Wednesday, May 08, 2013


Did you read C.I.'s "A historic moment as two sides attempt to declare peace" this morning?

If you didn't, the PKK and the Turkish government are trying to stop their war.  In this time and era, that's historic.  As C.I. points out:

Wars are declared all the time.  They're never 100% won.  That's because a war means one side wins and another loses.  Peace is declared less often.  This ceasefire that the Turkish government and the PKK have entered into may or may not last.  Again, many wars fail.  Peace can fail too.  But this is a historic moment for the PKK, for Erdogan and his government, and for all the Turkish people -- regardless of sect or ethnicity.

Wouldn't it be great if we lived in a world where, for example, we turned on the ABC World News Tonight and heard, "Today Barack Obama declared peace with North Korea" -- or whichever enemy that we've been at loggerheads with forever and a day.

And let's face it, most of the conflicts have nothing to do with us but are instead just a pissing match for the US government and some other government.

And we're going to be seeing far more wars in the next decades because wars are always about either resources or access.  Population leaves less access (and less available space).  Population leaves less resources.

So we'll be back to the days of the British Empire -- which we really are already although everyone pretends not to notice that the US has become an empire.

And we'll conquer one country after another until a country conquers us.

It's really a shame that when we had tons of space and resources we didn't learn to get along with one another.  Now as both shrink, it's probably going to be impossible for our leaders to learn those skills.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills): 
May 8, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, three people (including a nun) are found guilty of peace, Democrats on the House Oversight Committee embarrass themselves today on Benghazi, Adam Kokesh plans a DC action, Senator Patty Murry continues to call out rape and assault in the military, Turkey and the PKK have a historic day, and more.

In peace news, a nun and two activists have been convicted today.  Al Stefanelli (God Discussion) explains, "It is known as the 'Fort Knox' of nuclear storage facilities. Within is what is known as 'highly enriched uranium.' Located in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, the Y-12 National Security Complex is supposed to be an impenetrable fortress. It was breached by three senior citizens, armed with flashlights and a bolt cutter. One of these is an octogenarian nun.Sister Megan Rice, 83, along with 57-year-old Greg Boertje-Obed and Michael Walli, 63 [. . .]"  Tricia Escobedo (CNN -- link is text and video) adds, "Armed with flashlights and a bolt cutter, they cut their way through the fence, fully expecting to be arrested on the spot.  Instead, they walked nearly a mile, cutting through four fences in all, breaching what was supposed to be the most tightly secured uranium processing and storage facility in the country."

Dan Zak (Washington Post) reports the jury briefly deliberated today before finding the three "guilty [. . .] of intending to injured the national defense"  and of over $1,000 of property damage.  Preston Peeden, David Bailey, Scott Malone, Alden Bentley and Tim Dobbyn (Reuters) note, "Defense attorneys said the activists, who belong to a group called Transform Now Plowshares, had taken part in a symbolic break-in that did not harm the facility. They had no intent to harm the facility and the damage cost was overstated, they said.Eric Schelzig (AP) has the best reporting on the trial which includes some of the the defendants' testimony:

 Rice said she didn't feel obligated to ask the Catholic bishop in the area for permission to act at Y-12. Challenged by a prosecutor about whether it would have been a courtesy to inform superiors of her plans, Rice responded: "I've been guilty of many discourtesies in my life."

Transform Now Plowshares also notes Sister Megan Rice's testimony:

The stage was set for Sister Megan Rice.  Sister Megan took the stand after 5:00pm and spoke for almost an hour, and yet she commanded the attention of every last juror.  The whole room listened in rapt attention as she responded to Francis Lloyd’s questions, describing her early childhood realization of the horrors of nuclear weapons, her education in radiation biology in her master’s program at Boston College, and her missionary work in Africa, teaching science and building schools.  She spoke of the sacredness of the Nevada desert, taken from the Shoshone people ("illegally, breaking a treaty") and desecrated by the effects of nuclear testing; she spoke of the suffering of downwinders, the cancer caused in people and animals, and the $6 million apiece spent on each test.  She spoke of the transformative power of her participation in the Nevada Desert Experience.  Besides the "harmonious vibrations" emitted by the mountains and all the earth, Sister Megan also felt in Nevada “the culture of silence, the culture of secrecy” surrounding weapons testing and its consequences.  "It was extremely clarifying about the reality of the military industrial complex of this country."
Fast-forward to July 28, 2012.  As Megan, Greg, and Michael approached Y-12, Megan says they "prayed together, we were filled with love and compassion" for the people who had to work in such a dangerous facility.  "We wanted to bring love and healing."
She felt led by the Holy Spirit, and was more and more surprised to find herself reaching the heart of Y-12.  When Francis asked her about the surveillance tape footage and the way she bowed to Mr. Garland, Megan explained the Buddhist tradition of deeply reverencing each living being.  In response to questions about the extent of the damage she did, she said lightly, "I could have repaired it!"
As 6:00 approached, Sister Megan was still not quite finished answering Francis’s questions.  The judge dismissed the jury anyhow, and when he did, Megan stood, folded her hands in front of her, and bowed to the jurors as they filed past the witness box.

