Saturday, February 20, 2010

Some explanations emerge







Today on the second hour of NPR's The Diane Rehm Show, Diane's guests were Karen DeYoung (Washington Post), James Kitfield (National Journal) and Moises Naim (Foreign Policy) and the topic of Iraq's upcoming elections (scheduled for March 7th) was addressed.
Diane Rehm: Alright and one of our listeners in Intervale, New Hampshire has a question about Iraq. She wants to know what is the current state of play regarding the upcoming March elections in Iraq? Were the 500 suspected Ba'athists candidates re-instated? Will they be permitted to run? Karen?

Karen DeYoung: Well this started out -- the Iraqi elections are two Sundays from now. They are on the seventh of March, these are national elections, the first ones since Prime Minister al-Maliki was elected in 2005 [Parliamentary elections held December 2005], after a lot of horse trading among Iraqis [Nouri became Prime Minister in April 2006 after the US rejected the Parliament's choice of Ibrahim al-Jaafari]. I think for the United States this is a question of [coughs], excuse me, whether this democratic experiment is actually going to hold there, if they're going to progress to a sustainable democracy. The -- part of the new constitution which we helped put in place, which we put in place in Iraq, calls for de-Ba'athitication which is removing anyone who had anything to do with the party of Saddam Hussein. The people who control the de-Ba'athification process are considered to be very close to Iran which would like a strong Shia government in Iraq. And so they put out a list, to the surprise of everyone, that had more than 500 people on it who they charged had some kind of ties with the Ba'ath Party and were therefore ineligible to run for elections. These were all people who had been promoted by their parties. Most of them -- the majority Shia but because Sunnis are in the minority there, the number of Sunnis there was seen as a concern. It was seen as an effort to push the Sunnis out of contention. There were -- there was a lot of manuevring. The list has been whittled down to about 120 people. The Americans at least think that the crisis has passed. No one -- none of the major parties, including the Sunni parties, have said they will boycott the elections which was one of the big concerns. But I think everyone is sort of on tender hooks waiting to see if this is actually going to work.
Diane Rehm: James?
James Kitfield: One of the interesting little sidebars to this story is the person which is running the [Justice & Accountability] commission which is totally opaque -- no one understands what criteria is used to how close you are to the Ba'ath Party and what remaining ties you may have to the Ba'ath Party -- is Ahmed Chalabi. You know, we've been through this story before with this guy. He was put in charge of de-Ba'athification by the Bush administration and Paul Bremer. He did the same thing, trying to clear the field of Sunnis so he could -- his political rivals. It's not very helpful.
[. . .]
Diane Rehm: Let's go to Chris in Lincolon, Nebraska. Good morning to you.
Chris: Good morning to you, Diane, I'm a huge fan. I want to say your show makes me a more informed citizen and I can't think you enough.
Diane Rehm: I'm so glad, thank you.
Chris: My question is about James Kitfield's comment about Ahmed Chalabi still being involved in the Iraqi political system. I was just curious as to how much power this man still has considering his shady reputation?
Diane Rehm: It is a very good question, James Kitfield.
James Kitfield: Yeah, and if you -- if your viewer can get to the bottom of it, I'd love to hear about it. Because it's astounding to me. Clearly the Americans have been -- have been frustrated by this guy forever. He's got -- uh -- we had General [Ray] Odierno was in town this week, the chief US commander saying that he has close ties to Iran. They've tracked him going to Iran and meeting with senior officials. So clearly this is not a guy uh who has our interest in mind. But you have to believe he has some sway with Prime Minister [Nouri] al-Maliki otherwise he wouldn't be in this key position.
Karen DeYoung: You know Chris Hill who is the US Ambassador to Iraq has been here this week and made a lot of public statements and he was asked this several times. What is the -- what's the constituency that Ahmed Chalabi has? And he's described it as a sort of way at looking at how the United States needs to be a lot more humble about what it knows about the inner workings of the country. I mean, Ahmed Chalabi, was not only a favorite of the Bush administration and certainly of-of the US Defense Department, he was -- he was thought of as someone they wanted to put in as prime minister. And he ran the exile organizations here. He was sent there specifically. He was put in charge of this system in '03 and '04, when-when Paul Bremer was there. And so he clearly had a different agenda. And he's been acting on that agenda. And I think that, uh, the question I have had is is as the Iraqis in this electoral process denounce the United States for interfering -- and this is all part of its politics -- you don't hear much denunciation of Iran.
Meanwhile some Iraqi voters don't hear a great deal from the candidates supposedly wanting their votes. Alsumaria TV reports that Sadr City residents are complaining that their candidates have not shown to campaign nor have they bothered to "address people's complaints" regarding sewage and garbage issues. Turning to the KRG, Delovan Barwari (Kurdish Herald) reports:

In the last elections, nearly all of the Kurdish political parties, along with a number of Chaldo-Assyrian and Turkmen parties, entered the elections under a banner called the Democratic Patriotic Alliance of Kurdistan (DPAK). DPAK secured 53 of the 275 parliamentary seats, became a key player in Iraqi politics, and allowed Kurds to expand their political influence in Baghdad. As a result of DPAK's strong showing in the national parliamentary elections, Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) Secretary General Jalal Talabani, became the first Kurd in Iraq's history to become president of the country.
However, the political atmosphere in Iraqi Kurdistan has changed quite significantly since then. A new opposition group, known simply as "Change" (or "Gorran" in Kurdish), has emerged in Iraqi Kurdistan as a strong political force. This new group is led by Jalal Talabani's former deputy, Newshirwan Mustafa. The Change List received enough votes to turn heads, winning the majority of votes in the Sulaymaniyah province and receiving nearly 25% of total votes in the Kurdistan region. Many analysts expect the Change List to have a strong showing in the upcoming Iraqi national elections and, as Kirkuk will also be voting, some believe that the Change List will receive an even greater share of Kurdish votes this time around.
The new political reality in Kurdistan may weaken the Kurdish position in Baghdad as the fundamental source of Kurdish power has been previously fueled by the united stance of the various Kurdish political groups. Today, there are three major Kurdish political lists entering the Iraqi elections independently. The largest of the three remains the bloc led by the President of Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Massoud Barzani, and the current Iraqi President Jalal Talabani (from the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the PUK, respectively), which will be joined once again by a number of smaller Kurdish political parties. The newly-emerged Change List will be the second largest political bloc that is comprised of a number of important players who formerly identified themselves with the PUK. Another noticeable political power is an alliance between the two Islamic parties in Kurdistan, the Islamic Group and the Islamic Union.

