Thursday, June 26, 2014

From His Previously Undisclosed Location

From his previously undisclosed location

From March 28, 2011, that's  "From His Previously Undisclosed Location."  I like this comic.  Some of them I don't, some of them I do.  This is one I'm glad I did.

C.I. noted:

Cheney had his secret bunker, Barack hides behind Hillary's skirt. Barack explains, "Hey, America. It's me, your President. I'm not really hiding behind Hillary's skirt. I just happen to do my best thinking back here." Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts.

Life was so much easier for Barack when Hillary was in the administration and he could hide behind her.  All the members of the Cult of St. Barack could hiss at Hillary and blame her for everything -- like it was a 'co-presidency' or something.

With Hillary gone, they have to hold Baby Barack accountable.  Or they have to shut up.  A lot choose the second option, just silencing themselves to avoid calling out the Baby.

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

Thursday, June 26, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Barack's lack of plan gets noted, even John Kerry can't define 'the plan,' allegations have been made that Iraq Body Count count this month's total by half today because US officials pressured them into doing so, and much more.

Starting with this from the Feminist Majority Foundation:

June 26, 2014
Statement of Eleanor Smeal, President FMF
WASHINGTON -- Today, the Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF) is outraged by the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down a Massachusetts buffer zone law as unconstitutional.
The lives of doctors and clinic staff are being threatened as we speak,” said Feminist Majority Foundation President, Eleanor Smeal. “This decision emboldens more extreme violence, harassment, and intimidation of women and health care providers in the name of free speech.”
“The Court’s decision failed to acknowledge that the Massachusetts law was enacted after the murder of two clinic receptionists, Shannon Lowney, 25, and Lee Ann Nichols, 38, by anti-abortion extremist John Salvi at two separate clinics in Brookline. Five other people were wounded in the attacks.”
“The Court wants to believe that these anti-abortion protestors are merely ‘sidewalk counselors’, but let us not forget that initially Scott Roeder, who murdered Dr. George Tiller, acted as a ‘sidewalk counselor’ to gain information about vulnerabilities of the clinic; Paul Hill, who killed Dr. John Bayard Britton and his escort, James Barrett, outside a Pensacola clinic was a ‘sidewalk counselor’ first. Hill was mistakenly thought to be handing them a leaflet. Instead he delivered lethal bullets.”
“Even with today’s outcome, we shudder to think that this decision could’ve been worse. Four Justices would have gone even further. Three—Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Kennedy—would overturn the Colorado buffer zone established by Colorado v. Hill. That ruling establishes an even narrower, 8-foot, floating buffer zone around individual patients.”
“Thankfully, a majority of the Court did not overturn Hill. Citing Madsen v. Women’s Health Clinic, the Court also stated a preference for court-ordered injunctions around individual clinics.”
“But the problem with injunctions is that women and health workers must first endure harassment and intimidation. Why must harassment, intimidation and terror have to be endured before women’s constitutional rights are protected?
The Feminist Majority Foundation took Madsen to the Supreme Court. This Florida case establishing a buffer zone through an injunction was upheld by the Court in 1994 and in today’s decision.

The Feminist Majority Foundation conducts the National Clinic Access Project (NCAP). To date, FMF has trained over 60,000 volunteers how to keep clinics open. NCAP is the largest project in the nation defending clinics against violence. NCAP provides legal support to reproductive health clinics across the country, and provides security assessments and equipment to targeted providers.

Moving over to Iraq, Margaret Kimberley (Black Agenda Report) summarizes events as follows:

A world away in Iraq, a nation is crumbling under the weight of eleven years of violent occupation by the United States. The once developing nation is now a ruin, with all of its infrastructure and systems from health care to education destroyed by western avarice. The prime minister who was chosen with America’s blessing, Nouri al-Maliki, has now become an inconvenience and faces a bleak fate.
The Bush administration and now the Obama team determined that promoting one side in sectarian political disputes would make for a smooth running and profitable occupation. Instead they brought war between Sunni and Shia and with goal of knocking down more dominoes, continued to fund jihadists who always upset their plans. Now Maliki is being told to get out of office if he wants help in crushing the enemies that America made for his country.

A big story in today's news cycle is the CIA and a supposed dropped ball.

At the longtime CIA media outpost Newsweek, Jeff Stein wants you to know Nouri bega,n spying on and tracking the CIA in 2004.  If true, not surprising.  Supposedly, he was fed info by the Iranian government and fed back to them.  If true, the notion that the White House installed Nouri in 2006 and demanded he remained prime minister in 2010 makes both Bully Boy Bush and Barack Obama look even more stupid for supporting Nouri.  Stein writes:

According to [former CIA official John] Maguire and another former CIA operations officer, the Iraqis acquired sophisticated cell phone monitoring equipment, probably from Iran, and began tracking CIA operators to identify their spies, especially inside the Maliki government. “It wasn’t so much the agency people they were interested in as who they were meeting and talking to,” says another CIA source, a paramilitary operations specialist who did three tours in Iraq. Although he was not authorized to discuss the subject, he agreed to be quoted on condition of anonymity because he felt U.S. advisers just arriving in Iraq needed to be warned.
“They are very aggressive,” he says of the Iraqi security services. “They have the best equipment Iran has,” including devices known as StingRays, that can lock onto a cell phone and extract all its data, from contacts to photos and music.

AP's Ken Dilianianap speaks to CIA spokesperson Dean Boyd who states that "the intelligence community provided plenty of warning to the Obama administration that the insurgent Islamic State in Iraq and Levant --known as ISIL -- could move on Iraqi cities" and Dilianianap quotes US House Rep Mike Roger (House Intelligence Committee Chair) stating, "Anyone who has had access to and actually read the full extent of CIA intelligence products on ISIL and Iraq should not have been surprised by the current situation."

Dean Boyd is offended by any suggestion that the CIA in Iraq since 2011 have just been sitting behind desks or hiding out.  They've done much more than that and I'm not being sarcastic.  We've noted here at least three different times when drones were spotted flying over Baghdad.  I'm sure they've done many other missions as well.  In addition, they do have the outpost on the Turkish border which allows them fly drones over Iraq and Iran and that's also where most communications -- in Iraq and Iran -- are monitored from.

Nouri is said to have purged the CIA assets in Iraq.  That's also not 'news.'  The Iraqi press has noted repeatedly in the last two years -- especially Kitabat and Iraq Times -- that this or that official was run off (and often run out of the country) by Nouri who was accusing the official (usually a general) of being a spy for the United States.

All of this was known or should have been.  Did the CIA 'fail' the administration?

The previous administration?  Possibly.  (If they did, they did so by bending to the will of the Bully Boy Bush White House.)  The current administration?  No.

Let's again note that Jaime Dettmer (Daily Beast) reported earlier this week that the White House had months of warnings about ISIS and the warnings were ignored.  And who's talking about this?  Dettmer reports:

The prime minister of the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, Nechirvan Barzani, says he warned Baghdad and the United States months ago about the threat ISIS posed to Iraq and the group’s plan to launch an insurgency across Iraq. The Kurds even offered to participate in a joint military operation with Baghdad against the jihadists.
Washington didn’t respond—a claim that will fuel Republican charges that the Obama administration has been dangerously disengaged from the Middle East. Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki dismissed the warnings, saying everything was under control.
The Kurds’ intelligence head, Lahur Talabani, says he handed Washington and London detailed reports about the unfolding threat. The warnings “fell on deaf ears,” he says.

There were warnings.  In addition, common sense told anyone paying attention this was coming.  hWe warned here repeatedly that when people were told they could make changes by votes and their votes were overturned (by the White House in 2010), when those politicians who tried to represent them were targeted by the government, what was left?  The only avenue for redress was protest.  And Nouri labeled the protesters 'terrorists' and attacked them.  And where was the US?

In March of last year, activists in Samarra put their message on display.

From Samarra من سامراء

"Obama, If you Cannot Hear Us Can you Not See Us?"

That's a pretty clear message.

And when Nouri began attacking protesters and the US government refused to say a word, that was pretty clear message as well.

The April 23, 2013 massacre of the 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.  UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured).  And the State Dept had no statement calling it out and the White House couldn't be bothered.  And, step by step, things got worse and worse.

The current events are no surprise at all.  As Dexter Filkins told Terry Gross (Fresh Air, NPR, link is audio and text) yesterday, "Well, you know, it's pretty depressing (laughing). I mean, these guys are - I mean, some of those guys, you know, ISIS are just full on psychopaths. You know, these are the people that make beheading videos. It's not all of them. But there's a lot of them in there. And, you know, it's sad. I mean, it's not terribly surprising I have to say. You know, I was there a few months ago and it wasn't difficult to see what was happening. You know, I didn't - I certainly didn't predict what would ultimately happen. But everything was really fragile, there was so much anger and unhappiness that it looked like, you know, we're kind of one big event away from everything coming apart. It wasn't hard to see."

What this is about is that the Blame Bully Boy Bush for problems that emerged from 2009 to the present day is wearing thin so the White House is attempting to push the blame over to the CIA and the CIA is saying, "Oh, no, we're not going to be your fall guy."  It's an internal squabble, a game of hot potato.

This week's. Black Agenda Radio, hosted by Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey (first airs each Monday at 4:00 pm EST on the Progressive Radio Network),  features a discussion of the CIA's involvement in Iraq with Bill of Rights Defense Committee's executive director Shahid Buttar.

Glen Ford:  The NSA -- the National Security Agency which purports to be the all seeing eyes and the all hearing ears of the United States, how could the NSA not have known that ISIS -- the jihadist group which US funding has been so much a part of the growth of -- was not about to launch a major offensive or be the spearhead of a major offensive in Iraq? 

Shahid Buttar:  The CIA has a long history of being on both sides of conflicts and instigating conflicts which we then later sacrifice a great deal to address. And there's any number of places we could demonstrate this from [. . .] Saddam Hussein -- which the CIA supplied his regime for years, Iran -- which the CIA supplied, that's what the Iran-Contra scandal was about -- with the CIA basically trading weapons with our nation's central enemy and the idea that they are under the table, betraying American interests, taking tax dollars to do it, destabilizing our international relations is the short answer to why they hate us -- to the extent anyone hates us -- is the CIA.  It's three letters. It's not that long.  And I think it's very unfortunate that we see in ISIS the recreation of this pattern of the CIA's complicity with people who have been our enemies, will be our enemies, are allied with people who are currently our enemies[.]

