CELEBRITY IN CHIEF BARRY O HAD 2 REVELATIONS TO INJECT HIMSELF INTO THE NEWS CYCLE TODAY.
FIRST HE ANNOUNCED HE WOULD DRESS AS GEORGE W. BUSH FOR HALLOWEEN.
"SCARY," HE SAID DRAWING OUT EVERY LETTER OF THE WORD. "BUT ALSO MY WAY OF ACKNOWLEDGING THAT I AM JUST LIKE MY PREDECESSOR. I NEVER KNEW MY DADDY, HE DIDN'T WANT A FAMILY OR AT LEAST NOT ME, SO I USED TO PRETEND THAT GEORGE H.W. BUSH WAS MY DADDY. I'VE INVITED HIM TO THE WHITE HOUSE AND INTEND TO HOP INTO HIS LAP BEFORE THE NIGHT'S OVER AND ASK HIM TO TUCK ME IN."
AS PART OF HIS COSTUME, HE ORDERED THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT TO TRY AND KILL A CASE ON WARRANTLESS WIRE TAPPING.
IN OTHER NEWS, BARRY O DECLARED, "I KILLED COUSIN POOKIE!"
POOKIE'S EXACT DETAILS AND GENDER -- JUST LIKE BARRY'S -- ARE IN DISPUTE. BUT HE WANTS IT OUT THERE THAT HE "KILLED COUSIN POOKIE BECAUSE I THINK IT WILL GET ME SOME RESPECT. I DON'T GET NO RESPECT. I'M LIKE RODNEY DANGERFIELD TRYING TO ACT SOULFUL."
On the second hour of today's The Diane Rehm Show, Iraq was addressed by guest host Frank Senso, NPR's Tom Gjelten, CNN's Elise Labott and McClatchy Newspapers' Jonathan Landay.
Frank Senso: To Iraq now, and in a few minutes, to our phone calls, to bring our audience into this and any other conversation that they may want to have with respect to what's going on in the world. But in Iraq discussions amidst ongoing, violence, intensifying violence in some cases, about trying to fix the national election law because that is what is looming large. Jonathan Landay, what's the landscape look like right now?
Jonathan S. Landay: Well they've tried for a third time to pass an election law in time for the January elections and they've failed again. The issue -- there are a number of issues, but the main issue has to do with the city of Kirkuk in northern Iraq and uh a city that sits atop billions of gallons of untapped oil. Uh, the issue has to do with the -- what census is going to be used to register voters there. Now this is a city that the Kurds -- now this is right now a predominately Kurdish city. It was, the Kurds say, a predominately Kurdish city before the reign of Saddam Hussein who ethically [ethnically] cleansed Kurds out of the city and brought in Arabs. The issue is, do you -- since the fall of Saddam Hussein, the Kurds have been restoring their majority in that city and, indeed, other ethnic groups claim over uh restoring their majority, bringing in more Kurds than there had been before. The Kurds want voter registration to be based on the most recent census, I think it was in fact, done this year. The Sunni Arabs and other ethnic groups there -- the Turkomen for instance -- want the voter registration based on the 2004 census and they have not been able to come to an agreement on this and this has hung up the passage of this law and what it really -- and what it really comes down to it appears is contol over that massive amount of untapped petroleum.
Frank Senso: And yet this-this-this dispute, this stand off over the election law comes just after this Sunday terrible bombing in Baghdad, the worst in two years killing more than 150, wounding hundreds more, severely damaging three major government buildings now there's been an arrest of some 50 odd security and there was some suggestion that this intensifying violence might drive the politicians to nail down this election law and drive those to some kind of political, if not resolution, progress. Tom?
Tom Gjelten: Well it seems, Frank, that the Iranians, I mean the Iraqis, have become so inured to this kind of violence that just sort of everything proceeds normally and that's true I think in both a good sense and a bad sense. In a good sense, there has been this move towards stability and peace in Iraq and Iraq's been filling more confident about their future and they seem amazingly enough to have taken this bombing in stride in a sense. I mean there have been other bombings --
Frank Sesno: It's almost unimaginable, isn't it?
Tom Gjelten: It's almost unaimaginable. But they have -- this is six years that they've been through this and they seem to be able to cope with these great tragedies. On the other hand, the negative side is that, as you say, you know, you would -- you would hope that this would jolt them into sort of some reality but, again, they become so used to this that they just proceed with the same stalemate.