Last August, Scripps Interactive Newspapers Group posted a video by Adam Brimer (Knoxville News Sentinel) of an interview with Sister Megan Rice during which she declares of the action, "We were doing it because we knew we had to reveal the truth of the criminality which is there -- and that's our obligation."

Art Laffin is with the Catholic Worker Movement and with Transform Now Plowshares and he led a prayer this morning outside the courthouse:

Our prayer is that this trial can truly be an occasion to continue the transformation process that began at Y-12 on July 18th.  We pray for open hearts and minds and for the ongoing conversion of everyone involved in the trial to the way of love, nonviolence, and justice.
Let us be clear.  Sister Megan, Greg, and Michael have committed no crime.  Rather it was their intent to prevent a crime, and uphold God's law and international law.

Moving over to the body that makes laws in the US, the Congress, we'll note this from Senator Patty Murray's office:

Wednesday, May 8, 2013
CONTACT: Murray Press Office
(202) 224-2834
Murray Presses Air Force Officials on Military Sexual Assault
Murray: “We don't want to be sitting here 20 years from now with the same statistics in front of us.”
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, during a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) questioned Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley and Gen. Mark A Welsh III, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, on the issue of sexual assaults in the military, including recent allegations made against an Air Force official, and strongly urged them to revisit the current culture that fosters these attacks. Yesterday, Senator Murray and Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) introduced the Combating Military Sexual Assault Act of 2013, which would reduce sexual assaults within the military and address a number of gaps within current law and policy, building upon the positive steps the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has taken in recent years.
“The fact that the SAPRO report that was released yesterday says that 62 percent of servicemembers who report sexual assaults are retaliated against is really disconcerting,” said Senator Murray. “Because if people are retaliated against and there’s that fear of retaliation, we will never be able to stop this. So can you please address that issue and talk to us about how we need to make sure that the chain of command issue is not preventing these people from really being protected from ever having someone go after them if they commit one of these heinous acts?”
A key provision of the Combating MSA Act is the formation of a new category of legal advocates, called Special Victims Counsels (SVCs), who would be responsible for advocating on behalf of the interests of the victim as well as advise the victim on the range of legal issues they may face. The formation of the SVCs was modeled after a current Air Force pilot program, which General Welsh addressed during today’s hearing.
In the victim care arena, we believe one -- maybe the first game-changing thing we found, one of that collection of things we need to incorporate, is the special victims counsel program,” said General Welsh. “The initial returns on the special victims counsel program lead us to believe that victims are very happy with the legal advice they get from the time they're assigned to the time they complete their legal proceedings. We now have 265 victims from the last year assigned to the special victims counsel. That person's job is the represent that victim and guide them through the legal morass that goes along with prosecution of these cases. It's intimidating. It's scary. And if you don't understand the law, it is completely, completely baffling…So we think special victims counsel will help over time. And we think the results of the pilot program we're doing here will demonstrate that.
Last month, Senator Murray questioned the Honorable Ray Mabus, Secretary of the Navy, and General James Amos, Commandant of the Marine Corps, about the alarming rate of reported sexual assaults within the Marine Corps.
Meghan Roh
Press Secretary | New Media Director
Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray
Mobile: (202) 365-1235
Office: (202) 224-2834

Senator Murray is the Chair of the Senate Budget Committee.  She also serves on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee (which she was the Chair of until this year).  The issue is one that she has repeatedly raised and there may be more urgency for the Congress to address this issue as a result of the arrest that became public Monday of Air Force Lt Col Jeff Krusinski who is charged with assaulting a woman in a parking lot and who had been, as Jennifer Hlad (Stars and Stripes) noted, "the chief of the Air Force's sexual assault prevention and response branch."

We're starting with Benghazi where a September 11, 2012 attack left dead four Americans: Glen Doherty, Sean Smith, Chris Stevens and Tyrone Woods. Today the House Oversight Committee held a hearing on the attack.  US House Rep Darrell Issa is the Chair, the witnesses were the State Dept's Mark Thompson (Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Counterterrorism), Gregory Hicks (Foreign Service Officer) and Eric Nordstrom (Diplomatic Security Officer).

