Sunday, December 28, 2014

Dirty Debbie

dirty debbie


From August 5, 2012, that's "Dirty Debbie." 

C.I. wrote:

Debbie Wasserman Schultz, with flies buzzing around her head, declares, "This election should not be about defeating Barack Obama.  Or about how dirty and greasy my hair is.  Close your eyes and see a recovered economy and a Debbie who bathes and washes her hair."  Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts.

Okay, I added the flies buzzing around -- but have you caught her on TV?

Her hair is dirty and greasy.

And her face usually looks greasy as well.

All I added to the effect were the flies.

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

Saturday, December 27, 2014. Chaos and violence continue, US Senator John McCain travels to Iraq, the Speaker of Parliament asks the US to arm Sunni tribes to fight the Islamic State, we look at Sahwa, and much more.

The Washington Post's David Ignatius looks back on 2014 in terms of Iraq in a column which notes, "The problem, the tribal leader argued, was that because the United States was working so closely with the Shiite-led government in Baghdad, Sunnis in Anbar doubted there was any U.S. commitment to giving them more power. Without this political commitment, weapons and even Apache gunships would be of little use."

He's referring to Sahwa.

Also known as "Awakening," "Sons of Iraq" (and it's female counterpart "Daughters of Iraq").

Sahwa's a complex issue that many want to turn simplistic.  I'm not referring to David Ignatius, I'm referring to cheerleaders on various sides.

Sahwa was a US government plan to get Sunnis fighters -- resistance -- to big-tent it in Iraq.

By 2007, the Awakening movement was finally getting traction.

However, for over a year prior the US government repeatedly claimed success there when there was no success and many in the press ran with articles about this great new movement that did not exist.

On great.  Some tribal leaders were like any other people on the face of the earth -- the mixture of positive attributes and faults.  But equally true, some leaders of Sahwa -- at least two noted ones -- were mafia.  Iraqi mafia.  One, in fact, making big money in the cement industry.

That's part of it too and you can't talk about the history and be dishonest.

That's the leadership.

David Petraeus was a US general who was the top commander in Iraq. By 2008, a number of things were going on in Iraq resulting in a reduction of violence.

Sahwa was one component.  Another was the 'surge.'

The 'surge' is something I have a real problem with.  As late as 2010, I could hear someone on my side (the left) talk about the surge and dismiss it completely and think we could disagree and that was that.  But the reality is, as the years have shown since, this is not an area where people are honest or thoughtful.  This is a knee-jerk area with a lot of uninformed stupid people.  If that seems simplistic, so does, in 2014, saying "The surge didn't work!"

I opposed the surge, check the archives.  I called it out when it was proposed.  I called it out when it was started.  I said it would be a failure.

I was half-wrong and I was half-right.

The surge was two parts.

(1) Bully Boy Bush was greatly increasing the number of US troops in Iraq and (2) this was being done so that a 'diplomatic surge' would take place -- violence would be reduced and the US troops would be leading on that to allow the Iraqi politicians to focus on the always spoken of but never achieved "political solutions."

The US military did what they were tasked with.

They succeeded.

I don't know why some on my side have a problem admitting that.

Check the archives, I said it wouldn't happen.  I was wrong.  I have no problem admitting that.

But part one, the success, was supposed to create the space for part two and that never happened.

This is a really important point because it's not just history from a few years back, it applies to today when Barack Obama is doing the same thing that Bully Boy Bush did, focusing on the military aspect and just assuming the political will fall into place all by itself.

At any rate, the reduction in violence came about for three reasons.  The surge and Sahwa were two of those reasons.  The third reason was ethnic cleansing.

Many still want to call it a civil war.

It wasn't and we didn't play like it was in real time.

Baghdad was 'cleansed' and went from an integrated city to one that is predominately Shi'ite.

The bulk of the external refugees of this period were Sunnis.  The bulk of the dead were Sunnis.

You can play it off as 'civil war' for however many decades before you're comfortable admitting the US government's role in it.

But that's why violence began to decrease: Sahwa, the surge (the military aspect, the only success) and ethnic cleansing.

The reduction in violence was such a success that it distracted from the political failures which included Nouri al-Maliki -- then prime minister of Iraq and forever thug -- being unable to meet the White House defined benchmarks for success (which Nouri agreed to and signed off on).

To sell the continuation of the illegal war, April 2008 offered a week of  The Petraeus and Crocker Show, where the then top-US commander in Iraq Petraeus and then-US Ambassador Ryan Crocker testified to Congress repeatedly.  By focusing on violence, they tricked the bulk of Congress (or maybe the bulk of Congress was in on the con? -- certainly some were) into talking about that and ignoring the lack of progress on the political front.  (US House Rep Lloyd Doggett was the only one who, that entire week, used his questioning time to bring up the issue of the failed political benchmarks).  We were at all the hearings that week and we'll drop back to April 8, 2008 for  that day's snapshot:

Today The Petraeus & Crocker Variety Hour took their act on the road.  First stop, the Senate Armed Services Committee.  Gen David Petraeus and US Ambassador Ryan Crocker are supposed to be providing a status report on the Iraq War.  They didn't.  In fact, Petraeus made clear that the status report would come . . . next September.  When the results are this bad, you stall -- which is exactly what Petraeus did. 
 The most dramatic moment came as committee chair Carl Levin was questioning Petraeus and a man in the gallery began exclaiming "Bring them home!" repeatedly.  (He did so at least 16 times before he was escored out).  The most hilarious moment was hearing Petraeus explain that it's tough in the school yard and America needs to fork over their lunch money in Iraq to avoid getting beat up.  In his opening remarks, Petraues explained of the "Awakening" Council (aka "Sons of Iraq," et al) that it was a good thing "there are now over 91,000 Sons of Iraq -- Shia as well as Sunni -- under contract to help Coalition and Iraqi Forces protect their neighborhoods and secure infrastructure and roads.  These volunteers have contributed significantly in various areas, and the savings in vehicles not lost because of reduced violence -- not to mention the priceless lives saved -- have far outweighed the cost of their monthly contracts."  Again, the US must fork over their lunch money, apparently, to avoid being beat up. 
How much lunch money is the US forking over?  Members of the "Awakening" Council are paid, by the US, a minimum of $300 a month (US dollars).  By Petraeus' figures that mean the US is paying $27,300,000 a month.  $27 million a month is going to the "Awakening" Councils who, Petraeus brags, have led to "savings in vehicles not lost".  Again, in this morning's hearings, the top commander in Iraq explained that the US strategy is forking over the lunch money to school yard bullies.  What a [proud] moment for the country.

Crocker's entire testimony can be boiled down to a statement he made in his opening statements, "What has been achieved is substantial, but it is also reversible."  Which would translate in the real world as nothing has really changed.  During questioning from Senator Jack Reed, Crocker would rush to shore up the "Awakening" Council members as well.  He would say there were about 90,000 of them and, pay attention, the transitioning of them is delayed due to "illliteracy and physical disabilities."  

Sahwa was paid to stop attacking US equipment and US troops -- that was the order Petraeus repeatedly gave that week and where he placed the emphasis.

Could the movement exist without buy-offs?

If the payments stopped would the movement stop?

In 2008, I believed it wouldn't.

I was hugely wrong.

