Friday, August 30, 2013

Iraq's Got Tyrants

Iraq's Got Tyrants

From April 25, 2010, that's "Iraq's Got Tyrants." C.I. wrote the following on my comic:

Nouri al-Maliki stands flanked by Ayad Allawi and Moqtada al-Sadr as he declares, "It has to be one of us, right?" Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts.

This was after the 2010 parlimentary elections.  Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya won so he should have become prime minister.  But Nouri refused to accept the results and, with the backing of the White House, launched an eight month political stalemate until he got his way and the others caved.

This really is where the country and the political situation breaks down.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, August 29, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, the State Dept alienates and (yes) insults Iraqi to the point that the White House should consider suspending Facebook privileges, Barack loses England (for now), Barack tables an attack on Syria (for now), and more.

Hnery Chu (Los Angeles Times) report, "A sharply divided British Parliament on Thursday rejected the immediate use of force as a response to suspected chemical attacks in Syria, putting Washington on notice that it would be deprived of the assistance of its most trusted ally if it launches a strike on Damascus in the next few days."  Robert Winnett (Telegraph of London) calls it "an embarrassing defeat" for UK Prime Minister David Cameron with the 285 votes against an attack on Syria and 272 for it. Winnett points out, "The Prime Minister had played a leading role in persuading President Obama of the need for action against Syria -- with Britain tabling a draft United Nations resolution – and the Parliamentary vote may also undermine Mr Cameron’s international reputation."  Annabelle Dickinson ( offers, "In what is thought to be an unprecedented parliamentary reverse over British military action, Tory rebels joined with Labour to inflict a humiliating defeat on the Prime Minister."

Guy Faulconbridge and Andrew Osborn (Reuters) report UK Prime Minister David Cameron is being forced to take the matter to Parliament, "After imploring the world not to stand idly by over Syria's suspected use of chemical weapons, Cameron was forced into an awkward climbdown on Wednesday when the opposition Labour party and lawmakers in his own party said they wanted more evidence before voting for military action."

The Labour and Conservative revolt was actually started by MP Diane Abbott who made clear her opposition earlier this week.   Rowena Mason (Guardian) reported:

 Diane Abbott may be forced to quit Labour's frontbench if Ed Miliband supports military action in Syria, as one of several MPs who are weighing up whether to support their party leaders over the anticipated intervention.
[. . .]
"I voted against the Iraq War. At the moment, I can't see anything that would make me vote for intervention in Syria," she said.
"Essentially it's a civil war. What Libya and Egypt have taught us is that these situations in the Middle East are complex. It's not good guys in white hats and bad guys in black hats."

But this apparently isn't Tony Blair's Labour anymore.  Abbott was not ostracized, strong-armed or stigmatized.  Instead, as George Eaton (New Statesman) noted yesterday, Ed Miliband stood up and showed real leadership:

 He announced on Twitter that the party would table an amendment to the government's (then non-existent) motion requiring Cameron to return to the Commons to consult MPs after the UN team had reported on the Ghouta massacre. He added: "Parliament must tomorrow agree criteria for action, not write a blank cheque." Labour sources subsequently briefed that were the amendment not accepted, the party would vote against the motion.

As Ed knows,  the move also further draws a line between Labour and Tony Blair -- something desperately needed if Labour is going to return to power in the near future.  It draws a line because Iraq and Syria are tied together by comparisons and it draws a line because Tony Blair has mistakenly thought he had a voice the world need to hear and has spent the last days demanding an attack on Syria.

Melanie Hall (Telegraph of London) notes 'prophet' Tony sees a "nightmare scenario" coming.  Andy Wells (Daily Star) noted:

After the long and painful campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, I understand every impulse to stay clear of the turmoil, to watch but not to intervene, to ratchet up language but not to engage in the hard, even harsh business of changing reality on the ground.
But we have collectively to understand the consequences of wringing our hands instead of putting them to work.

At his website, Blair has even posted a column he wrote this week for the Times of London calling for action on Syria:

  People wince at the thought of intervention. But contemplate the future consequence of inaction and shudder: Syria mired in carnage between the brutality of Assad and various affiliates of al-Qaeda, a breeding ground of extremism infinitely more dangerous than Afghanistan in the 1990s; Egypt in chaos, with the West, however unfairly, looking as if it is giving succour to those who would turn it into a Sunni version of Iran. Iran still — despite its new president — a theocratic dictatorship, with a nuclear bomb. Our allies dismayed. Our enemies emboldened. Ourselves in confusion. This is a nightmare scenario but it is not far-fetched.

People wince, actually, at the thought of Tony Blair giving advice.  Even those who would not call for him to be tried for War Crimes re: Iraq remember his lie that Iraq had WMD and they could be launched on England within 45 minutes.  As Glenn Greenwald revealed in 2009 while at Salon:

The British are conducting an actual public investigation into the litany of false claims made by their government to justify the attack on Iraq.  Even for those who have long known it, the disclosures are underscoring just how truly criminal this deceit was:
An Iraqi taxi driver may have been the source of the discredited claim that Saddam Hussein could unleash weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes, a Tory MP claimed today.
Adam Holloway, a defence specialist, said MI6 obtained information indirectly from a taxi driver who had overheard two Iraqi military commanders talking about Saddam’s weapons.
The 45-minute claim was a key feature of the dossier about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction that was released by Tony Blair in September 2002. Blair published the information to bolster public support for war.
Other disclosures reveal that Blair was making claims that his own intelligence services were vehemently rejecting.

But for many Labour voters Blair's greatest crime was the way he degraded and destroyed Labour.  That's his 'New Labour' neoliberal policies, his war crimes and so much more.  Gordon Brown's biggest problem as prime minister was attempting to fix a few of Blair's errors without calling them errors.

Simon Hoggart (Guardian) points out:

A spectre hung over the prime minister's speech. Like most phantoms, the spectre wasn't corporeally present – it has been holidaying on a millionaire's yacht – but Tony Blair was there in spirit all right. Cameron said carefully over and over again that this was different from Iraq. "I am deeply mindful of previous interventions," he said. Thanks to Iraq and Afghanistan, the well of public confidence had been poisoned.

Had Brown broke with Blair publicly, Labour might have been able to start the rebuilding process that Ed Miliband has been stuck with.  Some wrongly assume Blair can be 'rehabbed' or note that his polling is not as awful as it could be.  Blair's inability to apologize for his actions(he still maintains he was right -- even with his lies revealed) make image rehab impossible.  And when you look at his polling, you find out just what a liability he is to the future of Labour -- the younger you go, the more he's hated.  40 and under have less tolerance for him.

