Friday, February 20, 2015

Tom Hayden Democrats

tom hayden democrats 1

From September 9, 2012, that's  "Tom Hayden Democrats."  C.I. noted:

Barack is surprised by Tom Hayden humping his leg and Barack declares, "All Tom Hayden Democrats should be spayed and nuetered!"  Valerie Jarrett adds, "And given a flea dip."  Panting heavily as he humps -- he is an old whore, Tom Hayden rasps, "F**king Obama, f**king ourselves."     Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts.

Sad but true.  And what ever happened to Tom's claim that one day he'd hold Barack's feet to the fire?

That day never came.

This was one of the first comics I worked Valerie into, Valerie Jarrett.

She's one of my favorites in the administration and now I use her whenever I can because it always makes the comic funnier.

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

Thursday, February 19, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, the Islamic State kills a journalist, Iraqi forces spend two days physically attacking journalists in Baghdad, how many US Marines are on the ground in Iraq because Iraqi media has a number and western media plays dumb, CENTCOM whispers about an upcoming assault on Mosul which may involve US troops, Barack's little lecture at this week's failed summit results in criticism from an Iraqi leader who had been seen as a friend of the US government, Nouri continues to reign on Arabic social media (as the most crooked and criminal person on the face of the planet), and much more.

Starting with reporters . . .

Iraqi journalist killed by Daesh: Qais Talal Agha show same respect we give to western journos

Qais was kidnapped last June and executed Wednesday in Mosul with his corpse handed over to his family afterwards.  The Journalistic Freedoms Observatory notes that 8 more journalists are said to be held by the Islamic State in Nineveh Province. Qais was 27 years old.

That murder is outrageous.

It's also all too common in Iraq.

Iraqis may recoil at the actions of the Islamic State but they're not pushed into the arms of their government -- no, not when their government is beating up journalists.

Wednesday saw a reporter and photographer for the Sumerian Channel severely beaten and a number of other journalists were harmed -- they were attacked by security forces in Baghdad who were insisting upon seeing their cell phones.  Al Arabiya News reports:

Several journalists were beaten on Wednesday during a press conference with senior government officials held at the Al-Nahrain Strategic Studies Center in Baghdad, Al Arabiya News Channel reported.
Al Arabiya’s correspondent in Baghdad said the journalists were assaulted by the body guards of National Security Advisor Faleh Al Fayad when some of them demanded more time to film the event, which was also attended by Interior Minister Mohammed Ghabban and Iraq's Military Spokesman Saad Maan.

Alsumaria notes that today another group of journalists were attacked when they openly protested yesterday's attack.  They were attacked by Iraqi forces.  Today's attack took place in Baghdad's Tahrir Square and left several reporters beaten including an Al-Fayhaa photographer.

It's such a public nightmare that even Iraq's laughable Ministry of Human Rights has had to issue a statement decrying the attack.  All Iraq News notes National Alliance MP Hamdiya al-Husseiny has denounced the attacks.  Alsumaria notes that Diyala Province Governor Amer Nostra is demanding that those responsible for the attacks be punished.  Meanwhile the Observatory for Journalistic Freedoms is stating that an apology will not suffice and will not be accepted, that the attack is an attack on basic rights and an apology will accomplish nothing.

All Iraq News reports Speaker of Parliament Saleem al-Jubouri has declared that legal actions will be taken against those who attacked the journalists. While journalists attached to the United Nations in Geneva are calling for an investigation into the "criminal" attacks.

So how many billion has the US taxpayer forked over for the training of Iraqi forces?

Back in January, Loveday Morris (Washington Post) reported on US training efforts and observed, "Years after the U.S. military tried to create a new army in Iraq -- at a cost of over $25 billion -- American trainers have returned to help rebuild the country’s fighting force."


So they can kill journalists more quickly?

Why are US tax dollars being used to provide training and weapons to forces who openly and publicly attack the press?

And does the US press think that if they ignore it (a) they're helping US President Barack Obama and (b) being real journalists?

On (a), probably.

They whore constantly.

On (b), let's remember that when a US reporter dies, the US press expects the entire world to stop and mourn.

But the same press ignored all the deaths of Iraqi journalists.

Their true outrage over the Islamic State, please remember, has nothing to do with what the Islamic State does in Iraq.  It has to do with one American reporter and one American-Israeli reporter being killed by the Islamic State.

When that happened, they went crazy, they put on the hair shirts, they wailed, they wanted 'justice.'

When it's the Iraqis that suffer, the US press really doesn't give a damn.

You can tell by the fact that they don't even pretend to be interested in any of the daily (ongoing) violence in Iraq.

A point this Tweet really dries home.

                           Retweeted 5,517 times

While CNN talks Nutella and Kittens, they ignore the 50 Muslims slaughtered in the streets of Iraq today by the Shia.

In other violence, Alsumaria reports a roadside bombing southwest of Baghdad left 2 parents and their daughter dead,  All Iraq News states over "150 civilians" were executed in Anbar today by the Islamic State.  Margaret Griffis ( counts 196 violent deaths today throughout Iraq.

Still no political solutions in sight to stem the violence.

But Barack's always up for tossing the US military at any problem -- apparently mistaking trained forces for a giant paper towel from a roll of Bounty.

Alsumaria reports US Marines -- about 3,000 -- are now on the ground in Iraq to participate in the upcoming effort to seize control of Mosul (which the Islamic State has controlled since June).  3,000 is not being reported in the US.

Zero is being reported in the US.

In fact, when even the possibility is floated,   MSM outlets tends to avert their gaze and turn their heads.  Jason Ditz ( notes, "US officials are now saying that the offensive against the ISIS-held city of Mosul will be supported by the US, with both airstrikes and “if necessary” US ground troops backing the Iraqi military."

Ditz links to the only MSM outlet noting US troops possibly being involved in an assault to take back Mosul, NBC News' Jim Miklaszewski who opens with:

Iraqi military forces backed by U.S. airstrikes and possibly American ground troops could launch an assault to wrest control of the city of Mosul from ISIS as early as April, a senior U.S. official told NBC News on Thursday.      

Paul McLeary (Defense News) also cites an unnamed CENTCOM official as his source for these numbers, "Approximately 20,000 to 25,000 Iraqi and Peshmerga troops will move on the city to retake it from an estimated 2,000 IS fighters -- an attacking force that will include five Iraqi Army brigades, three peshmerga brigades, and former Mosul police forces, tribal fighters, and Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service troops."