Gorran is fueled by US funds and US interests. And it's turnout wasn't remarkable in the provincial elections -- and that's before you consider how many US dollars were poured into funding the 'grassroots' party. AFP reported yesterday that Goran was claiming that Jala Talabani's forces had shot three of their workers -- this was PUK accused, not related to Talabani being the president of Iraq.
On this week's War News Radio from Swarthmore College (began airing today), Abdulla Mizead reported on one candidate running for Parliament.
Abdulla Mizead: Iraq remains among the world's most corrupt nations. In last year's edition of Transparency International Corruption Perception Index, Iraq was the fifth most corrupt countries. No one knows more about this problem than Moussa Faraj. He was head of Iraq's Public Integrity Commission until mid-2008, urging Iraqis to get in the business of fighting corruption.
Moussa Faraj: I was the first Iraqi to call for fighting corruption. I joined the anti-corruption committee at the governing council where we drafted the two laws that formed the Public Integrity Commission and the Ministry Inspector Generals. And, in 2004, I was Inspector General for the Ministry of Public Works.
Abdulla Mizead: Though he was considered the country's best Inspector General, several ministers were displeased with is decency. He got moved from one ministry to the other. He says it was hard to stay in one position for more than two months. But when he finally made it to the top of the Integrity Commission, he was overwhelemd by the size of financial and administrative corruption.
Moussa Faraj: When I was the head of the Public Integrity Commission, I said corruption in Iraq was different from any other corruption anywhere else in the world. Why? Because corruption elsewhere is limited to bribery and money laundering and it doesn't exceed millions of dollars a year.
Abdulla Mizead: But in Iraq, he says it's much more complicated.
Moussa Faraj: I warned of the legitimate corruption in Iraq. It's the most dangerous corruption in the world. Government officials and law makers make laws that steal public money. They protect themselves with the law because they know they can't be tried. Courts only go after illegitimate acts.
Abdulla Mizead: He says the political situation after 2003 was mainly to blame for the increase in levels of corruption.
Moussa Faraj: Why is there corruption? First, the failures in government performence. Appointing ministers and high officials in the state who lack academic qualifications or have fraudulent certificates, lack expertise and are loyal to their parties rather than the people. Parliament members are loyal to their parties. They take the Constitutional oath to serve the interest of the Iraqi people but instead they serve the head of their bloc in Parliament.
Things are never simple in Iraq. For background on Faraj, September 7, 2007, David Corn (The Nation) reported on the attacks on Radhi al-Radhi which led him to be replaced on Iraq's Commission on Public Integrity:
Regardless of the legality of Rahdi's ouster, Moussa Faraj, who has been named for Radhi's replacement, is an odd pick for the job. He was once a deputy at the CPI -- having been installed at the commission by the ruling Shia Alliance Party. Accodring to the secret U.S. embassy report on corruption, Faraj regularly posecuted and delayed cases on "sectarian bases." Worse, the report notes that Faraj, a political ally of Sabah al-Saidi (the Parliament leader who has assailed Radhi), once "allowed a Shia Alliance member [charged in a multi-million-dollar corruption case] to escape custody." And after Faraj was dismissed from the CPI, the report says, he stole "literally a car load of case files." An arrest warrant was issued for hi.
Several weeks ago, accordign to Radhi and his investigators, Faraj was arrested, placed in prison, and subsequently released on bail. "How can he be in jail and then be head of the integrity commission?" Radhi asks. Putting the CPI in Faraj's hands, Radhi says, will allow Maliki's office and Saidi to control its actions and prevent the commission from conducting investigations that inconvenience them and their political confederates. It will mean, he claims, the end of any meaninful anticorruption effort in Iraq.
In testimony to the Senate Democratic Policy Committee May 13, 2008, James F. Mattil stated, "After Judge Radhi resigned, the Prime Minister appointed a new acting CPI commissioner, Moussa Faraj, who three weeks earlier had been arrested and jailed on corruption charges. Faraj was out on bail and had yet to appear in court when he was appointed commission of Iraq's lead anti-corruption agency." [PDF format warning, click here for his remarks.] Meanwhile, Layla Anwar (An Arab Woman Blues) surveys the scene and doesn't see anything to inspire:
Who are these people and where are they leading us ? Every sane Iraqi must ask himself/herself this question. Where the f**k are you ? Have you disappeared in the ether, in communion with the dead or are you patiently waiting for your turn to finally join them -- your easy way out, since the only thing they promised you -- your liberators and your idols, is death...
They guaranteed you death, and now you just wait for it, like a terminally ill patient in a doctor's waiting room. He knows he's on his final way out, but he still pays his weekly visit...
How did my world shrink to turbans and charlatans and quacks, to a vicious authoritarianism that has suck up every God notion from my vocabulary..did my soul die in this tunnel ?..the idea itself is more murderous than a physical death...
We are the soul zombies of the new world order...the soul zombies of the new Middle East...

RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"
"Gordon Brown tests the waters . . . and sinks"
"VA, Stop-Loss, Oil profiteering"
"I Hate The War"
"The Bully & Tony Review"
"Corn and Rice Casserole in the Kitchen"
"Mitt gets one right"
"Away From Her"
"The mood of the country"
"Terry Gross just wanted to talk about boobies"
"Terry Gross ignores Afghanistan women"
"those men and their sex scandals"
"Things that may surprise you"
"Online privacy"
"Those of us who are there have to work harder"
"Carly news"
"Didn't believe him"
"Alexis Hutchinson gets a discharge"
"Peter Sellers and Claudine Longet throw The Party"
"Barry O on the ropes"
"It says a lot about what kind of people we are"
"Sushi and simple Dave Zirin"
"Who's working?"
"The Bully & Tony Review"
"Look who's talking"

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Look who's talking






"After eight long years of bloodshed, and who knows how many more to come, we're still not sure why we fight, and our understanding of war is only growing more blood-dimmed and confused," writes Stephen Marche (Esquire). Marche's point is a solid one. Why did the US go into Iraq, the truth not the many discredited lies? Why does the US remain in Iraq? Those are questions that are never answered and really aren't even raised by the bulk of the press these days.

Today Ramadi was slammed with a bombing. Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) reports it was a suicide bombing and that the death toll has reached at least 12. Ali al-Mashhadani, Waleed Ibrahim, Mohammed Abbas, Jack Kimball and Louise Ireland (Reuters) note twenty-one are wounded, that a hospital source says 13 corpses have been received with 26 people injured, and "A restaurant worker in Ramadi, capital of Anbar province, said that bodies littered the scene, close to a complex housing provincial government buildings. Blood stained the ground, and gutted police and army vehicles smouldered nearby." Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) quotes Khalaf Mahmoud who was wounded in the bombing, "I was heading to the government compound when the blast took place some 50 meters away from me. I remember I saw one of the civilian cars with two men inside approached to the checkpoint and blew up. It was a terrible blast, thanks God, I am lucky to survive." Al Jazeera adds:Mohammed Dulaimi, the owner of a restaurant that was badly damaged in the blast, said the attackers were "trying to undermine the political process and prevent us from taking part in the election"."They want us to miss the opportunity to vote, as we did before," he said, referring to a boycott of 2005 general elections by Sunni-led political parties.Yousif Bassil and CNN report that the attack took place at a security checkpoint "close to the provincial council office." In addition, Reuters notes a Mosul bombing injured "a former police officer and a tribal chief" and a Mosul car bombing left twenty-four people injured.

