Saturday, January 07, 2012

The Go It Alone Barry





Let's start with David Shorr. He's not interested in honesty, he's not interested in facts. If you can hold your nose, click on the link and sink into the spin and ignorance. He doesn't see how Barack Obama "owns" what happens in Iraq. He doesn't see it because he can't admit the truth. I haven't read Frederick Kagan and Kimberly Kagan's column, I have no interest in reading it. I have even less interest in reading Steve Clemons. I did read Peter Feaver's piece -- awhile back. (We highlighted it in the December 27th snapshot.)
I'm not in the mood to pretend Shorr's an honest broker, so we'll dismiss with him quickly. Feaver argued that Barack also owns the war (owns it with Bush). Shorr has a problem with that. We'll let Shorr's own words betray him:
Feaver cries foul on the attempt he sees by Obama supporters to give him full credit for anything positive in Iraq and saddle President Bush with everything negative. Well, what is the Obama Administration claiming to have done? President Obama claims credit for extricating American forces from nearly nine years of military involvement there. By the way, can I pause for a moment to say how absurd it is to talk about a hasty exit after nine years?!?
Wow. Well I'm convinced. Barack's a saint, a hero and pees rainbows. In Shorr's mouth. The rest of the world, however, may note that Shorr claims the Iraq War lasted nine years. No, March 2003 is when it officially started. So let's go with the eight years plus. (Facts are so hard for con artists.) So Barack deserves credit because he ended this eight year war?
Bush started and Bush ran it for eight years and just last month, Barack ended it. Thank goodness Barack Obama was sworn in as president in December 2011 or else the US might still be -- What's that?
Oh, that's right. Barack wasn't just sworn in. He was sworn in back in January of 2009. A few weeks short of three years he pretends he ended the war and occupation (he didn't end it). But he continued it, despite campaign promises. And he wanted to continue the US military's strong presence even longer. The "hasty exit" line? Again? We just called out Media Matters distorting/lying about this. But, I guess, when independent thought is beyond your capabilities, all you can do is repeat talking points.
The "hasty exit" -- as presented by members of Congress -- refers to the fact that in October when Barack ignores the Defense Dept's legal opinion and goes with the State Dept's legal opinion (I don't believe the idiot Shorr is even aware that there were legal opinions) and declares (that phase of) the talks over, that period from the last of October through December, is what they call the hasty exit. Liars and whores can't make solid arguments so they have to lie. Barack has not ended the war and occupation. But let's pretend for a moment that he has. Was he elected in 2008 with the mandate to follow Bush's actions? To continue the Iraq War for three more years? No, he wasn't. He was voted into office to end the Iraq War. And during those three years (2009, 2010 and 2011), he repeatedly made one mistake after another. December 13 on To The Point (KCRW), Warren Oleny spoke with former Iraqi Ambassador Feisal Istrabadi. Excerpt.
Warren Oleny: Is there anything the Obama administration should be doing differently from what it is?
Ambassador Feisal Istrabadi: Well, I mean, that's hard to say because obviously it's influence is somewhat waning. The critical mistake the Obama administration made occurred last year when it threw its entire diplomatic weight behind supporting Nouri al-Maliki notwithstanding these very worrisome signs which were already in place in 2009 and 2010. The administration lobbied hard both internally in Iraq and throughout the region to have Nouri al-Maliki get a second term -- which he has done. Right now, the betting there's some question among Iraq experts whether we'll ever have a set of elections in Iraq worthy of the name. I mean, you can almost get odds, a la Las Vegas, on that among Iraq experts. It's a very worrisome thing. What can they do in the future? Well I suppose it would be helpful, it would be useful, if we stopped hearing this sort of Happy Talk coming from the administration -- whether its Jim Jeffreys in Baghdad, the US Ambassador or whether it's the president himself or other cabinet officers. We're getting a lot of Happy Talk, we're getting a lot of Happy Talk from the Pentagon about how professional the Iraqi Army is when, in fact, the Iraqi Army Chief of Staff himself has said it's going to take another ten years before the Iraqi Army can secure the borders. So it would help, at least, if we would stop hearing this sort of Pollyanna-ish -- if that's a word -- exclamations from the administration about how swimmingly things are going in Iraq and had a little more truth told in public, that would be a very big help to begin with.
