Wednesday, August 4, 2021

J.F.K., Richard Medhurst, Isaiah

 Isaiah's THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS "The Scary and Repugnant Ana Kasparian" is his latest comic and it went up Sunday.


Below it?  My J.F.K. video for the week.  President John F. Kennedy did not even serve a full term as president.  He was murdered.  I will always believe the U.S. government was involved in the assassination.

I am attempting to note, every week, a video from Richard Medhurst, Katie Halper and THE CONVO COUCH.  Up now?  Richard Medhurst.

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

 Wednesday, August 4, 2021. The AUMF is back in the news, the Senate pretends to do its job, are Iraq's militias terrorists or gangsters, and much more.

Is Congress going to actually do something and repeal the 2002 AUMF that was cited as the permission to go to war on Iraq?  Congress, do something -- sounds like  a good opening to a joke, right?  Supposedly, the Senate is on the verge of saving the day, but let's all be skeptical.

?This is not the end of our military engagement in Iraq,"  the State Dept's Wendy Sherman declared at yesterday's Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, "as our consultations with the Iraqi government has highlighted.  The progress of our Iraqi partners in their capabilities will allow for the full transition later this year of US and coalition forces to a mission that is focused on training, enabling and advisory tasks."

So nothing's changed.  But no one wanted to go there.  Certainly not Senator Cory Booker whose question she was responding to.  It was as though the baby needed changing and everyone in the room was averting their eyes because no one wanted to do the needed but dirty task.  That's why they're elected to office, those sort of tasks.  But they don't have the backbone or the honesty to tell the truth or to demand real answers from witnesses.

Combat missions are ending!!!! Againa!!!! Mission Accomplished!!!! Again.  We are only there to train!!!! Again.  When the can stand on their own, we leave!!!! Again.

If, after 18 years of training, the Iraqi forces still can't 'stand on their own,' when do you think that they finally will?  

To be fair, there's no buy-in.  Why would you risk your life to fight for a country that doesn't represent you?  Why would anyone be surprised of this reality?  Did no one hear Mohammed Ali' speak as to why he would not serve in Vietnam?  When you don't feel your country represents you . . .

And thses days, there's also the fact that the mafia has infiltrated the security forces in Iraq.

At any rate, Lee Camp could say, last week, what the senators refused to say yesterday.

Four other times, as Lee Camp notes, we've been told the combat mission is over.  

They keep lying but they keep getting away with the ie because we're too damn stupid to call the lie out -- or too busy.  Is that it, THE PROGRESSIVE, THE NATION, IN THESE TIMES, etc?  Oh, WSWS, don't forget those lovelies.  Too damn busy doing nothing.  They can't stop doing nothing.  Plenty of nothing. 

Jamie McIntyre (WASHINGTON EXAMINER) reports this morning:

This morning, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will consider S.J.Res.10 to repeal the 1991 and 2002 authorizations for use of military force against Iraq. The full committee markup comes one day after testimony from the Biden administration that the 2002 AUMF, which was based in part on flawed intelligence that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, was no longer necessary.

“I want to state clearly that the Biden-Harris administration believes the 2002 authorization for use of military force against Iraq has outlived its usefulness and should be repealed,” said Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman. “And the administration has made clear that we have no ongoing military activities that rely solely on the 2002 AUMF.”

“The fact is the 2002 AUMF is no longer necessary to protect the American people from terrorism, to respond to attacks on our personnel or facilities, or to ensure the safety and security of our people,” Sherman testified. “The president has other tools available to achieve these objectives.”

Andrew Desiderio (POLITICO) offers, "In many ways, the Senate — which has routinely spurned similar AUMF repeal efforts in the past — will be catching up with public opinion, which has long turned against America's seemingly endless involvement in Middle East wars, especially as the U.S. prepares to mark the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks."

They'll repeal it or they won't.  At the end of the day, it won't make that much of a difference.  The AUMF really wasn't the fig leaf for the war they wanted that they always pretended it was.  There was no attack on the US.  The most basic principle for a just war.  They overturned norms and conventions and they lied -- yes, the Congress lied.  They were as guilty as the Bully Boy Bush White House in starting the illegal war.  And as guilty for not stopping it.

