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New York (AFP) - The detained US soldier convicted of leaking a trove of secret documents to WikiLeaks made a rare foray into public life Saturday to warn Americans they were being lied to about Iraq once more.
Chelsea Manning is serving a 35-year prison sentence on espionage charges and other offenses for passing along 700,000 secret documents, including diplomatic cables and military intelligence files, to anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks in the largest-scale leak in US history.
"I understand that my actions violated the law. However, the concerns that motivated me have not been resolved," the soldier formerly known as Bradley Manning wrote in a New York Times editorial.
"As Iraq erupts in civil war and America again contemplates intervention, that unfinished business should give new urgency to the question of how the United States military controlled the media coverage of its long involvement there and in Afghanistan."
President Barack Obama said this week he was "looking at all the options" to halt the offensive that has brought militants within 50 miles (80 kilometers) of Baghdad's city limits, but ruled out any return of US combat troops.
Obama has been under mounting fire from Republican critics over the swift collapse of Iraq's security forces, which Washington spent billions of dollars training and equipping before pulling out its own troops in 2011.
While the US military was upbeat in its public outlook on the 2010 Iraqi parliamentary elections, suggesting it had helped bring stability and democracy to the country, "those of us stationed there were acutely aware of a more complicated reality," Manning wrote.
"Military and diplomatic reports coming across my desk detailed a brutal crackdown against political dissidents by the Iraqi Ministry of Interior and federal police, on behalf of Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki. Detainees were often tortured, or even killed."
Manning, a former US Army intelligence analyst, said he was "shocked by our military's complicity in the corruption of that election. Yet these deeply troubling details flew under the American media's radar."
Criticizing the military's practice of embedding journalists, Manning charged that "the current limits on press freedom and excessive government secrecy make it impossible for Americans to grasp fully what is happening in the wars we finance."
Manning is serving out the prison sentence at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas and had requested a name change after court-martial proceedings revealed the soldier's emotional turmoil over sexual identity.
A US Army general denied clemency to Manning in April, upholding the 35-year sentence.
Mosul, Kirkuk ,Salahuddin and Diyala: Protecting Civilians and Providing Relief to Displaced Families Must Come First!
With Mosul, areas of Salahuddin and Kirkuk out of Iraqi government control, the situation for civilians there and in Iraq as a whole is increasingly dangerous. Moment by moment, the media/news agencies are busy gathering news of what has happened and continues to happen in northern Iraq, and with each report, anxiety grows.
The Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative declares its great concern for the fate of civilians and displaced families in cities beyond the control of the central government. In this critical moment it calls on the Iraqi government and armed groups involved in the conflict in northern Iraq to adhere to international humanitarian law, specifically in providing protection to civilians and their property, as well as to aid workers, ambulances, and civic organizations that seek to help civilians and reduce their suffering. The protection of civilians, hospitals, schools and basic services, as well as sites that house refugees and displaced persons, is a binding legal and humanitarian responsibility for everyone — violating it might bring later accusations of war crimes and crimes against humanity. We stress the need for everyone to recognize the neutrality of Iraqi and international aid workers. Their work is to help all civilians, professionally and without discrimination.
We also call on the authorities of the Kurdistan Region to abide by their stated political commitments to support displaced people, and to act on them immediately, allowing families and civilians to cross into safe areas within the region, and to provide them with the necessary relief. We also ask them to provide needed facilities to aid organizations and civic organizations. We call upon the UN and the international community to support regional authorities and organizations working there to provide the urgent aid required to deal with the humanitarian crisis.
We also call on local and central governments, along with the Kurdistan Regional Government to take seriously their responsibilities to protect civilians and their property in accordance with established law, the Iraqi constitution, and international laws related to armed conflict and human rights. The can be no rush to collective punitive measures like bombing cities and places where civilians may be harmed. The priority now is to protect civilians, and to review the factors which led to the deterioration of political stability which has resulted in the current security crisis, and to prevent it from spreading to other safe cities.
We also call on the politicians elected by the Iraqi people to leave their conflicts aside and direct their full attention to the selection of a national Iraqi government that is able to unite Iraqis without discrimination or bias. This government must work to build peace with the active involvement of local communities, and to establish an open and public dialogue in which everyone has a voice. The government must adopt a policy of continuous dialogue, and it must reject war as a solution to its political and economic problems. The claim that war can end violence and unrest, that guns can solve problems, is based on a lie — using violence to combat violence can yield no lasting peace, provide no enduring security, as the experiences of Mosul and before it, Fallujah, well attest. Iraqis, Kurds, Arabs — all people in the region — are able, given a stable political atmosphere, to protect their cities and their country. Any international or U.S military intervention will only increase and reinforce the negative effects Iraq has suffered over the past decade.
