Category Archives: Iraq

Rush Holt; The Debt Ceiling Downer

For the moment we have put the debt crisis behind us. That is small comfort as the economy at large, the job situation, the housing market, and the financial markets continue to suffer. The Tea Party in Congress and its enablers should never have been allowed to threaten America’s good name in order to advance their view of a diminished government and trickle-down economics. They should never have been allowed to force a closed-door, hurried revision of our entire economy. And they certainly should never have been able to get away with a deal that increases inequities in our society and our economy. You, like most Americans, may have watched in dismay—or even in disgust—as Washington fumbled the self-imposed crisis.

Putting aside the distasteful process and the worrisome prospect that government by hostage-taking will continue, this week I had to face the immediate questions: Was the resulting deal going to help the economy? Would it create jobs? Would it reduce the crippling inequities in our economy and society? Would it bring down the deficit, as was the ostensible goal? On all counts my answer was “No,” and I voted against the resolution on the House floor.

I am pleased that we as a country are paying our debts, but I lament the damage done to the institutions of government and the good name of the United States as the most reliable, most creditworthy entity in the entire financial world. I lament especially the damage done to our view of ourselves. The negotiations were based on Tea Party premises: that our deficit is the principal concern facing us, that America is a pitiful debtor nation, that we must lower our sights, that we must end the quest to free our people from want and inequalities, that we cannot afford any longer to be the nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all are created equal. Are we no longer the America of the 1940’s that paid for millions of GI’s to go to college and buy homes, while rebuilding ourselves and Europe, when we were faced with a national debt much greater than today?

The deal this week may have the beneficial effect of showing that in the long run the United States intends to bring expenditures more in line with revenues. In the short term, though, the deal is a downer. It not only avoids dealing with today’s principal needs—job creation and economic growth—it actually will cost jobs and preclude any economic stimulation. At a time when clearly the economy is shaky, it is a mistake to declare, as the deal effectively does, that the federal government will have no direct hand in getting the economy moving. To meet next year’s target of spending reductions will require cuts equivalent to the budgets of all the following government operations combined: the EPA, the National Park Service, the Small Business Administration, FEMA emergency and firefighter grants, and the Women-Infants-and-Children food grants. In subsequent years, the cuts would be even ten times larger. Why should we rally to the cry, “No, We Can’t?” Have we forgotten that barely a decade ago we paid down the deficit with strong economic growth, job creation, and budgetary discipline without resorting to gimmicks, triggers, or Balanced Budget Amendments?

I would have liked to vote on a plan that protected the major functions granted to Congress under the Constitution rather than turning them over to an undemocratic, isolated committee of twelve. I would have liked to vote on a plan that would have accelerated withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, saving lives and dollars, and that would have produced savings in our healthcare costs and dealt with the looming loss of 30 percent of doctors’ reimbursement under Medicare. Instead, the plan that was presented was negotiated on the turf of the Tea Party, which seems to think that it is anti-capitalist to ask those individuals and companies doing well in this economy to bear some of the load, even though the one or two percent of people with the highest income have seen their income grow by about 25 percent while everyone else has seen an effective decline and America’s largest corporations have reaped immense profits by using loopholes and offshore tax havens to avoid paying taxes.

Nevertheless, I am making it my job to beat back the pessimistic view in Washington that gave rise to this deal. We must not let this deal be the chart of our country’s future course. It is based on false premises that fail to recognize the inherent fairness that is characteristic of our people, the ingenuity and entrepreneurial energy that have sparked our economy for generations, and the unshakable American meliorism that says we can and must make life better for each succeeding generation. I think that now, more than ever, we must have a realistic view of our situation so that we can strongly defend equality and build a community that reinforces the opportunities for each individual.

Sincerely,

RUSH HOLT
Member of Congress

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Filed under Afghanistan, Congress, Congressman Rush Holt, debt ceiling, economy, EPA, Iraq, Medicare, National Park Service, Tea Party

President Obama Speaks to the Muslim World

The President’s speech “A New Beginning”, outlined his personal commitment to engagement with the Muslim world, based upon mutual interests and mutual respect. It discusses how the United States and Muslim communities around the world can bridge some of the differences that have divided them.

The President spoke for 55 minutes, so if you do not have time to watch the whole video, below it are excerpts taken from the speech courtesy of the White House facebook page.

