Friday, October 24, 2014

OBAMA PLEDGED GOVERNMENT "TRANSPARENCY" BUT THREATENS INVESTIGATIVE REPORTERS By Sherwood Ross









OBAMA PLEDGED GOVERNMENT "TRANSPARENCY"
BUT THREATENS INVESTIGATIVE REPORTERS

By Sherwood Ross


President Obama, who pledged to run a "transparent" White House, instead is threatening reporters with trial and imprisonment if they don't reveal the identities of officials who leak information about government wrongdoing. 


"I've felt the chill first-hand," Pulitzer Prize-winner David Barstow of The New York Times says. "Trusted sources in Washington are scared to talk by telephone, or by email, or even to meet for coffee, regardless whether the subject touches on national security or not."


He told "The Nation" (Oct. 27, 2014) magazine that the "vindictive" efforts of the Bush and Obama regimes, by trying to force New York Times reporter Jim Risen into betraying his sources, "has already done substantial and lasting damage to journalism in the United States."


Not only is Obama out to punish reporters for writing up his regime's failures but he is threatening any Federal employees who talk to the press with termination or worse. Sally Buzbee, the AP's Washington Bureau Chief, said Transportation Department (DOT) employees are telling her reporters they will be fired "if they're caught talking" to AP. Recently, Obama's snoopers illegally tapped the phones of AP reporters.


Obama has also created the "Insider Threat" program, which The Nation co-authors Norman Solomon and Marcy Wheeler write is "insidious" as it "pressures federal workers to monitor and report fellow employees suspected of ideological or attitudinal deviance." Not surprisingly, The Nation reports, "An atmosphere of fear has intensified inside government." Their magazine article is titled, "The Government's War on Whistleblowers."


The lightning rod of the regime's wrath is Risen, a Pulitzer Prize-winner who revealed the vast scope of illegal secret domestic eavesdropping in his 2006 book "State of War." A New York Times reporter who had covered the CIA, the Agency might just be angry at him for exposing its flawed intelligence work when it slipped nuclear documents to Iran it hoped would screw up their alleged nuclear ops.


What's more, on July 6, 2004, Risen's NYT article, "CIA Held Back Iraqi Arms Data," showed the CIA likely had the data to show Saddam Hussein's regime no longer had any plans to develop WMDs. "But the CIA kept mum about those findings, even as the Bush White House continued to proclaim that invading Iraq was necessary due to its purported WMD's."


"All too frequently, the government claims that publication of certain information will harm national security, when in reality, the government's real concern is about covering up its own wrongdoing or avoiding embarrassment," Risen told The Nation. Risen currently is under subpoena and faces possible jail time for his courageous reporting. Another Obama target was John Kiriakou, a CIA analyst and case officer.  His crime, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, was to blow the whistle on secret CIA torture. A true pro-democracy president would have given him a medal. Instead, Kiriakou got 30 months.


"To date," the magazine said, "The Obama administration has charged nine people with violating the 97-year-old Espionage Act---far more than all other administrations combined." As Barstow of the Times observed, "My fellow investigative reporters commiserate about how we're being forced to act like drug dealers, taking extreme precautions to avoid leaving any digital bread crumbs about where we've been and who we've met."


Some people, Risen says, “don’t want to believe that Obama wants to crack down on the press and whistle-blowers. But he does. He’s the greatest enemy to press freedom in a generation.”


While the views of reporters may be subjective, considering they are being harassed and threatened, the results of an objective global survey by Reporters Without Borders also finds Obama grossly deficient.  Under Mr. Obama, press freedom in America this year plunged to an unenviable 46th in the world from 32nd. Some 180 countries were measured on how free reporters are to report.


