Published: Thursday 13 December 2012
As he now faces 22 counts in a court martial that could land him in prison for the rest of his life, his lawyer argued in court that the case should be thrown out, based on his unlawful pretrial punishment.

 

Pfc. Bradley Manning was finally allowed to speak publicly, in his own defense, in a preliminary hearing of his court-martial. Manning is the alleged source of the largest intelligence leak in U.S. history. He was an intelligence analyst in the U.S. Army, with top-secret clearance, deployed in Iraq. In April 2010, the whistle-blower website WikiLeaks released a U.S. military video of an Apache helicopter in Baghdad killing a dozen civilians below, including two Reuters employees, a videographer and his driver. One month after the video was released, Manning was arrested in Iraq, charged with leaking the video and hundreds of thousands more documents. Thus began his ordeal of cruel, degrading imprisonment in solitary confinement that many claim was torture, from his detention in Kuwait to months in the military brig in Quantico, Va. Facing global condemnation, the U.S. military transferred Manning to less-abusive detention at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

As he now faces 22 counts in a court martial that could land him in prison for the rest of his life, his lawyer argued in court that the case should be thrown out, based on his unlawful pretrial punishment.

Veteran constitutional attorney Michael Ratner was in the courtroom at Fort Meade, Md., that day Manning took the stand. He described the scene: “It was one of the most dramatic courtroom scenes I’ve ever been in. ... When Bradley opened his mouth, he was not nervous. The testimony was incredibly moving, an emotional roller coaster for all of us, but particularly, obviously, for Bradley and what he went through. But it was so horrible what happened to him ...

Published: Friday 23 November 2012
In Afghanistan, nine journalists have been killed, at least one by US forces, and in that case, the killing was deliberate, though it is unclear whether the victim was known to be a journalist.

 

During the Vietnam War, which US forces fought from 1960 through 1974, and which cost the lives of several million Southeast Asians and 58,000 Americans, eight American journalists died. Not one of them was killed by American fire.

In the Iraq War, 136 journalists were killed. At least 15 of them -- about 11% of the total -- were killed by US forces, sometimes apparently with deliberate intent.

In Afghanistan, nine journalists have been killed, at least one by US forces, and in that case, the killing was deliberate, though it is unclear whether the victim was known to be a journalist.

One thing is clear: it is dangerous in the extreme to be a journalist covering America’s wars, at least beginning with Vietnam.

Why this might be the case is hard to say, but it seems that an antipathy towards journalists within the military may have something to do with it.

Back in 1983, the US, in one of the more ludicrous military actions in its long history of war, invaded the tiny Caribbean island of Grenada, on the pretext that it feared Cubans were building a military airbase there (actually Cuba had sent construction workers to the impoverished isle to help the country build a better commercial airport so as to improve its tourism business). During that invasion, which was conducted with a total media blackout despite almost no opposition (the main “enemy” putting up any resistance was a group of Cuban construction workers!), a group of seven journalists, including a reporter from the New York Times, attempted to reach the island on a small boat. They were blocked by a US destroyer, which warned them over a loudspeaker to turn around or be “blown out of the water.” The journalists gave up and retreated.

That little “war,” which was conducted from beginning to end with no reporters allowed in the battle ...

Published: Friday 23 November 2012
“Until recently, here was the open secret of Petraeus’s life: he may not have understood Iraqis or Afghans, but no military man in generations more intuitively grasped how to flatter and charm American reporters, pundits, and politicians into praising him.”

 

History, it is said, arrives first as tragedy, then as farce.  First as Karl Marx, then as the Marx Brothers.  In the case of twenty-first century America, history arrived first as George W. Bush (and Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith and the Project for a New America -- a shadow government masquerading as a think tank -- and an assorted crew of ambitious neocons and neo-pundits); only later did David Petraeus make it onto the scene.

It couldn’t be clearer now that, from the shirtless FBI agent to the “embedded biographer and the “other other woman,” the “fall” of David Petraeus is playing out as farce of the first order.  What’s less obvious is that Petraeus, America’s military golden boy and Caesar of celebrity, was always smoke and mirrors, always the farce, even if the denizens of Washington didn’t know it.

