Saturday, October 29, 2011

It's going to be hard to butch him up





Adam Kokesh: But first, a little background on Iraq where the last accepted agreement for US military withdrawal goes back to the Bush administration because Bush decided to pretend that Iraq was a sovereign country actually going back to when I was in Falluja, there was that hand over of power on June 28, 2004 when Paul Bremer, head of the Coaltion Provisional Authority -- in effect, ruler of the 51st state of Iraq, got tired of being in charge of what could only be described as a clusterf**k and symbolicallly handed over power to Prime Minister [Ayad] Allawi who, by the way, was a former Ba'ath Party member who had been living in exile for 30 years -- perfect qualifications to be an obedient puppet ruler and the "first official head of state since Saddam Hussein." Anyway because of that, there had to be a standard SOFA, or Status Of Forces Agreement, or as it is officially titled in this case, Agreement Between The United States of America and The Republic Of Iraq on the Withdrawal of United States Forces From Iraq and the Organization of their Activities During Their Temporary Presence in Iraq." It stipulated that US military forces would be withdrawn from the cities on June 30, 2009 and that all remaining US military personnel -- except for those necessary for embassy security -- would be withdrawn by December 31, 2011. So that's how it would have gone had, say, George W. Bush gotten a third term or John McCain was elected. But we elected a Nobel Peace peace prize winner, didn't we? Mr. President, reminds us if you will please, what did you say about Iraq when you were running for president?

Barack Obama, October 27, 2007: I will promise you this, that if we have not gotten our troops out by the time I am president, it is the first thing I will do, I will get our troops home. I will bring an end to this war. You can take that to the bank.

Adam Kokesh: Now if I recall, Obama did kind of follow the Bush plan by stepping down first the occupation of the cities, right? Well here he is taking credit for it anyway.

Barack Obama: I want to say a few words about an important milestone that we've reached in Iraq. Today American troops have transferred control of all Iraqi cities and towns to Iraq's government and security forces. And this --

Adam Kokesh: Now when was that? When was that? Oh, yeah, June 30, 2009. Oh, well, then, he's got to at least have plans to get the remaining 20 to 30,000 or so troops out before the Bush timeline if only to save some face and keep them from demanding the peace prize back, right?

Barack Obama: As a candidate for president I pledged to bring the war in Iraq to a responsible end for the sake of our national security and to strengthen American leadership around the world. After taking office, I announced a new strategy that would end our combat mission in Iraq and remove all of our troops by the end of 2011. A few hours ago, I spoke with Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki. I reaffirmed that the United States keeps its commitments. He spoke of the determination of the Iraqi people to forge their own future. We are in full agreement about how to move forward. So today I can report that as promised the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year.

Adam Kokesh: Nope. It turns out that Obama thinks you're that stupid. If he makes a great speech about taking credit for ending the Iraq War, you'll all just grovel at what a great commander in chief he is and forget all about this.

Barack Obama: It is the first thing I will do, I will get our troops home, we will bring an end to this war.

Adam Kokesh: But it gets worse. What if I told you that if Obama had had his way, we would have troops in Iraq even longer? Yeah. Get this, this is the measure of how dumb he thinks you are. He announced the 'withdrawal' on the day that his plans for keeping troops there longer fell through when the Iraqi government rejected his request to allow troops to stay there with immunity from prosecution under Iraqi law. So, in other words, he tried to break his promise but took credit for keeping it when he failed to break it.
Adam Kokesh's Adam vs the Man is posting new episodes at his YouTube account. I'll add that to our permalinks this weekend. Repeating, Adam Kokesh's Adam vs the Man is posting new episodes at his YouTube account. Again, Adam Kokesh is an Iraq War veteran and we're going to stay with the topic of veterans for a bit longer.

Burn pits have resulted in many service members and contractors being exposed to chemicals and toxins that have seriously harmed their bodies. The Senate Democratic Policy Committee held hearings on this issue when Byron Dorgan was the Chair of the DPC. Click here to go to the hearing archives page. A registry is something that Leroy and Rosita Lopez-Torres are now working on. It should be noted that were it not for US Senator Jim Webb, the nation would already have such a registery. In October of 2009, then-Senator Evan Bayh appeared before the US Senate Veterans Affairs Committee explaining the bill for a registry he was sponsoring, advocating for it.

I am here today to testify about a tragedy that took place in 2003 on the outskirts of Basra in Iraq. I am here on behalf of Lt Col James Gentry and the brave men and women who served under his command in the First Battalion, 152nd Infantry of the Indiana National Guard. I spoke with Lt Col Gentry by phone just this last week. Unfortunately, he is at home with his wife, Luanne, waging a vliant fight against terminal cancer. The Lt Col was a healthy man when he left for Iraq. Today, he is fighting for his life. Tragically, many of his men are facing their own bleak prognosis as a result of their exposure to sodium dichromate, one of the most lethal carcinogens in existence. The chemical is used as an anti-corrosive for pipes. It was strewn all over the water treatment facility guarded by the 152nd Infantry. More than 600 soldiers from Indiana, Oregon, West Virginia and South Carolina were exposed. One Indiana Guardsman has already died from lung disease and the Army has classified it as a service-related death. Dozens of the others have come forward with a range of serious-respiratory symptoms. [. . .] Mr. Chairman, today I would like to tell this Committee about S1779. It is legislation that I have written to ensure that we provide full and timely medical care to soldiers exposed to hazardous chemicals during wartime military service like those on the outskirts of Basra. The Health Care for Veterans Exposed to Chemical Hazards Act of 2009 is bipartisan legislation that has already been co-sponsored by Senators Lugar, Dorgan, Rockefeller, Byrd, Wyden and Merkley. With a CBO score of just $10 million, it is a bill with a modest cost but a critical objective: To enusre that we do right by America's soldiers exposed to toxic chemicals while defending our country. This bill is modeled after similar legislation that Congress approved in 1978 following the Agent Orange exposure in the Vietnam conflict.

