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2013: Another year of slaughter in Iraq claims the lives of at least 21 media professionals

By Dirk Adriaensens

In Iraq, at least 404 media professionals have been killed since the US invasion in 2003, among them 374 Iraqis, according to The BRussells Tribunal statistics. The impunity in Iraq is far worse than anywhere else in the world.



Dr. Yasser Salihee (here with his wife Dr. Raghad Wazzan) gave up his job at Yarmouk Hospital to become a journalist.

 

In memory of Dr Yasser Salihee, an Iraqi special correspondent for the news agency Knight Ridder, killed on 24 June 2005 by a single bullet of an American sniper as he approached a checkpoint that had been thrown up near his home in western Baghdad by US and Iraqi troops. Since May 2005, Dr. Salihee had been reporting on the similarities between the death squads used in El Salvador to obliterate their “insurgency” and the US military’s creation of the “Wolf Brigade” that had been unleashed to eliminate the Iraqi Resistance. Salihee had been gathering evidence that US-backed Iraqi Ministry of Interior forces had been carrying out extra-judicial killings. We believe that he was assassinated because he came too close to the truth. There is serious doubt that the shooting was “an accident”. Nevertheless, the Committee for The ‘Protection’ of Journalists (CPJ) has thrown Dr Yasser Salihee in the dungeons of history. He doesn’t figure in any of their death lists.

Impunity for killers of media professionals in Iraq

In Iraq, at least 404 media professionals have been killed since the US invasion in 2003, among them 374 Iraqis, according to The BRussells Tribunal statistics. The impunity in Iraq is far worse than anywhere else in the world. None of the journalist murders recorded in Iraq in the past decade has been solved. Not a single case of journalists' killings has been investigated to identify and punish the killers.

Hassan Shaaban, head of the Center for the Legal Protection of Journalists, told Human Rights Watch (HRW) that, "Terrorists are systematically targeting journalists," but that "the government is not protecting people."

The New York Times reported on 24 December 2013 that: “Security forces have found lists of journalists targeted for assassination during raids on militant hide-outs in Mosul, and many journalists have stopped reporting in the streets or attending news conferences.”

Maliki’s security forces are not interested in protecting the journalists on this dead list.

Maliki’s harassment of journalists

Human Rights Watch stated: “Journalists in Iraq face a double threat, from armed gangs gunning them down and prosecutors charging them, all because of what they write. The recent spate of assassinations of journalists has had a chilling effect on journalists, who risk being prosecuted by the very authorities that are supposed to protect them.”

HRW: “At the same time, Iraqi prosecutors have stepped up criminal prosecutions of journalists for defamation and have increased other harassment of journalists. Three journalists told Human Rights Watch in November that security forces arrested them and confiscated their equipment after they covered politically sensitive topics, such as poor security, corruption, and the government's inadequate response to the needs of people affected by flooding. Another journalist told Human Rights Watch that police arrested him on charges of defamation, a crime in Iraq's penal code, for an article accusing officials of corruption.”

“Since the start of protests in Iraq in February 2011 over widespread corruption and lack of services, journalists have faced escalating attacks and threats, including from members of the government's security forces.”

Iran, Israel and the United States

 

            It is a given that no elected Republican government official can agree with anything President Obama says or does. Whether or not this is due to genuine philosophical differences with the president, or, more simply, because he’s of African-American descent and therefore has no business being president, is a topic for another essay. Suffice it to say, not much is getting done in the nation’s capital these days.

            On the international stage, it appears that Mr. Obama has had considerably more success in negotiating with Iran than he has with the U.S. House of Representatives. He and several other nations involved in the negotiations have brokered a deal with Iran, wherein Iran will scale back its nuclear ambitions, and the west will scale back some of its sanctions.

Federal Court to Examine Illegality of War on Iraq

A federal court will hear argument next April from an Iraqi woman who claims the Iraq War was illegal under international law.

Plaintiff Sundus Shaker Saleh, an Iraqi single mother and refugee now living in Jordan, filed a complaint in March 2013 in San Francisco federal court alleging that the planning and waging of the Iraq War was a "crime of aggression" against Iraqi civilians, a legal theory used at the Nuremberg Trials to convict Nazi leaders for planning and waging wars in Europe during World War II.

Saleh served the complaint in June 2013 against six Bush-era officials, including George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz. Her complaint seeks damages for herself as well as for other Iraqi civilian victims of the war.

Saleh alleges that Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz openly planned the Iraq War beginning in 1998 through a neoconservative think-tank called "The Project for the New American Century." She further alleges that once in power, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz convinced other Bush officials to invade Iraq and to use 9/11 as an excuse to scare and mislead the American public into supporting a war.

