April 1, 2015 - The Constantine Report    
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March 5th 2020 12

Are you using the best credit card when ordering food for delivery?

The key to more success is to have a lot of pillows. Always remember in the jungle there’s a lot of they in there, after you will make it to paradise. Egg whites, turkey sausage, wheat toast, water.

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March 5th 2020 12

Are you using the best credit card when ordering food for delivery?

The key to more success is to have a lot of pillows. Always remember in the jungle there’s a lot of they in there, after you will make it to paradise. Egg whites, turkey sausage, wheat toast, water.

Continue reading
Image
March 5th 2020 12

Are you using the best credit card when ordering food for delivery?

The key to more success is to have a lot of pillows. Always remember in the jungle there’s a lot of they in there, after you will make it to paradise. Egg whites, turkey sausage, wheat toast, water.

Continue reading
Image
March 5th 2020 12

Are you using the best credit card when ordering food for delivery?

The key to more success is to have a lot of pillows. Always remember in the jungle there’s a lot of they in there, after you will make it to paradise. Egg whites, turkey sausage, wheat toast, water.

Continue reading
Image
March 5th 2020 12

Are you using the best credit card when ordering food for delivery?

The key to more success is to have a lot of pillows. Always remember in the jungle there’s a lot of they in there, after you will make it to paradise. Egg whites, turkey sausage, wheat toast, water.

Continue reading
Image
March 5th 2020 12

Are you using the best credit card when ordering food for delivery?

The key to more success is to have a lot of pillows. Always remember in the jungle there’s a lot of they in there, after you will make it to paradise. Egg whites, turkey sausage, wheat toast, water.

Continue reading

Liar, Liar Pence On Fire!

This is a modified py-6 that occupies the entire horizontal space of its parent.

Let’s face it: You don’t get to be governor of a deeply red state like Indiana, which went Republican in every presidential election from 1968 to 2004, without a dose of intolerance in your bones. One of the most conservative states in the Midwest, in many ways Indiana is “more southern than the South.” The notion that its legislature would adopt a more severely discriminatory version of so-called “religious freedom” laws than currently on the books anywhere should come as no surprise to anyone.

In recent days, Gov. Mike Pence claimed his state was hit with an “avalanche of intolerance.” In a press conference Tuesday morning, he called media coverage “reckless” and driven by misconceptions over what Indiana’s controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act intends.

It’s a curious response from a man who just bastardized the Bill of Rights and invoked Dr. King and Bloody Sunday to revive segregation-era laws. At the height of the civil rights movement, supporters of America’s own system of apartheid used privacy and property rights in an attempt to defend the indefensible. Today, led by Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition, Indiana and other states are citing “religious freedom” to roll back the clock on social progress.

Gov. Pence claimed repeatedly that the language in the Indiana law mirrors the federal act signed in 1993 by then-President Bill Clinton. According to Pence, it is identical to Illinois state legislation supported by then-state senator Barack Obama. Without taking a breath, he even pointed to the ACLU.

Saying, “I abhor discrimination,” Gov. Pence claimed, with a straight face, that his version of the RFRA does not allow businesses to “deny services to anyone.” In fact, it does. In fact, the Indiana law differs from the federal legislation and related state statutes Pence cited in two critical ways.

Pence, an attorney by training and trade, surely knows this.

Unlike the Indiana law, the federal RFRA does not contain any language that allows for-profit businesses to assert a right to “the free exercise of religion.” None of the other 19 states with RFRAs, except South Carolina, make such a mention.

Pence also says his RFRA is designed to specifically and narrowly prevent government infringement on religious liberties during court proceedings. In fact, the legislation unambiguously includes non-governmental parties—meaning businesses and individuals can be both plaintiffs and defendants under the law. Indiana’s RFRA says a business can use the “free exercise” right as a defense against a civil lawsuit brought by an individual.

The governor was lying when he told ABC’s This Week “this isn’t about disputes between individuals. It’s about government overreach.”

The law he signed specifically says:

A person whose exercise of religion has been substantially burdened, or is likely to be substantially burdened, by a violation of this chapter may assert the violation or impending violation as a claim or defense in a judicial or administrative proceeding, regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity is a party to the proceeding.

