own life and that of 2 bystanders (five more were left injured), and the Falluja home and three cars belonging to a soldier's family were set fire today (the family fled to safety during the attack).

That violence falls under October.  September ended yesterday.  Iraq Body Count notes the death toll for September from violence is 1220.  UNAMI's count was a little lower in the statement they released today:

Baghdad, 1 October 2013 – According to casualty figures released today by UNAMI, a total of 979 Iraqis were killed and another 2,133 were wounded in acts of terrorism and violence in September.

The number of civilians killed was 887 (including 127 civilian police), while the number of civilians injured was 1,957 (including 199 civilian police). A further 92 members of the Iraqi Security Forces were killed and 176 were injured. “As terrorists continue to target Iraqis indiscriminately, I call upon all political leaders to strengthen their efforts to promote national dialogue and reconciliation,” the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq (SRSG), Mr. Nickolay Mladenov, said. “Political, religious and civil leaders as well as the security services must work together to end the bloodshed and ensure that all Iraqi citizens feel equally protected," he added.
Baghdad was the worst-affected governorate in September, with 1,429 civilian casualties (418 killed and 1011 injured), followed by Ninewa, Diyala, Salahuddin and Anbar. Kirkuk, Erbil, Babil, Wasit, Dhi-Qar and Basra also reported casualties (double-digit figures).

Investors Business Daily notes that the UN figures mean that 2013 has already surpassed "last year's deadly count."   AFP's WG Dunlop Tweets:

  • Sept. the deadliest month for Iraq recorded by this year, with 880 killed; over 4,700 dead in violence in 2013

  • Margaret Griffis ( reports, "Using numbers from various sources, compiled a total of 1,271 deaths, up slightly from last month and down from July. In September 2012, counted 444 dead and 1,233 wounded. This difference dramatically underscores how much attacks have increased this year." and AFP are the only press outlets keeping their own monthly toll.  Investors Business Daily notes that the UN figures mean that 2013 has already surpassed "last year's deadly count."  Matt Brown (Australia's ABC) emphasizes, "The UN says nearly 2,000 were injured with terrorists attacking people indiscriminately."

    It's an important number.  Maybe more important the death toll.  The dead are gone.  Those left behind mourn them.  The wounded from the violence?  They have to carry on in a country still at war.  They carry physical and mental scars.  And they may have a lost limb or a lost sense.  That's not easy to manage in any country but especially not in a country at war. 

    Last week, retired US army Col David Sutherland (The Hill) noted the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (which the Senate is scheduled to consider this month):

    As the commander of the U.S. combat brigade in Diyala Province, Iraq from 2006 – 2007, I fought for a rule of law that would be based, in part, on the high standards of the United States.  While in Iraq, I passed through villages caring for children injured by the conflict and children who were born with disabilities.  These children were loved, but the villages could be doing so much more.  There were no schools for Downs Syndrome kids or ramps and access for amputees.  This treaty, which Iraq has ratified, would open the dialogue so that such support might become a reality.

    Noting the September death toll, Fits News observes:

    A total of 4,486 American soldiers died in Iraq from 2003-2012. Thousands more were wounded and/ or returned home suffering from the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder.
    And for what? Seriously … what did these troops fight and die for?
    Meanwhile U.S. taxpayers shelled out $1.7 trillion in borrowed dollars to fund the war effort – and owe an additional $500 billion in benefits to veterans (a figure which is expected to skyrocket in the coming years).
    Again … why? What did we spend all of that money for?

    Also pointing out the failures is SP Seth (at Pakistan's Daily Times), "The prime justifications for the US invasion of Iraq that it had weapons of mass destruction and links with al Qaeda were found to be untrue. As we now know, the laudable objective of liberating and making Iraq into a model regional democracy has turned out to be a cruel joke played on the Iraqi people. Surely, Saddam Hussein was a tyrant and his overthrow by the Iraqi people would have been a welcome development. But the US invasion only compounded Iraq’s tragedy. "  Cathy Otten and Jacob Russell (USA Today) review the violence and we'll note this on Erbil:

    A car bomb blew up Sunday in the region's capital, Irbil. Two vehicles loaded with explosives were detonated at the entrance to the Directorate of Security, and attackers armed with assault rifles and grenades opened fire.
    "When I saw there had been an explosion there (in Irbil) something changed – I felt like I'm still in a dangerous place," Abid said. "Zakho is far from Irbil, but I worried it was the wrong decisions to come to a place that could turn out to be same as Baghdad."
    Sunday's attack was the first attack of its kind in Iraqi Kurdistan since 2007, but its scale worries authorities.