The 5,000-plus diplomatic or 'diplomatic' staff should have also been monitoring things and reporting back to the administration.

Joe Gillespie (KXNT) reports that Senator Dean Heller "says he recently attended a closed door meeting on Capitol Hill where he was briefed by military officials. He says the focus was on evacuation plans, when to evacuate and how to get the Americans out safely."  Staying with the topic of US Senators and Iraq, Senator Tim Kaine appeared on Morning Joe (MSNBC) today.  Excerpt.

Mika Brzezinski:  [. . .] it could be further pressure on the White House to carry out airstrikes, something it says can be done without  Congressional approval.  Joining us now, someone who disagrees, Senator Tim Kaine.

[. . .]

Joe Scarborough:  Would you like the President to pick up the phone and ask you guys to pass a resolution before we can pull the trigger?

Senator Tim Kaine:  Joe, you know the issue isn't what I would like, the issue is what the law is.  It's very, very plain that Congress is the body that gets to declare war.  It was set up that way by a great Virginian James Madison for a reason.  The president, once [war is] declared, the president manages it but Congress has got to get involved.

Joe Scarborough:  Nancy Pelosi says that since you guys have already approved, that the president still has authority from prior approvals. Do you agree with former Speaker Pelosi?

Senator Tim Kaine:  Joe, I completely disagree with it.  If you look at the two authorizations that were on the table.  You're right there was an authorization done in 2002 to topple the government of Saddam Hussein, that government is gone, we finished combat operations in Iraq in 2011 and even the White House has said that that authorization -- the Iraqi authorization --  is obsolete and should be repealed.  But that, oh, no, now we can revive it and go wage a different war in Iraq with the Hussein regime long gone is a stretch, I think, way beyond what Congress intended.  And second, there's the authorization that was done right after 9-11
ago that said we could undertake military action against the perpetrators of 9-11.  ISIL didn't get formed until 2003.  The administration has said, 'Well okay but you can go against al Qaeda or it's affiliates.  ISIL is not al Qaeda and, in Syria, ISIL and al Qaeda are at war.

Senator Tim Kaine's argument is sound.  If you doubt it, let's go the speech US President Barack Obama gave in January 2012:

Last month, I went to Andrews Air Force Base and welcomed home some of our last troops to serve in Iraq.  Together, we offered a final, proud salute to the colors under which more than a million of our fellow citizens fought -- and several thousand gave their lives.
We gather tonight knowing that this generation of heroes has made the United States safer and more respected around the world.  (Applause.)  For the first time in nine years, there are no Americans fighting in Iraq.  (Applause.)  For the first time in two decades, Osama bin Laden is not a threat to this country.  (Applause.)  Most of al Qaeda’s top lieutenants have been defeated.  The Taliban’s momentum has been broken, and some troops in Afghanistan have begun to come home.
[. . .]
Ending the Iraq war has allowed us to strike decisive blows against our enemies.  From Pakistan to Yemen, the al Qaeda operatives who remain are scrambling, knowing that they can’t escape the reach of the United States of America.  (Applause.)

A month prior, Barack gave another speech we could use.  We're ignoring that one.  A president should never lie to the American people.  But we're focusing on January 2012's speech because it's the State Of The Union address -- the only speech a president is Constitutionally mandated to deliver.

Carrying out his official and Constitutionally mandated speech, he declared the Iraq War over.  Two years later, he can't claim he can take new military action under authorization for a war he pronounced over.

As for Nancy Pelosi,  while she has her knowledge base, the Constitution has never been one of Pelosi strong suits -- among the many reasons she could (and did) skirt her responsibility to bring impeachment charges against Bully Boy Bush.

Today, Alsumaria reports Nouri is praising Syria for carrying out air attacks within Iraq.  Lindsay Wise and Mousab Alhamadee (McClatchy Newspapers) add:

 Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki told the British Broadcasting Corporation on Thursday that he welcomed Syrian airstrikes against radical Sunni militants on the border between Syria and Iraq.
“There was no coordination involved, but we welcome this action,” Maliki told the BBC. “We welcome any Syrian strike against (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), because this group targets both Iraq and Syria ... But we didn't make any request from Syria. They carry out their strikes and we carry out ours. The final winners are our two countries.”

Read more here:

The Guardian puts it this way, "The Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, said on Thursday that he welcomed a Syrian air strike on Sunni militant positions as it left both countries 'winners'."  Arwa Damon, Ashley Fantz, Tim Lister and Raja Razek offer "Why would Syria bomb Iraq?  Your questions answered" (CNN -- link is text and video).

So for years now, Barack's wanted to topple the Syrian government and back the rebels (which include ISIS) but now he's working with Nouri whom the Syrian government is aiding?

Is there a plan here?

Is there even a goal?

Mousab Alhamadee and Jonathan S. Landay (McClatchy Newspapers) observe:

After taking a hands-off approach toward the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria for several months, the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad has reversed course and launched air attacks against the Sunni Muslim extremist group inside both Syria and Iraq.
The policy shift complicates an already tangled situation for the Obama administration by effectively aligning Assad, whose ouster Washington is demanding, with the United States in the fight against ISIS, which was once part of al Qaida.

Read more here:

Does Barack have any sort of plan?

He supports the rebels in Syria -- the same ones he supported in Libya.

He opposes the government in Syria (and toppled the regime in Libya).

But he's in bed with Nouri who's getting help from the Syrian government and opposing the rebels Barack has backed in two other countries.

Not only does the dichotomy not make sense, the action of bombing itself?  That's not helping anyone. Let's be clear what's being embraced.  NINA reports today, "A security source said that six people were killed and 11 others injured, including four women, in an air strike by Syrian Air Force in Rabia border area."

The lack of a coherent framework was noted today on The Lead with Jake Tapper (CNN -- link is video):

Jim Sciutto: Clearly, a lot is riding on Prime Minister Maliki to form this unity government.  Is the administration placing too much faith in him?  Do you have any confidence that Maliki will deliver? 

Senator Ron Johnson:  Hello, Jim.  No,   I don't.  What we're witnessing here is a real tragedy.  It's a tragedy that I don't think had to happen. We've lost the influence we had and we would have had influence if we'd left behind a stabilizing force.  So I'm afraid Humpty Dumpty is broken now.  Unfortunately, what we are witnessing is the establishment of a new state -- Al Qaedastan is what the Wall St. Journal termed it. It's very sad and it's very tragic.  What we need to do now is we need to discuss the situation, we have to not deny reality, actually understand what's happening right now.  As you said, we're witnessing the break up of Iraq  We've got a  couple stable regions now Kurdistan in the north, we need to make sure that we protect our friends and allies.   Jordan, we need to make sure that ISIS cannot attack Jordan. We need to do everything we can to help stabilize Israel.  So this is tragedy.  This never had to happen. But we're in a pretty bad state right now.

Jim Sciutto: Senator Johnson, I want to ask you because, as the US is waiting, the Syrians have carried out air strikes along the border and some signs that they've carried it inside Iraqi territory.  The Iranian's moving a great deal of military equipment in.  They've got forces on the ground, even drones flying over Iraq -- as the US does as well.  But as this is happening is the US in effect ceding  Iraq to Iraq's nieghbors Syria and Iran? Ones with frankly totally different motivations than the US here?

Senator Ron Johnson: Well we ceded it when we bugged out at the end of 2011 when President Obama made that historic strategic blunder of not leaving a stabilizing force behind.  So now, right now, our primary goal in Baghdad is to protect the Americans that are there in our embassy.  I'm highly concerned about that. 
I have not heard a plan of this administration   They better come up with one fast.  They better start acting to stabilize Jordan  They better start acting to stabilize Kurdistan.  And let's not force Israel into any destabilizing agreements. 

Jim Sciutto: But I have to ask you, Senator Johnson, how far,  I'm familiar with this criticism that has come from you and other Republican senators as well that President Obama did not negotiate a Status Of Forces Agreement to keep  US troops in Iraq after 2011.  But how far would you be willing to go in this current situation?  Would you authorize US combat troops going on into the ground in Iraq again  3 years after they left there?   How far would you be willing to go?

Senator Ron Johnson: It depends on what the administration puts forth as a plan -- [Crosstalk]   I would be happy to send American military personnel  into the Kurdistan region so we can help stabilize that, I'd be happy to send American military personnel into Jordan to make sure that that doesn't fall to ISIS
in terms of Baghdad, look at the choices we face right now are we going to ally with Iran, are we going to ally with Syria's Assad I mean all the choices at this point are bad because of this administration's historic strategic blunder.  So what we're looking for our of this administration is a game plan.  We've had the briefings, it's absolutely grim.  You were there in Iraq do you think Humpty Dumpty can be put back together again?   Now it's about stabilizing what is stable in that region and hopefully you learn from the past mistakes.

Jim Sciutto: But just to be clear you would authorize, you would authorize, you would be in favor of, if the administration presented this option of combat troops into Kurdistan, into Baghdad, back into Iraq, back into the line of fire?

Senator Ron Johnson: I'm not so sure about Baghdad because I don't know what plan can do that at this point in  time.  I would absolutely support sending troops to protect Americans and evacuate them  if it comes to that and it may be coming to that sooner than we think. I'm highly concerned about Americans in Baghdad because of this rolling disaster now. But I want to see a game plan from this administration, we haven't seen that yet.

Confusion.  At what point does the White House put together a coherent plan that people can grasp and discuss?  Again, from yesterday's Fresh Air:

FILKINS: Well, now this...

GROSS: We're sending in 300...


GROSS: Advisers - not really sure exactly what that means.