Yet another blast against Obama's handling of the press comes from the Committee to Protect Journalists. Rather than improving transparency, Obama's waged an unprecedented fight to contain leaks and control his administration's image, CPJ found


Overall,the press record of Obama's presidency doesn't resemble transparency as much as tyranny. #


(Sherwood Ross formerly worked for the Chicago Daily News, wire services, and holds an award for his civil rights coverage. To contribute to his Anti-War News Service, which depends on publishers and public support, reach him at sherwoodross10@gmail.com)











AP's addiction to propaganda

The Associated Press was specifically targeted by the current administration.  For those who've forgotten, let's drop back to the May 13, 2013 snapshot:



The so-called 'war on terror' wounds another democratic institution.   Mark Sherman (AP) reports that his news organization's phone records for April and May 2012 were seized by the US Justice Dept.  Sherman quotes a statement from Associated Press President and CEO Gary Pruitt: 

 There can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications of the Associated Press and its reporters. These records potentially reveal communications with confidential sources across all of the newsgathering activities undertaken by the AP during a two-month period, provide a road map to AP's newsgathering operations, and disclose information about AP's activities and operations that the government has no conceivable right to know.

 Revelations of the seizure emerge ten days after World Press Freedom Day. The news also emerges after AP won their 51st Pulizter Prize -- last month photo journalists Rodrigo Abd, Manu Brabo, Narciso Contreras, Khalil Hamra and Muhammed Muheisen were honored,  and it emerges after AP photo journalist David Guttenfelder was awarded the Infinity Award for Photojournalism only days ago.  167 years ago this month, the Associated Press began as "five New York City newspapers got together to fund a pony express route through Alabama in order to bring news of the Mexican War north more quickly than the U.S. Post Office could deliver it. In the decades since, AP has been first to tell the world of many of history’s most important moments, from the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the bombing of Pearl Harbor to the fall of the shah of Iran and the death of Pope John Paul."  Over 30 correspondents have died in those years in the pursuit of news stories. The story of the Associated Press is the story of changing technology, "AP delivered news by pigeon, pony express, railroad, steamship, telegraph and teletype in the early years. In 1935, AP began sending photographs by wire. A radio network was formed in 1973, and an international video division was added in 1994. In 2005, a digital database was created to hold all AP content, which has allowed the agency to deliver news instantly and in every format to the ever expanding online world."

So what led to the US government's assault on the First Amendment?  The AP believes it is this report by Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo from May 2012 which opened with, "The CIA thwarted an ambitious plot by Al Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen to destroy a U.S.-bound airliner using a bomb with a sophisticated new design around the one-year anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden, the Associated Press has learned." 




Of course, attacks on press freedoms are encouraged by the press itself when they refuse to use their power appropriately and, instead, whore it out.

Case in point, the AP's nonsense today about the 'new life' in the Iraqi military.


Is there new life?

Why, yes, according to a group of people AP speaks to like this one:

"We've seen them start to act like an army," one official said Thursday in a lengthy exchange with a group of Washington reporters who were invited to U.S. Central Command headquarters for the command's most extensive briefings on operations in Iraq and Syria.


Nothing says 'trust me' quite as much as a US official making claims but refusing to be quoted by name.

None have names, AP explains, because "The officials, who were not authorized to be quoted by name in discussing details of the U.S. military strategy in Iraq and Syria, made it clear that no large Iraqi counteroffensive was imminent or even feasible for the time being."

They're lying.  That's why they're not quoted by name.

This isn't news, it's propaganda and AP willingly goes along.

There is no need to hide these officials.  They're spinning and lying on behalf of the administration.  They're not whistle blowers, they're just flunkies.

There's also no need to treat claims as reality.

Phil Stewart (Reuters) was at the same press junket but his report emphasizes the months and months the same unnamed officials insisted it would take for Iraqi forces to stand up.

The claims AP treats as facts are ridiculous and they're also refuted by events this week.  From yesterday's snapshot:



Leaving what's around the corner to take a look at what's on the road now, Lolita C. Baldor (AP) notes, "The Pentagon says Iraq's new defense minister says his troops will go on the offensive against Islamic State militants who have taken over large sections of the country."