Until recently, here was the open secret of Petraeus’s life: he may not have understood Iraqis or Afghans, but no military man in generations more intuitively grasped how to flatter and charm American reporters, pundits, and politicians into praising him.  This was, after all, the general who got his first 

Published: Monday 10 September 2012
“This is the story of how in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and later in Iraq, I discovered that what I believed to be the full spectrum of reality was just a small slice of it and how that discovery knocked down my Republican worldview.”

 

 

 

 

I used to be a serious Republican, moderate and business-oriented, who planned for a public-service career in Republican politics.  But I am a Republican no longer.

There’s an old joke we Republicans used to tell that goes something like this: “If you’re young and not a Democrat, you’re heartless. If you grow up and you’re not a Republican, you’re stupid.” These days, my old friends and associates no doubt consider me the butt of that joke. But I look on my “stupidity” somewhat differently.  After all, my real education only began when I was 30 years old.

This is the story of how in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and later in Iraq, I discovered that what I believed to be the full spectrum of reality was just a small slice of it and how that discovery knocked down my Republican worldview.

I always imagined that I was full of heart, but it turned out that I was oblivious.  Like so many Republicans, I had assumed that society’s “losers” had somehow earned their desserts.  As I came to recognize that poverty is not earned or chosen or deserved, and that our use of force is far less precise than I had believed, I realized with a shock that I had effectively viewed whole swaths of the country and the world as second-class people.

No longer oblivious, I couldn’t remain in today’s Republican Party, not unless I embraced an individualism that was even more heartless than the one I had previously accepted.  The more I learned about reality, the more I started to care about people as people, and my values shifted.  Had I always known what I know today, it would have been clear that there hasn’t been a place for me in the Republican Party since the Free Soil days of Abe Lincoln.

Where I Came From

Published: Friday 24 August 2012
“Fuel is smuggled across the border to the tune of hundreds of tankers a day.”

 

In 2011, after nearly nine years of war and occupation, U.S. troops finally left Iraq. In their place, Big Oil is now present in force and the country’s oil output, crippled for decades, is growing again. Iraq recently reclaimed the number two position in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), overtaking oil-sanctioned Iran. Now, there’s talk of a new world petroleum glut. So is this finally mission accomplished?

Well, not exactly. In fact, any oil company victory in Iraq is likely to prove as temporary as George W. Bush’s triumph in 2003. The main reason is yet another of those stories the mainstream media didn’t quite find room for: the role of Iraqi civil society. But before telling that story, let’s look at what’s happening to Iraqi oil today, and how we got from the “no blood for oil” global protests of 2003 to the present moment.

Here, as a start, is a little scorecard of what’s gone on in Iraq since Big Oil arrived two and a half years ago: corruption’s skyrocketed; two Western oil companies are being investigated for either giving or receiving bribes; the Iraqi government is paying oil companies a per-barrel fee according to wildly unrealistic production targets they’ve set, whether or not they deliver that number of barrels; contractors are heavily

Published: Thursday 16 August 2012
A Guide to Disaster at Home and Abroad

Some images remain like scars on my memory. One of the last things I saw in Iraq, where I spent a year with the Department of State helping squander some of the $44 billion American taxpayers put up to “reconstruct” that country, were horses living semi-wild among the muck and garbage of Baghdad. Those horses had once raced for Iraqi autocrat Saddam Hussein and seven years after their “liberation” by the American invasion of 2003, they were still wandering that unraveling, unreconstructed urban landscape looking, like many other Iraqis, for food.

 

I flew home that same day, a too-rapid change of worlds, to a country in which the schools of my hometown in Ohio could not afford to pay teachers a decent wage. Once great cities were rotting away as certainly as if they were in Iraq, where those horses were scrabbling to get by. To this day I’m left pondering these questions: Why has the United States spent so much money and time so disastrously trying to rebuild occupied nations abroad, while allowing its own infrastructure to crumble untended? Why do we even think of that as “policy”?

 

The Good War(s)

 

With the success of the post-World War II Marshall Plan in Europe and the economic miracle in Japan, rebuilding other countries gained a certain imperial patina. Both took relatively little money and time. The reconstruction of Germany and Japan cost only $32 billion and $17 billion, ...

Published: Thursday 16 August 2012
Grover Norquist opposes Romney's plan to increase the military budget.

 

Grover Norquist, an influential Republican lobbyist in Washington, is advising his party's lawmakers to cut the defense budget deeply, to avoid a major federal tax hike. 