An important bill but one that never got out of Committee. Iraq War veteran Leroy Torres and his wife Rosie Torres have continued to battle on behalf of veterans exposed to burn pits and contiuned to educate the nation on the issue. The Torres have a website entitled BURNPITS 360. They are also on Facebook. It's a personal issue, Capt Leroy Torres was exposed to the burn pit on Balad Airbase. They note that a member of Congress is working on the issue.
From: The Honorable W. Todd Akin
Dear Colleague;
Please sign on to be an original cosponsor to legislation that is important to our veterans.  Numerous veterans have suffered serious health problems after exposure to open burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan. This legislation will establish a registry, similar to the Agent Orange Registry and the Gulf War Syndrome Registry.  This is the first step toward providing better care for veterans who have been affected by open burn pits.
This legislation is already supported by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), American Veterans (AMVETS) and the Association of the United States Navy (AUSN).  And the issue of burn pits was recently reported on in the October 24th edition of USA Today (which can be found here)
This bill will also be introduced in a bipartisan/bicameral fashion with companion legislation being introduced by Senator Tom Udall (D-NM)
This bill is scheduled to be introduced on November 3rd, so please contact my office soon to become an original cosponsor.
W. Todd Akin
Member of Congress


Rep. W. Todd Akin

Open Burn Pit Registry Act of 2011

Department of Veterans Affairs

Based on recent accounts of health maladies of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and a possible link to toxic fumes released in open burn pits it has become necessary to voluntarily track and account for these individuals. 
This registry will ensure that members of the Armed Forces who may have been exposed to toxic chemicals and fumes while serving overseas can be better informed regarding exposure and possible effects. This legislation
is modeled after legislation that created the Agent Orange Registry and the Gulf War Syndrome Registry.
As drafted, the purpose of the
Burn Pit Registry  (bill text found here) is to:
• Establish and maintain an open burn pit registry for those individuals who
may have been exposed during their military service;
• Include information in this registry that the Secretary of the VA determines applicable to possible health effects of this exposure;
• Develop a public information campaign to inform individuals about the
• Periodically notify members of the registry of significant developments associated with burn pit exposure.
In order to ensure that the Veterans Administration conducts the registry in the most effective manner, the legislation:
• Requires an assessment and report to Congress by an independent
scientific organization;
• This report contains an assessment of the effectiveness of the Secretary
of the VA to collect and maintain information as well as recommendations
to improve the collection and maintenance of this information;
• The report will also include recommendations regarding the most effective
means of addressing medical needs due to exposure;
• This report will be due to Congress no later than 18 months after the date
which the registry is established.
• CBO states that this registry would cost $2 million over 5 years
We learned from this country's issues with Agent Orange that the need to get
ahead of this issue is of paramount importance. 
The establishment of a burn pit registry will help the VA determine not only to what extent the ramifications of burn pits may have on service members but can also be of great use in information dissemination. 
If you have any questions please contact Rep. Akin's office at 5-2561 and speak
Visit the e-Dear Colleague Service to manage your subscription to the available
Issue and Party list(s).

Last Friday, Barack gave his big speech and Pfc Steve Shapiro died serving in the Iraq War. His death is one of three deaths in the eight days. DoD announced today: "The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation New Dawn. Sgt. 1st Class David G. Robinson, 28, of Winthrop Harbor, Ill., died Oct. 25 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He was assigned to the U.S. Army Support Activity, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. For more information the media may contact Maj. Charlie Barrett at Third Army/U.S. Army Central public affairs at 803-885-8875 or" And they announced Tuesday, "The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation New Dawn. Capt. Shawn P. T. Charles, 40, of Hickory, N.C., died Oct. 23 in San Antonio, Texas, from a non-combat illness. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas. For more information the media may contact the Fort Hood public affairs office at 254-287-9993, via the internet at , or email ." The deaths brought the official Pentagon count of US military personnel who have died in the Iraq War to 4485.

Meanwhile Charles Hoskinson (POLITICO) reports independent Joe Lieberman has joined with 10 other senators (all Republicans) who serve on the Senate Armed Services Committee to call for a hearing on the Iraq withdrawal:

In a letter released Thursday, the senators said the administration has sent conflicting signals on whether any troops would remain in Iraq. While Obama's announcement "apparently ends negotiations between the United States and the Government of Iraq on a long-term training and stability force of sufficient size to protect both U.S. and Iraqi enduring national security interests," the letter noted that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has also said the U.S. will continue talks with the Iraqis.

That section of the letter reads:

We note that on the same day the President made his announcement Secretary Panetta stated that the United States could negotiate with Iraq about future training assistance. We therefore also need to understand how any proposed number of U.S. forces involved with the training of Iraqi security personnel after December 31 would be able to effectively accomplish that crucial mission without legal immunity and other protections routinely extended to U.S. military personnel under status of forces agreements world-wide. Given the President's announcement that all U.S. military forces will be withdrawn by the end of the year, our committee should take the lead on establishing the public record on the Administration's plan and ensuring Congress's rigorous oversight of this consequential decision.