They'll go on the offensive, will they?


Anytime soon?

Sunday, World Bulletin noted the Iraqi military's efforts to retake Baiji ended when a bomb blew up "an armored vehicle" killing 4 Iraqi soldiers and leaving seven more injured.  The military insists the vehicle blown up was driven by a member of the Islamic State and that the military mistook it for one of their own vehicles and, most importantly, they'll try again to retake Baiji.  Real soon.  But still not yet, not as of today.

And today Saif Sameer and Ned Parker (Reuters) report that the Islamic State seized Zauiyat albu Nimr Village in Anbar Province and that, during the battle, the Iraqi military began escaping via a helicopter.

They're going on the offensive when?

Do they understand what "offensive" means?




It's really hard to defend a victim who not only refuses to defend his or herself but who also keeps taking the abuse.

The American people have repeatedly stood up for the press throughout the country's history.  It's a shame that the press itself has had far less backbone and far less dedication.

After their initial role in selling the ongoing and illegal war, you'd think, if nothing else, guilt and shame would prevent them from continuing to churn out propaganda.


The following community sites -- plus Susan's On the Edge and Antiwar.com -- updated:







  •  


  • The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.


    iraq










    Thursday, October 23, 2014

    Iraq snapshot


    Thursday, October 23, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, the US government and the Turkish government clash, Mount Sinjar is not a White House success, and much more.






    Recep Tayyip Erdogan is the President of Turkey and he's in the news cycle.  Hugh Naylor and Brian Murphy (Washington Post) report, "Turkey’s president sharpened criticism of U.S. airdrops to aid Syrian Kurdish fighters battling the Islamic State, but promised on Thursday that Kurdish reinforcements would soon arrive in the embattled border town of Kobane. [. . .] Erdogan also amplified his criticism of U.S. airdrops to help the Syrian Kurdish fighters, claiming it was blatant interference in Turkish affairs."

    In what may have been a retaliation for criticizing the White House publicly,  David Cohen went on the attack against Turkey today.  James Reinl (Rudaw) reports Treasury Undersecretary Cohen declared today that US sanctions will be slapped on Turkey and any "Kudrish middlemen" caught trafficking in 'terrorist' oil.  Cohen stated, "Last month, ISIL was selling oil at substantially discounted prices to a variety of middlemen, including some from Turkey.  It also appears that some of the oil emanating from territory where ISIL operates has been sold to Kurds in Iraq, and then resold into Turkey."

    Cohen made his remarks/allegations/threats while speaking at the Carnegie Endowment For International Peace.  In his remarks, he also outlined how the US government believes the Islamic State makes money:


    Before turning to the specific steps we are taking, let me take a moment to detail these sources of revenue.
     
    First, ISIL has raised a significant amount of its money – many millions of dollars – from selling oil it extracts from fields in Syria and Iraq. 
     
    Our best understanding is that ISIL has tapped into a long-standing and deeply rooted black market connecting traders in and around the area. After extracting the oil, ISIL sells it to smugglers who, in turn, transport the oil outside of ISIL’s strongholds.  These smugglers move oil in a variety of ways, from relatively sizeable tankers to smaller containers.
     
    We also understand that ISIL controls oil refineries of various sizes and output capacities, and earns some revenue from the sale of refined petroleum products. 
     
    So who, ultimately, is buying this oil?  According to our information, as of last month, ISIL was selling oil at substantially discounted prices to a variety of middlemen, including some from Turkey, who then transported the oil to be resold.  It also appears that some of the oil emanating from territory where ISIL operates has been sold to Kurds in Iraq, and then resold into Turkey.  And in a further indication of the Asad regime’s depravity, it seems the Syrian government has made an arrangement to purchase oil from ISIL. 
     
    It is difficult to get precise revenue estimates on the value to ISIL of these transactions in light of the murky nature of the market, but we estimate that beginning in mid-June, ISIL has earned approximately $1 million a day from oil sales. 
     
