Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Happy Birthday, Curiosity

Happy birthday, Curiosity!  One year on Mars now.

On August 6, 2012 at 1:31 a.m. EDT (August 5, 2012 PDT), the Curiosity rover landed gracefully on Mars near the foot of a mountain inside Gale Crater. Watch special NASA TV programming starting at 10:45 a.m. EDT on Tuesday as NASA celebrates Curiosity's #1YearOnMars anniversary.

> Mission Site
> Latest Images
> Videos

We've learned so much from NASA's little Landrover and there's more to come.  But in one year, Curiosity has done more than any other person, place or thing -- or politician. Let's hope Time remembers that when choosing the person of the year for 2013.

Here's the press release:

NASA's Curiosity Nearing First Anniversary on Mars
Aug. 2, 2013
Curiosity Sol 343 Vista With 'Twin Cairns' on Route to Mount Sharp
This scene combines seven images from the telephoto-lens camera on the right side of the Mast Camera (Mastcam) instrument on NASA's Mars rover Curiosity.
Image Credit: 
NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems
PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA's Curiosity rover will mark one year on Mars next week and has already achieved its main science goal of revealing ancient Mars could have supported life. The mobile laboratory also is guiding designs for future planetary missions.
"Successes of our Curiosity -- that dramatic touchdown a year ago and the science findings since then -- advance us toward further exploration, including sending humans to an asteroid and Mars," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "Wheel tracks now, will lead to boot prints later."
Westward View from Curiosity on Sol 347
NASA's Mars rover Curiosity used the Navigation Camera (Navcam) on its mast to record this westward look on the 347th Martian day, or sol, of the rover's work on Mars (July 28, 2013).
Image Credit: 

After inspiring millions of people worldwide with its successful landing in a crater on the Red Planet on Aug. 5, 2012, PDT (Aug. 6, 2012, EDT), Curiosity has provided more than 190 gigabits of data; returned more than 36,700 full images and 35,000 thumbnail images; fired more than 75,000 laser shots to investigate the composition of targets; collected and analyzed sample material from two rocks; and driven more than one mile (1.6 kilometers).
Curiosity team members at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.,will share remembrances about the dramatic landing night and the overall mission in an event that will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website from 7:45 to 9 a.m. PDT (10:45 a.m. to noon EDT) on Tuesday, Aug. 6. Immediately following that program, from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. (noon to 1:30 p.m.), NASA TV will carry a live public event from NASA Headquarters in Washington. That event will feature NASA officials and crew members aboard the International Space Station as they observe the rover anniversary and discuss how its activities and other robotic projects are helping prepare for a human mission to Mars and an asteroid. Social media followers may submit questions on Twitter and Google+ in advance and during the event using the hashtag #askNASA.
Curiosity, which is the size of a car, traveled 764 yards (699 meters) in the past four weeks since leaving a group of science targets where it worked for more than six months. The rover is making its way to the base of Mount Sharp, where it will investigate lower layers of a mountain that rises three miles from the floor of the crater.
NASA's Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft and its unprecedented sky crane landing system placed Curiosity on Mars near the base of Mount Sharp. The mountain has exposed geological layers, including ones identified by Mars orbiters as originating in a wet environment. The rover landed about one mile (1.6 kilometers) from the center of that carefully chosen, 12-mile-long (20-kilometer-long) target area.
Scientists decided first to investigate closer outcrops where the mission quickly found signs of vigorous ancient stream flow. These were the first streambed pebble deposits ever examined up close on Mars.
Evidence of a past environment well suited to support microbial life came within the first eight months of the 23-month primary mission from analysis of the first sample material ever collected by drilling into a rock on Mars.
"We now know Mars offered favorable conditions for microbial life billions of years ago," said the mission's project scientist, John Grotzinger of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. "It has been gratifying to succeed, but that has also whetted our appetites to learn more. We hope those enticing layers at Mount Sharp will preserve a broad diversity of other environmental conditions that could have affected habitability."
The mission measured natural radiation levels on the trip to Mars and is monitoring radiation and weather on the surface of Mars, which will be helpful for designing future human missions to the planet. The Curiosity mission also found evidence Mars lost most of its original atmosphere through processes that occurred at the top of the atmosphere. NASA's next mission to Mars, Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN), is being prepared for launch in November to study those processes in the upper atmosphere.
Full Curiosity Traverse Passes One-Mile Mark
The total distance driven by NASA's Mars rover Curiosity passed the one-mile mark a few days before the first anniversary of the rover's landing on Mars.
Image Credit: 
NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the Curiosity mission and built the rover for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.
To follow the conversation online about Curiosity's first year on Mars, use hashtag #1YearOnMars or follow @NASA and @MarsCuriosity on Twitter.
For NASA TV streaming video, schedule and downlink information, visit http://www.nasa.gov/ntv . The events airing on Tuesday also will be carried on Ustream at http://www.ustream.tv/nasajpl .
A movie made with Hazard-Avoidance Camera images from Curiosity's first year, titled "Twelve Months in Two Minutes," is available at http://mars.nasa.gov/msl/1yearin2mins .
For more information about the mission, visit http://www.nasa.gov/msl and http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl .

Guy Webster 818-354-6278
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

Dwayne Brown 202-358-1726
NASA Headquarters, Washington


Curiosity should have been Time's person of the year for 2012.  They better pick her this year.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills): 

Monday, August 5, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, we review the Memorandum of Understanding the US government signed with the Iraqi government last December, the US troops that never left as well as the ones that returned to Iraq, how the SOFA came not to be renewed in 2011, Bradley Manning, Glenn Greenwald and more.

Iraq War veteran and whistle-blower Bradley Manning gets defended by his family and gets a some-time spot-on analysis from Michal Ratner and a some-time ridiculous one. The analyis is provided on this week's Law and Disorder Radio,  an hour long program that airs Monday mornings at 9:00 a.m. EST on WBAI (except during pledge drives) and around the country throughout the week.  It's streamable at the Law and Disorder Radio,  website and the program is  hosted by attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights).

If I controlled the world, every episode of Law and Disorder would be perfection and I'd only ever offer positive criticism.  I don't control the world.  So today we have to deal with claims made on it regarding Iraq.  We'll get to it.  First the basics.

Monday April 5, 2010, WikiLeaks released  military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Monday June 7, 2010, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported in August 2010 that Manning had been charged -- "two charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The first encompasses four counts of violating Army regulations by transferring classified information to his personal computer between November and May and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system. The second comprises eight counts of violating federal laws governing the handling of classified information." In March, 2011, David S. Cloud (Los Angeles Times) reported that the military has added 22 additional counts to the charges including one that could be seen as "aiding the enemy" which could result in the death penalty if convicted. The Article 32 hearing took place in December. At the start of this year, there was an Article 32 hearing and, February 3rd, it was announced that the government would be moving forward with a court-martial. Bradley has yet to enter a plea. The court-martial was supposed to begin before the November 2012 election but it was postponed until after the election so that Barack wouldn't have to run on a record of his actual actions.  Independent.ie added, "A court martial is set to be held in June at Ford Meade in Maryland, with supporters treating him as a hero, but opponents describing him as a traitor."  February 28th, Bradley admitted he leaked to WikiLeaks.  And why.

Bradley Manning:   In attempting to conduct counter-terrorism or CT and counter-insurgency COIN operations we became obsessed with capturing and killing human targets on lists and not being suspicious of and avoiding cooperation with our Host Nation partners, and ignoring the second and third order effects of accomplishing short-term goals and missions. I believe that if the general public, especially the American public, had access to the information contained within the CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A tables this could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general as [missed word] as it related to Iraq and Afghanistan.
I also believed the detailed analysis of the data over a long period of time by different sectors of society might cause society to reevaluate the need or even the desire to even to engage in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations that ignore the complex dynamics of the people living in the effected environment everyday.

For truth telling, Brad was punished by the man who fears truth: Barack Obama.  A fraud, a fake, a 'brand,' anything but genuine, Barack is all marketing, all facade and, for that reason, must attack each and every whistle-blower.  David Delmar (Digital Journal) points out, "President Obama, while ostensibly a liberal advocate of transparency and openness in government, and of the 'courage' and 'patriotism' of whistleblowers who engage in conscientious leaks of classified information, is in reality something very different: a vindictive opponent of the free press willing to target journalists for doing their job and exposing government secrets to the public."   Tuesday, July 30th, Bradley was convicted of all but two counts by Colonel Denise Lind, the military judge in his court-martial.

Before we get to Michael Ratner's analysis, Heidi Boghosian has a wording in her introduction (we'll include it in a second) that probably could be worded better.  That's not a slam on Heidi, it is a slam on me.  I doubt Heidi's been repeatedly speaking about Brad to groups.  I have and I've used the same wording.  We've been respectful of Denise Lind, the military colonel over Brad's court-martial, here and at all community sites because, honestly, I was told that she would be negatively influenced by personal attacks (and the military is following the coverage on websites -- not just at news outlets).  Denise Lind has gotten it easier than anyone except the man who ruled in Ehren Watada's Article 32 hearing (whom I was told would hit the roof on personal attacks).

That influenced my wording (it may have influenced Heidi's as well, what I know about Lind isn't exactly secret knowledge).  But in the early stages, I was wrong to treat this or refer to it as a courtroom, for example.  Military 'justice' is not justice.  That would be true even with a military jury determining guilt or innocence (but I would have had more respect for a military jury verdict).  Heidi's wording is minor (and she may not feel it was a mistake -- if so, she may be right).  Mine were not minor.  I have called the court-martial a "trial" and done so at times to avoid being repetitive (having "court-martial" used over and over).  For me, that was wrong.  It's not a trial and it's not a courtroom.  A "military courtroom" would be better.  But I don't have respect for so-called military 'justice' and shouldn't have used terms that give it credence.  A court-martial, by its very nature, is not a trial as we understand it.  So I've made many mistakes and errors in the last months in describing Brad's court-martial.  I started grasping a lot of it on Saturday (too late to make a difference) and today in Heidi's introduction when she used "courtroom" (which I am not slamming her for and which she may not see as a mistake).  Michael Ratner makes many strong points.  He also makes points that have to be called out because we cover Iraq here and what he's saying is not correct.  That happens when you don't pay attention to Iraq and -- sorry, Michael Ratner -- he hasn't paid any attention to Iraq in a long time.