We're opposed to the illegal (and ongoing) Iraq War. We always have been. I don't need to distort what someone from the other side says or does to make my argument (see last night's entry). Let's dispense with David Shorr by noting he hero worshipped Daniel Schorr. Schorr loved to lie that he was fired from CBS News because of his integrity in ensuring that a Congressional report was printed. No, he was fired for lying. He was fired for lying and trying to get someone else in trouble. As Ava and I noted in "Let's Kill Helen!" (our look at the disgusting trolls attacking Helen Thomas):
Oh my goodness, Helen's anti-war! Strip her of her American citizenship! Truly, that must be a huge offense to Alicia since she likens it to anti-semitism. Can you get more stupid than Alicia Shepard?
Others may not be able to, but she surely can. And did. No reporter for CBS would get away with that, Alicia wanted to insist. And she follows that up by telling Aimee that age can't be to blame because "Dan Schorr" is 91 and he works for NPR.
He does, she's right.
But he doesn't work for CBS, does he?
Nor can he.
Yeah, we'll go there.
Daniel Schorr was fired from CBS. He and his supporters (who funded a year long travel circuit for Danny after his firing) insisted he was fired for doing his job. That is and was a lie. Daniel Schorr was not fired for being a defender of freedom.
Most people are aware of the Church Committee which investigated governmental abuses. The Pike Committee came immediately after, doing the same sort of work, and they wrote a report. They then decided not to issue it. Schorr, in his capacity as a CBS reporter, had a copy of the report. CBS was weighing whether or not to report on the now killed report. Schorr has often (not always) maintained that a decision was made to kill the report and that's why he acted. That's not true. Either he's lying or he was out of the loop. CBS was still deciding. Schorr took the report to The Village Voice which published it.
That could have been the end of it for CBS News because they retained their copy (Schorr had photocopied it and given the photocopies to the weekly). There was an internal investigation at CBS to determine whether or not someone at CBS leaked the report to The Village Voice. Had Schorr kept his mouth shut, the investigation would have been as half-assed as every other internal investigation CBS News conducts. But Schorr couldn't keep his mouth shut.
This is why he was fired, this is why he will never work for CBS again. When asked, as all who had access to the report were, if he had given it to anyone, Schorr didn't stick to "no comment" or a lie that he didn't do anything.
No, instead Schorr chose to finger Lesley Stahl. Schorr told the investigators that The Village Voice published the report (which they knew) and Lesley was dating Aaron Latham (who worked for The Voice) so it was most likely that Lesley Stahl handed over the report to the weekly.
Schorr was not fired for leaking the report. He was fired for lying and for trying to blame someone he knew was innocent.
Think for just a moment what could have happened if Schorr had gotten away with that: Lesley Stahl's career would have been over -- at least at CBS though probably no other network would touch her if they feared she'd take their stories elsewhere.
Aaron Latham (a notable journalist in his own right) would have been outraged that Lesley lost her job because she was dating him. Knowing Aaron, he would have made it his life's purpose to find out who falsely accused Lesley and prove that liar wrong. If he'd been successful, it might have been a messy media moment and then life would have continued. If not? Most likely, Lesley would try to move on from it and Aaron would want to remain in the role of protector/enforcer. Meaning it wouldn't have just effected her professional life, which was bad enough, if would have changed her entire life. Lesley and Aaron married years ago and have had one of the few enduring marriages in the journalistic community. Lesley could have lost everything as a result of Daniel Schorr's lies. He was prepared to destroy someone professionally and personally.