Again, neither the federal RFRA nor 18 of the state statutes say anything of the kind. Texas, which enacted its version in 1999, stands alone in including similar language in its RFRA.

Pence, who last year wouldn’t rule out a run for president, clearly has more heady ambitions and is pandering to a base of right-wing evangelicals. He wasn’t prepared, he said, for the backlash that included economic boycotts. He certainly wasn’t prepared for thousands of protestors who planned to descend on Indianapolis for the Final Four.

Calling the legislation “vital to the framework of liberty,” Pence defended the Hoosier State as home to some of the most hospitable people in the world. He says there is a perception problem that he hopes the Indiana legislature will work to fix this week. He wanted everyone to know that “Indiana is open for business.”

To the contrary, the Indiana legislation was an engraved dinner invitation addressed to Jim Crow. The religious freedom laws recently enacted are about anything but liberty. They are about codifying bigotry into law.

Also see: Watch Tony Blair dodge questions over Chilcot Inquiry in Davos

Clash of interests on the Chilcot panel re: Sir Lawrence Freedman, Professor of War Studies at King’s College London: “Sir Lawrence Freedman was appointed Privy Councilor as Adviser to PM Tony Blair on Foreign Affairs, in the period from 1997-2007.  He has also formed a company with the MOD to train the military and businesses in military strategy.  I contend that these  positions are incompatible with his membership of the Chilcot Inquiry.”

Misdirection at the Chilcot Inquiry

The Inquiry shows us that when asked a difficult question there is nearly always a way to deflect responsibility.

“Determination in a single instance is an expression of courage; if it becomes characteristic, a mental habit. But here we are referring not to physical courage but the courage to accept responsibility.”

Carl von Clausewitz wrote this in his seminal work “On War” and although most soldiers have read it, it might be a paragraph that Lord Chilcot insists his witnesses read when he eventually publishes the results of his Inquiry on the Iraq war.  It has now been over five years since the Inquiry began. At the recent Foreign Affairs Select Committee Chilcot was asked to explain why it was taking so long to publish his report.  Sir Martin Gilbert has since died, and Chilcot came up with no clear answer.

Carl von Clausewitz wrote this in his seminal work “On War” and although most soldiers have read it, it might be a paragraph that Lord Chilcot insists his witnesses read when he eventually publishes the results of his Inquiry on the Iraq war. It has now been over five years since the Inquiry began. At the recent Foreign Affairs Select Committee Chilcot was asked to explain why it was taking so long to publish his report. Sir Martin Gilbert has since died, and Chilcot came up with no clear answer.

The purpose of the Inquiry is not only to try and find out how decisions were made, but also to ascertain how to measure mistakes and errors that were made leading up to the invasion and in the long years after. As a documentary film maker who has made television series on the British military in Iraq, who has learned from bitter experience that there are no excuses in programme making, the overriding feature of the Inquiry it seems to me, are the excuses made by many, and the denial of responsibility by most. The longer the delay in publication of the report, the more chance those who are criticised will have to again defer responsibility.

“I can’t remember”, “You will have to ask someone else”

The major lines of Inquiry concern the costing of the exercise, the provision of security and how the military functioned. Much of the interest was, and will be on the decisions to go to war. However, it is arguably the aftermath of the war that has had a major and devastating effect on the country and region. The British military was in Iraq as an occupation force. In a written statement to the Chilcot Inquiry, Jack Straw, then Foreign Secretary states:

We would be bound by the 1907 Hague Regulations as well as the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949. We would therefore be considered an occupying power with responsibility for providing public order and safety, while respecting, unless absolutely prevented, the laws in force in the country.

The responsibility is clearly stated. However, who was supposed to do this and how it was supposed to be done, is not so clearly defined. The lines of accountability to go up, down and horizontally, and the ability to shift responsibility is a feature of many of the witnesses. A constant refrain is either “I can’t remember”, or “you will have to ask someone else…”, as the roots of the particular event lie before the 6 month or 1 year tenure of the person taking the stand; or the threads of responsibility are tangled in the web of lines of accountability between the military, the MoD and government. This in part is based in the structure of the organisation of the military, where the Head of the Army was not responsible for equipping his brigades, allowing for a disbursement and denial of responsibility.