FILKINS: Well, this is the really - you know, this is what's front and center right now. I think, just to back up a little bit, I think that what people in the White House say is, they say they weren't surprised by the ISIS move into Iraq - that they'd been tracking ISIS and they've watched ISIS kind of take over towns in eastern Syria. And they've - so they weren't really caught off guard by it - maybe by the timing or whatever. But they were caught off guard by the utter collapse of the Iraqi army. They were surprised. I mean, this was an American project, and we spent $25 billion training the Iraqi army. But suddenly, now, the Obama administration is confronted - I mean, it's a bunch of bad choices. They are looking at the map of Syria and all these rebels. And who are the - what's ISIS? It's a bunch of guys in pickup trucks, you know, rolled into these towns. There's not that much you can do. I think that the options that the White House has - the military options are really pretty lousy. And they know that. And so what they're trying to do, and I think they imagine - I think they see that the only possible solution here is a political solution, not a military one. I think, frankly, it's probably going to be a combination of the two but that Obama wants to try, I think, to broker a kind of larger, political settlement between, you know, the Sunnis, and the Shia and the Kurds. And frankly, I think that means getting rid of the current Prime Minister, Nouri al-Malki. I think they see him as being, basically, at the heart of the problem. And so, you know, they'll say things like, this is an Iraqi decision, and it's an Iraqi process. But you can bet, and I think it's a pretty good bet, the administration is going to push pretty hard to try to get Maliki out of there. That's just me talking. But that's my impression.

GROSS: And Secretary of State John Kerry is talking to the Iraqis about an inclusive government, which the Maliki government is not. The Maliki government has basically thrown out Sunnis from the government.

FILKINS: Yeah, look. I mean, there's two reasons why all this is happening right now. The first reason is the Syrian civil war, right? That allowed ISIS to have a base, and to get stronger and to kind of, you know, do its thing and then cross over into Iraq. But the second reason is Malki. And it's probably the biggest reason of all. You know, I did a long story on Maliki earlier this year. And I sort of looked at his life. And what I really didn't know and it really struck me was, Maliki has been fighting this sort of Shiite sectarian war against the Sunnis his entire adult life. This is the main war for him. It's - you know, it's not bringing democracy to Iraq. It's bringing down the Sunnis and bringing the Shiites up. And he - you know, he sees himself the as the sort of, you know, the leader of the oppressed, Shiite majority that was oppressed for so long by the Sunnis. And he's been fighting that war his whole life, you know? And he was fighting it before we got there. And then when we got there, you know, he said all the right things, but he still kept fighting it. And so he's driven - he has driven the country to the point where it is. He has so marginalized and alienated the Sunnis. He has so cut them out of the political process. He's arrested or presided over the arrests of thousands of Sunni men, you know, without charges, disappearing into prisons. This is why this is happening now. And Maliki at the - Maliki's at the front of that.

The confusion?  Even the administration is confused.  That was obvious today on The Lead with Jake Tapper (video), Jim Sciutto spoke with Secretary of State John Kerry.

Jim Sciutto: You said "sustained and intense" -- US military action would be "sustained and intense"  if the President decides to go forward.  Wonder if you could better define the time frame but also the measure of success if the President decides to go forward.  Is it ISIS destroyed?  ISIS retreating, partial  retreating?

Secretary John Kerry: That's precisely the strategy that needs to be defined as we go forward.  What I said would be intense would be the support to the government of Iraq and our efforts to try to help rebuild the military structure as well as hopefully support a new unity government.

"That's precisely the strategy that needs to be defined as we go forward."

Actually, that's precisely the strategy that needed to be devised, defined and explained before US 'advisors' were sent to Iraq.

How many were sent elsewhere?  The US government pulls a lot of strings and a lot of spineless people lived to be pulled but first, let's look at deaths.

Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 1681 deaths from violence in Iraq so far this month.  And --

Oh, goodness.  Only 1681?

I'm the biggest liar in the world!  I'm the biggest bitch!  I've said the count was at 3,000 and clearly I'm just a damn liar.

See, here's a screen snap of the count.

What a damn liar I am!

Oh, wait.

I'm not.

I pay good money for information.  So today when Martha told me an e-mail came in saying take a screensnap of IBC's count immediately and explained why, I told her to reply that I would be hitting their pay pal account with a generous thank you.

Here's the count minutes before IBC changed it.

No, I didn't lie.

But I'm told -- and paid for this information -- that IBC lowered the count under pressure from US officials.

I paid for it so I'll damn well repeat it.

And Iraq Body Count may not like that charge being exposed; however, when you drop a count from 3211 to 1681, don't think no one will catch you.

I'm sure they'll now try to come out with some alternate reason.

But I believe what I was told.  That source has been consistently honest.

More to the point, why does IBC drop their count by nearly half with no note?  Why do they try to hide what they did?

I am told Iraq Body Count was under pressure from US officials to drop their count and agreed to.  That's what I believe happened but I can't wait to hear the fairy tale IBC intends to offer the world -- and, tip, be sure your lie includes a reason for not explaining at your site that you dropped the count.

And be sure and explain which nearly 1400 Iraqis came back to life after dying earlier this month.  I'm sure their families must be thrilled and the whole world should share in this miracle.

P.S. This sort of crap is why we used to ignore IBC.  In better times, when the world cared about Iraq, we could and did ignore IBC.  But they needed money and pressure also is said to have included talk of a donation.  It would be so funny if the talk of a donation didn't pan out. A good whore knows to get the money upfront.

As long as we're in the land of fantasy, let's note this from today's State Dept press briefing by spokesperson Marie Harf:

QUESTION: Sorry. There were reports from Baghdad that reprisal killings against Sunnis are becoming more and more frequent. Is the U.S. doing anything at this time to try and prevent this from becoming more of an issue than it already is?

MS. HARF: Well, we are following the reports closely, certainly. We’ve seen execution-style killings of thousands of Iraqi soldiers, policemen, government leaders, also some of the ethnic minorities and religious minority populations as well. So we are working with our international partners very closely to see how we can deal with this sort of what I would call an even worse than humanitarian situation. We’re working with the Iraqi Government to help on this, also with the UN as well. So we’re monitoring it, and obviously that’s – I think just underscores the notion that Iraq’s political leaders needs a form of government as soon as possible, bring the country together, and use their influence to try and stop some of this.

Thousands, a jaded (and uncaring?) Marie Harf says, thousands.  Well I guess that answers the question as to whether or not the US is doing anything to prevent them?

Back in the real world,  National Iraqi News Agency reports security forces say they killed 4 suspects to the north of Ramadi, they say they killed 13 suspects in Baiji, a battle in Mansuriyya left 20 rebels dead, a Kirkuk mortar attack left 3 Peshmerga dead and two more injured, an eastern Mosul battle left 2 Peshmerga dead, Joint Operations Command announced they killed 10 suspects in Anbar Province, and 28 corpses were discovered in Mosul. All Iraq News reports a Mahmoudiya mortar attack and suicide bombing left 12 civilians dead and forty-six injured and 5 people were shot dead when assailants shot up "a shop [. . .] selling alcohol drinks in Zayouna district of eastern Baghdad." And Nouri's War Crimes continue as he continues bombing residential neighborhoods in Falluja.  Alsumaria notes last nights bombings left 3 civilians dead and a fifth injured.


Read on ...

Thursday, June 19, 2014

She Hulk Wants

She Hulk Wants

 From March 21, 2011, that'  "She Hulk Wants." 

C.I. noted:

 She Hulk points and declares, "She Hulk want slip cover for dress."  Barack advises, "Give her what she wants. She's scary." Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts.
She Hulk is Michelle Obama, of course.  Her rages became infamous during the first term and I went with She Hulk as a way to humorously address them.

I'm not a big fan of Michelle for the comics.  She doesn't come alive for me.

Under Bully Boy Bush, Condi Rice was a regular in my comics because she came alive in the comics for me.  

I loved Rahm Emanuel for the comics.  He came alive.  Then he left the administration.

Valerie Jarrett appears a lot because she's someone that her her own personality when you draw her.  She'll probably be the person from Barack's administration that appears the most in my comics.  

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

Thursday, June 19, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Barack announces more US troops are going into Iraq, he fails to define the mission clearly, we remind that he discussed the step he's taking today back in 2007 (but the press hid it away), The Nation offers a strong editorial while others in panhandle media cower, and much more (including Barack's acknowledgment that US troops have been in Iraq as advisors already).

Lindsay Wise (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, "President Barack Obama announced on Thursday that the U.S. would send up to 300 military advisers to Iraq to assess how best to advise and train Iraqi forces. But the president stressed that American combat troops would not deploy to the country again."  We're back to that nonsense again?  Troops on the ground aren't 'combat troops'?

We're back to pretending and hair splitting, aren't we?

Remember this?

The point is as long as we have American troops in Iraq -- no matter what you call them -- you can call them 'noncombat' troops, you can call them Mousekateers -- they're going to be fighting and dying -- some of them.

That's what Thomas E. Ricks told Steve Inskeep on NPR's Morning Edition March 4, 2009.

Let's flip through the scrapbook some more. August 31, 2010, Barack gave a speech from the Oval Office.  Anyone remember it?  Here's the opening:

Good evening.  Tonight, I’d like to talk to you about the end of our combat mission in Iraq, the ongoing security challenges we face, and the need to rebuild our nation here at home. 
I know this historic moment comes at a time of great uncertainty for many Americans.  We’ve now been through nearly a decade of war.  We’ve endured a long and painful recession.  And sometimes in the midst of these storms, the future that we’re trying to build for our nation -- a future of lasting peace and long-term prosperity -- may seem beyond our reach.

But this milestone should serve as a reminder to all Americans that the future is ours to shape if we move forward with confidence and commitment.  It should also serve as a message to the world that the United States of America intends to sustain and strengthen our leadership in this young century.

Yea!  War was over!  Combat troops were out of the country!  What was left was 'advisers,' right?

So he gave that speech August 31, 2010.

What happened the next month?  Anyone, remember?

Here's a hint: Seven.   And, no, we're not talking Jeri Ryan's character on Star Trek: Voyager.

7 was the number of US troops who died in Iraq in September 2010, when 'combat' operations were over an all 'combat' troops had left the country.

October 2010: 2 US troops were killed.