In June 2010, while he was still alive, Ava and I were telling the truth about the dishonest and corrupt Daniel Schorr. A month later, he died and there was David Shorr holding him up as a model. That says everything you need to know about the dishonest and uninformed David Shorr. We're done with David Shorr.

In the real world, Chris Floyd (Empire Burlesque) observes, "And as we noted here last month, the American war crime in Iraq just keeps rolling on. This week saw yet another spate of mass slaughter in yet another series of bombings in the virulent sectarian warfare which was spawned, set loose, empowered and fomented by the invaders, who very deliberately -- with malice aforethought -- divided their new 'Iraqi' government along strict sectarian lines, arming and paying death squads and militias on both sides of the Sunni-Shia divide to rip each other -- and Iraqi society -- to pieces. The mass murder this week is a direct result and a direct responsibility of the Americans who instigated, carried out, supported -- and praise -- the 'extraordinary achievement' of this endless atrocity. 'Nine years in the making,' yes -- and still going strong!" From the right-wing, we'll note Sheldon Richman (Reason -- link is text and audio):
Obama will campaign on how he ended the war -- which began not in 2003 but in 1991; the U.S. government tormented the Iraqi people for 20 years! -- and conservatives will attack him for it. Both sides will conveniently forget that (1) the U.S. government was obligated to leave on Dec. 31, 2011, under an agreement signed by Bush, and (2) Obama tried his damnedest to get the Iraqi leaders to ask the U.S. military to stay. (Contrary to claims, not all troops have left.)
And let's be clear: An exit from Iraq hardly constitutes an exit from the Middle East. The troops moved down the road to Kuwait, "repostured" for future use.
Meanwhile, sabers are being rattled in the direction of Iran and Syria, where covert warfare is already being waged.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.

RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"
"Many meet-ups, no national conference"
"NYT unravels"
"I Hate The War"
"Pasta in the Kitchen"
"Barnes & Noble"
"Barack found yet another man (not applauding that)..."
"3 men, 3 women"
"3 men, 3 women"
"delicious revenge"
"i'm in love"
"Forget the jobs spin"
"That idiot Naomi Wolf"
"Carly Simon and books"
"Ancient Aliens"
"Defense of Lambert"
"Mars Needs Moms"
"Wheel of Greed"
"The book won't tell the half of it"
"Idiot of the week Fatty Megan"
"The environment"
"He needs help"

Friday, January 06, 2012

He needs help



On this week's. Black Agenda Radio, hosted by Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey, (airs each Monday at 4:00 pm EST on the Progressive Radio Network), Iraq was noted. Excerpt.

