Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Equality, Russ Feingold, Carly Simon

This is Jessica Monaco's "Seven Reasons to Vote Approve on R-71: Reason #2 " (ACLU Blog of Rights):

On November 3, Washington voters will have the chance to approve or reject R-71, a measure that will allow same-sex couples and unmarried opposite-sex seniors to access many of the rights and protections granted to married couples. We’ll be counting down to Election Day with a series of seven videos, each a powerful illustration of why it’s so important to approve R-71.
Reason #2: Seattle Firefighter Jen, her partner Heidi, and their children
Jen and Heidi live in
North Seattle with their two kids, Max and Maggie. Heidi teaches high school English and Jen is a firefighter in the Seattle Fire Department. Vote to Approve Referendum 71 to ensure that if something happens to Jen at work, Heidi and their kids will have access to Jen’s firefighter’s pension and death benefits.

Approve R-71 so that Jen will know that her family will be protected if something should happen to her in the line of duty.
You can watch all seven videos and support the campaign

I think that is really important and hope to note all seven of the videos. I had planned to write about the donnor issue at the White House; however, I found something else that I think is really important. If no one in the community writes about the donor issue tonight, I will grab it tomorrow.

But Senator Russ Feingold is a far better writer than I am and he has a very important piece worth sharing. This is "Statement of U.S. Senator Russ Feingold Correcting the Myths in the Debate Over Afghanistan:"