November 2010:  2 US troops were killed.

December 2010: 1

January 2011: 6

February 2011: 3

March 2011: 2

April 2011: 11

May 2011: 2

June 2011: 15

July 2011: 5

Zero for August 2011

September 2011: 4

October 2011: 4

November 2011: 2

Zero for December 2011.

Zero for January 2012.

August 31, 2010, Barack gave a speech about 'combat' soldiers leaving Iraq and 'combat' operations having ended but 66 troops would die after 'combat' ended.

Today, Barack made a declaration that the White House media team Tweeted:

They're not?  You said August 31, 2010 that they were out of combat and combat operations were over.  66 troops died after you made that claim in a speech.

So why should anyone believe you?  Do you have a crystal ball?  Runes? Tarot cards?  Maybe you use a pendulum? Or spell craft?

Please do explain to the American people how sending troops into Iraq comes with guarantees when your pretty words of August 31, 2010 did not protect 66 service members, did not prevent their deaths.

There are no guarantees and Barack lies when he tries to sweet talk the American people.

But a number of fools make up the American people.  And a number of that segment are self-deluding fools.

What Barack's doing right now?

It's disgusting.

But it's not surprising and he's, in fact, keeping his word.

But a lot of the Cult of St. Barack refused to tell you those truths.

For example, the New York Times refused to tell the truth.  Where there is stupidity, there is Tom Hayden on his knees, mouth open and waiting.  Back when he was still a US senator, Barack, in the midst of campaigning for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination (October 2007), gave an interview to the New York Times.  If you missed that (Tom-Tom Hayden did), Barack talked about how his 'withdrawal' didn't mean US troops would stay out of Iraq.  If the security situation got bad inside Iraq, Barack said, he would send troops into Iraq even if they'd been removed.

That's pretty big news -- especially when it's coming from someone running on a soundbyte claiming he will remove all US troops from Iraq and it's the first thing he'll do as president.

That's pretty big news.

So someone might want to ask why the New York Times failed to report that fact?

It never made it into the paper.

We noted it here.  We noted it when the paper's website published the transcript of that interview.

That should have been an issue in the debates but it took a lot of whoring to present Barack as anti-war and a lot of whores (hey, Tom Hayden!) were invested in that lie.

Barack is being completely dishonest about the risks the US troops will face in Iraq.  But he's also sticking to what he stated he would do.  It's not his fault that the New York Times had an explosive story but refused to publish it.  It's not his fault that after we noted his remarks here -- after we wrote it up at Third the way the New York Times should have -- no one else seemed too concern.

Again, the Cult of St. Barack was vested in maintaining a lie.

Anyone feeling betrayed that a politician they voted for to get US troops out of Iraq is sending more back in should be aware that Barack spoke of this while running for office but the media and his knob polishers refused to cover his remarks.

Here's one of the relevant sections of that interview with Barack (again, it was asked, it was answered, it just didn't make it into the article the paper published online and in print):

Q. In your plan presented in September, you mentioned if there was widespread sectarian killing, you said you would reserve the right to send American forces back into Iraq as part of an international effort to stem the sectarian killings and to protect the population. So there are some circumstances that even after the pullout of combat forces, you would envision a population security mission. Would you be prepared to do this unilaterally? How bad would it have to be before you would contemplate going back into Iraq?

A. I don’t think this is something that you can perfectly calibrate. You have to look at the situation on the ground. As I’ve already noted, I believe that there will be a spike in violence as we make a transition. Keep in mind that I think that there’s going to be more violence over the long haul by us not changing the course, so I’m weighing – again – bad options.
It is conceivable that there comes a point where things descend into the mayhem that shocks the conscience and we say to ourselves, this is not acceptable, anymore that what happened in Darfur is not acceptable. At that point, my strong, strong preference would be to work in concert with the international community. Now I think there are some things that we can do to prevent some of that, that are non-military. I think it’s important, and I mentioned this in the speech in September, for us to start setting up an international commission that is tracking some of the activities that are going on in Iraq and allow for the perpetrators of mass violence to be held accountable.  

Senator Barbara Boxer embarrassed herself on national television today.  Appearing on Andrea Mitchell Reports (MSNBC -- link is video), Boxer made it clear she didn't need to hear Barack speak because she was already going to do whatever he wanted.  As I noted yesterday, the elderly fool always goes jingoistic when a Democrat is in the White House and what a huge embarrassment she was prattling on about "our commander in chief."  Does the idiot Boxer believe she's now in the military?

Civilian control over the military is a hallmark of US democracy.  Barack Obama is commander in chief of the military.  If you're in the military, he's your commander in chief.  There is no commander in chief over the United States.  What a whorish thing to do, Barbara Boxer, as the US sees democracy erode daily, you feel the need to act as if we're now a junta?  Shame on you.

She offered up, "And Maliki never reached out to the Sunnis, it left an opening for these extremists."  How do US boots on the ground fix Nouri al-Maliki's problems?

Appearing on The Lead with Jake Tapper (CNN -- no video of this is up at the site right now), Senator Saxby Chambliss noted there are no definitions to the mission Barack is proposing.

It's an important point.  I don't support Barack sending troops in, Chambliss does. We can agree that the mission needs to be clearly defined.

What is success?

How it will it be measured?

What would warrant even more troops being sent in?  What would result in US troops leaving?

None of this is defined.

A speech consisting of 946 words and nothing is clearly defined.

Whether you support or oppose the move, whether you support or oppose Barack, it needs to be defined.  If it's not defined, and Barack is your favorite president of all time, there's a good chance this mission will do huge damage to his reputation and his legacy.  It is in everyone's interest -- including the Iraqi people -- for Barack to clearly define this mission, its goals and the measurements for success or failure.

Barack insisted in his speech that there would be no "mission creep" -- well he was insisting that in 2007 to the New York Times -- check the transcript.

The Iraq War?  An illegal war.

Few officials in the US will speak that truth.

Many, however, will argue tactics and claim it was a poorly planned war.

Where are those people right now?

Where are the people demanding that before Barack sends another US troop into Iraq, he clearly and publicly define what the mission is, what the perimeters are and what the goals are?

Let's do a quick sidebar.  We noted  Tom Hayden this week and how he lied in a column and ridiculed those who pointed out that the US military remained in Iraq.

Little Tommy had a hissy fit offline about that.  Guess what?  I don't give a damn.

But all those names he's called me, he needs to now start calling Barack those names as well.

Or did Tom Hayden miss Barack declaring today:

We have had advisers in Iraq through our embassy and we are prepared to send a small number of additional American military advisers -- up to 300 -- to assess how we can best train, advise and support Iraqi security forces going forward. 

Oops.  Sad times for Tommy.

Jake Tapper (again, no video has yet posted) spoke with retired General Anthony Zinni this afternoon and wanted to know about the risks for the US troops being sent in.  "Well, it depends upon which level they're advising," Zinni noted.  And, Tapper wanted to know, "How dangerous could this be for those 300 troops?"  Zinni replied, "Well, depening upon where you are . . ."

Zinni was brought on to offer commentary after Barack had spoken.  Over an hour after Barack had spoken.

And even the general could not figure out the basics involved.

This mission is not being defined, it's pretty words and bromides.  It's nothing concrete.

Francis A. Boyle is an attorney and a professor  at the University of Illinois College of Law. His books include Foundations of World Order (Duke University Press: 1999) and Tackling America’s Toughest Questions (2009).   His most recent book is United Ireland, Human Rights and International Law.  He notes of Barack's announcement:

This could escalate in any number of ways -- exactly what the War Powers Resolution was supposed to stop. It's not legitimate for the president -- or members of Congress -- to make arrangements that violate the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution. Obama just stated that the 300 U.S. troops would be doing training, but CNN reports his spokesperson Jay Carney stated they would also 'provide airfield management security and logistic support.' Does this mean that they will become the required forward air controllers for the targeted and precise military action that Obama says he is preparing? If the U.S. is going to target ISIS, will it be limited to Iraq or will it eventually go into Syria?

Those questions and so many more were not answered by today's speech.

Margaret Talev (Bloomberg News) observes, "Obama declined to say whether the U.S. continues to have confidence in Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who the administration blames for inflaming sectarian divisions in OPEC’s second-largest oil producer."

Martin Chulov and Spencer Ackerman (Guardian) report:

A spokesman for the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, has said he will not stand down as a condition of US air strikes against Sunni militants who have made a lightning advance across the country.
Iraq's foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari, on Wednesday made a public call on al-Arabiya television for the US to launch strikes but Barack Obama has come under pressure from senior US politicians to persuade Maliki, a Shia Muslim who has pursued sectarian policies, to step down over what they see as failed leadership in the face of an insurgency.

Nouri has to go for the violence, yes.  He also has to go because he's dishonest.  He has broken every oath he's taken, every promise he's made.  And this is who the US government wants to do business with?
On CNN's Crossfire this evening, US House Rep Loretta Sanchez declared, "Maliki really did not take the opening, the space that we made for him. [. . .]  He created the dilemma that we now find ourselves in."

I agree with Loretta but I ask how do 300 or so 'advisors' change that?

Last week, Barack insisted changes would need to be seen, changes on the part of Nouri.  He's changed nothing.  But he's getting what he wanted, isn't he?

How does today's announcement from Barack address what Alissa J. Rubin and Rod Nordland (New York Times) reported earlier this week:

The bodies of 44 Sunni prisoners were found in a government-controlled police station in Baquba, about 40 miles north of Baghdad. They had all been shot Monday night in the head or chest. Then the remains of four young men who had been shot were found dumped Tuesday on a street in a Baghdad neighborhood controlled by Shiite militiamen.
By evening, it was Shiites who were the victims again, as a suicide bombing in a crowded market in Sadr City killed at least 14 people, local hospital officials said.

