The upcoming month will prove fateful for Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks The journalist will stand trial in the United Kingdom for an extradition request to the United States, where he could face 175 years in prison for violating the Espionage Act and other computer-related crimes.
Assange was accused of aiding Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning in 2010 when Manning provided WikiLeaks with an explosive batch of classified information that implicated the U.S. in various war crimes. Manning would later languish in prison for seven years before the former Army Private First class had her sentence commuted by then-President Barack Obama.
Although the Manning drama has receded, for the time being, the US government continues to work diligently to persecute Assange for doing journalistic work many members of the Fourth Estate refuse to do. Assange was slapped with at least 18 charges by the US Justice Department for illegally acquiring and disclosing classified information that allegedly undermined US national security interests.
For example, some of these leaks included the journalist’s efforts to shine a light on US military behavior that would normally be classified as war crimes, a CIA mass surveillance program (Vault7), and political corruption within the Democratic National Committee, among other legally questionable behavior the so-called Deep States has been involved in.
That's all I've got tonight.
Other than a friend who's got a problem. A jerk moved next to her apartment. He's on the other side of her bedroom wall. Around one in the morning, he starts screaming and yelling the most disgusting things -- yelling them so loud she can hear. Vile threats to kill some woman by mutilation. He carries on until around 3:30 in the morning and it's really bothering her.
He's also a pig. They have 'trash valet' which means their trash in garbage bags is picked up five nights a week. Garbage bags.
He's had boxes out on their shared landing for three nights now. They're not going to pick up boxes and he should have realized that on the first night. But he's got his 37 inch TV box out there, his microwave box and five other boxes she has no idea what they are.
He's loud and threatening and a pig.
Notwithstanding Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s desire to bring all of Iraq’s armed groups under the authority of the state, Iran-backed Shia militias have stepped up their relentless campaign of undermining the state’s sovereignty yet again. This comes despite the fact that they are suffering from a lack of leadership after the United States assassinated Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the most influential commander of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), and Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani, and diminished resources due to the US “maximum pressure” policy on Iran. However, because of these circumstances, Kadhimi has a historic opportunity to reclaim Iraq’s sovereignty. Can he be successful?
Kadhimi’s reaction to the militias’ escalation of tensions
On September 13, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s highest Shia authority in Iraq, met with Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the United Nations (UN) Assistance Mission for Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, in his humble house in Najaf. During this meeting, Sistani offered a rare expression of support to Kadhimi’s efforts to end pro-Iran militias’ incursion on Iraqi sovereignty. “The current government is required to continue and proceed firmly to… impose the prestige of the state and withdraw unauthorized weapons” said Sistani.
Unsurprisingly, pro-Iran militias disapproved of Sistani’s message. Four days after the meeting, on September 17, they targeted the American Institute for English Language in the middle of the night with an IED, damaging the building. The private language school, located a couple of miles from Sistani’s house, is unaffiliated with the United States. In spite of this, Telegram channels affiliated with pro-Iran militias accused the language school of working for US intelligence services.
Since Kadhimi assumed office in early May, the number of attacks against US interests has increased. Furthermore, British interests and even UN convoys have been targeted; there were some twenty-five attacks on the latter in September alone. Some of the Iran-backed groups behind these acts are not ordinary militias. They go about their activities with a brazen assertion, confident that they are above the law. In late June, Iraq’s Counter Terrorism Service (CTS) arrested fourteen members of Kataib Hezbollah (KH) on suspicion of planning to fire rockets at Baghdad airport and the US embassy. The pro-Iran militia quickly gathered together a force of around 150 heavily armed fighters in nearly thirty pickup trucks and drove to the prime minister’s residence, demanding the release of their comrades who were in custody. Later, all fourteen arrested members of KH were freed and the rocket attacks only increased.
Fearing the worst Baleegh Abu Galal, a member of the Political Bureau of the National Wisdom Movement, an influential Shia political party, stated in an August 16 interview that if Iraq fails to bring unregulated arms under the control of the state, the country will either witness a civil war or foreign military intervention. The main foreign power which might intervene in Iraq is the United States. Abu Galal’s concerns in this regard feel more realistic after reports of the US intention to close its embassy in Baghdad, which will be likely followed by airstrikes on pro-Iran militias. This is what prevents Kadhimi from escalating against the militias. He has, however, began implementing changes among the civilian and military leadership to strengthen the security forces and fight the corruption that is the economic lifeline for rogue militias. Alterations in the military leadership include the selection of Lieutenant General Abdul-Wahab al-Saadi—a widely praised commander who is known for his competence and professionalism—as head of the Counter Terrorism Service (CTS). Changes in the leadership of the Iraqi central bank and other financial organizations target widespread corruption. For years, corrupt officials have used these organizations to enrich themselves along with the political parties and militias they belong to. The new reshuffle aims at cracking down on these activities.