At many blogs of late, there's an effort to trash questions about Benghazi (sometimes with insulting remarks that actually do insult the dead from Benghazi -- whether the person intended it that way or not).  Often this comes with a whine that insists that Republicans didn't care about the people who died in Iraq.  As one of the few people who covers Iraq every day, let me point out the hypocrisy in this trash that wants to hide behind Iraq:  They don't cover Iraq anymore.  They don't give a damn about it.  They don't care US Special-Ops have increased their number in Iraq since the drawdown.  They don't care about the birth defects in Iraqi children.  They demonstrate this by never covering it.

Equally true if people die in incident A and people die in incident B and people die in incident C, the fact that you don't feel enough attention was spent on A and B  is not a valid reason to attack questions about incident C.

Questions should always be asked because the American people are the ultimate oversight of the government.  What we're seeing with certain left bloggers and certain Democratic politicians is projection.  They're talking about what they feel Republicans did during the Iraq War -- they feel that was done and that feeling justifies (in their minds) there doing the same today.

Libya also a sore spot because it was an illegal war and Barack Obama's administration violated the War Powers Act -- and because Libya's currently a disaster.  So, please, these bloggers insist, speak of anything else.

Like the bloggers, the Democrats on the House Oversight Committee are an embarrassment.  We attended the hearings that started in October.  At that point, with an election looming, Dems on the Committee made statements repeatedly about 'let's not rush to judgment, let's find out what happened first and then we can have accountability.'  By January, after the election, there was no accountability.  Though the State Dept had claimed disciplinary actions including firings, no one lost a job.  Excuse me, 4 dead Americans lost their jobs and their lives.  Other than those four, no one lost a job.  By the January meeting Democrats on the Committee had a new tactic, 'we need to move forward.'  Their prormise of accountability was forgotten.

Three State Dept employees testified today.  They offered information that runs contrary to what the administration has repeatedly told Congress and told the American people.  Ruth and Mike linked to a CBS news story, Sharyl Attkisson's "Diplomat: U.S. Special Forces told 'you can't go' to Benghazi during attacks." That was the most commented on CBS News story at that time (914 comments currently). Currently Lindsey Boerma's "Benghazi 'whistleblowers' head to House committee" is the most viewed news story at CBS News with 242333 views.

Repeatedly, the American people are told there is no story here.  But that doesn't appear to be the belief of the American people.  That's not surprising when there are still so many questions unanswered. This reality was addressed in April when Secretary of State John Kerry appeared before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.  Ruth reported on the hearing in "Kerry pressed on Benghazi." In addition, in "Congress and Veterans" (Third Estate Sunday Review), Dona asked Ruth about the hearing.

Dona: But I'm going to go to Ruth.  September 11, 2012, there was an attack on a US compound -- compounds -- in Benghazi, Libya.  The attack left four Americans dead:  Glen Doherty, Tyrone Woods, Sean Smith and Chris Stevens.  Ruth's covered the issue from the start.  This was a very big issue at the hearing.  I read the coverage in the mainstream press and was surprised to learn that it was ridiculed and laughed at.  That was the impression the press gave about the hearing.  That's not what Ruth saw and reported.  Ruth?


 Ruth: I was wondering what I was going to be discussing.  Now I see.  Yes, the press reports of the hearing were that Secretary Kerry was upset or short or said that this was not an issue.  And he did do some of that.  Especially before it was conveyed to him that there was, for example, non-classified material that the members of Congress had to go to a room to review and could not remove or copy.  Secretary Kerry was visibly surprised to learn of this.  He stated he was unaware of it and he would address it.  This was not the only issue about Benghazi that was new to him.  He stated he would assign someone in the State Department to work with the Committee on obtaining what they need.  What I am talking about right now did not make it into the reporting.  That is a shame because it showed a side of Secretary Kerry that was cooperative and helpful.  But the media, with few exceptions, seems to have long ago determined that Benghazi is a story they will not cover; therefore, they tend to alter reality when reporting on hearings.