If the administration has nothing to hide, if the Democrats on the Committee feel that the administration has nothing to hide, I'm sure they'll schedule a hearing. And if there's no hearing scheduled, if the Democrats ignore the request, that will say a great deal as well. Leo Shane III (Stars and Stripes) observes, "No hearings have been scheduled on the issue so far."

While it is true that the administration suffered a diplomatic rebuff on Oct. 21 when the Iraqi government refused to grant immunity from Iraqi law to U.S. military forces, the U.S. is working feverishly to continue the war through the use of military contractors, i.e., mercenary soldiers.
Obama's announcement was greeted with joy on the streets of Baghdad, where people want nothing more than to be out from under the repressive U.S. occupation. But many have expressed a deep skepticism about U.S. intentions. "I believe that the full withdrawal will be only in the media but there must be secret deals with the Americans to keep some American forces or members of the American intelligence," said Raja Jaidr, a resident of eastern Baghdad. "They won't leave." (Associated Press, Oct. 22)
These suspicions are well-founded. Despite assertions by the U.S. government that its military mission is complete, the fact is that their "mission" has been an almost complete disaster.
Since the invasion in 2003, 1 million members of the U.S. military have been deployed to Iraq, of whom 4,482 have been killed and 32,200 wounded. Hundreds of billions of dollars have been expended while former President George Bush's promise to the ruling elites that Iraqi oil would more than pay for the war has gone unrealized.
For the Iraqi people the war has meant the almost total destruction of what was once one of the most progressive and prosperous countries of the Middle East. The war -- and the economic sanctions which preceded it -- killed millions, devastated the infrastructure and pushed back gains which had previously been made in the areas of women's rights and religious tolerance.

The White House has indicated that an arrangement may yet be worked out to permit some American trainers and experts to remain, perhaps as civilians or contractors. Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, a staunch opponent of the U.S. occupation, has suggested Iraq should employ trainers for its armed forces from other countries, but this is impractical for a country using American arms and planes. Regardless, the White House is increasing the number of State Department employees in Iraq from 8,000 to an almost unbelievable 16,000, mostly stationed at the elephantine new embassy in Baghdad's Green Zone quasi-military enclave, in new American consulates in other cities, and in top "advisory" positions in many of the of the regime's ministries, particularly the oil ministry. Half the State Department personnel, 8,000 people, will handle "security" duties, joined by some 5,000 new private "security contractors." Thus, at minimum the U.S. will possess 13,000 of its own armed "security" forces, and there's still a possibility Baghdad and Washington will work out an arrangement for adding a limited number of "non-combat" military trainers, openly or by other means.

Al Mada notes that Parliament will hold an emergency session November 3rd. This is the one that Moqtada al-Sadr called for over the weekend. Among the things to be discussed? The status of talks with the US regarding 'trainers.' In addition, Al Mada notes published accounts stating the CIA plans to operate out of base in Adana (in Turkey) from which they will operate drones.

Gavriel Queenann (Arutz Sheva) adds, "The Obama administration wants to provide two currently in-service US Marine Corps attack helicopters, Reuters reported Friday. The highly unorthodox move is being considered as Ankara seeks to exact revenge for a major attack by Kurdish separatists." Today's Zaman notes, "US Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Alexander Vershbow led an interagency delegation to Ankara on Thursday to discuss ways to improve US-Turkey cooperation against the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a statement from the US Embassy in Ankara said." Al Mada reports that the Turkish Minister of Defense, Ahmet Davutoglu, has declared that the latest assault on northern Iraq will cease shortly but more will be coming. Today's Zaman notes that Massoud Barzani, President of the KRG, is supposed to meet up with Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister of Turkey, in the middle of next month.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Dickless Alter's in love







We were going to avoid the GOP and their statements on the 'end' of the Iraq War because it hasn't ended. We're not big on false impressions but we're also not big on the people promoting false impressions. As long ago noted, VoteVets is a Democratic Party organ. That's all it is. Ashwin Madia is the perfect fake face for a fake group. Madia shows up at Huffington Post to survey statements on the Iraq War by the GOP presidential contenders and deem all crazy and stupid. He ignores Jon Huntsman and Ron Paul. Reminder: All the people he quotes buy the notion that the Iraq War is ending. That's not reality. And "all" include Madia.
We'll start at the end of his list with Herman Cain. "I can't for the life of me understand why you'd tell the enemy what you're going to do and when you're going to do it. That's just not common sense, I'm sorry." I have no idea there and will say Madia probably made the right call based on the fact that that's the entire quote from the original news report. As reported, Cain's remark makes no sense. (Again, that may be due to his not being quoted in full.)
Michele Bachmann: "And while we're on the way out, we're being kicked out by the very people that we liberated . . . And to think that we are so disrespected and they -- they have so little fear of the United States that there would be nothing that we would gain from this." That's from Face The Nation (CBS). Here Madia plays people for fools. He tells you what Bachman 'means' when he could have quoted her in full (instead of using elipses). Madia argues elsewhere in the piece about the "power" of Moqtada al-Sadr. If Madia believes he has all that power, then it's not a huge leap to feel that he has "so little fear" that the US is being disrespected. I could make a joke here about Bachmann but won't. Instead, I'll note that her opinion isn't uncommon in America.
Madia lumps Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum together because they both speak of how Iran has allegedly increased power. Madia wants to insist that was always the case. Well if that's the case, then the two candidates would be correct.
Mitt Romeny's called Barack's claims an "astonishing failure" because he didn't secure an agreement to continue the occupation. Rick Perry also feels things are being risked by Barack's claims and argues "The President was slow to engage the Iraqis and there's little evidence today's decision is based on advice from military commanders." Let's deal with Perry first. Perry's lying or stupid because of that statement? Seems like Perry's statement is an awful lot like Roy Gumtan's "Did Obama engage as U.S.-Iraqi troop talks faltered?" (McClatchy Newspapers). White House response to the article is here. (I have not commented on either the story or the White House response.) So if Perry's wrong, so is McClatchy. Now for Mitt Romney. His long quote ends with, "The American people deserve to hear the recommendations that were made by our military commanders in Iraq."
Madia huffs, "Rick Perry and Mitt Romney seem to take the position that withdrawal is a diplomatic failure that contradicts the advice of military commanders. As an aside, neither Romeny nor Perry have offered any evidence that our military commanders want an indefinite presence in Iraq." Seem to take the position? That is their position. Offer proof? Well they could go with the open testimony Senator John McCain has put on the record in hearings.
But in terms of what the military in Iraq wanted, we don't know because our government refuses to tell us. Ava reported on the House Oversight Committee's Subcommittee on National Security, Homeland Defense and Foreign Operations hearing October 12 at Trina's site. Here's the key exchange:
Chair Jason Chaffetz: Ambassador Vershbos, let's talk about the number of US troops, what the Iraqis are requesting or authorizing. How many is the president authorizing?