Turning to the elections, Swarthmore College's War News Radio is a weekly show and the most recent program (first began airing last Friday) covered the elections. From the headlines, we'll note this for background.

Emily Hager: One day before campaigns are due to start, Iraqi judges released a list of previously banned candidates who will be allowed to run in next month's elections. But two of the most prominent Sunni candidates, both current Parliament members, still haven't been cleared to campaign. In January, Iraq's de-Ba'athifcation committee banned more than 500 candidates from competing for seats because of alleged connections to Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath Party. The decision was appealed to an Iraqi court where judges have been considering the issue. At first, the court announced that all of the challenged candidates would be able to run and that they would be reviewed after they won seats. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki pushed to have the review before the elections. Official campaigning begins this week for the March 7 vote.

Earlier today at the United Nations in New York, Ad Melkert (the Secretary-General's Special Representative to Iraq) declared, "Generally speaking, I should say that the elections are on track in terms of their technical preparation. Still a lot needs to be done. Security remains a big challenge to all, to the Iraqis in the first place, but also to the international community." Melkert sounds a great deal like US spinner Chris Hill. He went on to add, "Elections is not only about politics but requires a lot of hard work on the ground. The UN electoral team has continued to play a key role in advising and technically support the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC). As a result of a huge collective effort the infrastructure is in place in order to allow approximately 18.9 million Iraqi voters to visit 48,000 polling stations on election day." Today the Los Angeles Times offered the editorial "Baath-bashing in Iraq."

Iraq's upcoming parliamentary elections should be about jobs, public services and government competence. Candidates should be focused on the country's security and on reconciliation among Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds. Instead, the national vote once again is turning into a sectarian brawl in which Shiite parties jockeying with one another for dominance are stirring populist fears of a return of Saddam Hussein's Sunni-led Baath Party. Never mind that Hussein was executed in 2006 or that the discredited Baath Party already is outlawed. The Accountability and Justice Committee, led by Ahmad Chalabi, the Shiite politician and onetime darling of the George W. Bush administration, has been purging candidates who were members of the Baath Party and, in the process, fueling minority Sunnis' suspicions that the real motive is to further reduce their power.

Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) adds, "Although a significant number of Shiites as well as Sunnis have been barred from running because of alleged Baathist ties, the move has been seen as furthering a Shiite agenda because the heads of the commission are prominent Shiite members of parliament. Adding fuel to the controversy over the ban, the top US general in Iraq, Ray Odierno, and other US officials, have accused the two men, Ahmed Chalibi, and Ali Faisel al-Lami of ties to Iran" Along with the bannings, many political parties are finding their candidates Yesterday's snapshot noted Michael Hastings (The Hastings Report, True/Slant) report on the attacks on the Ahrar political party -- Saturday, four were held for 24 hours in Sadr City where they were attempting to put up campaign visuals and Tuesday a group of worker were attacked leading up to today where an Ahrar Party candidate was attacked in Maysan Province with at least one body guard killed in the attack. The Ahrar Party has released the following statement on the attacks:

Amid increasing signs that the Maliki government has completely lost control of the security situation in Iraq, violence and sectarian intimidation have increased in spite of a non-violence pact, signed by some parties. As a non-sectarian party, Ahrar has been singled out for special treatment.
Over the past five days, Ahrar has had campaign workers shot at, captured and even killed, for the 'crime' of putting up our election posters.
In Maysan on Wednesday, an Ahrar candidate was the victim of a carefully-planned ambush, narrowly escaping capture. One of his team was murdered at gun-point.
Ahrar Party leader Ayad Jamal Aldin said: "These politicians are all talk. It is their weakness that has allowed outsiders and corrupters who are intent on dividing and destroying Iraq to take control of our country. Ahrar stands for a united and peaceful Iraq. For jobs, security and electricity for the Iraqi people."
"Now ask yourself, who would oppose this? These corrupt outsiders are scared because they know that the people of Iraq can make a change for the better. Ahrar will not be intimidated because Ahrar is the party of Iraq's people, and on March 7 it is they who have the power to end this intimidation."
For further information, contact:
Ahrar Media Bureau Tel: +964 (0)790 157 4478 / +964 (0)790 157 4479 / +964 (0)771 275 2942

About Ayad Jamal Aldin:
Ayad Jamal Aldin is a cleric, best known for his consistent campaigning for a new, secular Iraq. He first rose to prominence at the Nasiriyah conference in March 2003, shortly before the fall of Saddam, where he called for a state free of religion, the turban and other theological symbols. In 2005, he was elected as one of the 25 MPs on the Iraqi National List, but withdrew in 2009 after becoming disenchanted with Iyad Allawi's overtures to Iran. He wants complete independence from Iranian interference in Iraq. He now leads the Ahrar party for the 2010 election to the Council of Representatives, to clean up corruption and create a strong, secure and liberated Iraq for the future.

Robert Dreyfuss (The Nation) declares Iraq "once again on the brink of a civil conflict" and offers this:

Starting last spring, at the urging of top officials in Iran--including Ali Larijani, the conservative, Iraqi-born speaker of the Iranian Parliament, and Brig. Gen. Qassem Suleimani, commander of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps--a group of sectarian Shiite religious leaders patched over their differences to establish the Iraqi National Alliance (INA), linking ISCI with the forces of rogue cleric Muqtada al-Sadr; former Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari of a renegade Dawa faction; and Ahmad Chalabi, the former darling of US neoconservatives, who has long maintained close ties to Iran's hardliners.
The creation of the INA was widely seen, inside and outside Iraq, as an Iranian project. Reidar Visser, a close observer of Iraqi affairs at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, says efforts to rebuild the Shiite sectarian alliance began last spring, after a visit to Baghdad by Larijani. Soon afterward, a stream of Iraqi officials made pilgrimages to Tehran, where a deal between the Hakim family (the founders of ISCI) and Sadr was brokered by Iran. "Part of the Iranian strategy has been to put politics in Iraq back on the sectarian track," says Visser. Both Iran and the new Shiite alliance pressured Maliki to join, but at that time the prime minister felt strong enough to run independently.
Then, this past January 14, Iraq's electoral overseers ratified a decision by the so-called Accountability and Justice Commission, an unelected body controlled by Chalabi and one of his cronies, Ali al-Lami, to ban more than 500 candidates for Parliament. They were barred from running, said the commission, on vague charges of ties to the deposed Baath Party. Among those banned were current members of Parliament and Iraqi officials, including Defense Minister Abdul-Kader Jassem al-Obeidi and Mutlaq, who'd joined forces with Allawi. The commission's action was a bomb thrown into the center of Iraqi politics and sparked talk of a boycott and even a new antigovernment insurgency.