Blair's support for an attack on Syria probably helped motivate protests like the one Sarah Ensor reported on in "'Don't Bomb Syria' protesters block Whitehall" (Great Britain's Socialist Worker):

Up to 1,000 people blocked Whitehall and stopped traffic in central London yesterday evening, Wednesday, against David Cameron’s threat to bomb Syria.
The Stop the War Coalition (STW) called the protest at short notice once the British and US governments looked set for an immediate attack Syria. The current crisis began with a chemical weapons attack in Damascus last week.

The British parliament has been recalled for today, Thursday, to discuss an attack. The degree of hostility to intervention is so high that Cameron has had to retreat from voting on an immediate attack.

Obi, a student from London, was on her first demonstration. She told Socialist Worker, “This is a very flammable situation and the West could escalate it. Intervention won’t help the situation—we’ll just add fuel to the fire.”

Front bench Labour MP Diane Abbott addressed the crowd, saying she wanted to put it “beyond doubt” that she would vote against an attack.

Stop the War chair Jeremy Corbyn MP also spoke. Other speakers included Steve Hedley from RMT the transport union—who called for civil disobedience—and Mark Campbell, chair of Kurdish Federation in Britain.
This does not mean US President Barack Obama will not still launch an attack on Syria.  It does mean he has lost the fig leaf he needed.  The United Nations Security Council is very unlikely to approve an attack.  This would make a US attack illegal.  By having England (again) stand side-by-side (as they did with the attack on Iraq) would give the appearance to many that the attack was legitimate (as with Iraq, this crowd would dismiss international law).   Without England at his side (at least currently), Barack is left stranded.  France (as noted this morning when I discussed what 2 White House friends were saying) is not thought to have the same impression for Americans that England would carry -- in part because 2002 and 2003 saw US officials and the US press attacking France publicly and repeatedly.

He is also facing a Congressional critique has been led by Senator Rand Paul.  Alex Pappas (Daily Caller) notes that Paul has argued an attack on Syria is without any US "national security" rationale. And as in England, it's taking only one person to stand (and survive a flurry of attacks) for others to start questioning.  Michael O'Brien and Tom Curry (NBC News) report:

A growing minority of lawmakers in both parties are demanding that President Barack Obama seek approval from Congress before launching an attack against Syria.
Most senior leaders in Congress appear content with the administration’s efforts to keep lawmakers abreast of what appears to be a fast-approaching military response to Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons against opponents in that country’s protracted civil war.
But ahead of any possible military action, a chorus of voices is calling for at least a Congressional debate, if not an explicit vote authorizing the use of force. 

David Lightman and William Douglas (McClatchy) add, "House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio on Wednesday wrote a lengthy letter to the president, asking about the administration’s objectives. It came after a day of mounting concern among lawmakers anxious for an explanation for the possible action against Syria."  And Rebecca Shabad (The Hill) reports, "More than 100 lawmakers, including 18 Democrats, have signed a letter that says President Obama would violate the Constitution by striking Syria without first getting authorization from Congress.  A total of 116 lawmakers had signed the letter as of 6 p.m. Wednesday, highlighting bipartisan interest and growing momentum in ensuring a role for Congress in any decision to use force in Syria."  AP reports that Iraq War veteran and US House Rep Tammy Duckworth has come out today against a US strike on Syria.  Speaking in Thailand at a Bangkok college, Duckworth voiced her concerns about US military being used to assist people who may be part of al Qaeda.
On Democracy Now! (link is audio, text and video), Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez moderated a debate between the great intellectual Tariq Ali and Steve Clemons who wore a severe hair do that appeared to suggest he'd just visited Mr. Kenneth.  Excerpt.

AMY GOODMAN: Let’s go to Tariq Ali in London. You spoke at a rally against an attack on Syria. Your response to what Steven Clemons is saying?

TARIQ ALI: Well, I think the main evidence which has been supplied is from an ally, certainly, but the name of the ally is Israel. Israeli intelligence has supplied the signals intelligence to the United States. It should be made public so we can judge it for ourselves. But virtually no one who knows the region believes that these attacks were carried out by the Syrian government, or on its orders. It’s crazy, if you think about it. They let the inspectors in, and then in a hotel barely 10 miles from—in a location barely 10 miles from where the inspectors are staying, there’s a chemical attack. And what good does it do the Syrian government to actually open fire on these inspectors? They want them there. So, I think it’s slightly incredible. And given that citizens in the United States and Europe were lied to in the run-up to the Iraq War—simple, straightforward lies—it’s very difficult to take the West seriously when it cries wolf again. So, 'til the evidence is there, it's impossible to take this at face value.

Secondly, the country that has of course used chemical weapons is the United States, which used white phosphorus in Fallujah. No red lines were drawn them, except the red lines of Iraqi blood.

Thirdly, why is the United States wanting to do this? And I think the reasons are to do with the situation on the battlefield in this awful, ugly, depressing civil war, which is that the opposition to the regime had been losing out, and, effectively, the West wants to improve the relationship of forces on the field. They’ve sent in more arms to the opposition—whoever it may be, and it’s dubious in many cases. And now they want to punish the regime, once again, to push it back. Meanwhile, the civil war continues. You know, no one is really pushing for talks. In Geneva, the opposition refused to come and participate in these talks. And what is required is a political solution; otherwise, you have endless war. And this policy of Obama, we’re not going in for regime change, I think he’s right about that. He’s not—he’s not misleading us. But we are basically wanting to weaken the regime so the civil war continues. What other option is there?

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Tariq, I’d like to ask you—Tariq, I’d like to ask you about the—what the potential impact is of yet another U.S. military attack on another Arab country, especially in view of the fact that Syria has a mutual defense pact with Iran. And what would be the possible repercussions of such an attack?

TARIQ ALI: Well, I think the Iranian regime has made a very strong statement—whether it’s pure bluff, we don’t know—saying that if Syria is attacked, they will retaliate as they see fit. And this is a regime which has been recently elected, the new government, which people said was going to be very different from Ahmadinejad, and yet is saying exactly the same things as the prior government was saying to this, that an attack on Syria will be taken as an attack on Iran because of their defense pact. And they have the possibility, of course, of escalating in Iraq, of escalating in Lebanon and escalating in Afghanistan—three battlefield areas where the United States are involved, which I think is one reason that there has been a lot more caution in the Pentagon and from British military officers, who’ve been on television screens—you know, recently retired, who were involved in Iraq—saying that there is no justification for this war.

People are extremely worried about the consequences. I mean, in Britain, we have 70 Conservative members of Parliament, the ruling party, from the coalition, saying they will not vote for a war. Eighty percent of the population is opposed to it. So, of course, the United States can push it through, and probably the British government, which, you know, is a sort of vassal state-type outfit, will go along with it, but against the will of a huge majority of its people.

[. . .]


AMY GOODMAN: Steven Clemons, you said that you became convinced by the signal information, in speaking to intelligence officials in the United States. What exactly is that?