Excuses and blame-shifting

A major excuse for the perceived strategic failure of the British in Iraq is that the military was underfunded, and could not fight the war that they found themselves faced with. The denial of responsibility starts at the top with Geoff Hoon accusing Gordon Brown of putting constraints on the defence budget when the government was committing forces to Iraq. Apparently, “there was never enough money to do everything we wanted to do at the time we wanted to do it”, but a key factor in this drain on resources, both financially and in numbers of soldiers, was the fact that the military was fighting two major wars at the same time.

When trying to find out who was responsible for this decision, you might have thought that it should come from the head of the British army, General Sir Michael Jackson, but he says that it is the Chief of the Defence Staff, Lord Boyce, who carries the responsibility of military advice, having discussed it with his single service chiefs. When asked whether demand on the army in Afghanistan affected operations in Iraq Sir Michael Jackson avoids giving a direct answer by saying that in his opinion the army coped with the pressure. However, Dr John Reid, Secretary of State for Defence from May 2005 until May 2006, states that he took advice from General Mike Walker, and from Sir Michael Jackson who said that the military could operate on both fronts and emphasised that the decision to go to Afghanistan would not take troops out of Iraq.

When asked about the chaotic post-conflict situation for which there had been little, if no planning, Lord Jay could not find the papers regarding the Iraq Unit which was set up by Whitehall as late as Feb 2003; the FCO had the policy lead on policing, yet Lord Jay says “I don’t have a recollection of particular specific discussions myself on policing”. He also doesn’t recall why the responsibility was handed over to the MoD after the Jamiat incident in 2005. Sir David Richmond, the UK special Representative to Iraq from 2003-4, had the same senior moment when he couldn’t remember what responsibilities he was given before he went to Iraq.

General Sir Kevin O’Donoghue who was Chief of Defence Logistics was asked how it was decided which vehicles were sent to Iraq or which to Afghanistan, but he says he doesn’t know as it is a PJHQ decision. Still on the subject of vehicles, and this time the problematic snatch land-rover; when asked why it took as long as three years for the problem to be resolved, the Chief of Joint Operations Sir Glen Torpy says there were different requests from each commander in the field; that a Chief of Staff can only advise on what equipment to have, it is then the PUS (Permanent Under Secretary) and CDS (Chief of Defence Staff) who “on the recommendation of the equipment capability area, produce a joint equipment plan”.

When asked about difficulties with software in the Chinook Mark 111 helicopters (which left 8 Chinooks worth £239 million grounded in Iraq), Sir Jock Stirrup, the Chief of Defence Staff says the acquisition was before his time, so he was unable to comment on that programme. Sir Roderic Lyne encounters this problem of trying to find the truth regarding the events at Cimic House in 2004, asking Sir Glen Torpy what was actually being reported up the chain of command, but Sir Glen can’t recall the specific incident, even though the regiment defending it, the PWRR (Princess of Wales Royal Regiment) was the most attacked company in the Iraq campaign.

Many “chiefs” seem to have very little control of the things they are chiefs of, or little memory of what chief responsibility they bore. It is quite understandable that war is unpredictable, and that strains are felt on budgets and man-power. However, it is surely a responsibility of command that you do not commit to fight a war that you do not have the wherewithal to fight.

Dodging the big question

As for the big question, who decides what in war, and where responsibility lies? The Inquiry showed that when asked a difficult question there was nearly always someone else to refer to – the politicians forget details or refer to the Chiefs of Staff; the GOC’s refer to PJHQ, the Defence board, the treasury, the previous GOC, or the one who followed. What is clear is that there was no-one who was in charge of the occupation; no-one to take over-all responsibility, to arbitrate between the various departments and services.

Most witnesses obviously did as best they could to do what they could in Iraq, but the answer to who was responsible does probably come down to the top of the pile, to the person who started this war but who did not take responsibility to organise it or to care for any of those involved in this whole sorry mess.