Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Barry plays big spender with your money







This morning attention was focused on Ramadi where the protectors were the ones in need of protection. Deng Shasha (Xinhua) reports that the Ramadi police station was stormed by "gunmen and suicide bombers" who were "wearing military uniforms" and who went on to hold "14 policemen and officials" hostage, according to a police source. AKI also notes that the assailants wore police uniforms. Police uniforms and military uniforms have long been used in attacks. As late as 2006, there was a pretense that some mythical warehouses throughout Iraq were being raided. Now, at least when the violence is within Baghdad, reports are more likely to acknowledge that it could be Iraqi security officers -- like the forces working for the Ministry of the Interior which terroized and killed Sunnis in Baghdad during the ethnic cleansing phase of 2006 and 2007. RTT explains, "Local news reports quoted police officials as saying that the hostages include the Mayor of al-Baghdadi as well as several police officers and government employees." AFP adds, "At least two explosions preceded the attack on the Al-Baghdadi police headquarters, which is in a compound that also houses the office of the town's mayor, according to the officials." The Palestine Telegraph reports that Anbar's Deputy Governor, Dhari Arkan, "said the army was surrounding the police station in the town of al-Baghdadi."
What followed, according to AFP, was a standoff that lasted approximately two hours. Mazin Yahya (AP) notes that, from the seizure of the station through the standoff and finally the resolution, three hours elapsed. (From the start BBC News states that security officials then announced that all the assailants were killed . . . as were three hostages. Citing Iraqi military's Brig Mohammed al-Fahdawi, AP also notes 3 hostages were killed. Reuters counts 13 dead. DPA states 25 hostages were freed which is strange since Press TV reports that the assailants had taken "15 senior officials and policemen hostage". In addition to assailants killed, AFP adds, "Anbar provincial council deputy chairman Saadun Obeid Shaalan said four people were killed including Obeidi, an official in the town mayor's office and two policemen" while Maj Gen Mohammed al-Askari states, "We killed the four gunmen. The police chief and one civilian were killed."
AP reports that the town's mayor, Muhanad Zbar Mutlaq, hid in a "bathroom next to his office, locking the door behind him." He then texted SOS messages. He claims it was the Islamic State of Iraq and that he knows that because he heard them say it in his office -- the office the bathroom was next to. It seems strange that they would be in the office and not check a bathroom if they were holding everyone hostage. If they did check a bathroom door and found it locked, it's strange that they wouldn't kick it down. And clearly for the mayor to have heard them speaking in his office through the door of the adjoining or next to office bathroom, the door would have to be very flimsy.
In other Iraq violence reported today, Reuters notes 2 Kurdish security officers were shot dead in Khanaqin with five more injured, 1 Iraqi intelligence officer shot dead in Baghdad, a Baghdad roadside bombing claimed 1 life and left three more injured, a second Baghdad roadside bombing left three people injured, dropping back to Sunday, 1 Iraqi intelligence officer was shot dead in Baghdad and 1 former Iraq armed forces pilot was shot dead. Michael S. Schmidt and Duraid Adnan (New York Times) report that "gunmen attacked a police headquarters in the city of Hit, killing two police officers and kidnapping others."
Meanwhile, can Reuters stop single-sourcing? Yet again, Reuters ran with the Iraqi government figures for the number of deaths and injured for the month of September. The numbers were laughable but Reuters made no effort to provide context (or to keep track of their own reporting). The Iraqi government offers, and Reuters runs with, 177 dead and 319 injured. Let's check our own imprecise tracking of reported deaths and wounded. (Note those totals are civilians and security forces combined. As will be the totals from the Iraq snapshots below.)