The editorial board of The Nation magazine insisted yesterday that no US troops should go to Iraq.  We'll note this from the editorial:

But American military involvement in the latest eruption in Iraq, reportedly under consideration by President Obama, would be the wrong response to that suffering, morally and strategically. Even if limited to airstrikes, whether from F-16s, cruise missiles or drones, military action by Washington would almost certainly kill civilians, especially since ISIS is concentrated in heavily populated cities. Worse, such action would inflame, not ease, Iraq’s sectarian divisions, allying Washington more closely with Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki’s monumentally corrupt and sectarian regime and against a seething Sunni population, and would send recruits streaming into ISIS’s camp.
President Obama has hinted that he’ll make any US military support conditional on a change in Maliki’s sectarian style of governance. Since taking office, Maliki has excluded Sunnis from power—dismantling the Sunni tribal militia of the Anbar Awakening, accusing leading Sunni politicians of “terrorism,” creating security and intelligence machinery that reports only to him, and installing pet generals throughout an army so corrupt and incompetent that it simply fled at the start of the ISIS offensive. But if the United States couldn’t persuade Maliki to change his spots when it had some 150,000 troops in-country and advisers in every ministry, it certainly can’t do so long-distance. Despite eight years of blood and treasure lost in the Iraqi quagmire after 2003, the United States has precious little leverage left.

It be nice if, for example, The Nation had the spine to call out Nouri's War Crimes.  However, they're the only ones standing upright.  The Progressive is silent (remember, Iraq never touched Ruth Conniff's gated community as she shared on KPFA in the final years of Bully Boy Bush occupying the White House).  Joshua Rosenblat has the sole piece on Iraq at In These Times which does nothing but summarize what Barack said (and quote what Barack said) -- an opinion journal to scared to have an opinion?

No wonder Joel's struggling so much to raise money to keep In These Times afloat. (The merger with the Center for Media and Democracy is what temporarily saved The Progressive -- if that move hadn't been made, The Progressive would have stopped publishing by the end of the year.  They're begging money right now and not being honest about how dire the situation is -- how dire it still is.)

Sidebar: We're not interested in Amy Goodman's garbage.  The Goody Whore pimped Shi'ites on her show and we ignored those segments.  Now she's spun together a column pretending to inform but really just whoring for Shi'ite Iraq.  Strange, isn't it, Mohammed Al Dulaimy went on to discuss reality and he's not included in her column.  But the Shi'ites, they're experts.  We're not interested in the Goody Whore.

There are legal implications in what is taking place.  Barack's claiming -- as Elaine noted in "Barack wants his renewed war on Iraq" and Mike noted in "Iraq" -- that he doesn't need Congressional authorization for what he's doing.  Marjorie Cohn takes on that notion and she's right to do so and I wish her all the luck with it.  At another time, we'd make it a whole snapshot but there's just too much to cover these days.  We'll instead note this from Marjorie's Truthout piece:

The US-led invasion of Iraq helped install Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, a Shiite Muslim, as prime minister. But instead of uniting the different religious groups after the US troops left two and a half years ago, the al-Maliki government viciously cracked down on its opponents. Torture, rape and arbitrary, mass arrests of Sunnis were common. Protestors were murdered, their leaders assassinated. What began as a peaceful opposition movement during the "Iraqi Spring" turned violent in response to al-Maliki's repression. Many of those nonviolent protestors have joined ISIS.

Chelsea J. Carter, Laura Smith-Spark and Elise Labot (CNN) report:

There's a heavy police and military presence on the streets of the Iraqi capital and at checkpoints that sometimes appear to pop up overnight.
Nowhere is the sense of fear more palpable than at Baghdad International Airport, where hundreds and hundreds of people wait in long security and check-in lines for one of the few, precious seats available on flights out of Iraq.

What might also cause alarm?

The death toll.

Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 2,731 violent deaths in Iraq so far this month.

That makes June 2014 the most violent month in Iraq since May 2007 when the month's total deaths reached 2834.

Wednesday night on The NewsHour (PBS -- link is text, audio and video), Judy Woodruff moderated a discussion between Senator Tim Kaine and Senator John McCain.  We'll note this:

JUDY WOODRUFF: Should the U.S. be providing military — more military assistance to Iraq right now?

SEN. TIM KAINE: Judy, the question is a little bit premature, because what we really need — and there is a process — the way this is supposed to work is the president will come to us and lay out what he thinks is the preferred option.
And then, after consulting with Congress, we will go forward. I expect that he will do that soon. He’s already been in significant consultation, not only with leadership, but with others like me, but when he does come, there’s going to be some hard questions.
Maliki — we had the opportunity. The U.S. wanted the stay in Iraq and Maliki basically kicked us out. He didn’t want us to stay. Then he ignored all the advice that we and others gave him about how to govern Iraq, to try to do it in a way that brought Kurds and Sunnis and Shias together. Instead, he’s run Iraq for Shias and marginalized, even oppressing Sunni and Kurds.
And so this extremism, the Sunni extremism, has been a predictable consequence of that, in my view. They’re horrible people doing horrible things, but he’s given them an opening by governing in such an autocratic way.
So, if it’s just a matter of, do we come in now to back up Maliki with military force after he kicked us out and after he’s governed the wrong way, that would be foolish. What we should be first talking about is, are there reforms that the Iraqis are willing to make to try to demonstrate to all in the country that they are all going to be treated equally?
Those kind of reforms really are the things that have to happen before we decide what kind of assistance we should provide.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, you have had raised a couple of things. And let me just pick them one by one.
In terms of the reforms, Prime Minister Maliki says he has reached out, for example, to Sunnis. He’s brought them — he’s given them a role in his government. He says, in essence, that it’s just wrong to say that he has not reached out.

SEN. TIM KAINE: Virtually every objective account that we have heard from Iraq experts here, not only folks connected with the administration, State Department, DOD, but NGOs and others, suggest just the contrary, that he has ignored that advice and that he has run this government for Shias with the strong support of the Shia-based government in Iran, and he has done it in a way that has marginalized Sunnis and marginalized Kurds.
And that’s why they’re not coming to his aid right now.

We'll note McCain now publicly favors "boots on the ground" but we're not interested in his comments.  Not because he's a Republican but because Kaine came close to something, circled around it -- like Cher with a note she never quite hits -- but never got to it.  We'll cover it in Friday's snapshot.  We are by no means done with this topic.

We'll close with the full speech Barack gave today on Iraq:

Remarks by the President on the Situation in Iraq

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

1:32 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon, everybody.  I just met with my national security team to discuss the situation in Iraq.  We’ve been meeting regularly to review the situation since ISIL, a terrorist organization that operates in Iraq and Syria, made advances inside of Iraq.  As I said last week, ISIL poses a threat to the Iraqi people, to the region, and to U.S. interests.  So today I wanted to provide you an update on how we’re responding to the situation.
First, we are working to secure our embassy and personnel operating inside of Iraq.  As President, I have no greater priority than the safety of our men and women serving overseas.  So I’ve taken some steps to relocate some of our embassy personnel, and we’ve sent reinforcements to better secure our facilities.
Second, at my direction, we have significantly increased our intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets so that we’ve got a better picture of what’s taking place inside of Iraq.  And this will give us a greater understanding of what ISIL is doing, where it’s located, and how we might support efforts to counter this threat. 
Third, the United States will continue to increase our support to Iraqi security forces.  We’re prepared to create joint operation centers in Baghdad and northern Iraq to share intelligence and coordinate planning to confront the terrorist threat of ISIL.  Through our new Counterterrorism Partnership Fund, we’re prepared to work with Congress to provide additional equipment.  We have had advisors in Iraq through our embassy, and we’re prepared to send a small number of additional American military advisors -- up to 300 -- to assess how we can best train, advise, and support Iraqi security forces going forward.
American forces will not be returning to combat in Iraq, but we will help Iraqis as they take the fight to terrorists who threaten the Iraqi people, the region, and American interests as well.
Fourth, in recent days, we’ve positioned additional U.S. military assets in the region.  Because of our increased intelligence resources, we’re developing more information about potential targets associated with ISIL.  And going forward, we will be prepared to take targeted and precise military action, if and when we determine that the situation on the ground requires it.  If we do, I will consult closely with Congress and leaders in Iraq and in the region.
I want to emphasize, though, that the best and most effective response to a threat like ISIL will ultimately involve partnerships where local forces, like Iraqis, take the lead. 
Finally, the United States will lead a diplomatic effort to work with Iraqi leaders and the countries in the region to support stability in Iraq.  At my direction, Secretary Kerry will depart this weekend for meetings in the Middle East and Europe, where he’ll be able to consult with our allies and partners.  And just as all Iraq’s neighbors must respect Iraq’s territorial integrity, all of Iraq’s neighbors have a vital interest in ensuring that Iraq does not descend into civil war or become a safe haven for terrorists.
Above all, Iraqi leaders must rise above their differences and come together around a political plan for Iraq’s future.  Shia, Sunni, Kurds -- all Iraqis -- must have confidence that they can advance their interests and aspirations through the political process rather than through violence.  National unity meetings have to go forward to build consensus across Iraq’s different communities.  Now that the results of Iraq’s recent election has been certified, a new parliament should convene as soon as possible.  The formation of a new government will be an opportunity to begin a genuine dialogue and forge a government that represents the legitimate interests of all Iraqis.
Now, it’s not the place for the United States to choose Iraq’s leaders.  It is clear, though, that only leaders that can govern with an inclusive agenda are going to be able to truly bring the Iraqi people together and help them through this crisis.  Meanwhile, the United States will not pursue military options that support one sect inside of Iraq at the expense of another.  There’s no military solution inside of Iraq, certainly not one that is led by the United States.  But there is an urgent need for an inclusive political process, a more capable Iraqi security force, and counterterrorism efforts that deny groups like ISIL a safe haven.
In closing, recent days have reminded us of the deep scars left by America’s war in Iraq.  Alongside the loss of nearly 4,500 American patriots, many veterans carry the wounds of that war, and will for the rest of their lives.  Here at home, Iraq sparked vigorous debates and intense emotions in the past, and we’ve seen some of those debates resurface. 
But what’s clear from the last decade is the need for the United States to ask hard questions before we take action abroad, particularly military action.  The most important question we should all be asking, the issue that we have to keep front and center -- the issue that I keep front and center -- is what is in the national security interests of the United States of America.  As Commander-in-Chief, that’s what I stay focused on.  As Americans, that’s what all of us should be focused on. 
And going forward, we will continue to consult closely with Congress.  We will keep the American people informed.  We will remain vigilant.  And we will continue to do everything in our power to protect the security of the United States and the safety of the American people. 
So with that, I’m going to take a couple of questions. 