During that week, Senator Barbara Boxer noted the millions being spent on this program and wondered why the US government was footing the bill and not the oil-rich government of Iraq?

This took both Petraeus and Crocker by surprise and, realizing they a potential nightmare on their hands, they basically rewrote policy while testifying by insisting they could and would raise that with the Iraqi government.

Which was Nouri.

Nouri loved Iraqi money.  Loved it so much, he took it home and played with it.  Also known as embezzlement and theft.

But while he'd grab it for himself (and for his crooked son), he wasn't keen on using it to better Iraq.  Which is why there was no improvement to Iraq's crumbling public infrastructure under Nouri -- despite his serving 8 years as prime minister.

He also didn't want to pay Sahwa.

But, more than money, his problem was that they were Sunnis.

When the US insisted on coward Nouri in 2006 -- insisted he become prime minister because the CIA analysis on Nouri argued his paranoia would make him an easily controlled puppet -- they pretty much doomed the country.  (Barack sealed the doom by insisting, in 2010, that Nouri get a second term as prime minister even after he lost the election to Ayad Allawi.)

Nouri was back in Iraq not out of love for the country.  Love didn't cause the coward to flee either.  He hated Sunnis and he wanted revenge.

And though he was being told by the US government that he'd have to pay Sahwa and that he'd have to incorporate them into the Iraqi forces and into the Iraqi government, he had no intention of doing so.

And, in the end, he didn't.

The press kept trumpeting that he'd put them on the payroll and then, a few months later, the press would begrudgingly admit that, oops, the US was still paying them.

Then they just weren't getting paid at all.

But still the Sahwa continued to fight and defend areas.

I was completely wrong that it was just for money.

Sahwa gave many rank and file a sense of purpose and a belief in a new Iraq.

And not only did they continue even when not paid, they continued when they were targeted by Nouri.

They were arrested, they were killed, they were harassed -- not by the rebels they were fighting but by Nouri and his thugs.

Nouri termed them "Ba'athists" and "terrorists" and much more publicly.

In August, when Haider al-Abadi replaced Nouri as prime minister, there was supposed to be a sea of change. For Sahwa, it's largely been a desert of stillness.

As we noted Friday morning, US Senator John McCain was in Iraq and scheduled to meet with Speaker of Parliament Salim al-Jubouri.  Anadolu Agency reports they did meet and that Jubouri asked for the US to arm :100,000 Sunni tribesmen living in four regions that are controlled by the ISIL."

From McCain's Twitter feed:

McCain supported the surge, supported Sahwa and supports the current phase of the never-ending war (while having some qualms over its execution), so he was most likely receptive to the request and will convey it to other members of Congress and the administration while also supporting it.

But this can't be seen as an "Iraqi government request."

Yes, the Speaker is Iraqi.

So is Haider al-Abadi.

Haider's made no such request.

Haider is Shi'ite.

Salim al-Jubouri is Sunni.

He is one of the two highest ranking Sunnis in the government.

The Joel Wing crowd is deeply stupid so, since we're doing a remedial here, let's explain that statement.

Currently, the two highest ranking Sunni officials are Salem and Osama al-Nujaifi.  Osama is the former Speaker of Parliament and currently one of Iraq's three vice presidents.

Saleh al-Mutlaq is a Sunni.  He is Deputy Prime Minister.  He was that in Nouri's second term as well.  From time to time, the Wingers tried to portray Saleh as the highest ranking.


He's the lady in waiting.

He's the runner up at Miss America.

The post of the Speaker is part of the "three presidencies" (check the Iraqi Constitution) -- the Prime Minister, the President and the Speaker.  That alone gives the post tremendous powers.  There's also the power of being in charge of the Parliament -- a power that scared and frightened paranoid Nouri so much that he repeatedly attempted to turn the Parliament into two houses.

(He failed.)

So that's the power of the Speaker.

On the vice presidents, someone will immediately insist, "The presidential post is only ceremonial."

That's really not true.

Jalal Talabani was a lazy fat ass who refused to do any real work.

For the sake of this discussion, we're zooming in on just one issue.

Jalal is opposed to the death penalty.

He spent his two terms as President of Iraq speaking about how he opposed it.  Never explaining it or advocating for it or working to win people over to his side.  He'd just declare he opposed the death penalty and take the easy applause which globally greeted his bare minimum statement.

As president, he had to sign off on the executions for them to take place or allow one of the vice presidents too.

Jalal never stopped an execution.

He had the power too.

He could say no to one or to all of the executions.

He failed to do so despite being so against the death penalty.

In March 2010, Iraqis voted in parliamentary elections.


The vote was supposed to have taken place sooner.

In the fall of 2009, however, Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi looked at the proposed election law and argued it did not properly factor in Sunni refugees.  So he blocked the bill, which had passed Parliament.  And he blocked it from going forward until he got concessions he wanted.  Which is why the parliamentary elections didn't take place at the end of 2009 but took place in March of 2010.

This infuriated the White House and upset their planned roll out -- elections in 2009, 'combat forces' out in 2010, the bulk of US forces out of Iraq at the end of 2011 as part of the 'drawdown,' etc.

But Tareq had the power as Vice President.

Saleh has none of these powers as Deputy Prime Minister.

Yet the Winger set and a large part of the American press felt the need to lie and portray Saleh as the most important Sunni official.

A solid argument could be made that Saleh also ranks below any Sunni who has been confirmed by the Parliament to head a ministry (provided the ministry has actual funding -- the Ministry of Women continues to have funding issues which appears to indicate Haider al-Abadi has as little respect for women as did Nouri).

So while current Speaker of Parliament al-Jubouri has tremendous power, unless Haider joins the call, this really isn't a request from the Iraqi government but from one part of it.

Haider's refusal to join this call goes to how he's not really different from Nouri.

He's not as stupid as Nouri -- but few people are as stupid as Nouri and no one is probably ever going to be more stupid than Nouri al-Maliki.

So he's avoiding openly antagonizing the Sunnis or the Kurds or Iraq's neighbors.

But he's also not doing much at all to help within Iraq.

Sahwa will fight in Anbar.

If Sahwa's armed and the order is given to go into Falluja, they will.

That's really not in doubt.

By contrast, the thugs in the Iraqi military currently over Falluja?

They're cowards and they're criminals.

They're Shi'ites who are too chicken into Falluja and think they look 'strong' by bombing the cities residential areas.  They're bombing civilians.  This is Collective Punishment.  It's a legally defined War Crime, the United States recognizes it as such and, as long as it continues, the US government is breaking the law -- that's Barack -- and can be put on trial for War Crimes because Barack is collaborating with  a government that is knowingly bombing civilians.

In the past, Barack wouldn't have to worry.

Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, Richard Nixon, LBJ, et al (leave out Jimmy Carter) all acted with impunity and didn't think too much about War Crimes -- either their own or those of regimes that they collaborated with.

There was an arrogance that the military and the economy of the United States afforded its leaders.

The world has changed and is changing.

For a US president, Barack is a young man.  (Hillary, if elected, would be a very old president by contrast.)  Provided his health holds out, he could live for many decades more.

And if he succeeds with his 'trade' treaty and ships even more US jobs out of the United States, that means the country will be even weaker economically.  Who knows where it will stand in 20 or 30 years.  But if it continues to slide, the arrogance so many US presidents have had just might get stripped away and they might find that -- like leaders of tiny countries -- they too can be paraded in front of the Hague for War Crimes.