September 1st 5 were reported dead and 25 injured; September 2nd 1 person was reported dead; Septmeber 3rd 3 were reported dead; September 4th 4 were reported dead and 1 injured; September 5th 5 were reported dead and 7 injured; September 7th 4 were reported dead and 4 injured; September 8th 2 were reported dead and 1 injured; September 9th 41 were reported dead and 2 injured; September 10th 8 were reported dead and 18 injured; September 11th 4 were reported injured; September 12th 31 were reported dead and 18 injured; September 13th 5 were reported dead and 19 injured; September 14th 41 were reported dead and 66 injured; September 15th 2 were reported dead; September 16th 9 were reported dead and 26 injured; September 17th 3 were reported dead and 4 injured; September 18th 1 was reported dead and 4 injured; September 19th 9 were reported dead and 33 injured; September 20th 7 were reported dead and 18 injured; September 21st 33 were reported dead and 4 injured; September 22nd 8 were reported dead and 22 injured; September 23rd 8 were reported dead and 12 injured; September 24th 1 was reported dead and 3 injured; September 25th 24 were reported dead and 121 injured; September 27th 8 were reported dead and 23 injured; September 28th 11 were reported dead and 9 injured; September 29th 8 were reported dead and 84 injured; and September 30th 21 were reported dead and 73 injured. Check my math, that comes to 303 reported dead and 601 reported injured.
303 dead, 601 injured. But the official numbers are 303 and 601 and Reuters doesn't question that? Today AKI's John Drake Tweeted:
johnfdrake At least 44 people were killed and 208 injured in #Iraq violence last week.
208 injured last week alone and the Iraqi government is claiming 319 wounded in the entire month of September but Reuters doesn't stop a moment to say, "That figure seems impossible"? Back when Bush was in the White House, the press loved to run with Iraqi Body Count. It was the source they relied upon. These days, they don't even mention it. But what did IBC find? For the month of September, they counted 335 civilians killed. 335. And the 177 total (which is civilian and security forces) doesn't bother Reuters? How many civilians did the government of Iraq say were killed? 102.
Are you seeing a problem? Why do we have to go through this each month? Why are outlets not keeping their own counts? Why does Reuters single-source these reports instead of bringing IBC and other trackers? If accuracy were the goal, if informing were the goal, we wouldn't be going through this month after month.
Let's drop back to the August 31st snapshot:
Leave aside the wounded this month -- the New York Times certainly did, never reporting on any of them -- and the attacks on US forces -- ibid -- and the fact that the administration wanted US troops confined on bases for all but "essential missions" this month (after the heavy death toll in July). Set all of that aside. And grasp that since the Iraq War "ended" (Barack's August 31st declaration of the end of combat operations), the Pentagon says [PDF format warning] 56 US military personnel have died. In one year. In one year since the illegal war supposedly ended. The 56 who died in the last 12 months are still dead. If they'd all died in June or all died in January or at a rate of a little over 4 each of the 12 months, they'd still be dead.
That number of US military personnel killed in Iraq since Barack's August 31st declaration of the end of combat operations rose to [PDF format warning] 60 (Official Pentagon count last updated September 30, 2011 at 10:00 a.m. and you're looking at the Operation New Dawn numbers.) So 4 US soldiers died in the Iraq War in the month of September. Not that the New York Times bothered to cover that. "No deaths in the month of August" has them screaming from the mountain tops. Someone might need to explain to the paper that it's not supposed to be All The Happy News That's Fit To Print. And for those who just know I have my numbers wrong (I don't), you can refer to Jim Loney's report for Reuters from September 1st: "Pentagon statistics show 56 U.S. military deaths since the start of Operation New Dawn on September 1, 35 in hostile incidents." Or try Richard Allen Green's September 1st report for CNN which notes "56 [deaths] since the United States declared an end of combat operations exactly a year ago, according to a CNN analysis of Pentagon statistics." It's 60 now. That's 4 US soldiers. And the press didn't report the deaths. And the press didn't even call out the Pentagon which tried to slip some of those deaths into the count without releasing death announcements. (And if you can't access PDF, there's a screen snap of the Penatgon official numbers in last night's "And the war drags on . . .")
In Iraq, Political Stalemate II continues. The political blocs are set to meet up at Iraqi president Jalal Talabani's home Tuesday evening in an attempt to reach some form of understanding. Political Stalemate I (the period following the March 7, 2010 elections) ended when the political blocs and the US brokered the Erbil Agreement. However, Nouri al-Maliki followed it in terms of retaining the prime minister post but, once he had that, immediately tossed aside the Erbil Agreement and did not honor what other political blocs were suppopsed to receive -- including the creation of a new security commission that would have been headed by Ayad Allawi who is the head of Iraqiya which came in first in the March 7th elections. Yesterdat Dar Addustour noted that the political meet-up at Jalal Talabani's home is scheduled for Tuesday night and that the blocs will meet and attempt to sort out differences.

