Saturday, November 24, 2012

I guess they got a groovy kind of love








In Iraq, the political crisis on top of the political crisis continues.  And it dwarfs the original one.  Earlier this week,  Rami Ruhayem (BBC News) described the origins of the first political crisis this way:
Straight after the withdrawal of US troops at the end of last year, a warrant was issued for the arrest of Vice-President Tariq al-Hashemi, the most senior Sunni politician in Iraq.
He was accused of running death squads, tried in absentia, and sentenced to death.
And Mr [Nouri al-]Maliki has kept both the defence and interior ministries under his control, refusing to hand them over to his partners within the government.
That was alarming and had led to calls for a National Conference to resolve it -- calls by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi.  But Nouri's created yet another crisis and it's so huge even some who normally stay out of the political process are wading in to try to resolve the issues.  Kitabat notes things are so fraught that Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has had to weigh in to try to resolve the situation.  The Grand Ayatollah is calling for the Constitution to be followed with regards to the conflict.          All Iraq News notes that Sheikh Abdul Mahdi al-Karabalai has joined the Grand Ayatollah's call.
Along with the clergy, others are alarmed as well.  Hurriyet reports:
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan warned about a sectarian and ethnic-based civil war in Iraq on Nov. 22 and pointed to energy wars as the main motivation behind it. The next day, Iraq's Shiite-origin Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, sent a strong "Not if you trigger it" reply to Erdoğan, only to be snubbed as "delusional" by the Turkish Foreign Ministry. Almost simultaneously, al-Maliki released a photo showing the deployment of Iraqi troops to Tuzhurmatu in order to face Kurds piling up along the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) borders, despite still being part of Iraq on paper.
It is surely about energy resources. There are still untapped oil and natural gas beds in the KRG territory, for which the energy giants of the world - from Exxon and Chevron of the United States to Total of
France and Gazprom of Russia (Turkish companies too) - have sealed deals with the KRG President Massoud Barzani in Arbil. Despite the strong protests of al-Maliki in Baghdad and disapproving lip service from Washington, D.C., they are not taking any steps back. Al-Maliki knows that if Kurds manage to sell their oil and gas via NATO member Turkey without interference from Arabs, Russians and Iranians, that would mean a de-facto change in Iraqi borders and sovereignty, if not de jure.
Nouri had his own response, he publicly stated that the conflict in Syria could take over Turkey, implying that the Turkish government should focus on that and not speak of Iraq.  UPI notes the response of the Turkish government, "Turkish officials labeled delusional statements by Iraqi [Prime Minister] Nouri al-Maliki warning sectarian violence in Syria could engulf Turkey.  Roy Gutman (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Nouri's response also hinted that Erdogan would soon be ousted in Turkey.  Nouri declared, "Erdogan should focus his attention on addressing Turkey's domestic issues, which raise our concern, as Turkey heads toward civil war.  [. . .]  Turkish people are looking forward to changing the political situation to protect Turkey from worsening domestic and foreign problems."

Read more here:
The crisis results from Nouri sending forces into the disputed areas after years of refusing to implement Article 140 of the Constitution (which states that disputed areas will be resolved via census and referendum).  The Kurds see this is as an attempt by Nouri to seize the areas and claim them for the Baghdad-based area.  Realizing too late that Barack Obama's for-show trip to Asia was a mistake, the White House is scrambling to get more face-to-face diplomats into Iraq.  (The trip was a joke and Barack made a fool of himself.  Americans didn't give a damn about the visit, his reception on the trip was lukewarm and Hillary Clinton seized all the news interest with her trip to the MidEast leaving Barack looking like a glorified extra on the world stage.)  Reuters adds:,  "Washington intervened to end a similar standoff in August and is now again in contact with Iraqi and Kurdish officials to ease tension mounting over the formation of a new command center for Iraqi forces to operate in the disputed areas."  Iran's Trend News Agency notes that Iraq's Col Dhia al-Wakeel is alleging that "Kurdish forces, backed by rocket launchers and artillery, reinforced troops already in the cities of Khaniqeen and Kirkuk on Thursday."

Iraqi politicians are attempting to resolve the issue as well.  Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi visited with KRG President Massoud Barzani Wednesday and returned to Bahgdad yesterday to meet with Nouri al-Maliki.  All Iraq News notes that they met late yesterday evening and that a statement issued by al-Nuajaif called the meeting productive.