As Prepared for Delivery
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
In 2002, then-Senator Biden chaired a series of Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings on U.S. policy toward Iraq. These hearings challenged many prevailing assumptions and called into question the wisdom of invading Iraq. To the detriment of our Armed Forces, counterterrorism efforts, and the standing of the United States around the world, our government ignored those prescient warnings.
Our country is again contemplating sending tens of thousands of troops into battle, this time as an escalation of the eight year war in Afghanistan. In fact, the escalation has already begun, with an additional squadron to begin deploying in November. Sadly, the impact of our expanding military engagement in Afghanistan is becoming increasingly and painfully clear, as October has become the deadliest month for U.S. troops since the war began, and more service members have been killed this year than in the first four years combined. I commend Senator Kerry for holding a series of exceptional hearings in the Foreign Relations Committee over the past month on U.S. policy in this critical region. Expert witnesses have provided a sober analysis of the situation there.
I urge my colleagues to read the transcripts of these hearings and consider the opinions of this diverse group of former military officials, intelligence officers, diplomats, academics and experts in the region. While a handful of the witnesses supported an escalation of our military involvement in Afghanistan, the majority of the regional experts – including CIA veterans with deep experience in the region – questioned whether the stated aims of our military strategy are achievable or necessary to deny al Qaeda an uncontested safe haven in Afghanistan. Many expressed concern that our current military-focused approach may be making things worse.
President Obama has refocused our attention on the Afghanistan-Pakistan region and for this I give him great credit. I am also pleased to see that this administration is taking the time to have serious discussions about our strategy and the many possible alternatives. We must find a way to relentlessly pursue al Qaeda’s global network without destabilizing this critical region, over-stretching our military or needlessly spending money we don’t have. This will require a smaller, more targeted, and sustainable military strategy combined with far more robust regional diplomatic engagement.
Myth 1 – Preventing a potential al Qaeda safe haven in Afghanistan is more important than addressing existing safe havens elsewhere.
The Committee’s hearings have revealed that calls for an open-ended or increased military presence in Afghanistan are based upon several flawed assumptions or myths. The first common myth is that a preventing a potential al Qaeda safe haven in Afghanistan is more important than addressing existing safe havens elsewhere. Again and again we hear that, if we don’t send more troops, the Taliban will regain control of Afghanistan and provide a safe haven in which al Qaeda could re-establish training facilities or launch attacks on the United States. That statement may be true, but it contains a number of assumptions that need to be closely examined – will more troops make a difference? How likely is it that the Taliban will regain control of Afghanistan? If it does so, what will its relationship be with al Qaeda? But the biggest unasked question is – what are the costs of pursuing this strategy, and is it necessary to address the very real threat posed by al Qaeda? Al Qaeda already has a safe haven in Pakistan, and is operating in other countries around the globe. Addressing this global threat require a smart and sustainable use of our resources around the world, including in Afghanistan, rather than disproportionately directing our resources toward one of many potential safe havens.
Several witnesses called into question the likelihood that the Taliban would overrun Kabul. Even if the Taliban were to continue to exert control over certain areas, experts challenged the simplistic assumption that al Qaeda would then be able to re-establish the kind of operational freedom it had before 9/11.
Moreover, sending more troops to Afghanistan may not prevent an al Qaeda safe haven there. As General McChrystal noted in his own assessment, even if we send additional troops, they would necessarily be focused on limited areas and would still leave substantial portions of the country outside the control of the Afghan government or US forces.
Several witnesses questioned whether we can afford to dedicate so many resources to one country when we face a global adversary. Instead, as Robert Grenier, the former CIA station chief in Islamabad during the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, testified:
“The best that we can hope for is not a permanent elimination of safe haven [in Afghanistan]… but rather the elimination of uncontested safe haven… [W]e need to be in a place where we can continue to play the game, which means that we need to be able to do that on a sustainable basis… What we are currently doing I believe is not sustainable either by us or by the Afghans.”
We must have a sustainable, targeted counterterrorism strategy that can contest potential safe havens and thus prevent al Qaeda from regaining the footing they had in the 1990s. Trying to achieve total elimination of such safe havens through a large-scale, open-ended military mission is not only infeasible, it is physically and politically unsustainable and could provoke even greater instability in the region. It is time we develop a counterterrorism policy for Afghanistan that places it in the context of al Qaeda’s many current and potential safe havens, including in Yemen, Somalia and North Africa.
Myth 2 – We’ve already tried counterterrorism and it didn’t work.
The second oft-cited myth is that we already tried engaging in such a limited counterterrorism operation in Afghanistan after the 2001 invasion, and that the situation on the ground only deteriorated.
To the contrary, U.S. strategy in Afghanistan over the past six years has been uncoordinated and neglected, and much of the limited resources went to pursuing militants in Afghanistan while al Qaeda was rebuilding in Pakistan. This strategy failed not because it was targeted at al Qaeda but because it generated resentment among the local population and created a groundswell of opposition. It also failed because it turned a blind eye to the corruption and lack of legitimacy of both the Afghan and Pakistani governments. The previous administration’s reliance on Pervez Mushharaf not only failed to achieve our immediate counterterrorism goals but it undermined the perception, among the Pakistani population, that we were working with them against mutual threats. As a result, we lost a crucial opportunity to eliminate al Qaeda and the Taliban from, and bring stability to, Afghanistan.
