Monday, January 12, 2009

Barack's Bulls**t You Can Smell

"Clearly putting a 'Mission Accomplished' on a aircraft carrier was a mistake," said the Bully Boy of the United States at the White House today in what he billed as "the ultimate exit interview."   That was a mistake, when he was asked to identify them, he threw that out.  The Iraq War itself?  "And when the history of Iraq is written," declared the ahistorical Bully Boy, "historians will analyze, for example, the decision on the surge.  The situation was -- looked like it was going fine and then violence for a period of time began to throw -- throw the progress of Iraq into doubt.  And rather than accepting the status quo and saying, oh, it's not worth it or the politics make it difficult or, you know, the party may end up being -- you know, not doing well in the elections because of the violence in Iraq, I decided to do something about it -- and sent 30,000 troops in as opposed to withdrawing.  And so that part of history is certain, and the situation did change."  What's certain is that he continues to misrepresent what was taking place (including Moqtada al-Sadr's cease-fire/truce) at that time. 
"Mission Accomplished," he wanted the world to know was a mistake.  Abu Ghraib, by contrast, was "a huge disappointment during the presidency."  Not a mistake, not a crime, just "a huge disappointment during the presidency."  He found also label the lack of WMDs in Iraq "a significant disappointment."  In fact, let's note that passage of his remarks -- and the question had been about mistakes: "There have been disappointments.  Abu Ghraib obviously was a huge disappointment during the presidency.  Not having weapons of mass destruction was a significant disappointment.  I don't know if you want to call those mistakes or not, but they were -- things didn't go according to plan, let's put it that way."
Let's not.  Abu Ghraib isn't a disappointment, it is a WAR CRIME.  And the criminals were never punished because they went straight up the chain of command.  As for WMD -- what's one supposed to think about his statements today?  Presumably, he means that since he lied about WMD ahead of the illegal war, he's "disappointed" that none were found and that's due to the "rationale" for the illegal war.  But some will rightly point out that the construct of his response indicates he wishes WMD had been in Iraq.  In which case, that would have meant what for the US service members sent there?  Or is that more thinking than Bully Boy is capable of?
By the same token, he should have been forced to walk out his mistake a little further.  He said, "Clearly putting a 'Mission Accomplished' on an aircraft carrier was a mistake.  It sent the wrong message.  We were trying to say something differently, but nevertheless, it conveyed a different message."  He's referring to his May 2, 2003 padded-crotch strut across the USS Abraham Lincoln below a banner proclaiming, "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED." If the banner was a mistake, was it a mistake to blame others for it? Was it a mistake all along or just when he got caught out?  When did Bully Boy believe it became a mistake?  John Dickerson (Time magazine), November 1, 2003:
Asked at a news conference whether the "Mission Accomplished" banner had been prematurely boastful, the president backed away from it, saying it had been put up by the sailors and airmen of the Lincoln to celebrate their homecoming after toppling Saddam's regime.  
Not long afterwards, the White House had to amend its account. The soldiers hadn't put up the sign; the White House had done the hoisting. It had also produced the banner -- contrary to what senior White House officials had said for months. In the end, the White House conceded on those details, but declared them mere quibbles. The point was, they said, that the whole thing had been done at the request of the crewmembers. Even that explanation didn't sit well with some long-time Bush aides. "They (the White House) put up banners at every event that look just like that and we're supposed to believe that at this one it was the Navy that requested one?" asked a senior administration official. Others remember staffers boasting about how the president had been specifically positioned during his speech so that the banner would be captured in footage of his speech.
Mission Accomplished?   Reuters notes at multiple bombings in Baghdad today and that incoming US vice president Joe Biden has landed in Iraq.  We'll come back to that but first let's turn to peace news to wipe away the smell of the Bully Boy.  Military Familes Speak Out plans a February sixth through ninth action in DC entitled "The Change WE Need:"

President Elect Obama opposed the war in Iraq before it started, calling it a "dumb war." But he and his advisors have also said that they plan to spread the return of combat troops from that "dumb war" out over sixteen months and to keep tens of thousands of other troops on the ground in Iraq indefinitely.

So from February 6-9, MFSO will be traveling to Washington to bring the new President and new Congress the message that it is long past time to bring all our troops home from Iraq. The four days of events will include:

  • A teach-in on Capitol Hill featuring the voices of military families, veterans, and Iraqis, explaining the need for an immediate and complete end to the war in Iraq -- and the human impacts of continuing the occupation.
  • A march from Arlington National Cemetery to the White House.
  • Lobbying members of Congress to end the war in Iraq.
Watch for more details in the days to come!
March 21st, A.N.S.W.E.R. will be among those sponsoring the "Bring the Troops Home Now" March on the Pentagon:
Tragically, the criminal occupation of Iraq will not be over even by the sixth anniversary of the start of the war in March 2009. People around the world will be marching together on the sixth anniversary in the strongest possible solidarity with the people of Iraq demanding an end to the occupation of their country.  