Bit by bit, all of the political blocs are getting into the process.All Iraq News notes that the National Alliance leader Ibrahim al-Jaafari is preparing a paper on the issue.  Alsumaria notes that Kurdistan Alliance MP Mahmoud Othman is calling for Nouri al-Maliki and Massoud Barzani to sit down together (this echoes Moqtada al-Sadr's call for a working lunch between the two to be hosted by Moqtada).Kitabat reports that sources are stating Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and KRG President Massoud Barzani are discussing the option of withdrawing confidence from Nouri. Dar Addustour reports that Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi traveled to Erbil yesterday to meet with Talabani and Barzani to discuss this issue.  All Iraq News says that Moqtada al-Sadr, leader of the Sadr bloc, has given the green light for such talks.  
Rebwar Karim Wali (Rudaw) offers his opinions on the political situation:
The Shia will stand by him, and the Sunnis will too since most of his officers are former Baathist Sunnis.
Then, he thinks, if everything goes according to plan, he will turn on the Kurdistan Region and what the Kurds have achieved so far. Maliki wants to show the Kurds that Kurdistan is part of Iraq, and he does not conceal this sentiment.
At this time, Kurds and their political groups have reached a unanimous conclusion that this is Maliki's intention. In the meantime, they have admitted that they lack a united voice.
However, when the Dijla Operations Command deployed, the leader of the Change Movement (Gorran) -- who had previously sided with keeping Maliki in his seat -- went to Kirkuk and vehemently rejected the actions of the forces.
Judging from the tone of its media, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) is waging a full war against Maliki. The party's secretary general, Jalal Talabani, concurs with President Barzani that Maliki is a threat to both Iraq and Kurdistan.
Territories defined as "disputed" through constitutional Article 140 include 43 percent of Kurdish land. According to international laws, when an area is considered disputed, no one side has the right to make decisions about it unilaterally. If the two sides do not trust each other, then a third force -- often an international one -- comes to mediate.

Yesterday,  Al Mada reported Nouri' had announced that KRG officials may not leave Iraq without the permission of the federal government (his permission).  Kitabat picks up the story about Nouri al-Maliki declaring that Kuridstan officials could not leave the country without the federal government/s permission -- that would be Nouri's permission.  It is intended to be an inflammatory insult.  It has no teeth.  Not unlike when Nouri was screeching that the KRG had to hand over Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi and they didn't have to do that and they didn't do that.  They will continue to do as they want.  They share a border with Turkey which doesn't take orders from Nouri.  Hurriyet Daily News notes:

The Turkish Foreign Ministry issued a statement on its website today calling for the Iraqi government to "not make imaginary assumptions about the expectations of the Turkish public, but to listen to advice instead," according to daily Hurriyet. 
The statement was released Nov. 23 in response to a statement issued by the Iraqi Prime Ministry several days before that accused Turkey of "meddling with regional problems." 
In other news, the Telegram reports that Iraq's crude oil exports for October increased by 1.1%. According to the World Bank, Iraq's GDP for 2010 was $82.15 billion.  And yet even with increased crude oil output, Azzaman reports, "Iraq imports 70% of its needs from foreign countries, especially neighboring states, said the head of the Iraqi Chamber of Commerce Jaafar al-Hamadani."  That's the reality of Nouri's Iraq where demonstrations have not vanished. Al Mada reports that yesterday, for the third day in a row, special needs persons staged a strike outside the Kurdistan Parliament in Sulaimaniya.   They are staging a hunger strike, spokesperson Iara Mohammed explained, that the money allocated to those with special needs does not meet the most basic needs.  Azzaman notes, "The wars Iraq has gone through in the last three decades have produced a nation of disabled people -- six million out of a population of 30 millions."  Najaf alone has at least 120,000 people who are challenged or have special needs.  Meanwhile, a strike is threatened in Babylon.  Al Mada reports that teachers in Babylon are considering going on strike for, among other reasons, a lack of protection and accountability.  A school headmaster was killed and Wednesday saw demonstrations over it.  It is not felt that the death is being taken seriously or being investigated as needed.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Give her some space, Barry