Ruth's correct.   I was there.  We covered that hearing in the  April 17th snapshot and our focus was Kerry's remarks on Iraq.  Wally covered the hearing with  "The budget hearing that avoided the budget,"  Kat  with "I'm sick of Democrats in Congress" and Ava's with "Secretary Kerry doesn't really support women's rights."  But Ruth is correct and you can read her entry where's she's quoting a key exchange.  You'll find Kerry responding that questions have been answered and information supplied -- which the press reported -- but then Chair Ed Royce raises another issue about access to documents and Kerry makes it very clear that he did not know this was taking place.   As Kerry would hear more from the Committee in the hearing on this, he would announce that he was assigning someone at the State Dept to interact with the Committee so that questions and issues could be resolved.   John Kerry was a Senator during Benghazi, he was not over the State Dept.  And let's be clear, it's not just that Benghazi got distorted in the press, the press avoided everything about that hearing.  Find me anyone else who reported what Ava did.  A Democratic member of the Committee asked Kerry to make a pledge regarding funding and the treatment of women and Kerry rejected it and ran from it.  As Ava reported, he did so less than 7 days after Kerry and the State Dept were trumpeting -- in multiple press releases -- the G8 pledge regarding women from the week before.

When there's an attack, I personally want answers.  I never knew of the attack on USS Liberty by the Israeli military in 1967 until I read this article by Jeffrey St. Clair at CounterPunch in 2003.  (There are many things I don't know of.)  I believe there should be an investigation into that.

At the end of the day, most Americans are not Democrats or Republicans -- and you can see that reflected in the large number of people who elect not to vote each cycle.  But most Americans do identify as Americans and they expect that that the government that takes money from them will be able to protect them.  When Americans die, there are questions.

Whoring may be good for certain bloggers/pundits right now but most Americans don't care about your partisan wars.  What they'll remember is four dead Americans and that you offered bitchy attempts at jokes when people had questions.  That's why most partisan pundits don't last long.  The media burns through them quickly because in a four year period what they present to the American people is a partisan whore, not an anlayst.  A partisan whore who pretends to care about X when it's their party but slams X when its the other party that's interested is someone that Americans quickly see as as untrustworthy.  The bulk of Americans don't applaud your partisan wars but you can be sure when there are dead Americans and you're not acknowledging that but you are making bitchy little jokes, this does register with Americans and they don't like it and they don't like you.

Not only does partisan whoring hurt their own self-interests, it hurts the larger issue of transparency in America.  For 12 years, the federal government has excelled in obscuring, to put it nicely.  Instead of trashing efforts at transparency, people should be insisting on greater transparency.

Of the Democratic Committee members, in some ways US House Rep Carolyn Maloney was the best, in other ways, she was the worst.  She was the rare Democrat who could speak seriously about the attack and asked real questions.  However, she's also did more than a little drama.  I'm not really sure that a Congressional hearing is like a prose reading or competition.  Meaning, there's no reason for Maloney to create a 'special voice' when quoting Darrell Issa.  She also ventured into rather strange territory when she wanted to talk about her view that the first response to Benghazi was "to attack" --  attack the president, attack the State Department, attack --

As she continued down her never-ending list, a woman in front of me whispered, "Is she drunk?"

Is she drunk?

The woman was serious.  That's a sure sign that you need to reign it in.  That's a sure sign that you've crossed a line.  When a spectator watching a public Congressional hearing is left wondering if a Congress member is drunk, consider that a sign that you went just a little too far.

And for the record, the first thing attacked was YouTube.  The first thing attacked was freedom of speech.  And, in the end, a YouTube video had nothing to do with the assault on Benghazi.

Maloney also wanted to waste time in public with bickering over how the House conducts business.

You are not the story.  Your hurt feelings are not the story.  Your miffed ego is not the story.  The story is what happened in Benghazi and if you have problems with the Committee, you should really try dealing with those in private.  You do not come off well when you take those kind of petty arguments public -- and certainly not when you do so in the midst of a hearing about how four Americans died. 

Chair Darrell Issa:   J. Christopher Stevens, US Ambassador to Libya.  Sean Patrick Smith, Information Management Specialist.  Tyrone Woods, Security Specialist and former Navy Seal.  Glen Doherty, Security Specialist and former Navy Seal.  Our goal in this investigation is to get answers because their families deserve answers.  They were promised answers at the highest levels when their [loved ones] bodies came home.  The President was there.  The Vice President was there.  The Secretary of Defense was there.  The Secretary of State was there.  We want to make certain those promises are kept on behalf of those individuals.  We also want to make certain that our government learns the proper lessons from this tragedy so that it never happens again and so that the right people are held accountable.

That's what the hearing was about.

Ranking Member Elijah Cummings insisted, "I want to be clear and I've said it over and over again there's no member of this Congress -- be they Republican or Democrat who -- fails to uphold the right of whistle blowers to come forward."  Really?