Ambassador Alexander Vershbos: Mr. Chairman, no decisions have been made, uh. Discussions are still ongoing, uh. On the nature of the relationship from which would be derived any --

Chair Jason Chaffetz: So the number of 3,000 to 4,000 troops that we here, is that accurate or inaccurate?

Ambassador Alexander Vershbos: As I said, there's a lot of things going on in these discussions which predate the announcement of October 4 when the Iraqi leaders took the position they're taking regarding no immunities so obviously the discussions now have taken on a different dimension so beyond-beyond that I really can't say because nothing's been decided. The shape of the relationship will be determined in part by how this issue of status protection is-is addressed. So it's a work in progress. Even as we speak discussions are taking place between our ambassador [James Jeffrey], uh, the commander General Austin, and Iraqi leaders. So it's really difficult to give you more than that today.

Chair Jason Chaffetz: Now there was a report that General Austin had asked for between fourteen and eighteen thousand troops. Is that true?

Ambassador Alexander Vershbos: Again, I-I can't comment on internal deliberations. A lot of different ideas have been

Chair Jason Chaffetz: Wait a second, wait a second --

Ambassador Alexander Vershbos: --tossed around in the last few

Chair Jason Chaffetz: -- do you know what the actual request was?

Ambassador Alexander Vershbos: Uh -- the military leadership was asked to provide a range of options and they've done that and that was the basis on which we engaged the Iraqis and now the discu --

Chair Jason Chaffetz: Do you know what General Austin requested?

Ambassador Alexander Vershbos: I can't talk about that in an open session, Mr. Chairman. It's classified.