So use the link that's not embedded at this time to continue reading Malik's essay. [Link now embedded]
Iraq is going to have to deal with the militias. Right now, they're a threat to US troops, yes, but they have always been a threat to the Iraqi people. Had the US government been more concerned about the Iraqi people, they would have loudly protested when Hayder al-Abadi made the militias part of the government forces. Now the issue has come back to bite them in the ass. This was a clear danger for the Iraqi people, giving the militias the cover of authority. And this was known early in the war. It's why certain figures were forced to disband their militias if they wanted to run for Parliament. The failures of Barack Obama were many.
And they were totally expected. It's why we advocated -- Ava and I -- to members of the transition team in November or 2008, that Barack announce that he was beginning the withdrawal of all US forces out of Iraq, that he point out that this is the will of the American people as evidenced by their votes in the general election.
If something went wrong, we were told, people would blame Barack. No, we said, if you have him state that this is the will of the American people and they expressed it in their votes, it's not on Barack. All he's doing is carrying out the wishes of the American people who are the true rulers in a democracy.
Well, we were told, he will do the withdrawal he promised (he never did, he instead did what he promised Michael R. Gordon in a little read NYT interview). But that's what it is and it's not going to cause him any problems.
Look it, we said, the temptation will be there to tinker. The foolish thought of this incoming administration will be, "Sure it was a disaster but we are actually intelligent, unlike the Bully Boy Bush administration, and we can pull this off." They can't pull it off and once the tinkering starts? Barack owns the Iraq War as much as Bully Boy Bush. They didn't listen to us.
And they did tinker, almost immediately. They thought they knew best and they didn't. He created an administration of hawks and when they pressed him with idiotic ideas, he didn't have the fortitude to reject the ideas or the intelligence.
What was Barack's big stand in the administration?
Following the 2012 US elections, the day after, thug and then-prime minister of Iraq Nouri al-Maliki called him to congratulate him on his victory. Big strong Barack did what? Flailed his arms at his assistant and whined, "Send it to Joe! Send it to Joe!" He refused to take the call. That was his 'protest' over the secret torture cells and jails that Nouri was running, the way Nouri was persecuting the Sunni people, etc. That's how Barack 'stood up' to a tyrant: "Send it to Joe!"
They lied to the American people and called a drawdown a "withdrawal" -- no one sold that lie more than the whores of MSNBC but really, few had clean hands. In the MSM, the only ones who told the truth were Ted Koppel and THE NEW YORK TIMES' Elisabeth Bumiller. The rest were committed to not wanting to harsh the mellow. So you didn't learn that, as then-Senator Kay Hagen pointed out in an open hearing, the US was really just restationing large numbers of US military members around Iraq -- putting them in Kuwait for example. Or that, of course, not everyone was leaving and that some would remain for 'training purposes.'
Left unstated in the reports of the whorish media was that the Iraqi officials didn't want any US training. The US State Dept was supposed to oversee the training at this point. But then-US House Rep Gary Ackerman would point out to the State Dept's Brooke Darby that the Iraqi government had already made clear that they did not want any help from the US in training their police or military. In fact, classes had already 'started' at that point and the Iraqi were not showing up.
All of this and so much more could have been avoided. But Barack and his team wanted to 'tinker' and all they did was make it worse.
This was especially clear in 2010. In March of that year, the Iraqi people went to the polls to vote. It was very violent at the time and they risked their own safety to vote. The incumbent was Nouri al-Maliki. He attempted to win by, among other things, bribing. Areas without potable water were suddenly gifted, by him, with ice. That's just one example. It was already known that he was a thug. We knew he was paranoid. In fact, his CIA profile stressed the paranoia and that's why Bully Boy Bush made him prime minister in 2006. It was thought that his paranoia could be used to control him.
He was persecuting journalists, Sunnis and rival Shi'ite politicians. Nouri fought against everyone.
The mood in the country was that Nouri needed to be replaced.
You wouldn't know that from western coverage. Despite an incredible accurate analysis by Deborah Amos (then on leave from NPR), NPR, for example, featured Quil Lawrence, right after the election, declaring that Nouri had won. The votes were still being counted.
Nouri did not win. He immediately stamped his feet and screamed -- so much so that the UN tossed him a few more votes but that still didn't allow him to be the winner.
What did he do?
He refused to step down.
Who could have guessed?