I'm having a real hard time remembering some widespread support of whistle blower Bradley Manning among US Congress members.  Elijah Cummings also stressed the importance of "facts."  To do so, he called out Darrell Issa based on Glenn Kessler's fact check for the Washington Post
and then he immediately went into praising  'poor Susan Rice'  and her honesty -- but didn't cite Glenn then, did he?   That's because Rice was given Two Pinocchios for her Sunday talk show presentations last September -- a fact check that Kessler again reminded readers of just yesterday.  So if Kessler's your standard, Kessler's called out Susan Rice's lies as well.  That's a fact.  Cummings insisted he was interested facts but clearly he wasn't as evidenced by his selective citation of Glenn Kessler.  In fairness to Cummings, Maloney had already cited the same Kessler article.

Cummings was forever grabbing his notes and reading from them.   He'd read a comment (lengthy) from Leon Panetta or someone and then ask the witnesses if they were calling Panetta a liar?  It was ridiculous.  So were the attempts at drama that Cummings repeatedly destroyed by getting his words mixed up, mispronouncing then, getting so worked up his throat didn't make a word but sounded instead like a gear grinding, and forever losing his place in his notes.  He can take comfort in the fact that no one wondered if he was drunk, at least as far as I know.  Ruth will be covering the hearing at her site tonight.

Free Speech Radio News developed in a struggle for Free Speech.  During the 2000 struggle of Pacifica Radio, the Pacifica Network News workers went on strike and they formed Free Speech Radio News.  They are attempting to raise $100,000 by the end of June to continue broadcasting.  If you're interested in donating, you can find paypal information and a snail mail address on the FSRN home page.

Free Speech Radio News reports today:

Dorian Merina: Today fighters from the militant Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, began withdrawing from their bases in Turkey and are now moving into northern Iraq.  The action is part of a peace deal being negotiated directly between the Turkish government and the group to end a conflict that's killed more than 40,000 since the 1980s.  FSRN's Jacob Resneck reports from Istanbul.

Jacob Resneck: The spring snow melt usually heralds what's known here as the "fighting season." Last year was especially bloody with about 500 people killed in summer clashes.  But the fighting has slackened since the Turkish government began negotiating with the PKK and its jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan called a ceasefire in March. Kurdish politicians say about 2,000 militants are now on the move following a withdrawal order.  There has been no confirmation from the Turkish government, which has said the military would not interfere. The PKK is demanding the right for Kurds to use their mother language in schools and public institutions.  The group also wants political autonomy.  But it's unclear how far the Turkish government is willing to go, and if a specific deal has been reached with the PKK, it remains a secret.  Gareth Jenkins, an Istanbul-based analyst with John Hopkins University's Silk Road Studies Program, says all eyes are on the Turkish government to show its hand.

Gareth Jenkins:  We need to see something concrete from the Turkish government about what it's going to give.  It's been saying that it's not a bargaining process and it won't make concessions.  In reality it is a bargaining process and it must make concessions.

Jacob Resneck:  Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is facing a backlash from opposition parties for negotiating directly with the PKK.  But a recent poll shows 90% of Turkish citizens approve of the peace process.  Jacob Resneck, FSRN, Istanbul.

What's going on, what's this struggle between the government of Turkey and the PKK? Turkey has been the part of many historical empires -- including the Hittite, Byzantine and the Ottoman Empire.  From 1918 to 1922, Constantinople was occupied by the French, British and Italians.  The native population fought back, expelled the occupiers and the Republic of Turkey was created.  That's a very brief and incomplete history of Turkey.   Aaron Hess (International Socialist Review) described the PKK in 2008, "The PKK emerged in 1984 as a major force in response to Turkey's oppression of its Kurdish population. Since the late 1970s, Turkey has waged a relentless war of attrition that has killed tens of thousands of Kurds and driven millions from their homes. The Kurds are the world's largest stateless population -- whose main population concentration straddles Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria -- and have been the victims of imperialist wars and manipulation since the colonial period. While Turkey has granted limited rights to the Kurds in recent years in order to accommodate the European Union, which it seeks to join, even these are now at risk."

After many, many decades of conflict, the two sides are attempting a peace.  BBC News notes, "Kurdish rebel fighters have begun leaving south-eastern Turkey for their safe havens in Iraq under a ceasefire, Kurdish sources say."  Selcan Hacaoglu (Bloomberg News) explains, "The bulk of the militants will have gone by the end of June, Gultan Kisanak, co-leader of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, said by telephone today. They are withdrawing toward neighboring northern Iraq, taking precautions against possible attack, said Kisanak, citing villagers in rural areas of the country’s largely Kurdish southeast."   Radio New Zealand adds, "PKK spokesman Bakhtiyar Dogan told Hawlati, a Kurdish newspaper, that between 200 - 500 fighters would withdraw on Wednesday.
They would, he said, leave from the Semdinli and Sirnak areas of Turkey 'on three fronts'."  From Turkey, Roy Gutman (McClatchy Newspapers) files an article stating he can't verify anything.  Constanze Letsch (Guardian) reports, "The Kurdistan Workers' party (PKK) has begun the withdrawal of its fighters from Turkish territory, according to a Kurdish party leader, as part of peace negotiations that could spell the end to one of the world's longest-running ethnic conflicts."  Hurriyet Daily News quotes Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Annc stating, "What matters to us is the result, and it looks like we are getting there."