Why is it classified? Hmm. Jon Huntsman was ignored in the article. This is the statement he issued in response to Barack's speech:
On the occasion of the announcement that U.S. forces will withdraw completely from Iraq by the end of the year, we should take a moment to reflect on the service and sacrifice of our brave men and women in uniform. We are forever grateful for their service to America, and are eager to welcome our troops home.
President Obama's decision, however, to not leave a small, focused presence in Iraq is a mistake and the product of his administration's failures. The president's inability to reach a security agreement leaves Iraq vulnerable to backsliding, thus putting our interests in the region at risk. An ideal arrangement would have left a small troop presence that could have assisted with the training of Iraqi security forces and vital counter-terror efforts.
Before we go further, you can support the Iraq War and want it to on longer, you can be opposed to it (at the start or at any time) and feel that it needs to continue, there are many, many options. We were always kind to Thomas E. Ricks about his opinion which was the war was a mistake but that if the US left it would cause turmoil and violence so the US needed to stay.
It is very likely that the US departure -- today, tomorrow, whenever -- will see turmoil and violence. Our take is that it's a puppet government put in place, a number of exiles put in charge of Iraqis, and that when the US is no longer able to prop it up, the Iraqi people may well try to take it down and replace it with real representatives. When an occupying power leaves a country, there's always the chance of violence or revolt. But our take is that day comes whenever the US leaves and staying isn't going to change that.
While we were kind to Thomas E. Ricks, he was attacking one person after another -- what a great speaking tour he must have had! -- for insisting (rightly in my opinion) that the US needed to leave Iraq. He lacks the ability to see beyond his point of view.
I'm not sure whether Ashwin Madia lacks the ability or if he doesn't care to utilize it because he's having so much fun with his tribalism. But there are any number of sincere reasons for feeling Barack's 'end' is wrong. (Sincere doesn't mean 'right.' We have opposed the illegal war from the start here.)
1) Prestige.
This is what Michele Bachmann is most likely getting at. Barack's end has no prestige and, yes, may project weakness on the world stage. Bully Boy Bush was a mad dog on the world stage and while it can be demonstrated that his actions and behaviors harmed goodwill towards the US and actually made the United States less safe, it's also true that his nutty behavior, his instability, may well have prevented attacks on the US.
My opinion: The illegal war was always going to be a failure due to the lies needed to support it and continue it. The only way you save your country from mass embarrassment is by having the honesty to tell the truth when you do end a war like that. Barack isn't really ending the Iraq War so his speech based on lies was never going to acknowledge how wrong and illegal the Iraq War was.
2) Iraqis.
You can be concerned what happens to Iraqis who were collaborators with foreign powers, you can be concerned with Iraq's LGBT community which has long been targeted, you can be concerned with Iraqi Christians or any religious or ethnic minority, you can be concerned with how Sunni and Shi'ite engage . . . There are any number of humanitarian reasons a person might have to argue against what Barack presented in his speech.
3) The US did not win.
That's very difficult for a number of Americans to deal with. Any politician reflecting that same denial will most likely pick up a number of votes -- how many, I don't know, but those people exist. For these people the war was a sports event that did not play out until the end but got halted due to rain. This is the group that will spend years arguing that the US could have won but that the government forces the troops to fight with their hands tied and that if the US had the 'guts' to use nukes or whatever else, the war would have been won. This group will never, ever admit that the Iraq War was illegal or toy with the concept of just wars. For some, they can't see beyond the immediate so logical avenues are closed. For others, there's a belief that their country must always be number one, must always be victorious, must always be right. (And I'm sure there are other groupings in that as well. There were among the Vietnam revisionaries as well. Peter Hart's calling out a stepping stone to revisionary history in this critique of Richard Engel.)
4) I thought you were getting lunch.
The American people were lied to and told the war would pay for itself. It will cost over $6 billion dollars, probably more like $15 billion when all the costs are in (that includes caring for wounded veterans). Some people, not all, sit down at the table and order up something, love it while they're eating it and then when the bill shows up, uh-oh, that's suddenly too much money to spend. Having spent billions and billions with nothing to show for it, some Americans, experiencing buyer's remorse, are going to feel, "Wait, can we stay there long enough to figure out how our country benefits from this."
5) Iran
I don't put a great deal of weigh into Iran is now tight with Iraq!!!! A lot of people do. The US military, the White House, etc. That GOP presidential candidates worry about this is not surprising. The Bush Administration and Michael R. Gordon (New York Times) encouraged the country to worry about Iran incessantly. (And Barack's administration has encouraged that.) Iran tops the 'enemies list' largely due to the fact that, of all the White House's enemies, the country's leader is youngish and apparently healthy (contrast that with other popular White House targets such as Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea). The reason the Cold War lasted so long was because so many Americans were willing to buy into it. I don't think human behavior has changed a great deal in 40 or so years nor do I believe that we had, on a national level, an honest reflection that allowed us to see as a people how misguided the Cold War was. Meaning those feelings are still out there and a politican can tap into them very easily. (I'm not accusing any of the politicians listed above of being insincere. I don't know any of them, I'll assume all are sincere.)
Why don't I think Iran's a big area of concern? I could be wrong, I often am. But you've got still unsettled borders and you've got water issues. Those are problems for any two neighbors. When you add in that the Iranian regime is seen as more repressive than most Iraqis would want, there's another problem. (Both the 2009 provincial elections and the 2010 parliamentary elections can be seen as a rejection of fundamentalism and sectarianism and as a desire for a national identity.) In addition, you have past conflicts with Iran. At present, I think Iran and Iraq sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g is a fear related belief and not a reality based analysis. I could be wrong or events could change the way the countries interact.
We're not horse race central. I'm not interested in the US presidential election (vote for who you want or don't vote, I don't care, there's no litmus test here). I had avoided the Republican presidential contenders comments because the Iraq War's not ending. But now that they're being cherry-picked and slammed for their comments, we've weighed in once and that's it. But I'm really tired of it and if we weren't taking on media beggars in our piece Sunday, Ava and I would be taking on a certain comedic 'genius' who is yet again be looking with the facts.
Not all seeking the GOP presidential nomination fell for Barack's spin. As noted before,
Mary Stegmeir (Des Moines Register) reported US House Rep Ron Paul told a town hall over the weekend that the US isn't walking out of Iraq anytime soon, "I predict we will be very, very much involved in Iraq. I think it will be unstable for a long time to come, and we will continue to spend a lot of money in Iraq." Matched up against Barack Obama, he would be able to claim that, he, unlike Barack, never voted to continue the war. While Barack arrived in the Senate to late to vote on the 2002 authorization (Ron Paul voted against it), Barack did manage to vote to continue the Iraq War over and over and over. Ron Paul's also called for the US to leave Afghanistan. He's opposed Barack's illegal Libyan War. Barack's a War Hawk. At present, of those seeking the presidential office, Ron Paul's the only one with a voting record that demonstrates he is not a War Hawk.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Didn't work out the way he'd planned