Sean McLachlan is visiting Iraq for AOL News and his reports can be found at "Destination: Iraq,"   In his latest, he visits the National Museum in Baghdad. Excerpt:
The National Museum of Iraq is as battered and defiant as the country it represents. Battered because it has suffered looting and neglect, defiant because its staff fought to protect it. Now they're rebuilding and the museum will soon reopen.
I got a sneak peak while
visiting Iraq and was overawed. I knew I would be. Here is the treasure house of the dawn of civilization. Giant statues of Assyrian guardian demons stand next to cases filled with wide-eyed Sumerian statues pleading with their gods. Detailed bas-reliefs from excavated palaces show scenes of war and hunting. Cases full of cylinder seals show scenes of Babylonian life in miniature.
My favorite was the writing. The first scribes developed a simple system around 3300 B.C. or even earlier. Clay tokens represented objects such as sheep or jugs of beer. These were often sealed in clay envelopes with an impression of the tokens on the outside, thus creating the first contracts. Soon tablets were used with a system of writing that was mostly pictorial – a bull's head represented a bull, etc. As the needs of the developing civilization grew more complex, so did the system of writing. The pictures morphed into almost unrecognizable collections of lines, and words for abstract ideas appeared. The writing was done with a stylus on soft clay to make a series of wedge-shaped impressions called cuneiform.
Looking at these ancient texts was hypnotic. The same process we're engaged in right now, with me writing and you reading, was going on 5,000 years ago in a vastly different culture. We don't have to know each other or even be in the same country to communicate. It was an incredible innovation that opened up countless possibilities for the human race.
He has strong photos that accompany his text reports so make an effort to visit "Destination Iraq."  And if you're thinking, "I thought it was already open . . ."  That's because it's forever getting press coverage for 'opening.'
The most infamous opening was February 23, 2009 and it got a lot of press.  At the time the Minister of Culture Jabir al-Jabari was stating that no, the museum was not opening while the Minster for Tourism and Antiquities (Baha al-Mayahi). What happened? Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) reported it was resolved by "a compromise: The museum will reopen Monday for the first time in six years. But only eight of the museum's 26 galleries will be accessible, and for only a few hours". It wasn't a real re-opening. It was just for show. And a few noted that in real time. The Los Angeles Times' Babylon & Beyond blog pointed out, "As for when the rest of Iraq will be able to see the museum, that's unclear. Iraqi guards Monday afternoon told journalists it would be a couple of months." Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) also underscored that key point, "When Iraqis may actually see for themselves a collection of relics and art that spans millenniums was a question even the museum's deputy director, Muhsin Hassan Ali, dared not answer, even when pressed."
But it's supposed to open -- in two months -- so maybe this will finally be the real opening?  No one should hold their breath.
In November of 1979 at the UN, the International Year of the Child Secretariat Representative Dr. E. Aldaba-Lim presented Fleetwood Mac with a citation for their donation of the royalties from "Beautiful Child" (written by Stevie Nicks).  UNICEF continues today as do children in need and today is Universal Children's Day.  UNICEF explains:
On Universal Children's Day, UNICEF issued a new research paper highlighting global demographic shifts forecast for the coming generation of children that present major challenges to policy makers and planners.
The paper for instance says that by 2050 one in every three births will be African – as will also be almost one in every three children under the age of 18. One hundred years earlier, sub-Saharan Africa's share of births was just one in 10.
The paper, Generation 2025 and beyond: The critical importance of understanding demographic trends for children of the 21st century, says that in turn under-5 deaths will continue increasingly to be concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa, in pockets of poverty and marginalization in populous lower-income countries and in least developed nations.
"What is important is whether the world as it prepares for the post-2015 agenda takes account of this fundamental and unprecedented shift," said co-author UNICEF's David Anthony. "We must do everything possible so these children get an equal chance to survive, develop and reach their full potential."
In October 2011, the world's population reached 7 billion and on current projections it will hit 8 billion by 2025. The paper says that next billion of global inhabitants will still be children by 2025 and 90 per cent of them will have been born in less developed regions.
The paper projects only a modest four per cent increase in the global population of children by 2025, but the population growth shifts significantly to countries in the South.
According to projections, the 49 countries classified as the world's least developed nations will account for around 455 million of the 2 billion global births between 2010 and 2025. Five populous middle income countries – China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan and Nigeria – will account for about 859 million births between 2010 and 2025.
The only high-income country projected to have an increasing proportion of children by   2025 is the United States – among the top five countries for births in the next 15 years.
Though China and India will continue to have a major share of the world's population, in absolute terms Nigeria will see the highest increase in its under-18 population of any country, adding 31 million children, a rise of 41 per cent, between 2010 and 2025. At the same time, Nigeria will account for one in every eight deaths among under-18s.
The paper says policy implications of the shift of child population and child deaths to the world's poorest and most populous countries are key. For least developed countries, serious consideration must be given to how to meet the needs of children, especially in health and education.
The study, derived from projections by the United Nations Population Division, says the ageing population globally will increase pressure to shift resources away from children.
"Children do not vote, and their voices are often not heard when governments make decisions about funding," said paper co-author Danzhen You from UNICEF. "So it will be more important than ever to safeguard children so their rights are respected and upheld."
The paper's recommendations include: targeting investments to the areas where children will be born; an emphasis on neglected groups, especially in high population, middle income countries; reaching the poorest and most isolated households, and urgently tackling the issue of old age dependency.
# # #
UNICEF works in 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world's largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit:
In the International Year of the Child 1979, UNICEF staged a concert with hosts Gilda Rander, Henry Winkler and David Frost, a declaration read by Henry Fonda and musical acts: Donna Summer, Olivia Newton-John, Rita Coolidge, Earth, Wind & Fire, Rod Stewart, Kris Kristofferson, Andy Gibb, Abba and the Bee Gees.  That took place in NYC.  In England in 1979, Paul McCartney organized four nights of concerts to benefit UNICEF and the people of Kampuchea with Paul and Wings performing each night and other participants included the Pretenders, Elvis Costello & the Attractions, Queen, the Who, the Specials and the Clash.  But neither the NYC or London events were the first UNICEF benefit concert: "UNICEF has started many trends over the years. One of the most influential -- the rock-and-roll benefit concert -- began in 1971, when George Harrison and Ravi Shankar teamed up with UNICEF to raise money for children and families fleeing the war in what was then East Pakistan."  The Concert for Bangladesh.
Children around the world remain in need.  On Iraq, the paper, Generation 2025 and beyond: The critical importance of understanding demographic trends for children of the 21st century, written by Danzhen You and David Anthony, notes that the population is expected to increase by 6 million.  Currently, the CIA estimates Iraq's population to be 31 million.  Due to war and sanctions, it's a very young population.  The median age is 21.1 years.  37.6% of Iraq's population is under the age of 14.  On Iraqi children, UNICEF released the following today:
BAGHDAD, 20 November 2012 -- On Universal Children's Day, UNICEF calls for urgent action for Iraq's most vulnerable children.
"Every third child in Iraq, or about 5.3 million children, is still currently deprived of many of their fundamental rights," said UNICEF's Representative to Iraq, Dr. Marzio Babille. 
"UNICEF calls on all stakeholders - in government, civil society, the private sector and the international community - to urgently invest in these children to respect their dignity and give them an equal chance to become healthy, productive young citizens of the new Iraq," Dr. Babille stated.
Child rights violations across Iraq that need to be addressed include: inadequate access to and promotion of health services; lack of access to quality education; violence against children in schools and families; psychological trauma from years of extreme violence; discrimination; prolonged detention in juvenile facilities; insufficient attention to the special needs of children with disabilities and who are not in their family environment; and lack of access to information and participation in cultural life.
While the majority of children in Iraq experience at least one violation of their fundamental rights, around 1.7 million children, or 10 per cent of all Iraqi children, have most of their rights fulfilled.
"There are extreme disparities amongst Iraq's 16.6 million children," noted Dr. Babille.  "Our collective challenge now is to narrow these gaps between those children who are marginalized, having very limited opportunities to improve their well-being, and the children who have every opportunity to fully progress in their lives."
"Iraq's National Development Plan, which is currently being revised, is the ideal place to start robustly planning the expanded delivery of essential services across Iraq that will narrow this gap."
UNICEF is working with the Government of Iraq and partners to ensure children's rights and best interests are included in policies and that equitable approaches that prioritize the most marginalized children are adopted.
"UNICEF remains unwavering in its commitment to support the Government protect all children's rights and build an Iraq that is fit for all children," stated Dr. Babille.
Today is the 23rd anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which lays the foundational principles from which all children's rights must be achieved, and calls for the provision of specific resources, skills and contributions necessary to ensure the survival and development of children to their maximum capability. Iraq ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1994.