STEVEN CLEMONS: Signals intelligence—you know, one of the unfortunate realities is we do have in the United States today a many—much infrastructure that’s part of a security-obsessed national security state. And we’re listening—

AMY GOODMAN: Well, as we’ve learned in all the NSA scandal stuff. But what—

STEVEN CLEMONS: Yeah, we’re listening to—well, every—no, but everything that—

AMY GOODMAN: I mean, what exactly is the information?

STEVEN CLEMONS: I’m sorry, how did I get the information?

AMY GOODMAN: Yeah—no, what exactly is that information that has convinced you?

STEVEN CLEMONS: What is—so, from the moment this began to unroll—one of the areas I report on and work on is in the intelligence sector. And when there were attacks, low-level attacks, reported previously, and they were popping up here and there in Syria, it seemed to me natural, given the many months we talked about red lines, that the opposition would be the biggest winner if those were crossed. And so, I went at the time to people that I knew had access to and that were close to what’s called signals intelligence, electronic and digital eavesdropping, if you will, of which there are enormous, not just Israeli interceptors, but lots of other states that are essentially picking up communications inside Syria and filtering that. The NSA’s raison d’être is this. And at that time, there was no evidence whatsoever that there was command staff authority or Assad. There was speculation, but it just didn’t exist. And I got a very clear read from intelligence sources that we just had no evidence at all at that time of this lower chemical weapons usage that it was there.

This time I went in, and said, "Steve, it is—it is definitive, and it’s definitive that members of the command staff of the Syrian army are responsible." There may be factions, and subsequent—you know, reported in the press by Foreign Policy magazine, have reported that there was dismay and shock in some part of the command staff and a panic call to other elements of that. That’s the tip of the iceberg of the communications material we have. But it seems that a portion of the Syrian army, this time, communicated strongly enough that these attacks were held. And so, that intelligence is held there. I agree it should be made public. I think it should be put out into the public.

AMY GOODMAN: So you haven’t seen it, but they told you that this is what it said.

 Steve Clemons, the Ethel Mertz of the global village.  From one national joke to another: Marie Harf.  Laugh as the State Dept's own Minnie Pearl can't handle a basic question, enjoy the way Said Arikat (Al Quds) runs circles around herl.

QUESTION: Does the United States State Department have a definition of what constitutes a war by one country over another?

MS. HARF: A war?


MS. HARF: I’m –

QUESTION: What constitutes a war of one country over another?

MS. HARF: I don’t have a specific definition in front of me, Said. What is the crux of the question that you’re asking?

QUESTION: The crux of the question is that the President is saying that whatever action is taken in Syria, which is obviously alluding to some sort of bombardment, perhaps, by cruise missiles and so on –

MS. HARF: Well, he hasn’t made a decision yet.

QUESTION: No, I understand. But he says accountability – they want to hold with accountability.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: I want to ask you: Does lobbing off cruise missiles, whether there are 10 or 90 or 100, does that constitute an act of war on another country, especially if Country B that is being attacked has not provoked any kind of belligerence towards the United States of America?

MS. HARF: I’m not going to define hypothetical actions that haven’t been decided to be taken yet. I will point to a couple points the President made in his interview last night. He talked at length about the national security interest for the United States that are wrapped up in any indiscriminate use of chemical weapons – I think he made that point very clear – and that we need the Assad regime to understand that they’re not only breaking international norms by using chemical weapons, but they’re creating a situation – and I’m quoting directly here – where U.S. national security interest are threatened.

QUESTION: Okay. So Syria – you concur that Syria at the present time presents an imminent threat to the national security of the United States of America?

MS. HARF: I didn’t use that term, Said.

QUESTION: Okay. But do you feel that Syria should be held accountable because it does compromise the national security of the United States of America?

MS. HARF: The Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons –


MS. HARF: -- against their own people –


MS. HARF: -- presents a situation where, yes, U.S. national security interests are threatened. It’s in our interest – in our national security interest, but in the world’s security interest –


MS. HARF: -- to not allow this use – these use of chemical weapons to go un-responded to.

QUESTION: Could you explain to us how the use of chemical weapons, whether at this scale that we have seen last Wednesday or before, how does that in any way or directly affect the national security of the United States?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. Well, I think I talked a little bit about this yesterday. Clearly, we have an interest – a national security interest in upholding an international norm against the use of chemical weapons. There’s a reason that 98 percent of the world’s peoples live in countries that have said these weapons should not be used.

We'll come back to the State Dept in a moment.  This was a good day for peace, it was not a great day.  Even if you reduce it only to the possible Syrian attack, it was still only a good day.  Good for the British lawmakers and citizens who said no but grasp that Barack is still angling for an attack.  Today appears to be just a setback or temporary delay.  Julie Pace (AP) explains that.

There are people who have expressed disappointment in e-mails that I have no position on Syria (other than foreigners don't need to attack).  We do the "Iraq snapshot," try to grasp that.  We have Iraqis in the US and in Iraq who are part of the community.  Some are Sunni, some are Shi'ite, some are Kurds, and we have 2 religious minorities as well.

I am not Syrian, it is not my job to stick my big nose into their civil war to begin with.  But even more than that, we can't treat all segments in Iraq equally if I'm pulling for a side in Syria.

Iraq shares a border with Syria.  Passions run high in Iraq on the issue with the various groupings tending to support their own ethnic group in Syria.

Were I to take a side, it would discredit everything else we do here.  It would upset at least two of the three major groups in Iraq.  I completely understand that.

Does the US State Dept?

This morning, we noted the US Embassy in Baghdad and the State Dept's silence on the worst attacks (judged by death toll) this month in Iraq.   Adam Schreck and Sinan Salaheddin (AP) report 80 died yesterday in Baghdad alone.  All Iraq News notes:

The British Government condemned the car bombings that took place in Baghdad on last Wednesday.

A statement by the British Embassy in Iraq received by AIN cited “The British Government condemns the terrorist attacks that took place across Baghdad yesterday morning. My thoughts are with the families of those who were killed and injured.”
The statement quoted the British Ambassador to Baghdad as saying “I offered my condolences to Foreign Minister Zebari yesterday afternoon, and affirmed the United Kingdom’s solidarity with the Iraqi government in its efforts to combat terrorism.”

And they note:

The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq (UNAMI), Jaclyn Babcock, strongly condemned the series of recent terrorist explosions that took place in Baghdad and resulted in killing and wounding many innocent people.
UNAMI quoted Babcock as saying ''These terrorist operations can not be justified by any political goals or sectarian rancor where these operations are killing innocent  people continuously without any mercy.''

But due to silence, they couldn't note any statement from the US State Dept or the US Embassy in Baghdad.  I pointed out that the US Embassy in Baghdad posted a lot of nonsense on their Facebook page yesterday.  And let's point out that there is worse than "nonsense," there is "harmful."  The US Embassy in Baghdad is like a pre-teen that really shouldn't be left alone on Facebook.