Here's a section. The plan was to include two sections.  That's not possible due to what we have to go over to backup our points.  We'll return to Michael tomorrow as well.  And, by the way, Heidi Boghosian's new book Spying on Democracy: Government Surveillance, Corporate Power and Public Resistance is in bookstores Tuesday. We're noting it now because there may not be time or room later.  Now for the excerpt from Law and Disorder.

Heidi Boghosian:  Michael, from the inception, you've been one of the few individuals who've followed every aspect of the Bradley Manning case -- making multiple trips to Fort Meade to be in the courtroom, making analysis on Law and Disorder and many other outlets.  And now we have a verdict.  Military judge Denise Lind found Bradley Manning not guilty on charges of aiding the enemy, for releasing hundreds of thousands of documents to WikiLeaks for publication on the internet.  But she convicted Manning of six counts of violating The Espionage Act.  What do you make of this verdict?

Michael Ratner: Heidi, thanks for the introduction.  This is Michael Ratner and, as you said, Heidi, I've been going back and forth to the trial and, of course, represent Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.  And Bradley Manning, according to his own testimony, was one of the main sources of documents for WikiLeaks -- some 700,000 documents that were uploaded to Wikleaks I've been doing a lot of media lately on this issue, getting into debates about it,  whether Bradley Manning should be prosecuted, etc.  I take a very firm position here: He should never have been tried in the first place -- not for espionage or aiding the enemy.  He shouldn't have been tried for anything.  He's a hero.  He's a whistle-blower.  And anyone who says otherwise is ignoring the criminality of the United States and the secrecy that it keeps about that criminality.   And there's a legal basis for me saying that.  He is a whistle-blower.  He publicly exposed the truths about the nature of this country -- particularly its human rights violations, its criminality and its corruption.  That constitutes a whistle-blower and whistle-blowing is a legal defense to whatever kind of crimes the United States wanted to try him.   He was an idealistic soldier.  He saw horrible things.  He acted on his conscious and that's a whistle-blower in the classic sense of the word. What's really disturbing about this is the public debate about this.  The public debate -- even from a lot of liberals -- are, "Well, yeah, he acted on his conscious, he was idealistic, but he took a risk, he knew what he was doing and he should at least get some punishment.  We can't just have people going around revealing classified information."  Even liberals say that.  They simply say that government shouldn't have been as harsh about prosecuting him. So you see the New York Times saying he shouldn't get such a heavy sentence, you have other people saying he shouldn't be prosecuted for espionage but, in fact, my position, and the right position, I believe, is that he shouldn't have been prosecuted at all.  Let's look for a second at why I say that -- not only because he was a whistle-blower, but look at what he revealed.  First, we've all seen -- I hope we have -- the Collateral Murder video:  The killing of two Reuters journalists and I believe 10 civilians shot with a gung-ho blood lust, as Bradley Manning described it.  Those crimes were never really investigated, no one was prosecuted for them and yet it was cold-blooded murder taking place from an Apache helicopter on the streets of Baghdad.  Then think about what the Iraq War Logs revealed -- all this material from Bradley Manning to WikiLeaks.  The Iraq War Logs:  20,000 more civilians killed in Iraq than the United States [government] has said were killed.  That alone, that fact -- apart from the terrible tragedy of those civilians being killed -- that fact caused the government of Iraq to not sign another Status of Forces Agreement with the United States, because a Status of Forces Agreement would have given immunity to US troops.  And after all of these killings of civilians, Iraq said  we're not going to do it.  Because there was no immunity for US troops, the US said we're not staying in Iraq.  Think about how important that is.

 Great job on many thing in the above including Michael backing up his opinion,  And I agree with him that Brad never should have been prosecuted.  By the way, "Brad" or "Bradley" or "Ed" when we discuss Ed Snowden?  That's what the left should be doing.  "Manning"?  Are we the damn military?  WTF?  Attorneys know (or damn well should) that you personalize.  That's how you make your client (a) less the scary monster that the prosecution paints him/her as and (b) how you get people to start seeing your client as an average person.  Brad should not have been prosecuted.  I would add that it is cowardly of the New York Times especially since they, and others, only gave a damn in the first place due to the 'aiding the enemy' charge and their fears that it could have effected them.

This is wrong:

 The Iraq War Logs:  20,000 more civilians killed in Iraq than the United States [government] has said were killed.  That alone, that fact -- apart from the terrible tragedy of those civilians being killed -- that fact caused the government of Iraq to not sign another Status Of Forces Agreement with the United States, because a Status Of Forces Agreement would have given immunity to US troops.  And after all of these killings of civilians, Iraq said  we're not going to do it.  Because there was no immunity for US troops, the US said we're not staying in Iraq.  Think about how important that is.