How stupid are they? That's the question for the day. We've got stupidity on Antiwar Radio, we've got stupidity on NBC's The Tonight Show.
Let's start with late night. For the record, I didn't support Ronald Reagan, I didn't vote for him, I campaigned against him and generally refer to him as the Great Satan. So why am I noting that if Reagan had said what Barack Obama said on The Tonight Show last night, the media would be all over Reagan?
Chatting with Jay Leno like a braless starlet, The (brainless) One was asked of Hillary and yammered away about his cabinet.
Barack Obama: The entire national security team that we've had has been outstanding. And it's not just rivals within the Democratic Party. My Secretary of Defense, Bob Gates, is a Republican.
Jay Leno: Right.
Barack Obama: He was a carryover from the Bush Administration. He made an outstanding contribution.
Bob Gates is the US Secretary of Defense? If Reagan had prattled on like that, I wouldn't be the only one calling him senile. But it was Barack and no one's supposed to comment on this "senior moment," no one's supposed to note that the boy in the bubble is so out of it he forgets that Gates left that post at the start of July. (Leon Panetta has been in the post since then.) If you can't stomach gushing, click here for the Washington Post's transcript (also has video you can stream). While Barack was gushing about Gates last night, Gates wasn't giving Barack any credit last night.
We've noted Sig Christenson many times before and noted Christenson's a straight-forward reporter. I bring that up before someone says, "The reporter must have gotten it wrong!" Anyone can, but that's really not Christenson's style. Reporting for the San Antonio Express-News, Christinson notes Gates held a press conference at Trinity University yesterday: "Gates said the status of forces agreement negotiated under then-President George W. Bush included a timetable for U.S. troops leaving Iraqi cities, a drawdown to 50,000 troops and an end to combat operations."
No, it didn't. I'm not in the mood to spoon feed on this point -- a point we've made repeatedly excepting only when a friend got it wrong on NPR and I thought, "I've addressed this point enough." -- so you'll have to play One Of These Things Is Not Like the Other all by yourself but not all of that's the SOFA. Some of that's Barack. Gates should not only know what the SOFA says, he should know which was Barack. And I'd expect him to credit Barack for the part that was Barack Obama's. (Quickly, cities is Article 24, section two of SOFA; end to combat operations can be presumed to Gates referring to the SOFA expiration date, however, it most likely refers to the pulling of 'combat' forces by Barack Sept. 1, 2010 and that was Barack and not the SOFA; as for 50,000, there's no way to be generous, the SOFA doesn't say a damn word about dropping down to 50,000. Again that would be US President Barack Obama and you'd think Gates would know that and would credit him with it.)
Moving on. Can little boys keep their hands out of their pants in public? Where are their parents? Did no one tell them not to do that in public?
You have to wonder that as you listen to Gareth Porter make a fool out of himself (yet again). Speaking to Scott Horton ( who hung on every word and possibly a better posture would be to question unless this is Fan Boi Radio?
Gareth Porter: Well I know that this marks the end of the fiction that the United States could actually have a longterm presence in Iraq in -in Iraq which was of course the, uh, the aspiration of the Bush administration and then, you know, despite the campaign promise by Barack Obama, the national security state again prevailed on Obama to try to maintain a significant US military presence. Uh, they put a lot of pressue on him to do that. Uh, and in the middle of last year, 2010, it appeared that they had gotten the White House to go along with the scheme [. . .]
We'll stop there. 'Poor little Barry O, under pressure from the national security state.' I cannot believe Scott Horton swallowed all that. That's very telling.
Gareth Porter: Well I know that this marks the end of the fiction that the United States could actually have a longterm presence in Iraq in -in Iraq [. . .]
First off, Gareth, the US does have a longterm presence in Iraq right now, it's called the US Embassy in Baghdad and all of its consulates throughout the country. Second, Special-Ops will remain in Iraq, that's known. Third, the CIA will remain, that's known. Fourth, about 160 US soldiers will be under the State Dept's command. Fifth, about 150 US soldiers will remain in Iraq for 'arms sales.' Sixth, the White House has revealed that Marines will be guarding the diplomatic outlets. How many is not known. Seventh, some members of the Air Force are remaining. Eighth, negotiations are ongoing. Ninth, Kuwait, Jordan and others are planned staging areas. In fact, Press TV reports today, "The US is negotiating with Kuwait about moving some equipment and troops to the Persian Gulf state. Washing is also holding talks with Turkey about deploying sensitive sensors, drone, and other equipment used in Iraq at the Incirlik airbase, promising to assist the Turkish government in fighting the Kurdistan Workers' Party."
It is unexpected to hear spin on Antiwar Radio. At a time when has already noted negotiations are ongoing, has already noted the huge amount of contractors, this is really sad.
Instead of challenging Gareth's spin, Scott launches into a discussion about 2004. Scott Horton needs to be booking actual journalists like James Denselow or John Glaser to speak. Not people who really aren't allowed to speak honestly of Barack without threat of losing their pay check.
Maybe we should just be glad that a conviction finally kept pedophile Scott Ritter off the show? A conviction that's standing despite today's appeal for a retrial -- 'Not fair,' whined Pig Ritter, 'that my two other arrests for being a pedophile were brought in this case about my third pedolphile arrest!' Judge Jennifer Harlachar Sibum disagreed. Carol Demare (Albany Times Union) reports the 50-year-old pedophile has been sentenced "to up to 5 1/2 years behind bars in a Pennsylvania state prison" and that Judge Harlachar Sibum "also said Ritter met the criteria as a sexually violent predator and will have to register in Pennsylvania as a sex offender."
Yeah, these are the people who embraced the pedophile, remember? Yeah, they've got a great record.
As for Antiwar Radio? Corporate crap couldn't be worse than that broadcast with Gareth. In fact, NPR did a better job discussing Iraq yesterday on The Diane Rehm Show than Antiwar Radio. Ann picked this statement as her favorite exchange of that broadcast:
Phyllis Bennis: The agreement that was signed by President Bush and Prime Minister Maliki was very clear, as Nick Burns said earlier, about withdrawing all troops and all Pentagon-paid contractors. It left a huge loophole, big enough for tanks to drive through, about contractors who would be paid by another agency, for example, the State Department. And that's why we're seeing now this race by the State Department to sign off on contracts with, what we're hearing, up to 16,000 new contractors who will do the same things as the contractors have been doing throughout these eight years, which is very worrying. Because there have been so many crimes committed with no accountability, they are not legally provided with immunity by a U.S.-Iraqi agreement, but they have not been held accountable in the Iraqi system. And there have been these terrible incidents of killing civilians at checkpoints, et cetera. There's no particular indication to think that's going to end, nor is there any likelihood that the flood of money that has so corrupted the government -- so many government officials inside Iraq is going to end anytime soon. So I'm not persuaded that it's going to turn into Switzerland. I don't think anybody thinks that the case. But I think that this is a moment where, for the first time in more than 20 years, Iraq will have the chance to figure out how it wants to run its country, whether or not that includes the current government remaining in power.
Rafe Pilgrim (OpEdNews) notes how tempting it was to believe Barack's Friday announcement, especially if you didn't listen closely:
How many of his hopeful audience missed the "mention" that unspecified thousands of American "civilian contractors" would be "maintained" in Iraq? This is the side deal between him and Maliki to fool both of their peoples. Those "contractors" will not be filling potholes or doing horticulture. They will be weaponized and on ready alert status to do whatever soldiers and black-ops are commanded, at incidentally many times higher cost per trooper than an honestly declared American soldier.
I personally did not catch a statement on air-base privileges. Such will be there.
Now to our State Department's presence: The US will maintain three (or four?) major "diplomatic stations," including the embassy in Baghdad, the world's largest of any nation's, which accommodates 4500 personnel. Diplomats, clerks and chaplains? I would suppose not. And in the meantime, there is a boom of American construction in Iraq, and no one knows, or rather admits to knowing of what.

RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"
"5,000 US troops to remain in Kirkuk?"
"The US press in Iraq does what all day?"
"The disgusting Bob Zellner"
"Warren and OWS"
"4 men, 1 woman"
"Martin Frost is wrong"
"CIA operative Juan Cole"
"F**K Danny Schechter"
"Media Matters is trying to get another person fired"
"He violated the Constitution again"
"PKK and other things"
"Ugly and crazy"

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ugly and crazy








Dar Addustour has a breaking news report this evening that American journalist Daniel Smith has been arrested in Baghdad by Iraqi forces (the arrest was Friday). If the report is correct and the name is correct, this is most likely Daniel Wakefield Smith who in addition to text reporting is also a photojournalist (not to be confused with retired US Army Col Dan Smith who has offered commentary and analysis on the Iraq War). Dar Addustour is the only one reporting the story currently and they say that there is confusion regarding what he was arrested for with some saying it was for the Friday protests in Baghdad (covering it or participating in it? that's not explained) while others are saying he was arrested for spying on Iraqi officials.
Friday, October 21st, while Barack was spinning the country and the press was sleeping on the job, another US soldier died in Iraq. The Defense Dept issued the following today:
The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation New Dawn.
Pfc. Steven F. Shapiro, 29, of Hidden Vally Lake, Calif., died Oct. 21 in Tallil, Iraq. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Cavalry Divison, Fort Hood, Texas.
For more information media may contact the Fort Hood public affairs office at 254-187-9993/2520 or []
Their address is wrong and you're taken to a site that can harm your computer. You'd think DoD could get this right. It's The Pentagon's count of US military personnel who've died in Iraq currently stands at [PDF format warning] 4484. That's 63 deaths since Barack Obama proclaimed combat operations ended August 31, 2010. How many US military personnel will die after December 31, 2011 and will the press continue to avert their eyes?
Yochi J. Dreazen (National Journal) examines the issue of Special-Ops and notes they will remain in Iraq and Afghanistan and, "Many conventional troops have done four or five deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. By contrast, Special Operations troops have done 10, 12, and even 14 tours." He quotes Adm Eric Olson who stated back in February that although 100,000 US troops left Iraq, only "about 500 special operations" troops departed implying the bulk of Special-Ops remained. In addition, yesterday Walter Pincus (Washington Post) noted, "Denis McDonough, White House deputy national security adviser, told PBS's News Hour on Friday night that the United States and Iraq woul still conduct periodic naval and air exercises." Meanwhile James Denselow (Guardian) observes "there is a huge gap between rhetoric and reality surrounding the US departure from Iraq." And he goes on to back that up explaining, among other things, the ongoing neogtiations to put US 'trainers' under the NATO mission (a 2004 agreement), the large number of contractors and much more. We'll note this paragraph:
In September, Iraq made the first payment in a 1.9 billion pound deal to buy 18 F-16s. The agreements mean that despite the claim that Iraq took full responsibility for its airspace in October, effective aerial sovereignty will be in the hands of the Americans for years to come as they help to patrol the country's skies and control its airspace, and train its air force. A senior Iraqi politician explained to me last week: "We are absolutely incapable of defending our borders. We don't even have one fighter jet to defend our airspace."
Al Mada reports that before US Vice President Joe Biden visits Iraq, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki will be visiting DC. Both visits will focus on the issue of US 'trainers' as negotiations continue. The paper notes that the Kurdish Alliance is expressing concern over the issue of neighboring countries (Turkey and to a less extent Iran) attacking Iraq. A non-Kurdish government source notes that there is only a short amount of time between now and the end of the year but that he believes they can work out an understanding with the US that will provide a mechanism to ensure the safety of Iraq. Rumors swirling in the Iraqi government include that the US, in this round of negotiations, is pressing for 1500 US troops based out of the Baghdad embassy. Dar Addustour notes both visits as well as Ayad Allawi's trip to London (he's on it now) where he's meeting with David Cameron (British Prime Minister) and others. As Trina pointed out last night, Patrick Martin (WSWS) is also noting Nouri's trip to DC: "Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki is to visit Washington in December for further talks, and Obama held out the possibility of a future agreement to station US troops in Iraq in the guise of training Iraqi soldiers in the use of weapons systems the Iraqi government is buying from American military contractors."