MLK?  He's an international inspiration, one of the world's all time greats.  By all means, note him and the 50th anniversary.  But why in the world would you decide to post those speeches by Secretary of State John Kerry to the US Embassy in Baghdad's Facebook page?  We'll share one example:

‫شاهدوا معنا التسجيل الكامل و المترجم لبيان وزير الخارجية السيد جون كيري حول سوريا، 26 آب/2013
Remarks of Secretary of State Kerry on Syria, 26 August, 2013‬
  • Tareq Al Wady انا ضد الاسد ولكن امريكا بلد لايهتم بالشعوب وانما همهم الوحيد هو اسراءيل نحن العراقيين ذقنا من الويلات مالم يراها بشر غيرنا ومازلنا نتجرعها وذلك بفضل امريكا انظروا المشهد العراقي كل يوم نزيف دم للابرياء والحكومه العراقيه تتفرج وتقتل بالسنه والشيعه وتعتقل السنه فمن جاء بالحكومه العراقيه انها امريكا لكن نحن شعب نوءمن بالله واقداره فنحمد الله على كل حال لان الله مولانا وانتم لامولا لكم وحسبنا الله ونعم الوكيلSee Translation
  • Holy Diamond God curse America

"God curse America"?  Not a surprising comment when you consider how divisive the Syrian civil war is in Iraq.  It was outrageous for that Embassy to post that speech.

Don't give me the crap that it's a speech by the US Secretary of State.  Kerry recently gave a speech on LGBT rights.  You know how many Embassy Facebook sites posted that video (I do, I know the actual number).  Among the many not posting that speech?  The US Embassy in Iraq.

I didn't rip them a new one here.  I was disappointed but they're supposed to be doing diplomacy and I could write off a decision I didn't agree with by noting they did not want to antagonize.

But if you don't want to antagonize, why the hell are you posting John Kerry taking sides and calling out one group in Syria?

  • Nadheer Mahmoud هل الأسلحة التي استخدمت في العراق من قبل الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية والتي تحتوي اليورانيوم المنضب والتي يعاني العراقيين من آثارها من حصول التشوهات الخلقية للمدنيين الأبرياء لا يحاسب عليها القانون الدولي وان القتل هو واحد مهما اختلف نوع السلاح والفضل لأمريكا بنشر ثقافة العنف من قبلكم من خلال تقسيم المجتمع في البلدان العربية على أساس عرقي أو ديني أو عقائدي والذي كان يعيش في أجواء أخوة

Nadheer Mahmoud replies to the Kerry post by rightly noting the US used chemical weapons on Iraq.  Nadheer is elequent and to the point -- there's nothing alarming or shocking in his words. From Monday's snapshot:
Today, US Secretary of State John Kerry idiotically made a declaration (link is text and video):

 What we saw in Syria last week should shock the conscience of the world. It defies any code of morality. Let me be clear: The indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders, by chemical weapons is a moral obscenity. By any standard it is inexcusable, and despite the excuses and equivocations that some have manufactured, it is undeniable.

 I like John Kerry but he needs to learn to shut his mouth and stop trying to lead the administration.  He wants war on Syria, I don't.  That's not the issue.  The issue is the State Dept is over US efforts in Iraq currently.  That's where Kerry's in charge.  With that reality in mind, let's look at that statement one more time:

What we saw in Syria last week should shock the conscience of the world. It defies any code of morality. Let me be clear: The indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders, by chemical weapons is a moral obscenity. By any standard it is inexcusable, and despite the excuses and equivocations that some have manufactured, it is undeniable.
If those words really mean anything, Iraqis have every right to expect Kerry to speak out for them, especially when the WHO report is finally issued.  You never, as Secretary of State, paint yourself into a corner.  The Secretary now has painted himself into a corner and, in doing so, painted his Dept and the administration into one.   The State Dept is supposed to practice diplomacy which is another reason John Kerry should be a lot less quick on the draw and a little more concerned with dialogue.

The reaction taking place on Facebook is not shocking or surprising.  The fact that the State Dept is less intelligent than I am is highly disappointing.  I don't expect genius, I do expect better than me from them.  If I saw the fall out potential, they should have.  But they're so repeatedly stupid, they can't see a thing and destroy chances of goodwill over and over.

Read through the comments -- I'm going by the Arabic ones but you can just read the English ones -- this is nightmare.  How could the US Embassy have been so stupid to post that speech?

Were they trying to inflame Iraqis?

Are they so stupid that they don't grasp it's not just Moqtada al-Sadr's movement calling for the "occupiers" to go home.  This is a feeling that's probably around 52% (at least) currently in Iraq.  And that was before the idiots at the State Dept and the Embassy couldn't be bothered with a message of condolence for the victims of Wednesday's violence and before they were stupid enough to post John Kerry's speech.

The stupidity needs to stop immediately.  If it can't, the US needs to close all embassies and consulates in Iraq.  Not just because they're wasting billions of US taxpayer dollars with their stupidity but also because their stupidity is putting diplomatic staff in Iraq in jeopardy.   If nothing's being accomplished except for painting big targets on the backs of American there, the Iraq mission needs to stop and all those dollars can be spent on programs in the US.

In Iraq, violence continues.  NINA reports a 1 police officer and 1 Iraqi soldier were shot dead in Mosul, 1 person was shot dead in Basra, a Mosul roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer and 2 civilians, 1 Shabak was shot dead near his Mosul home, a Baghdad roadside bombing claimed 1 life and left three people injured, and a Hilla bombing claimed 1 life and left two more people injuredMohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports, "The deadliest attack was in Samaeea, where 16 people died when a car bomb exploded in an outdoor market" with twenty-seven left injured.  He counts 23 dead today.

Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 823 violent deaths in the country so far this month.  AFP's Prashant Rao Tweets:

  1. So far this month, at least 633 killed and 1,682 wounded by violence in Iraq - tally:

amy goodman



Read on ...

Thursday, August 22, 2013

No Lasting Consequences

No Lasting Consequences

From April 11, 2011, that's "No Lasting Consequences?"  C.I.'s caption to my comic:

 Appearing on ABC's This Week today, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates weighed in on the July 12, 2007 assault in Baghdad in which 12 Iraqis were killed by US forces, "But by the same token, I think-think is should not have any lasting consequences." Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts.

 Oh the sensitivity of Bob Gates.

12 dead Iraqis but no "lasting consequences"?  Killed by US forces but no "lasting consequences"?

I still can't believe it.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, August 22, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, the White House wants to further arm Nouri, medical professionals take to the streets of Iraq to protest, among today's targets for bombings is a wedding, an Iraqi woman attempts to seek justice via the US courts, Barack's illegal spying continues, and more.

Governments with enormous wealth for the officials and enormous poverty for the people tend to be government's with gross human rights abuses.  To maintain an enormous disparity, officials will often resort to violent attacks on the very people they claim to represent.  With that in mind, let's look at Iraq.