Staying with the United Nations, the 67th General Assembly's Third Committee noted Monday, "The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) today approved a draft resolution that would have the General Assembly express its deep concern about the continued application of the death penalty and call on States to establish a moratorium on executions, with a view to abolishing the practice.  The draft text, approved by a record vote of 11 in favour to 39 against, with 36 abstaining, would have the Assembly call on States to respect international standards that provided safeguards guaranteeing the protection of the rights of persons facing the death penalty, as set out in the annex to Economic and Social Council resolution 1984/50 (1984)."  Today the Press Trust of India reports that 39 countries voted against the resolution, declaring their right to kill, and among the countries voting no?  The United States and Iraq.  What a proud moment for the US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice who heads the mission.  The US voted no and gave a little speech on the topic, on the right to kill.  And that little speech took place yesterday but all those Susie Rice supporters 'forgot' to tell you about that.  Probably because they guessed, correctly, that a lot of her left support would crater if they were aware she was over arguing that using the death penalty is a decision for individual countries to make.
And what of Iraq?  The Iraqi government can't stop executing these days.  It's got a lust to satisfy.  From the November 12th snapshot:
Staying with violence, as noted in the October 15th snapshot, Iraq had already executed 119 people in 2012.  Time to add more to that total.  Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reported last night that 10 more people were executed on Sunday ("nine Iraqis and one Egyptian").  Tawfeeq notes the Ministry of Justice's statement on the executions includes, "The Iraqi Justice Ministry carried out the executions by hanging 10 inmates after it was approved by the presidential council."  And, not noted in the report, that number's only going to climb.  A number of Saudi prisoners have been moved into Baghdad over the last weeks in anticipation of the prisoners being executed.  Hou Qiang (Xinhua) observes, "Increasing executions in Iraq sparked calls by the UN mission in the country, the European Union and human rights groups on Baghdad to abolish the capital punishment, criticizing the lack of transparency in the proceedings of the country's courts."
At least 129 executions so far this year.  And if you're not getting how death penalty crazy Nouri's Iraq is, sitting Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi has been sentenced to death in recent weeks . . . not once, but four times.  It's an addicition.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Trivializing us into obscurity