President Obama's Department of Justice (DOJ) is representing the defendants and has filed court papers seeking to immunize them from civil proceedings, arguing that these former officials were acting within the scope of their employment in planning and waging the Iraq War. The Obama DOJ has also argued that Saleh's lawsuit is a political question and should be dismissed.

"This is the first time that a court will examine arguments that the Iraq War was illegal under international law," chief counsel Inder Comar of Comar Law said. "We will ask the court to recognize the Nuremberg judgment as binding precedent against these six defendants, and to reject the Obama DOJ argument that Bush-era officials were acting within the scope of their employment when they publicly planned the Iraq War prior to entering office."

In 1946, the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg ruled that planning and waging a war of aggression is the "supreme international crime" and convicted Nazi leaders of engaging in premeditated wars that violated international law. Several Nazi leaders were sentenced to death for committing the crime of aggression and other war crimes.

The case is Saleh v. Bush (N.D. Cal. Mar. 13, 2013, No. C 13 1124 JST). Oral argument is set for hearing on April 3, 2014, 2:00 p.m., in the Northern District of California, San Francisco division.  Updates, including court documents, can be found at http://witnessiraq.com.

Contact:
Press at Comar Law
press@comarlaw.com

COMAR LAW

901 Mission Street, Suite 105
San Francisco, California 94103

Twittered Out: Washington Does Not Like Snarky

By John Grant


To: Jofi Joseph, Washington DC

Dear Mr Joseph:

I read of your firing as a national security adviser in the White House thanks to your “snarky” tweeting about various White House officials above you in the pecking order.

NY Times Still Claiming Nobody Knew Iraq Had No Weapons

From Peter Hart at FAIR:

Bolton's twice-repeated allusion to conspiracy theories is really interesting. The way I read it,  he would seem to be saying that only a nut would have claimed that Iraq had destroyed its chemical weapons stockpiles before the US-led war.  It's a key talking point for the Iraq War's architects and supporters: We only said what every other sensible person was saying. The Times lets it pass, which is unfortunate, because if that's indeed what Bolton was referring to, it's false.

If you look at FAIR's Iraq and the Media timeline, for instance, and you'll see that former weapons inspector Scott Ritter had written a column for the Baltimore Sun (9/1/02) where he argued:

From 1991 to 1998, UN weapons inspectors, among whom I played an integral part, were able to verifiably ascertain a 90 percent to 95 percent level of disarmament inside Iraq. This included all of the production facilities involved with WMD, together with their associated production equipment and the great majority of what was produced by these facilities.

 A few days later, Jonathan Landay of Knight-Ridder (9/6/02) reported that

there is no new intelligence that indicates the Iraqis have made significant advances in their nuclear, biological or chemical weapons programs, said a US intelligence official who argues that Cheney's and Rumsfeld's focus on Iraq is hurting the hunt for Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda terrorist network.

And one of the most explosive revelations was Newsweek's scoop (2/24/03) that the star witness in the case against Saddam Hussein actually told the inspectors that the weapons had been destroyed. Hussein Kamel, a son-in-law of Hussein's, had been debriefed in 1995, and claimed that "all weapons–biological, chemical, missile, nuclear, were destroyed."

Guilty

By Ethan McCord

It's not me that pulled the trigger it's you,
I may have been the actions, but you're as guilty too,
I didn't go to Iraq on my own, I was sent by the American mass,
Shook my hand told to me to kill, and patted me on the ass,
Now I'll carry the pain, it's my weight to bear,
As you laugh with your family, and act with no care,
When our paths do cross you thank me and ask me stupid things,
Like "how many kills! Was it hot?! and if I have bad dreams"
I only smile at your ignorance , as you ask my name and was killing cool,
I reply, "I'm your fucking complacency, I'm what you created, now who the fuck are you?"



Hearts and minds
By Ethan McCord

We're here providing democracy, can't you tell by my gun
We'll kill , I mean free everything breathing, every , daughter and son
We'll show them who's in control, we'll use all of our might
Well pull the men from their children, and stomp their faces at night
They'll wish they had Saddam and his fedayeen thugs
while we piss on their bodies, and shit on their prayer rugs
This is your freedom, what you wanted all this time
Here's your children's future ...2 in the heart... 1 in the mind

New Study Estimates a Half Million Dead from Iraq's "Liberation"

Mortality in Iraq Associated with the 2003–2011 War and Occupation: Findings from a National Cluster Sample Survey by the University Collaborative Iraq Mortality Study

Abstract

Background

Previous estimates of mortality in Iraq attributable to the 2003 invasion have been heterogeneous and controversial, and none were produced after 2006. The purpose of this research was to estimate direct and indirect deaths attributable to the war in Iraq between 2003 and 2011.