Yesterday, Aswat al-Iraq reported:

Commander of Iraqi Air Force Anwar Hama Amin disclosed that Iraq needs 90 jet fighters to build its air force, pointing that the Turkish and Iranian violations will continue unless Iraq is supplied with these fighters in the coming stage.
In a press statement, today, he described the US F 16 fighters deal as "the deal of dreams", which shall be a complete project comprising of 36 planes by 2016.
It is expected that the first dispatch will arrive in September 2014.

  Friday, Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari spoke at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in DC.  He was there for his Thursday visit with US Secretary of State John Kerry.  We covered the event in Friday's snapshot and in Monday's.  Today we're going to note another aspect.  The Center for Strategic and International Studies has posted video and audio of the DC event.  And they also now have a [PDF format warning] transcript of the event.

Josh Rogin: Thank you very much, I'm Josh Rogin with Newsweek and the Daily Beast.  Thank you for your time today. As you know, uh, as we discussed, increased security cooperation is one of the main request of the Iraqi government is for new U.S. arm sales to Iraq. Lawmakers here in Washington are concerned about those sales for two reasons. They believe that Iraq is still allowing Iran to use Iraqi airspace to promote the flow of arms to the Assad regime. Also they are concerned that the Iraqi government may use uh U.S. weapons uh towards political ends to marginalize the political opposition as we've seen in the past. What assurances can you give us on both of these fronts? What specific steps are you taking to stop the arms flow from Iran over Iraqi airspace to Assad? And what assurances can you give us that, as we approach new elections, that U.S. weapons won’t be used for domestic political purposes? Thank you. 

Minister Hosyar Zebari: Definitely my government will abide by all the rules and regulations that you here in the United States or Congress will impose on arm sales. Not only to Iraq  to many other countries in the world. So we will abide by that, definitely, for these weapons not to be used for domestic use or improperly. But to be used for the defense of the country. Now on the flight of -- the overflight of -- of Iranian using Iraqi airspace -- let me give you the reality and Sometimes we are speaking theoretically about the situation, as if Iraq has dozens of fighters or aircrafts. For your information, Iraq doesn't have a single fighter plane up to now. It has a couple of helicopters, some training let's say planes, small planes, but it doesn't have a single aircraft to protect its airspace. Iraq up until now doesn't have an integrated self-defense to protect its skies. We have requested and we are waiting for the delivery. So, that is the situation when we talk about Iraq's capabilities and deterrence capabilities to prevent others from using its airspace and so on. We have made demarches to the Iranians. We don't want and we don't support you or any other to use our airspace because it runs against our policy of taking an independent, neutral position here, not to militarize the conflict in any way. And we have done a number of inspections. These inspections could not be, I mean, endorsed by some circles here in the United States. That this could choose only those who carry legitimate equipment or material. But we have raised the possibility here, really, we will continue to live up to our commitments here. But there are Security Council resolutions banning these from leaving Iran. Under Chapter VII, whether its weapons, imports, export -- we don't have the capabilities of enforcing this. Though politically we have made these demarches. So who's going to reinforce that? Is it the Security Council or who? We've taken note actually of the U.S. administration’s serious concerns about this [. . .]

We'll stop there.  Before we go to the next exchange, two things.  One, when I am quoting someone speaking in English and it's not their native language, I do not include "uh" or "uhm."  These moments can be revealing -- in any language -- when someone does it in their native language.  In a second or third (or more) language, they may not be revealing of anything other than the person is not speaking in their native language so we do not include the uhs or uhms.  That's the policy here.  Second, Zebari's recent lies has been Iraq's no longer got to worry!  Chapter VII is over!!  Truthfully, it's been replaced with Chapter VI.  That was too much truth for Zebari.  But isn't it interesting that he's citing the no longer existent Chapter VII.  Same topic, of weapons, asked again at the event, we'll skip the first part of the question (we covered that in Monday's snapshot).  This is Wallace Hays.  Not "Wallace Hayes" as I wrongly typed Monday.  A friend passed that on.  You can find a profile of Wallace Hays here.  My apologies for getting the spelling of his last name wrong.

Wallace Hays:  Hi, Wallace Hays, Independent Consultant I wanted to give you an opportunity, a lot of people here feel like there's been a lack of political reconciliation in Iraq and that it has been U.S. policy to support the Erbil Agreement, which has not been implemented in Iraq. And, following up on Mr. Rogin's question, why should -- I'd like to  give you the opportunity to explain, why should the United States sell arms to Iraq, when in fact many people believe that the lack of political reconciliation is contributing to some of the violence today? Thanks. 

Minister Hoshyar Zebari: Thank you. Political reconciliation is the key issue really, for Iraq and the stability of Iraq and I think that all of the key leaders believe that this is the way forward. With the hydrocarbon law, with normalizing relations with Saudi Arabia, with Turkey, I mean all the questions have been pointed questions about the core issue in Iraq. So, the political reconciliation is moving, it's not stagnant. I mean, look at the representatives of the Sunni community, let's say or from al-Iraqi parliamentary blocs. They are now represented in Parliament, now they are represented in government. They may feel that they are underrepresented or marginalized, this is a fair call, I mean we could do more about that, definitely. But really the lessons that came out of this local election were very, very important. Many people believe they could do with the majoritarian democracy or political majority government, that the one sect or one group could win all over and rule by themselves, it proved they couldn't. They could win but they could not govern. And I think everyone realized and recognized that there has to be an inclusive democracy, a nonsectarian democracy, in Iraq for this country to have any future.

Zebari's remarks there are pure nonsense.  We called them out in Monday's snapshot, refer to that.  In terms of Hays picking up on Rogen's question, please note that Zebari doesn't really address that  (except via a false portrayal of current Iraqi politics).

Last week, Josh Rogin and Eli Lake (Daily Beast) reported:

The U.S. government has notified Congress in recent weeks of its intention to sell Iraq $4.7 billion worth of military equipment, but none of those sales include the top item on Iraq’s shopping list, the Boeing AH-64 Apache helicopters. The House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee have refused to allow the sale of the helicopters to date.

“The committee continues to carefully review all proposed arms sales to Iraq in order to ensure that such transfers support U.S. national security interests in the region,” a House Foreign Affairs Committee spokesman told The Daily Beast. Two administration officials confirmed that until the committees sign off, the U.S. government won’t be able to complete the arms deal.

The State Department is negotiating with the leaders of those committees behind the scenes to alleviate concerns about the sale. Committee leaders are worried the Iraqi government will use the helicopters to go after their domestic enemies, not just suspected terrorists. Also lawmakers are convinced that Iraq still allows Iran to fly arms over Iraqi airspace to aid the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

These are serious concerns.   They are not new concerns.  At the end of 2011, for example, Anna Mulrine (Christian Science Monitor) pointed out:

The apparent effort of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to consolidate power since the US [drawdown] is worrisome to some defense analysts in the US, who say it's conceivable that he could use weapons purchased from the US against his political enemies and the people of Iraq.