“I have come here to seek a new beginning between the US & the Muslim world based upon mutual interest and mutual respect”…

“I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.”…

“Our problems must be dealt with through partnership; progress must be shared.”… 

“America has a dual responsibility: to help Iraq forge a better future – and to leave Iraq to Iraqis.”…

“America’s strong bonds with Israel are well known. This bond is unbreakable.”…

“America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own.”…

“America respects the right of all peaceful and law-abiding voices to be heard around the world, even if we disagree with them. And we will welcome all elected, peaceful governments – provided they govern with respect for all their people.”…

“Freedom of religion is central to the ability of peoples to live together.”…

“Our daughters can contribute just as much to society as our sons, and our common prosperity will be advanced by allowing all humanity – men and women – to reach their full potential”…

“I want to particularly say this to young people of every faith, in every country – you, more than anyone, have the ability to remake this world.”…

“We have the power to make the world we seek, but only if we have the courage to make a new beginning, keeping in mind what has been written.”…

“The people of the world can live together in peace. We know that is God’s vision. Now, that must be our work here on Earth.”…

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Filed under Afghanistan, Cairo Egypt, Facebook, Iraq, Islam, muslim world, President Obama, the White House

Abu Ghraib Abuse Photos ‘Show Rape’

May 28, 2009 by The Telegraph/UK

Is rape torture or do we just care about waterboarding? Both are abuses of power and most deffinately torture. Read this excerpt from todays Telegraph and tell me what you think.
Photographs of alleged prisoner abuse which Barack Obama is attempting to censor include images of apparent rape and sexual abuse, it has emerged

At least one picture shows an American soldier apparently raping a female prisoner while another is said to show a male translator raping a male detainee.Further photographs are said to depict sexual assaults on prisoners with objects including a truncheon, wire and a phosphorescent tube.

Another apparently shows a female prisoner having her clothing forcibly removed to expose her breasts.

Detail of the content emerged from Major General Antonio Taguba, the former army officer who conducted an inquiry into the Abu Ghraib jail in Iraq.
Allegations of rape and abuse were included in his 2004 report but the fact there were photographs was never revealed. He has now confirmed their existence in an interview with the Daily Telegraph.
The graphic nature of some of the images may explain the US President’s attempts to block the release of an estimated 2,000 photographs from prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan despite an earlier promise to allow them to be published.
Maj Gen Taguba, who retired in January 2007, said he supported the President’s decision, adding: “These pictures show torture, abuse, rape and every indecency.
“I am not sure what purpose their release would serve other than a legal one and the consequence would be to imperil our troops, the only protectors of our foreign policy, when we most need them, and British troops who are trying to build security in Afghanistan.

“The mere description of these pictures is horrendous enough, take my word for it.”

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Filed under Abu Ghraib, Iraq, pictures, rape, sexual abuse, torture

U.S. Officials Admitted that Boys Were Sodomized In Iraq Prison

In a related story to the Jesse Ventura “Water boarding is Torture” and whether or not enhanced interrogation techniques qualify as torture, comes a story from Washington’s  Blog about how U.S officials have admitted that boys had been sodomized in Iraqi prisons by U.S troops or contractors as a way to persuade others into talking and giving information to their interrogators.

The people responsible for this abomination should be held fully accountable for their actions starting with Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld then all the way down the chain off command. This type of prisoner abuse is totally uncalled for and is a clear violation of any and all laws that govern men.
Read it and judge for yourself:

Many people have heard Pulitzer prize winning reporter Seymour Hersh’s claim that boys were sodomized at Abu Ghraib and that the Pentagon has video of the rapes.

Many people think that they’ll believe it when and if they ever see the video. But we don’t need to wait for the military to release the videos. There is already proof that Hersh is right.

For example, the Guardian wrote in 2004:

The October 12 memorandum, reported in the Washington Post…came to light as more details emerged of the extent of detainee abuse. Formal statements by inmates published yesterday describe horrific treatment at the hands of guards, including the rape of a teenage Iraqi boy by an army translator…

According to the leaked memorandum … it also called for military intelligence officials to work more closely with the military police guards at the prison to “manipulate an internee’s emotions and weaknesses”…

In the Washington Post report, one detainee, Kasim Hilas, describes the rape of an Iraqi boy by a man in uniform, whose name has been blacked out of the statement, but who appears to be a translator working for the army.

“I saw [name blacked out] fucking a kid, his age would be about 15-18 years. The kid was hurting very bad and they covered all the doors with sheets. Then when I heard the screaming I climbed the door because on top it wasn’t covered and I saw [blacked out], who was wearing the military uniform putting his dick in the little kid’s ass,” Mr Hilas told military investigators. “I couldn’t see the face of the kid because his face wasn’t in front of the door. And the female soldier was taking pictures.”

It is not clear from the testimony whether the rapist described by Mr Hilas was working for a private contractor or was a US soldier…

Another inmate, Thaar Dawod, describes more abuse of teenage Iraqis. “They came with two boys naked and they were cuffed together face to face and Grainer [Corporal Charles Graner, one of the military policemen facing court martial] was beating them and a group of guards were watching and taking pictures from top and bottom and there was three female soldiers laughing at the prisoners,” he said.

More convincingly, the Telegraph wrote in 2004:

America was braced last night for new allegations of torture in Iraq after military officials said that photographs apparently showing US soldiers beating an Iraqi prisoner nearly to death and having sex with a female PoW were about to be released.

The officials told the US television network NBC that other images showed soldiers “acting inappropriately with a dead body”. A videotape, apparently made by US personnel, is said to show Iraqi guards raping young boys.

(If that link becomes broken, see this).

There you have it: the Telegraph implied in 2004 that U.S. officialsadmitted that there was a video of guards raping boys. Even if the Telegraph’s implication is wrong, there is strong evidence that such rapes did in fact occur as Hersh said.