The study finds that the uptick in positive Obama coverage stemmed from horse-race considerations — the president’s slight but steady lead in certain polls, in other words, prompted favorable coverage of his slight but steady lead in certain polls. Talk about a nice, self-perpetuating news loop. Get a lead in the polls, get some media assistance in maintaining that lead.




It was supposed to be so easy for Barack Obama.  He squeaked by earlier this month, just winning the popular vote in the race for US president.  Re-election was one thing but having opponents -- Republican, Green, Libertarian, Constitutional, Socialist Equality Party, etc -- who refused to call him out for negotiating with terrorists was even better.  Now it appears the British press may force the American press to do the job they should have done on their own.  Colin Freeman (Telegraph of London) observed Saturday:
If a prisoner exchange was done, though, it was a high price to pay, particularly for the Americans, who believed that Khazali brothers's militant group, the League of the Righteous, was involved in the Kerbala attack. Not long after Moore and Qais al Khazali were released, I spoke to Vanessa Chism, the stepmother of one of the murdered soldiers, Specialist Johnathan Bryan Chism. While she didn't object to a prisoner swap in principle, she lamented the prospect of not getting justice for her stepson.
"We were informed that this was going to happen, and while personally we would like the people who did this to our child to be punished, they will have to live with what they did," she said. "But if some good came out of it, by the release of that British man, then I am fine with that."
It wasn't just Westerners, though, who lost their chance for a day in court. The League is also believed to have been behind the abduction of 30 Iraqi Red Crescent workers in Baghdad in 2006, most of whose fate remains unknown. When I was last in Baghdad, the family of one of the workers told me that they felt that they too should have been consulted over any prisoner swap. They argued that as part of any deal, the League should have been made to hand over some of its Iraqi hostages as well as Mr Moore – or at least say where the bodies lay.
Iraq's homegrown League of Righteous with the help of Lebanese terrorist Ali Musa Daqduq are believed by the US government to have been behind the murders of 5 US soldiers.

The White House has never had to explain why they negotiated with a terrorist group, let alone why they released it's leader, it's leader's brother and other high ranking members.  No one went to the American people and said, "Look we have the killers of the 5 Americans in custody.  But there are four dead British security guards and one IT hostage we think is alive.  We're thinking of releasing these terrorists, in fact, we're in talks with them, so that the corpses and maybe the one hostage can be released.  Does that sound like justice?  Because that's what we want to do."