Outside of Congress, the US government has not taken the concerns seriously.  As we noted Friday, Zebari lied and downplayed the April assault:

Hoshyar Zebari: As I said before, really we have demonstrations, sit-ins, all over the country for the past eight months and the government never resorted to the kind of violence -- except in one or two incidences in Haiwja.  And I'm not here to justify this violations whatsoever.  But really the government has tolerated this so far to go on without any intimidations.

The April 23rd massacre of a sit-in in Hawija resulted from  Nouri's federal forces storming in.  Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk)  announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault.   AFP reported the death toll rose to 53 dead.  UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured).

Not only did the government murder Iraqis, it did so via equipment the US government sold them.  Without the helicopters the US sold Iraq, the massacre would not be possible because Nouri's forces were denied entry into Kirkuk by the governor.  To get inside Kirkuk, to Hawija, they had to fly over.  This was made very clear when  Shalaw Mohammed (Niqash) interviewed Governor Najm al-Din Karim back in May:

NIQASH: Let’s talk about the controversial Tigris Operations Command. It’s caused several crises around here. What’s your opinion on this Iraqi military base?

Al-Din Karim: Neither I, as governor, nor the provincial council have changed our opinions on this issue. We don’t want the Tigris Operations Command here and we don’t accept their presence. Although we have agreed to form a committee in Baghdad to try and resolve this impasse.

NIQASH: The incidents in Hawija, where protestors were killed by the Iraqi military, also seems to have seen more Iraqi army forces enter Kirkuk.

Al-Din Karim: Actually those forces did not come through Kirkuk - they entered Hawija by helicopter. They tried to come through Kirkuk but we prevented them from doing so. I know the Prime Minister disapproved of this – he told me so last time we met.

Without the helicopters the US sold to Iraq, that massacre wouldn't have happened.  That massacre is important because people were killed and wounded and it became clear that Nouri was ready to turn on groups of Iraqis.  That massacre is also seen as a major point in the continued escalation of violence in Iraq.  Last week, the International Crisis Group issued "Make or Break: Iraq’s Sunnis and the State" and this is their take on Hawija:

As events in Syria nurtured their hopes for a political comeback, Sunni Arabs launched an unprecedented, peaceful protest movement in late 2012 in response to the arrest of bodyguards of Rafea al-Issawi, a prominent Iraqiya member. It too failed to provide answers to accumulated grievances. Instead, the demonstrations and the repression to which they gave rise further exacerbated the sense of exclusion and persecution among Sunnis.
The government initially chose a lacklustre, technical response, forming committees to unilaterally address protesters’ demands, shunning direct negotiations and tightening security measures in Sunni-populated areas. Half-hearted, belated concessions exacerbated distrust and empowered more radical factions. After a four-month stalemate, the crisis escalated. On 23 April, government forces raided a protest camp in the city of Hawija, in Kirkuk province, killing over 50 and injuring 110. This sparked a wave of violence exceeding anything witnessed for five years. Attacks against security forces and, more ominously, civilians have revived fears of a return to all-out civil strife. The Islamic State of Iraq, al-Qaeda’s local expression, is resurgent. Shiite militias have responded against Sunnis. The government’s seeming intent to address a chiefly political issue – Sunni Arab representation in Baghdad – through tougher security measures has every chance of worsening the situation.
Belittled, demonised and increasingly subject to a central government crackdown, the popular movement is slowly mutating into an armed struggle. In this respect, the absence of a unified Sunni leadership – to which Baghdad’s policies contributed and which Maliki might have perceived as an asset – has turned out to be a serious liability. In a showdown that is acquiring increasing sectarian undertones, the movement’s proponents look westward to Syria as the arena in which the fight against the Iraqi government and its Shiite allies will play out and eastward toward Iran as the source of all their ills.
Under intensifying pressure from government forces and with dwindling faith in a political solution, many Sunni Arabs have concluded their only realistic option is a violent conflict increasingly framed in confessional terms. In turn, the government conveniently dismisses all opposition as a sectarian insurgency that warrants ever more stringent security measures. In the absence of a dramatic shift in approach, Iraq’s fragile polity risks breaking down, a victim of the combustible mix of its long­standing flaws and growing regional tensions.

And yet the White House wants to provide more weapons to Nouri? In 2010, Iraq held parliamentary elections and Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya beat Nouri's State of Law.  Nouri refused to honor the will of the Iraqi people, the democratic process or his country's Constitution.  He refused to step down and he refused to allow a new Parliament to be seated.  This was the political stalemate, it lasted for over eight months -- only because Nouri had the support of the White House.  It was ended by the US-brokered Erbil Agreement, a legal contract that gave cry baby Nouri a second term he did not earn.  The political leaders signed the contract because (a) the White House swore it was binding and would have the full backing of the US government, (b) the leaders wanted to end the stalemate and (c) in exchange for giving Nouri a second term, he agreed to give them certain things (like implementing Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution).  Nouri broke the contract after being announced prime minister for a second term.

The above demonstrates that (a) Nouri's word is worthless, (b) Nouri will not honor the Iraqi Constitution, (c) Nouri does not feel bound by any laws and (d) he has no respect for the Iraqi people as evidenced by his ignoring their will at the voting box.

Yet this is someone the White House wants to trust with more weapons?

 April 10, 2008, we attended the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing and reported on it here including this:

"Just understand my frustration," Biden explained.  "We want to normalize a government that really doesn't exist."  Senator Russ Feingold wanted to know if there were "any conditions that the Iraq government must meet?"  No, that thought never occurred to the White House.  "Given the fact that the Maliki government doesn't represent a true coalition," Feingold asked, "won't this agreement [make it appear] we are taking sides in the civil war especially when most Iraqi Parliamentarians have called for the withdrawal of troops?"

 What's changed since then?  Joe Biden is no longer a US senator, he's Vice President and Russ Feingold is, sadly, no longer in the US Senate either after losing a re-election bid. He's now the US Special Envoy for DRC and Great Lakes Region in Africa.   On the Iraqi side?

Not a thing's changed.  Nouri remains unpopular.  His government even more "doesn't represent a true coalition."  How could it?  Iraqiya got the most votes and should hold the most Cabinet posts -- forget the fact that Allawi should be prime minister -- yet they're not even represented having walked out of the Cabinet after they were not included in one decision making process after another.

And yet the White House continues to want to arm Iraq?

And yet there are no checks and balances.