If you're thinking this is a source Paul has cultivated and worked . . .

You're wrong.

This was not a private conversation.

It was a background briefing.

Here's how that works, the Pentagon is the john insisting on his fantasies being played out and the press are the whores working to make the fantasy come true.

At least Nancy A. Youssef (Daily Beast) provides some context when repeating the words the Pentagon wants the news to carry:

That the Pentagon would announce the makeup, time frame, and goal of a military campaign is unusual, particularly against a group considered to be one of the world’s most lethal. Indeed, ISIS stormed Mosul (and took control of it on June 10) in large part because the Iraqi forces stationed there ran away from their posts. ISIS’s swift sweep through Mosul sparked the U.S.-led military campaign.
[. . .]
The CENTCOM official said he was announcing the details of the upcoming operation to demonstrate “the level of commitment… to this upcoming operation.”

Press Association notes that the effort will begin in March . . .

or . . .

. . .  April.

The Pentagon's not sure which.

Doesn't exactly build confidence, does it?

"we are not at war with Islam" says Obama. But he is at war in 5 Islamic countries (Afg, Iraq & drones in Yemen,Pak & Somalia)
74 retweets 56 favorites

Good point.  We noted the remark and the perception in yesterday's snapshot and also pointed out:

Today, he decided to speak on behalf of Muslims.
And he's not a Muslim.
How do you think that plays in the Middle East?
The man who's bombing Iraq, the man whose drones are killing civilians in Yemen and Pakistan and elsewhere, this man declared today -- this non-Muslim -- what is and isn't Islam, what is and isn't the proper practice.
How do you think that plays out?
There's a good chance that Barack put his big foot in his big mouth yet again and only did more damage.

How do you think it plays out, Barack lecturing the Muslim world?

If you're still pondering that, All Iraq News reports:

The head of the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council, Ammar al-Hakim, denounced the "double standards of the US towards fighting terrorism, considering these double standards as "helpful factor for encouraging terrorism."
In his speech at the weekly cultural Forum he holds in his office in Baghdad, al-Hakim said "We heard reports over killing a Muslim family in the US for racist reasons but we did not hear any denouncement for this crime," noting that "Even the US President took many days to issue a denouncement for this crime which is considered a clear evidence for double standards." 

That's not Moqtada al-Sadr, cleric and movement leader, speaking.  Moqtada?  The press loves to call him "radical cleric" because he opposes US forces on Iraqi soil and always has and because he's repeatedly called out the US government.

No, that's Ammar.  Ammar who, like his late father, has always been a friend to the US government.

Ammar who many administration officials were saying should be named Iraq's new prime minister (instead it was Haider al-Abadi).

Ammar felt the need to call out Barack.

The xenophobia of the White House is matched only by its hubris.

Again, there are times when, if you're smart, you learn to shut your mouth.

I know Bill Clinton, I like Bill Clinton.  So you can dismiss this observation if you need to.  But when Bill Clinton hosted events -- like Barack's summit this week -- he was more than happy to let others shine.  He was more than happy to let others speak.

By contrast, Barack's got to be the center of attention, the one who knows everything and can't stop talking.  It's a 'summit' in name only.  The entire purpose for everyone to assemble and listen to Barack drone on.

The world did not need non-Muslim Barack explaining what was and wasn't Islam.  In a world in which Muslims are repeatedly persecuted, the last thing needed was a non-Muslim standing up and trying to be the voice -- the single voice -- of a group he's not even a part of.  Pompous doesn't begin to describe it.  And it was and it is offensive.

Mr. Know It All
Well ya think you know it all
But ya don't know a thing at all
Ain't it, ain't it something y'all
When somebody tells you something 'bout you
Think that they know you more than you do
So you take it down another pill to swallow

-- "Mr. Know It All," written by Brian Seals, Ester Dean, Brett James, Dante Jones, first recorded by  Kelly Clarkson for her album Stronger

Barack chose to grand stand and lecture yesterday.  Today, Ammar al-Hakim had words for Barack.  You can be sure others in the Middle East felt even more strongly than Ammar.

The government of Iraq has wrongly claimed the right to Jewish artifacts. The Jews were persecuted in Iraq prior to the 2003 invasion.  Following the start of the Iraq War, the Jewish community was targeted even more and has dwindled to approximately 5 people.  Yet the Iraqi government believes that the Jewish property that they stole or that they forced Jews to leave behind somehow belongs to them.

There's the exhibit that we've gone over repeatedly.  But there's also an artifact that has made it to Israel -- a 200-year-old Torah scroll -- and no one seems to know how.

Some thought the US government might have had it and kept it out of the official archive (that they restored and digitized and plan to hand over to the Iraqi government).

In response to this suspicion, last month the US Embassy in Baghdad issued the following:

Regarding the Status of the Iraqi Jewish Archive

January 28, 2015
The Iraqi Jewish Archive remains in the custody of the U.S. National Archives and Record Administration while plans are finalized on future exhibitions in the United States.  None of the materials in the Iraqi Jewish Archive have traveled outside of the United States.  The United States continues to abide by the terms of its agreement with the Government of Iraq.

The exhibit of the material in Washington in 2013 and New York in 2014 has led to increased understanding between Iraq and the United States, and a greater recognition of the diverse heritage of Iraq.  We look forward to continuing our cooperation with the Government of Iraq on this matter so that the exhibit can be displayed in other cities in the United States.

Again, no one knows how the scroll left Iraq and ended up in Israel.  Last month, Justin Moyer (Washington Post) offered:

How the scroll left Iraq isn’t clear. Jews emigrating to Israel from Iraq were once forbidden from taking cultural objects. But the scroll may have been smuggled out of the country after the United States’s invasion in 2003. The scroll had ended up at Israel’s embassy in Jordan, where Jewish artifacts were often brought after the beginning of the Iraq War. It may even have been salvaged by U.S. soldiers.

But after a mob attacked Israel’s embassy in Cairo in 2011, Jordan didn’t seem like such a safe place for a Torah after all.

We bring up the issue today because former prime minister and forever thug Nouri al-Maliki is more than just one of Iraq's three vice presidents.  He's also the subject of intense debate and speculation in Arabic social media where his criminality is always being discussed.

This week's big Nouri speculation?  That Nouri actually arranged for the scroll to work its way to Israel in a long process that would hide his involvement in the scroll's journey and that he did this for the cash with the Israeli government paying him several million dollars.

Is it true?

Who knows?

I'd guess not.