We'll note questions tomorrow, we've gone way too long as it is.

Read on ...

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Ego Tripper's Workout

ego tripping workout

From March 19, 2011, that's "The Ego Tripper's Workout." 

C.I. wrote:

 Amy Goodman's sweating with the oldies as she reaches for fame ("And reach! Go for the burn!" she exclaims) and other vanity devices while Iraq lays ignored at her feet. This is the third of four comics Isaiah's done for this weekend. Three (that's counting the one above) deal with the cowardly who can't speak to the Iraq War. One is White House comic. Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts.

One of the biggest disappointments in the last years has been Amy Goodman who grandstanded on Iraq and then disappeared the topic.

So much for her claim of going where the silences are.

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

Thursday, June 12, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, criticism abounds, we explain why the White House needs to make Nouri the enemy, no US  troops on the ground Barack says, and more.

Before we get to Iraq, two things.  First, US House Rep Jeff Miller is the Chair of the House Veterans Affairs Committee.  His office issued the following statement yesterday:

Jun 11, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C.— After Senate passage of the Sanders-McCain veterans bill, Chairman Jeff Miller released the following statement:   
“I’m pleased the Senate has acted to address VA’s accountability and delays in care crises. Many of the provisions included in today’s Senate-passed bill are based on ideas that have already cleared the House, so I’m hopeful that both chambers of Congress can soon agree on a final package to send to the president’s desk.”  – Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs

I was asked why I was ignoring the above?  I hadn't seen it, no one working the e-mail account had seen it, it went to the spam folder.  We'll note another Miller press release at the end of the snapshot.  The VA scandal is a serious issue -- the American people take it seriously based on this week's polling -- and Miller has worked on the issue tirelessly.  He's a Republican, I'm not.  But I was not attempting to ignore or sleight him.  I'm really not into partisan nonsense these days.  Second, Ruby Dee has passed.  Actress, legend, activist, pioneer, writer, poet and so much more.  And we don't have space in this snapshot to really note her passing, I'm sorry. Iraq's on fire and I'm not even trying to work in two Congressional hearings I attended this week.  But Tavis Smiley will remember and honor the great Ruby Dee tonight on his PBS program Tavis Smiley

This morning, Juan Gonzalez (Democracy Now! -- link is audio, video and text) declared, "Iraq is on the brink of disintegration. Sunni Islamist rebels have seized control of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, as well as Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s hometown, and Dhuluiya which is just 55 miles northwest of the capital of Baghdad. The rebels are now advancing toward Baghdad. Meanwhile, Iraqi Kurds have seized control of the northern oil city of Kirkuk. The Sunni militants are led by a group called ISIS, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. They now control a territory that stretches from the eastern edge of Aleppo, Syria, to Fallujah in western Iraq and now the northern city of Mosul. The sudden advance by the Islamist rebels has shocked the region. Earlier today, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the territorial integrity of Iraq is now in question."

This afternoon at the White House, US President Barack Obama declared, "We discussed the situation in the Middle East, and obviously the concerns that we have around Iraq and Syria.  Both our countries are potentially threatened by jihadists and freedom fighters, as they call them, that are going into Syria, getting trained in terrorist tactics and then potentially coming back to our countries and could end up being a significant threat to our homeland, as well."

"We" was a reference to himself and Abbot, Prime Minister of Australia.  The two met today to discuss various issues.  After the discussion, the two addressed the press.  We'll note this exchange between Barack and the Associated Press' Nedra Pickler:

Q    Mr. President, are you considering drone strikes or any sort of action to stop the insurgence in Iraq?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, this is an area that we’ve been watching with a lot of concern not just over the last couple of days but over the last several months, and we’ve been in close consultation with the Iraqi government.  Over the last year, we have been providing them additional assistance to try to address the problems that they have in Anbar, in the northwestern portions of the country, as well as the Iraqi and Syrian border.  That includes, in some cases, military equipment.  It includes intelligence assistance.  It includes a whole host of issues.
But what we’ve seen over the last couple of days indicates the degree to which Iraq is going to need more help.  It’s going to need more help from us, and it’s going to need more help from the international community. 
So my team is working around the clock to identify how we can provide the most effective assistance to them.  I don’t rule out anything, because we do have a stake in making sure that these jihadists are not getting a permanent foothold in either Iraq or Syria, for that matter. 
Part of the challenge -- and I’ve said this directly to Prime Minister Maliki, and Vice President Biden has said this in his very frequent interactions with the Iraqi government -- is that the politics of Shia and Sunni inside of Iraq, as well as the Kurds, is either going to be a help in dealing with this jihadist situation, or it’s going to be a hindrance.  And frankly, over the last several years, we have not seen the kind of trust and cooperation develop between moderate Sunni and Shia leaders inside of Iraq, and that accounts in part for some of the weakness of the state, and that then carries over into their military capacity.
So I think it’s fair to say that in our consultations with the Iraqis there will be some short-term, immediate things that need to be done militarily, and our national security team is looking at all the options.  But this should be also a wakeup call for the Iraqi government.  There has to be a political component to this so that Sunni and Shia who care about building a functioning state that can bring about security and prosperity to all people inside of Iraq come together and work diligently against these extremists.  And that is going to require concessions on the part of both Shia and Sunni that we haven’t seen so far. 
The last point I’ll make -- what’s happened over the last couple of days I think underscores the importance of the point that I made at my West Point speech:  the need for us to have a more robust regional approach to partnering and training partner countries throughout the Middle East and North Africa.  We’re not going to be able to be everywhere all the time, but what we can do is to make sure that we are consistently helping to finance, train, advise military forces with partner countries, including Iraq, that have the capacity to maintain their own security.  And that is a long and laborious process, but it’s one that we need to get started. 

That’s part of what the Counterterrorism Partnership Fund that I am going to be calling for Congress to help finance is all about, giving us the capacity to extend our reach without sending U.S. troops to play Whac-A-Mole wherever there ends up being a problem in a particular country.  That’s going to be more effective.  It’s going to be more legitimate in the eyes of people in the region, as well as the international community.  But it’s going to take time for us to build it.  In the short term, we have to deal with what clearly is an emergency situation in Iraq.

Those remarks came up in today's State Dept press briefing moderated by spokesperson Jen Psaki:

QUESTION: -- you just announced this aid for internally displaced people. Have any decisions been made about – or can you enlighten us on where the process is on what the President outlined with the Australian foreign minister in terms of the options being considered for assisting the Iraqi Government in dealing with the deteriorating situation?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. Well, what you have seen – and I know you saw it, Matt, but just for the benefit of others, the President did speak to this just a little while ago, in the last hour. And what he said and made clear is that we’ve had a lot of concern, not just in the last couple of days but months. And what we’ve seen over the last couple of days is an indication that Iraq needs more help.
Our team is working overtime on a range of options that does not include, to be clear, boots on the ground. Secretary Kerry is clearly very engaged in these discussions, which are ongoing. And Deputy Assistant Secretary Brett McGurk, of course, is as well, given he’s on the ground, as well as a range of officials from the State Department. I don’t have anything to enlighten you on, given these are ongoing discussions. But the President made clear that in the short term there may be the immediate need for additional military assistance, and there’s an ongoing discussion about that.

QUESTION: So immediate means possibly by the end of the day or in the next --

MS. PSAKI: I’m not giving a timing indication. I think what he’s indicating is in the short term, in addition to the capacity building that we’re doing over the medium and long term.

QUESTION: Right. Do you have any thoughts about the Iranians saying that they’re willing to help defend the Shia community or defend Baghdad and/or, both, the Kurds taking control of Kirkuk? Do these developments cause you any concern?

MS. PSAKI: Well, let me take the second one first. We support the steps taken between the federal government and the Kurdish regional government to cooperate on a security plan that will enhance the Iraqi army’s ability to hold positions and confront ISIL. We’re encouraging both Baghdad and Erbil to continue and further their cooperation, given the immediate threat that they’re all facing from ISIL on the ground.

So at this point, the official position is "no boots on the ground."

Barack is President.  Joe Biden is Vice President.  Let's note this:

 Biden noted the "internal threat" aspect being proposed and how these requires the US "to support the Iraqi government in its battle with all 'outlaw groups' -- that's a pretty expansive commitment."  He noted that it requires the US "to take sides in Iraq's civil war" and that "there is no Iraqi government that we know of that will be in place a year from now -- half the government has walked out." 
 "Just understand my frustration," Biden explained.  "We want to normalize a government that really doesn't exist." 

No, Joe didn't just Sally Langston Barack (reference to Shonda Rhimes' Scandal).

That's Joe speaking when he was Senator Joe Biden and chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  We covered the hearing in the April 10, 2008 snapshot -- it remains one of the most important hearings the Committee held on Iraq.  We were among the few to turn out for it.  The week had seen then-General David Petraeus and then-US Ambassador Ryan Crocker testify to several Congressional committees.  By the time Friday rolled around, the press may have been exhausted.

Too bad.  It was an important hearing.

When Joe spoke those words, the prime minister of Iraq was Nouri al-Maliki.

He's still prime minister right now, finishing his second term.

What's really changed is that as bad as Nouri's first term was -- and it was bad -- his second has been even worse.  And he's created more chaos and violence.

Joe's concerns in 2008 were valid.

They're only more valid today.

The White House needs to walk away from Nouri and not just because it's important to Iraq but also because it's important to the presidency.  We'll get to the second point later in the snapshot.