Even this week, they can't be honest about what's going on in Iraq and they lie to the American people that something is changing with the US mission in Iraq.  No, it's semantics.  That's all it is.  And we've all seen them do this before if we were paying attention.

Even Dick Cheney's former aid John Hannah can admit the truth at FOREIGN POLICY:

A big deal? Not really. The fact is that the vast majority of the 2,500 U.S. service members in Iraq have been in noncombat roles for more than a year. Consider this headline from a July 2020 U.S. military press release: “Coalition Task Force-Iraq transitions to Military Advisor Group.” Sound familiar?

Last Monday’s announcement of a so-called withdrawal was more about semantics than policy. It was an exercise in political theater aimed at helping Kadhimi appease elements in Iraq that are opposed to the U.S. presence—above all, powerful Iranian-backed Shiite militias and their supporters among Iraqis, who will be voting in national elections in October.

Yes, we also pretend that Mustafa al-Kahdimi is a great prime minister and butt into Iraq's affairs to ensure he gets a second term.  Biden's in the White House!  When he was 'just' the Vice President, he overturned the Iraqi people's vote.  That was 2010 when the US orchestrated The Erbil Agreement -- a legal contract Patrick Cockburning still has never found time to write about, all these years later.  Well if Cockburny couldn't protect US empire, do you really think there would be a place for him inthe US?  No.  He'd probably be barred from entering and sent back home.  Does he point to his brother and sister-in-law and promise that, like them, he'll do limited hangout 'reporting'?  Nothing that really ever challenges but is full of faux roar and pretense?  

That whole family has made a career out of fakery which is why it's so surprising that Olivia is such a bad actress.  (Not surprisingly, bad actress Olivia -- despite multiple chances -- was never able to nail down acting and never became the star she so wanted to be.  Oh well, maybe her legacy will be as the answer to a trivia question in an online game?)

Joe overturned the 2010 election results (giving Nouri al-Maliki a second term and leading to the rise of ISIS).  Moqtada's not really out of the elections, Moqtada al-Sadr, Shi'ite cleric and one time movement leader.  One of his tribe explained in an e-mail that no one is very excited about the elections and, in fact, they're all waiting to see what Joe Biden plans to do this go round if he doesn't like the results?  (Those under Moqtada, like the e-mailer, will be seeking office despite Moqtada's statements.)

(If you're surprised by the contact from Moqtada's campaign, don't be.  They've long e-mailed and it's a rare election cycle that they don't ask for some campaign material to be posted here.  We always do as we do for any campaign.)

Nancy Ezzeddine and Erwin van Veen (WAR ON THE ROCKS) offers this morning:

Who calls the shots in Iraq — the government or the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF)? Some observers think it is the latter, especially in light of recent events. On May 26, 2021, Iraqi police arrested Qassem Musleh — the commander of the PMF in Anbar province — in connection with the assassination of a prominent Iraqi activist. Immediately after, PMF militias circulated videos purportedly showing their fighters driving heavily armed trucks around Baghdad’s “Green Zone” in a show of force designed to compel Musleh’s release. When he was set free two weeks later, some analysts interpreted it as another exhibit of state weakness vis-à-vis the PMF, an umbrella organization of mostly Shiite, pro-Iran paramilitary groups that have fought the Islamic State.

In reality, the PMF has some pronounced weaknesses and faces growing challenges. Instead of viewing Musleh’s arrest and release as a victory for the PMF in a trial of strength against the Iraqi state, what actually occurred was a scramble by different PMF elements to maintain a united front against the prime minister when faced with the detention of one of their own. During Musleh’s two weeks in custody, it became clear that the PMF — which was incorporated into the Iraqi armed forces in 2016 — is more divided and weaker than it used to be, even though the shared interests of its main armed factions keep it afloat.

Simona Foltyn (POLITICO) serves up a lengthy article supposedly about the Iraqi militias but it only reveals gross ignorance:

The PMF were formed in 2014, and initially saw success fighting the Islamic State alongside U.S. and coalition forces. But following the territorial defeat of ISIS in 2017, the simmering differences between Iranian-backed militias and U.S. forces began to boil over. 

We're grabbing that at random.

That's not based on reality.  That's not based upon what happened.