By contrast, the Obama administration has focused on Pakistan and supported the emergence of a civilian government that shares our counterterrorism goals. We have a strong interest in Pakistan’s continued military operations. We must remain engaged so that any tactical successes are accompanied by rules of engagement that protect the civilian population and ensure humane treatment of displaced persons, which are essential to ensuring that these successes result in strategic victories.
Much more remains to be done, including efforts to strengthen responsive civilian governance and encourage Pakistan to tackle the deeper socioeconomic problems that the Director of National Intelligence has testified are driving instability in that country. None of this will be easy. But counterterrorism in Pakistan will not be achieved through our escalation in Afghanistan. And, one thing is certain: at no point in the last eight years has this kind of comprehensive, focused strategy for Pakistan been attempted.
In Afghanistan, I am not suggesting that we would necessarily limit ourselves to an over-the-horizon presence. We may need to maintain bases and we will need to consider a range of counterterrorism options. But we will never return to the neglect and strategic drift of the pre-9/11 period, nor should we resume the unfocused mission that we saw for much of the previous administration.
This recognition is why several witnesses testified that a targeted counterterrorism strategy, which has never been tried before, would likely succeed in denying al Qaeda an uncontested safe haven. This sustainable strategy, along with a flexible timetable for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, could reduce the perception that we are engaging in an open-ended military occupation of the country.
Myth 3 – Additional troops will regain the initiative in Afghanistan.
There are many who argue that a larger military presence is required in order to stabilize the country. However, many of the experts testified that an increase in foreign troops in Afghanistan will likely provoke additional militancy.
Reports indicate that militancy in both Afghanistan and Pakistan has increased over the years. According to Milt Bearden, the former CIA Station Chief in Islamabad, “40,000 troops will beget 40,000 more enemy...” We must appreciate that our military presence may well be counterproductive and in fact driving the conflict, creating more militants than it is eliminating.
Indeed, it may even be undermining our ability to divide our enemies. CIA veterans Robert Grenier and Mark Sageman testified that, in Mr. Grenier’s words, Afghans “tend to coalesce against what is perceived as an outsider.”
It is not surprising, then, that many of the witnesses who appeared before the Foreign Relations Committee agreed that a political solution is essential to stability in Afghanistan. As Mr. Bearden testified, there is no “military solution – for us or the Afghans.”
We can and will relentlessly pursue al Qaeda but we must find a way to do so that does not further destabilize the region. Increasing our troop levels in Afghanistan will only make this more difficult.
Myth 4 – We can pursue a heavy handed strategy in Afghanistan without further destabilizing Pakistan.
Another frequently cited myth is that we must maintain a large military presence in Afghanistan in order to prevent the destabilization of Pakistan. In reality, our massive military footprint in Afghanistan has contributed to instability in Pakistan.
Several witnesses agreed that the majority of Pakistanis would not welcome an increased U.S. military presence in Afghanistan. Mr. Grenier stated that “I think that a large increase in the U.S. presence in Afghanistan would not be welcomed by the majority of Pakistanis. I think that it would make the struggle seem all the more starkly one of the U.S. against Muslims as opposed to the U.S. supporting Afghans in their own struggle.”
As former British diplomat Rory Stewart testified, the “stabilize Pakistan” rationale for a military presence in Afghanistan also ignores “the real drivers of the problem in Pakistan. Pakistan will not stand or fall on Afghanistan. It's about the Pakistani government, it's about the Pakistani military, it's about the Pakistani economy and the Pakistani society . . . by and large, Afghanistan is far less important to the future of Pakistan than we're suggesting.”
In fact, our presence in Afghanistan could be counterproductive. CIA veteran Paul Pillar recently testified in the House that “an expanded U.S.-led counterinsurgency in Afghanistan would be more likely to complicate rather than to alleviate the task of Pakistani security forces insofar as it succeeded in pushing additional militants across the Durand line.” We need to carefully consider the unintended consequences of sending additional troops to Afghanistan, lest we further destabilize its nuclear-armed neighbor.
The Afghanistan hearings provided a crucial forum to question conventional wisdom justifying our current and proposed military strategy, and the expert witnesses have challenged many of the assumptions underlying the myths I have just outlined.
In his testimony before the House, Pillar warned that “an expanded military effort in the cause of counterinsurgency in Afghanistan would be unwarranted. The benefits in terms of ultimately adding to the safety and security of the American people would be marginal and questionable. At best, the difference such an effort would make in the terrorist threat facing Americans would be slight. At worse, the effort would be counterproductive and would not reduce the threat at all. And even at its best, the benefit would be, in my judgment, outweighed by the probable costs of the counterinsurgency.”
There is strong consensus that we must not abandon Afghanistan and the lack of a strategy and a focus on this region that occurred over the past 6 years must not be repeated. But there has also been significant agreement among the witnesses that we continue to greatly overestimate the potential benefits – and underestimate the risks – associated with maintaining or expanding a large, open-ended military presence. I urge my colleagues again to review this excellent testimony. We need to reduce our unsustainable military presence in Afghanistan in order to pursue al Qaeda without further destabilizing the region, and work through diplomatic channels and the provision of assistance to support the emergence of legitimate, competent governments in both countries that will be effective partners in fighting terrorism.