Chris Hill is the US Ambassador to Iraq. We'll note this exchange between him and CNN's Elise Labott from yesterday at the State Dept (link has text and video):

Elise Labott: Can we go back to the idea of the Ba'athists and the election -- on the banned candidates? You spoke earlier this morning about the sensitivities about the Ba'athist issue, but more from the kind of whole Iraqi population. I was wondering if you think that there's any danger of not a resurgence of the Ba'athists, but a kind of backlash by pro-Ba'athists in terms of, you know, more violence or anything like that as a result of this.

Chris Hill: Well, the country, there's no question there are Ba'athist elements in the country and there's no question that some of these Ba'athist elements are very unhappy with the current state of affairs. I will say that the -- in terms of violence, we have a government that is increasingly capable of handling violence, and we did not see any signs of insurgency of the kind that we saw back in the wake of the '05 --

Elise Labott: Right.

Chris Hill: -- elections. So what we see are acts of terror that are – have already happened; in many cases, in our judgment, happened because of al-Qaida elements. But we don't see that this issue of excluding Ba'athist candidates is one that is leading to violence. Frankly, they were able to come together and work out a solution, and I think it's a solution that most people are living with.

Elise Labott: But-but if I could just quickly follow up, I mean, some of these banned candidates were, if I'm correct, previous -- some of them were even in parliament previously; is that right?

Chris Hill: Yeah.

Elise Labot: And so, I mean, do you think that there's a danger that they feel like they used to have the political process and now they feel disenfranchised and --

Chris Hill: Well --

Elise Labott: -- and that's a kind of, you know, formula for, you know, being bored and not having a lot to do and being kind of bitter and, you know, turning back? Chris Hill: Well, being bored is not a formula for getting elected, but --

Elise Labott: Well, you know I'm being -- well, but you know what I'm saying.

Chris Hill: I think it's important to understand that there are candidates who are unhappy at having been on the list, but there was a process by which they were able to appeal, there was a sequestered panel of judges from the cassation court that looked at these cases. In some cases, they ruled that the people should be able to stand for office; in others, they ruled against it. We know that some of the candidates who were disallowed or not permitted to run, they have accepted the result and they've called on their -- on people to vote. So we don't see a sign that this type of dissatisfaction is of the quality that would cause an outbreak of an insurgency. But obviously, we track these issues very closely. We're in very -- we really follow these things. We're in touch with all the politicians. And this is going to -- this is, to be sure, a rocky road, but I think we can -- we have every reason to believe that we'll get through this election process.

For those paying close attention, the US has thrown in the towel re: elections. They word now is that it doesn't matter if some candidates are excluded or not, it's not big deal. And with that nonsense, the US attempts to paint a pretty picture. Sami Moubayed (Asia Times) notes that elections might take place but . . . "Another scenario is that the elections will be called off altogether, due to rising violence and Sunni resentment with Maliki's handling of the pre-election process. The controversy of disqualifying candidates, which has rocked the Iraqi scene for more than three weeks, is ongoing as 145 candidates are now officially confirmed as ineligible to run for office, due to their alleged ties to the outlawed Ba'ath Party." Mohammed A Salih (Asia Times) adds, "The ban on high-profile Sunnis who have been part of Iraqi politics after the war is considered a significant blow to Washington's efforts to bring back the moderate elements of the mostly Sunni-led Ba'ath Party into Iraq's political process and reintegrate Sunnis into the country's politics."

RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"
"Ramadi slammed with bombing, Chris Hill spins"
"GI Bill, Stop-Loss, VA, Burn Pits"
"Operation Bottom Dollar"
"Creepy Terry Gross' sex obsession"
"You get one"
"nbc's heroes"
"And what does it say about me?"
"Carly Simon wants you to be the director"
"The difference is this writer was White"
"Hillary is 44, attacks on Social Security, etc."
"Michael Kazin nails A People's History"
"Attacking Bill Delahunt"
"The little prince pouts"