Nellie Bailey: But first, the US and its allies were on a military offensive in 2011 except in Iraq where the Americans were forced to withdraw almost all of their uniformed forces. But that doesn't mean the Americans are gone. We spoke with Tony Monteiro, professor of African American Studies at Temple University in Philadelphia.
Tony Monteiro: Don't forget the bulk of the troops might be out of Iraq but they're not out of the region. When you look at the Obama administration's policy, it is a continuation of the neo-conservative policy of the Bush administration and those policies were defined by the objective of regime change and bringing democracy -- so-called -- to the Middle East. And Iraq was supposed to be the first domino and the most important domino to fall in this respect. Now the other side of that is while they're allegedly moving out of Iraq, of course the troops are in Kuwait and other parts of the Persian Gulf. But the US is ramping up its war talk against Iran. Iran is a neighbor of Iraq. In fact, Iran sits between Iraq and Afghanistan. So, it is my opinion that this thing is not over. That the US, and this is of course Vice President Biden's point of view, the United States should reserve the option of going back into Iraq. And certainly with the Maliki government under increasing stress and opposition, that government is not beond -- in the not too distant future -- calling for the American troops to come back. And I guess the third thing I would say is that a lot of this has to do with the 2012 election. After the election, all best are off, we have a new set of options. And we can not forget that the largest US Embassy in the world is in Baghdad, Iraq -- over 17,000 so-called diplomats but mainly CIA, military intelligence. So Iraq is not over by a long shot.
Glen Ford: The US had a long list of nations marked for regime change. There has been regime change in Libya and it appears that the United States and the Europeans are intent on making regime change in Syria.
Tony Monteiro: And you know, even if they do not bring about complete regime change, they want to make these states -- such as Libya, such as Syria, such as Lebanon, Afghanistan and Iraq -- failed states, states that in order to even exist or to function must rely on the United States and NATO. So you have this attempt on the part of the United States and NATO to manage a political, social and economic chaos in the Middle East.
Political, social and economic chaos pretty much describes the Iraq rocked today by bombings. An Iraqi correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers shares (at Inside Iraq), "As an Iraqi citizen, I wouldn't really care about our politicians and their fight because I never felt for a moment that any of them represents me or any regular people but the only thing that pushes me to care is the fuel of this fight. Since the political fight ignited between the Iraqi politicians, poor Iraqis were always the fuel that inflames it. Hundreds of thousands were killed or missed since 2003 and God knows when the bath of blood would stop in my bleeding country. Prayers of mothers, fathers and sons couldn't stop the blood shedding because their political brothers always pray for more blood for political gains since fuel is always available and cheap as they believe."
Baghdad was again slammed with explosions. Early on Jomana Karadsheh (CNN) explained, "A series of bombings in Baghdad left 24 dead and dozens wounded Thursday, intensifying fears of an increase in sectarian violence in the midst of a political crisis." BBC News (link has text and video) adds, "The ministry told the BBC that at least 66 people were wounded in the blasts, which occurred in the capital's Sadr City and Kadhimiya neighbourhoods." Lee Moran (Daily Mail) notes things kicked off with a motorcycle bombing, then a roadside bombing followed by two more bombings.