I know that was a lot and I will keep it brief here. If you have Carly Simon's Never Been Gone, really give a listen to "Anticipation." It is becoming my favorite track on the new album. This version is more reflective. This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for today:

Wednesday, October 28, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, still no election law in Iraq, more on the Iraqi govenrment's desire to go nuclear, Najaf gets a new bank, the KRG gets a new cabinet, and more.

US military announced yesterda: "CAMP VICTORY, Iraq – A Multi-National Corps-Iraq Soldier died today of a non-combat related injury at Camp Victory. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense. The names of service members are announced through the U.S. Department of Defense official website at The announcements are made on the Web site no earlier than 24 hours after notification of the service member's primary next of kin. The incident is under investigation." DoD identifes the fallen as Maj David L. Audo from Saint Joseph, Illinois who was 35-years-old. The announcement brings the total number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 4352.

"How stable is Iraq?" asked
Riz Khan last night on his self-titled Al Jazeera program. "Stable enough for national elections in January?" He was joined by a panel consisting of Iraqi Laith Kubba, the New America Foundation's Steven Clemmons and one-time director of the US Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq J. Scott Carpenter.

Riz Khan: Let me ask a question that came from our Facebook page, and I'll put this to Steven Clemmons here, this came from Ninveh Albazi in California, Steven, here in the US. And Ninveh says, "The longer the US military stays, the more terrorists will come in Iraq to fight. If they leave, more bombings over power will occur. Either way the Iraqi people will suffer." How do you feel about that -- the presence of -- US presence actually being a trigger for these kind of attacks?

Steven Clemmons: Well I think that there are some people in society -- and we've seen it throughout the Middle East -- that react very viscerally and negatively to the sense that they're being occupied by foreign troops. In Afghanistan, it's one of the things that's driving Pashtun resistance beyond the question of, uh, the Taliban. And-and so, I think it would be wrong to-to-to argue that in fact the American troop presence doesn't drive some violent minorities. I think on the whole, Iraqi society has felt as if the United States has done more beneficial things recently and so those feelings are not as widespread. But-but certainly there are people like Robert Pape at the University of Chicago among others that have shown that foreign troop deployments do drive a kind of -- drive suicide bombings, drive some of the more radical responses from societies. So there is some truth to it. I don't think I would agree with the-the decibel level of the questioner's comments though.

Riz Khan: Well, Laith, this came in via Twitter to us, a viewer by the name of Mosharraf Zaidi who says, "Even with stability in Iraq, does Maliki have the sense to ensure a free and fair process? Is it even up to him?"
Laith Kubba: Well, I mean, the good news is there is sufficient, I think, awareness and organization in Iraq to have elections that are, generally speaking, fair and free. I think the last elections had a high turnout -- about 70%. Of course, there were cases of fraud. But by and large, I think it was representative. So that's on the good side. But I think on the negative side, even if you had representatives in Parliament, the system is in a grid-lock because it's a parliamentary system, not a presidential system. It does not produce an effective executive that takes the country and move forward. You have, ultimately, a quote over power and that paralyzes government.

Riz Khan: I'll get to the intracacise of that in a moment because there are some interesting intracacies to the elections in Iraq but, Scott, if I could put this to you from LiveStation chat room, people are online here, Crane in the USA says, "How can fair and transparant elections be ensured when there are repeated bombings?" And let me ask you, do you think the elections will go ahead in January with all the delays and potential problems?

J. Scott Carpenter: I do. I'm a perinally optimist about this, that at the last minute -- however late the last minute is, the Iraqis will find some way to have these elections because they see how important they are to the political future of Iraq, to American withdrawal -- frankly. I do think there will be elections that are credible in Iraq because people don't trust each other and so there will be lots of observation which is what drove the credibility and legitimacy of the provincial elections is that there were so many political party observers watching one another that when the results were broadcast, no one really questioned the legitimacy of the results.

Riz Khan: Steven Clemmons, do you think the west, there are those who think the west is really pushing for the elections as a way of closure to finally dust their hands and finally close the chapter on Iraq.

Steven Clemmons: I don't think it's just to dust their hands and put a punctuation point. I mean I think everyone would like to see that what we did there succeeded in something. But I think that we've seen Iraqi society already get near ripping itself in shreds internally and the reason why elections and civil institution building and these democratic processes which J. and Laith were speaking about are so important is it creates opportunites for cohesive and collaborative governance within Iraq. That if it doesn't proceed and move forward, the place has a high possibility of pulling itself apart. So I think it's much more than us saying we're done with this -- with this experiment although, clearly, I would like us to move on as well and see Iraqi society take responsibility for itself succeed. But on the other hand, I think that this is an important part of showing that the Iraqi government can have some durability and sustainability after we begin to much more greatly downsize our troop presence.