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The little prince pouts






Every now and then we hear how uninformed the US public allegedly is. And a lot of gas bags snicker as if the people just decided to be mistaken or wrong. The Iraq War was sold with lies. That is George W. Bush, yes, but that is also the media. And for those who've forgotten just how bad the lies are, KETK decided to let the world know what a LIAR really looks like this morning. KETK carries NBC programming to the Tyler and Longview area in East Texas (I believe that's Smith and Greg counties). If you're able to stream, you need to do so. If not, you'll have to take my word for it. The segment allegedly poses the question: "Has the war in Iraq been worth it?" But no sooner is that question asked, word for word, then the very ugly -- Texas can't get people on with full heads of hair? -- he's overweight, he's ugly and this is what people have to wake up to in the morning? -- Bob Brackeen jumps in to add, "Uh-uh, you know perhaps people could see -- say that about previous wars? Perhaps people even say that about WWII -- the-the defeat of Nazi Germany?" You really need to stream to get his pompous and dismissive attitude. This from an ugly man wearing an ugly tie in a suit jacket that looks like it came from Goodwill and is several sizes too large for him. But that's just the outer layer of ugly. Bobby Brackeen tosses to conservative talk radio's Garth Maier who insists that this was more than expected -- this illegal war -- by politicians, generals and citizens. Uh, no, asshole, some of us never bought the cakewalk lie.
Ass Face Maier then goes on to declare that, "To date, there have been more than 4,300 US soldiers killed in the Iraq War, we're not including Afghanistan." Two things first off. "Soldiers"? Those in the army gladly cop to that term. Is Ass Face Maier unaware that other branches feel differently and that's why the terms "troops" and "service members" are more often used? Second, more than 4,300? You're in charge of what passes for 'news' at your Hannity-Savage-Limbaugh-Beck station and you know you're going on TV and you know what the topic is and you write your own copy but you're too damn lazy to know the death toll? Is that it? 4376 was the toll this morning. I'm sorry if that's just too damn much work for you who helped cheer lead the country into the illegal war. I'm not surprised it's too much work for you because those of you cheering the loudest were of course the laziest when it came to action though your mouths were world athletes -- often placing first and second in the Liar Olympics. And for those who watch the full segment, you'll catch him say it's more than 4,300 at the start of the segment and, near the end, say that the count is 4,300.
And if you doubt it, when Ass Face is talking about how the war's not what was expected and going on about 4300? During all of that, KETK, channel 56, is showing what footage? The Twin Towers with the smoke. The Pentagon after it's hit. Yes, they're showing 9-11. Why? Iraq had nothing to do with 9-11. The hijackers of the planes weren't Iraqis. George W. Bush repeatedly made the false link to 9-11, remember?
In October 2002, the Council on Foreign Relations and PEW conducted a poll. Lee Feinstein wrote up the results, "The Pew results indicate that the imputation of an Iraq-9/11 link strongly resonates with a majority of Americans, even though most analysts inside and outside government have disputed the suggestion of a direct link, and earlier suggestions by administration officials asserting such a link have been muted. Two-thirds of those surveyed (66%) say they believe 'Saddam Hussein helped the terrorists in the September 11 attacks'." Dana Milbank and Claudia Deane (Washington Post) reported
in September 2003, "Nearing the second anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, seven in 10 Americans continue to believe that Iraq's Saddam Hussein had a role in the attacks, even though the Bush administration and congressional investigators say they have no evidence of this."
In March of 2003, the always idiotic Tom Zeller (New York Times) was having 'fun' at the public's expense and comparing it Jay Leno's interviews of people (people, PIg Zeller) on the street when noting that people wrongly believed there was a link between Iraq and 9-11. He insists this view "was widespread from teh beginning". Really? Widespred how? The public just decided to believe that? No the Bush administration and the media sold that LIE. The New York Times, in particular, sold that lie with the first front page story -- of any major daily US newspaper -- claiming a link -- that story depended on a source now discredited. Tom Zeller and the Times are happy to laugh at people, they're just not willing to correct their errors and own up to their role. In June of 2004, the 9-11 Commission released a finding. Dan Eggen (Washington Post) reported, "There is 'no credible evidence' that Saddam Hussein's government in Iraq collaborated with the al Qaeda terrorist network on any attacks on the United States, according to a new staff report released this morning by the commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks." Eggan notes that Dick Cheney and George Bush had pushed a link -- a non-existant link. October 6, 2004, speaking to Margaret Warner on PBS' NewsHour (link has text, audio and video options), Daniel Benjamin talked about how the Bush administration pushed the false linkage:
I think the administration pursued a well thought out strategy of associating the two at virtually every opportunity. There was a reason why 70 percent of the American people believed that Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11, and that is because the administration time after time put the two of them together in the same framework. Look, long after the CIA and the FBI had knocked down the story of Mohamed Atta meeting with an Iraqi agent in Prague, the vice president was peddling the story over and over again. And that's just one of many different instances of this kind of association. I think that when the vice president says that he never said that they were connected or never involved in 9/11, he is technically correct but in a way that not even a trial lawyer would find serious.
Now we could stay with this topic for the full snapshot. We could offer the BBC's coverage. We could offer any number of sources. But the media LIED about the link for years. And now when the media wants to be trusted, you've still got LIARS pimping this. Grasp that this isn't Fox "News." This is an NBC affilliate. This station serves at least two counties, two big cities (Longview and Tyler) and multiple towns (Chandler, Kilgore, Jacksonville, Marshall, etc.). And they're LYING. They're trotting back out the never-existed, long ago proven wrong link between Iraq and 9-11 and they're doing that by talking about Iraq while showing footage -- not a second, not even just a few seconds. The segment is less than seven minutes long but over 129 seconds -- two minutes and nine seconds -- is devoted to showing footage of the Twin Towers and the Pentagon.
Garth Maier is a sad, sad man. At one point, playing calls, he is, eyes filled with 'regret' and, he says, surprised that so many calling in say the Iraq War wasn't worth it and, watch the screen, you know what's about to play. Yes, they immediately roll the footage of the plume smoke coming off the Twin Towers. And they just can't stop lying. Here he is:
Remember, the uh, the uh statement of President Bush, US forces entered Iraq looking for Weapons of Mass Destruction and they believed it was a strong hold for al Qaeda terrorists and what not. So that's the reason the US invasion began in the first place and, of course, Saddam Hussein would not open up to complete inspectors completelyuh to find -- to- to investigate his facilities, to see if he was involved in Weapons of Mass Destruction.
These are lies that were told and, pay attention, they're the lies still being told. All this time later. So all the beggars of Panhandle Media (that would be so-called 'independent' media, so called 'alternative' media in the US) who couldn't make time for Iraq or for the Iraq Inquiry, grasp that all your usual b.s. didn't do a damn thing. You never accomplish a damn thing and the reason is that the other side stays on it. The other side never lets go. That's not a surprise to any of us who have lived through all the revisionary attempts on Vietnam. It shouldn't be a surprise to Panhandle Media. The Iraq War is not over, the attempts of revisionary history on it continue. It is an assault on humanity and on facts, but you go spend your two worthless weeks at the Sundance Film Festival and offers us a lot of bad interviews with bad film makers and pretend like you accomplished something, self-stroke again. In the real world, they're still selling this illegal war and you aren't doing a damn thing to stop it.
For the record, inspectors were let in. They were not allowed to complete their inspections -- that wasn't Hussein's fault, that was George W. Bush's fault. Those paying attention to the Inquiry should be aware why Bush did that. And thank you to community member Renee who saw KETK's b.s. and e-mailed the link. A.N.S.W.E.R. and other organizations are sponsoring March 20th marches in DC, San Francisco and Los Angeles. The march is to demand the withdrawal of all US and NATO troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.
From yesterday's snapshot: "Speaking to DC's Institute For the Study of War today by video link, the top US commander in Iraq, Gen Ray Odierno, declared that Chalabi and Ali al-Lami are strongly influenced by the government of Iran and that they meet with senior-level members of the Iranian government regularly. Lara Jakes and Anne Flaherty (AP) report, 'Odierno told an audience in Washington at the Institute for the Study of War that al-Lami "has been involved in various nefarious activities in Iraq for sometime" and called it "disappointing" that he was put in charge of the commission'." Correction to that, Odierno was broadcast online (live) by video link but he was in DC when speaking. That was my mistake, my apologies. From the video (transcript also available at link):
Kimberly Kagan: Elections questions. Elections. Bob.

Robert Dreyfuss: Yeah. Two very quick ones.
Kimberly Kagan: Please introduce yourself.
Robert Dreyfuss: Oh, I'm Bob Dreyfuss with The Nation magazine. One is Ali al-Lami, who was arrested by the U.S. a year and a half ago. And I was wonderinf if you could kind of clear up who this guy is and what his connection to Iran are and why he was arrested and why he was freed. And sort of the related question is, I mean, you seem reluctant to talk about Iran's influence in Iraq. But a lot of people say that the fact that Maliki, you know, didn't cave in or exceed or agree with, whatever you want to do, with the American suggestions about transparency and other things indicates that Iran has a lot more influence as the U.S. drawdown approaches, and the U.S. has a lot less.