Rome, June 2014
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In 2001, the United States invaded Afghanistan. The invasion was purported to be a response to the Taliban’s refusal to surrender Osama bin Laden, the alleged mastermind of the September 11 attacks on the United States, but probably had a lot more to do with enabling the construction of an oil pipeline through Afghanistan. Today, thirteen years later, U.S. soldiers continue to fight there.
Two years later, the U.S, the most powerful country in the world, unleashed its terrorism on Iraq, due, it was said, to the dubious then and later unproven charge that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and was moments away from using them to destroy the American way of life (whatever that is). It wasn’t until 2011 that something that President Barack Obama and his minions decided to call ‘victory’ was sufficient to withdraw U.S. troops.
by Tom H. Hastings
Reinvade, reoccupy, and redestroy Iraq. That is the solution to the inevitable civil war that happens when the US pulls out? Will we do it until either Iraq is remade in our image or until the US economy, political environment, and culture is also destroyed?
Eight years ago a group of Portland peace activists raised the funds to bring together a number of experts to produce an exit strategy from Iraq. Ours was done, as it turns out, at the same time that the Iraq Study Group did their work. We were just unaware that the government had finally at long last decided maybe it was time to think Exit Plan. Duh. I expect we were all simply inspired and challenged by the insightful and cogent strategy published shortly before in the widely cited peer-reviewed journal, The Onion.
Still, despite the obvious--and our group, which was informed by military experts and conflict transformation experts alike, noted well that no matter when the US left the Iraqis would have a bloody civil war and settle on a new autocratic government that shot its way to power and repressed its citizenry--it took the US three more years to begin to leave, longer to finish leaving, and now the correctly predicted violent settling-out process is happening in earnest.
Naturally, the US conflict industry is dismayed when the US isn't spending every last centavo on weaponry and other military profiteering contracts. Time to respond! Go bomb! Send in "advisers." No-fly attacks, hunt down insurgents with drones and war jets. Remobilize US troops because if there is one glaringly blatant truth, proxy troops no longer work in this post-Cold War era. They seemed to be Just Fine and a great way to drain the American taxpayer when their loyalty was fairly dependable. But the era of "he may be a son of a bitch but he's our son of a bitch" (ascribed a bit dubiously to FDR about our boy Somoza, the Nicaraguan dictator) is over. Our SOBs are now routinely driven from power by the ballot, the bullet, or the bodies--that is, by the elections we no longer control, by violent insurgencies, or by civil society nonviolent revolution.
Stop it. Stop interfering in other countries. Stop sending arms. Stop the drones. Just support civil society with helpful and requested aid, never guns or tanks or war jets or anti-insurgent helicopters or anti-government rocket-propelled grenade launchers. And for any chance of success, keep US troops at home. Let Iraqis work it through and then try to be a friend to their citizenry with our goods of life. It may not be as fast as the "I've got a gun to your head so go vote!" model of spreading "democracy" that is favored by our leaders and our military industrial congressional complex, but it is the only one that actually works. Can we please start now?
Dr. Tom H. Hastings is PeaceVoiceDirector.
To: U.S. Congress, President, Department of "Defense"
Stop arming Iraq. And do not bomb or send in troops. Remove U.S. drones immediately. Pursue a ceasefire and negotiations, working through the United Nations and the Arab League.
Why is this important?
Iraq needs actual aid, not "military aid." A policy of promoting, facilitating, and engaging in violence has produced nothing but disasters for decades.
To: U.S. Congress, President, Department of "Defense"
We call on the U.S. government to work with other NATO governments to cancel the Rapid Trident exercise, and to commit to not participating in military exercises in Ukraine.
Why is this important?
We note with great concern that U.S. and other NATO troops are scheduled to participate in joint military exercises in Ukraine in July as part of NATO’s Rapid Trident maneuvers. Ukraine is not a member of NATO. Its participation in military exercises by a nuclear-armed alliance with a first-strike policy can only further destabilize the country.
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A lead article on CNN today reads as follows: ‘Fellow soldiers call Bowe Bergdahl a deserter, not a hero.’
It seems that one is defining the term ‘hero’ in a rather odd way, if one can’t consider a deserter a hero. Let’s look first at what desertion from the U.S. military means, in terms of actions and possible consequences, and then more specifically at Mr. Bergdahl’s particular situation, or at least what is currently known of it.