Methods and Findings

We conducted a survey of 2,000 randomly selected households throughout Iraq, using a two-stage cluster sampling method to ensure the sample of households was nationally representative. We asked every household head about births and deaths since 2001, and all household adults about mortality among their siblings. We used secondary data sources to correct for out-migration. From March 1, 2003, to June 30, 2011, the crude death rate in Iraq was 4.55 per 1,000 person-years (95% uncertainty interval 3.74–5.27), more than 0.5 times higher than the death rate during the 26-mo period preceding the war, resulting in approximately 405,000 (95% uncertainty interval 48,000–751,000) excess deaths attributable to the conflict. Among adults, the risk of death rose 0.7 times higher for women and 2.9 times higher for men between the pre-war period (January 1, 2001, to February 28, 2003) and the peak of the war (2005–2006). We estimate that more than 60% of excess deaths were directly attributable to violence, with the rest associated with the collapse of infrastructure and other indirect, but war-related, causes. We used secondary sources to estimate rates of death among emigrants. Those estimates suggest we missed at least 55,000 deaths that would have been reported by households had the households remained behind in Iraq, but which instead had migrated away. Only 24 households refused to participate in the study. An additional five households were not interviewed because of hostile or threatening behavior, for a 98.55% response rate. The reliance on outdated census data and the long recall period required of participants are limitations of our study.

Conclusions

Beyond expected rates, most mortality increases in Iraq can be attributed to direct violence, but about a third are attributable to indirect causes (such as from failures of health, sanitation, transportation, communication, and other systems). Approximately a half million deaths in Iraq could be attributable to the war.

http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.1001533

Israel, Palestine and Iran It's Time To Feed the Hungry Peace Wolves

By John Grant

 


All we are saying is give peace a chance
        - John Lennon
 

Whether war or cooperation is the more dominant trait of humanity is one of the oldest questions in human discourse. There are no satisfying answers for either side exclusively, which seems to suggest the answer is in the eternal nature of the debate itself.

We did it again!: TCBH! Wins Another Project Censored Award

ThisCantBeHappening! just into its fourth year of publication, has learned that we have won our fourth Project Censored Award, this time for Dave Lindorff's article Incidents raise suspicions on motive: Killing of Journalists by US Forces a Growing Problem, published in TCBH! on Nov. 22, 1012.

After decades US still has huge poison gas stash: Washington Demands Syria Destroy Chemical Weapons Lickety-Split

By Dave Lindorff

 
The US is demanding, in negotiations at the UN, that all Syrian chemical weapons, stocks and production facilities be eliminated by June 30 of next year. This has an element of hypocrisy, because the US itself has been incredibly slow about eliminating its own stocks of chemical weapons.

US Secretary of State John Kerry has referred to Syria as having one of the largest chemical stockpiles in the world. But the US and Russia both still have stocks of chemicals many times as large. Syria’s neighbor Israel, which refuses to admit it has the weapons and has yet to ratify the treaty banning them, is suspected of also having a large arsenal.

We don’t gas children, we shred them: Obama’s Grotesque Hypocrisy over Cluster Munitions

By Dave Lindorff


Syrian civilians and children should count themselves lucky that mass opposition in the US, the UK and much of the rest of the world to the idea of a US bombing blitz aimed at punishing the Syrian government for allegedly using Sarin gas in an attack on a Damascus neighborhood forced the US to back off and accept a Russian deal to get rid of Syria’s chemical weapons.


Talk Nation Radio: Iraqi Students in the U.S.

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-iraqi

The Iraqi Student Project has brought Iraqi students, refugees from the U.S. war on Iraq, to the United States to study, make friends, and build understanding. Students have come from refugee families living in Syria, which now has its own violence, to which the U.S. is contributing. The Project's office in Damascus has been closed, but Iraqi students are currently studying at U.S. universities, and you can get involved and help them. We speak with Farah Muhsin Al-Mousawi, an Iraqi citizen and former student representative with the Iraqi Student Project. We also speak with the project's Executive Director Robert Rosser, a college professor who has taught EFL and ESL in Mexico, Saudi Arabia, and Thailand, and communications and humanities in South Korea, Japan, Spain, Kuwait, and Italy. See http://IraqiStudentProject.org

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download or get embed code from Archive or  AudioPort or LetsTryDemocracy.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
http://davidswanson.org/talknationradio

Is Dithering Always Bad?: Trust and Verify and Vomit

By John Grant


The media didn’t waste time lining up US leaders to trash Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent op-ed in The New York Times. There was the expected outrage that such a “dictator” and “tyrant” had the gall to lecture the United States of America. Bill O’Reilly referred to Putin as “a criminal monster.” Charles Krauthammer kept it real and called Putin "a KGB thug.”