It's that crap that has so many in the military and who are veterans feeling betrayed by the White House.  And don't get them started on the press that has refused to press on this issue.  The official US public position is: We do not negotiate with terrorists.  Yet Barack did just that.  Not because some mythical bomb would go off in 24 hours.  Not because the League of Righteous was a threat to the American people.
Dropping back to July 9, 2011 when the League told Barack the deal was off:
Al Mada reports they have issued a statement where they savage the US government for not honoring -- and quickly honoring -- the agreement made with them. As a result, they say Alan McMenemy will not be released.
Peter Moore, the only one released alive, was a computer tech working in Iraq. Four British bodyguards were protecting him. The bodyguards were McMenemy, Jason Swindlehurst, Alec MacLachlan and Jason Cresswell. The families of the four have continued to publicly request that Alan McMenemy be released.
They [Leauge of Righteous] condemn the "procrastionation" of the US government after the deal was made and state that a promise was also broken when "US forces did not stop attacks" -- apparently Barack made very grand promises -- so now Alan McMenemy will not be released. The statement is credited to Akram al-Ka'bi.
What the statement really does is demonstrate what many condemned in 2009: The US government, the administration, entered into an agreement that did not benefit the US or Iraq. They freed known killers from prison. Killers of Iraqis, killers of American citizens. There was nothing to be gained by that act for Iraq or the US. At some point, history will ask how Barack Obama thought he was fulfilling his duties of commander in chief by making such an ignorant move?
Alan McMenemy's corpse was finally released and sent back to England where his loved one could hold a proper funeral for him.

Barack has never had to answer for the deal he made with the League of Righteous.  Outside of military and veterans circles, the issue is never raised when we speak.  College students we speak to usually don't know about it.  Not because they're uninformed but because the press has really refused to cover this story.  From the June 9, 2009 snapshot:

This morning the New York Times' Alissa J. Rubin and Michael Gordon offered "U.S. Frees Suspect in Killing of 5 G.I.'s." Martin Chulov (Guardian) covered the same story, Kim Gamel (AP) reported on it, BBC offered "Kidnap hope after Shia's handover" and Deborah Haynes contributed "Hope for British hostages in Iraq after release of Shia militant" (Times of London). The basics of the story are this. 5 British citizens have been hostages since May 29, 2007. The US military had in their custody Laith al-Khazali. He is a member of Asa'ib al-Haq. He is also accused of murdering five US troops. The US military released him and allegedly did so because his organization was not going to release any of the five British hostages until he was released. This is a big story and the US military is attempting to state this is just diplomacy, has nothing to do with the British hostages and, besides, they just released him to Iraq. Sami al-askari told the New York Times, "This is a very sensitive topic because you know the position that the Iraqi government, the U.S. and British governments, and all the governments do not accept the idea of exchanging hostages for prisoners. So we put it in another format, and we told them that if they want to participate in the political process they cannot do so while they are holding hostages. And we mentioned to the American side that they cannot join the political process and release their hostages while their leaders are behind bars or imprisoned." In other words, a prisoner was traded for hostages and they attempted to not only make the trade but to lie to people about it. At the US State Dept, the tired and bored reporters were unable to even broach the subject. Poor declawed tabbies. Pentagon reporters did press the issue and got the standard line from the department's spokesperson, Bryan Whitman, that the US handed the prisoner to Iraq, the US didn't hand him over to any organization -- terrorist or otherwise. What Iraq did, Whitman wanted the press to know, was what Iraq did. A complete lie that really insults the intelligence of the American people. CNN reminds the five US soldiers killed "were: Capt. Brian S. Freeman, 31, of Temecula, California; 1st Lt. Jacob N. Fritz, 25, of Verdon, Nebraska; Spc. Johnathan B. Chism, 22, of Gonzales, Louisiana; Pfc. Shawn P. Falter, 25, of Cortland, New York; and Pfc. Johnathon M. Millican, 20, of Trafford, Alabama." Those are the five from January 2007 that al-Khazali and his brother Qais al-Khazali are supposed to be responsible for the deaths of. Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Robert H. Reid (AP) states that Jonathan B. Chism's father Danny Chism is outraged over the release and has declared, "They freed them? The American military did? Somebody needs to answer for it."

After Barack made the deal with the League of Righteous (and after they mocked him publicly and repeatedly in the Iraqi press after they were released), the US still had Ali Musa Daqduq in custody.

And many senators were calling for Daqduq to be brought to the United States and tried.  Instead, in 2011, the White House turned him over to Iraq and received 'promises' regarding Daqduq's fate.

