Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Nation Bullpen

nation bullpen


That's "The Nation Bullpen"  from December 2, 2012.

C.I. noted:

Katrina vanden Heuvel leads her co-horts in a strategy planning session, "So how can we distract from real issues this week?  Lie Face?"  Melissa Harris Lacewell Perry replies, "I'm writing about Wal-Mart but ignoring Michelle Obama's connection like I ignore my White Mommy."  Leslie Savan announces, "And I'm writing about body language."  While Dave Zirin explains, "I'm running out of athletes to call racists, so I'm writing about my hairy back."  Isaiah notes only one of those three pitches is made up. Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts.

The Nation chose to whore and distract throughout Barack's two terms.  That should never, ever be forgotten.

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

Saturday, May 30, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, Haider al-Abadi goes after a major Sunni politician, Baghdad's off-limits to refugees and the State Dept has "no comment," Justin Raimondo plays the Truth Game on Bernie Sanders, and much more.

CBS and AP note Iraqi officials declared yesterday that car bombings targeted two Baghdad hotels leaving 15 people dead. The bombings were late Thursday and, in addition to those, Margaret Griffis ( counts 22 dead from violence on Friday across Iraq.  But back to the 15 dead from Thursday's hotel bombings, where were they?


Dropping back to Thursday's snapshot:

In other signs that there is no political solution in Iraq today, Margaret Griffis ( notes, "Baghdad has asked the Kurdish government to allow 20,000 refugees from Anbar province to relocate there because they will not be allowed into the capital. The fear is that terrorists will be hidden among the displaced."
First, you have citizens of Iraq being denied the right to enter their own capitol.
Second, if Haider al-Abadi really believes there's a threat of terrorists being in with the refugees, why would he insist the KRG take them in?
In what world does that make sense?
'We can't let them into Baghdad because they might be bombers but how about you take these possible bombers into the KRG because it doesn't matter if Erbil gets attacked or Kurds get killed."
That's what it sounds like.
And it sounds like Haider's placing a premium on one group of lives (Shi'ite) while arguing that Sunni lives (the refugees) do not matter nor do the Kurds.
There is no unity in Iraq under Haider al-Abadi -- not even a pretense of unity.

Sad news for Haider, attacks will take place inside Baghdad whether or not he lets the refugees in.  Already in Baghdad, the seeds of his own destruction are present.

You people can watch while I'm scrubbing these floors
And I'm scrubbing the floors while you're gawking
Maybe one you tip me and it makes you feel swell
In this crummy southern town in this crummy old hotel
But you'll never guess to who you're talking
No, you couldn't ever guess to who you're talking
Then one night there's a scream in the night
And you wonder who could that have been?
And you see me kind of grinning while I'm scrubbing
And you say, "What's she got to grin?"

"Pirate Jenny" is from Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht's The Threepenny Opera which debuted in 1928. The song has been covered by many including Nina Simone and Judy Collins.

The thing about corrupt and unresponsive governments is that they crater from the inside all on their own.  External factors may distract from what's taking place, but they're rotten at the root and beg for their own fall.

Following in the footsteps of Noam Chomsky (2006's Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy), Loren Thompson (Forbes) declares Iraq a failed state and notes:

Iraq’s political culture is one of the most corrupt in the world.  Transparency International, the global coalition against corruption, ranks Iraq 170th out of 175 countries in terms of the rapacity of its leaders and the extent of official corruption.  Virtually every transaction of the government from construction contracts to military commissions to prisoner releases is tainted by corruption.  A commission to investigate the extent of wrongdoing has calculated that up to $330 billion in public funds is missing as a result of malfeasance by officials.  This continues a long tradition in which political leaders disbursed funds to strengthen ties with families, tribes and religious communities at the expense of the larger good.  And as Patrick Cockburn observed in the British newspaper The Independent, “The system cannot be reformed by the government because it would be striking at the very mechanism by which it rules.”

Ramadi fell to the Islamic State this month despite the fact that the Iraqi forces present far outnumbered the Islamic State fighters on the scene.  Michelle Tan (Army Times) quotes Gen Ray Odierno stating, "As you look at this, you could say there probably is a problem with leadership.  They have to have the will to fight. It always goes back to the government of Iraq.  Unless you get everyone to believe the government of Iraq is there for all Iraqis, you're always going to have this problem."

Whether working in Bully Boy Bush's administration or Barack Obama's, Odierno has always been one of the smarter officials.

And for a diplomat, proving how stupid he truly is, Barack hires a retired general to be an envoy -- a retired general who doesn't want to be seen as a diplomat and who insists on being called a general.  As everyone knows, Barack went for John Allen to try to shut Allen up (Allen was criticizing Barack's foreign policy).  But, as everyone knows, Allen is unqualified to work towards a diplomatic solution.