Arming Sahwa is pretty much a necessary step. Even the White House knows it's needed.  But they're trying to walk Haider up to the point where he can see the need for it as well.

Thing is, they've been walking him on that treadmill for months and, if he hasn't seen it already, he's not going to.  Which is why you tie it to something that he wants.  X for agreeing to arm the Sunnis.

Diplomacy is longterm work, no question.

But Iraq has a very short period of time right now.  Haider was supposed to represent change and he's largely failed to do that.  The window to show he's not Nouri is closing.  He needs to have what one State Dept official calls a "come to Jesus moment" -- and he needs to have it really soon.  Especially if Barack intends to continue with the plan to move on Anbar in February.

As everyone waits for February (or later), the violence continues in Iraq.

Fridays' violence?

The Latin American Herald Tribune notes a Sinjar mortar attack left 6 Peshmerga dead and eleven more injured.

Alsumaria reports a Muqdadiyah mortar attack left 1 police member dead and one civilian critically injured, another Muqdadiyah mortart attack (on a market) left three people injured, and 2 corpses -- a man and a woman -- were found dumped on the streets of Kirkuk Province.

The refugee crisis in Iraq just continues to grow and that, too, reflects poorly on Haider.  Loveday Morris (Washington Post) examines the crisis from various points and we'll note the issue of the Kurdistan Region:

Ismail Mohammed, the assistant governor of Dahuk province, said that the Kurdish province, once one of the smallest in Iraq by population, is now the fourth-largest because of the influx of displaced people. He conceded that the Kurdish regional government has been able to provide little help as it wrangles with the central government in Baghdad over its budget. He hopes that will change as the country’s new prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, improves relations with the Kurdish authorities. He complained that the United Nations has been slow to act.

The Washington Post offers a graph here on displacement. Deborah Amos has long covered the refugee crisis in Iraq. and she has a report for Saturday's Weekend Edition (NPR -- link is audio and text).  She is the author of Eclipse of the Sunnis: Power, Exile, and Upheaval in the Middle East which, see "2010 in books (Martha & Shirley)," was this community's choice for book of 2010.   In addition, Dalshad Abdullah (Asharq Al-Awsat) reports:

Approximately two million Iraqi citizens, mainly from the country’s central and western governorates, sought refuge from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan in 2014, an official from the Iraqi Ministry of Displacement and Migration told Asharq Al-Awsat.
In comments to Asharq Al-Awsat, director of Iraq’s Ministry of Displacement and Migration office in Erbil Alia Al-Bazzaz said: “The number of [Iraqis] displaced to the Kurdistan region, from the provinces of Anbar, Diyala and Salah Al-Din, has reached approximately two million. The majority of them are in Dahuk, while others are located in Erbil and Sulaymaniyah.”
[. . .]
Zarkar said that Baghdad is not providing sufficient aid for the displaced Iraqi citizens, calling on the central government and UN to help refugees in the city.

the washington post
david ignatius

Read on ...

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Dishonest Cheese Doodle


That's July 29, 2012's "The Dishonest Cheese Doodle."  C.I. noted:

Minor pundit Brent Budowsky declares, "Hey, it's me Brent Budowsky.  You should listen to me because I look like a cheese doodle with hair.  And because I used to work for War Monger Lloyd Bentsen.  Mainly though because I'm such a whore I write an entire column about Mitt Romney supposedly insulting England but I forget to ever tell you what he actually said.  I'm an old whore.  And a cheese doodle."  Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts.

Brent is just a tired whore.

He'll applaud whatever Democratic Party honchos shoot up the flag pole.

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

Thursday, December 18, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, more US troops will be going into Iraq, a US general predicts a three year training mission in Iraq (at least), the Ministry of Women still has no funding, the Islamic State beheads a man accused of . . . witchery, and much more.

Barack Obama's 'plan' for Iraq continues to remain sparse on details.  But some are attempting to sketch it the outline out.  Andrew Tilghman (Navy Times) quotes US Lt Gen James Terry stating that US troops will spend a "minimum of three years" training Iraqi soldiers. Terry also declared more US troops would be going into Iraq.

On the subject of US troops in Iraq, the Washington Post's Erin Cunninham Tweeted the following:

  1. 350 U.S. troops now at Ain al-Asad base in Iraq's Anbar province.

On the topic of training the administration and the military brass keep spinning, others are less impressed.  At Rudaw a comment offers this take, "The USA teach them to take their boots off so they can run faster."

It's hard to tell who that is more insulting to -- the US government or the Iraqi military?

The Iraqi miliary continues to struggle but the Peshmerga continues to do well.

BBC reports that the Kurds have broken the Islamic State's siege on Mount Sinjar.

  • Well good for the Peshmerga.

    It's good that Mount Sinjar is finally liberated.

    Wait -- something's wrong here.

    The name Susan Rice . . . .


    Oh, that's right.

    In the October 15, 2014 snapshot, we were taking on her many lies uttered on NBC's Meet The Press.  Let's zoom in:

    Offical Benghazi Liar Dirty Rice: Our air campaign is off to a strong start and we've seen very important successes in places like Mosul Dam, Sinjar Mountain, where we were able to rescue many tens of thousands of civilians at risk. And this is going to take time. So it can't be judged by merely what happens in one particular town or in one particular region. This is going to take time and the American people need to understand that our aim here is long-term degradation and building the capacity of our partners.         

    So two months and three days after the liar claimed Mount Sinjar was liberated and it was a US success, Mount Sinjar is liberated and it's a Kurdish Peshmerga success

    Poor Susan Rice.  No one ever gets more egg on their face from the Sunday Chat & Chews.

    Wanting to grab some of the Kurdish luster, US officials keep getting cozy with the Kurds.

    Case in point?

    The White House issued the following today:

    This afternoon, Vice President Joe Biden spoke with Iraqi Kurdistan Regional President Masoud Barzani. The Vice President and President Barzani discussed recent security and political developments. The Vice President discussed with President Barzani the passage of congressional legislation that removes certain undue restrictions on members of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) under U.S. immigration laws. This new law should help ease the process for many Iraqi Kurds who wish to visit the United States. The Vice President commended the courage of the Kurdish Peshmerga and Iraqi Security Forces fighting against ISIL, and President Barzani thanked the United States and the international community for their support. Both the Vice President and President Barzani noted the renewed cooperation between Erbil and Baghdad and agreed to work together, alongside other Iraqi leaders, to sustain and deepen collaboration among Iraq’s different communities. The Vice President underscored America’s enduring support for the Kurdish people and for the security of Iraq.

    Enduring support?

    Joe's always good for a few laughs.

    While the Kurds continue to succeed, the Iraqi military is lucky to just struggle.

    And questions continue to swirl around that failure.

    Rudaw notes Parliament is holding hearings to attempt to figure out the breakdown of the Iraqi army.  News of the Parliamentary investigation.  Rudaw readers leave some interesting comments including, "When will Maliki be questioned?"  Another offers this wish:

    I hope they publicize everything they find in this commission and arrest Malaki, it's not only in Mosul the Iraqi army collapsed completely, what about all the other regions?  Malaki had hand picked the generals in Mosul, he ignored repeated warnings about IS activity months before Mosul fell.  Just 2 days before Mosul fell he deliberately put a Kurdish general in charge of one of the (empty) brigades, this was the only brigade that had no weapons or even ammunition, he not only wanted Mosul to fall but wanted to pin it on Kurds."