Gen Ray Odierno: Yeah. al-Lami is a Sadrist by trade. He was arrested after an operation in Sadr City where both Iraqi security forces, U.S. civilians, and U.S. soldiers were leaving a meeting that they had witht he local government in Sadr City, and their vehicles were attacked with IEDs as they left the meeting. There were some accusations. We had some intelligence that said that al-Lami was the one who directed these attacks on these individuals. He was released in August of '09 as part of the drawdown of our detention facilities because we did not have the acutal prosecutorial evidence in order to bring him in front of a court of law in Iraq. All we had was intelligence that linked him to this attack. So, as we had some others, we had to release him. He has been involved in very nefarious activities in Iraq for some time. It is disappointing that somebody like him was in fact put in charge or has been able to run this commission inside of Iraq, in my opinion. He is, him and Chalabi clearly are influence by Iran. We have direct intelligence that tells us that. They've had several meetings in Iran, meeting with a man named Mohandas, which is an ex-council representative member -- still is a council representative member -- who was on the terrorist watch list for a bombing in Kuwait in the 1980s. They are tied to him. He sits at the right-hand side of Quds Force commandant, Qassem Soleimani. And we believe they're absolutely involved in influencing the outcome of the election. And it's concering that they've been able to do that over time. Chalabi, who you know, has been involved in Iraqi politics in many different ways over the last seven years, mostly bad.
Robert Dreyfuss blogged about the exchange this morning at The Nation. Thom Shanker (New York Times) characterizes the conversation and terms Odierno's remarks "unusually blunt". Jason Ditz (Antiwar) offers, "Though the conspiracies may be interesting to speculate about, the truth may be far simpler. Chalabi's political bloc stands to gain considerably with the effective destruction of the rival Allawi bloc, and he hardly needed a foreign dictate to see a political opportunity and take it." Eli Lake (Washington Times) adds, "The Washington Times reported in August that Mr. al-Lami was arrested in 2008 on suspicion that he was a liaison for Mr. Chalabi with an Iranian-backed militia group in Iraq known as the League of Righteous." For those unfamiliar with the League of Righteous, they currently boast of having kidnapped a 60-year-old US contractor, Issa T. Salomi. They kidnapped 5 British citizens in Baghdad and, when Barack Obama's administration entered into negotiations with them, released 3 corpses and 1 hostage alive (Peter Moore was the one alive) after their leaders were released from prison -- al-Lami is thought to have been released as part of that trade. The Obama administration's decision to enter into talks with the group was shocking considering the group also brags of their attack on a US military base in Iraq in which five American soldiers were killed. Tony Rennell (Telegraph of London) provided an adaptation of Mark Urban's new book Task Force Black which notes the League of Righteous.
Related, Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reports on the sectarian violence that is bubbling back up in Iraq (never completely vanished, it is now more visible):

The Mashhadani family, which is Sunni, has lived in Hurriyah for 40 years, save two years when family members were forced to flee. They say it's once again time to leave.
On Jan. 23, Omar Mashhadani sat on a flimsy mattress in his living room, waiting to watch a soccer game on television. There was a knock at the door.
When Omar answered, he was shot at least three times.
His brother, Jassim, and his mother, Nadima Taha Yasseen, rushed toward the front door. Omar limped into his brother's arms, the Iraqi flag on his green jersey soaked in blood.
No one came to the family's aid. No one helped load Omar into the minibus that took him to the hospital. No men came to pay condolences after he died last month; they were too afraid to openly mourn his death.

Fadel notes that Sunnis are fearful and that slogans are appearing such as "Death to Baathists and Wahhabis" and "Death to Sunnis." The last time Iraq held national elections for Parliament, a number of candidates campaigned by attacking other ethnic groupings and stoking the sectarian tensions. A similar dynamic has emerged in the lead up to the elections scheduled for March 7th. What followed the last elections were two years of ethnic cleansing usually referred to as "the civil war." It's all guess work at this point as to what will follow Nouri and the thugs effort to reinflame sectarian tensions.
And Joe Biden, US Vice President, is accused of being a Ba'athist. Layla Anwar (An Arab Woman Blues) explains, "This is what W. Qanbar, a spokesman for the Iraqi National Alliance (INA), the grouping of the Shiites parties such as Muqtada al-Sadr (the college drop out who recycled himself in drilling), Ammar A-Hakeem (the Shiite playboy and smuggler of the South, head of the notorious Badr Brigades), "Dr" Adel Abdul Mahdi, the so called Phd holder from France, who got his Doctorat from the bistrots of Pigalle, Paris . . . and a few other riffraffs -- all working for Iran . . . This is what Qanbar said on Al-Arabiya TV yesterday . . . he said that Biden was working for the Baathists -- I kid you not."
Hamza Hendawi (AP) reports that political slogans abound in Baghdad and "With three weeks left before a key nationwide vote, Baghdad looks little different from how it did back when the country was on the brink of civil war in 2006 -- divided, gripped by fear and dissected by concrete blast walls." Michael Hastings (The Hatings Report, True/Slant) reports on attacks on the Aharar political party -- Saturday, four were held for 24 hours in Sadr City where they were attempting to put up campaign visuals and Tuesday a group of worker were attacked leading up to today where an Aharar Party candidate was attacked in Maysan Province with at least one body guard killed in the attack. Hastings offers these possible reasons for the repeated assaults:
1)The Ahrar party is headed by a secular Shiite cleric named Jamal Ayad Aldin. Their list is made up of other secular candidates. We've seen the Iraqi government–in its efforts to ban over 500 candidates–target secularlists. The number two man on Ahrar's list, a secular Sunni named General Najeem Said, was in fact banned from running. This might very well be part of a larger effort by the Shiite Islamist government in Baghdad to make life more difficult for secular parties.
2) Jamal Ayad Aldin has been very, very, critical of Iranian influence in Iraq. He's also been getting some favorable TV coverage on Iraqiya, a popular satellite TV channel. So could the Iranians be trying to take out an enemy? Well, just this week top American General Ray Ordierno accused Iran of being behind the election ban, so it's not far fetched that they'd support attacks on their enemies inside Iraq as well.

RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"
"Chalabi and guy pal al-Lami"
"Aimee Allison: The Madeline Albright of the Airwaves"
"Get your act together, press corps"
"ACLU asks a great question, I've got another"
"They should laugh"
"Thanks, Jackson Browne (for nothing)"
"ACLU asks a great question, I've got another"
"Evan Bayh's news"
"Barack overrules/sidesteps Congress"
"Bayh, Bayh, Bayh"






On the most recent Inside Iraq (Al Jazeera) which began airing Friday, Jasim al-Azawi addressed the tensions stemming from the election chaos (national elections are currently scheduled for March 7th) with guests Anas al-Tikriti and Saad al-Muttalibi.

Jasim al-Azzawi: Anas, let me ask you the last question in my intro. Is al-Malki upholding the law or is he playing with fire?

Anas al-Tikriti: Jasim, I think that most people recognize electioneering when they see it and while most people would recognize that we entered electioneering mode several weeks ago, practially, well we are in election mode. But several weeks ago, every single stance and every single statement feeds into the election campaign. But this, I fear, this risks to drag the entire country back to the brink. One thing that we were all looking forward to -- and you and your viewers will recognize that I'm an incredible, fierce critic to the entire political structure that was set up in 2003 -- but we were looking forward to this coming election as being some sort of landmark and turning point in the history of Iraq in terms of us transcending the sectarian lines that were drawn over the past six, seven years. Unfortunately, it seems there are elements -- and particularly al-Maliki, surprisingly -- who initiated the national reconcialition effort a couple of years ago and inisisted that that was his slogan, it seems that now he is hell bent on drawing the entire country back to where we were three, four years ago. There is nothing good that can come from this.

Jasim al-Azzawi: Not only that, Saad al-Muttalibi, but the appeal panel that was constituted and empowered by Iraqi Parliament to look into the banning of candidates has just given its verdict and that verdict is it's going to exclude many that's on the list, primarily Saleh al-Mutlaq and Dhafir al-Ani. How will that impact the political process? Many people feel that violence may come back with vengence.

Saad al-Muttalibi: No. Definitely no. No return to violence. The rulings have clearly indicated that em, uh, a political section or sector of people in Iraq will not be able to participate in the coming elections. And those are the Ba'athists. Those Ba'athists were initially -- under item seven of the Constitution -- were barred from entering politics and the political life in Iraq; therefore, we don't see -- I personally don't see any chance in what is happening. The hype, the excitement that took place, was directed because Mr. Saleh al-Mutlaq's name was mentioned on the list. Him as being an activist within the political process --

Anas al-Tikriti: But Saad --

Saad al-Muttalibi: -- within the last four years has proved.

Anas al-Tikriti: But Saad, if I may, if I may interrupt you. The ironice -- the actual hilarity of this situation is that Dhafir al-Ani andSaleh al-Mutlaq have both been members of the Parliament that drew up the Constitution that approved of Article 7, that you're talking about, over the past six, seven years. Why now? Why come up with this particular decision now if not to actually inflame tensions that we were hoping were left to lie this time around and then hopefully allow us to depart from violence? Why now? They were part of the Parliament that you sit in, al-Maliki sits in. They were part of approving the Constitution that now they're being vilified for. As well as that Article 7 you mention -- it also mentions besides the Ba'athists, it also mentions sectarian parties. Are you telling me that there are no sectarian parties who are going to fight this coming election?

Saad al-Muttalibi: All sectarian -- and as you clearly said, sectarian, Ba'athist, whatever, they are to be banned from the coming elections. The list? You mentioned only two names. But the list was mainly constituted of two-thirds Shia and one-third Sunni who were excluded from participating from the elections so there is no question that this is being pointed at a particular section of society -- sector of society. It's not --

Jasim al-Azzawi: How do you explain, Saad al-Muttalibi, that the Defense Minister is also excluded.

Saad al-Muttalibi: Because he was an ex-Ba'athist. [Chuckles at himself.] Nobody decides, there is a data base --

Anas al-Tikriti: Saad, Saad, how many --

Saad al-Muttalibi: -- with a red mark.

Anas al-Tikriti: How many, how many of your colleagues were ex-Ba'athists? How many of your colleagues? How many Iraqis do you know, do you work with today, who are leaders of parties that are going to fight the next elections are Ba'athists. More than 78% of the Iraqi people had to become Ba'athists in the past. All along, this law is a wrong, immoral law simply because it was inoperable and secondly because it would reach people who had to join the Ba'ath Party simply because of the brutal regime of the past.

Jasim al-Azzawi: Before he answers [cross talk] the question, Saad al-Muttalibi, the governor of Baghdad has threatened to dismiss all Ba'athists from office.

For those wondering, al-Muttalibi never answered the host's question. Nor did he ever answer the question of "why now?" That question was on the mind of Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) recently, "Maybe I can understand it if the commission was banning only newcomers, new names -- new faces that have not been part of the political scene before -- people whom it has just now investigated and decided to reject. But to suddenly, after years of silence, and in the critical period of time that precedes national elections, cross out names that have been part of Iraqi politics for years – How "un-political" a ruling can that be?" Saturday, Reuters noted seven people wounded in Baghdad bombings in what are seen as attacks on various political parties or politicians (including Saleh al-Mutlaq who is 'banned' from participation). That was only reported attack. Monday Xinhua reported a political party's office in Baghdad was hit by a bombing injuring a security guard and damaging the office Meanwhile Layla Anwar (An Arab Woman Blues) translated a bulletin from Iraq's south:
Title : Bulletin from the movement for the liberation of the South, condemning the statements of Ahamedinejad and his interference in Iraqi affairs.
" With all the arrogance, audacity and disrespect towards the feelings of the Iraqi government, the Iraqi people and the Iraqi soil, Ahmedinejad proclaims that he will not allow the return of the Baathists to Iraq. And here we are not debating whether the Baath party should return or not. We are however very surprised by the arrogance of this leader who stated his intentions, knowing full well that this public statement is an open admission of his country's involvement in Iraqi affairs. And by doing so, he (Ahmadinejad) is embarrassing his friends more than his opponents, but it seems that the game is now in the open, this time round. The Tehran government is clearly the winner out of this (American) Occupation of Iraq, otherwise Ahmedinejad would have not said what he said. But let Ahmadinejad and company know that there is a people in Iraq, who will never allow their occupation and let them know that their end as well as that of their (Persian) empire dream, will be made a reality through Iraqi hands, by the will of Allah.
And who is Ahmedinejad to speak on behalf of the Iraqis. Let him and those who follow him know that if a people want a thing, no one can stop them and if a people hate a thing, nothing will make them love it, even if that thing covers their hands with rings and rosaries.
We, in the movement for the liberation of the South, consider this statement by Ahmadinejad, a public admission that all the decisions taken by the Justice and Accountability committee were made in Tehran and by Iranian orders. We shall retain our right of reply.
So from today onwards, we do not want anyone to shy away from intervening in Iranian affairs, whoever that person is, in removing the rule of the mullahs. Had Iran not started and intervened in Iraqi affairs, we would have never contemplated interfering in its affairs. The one who started this is the real oppressor.
We are committed and adamant about the liberation of Iraq and her people first, and the Iranian people second, from this fascist tyrannical regime."