It's wrong in a manner of oversimplification and Michael might argue he had to condense.  Possibly so. But it's wrong in that The Iraq War Logs revelation of an additional 20,000 Iraqis killed didn't result in the SOFA not being signed.  Many other things impacted.  Dropping back to the Monday, September 17, 2007 snapshot:

Turning to the issue of violence, Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reported Sunday that  a Baghdad shooting (by private contractors) killed 9 Iraqi civilians and left fifteen more wounded. Later on Sunday, CNN reported, "In the Baghdad gun battle, which was between security forces and unidentified gunmen, eight people were killed and 14 wounded, most of them civilians, an Interior Ministry official said. Details were sketchy, but the official said witnesses told police that the security forces involved appeared to be Westerners driving sport utility vehicles, which are usually used by Western companies. The clash occurred near Nisoor square, in western Baghdad.  CBS and AP report that Abdul-Karim Khalaf, spokesperson for the Interior Ministry, announced "it was pulling the license of an American security firm allegedly involved in the fatal shooting of civilians during an attack on a U.S. State Department motorcade in Baghdad," that "it would prosecute any foreign contractors found to have used excessive force" in the slaughter (eight dead, 13 wounded) and they "have canceled the liscense of Blcakwater and prevented them from working all over Iraqi territory."  The news was addressed today on Democracy Now!:

AMY GOODMAN: We have this breaking news out of Iraq today: The Iraqi government says it's pulling the license of the US security company Blackwater over its involvement in a fatal shooting in Baghdad on Sunday. Interior Ministry spokesperson Abdul-Karim Khalaf said eight civilians were killed and thirteen wounded, when security contractors believed to be working for Blackwater USA opened fire in a predominantly Sunni neighborhood of western Baghdad. Khalaf said, "We have canceled the license of Blackwater and prevented them from working all over Iraqi territory. We will also refer those involved to Iraqi judicial authorities." It was not immediately clear if the measure against Blackwater is intended to be temporary or permanent. Naomi Klein, take it from there.  
NAOMI KLEIN: Well, that's an extraordinary piece of news. I mean, this is really the first time that one of these mercenary firms may actually be held accountable. You know, as Jeremy Scahill has written in his incredible book Blackwater: The Rise of the [World's] Most Powerful Mercenary Army, the real problem is, there haven't been prosecutions. These companies work in this absolute gray zone, and, you know, they're either boy scouts and nothing has going wrong, which completely doesn't mesh with what we know about the way they're behaving in Iraq and all of the sort of videos that we've seen online of just target practice on Iraqi civilians, or the lawlessness and the immunity in which they work has protected them. So, you know, if this is -- if the Iraqi government is actually going to kick Blackwater out of Iraq, it could really be a turning point in terms of pulling these companies into the law and questioning the whole premise of why this level of privatization and lawlessness has been allowed to take place.

The mercenary corportation Blackwater has not only made a lot of money in Iraq, it's had a lot of friends in the US White House (and members of Congress who looked the other way).  So it's little surprise that Aseel Kami (Reuters) reports US Secretary of State and Anger Condi Rice plans a firm phone call to puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki in which she will "make it clear" that the US is "investigating this incident" -- no doubt in the usual look-the-other-way manner the US government has "investigated" other incidents. No word on whether she plans to use/haul her favorite false line out of mothballs, "No one could have guessed . . ."

When the US judge tossed the lawsuit on this massacre aside (because of agreements the State Dept had made with the contractors to get testimony -- agreements the State Dept knew would get the case tossed out and agreements that were not at all necessary), the rage over the US forces and contractors and the issue of accountability moved from and center in Iraq.

That was part of the issue as well.

But the main thing was the ongoing protests, Moqtada al-Sadr and other prominent Iraqis saying it wouldn't happen and the United Nations mandate.

In 2006, Nouri al-Maliki became prime minister.  The United Nations provided no mandate for the start of the illegal war.  After the war started, the UN did provide a mandate for foreign forces to be on the ground in Iraq.  In the fall of 2006, Nouri renewed the mandate causing huge outrage among Iraqi politicians because the Parliament was opposed to it and not consulted (they were supposed to be consulted).  To ease tensions, Nouri lied.  He said that next time he would let the Parliament vote.  The UN mandate was an annual mandate.  As 2007 drew to a close, Nouri did what he did in 2006, extended it without consulting the Parliament.  (In both years, as he and the US government knew, if the agreement went before the Parliament it would not be renewed.)

The UN mandate could not be renewed again.  It would be Nouri's head if, at the end of 2008, he approved it.  He knew it, the US government and the British government knew it.  So both countries began negotiating their own agreements with the Iraqi government.

For the US government, the thing was that the agreement not be an annual one.  It was hurting Nouri too much, having to extend it yearly.  So they went with a three year term in the Status Of Forces Agreement.  At the end of the three years, the agreement could be renewed (as Barack Obama's administration tried), be replaced with a new form of agreement (as Barack did and we'll get to that -- Michael Ratner has no clue about this -- if he did, Law and Disorder Radio would have done a program on it in the last 8 months) or the US could just pull most forces (which is what they did) or all forces out of Iraq.

There was no support for allowing US forces to stay in Iraq.  That had been the case for at least five consecutive years before 2011.  Nouri was urged (by then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta) to ram a new SOFA through without Parliament's permission.  (Nouri was specifically told that he could argue Parliament had their input when they voted for the 2008 SOFA and that a renewal did not require their agreement.)  But the Arab Spring or 'Arab Spring' (depending on your view) was sweeping the region and Nouri had faced massive protests in February 2011 -- protests that continued but that had grown smaller (a) because Moqtada told his followers to stop participating (renewing the SOFA would have meant Moqtada would have ordered his supporters back into the streets) and (b) because Nouri was having protesters attacked and arrested.  Those massive protests could come back at any minute (and would in December 2012), as Nouri fully knew.