    Those two aren't the only ones mentioning former prime minister and forever thug Nouri al-Maliki.  Al Arabiya News reports:

    The president of Iraq’s northern Kurdish region, Masoud Barzani, blamed on Monday former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for the collapse of the Iraqi army in the face of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) earlier this year.
    In an exclusive interview with Al Arabiya's Rima Maktabi, Barzani also said the swift collapse of the Iraqi army came after substantial years of international support to train and equip the military.

    During the interview, he also said that were it not for the Peshmerga forces, the northern, oil-rich city of Kirkuk would have fallen to ISIS, which occupies almost a third of Iraq.

    Joe Biden's not the only one trying to steal the Kurds' luster.  The Iraqi Embassy in DC issued the following today:

    Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi penned an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal on [December] 18, 2014, to outline progress in defeating ISIS and rebuilding a secure and stable Iraq since the formation of the new government three months ago.
    The Prime Minister discussed efforts to empower local communities in order to effectively combat ISIS. "We are restoring relationships with the Sunni tribes that are based in areas now under Islamic State domination. These tribes are being armed and are currently fighting alongside Iraqi security forces."
    On the political front, Prime Minister Al-Abadi hailed the "long-sought, long-term agreement" with the Kurdistan Regional Government as a historic step that "provides for fair sharing of oil revenues, as well as sharing the resources and responsibilities to defend and serve all our people."
    He also highlighted key steps that his government has taken to implement reforms that will serve to address the grievances of local populations.
    "Because every citizen must have confidence in our system of justice, I have signed a decree requiring our security forces and the Ministry of Justice to safeguard the constitutional and human rights of the detainees in Iraqi jails. There will be a central record for all detainees, including the reason for their arrests and the timeline for their trials."
    The Prime Minister noted significant gains against ISIS on the battlefront through close coordination between the Iraqi Security Forces, the Kurdish Peshmerga and the international coalition. He called on international partners to step up efforts in order to accelerate the defeat of ISIS.
    "We need air support, training and armaments for Iraq’s security forces. We need our neighbors and allies to stop the flow of foreign fighters into Iraq. And we need the international community, through its financial institutions, to freeze the funding of Islamic State."
    Prime Minister Al-Abadi explained his government's approach moving forward: "Only by rebuilding a secure and stable Iraq can we defeat the terrorists who draw upon discontent and feed on failure."
    To read the Arabic translation of the Prime Minister's Wall Street Journal editorial click here.
    The above is a summary of a December 18, 2014 article from The Wall Street Journal. To see the full article, click here.

    While that's what Haider wrote, what the song he sang in his heart to the Kurds went something like this:

    I have your poster close to my bed
    Earphones glued to my head
    But I'd rather have you in my arms instead
    And I'd be better than I was before
    If only I had you
    If only I had
    If only I had
    If only I had your
    Your glamour is golden
    I'd feel so important
    If only I knew you
    I want to be near you

    -- "Stardust," lyrics by Carly Simon, music by Carly and Mike Mainieri, first appears on Carly's Come Upstairs 

    Along with Joe Biden's call, the White House also issued a read out of US President Barack Obama's call with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi:

    President Obama spoke by phone today with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to discuss the political and security situation in Iraq and the progress of Iraqi Security Forces in their efforts to counter ISIL.  The President commended the steps that Prime Minister al-Abadi has taken in the first three months of his administration to govern inclusively and begin building a united front among Iraqis to combat ISIL.  The President congratulated the Prime Minister on the conclusion of the recent oil revenue-sharing arrangement with the Kurdistan Regional Government and reiterated his commitment to supporting the Iraqi Security Forces’ success through train and assist programs, provision of weapons and equipment, and airstrikes.  He also noted U.S. support for the Iraqi government’s ongoing efforts to integrate Sunni tribal fighters into Iraq’s security institutions.

    While Barack was happy to talk about that, he remains silent on whether or not US troops in Iraq were in combat this week.

    The Inquisitor reported yesterday:

    American troops in Iraq had their first actual battle with ISIS troops after the Islamist militants tried to overrun a base, an encounter that left the ISIS troops decimated and in retreat.
    The attack took place near the Ein al-Asad base, which includes close to 100 U.S. military advisers. The U.S. troops, armed with “light and medium weapons,” and were able to inflict casualties against the ISIS fighters, forcing them to retreat, Shafaq News reported. The American troops were also aided by fighter jets, which directed air strikes against the ISIS troops that “silenced their heavy sources of fire.”
    “US forces intervened because of ISIS started to come near the base, which they are stationed in so out of self-defense,” said Sheikh Mahmud Nimrawi, a prominent tribal leader.
    Since he has promised US troops on the ground in Iraq would not be in combat, if they were in combat, the White House needs to be the first to note what took place.

    Let's change topics . . .

    Who is the master
    A man and woman on a star stream
    In the middle of a snow dream
    Show me the high life
    Come over
    Let me put you on ice 

    -- "Sorcerer," words and music by Stevie Nicks, first appears on her Trouble in Shangri-La 

    AFP reports:

    The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) on Thursday beheaded a man publicly on charges that he was a "sorcerer," north of their bastion of Tikrit, the Islamist militant organization and residents said.
    The group released pictures of the execution on a square in Nahyat al-Alam, a town a few kilometers north of Tikrit.

    The Islamic State killing people for being sorcerer is actually less shocking that Nouri al-Maliki sending his Ministry of Interior employees into schools to tell Iraq's young adults and children that emo youth were actually vampires who sucked people's blood.  And that was Nouri's Ministry.  He refused to nominate anyone to head it so he could control it.

    Yesterday, the laughable Muhammad Mahdi al-Bayati met with British Foreign Ministry staff to discuss "women's rights conditions in Iraq and ways to develop them."

    What a load of nonsense.

    There are no real women's rights in Iraq.  The US government pretty much destroyed those with the invasion of Iraq and the installation of fundamentalists as well as efforts in the original drafts of the Iraqi Constitution -- overseen by the US government -- to strip women of all rights.

    If the meeting was at all serious, wouldn't they need the Minister for the State of Women's Affairs to be present?

    She was present for an interview.  Alaa Latif (Niqash) interviewed Bayan Nouri about her post and women's issues in Iraq:

    NIQASH: Most international studies are critical of the status of Iraqi women. What plans does your Ministry have to improve this situation? 

    Bayan Nouri:   We have a strategy with six different platforms and these are legal, educational, health-related, professional and leadership-related as well as assisting institutions that work on women’s issues.

    There is no doubt that the situation for women has worsened over the past four years and it certainly cannot be repaired in four years. However, we will continue to try, in all areas, to improve the situation by paying more attention to family protection units, assisting them to reduce domestic violence. We also want to improve the economic status of Iraqi women by granting small loans in coordination with the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. We will also coordinate with the Ministry of Education in order to look more closely at the education of females because there is a big gap between the number of females and males who complete middle and secondary school. We are also coordinating better with the Ministry of Health, paying better attention to women’s health and to infant mortality rates. We also care about female participation in decision making.

    NIQASH: After decades of conflict, Iraq has a huge number of widows – an estimated one million. Can your Ministry help them?