But Nouri told so many lies when he was prime minister (and attacked and killed so many people) and destroyed Iraq that it's only fitting that whenever anything controversial arises, he is always the first person suspected of wrong doing.

jim miklaszewski
ned parker
nancy a. youssef
the daily beast

jason ditz
Read on ...

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Economy

 the economy


From September 12, 2012, that's "The Economy."  C.I. noted:

  Humpty Dumpty is face up, yolk spilling out on the ground.  "And 4 more years couldn't put the economy back together again."  Barack says, "Oh, he'll be fine.  He's got Obamacare."   Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts.

The sad thing is, both the economy joke and the ObamaCare joke still work today.

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

Thursday, February 12, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, a military base in Iraq with US troops on it comes under attack, calls for pressure to be put on Congress to reject President Barack Obama's AUMF request,  the House Foreign Affairs Committee addresses Iraq and the AUMF,  US House Rep Brian Higgins declares: "You know, let's just acknowledge that our investment of $25 billion in the Iraqi national army failed." and much more.

Yesterday, US President Barack Obama sent a written list of what he wanted from the Congress regarding his ongoing actions against Iraq and Syria that supposedly will defeat the Islamic State.  Since August 8th, he's been bombing Iraq and now he wants the US Congress to make it legal by passing an Authorization of Use of Military Force.

Joseph Kishore (WSWS) points out:

There are no geographical limits to the military action sanctioned by the resolution. Making clear the global framework of the new “war on ISIS,” Obama wrote in a letter to Congress that ISIS could “pose a threat beyond the Middle East, including to the United States homeland.”The inclusion of language ending the authorization in three years unless the resolution is renewed has as much significance as similar “sunset” provisions in the Patriot Act, which has been routinely reauthorized by Congress. In his announcement of the AUMF, Obama stressed that the three-year framework did not represent a “timetable” for military action and could be extended by Congress under his successor in the White House.
In an attempt to delude the American public, which is overwhelmingly opposed to war, that the new operations are to be limited in scope, the authorization states that it does not provide for “enduring offensive ground combat operations.” Again, the wording is formulated so as to allow virtually any type of military action. There is no definition of “enduring” or “offensive.”
Extended combat operations in Iraq, Syria or another country could be justified on the grounds that they were “defensive” or not “enduring.”
Obama claimed that the resolution “does not call for the deployment of US ground combat forces in Iraq and Syria.” This is simply a lie. Obama last year deployed 1,500 US troops to Iraq, many of which have already been involved in combat operations. The authorization would sanction a vast expansion of such operations.

Eric Garris ( believes a huge public outcry could sink the request:

It’s time for a preemptive strike at the War Party’s congressional fortress. Please call your congressional representative today and urge them to vote no on the AUMF – because we can win this one. We stopped them last time when Obama decided it was time to bomb Syria. One by one members of Congress who were inclined to authorize that military campaign backed away when faced with a deluge of outraged calls from constituents. We can do it again – oh yes we can!
Please make that call today – because the future of this country, not to mention the peace of the world, depends on it.

And we need your help to stop this war before it starts. Your tax-deductible donation to will give us the resources to stop the well-funded War Party in its tracks – but we can do it without you! Make your contribution today – because the future of our country. and the peace of the world, depends on it.

Could an outcry bury Barack's AUMF?

Today, US House Rep Lois Frankel wondered about what Barack was proposing, "Is military action the only thing?  How does humanitarian aid fit into this? Or educating women?  Is this the only way out?  And where does it leave us?  Who fills the void if we get ISIL?  I mean, I could ask a lot more questions."  She was speaking at the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing today.

There's also these comments from the hearing.

US House Rep Lee Zeldin:  The President in his original strategy back in September when he gave a speech, he was talking about dropping bombs and  reliance on Iraqi military and law enforcement to finish the job.  When I was in Iraq in 2006, it was an accomplishment to get them to show up to work.  Expecting no threat that day, getting them to show up to a precinct that's a quarter mile from their house.  We were trying to get them to show up.  So relying on elements on the ground who have no morale, no patriotism, they don't have the resources, they don't have the training, they don't have the will is something that we have to take into account.  In that speech, the President said this was going to be different than past wars in Iraq and Afghanistan because there will be no boots on the ground.  And, in the same exact speech, he says, "Tonight I'm announcing I'm sending 495 additional troops to Iraq.  Someone shows me a picture of their grandson in the Air Force.  He's in Baghdad. He's wearing the uniform.  He's carrying a rifle.  He's wearing boots.  Those boots are on the ground.  The use of this term 'boots on the ground' here in Washington?  The reality is that we have boots on the ground right now and I think we need to not worry about what polls say what wording sounds the best.

We'll come back to the hearing but Frankel and Zeldin's reaction and that of others certainly suggest that Eric Garris is making a valid argument that pressure can be brought to bear and have an effect.

In addition, David Sherfinski (Washington Times) reports on a Fox News poll which found 73% of respondents feel Barack's lacks "a clear strategy for defeating the Islamic State."   And David Espo and Matthew Daly (AP) report no one in Congress has yet stepped up to champion it.

Yesterday, Senator Bernie Sanders' office issued the following:

Michael Briggs
(202) 224-5141

WASHINGTON, Feb. 11 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) issued the following statement today after President Barack Obama formally asked Congress to authorize a military campaign against the Islamic State terrorist group:
“The Islamic State is a brutal and dangerous terrorist organization which has murdered thousands of innocent men, women and children, including Americans. It must be defeated.
“I voted against the war in Iraq because I feared very much the destabilizing impact it would have on the region. Today, after 13 years in Afghanistan and 12 years in Iraq, after the loss of almost 7,000 troops and the expenditure of trillions of dollars, I very much fear U.S. involvement in an expanding and never-ending quagmire in that region of the world.
“I have supported U.S. airstrikes against ISIS and believe they are authorized under current law, and I support targeted U.S. military efforts to protect U.S. citizens.
“It is my firm belief, however, that the war against ISIS will never be won unless nations in the Middle East step up their military efforts and take more responsibility for the security and stability of their region. The United States and other western powers should support our Middle East allies, but this war will never be won unless Muslim nations in the region lead that fight.
“It is worth remembering that Saudi Arabia, for example, is a nation controlled by one of the wealthiest families in the world and has the fourth largest military budget of any nation. This is a war for the soul of Islam and the Muslim nations must become more heavily engaged.

“I oppose sending U.S. ground troops into combat in another bloody war in the Middle East. I therefore cannot support the resolution in its current form without clearer limitations on the role of U.S. combat troops.”