The reality of the Hawija assault -- noted on Iraqi social media and in the Iraqi press but ignored everywhere else -- is that the US trained and supplied those fighters.  No, I'm not referring to before the 2011 US 'withdrawal.'  Barack sent a Special Ops unit into Iraq in the fall of 2012 and they trained the fighters. "SWAT" is not native to Iraq or to Arabic speakers.  "SWAT" is a US term which stands for Special Weapons And Tactics.  A comparable  phrase, in Arabic, would not spell "SWAT." It was a new phrase introduced in Iraq where it was pronounced and spelled "SWAT."  Because the Americans involved were too damn to hide their own tracks.  For a brief time when the word emerged in Iraq, there was confusion over not just its meaning but also over its pronunciation.

But set that aside, US sold helicopters were used in an attack on the Iraqi people by the Iraqi government.

What does that mean?

Legally, it means that the US government was supposed to immediately convene an investigation. They didn't, they haven't.  That is, however, the law with regards to the sales of weapons.  Don't believe me?  Let's go back to Anna Mulrane:

To that end, safeguards are in place, US military officials add. Any sale of more than $50 million requires congressional notification and post-sale monitoring by those 150 troops still in Iraq, as well. “We’re not just wholesalely throwing stuff out there to be used anywhere,” says Klein.

Oh, yes, Lt Col Jeffrey Klein, you are throwing stuff out there to be used anywhere and Hawija demonstrates that.  There is no monitoring, there is no investigation, there is no accountability.  And in light of Nouri's killing over 50 people, 8 of which were children, for the 'crime' of peaceful assembly, the White House doesn't bat an eye but continues to press for more weapon sales to Nouri and attempts to strong arm Congress into supporting that move.

 The unrest in Iraq has many causes.  Chief among them, a failed prime minister who has been allowed to serve seven years.  The Bully Boy Bush administration installed him in 2006 (Iraq's Parliament had wanted Ibrahim al-Jafaari) and, in 2007, he signed off on the so-called benchmarks.  Democratic leaders in Congress were pretending to do their job.  The US had spent how much money in Iraq?  (Go back and read the statements made, few Dem leaders noted the US dead in Iraq -- those who did made it a fleeting point.) If money was to be spent in Iraq in the future, there was a need to see progress.  The White House proposed a series of benchmarks by which progress could be measured and the Democrats agreed with them.

The benchmarks did not include 'reduction in deaths of US troops' because, again, the leadership was not concerned about US blood spilled.  Nouri signed off on the benchmarks as well.

Today, there is conflict over whether or not ExxonMobil has the right to drill for oil in the KRG.  The hideous Victoria Nuland attempted to interject herself into that discussion as State Dept spokesperson.  As a government official, she should have kept her mouth shut (that was conveyed to her by superiors) because the US government does not control business.  But more to the point, if Nouri doesn't want them in the KRG, he should have gotten off his lazy and ineffective ass long ago.  In 2007, he signed off on passing a hydro-carbons law.  That was a White House defined benchmark.

He never did it.  And the Congress never did a damn thing about it.  (After the initial headlines, pretty much everyone in Congress had agreed to ignore the benchmarks and just keep funding war and Nouri's government -- even 'brave' Barbara Lee.  By 2008, the only member of Congress regularly raising the benchmarks and their failure was US House Rep Lloyd Doggett.)

So that conflict is due to Nouri and his failures.  Conflict arises, of course, from his failure to honor The Erbil Agreement and implement the power-sharing arrangement for government.  Conflict arises over the mass arrests, over the arrests of family members when Nouri's forces can't find a suspect, over the detention and imprisonment of these people, over the abuses which take place in Iraqi prisons.

Conflict has also arisen over the lack of jobs, the huge unemployment, the lack of public services and the poverty.

Today, Kitabat notes that the Iraqi government has announced 6.4 million Iraqis are living below the poverty line.  While the number is probably a great deal higher, with a population estimated at 30 million, today's announcement recognizes 1/5 of the country's population is living below the poverty line.  Iraq's GDP in 2010 was $144.214 billion in US dollars, Global Finance notes.  That's enough for four billion per Iraqi in Iraq (leaving out the external refugee population).  And yet at least a fifth lives in extreme poverty.  (Below the poverty line is extreme poverty.)

Last December, Seerwan Jafar (Niqash) reported on the government's national budget and noted that, in 2003,  it was $6.1 billion and had risen to 118.4 billion by 2013 (those figures are in US dollars).  Jafar then examined how much the Iraqi government spent on the Iraqi citizens.  As Iraqis take to the street to demand a more responsive government, will Nouri again use the US-supplied weapons on the Iraqi people?

More and more are taking to the streets.  Today Haider Ahmed (Al Mada) reports on Wasit Province where "hundreds of medical professionals" protested outside Al Zahra Hospital demanding the government provide functional conditions and recognize the risks that the medical professionals face.  Similar protests took place in Basra, Najaf, Diwaniyah and Babil today.  This also takes place as Nouri's under fire in Iraqi social media for bringing in approximately one hundred nurses this month from other countries while Iraq's unemployment rate remains high.

Rates of violence remain high as well.  And the method to deliver bombs continues to remain inventive.  June saw the horror of the corpse of a dog being used.  Today?   National Iraqi News Agency reports that an attack on Sahwa's Secretary-General Sheikh Abbas Muhammadawi utilized a bomb hidden in a watermelon. The news outlet quotes from a statement Muhammadawi's office issued: "a terrorist group placed an explosive device, yesterday evening, in front of the house of Sheikh Muhammadawi in the west of Baghdad to detonate it when he leaves his house, but the device was discovered before it exploded and the army troops and federal police and local police dismantled it and control the situation. The bomb was placed inside / watermelon / and this is one of the innovative new criminal methods by gangs of death, so we call on citizens to take caution of it."  Sahwa, also known as Sons Of Iraq (or Daughters Of Iraq) and Awakenings, are people who were paid by the US military to stop attacking military property and troops -- they are largely Sunni but not just Sunni according to General David Petraeus' April 2008 Congressional testimony.

In other violence, NINA notes attorney Yasser Hadi al-Obeidi was taken at dawn by "gunmen dressed in police uniforms" and his corpse was discovered several hours later,  a Kirkuk bombing left two people injured2 Iraqi soldiers were shot dead in Mosul, and a Mosul roadside bombing left a police officer and a civilian injuredAl Jazeera reports, "A suicide bomber drove a vehicle packed with explosives to a military headquarters in western Iraq and blew himself up outside it, killing 14, police said."  Agencia EFE adds, "The explosion leveled a military barracks next to the checkpoint and destroyed two army vehicles, causing serious damage to several civilian cars."  That bombing was in Ramadi.  Prior to that bombing,  AFP reporteds, "In Thursday's deadliest attack, a roadside bomb struck a wedding party in Dujail, north of Baghdad, killing six people and wounding 22 others, officials said. The blast went off near the musicians who typically accompany wedding convoys in Iraq, but the bride and groom were unharmed."  Xinhua notes, "Moreover, unknown gunmen opened fire at a woman in front of her house in Zahra neighborhood, east of Mosul, and killed her on the spot, the police said, adding that eight people, including two soldiers, were wounded when a car bomb exploded in Tal Afar, 70 km west of Mosul."  Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count notes 543 violent deaths in Iraq so far this month.