    There are good indications, however, that recent coalition military efforts have begun to impair ISIL’s ability to generate revenue from oil smuggling.  Airstrikes on ISIL oil refineries are threatening ISIL’s supply networks and depriving it of fuel to sell or use itself.  Moreover, our partners in the region, including Turkey and the Kurdistan Regional Government, are committed to preventing ISIL-derived oil from crossing their borders. Last week, the International Energy Agency reported that ISIL’s ability to produce, refine and smuggle oil had been significantly hampered.
     
    Second, ISIL also kidnaps innocent civilians to profit from ransoms paid to obtain their release.
     
    ISIL did not pioneer kidnapping for ransom – it has been around for thousands of years.  And other terrorist organizations, including al Qa’ida’s affiliates in Yemen and north Africa, also rely on ransom payments as a key revenue source.  As I have said before, kidnapping for ransom is one of the most significant terrorist financing threats today.  For ISIL, these ransom payments are irregular, but each one can be a significant boon.  This spring, ISIL released captured journalists and other hostages from several European countries.  In return, according to press reports, ISIL received several multi-million dollar payments.  All in all, ISIL has taken at least $20 million in ransoms this year. 
     
    Third, like its predecessor, al Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI), ISIL raises money – up to several million dollars per month – through a sophisticated extortion racket.  In Iraq and Syria, ISIL extracts payments from those who pass through, conduct business in, or simply seek to live in the territory where it operates. 
     
    In the Iraqi city of Mosul, for instance, accounts have surfaced of ISIL terrorists going home-to-home, business-to-business, demanding cash at gunpoint.  A grocery store owner who refused to pay was warned with a bomb outside his shop.  Others who have not paid have seen their relatives kidnapped.  Religious minorities have been forced to pay special tributes.  We’ve also seen reports that when customers make cash withdrawals from local banks where ISIL operates, ISIL has demanded as much as ten percent of the value. 
     
    Make no mistake: This is not taxation in return for services or even for real protection.  It is theft, pure and simple.  The money ISIL pilfers is being exchanged not for a guarantee of safety but for the temporary absence of harm.
     
    Fourth, ISIL also profits from a range of other criminal activities.  They rob banks.  They lay waste to thousands of years of civilization in Iraq and Syria by looting and selling antiquities.  They steal livestock and crops from farmers.  And despicably, they sell abducted girls and women as sex slaves. 
     

    Finally, as I mentioned earlier, ISIL derives some funding from wealthy donors.  Even though ISIL currently does not rely heavily on external donor networks, it maintains important links to financiers in the Gulf, as a spate of Treasury designations last month made clear. 


    Cohen's accusations against Turkey don't detract from what Erdogan stated today.  On that, Anatoul Agency adds:


    Turkey criticized the U.S. for its military aid to the outlawed Kurdish Democratic Union Party on Monday, saying that would mean arming "terrorists," Erdogan recalled at the press conference.
    "Why is Kobani so important? Where were the rest of the world while Daraa, Idlib, Hama or Homs was burning?" Erdogan asked.
    "There are no civilians left in Kobani, only about 2,000 PYD fighters," he added, using an abbreviation for the Kurdish party. 
    The Kurdish Democratic Union Party is affiliated with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, which has waged a decades-long separatist fight with the Turkish army. The PKK is considered a terrorist group by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union.


    For Turkey, the Kurdish question has long been an issue.

    Internally, Turkey has a long history of suppressing Kurds and while Erdogen has made overtures in recent years, the oppression continues.

    Along with overtures to Kurds in Turkey -- many of whom want their own country, Erdogen has also, with Kurdistan Regional President Massoud Barzani, formed a working partnership with the KRG.

    The KRG is the closest thing Kurds around the world have to their own country.  The KRG is a group of provinces in northern Iraq which border Turkey.  Many Kurds in Iraq would prefer that the semi-autonomous KRG become fully autonomous.