Senator Tim Kaine's office issued the following today:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tim Kaine released the following statement on the draft Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) against ISIL announced by President Obama today. For more than seven months, Kaine has been a leading voice urging the administration to seek a specific authorization for military action against ISIL while pressing his Congressional colleagues to debate and vote on the mission – a mission he believes goes beyond the intent of existing authorizations from 2001 and 2002.
“I applaud President Obama for taking this important step in defining the United States’ role in the multinational effort to defeat ISIL. With the Administration’s decision to submit a written proposal and formally seek Congressional authorization, we can now focus on having the proper debate and vote the American people and our servicemembers deserve.

“The administration’s draft authorization reflects consultations with Congress and includes many provisions I support, such as a repeal of the 2002 authorization and a 3-year sunset.  But I am concerned about the breadth and vagueness of the U.S. ground troop language and will seek to clarify it. As the Foreign Relations Committee prepares to take up this draft authorization, I look forward to a robust debate, along with amendments and votes, that will inform the American public about our mission and further refine this authorization to ensure that the U.S. is vigorously assisting nations willing to battle their own terrorist threat rather than carrying the unsustainable burden of policing a region that won't police itself.” 

And today US House Rep Adam Schiff's office issued the following:

Washington, DC –Today, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the Ranking Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) and author of legislation providing a limited and narrow authorization for use of military force against ISIL, released the following statement:
“The Administration’s engagement with Congress on a new authorization for use of military force against ISIL has been enormously beneficial and should jumpstart Congressional action. With the receipt of specific language from the President, Congress has run out of excuses for any further delay of a debate and vote on a new authorization.
“The Administration has been carefully considering how to craft an authorization of our mission against ISIL and I believe its proposal contains important limiting provisions – including a three year sunset and an immediate repeal of the 2002 Iraq AUMF – but there are some key aspects of the proposal which I believe must be narrowed further. In particular, a new authorization should also include a sunset of the 2001 AUMF; without one, any sunset of the new authorization will be ineffectual, since the next president can claim continued reliance on the old one.  Such a result would fail to meet the goal set by the President last summer when he argued that that the old authorization should be refined and ultimately repealed. Additionally, a new authorization should place more specific limits on the use of ground troops to ensure we do not authorize another major ground war without the President coming to Congress to make the case for one.
"There are additional concerns over the lack of a geographic limitation and a broad definition of associated forces which will also be the subject of debate. In the days ahead, I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to build on the President's proposal and provide a properly-tailored authorization for the war against ISIL.”

But for those who showed leadership, there were also those who cowered.

Once upon a time, many years ago, Tammy Baldwin was a member of the House of Representatives and stood against the Iraq War.  Today?  She's in the Senate and "pleased" (her term) with Barack's request, This despite having a few 'concerns': "I’m concerned that the vague language of the Administration’s draft proposal may leave the door open to putting boots on the ground for combat operations and put the United States at risk of repeating the mistakes of the past and becoming bogged down in an open-ended conflict. I’m also concerned that the draft AUMF would authorize action for 3 years without establishing measurable goals, benchmarks of success and a clear scope  in the battle against ISIL."

Also crawling on her belly is US House Rep Barbara Lee who is "pleased" as in, "I am pleased that the proposed authorization includes a repeal of the misguided 2002 AUMF, that authorized an unnecessary and disastrous war in Iraq."  And she's also "glad" -- "Additionally, I am glad the proposed authorization includes language recognizing the vital role that a comprehensive, diplomatic, economic and political solution must play in ultimately degrading and dismantling ISIL."  She has a few reservations and even insists that she "will keep fighting to repeal  the 2001 AUMF, a blank check for endless war."  Yeah, she's claimed to be fighting that fight since 2009.  She's not progressed one bit on it.  But then she really doesn't care to while Barack's in office.

Today the US House Foreign Affairs Committee addressed the topic of Islamic State. The witnesses appearing before the committee included former US Ambassador James Jeffrey, the Center for a New American Security's Dafna H. Rand and RAND Corporation's Rick Brennan.  US House Rep Ed Royce is the Chair of the Committee and US House Rep Eliot Engel is the Ranking Member.

US House Rep Brad Sherman: I believe ISIS is a lesser threat to the United States than the Shi'ite alliance [reference to Iran's Shi'ite fighters].  Ground troops, if necessary to take the territory, will be necessary to hold the territory.  The [Kurdish] Peshmerga are not going to be welcome in Sunni Arab area and the Iraqi army?  We saw what they did.  It was the greatest transfer of weaponry to a terrorist organization in history.  The Iraqi government has some effective fighting units.  They are the Shi'ite militias that have engaged in murderous ethnic cleansing of Sunnis -- under-reported in the American press.  And so I don't see who we have that will be a ground force to take Sunni areas.  I do know that I don't want to have to vote to have American soldiers going house-to-house in Mosul in a bloody hand-to-hand role because no other ground forces are available.  As to the AUMF, we've got the text the President sent over, leaves in place the 2001 AUMF.  In effect, republishes it, reaffirms it.  Well what is that that we would be reaffirming 15 years later?  Unlimited in time. Unlimited in what weapons or tactics or ground forces.  It authorized over 100,000 forces in Afghanistan last decade.  It would authorize over 100,000 US soldiers to be deployed on the ground next decade.  And, of course, unlimited in geography.  So if we republish, rather than repeal, that it's hard to say that the President doesn't have enough authority to do all the things that many of us hope he does not do.  And then as to the timing issue?  If Congress is doing its job and there's a three year AUMF, after two years we pass something else rather than waiting for two days while we have soldiers in the field wondering whether Congress will pass the bill.

Serious objections were raised throughout the hearing, serious issues with what Barack is requesting.