    Press TV reports, "Officials from Consulate General of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Iraq’s Kurdistan Region have offered support to fight terrorism following Sunday’s bombings in Arbil. The Iranian diplomats have visited some of the terror victims in hospital. The al-Qaeda linked Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham has announced responsibility for the violence in unconfirmed internet posts." Yerevan Saeed (Rudaw) offers these thoughts:

    One could ask why, despite many other soft targets such as ministries and government buildings, the attackers chose to target the Asayish headquarters.
    The answer could be that Asayish was attacked for doing too good a job: The agency has defused multiple planned attacks over the past several years. Sunday’s attack was the first in the Kurdistan Region since 2007, when the same Asayish facility was attacked in a similar fashion.
    Many potential attackers have been killed by Asayish. Therefore, Sunday’s attack could be revenge against the intelligence service and an attempt to tarnish its good image.

    Staying with the topic of the KRG, Owen Jarus (Live Science) notes:

    In the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq archaeologists have discovered an ancient city called Idu, hidden beneath a mound.
    Cuneiform inscriptions and works of art reveal the palaces that flourished in the city throughout its history thousands of years ago.
     Located in a valley on the northern bank of the lower Zab River, the city's remains are now part of a mound created by human occupation called a tell, which rises about 32 feet (10 meters) above the surrounding plain. The earliest remains date back to Neolithic times, when farming first appeared in the Middle East, and a modern-day village called Satu Qala now lies on top of the tell.

    Lisa Graziano (Las Vegas Guardian Express) adds, "Archaeologists determined the ancient kingdom flourished between 3,300 to 2,900 years ago. Beginning this period, the Assyrian empire had control of the city in order to govern the surrounding territory. When the empire failed, the city gained independence and was renamed Idu. Idu’s short life span was the centerpiece of the kingdom until the Assyrians reconquered it 140 years later."  That's an important discovery and it's an important moment for Iraq.  It's far from a perfect moment though.  As Matthew Schweitzer (Al Jazeera) points out:

    The men exchange stories under the ornamental lights strung across the street. "Doctor Saad was a drillmaster, but always cared about his students," Abdullah recalls. "Today many professors don't expect their students to succeed. Some are too afraid to stand up for them."
    These professors tell the story of an underreported tragedy - the destruction of Iraq's once proud academia through 30 years of war, sanctions, and occupation. The intelligentsia has been sucked into the whirlwind of Iraq's recent experience. It is still in chaos. 
    Once the envy of the Middle East, Iraq's academies today are hollow memories of a proud past. Conflict, assassinations, diaspora, and suppressed freedom of speech have handicapped centres of higher education, gutted research facilities, and silenced the academics staffing them.
    The toxic combination of destroyed infrastructure and lost faculty has left Iraq reeling, without the means to train those needed for national reconstruction.

    Still on the topic of Iraq,  US Senator Patrick Leahy's office issued the following:

    Leahy Applauds Senate Passage Of Bipartisan Bill To Reauthorize Critical Visa Program For Iraqi Translators

    Urges House To Renew Expiring Program
    October 1, 2013

    WASHINGTON – Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) hailed the Senate’s unanimous approval of a bipartisan measure to extend an important visa program for Iraqi translators who support U.S. troops abroad.

    The Senate unanimously approved a bipartisan bill late Monday night, just as the program’s authorization was set to expire, and Leahy called on the House to act quickly.

    “This program offers nothing short of a lifeline for the Iraqi men and women who risked everything supporting the United States’ mission in Iraq,” Leahy said. “Given all that is on the line, I am hopeful that even in this difficult political climate, the House of Representatives will take up and swiftly pass this bill and we can send it to President Obama for his signature later today.”

    The Iraqi Special Immigrant Visa program was created in 2008, and to date it has issued approximately 6,000 of its 25,000 allocated visas to translators who have served alongside U.S. troops. The straight reauthorization passed by the Senate would allow this program to continue processing applications and extending visas to qualifying Iraqis. Leahy worked on the bipartisan legislation with Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

    “Among the many lessons of the Vietnam War is that we must not abandon those who risked their lives to help us,” Leahy said.  “We made a commitment and we must honor it.  We must renew this critical program.”