Nobel Laureate president defends unprovoked war against Syria: Obama Offers No Evidence Assad Ordered Syria Poison Gas Attack

By Dave Lindorff


In what NPR called “perhaps President Obama’s last best chance” to make his case for launching a war against Syria, the president tellingly didn’t make a single effort to present hard, compelling evidence to prove that Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad had been behind the alleged Sarin Aug. 21 attack on residents of a suburb of Damascus.


Not one piece of evidence.

Interview: Students, Faculty Protest Presence of David Petraeus at CUNY Honors College

Cross-Posted from FireDogLake

On September 9, former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director David Petraeus -- who also formerly headed the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) International Security Assistance Force for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and co-wrote the Counterinsurgency Field Manual -- began a new job as an adjunct professor at City University of New York (CUNY) Macaulay Honors College.

A people’s victory over Syrian attack plan: In Historic First, American Empire is Blocked at the Starting Line

By Dave Lindorff


Let’s be clear here. The people of the US and the world have won a huge victory over a war-obsessed US government and an administration that was hell-bent on yet again launching a criminal war of aggression against a country that poses no threat to the US or its neighbors. Overwhelming public opposition in the US and the nations of Europe, as well as most of the rest of the world to a US strike on Syria have forced the US to falter and to accept the idea of a compromise deal offered by Russia.


Hopeful and disturbing signs in an unscientific neighborhood survey: Anti-War Conservatives and War-Monger Liberals

By Dave Lindorff


I just had two discussions with neighbors in my suburb of Philadelphia that offer both a hope that the Republican-run House may block President Obama’s war on Syria, and a warning that liberal Democrats could hand him the narrow majority he needs to claim Congressional backing for his war.

Busted for Playing Banjo on Independence Mall: Park Rangers Brutally Arrest Iraq War Vet at Anti-Syria Bombing Demo

By Dave Lindorff


Independence Mall, Philadelphia -- The US has yet to launched President Obama’s latest war crime of massively bombing Syria -- a country that does not threaten this nation -- and already federal police thugs, in this case National Park Service Rangers, have brutally arrested an Iraq War Veteran who was peacefully playing her banjo in the shade on Independence Mall in Philadelphia following an anti-war protest and march.


Opposition to Iraq War May Save Syria

Evidence of "weapons of mass destruction" is "no slam dunk," U.S. officials are saying this time around, reversing the claim made about Iraq by then-CIA director George Tenet.

Opposition to a U.S.-led attack on Syria is growing rapidly in Europe and the United States, drawing its strength from public awareness that the case made for attacking Iraq had holes in it.

Manning get’s slammed; a mass-murderer got sprung Crimes and Punishment (or Not)

By Dave Lindorff


Right now I’m thinking about William Laws Calley. 


Obama DOJ Asks Court to Grant Immunity to George W. Bush For Iraq War

By Inder Comar

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., (Aug. 20, 2013) — In court papers filed today (PDF), the United States Department of Justice requested that George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice and Paul Wolfowitz be granted procedural immunity in a case alleging that they planned and waged the Iraq War in violation of international law.

Plaintiff Sundus Shaker Saleh, an Iraqi single mother and refugee now living in Jordan, filed a complaint in March 2013 in San Francisco federal court alleging that the planning and waging of the war constituted a “crime of aggression” against Iraq, a legal theory that was used by the Nuremberg Tribunal to convict Nazi war criminals after World War II.

"The DOJ claims that in planning and waging the Iraq War, ex-President Bush and key members of his Administration were acting within the legitimate scope of their employment and are thus immune from suit,” chief counsel Inder Comar of Comar Law said.

The “Westfall Act certification,” submitted pursuant to the Westfall Act of 1988, permits the Attorney General, at his or her discretion, to substitute the United States as the defendant and essentially grant absolute immunity to government employees for actions taken within the scope of their employment.

In her lawsuit, Saleh alleges that:

-- Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz began planning the Iraq War in 1998 through their involvement with the “Project for the New American Century,” a Washington DC non-profit that advocated for the military overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

-- Once they came to power, Saleh alleges that Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz convinced other Bush officials to invade Iraq by using 9/11 as an excuse to mislead and scare the American public into supporting a war.

