Thursday, January 05, 2012

Poor little princess




Nouri al-Maliki has an affinity for breaking the Constitution. Repeatedly. Recently, he's broken Article 19's Fifth Clause.
The accused is innocent until proven guilty in a fair legal trial. The accused may not be tried on the same crime for a second time after acquittal unless new evidence is produced.
Nouri's statements and those of other members of State of Law regarding Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi have not presumed innocence. No trial has taken place but Nouri and his associates have repeatedly and publicly pronounced al-Hashemi guilty.
Today Nouri manages to break the Constitution again. Khalid Al Ansary and Nayla Razzouk (Bloomberg News) report that he placed "all eight government ministers from the Sunni Muslim-backed al-Iraqiya alliance on leave" according to his spokesperon Ali al-Musawi. Where in the country's constitution does that power exist?
Oh, right, it doesn't. Those eight ministers were confirmed in their posts by Parliament (in other words they're not 'acting' anything, they are the ministers, per the Constitution). His only power after a minister is confirmed by Parliament? Outlined in Article 75:
The Prime Minister is the direct executive authority responsible for the general policy of the State and the commander in chief of the armed forces. He directs the Council of Ministers, and presides over its meetings and has the right to dismiss the Ministers on the consent of the Council of Representatives.
He is not allowed to strip a minister of their post without the consent of Parliament. Iraqiya has been boycotting the Cabinet and Parliament -- this started last month over the failure of Nouri to live up to the Erbil Agreement that ended the eight month political stalemate following the March 2010 elections. If Nouri now wants the ministers dismissed -- for any reason -- he needs to go to Parliament.
He has no right to put them on "leave." There is nothing in the Constitution that gives him this right. Per the Constitution, a Minister can only be stripped of their post (which would include their duties) if the Parliament agrees to it. The Parliament still hasn't set a date on hearing Nouri's demand from last month (December 17th) that Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq be stripped of his post. They certainly haven't agreed to strip eight ministers of their post. Reider Visser (Gulf Analysis) on al-Mutlaq:
In another sign of Maliki's inability to proceed with a bolder course in parliament, no vote of no confidence in vice premier Salih al-Mutlak, also of the Iraqiyya party, was held. The true test, however, will come later in the month with an expected national conference to deal with the latest political unrest. It is noteworthy that Maliki has used the past few weeks to speak out vocally against several power-sharing clauses of the shadowy Arbil framework that led to the creation of his second government in December 2010. This continued a trend seen throughout 2011, when Maliki increasingly sought to evade any discussion of the exact contents of that agreement.
It would be nice if reporters covering Iraq would learn the Constitution. Then, for example, they might be able to note when something was being done illegally. And, yes, if something's done that's not permitted the Constitution, a journalist can note that in their report. It's not opinion, it's the law.
So Bloomberg's report is worthless as is Prashant Rao's report for AFP which opens, "Iraq's premier backed off threats to fire ministers boycotting cabinet, instead naming temporary replacements Wednesday, as the UN voiced concern over a row that has stoked sectarian tensions."
Sidebar, while we're on the Constitution. If someone asks you when Iraq holds elections next, the answer is not, 'The last ones were in March 2010 so four years from that.' The approprirate answer is that with each election -- provincial or parliament (and excepting KRG's provincial elections which are run smoothly) -- Iraq has taken longer and longer to hold elections. That's (A). (B) March has nothing to do with the next elections. The thing to determine is when was the first Parliament session? In the late spring of 2010 or in November? Arguments can be made for either. But, per the Constitution, you go by the first session of Parliament. Article 54: "First: The electoral term of Council of Representatives shall be limited to four calendar years, starting with its first session and ending with the conclusion of the fourth year." Again, it will be interesting to see -- if early elections do not take place -- which session of Parliament will be considered the "first" session. From there, you count back 45 days. Article 54: "Second: The new Council of Representatives shall be elected 45 days before the conclusion of the previous electoral term."
What Nouri's doing with the Cabinet isn't covered by the Constitution.
He is not solely responsible for the Cabinet. He can not pick someone to be a minister and have them be a real minister without Parliament confirming them. He can not strip anyone of their title without Parliament approving.
What Nouri has done is illegal and unconstitutional. Reporters who can't make that point, really have nothing to say.
With no eye to the comic possibilities, President Jalal Talabani issued a statement today, Aswat al-Iraq reports, noting that the government is committed to the supremacy of law. Aswat al-Iraq notes State of Law MP Ali al-Shalah, criticizing Paul Bremer (and possibly Bremer's call for Iraq to become a federation), states that "when Bremer left Iraq, the security situation was on the brink of disaster and the country not unified, but today the situation is different." The country is unified? It's like reading The Onion.
Let's move over to the US quickly. Today, Time magazine notes, US President Barack Obama had a lot to say about his recess apointment of Richard Cordray (of course it was a man, wasn't it?) as the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. And Barack's remarks included:
The only reason Republicans in the Senate have blocked Richard is because they don't agree with the law setting up the consumer watchdog. They want to weaken it. Well that makes no sense at all. Does anyone think the reason we got in such a financial mess was because of too much oversight? Of course not. We shouldn't be weakening oversight and accountability.
So we need oversight and accountability? That's important to Barack, is it?
Why is it December 7th sticks in my head right now? Oh, right. The US House Oversight and Government Reform's National Security Subcommittee held a hearing that day. Who gave testimony? Oh, that's right, appearing before Congress were the Defense Department's Inspector General Gordon S. Heddell, the State Department's Deputy Inspector General Harold Geisel, US AID's Acting Inspector General Michael Carroll, the acting Inspector General for the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction and the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Stuart Bowen.
And if, January 17th, the House wanted to hear from these witnesses about what was going on right now, who could give knowledgable testimony?
Only Bowen. He's the only one who would still be in the position listed by his name above. From that Decemember hearing, let's note the Chair.
Subcommittee Chair Jason Chaffetz: Before recognizing Ranking Member [John] Tierney, I'd like to note that the Defense Dept, State Dept, USAID and SIGAR will not have IGs in January. In May of this year, I wrote the President asking him to move without delay to appoint replacements. That letter was signed by Senators [Joe] Lieberman, [Susan] Collins, [Claire] McCaskill and [Rob] Portman, as well as [House Oversight Committee] Chairman [Darrell] Issa and Ranking Member [Elijah] Cummings and Ranking Member Tierney. I'd like to place a copy of this record into the record. Without objection, so ordered. To my knowledge, the President has yet to nominate any of these replacements, nor has he responded to this letter. I find that totally unacceptable. This is a massive, massive effort. It's going to take some leadership from the White House. These jobs cannot and will not be done if the president fails to make these appointments. Upon taking office, President Obama promised that his administration would be "the most open and transparent in history." You cannot achieve transparency without inspectors general. Again, I urge President Obama and the Senate to nominate and confirm inspectors general to fill these vacancies and without delay