Comedian Lee Camp premiered a never-before-televised video of former CIA Director General David Petraeus — who now serves as Chairman of the Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR)'s Global Institute — introduced in front of the North Dakota National Guard by Treasurer Kelly Schmidt at an April 29 event in Bismarck, North Dakota.
By Dave Lindorff
Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
North Dakota Treasurer Kelly Schmidt has responded to DeSmogBlog's investigation of the Bakken Shale basin fracking field trip her office facilitated for former CIA Director Gen. David Petraeus, who now works at the Manhattan-based private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR).
By Dave Lindorff
I was shocked to find myself in almost perfect agreement today with a recent column by the neoconservative pundit Charles Krauthammer.
Usually Krauthammer has me groaning, but yesterday his column nailed it.
- Fought to protect corporate America’s $50,000,000.00 investment in Cuba during the Spanish-American War;
- Died on foreign shores during World War I in what President Woodrow Wilson, who involved the U.S. in that war, later said “…in its inception, was a commercial and industrial war;”
- Sacrificed so much in World War II while U.S. companies, with U.S. government approval, continually supplied the Axis powers with goods that U.S. citizens had to ration, including materials used to help kill Allied soldiers;
- Suffered and died in Korea, to safeguard and ensure the expansion of U.S. trade throughout the region;
- Endured the hell of the Vietnam War to satisfy the egos of three presidents, and help ensure their elections and re-elections;
- Fought in the heat of the Iraqi and Kuwaiti deserts to protect Western oil sources;
The media is awash with information about a potential presidential run by Hillary Clinton. She has the overwhelming support of Democrats, unparalleled name-recognition, and the assurance of more money for her campaign than either candidate had in the historically-expensive Obama-Romney match-up of 2012. Her credentials – mastermind of her husband’s comeback campaign for Governor of Arkansas, former first lady, former senator from a heavily populated state, presidential candidate, former Secretary of State – look very impressive, if one doesn’t look too closely. However, it is high time one did so.
By John Grant
I met Janet Burroway when I was a Vietnam veteran on the GI Bill at Florida State University and I signed up for a creative writing workshop she was just hired to teach. She was a worldly, published novelist seven years older than me. She had just left an oppressive husband, a Belgian, who was an important theater director in London where she’d been to parties with the likes of Samuel Beckett. I graduate in 1973, and in a turn of events that still amazes me, I asked her out and ended up living with her for a couple years. She had two beautiful boys, Tim, 9, and Toby, 6, who I grew to love.
"I have unconditional support for our brave men and women serving America overseas, as well as for their families. As our military commanders have said, we must remain steadfast in a clear strategy to defeat the insurgency and prevent Iraq from again becoming a safe-haven for international terrorists. I think that the withdrawal of our troops should be based on the conditions on the ground, not political agendas."
When WAS Iraq a safe-haven for international terrorists?
What American men and women (as opposed to weapons) are now "serving" in Iraq?
Does the Congressman have Iraq and Afghanistan confused?
And should a government that can't keep all of its wars straight still be fighting them?
And should it hide its decision to engage in these murderous expeditions behind pretended concern for the young people sent to do the killing?
April 25, 2014
Dear Mr. Swanson:
Thank you for your recent communication concerning the United States' current involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq. I appreciate your taking the time to express your thoughts on this important matter. I am grateful for the privilege of representing you and serving as a voice for the citizens of Virginia's Fifth District.
I have unconditional support for our brave men and women serving America overseas, as well as for their families. As our military commanders have said, we must remain steadfast in a clear strategy to defeat the insurgency and prevent Iraq from again becoming a safe-haven for international terrorists. I think that the withdrawal of our troops should be based on the conditions on the ground, not political agendas. We must not embolden the terrorists who believe that free societies will cave under the pressure of their violent acts. My highest priority is to safeguard our homeland. Please be assured that I will continue to monitor the conditions on the ground and will keep your thoughts in mind as events in Afghanistan and Iraq continue to unfold.
I hope you will stay connected to our office with updates on the latest news, legislation, and other useful information, by signing up for our e-newsletter on our website, hurt.house.gov. Thank you again for your communication and please do not hesitate to contact our office with any future questions or comments.