Did the Iraq War Logs have an impact?  Yes.  But they were part of a series of events and, among those events, they were not the main part.

To all of the above, Michael Ratner can respond, "I was condensing for time."  And for some websites, that would be correct.  We cover Iraq here and you can't condense and leave out the elements that we went over above.

Michael Ratner: Then think about what the Iraq War Logs revealed -- all this material from Bradley Manning to WikiLeaks.  The Iraq War Logs:  20,000 more civilians killed in Iraq than the United States [government] has said were killed.  That alone, that fact -- apart from the terrible tragedy of those civilians being killed -- that fact caused the government of Iraq to not sign another Status of Forces Agreement with the United States, because a Status of Forces Agreement would have given immunity to US troops.  And after all of these killings of civilians, Iraq said  we're not going to do it.  Because there was no immunity for US troops, the US said we're not staying in Iraq.  Think about how important that is.

The only way to read those statements is that the Iraq War Logs caused the US military to withdraw from Iraq.  I would "think about how important that is" were it true.  But it's not true.  It wasn't true in December 2011, as Ted Koppel noted on Rockcenter With Brian Williams.

Let's go to the Decmeber 10, 2012 snapshot to extract a few things. First:

How many US troops remain in Iraq? December 12, 2011, Ted Koppel filed an important report on Rock Center with Brian Williams (NBC) about what was really taking place in Iraq -- what 'reporters' insisted on calling a 'withdrawal' but what the Pentagon had termed a "drawdown." Excerpt.

MR. KOPPEL: I realize you can't go into it in any detail, but I would assume that there is a healthy CIA mission here. I would assume that JSOC may still be active in this country, the joint special operations. You've got FBI here. You've got DEA here. Can, can you give me sort of a, a menu of, of who all falls under your control?

AMB. JAMES JEFFREY: You're actually doing pretty well, were I authorized to talk about half of this stuff.
US forces never left Iraq.  That's why the military brass repeatedly used the term "drawdown" and not "withdrawal."  In addition to the forces Koppel noted, there were approximately 200 'trainers.'  Back to the December 12, 2012 snapshot:
As September drew to a close, Tim Arango (New York Times) reported that the US had just sent in a Special-Ops division into Iraq. Yesterday Press TV reported:

Over 3,000 US troops have secretly returned to Iraq via Kuwait for missions pertaining to the recent developments in Syria and northern Iraq, Press TV reports.
According to our correspondent, the US troops have secretly entered Iraq in multiple stages and are mostly stationed at Balad military garrison in Salahuddin province and al-Asad air base in al-Anbar province.

 Noting those 3,000 troops going into Iraq, The Voice of Russia adds today, "Another 17,000-strong force is preparing to cross the Kuwait-Iraq border over time, Iraqi press says."
Tim Arango's report was ignored by everyone but Tom Hayden and sites in this community.  That's because it was the Times reporting as outlined by Gore Vidal long ago.  You have to go far into a story -- around the 13 paragraph -- to get any truth from the New York Times' reporting.  In this case, Tim Arango was reporting on Syria and tucked in the middle of his report was some key information on Iraq and the US.  We'll go to this year's April 30th Iraq snapshot:

December 6, 2012, the Memorandum of Understanding For Defense Cooperation Between the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Iraq and the Department Defense of the United States of America was signed.  We covered it in the December 10th and December 11th snapshots -- lots of luck finding coverage elsewhere including in media outlets -- apparently there was some unstated agreement that everyone would look the other way.  It was similar to the silence that greeted Tim Arango's September 25th New York Times report which noted, "Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions.  At the request of the Iraqi government, according to [US] General [Robert L.] Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence."
That's Tim Arango's key details on Iraq extracted.  Again, they're in the middle of an article on Syria.  We have noted Tim Arango's report repeatedly here.  At one point in 2007, the most noted piece of writing here was Naomi Klein's "Baghdad Year Zero" for Harper's magazine.  Since we noted Tim's article back in September, it's become the most noted and cited piece -- there's not a week that goes by where we don't note it at least once and, most weeks, we note it multiple times. In the not-yet year since it was first published, we have noted it in at least 136 entries at this site.
Why hasn't Law and Disorder?  Because they don't know about it.  They should.  Not only did 'all' US forces not leave but, in September, more US forces were sent in.
And before we get to Tim Arango from the April 30th snapshot, we've got that MOU (and links to our coverage).  Has any news outlet reported on the MOU even now?
Hell no.  I'm referring to the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, Al Jazeera, etc.  They've all stayed silent.

December 6, 2012, the Memorandum of Understanding For Defense Cooperation Between the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Iraq and the Department Defense of the United States of America was signed.  We covered it in the December 10th and December 11th snapshots -- lots of luck finding coverage elsewhere including in media outlets -- apparently there was some unstated agreement that everyone would look the other way. 
We covered it December 6th when the Defense Department issued a press release on it.  And, if you go that snapshot, not only will you find the DoD press release, you'll find that Iraqi news outlets considered it news and were reporting on it.  
Though they announced it on the 6th, they did not release it the 6th (this despite the press release offering a link for you to read the memo at).  We picked up on December 10th (when it was finally available) and I explained that it allowed for joint-patrols -- the US and Iraq -- in Iraq.  I noted other things as well but the pushback from visitors was on the joint-patrols.

You are wrong! You are dead wrong! You are a liar! Bitch, stop lying! If this was true, it would be reported!
That's an accurate characterization of over 10,000 e-mails that came in following the December 10th Iraq snapshot where I went over the Memo Of Understanding which is why we returned to the topic the next day.  From the December 11th snapshot:

In yesterday's snapshot, we covered the Memorandum of Understanding For Defense Cooperation Between the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Iraq and the Department of Defense of the United States of America.  Angry, dysfunctional e-mails from Barack-would-never-do-that-to-me criers indicate that we need to go over the Memo a little bit more.  It was signed on Thursday and announced that day by the Pentagon.   Section two (listed in full in yesterday's snapshot) outlines that the two sides have agreed on: the US providing instructors and training personnel and Iraq providing students, Iraqi forces and American forces will work together on counterterrorism and on joint exercises.   The tasks we just listed go to the US military being in Iraq in larger numbers.  Obviously the two cannot do joint exercises or work together on counterterrorism without US military present in Iraq.

This shouldn't be surprising.  In the November 2, 2007 snapshot -- five years ago -- we covered the transcript of the interview Michael R. Gordon and Jeff Zeleny did with then-Senator Barack Obama who was running in the Democratic Party's primary for the party's presidential nomination -- the transcript, not the bad article the paper published, the actual transcript.  We used the transcript to write "NYT: 'Barack Obama Will Keep Troops In Iraq'" at Third.  Barack made it clear in the transcript that even after "troop withdrawal" he would "leave behind a residual force."  What did he say this residual force would do?  He said, "I think that we should have some strike capability.  But that is a very narrow mission, that we get in the business of counter terrorism as opposed to counter insurgency and even on the training and logistics front, what I have said is, if we have not seen progress politically, then our training approach should be greatly circumscribed or eliminated."

This is not withdrawal.  This is not what was sold to the American people.  Barack is very lucky that the media just happened to decide to take that rather explosive interview -- just by chance, certainly the New York Times wasn't attempting to shield a candidate to influence an election, right? -- could best be covered with a plate of lumpy, dull mashed potatoes passed off as a report.  In the transcript, Let-Me-Be-Clear Barack declares, "I want to be absolutely clear about this, because this has come up in a series of debates: I will remove all our combat troops, we will have troops there to protect our embassies and our civilian forces and we will engage in counter terrorism activities."

So when the memo announces counterterrorism activies, Barack got what he wanted, what he always wanted, what the media so helpfully and so frequently buried to allow War Hawk Barack to come off like a dove of peace.
 For those who still can't grasp what I outlined in December of last year, starting in the spring of this year, the Congressional Research Service began noting these same details in  Kenneth Katzman monthly report on Iraq.  Those reports are prepared for members of Congress.  While Law and Disorder should have covered these facts a long time ago, they have the excuse that they were not headline news -- hey, where's our Project Censored award! -- so they didn't know about it.  But why are members of the US Congress silent about this?  Are they (or their aides) not reading the Congressional Research Service reports or are they complicit in keeping the truth from the American poeple?  This is the from the Arpil version of  "Iraq: Politics, Governance, and Human Rights" but it's also included in subsequent monthly "Iraq: Politics, Governance, and Human Rights" reports:

General [Martin] Dempsey's August 21, 2012, visit focused on the security deterioration, as well as the Iranian overflights to Syria discussed above, according to press reports.  Regarding U.S.-Iraq security relations,  Iraq reportedly expressed interest in expanded U.S. training of the ISF, joint exercises, and accelerated delivery of U.S. arms to be sold, including radar, air defense systems, and border security equipment. [. . .]
After the Dempsey visit, reflecting the Iraqi decision to reengage intensively with the United States on security, it was reported that, at the request of Iraq, a unit of Army Special Operations forces had deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence, presumably against AQ-I.  (These forces presumably are operating under a limited SOFA or related understanding crafted for this purpose.)  Other reports suggest that Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) paramilitary forces have, as of late 2012, largely taken over some of the DOD mission of helping Iraqi counter-terrorismf orces (Counter-Terrorism Service, CTS) against AQ-I in western Iraq. Part of the reported CIA mission is to also work against the AQ-I affiliate in SYria, the Al Nusrah Front, discussed above.
Reflecting an acceleration of the Iraqi move to reengage militarily with the United States, during December 5-6 2012, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy James Miller and acting Under Secretary of State for International Security Rose Gottemoeller visited Iraq and a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed with acting Defense Minister Sadoun Dulaymi.  The five year MOU provides for:

* high level U.S.-Iraq military exchanges
* professional military education cooperation
* counter-terrorism cooperation
* the development of defense intelligence capabilities
* joint exercises

The MOU appears to address many of the issues that have hampered OSC-I from performing its mission to its full potential.  The MOU also reflects some of the more recent ideas put forward, such as joint exercises.

We'll come back to Michael Ratner tomorrow to provide more of his commentary on Brad.  Susan Manning is Brad's mother.  Nic North (Daily Mail) quotes her stating, "Never give up hope, son.  I know I may never see you again, but I know you will be free one day.  I pray it is soon.  I love you, Bradley, and I always will." His aunt Sharon Staples states, "If anyone was going to get themselves arrested for leaking hundreds of thousands of secret documents and end up jail for it, it was going to be our Bradley.  He just seemed to have a burning sense of wanting to right any injustice from such a young age."  John Naughton (Guardian) offers this perspective:

Just to put that in perspective, cast your mind back to 16 March 1968, when a platoon of US soldiers led by Second Lieutenant William Calley entered the hamlet of My Lai in what was then South Vietnam. They rounded up between 70 and 80 villagers and then shot them dead. In all, between 347 and 504 My Lai civilians were murdered that day by US troops.
Eventually, there was a court martial, just like the one organised for Manning. Despite claiming that he was following orders from his commanding officer, Calley was convicted on 29 March 1971 of premeditated murder for ordering the shootings and was given a life sentence. Two days later, President Nixon ordered that he should be released, pending an appeal against his sentence, which was later reduced. Calley eventually served three and a half years under house arrest at an army base.
So: three and a half years house-arrest for ordering and participating in the premeditated murder of scores of unarmed civilians. And potentially 136 years for downloading stuff – including compelling video evidence of a war crime by US forces – and giving it to WikiLeaks. Makes you think, doesn't it?
In Iraq, the US embassy and consulates are open.   All Iraq News reports, "The US embassy in Baghdad and its Consulates in the Iraqi prvoinces resumed its activities on Monday after it was suspended on last Sunday for security concerns."  The US State Dept issued the following late yesterday:

Press Statement

Jen Psaki
Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
August 4, 2013

Given that a number of our embassies and consulates were going to be closed in accordance with local custom and practice for the bulk of the week for the Eid celebration at the end of Ramadan, and out of an abundance of caution, we've decided to extend the closure of several embassies and consulates including a small number of additional posts.
This is not an indication of a new threat stream, merely an indication of our commitment to exercise caution and take appropriate steps to protect our employees including local employees and visitors to our facilities.
Posts in Abu Dhabi, Amman, Cairo, Riyadh, Dhahran, Jeddah, Doha, Dubai, Kuwait, Manama, Muscat, Sanaa, Tripoli, Antananarivo, Bujumbura, Djibouti, Khartoum, Kigali, and Port Louis are instructed to close for normal operations Monday, August 5 through Saturday, August 10.
The following posts that are normally open on Sunday, but were closed on Sunday, August 4, are authorized to reopen for normal operations on August 5: Dhaka, Algiers, Nouakchott, Kabul, Herat, Mazar el Sharif, Baghdad, Basrah, and Erbil.

Today Iraq came up during the US State Dept press briefing moderated by spokesperson Marie Harf.
MS. HARF: Yes, Said.
QUESTION: There’s been prison breaks – there were many, but the most prominent were two in Iraq, at Taji and Abu Ghraib.
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Are you satisfied that – the Iraqis have not been able to round up except maybe a handful since the break. Are you satisfied with their conduct, the conduct of the security forces in Iraq?
MS. HARF: Well, we have encouraged – I know there have been a number of prison breaks in different places. Clearly, they’re concerning to us, and that’s why I think you saw the Interpol notice go out this weekend. Clearly, we call – we’ve called on the Government of Iraq to continue to try to find people that have escaped. Again, it’s a tough process to do so. And we remain concerned by the fact, yes.
QUESTION: So – but the prison breaks in Iraq in particular, they were conducted in a very sophisticated military operation, and it shows that they have really reconstituted their presence in Iraq. Aren’t you concerned that after so many years of training and spending so much money on the Iraqis that they have failed to do at least that?
MS. HARF: Well, we do remain very concerned about the terrorist activity that we see in Iraq today. I think I’ve made clear that it’s important to remember that both the majority of the Iraqi people have rejected this violence and that it really is being perpetrated by terrorists in Iraq, and also that the government and the political leadership has taken steps in the last few months to come together to fight this threat together. They’ve been talking about it and meeting about it in a way that we hadn’t seen previously. So we’re going to continue working with Iraq to help them fight this threat that they’re facing.

QUESTION: How are the U.S. Government’s working with Interpol or the Iraqis or the Pakistanis or the Libyans, wherever these prison breaks occurred, to assist in tracking these escapees? I assume in Iraq a lot of these prisoners were people we put behind bars because they killed Americans.
MS. HARF: I don’t have more details on who’s working with them on that in each of the cases. I’m happy to look into it and get you some more information. I just don’t have that in front of me.
What was in front of Iraqis today was more violence. Sunday was the fourth day of the month and, through Sunday, Iraq Body Count counts 80 violent deaths so far this month  -- that averages out to 20 deaths a day so far.  Today, National Iraqi News Agency reports a Mosul roadside bombing killed 4 Iraqi soldiers, 1 contractor was shot dead in Mosul, 1 "power genartor's owner and his son were killed by gunmen with silenceer in the early morning today [. . .] in Al-Jaarh area south of Baghdad" and the same assailants then shot dead another person, and late last night a 13-year-old boy was kidnapped outside his Kirkuk home. All Iraq News notes a Mosul bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer.  Xinhua reports, "In Iraq's eastern province of Diyala, gunmen in a car shot dead a government-backed Sahwa paramilitary group member and his relative in the city of Maqdadiyah, about 40 km northeast of the provincial capital city of Baquba, a provincial police source said.Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) terms a bombing targeting a bakery "the deadliest attack" today and notes 4 people were killed while fourteen more were left injured.  In addition, NINA notes a Raweh bombing injured one person, an armed attack on a Baghdad bus left nine people injured (including seven police officers), a Mosul car bombing has left 2 people dead and sixteen more injured, 2 men were shot dead in Hilla, and 2 Sahwa were shot dead in downtown Hawija (Kirkuk Province).

On the violence, last night, we noted:

In Baghdad, Ayad al-Tamimi (Al Mada) reports trenches are being dug in the Green Zone around Saddam Hussein's former palace and other buildings to protect them and their inhabitants, that security measures are so huge that those living in the Green Zone are assuming it's just not safe to leave the Green Zone.  In addition, Iraqis are complaining as more money goes to secure the Green Zone while everyone else lives it at huge risk. Another thing that is taking place is mass arrests.  NINA notes 183 people arrested in Baghdad alone today.  For those not paying attention, mass arrests are among the reasons for the ongoing protests.

NINA reports today that over 300 people have been arrested in Baghdad in the last 24 hours.  These arbitrary arrests -- usually targeting Sunnis -- do little to ease tensions and most likely will only increase the tension. 

Finally, turning to the topic of the ongoing, unconstitutional spying (the US government -- Barack -- spying on American citizens), Amy Goodman (Democracy Now! -- link is audio, video and text) interviewed the Guardian's Glenn Greenwald today.  Excerpt.

AMY GOODMAN: The timing of the embassy closings comes at a time of heated debate in Washington over the powers of the National Security Agency. It was two months ago today when Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian newspaper published his first article revealing the existence of a secret court order for Verizon to hand over the telephone records of millions of Americans to the NSA.
Since then, The Guardian has published a trove of articles detailing the NSA’s vast surveillance powers based on documents leaked by Edward Snowden. Just last week, Greenwald exposed a secret program called XKeyscore that gives NSA analysts real-time access to, quote, "nearly everything a typical user does on the internet," including emails, chats and browsing history. In his latest article, Greenwald reports members of Congress have been repeatedly thwarted when attempting to learn basic information about the NSA and the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
To talk more about these developments, Glenn Greenwald joins us now from his home in Brazil.

Glenn, welcome back to Democracy Now! Since we’ve spoken to you, Edward Snowden has been granted temporary asylum in Russia for a year. It’s not known where he is right now in Russia. Have you spoken to him? Do you know?

GLENN GREENWALD: I have, and he’s doing very well. He’s obviously happy that his very strange situation of being in this kind of no-person’s land in the airport has been resolved. He now is able to be safe, or at least relatively safe, for the next year from persecution by the United States. And he is most interested, whenever I talk to him, in talking not about his own situation, but about the really extraordinary debate that he helped provoke, both in the United States and around the world, about privacy, surveillance and Internet freedom.

AMY GOODMAN: What Russia has done, giving him temporary asylum, has infuriated the U.S. government, leading to questions about whether actually President Obama will be going on a planned trip to Russia next month. Your comments on the U.S.’s fury?

GLENN GREENWALD: Well, first of all, it’s really kind of amazing if you try and count the number of countries at whom the United States has directed its fury and threatened over the last two months in connection with the Snowden affair. They began with the government of Hong Kong, followed that up with the government of China, then moved to Latin America and threatened countries including Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua over whether he would be granted asylum. They’ve threatened Cuba over giving him the right to refuel. So it seems like the list of countries that the United States is threatening and expressing their fury at, which now includes Russia, is almost getting to be longer than the list of countries at which they’re not. I mean, you can’t go around the world beating your chest and threatening everybody for very long without starting to appear rather ridiculous. And I think one of the things that the United States has done is really kind of showed the world what its character is in—over the last two months, through its really extreme and radical behavior. I mean, I can tell you here in Latin America what was really event-shifting was when they caused the plane Evo Morales to be downed in Austria by blocking airspace rights over their European allies.

You know, and I think the final point to note about this is, everyone in the world knows, probably except for Americans, that the United States routinely refuses to extradite all sorts of people accused of horrible crimes. I mean, in Bolivia, the ex-president, who’s accused of all sorts of war crimes and was protected and propped up by the CIA, is living comfortably in the United States, which refuses to turn him over. And that’s been true of other Latin Americans who have been accused of serious crimes of terrorism. So, I think when the United States pretends to be outraged that they don’t get what they want in extradition, everyone in the world knows that they frequently do the same thing in much more extreme cases.

law and disorder radio
michael s. smith
heidi boghosian
michael ratner

the associated press
sameer n. yacoub