'Promises" turned out not be all that.  As noted in Friday's snapshot, " Ernesto Londono (Washington Post) reports that the rumors Ali Musa Daqduq had been released from Iraqi custody are true (see Wednesday's snapshot).  It's a huge embarrassment for the White House.  Victoria Nuland, State Dept spokesperson, was asked about it in today's press briefing.Michael R. Gordon (New York Times) reported Friday:

In a phone call on Tuesday, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. told the Iraqi prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, that the United States believed that Mr. Daqduq should be held accountable for his actions and that Iraq should explore all legal options toward this end, an American official said. Robert S. Beecroft, the United States ambassador in Baghdad, made a similar appeal to Mr. Maliki that day. But Mr. Maliki told Mr. Biden that Iraq had run out of legal options to hold Mr. Daqduq, who this year had been ordered released by an Iraqi court.
Susan Crabtree (Washington Times) notes of that phone conversation between Joe Biden and Nouri al-Maliki, "The Whie House previously released a read-out of Mr. Biden's call with Mr. al-Mliki Tuesday that contained no mention of Mr. Daqduq."
Right wing commentator Max Boot noted at Commentary, "The fact that he [Daqduq] was set free anyway is hardly a sign of Maliki's respect for the rule of law.  It is a sign of how little influence the U.S. now wields in Iraq and how much influence Iran now has."
As we've pointed out before, Daqduq was found innocent by an Iraqi court.  The US government then complained so he was, in effect, retried.  That went over and above what should have been done. Iraq is a struggling whatever it is right now.  And if it's ever going to be a democracy, rule of law has to be in effect.  There are many cases -- criminal cases -- in the US where the guilty walks.  That's part of the process of having a functioning justice system.  Some will walk, some will luck out. In Iraq, all that could be done was done.  The verdict was not guilty.  That was it for the Iraqi courts.  It was wrong of the US government to attempt to get another trial (in the US, we'd call that double jeopardy -- trying someone for the same crime twice).  Extradtion requests?  No problem on that.  But throwing a fit because you didn't like the verdict?
Max Boot's arguing that setting Daqduq free was less about rule of law and more about ties to Iran.  I honestly believe he's probably right.  But I also believe that if Nouri al-Maliki had not released Daqduq (to the US or, as Nouri did, to go free), this would have shown arrogance and disrespect for the law.  I consider Michael Rubin to be even further to the right of Max Boot.  He's a leading neocon which might seem trendy if this were 2002.  The neocons (called out in Peggy Noonan's 1990 biography What I Saw at the Revolution: A Political Life in the Reagan Era) -- Pushed?  It's such a mild word.  Tricked? Lets Bully Boy Bush and the others off.  They cheerleaded and demanded the Iraq War.  Then, when they got it, they didn't have the spine to stand up and say, "Yeah, we screwed up big time.  Boy, were we wrong!"  Not about WMD -- they knew that was lie.  They were wrong about how this illegal war would lead to peace and stability in Iraq.  At any rate, Michael Rubin argued at Commentary yesterday:
Rather than wring hands with outrage at Maliki -- any Iraqi prime minister in the same position would likely make the same decision, even Ayad Allawi -- the question that the American audience and someone in Congress should ask is why, if the United States wanted to try Daqduq for terrorism and murder, they would not just keep him in the first place. That is certainly a quip I heard from Maliki's inner circle last month in Baghdad. State Department and Pentagon lawyers might fall over themselves talking about the letter of law and process, but by doing so they lost track of the greater American interest for an artificial and debatable intellectual point.
And, as Michael R. Gordon notes in his New York Times article, Daqduq was captured by British forces in March 2007 and quickly handed over to US forces which imprisoned him until December 2011.  (In 2008, Gordon reported US forces captured Daqduq in March 2007, FYI.)  The US could have tried him in Iraq, in the US or even in Guantanamo (I do not support Guantanamo being open -- but Barack's the one who promised to close it and didn't -- having kept it open, it was an option for Daqduq).  Michael Gordon's latest book with Bernard E. Trainor is The Endgame: The Inside Story of the Struggle for Iraq, from George W. Bush to Barack ObamaJulian E. Barnes (Wall St. Journal) reminds that when the White House announced their plan to hand Daqduq over to Iraq, many members of Congress objected before the transfer took place, "Ms. [Senator Kelly] Ayotte and 18 other Senators called on U.S. officials not to hand him over to Iraq, but the Iraqi government insisted on taking him into custody."