The Economist offers:

 If all goes according to plan the PKK’s 29-year armed campaign for Kurdish independence (an aim that was later scaled down to autonomy) will have come to a close. It remains a big if but the potential rewards are huge. Peace with the Kurds would remove one of the biggest obstacles to democratic reform and, in theory, ease Turkey’s membership of the European Union. An end to the war that has cost over $300 billion and 40,000 lives would bolster Turkey’s regional ambitions. It would boost the political fortunes of Recep Tayyip Erdogan (pictured above), the prime minister, who is hoping to become the country’s first popularly elected president next year.
 The decision to pull out by October crowns months of secret talks held between Hakan Fidan Turkey’s spy chief, and Abdullah Ocalan, the PKK’s leader who has been held in solitary confinement on a prison island near Istanbul following his capture in 1999. The precise terms of the bargain remain unclear prompting opposition parties to trot out tired conspiracy theories about American plans to carve out an independent Kurdish state from Turkey. The claims have wide currency in Turkey where anti-Americanism remains widespread. Members of a government appointed “council of the wise” who have been touring the country to assure citizens that, on the contrary, peace with the Kurds will cement unity have been heckled by outraged nationalists, and, in some instances, forced to flee.

The editorial board of the Guardian offers, "It is not often one can say without hesitation that conflicts are on their way to being resolved, but on Wednesday in one part of the world that is exactly what happened: as scripted in the peace process, PKK fighters began withdrawing from the mountains in south-eastern Turkey. It is not the first time in the last 30 years of warfare that this has happened. Ceasefires have fallen apart before with bloody consequences."

On the topic of Turkey, the editorial board of the Saudi Gazette notes how Nouri and his flunkies love to attack others -- including Turkey -- to divert attention from Nouri's many failures:

Earlier this week, Maliki’s acting defense minister  Saadoun Al-Dulaimi came up with the extraordinary accusation that Turkey was “controlling” anti-government protests among Iraq’s Sunni community. The allegation hardly bears scrutiny but it is worth examining why, at this time of growing crisis in the country, the Maliki administration should seek to “externalize” its troubles and try to blame part of its problems on another country. Dulaimi certainly chose the most provocative terms in which to depict what he says is Turkish interference in Iraq’s affairs which has allowed anti-government protests to become a haven for “terrorists and killers”. He said of areas where there has been rising Sunni unrest in the face of divisive government policies that it was as if “Anbar or Mosul or Samarra are part of the Ottoman empire”. Dulaimi’s intemperate remarks will undoubtedly have been prompted in part by Turkey’s granting of asylum to Iraq’s former vice-president Tariq Al-Hashemi, whose arraignment on charges of running death squads, subsequent trial in absentia, conviction and death sentence, have done so much to wreck Sunni confidence in the Maliki government. What is interesting is that the minister chose to link Turkey with Iraq’s Sunni community, when in reality Ankara’s ties are actually with the country’s Kurds.

 The comments smearing Turkey took place on Sunday.  All Iraq News reports that today Nouri "called the politicians to stop launching provocative sectarian statements."  Today, Al Shorfa notes that the Independent High Electoral Commission released the results of the provincial elections held in 12 of Iraq's provinces.  Despite earlier reports that Nouri's State of Law would win 8 provinces, AFP noted  it was only 7 provinces that State of Law won; "[h]owever, no list won a majority of seats in any of the provinces."  Al Mada noted the reality at the top.  In Baghdad, for example, Nouri's State of Law held 28 seats.  This election reduced it to 20.  The only immediate results are that State of Law is not very popular.  That doesn't mean Nouri isn't (or that he is).  These were local elections.  People who like Nouri (yes, they exist) might have hated the State of Law candidate that was running or they may have not voted for that candidate because they didn't like Nouri or . . .   There are too many variables.  Nouri wasn't on the ballots.  The results aren't a reflection on Nouri's standing or lack of it.