    Nouri: I have only been in office for about 50 days and during that time, the federal budget for 2014 wasn’t even approved. We do have plans for 2015 though and these involve seeing a percentage of these widows employed or to have them improve their own financial situation through small business loans. We also want to provide residential units at discounted prices.

    NIQASH: At one stage, you said that domestic violence was actually the most common kind of violence in Iraq – despite all of the fighting that is going on.

    Nouri: We’re trying to hold training courses in this area, we have established family protection units and we also have draft family protection law before the Cabinet. When this law is passed, it’s going to have a big impact.

    Like Nouri al-Maliki, Haider al-Abadi refuses to fund the Ministry of Women.

    For those who've forgotten, this became a public issue in Nouri's first term.

    All this time later, with a new prime minister, there's still no fund for the Ministry of Women.

    Margaret Griffis ( counts 142 violent deaths throughout Iraq today.

    All Iraq News reports Haider's dropped all lawsuits against journalists.  These were Nouri's lawsuits.  Haider issued the following statements:

    "Based on the freedom of journalism and supporting the journalists, Abadi decided to cancel all the judicial complaints submitted by the CoM against the journalists in order to have a bigger role for the media outlets to contribute in building Iraq and serving the Iraqis."

    That is great . . .

    except . . .

    Nouri didn't always sue.

    He had no respect for the press -- something only the BBC would note in July of 2006 and, yes, we can go back to that because that was a shameful period for the western press.

    But he only started filing lawsuits -- most infamously against the Guardian newspaper -- after he'd been in office awhile and had gotten a taste of negative press.

    Haider's had nothing but flowers and chocolates from the western press.


    He's dropping Nouri's lawsuits.

    Big deal.

    They were over when Nouri was forced out as prime minister anyway.

    He issued some flowery words and that's really all it was.

    No one knows how he will react to negative press.

    It's silly to pretend a politician who's gotten nothing but high praise from supposed to be skeptical reporters is a friend of the press.

    Read on ...

    Friday, December 12, 2014

    He's Triesnasty

    he triesnasty


    From July 22, 2012, that's "He Triesnasty."  C.I. noted:

    With She-Hulk in a Linda Evans wig, Barack dons his favorite outfit and declares, "I don't understand it.  I've said one bitchy, mean thing after another for weeks now and it hasn't brough Mitt down in the polls.  It always worked for Joan Collins when she played my hero Alexis."  Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts.

    I loved that comic.  I don't remember doing it, but I love it.

    A word on my current comics, if I can.

    I've struggled recently because what I wanted to draw was Hillary.

    But the presidential election is two years away.

    So I felt it was too soon.

    However, I went back and forth on it.

    She's using right now to run, to campaign.

    So if she's going to do that, I'm not going to feel bad for focusing on her -- and for lampooning her.

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

    Thursday, December 11, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, more lies to sell the current wave of the Iraq War continue, Senator Carl Levin exposed one of the lies that sold the 2003 invasion, and much more.

    To sell Barack's latest wave in the never-ending Iraq War, liars strip events from the narratives, they remove and omit facts.  It wasn't always that way.  To start the illegal war in 2003, liars added details, fake ones, that (falsely) linked Iraq to the 9-11 attacks on the United States.

    It was one false link, it was many.

    We'll turn to Crapapedia for this example of Chris Hedges writing for the New York Times and promoting a false link in what can only be termed "government propaganda":

    Most significant was a November 8, 2001 front page story about two former Iraqi military commanders who claimed to have trained foreign mujahedeen how to hijack planes without using guns.[17] Hedges quoted a man he believed to be an Iraqi general as saying, “These Islamic radicals… came from a variety of countries, including Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Algeria, Egypt and Morocco. We were training these people to attack installations important to the United States. ” The two defectors also asserted there was a secret compound in Salman Pak facility where a German scientist was producing biological weapons.[18]
    According to Mother Jones, “The impact of the article... was immediate: Op-eds ran in major papers, and the story was taken to a wider audience through cable-TV talk shows. When Condoleezza Rice, then George W. Bush’s national security adviser, was asked about the story at a press briefing, she said, ‘I think it surprises no one that Saddam Hussein is engaged in all kinds of activities that are destabilizing.’” As late as 2006, conservative magazines like The Weekly Standard and National Review continued to use the story to justify the invasion of Iraq.[19]

    It later surfaced that the story was “an elaborate scam.” The defector Hedges quoted, who identified himself as Lt. General Jamal al-Ghurairy, was actually a former sergeant, and the real Ghurairy had never left Iraq. Hedges said that he had taken the story at the request of Lowell Bergman of Frontline, who wanted the defectors for his show but could not go to Beirut for the interview.

    That was only one lie.

    Today another lie was exposed.

    Senator Carl Levin's office issued the following:

    Thursday, December 11, 2014
    WASHINGTON – Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today plans to introduce into the Congressional Record important new information about how Bush administration officials misled the nation in advance of the Iraq War, and called on CIA Director John Brennan to fully declassify an important 2003 CIA cable.
    Levin will introduce a letter he received from CIA Director John Brennan, declassifying for the first time some details of a March 2003 CIA cable warning the Bush administration against references to the allegation that Mohammad Atta, the leader of the 9/11 hijackers, had met before the attacks in Prague, Czech Republic, with an Iraqi intelligence officer. He also introduced a translated excerpt from a book by the former head of Czech counterintelligence, describing U.S. pressure to confirm that the meeting took place. In fact, no such meeting occurred. And he called on Brennan to fully declassify the CIA cable.
    Following is Levin’s Senate floor speech on the matter, as prepared for delivery:
    Mr. President, I want to speak for a few moments about one of the most significant events in my 36 years as United States Senator, the war in Iraq. I want to speak about important historical records crucial to our understanding of why we went to war against Iraq in 2003. I want to enter into the public record recent revelations not yet made public. And I make one more public call for a key document to be made fully public.
    I will begin by renewing a request to the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, John Brennan. It is a request I have also made to his predecessors: I ask Director Brennan to declassify fully a March 13, 2003 CIA cable debunking the contention that 9/11 hijacker Mohammad Atta had met in Prague with an Iraqi intelligence official named Ahmad al-Ani.
    Earlier this year, Director Brennan wrote to me, refusing, as did his predecessors, to fully declassify the CIA cable. But in his letter to me he makes public for the first time a few lines from that document. While this is a significant addition to the public record, and I will discuss that in a moment, it is still not the full cable, and I am calling on him to declassify and release the full cable.
    Now, in order to understand why I am making that request, we need to return to early 2003.
    On March 6, 2003, just two weeks before U.S. troops would cross the Iraqi border, President Bush held a prime-time televised press conference. In that press conference he mentioned the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks eight times, often in the same breath as Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. There was a concerted campaign on the part of the Bush administration to connect Iraq in the public mind with the horror of the Sept. 11 attacks. That campaign succeeded. According to public polls in the week before the Iraq war, half or more of Americans believed Saddam was directly involved in the attacks. One poll taken in September 2003, six months after we invaded Iraq, found that nearly 70 percent of Americans believed it likely that Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the Sept. 11 attacks. Americans who believed in a link between Iraq and 9/11 overwhelmingly supported the idea of invading Iraq. Of course, connections between Saddam and 9/11 or al Qaeda were fiction.
    America’s intelligence community was pressed to participate in the administration’s media campaign. Just a week after the President’s prime-time press conference, on March 13, 2003, CIA field staff sent a cable to CIA headquarters, responding to a request for information about a report that Mohammad Atta, the leader of the Sept. 11 hijackings, had met in 2001 with an Iraqi intelligence official in the Czech capital of Prague. In stark terms, this CIA cable from the field warned against U.S. government officials citing the report of the alleged Prague meeting.
    Yet the notion of such a meeting was a centerpiece of the administration’s campaign to create an impression in the public mind that Saddam was in league with the al Qaeda terrorists who attacked us on 9/11. On multiple occasions, including national television appearances, Vice President Dick Cheney cited reports of the meeting, at one point calling it “pretty well confirmed.” Officials from Donald Rumsfeld’s Pentagon, who set up a sort of rogue intelligence analysis operation, briefed senior officials with a presentation citing the Prague meeting as a “known contact” between Iraq and al Qaida.
    Now, why am I bringing up a CIA cable from more than a decade ago? Isn’t this old, well-covered terrain? No, it isn’t. This is about giving the American people a full account of the march to war as new information becomes available. It is about trying to hold leaders who misled the public accountable. It is about warning future leaders of this nation that they must not commit our sons and daughters to battle on the basis of false statements.
    Mr. President, there is no more grave decision for a nation to make than the decision to go to war. And there is no more important issue for every member of Congress than the decision to authorize the use of military force. A decision to authorize force is a decision to unleash the might of our armed forces – the strongest military on the planet. It commits the men and women of our armed forces to fight, and perhaps to die, on the battlefield. The decision to go to war must be careful, considered, and based on the facts.
    Such careful consideration was tragically absent in the march to war in Iraq.
    Here is what the Vice President said on December 9, 2001, in an interview on “Meet the Press:” “It’s been pretty well confirmed that he [Atta] did go to Prague and he did meet with a senior official of the Iraqi intelligence service in Czechoslovakia last April, several months before the attack.”
    Far from “pretty well confirmed,” there was almost no evidence that such a meeting took place. Just a single unsubstantiated report, from a single source, and a mountain of information indicating there was no such meeting, including the fact that travel and other records indicated that Atta was almost certainly in the United States at the time of the purported meeting in Prague.
    It was highly irresponsible for the Vice President to make that claim. Calling a single, unconfirmed report from a single source “pretty well confirmed,” as he did on Dec. 9, 2001, was a reckless statement to make on such a grave topic as war, in the face of overwhelming doubt that such a meeting occurred.
    Yet Vice President Cheney’s reckless statements continued, even as evidence mounted that there was no Prague meeting. In September 2002, he said Atta “did apparently travel to Prague on a number of occasions. And on at least one occasion, we have reporting that places him in Prague with a senior Iraqi intelligence official.”
    The Vice President made those statements in the face of a then-classified June 2002 CIA assessment that said the alleged meeting was “not verified,” called the information about it “contradictory,” and described assessments of Iraqi cooperation with al Qaida terror plots as “speculative.” The Vice President made those statements in the face of a July 2002 Defense Intelligence Agency analysis, which reported that there was no evidence that Atta was in the Czech Republic at the time. He made those statements despite a Defense Intelligence Agency memorandum in August 2002 rejecting the claims by a rogue intelligence analysis shop at the Pentagon that the meeting was an example of a “known contact” between Iraq and al Qaida.
    That brings us to the March 13, 2003 cable. Mr. President, it is unfortunate that I cannot fully lay out the contents of that cable, because much of it remains classified. But as the Senate Intelligence Committee’s 2006 “Phase II” report indicates, it appears that the cable was sent in response to a request from headquarters at Langley for comment on the claim that Atta and al-Ani had met in Prague because the White House was considering a reference to a Prague meeting in a speech. At that time, according to then-CIA Director George Tenet’s memoir, the CIA had been given a draft of a speech by Vice President Cheney containing assertions about connections between Iraq and al Qaida. Tenet writes in his memoir that he had to object to the President that the speech went “way beyond what the intelligence shows. We cannot support the speech and it should not be given.”
    Mr. President, the text of this cable and the information surrounding it was almost entirely redacted by the CIA from the Intelligence Committee’s 2006 Phase II report. A number of us objected to that redaction at the time the report was made public; indeed, the Majority Leader introduced legislation which I cosponsored that would have declassified the cable, legislation Republicans blocked. At the time of the report’s release, I joined several members of the Intelligence Committee, including Ranking Member Rockefeller, Senators Feinstein, Wyden, Bayh, Mikulski and Feingold, in concluding that the administration’s decision to keep the contents of the cable classified “represents an improper use of classification authority by the intelligence community to shield the White House.”
    In the years since I have sought declassification of the March 2003 CIA cable on numerous occasions. Twice, in 2011 and 2012, I wrote to then-CIA Director Petraeus asking him to declassify the cable. Then in February 2013, I asked Director Brennan during his confirmation hearing whether he would contact the Czech government to ask if they would object to declassification of the cable, and he responded, “Absolutely, Senator, I will.”
    Despite his commitment, I heard nothing from Director Brennan for some time. Finally, in March of this year, more than a year after his public commitment to me, I received a letter from Director Brennan. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that Director Brennan’s March 13, 2014, letter to me be entered into the record.
    The letter contains no indication that he had asked the Czech government for its view, as he committed to do. But Director Brennan’s letter includes, and therefore finally declassifies, this very clear statement from the cable: “[T]here is not one USG [counterterrorism] or FBI expert that … has said they have evidence or ‘know’ that [Atta] was indeed [in Prague]. In fact, the analysis has been quite the opposite.”
    Again, that cable was sent to CIA headquarters on March 13, 2003 – a week before our invasion of Iraq. But the Vice President of the United States, Dick Cheney, continued to suggest the meeting may have taken place. He said the following about the meeting on “Meet the Press” on September 14, 2003 – six months after CIA received that cable: “We’ve never been able to develop any more of that yet either in terms of confirming it or discrediting it. We just don’t know.” Here is what he told the Denver Post newspaper on January 9, 2004: “We’ve never been able to collect any more information on that. That was the one that possibly tied the two together to 9/11.” Here is what he told CNN on June 17, 2004: “We have never been able to confirm that, nor have we been able to knock it down. We just don’t know.”
    Mr. President, those statements were simply not true.  We did know. We did know that there was no evidence that such a meeting had taken place. We did know there was ample evidence it did not take place. We did know that there was, as the CIA cable says, “not one” government expert who said there was evidence that Atta met with Iraqi intelligence in Prague. The Vice President recklessly disregarded the truth, and he did so in a way calculated to maintain support for the administration's decision to go to war in Iraq.
    There is a second recent revelation about how the “Prague meeting” progressed from unsubstantiated report to justification for war. It comes from Jiri Ruzek, who headed the Czech counterintelligence service on and after 9/11. Mr. Ruzek published a memoir earlier this year, which we have had translated from Czech. It recounts the days after the terror attack, including how his nation’s intelligence services first reported a single-source rumor of a Prague meeting between Atta and al-Ani, how CIA officials under pressure from CIA headquarters in turn pressured him to substantiate the rumor, and how U.S. officials pressured the Czech government when Czech intelligence officials failed to produce the confirmation that the Bush administration sought.
    Mr. Ruzek writes, “It was becoming more and more clear that we had not met expectations and did not provide the ‘right’ intelligence output.” Mr. Ruzek goes on: “The Americans showed me that anything can be violated, including the rules that they themselves taught us. Without any regard to us, they used our intelligence information for propaganda press leaks. They wanted to mine certainty from unconfirmed suspicion and use it as an excuse for military action. We were supposed to play the role of useful idiot thanks to whose initiative a war would be started.”
    That’s chilling. We have a senior intelligence official of a friendly nation describing the pressure that he and other Czech officials were under to give the Bush administration material it could use to justify a war.
    When it came to the most serious decision a government can make – the decision to commit our sons and daughters to battle – the Bush administration was playing games with intelligence. The full, still classified cable includes critically important, relevant information, and it has been redacted and denied to the public in order to protect those in the Bush White House who are responsible.
    The March 13, 2003, cable is an invaluable record in helping the American people understand how their elected officials conducted themselves in going to war. Continuing to cloak this document with a veil of secrecy, revealing a few sentences at a time, allows those who misled the American people to continue escaping the full verdict of history. It deprives the American people of a complete understanding of how we came to invade Iraq. In his letter to me, Director Brennan writes, “I understand that your principal concern is that the historical record be as complete as possible regarding this period in our history, and on this point we are in agreement.”  But Director Brennan’s apparent refusal to do what he has committed to do – to ask the Czech government if it objects to release of the cable – now takes on the character of a continuing cover-up.
    Mr. President, I believe decision-makers should have to face the full, unadulterated, unredacted truth about their decisions. The American people should know the full story – not just so we can understand the decisions in 2002 and 2003 that took us to war, but as a warning to future leaders against the misuse of intelligence and the abuse of power.


