BULLY BOY PRESS & CEDRIC'S BIG MIX -- THE KOOL-AID TABLE
CELEBRITY IN CHIEF BARRY O LEARNED TODAY THAT THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO WANTS TO HOUSE HIS LIBRARY. HE TOLD THESE REPORTERS THAT HE'D LOVE TO SEE SHELVES AND SHELVES "OF THE TWO BOOKS I WROTE ABOUT ME AND THE NEXT 57 I'M PLANNING TO."
BUT ISN'T IT A LITTLE EARLY FOR A PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY?
"WELL," BARRY O SAID, "IT WAS EITHER THAT OR 'THE BARACK OBAMA TOPLESS BEACH AND BBQ' BUT MELODY BARNES SAID SHE WOULDN'T PROVIDE COVER FOR ME ON THAT."
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
Frank Sesno was the guest host on NPR's The Diane Rehm Show today and the first hour was devoted to Iraq and Afghanistan. Sesno spoke with McClatchy Newspapers Nancy A. Youssef, Wall St. Journal's Peter Spiegel and Crazy Ass Thomas E. Ricks.
Frank Sesno: Tom Ricks, let's start with these incredible bombings in Iraq and the shockwave they've sent through the military and the political systems there. What signal were they intended -- intending to send?
Thomas E. Ricks: I think they were intended to send the signal that [Prime Minister Nouri al-] Maliki does not have the control over Iraq that he asserts and that's really his sole campaign plank -- is look "You may not like me, you may not like how we're running the government but at least you're feeling safer" and I think was designed to undermine that. I was struck -- I read this morning that one of the trucks used to do the bombings was stolen in Falluja which indicates it probably came out of Anbar Province.
Frank Sesno: Which means?
Thomas E. Ricks: Which means a Sunni extrimist probably working with al Qaeda. Simeloutaneous large blast is one of the al Qaeda signatures that they like to do. We all remember that from 9-11.
Did Thomas E. Ricks just make a total idiot of himself? Yes, he did. He attempted to conflate al Qaeda in Mesopotomia with the al Qaeda group thought to be responsible for 9-11. The two are not related. Thomas E. Ricks is worse than George W. Bush because Ricks actually had a semi-functioning brain that wasn't destroyed via drink and cocaine. But that didn't stop him from conflating two separate things. al Qaeda in Mespotamia is a homegrown (Iraqi) group. It did not exist prior to the 2003 invasion. It is a response to the 2003 invasion. And Thomas E. Ricks needs to learn to choose his words a little more carefully. With each day, he drifts further and further from journalism.
What a moron. That anyone -- let alone a journalist -- would attempt to conflate 9-11 and Iraq at this late date is offensive. That a journalist would do so -- knowing full well that this conflation helped sell the illegal war -- helped sell it because the news media refused to call it out -- the same ones that will fact check a Saturday Night Live skit -- is just beyond belief. But notice that on the program, they just moved along past Crazy Ass Thomas Ricks -- not unlike they ignored that LIE when it was sold by the Bush administration. There WAS NO and IS NO connection between Iraq and 9-11 -- no matter what Thomas E. Ricks jibber-jabbers.
Frank Sesno: Which means, Nancy Youseff that Iraq is what? No where near as stable as the previous lull had indicated?
Nancy A. Youssef: Well it indicates that sectarian violence is still continuing despite the US military assertion that it's not as aggressive as it would be. These were Sunni attackers hitting Shia government buildings. It's an effort to sort of revitalize the sectarian fighting and I think it raises questions about ultimately what Iraqis and what Americans consider acceptable levels of violence in Iraq. Can these sort of occassional bombings -- you'll remember that the last one was in August -- will the Iraqis accept it? Will the Americans accept it as a condition for their leaving? That-that attacks will continue to go on? There are fewer attacks but they're becoming more and more spectacular.
Frank Sesno: And, Peter, at a critical critical moment.
Peter Spiegel: It is a critical moment because you have elections coming up in January. And just to not be overly pessimistic here 'cause, as Nancy mentioned, there was a very similar attack in August, we did not see the country descend into another round of sectarian violence. That's the good news. The other good news, as Tom pointed out, they seemed to be very political oriented. There are elections coming up. You know Maliki is vying for position with other Shia parties, with other Sunni parties. Is this just a domestic political issue being expressed through violence? If that's the case, there's an argument that as long as there's some sort of Sunni outlet through the political system, this may eventually go away. Now the problem is there appears to be no Sunni outlet for legitimate political expression right now because most of the parties are still dominated by Shi'ites and a lot of the government institutions are dominated by Shias -- they're using them to suppress Sunnis in the country. So as long as that continues, as long as there's no legitimate way for Sunnis to express their political outrage this stuff could continue.