Frank Sesno: What's behind the uptick in violence, Elise?
Elise Labott: Well, we saw -- first we saw an uptick in violence in August and there were also some massive bombings at the Foreign Ministry, at the Finance Ministry and this seemed to be kind of a way to sew sectarian tensions once again and they thought that maybe this would lead Iraq down the path it was in 2006, 2007 with major sectarian tensions. Now what officials says is they think that these foreign fighters are [or?] the real hard core al Qaeda in Iraq are trying just at anything, they tried at religious targets, now they're just trying at softer targets to kill a lot of people. They think maybe it can effect the election in January. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has been running as the security candidate. He's the one that's bringing stability to Iraq, he's the one that got US forces out of the city. The question is now is this going to effect his standing as the security candidate.
Jonathan S. Landay: There may be also something else going on here. The more instability, I think perhaps the insurgen -- whoever is behind these bombings create, in their mind, it delays perhaps the departure of American forces and what do you get from that? Well you get a delay or perhaps problems coming up with additional American forces to send to Afghanistan and there may very well be that thinking going on on the part of those who are responsible for these massive bombings.
On the above. Jonathan S. Landay used the term census. That is incorrect. There has been no census. The issue, which McClatchy's Sarah Issa and Hannah Allem and which the New York Times' Timothy Williams have outlines, is where the voting rolls for 2009 or the voting rolls for 2004 will be used. There has been no census. "Census" is a concrete term. And, in fact, a census in Kirkuk is mandated -- as is a referendum -- by Iraq's 2005 Constitution. No census has been conducted. This is not a minor issue and it goes to the dispute over Kirkuk. "Census" was the wrong term to use. There is NO census thus far.
That's (A). (B) Tom Gjelten. What the ___ was that? I'm reminded of when Goodtime Gals Linda Robinson and Gwen Ifill decided to discuss Blackwater's September 17, 2007 slaughter (see the October 8, 2007 snapshot) -- a discussion noteable for its appalling ignorance and gross lack of concern for human life. Gjelten can argue that some of his remarks were intended to be about officials. But he can only argue that about some of his remarks. And what exactly does he want Iraqis to do? They're shell shocked and just because he hasn't reported on the multitude of studies, THE MULTITUDE OF STUDIES, on the effects this illegal war has had on Iraqi children doesn't mean the damage isn't real and doesn't exist. So his happy talk bulls**t was embarrassing. That was really a shameful moment for NPR. The 'good' and the 'bad' of the bombings? How appalling. What made it worse for NPR was that it wasn't a guest from, for example, NBC News. It was an NPR reporter. That's shameful. The good and the bad of bombings? Pay attention, Tommy.
Our children are surrounded by violnce. Most of them are traumatized. I call them the silent victims. Our Iraqi childeren are the silent vctims.
That's Iraqi psychiatrist Dr. Saied al Hashimi speaking to Jennifer Eccleston (CNN) in 2007. From that report:
From January to March of last year, the World Health Organization worked with Iraqi psychiatrists on a series of studies on the mental health of children in the cities of Baghdad, Mosul and Dohuk. (Watch the effects of war on children )
One of the studies on primary-school-age children in Baghdad found that nearly half of the 600 children surveyed had experienced a major traumatic event since the war began. Just over one in every 10 suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, the study found.
Another of the studies found that older children in Mosul suffered even worse. Thirty percent of the 1,090 children surveyed showed signs of post-traumatic stress disorder. Nearly all of those with PTSD symptoms, 92 percent, had not received any treatment, according to the study.
In fact, the doctors aren't immune to the dangers of the conflict. Fifty percent of Iraq's psychiatrists have fled the country or been killed since the war began, said Dr. Naeema Al-Gasseer, the WHO's representative for Iraq.