His remarks on Monday were another sign of splintering views in Republican ranks about spending on national defense that presently consumes about half of the discretionary federal budget — with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney going in one direction and some Republican lawmakers and lobbyists headed in a different direction. 

Norquist, a long-time anti-tax crusader in Washington, said in a talk at the Center for The National Interest that Republicans should not be pushing for increased spending on defense when the national deficit has ballooned. Instead, he said, lawmakers should embrace the need to balance the budget and cut wasteful projects, which he said could be done without negatively impacting national security.

“You need to decide what your real defense needs are,” said Norquist. “That doesn’t mean chairmen of certain committees get to build bases in their states. That’s not a defense need ... [but] a political desire.” The debate so far, he said, has been marked by a ...

Published: Thursday 5 July 2012
The Lessons Washington Can’t Draw From the Failure of the Military Option.

 

Americans may feel more distant from war than at any time since World War II began.  Certainly, a smaller percentage of us -- less than 1% -- serves in the military in this all-volunteer era of ours and, on the face of it, Washington’s constant warring in distant lands seems barely to touch the lives of most Americans. 

And yet the militarization of the United States and the strengthening of the National Security Complex continues to accelerate.  The Pentagon is, by now, a world unto itself, with a staggering budget at a moment when no other power or combination of powers comes near to challenging this country’s might. 

In the post-9/11 era, the military-industrial  READ FULL POST 7 COMMENTS

Published: Saturday 9 June 2012
Published: Wednesday 6 June 2012
A think tank close to the administration of President Obama suggests attacking Tehran to prevent nuclear development would be counter-productive.

While a nuclear-armed Iran would pose significant new challenges to the United States and Israel, a military attack by either country to prevent Tehran from developing a weapon could well prove counter-productive, according to a major new report released here Wednesday by a think tank close to the administration of President Barack Obama.

And while preventive military action should remain on the table, it should only be considered if Iran “has made a clear move toward weaponization”, and there is a “reasonable expectation” that such a strike would set back Iran's programme “significantly”, among other conditions, according to the 55-page report by the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). 

The report, “Risk and Rivalry: Iran, Israel and the Bomb,” also argues that both the U.S. and Israel should avoid taking any steps that limit prospects for a negotiated agreement designed to dissuade Tehran from “weaponising” its nuclear programme. 

In particular, they should not insist - as Israel and its backers in the U.S. Congress are doing - that Tehran end all uranium enrichment on its own territory as a condition of any negotiated settlement since such a stance “would most likely result in no deal at all”, according to ...

Published: Friday 25 May 2012
“Iran’s enrichment to 20 percent, which Tehran has justified over the past two years as needed by its Tehran Research Reactor to produce medical isotopes, can be turned into high enriched uranium more quickly than the 3.5 percent enriched uranium for Iran’s nuclear power program.”

 

The two sides agreed to meet again in Moscow Jun. 18 and 19, but only after Iran had threatened not to schedule another meeting, because the P5+1 had originally failed to respond properly to its five-point plan. 



The prospects for agreement are not likely to improve before that meeting, however, mainly because of an inflexible U.S. diplomatic posture that reflects President Barack Obama's need to bow to the demands of Israel and the U.S. Congress on Iran policy. 


The U.S. hard line in the Baghdad talks and the failure to set the stage for an early agreement with Iran means that Iran will not only increase but accelerate its accumulation of 20-percent enriched uranium, which has been the ostensible reason for wanting to get Iran to the negotiating table quickly. 


Iran's enrichment to 20 percent, which Tehran has justified over the past two years as needed by its Tehran Research Reactor to produce medical isotopes, can be turned into high enriched uranium more quickly than the 3.5 percent enriched uranium for Iran's nuclear power program. 


But although Iran has let it be known that it is open to making a deal to end its 20 percent enrichment and even to let go of its stockpile if offered the right incentive, the Obama administration has opted not to go for such a deal by refusing to offer any corresponding reduction in sanctions. 


The U.S. demand for the closure of the Fordow facility, which is now under surveillance by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), was a direct response to pressure from Israel. Prime Minister Benjamen Netanyahu declared that demand one of his "benchmarks" for the talks on Mar. 2. 


In discussions with the U.S. in late March, Defencef Minister Ehud Barak insisted on the closure of Fordow as one of the Israeli demands, as he revealed Apr. 4. That was a quid pro quo for Israeli acceptance ...