The top US commander in Iraq at the time guessed. Gen Ray Odierno was very concerned that Nouri might lose the election and refuse to step down. But the worst Ambassador the US ever had, Chris Hill, had shut Odierno out of the process and Barack let Chris get away with it. Chris was offended that the western press were quoting Odierno and interviewing him and no one seemed overly interested in Chris -- who did not nap all the time, after all. He took a 'siesta' (his term) in his office daily but he wasn't napping when, for example, he went to a Halloween party. That was disgusting and offensive and he should have been forced to leave the State Dept over that -- he went as a Secret Service Agent accompanying a woman dressed as Jaqueline Kennedy in her outfit from the day of JFK's assassination. That's disgusting and offensive and a member of the State Dept should not be dressed that way -- let alone a US ambassador. How disrespectful.
Nouri dug in his feet for eight months.
Now the US was 'gifting' Iraq with democracy. So a few individuals in Barack's administration insisted that votes count, votes matter. Iraqiya won the election and, therefor, Ayad Allawi, the leader, should be named prime minister-designate and given the chance to form a government.
But they were the few. Joe Biden and others felt that Nouri was there guy. The SOFA would run out and Nouri would give them a renewal. Nouri was there guy. Sure, he murdered people, sure he was a thug, but he was their thug, their murderer.
So instead of demonstrating that every vote counts, that in a democracy, the will of the people is supreme, what happened?
Joe Biden led negotiations on a pact, The Erbil Agreement, between the heads of Iraq's political parties. The Erbil Agreement was formalized pork -- everyone agreeing to let Nouri have a second term was promised something in exchange in writing. The Erbil Agreement overturned the votes of the Iraqi people.
Joe wants to lecture about Donald Trump possibly refusing to step down? Well Nouri did refuse and instead of confronting him, Joe made it possible for Nouri to have a second term.
Nouri's a thug and a liar and he used The Erbil Agreement to grab the second term and then he refused to honor it -- to live up to the promises made to the other political blocs. Why? Through his spokesperson, he declared the US-brokered contract illegal.
The second term saw Nouri go even more out of control.
As he persecuted everyone, ISIS began appearing in Iraq. As he threatened the Sunni protesters who were shutting down the highway out of Baghdad to Anbar, ISIS appeared promising they would protect the Iraqi people. That's how they publicly started in Iraq. Nouri was kidnapping and killing protesters and ISIS arose saying that they were there to defend the Iraqi people.
ISIS came about because of Barack and Joe refusing to stand up for democracy, for the vote, for the Iraqi people.
Iraqiya was a success because it offered a national identity. Imagine if the US government had fostered that instead of thwarting it? Imagine how much further along Iraq might be right now.
Rami G. Khouri (NEW ARAB) reports on another national identity forming among the protesters and their supporters.
They never should have tinkered. They were never as smart as they thought they were and their 'judgments' were made not based on facts but on impulse. Barack owns that war as much as Bully Boy Bush.
By 2014, he was sending US troops back into Iraq publicly (in the fall of 2012, as reported by THE NEW YORK TIMES' Tim Arango, Barack had already begin sending in more special ops). And he was finally ready to do what he should have done four years earlier: force Nouri to step aside.
By that time, of course, ISIS had run across Iraq and had taken control of Mosul. All of that disaster could have been avoided, had Barack and Joe stood up for the Iraqi people in 2010.
It was one mistake after another. And it's why the Iraqi people continue to suffer.
MIDDLE EAST MONITOR reports:
Iraq yesterday pledged to take measures to protect personnel belonging to foreign diplomatic missions in the country.
Satellite station Alsumaria TV quoted the Foreign Ministry as saying in a statement that the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, had contacted his Iraqi counterpart, Fuad Hussein, “to express his concerns about Washington’s intention to shut its embassy in the capital city of Baghdad.”
During the call, Hussein pointed to his government’s concerns about the US’ warning that it “may lead to results that are neither in the interest of Iraq or the US.”
He stressed that his government has taken a “number of security, political and diplomatic measures to stop the attacks on the Green Zone and the Baghdad airport,” pledging “tangible positive results in the near future.”
That's what they report. Do you see it happening? Mustafa al-Kadhimi became prime minister of the country on May 7th. He promised to protect the protesters. In the last weeks, two more have been kidnapped. The security forces have repeatedly attacked the protesters. But they're going to protet the US embassy personnel?
Interesting because MIDDLE EAST MONITOR also reports that two rockets hit Baghdad's International Airport.
They're not able to stop rocket attacks on the airport but they're going to be able to protect US embassy personnel? They can't protect Iraqi protesters but they'll be able to protect US embassy personnel. It's an interesting claim.
Again, we can't log into the website this morning so this is being sent via e-mail. Links will be fixed once we can log in and you'll also see the sites that had updated.