And whether or not any of the rapists were U.S. soldiers or contractors, at the very least, American soldiers aided and abetted the rape by standing around and taking videos and photographs.

Whether or not Obama releases the photographic evidence, he must prosecute all of those who committed such atrocities, stood around and watched, ordered them to be committed, or created an environment in which they could occur.


See also this.


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Filed under Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, enhanced interrogation techniques, Iraq, Jesse Ventura, prisoner interrogations, Seymour Hersh, torture, Washington's Blog

McGovern Warns Obama of LBJ Legacy

In 1964, President Johnson said of Vietnam that “I don’t think it’s worth fighting for, and I don’t think that we can get out. Its just the biggest damn mess I ever saw.” Yet Johnson escalated the conflict and America became bogged down in Southeast Asia for more than a decade. Former Senator George McGovern recently sat down with ANP and said that President Obama runs the risk, like Johnsons Great Society, of hobbling his ambitious domestic goals if he continues to send troops into Afghanistan.

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Filed under Afganistan, American News Project, Barack Obama, Financial crisis, George McGovern, Iraq, Lyndon Johnson, Veitnam

>Hoekstra leaks unauthorized intelligence information via Twitter

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I understand the need to keep your constituents informed, but I think that things are getting a little out of hand. 
Whether it is a lunch at the White House with the President or over seas on a SECRET mission to Iraq, do our Representatives need to constantly inform us of their every activity? Are they trying to impress us  so much that they have become oblivious to there surrounds?  
Twitter is a social networking site where friends, family, and co–workers can communicate and stay connected with each other.  Members of Congress should not be abusing their privileges by divulging their activities as they happen. Not only is it rude to their host,but  how can they concentrate on what is being told to them?
The following  post from Think Progress is an excellent example of my point. While on a secret mission to Iraq, Congressman Pete Hoeksra let the followers of his Twitter account know exactly what he was doing, when no one was supposed to know that there was on entourage of congressmen in Iraq.
 

Rep. Pete Hoeksra (R-MI), the ranking member of the House intelligence committee, revealed classified intelligence information on Twitter when he reported on his “congressional trip to Iraq this weekend that was supposed to be a secret.” “Just landed in Baghdad,” messaged Hoekstra, who was part of a delegation led by John Boehner (R-OH). CQ reports, “Before the delegation left Washington, they were advised to keep the trip to themselves for security reasons. A few media outlets, including Congressional Quarterly, learned about it, but agreed not to disclose anything until the delegation had left Iraq.” Hoekstra not only revealed the existence of the trip, but included details about their itinerary. In a May 2006 op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, Hoekstra wrote:

But every time classified national security information is leaked, our ability to gather information on those who would do us harm is eroded. … I regret that I see little sign of intolerance for unauthorized disclosures of intelligence to the media from some of my Democratic colleagues today. … We are a nation at war. Unauthorized disclosures of classified information only help terrorists and our enemies – and put American lives at risk.


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Filed under Congress, Iraq, LA Times, Rep. Pete Hoeksra, secret mission, terrorists, the President, the White House, Think Progress, Twitter

Hoekstra leaks unauthorized intelligence information via Twitter

I understand the need to keep your constituents informed, but I think that things are getting a little out of hand. 
Whether it is a lunch at the White House with the President or over seas on a SECRET mission to Iraq, do our Representatives need to constantly inform us of their every activity? Are they trying to impress us  so much that they have become oblivious to there surrounds?  
Twitter is a social networking site where friends, family, and co–workers can communicate and stay connected with each other.  Members of Congress should not be abusing their privileges by divulging their activities as they happen. Not only is it rude to their host,but  how can they concentrate on what is being told to them?
The following  post from Think Progress is an excellent example of my point. While on a secret mission to Iraq, Congressman Pete Hoeksra let the followers of his Twitter account know exactly what he was doing, when no one was supposed to know that there was on entourage of congressmen in Iraq.
 

Rep. Pete Hoeksra (R-MI), the ranking member of the House intelligence committee, revealed classified intelligence information on Twitter when he reported on his “congressional trip to Iraq this weekend that was supposed to be a secret.” “Just landed in Baghdad,” messaged Hoekstra, who was part of a delegation led by John Boehner (R-OH). CQ reports, “Before the delegation left Washington, they were advised to keep the trip to themselves for security reasons. A few media outlets, including Congressional Quarterly, learned about it, but agreed not to disclose anything until the delegation had left Iraq.” Hoekstra not only revealed the existence of the trip, but included details about their itinerary. In a May 2006 op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, Hoekstra wrote:

But every time classified national security information is leaked, our ability to gather information on those who would do us harm is eroded. … I regret that I see little sign of intolerance for unauthorized disclosures of intelligence to the media from some of my Democratic colleagues today. … We are a nation at war. Unauthorized disclosures of classified information only help terrorists and our enemies – and put American lives at risk.


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Filed under Congress, Iraq, LA Times, Rep. Pete Hoeksra, secret mission, terrorists, the President, the White House, Think Progress, Twitter