Published: Thursday 24 May 2012
Fearful that the U.S. and the other members of the so-called P5+1 will strike an interim accord with Tehran under which it would agree to limit its uranium enrichment to five percent, neo-conservatives and other hawks argued that Iran should instead be forced to comply with a 2006 U.N. Security resolution calling for it to stop enriching altogether.

As at least two days of talks on the future of Iran's nuclear program got underway in Baghdad Wednesday, neo-conservatives and other hawks escalated their campaign against any compromise agreement, particularly one that would permit Tehran to continue enriching uranium on its territory.

Fearful that the U.S. and the other members of the so-called P5+1 (Britain, France, Russia, China, plus Germany) will strike an interim accord with Tehran under which it would agree to limit its uranium enrichment to five percent, they argued that Iran should instead be forced to comply with a 2006 U.N. Security resolution calling for it to stop enriching altogether – a position that most Iran experts here believe is certain to kill any prospect for progress. 

"Given the Iranian regime's long-standing pattern of deceptive and illicit conduct, we believe that it cannot be trusted to maintain enrichment or reprocessing activities on its territory for the foreseeable future – at least until the international community has been fully convinced that Iran has decided to abandon any nuclear- weapons ambitions," wrote three prominent pro-Israel senators in the Wall Street Journal Thursday. 

"We are very far from that point," according to Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsay Graham and independent Democrat Joseph Lieberman, the so-called "Three Amigos", who often travel overseas together and have long argued that U.S. military action will likely be the only way to prevent Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons. 

At the same time, two fellows at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD) published an op-ed in the Washington Post warning against any agreement by the P5+1 that would permit Iran to enrich uranium up to five percent on its own territory rather than suspend all enrichment indefinitely. 

Such a deal, according to FDD's executive director Mark Dubowitz and former ...

Published: Tuesday 22 May 2012
Published: Tuesday 1 May 2012
Fears of a U.S. or Israeli attack on Iran this year have clearly receded, especially since all sides left the last P5+1 meeting in Istanbul Apr. 14 seemingly satisfied with the seriousness of the exchanges and guardedly optimistic that a diplomatic solution could yet be achieved.

The threat of a military attack on Iran's nuclear facilities this year appears to have substantially subsided over the past several weeks as a result of several developments, including the biting criticisms voiced recently by former top national security figures of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his defense minister, Ehud Barak.



That a war seems significantly more remote than during the winter months, when tensions reached an all-time high, was confirmed to some extent Monday when the U.S. "newspaper of record", the New York Times, ran a front-page article entitled 'Experts Believe Iran Conflict is Less Likely' . 
 

But, judging by actual bets placed on the on-line trading exchange, Intrade, the chances that the U.S. or Israel will indeed conduct air strikes against Iran before the end of the year have fallen by more than half since the high reached in mid-February – from just over 60 percent to about 28 percent as of Monday. 
 

That's still a substantial percentage – about twice what it was before the latest round of Israeli sabre-rattling was launched in November. 
 

And it's difficult to find any close observer of U.S.-Israeli-Iran relations who believes that war clouds could not suddenly reappear, particularly if the next meeting of the so-called P5+1 (the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council – the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, and France – plus Germany) with Iran scheduled for May 23 in Baghdad should break down or be delayed. 
 

For its part, the administration of President Barack Obama shown little inclination to reduce pressure – and the threat of military action – on Tehran. 
 

Not only has it moved more minesweepers and F-15 fighter jets into the Gulf region, but the Air Force announced Friday that it has deployed an undisclosed ...

Published: Monday 16 April 2012
“International humanitarian law,” or IHL, is the trying-too-hard euphemism for the laws of war. And as it happens, IHL turns out to be less concerned with restraining military violence than licensing it.

Anyone who would like to witness a vivid example of modern warfare that adheres to the laws of war -- that corpus of regulations developed painstakingly over centuries by jurists, humanitarians, and soldiers, a body of rules that is now an essential, institutionalized part of the U.S. armed forces and indeed all modern militaries -- should simply click here and watch the video.

Wait a minute: that’s the WikiLeaks “Collateral Murder” video!  The gun sight view of an Apache helicopter opening fire from half a mile high on a crowd of Iraqis -- a few armed men, but mostly unarmed civilians, including a couple of Reuters employees -- as they unsuspectingly walked the streets of a Baghdad suburb one July day in 2007.