Riz Kahn: We have this came in, I'll put this to you, Laith, this comes in from Facebook as well and it's from Cambodia where a viewer by the name of Heidi Aljani in Pursat says, "We were warned of the United States' prolonged military presence when Obama spoke of Iraq. The new excuse: Iraqi people and their government are to blame for the inability to govern themselves." Now do you believe that the elections are definite and looking at this issue that Iraq has too much of an issue trying to govern itself. What's your view?

Laith Kubba: Well two things. Number one, I think elections will take place, that's not the issue. Yes, there is a problem currently in finding the right formula on how Iraq should govern itself. But I think by and large, it is the right thing to do is to leave Iraqis to work it out for themselves; however, that does not mean walking out. I think it's really too idealistic. I think that will create enough power vacuum and might lead to escalating violence where the US has to send back some troops and intervene again.

Staying with the issue of the elections, this morning
Dow Jones reports that the KRG's represenative Qubad Talabani is stating that, following the January elections, the draft oil law may "finally pass." Sahar Issa and Hannah Allam (McClatchy Newspapers) report that a bill may be presented "to parliament for a vote within days". Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) reports that KRG President Massoud Barzani "demanded" today that Kirkuk become a part of the Kurdistan Region. Kirkuk is disputed territory due to Saddam Hussein forcing Kurds out of the region during his reign. Both the Baghdad-based government or 'government' and the KRG claim Kirkuk really belongs to them. This is not a new issue. It is so not a new issue that the 2005 Iraqi Constitution addressed the issue and mandated that a referendum be held on the matter. Article 140 has never been followed. The issue has not been resolved. It is repeatedly pushed aside. Sort of like the draft election law. Weeks ago was the deadline for passing the elections law and the deadline was missed. Appearing before the US House Armed Services Committee last week, the Pentagon's Michele Flournoy insisted that time remained:Although the government of Iraq's self-imposed deadline of October 15th for passing the elections law has passed, we judge that the COR [Council Of Representatives] still has another week or two to come to some kind of an agreement on the elections law before it will put the January date -- the early January date -- in jeopardy in terms of the election commission's ability to actually physically execute the, uh, the election. If a new law with open lists is not passed, the fall back solution for them is to return to the 2005 election law which is based on a closed list system. But that could be used for upcoming elections, the COR would simply have to vote on an election date. If that law is not passed in the next two weeks, they will be looking at slipping the date to later in January which would still be compliant with the [Iraqi] Constitution but would be later than originally planned. It is now one week since Flournoy claimed Iraq had two weeks. There is no progress. The same day she was testifying to Congress, " Rod Nordland (New York Times) reported, "The Iraqi Independent High Electoral Commission and United Nations elections experts have said Iraq needs at least 90 days to adequately prepare for the vote. Iraq's existing election law was declared unconstitutional by its highest court, which said it needs to be replaced or amended." The court ruling would appear to render obsolete Flournoy's claim that the law for the 2005 elections could still be used with just passage of legislation for a new date. In addition, 90 days? There are 3 days left in this month, 30 in November and 31 in December. That's 64.90 days needed. 90 minus 64 (check my math always) is 26 days. That would be January 26th, if legislation passed Parliament today. If. And maybe. The Iraqi Freedom Congress' Amjad Ali weighs in with "Amid violence, Iraq Freedom Congress calls for a sovereign, secular, transitional government" (Flesh & Stone):Over nearly seven years the "political process" did not result in anything but ferocious fighting between the forces and the parties that were part of this process in order to gain as much privilege, influence, power and wealth as possible. This conflict resulted in prolongation of the political chaos, an insecurity in Iraq, exacerbated poverty and destitution, and curtailed social and health services.The elections, one of the mechanisms of imposing the "political process," have never solved the issue of the power struggle because none of the elections held changed the sectarian and ethnic quotas. And that means the elections merely reproduced the same forces that are currently in power. All of the elections have been characterized by farces such as fraud, political assassinations, and the delayed announcement of voting results until agreements among the influential forces had been reached. However, after every election, we witnessed an increase of violence and terrorist activities as part of political arm twisting among these forces. National reconciliation was one of the themes to bring together the political movements that did not participate in power sharing with the forces that supported the war and occupation. The reconciliation was projected by the occupation administration to involve the pan-Arab nationalist forces who were excluded from the formation of a new Iraq to impose security and political stability. However, fears of the parties in power (political Islam, Shiite in particular, and Kurdish nationalists) has undermined national reconciliation.In the midst of the current political situation, neither the occupation nor the successive governments have been able to establish a state in Iraq. The conflict among the parties and the forces has always been a key factor in that lack of progress. Moreover, the conflict over what would be the identity of the state -- whether an Islamist Shiite, a Islamist Sunni, Arab nationalist, or federal moderate Islamist --is another obstacle to the establishment of an Iraqi state. The ongoing violence, which is another form of political conflict, will not end through a political process that was brought by the occupation. And the experience of nearly seven years of conflict between the political forces taught us that the violence would not be terminated. In fact, it would only reproduce more violence and terror. What is happening today, such as restructuring old alliances and forming new ones and the escalation of the conflicts within the one party, is an explanation of how deep the crisis is. As a result we could hear the prime minister and a number of political parties calling for an end to the rule of consensus or democracy through consensus.

