Friday, January 21, 2011

Judgment Day Comes (And Related News).

KABUL -The new Afghan parliament decided Thursday to convene as planned at the start of next week, in a defiant response to President Hamid Karzai ordering the opening session postponed by a month.

Our own Grant Kippen, joined by Scott Worden, explains the significance of what is happening, in Foreign Policy. Grant was the head of the Elections Complaints Commission that nullified Karzai's initial election win in 2009. In a noticeably understated way, Kippen and Worden point out the stakes involved: "The most fundamental and immediate issue at hand is whether the Afghan government will get away with solving its political problems at the expense of a fragile electoral system that, while flawed, has performed its essential duties according to the law."

Abdullah Abdullah, leader of Afghanistan's democratic opposition, warns that what Karzai is doing is illegal and unconstitutional and threatens to plunge the country into crisis: "There is no doubt that Karzai wants to rule without parliament, accountability and without an institution that could raise the people's voice."

It's nice to see the editors of the New York Times get around to noticing just how serious this is: "Mr. Karzai’s seemingly unlimited tolerance for corrupt relatives and cronies and his inability to deliver basic services are already two of the insurgents’ biggest recruiting points. Another blatant power grab will make things even worse." Like that's news or something. Still.

Meanwhile, in the Canadian news media's coverage of Afghanistan, remember this story about how the Taliban had finally decided to allow girls to go school? Rachel Reid, a journalist who actually knows what she's talking about, not only rubbishes the claim but points out the bigger story the news media missed, which is about why such obvious and transparently bogus revisionism makes its way through the news media in the first place.

Speaking of the rubbish you read in the media, do you remember the story (I know, there were so many of these it's hard to tell one from the other) about how Canadian soldiers killed some kid and engaged in some coverup and tortured somebody and lied about it or whatever that was, blazing across the front pages of newspapers last spring? The story that originated (as all those stories did) from an eminently dubious axe-grinding character given a platform by the torture-fetish display chamber known as the House Special Committee on Afghanistan?

Oh, look: Turns out that there is no evidence to support the scrounger's allegations.

My my, what a surprise. Malgarai's lawyer, Amir Attaran (is Attaran also representing Malgarai in his compensation lawsuit against the Defence Department, I wonder?) dismisses the findings because the inquiry wasn't carried out by an independent agency not connected to the military. Like perhaps the Ottawa Glebe Community Centre Shiatsu Massage and Anti-Imperialist Aromatherapy Men's Group or something.


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