    For years, this has been a fear -- a big one -- for the Turkish government which has worried that should the KRG become fully autonomous it would lead the Kurds in Turkey to strengthen their demands for autonomy.

    On the Turkish government, Con Coughlin (Telegraph of London) explains:


    The Turks’ reluctance to get behind the military effort against IS is based on two concerns, both of which put Ankara fundamentally at odds with the objectives of its Nato partners. The first is Turkey’s aim in Syria’s brutal civil war to see Assad overthrown and replaced by an Islamic government with a similar outlook to that of its own President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
    Until last year this was not a problem, as Britain and America and Ankara shared a common goal regarding Assad. But the West’s priorities have changed dramatically since the heady days of late August 2013 when President Obama and David Cameron made their ill-fated attempt to garner support for air strikes against Damascus.
    These days, the West’s priority is to defeat the Islamist militants who oppose the Assad regime. Claims that the Turks are actively supporting IS fighters with arms and training indicates that there now exists a sharp divergence between Turkey’s priorities in the conflict and those of the western powers.
    The plight of the Kurds is the other bone of contention between Turkey and Nato. Denying Kurdish aspirations for full independence is hard-wired into the DNA of Ankara’s political establishment, to the extent that the Turks, as shown in Kobane, would prefer to see a town overrun by IS rather than have the Kurds prevail.


    While obstacles remain there, the US Defense Dept wants everyone to know they are shoulder-to-shoulder with Iraq.  Via spokesperson Rear Adm John Kirby, the Pentagon released the following today:


    Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel spoke via telephone with the Iraqi Minister of Defense Khaled al Obeidi today. Secretary Hagel congratulated the newly-appointed Defense Minister and underscored his support for the Minister's counterterrorism pursuits.
    Secretary Hagel emphasized the importance of rebuilding the Iraqi Security Forces in a way that engenders trust and confidence among the armed forces personnel and the Iraqi people.
    The two talked about ways to train, equip and prepare the Iraqi Security forces for upcoming offensives against ISIL and Minister Obeidi expressed his appreciation for U.S. advisors and airstrikes. Both Secretary Hagel and Minister Obeidi promised to continue to work closely together to pursue mutual security objectives.






    As Barack Obama's nonplan continues in Iraq, there are whispers of another plan (a post-mid-term election one).   Karen DeYoung (Washington Post) reported yesterday that the White House thinks it has another 'plan' for addressing the Islamic State in Iraq.  This one would be termed a "battle plan" and a sure sign of its weakness can be found in the belief that it will take place "gradually."  DeYoung explains:


    The plan, described as methodical and time-consuming, will not begin in earnest for several months and is designed to ensure that Iraqi forces­ do not overextend themselves before they are capable of taking and holding territory controlled by the militants.

    It may also include U.S. advisers in the field with the Iraqis, should that be recommended by American military commanders, said the official, who updated reporters on administration strategy on the condition of anonymity under rules imposed by the White House. The advisers, the official said, would not participate in combat. President Obama has said repeatedly that no U.S. ground forces would be deployed to Iraq.

    You can be sure that the "may"s will disappear after the start of the next month when Barack will no longer have to worry about the immediate voter fallout.

    Bill Van Auken (WSWS) offers:

    And, as for Obama’s promise about no “ground forces,” this term is used in a manner that does not apply to special operations troops, advisers and other smaller units, but rather to the deployment of full combat brigades.
    The announcement that the topic was discussed by US and Iraqi officials almost certainly indicates that preparations are being made to substantially increase the number of US military personnel deployed in Iraq, which, according to official figures, now stands at over 1,400.



    Leaving what's around the corner to take a look at what's on the road now, Lolita C. Baldor (AP) notes, "The Pentagon says Iraq's new defense minister says his troops will go on the offensive against Islamic State militants who have taken over large sections of the country."

    They'll go on the offensive, will they?


    Anytime soon?