But for State of Law, these are poor results.  In a few months, the KRG will vote (three provinces).  State of Law has no support in the KRG.  That's be 15 of Iraq's 18 provinces.  Supposedly Nouri's going to allow Anbar Province and Nineveh Province to vote July 4th (this shouldn't even be Nouri's call and the two provinces should have voted last month).  State of Law will lose those as well.  Barring a miracle, the province of Kirkuk will not be voting.  So after Iraq's 17 provinces vote?  State of Law will be able to claim only 7 provinces.  That might be impressive if there were only, say, 10 provinces in Iraq.  But 7 isn't half of the total to vote.

 All Iraq News notes Ammar al-Hakim (head of the Supreme Islamic Council of Iraq) traveled to Najaf today to meet with cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr. Yesterday, the Iraq Times reported on a study by the University of Brussels which found that Nouri al-Maliki, chief thug and prime minister of Iraq, has a higher annual salary than any of the royals or heads of state around the world.  (Egypt's President Mohammed Morsi has the lowest salary according to the study.)  Alsumaria reports Nouri's spokesperson Ali al-Moussawi  insists that the report and study are innaccurate and that Nouri 'only' makes about 35 million dinars a month ($30,000 in US dollars).  That would place Nouri at $360,000 a year in US dollars. Whether it's true or not is debatable.  In February 2011, protesters were demanding Nouri release information about his salary. He gave them the run around and never managed to do so. $360,000 a year while so many Iraqis live in poverty?

Al Mada reports that KRG President Massoud Barzani called, on his Facebook page, for the Kurdish politicians to come together for the good of the Kurdish population as they attempt to secure more rights.  The KRG sent a delegation to meet with Nouri recently and the visit went very well for the Kurds.  Nouri al-Maliki is supposed to travel to Erbil in the coming weeks for another meeting.  National Iraqi News Agency reveals that the Kurdish blocs met today and agred upon the importance of "previous agreements" being implemented "especially the agreement of Arbil."

From the US Congressional Research Service recent  "Iraq: Politics, Governance, and Human Rights" (Kenneth Katzman is the author of the report):

Part of the difficulty forming a government after the election was the close result, and the dramatic implications of gaining or retaining power in Iraq, where politics is often seen as a "winner take all" proposition.  In accordance with timelines established in the Constitution, the newly elected COR [Council of Representatives, Parliament] convened on June 15, 2020, but the session ended after less than a half hour without electing a COR leadership team.  The various factions made little progress through August 2010, as Maliki insisted he remain prime minister for another term and remained in a caretaker role.  The United States stepped up its involvement in political talks, but it was Iraqi politics that led the factions out of an impasse.  On October 1, 2010, Maliki received the backing of most of the 40 COR Sadrist deputies.  The United States reportedly was concerned that Maliki might form a government with Sadrist support.  The Administration ultimately backed a second Maliki term, although continuing to demand that Maliki form a broad-based government inclusive of Sunni leaders.  Illustrating the degree to which the Kurds reclaimed their former role of "kingmakers," Maliki, Allawi, and other Iraqi leaders met in the capital of the Kurdistan Regional Government-administered region in Irbil on November 8, 2010, to continue to negotiate on a new government.  (Sadr did not attend the meeting in Irbil, but ISCI/Iraq National Alliance slate leader Ammar Al Hakim did.) 
 On November 10, 2010, with reported direct intervention by President Obama, the "Irbil Agreement" was reached in which (1) Allawi agreed to support Maliki and Talabani to remain in their offices for another term; (2) Iraqiyya would be extensively represented in government -- one of its figures would become COR Speaker, another would be defense minister, and another (presumably Allawi himself) would chair an oversight body called the "National Council for Strategic Policies," and (3) amending the de-Baathification laws that had barred some Iraqis, such as Saleh al-Mutlaq, from holding political positions.  Observers praised the agreement because it included all major factions and was signed with KRG President Masoud Barzani and then U.S. Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey in attendance. The agreement did not specify concessions to the Sadr faction.

The Erbil Agreement was a legal contract that went around the Constitution of Iraq, it gave Nouri a second term in exchange for agreed upon concessions from Nouri to the various political blocs.

Nouri used The Erbil Agreement to be named prime minister-designate in November 2010.  He then trashed the agreement.  At first, he insisted it would be a few weeks.  Then weeks became months and Nouri never said a word about it anymore.  The protesters raised the issue in February 2011.  By the summer of 2011, the Kurds, Moqtada al-Sadr and Iraqiya were all demanding Nouri implement the legal contract he'd signed in November of 2010.  That still has not happened.

This is not a minor issue to a large number of Iraqis and today's meet-up of Kurd politicians makes it clear that the Kurds are not about to drop this issue.  (Nor should they.)