    # # # # #

    Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.),
    Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee,
    On Senate Passage of Legislation to Extend
    The Iraqi Special Immigrant Visa Program, S. 1566
    October 1, 2013

    I am proud that the Senate unanimously passed legislation late last night to extend the Iraqi Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program. This program offers nothing short of a lifeline for the Iraqi men and women who risked everything supporting the United States’ mission in Iraq. Despite the fact that there are thousands of Iraqis still waiting for their paperwork to be processed, the program expired last night and we must take immediate action to renew it.

    Given all that is on the line, I am hopeful that even in this difficult political climate, the House of Representatives will take up and swiftly pass this bill and we can send it to President Obama for his signature later today.

    Congress created the Iraqi SIV program in 2008 to allow some of the tens of thousands of Iraqis who served alongside U.S. troops the opportunity to seek safety and a new beginning in the United States.   They were our translators and our guides. They were a critical resource to our troops, helping them navigate complex cultural, political and geographic terrain.  They literally risked their lives for us.  Now, five years after the original legislation passed, less than 6,000 of the 25,000 available visas have been distributed, leaving many well-deserving Iraqi allies in danger and American credibility on the line.

    As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and chairman of the Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on State Department and Foreign Operations, I worked hard to see that a reauthorization for the Iraqi SIV program is in the National Defense Authorization Act. Unfortunately, that reauthorization will not pass in time to renew this vital program.  We also made significant efforts to include that extension in the Continuing Resolution passed by the Senate last week, but a Congressional stalemate has eroded that path. The only option that remains is for the House to take up and pass the bipartisan standalone bill immediately.

    I am hopeful that we can do just that. I have joined with members from both sides of the aisle in the Senate, including Senators Shaheen, McCain, Grassley and Graham, as well members in the House, to resolve any concerns. We have compromised on the length of the extension and have covered any costs associated with it. Passage should be quick and straightforward. Lives are on the line. Our word is on the line. And it is time to act.

    Among the many lessons of the Vietnam War is that we must not abandon those who risked their lives to help us.  We made a commitment and we must honor it.  We must renew this critical program.

    # # # # #

    Moving over to the continued efforts for war on Syria, Larry Everest (World Can't Wait) gets the last word:

    Many people hope—and some have vociferously claimed—that the U.S.-Russian agreement to strip Syria of its chemical weapons and to take the matter to the United Nations Security Council marked a victory for peace and the antiwar movement.

    They argue that these diplomatic developments represented a fundamentally different approach than military threats, marking a turn away from war.

    They are wrong.

    The initial agreement between the U.S. and Russia (whatever that ends up being and however the various parties interpret it), Syria’s acquiescence, and UN involvement has not ended the danger of a U.S. war on Syria. Nor has it dialed down tensions between Russia—which has its own imperialist interests in the region—and the U.S. Instead, the U.S. and its allies Britain and France are using these as vehicles for continuing their aggression, threats, and bullying against Syria—all as part of efforts to maintain America’s imperial grip on the Middle East. (And even before the U.S. threatened direct military intervention it was carrying out great crimes in Syria and fueling the slaughter there.)

    For starters, it’s illusory and harmful to discuss diplomacy—and laud its merits—in the abstract without analyzing the economic, political, and class interests and agenda it serves. Ongoing analysis at and in Revolution has continued to sharply identify that “bowing out” of the Middle East, allowing the region to spin out of (their) control, and allowing rivals of all stripes to replace them in dominating the oil-rich and geostrategic region is not an option for the rulers of a country whose stability and functioning depend on remaining the world’s sole superpower. And in that light, both direct military attacks and U.S. imperialist diplomacy serve to enforce U.S. global domination. (For an in-depth exploration of some of the contradictions facing the U.S. in the Middle East, and how to radically alter the current equation in the world, see Bringing Forward Another Way by Bob Avakian at

    And U.S. diplomacy rests on blackmail and thuggery. Let us not forget that U.S. imperialist diplomacy, and sanctions, kill people in their own right. Some 500,000 Iraqi children died in the 1990s as a result of U.S. imperialist diplomacy that imposed and enforced cruel sanctions.

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