    Again, they added lies -- lots of them -- to sell war on Iraq in 2002 and 2003 and today they strip away reality as they attempt to resell it.

    But while we're all encouraged to call out Bully Boy Bush, the Cult of St. Barack works overtime to ensure that the Christ-child is never called out.

    Yesterday, the House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing.  During it, a member offered a testimonial to the greatness:

    US House Rep Gregory Meeks:  It's easy for many of us to be up here and think that it's simple.  We thought it was simple to get rid of Saddam Hussein.  We said that it would take just a few days.  In fact, we got on the ship that said Mission Accomplished a few days after shock and awe.  I am glad we are not being that simplistic about this.  The administration has been honest to say it will take years to get this done and to get it done right not based upon emotion, not based upon trying, just get it together so we can say rah-rah [. . .]

    Testimonials and endorsements can be important.  But let's first see just what sort of person was slobbering over Barack.  Here's how CREW sees Meeks:

    A swirling federal corruption probe into crooked charities associated with Rep. Meeks is just the tip of the iceberg in the congressman’s litany of ethical lapses.
    Rep. Meeks has accepted numerous improper gifts while in office, including a below-market rate on a new home, major loans that he failed to disclose for years, and discounted rent on his district office.  He has also accepted at least six trips to Caribbean resorts from a non-profit backed by convicted financier R. Allen Stanford, on whose behalf Rep. Meeks may have sought a favor from the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.

    • Nine-term member of Congress representing New York’s 5th district
    • Under federal investigation for his ties to several corrupt non-profit groups, including one that lost track of thousands of dollars intended for victims of Hurricane Katrina
    • Previously named to CREW’s Most Corrupt in 2011 and 2012
    • One of four members of Congress from New York named to CREW’s Most Corrupt
    • Appeared in CREW’s Family Affair exposé

    "It's complicated. It's going to take some time.  We're going to have to figure this out," declared Meeks but he wasn't talking about his legal strategy.

    First thing Meeks might figure out is how to pronounce areas in Iraq.  Erbil can be spelled Arbil but no one pronounces it "EE-BRILL."

    Nor does anyone say "KurDICKstan."

    It's Kurdistan.

    Gregory Meeks, please keep your dick out of Kurdistan.

    Yesterday's House Foreign Affairs Committee may have actually been hugely revealing in a way no one noticed.

    US House Rep Albio Sires:  Can you talk a little about Camp Liberty and any of the abuses by the Iraqis.  I know you're on  the discussion.

    Brett McGurk:  Well I get a briefing on this every single day.  I get reports from the residents and also from the United Nations.  And as you know UN monitoring teams confirms to us about humanitarian supplies and the overall situation at the camp.  We look at it every single day.  My colleague Jonathan Winer who's our  senior advisor on the MEK resettlements.  He's in Albania today with a team, an interagency team with DHS represented as well -- representatives as well.  And we've gotten about 600 residents of Camp Liberty out of Camp Liberty and out of Iraq to safety over the past year and we're looking to increase that number this year and Albania has been very helpful in this regard.  And Jonathan Weiner has really done a heroic, courageous job of getting this moving.  And I think the new government will be even more cooperative. And we want to get all the residents of Camp Liberty -- as I've testified before -- out of Iraq to safety.  That is our goal and we're working with partners around the world to achieve that goal.  And right now Albania has been extremely cooperative and we should thank them for taking in hundreds of residents.  And the residents are assimilating quite well in Albania.  But Jonathan -- my colleague --  Mr. Winer is there addressing this issue right now, and I'm sure he'd very happy to follow up with you.


    Some outlets wrongly reported this year that Winer took his post in October of 2013 (here for Huffington Post getting it wrong)..


    He was first noted by the State Dept in a September 6, 2013 press statement by spokesperson Marie Harf:

    Marie Harf
    Washington, DC
    September 6, 2013

    We are continuing to follow with urgency the situation at Camp Ashraf in Iraq. The United States reiterates its condemnation of the horrific attack that took place on September 1 and we express our condolences to the families and friends of the victims.
    We further reiterate our support for the United Nations Assistance Mission (UNAMI) and its efforts to conduct an independent fact finding investigation into this terrible event and to document what took place. We have called on the Government of Iraq to fully support UNAMI’s efforts to conduct a full investigation of its own and to help find and return to safety those who are missing. We insist that the perpetrators of this barbarous act be brought to justice.
    We also note the troubling statements issued by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) praising the attack, and call on the Government of Iran to use whatever influence it might have with groups that may be holding missing persons from the camp to secure their immediate release.
    Regarding the immediate situation at Camp Ashraf, we urge all parties to cooperate with a plan proposed by UNAMI to ensure the safe and secure relocation of the survivors to Camp Hurriya as soon as possible. Consistent with this plan, we call on the Government of Iraq to move expeditiously to enhance security structures within Camp Hurriya, pursuant to the plan discussed with UNAMI, and we call on the MEK to make all necessary preparations to move remaining residents at Camp Ashraf to Camp Hurriya in full cooperation with UNAMI. The United States stands behind the UNAMI efforts to resolve this crisis.
    The State Department has appointed a Senior Advisor for MEK Resettlement, Jonathan Winer, to oversee our efforts to help resettle the residents of Camp Hurriya to safe, permanent, and secure locations outside of Iraq, in addition to those countries, such as Albania, that have admirably assisted the United Nations in this important humanitarian mission.

    He's been 'on the job' since at least September 2013 and Brett's proud of him for finding homes in that time for 600 Ashraf residents?