Adrian Blomfield (Telegraph of London) observes, "For the second time in a fortnight, the Iraqi capital echoed to the wail of ambulance sirens as the fragility of the country's threadbare confessional consensus was exposed once again." Blomfield's noting the December 22nd Baghdad bombings: "Dan Morse and Aziz Alwan (Washington Post) count 17 bombings, 65 dead and 207 injured while Kareem Raheem (Reuters) notes the death toll has risen to 72." With attacks elsewhere in Iraq, the final death toll passed that.
In addition to the Baghdad bombings, southern Iraq was also targeted. Early on,
AP counted 30 dead in a southern Iraq bombing. AFP stated it was a Nasiriyah roadside boombing. In addition to the 30 dead, Adrian Blomfield (Telegraph of London) reported the Nasiriyah bombing has left seventy-two injured. Reuters noted government officials said it wasn't a roadside bombing, it was a suicide bombing. Jamal Hashim (Xinhua) would report later in the day that the bomber wore a suicide vest and note that the pilgrims killed were making a pilgrimage to Karbala "to commemorate the Arbaeen religious ritual, the climax of which will be on Jan. 13. Arbaeen is the end of 40 days of mourning for the Imam Hussein, the Prophet Muhammed's grandson who was killed at the battle of Karbala in 680 A.D." Reuters notes 29 dead from Baghdad bombings (68 injured) and 44 dead in the Nassiriya bombing (81 injured) for a total of 73 dead (74 if the suicide bomber is counted). In addition, Reuters notes a Mosul roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 child (five women were injured) and 1 man was shot dead in Mosul (with another man, his brother, left injured).
As the violence continues, so does the political crisis. Raheem Salman and Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) quote Iraqi political analyst Dhiya Shikerchi stating, "Definitely . . . there is a relationship between these explosions and the political crisis, but it doesn't mean necessarily that one of the sides in the crisis is directly responsible. Maybe there is a third side that is exploiting this crisis to fulfill its agenda to return Iraq to sectarian strife." Ibrahim Kalin (Today's Zayman via Ikhwanweb) reminds:
After the fall of Saddam Hussein, the Shiites of Iraq and the Kurds saw a historic opportunity to have equal representation. This is fair enough. But it is a grave mistake to depict the Saddam era as "Sunni" and to seek the building o a new Shiite identity based on animosity towards the Sunnis. Luckily, this is not the position of the vast majority of Shiites of Iraq. Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, for instance, has resisted such temptations and played a key role in lowering tensions between Shiite and Sunni Iraqis.
Reporting from Baghdad, Dahr Jamail (Al Jazeera -- link is video) declared, "These latest attacks highlight just how serious the political deadlock in Iraq has become and only days after the last US forces left the country. Once again, it's the Iraqis who have been killed and injured. The victims of a dispute that only Iraq's politicians, whether Sunni or Shia, can resolve." It wasn't supposed to be this way. It was only December 12th that Nouri al-Maliki and US President Barack Obama were at the White House and Barack was singing the praises of the US-backed thug.
US President Barack Obama: Today, I'm proud to welcome Prime Minister Maliki -- the elected leader of a sovereign, self-reliant and democratic Iraq. We're here to mark the end of this war; to honor the sacrifices of all those who made this day possible; and to turn the page -- begin a new chapter in the history between our countries -- a normal relationship between sovereign nations, an equal partnership based on mutual interests and mutual respect. Iraq faces great challenges, but today reflects the impressive progress that Iraqis have made. Millions have cast their ballots -- some risking or giving their lives -- to vote in free elections. The Prime Minister leads Iraq's most inclusive government yet. Iraqis are working to build institutions that are efficient and independent and transparent.
Except for "today," pretty much everything Barack said was a lie. Now yesterday Barack found a way to appoint yet another man to a position. When the left wanted Elizabeth Warren in that position, Barack didn't know how to appoint her. But then he really doesn't appoint many women to positions of power. Which is how he could lie that, "The Prime Minister leads Iraq's most inclusive government yet." Barack's overweight flunky Jay Carney mentioned Warren in the White House press briefing today, "Richard Cordray is, as she herself has said, the right man for the job -- the right person for the job -- and enormously qualified." No, Warren never called him "the right man for the job." But how telling of this White House, so known for its sexism (see Ron Suskind's Confidence Men), that their spokesperson would have to correct himself in front of the press corps and how telling on the press corps that most will never report his telling (Freudian?) slip.
So it's no surprise that Barack would be praising the "diversity" when even women in President Jalal Talabani's family are publicly calling out Nouri's Cabinet (which, when originally named, didn't have one woman in it).
A "democratic" Iraq? If "democratic" means following the rule of law or the Constitution, forget it. (See yesterday's snapshot on Nouri's latest efforts to break the Constitution.) If "democratic" means a country that values free speech, forget it. Nouri's attacked activists, had then kidnapped and tortured throughout 2011 and the same for journalists. How sad that Barack cheapened the White House by inviting that thug into it.
"Millions have cast their ballots," declared Barack, "some risking or giving their lives -- to vote in free elections."
Yes, they did. And in those March 2010 elections they clearly made Iraqiya their first choice. Ayad Allawi's slate came in first. Not a "Sunni" slate or a "Shia" slate, a mixed slate that was not about sectarianism. Some, like Allawi, were Shia. Some, like Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi, were Sunni. And in choosing Iraqiya, Iraqis were saying they wanted a national identity, they were done with sectarianism. Which is why Nouri al-Maliki's political slate came in second. But the White House wouldn't abide by the will of the Iraqi people or by the Iraqi constitution. Instead the White House demanded that Nouri stay on as prime minister. So maybe Barack Obama should quit lying about "free elections"?
Now, he wants you to know, Iraq's working on being efificent, independent and transparent. It shouldn't be too hard for them to improve on that last one. In December Transparency International their latest rankings of 182 nation-states. Number one would be most transparent, number 182 would be least. Where did Iraq come in? Number 175. There aren't a lot of spots it can drop down too. This was at the start of December (December 3rd) and yet there was Barack on December 12th, lying yet again.