US House Rep Dana Rohrabacher:  I personally will not -- I don't believe I can speak for my colleagues -- but I will not be giving the President of the United States -- and I don't think the Congress will give the President of the United States -- a blank check on the use of American military force in the Arab world or in the Gulf -- where ever it is.  And, by the way, it's maybe not specific enough in the territory -- much less the timing of this. We're not going to give him a blank check for a given period of time.  We need to know exactly if that means that he would be willing to commit major forces on the ground or not.  That needs to be part of any agreement we have.  So I don't see this being: Oh, the president's asking? Thus he's going to get whatever he wants. We need to work this out.  We need to work out the details.  I personally don't believe this is going to be settled by the military.  When we eliminated the Soviet Union -- which was then the ultimate threat to peace and stability in the world, it was done not by the deployment of large numbers of troops.  And we need to create a dynamic that will end up with the defeat of this threat to western civilization.  We need to create that dynamic.  And that means what we did to defeat Communism.  We made that our number one goal and we worked with anybody who would work with us to defeat that goal.  And that made it possible for us, by the way, to defeat them without conflict -- direct military conflict -- with the United States. Let me just note that I think the President of the United States has not reached out -- we've already heard about the Kurds and other people and other groups in the world and especially in that region who should be our best friends and mobilize them in this effort -- whether it's General [Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-] Sisi, the people who marched against radical Islam in Tehran where the president couldn't get himself to say anything about that -- in support of those kids in Iran.  So we need to have that dynamic created other than just having the President come to us and asking us for military -- for a military blank check.

We will note the hearing in the next Iraq snapshot (I plan to include US House Rep Alan Grayson in the next snapshot, for example).  But we'll close our coverage of the hearing tonight with these comments.

US House Rep Brian Higgins: It amazes me in all of these hearings how quickly we just kind of bypass the fact that the United States paid about $25 billion to build up an Iraqi army and the first test of that army was against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and they essentially ran.  And we are told that the reason that they were not committed to the fight was because the previous prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, was not inclusive of the Sunni population and therefore didn't feel as though it was a fight worth committing to.  And now were told that there's a new prime minister who's also a Shia but more inclusive [chuckles] of the Sunni community and therefore we should have confidence again in the Iraq national army.  $25 billion.  Thousands of lives lost. And no commitment?  Who are the most effective fighters in Iraq today? The Peshmerga -- 190,000.  And the Shia militia.  The new prime minister [Haider al-Abadi] had said that there are about a million Shia militias who are trying to fill the void of the ineffectual Iraqi army.  Mr Brennan, you had said earlier, you talked about the Shia militias who recently experienced success against ISIS.  You also made reference to Qasem Soleimani -- the Iranian Quds forces leader who really negotiated [chuckles] the second term of Nouri al-Maliki with one condition -- that the Americans leave.  That the Americans leave.  And now we have a president's resolution before Congress asking to engage again militarily.  You know, the Shia militias are not there to prop up the Iraqi government.  They're there to do what Soleimani and others in asymmetrical war fare try to do and that is to create a proxy in places they want to control -- be it in southern Lebanon, be it in Syria, or be it in Iraq.  My concern is that if we commit American forces -- and there's no pacifist wing of the American military -- everybody has weapons and everybody fights and they die courageously when they do -- we are continuing a situation in this country that has been going on for way too long.  You know, what Tom Friedman -- the author and New York Times columnist, once said. "Is Iraq the way it is because Saddam the way he is or is Saddam the way he is because Iraq is the way it is?"  And I think it just speaks again to the sectarian, tribal nature of a place that we are trying to impose a political solution to.  You know, we are told [chuckles] that the American military with extraordinary courage, extraordinary commitment, extraordinary effectiveness could only do one thing: Create a breathing space within which the Shia, Sunni and Kurdish community could achieve political reconciliation including the sharing of oil revenues.  And we saw a hopeful sign in December that that was occurring between the central government in Baghdad and Kurdistan with the 17%  sharing of the national revenues and also a billion dollars to equip and train the Peshmerga.  But I will tell you where our investment has been made financially, where our investment has been made morally has been an abject failure.  And what we're proposing to do with this resolution by the President is continue that failed policy without any clarity about what it is that we're going to achieve because when there's no political center -- here's what we know in that part of the world -- when there's no political center there's only sides to choose.  And right now there is no political center.  And don't argue that the changing of a Shia prime minister in Iraq is going to fundamentally change the will and the commitment of the Iraqi national army.  You know, let's just acknowledge that our investment of $25 billion in the Iraqi national army failed.  Failed miserably.  Because when you say they all ran -- 250,000 of them -- in the face of 30,000 ISIS fighters, well certainly because Iraq is a majority-Shi'ite country, many of those fighters would be Shia. So at least they wouldn't run.  So I don't know really what's going on here but I know where this is leading and I think most Americans know where this is leading.  It's not to a good place because, again, America is essentially going it alone for the third time in two different countries and unless there's a recognition of minority rights, unless there's a recognition of the pluralistic nature of Iraq, there will never be peace there. 

Higgins, like many, used their entire time to address the AUMF.  Whether Committee members didn't think it goes far enough or they feel that it needs to be stated that US troops will not be in on the ground combat or whether they feel that the plan or 'plan' doesn't address the real root causes of the crises, there was clear resistance to what Barack is asking for.

On another note, stupidity came from RAND via witness Brennan who at one point wasted everyone's time instructing that the Islamic State should not be called that because they don't represent Islam (then he allowed they represent some form of it) and we should show solidarity.

In lying?

Everyone calls the Hell's Angels the "Hell's Angels."  No one really thinks they are angels or that they are from hell.  Similarly, the cult Heaven's Gate -- who took part in a mass suicide back in 1997 -- was not from Heaven or a gate to it.  But that was their name so that's what they were called.

I understand what Brennan's getting at.

I also think it's extremely stupid to 'brand' others and doesn't increase tolerance or understanding but does increase labeling people "the other."

A group -- terrorist or civic -- should have the name they themselves designate.

I'm not willing to live in a world where Brennan gets to dictate the lexicon based upon his own personal whims and fears.

There are US troops in Iraq today.

They've been under fire -- even the Pentagon admits that -- from mortar attacks.  Canada was just sending 'trainers' as well but those Canadian forces have now twice been in combat on the ground in Iraq.

Loveday Morris and Mustafa Salim (Washington Post) report:

Islamic State militants seized parts of a town in Iraq’s western province of Anbar on Thursday, sparking fierce fighting within miles of a military base where hundreds of U.S. advisers are stationed.

Anbar’s provincial council called for “immediate and urgent military reinforcements” after the attack on the town of al-Baghdadi, which began in the early morning. Ayn al-Asad air base — where some 320 U.S. personnel have been training Iraqi troops and tribal fighters — lies five miles west of the town.

Reuters reports it wasn't just an attack near the base, fighters also "attacked the heavily-guarded Ain al-Asad air base five km southwest of the town, but were unable to break into it.  About 320 U.S. Marines are training members of the Iraqi 7th Division at the base, which has been struck by mortrar fire on at least one previous occasion since December."