Saturday, the New York Times offered the editorial "Mr. Maliki's Dangerous Ambition" which included:

To resolve a dispute with the Tikrit provincial council this week, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq did what any good autocrat would do: He sent in the army. The problem is, Mr. Maliki isn't supposed to be an autocrat. And the United States didn't train Iraq's Army so it could be used for political coercion.This is just the most recent example of thuggery by Mr. Maliki, who is determined to do anything he can to win re-election next month. If he and his Shiite-led government continue this way, the vote will not be seen as legitimate and opposition groups may well return to violence. That would be a disaster for Iraqis and the United States, which is supposed to be on its way out of Iraq.

Today, the Toledo Blade offered the editoiral "Don't yield to Iraqi stunts" I which includes:

On the one hand, the occupation government's snub of U.S. pleas to open up the elections is evidence of some independence on its part, even if it is in defense of an unhelpful approach.On the other -- pointing toward a more-likely outcome -- excluding Sunni and nonsectarian candidates from the electoral process leaves the field clear to Mr. Maliki and the Shiite Iraqi National Congress of former U.S. favorite Ahmed Chalabi. That would invite a Sunni boycott, as occurred in 2005, and likely subsequent civil disorder.

Ahmed Chalabi? If Bush were the 'tough guy' his cheerleaders think he was, Chalabi would have been found with a bullet to his head long ago. If the US was the democracy it's supposed to be, Chalabi would be standing trial -- right alongside Bush and Cheney -- for War Crimes. Instead the coward and double and triple agent roams Iraq, his knuckles dragging against the ground. AFP reports Coward Chalabi has accused the United States of 'interference.' Interference? From Chalabi? The man who spent over a decade building lies and pressure to force an Iraq War -- a war he was too cowardly to attempt on his own. And now he wants to accuse foreign governments of interference?

He's even more vocal with Iran's Press TV:

Press TV: Why do think Washington has been behind a lot of pressure on the Iraqi government into allowing these individuals who have been affiliated with the Baath party to run for office?

Chalabi: It is unfortunate that the United States has put very narrow foreign policy interests in its relationship with Iraq over the will of Iraqi people. I believe that what the US is following in this regard is the continuing conflict towards Iran. They think that the presence of Baathists in the government and parliament of Iraq would be important card in their hands in stopping the so called spreading influence of Iran in Iraq.

It's unfortunate that a coward like Ahmed Chalabi who fled from Iraq shaking in his boots and pissing in his drawers and then hid out for years and years in other countries only to take his yellow tail back to Iraq AFTER the US invaded was ever installed into leadership. The Iraqi people deserve better, a lot better. Gordon Campbell (New Zealand's Scoop) noted, "Amazingly, there are signs that the shortlist of viable compromise figures includes the perinnial Shia opportunist Ahmad Chalabi, the former Jordanian fraudster who was the US neo-cons favourite candidate to lead the nation after the 2003 invasion -- at least until he turned out to be a double agent working for the Iranians." Speaking to DC's Institute For the Study of War today by video link, the top US commander in Iraq, Gen Ray Odierno, declared that Chalabi and Ali al-Lami are strongly influenced by the government of Iran and that they meet with senior-level members of the Iranian government regularly. Lara Jakes and Anne Flaherty (AP) report, "Odierno told an audience in Washington at the Institute for the Study of War that al-Lami 'has been involved in various nefarious activities in Iraq for sometime' and called it 'disappointing' that he was put in charge of the commission."
Over the long weekend, Ernesto Londono (Washington Post) reported
that Ahmed and his boy-pal Ali al-Lami run the extra-legal Justice and Accountability Commission which has banned various candidates including Saleh al-Mutlaq who states, "It is not possible to raise the white flag. The entire country and its people shall be threatened." Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) added, "Mr. Mutlaq, a member of Parliament since 2006, held the No. 2 spot on the ballot of Iraqiya, a secular coalition of Sunnis and Shiites that has emerged as a strong rival of the election bloc led by Iraq's prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. The No. 3 candidate on the Iraqiya list, Dhafir al-Ani, was also barred from running." Pure coincidence that Nouri's two biggest rivals got knocked out of the race, right? Liz Sly (Los Angeles Times) explains that al-Mutlaq's Iraqi National Movement party has temporarily "suspended campaigning Saturday and hinted at a possible boycott of next month's elections to protest a decision to uphold a ban on candidates because of their alleged ties to the outlawed Baath Party. [. . .] The group called for an urgent meeting of top leaders, a review of the banning process and an emergency session of parliament." Monday, Naseer Al-lly (Asharq Alawsat Newspaper) reports that now Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi is being accused of "supporting terrorism" by MP Asharq al-Awsat. This is what passes for 'campaigning.' Oliver August (Times of London) observed, "Politicians are engaged in crude power games meant to destroy rather than defeat opponents. Murder, blackmail, corruption and intimidation are a central part of the process used to choose the next government." Mohammed Abbas (Reuters) notes that "Maliki is likely aware of his dented popularity as he has reverted to proven vote-winning methods, like stirring up Shi'ite fears of a return of Saddam's Baath party, to win the ballot, analysts say." It's 'campaigning.' Of course, the last time 'campaigning' like this took place, ethnic cleansing (popularly known as "the civil war") took place for the following two years. Fanning those flames was Iraqi MP Baha al-Araji. AFP reports that that MP from Moqtada al-Sadr's political bloc declared "the majority denomination (the Shiites) was the victim of a plot since Abu Bakr [573-634] until Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr [1912-1982]." Nouri's mouthpiece, ali al-Dabbagh, insisted the statement was outragoues and a violation of Article 7. He then warned it should not happen again.

RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"
"Toledo Blade calls out Iraq election craziness"
"Evan Bayh gives a speech, people don't listen"
"'Campaigning' in Iraq"
"The Iraq War is not a joke, someone explain it to the Socialist Worker"
"And the war drags on . . ."
"Targeted bombings, Iraqis disenchanted, it's elections!"
"The thuggery of Nouri"
Truest statement of the week
Truest statement of the week II
A note to our readers
Editorial: Smash the clampdown
TV: Human Target
Aimee Allison says Pakistani lives don't matter
Consumer scams (Jess)
Ty's Corner
Shame of the week
KPFA's biggest waste of time (Ava, C.I. and Ann)
Don't Miss Movie
"Tweeting for Twits"