The BRussels Tribunal notes Sundus Shaker Saleh's lawsuit:

Saleh is the lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit targeting six key members of the Bush Administration: George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, and Paul Wolfowitz. In Saleh v. Bush, she alleges that the Iraq War was not conducted in self-defense, did not have the appropriate authorization by the United Nations, and therefore constituted a "crime of aggression" under international law-a designation first set down in the Nuremberg Trials after World War II. The aim of the suit is simple: to achieve justice for Iraqis, and to show that no one, not even the president of the United States, is above the law. The case is being brought to trail by Inder Comar of Comar Law, a firm based in San Francisco.

Witness Iraq is a website set up by attorney Comar Law to help Iraqi refugees in the US receive some form of justice for the illegal war:

On March 13, 2013, Witness Iraq filed suit against the Bush Administration related to the conduct of key government officials leading up to the war.
The lead plaintiff, Ms. Sundus Saleh, with her children in Jordan:
Click here for a FAQ related to the lawsuits.
Click here to sign a Petition requesting the Federal Courts to conduct an inquiry into the Iraq War.
Witness Iraq seeks to hold political leaders accountable for the Iraq War, and to document the plight of those who witnessed and survived the Iraq War.

Barack's defending Bully Boy Bush.  US tax dollars are being used for that purpose.  Comar notes at War Is A Crime:

In court papers filed today (PDF), the United States Department of Justice requested that George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice and Paul Wolfowitz be granted procedural immunity in a case alleging that they planned and waged the Iraq War in violation of international law.
Plaintiff Sundus Shaker Saleh, an Iraqi single mother and refugee now living in Jordan, filed a complaint in March 2013 in San Francisco federal court alleging that the planning and waging of the war constituted a “crime of aggression” against Iraq, a legal theory that was used by the Nuremberg Tribunal to convict Nazi war criminals after World War II.
"The DOJ claims that in planning and waging the Iraq War, ex-President Bush and key members of his Administration were acting within the legitimate scope of their employment and are thus immune from suit,” chief counsel Inder Comar of Comar Law said.

If sequestration means the government has to tighten its belt, maybe the first step is to let War Criminals pay for their own legal battles?  The White House maintains:

Harmful automatic budget cuts -- known as the sequester -- threaten hundreds of thousands of jobs, and cut vital services for children, seniors, people with mental illness and our men and women in uniform.
These cuts will make it harder to grow our economy and create jobs by affecting our ability to invest in important priorities like education, research and innovation, public safety, and military readiness.

But there's money to waste defending Bully Boy Bush, Dick Cheney, Condi Rice and Donald Rumsfeld?  The White House claims 1.2 million kids will lose after school programs, 4 million meals for seniors ("SICK & HOMEBOUND") will be lost, 30 teachers and school staff will be lost and much more.  But there's money to defend Bully Boy Bush?

Joshua Schwitzerlett (Ring Of Fire Radio) reports:

To protect the former Bush administration officials, the Department of Justice invokes the “Westfall Act” which “provides that where an individual claims that federal employees damaged him or her through their negligent acts or omissions taken within the scope of the office or employment, a suit against the United States shall be the exclusive remedy for that individual’s claims.”
Effectively, what the Justice Department is saying is that because the officials named in the suit were acting in their capacity as members of the administration in waging a “war of aggression” in Iraq, Ms. Saleh cannot sue them and must sue the United States government.

The Westfall Act is The Federal Employees Liability Reform and Tort Compensation Act of 1988.  It was rushed through Congress following the Supreme Court's Westfall v. Erwin ruling of the same year which the Congress disagreed with.  Congress' act does not make defense an automatic.  It requires a finding by the Attorney General before any move to defend the employee or not defend the employee can be made.  It's no surprise Barack would rush to defend Bush.  As Joan Wilder notes in Romancing the Stone (written by Diane Thomas), "If there's one law of the west, it's bastards have brothers."

Today, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted, "The National Security Agency illegally collected tens of thousands of domestic emails before being stopped in 2011. The disclosure was made Wednesday in a newly declassified order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which oversees NSA spying. The FISC ordered the NSA to change its procedures after the agency admitted to wrongly collecting up to 56,000 emails a year over a three-year period. The NSA says the illegal email collection resulted from technical error, not deliberate snooping."  Of course, it was just an accident.  And absolutely is has stopped.  It's not like the US has a Director of National Intelligence who lied to Congress or like the FISA court can't monitor the NSA's actions.  Oh, wait.  James Clapper did lie to Congress (and has still not been punished) and Carol D. Leonnig (Washington Post) reported just last week on how FISA said it was unable to monitor the NSA to ensure that the agency is in legal compliance.  Who's not talking?  Sam Gustin (Time magazine) notes, "The nation’s largest telecommunications companies are maintaining their silence in the wake of a startling new report describing how they’ve worked with the National Security Agency to help build a surveillance system with the capacity to cover huge swaths of U.S. internet traffic. The new revelations, detailed in a Wall Street Journal report published Wednesday, are among the latest in a series of disclosures about the NSA’s secret surveillance programs that have prompted alarm from top lawmakers as well as civil libertarians and privacy advocates."  Meanwhile Duncan Campbell, Oliver Wright, James Cusick and Kim Sengupta (Independent) report:

Britain runs a secret internet-monitoring station in the Middle East to intercept and process vast quantities of emails, telephone calls and web traffic on behalf of Western intelligence agencies, The Independent has learnt.

The station is able to tap into and extract data from the underwater fibre-optic cables passing through the region.
The information is then processed for intelligence and passed to GCHQ in Cheltenham and shared with the National Security Agency (NSA) in the United States. The Government claims the station is a key element in the West’s “war on terror” and provides a vital “early warning” system for potential attacks around the world.

We'll close with this from the National Economic & Social Rights Initiative:

People’s Budget Film Released!
Dear Friends,
Watch and share NESRI’s short animated film about using human rights to change budget and revenue policy in the United States.
Questions about the film? Download our People’s Budget FAQ!
We live in the world’s most prosperous country, yet people are struggling to meet their fundamental needs. We can no longer afford budget and revenue policies that ignore people’s voices, needs and rights.  NESRI’s film illustrates how we can use human rights to develop an entirely different way of making budgets. 
A People’s Budget:
  •  directly addresses people’s needs
  •  is connected to accountability measures, with human rights indicators
  •  starts with public participation and is fully transparent
  •  decides revenue policy after determining a budget based on needs
Let’s put people’s needs and rights first! Join us in changing the conversation about budgets: share the film and connect with us about next steps you can take in your city or state.
Join the movement for budgeting based on human rights!
We look forward to connecting with you soon,
The NESRI Team




Read on ...
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.