For now, back to Democracy Now!'s discussion on Iraq:

MOHAMMED AL DULAIMY: What I see is the failing of the whole system that the United States and its allies, they tried to build in Iraq. The whole democracy experiment in Iraq is in danger, as actually has been for a long time in danger, but now it’s more obvious to everyone. We are seeing now the consequences of a leadership of a sectarian regime that was ruling in Iraq for the past eight years, led by Mr. Nouri al-Maliki, and the lack of trust among his partners, corruption. All of that gave the way for radicals to rise and gave the chance to occupy a two million city, population city, in Mosul, the second-largest Iraqi city. All of this is threatening the integrity of Iraq, the unity of the country, and threatening Iraq to descend to a more like Syrian-like civil war.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And when you talk about the reign of al-Maliki and the sectarianism of his government, could you elaborate on that? Because clearly al-Maliki as a Shiite leader and the majority of the population of Iraq being Shiite, the United States has continued to back his rule there despite his clampdown on any kind of dissent.

MOHAMMED AL DULAIMY: Yes, we have enough evidence, actually, videos of speeches of Mr. al-Maliki himself, showing that this man is leading the country towards a civil war. His previous press conferences accusing his partners of terrorism, sometimes forging cases against them, as they say, led the country to high tension, causing Sunnis to go into streets to protest and to show their demands. Mr. al-Maliki refused most of these demands. And to the limit, he accused them of continuing some historical event that took place 1,400 years ago, about 1,400 years ago, and he said that the killers of Imam Husayn are still living among—he meant Sunnis—among the other party, which he meant Sunnis. Mr. al-Maliki has failed to build an Iraqi military that will respect human rights. I just want to say that fanatics, Islamists, feed on such human rights breaches. It helps them to further their cause and to win more recruits. This is what has had—happening in Iraq.
And you can see the videos of how the Iraqi army dealt with demonstrators in Hawija, how they killed men carrying sticks, only iron sticks, or sometimes carrying nothing. You could see the video, the brutality of the military. Mr. al-Maliki punished no one. Mr. al-Maliki always refuses to address these issues to de-escalate the sectarian tensions in Iraq. Mr. al-Maliki always also refused to disarm some Iranian-backed trained Shia militias like al-Asa’ib. These kinds of actions caused the Sunni community to live in a turmoil. And here I think that the United States, the administration, we, all of us, should speak loudly to stop the descent of the country into that civil war, to stop pushing ordinary people towards fanatics to join their lines just to defend themselves against an army that is willing to kill them all.

Mohammed Al Dulaimy is a name many should already know.  If you don't, think Sahar Issa or Laith Hammoudi.  They were among the Iraqi reporters working for McClatchy Newspapers.  They went out of their way and took great risks to let the world know what was really happening in Iraq.  Today, Al Dulaimy is seeking refugee status in the United States -- status which should be immediately granted.  He's the perfect example of why the program was created.

Ned Parker was also on today's broadcast of Democracy Now!  We'll be noting him later in the snapshot, his writing, but we'll wait for tomorrow to note his remarks from the program.

We will note what Iraqi Taher Hassan tells the Guardian about life in Samarra now that the rebels have taken over:

Everyone in Samarra is happy with the fighters' management of the city. They have proved to be professional and competent. We have water and power; there is a shortage in fuel because Maliki's forces have cut the bridges between Samarra and Baghdad. The fighters themselves did not harm or kill anyone as they swept forward. Any man who hands over his arm is safe, whatever his background. This attitude is giving huge comfort to people here.
Four days ago, Maliki's forces raided al-Razzaq mosque in Samarra, brought a few locals whom they picked up from different parts of the city and killed them in the mosque. What do you think the people's feeling would be towards these military forces? We have lived enough years of injustice, revenge and tyranny, and we can't stand any more.

There are new developments in Iraq.  For example, Mitchell Prothero (McClatchy Newspapers) reports:

 The Kurdish Regional Government in Irbil announced that its highly trained militia, the peshmerga, had taken complete control of the city of Kirkuk, which has long been a point of competition between its Arab and Kurdish residents, after the mostly Arab government security forces fled. The move makes the Kurds’ long sought goal of control over the city a reality.
“The whole of Kirkuk has fallen into the hands of peshmerga,” Kurdish spokesman Jabbar Yawar told Reuters. “No Iraqi army remains in Kirkuk now.”

Read more here:

Today was also the day Nouri wanted a state of emergency declared.

That is a very scary proposition.

Nouri could use it to restore order or to terrorize.

The latter possibility may explain why few members of Parliament bothered to attend the session.

There wasn't enough to hold a session.

The Guardian offers a photo essay on recent events.

The real indicator of how bad things are in Iraq?

Today's State Dept press briefing.

Jen Psaki:  Hi, everyone. Just have two items for all of you at the top. The United States is concerned that the deteriorating security situation is deepening the humanitarian crisis in Iraq, as we’ve been discussing in here the last several days. The International Organization for Migration estimates that the number of people displaced by the violence in Mosul and surrounding areas in recent days may have reached 500,000. They join an additional 430,000 people displaced by fighting in Anbar, as well as the nearly 1 million people who remain displaced from the war in Iraq.
We are announcing today we’re providing an additional $12.8 million to international organization partners working to meet the needs of internally displaced persons and conflict victims in Iraq. The new assistance will provide immediate relief by supplying food, shelter, and medicine for Iraq’s rapidly growing population of displaced people. This additional support includes $6.6 million to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees for essential humanitarian supplies like blankets, tents, and hygiene items. And it provides 6.2 million to other international organizations for food and clean water, core relief items, and urgent medical care for the affected. These contributions are in part in response to an additional emergency appeal, the United Nations Strategic Response Plan of $104 million issued in March for Iraq.

With this announcement, the total U.S. humanitarian assistance to Iraq in Fiscal Year 2014 is more than $136 million. We urge other donors to help meet the critical needs outlined in this appeal. Since 2010, the United States has contributed to the United Nations, other international organizations, and nongovernmental organizations more than $1.1 billion in humanitarian assistance for Iraqi refugees and internationally displaced – internally displaced people.

That's right, Psaki opened with Iraq.

And, no, not replying to the first question a reporter asked -- she brought up Iraq without prompting.

The blame game.  Robert Parry (Consortium News via OpEd News) pulls his thumb out of his ass and sniffs it.  Barack's chief temple prostitute in the Cult of St. Barack wants you to know it's Bully Boy Bush's fault.  Take your sad ass off the stage, no one's buying from your whorish wares anymore.  Events in 2014 were just described by an Iraqi.  But Parry doesn't  care about Iraq or the Iraqi people.  He only wants his turn to nurse at Barack's crotch and he will lie, distract and whore in his foolish hopes that one day his mouth will be where it so longs to be.

We've been the Cassandra for years, pointing out what was happening in Iraq during Barack's first term. We've noted that overturning the will of the people -- the 2010 vote -- was dangerous to any democracy that might have been taking root but, more importantly, denying a people a voice in their government is going to lead to protests and if they're still not listened to then, it's going to lead to violence.

That's not me being psychic and it's not me blazing a new trail in political science.  It's basic understanding of how revolutions, rebellions and resistance work.

When people turn out to vote and their votes surprise everyone's expectations, it's a monumental moment.  It's reduced to nothing when, 8 months later, Barack has US officials negotiate The Erbil Agreement -- a legal contract to give Nouri a second term as prime minister.

When the only thing the people can hold onto is that this contract -- which nullified their voices -- means that there will be some progress.  The winning party, Iraqiya, for instance, will be rewarded with a new and independent national security council which will be headed by Iraqiya's Ayad Allawi.  The back and forth over who has the right to oil-rich Kirkuk -- the Kurdistan Regional Government or the central government out of Baghdad -- will finally be settled by implementing Article 140 of the Constitution.  So many promises in that contract.  The US brokered the contract and swore it had the full backing of the White House.  The Erbil Agreement ended the political stalemate that had lasted eight months and had prevented the formation of the government.  But the day after The Erbil Agreement was agreed upon and announced, there was a hiccup when the Parliament finally met.  From the November 11, 2010 snapshot:

Martin Chulov (Guardian) reports one hiccup in the process today involved Ayad Allawi who US President Barack Obama phoned asking/pleading that he accept the deal because "his rejection of post would be a vote of no confidence". Ben Lando, Sam Dagher and Margaret Coker (Wall St. Journal) confirm the phone call via two sources and state Allawi will take the post -- newly created -- of chair of the National Council On Higher Policy: "Mr. Obama, in his phone call to Mr. Allawi on Thursday, promised to throw U.S. weight behind the process and guarantee that the council would retain meaningful and legal power, according to the two officials with knowledge of the phone call." 

Guess what?  Barack's oral promises?  About as useless as The Erbil Agreement.  Those promises Barack made to get Allawi to support the deal?  Allawi never got to chair the National Council on Higher Policy.  Even though it's promised in The Erbil Agreement and was promised by Barack himself, Nouri never created it.  Nouri used The Erbil Agreement to get his second term and then refused to honor the other parts -- the promises he made to get others to agree to giving him a second term.

First, he stalled.  Then his people started declaring the contract -- the one that gave him a second term -- illegal and stating Nouri couldn't be bound by it.  By the summer of 2011, Iraqiya, the Kurds and Moqtada al-Sadr were publicly calling for Nouri to implement the contract.  By the spring of 2012, they, Ammar al-Hakim and others were calling for a vote of no-confidence in the Parliament.  They followed the process, they collected the necessary signatures. Jalal Talabani -- noted deserter who hasn't been in Iraq since December 2012 -- took it upon himself to 'create' a role -- not noted in the Constitution -- of vetting the signatures.  John Conyers is a US House Rep.  He's struggling with re-election this year because his petition contained signatures that were a problem (they weren't registered to vote, for example).

That is how you verify a petition.  Are the signatures from eligible people?  For the no-confidence vote, the signatures had to of Members of Parliament.  Jalal verified these signatures.  They were accurate.

But Jalal announced he'd also done something else, he'd asked (pressured?) if they still wanted to sign?  Jalal says -- though he released no proof -- that signers backed off.  They'd signed it at the time but didn't mean it now, a week or so later.

Guess what?

You sign a petition, you sign a petition.  You don't get to pull your name from it afterwards.  If MPs who signed now didn't want to vote no-confidence, they weren't bound by the petition to vote any way in a parliamentary vote.  The petition called for a vote on the issue, they signed it, that was the end of the story.  Until Fat Boy Jalal betrayed Iraq (usually, he just betrays the Kurdish region).  He made his announcement and then fled the country claiming he had a life threatening medical condition.  That later turned out to be elective surgery. Jalal's a long term liar.