In addition, Xinhua reports battles in Salahudin Province today left 16 Iraqi forces dead.  Margaret Griffis ( counts 57 dead from violence across Iraq.

Senator Patty Murray is the former Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and the Senate Budget Committee.  Her office issued the following today:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                            CONTACT: Murray's Press Office

Thursday, February 12, 2015                                       (202) 224-2834
Senator Murray’s Statement on the Confirmation of Defense Secretary Ashton Carter
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray released the following statement after voting to confirm Ashton Carter to be United States Secretary of Defense. Carter was confirmed by the Senate on an 93-5 vote.
“Secretary Carter has a tough job ahead of him, but I am confident that he is the right person to get it done. I look forward to working with him to make sure our troops are getting the care and support they deserve, our national security is prioritized and protected, and we continue to invest in national and Washington state defense priorities.
“I met with Secretary Carter this week and talked to him about his plans to protect our troops, fight terrorists wherever they are, and keep our country truly safe over the long term. We discussed the devastating impact of sequestration on defense and non-defense investments and jobs. I also raised the importance of protecting our military units, bases, and communities in Washington state, which are critical to our nation’s readiness and national security strength.
“I am looking forward to working with Secretary Carter to make sure our military is strong, our nation is secure, and our troops have the equipment they need to stay safe and complete their missions.”
Eli Zupnick
Communications Director
U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA)
(202) 224-2834


Read on ...

Friday, February 6, 2015

The needed explanation

the needed extension


From September 2, 2012, that's  "The Needed Extension."  C.I. noted:

Barack explains, "America, what with all that golfing, I lost track of time and didn't finish that project.  But give me 4 more years and I will finish it.  This time.  For sure."  Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts.

I'm just counting the days until Barack's out of the White House.  He just keeps doing more and more damage.  (My grandmother called enraged over his remarks about Christians this morning.)  

He needs to go and when he does he needs to fade.  

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

Thursday, February 5, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue,  Haider sends food -- Brett McGurk wants you to know -- to Falluja but only after a child dies from the lack of it -- which Brett doesn't want you to know, the Yazidis' revenge attacks get some attention, vengeance gets called out by Amnesty, Senator Richard Blumenthal has some questions regarding veterans, and much more.

Wednesday's snapshot covered some of that day's Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the nomination of Ashton Carter to be Secretary of Defense.  Senator John McCain is the Chair of the Committee, Senator Jack Reed is the Ranking Member.

We're going to return to the hearing to note Senator Richard Blumenthal addressing veterans issues and Senator Ted Cruz on ISIS.  First veterans.

Senator Richard Blumenthal: Let me move to another area that is very close to my heart and I, again, want to thank our Chairman, Senator [John] McCain, who joined with me in co-sponsoring a measure, the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention Act, Suicide remains a difficult and daunting, horrific problem not only among our veterans -- 22 every day commit suicide -- but also in our active military.  And you and I have talked about this problem.  I believe you're very much attune to it and I'm hopeful that you will continue the military's commitment and the Department of Defense's commitment to providing the mental health care that's necessary to help our warriors deal with these invisible wounds and demons that come back from the battlefield with them.

Ashton Carter: I-I-I am attune to it and they're our -- they're our people and we need to care about them and care for them.  And those who are having these kind of-of thoughts need help.

We did note Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America's press release on this legislation in a snapshot earlier this week.  From outside Congress, IAVA led the push for this bill to introduced and to be put to a vote.

From inside Congress, there were many leaders including Senator Patty Murray, the former Chair of the Senate Budget Committee who serves on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee (which she also chaired).  Her office issued the following Tuesday:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                 CONTACT: Murray Press Office
Tuesday, February 3, 2015                                                            (202) 224-2834
VETERANS: Murray Votes to Pass Clay Hunt Veterans Suicide Prevention Bill
Suicide prevention bill now heads to President Obama’s desk for his signature
Murray: “We simply must do more to ensure the men and women who have served our country get the physical, mental, and emotional support they need when they come home”
Washington state is home to over 600,000 veterans

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray voted to pass the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act.  Senator Murray is an original co-sponsor of the bill, which would require the U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) to establish an annual third-party evaluation of VA’s mental health care and suicide prevention programs, promote greater collaboration with community mental health resources, and create a pilot program to attract and retain Department psychiatrists.  The bill is also designed to combat veteran suicide by improving the quality of care at VA facilities and creating a strong base for future mental health initiatives. This bill passes at a critical time when suicide rates continue to rise among female veterans who use VA care, and the rate of suicide has skyrocketed to 79 per 100,000 among male veterans ages 18-24 who use VA services.

“Every day, twenty-two American veterans die from suicide, so as a country, we simply must do more to ensure the men and women who have served our country get the physical, mental, and emotional support they need when they come home,” said Senator Murray.  “This legislation will help the VA continue taking steps to make sure it is doing everything it can, from prevention programs to improved recruitment of mental health providers, to giving our nation’s heroes the care they deserve.”

Throughout her career, Senator Murray has been an advocate for service members, veterans, and their families. In 2012 Senator Murray passed the Mental Health ACCESS Act which improved access to the VA’s mental health support services and care. According to a VA report published in 2013, over 25 percent of all suicides in Washington state were identified as veterans, among the highest group of states reporting suicides by veteran status.

The Clay Hunt bill passed the House on January 12th, 2015. Now after Senate passage, it heads to the President’s desk for his signature.

Leah Kennebeck
Deputy Press Secretary
Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray

In the years we've been attending and reporting on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing, we've seen strong leadership from many including Senator Murray, Senator Daniel Akaka and Senator Richard Burr.  Today, the new Chair is Johnny Isakson and Richard Blumenthal is the Ranking Member.  Hopefully, they will offer strong leadership and also continue the Committee's near-unbroken efforts at working together as one functioning committee and not as two different wings of a committee at war with one another.

For that to happen, they'll have to regain the past footing that was lost under the previous Chair Bernie Sanders who frequently mistook grandstanding and finger pointing for leadership.  It was not helpful and goes a long way towards explaining useless hearings and very little work done on behalf of veterans when Sanders Chaired the Committee.

For example, the Clay Hunt bill didn't get past in the last months of the previous Congress though it easily could have if Sanders had focused on veterans and not on his petty wars with senators on the other side of the aisle.

Senator Blumenthal is someone I expect to carry on the tradition of Akaka and Murray in putting veterans first -- I expect that based upon the work he's already been doing as a member of the Committee since being elected to the Senate.  I hope the same will be true of Isakson but I'm less familiar with his efforts.