A month after CNN filed that report, NPR's Linda Wertheimer spoke with Dr. Mohammed al-Aboudi about the mental stress Iraqi children were under. Now we can go through various reports and studies. We can enlarge and look at other segments of the country's population. But the above alone demonstrates how offensive Tom's statements are. The population is shell shocked and the illegal war has caused that trauma. The bombings that he thinks have good and bad are the same violence responsible for creating the world's largest refugee crisis. And the UN has already advised that Sunday's bombings will most likely results in Syria and Jordan receiving some additional Iraqi refugees. I'm not seeing any "good and bad" to the bombings. And Tom's statements were inarticulate and offensive. Frank Senso did a fine job this week filling in for Diane but had Diane been present, she probably would have said something. She generally does when gas baggery replaces discussion -- when human beings are removed from the issue, she generally brings them back into the picture even if it means she has to disagree with a guest. (She did that most recently with a guest gas bagging -- and glorifying -- the drone strikes in Pakistan when she made a point to note the civilian deaths the man was dismissing.) Tom's statements were offensive and it's only more so because he works for NPR. He declared that "you would hope that this would jolt them into sort of some reality" -- Tom, we'd hope the reality of the violence in Iraq and the fact that it is an inhabited country would jolt you into some sort of reality but there's no evidence, as yet, that it has.
[. . .]
Violence was kind-of, sort-of an issue yesterday in the US House Armed Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. The hearing was about IEDs and the money spent on studying them. The Pentagon's James Schear and Lt Gen Thomas Metz as well as the GAO's William Solis were the witnesses, Vic Snyder is the Subcomittee Chair.
Subcommittee Chair Vic Snyder: IEDs remain the number one cause of casulities to coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. Although IEDs are not a new threat, they have been used with unprecedented frequency in Iraq and Afghanistan. While the decrease in successful attacks in Iraq is encouraging, that success has not been replicated in Afghanistan which has seen an increase in success in fatality attacks with our increase in forces there. Since former CENTCOM commander General [John] Abizaid called for a Manhattan Project like effort 5 years ago to defeat IEDs, Congress has provided nearly $17 billion to DoD's efforts. This effort has grown from a twelve-man army task force to the Jointed IED Defeat Organization, or JIEDDO, which currently employs a staff of about 3600 dedicated government, military and contract personnel.
Lt Gen Thomas F. Metz declared, "What's really different in the two theaters is that over time in Iraq, as we were experiencing 1500, 2500 IEDs a month -- and finding and clearing half of them, we were gaining an enormous amount of forensics and biometrics information. We use that in the COIC [Counter-IED Operations Integration Center] to our advantage It is our asymetric advantage."
US House Rep Duncan Hunter noted a lack of mobilization. He referred to NPR's report on IEDs this week and how, despite all the money being spent, it was human beings noting, for example, "that corpse wasn't there yesterday" and guessing that it appeared to hide an IED. He noted that Marines in Afghanistan report they have only rarely seen predator drones and that instead they rely on "hand held mine sweepers -- a version of which people use on the beach to find coins." He also showed a child's innocence or foolilshness as he lived in a world where only the 'guilty' were killed.
US House Rep Duncan Hunter: This doesn't make me feel comfortable that we are truly doing everything that we can right now. Once-once more, if Secretary Gates said, "No more IEDs to be buried" -- I understand that there are tons in Afghanistan and they can be turned on like that at any point in time. But we could do that. We could stop IEDs from being buried if we mobilize to do it. And -- and if we want to politically about this war too -- it would fall off the map if nobody was dying. Iraq's not in the paper anymore because nobody's dying. One reason is we've knocked off IEDs, huge in 2007 and 2008, with [Gen William] Odum by killing over 3,000 IED placers. Project Odom with IEDS killed more people than every single other person in Iraq put together -- with all the offensive operations, Odom killed more and they were all bad guys -- not one single civilian, they were all inputting IEDs.
"Not one single civilian." Just "bad guys." Because a drone is judge and jury. So if a drone says it's "bad guys" that's all the proof Duncan Hunter needs. (And, to clarify, this is Duncan Hunter the younger, the 32-year-old elected to his father's seat. Still wet behind the ears and with a child's wide-eyes, he needs correcting, not the blanket approval Snyder gave him when Snyder followed Hunter. And someone might have bothered to inform Hunter that, despite his claims that "nobody's dying" in Iraq, Iraq saw at least 155 people die on Sunday alone. "Nobody's dying"? That didn't require a correction? Did he mean no US service members? If so, even that's wrong because there are 8 announced dead in Iraq so far this month -- granted 2 of them were announced today so, at the time of the hearing, only 6 had been announced. And it's a good thing to Duncan Hunter that the news media walked away from Iraq? Really? (Hunter is a veteran of both the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, FYI.) Congress had time for that nonsense yesterday. Not for anything important, but they had time for that.
RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"