    Sunday, World Bulletin noted the Iraqi military's efforts to retake Baiji ended when a bomb blew up "an armored vehicle" killing 4 Iraqi soldiers and leaving seven more injured.  The military insists the vehicle blown up was driven by a member of the Islamic State and that the military mistook it for one of their own vehicles and, most importantly, they'll try again to retake Baiji.  Real soon.  But still not yet, not as of today.

    And today Saif Sameer and Ned Parker (Reuters) report that the Islamic State seized Zauiyat albu Nimr Village in Anbar Province and that, during the battle, the Iraqi military began escaping via a helicopter.

    They're going on the offensive when?

    Do they understand what "offensive" means?


    They just might be as confused as Valerie Jarrett who, two Sundays ago on NBC's Meet The Press, declared Mount Sinjar to be an important "success." Today,  Saif Sameer and Ned Parker (Reuters) also report, "U.S. President Barack Obama authorized air strikes on IS in Iraq in August, citing the duty to prevent an impending genocide of minority Yazidis at the hands of the jihadist insurgents who attacked them around Sinjar Mountain."


    Air strikes on Mount Sinjar.  Just like the latest wave started August 8th.

    What's really changed since then?

    Nothing.

    And I keep waiting for US Senator John McCain to haul out his whack-a-mole talk from the previous administration and point out that any minor victory in X leads to a loss in Y.


    Mount Sinjar came up in today's US State Dept press briefing moderated by Jen Psaki:



    QUESTION: Can you confirm reports or do you have any comment on the fact that Yezidis are once again trapped on Mount Sinjar and requesting help, expecting an assault again by ISIS fighters?

    MS. PSAKI: Well, obviously, as you know, we had taken recent action, relatively recently I should say, over the course of the summer. I don’t have anything new to predict for you. We remain committed to addressing humanitarian crises as we see them and to continuing to assist those who are impacted by the threat of ISIL. But operationally, I would point you to DOD to see if there’s anything they would want to preview about anything they’re planning.

    QUESTION: Just to follow up on that, the Administration has said repeatedly that, for example, Kobani in a city of itself doesn’t have a lot of strategic import in the overall fight. I’m wondering if you have any idea what ISIS’s – what their aim is in trying to get Sinjar. Why? Do you have any idea why Sinjar is such a prize? They keep going back to it, so --

    MS. PSAKI: Well, I don’t think – I know this is not what you asked, but even on Kobani I can’t tell you why – we can’t tell you why, aside from their desire to have a propaganda victory, that they are focusing there either. The reason --

    QUESTION: Well, the border. They could control the border there.

    MS. PSAKI: But in terms of their focus on Sinjar, I don’t know that I have analysis on why strategically ISIL is going after it more.

    QUESTION: But the reason that you undertook the action in the first place is because you thought that ISIS was trying to launch a genocide against the Yezidis.

    MS. PSAKI: Right. That’s right.

    QUESTION: So aren’t you still concerned about that?


    MS. PSAKI: Well, we certainly remain concerned about any group that’s threatened by ISIL, and we’ve taken action in the past. I have nothing to preview for you in terms of future operations, as would be typically the case.





    Saif Sameer and Ned Parker (Reuters) report, "U.S. President Barack Obama authorized air strikes on IS in Iraq in August, citing the duty to prevent an impending genocide of minority Yazidis at the hands of the jihadist insurgents who attacked them around Sinjar Mountain."  But AFP reports, "Islamic State group jihadists besieging Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq have killed a commander of forces from the Yazidi religious minority defending the area, a fighter said yesterday. The commander, Al Sheikh Khayri, had returned from Germany, which has large Yazidi community, to fight, and was killed on Wednesday night, Khalaf Mamu said by telephone."