Whenever the elections take place, they'll be the first national elections since 2005. In January 2009, provincial elections were held in 14 of Iraq's 18 provinces. In July the Kurdistan Region's three provinces held their elections.
Today KRG Prime Minister Barham Salih's cabinet was sworn in: "Dr Salih was appointed Prime Minister by the Kurdistani List coalition, which won the Kurdistan Region parliamentary elections in July with 58 percent of the vote, and voter turnout of nearly 80 percent. Mr Azad Barwari, a senior member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, was appointed Deputy Prime Minister." AFP reports the swearing in was "clouded by several MPs walking out after a refusal of separate votes for each minister." Vahal (Mideast Youth) offers this:

In a ceremony attended by the president of the region, Mr. Massoud Barzani, the outgoing PM, Mr. Nichervan Barzani as well as the Iraqi first lady, Mrs. Hero Ibrahim Ahmad, the sixth cabinet was sworn in at the Parliament.
The new cabinet will have only one woman, Asos Najib Abdullah who will be the minister of labor and social affairs.
Here is some poetic justice, the man who sentenced Saddam Hussein to death by hanging, judge Ra'ouf Rashid will now be the minister of Justice in Barham Salih's cabinet.

Sunday's bombings resulted in many deaths which means many burials.
Saad Fakhrildeen (Los Angeles Times) reports, "The cars streamed into Najaf over the last two days as families buried loved ones killed in Sunday's double bombing in Baghdad. By Tuesday afternoon, what was thought to be the last of the dead were brought to the Valley of Peace cemetery, the most sacred burial ground for Iraq's Shiite majority. Undertaker Mehdi Assadi had listened to mourners' screams as at least 80 of the estimated 155 killed in Sunday's Baghdad bombings were buried in the Valley of Peace." Deutsche Presse-Agentur reports approximately 60 children are still missing following Sunday's Baghdad bombings with some believing they may be buried/trapped under the rubble and the Iraqi military rejecting the assertion with the following statement: "There is no truth in reports that there are bodies under the rubble of the Ministry of Justice in Baghdad. All the martyrs and injrued have been taken to hospitals." The military is awfully sure of themselves. Suprising when you consider Monday's report by Miguel Martinez on ABC's World News Tonight with Charlie Gibson where Martinez showed some of the destruction and noted, "This is the hole created by the explosion. It goes down about twenty-five feet. The blast was so powerful they burst a water main, flooding this section of Baghdad. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki who faces re-election in January has campaigned on his ability to make Iraq safer. His opponents say this bombings proves the military is infiltrated." If you saw the broadcast, you know no one could see to the bottom of the crater -- the very wide crater -- because it was filled with water. On Sunday's bombings, an Iraqi correspondent for McClatchy poses a number of questions at Inside Iraq, beginning with: "Is it completely correct to keep accusing only the neighboring countries all the time? If we assume they are involved, who implement their plans in Iraq?"

Yesterday's snapshot noted Martin Chulov (the Guardian) report on Iraq attempting to "become a nuclear player [. . .] The Iraqi government has approached the French nuclear industry about rebuilding at least one of the reactors that was bombed at the start of the first Gulf War. The government has also contacted the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and United Nations to seek ways around resolutions that ban Iraq's re-entry into the nuclear field." Today he does an audio report at the Guardian on the issue.