By Kathy Moorhead Thiessen, CPTnet
Streamers of blue, green, yellow and brown election pennants crisscrossed over the street and almost blocked out the sun. The symbols of the major parties in Iraqi Kurdistan for the 30 April election dominated the landscape. However, on Tuesday, 15 April, new flags waved from hand-held flagpoles. Many Syrian Kurds who have fled their country because of the turmoil marched through the streets of Sulaimani. They were crying out because the government of the region in which they have taken refuge has decided to create a dividing ditch. The KDP (Kurdish Democratic Party) that governs the area of Iraqi Kurdistan bordering Syria has sent workers, bulldozers, and security guards to facilitate the digging. It claims that the seventeen-kilometers-long, three-meters-deep, and two-meters-wide ditch will prevent terrorists and smugglers from entering the autonomous Kurdish region of Iraq.
However, the people of Rojava/Western/Syrian Kurdistan and their Iraqi Kurd supporters see the ditch differently. One man CPT’s Iraqi Kurdistan team spoke to said, “After WWI Britain drew lines that artificially separated the Kurds into four countries. Now Kurds are dividing Kurds from Kurds with ditches.”
Opinions about what is happening on the border—who is responsible and why they are doing it fly fast and furious. Kamal Chomani, an independent journalist in Iraqi Kurdistan told the team, “The root of this is that KDP wants to have power in Rojava and PYD (Democratic Union Party), the party in power there, won’t let them. KDP have some small “puppet parties” in Rojava but they don't have much support. PYD don't accept the demands of KDP. So closing the border is a way to punish them and put pressure on them.”
The political parties deny these allegations against them. But whatever the reason for the ditch, the ordinary people who have already experienced the trauma of war suffer the most. In the last week, there have also been several demonstrations on the Syrian side of the border, joined by men and women, old and young who are upset by the closing of the border. Some people showed their desperation by trying to fill in the ditches. They want to be able to go to Iraqi Kurdistan to work, have access to hospitals or to buy goods that are unavailable in Syria. Now they are denied these opportunities by other Kurds.
Taking the low road to war: Washington and the Corporate Media are in Full Propaganda Mode on Ukraine
By Dave Lindorff
The lies, propaganda and rank hypocrisy emanating from Washington, and echoed by the US corporate media regarding events in Ukraine are stunning and would be laughable, but for the fact that they appear to be aimed at conditioning the US public for increasing confrontation with Russia – confrontation which could easily tip over the edge into direct military conflict, with consequences that are too dreadful to contemplate.
Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
At the just-completed U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing titled, "The Geopolitical Potential of the U.S. Energy Boom," Admiral Dennis Blair — former Director of National Intelligence, President and CEO of Institute for Defense Analyses and Commander in Chief of U.S. Pacific Command — admitted what's still considered conspiratorial to some.
Put tersely: the U.S. and allied forces launched the ongoing occupation in Iraq and occupy large swaths of the Middle East to secure the flow of oil to the U.S. and its global allies, explained Blair.
This case is a lawsuit against key members of the Bush Administration: Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Powell and Rice.
Not funny, but it’s still hard not to laugh: How Can the US Accuse Russia of Violating International Law?
By Dave Lindorff
If you want to make moral or legal pronouncements, or to condemn bad behavior, you have to be a moral, law-abiding person yourself. It is laughable when we see someone like Rush Limbaugh criticizing drug addicts or a corrupt politician like former Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) voting for more prisons, more cops, and tougher rules against appeals of sentences.
The same thing goes for nations.
By Dave Lindorff
US Secretary of State John Kerry is a man of many convictions--many of them in open conflict with one another.
Recall that back in 2004, while trying to unseat President George W. Bush, he famously told students at Marshall University who wanted to know his stand on the US invasion of Iraq, that he “actually did vote for” a bill funding the war “before I voted against it.”
The following was written by Art Laffin during his visit to the Amariyah Shelter in Iraq on Feb. 13, 1998, the 7th anniversary of the bombing.
by Art Laffin
February 13, 1991, 4:00 a.m.
Over 1,000 Iraqis, mostly women and children still sleeping, take refuge from the terror of U.S. bombs at a shelter in Amariyah, just outside Baghdad.
For several days a surveillance plane had flown over the shelter. U.S. officials say they think Saddam Hussein is there. The U.S. military knows different. A decision is made in secret by President George Bush, Defense (War) Secretary Dick Cheney and General Colin Powell — bomb the shelter, massacre the innocents!
First one “smart” bomb is dropped to make an opening in the roof, killing scores of people. Then, through the opening, another bomb falls, reaching deep into the shelter basement, killing everyone in its path. In total, nearly a thousand Iraqis are murdered, women and children burned alive. No more than 17 survive. I see flesh still seared on a wall under the basement stairway. People, reduced to mere shadows, form a human silhouette on the stone wall.