Watch, if you can bear it, as the helicopter crew blows people away, killing at least a dozen of them, and taking good care to wipe out the wounded as they try to crawl to safety.  (You can also hear the helicopter crew making wisecracks throughout.) When a van comes on the scene to tend to the survivors, the Apache gunship opens fire on it too, killing a few more and wounding two small children.

The slaughter captured in this short film, the most virally sensational of WikiLeaks’ disclosures, was widely condemned as an atrocity worldwide, and many pundits quickly labeled it a “war crime” for good measure.

But was this massacre really a “war crime” -- or just plain-old regular war?  The question is anything but a word-game. It is, in fact, far from clear that this act, though plainly atrocious and horrific, was a violation of the laws of war.  Some have argued that the slaughter, if legal, was therefore justified and, though ...

Published: Monday 9 April 2012
“I was on the spot to see it all happen, leading two Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) in rural Iraq while taking part up close and personal in what the U.S. government was doing to, not for, Iraqis.”

People ask the question in various ways, sometimes hesitantly, often via a long digression, but my answer is always the same: no regrets.

In some 24 years of government service, I experienced my share of dissonance when it came to what was said in public and what the government did behind the public’s back. In most cases, the gap was filled with scared little men and women, and what was left unsaid just hid the mistakes and flaws of those anonymous functionaries.

What I saw while serving the State Department at a forward operating base in Iraq was, however, different. There, the space between what we were doing (the eye-watering waste and mismanagement), and what we were saying (the endless of success and progress), was filled with numb soldiers and devastated Iraqis, not scaredy-cat bureaucrats.

That was too much for even a well-seasoned cubicle warrior like me to ignore and so I wrote a book about it, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the War for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People. I was on the spot to see it all happen, leading two Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) in rural Iraq while taking part up close and personal in what the U.S. government was doing to, not for, Iraqis. Originally, I imagined that my book’s subtitle would be “Lessons for Afghanistan,” since I was hoping the same mistakes would not be endlessly repeated there. Sometimes being right doesn’t solve a damn thing.

By the time I arrived in Iraq in 2009, I hardly expected to be welcomed as a liberator or greeted -- as the officials who launched the invasion of that country expected back in 2003 -- with a parade and flowers. But I never imagined Iraq for quite the American disaster it was either. Nor did I expect to be welcomed back by my employer, the State Department, as a hero in return for my book of loony stories and poignant ...

Published: Sunday 29 January 2012
“Zekhi chose to stay, but many of his fellow believers fled after receiving ‘convert or die’ letters, also recurrent among the decimated local Christian population.”

"I’d say there are around 5,000 of us in the country, but if you ask me next week we may well be under 3,000. After twenty centuries of history in Mesopotamia, we Mandaeans, are about to vanish." Anxiety about the future of his people is more than evident in the figures given by Saad Atiah Majid, chairman of Basra’s Mandaean Council.

Dubbed "the Christians of St. John" by the Portuguese who arrived in Basra in the 17th century, Mandaeans follow the teachings of John the Baptist. Baptism - their central ritual - has been held on the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates for almost two millennia.

"It’s true that we had our share of pain and misery during Saddam’s times but then our people would leave the country mainly due to economic reasons. By contrast, after 2003, following the brutal harassment by radical Islamists, Mandaeans began to flee en masse to Kurdistan, Syria, Europe," says Majid.

Behind him, a tiny white cloth and an olive branch hang from a wooden cross. They call it drabsa – it’s the closest thing to a flag Mandaeans have. At the center where this community gathers in Iraq’s southern oil hub, walls are covered with pictures of bearded men dressed in white robes, celebrating collective baptisms in the river.

According to a report by Human Rights Watch released in February 2011, 90 percent of Mandaeans have either died or left the country since the invasion by the U.S.-led forces in 2003. Mandaeans have repeatedly called for evacuation of their entire people.

The head of the cult, Sheikh Sattar Jabbar al-Hulu, is now based in Australia. For the time being, Mazin Rahim Naif still remains in his native Basra. This young man in his late twenties is the local spiritual leader.

"Until 1991 we would conduct our ritual in the river, but the dire security situation and pollution have forced us to improvise our worship in these small pools inside ...

Published: Friday 27 January 2012
“The latest unwillingness by the American media as the US War on Iraq appears to be ending, to confront the crimes of the American war machine, continues a long record of the media covering up the brutal nature of America’s imperial wars.”