The Pakistan Observer notes Moqtada al-Sadr's comments that the US "is seekign to maintain its occupation of Iraq through keeping trainers and private contractors" in Iraq. The CIA isn't leaving Iraq either. Eli Lake (The Daily Beast) reports:
The programs involve everything from the deployment of remote sensors that scan the wireless spectrum of terrorist safe havens to stealth U.S.-Iraqi counterterrorism commando teams, and their status is uncertain as a U.S. diplomatic team negotiates with Iraqi leaders, according to officials, who made clear the CIA intends to keep a footprint inside the country even as troops leave by Dec. 31.

"There are of course parts of the counterterrorism mission that the intelligence community, including CIA, will be able to take on from other organizations—and there are parts of that mission that it won't," said one U.S. counterterrorism official who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of secret negotiations with the Iraqis.

Also addressing realities is Chris Floyd (Empire Burlesque via World Can't Wait):

So we have a baseline of 5,000 militarized forces remaining indefinitely in Iraq, with no immediate limit on an expansion in their numbers. And of course, all the stories make it abundantly clear that the Americans will quickly negotiate a new "security agreement" with Iraq, which will include -- or even be in addition to -- thousands of military "advisers" to help "train" the Iraqi forces, especially with the multitude of new weapons that Washington's war profiteers are lining up to sell to the "sovereign" government in Baghdad. How many troops will be involved in these "agreements"? Thousands? Tens of thousands? Again, we don't know.
And as Glenn Greenwald and others have pointed out, none of these numbers include the "Special Forces" and CIA paramilitaries that will inevitably be ranging across Iraq, no doubt in large numbers. Iraq is hardly going to receive less attention from the American black ops and death squads than Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia and the dozens of other countries where Washington is waging secret war.
Thus it is almost a certainty that by the end of 2012, there will be, at the barest minimum, at least 8,000 to 10,000 heavily armed personnel under the direct control of the United States government stationed at strategic points throughout Iraq; the actual figure will doubtless be higher, perhaps much higher. But this is a bare minimum -- numbers which tally almost exactly with the final goals of the American war machine in the "failed" negotiations on extending the present form of the occupation.
David R. Francis (Christian Science Monitor) deludes his readers (and possibly himself) that the US is leaving Iraq and the delusions never stop, "Throw in the replacement of vehicles, weapons, equipment, etc., and the eventual tab for the United States could reach $4 trillion to $6 trillion, according to University of Columbia economist Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard University budget expert Linda Bilmes. Those are big numbers." They'd be even bigger if Francis factored in the continued spending on Iraq. All US forces are not withdrawing -- as he wrongly writes -- and neither is the US tax payer money.
As Ed O'Keefe (Washington Post) noted Sunday, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction has released a new report. The report [PDF format warning] is entitled "Iraqi Police Development Program: Opportunities Program Accountability and Budget Transparency." The 18-page report (plus appendices) paints a disturbing picture. As with Congressional hearings we've attended, the State Dept refused to provide SIGIR with needed information and documents. Though the State Dept has planned since 2009 to take over the training of Iraqi police, they have no assessment of the force's current capabilities. To call what they have shared with ISGR "planning" is being extremely generous. In its opening, the report notes: "We believe this audit raises serious concerns regarding the PDP [Police Development Programs]'s long-term viability. The continual downsizing of the program, the planned use of unspent funds, and the lack of transparency regarding the use of program funds for 'Embassy platform' purposes (e.g., security, life support, and aviation) raise red flags about the program's fund requirements."
As the report makes clear early on, these are not concerns about something that will happen in the near future (for instance, January 1, 2012), these are concerns about a program the State Dept is over and executing as of October 1, 2011 and for Fiscal Year 2012, State wants $887 million for this program. This after 8 billion US tax payer dollars being spent in the last eight years "to train, staff, and equip Iraqi police forces to maintain domestic order" and that money was spent on, among other things, increasing the size of the police force. Prior to the start of the Iraq War, police forces numbered 58,000 and today it has increased to 412,000 police. Population estimates for the country range from as low as 23 million to the CIA's 30,399,572 (July 2011 estimate) which would be an estimate of roughly 24 million when you subtract the Kurdish population. (My opinion: The US should not be training the Kurdish police. They do have a training center in Erbil. But they shouldn't be doing it. The Kurds don't need it and it's a waste of money. That is not to say Kurdish forces are perfect -- they aren't -- or that there are not human rights abuses -- there are -- but it is to state that the KRG is not starting from ground zero the way the rest of Iraq supposedly is.) 412,000 police officers for a population of 24 million (CIA figure minus KRG numbers). The US has a population of over 300,000,000. How many police officers -- including federal law enforcement -- does the US have? At the end of 2007, Kevin Johnson (USA Today) reported that figure was 800,000. The US has twice the number of police officers as Iraq (minus KRG) but over 12 times the population (ibid). And US tax payers have spent $8 billion on achieving that. (And at a time when the "Super" Congress must find $1.2 trillion in spending cuts for the US government.)