Today the violence in Iraq continues and, currently, its with an emphasis on northern Iraq.  National Iraqi News Agency notes 2 Tikrit bombings left 10 people dead and five injured (among the dead was a child), a Baquba roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier and left three more injured, an armed clash in Falluja left 3 police officers and 1 rebel dead (two more rebels injured),  and car bombs in KirkukMohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) notes a Kirkuk car bombing claimed 1 life and left twenty-four injured. In addition, All Iraq News notes a Kirkuk car bombing targeting Peshmerga which left 1 dead and eight more injured.  Tikrit, Baquba and Kirkuk are considered part of northern Iraq.  Mustafa Mahmoud, Raheem Salman, Isabel Coles and Angus MacSwan (Reuters) explain they were suicide bombings and that a third one took place in Tuz Khurmato leaving 1 Peshmerga dead.   The Peshmerga are the elite Kurdish fighting force from the Kurdistan Regional Government.   Al Jazeera quotes their correspondent Omar al-Saleh declaring that the violence is "another sign of deteriorating security in Iraq."

Turning to the United States, Adam Kokesh is planning an upcoming action:

On the morning of July 4, 2013, Independence Day, we will muster at the National Cemetery & at noon we will step off to march across the Memorial Bridge, down Independence Avenue, around the Capitol, the Supreme Court, & the White House, then peacefully return to Virginia across the Memorial Bridge. This is an act of civil disobedience, not a permitted event. We will march with rifles loaded & slung across our backs to put the government on notice that we will not be intimidated & cower in submission to tyranny. We are marching to mark the high water mark of government & to turn the tide. This will be a non-violent event, unless the government chooses to make it violent. Should we meet physical resistance, we will peacefully turn back, having shown that free people are not welcome in Washington, & returning with the resolve that the politicians, bureaucrats, & enforcers of the federal government will not be welcome in the land of the free.
When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty. - Thomas Jefferson
Does the government fear the people? If not, something is wrong, and we aim to change it.
There's a remote chance that there will be violence as there has been from government before, and I think it should be clear that if anyone involved in this event is approached respectfully by agents of the state, they will submit to arrest without resisting. We are truly saying in the SUBTLEST way possible that we would rather die on our feet than live on our knees.
You are welcome to attend unarmed as a supporter, or armed with a recording device. We especially invite law enforcement officers to stand with us armed however they feel is appropriate. If any law enforcement officers would like to volunteer in any way, please email
If this page gets to 10,000 attendees by June 1st, & we have the critical mass necessary to pull this off, (1,000 actual attendees) we will march. Please spread the word, share this event, & invite all your friends.
If law enforcement policy for the public space in front of the National Cemetery prevents open carry there, we will rally at the next closest area where we can legally open carry.
UPDATE 130506 Now that it's undeniable that this is going to happen, allow me to make clear how. There will be coordination with DC law enforcement prior to the event. I will recommend that they do the best they can to honor their oaths and escort us on our route. Failing to provide that commitment to safety, we will either be informed that we will only be allowed up to a certain point where we would be arrested. If this is the case, we will approach that point as a group and if necessary, I will procede to volunteer myself to determine what their actual course of action with someone crossing the line will be at which point fellow marchers will have the choice of joining me one at a time in a peaceful, orderly manner, or turning back to the National Cemetery.
Thanks to everyone for the vibrant conversation, but we have decided to make the wall of this event page specifically just for announcements and important info for the event. Please feel free to comment, and continue the conversation as you like at:

I'm going to be honest because Adam believes in honesty, I read that and thought [unprintable].  Then I thought it really is the perfect Adam Kokesh action.  While everyone else toys with talk, he wants people to know their rights and stages actions that shine a light.  Is there a danger?  There's a danger with every protest -- more often that they will be attacked.  I wouldn't have known about this if Andrea Ayres-Deets (Policy Mic) hadn't attacked the action and Adam.  I'm glad she did.  I'm a feminist on the left and Adam's a Libertarian (he's also an Iraq War veteran).  We have supported his actions and statements and his right to make them.  And sometimes I'm asked about that and I say, "Why wouldn't we?"  And it turns out, we'll note this action as well.  Andrea Ayres-Deets would do well to learn about a topic before she writes about it.  She's got an idiotic lecture to Adam which only goes to the fact that she doesn't know a damn thing about him.  He's had encounters with law enforcement many times in DC already.  Her attack on Adam only succeeds in revealing how ignorant she is of the topic she's writing about.  We'll note the action and we'll wish Adam all the best with it.  As for Ayres-Deets, she should really learn about people before snidely insinuating that they are "the man" -- unless she's trying to confess some sexual attraction (which would be understandable, Adam's a sexy man).

 the washington post
dan zak