The Iraq war may be over, at least for US troops, but the cover-up of the atrocities committed there by American forces goes on, even in retrospectives about the war. A prime example is reporting on the destroyed city of Fallujah, where some of the heaviest fighting of the war took place.

On March 31, 2004, four armed mercenaries working for the firm then known as Blackwater (now Xe), were captured in Fallujah, Iraq’s third largest city and a hotbed of insurgent strength located in Anbar Province about 40 miles west of Baghdad. Reportedly killed in their vehicle, which was then torched, their charred bodies were strung up on a bridge over the Euphrates River.

Pictures and videos of Fallujah residents mocking the bodies, which, unlike the images of burned and mutilated Iraqi victims of American forces, were broadcast on American television and displayed on the front pages of American newspapers, created a wave of indignation and outrage in the U.S., and led the Bush/Cheney administration and the Pentagon to decide they needed to punish the city of over 300,000.

Accordingly, a few weeks later in April, a brutal assault was launched on Fallujah involving heavy aerial bombardment and house-to-house fighting by thousands of Marines. By the time the US forces had battled their way to the center of the ...

Published: Wednesday 21 December 2011
The documents were found among scores of other classified material at a junkyard outside Baghdad as an attendant used them as fuel to cook his dinner.

As the U.S. military leaves Iraq, the New York Times has recovered hundreds of pages of documents detailing internal interrogations of U.S. Marines over the 2005 Haditha massacre of Iraqi civilians. The documents — many marked secret — were found among scores of other classified material at a junkyard outside Baghdad as an attendant used them as fuel to cook his dinner. The documents reveal testimony of Marines describing killing civilians on a regular basis. "In some ways, this is one of the most grotesque episodes of the entire war in Iraq and I’m afraid to say this is part of our legacy," says Time magazine contributor Tim McGirk who first broke the story of Haditha in 2006. It was November 19, 2005, when a U.S. military convoy of four vehicles driving through Haditha was hit by a roadside bomb, killing Lance Corporal Miguel Terrazas. The next night, Marines burst into several homes in the neighborhood, killing 24 Iraqis — including a 76-year-old man, and women and children who were still in their nightclothes when they died. "Nobody is behind bars for this," McGirk notes. Charges from the episode were dropped against six of the accused Marines, one was acquitted, and the final case is set to go to trial next year.

Published: Saturday 17 December 2011
In a sign that Iraq’s political dysfunction was worsening just days after American forces formally ended their mission in Iraq, Maj. Gen. Qasim Atta, spokesman for the Baghdad operations command, was expected to make an announcement that implicated the politicians in the bombing.

As U.S. troops prepared their final departure from Iraq, NATO regretfully closed down its small but highly effective training mission here Saturday after negotiations over extending the mission stalled over Iraq granting foreign military personnel immunity from prosecution.

Even as the last vestiges of the international military presence here were leaving, there was high drama in Baghdad's international zone, as troops and tanks surrounded the homes of three prominent Sunni politicians — Vice President Tariq al Hashimi, Finance Minister Rafie al-Essawi and Ayad Samarraie, a former speaker of the Parliament, eyewitnesses said.

Three members of Hashimi's security detail were arrested in recent days on suspicion of involvement in a November suicide bomb attack on the Iraqi parliament, according to an aide to Hashimi.

In a sign that Iraq's political dysfunction was worsening just days after American forces formally ended their mission in Iraq, Maj. Gen. Qasim Atta, spokesman for the Baghdad operations command, was expected to make an announcement that implicated the politicians in the bombing, according to western diplomats.

Osama Nujaifi, the Sunni speaker of the parliament and ostensibly the target of the bombing, had pleaded with the government to postpone any public airing of its evidence, according to an official in the interior ministry.

Earlier Saturday, the Iraqiya party, headed by Ayad Allawi, a political rival who shares power with Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, walked out of the parliament but said it was not quitting the government.

The U.S. Embassy Saturday night urged the Iraqi government to conduct its investigation into the allegations "in a transparent manner in accordance with Iraqi law."

As the political drama was unfolding, NATO and Iraqi officials said that the legal issue in extending the seven-year NATO mission was whether the Iraqi parliament would have to approve a ...

Published: Saturday 26 November 2011
“Books in the Occupy Library were literally treated like garbage. Their owners were finally allowed to reclaim their shredded remains - at the Sanitation Department.”