The White House notes:

Special Presidential Envoy Allen Travel to Iraq and France

Media Note
Washington, DC
May 30, 2015

Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL General John Allen is in Baghdad to meet with Prime Minister Abadi and other senior Iraqi political and security leaders. They will discuss U.S. support for Iraqi-led efforts to counter ISIL, including operations in Anbar and how the U.S. and the Coalition can continue to support the Government of Iraq’s plan for re-taking Ramadi from ISIL and restoring Iraq’s territorial integrity.
General Allen and Deputy Special Presidential Envoy Brett McGurk will then travel to Paris to join Secretary Kerry at the Small Group Ministerial of the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL on June 2.

The retired general who now likes to play toy soldier spoke to France 24:

FRANCE 24: Can a group like the Islamic State organisation be entirely defeated? Is that even possible?

General Allen: "Well, we need to be careful about applying...solely a military term to an outcome. When you hear us talk about the defeat of Daesh (the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group), inherent in the outcome is an expectation that specifically, and more broadly, we can deal with some of the underlying causes that ultimately bring an organisation like Daesh into being.”

“So at the same time we talk about the defeat of Daesh, we’re also talking about dealing with the origins of violent extremism, and I think we would say that we have to deal with the political issues. We have to deal with inherent social, economic, religious issues, because in the end, the aggregation of those creates an environment where an organisation like Daesh can find cohesion and purpose.”

Well when does the envoy plan on addressing those "underlying causes"?

It's almost a year since Barack declared the only solution for Iraq was a "political solution."

All this talk about military aspects.  Would it be any different -- would the administration be working on a political solution -- if they'd picked someone more appropriate for the envoy job -- say Jimmy Carter?

If Carter wasn't available, he could have gone with Cher.

  1. Ash Carter Says"IRAQI ARMY LACKS WILL 2FIGHT"YA THINK SpendREALLY Arming The Kurds.We BLEW Off Sunni Tribesman,4 Shiite Gov &Now We'll Pay

Iraq is in ruins and all Barack can think to do is drop more bombs from overhead.

Which will produce?

More ruins.

Diplomacy in the US is supposed to be led by the State Dept and, goodness, have they failed.  This was obvious yet again on Friday during the press briefing moderated by Jeff Rathke.

QUESTION: Staying on ISIL?

MR RATHKE: Yes, we can and then – yeah, go ahead.

QUESTION: Yeah. Regarding the ongoing efforts to retake Anbar from ISIL, Sunni fighters have told our channel that they’ve been asking Baghdad for weapons, for training, and that they’re not getting it and they suspect that it’s because they’re Sunni. And those comments come on the heels of the Defense Secretary saying that it may be time for the U.S. to actually directly train Sunni tribes and provide them weapons. Does this Administration believe that Prime Minister al-Abadi is acting in good faith when he says that he’s trying to have a unified front against ISIL, or does this Administration believe he’s favoring --

MR RATHKE: Can I stop you there so I can give you a one-word answer?


MR RATHKE: The answer is yes. Do we believe he has – is committed to a – his policy – implementing his policy of a unified Iraq and to representing the interests of all – of all of Iraq’s people? Yes.

QUESTION: But the Defense Secretary also told reporters on his way to Singapore that as far as the Pentagon can tell the ongoing training that’s been happening, the ongoing arming that’s been happening coming out of Baghdad has been primarily to Shiites and not to Sunnis. So it kind of begs the question: Is Abadi doing enough to actually make this a unified fight? And if he is, why would then the defense secretary say on the record that it may be time for the U.S. to essentially step in, even under the rubric of acting on the invitation of Baghdad but do the training and the arming itself?

MR RATHKE: So let me – so you’ve packed a lot of questions into that one. So first, the Government of Iraq is determined to eject ISIL from Ramadi, and the international coalition shares the same – the same determination. And we are supporting the efforts led by the Government of Iraq to liberate its territory from ISIL in Anbar and in other parts of Iraq. So we’re going to continue to support our Iraqi partners.
We will do everything that we can to support Iraqi forces, including the tribes of Anbar, as they try to secure the province from ISIL. This includes our ongoing training and equipping program, our airstrikes, our expedited provision of equipment to address the threat posed by ISIL’s use of truck bombs because we recognize that our strategy requires a well-equipped and trained partner on the ground.
Now with regard to the question of Sunni tribes, we are encouraged by the announcement of hundreds of additional tribal fighters in Anbar province, and they were inducted into the Popular Mobilization Forces two days ago. The Iraqis have to be empowered to take this on themselves, and so that’s why we’ve been engaging with Iraqis across the political spectrum locally, nationally. And we believe Iraqis are determined to rise to this challenge, and Prime Minister Abadi and his cabinet and his council of ministers are as well.