Martin Chulov: I think Iraqi politicians are looking around and they're seeing that they're out of options as far as delivering services to their -- to their constituents. It's got no electricity capacity, or very little. It has very little water capacity. And not much for science and technology so they figure now that a new reactor may help them serve their energy needs and all sorts of other scientific and health needs that might lead them forward.

Jon Dennis: Iraq hasn't had a very happy history with its nuclear technology.

Martin Chulov: It certainly hasn't. Three decades of Saddam during which he attempted to make good and maintain a nuclear program ended in catastrophe. All three nuclear reactors were bombed and destroyed. And he was invaded twice, partly on the basis that he had these reactors. So it's been a long and fraught and ultimately fruitless history with nuclear energy in Iraq but now, six years after Saddam was ousted, the Iraqis are looking to have another go at it.

Jon Dennis: But how could Iraq ensure that any new nuclear facility would be secure?

Martin Chulov: And this is indeed the problem and this is going to be a giant step -- a giant obstacle in getting any sort of approval. Iraq is a signatory to a number of non-proliferation treaties that were -- that were imposed after the invasion and which a number of yellow cake vials did, in fact, go missing. There are some contaminets out here in the Iraqi community that have not been recovered in six years since. Iraq has shown a very limited capacity to ensure its essential sites including four of its ministries which have been destroyed over the past three months by suicide bombers who have been able to drive straight up to the gates.

The report is a segment of
Guardian Daily, the newspaper's daily audio broadcast. Today Oliver August (Times of London) observes:Iraq's new masters insist they have no intention of trying to develop nuclear bombs. "We are co-operating with the IAEA and expanding and defining areas of research where we can implement nuclear technology for peaceful means," the Science and Technology Minister, Raid Fahmi, told the Guardian. That is unlikely to reassure Iraq's neighbours, however, given the chaotic conditions that reign in the country. The insurgency is by no means subdued, with a group linked to Iraqi al-Qaeda claiming responsibility for the latest bombings, which killed more than 155 people on Sunday. The Sunni extremist group said on a website that its "martyrs . . . targeted the dens of infidelity".

New Zealand Herald adds, "Iraq has also begun lobbying the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the United Nations to overturn resolutions which ban Iraq using atomic energy." At Iran's Press TV, a commentator named Jaled Ali Ayoub shares this opinion, "wake up, stupids they destroyed all irak with their amunitions and know they are going to reconstract irak with the companies, owned by them and paid by all the irakis population. You cannt by more ignorents, because when the morality of the iraks gain the power of irak, i sware that they will destroy it again. look to another horizon the green go and the english, they only represents death to all arabs and muslim. 10 of billions of US$ was stolen from your country."

Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .


Jenan Hussein (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing which wounded six people, a Baghdad sticky bombing which claimed the lives of 3 women and left four men injured and a Mosul roadside bombing which claimed 4 lives and left six people injured. Reuters notes a Tikrit roadside bombing "blew up an oil tanker" claiming 2 lives in the process ("the driver and his assistant"). Lin Zhi (Xinhua) reports a Diyala Province bombing which left three people injured (one female, two males) and a Diyala Proinvce "makeshift bomb" wounded a father and son.


Reuters notes that Iraqi and US forces "killed a suspsected al Qaeda member" in Mosul yesterday.

Mu Xueuqan (Xinhua) reports Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General, stated today that the UN will send someone to the country "for preliminary consulations related to Iraq's security and sovereignty." Khaled Farhan (Reuters) reports Najaf has a new bank, "In one of Shi'ite Islam's holiest cities, a bank has opened a branch only for women, hoping to tap a potentially large market and meet pent-up demand from Muslim women for financial services that meet their needs."

The Iraq War drags on and, if you doubt that, you're not paying attention. In the US,
Pamela E. Walck (Savannah Morning News) reports Fort Stewart is sending 400 soldiers from the 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry to Iraq for a year. Jessica Fitzgerald's husband (Spc Kevin Fitzgerald) is among those deploying and she tells Walck, "This is his second deployment. It's not any easier this time." Spc Carla Robinson tells Walck, "I'm really feeling pretty positive right now. The sooner we get there, the sooner we can come home." And Sgt Brandon Bodily states, "This is my first deployment. I'm just hoping I come back safely." P. Norman Moody (Floriday Today) reports, "Florida National Guard soldiers from Cocoa began intense training this week for deployment in January to Iraq and Kuwait. The Guard's 53rd Infantry Brigade kicked off the training for 2,500 troops in what's expected to be the largest single-unit deployment of the Florida National Guard since World War II." Meanwhile Sify News reports that India qill not be sending troops to Iraq or Afghanistan according to Defense Minister A.K. Anthony. That declaration came on the same day that UPI reports, "U.S. and Indian forces wrapped up their largest joint military exercise to date, practicing a set of maneuvers simulating environments in Iraq and Afghanistan."