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.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

A woman's perspective?






"Recently the media has been filled with announcements that the war in Iraq has finally ended. But in a war fought not only by enlisted foot soldiers, but also largely by corporations, mercenaries, and drones, what constitutes an end?" asks Iraq War Veterans Against the War's Joyce Wagner:

Although it is an important and significant milestone, the withdrawal of troops from Iraq does not necessarily signify an end to occupation. The US footprint is still heavy in the form of corporate contractors who employ indentured servants (under the euphemism "third country nationals") and mercenaries without oversight, accountability, or transparency.
The Iraqi resistance movement is preparing for what it calls, "the second face of the occupation." According to a statement released by Uday al-Zaidi, this includes structures imposed by the US such as the sectarian government and its divisive constitution. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been killed, families have been destroyed, displaced, and forced into refugee status all over the world. We support self-determination for the people of Iraq, and continue to work toward our goal of making reparation with the people who have been so deeply affected by this war and its aftermath.
[. . .]
Meanwhile, over 4,000 American service members have been killed, and many more are living with physical disabilities and invisible wounds, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Military Sexual Trauma, and Major Depressive Disorder. Troops are living with undiagnosed traumatic brain injuries, many of which go undetected for months or even years. Instead of being treated when they return, many service members receive orders to deploy to Afghanistan, even though a part of them remains at war in Iraq. If this nation wants to honor its veterans, we need them to honor our right to heal.
And, of course, some who might be thought to be returning will remain to guard the embassy and train on weapons and, in addition, many have instead been repostured (Pentagon's term) into surrounding countries with the plan that they can dart back into Iraq should the White House determine that this is needed. Ted Koppel established that fact with a report last month on Rock Center with Brian Williams (NBC):
Ted Koppel: This is the man who might actually have to deal with that nightmare, Lt Gen Robert Caslan. General, how are you going to get 1320 people out of there? I mean if you've 24 hours notice that something like this was going to happen, you're telling me the Iraqi government would evacuate immediately? Would get them all out of there?

Lt Gen Robert Caslan: I would argue that we do have, in theater, whether it's in Kuwait or elsewhere in theater, that we fall under the central command, Centcom, and I feel confident that Centcom has the necessary assets to take whatever measures they need to to counter that attack.

In Iraq currently, Rebecca Santana (AP) reports that some Sunnis are exiting mixed neighborhoods out of fear. Why? The political crisis has frightened them. It started with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ordering questionable arrests of Sunnis -- over 500 of them. He insisted they were "terrorists" and "Ba'athists." More recently, after a trip to DC and photo ops with Barack Obama, Nouri began going after Iraqi politicians. Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi went to the KRG on business and, the day after he arrived, Nouri al-Maliki has an arrest warrant sworn out on him. Nouri accuses him of being a terrorist. He currently remains in the KRG, a house guest of President Jalal Talabani. Along with targeting the vice president, Nouri is demanding that Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq be stripped of his duties. Nouri heads the political slate State of Law which came in second in the 2010 elections. Iraqiya, headed by Ayad Allawi, came in first. al-Hashemi and al-Mutlaq are both members of Iraqiya. The editorial board of the Louisville Courier Journal (via the Leaf Chronicle) covers the political crisis:

For starters, the timing supports fears that Mr. al-Maliki is moving to purge the government of meaningful Sunni participation. In addition to seeking Mr. al-Hashemi's arrest, Mr. al-Maliki asked the parliament for a no-confidence vote against another prominent Sunni leader, Saleh al-Mutlaq, a deputy prime minister. Mr. al-Maliki also threatened to exclude Iraqiya, the main Sunni party, from participation in the unity government.
Meanwhile, hundreds of former members of the Baath Party, through which Saddam Hussein ruled Iraq as leader of the Sunni minority, have been arrested in recent weeks, and Sunni officials' compounds in Baghdad have been surrounded by Mr. al-Maliki's security forces.
All in all, the situation reeks of Shiite vengeance against Sunnis and strongly suggests that Mr. al-Maliki intends to become a new Iraqi dictator.