So today, Barack insists oversight and accountability are important -- laughable when the State Department has repeatedly avoided breaking down their basic budgets with Stuart Bowen. But let's pretend Barack's serious. Why is he not filling those position? Billions of dollars have been lost in war spending and he's pretending he cares about accountability and oversight while letting those positions go vacant? In that December hearing, US House Rep Raul Labrador observed, "Yet this panel is representing the IG offices principally responsible for overseeing tax payer money in Iraq and Afghanistan and, as of January 4th of next year, four of the five offices will not have an IG."
Do you know what today is?
January 4th.
Will the lazy ass American press ever do their job?
Magic 8 Ball says: "Reply hazy, try again."
Meanwhile, still in the US, Media Matters self-presents as a watchdog. But instead of watching out, it offers snark. Snark that doesn't even make sense. Snark that wastes time and actually helps War Hawks.
So Media Matters has sent something to the public e-mail account. 'What does it say?' I asked. I had to find a laptop because it's nothing but a video -- and a clip at that -- not a video of them speaking themselves, just something they captured.
The first question is obvious: Is that how Barack looked in the Iowa address? If so, there is something wrong with his make up. [Click here for AP video, it is how he looked. Note the eye lids for his actual skin color and then check out the ridiculous foundation they've painted on him. He looks like a clown, an orange clown]
The title of their post is "The Premature Evacuation Of Iraq Is So Rapid, We Basically Have Left That Country In Total Chaos." And, at the very end of the dumb clip, someone on Fox News says that.
Judging by the comments readers are leaving, we're supposed to chuckle at how stupid Fox News is. The stupidity is on the part of those leaving comments like this one "If Brian thinks nearly 10 years of occupation is premature evacuation his girlfriend must get bored." That doesn't even make sense. Not even on the joke level. "His girlfriend must be sore!" That's a stupid remark that does finish out the idiot theme the comment was trying to maintain. (Though "premature evacuation," pay attention, would more likely be the basis for a spastic colon joke.)
In fairness to the readers, why should they show logic when Media Matters apparently didn't.
I don't watch Fox News, I have no idea the name of the man speaking, nor do I need to know who it was. But what I do know is that the White House spent 2011 trying to extend the Status Of Forces Agreement and willing to go with a new agreement if need be. And then in October, they were told Nouri would give immunity but that the Parliament wouldn't. (In December, the Parliament offered "limited immunity" -- the talks continue.) In October, with no immunity, the White House announced they were removing US troops. That is most likely the point being made in the Fox News clip. (Most likely? Despite starting with Barack and boring us all with his orange face, the clip ends with that one line from the Fox News guy. If he said more, it's not in the clip.)
If Media Matters can't follow the argument being made, then they really are stupid. What's worse though is that they're probably not stupid, they're probably trying to play people for fools by mis-presenting the argument.

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