But the votes were denied, The Erbil Agreement was denied, the Parliament was denied.  And throughout most of this, protests took place.

When your vote doesn't matter, when your legislative body is foiled in its attempts to represent you, when a leader refuses to honor a contract and when your protests accomplish nothing, what is left but violence?


Unlike Robert Parry, Ned Parker's broken important stories in the last decade.  At the Los Angeles Times, for example, Parker repeatedly broke news of Nouri's secret prisons (a detail Robert Parry's had a real hard time finding).  This is from Parker's "Who Lost Iraq?" (POLITICO):

It was the April 2010 national election and its tortured aftermath that sewed the seeds of today’s crisis in Iraq. Beforehand, U.S. state and military officials had prepared for any scenario, including the possibility that Maliki might refuse to leave office for another Shiite Islamist candidate. No one imagined that the secular Iraqiya list, backed by Sunni Arabs, would win the largest number of seats in parliament. Suddenly the Sunnis’ candidate, secular Shiite Ayad Allawi, was poised to be prime minister. But Maliki refused and dug in.
And it is here where America found its standing wounded. Anxious about midterm elections in November and worried about the status of U.S. forces slated to be drawn down to 50,000 by August, the White House decided to pick winners. According to multiple officials in Baghdad at time, Vice President Joseph Biden and then-Ambassador Chris Hill decided in July 2010 to support Maliki for prime minister, but Maliki had to bring the Sunnis and Allawi onboard. Hill and his staff then made America’s support for Maliki clear in meetings with Iraqi political figures.
The stalemate would drag on for months, and in the end both the United States and its arch-foe Iran proved would take credit for forming the government. But Washington would be damaged in the process. It would be forever linked with endorsing Maliki. One U.S. Embassy official I spoke with just months before the government was formed privately expressed regret at how the Americans had played kingmaker.

Let's also note Parker's "Iraq: The Road to Chaos" (The New York Review of Books):
Meanwhile, instead of producing a decisive outcome, the 2010 election left the country deeply divided. The vote was a near draw between Maliki and Allawi’s Iraqiya bloc, and it took nine months of negotiation and heavy involvement from both the Americans and Iranians to forge a new “national unity” government. According to the compromise reached, it was to be headed by Maliki with important cabinet positions allocated to Iraqiya, including the vice presidency and the ministries of finance and defense. Allawi himself would head a new military and political council, a step the US had strongly pushed for. But as soon as the new government was seated, Maliki refused to relinquish control of the defense and interior ministries, and thwarted the establishment of Allawi’s council. He eventually chased his Sunni vice president and finance minister away with the threat of arrest warrants. As Maliki saw it, his political survival depended in part on ruthlessly limiting his opponents’ power, and he could not leave himself exposed to enemies, whether Shiite Islamist rivals or members of the Sunni opposition. 
Okay, so we've dismissed with the faux left of the Cult of St. Barack.

At the right-wing media critique site Newsbusters, Jeffrey Meyer offers one critique:

Al Qaeda-affiliated militants have seized control of two cities in Northern Iraq, including Mosul the nation’s second largest and Tikrit, the hometown of Sadaam Hussein. Despite the increased violence, all three network morning shows did their best to downplay or ignore the Obama Administration’s Iraq policy for potentially contributing to the violence. 
On Thursday, June 12, ABC, CBS, and NBC all provided extensive coverage on the latest violence on and the danger of the radical Jihadists taking over parts of Iraq. However, only NBC briefly noted President Obama’s decision to quickly withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq. ABC didn't use the word "Obama," and the only CBS reference to the president was to fret that the administration has "no current idea" on whether or not to send in military support to aid the Iraqi government.
Did Barack withdraw too soon?
We've argued no.  In fact, we've noted that a drawdown is not a withdrawal, we've noted a Special-Ops brigade was sent back into Iraq in the fall of 2012. Others on the left have ignored Iraq.  They'll have fun trying to scramble together an argument.
But 'withdraw' too soon?  That's an endless debate with no real answer, just opinions.
The thing that matters in the above 'al Qaeda linked.'
That would have been bad at any time.  With Barack surrendering five Taliban prisoners, this is coming at a really bad time for the White House.  Barack's favorability rating has reached an all time low and Pew finds those with an opinion on the prisoner swap tend to object (43%) rather than support the deal.
His numbers can get a lot worse.
The White House and the State Dept need to be explaining how this is not a Syrian issue but an Iraq one. They could follow the reporting of Greg Botelho (CNN):

After the military was overrun, it was dissolved -- along with Iraq's defense and information ministries -- by Paul Bremer, the top U.S. civilian administrator in Iraq.
That left hundreds of thousands of troops suddenly out of work. Those with ranks of colonel and above -- who knew the most about strategy, tactics and more -- were hit even harder, as they weren't entitled to severance packages and couldn't work for the new Iraqi government.
Then they had to go somewhere.
According to Fawaz Gerges, a professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science, "hundreds, if not thousands, of skilled officers of Saddam Hussein's ... joined ISIS."
That means this militant force -- even as it is supplemented by foreign fighters -- is trained and knows Iraq well. And its leaders may be more organized, strategically savvy and adept at fighting than some in Iraq's current military.

What Botellho is reporting is already accepted at the State Dept.  They just need to work harder on getting that information out there.

This is an Iraq issue, most fighters are Iraqi, this is a violent development but it is not an unexpected one.  If the administration is unable to make these basic points, Barack's going to tumble even more in the polls and Democrats are going to lose even more in the mid-terms.

Now I don't care a great deal about the elections and I certainly haven't spent the last six years excusing Barack's errors, mistakes and abuses. But I do care about Iraq and, it just so happens, right now for a brief moment, so does the White House.  They can use this violence as an opportunity to address real issues and start real conversations or they can let the events overwhelm them.

If they're going to take control of the issue, that's going to mean finding another fall guy.

US Speaker of the House John Boehner (link is video):  Back in January, I urged the President to get engaged with what's going on in Iraq.  And this week, we've seen big cities in Iraq overrun with terrorists.  The Obama administration's failure to reach a Status Of Forces Agreement continues to have serious consequences for Iraq and American interests in the region. 

No, not Boehner.  But his remarks today are going to harm the White House.  He ends his remarks with, "And what's the President doing?  Taking a nap."

That's what the White House will let stand?  Barack took a nap and missed Iraq?

The reality is, as we've stayed for the last four years now, the problem is Nouri al-Maliki.

The White House doesn't need to create a fall guy, they only need to shine the light on the problem.

If you click here, you can see Fred Kaplan discussing how Nouri's created the problems in the last four years.  Or I hope you can.  I'm going to embed the video but it's not playing right now.  I'm arguing with a friend on a second phone -- a CNN friend -- about the video not playing so maybe they'll have it fixed by the time this snapshot is up.

Hopefully, you'll be able to stream Kaplan on CNN's Newsroom from earlier today.  If not, here's an excerpt from his latest column at Slate:

As the U.S. pullout began under the terms of a treaty signed in 2008 by then-President George W. Bush, Maliki, the leader of a Shiite political party, promised to run a more inclusive government—to bring more Sunnis into the ministries, to bring more Sunnis from the Sons of Iraq militia into the national army, to settle property disputes in Kirkuk, to negotiate a formula on sharing oil revenue with Sunni districts, and much more.

Maliki has since backpedaled on all of these commitments and has pursued policies designed to strengthen Shiites and marginalize Sunnis. That has led to the resurgence of sectarian violence in the past few years. The Sunnis, finding themselves excluded from the political process, have taken up arms as the route to power. In the process, they have formed alliances with Sunni jihadist groups—such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, which has seized not just Mosul but much of northern Iraq—on the principle that the enemy of their enemy is their friend.

Fred Kaplan and I disagree on pretty much everything.  On Nouri's harm to Iraq we can find consensus. That's the White House's first clue that they've got to shine the light on Nouri al-Maliki.

And shining that light on Nouri would take the heat off Barack.  Kevin Rawlinson (Guardian) reports on Hillary Clinton's reaction:

She added that Obama was setting out preconditions to Iraq's prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, before there could be any question of providing the military support the latter was seeking. Iraqi forces, she said, should take the lead in fighting Isis.
"Maliki has to be willing to demonstrate unequivocally that he is a leader for all Iraqis, not for a sectarian slice of the country," she said.

But Nouri can't be trusted to keep promises.  Not with his record of breaking them.

Today's violence includes, National Iraqi News Agency reports a clash near Kirkuk's al-Manzila left photographer Kamran Najem Ibrahim dead and fourteen peshmerga injured, the corpses of 12 Iraqi soldiers were discovered near Shirqat Village,, 2 military officers and 2 university professors were shot dead in Tikrit, 10-year-old Ahmed Mohammed Ibrahim (nephew of MP Qutaiba al-Jubouri) was shot dead in Baiji, Army Aviation says they killed over 70 suspects in Salah al-Din Province, and several Mosul homes belonging to Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi were blown up (yesterday saw the Mosul home of al-Nujaifi's father blown up).

Again, US House Rep Jeff Miller is the Chair of the House Veterans Affairs Committee.  His office issued the following on Tuesday:

Jun 10, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C.— After House passage of H.R. 4810, the Veterans Access to Care Act, Chairman Jeff Miller released the following statement:  
“The news about VA’s delays in care crisis just keeps getting worse. The recent deaths of at least 23 veterans have been linked to delayed VA medical care. Another 35 veterans have died while awaiting care in the Phoenix area alone, 57,000 veteran patients have been waiting at least 90 days for their first VA medical appointment, and an additional 64,000 veterans appear to have been denied appointments after requesting them. I cannot state it strongly enough – this is a national disgrace. But for our veterans it is something more – a national emergency. I appreciate the urgency that House leadership displayed in moving this crucial legislation so quickly. I hope the Senate will move swiftly on similar legislation so VA can begin to restore trust with the veterans it is charged with serving.” – Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs

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