There was a little whore -- well, there have been many, I know -- but once upon a time, there was a little whore who wanted to make a name for herself so she lied and stretched the truth and instead of her career ending, she ended up where, boys and girls?

That's right, THE NEW YORK TIMES>

And while many wrongly praised her (Glenn Greenwald, I am looking at you but you were far from alone), we called her out from the start of her Iraq 'coverage.'  We were the only ones noting that the whore was embedded with the militia.  We were the only ones noting that the whore was eating meals with the militia's family, was being provided shelter by the militias, etc.

Her glowing reports -- as an unbiased 'reporter' -- on the militias shaped a lot of thinking on what took place.

They may have battled ISIS, yes, but they also terrorized the people supposedly being rescued.  

The whore forgot to include that.  She forgot to include so much.  She did steal from the Iraqi people to do a 'report' (as laughable as everything else she ever did) that people found to be a dramatic podcast -- drama is easy to supply when you dispense with facts.  And when you dispense with facts, your podcast gets retracted -- just like happened with CALIPHATE.

Finally exposed, the whore continued to be employed by the paper of no record.  And while the country appears to have caught on finally that she was a whore, the damage she did remains.  And you can see it when the militias are presented as a positive force in 2014.

If they were so positive, please explain to me the actions that then-President Barack Obama repeatedly took to curtail their actions and their involvement.  

When you're ready to explain that, maybe you won't be such a damn whore.  Until then you're just another Rukmini Callimachi serving up half and halfs, hand jobs, you name it.  Doing anything but actual reporting.  (But Rukmini will always have those bad reports she filed and she'll always have the memories -- especially of the militia member she is said to have had sex with -- a detail I'm told that she never informed NYT higher ups about.)

At Brookings, Ranj Alaaldin writes:

Iraq faces a potential moment of reckoning that could mirror the events that unfolded just seven years ago when ISIS seized a third of the country. The U.S. remains integral to the painstaking campaign to combat ISIS, which has ramped up attacks in recent months. The group is co-opting, extorting, and coercing communities to establish the infrastructure that allowed it to seize large swathes of territory in 2014. Without continued U.S. military support, the jihadis may revive their so-called caliphate.
The necessity of defeating ISIS cannot be overstated, but one of the more understated enablers of the group’s preeminence is the continued dominance of Shiite militia groups tied to Iran. They directly undermine the government by attacking its security forces, while also enabling ISIS through the casualties they inflict on the Iraqi population. Responsible for killing more than 600 Iraqis tied to the protest movement, for wounding thousands, and routinely assassinating or kidnapping activists, Iranian proxy groups are turning Iraq into a republic of fear.
They hold the state hostage through the barrel of the gun while enjoying constitutional legitimacy as members of the Popular Mobilisation Force (PMF), which has access to a federal budget worth at least $2 billion. They also exploit the religious legitimacy that was bestowed upon the PMF by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in 2014, when the organization was formed to fill the void left by the collapse of the army. Since then, those groups that were aligned with Ayatollah Sistani and not tied to Iran have left the PMF, out of protest against their human rights atrocities and abuse of power.
Seventy-seven percent of Iraqis, including 76% in Shiite areas, are skeptical that forthcoming elections, scheduled for October, will deliver accountability and justice because of the control Iran-aligned militias have over the political environment. The despair is such that there are growing calls for a boycott, which could produce a re-run of the 2018 elections that were tainted by fraud and saw a coalition led by Iran-aligned groups finish second on its electoral debut. Since then, the Iraqi state has been in a state of crisis not seen since ISIS seized Mosul. Tens of thousands have protested against Iranian proxy groups to no avail and at great human cost.

That's an excerpt and may not accurately represent his piece.  I'm honestly not getting his point.  And I'm sure that's my lacking.  But I'm reading it and waiting for the moment where they are terrorists.  Now I consider them organized crime and would advocate, were they in the US, for the FBI going after them.  But they are part of the government -- a move we opposed loudly here for years before they were finally made part of the Iraqi forces.

I absolutely agree that they terrorize the Iraqi people -- that was what we first objected to in Rukmini's whoring -- where she tried to pretend that they were beloved by the 'rescued.'  (The 'rescued' are still waiting, all these years later, for any sort of efforts to help them rebuild.)