    Most people presented with approximately 3,000 people who needed to get out of country -- a life-or-death issue -- would work to successfully get them out in 90 days tops.  Check out previous evacuation efforts by the US is you doubt that.

    But the White House is fine with it taking 15 months for Winer to relocate 600 people is acceptable?

    At this rate, it will take over five years to relocate all the refugees -- over five years to do what previous administrations accomplished in 90 days.

    No wonder Barack thinks his 'plan' (bombing Iraq) will require years to 'fix' things.

    By the way, Brett may be impressed with Winer's work but he's likely the only one.

    Not only is 600 a ridiculously small number, Winer's position isn't important enough in the eyes of the State Dept.

    As Domani Spero (Diplopunidit) noted May 22nd, State Dept spokesperson Jen Psaki declared in a press briefing:

    Jonathan Winer, who you also may know, visited Tripoli in February in his role as Special Coordinator for Libya and met with a variety of Libyan and international partners, and he’s working closely with Ambassador Satterfield and our NEA team.

    Spero pointed out:

    Jonathan Winer, the new Special Coordinator for Libya was previously appointed by the State Department as Senior Advisor for MEK Resettlement in 2013.  In that capacity, he was tasked with overseeing USG efforts to help resettle the residents of Camp Hurriya to permanent, and secure locations outside of Iraq. He also previously served as chief counsel and principal legislative assistant to then Senator Kerry for 10 years and was a DAS at INL.

    Again, Brett may be impressed but the State Dept and White House felt it was such a nothing assignment that they tasked him to be Special Coordinator for Libya as well.

    As to Barack and his ridiculous 'plan,' it does not take years.

    Even Meeks can't be such an idiot to believe that nonsense.

    Iraq needs a political solution -- even Barack has said that.

    A political solution dissolves support for the Islamic State as well as indifference to fighting it -- they are not the same thing.  There are Sunnis who support the Islamic State in Iraq because of the targeting of Sunnis.  There are Sunnis who look the other way due to the targeting of Sunnis.  A political solution that truly includes the Sunnis -- which means ending the targeting -- makes it impossible for the Islamic State to operate freely.

    Martin Chulov (Guardian) reports on the Islamic State today.  Excerpt:

    Abu Ahmed was an essential member of the earliest incarnation of the group. He had been galvanised into militancy as a young man by an American occupation that he and many like him believed was trying to impose a power shift in Iraq, favouring the country’s larger Shia population at the expense of the dominant Sunnis. His early role in what would become Isis led naturally to the senior position he now occupies within a revitalised insurgency that has spilled across the border into Syria. Most of his colleagues regard the crumbling order in the region as a fulfilment of their ambitions in Iraq – which had remained unfinished business, until the war in Syria gave them a new arena.
    He agreed to speak publicly after more than two years of discussions, over the course of which he revealed his own past as one of Iraq’s most formidable and connected militants – and shared his deepening worry about Isis and its vision for the region. With Iraq and Syria ablaze, and the Middle East apparently condemned to another generation of upheaval and bloodshed at the hands of his fellow ideologues, Abu Ahmed is having second thoughts. The brutality of Isis is increasingly at odds with his own views, which have mellowed with age as he has come to believe that the teachings of the Koran can be interpreted and not read literally.

    His misgivings about what the Islamic State has become led him to speak to the Guardian in a series of expansive conversations, which offer unique insight into its enigmatic leader and the nascent days of the terror group – stretching from 2004, when he met Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in Camp Bucca, to 2011, when the Iraqi insurgency crossed the border into Syria.

    Zach Beauchamp (Vox) sums up Chulov's report, "In other words: without the Iraq war and American prisons there meant to detain possible terrorists, ISIS as we know it wouldn't exist."

    Liars like Senator Barbara Boxer want to pretend that atrocities happened in Syria but not in Iraq.

    Atrocities happened in Iraq.  We'll leave Syria for someone that follows Syria.

    And in the face of the disappearing of Sunnis -- via execution and via vanishing into the prisons -- the Sunni community was not silent.  They were thrilled, for example, when Nouri lost the 2010 elections.  But Barack Obama demanded Nouri get a second term (and the US brokered The Erbil Agreement that gave loser Nouri a second term).  They voted and they won but their votes didn't count.

    Then their representatives and other politicians attempted another means to justice: A no-confidence vote on Nouri.

    This would have removed Nouri as prime minister in 2012.

    Iraqiya's Ayad Allawi, Shi'ite cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr, Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani and others all came together for this effort.

    And the White House, specifically Vice President Joe Biden, leaned hard on Iraqi President Jalal Talabani to bury the effort.  (Talabani declared he had the power to remove people's names from the petition even if they admitted they signed it.  He had no such power.)

    So they'd used their votes, the ballot box.

    And then their votes were overturned.

    They'd turned to their political leaders and the leaders used a Constitutional measure to attempt to remove Nouri only to see Jalal Talabani invent a 'power' that didn't exist to destroy the petition (his only legal role was to officially present the petition to Congress).

    So now their politicians couldn't help them.

    They then took to the streets and protested continuously for over a year.

    They were targeted by Nouri and his thugs.

    Some were followed from protests to their homes in an effort at intimidation.

    Some were seized and beaten.  Some were seized and killed.

    Some were wounded at protests.

    Some were killed at protests.

    The most infamous example of that was the  April 23, 2013 massacre of a peaceful sit-in in Hawija when Nouri sent his 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.  UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured).

    Even after that massacre, it would take Barack over a year to finally stop supporting thug Nouri.

    Even after that massacre, Iraqis would continue to protest.

    They'd been denied redress via the ballot box, they'd been denied justice when their elected officials attempted to seek it.

    Now their protests were being ignored and Nouri was calling them "terrorists" and as 2013 ended and 2014 began, his forces began attacking protests as Nouri insisted -- publicly, on Iraqi television -- that he would burn the sites down with the protesters in them.

    And Barbara Boxer wants to pretend Sunnis weren't victims, weren't targeted?

    Some Sunnis are loudly and publicly opposed to the Islamic State.

    But some Sunnis have joined them and many others have decided to turn their eye away because of the Iraqi government's targeting, hunting, killing, imprisoning of Sunnis.

    The US government can drop all the bombs from planes that they want for as many years as they want.

    It's not a 'plan.'

    It's also not the answer to how you remove support for the Islamic State.

    And until you remove support -- direct or complicit -- you can't remove the Islamic State from Iraq.

    And Iraq may have a new prime minister -- Haider al-Abadi -- but Sunnis continue to be killed, Sunni civilians, by the Iraqi government.

    Iraqi Spring MC Tweeted the most recent civilians -- including children -- killed with the never ending bombing of residential neighborhoods in Falluja -- and these bombings are the Iraqi military bombing the homes of Falluja -- Falluja being a Sunni dominant city.

    Until you admit what's happened in Iraq, especially what's been done to the Sunnis (most notably in the last four years, but actually since the 2003 invasion), you're never going to get to peace because you're lying and aiding the violence by doing so.

    Margaret Griffis ( counts 182 violent deaths across Iraq.  And Cedric and Wally offered:

  • Their joint-post notes that Barack's authorization for war on Iraq passed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (on party lines -- and this means it now moves to the full Senate floor -- if it's not voted on before the next Congress is sworn in, it would automatically die and need to be re-introduced in order to be voted on).

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