QUESTION: Has the U.S. made it very clear, though, to Abadi that he has to be as vigorous as possible to make certain that there is parity between Sunnis who are fighting and Shiites who are fighting?

MR RATHKE: Well, we have – this is central to Prime Minister Abadi’s plan, and we support him and we are in regular contact with him and his government about it. I would also point out that it was the Iraqi council of ministers just about 10 days ago that announced the accelerated training and equipping of local tribes in coordination with Anbar authorities. This includes recruiting into the Iraqi Army but also the Popular Mobilization Forces. There are Sunni tribal units currently being trained by the Iraqi Security Forces and equipped by the Government of Iraq.
And this is part of their budget. A lot of these resources are now coming on stream. And in the same way, the U.S. and a lot of the assistance from – that was approved by Congress, the 1.6 billion that was approved at the end of 2014, is also coming online. So we’re seeing these increased efforts from the Iraqi Government but also a lot of our stuff coming online, too.

QUESTION: And this might be a better question for the Pentagon, but do you anticipate that as the U.S. continues its train and equip mission that U.S. troops will be actively engaged in working with the Sunni tribes to make certain that they have the capability and the equipment to engage in this fight against ISIL?

MR RATHKE: Well, again, our train – our train and equip program and the locations where it’s being carried out, those are better questions for the Department of Defense. I don’t have any announcements to make on their behalf. But certainly, we have been – as our assistance approved by Congress comes online, this also involves providing assistance to the Sunni tribes with the approval and in coordination with the central government in Baghdad.

QUESTION: Okay, and the one question on the human rights situation.

MR RATHKE: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: People in Ramadi and the surrounding areas are complaining that Baghdad is still making it very difficult for them to basically escape the fighting, especially if they want to go to Baghdad; they need to have a relative sponsor them. Baghdad’s argument is that they want to make certain that members of ISIL aren’t sneaking in among those who are trying to escape the fighting. Is Baghdad being a little too careful by half in the U.S.’s estimation?

MR RATHKE: We’re concerned about the humanitarian situation in Iraq, and there have been a lot of people displaced from Ramadi and around. This is, of course, a complicated humanitarian crisis. There’re about 2.8 million people – 2.8 million Iraqis internally displaced since the start of ISIL’s campaign in January 2014. So we are certainly aware of that, and we remain in contact with Iraqi authorities about it. We recognize their efforts as well to provide the displaced people with financial support and food rations, and we continue to urge Iraqi authorities to take all measures to assure safety and free passage to people who are fleeing the violence.
You made reference and there has been reference made in recent days to situation at the bridge leading into Baghdad. We understand that that bridge was opened and approximately 3,000 families with sponsorship in Baghdad have been allowed to cross, and that very few families remain around the bridge. But that doesn’t change the fact that the overall situation for many people who’ve fled the violence remains dire, and that’s why we remain engaged on it.

QUESTION: Is the sponsorship, though, perhaps an impediment to providing physical safety to others who are trying to escape the fighting in Ramadi?

MR RATHKE: I don’t have a particular comment on that aspect.

A human rights event is taking place and the State Dept has no "particular comment"?


In December 2011, as the US military was implementing the Pentagon's drawdown from Iraq, then-prime minister and forever thug Nouri al-Maliki began using the military to target his political rivals.  Various Sunni leaders in Baghdad were targeted as he had military tanks circling their homes.  Most infamously, he had Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi and Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq removed from a plane headed to northern Iraq.  They were held for a few hours before being released and allowed to board the plane.  The next day, Nouri issued an arrest warrant for Tareq al-Hashemi.  The targeting of Sunni politicians never ended under Nouri.

Enter new prime minister Haider al-Abadi representing change or 'change.'

And nothing has changed.

Sunnis remain targeted, Sunnis continue to be arrested without warrants, they continue to be threatened and bullied and now it's time for Haider to go after Sunni politicians.

Atheel al-Nujaifi is the Governor of Nineveh Province.  He is also someone Nouri repeatedly attempted to force out of office.  He is also the brother of Vice President Osama al-Nujaifi (one of Iraq's three vice presidents).

And now he's supposedly out of office.

Al Manar reports that 169 MPs voted to remove Atheel as governor and State of Law MP Hatham al-Jubouri insists this took place following "a formal request from the prime minister" to remove al-Nujaifi.

BAS News adds that Shi'ite MP Muwaffaq al-Rubaie is alleging the KRG has set up a "number of illegal military bases in the Kurdistan Region. ‘Derbodan’ base, where civilians are being trained for operations to free Mosul, is operating under the control of Mosul governor Atheel al-Nujaifi, and should be closed down. The forces that are being trained in those military bases are all under the influence of al- Nujaifi; this is illegal and he should be held accountable for it."