Al Mada reports that there is not a lot of hope going into Tuesday's meet-up though Allawi is stating that he's "hopeful." Kurds continue to feel shut out and call for the Erbil Agreement to be honored as well as for something other than the oil & gas draft bill Nouri has proposed. As to the issue of the US military withdrawing at the end of the year, the article quotes a source reminding that the decision is Nouri's since he is the leader of the armed forces. Al Mada also reports Allawi is stating "no" to immunity for US troops that would remain in Iraq beyond the end of the year. Allawi notes that US Vice President Joe Biden spoke with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani last week while Talabani was in the US and Biden stated that immunity is a must for US troops. The article also notes that Nouri has stated no US troops will remain in Iraq after the end of the year . . . except for trainers which is okay and universally recognized as being okay.
We covered that twice last week. From Thursday's snapshot:
Al Mada reports Nouri al-Maliki appeared on Al-Manar TV today and declared no US troops would remain in Iraq, that, as per the SOFA, they will all leave at the end of this year.
. . . except . . .
Nouri said Iraq would keep "trainers" and "experts" and that this is "normal" and "universally" accepted.
So, to translate that into reality, Nouri al-Maliki declared today that the US military will remain in Iraq beyond 2011 and they will be called "trainers" or "experts."
US outlets haven't reported on Nouri's remarks and Al Mada is an Arabic publication. But those needing an English language source on the above can refer to this article by Aswat al-Iraq today which includes:
**Iraq's Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, has said on Thursday that the presence of foreign experts and trainers during the purchase of weapons is a natural thing, reiterating that the presence of the US troops in his country would end by end of the current year
"The presence of the American troops is settled and shall end by the end of the current year, according to an agreement between both sides, and there won't remain a single foreign soldier in the country," a statement by the Prime Minister's office reported.
But Prime Minister Maliki said that the "resence of foreign experts and trainers during the process of purchase of weapons is something natural and is followed in other parts of the world."**
We go over that yet again for a reason. The Tehran Times reports today, "Iraq's President Jalal al-Talabani has said all the Iraqi political leaders are united that the U.S. troops have to leave their country by the year-end deadline." Is anyone that stupid?
They are in agreement that all US soldiers leave Iraq at the end of the year . . .
except . . .
those they start calling "trainers." Press TV grasps it and they quote him saying, "The meeting, which is due to be held next Tuesday evening, is to discuss the American trooops' withdrawal as there is unanimity on the withdrawal. And the topic of trainers will be discussed in said meeting and God willing we hope to reach a unanimous decision in the next meeting." Get it? Two different categories. On soldiers, Talabani says there's unanimous agreement. On "trainers," he hopes they will "reach a unanimous decision."
And as we noted over the weekend, if Nouri has the power to ask for trainers than he has the power to grant immunity to them. The two have to go hand-in-hand to exist. Meanwhile National Alliance MP Mansour al-Tamimi speaks of 7,000 US troops remaining in Iraq after December 31st. This would supposedly anger the Sadr bloc but Nouri's State of Law is also at loggered heads with the Sadr bloc over the issue of amnesty.
On withdrawal/never ending war, let's move over to the US for a moment to note an event this Saturday. This is Angela Keaton's write up for Antiwar.com:
Kelley B. Vlahos along with military veterans Daniel Lakemacher and Students for Liberty's Peter Neiger will be appearing at an Antiwar Break Out Session at the 2011 Students for Liberty Philadelphia Regional Conference. The conference will be held Saturday, October 8th. Register here.
Vlahos is a contributing editor for The American Conservative magazine, a Washington correspondent for the DC-based homeland security magazine, Homeland Security Today, a long-time political writer for FOXNews.com, and weekly columnist for Antiwar.com.
In a perfect world, we would note that in all five of this week's Iraq snapshots. We noted it here and hopefully I'll remember to include it at least once more. Ideally, it'll be in every day's snapshot.

RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"

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