Back to Wednesday's hearing and Blumenthal.

Senator Richard Blumenthal: On the issue of our veterans who have suffered from post-traumatic stress as again you and I have discussed, your predecessor Secretary Hagel worked with me, responded to my urging him to establish a new policy guidance on September 3, 2014 that finally directed proper consideration of Post Traumatic Stress by the Boards for Correction of Military Records when considering upgrade requests.  Post-Traumatic Stress was unknown in the Vietnam and Korean eras -- not unknown because it didn't exist but unknown because it wasn't diagnosed and so this new policy gives proper recognition to a medical condition that simply was never diagnosed at the time but may cause less than honorable discharges.  And I hope that, if confirmed, you'll ensure full and forceful implementation of this policy and continue outreach because it's so vitally necessary outreach to anyone who might be able to apply under the new guidelines.

Ashton Carter: I-I-I will.  We've learned a lot about that, sadly, in recent years and understand now, uh, a lot better that it truly is a-a-a malady that, uh, we can and need to address.  And thank you for taking an interest in it as you've done about the welfare of the troops in so many ways that you've -- in the course of the wars, I was always very grateful 

Senator Richard Blumenthal:  Thank you.

Ahston Carter:  -- for your attention to the troops.

Senator Richard Blumenthal:  Thank you very much.  I should probably stop there but I do have a couple of more questions.  But I do appreciate your kind words. On the inter-operability of the Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration -- and I'm the Ranking Member on the Veterans Administration's Veterans Affairs Committee of the Senate and I think there's been an ongoing concern -- you're aware of it -- of the issues relating to the integrated, electronic health records integrated disability system treating military sexual trauma and other shared efforts that really involve a gap between these two great departments each with a vital mission and I'm hoping that you will continue the effort that your predecessor, I believe, found very important to close that gap and make sure that there really is the kind of connection -- the vital, vibrant connection that is important to our troops and then to our veterans.

Ashton Carter: I-I-I recognize that gap and uh, uhm, there's only one soldier -- there are two cabinet departments.  One soldier shouldn't have to worry about two cabinet departments.

This is an important issue that was touched on and not really explored.  Blumenthal's time was up.  I don't know that the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee will lead on this issue. I hope they will. But, historically, the leadership here has come from the House Veterans Affairs Committee -- first from then-US House Rep Bob Filner and since from US House Rep Jeff Miller who is the Chair of Committee and does not let someone putting up a wall stop him.

Miller is tenacious and determined and that's necessary on this issue.

We're talking about a record that is created when a person joins the service -- a medical record.  It needs to be electronic and able to follow the service member through their service time but also when they leave the service and become veterans.

Why one record?

There are many reasons but let's offer one.  Post-Traumatic Stress.  Getting the rating required for that means documentation.  An electronic record that follows the service member as they transition to veteran status can ensure that P-TS or other issues are fully documented and the veteran isn't left trying to assemble documentation after the fact -- documentation the veteran's medical file should include but, when it's paper, may have been lost in transition.

This seamless, electronic record has had a ton of money already spent on it.

It's still not 'arrived' yet.

It was supposed to be in place, at one point, before Bully Boy Bush left the White House.  That didn't happen.  But US President Barack Obama was going to ensure it was implemented.


Didn't happen.

He's got two more years.

In fairness to Barack, the stumbling block was Eric Shinseki.

While VA Secretary, Shinseki had no real interest in anything but the pretense of going through the motions.

With Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Shinseki agreed to and outlined the type of system needed.  Then Leon Panetta replaced Gates.  Despite Panetta telling Shinseki he was fine with whatever had been agreed to (by Gates), Shinseki used the new Secretary of Defense as a means to stall progress.  Then Chuck Hagel replaced Panetta.  And Shinseki thought he'd used Hagel as well.

He did that once.

In an opening hearing.

Once was all Hagel was going to take.

He requested (demanded) a sit-down with Barack on this.

Barack met with Hagel and Shinseki and all the basics were supposedly agreed to.

But the seamless, electronic record is still not a reality.

At what point is going to become a reality?

Both the House and the Senate Veterans Affairs Committees need to be actively following this and holding public hearings on this.  Not only has so much money been wasted in the last six years alone, but the record is needed, those who serve would benefit from it tremendously and it would be so important to accurate ratings on disabilities among other issues.

Let's move over to Iraq.  You might think that with a billion dollars spent 'fighting' the Islamic State just since August -- over a billion US taxpayer dollars -- that Iraq would be a major part of the hearing but you would be wrong.  It was largely ignored.  Chair McCain addressed it and Ranking Member Jack Reed did.  Another raising the issue was Senator Ted Cruz.

Senator Ted Cruz:  How would you characterize our objective right now with regards to ISIS?

Ashton Carter:  To inflict a lasting defeat on ISIS.  I only add the word "lasting" to re-enforce the idea that once they're beaten, they need to stay beaten. Which means you need to create the conditions in Iraq and Syria so that they stay defeated.

Senator Ted Cruz: And final question, in your professional judgment, what would be required militarily for you to destroy or, as you put it, inflict a lasting defeat on ISIS?

Ashton Carter: Uh-uh, militarily it would be the, uh-uh-uh, dismantlement of their forces and their networks.  And, uh-uh, to get to the point about lastingly to -- there's a political ingredient of this uh-uh which I uh need to add which is to have them replaced in Iraq and Syria with, uhm-uh, a government that the people, uh, want to be part of, uh, and so they don't have to be governed by maniacs and terrorists.

Violence continues in Iraq.  All Iraq News notes 4 Baghdad bombings left 1 person dead and fourteen more injured and security forces state that the Islamic State burned 3 people to death in Heet.

The State Dept's Brett McGurk re-Tweeted  this today:

Under the instructions of PM Al-Abadi, 221.5 tons of food items have arrived in Anbar province this morning.
25 retweets25 favorites

Do you wonder why?

Because he wants that message out, not this one:

وفاة الطفل عبدالله طه العيساوي نتيجة الحصار على الفلوجة وقلة الغذاء والدواء وعدم تواجد الفريق الطبي المتخصص بالأطفال.
51 retweets22 favorites

Iraqi Spring MC is raising attention to the death of Abdullah Taha al-Isawi in Falluja.  Why did the child die?  A lack of food, a lack of medicine.

Brett McGurk, after the death of Abudllah, wants to reTweet Haider's late food shipment.