A replay of Auschwitz, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Vietnam, El Salvador, Panama.
The crime, premeditated and barbarous.
The sin, mortal.
The perpetrators unrepentant!
Seven years later, eight peacemakers from the U.S. and the U.K. come to pay homage to the victims at this shelter,
Photos and drawings of the dead adorn the walls of the shelter.
We repent, we mourn, we witness
the ongoing nightmare of the survivors.
We eight do what we can –
to console the mourners,
offering love and solidarity to the Iraqi people, already crucified to a cross of economic sanctions.
We stand with the victims, the children, seeking to stay the death-dealing hand of the U.S. empire.
I'd like to insert a joke about "freedom is on the march!" here but am too disgusted to do it. I just received a lengthy report from Dr. Muhamad Al-Darraji, President of CCER (Conservation Center of Environmental & Reserves), Fallujah City, Iraq (PDF, Doc). It documents the attacks of the past year on the people of Fallujah by the government of Iraq. The U.S. government has rushed weapons to the Iraqi government for this assault. A petition opposing further U.S. arms sales to the government that decades of U.S. violence left behind in Iraq is here.
By John Mesler
As I've watched the events unfold in the mid-east over the past 24 years it has become alarmingly clear to me that we didn't invade Iraq in 2003 because we thought they had weapons of mass destruction. We lied. We knew they did NOT have them. Well, at least 6 or 7 "decision and policy makers" knew they didn't. I will explain this the best I can but we now know that mostly every other nation in the world (including the United Nations weapons investigative team which included Scott Ritter) knew it back then. But Still we invaded. The US, the UK, Saudi Arabia and Israel were in on the plan. The plan I'm speaking of is called the Plan for the New American Century (PNAC) and to understand exactly what it is I would suggest that you google General Wesley Clark's 9 minute speech in which he mentions 2 meetings he had in 2002 with a liaison from then Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld office. Generally speaking that plan (which was laid out in about 1997) called for the US to control 7 countries including Libya, Syria ,Iraq and Iran.
I believe that the architects of the plan (Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz and others) were so sure that the anti-Muslim, anti-Mid-east feelings among Americans brought on by media lies over the past 25 years would allow them to get away with almost anything. If they created a big enough lie they could get the American people to "go along" with their plan.They had to act fast and they did. 9/11 served as the perfect "incentive" to begin their plan.I also believe that they had the perfect president to "sell" this plan to the people. I may be wrong but I believe President George W. Bush believed the lie. He simply doesn't have the intellect or talent to lie so convincingly to the American public. He was the perfect president at the perfect time for the real "evil doers", Cheney and company. In1953 when we were involved with over-throwing the democratically elected leader of Iran, Mossadegh, it was easier to get away with the covert actions that our CIA carried out.The only surprise there was that it took 26 years for the Iranians to over-throw our puppet, the Shah of Iran and begin their own Islamic revolution.Today we have become much craftier .We use the corporate owned (and controlled) media to garner popular support. You may come to the same conclusion as to what's really been going on in Iraq from 2003 to this day.I believe we attacked Iraq hoping that it would bring about exactly what is occurring there now.
Chaos.Rumsfeld had to know we wouldn't be "showered with flowers" from thankful Iraqi's, as he stated in 2003.Our plan, in my opinion, was to create more turmoil in the mid-east so we could "install" yet another puppet regime.We had to know that Maliki would do what-ever we asked and that he would need our help in doing so.I wont get into the complicated issues now of ideological analysis and the imperialist-capitalist nature of the use and its rulers neoconservatives, neo-liberals, and Zionists who plan these wars and stand behind them , all driven by greed. Or will I get into what is the comprador nature of Arab reaction such as Kuwait and Saudi Arabia who place themselves willingly in the service of imperialism against the interest of their own people and of the Arab nation. The help I speak of comes in the form of selling more weapons to Maliki's sectarian government and in return we get protection for the "green zone" (the largest area of it's kind in the world which is home to the US Embassy,private military contractors and major US consulting companies.It's size is 3.9 sq. miles) ,a guarantee of keeping the oil flowing to us from the worlds second largest oil reserve and Israel benefits by keeping these countries weak and in constant turmoil,thereby "distracted".In a way, what we've created in the mid-east is like a 5 ring circus. As all your attention is on one act you have little or no idea what's going on in the other 4 rings.