And that possibility, Nouri as the new dictator, may be why the Speaker of Parliment spoke out this week. Al Mada reports Osama al-Nujaifi has called for the Iraqi military to promote national unity and not suppress the people, noting that human rights abuses by the military are threatening the country. He also called on the military to stay out of political disputes. Dar Addustour adds that he declared public freedoms to be among the most important accomplishments in the transformation of Iraq to a democracy. He decried the use of violence against Iraqis and the arbitrary arrests. AFP quotes al-Nujaifi stating, "We find that human rights in Iraq have suffered massive violations. Human rights have not been achieved amid the deteriorating of the political process in Iraq. It is clear the development of the nation is based on how much human rights are respected. Losing these rights is destroying democracy." Adam Schrek (AP) observes, "The televised comments by Osama al-Nujaifi, one of the country's top Sunni officials, are yet another salvo in a growing political crisis sparked when Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government issued an arrest warrant for the country's top Sunni politician last month." Asli Aydintasbas (Newsweek) interviews Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi and quotes him stating:

The U.S. left my country with challenges beyond our capacity to solve. Maliki cannot be part of a solution. We [Sunnis] cannot reach a reconciliation with Maliki anymore. Anyone else could replace him within the Shiite national alliance. But it has to be someone who believes in rule of law, the future of [Iraqi] institutions
Another member of Iraqiay that Nouri has been targeting is Finance Minister Rafe al-Essawi whom Jack Healy and Michael R. Gordon (New York Times) profiled Saturday and noted that Nouri had tried to get the Cabinet to toss him out but the Cabinet had refused. al-Esawi told the New York Times, "Maliki now wants just to get rid of his partners, to build a dictatorship. He wants to consolidate power more and more. Someone else should be prime minister." The day after the comments ran, there was an attempt on al-Essawi's life. Press TV reported he was the target of a roadside bombing Sunday which left "three of Essawi's bodyguards, two officers and one soldier" wounded. Dan Morse (Washington Post) reports Essawi is calling for an investigation and Morse writes, "Essawi is widely regarded in Iraq as a moderate official. But it's no longer just Iraqiya that Nouri's State of Law is going after. Aswat al-Iraq reports:

Al-Iraqiya spokeswoman Maysoon al-Damalouji expressed her astonishment and denunciation of the "irresponsible" statement made by the State of Law MP Hussein al-Asadi against President Jalal Talabani.
In a statement issued by her office, received by Aswat al-Iraq, she added that "Al-Iraqiya Bloc considers these statements a new unilateral rule and attacking the partnership in decision making".
She added that "the attack against al-Iraqiya Bloc will cover all other political blocs, which warns in severe deterioration in the political situation and demolishing the Iraqi state".
Damalouji pointed out that Asadi accused President Talabani with "terrorism" for hosting his deputy Tariq al-Hashimi till a just trial is made.

Asked about Talabani being called a terrorist by State of Law, US State Dept spokesperson Victoria Nuland declared in today's press briefing, "Well, we don't think name calling is the right solution here." Way to stake out a brave position there.
It needs to be noted that Nouri al-Maliki has sued and threatened to sue others for less and yet he has not condemned the statement by a member of his bloc, he's let it linger out there, the charge that Jalal Talabani is a terrorist. Next time Nouri kicks his feet and screams in public, remember that. Or remember that it was Saturday when he was claiming people needed to be civil.

Truest statement of the week
Truest statement of the week II
A note to our readers
Editorial: 2011, over at last
TV: The Toxic Drips Of Tiny Penises
Radio show of 2011
The Make Out Song of 2011
2011 Trend: Sucky Comic Book Films
NDAA=War on Bill of Rights (Sara Flounders)
Death sentence dropped (UK Socialist Worker)

"What's Taylor Marsh really up to?"
"Another year"
"Barack finally gets something right!"