Fahrenheit 451: The temperature at which book paper catches fire and burns.

They're back.

But then, they've never gone away. The Book Killers have always been with us. Before recorded history they were with us, murdering the scholars and storytellers and mystics of every tribe they ever conquered.

They were there when Great Library burned in Alexandria 2,000 years ago. They destroyed the library known as the House of Wisdom when the Mongol Empire invaded Baghdad in 1258. They say the invaders took the books from every ruined library in Baghdad and piled them into the Tigris River, to serve as a bridge for their soldiers and chariots.

They say the river ran black with ink for ...

Published: Sunday 30 October 2011
“Many neuroscientists believe that the mental-health effects of TV viewing might run even deeper than addiction, consumerism, loss of social trust, and political propaganda.”

The past half-century has been the age of electronic mass media. Television has reshaped society in every corner of the world. Now an explosion of new media devices is joining the TV set: DVDs, computers, game boxes, smart phones, and more. A growing body of evidence suggests that this media proliferation has countless ill effects.

The United States led the world into the television age, and the implications can be seen most directly in America’s long love affair with what Harlan Ellison memorably called “the glass teat.” In 1950, fewer than 8% of American households owned a TV; by 1960, 90% had one. That level of penetration took decades longer to achieve elsewhere, and the poorest countries are still not there.

True to form, Americans became the greatest TV watchers, which is probably still true today, even though the data are somewhat sketchy and incomplete. The best evidence suggests that Americans watch more than five hours per day of television on average – a staggering amount, given that several hours more are spent in front of other video-streaming devices. Other countries log far fewer viewing hours. In Scandinavia, for example, time spent watching TV is roughly half the US average.

“Follow Project Syndicate on Facebook or TwitterFor more from Jeffrey D. Sachs, click here.”

The consequences for American society are profound, troubling, and a warning to the world – though it probably comes far too late to be heeded. First, heavy TV viewing brings little pleasure. Many surveys show that it is almost like an addiction, with a short-term benefit leading to ...

Published: Wednesday 3 August 2011
"Those politicians who now complain about our debt while they voted to fund counterproductive war are, at best, disingenuous."

Many politicians, including U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Longboat Key), are pushing to solve our debt problem with radical proposals like a balanced budget amendment to our Constitution. Is their goal to distract citizens' attention from their previous votes that caused the deficits in the first place?

Many of the same politicians calling for a balanced budget amendment are the same ones who routinely voted to fund expensive wars of choice. These expenditures constitute a primary cause of our national debt.

Florida Veterans for Common Sense is proud to say we stood against the Iraq invasion from the beginning. Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator, but to remove him by invading Iraq was a national security blunder of the highest order and not worth the cost in lives, destruction and money.

The cost to the Iraqis has been horrendous. As early as 2006, experts from Johns Hopkins University, Mustansiriya University in Baghdad, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology concluded the number of people killed in the violence in Iraq after the March 2003 invasion was estimated to be at least 600,000. The Eisenhower Institute calculates 7.8 million people were forced to flee their homes. For perspective, this is about half the population of Florida.

The death and destruction were, and are, paid for with borrowed money. A Nobel Prize-winning economist, Joseph Stiglitz, and Linda Bilmes concluded the cost to be $3 trillion in their 2008 book. In 2010 congressional testimony, they increased the estimate to $4 trillion.

The Congressional Budget Office conservatively estimated $1.9 trillion would be spent on Iraq. Recently, the Watson Institute of International Studies at Brown University issued a report concluding that the total for Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan will be at least $3 trillion and perhaps as high as $4 trillion.

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It is very hard to comment and talk about Robin Williams’ death. It is a tragedy that practically...
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Recently, President Obama declared that “we tortured some folks” admitting that the CIA engaged in...
For that minority of us who reject both this Military Industrial Empire and its Two Party ‘One...
As my heart bleeds for those of you suffering in Gaza and elsewhere in Palestine, I want to add my...
The general presumption is that skin cancer is more prevalent in people with lighter skin color....
During Cold War One those of us in the American radical left were often placed in the position...
The Economist recently published an essay asking, “What’s gone wrong with democracy?”. Why has...
In 1994 Dick Cheney predicted removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq would lead to complete...
Part I - The Precarious Status of International Humanitarian Law By the end of the 19th century...
With the majority of Americans being at least overweight and obesity now dubbed an epidemic and...