    And the Yazidis are only one group targeted.  Human Rights Watch's Kenneth Roth Tweets:



  • Lastly, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America issued the following yesterday:


    CONTACT: Gretchen Andersen (212) 982-9699 or press@iava.org

    New York, NY (October 22, 2014) – Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization representing post-9/11 veterans and their families, today announced director, producer, actor and writer Peter Berg – who recently wrote and directed the Oscar-nominated, blockbuster hit, “Lone Survivor” – will join the organizations’ Board of Directors this fall. 
    Director Pete BergBerg, a loyal veteran advocate and son of a Marine, received IAVA’s 2014 Leadership in Entertainment Award this past May at the Heroes Celebration in Los Angeles, CA. 
    “IAVA is honored to have Pete Berg join our board and lead the effort to support and empower the New Greatest Generation of veterans,” said IAVA Founder and CEO Paul Rieckhoff. “In 2014 and beyond, we look forward to working with Pete in fighting for critical veterans issues. “Lone Survivor’s” success elevated a national conversation on the sacrifices of our veterans and servicemembers over the past 13 years.  As the son of a Marine, Pete is a staunch supporter of post-9/11 veterans and the military community. In the past few months he has met with IAVA members and veterans in both New York and Los Angeles. We are excited to bring him on board as we begin to celebrate our 10th anniversary and prep for Veterans Day 2014.”
    In addition to “Lone Survivor,” Berg is also known for his fierce portrait of high school football in the 2004 film adaptation of Buzz Bissinger’s bestseller, “Friday Night Lights.” The film's success, both in theaters and on DVD, spawned the acclaimed TV series of the same name, which aired for five seasons and garnered multiple Emmy nominations and wins. In addition to serving as the series' executive producer, Berg also directed several episodes of the show, including the 2006 pilot, for which he earned an Emmy nomination as Best Director. As one of the series' writers, he also shared a Writers Guild nomination for Best New Series.
    As an actor, Berg's recent film work includes roles in “Lions for Lambs,” “Smokin' Aces,” and "Collateral.”
    In addition to directing the 2012 film "Battleship," the New York native (and son of a Naval historian) also develops projects under his Film 44 banner. Berg has also directed “Hancock” and “The Kingdom,” among other feature films. Most recently, Berg was an executive producer and directed several episodes of the HBO series "The Leftovers," starring Justin Theroux and Liv Tyler.
    Note to media: Email press@iava.org or call 212-982-9699 to speak with IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff or IAVA leadership. 
    Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (www.IAVA.org) is the nation's first and largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization representing veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan and has nearly 300,000 Member Veterans and civilian supporters nationwide. Celebrating its 10th year anniversary, IAVA recently received the highest rating - four-stars - from Charity Navigator, America's largest charity evaluator.



















    Are U.S. Bioweapons Labs the Solution, or the Problem? (Francis Boyle)


    Francis A. Boyle is an attorney and a professor of international law.  He's also the author of many books including, most recently, United Ireland, Human Rights and International Law.



    FRANCIS BOYLE, fboyle@illinois.edu


        Professor at the University of Illinois College of Law, Boyle drafted the U.S. Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989, which is the U.S. domestic implementing legislation for the Biological Weapons Convention. His books include Biowarfare and Terrorism.


        He said today: "If, as some in the Liberian press are claiming, this outbreak of Ebola is from one of the labs in west Africa run by the CDC and Tulane University, it could be an unprecedented human disaster. That could mean it was GMOed into a 'Fluebola.' Recall that the 2001 weaponized anthrax attacks were traced to a U.S. government lab. It's incredibly odd that this outbreak occurred 1,000 miles from past outbreaks and it is clearly more easily transmissible.


        "Scientists like Yoshihiro Kawaoka at the University of Wisconsin have been 'researching' Ebola for years. Since the anthrax attacks, some $79 billion has been spent. But we still don't have a vaccine ready to protect us. These labs have actually spent government money, including from the National Institutes of Health, to make viruses more deadly. The work done at these labs shouldn't be curtailed or temporarily suspended as the administration seems to be talking about, but stopped. This work is criminal. It violates the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989, which I wrote. It was passed unanimously by both Houses of Congress and states:


        "'Whoever knowingly develops, produces, stockpiles, transfers, acquires, retains, or possesses any biological agent, toxin, or delivery system for use as a weapon, or knowingly assists a foreign state or any organization to do so, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for life or any term of years, or both. There is extraterritorial Federal jurisdiction over an offense under this section committed by or against a national of the United States.'