Wants to rob the action of the context in which it took place.

Wants to pretend Haider did something wonderful.

The reality is Abudllah suffered because of Haider and so many civilians in Falluja continue to suffer because Haider's failed to be a leader.

There has been no real effort at political solutions in Iraq.  The US has pushed for retaliation and has set an example by doing that -- not a good example, true, but an example none the less.

Clearly, the Yazidis now believe violence is the answer.  Dropping back to the January 27th snapshot:

While Barack worried about diplomacy in Saudi Arabia, a natural event took place in Iraq.
The persecuted decided to persecute.  EFE reports:

A militant group including Yazidi and Syrian Kurdish fighters has killed at least 25 Arab civilians on the perimeters of the northwestern Iraqi town of Rabia, on the Syrian border, an official source announced on Tuesday.
Hosam al-Abar, a member of Niniveh's Provincial Council, told Efe that a series of barbaric revenge attacks targeted four Arab villages located 120 kilometers (74 miles) west of Mosul.
The attacks were carried out by Yazidi fighters supported by militias affiliated to Syrian Kurdish parties.

'Pity us!  Feel sorry for us!  Now look the other way as we kill and kidnap!'

This is only a manifestation of the hateful remarks some Yazidis were making publicly in 2013 and 2014.  Their being trapped on the mountain was a crisis and did require humanitarian aid being dropped to them.  That's really all the US should have committed.  (And that's all we advocated for here.)  In Iraq, the Yazidis are basically the short man at the party -- chip on their shoulder and easily outraged.
Years of being called "Satan worshipers" took their toll long before the Islamic State showed up.
Now they've mistaken global pity for permission to destroy and kill.

Last Thursday, Khales Joumah (Niqash) reported on the Yazidis attacking of Arab communities and concluded with this:

The fallout from the massacre saw Yazidi leaders, who have become responsible for parts of Sinjar newly liberated from the IS group, organized a meeting. They condemned the massacre and promised that such an act would never be repeated. They also said that the fighters who had carried out these acts were not able to be identified as they don’t belong to any of the known fighting factions. 

The provincial council says that there are now around a thousand families who have left their homes and who are in need of shelter and aid. On the ground in the area are hundreds of armed men from the villages which were attacked, vowing to protect what is theirs should they be attacked again. In the middle are a handful of Iraqi Kurdish military. Right now things are relatively calm but if tribal justice – which calls for reparations and an eye for an eye - continues to be meted out, it is hard to say how long it will stay that way.

As for Zahra, she found shelter in the home of a nearby relative. But she couldn’t stand not knowing what had happened to her family whom she had left at the mercy of very angry fighters. So, still wearing the same black clothing she had on the night of the attack, she returned to her village to search for her husband and two young sons. She eventually found their burnt corpses in one of the houses in the village that had been set on fire. 

Vengeance doesn't usually end violence.  It's a mirror to reflects and reproduces violence.  Which is why we've noted the response from the Jordanian kingdom this week has been risky and damaging.  Amnesty International released the following statement on the rush to vengeance:

The vicious summary killing of a Jordanian pilot who was burned alive by the armed group that calls itself the Islamic State (IS) is an atrocious attack against humanity, said Amnesty International, but responding with executions is not the answer.
The video showing Muath al-Kasasbeh being burned alive in a cage has sent shockwaves across the world. This morning at dawn the Jordanian authorities executed Sajida al-Rishawi and Ziad al-Karbouli, two Iraqis linked to al-Qa’ida, in apparent revenge for his killing.
“The abhorrent killing of Muath al-Kasasbeh is a war crime and an all-out attack on the most basic principles of humanity,” said Philip Luther, Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.
“The Jordanian authorities are rightly horrified by this utterly reprehensible killing but the response should never be to resort to the death penalty, which itself is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. The death penalty should also not be used as a tool for revenge. The IS’s gruesome tactics must not be allowed to fuel a bloody cycle of reprisal executions.”
Under international humanitarian law holding hostages is a war crime and all detainees should be treated humanely by their captors.
“The killing of Muath al-Kasasbeh while he was trapped in a cage in such a brutal and orchestrated manner shows the savagery that a group like the IS is capable of,” said Philip Luther.
One of those executed by the Jordanian authorities today was Sajida al-Rishawi, who was on death row for her role in the 2005 bombing in Amman that killed 60 people. Her lawyer’s request for her to undergo psychiatric assessment to assess her mental fitness to stand trial was refused by the court.
According to a report by the UN Special Rapporteur on torture, following his visit to Jordan in 2006, she was tortured during interrogation over a month-long period in the custody of Jordan’s General Intelligence Department (GID).
Ziad Karbouli, the second person executed this morning, was convicted on charges of belonging to an illegal organization, possessing explosives leading to death of a person and murder. His lawyer told Amnesty International that he had been forced to confess under duress.
After an eight-year halt in executions, Jordan resumed its use of the death penalty in December 2014 when it carried out the executions of 11 men. Amnesty International is calling on Jordan to immediately establish an official moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty.
Muath al-Kasasbeh, a fighter pilot in the Jordanian air force, was captured when his plane came down near al-Raqqa, Syria, during a mission against the IS in December 2014.
The IS has killed dozens of its captives in the past year including in the past month the Japanese journalist Kenji Goto and a second Japanese hostage, Haruna Yukawa.
Amnesty International calls on the IS to cease summary killings, abductions and hostage taking. 

Brian Williams?

E-mails ask about when Brian Williams, anchor of NBC Nightly News, will be noted here for getting caught lying about Iraq?

It's a TV issue.  Ava and I plan to cover it Sunday.  We toyed with doing it here and risking the wrath of Jim who would (rightly) point out it was a TV issue so it belonged to our beat at The Third Estate Sunday Review.

If between now and Sunday someone grabbed our point and ran with it?  Well, we'd find something else to cover.

But we were pretty sure that the the issue we saw would be missed or overlooked by others -- we think its the main point.  And it has been missed or overlooked.  So many silly people commenting but not really grasping.  It's part of a problem Ava and I've documented with NBC News -- documented in the past at Third.  Justin Raimondo has an interesting take at -- read it, it's worth reading.  But that's not the way we're approaching it.

Does Brian Williams need to go?  His lies may mean he has to but the issue is larger than his lies.  So unless someone grasps the point between now and Sunday, Ava and I will cover it at Third.

In addition to noting Justin Raimondo's take, we'll also link to Jim Naureckas' piece at FAIR.

Read on ...
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