-- Finally, she claims that the United States failed to obtain United Nations approval prior to the invasion, rendering the invasion illegal and an act of impermissible aggression.

“The good news is that while we were disappointed with the certification, we were prepared for it,” Comar stated. “We do not see how a Westfall Act certification is appropriate given that Ms. Saleh alleges that the conduct at issue began prior to these defendants even entering into office. I think the Nuremberg prosecutors, particularly American Chief Prosecutor Robert Jackson, would be surprised to learn that planning a war of aggression at a private non-profit, misleading a fearful public, and foregoing proper legal authorization somehow constitute lawful employment duties for the American president and his or her cabinet.”

The case is Saleh v. Bush (N.D. Cal. Mar. 13, 2013, No. C 13 1124 JST).

See the attached certification, publicly filed on ECF / PACER system.

For further information contact:

COMAR LAW

901 Mission Street, Suite 105
San Francisco, California 94103

Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden: Whistleblowers as Modern Tricksters

By John Grant


Every generation occupies itself with interpreting Trickster anew.

                      -Paul Radin

 

Request a copy of Collateral Murder on DVD

by Debra Sweet      The war crimes that Bradley was convicted of exposing. Let us know you would like a copy of theCollateral Murder video on DVD (

Manning, Snowden and Swarz: America’s Police State Marches On, Media in Tow

By Dave Lindorff


The New York Times, in an editorial published the day after a military judge found Pvt. Bradley Manning “not guilty” of “aiding the enemy” -- a charge that would have locked him up for life without possibility of parole and could have carried the death penalty -- but also found him guilty on multiple counts of “espionage,” called the verdict “Mixed.” Not guilty of aiding the enemy, guilty of espionage.


There Should Be No Sighs of Relief: Manning Verdict a Very Pyrrhic Victory

By Alfredo Lopez


The Bradley Manning verdict may seem a victory of sorts for the defense -- it's certainly being treated that way in the mainstream media -- but the decision handed down Tuesday by Court Marshal Judge Colonel Denise Lind is actually a devastating blow not only to Manning, who was convicted of unjustifiably serious charges brought by an aggressive administration seeking to make an example of him, but also to Internet activity in general and information-sharing in particular.

Holder promises Russia not to torture Snowden: A Shameful Day to Be a US Citizen

By Dave Lindorff


I have been deeply ashamed of my country a number of times. The Nixon Christmas bombing of Hanoi and Haiphong was one such time, when hospitals, schools and dikes were targeted. The invasion of Iraq was another. Washington’s silence over the fatal Israeli Commando raid on the Gaza Peace Flotilla--in which a 19-year-old unarmed American boy was murdered--was a third.  But I think I have never been as ashamed and disgusted as I was today reading that US Attorney General Eric Holder had sent a letter to the Russian minister of justice saying that the US would “not seek the death penalty” in its espionage case against National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, promising that even if the US later brought added charges against Snowden after obtaining him, they would not include any death penalty, and vowing that if Snowden were handed over by Russia to the US, he would “not be tortured.”


So it has come to this: That the United States has to promise (to Russia!) that it will not torture a prisoner in its control -- a US citizen at that -- and so therefore that person, Edward Snowden, has no basis for claiming that he should be “treated as a refugee or granted asylum.”


Why does Holder have to make these pathetic representations to his counterpart in Russia? 


Because Snowden has applied for asylum saying that he is at risk of turture or execution if returned to the US to face charges for leaking documents showing that the US government is massively violating the civil liberties and privacy of every American by monitoring every American’s electronic communications.


Snowden has made that claim in seeking asylum because he knows that another whistleblower, Pvt. Bradley Manning, was in fact tortured by the US for months, and held without trial in solitary confinement for over a year before being finally put on trial in a kangaroo court, where the judge is as much prosecutor as jurist, and where his guilt was declared in advance by the President of the United States -- the same president who has also already publicly declared Snowden guilty too...


For the rest of this article by DAVE LINDORFF inThisCantBeHappening!, the new independent three-time Project Censored Award-winning online alternative newspaper, please go to:www.thiscantbehappening.net/node/1888

Veteran Intelligence Officials Salute Brandon Toy for Courage

 

Brandon Toy’s Act of Conscience

July 19, 2013

Editor Note: Courage, like cowardice, often comes in individual, incremental pieces building toward something great and honorable, or small and dishonorable. The resignation of Brandon Toy from General Dynamics fits into the former category and is so honored by an organization of former intelligence officials.

A Respectful Salute to a Soldier/Contractor/Truth-teller

By Sam Adams Associates

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