Frank Sesno: Do you expect this stuff to continue?
Thomas E. Ricks: I do actually. The last line in the last book I've written on Iraq, The Gamble, is a quote from [former US] Ambassador [to Iraq] Ryan Crocker. He said to me twice in the course of 2008, "The events for which the Iraq War will be remembered have not yet occurred." There's a significant chance that the war will go on for another five to ten years. I think we're going to have American troops there for many, many years. They'll call them "trainers" and "advisors" but this war is far from over.
Frank Sesno: But Tom as they leave, as we have pulled out of the cities and as we withdraw to concentrated areas around the country, what vulnerability then does this latest string of events suggest for the innocent public in Iraq trying desparately to put their lives back together again because it suggest the vulnarability is extreme.
Thomas E. Ricks: Recently, the former mayor of Tal Afar, a city up in the northwest, wrote a very interesting essay in which he said all the conditions for civil war in Iraq are still there. This is why I think the civil war failed. It succeeded tactically, it improved security.
Frank Sesno: For the moment.
Thomas E. Ricks: Yes, but it's purpose was to lead to a political breakthrough and that didn't happen. That's not my saying what the purpose was, that's what the president said the purpose was.
Frarnk Sesno: Nancy, I see you nodding your head.
Nancy A. Youssef: Yeah, you know, what's interesting is that when you ask them at the Pentagon, "Look there have been two massive attacks in the last few months and what are you going to do?" And there's sort of a shrugging of the shoulders. The Status Of Forces Agreement calls for us to leave and the Pentagon's focused on Afghanistan now and yet if you go right below the surface you can feel from soldiers who have served, who wear braclets of fallen comrades, the frustration that potentially the United States is leaving as sloppily as it entered, that you've got 120,000 troops still based in Iraq and yet nothing is being done to-to-to stop this. The-the line --
Frarnk Sesno: Nothing is being done to stop this?
Nancy A. Youssef: No, because the line at the Pentagon is "We're asking for Maliki to ask us for help" or we're waiting for something like the Samarra mosque bombing. But if it gets to that level, it's already too late. I mean the Samarra mosque bombing didn't happen in a vacuum. That was a building of sectarian violence that manifested itself in a very violent way.
Peter Spiegel: One other issue, there are still 120,000 troops in Iraq which everyone seems to forget, which is about the levels they were pre-surge, which is still a very big level. But what is happening in sort of the granularity of that is a lot of assets that are needed to track down these bombing networks -- the UAVs, the unmanned drones, the intelligence assets -- all that is being sucked away to Afghanistan. And having spent time with General [Ray] Odierno, who is the commander there, a year ago, his-his real -- the thing he's most proud of is the ability to track down these networks through human intelligence through systems like unmanned drones and dismantle them. Well if you move all those assets to Afghanistan, are you still able to dismantle all those bombing networks that are still clearly sort of roving freely in Baghdad and be able to do these kind of things?
Frarnk Sesno: These bombs went off near three government buildings -- three important government buildings. How much of a set back does this present to the fledgling, struggling Iraqi government itself?
Nancy A. Youssef: I don't think we know yet. I mean, you saw the government try to respond by passing an election law which they've been debating for several months now as a way to sort of speak up. I think you're seeing Maliki -- it hurts Maliki the most, as Tom mentioned, because his political platform, his election platform is "I bring security to you." You saw rival political parties trying to exploit that.
Nancy A. Youssef was referring to a proposal put together by the Political Council for National Security and then passed on to Parliament. That was a proposal made (with much fanfare) yesterday. Like just about everything else on the governance front in Iraq, it fell apart. John Leland (New York Times) reports there was no consensus today and that they are at a stalemate, "another blockage in negotiations that have dragged on for weeks, threatening national elections scheduled for January 16th." 'Scheduled'? I believe the appropriate term is intended. Suadad al-Salhy (Reuters) adds that the issue of Kirkuk was the falling out point for the "proposal submitted by a high-ranking council that included Maliki and President Jalal Talabani." Repeating, no election law. Still.
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