Marking the sixth anniversary of the criminal invasion of Iraq, on March 21, 2009, thousands will March on the Pentagon to say, "Bring the Troops Home NOW!" We will also demand "End Colonial Occupation in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and Everywhere" and "Fund Peoples' Needs Not Militarism and Bank Bailouts." We will insist on an end to the war threats and economic sanctions against Iran. We will say no to the illegal U.S. program of detention and torture.  

To endorse the March 21 March on the Pentagon,
click here. To sign up to be a Transportation Organizing Center, click here.  

While millions of families are losing their homes, jobs and healthcare, the real military budget next year will top one trillion dollars--that's $1,000,000,000,000. If used to meet people's needs, that amount could create 10 million new jobs at $60,000 per year, provide healthcare for everyone who does not have it now, rebuild New Orleans, and repair much of the damage done in Iraq and Afghanistan. The cost for the occupation of Iraq alone is $400 million each day, or about $12 billion each month.  

The war in Iraq has killed, wounded or displaced nearly one third of Iraq's 26 million people. Thousands of U.S. soldiers have been killed, and hundreds of thousands more have suffered severe physical and psychological wounds. The U.S. leaders who have initiated and conducted this criminal war should be tried and jailed for war crimes.  
On the topic of violence, Sunday the US military announced: "A Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldier died when an improvised explosive device struck his vehicle in eastern Baghdad at approximately 8 p.m. Jan. 10. The Soldier's name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin."  Today the US military announced: "A U.S. Solder died as a result of a non-combat related injury near Samarra, Iraq Jan. 11. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next-of-kin and release by the Department of Defense. The incident is under investigation." The death brings to 4225 the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war.
Over 1.5 million Iraqis have died since the start of the illegal war.  Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing and a car bombing at eight this morning that claimed 3 lives and left ten people wounded, a Baghdad sticky bombing fifteen minutes later that claimed 1 life and left another person wounded, a Baghdad roadside bombing forty-five minutes later which claimed 1 life and left three people wounded, a Baghdad roadside bombing one hour later that wounded four people and, one hour later, a Baghdad roadside bombing that claimed the lives of 3 Iraqi soldiers and left three people wounded.  Al Dulaimy also notes a Mosul sticky bombing targeting al-Hadbaa National List's Faris Sinjari -- they are among the political parties in Mosul competing for seats in the provincial elections scheduled for January 31st.  BBC has video on today's violence.
Moving to Iraqi politics but starting with a US example.  Willam Brockman Bankhead was the Speaker of the US House of Representatives for over four years.  He died unexpectably of a heart attack on September 15, 1940. (For those unfamiliar with Bankhead, he was the father of Tallulah Bankhead.)  The following day, Sam Rayburn became Speaker of the House.  The following day.  December 23rd, Mahmoud al-Mashhadani was forced out of the Speakership of the Iraqi Parliament.  The week prior he had stated he was resigning.  He attempted to take that back but a large number wanted him gone as Speaker and had wanted him gone for some time with repeated public efforts to oust him.  It is now January 12th and they have still not appointed a new Speaker.  Today Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) reports that the Parliament will address the issue on Saturday and they expect to continue discussing it.  Saturday -- when they do not expect to make a decision -- will be the 17th.  It will be almost one month later.  Repeating, when US House Speaker Bankhead unexepectedly died in office, he was replaced by Speaker Rayburn the next day.  Repeating, al-Mashhadani was wanted out by many (in the summer of 2006, believing whispers, the New York Times reported he would be out of the post shortly).  Despite all the planning to oust him, despite the fact that it was not a surprise, nearly a month later and they have yet to name a replacement.  Sam Dagher (New York Times) reported yesterday, "According to political agreements, his successor must be a Sunni Arab, as part of a codified effort to help Iraq's Sunni minority feel it has a voice in government. But disagreements over the choice led to more walkouts from the main Sunni political coalition, Tawafiq, on Saturday, weakening the bloc before crucial provincial elections scheduled for the end of January and raising the possibility of street protests by outraged Sunnis. The dispute may also keep Parliament from passing any legislation until a speaker is chosen and confirmed."   Kimi Yoshino and Ali Hameed (Los Angeles Times) added, "The defection came just a couple of weeks after five Sunni members from Mashadani's party, the National Dialogue Council, withdrew."
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