        "After the law was passed, the government has claimed that it's not violating it because it is creating these more deadly viruses to help protect against them should they develop elsewhere. It's a ridiculous argument to get around the blanket prohibition in the law. This policy has been a catastrophe waiting to happen -- a statistical certainty.”


     

    Francis A. Boyle
    Law Building
    504 E. Pennsylvania Ave.
    Champaign, IL 61820 USA












    On Iraq and US voter apathy

    Alsumaria notes that, despite Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's September 13th declaration, Iraqi forces continue to bomb the residential neighborhoods of Falluja and that Falluja General Hospital reports receiving 39 civilians injured in today's bombing as well as 1 corpse.  In Ramadi, Iraqi Spring MC notes, 2 women are dead from the bombing of civilian areas.  Another Ramadi attack has left 1 girl dead and her mother and four sisters injured.

    The bombing of Falluja is an ongoing War Crime.

    People should be prosecuted for it.  The White House looked the other way when Iraq's former prime minister and forever thug Nouri al-Maliki started the bombings back in January.  Now that they are in partnership with the new Iraqi government and offering 'advisors,' they're in bed with these War Crimes.  It's no longer just Barack looking the other way with regards to what's taking place in another country.  These are his War Crimes as well.

    You are not allowed to use collective punishment and target civilian populations.  Doing so is a War Crime.  And the US government has been very clear on that when it came to enemy governments.

    Reality, it's also true of 'friendly' governments and, yes, of the United States itself.

    These are War Crimes and either the US government publicly objects or they are complicit in what their partners in Iraq are doing.

    Over at Gallup, Frank Newport asks, "Why Are Americans Less Involved in This Year's Election?"

    He asks, but he can't answer.

    And after all his hand wringing, as he's winding down finally, he offers:

    Finally, I would say it's reasonable to entertain the hypothesis that Americans may be less interested in the elections this year than in the previous two elections because they have reached the point where they don't believe their vote for a specific person, of either party, is going to change much. 

    That's as close to reality as he wants to tiptoe.

    With Barack at record lows, the reality is buyer's remorse.

    The reality is that Hope and Change became No Change.

    Bully Boy Bush demoralized the country and hucksters and whores sold Barack as something different to a public desperately wanting to go a new direction.


    But Barack was sworn in and his promise that, "This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow, and our planet began to heal"?

    More Hopium for the masses to smoke.

    For some whores, the problem with Bully Boy Bush was that he had a strong accent and was from the Republican Party.

    For many Americans, however, the problem was the illegal war, the illegal spying, Guantanamo, forcefeeding of the prisoners, using drones to kill people, on and on.

    And Barack hasn't just continued the offensives (and, yes, illegal) policies, he's expanded on them.

    Barack was sold to them as the direct opposite of Bully Boy Bush and they voted for him only to discover Barack's even worse than Bully Boy Bush.

    And even worse than that, as we keep hearing these last weeks as we speak on campuses, there is a feeling that no one represents them.

    Politicians?

    Yeah, there's disgust there.

    But even more so, there's disgust with the so-called commentariat which does a good job whoring for the Democratic Party but a lousy job representing Americans on the left.

    A lot of careers have been destroyed.  Former best selling authors can't sell books because they betrayed their audience by abandoning principled stands in order to become cheerleaders for Barack.

    The end result is that he will leave the White House a very rich man while his whores will discover they have no one left to lie to because they've already run off the audience they used to have.

    It's not just an anger at politicians that the people are feeling, it's also an anger at the chattering class.

    And you hear it especially with regards to Barack's continuing the War on Iraq and the silence from supposed antiwar and peace voices and outlets.

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