But they are part of the government now.  They aren't responsive to the government.  Though legally under the control of the prime minister, they rebuke him.

But they are part of the government.  So maybe I'm using a poli sci definition of the term "terrorist" and Ranj is using some other definition.

They are a problem and that I think we do see eye to eye on.  They do harm and terrorize the Iraqi people.  But for me, they're more like organized crime that has infiltrated the Iraqi government.

Staying on the Iraqi government but moving to another problematic area, the United Nations issued the following yesterday:

While acknowledging legal changes against torture, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said that “the authorities need to effectively implement the provisions written in the law in each and every detention centre”.  

“If not, they remain a dead letter”. 

Shocks and beatings 

Covering 1 July 2019 to 30 April this year, the report is based on interviews conducted with 235 detainees, along with prison staff, judges, lawyers and detainees’ families. 

“I experienced the worst days of my life”, one prisoner told UN staff who helped draw up the report. “As soon as I arrived, the officers beat me using metal pipes. The following days, they used two exposed electricity wires to electrocute me”. 

Another detainee said that “they cuffed my hands behind my back and hanged my handcuffs from a hook on a chain from the ceiling…they didn’t really ask me questions, they just kept shouting to confess”. 

The report, Human Rights in the Administration of Justice in Iraq: legal conditions and procedural safeguards to prevent torture, states that legal procedures designed to bring interrogations and detention under judicial control within 24 hours of the initial arrest, are not respected; and access to a lawyer is systematically delayed until after security forces interrogate suspects.  

“Eradicating torture will be one of the most effective tools to start to build public trust in the State’s ability to deliver justice and uphold the principle of fairness”, Ms Bachelet said. “However, when the authorities themselves break the law, it has the opposite effect”. 

Lack of trust 

The report also raises concerns that the authorities ignore signs of torture; complaints procedures appear to be neither fair or effective; and an apparent lack of accountability for these failures.  

“The fact that many detainees choose not to report such treatment due to lack of trust, or fear of reprisals, indicates their lack of trust in the system”, said the UN Human Rights Chief.  

“This needs to be addressed”, she added, pointing out that “specific recommendations on how to tackle this scourge” are included in the report. “The UN is ready to help the Iraqi Government in this endeavour”. 


The authors recommend the adoption of a comprehensive Anti-Torture Law and national action plan – fully in line with international human rights law, particularly the UN Convention against Torture

Upon arrival at detention centres, detainees do not procedurally receive medical examinations and often face significant delays before being granted permission to make a phone call, according to the report. 

Moreover, official detention site locations remain opaque, said the report. 

Aiding terrorist propaganda 

“Effective prevention and prosecution of torture and other forms of ill-treatment would counter the narratives of terrorist groups and reduce their ability to exploit such practices to justify their own acts of violence”, said Ms. Bachelet.  

“The prevention of torture in reality, and not just on paper, would contribute to peace and stability in the long-term, and is therefore in the State’s interest as well as the victims”, she concluded.

For more, see Louisa Loveluck's (WASHINGTON POST) report that we noted in yesterday's snapshot. MEMO covers the report as well:

The United Nations Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights yesterday accused the Iraqi government of "torturing" detainees held in the country's prisons and detention centres, Anadolu reported.

In a publication entitled 'Human Rights in the Administration of Justice in Iraq' which covers the period from 1 July 2019 to 30 April 2021, UNAMI said it had collected testimonies from 235 detainees, prison staff, judges, lawyers and the families of detainees.

"More than half of all the detainees interviewed by UNAMI/OHCHR for this report provided credible and reliable accounts of torture," it said, adding that the observations are consistent with patterns and trends previously documented in UN reports of torture in Iraq, including the Kurdistan region.

"Although the Iraqi legal framework explicitly criminalises torture and sets out the key legal conditions and procedural safeguards aimed at its prevention, respect for these provisions is lacking," it said.

According to the report, one of the prisoners, a UN staff member who helped prepare the report, said: "I lived the worst days of my life. As soon as I got to the prison they beat me with metal pipes. In the following days, they used two exposed power cords and electrocuted me."

The following sites updated: