Go back to the start ... do you remember your hopes for the show and if any of those things changed?
Silverstein: It became more sci-fi than I had expected it to be. But the only real big change in my hopes and plans had to do with the Nikita-Alex relationship. My original plan was to build them into unlikely rivals, that Alex was going to take a darker turn. Not that she would become an enemy, but that they would find themselves on opposite sides and she would have taken over Zetrov. Of course, you saw that story line piece by piece get sealed off and tied off, resolved. That one, I'd say, is the biggest shift from my grand plan to where we ended up.
Can you think back to some favorite scenes over the years?
Silverstein: The moments that I remember the most were the moments that surprised me, like Birkhoff getting his hand hammered by Amanda. We knew the scene and we knew her line, but we just didn't anticipate it being so brutal. I was really surprised by that. Also, I really loved in the seventh episode of the second season where Nikita ascends the building to get at the Wall Street guy who she thought killed Ryan. The first of the three times that Ryan dies on the show. The solution that had come up from our producer narc in Toronto ... to plug some device into the window washer grooves was such a brilliant idea because we had just written your standard old harpoon and grapple hook type of thing. This was so much better. And then I had always loved the moment from the 11th episode in the first season, "All the Way," where Nikita was trapped in Division, hanging by chains. And Alex weakens the ceiling and Nikita rips the chains out and uses the chains as weapons. I don't think I found past that point a more effective visual statement of what the show was all about -- that Nikita was going to take the chains that had locked her in and would turn them back on the people that had chained her. It's real simple symbolism, but it didn't hit you over the head with it.
Tonight was the final episode of the show. Mike's already blogged about the final episode "Nikita how it all ends (spoilers)."
It was a great ending.
I watched it.
I watched all the episodes.
People ask in e-mails if we watch the shows that others in the community blog about?
Usually we do. I watch "Revenge" and "Scandal, for example. (Rebecca blogs about them.) I watch "Arrow" (Stan blogs on it).
We do try to give people their space. Mike carved out "Nikita." C.I. suggested it to him and he got hooked. His writing is why I started watching -- season two and I first streamed season one on Netflix. I also watched "Chuck" because of him.
It really was a great show.
Earlier today, "Nikita wraps up tonight on The CW (Ava and C.I.)" went up. If I had known about that, I would've tried to have reposted it to give a heads up.
But we flew back from Atlanta today and the kids played when we got back to C.I.'s but I went and took a long nap. I woke up when my middle son came in and told me it was time for "Nikita" to start.
I had not been online at all. I was either at an airport, in the air or in bed.
Mike's covered everything great.
The only thing I see that I can add is that when Nikita and Michael elope, they're having drinks and Nikita looks off to the side and sees Ryan who smiles at her. He's not really there, of course, he died in the second to last episode.
What character would I have brought back for the last episode?
Percy would have been interesting. I know Carla Bennett (the great Erica Gimpel) was killed (by Birkhoff) but a lot of the dead returned on this show and since she created Division with Amanda and Percy (and she hated Amanda), it would have been nice.
But who I really wanted was Sean.
He died last season.
He was Alex's boyfriend and the son of a senator (who got assassinated in season two).
Sean and Alex had strong chemistry and he was someone who really wanted to take care of Alex.
That part of Sean especially touched me because Alex had the worst life and everyone was always making demands on her. Sean was the only one who seem to register that having her parents killed when she was a child (and in the house) (yes, she'd later find out her mother had lived), being betrayed by people who took over her father's business, being forced into sexual slavery, becoming a junkie, etc. -- only Sean seemed to get that Alex, as strong as she was, could really use someone to lean on.
Which makes it all the sadder that Alex unintentionally set into motion the events that left Sean dead.
"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
So before the year ends is anyone going to call the press on their b.s.?
Poor Rupert Cornwell. All that time in his talented half-brother's large shadow left Cornwell with a soggy brain incapable of analytical thought, incapable of anything but parrot-like repetition. British Cornwell wants to turn US President Barack Obama into a visionary and he's not about to let something like facts get in the way. The elderly fop chatters, "The last US troops left Iraq in 2011, and only a handful are likely to remain in Afghanistan after December 2014." Poor little piss ant -- so many years of writing and he has not one damn thing to show for it. Don't wake him from his early senility but all US forces never left Iraq and, in fact, another special-ops unit was sent in back in fall 2012. Tim Arango (New York Times) reported at the end of September 2012, "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 General Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence."
Let's emphasize one more time for the very slow and very stupid:
At the request of the Iraqi government, according to General Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence.
So Rupert apparently thinks he's prefect again in the midst of his first boy-on-boy crush. And he can't stop salivating over Barack's alleged miracle powers of leadership.
But wait . . .
There's the other narrative. The one where al Qaeda in Iraq is running all over Iraq and all over Syria. Sarah Birke published a post on that today at The New York Review of Books. Excerpt:
Talk to any Syrian you meet on the Syrian-Turkish border these days, and in less than five minutes the conversation is likely to turn to Da’ash—the Arabic acronym for the rebel organization known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, or ISIS. Linked to al-Qaeda, the fearsome group has swept across northern Syria, imposing sharia law, detaining and even beheading Syrians who don’t conform to its purist vision of Islam, and waging war on rival militias. In early December, the group killed a foreign journalist, Iraqi cameraman Yasser Faisal al-Joumali, who was reporting in northern Syria. Even using the word Da’ash—seen as derogatory by the group’s members—is punishable by eighty lashes, a twenty-three-year-old wounded fighter from a rival Islamist group told me from his bed in a Syrian-run makeshift clinic in Turkey.
[. . .]
ISIS originated as an Iraq-based al-Qaeda affiliate, al-Qaeda in Iraq. The organization is led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, an ambitious Iraqi extremist who has overseen relentless attacks in Iraq, causing civilian casualties, and who was designated a Global Terrorist by the US State Department in October 2011, with a $10 million bounty on his head. As the war in Syria progressed, al-Baghdadi saw an opportunity for al-Qaeda, and in January 2012, sent some footmen to found Jabhat al-Nusra with the aim of creating a new transnational state ruled by sharia law and a belief in using violence to get there.
Now I don't personally believe the Sky Is Falling narrative that so many preach on 'al Qaeda in Iraq.' I think it's an imprecise term that is misapplied to breed fear and to justify violence and excuse it. As long as, for example, Nouri can scream "al Qaeda! al Qaeda!" he's under no obligation to own up to what he's done.
So not taking the press narrative seriously means I've yet to write a piece about, "Barack Obama blew Iraq! He should have . . ."
But what's the press' excuse?
They keep pimping this great threat from al Qaeda in Iraq.
I don't believe it. But they pimp it so they must believe it.
Mustafa Habib (Niqash) has a report today which opens:
The Sunni Muslim extremist group, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, has made it clear that it wants to annex Sunni Muslim areas of Iraq. One of the biggest Iraqi military operations in recent history has now been launched against them. But it doesn’t seem to having any impact on the group.
The last few weeks in Iraq have been good to the extremist organisation, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. The Al-Qaeda affiliated group managed to attack and assassinate a number of high ranking Iraqi army officers and policemen in a number of provinces, including Ninawa, Diyala, Baghdad and Anbar. All of these are known as places where the organisation, also called ISIS or Daash, keeps bases. They are also areas where a large proportion of the population is Sunni Muslim. Al Qaeda is a Sunni Muslim extremist organisation and it often targets Shiite Muslims – although recently it has also attacked Sunni Muslims it considers to be cooperating with the Iraqi government.
A few weeks previously, at the beginning of December, ISIS clearly stated that its ambition was to annex the Anbar province, which shares a border with Syria. The extremist group already has control over various areas in Syria and it seems it wants to add this part of Iraq too.
Habib's not the first to write about that claim. We've ignored it before. I don't take it seriously.
What I see -- and I could be wrong -- or a variety of groups making attacks but they are at cross purposes with one another and should they try to build within Iraq they would have huge squabbles, huge fights. They are not a group -- they are groups that are linked loosely. Syria provides them another mutual target. Even so, if you've paid attention, you've noticed that they can't even really get along as they conduct attacks in Syria.
But that's where I stand.
Where the press stands is that al Qaeda in Iraq is a nightmare group which has increased its power in Iraq and gone on to Syria (and Libya -- for the few who bother to note the horror that is Libya today).
Guess what boys and girls, if you want to run with that allegation, then you have to blame Barack.
You can't have it both ways. If al Qaeda is on the rise in Iraq after the (bulk) of US troops withdrew, then this is, in fact, on Barack.
He clearly made a huge error.
I'm not saying he did. But I don't buy into the mythical al Qaeda in Iraq.
He can't have been brilliant on the Middle East if al Qaeda in Iraq is truly on the rise.
You're going to have to reconcile your two assertions are in conflict, they're at cross purposes.
If al Qaeda in Iraq is on the rise, Barack's to blame for that.
And he's to blame for arming Nouri. From yesterday's snapshot:
Fortunately, not all outlets have correspondents from the kiddie table. Elise Labott and Tom Cohen (CNN) get it right regarding who is providing arms, "Two years after bringing home U.S. troops from Iraq, the Obama administration is sending Hellfire rockets and ScanEagle surveillance drones to help government forces fight al Qaeda affiliates growing in influence, a State Department official confirmed to CNN on Thursday." Paul Richter (Los Angeles Times) also gets it right, "The Obama administration has begun sending Hellfire missiles and surveillance drone aircraft to Iraq to help the government battle an expanding threat from local Al Qaeda-affiliated militants, U.S. officials said, the first such assistance since the American withdrawal from Iraq in 2011."
[. . .]
Noel Brinkerhoof (AllGov.com) explains today:
The Iraqi military will receive 75 Hellfire missiles from Washington. Costing nearly $70,000 a piece, the delivery represents an early Christmas gift for arms maker Lockheed Martin. The company also made out with the order to manufacture Aerostat surveillance balloons, three of which were provided to the Iraqi government by the Obama administration.
Other U.S. arms merchants stand to benefit as well from President Barack Obama’s efforts to support al-Maliki.
The administration intends to ship 10 ScanEagle reconnaissance drones in March to Iraq. This shipment will mean more revenue for Boeing.
Nicole Fray (GovConWire) adds, "William Hartung, director of research organization Center for International Policy, said in the report that the U.S. has provided Iraq with about $35 billion worth of weapons and services since 2005."
Gordon Lubold was an idiot writing for the Christian Science Monitor and he's an idiot writing today for Foreign Policy about the missiles and drones. He's standing on quicksand -- pimping al Qaeda in Iraq as a huge threat but trying to also pretend no mistakes were made by Barack. It doesn't work that way. In his article, James Jeffrey strokes his like War Hawk. The only one who makes even a moment's sense is neocon Kimberly Kagan:
Other analysts were not that impressed by the arms sale to remedy Iraq's worsening security situation. . Kim Kagan, president of the Institute for the Study of War, a longtime advocate of an aggressive security policy in Iraq, said she thinks the administration is continuing to confuse materiel assistance for bona fide military cooperation. "The U.S. does not seem to be imposing pressure on Prime Minister Maliki to refrain from using his security forces for political ends, such as suppressing the Sunni protest movements, the camps of which the [Iraq Security Forces] have surrounded over the past several days," she told Foreign Policy via e-mail.
Also sharing today? Patrick Cockburn (CounterPunch) offers this take on Iraq:
In March 2003 the majority of Iraqis from all sects and ethnic groups wanted to see the end of Saddam’s disastrous rule even if they didn’t necessarily support the US invasion. But the government now in power in Baghdad is as sectarian, corrupt and dysfunctional as Saddam’s ever was. There may be less state violence, but only because the state is weaker. Its methods are equally brutal: Iraqi prisons are full of people who have made false confessions under torture or the threat of it. An Iraqi intellectual who had planned to open a museum in Abu Ghraib prison so that Iraqis would never forget the barbarities of Saddam’s regime found that there was no space available because the cells were full of new inmates. Iraq is still an extraordinarily dangerous place. ‘I never imagined that ten years after the fall of Saddam you would still be able to get a man killed in Baghdad by paying $100,’ an Iraqi who’d been involved in the abortive museum project told me.
It's a shame that appears buried inside a Patrick Cockburn report as opposed to opening a report or even being the sole focus of a report.
It's Friday in Iraq. Last week, the ongoing protests hit the one year mark. They've been ongoing since December 12, 2012.
Nouri responded by (again) declaring them terrorists and announcing his planned assault on Ramadi's sit-in. Sunday, W.G. Dunlop (AFP) reported Nouri has declared the sit-in in Ramadi is a 'terrorist' cell:
The protest site is located in the Anbar city of Ramadi, but is nowhere near where the clashes took place.
"I say clearly and honestly that the sit-in site in Anbar has turned into a headquarters for the leadership of Al-Qaeda," Maliki, a Shiite, said in remarks broadcast Sunday on Iraqiya state TV.
Tuesday, December 24th, Nouri had his forces cut off roads leading out of Ramadi and to surround the protest yard. All Iraq News reports that Nouri's forces withdrew from the protest yard but Iraq Times noted that this was followed by an air drop of leaflets and that Nouri's forces were receiving support from the US military. Leaflet droppings advising to protesters to leave are a lot like the 2003 pre-invasion leafleting the US government did over Iraq.
Did that send the protesters into hiding?
That's Samarra today.
#الشاب-بهاء احمد16عاما في الثالث متوسط-الذي #قتلته_عناصر_المالكي -ضمن حملتها الجديدة-داخل محل يعمل فيه في #الانبار
And that's 16-year-old Ahmed Bahaa killed in Anbar today by Nouri's forces.
That's what Barack's backing. That's what the White House is giving arms for.
The murder of Iraqis whose only crime is exercising their legal rights.
Here's Ramadi's sit-in today.
Iraqi Spring MC reports helicopters were flying over the Ramadi square.
Al Mada reports that Maliki was denounced at Anbar protests for his threats (we'll get to today's threats in a moment) and that he was denounced for his militias which are not held accountable for their terrorism. In Samarra, Nouri was denounced for arming and paying Shi'ite militias to terrorize and kill Sunnis while at the same time Nouri insists that he's fighting terrorism.
Only one English-language outlet reports on today's protests. Omar al-Jaffal (Al-Monitor) files a major report which includes:
Mohammed al-Bajari, the official spokesman for the sit-in in Fallujah, said, "The sit-ins will continue." He added, "The protesters will not leave the sit-in squares until their legitimate demands are met, oppression ends and the innocent people are released from prison."
Bajari clarified that the protesters "will not comply with the orders of political parties or failed politicians, [nor will they respond to] threats by militias." He alluded to preparations for "civil disobedience and internationalizing the issue via international courts."
Bajari noted, "Those present in the squares have tribal connections, which would exacerbate the crisis in the event that the protests were subjected to any attack." He stressed, "[The right to] peaceful sit-ins are guaranteed by the constitution. Citizens have the right to protest as long as the constitution guarantees this right." He also pointed out, "Any [measures that are] non-peaceful will lead to bloodshed."
Bajari explained, "The Glory and Dignity Army was only formed in the city of Ramadi. It does not direct weapons at the army or the police, but rather at militias — which I won't name — that are trying to eliminate the sit-ins."
This week also saw AFP's WG Dunlop do media rounds. Sometimes billed as "William," sometimes as "Will." It was "Will" who went on NPR's Morning Edition this week. Has anyone ever been duller or less informed? He only came to life when talking about the lack of electricity. But he was on to talk about violence. He didn't mention the slaughter in Hawija. He didn't mention the slaughter of journalists. He didn't do much of anything but promote AFP's 'count.'
For years, we noted the Iraqi government's count was an undercount. As I would point out, UN friends would pass that along. Finally, in 2012, Prashant Rao began a count at AFP.
The good from that was it demonstrated the Iraqi government was lying about the deaths. And, to his credit, Prashant worked that into a report.
But the bad is that not everyone fills out the count each day. And the other bad is, they only report deaths that the police tip them off to.
Iraq Body Count should be considered the standard because they have been doing their job since the start of the illegal war and they continue to. They base their count on media reports.
I'll trust the media over Iraq's police force.
If Dunlap's going to be a guest discussing violence, he needs to note the shortcomings of the AFP count. To Prashant's credit, he publicly allowed that they did not get all the deaths due to their method for recording deaths.
the new york times
the new york review of books
the los angeles times
iraqi spring mc
national iraqi news agency
iraq body count
iraq spring mc