Turning to the US.
Tony Perry (Los Angeles Times) reports the US military believes they've stumbled onto a category of people with an advanced level of detection when it comes to roadside bombs: "Military researchers have found that two groups of personnel are particularly good at spotting anomalies: those with hunting backgrounds, who traipsed through the woods as youths looking to bag a deer or turkey; and those who grew up in tough urban neighborhoods, where it is often important to know what gang controls which block." You have to wonder why the military can spend money studying that but they can never seem to study rape within the ranks? That issue was a topic yesterday on Democracy Now! (link has text, video and audio) as Amy Goodman and Sharif Abdel Kouddous spoke with a director of a new documentary.

AMY GOODMAN: Rape in the Ranks: The Enemy Within is a documentary that focuses on the cases of three female service members victimized by rape and other forms of sexual assault. One of the victims, Tina Priest, she was found dead in Iraq in March 2006, just weeks after she had accused a male soldier of raping her. Her family was told she took her own life, but they don't believe that. They think she may have been killed because she came forward with the rape accusation. In this scene from the film, Tina Priest's mother, Joy Priest, visits her daughter's gravesite.

PASCALE BOURGAUX: How did she die?

JOY PRIEST: She died in Iraq from what the Army says was a self-inflicted gunshot wound to her chest. That's what the Army says. I don't -- I don't know how she died. I want to find out how she died.

PASCALE BOURGAUX: What do you think?

UNIDENTIFIED: Don't know what to think.

JOY PRIEST: There are so many different opinions. I don't -- I don't see her killing herself. But if she did, I can understand why --


JOY PRIEST: -- she did. Yes, because of the trauma that she had been through with the rape and the way that people treated her afterwards. And so, I can see how she would be depressed enough to do that. But it's not like her.

AMY GOODMAN: An excerpt of Rape in the Ranks: The Enemy Within. For more, we're joined by the film's director, Pascale Bourgaux, a French journalist and filmmaker. The film had its premiere last night here in New York at the Independent Film Festival.
Welcome to Democracy Now! Talk about Tina and the other three women you profile.

PASCALE BOURGAUX: So, Tina, the -- you've seen in the excerpt, it's -- I mean, the family is still looking for the truth, because they're convinced that she didn't commit suicide, that she was killed. But the case is dead. They asked answer -- they ask answer to the Army, but they never -- you know, they never answer those questions they raised. And then, the three other cases. There is Suzanne. She was raped by her command. She deserted. She refused to go back to Iraq to escape from her commander. And then she was in jail.

Finally, Grammy, Academy Award and Golden Globe winning singer-songwriter
Carly Simon appeared on NBC's Today Show this morning and performed "You Belong To Me." The Carly classic (which Carly co-wrote with the Doobie Brothers' Michael McDonald) is part of a new album released this week, Never Been Gone. Carly offers two songs she hadn't previously recorded for commercial release as well as ten of her best-loved classics that she's reimagined to find diferent levels in and meanings to including "You're So Vain," "Anticipation," "Let The River Run," "The Right Thing To Do," "Boys In The Trees" and "That's The Way I've Always Heard It Should Be." Thursday she's on Tavis Smiley (PBS) and also on NPR's Talk Of The Nation. Click here to watch Carly on Monday's Good Morning America (ABC).

martin chulov
the guardianjon dennis
al jazeera
the new york timesrod nordland
iraqi freedom congressamjad ali
mcclatchy newspapershannah allam
sahar issa
the los angeles timessaad fakhrildeen
abc newsworld news tonight with charlie gibsonmiguel marquez
the times of londonoliver august
jenan hussein
savannah morning newspamela e. walckflorida todayp. norman moody
tony perry
amy goodmandemocracy now
carly simon