Hamza Mustaffa quotes an unnamed politician speaking to Aswat al-Iraq about the effort against al-Nujaifi:

There are two reasons for what happened. Firstly, he is hated by many government figures and parties who want to hold him responsible for the fall of Mosul despite the fact that it was the military leadership who must bear full responsibility for this. The second reason is related to a previous request submitted by 23 members of the [Nineveh] Provincial Council calling for his dismissal.
Iraqi Minister of Provincial Affairs Ahmed Abdullah Al-Jubouri, for reasons we don’t know, submitted the request to Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi who referred it to parliament, despite the fact that this is illegal as it [the legal request] lacked the required legal pretexts.

All Iraq News reports Atheel al-Nujaifi stated that he is still the governor and that he has received no notification that this has changed.  He is quoted stating, "The members of the State of Law Coalition voted for dismissing me because I rejected involving the Popular Mobilzation Forces (PMF) in liberating Nineveh.  I have been dismissed for different reasons that include my last visit to the US [. . .]"

State of Law is the political coalition headed by Nouri al-Maliki. The so-called Popular Mobilization Forces are the Shi'ite militias -- many of which are the thugs accused of crimes against civilians.

MP Hadi al-Amiri is a thug.  He heads the Badr militia.  Alsumaria reports that he was crowing that Atheel is "a lesson" for those who betray. He is most infamous internationally for threatening to mutilate Americans a few weeks back when he was unhappy with a bill being considered in the US Congress.

This process began Thursday, yet Friday at the US State Dept, Jeff Rathke was all grins.

QUESTION: I have an Iraq follow-up.


QUESTION: You said you believe that Iraqis are determined to rise to this challenge. What makes you believe that?

MR RATHKE: Well, as I said, this is a – we’ve been in contact over the last days and weeks with people across Iraq, with people across the political spectrum, local officials, national officials. And that’s the feedback that we get and that’s why we’re committed to helping Iraq.

QUESTION: Did you believe when the United States removed all of its combat forces from Iraq at the end of 2011 that the Iraqi forces were then capable of and determined to defend their country’s territory?

MR RATHKE: I don’t have a retrospective analysis at my fingertips here to offer on that.

QUESTION: But why would you have pulled out if you didn’t think they were capable of it? And public statements by multiple officials suggested that the United States believed that they were capable of defending their territory, so – the reason I’m asking is it’s not clear to me why your judgment, which was that they could fight back then, is necessarily – and appears to have been wrong – is necessarily correct now, that they can and will fight.

MR RATHKE: Well, again, I’m just passing on to you what we hear now from the people we are in contact with across the country. We realize and we’ve said many times that this is a very difficult fight. It’s not – it’s by no means easy, so it requires commitment and it requires the leadership which, again, we believe Prime Minister Abadi has been demonstrating through his efforts to reach out across sectarian and ethnic lines.

Apparently attempting to illegal oust Sunni politician Atheel al-Nujaifi is, to the State Dept, evidence that "Prime Minister Abadi has been demonstrating through his efforts to reach out across sectarian and ethnic lines."

In the US, Justin Raimondo ( drops a few truth bombs on fake-ass Bernie Sanders -- US Senator and vying for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination:

The evolution of Bernie Sanders – from his days as a Liberty Unionist radical and Trotskyist fellow-traveler, to his first political success as Mayor of Burlington, his election to Congress and then on to the Senate – limns the course of the post-Sixties American left. Although birthed in the turmoil of the Vietnam war, the vaunted anti-interventionism of this crowd soon fell by the wayside as domestic political tradeoffs trumped ideology. Nothing exemplifies this process of incremental betrayal better than Sanders’ support for the troubled F-35 fighter jet, the classic case of a military program that exists only to enrich the military-industrial complex. Although the plane has been plagued with technical difficulties, and has toted up hundreds of billions of dollars in cost overruns, Sanders has stubbornly defended and voted for it because Lockheed-Martin manufactures it in Vermont.
Never mind all that highfalutin’ anti-militarist rhetoric – a politician’s job is to bring home the bacon. And that is what Sanders, and his fellow progressives (for the most part), have done. In Bernie’s case, the F-35 issue dramatizes the political dynamics of how the “anti-imperialist” radicals of yesteryear became the Establishment’s house progressives in 2015.
While the Democrats – whom the “independent” Sanders caucuses with, and votes with 99% of the time – vote to expand the Welfare State, the Republicans vote to expand the Warfare State. Aside from a few symbolic skirmishes, done mainly for public consumption, neither really stands in the way of the other. In this manner, both sectors of the federal budget have expanded exponentially to the point where we face a real crisis of fiscal insolvency at home, as well as deadly “blowback” emanating from abroad. Sanders plays his part in this legislative tradeoff, just like all the rest of them.

The Ron Paul of the left? Listen, I know Ron Paul. Ron Paul is a friend of mine – and, Senator, you’re no Ron Paul!

Lastly,, David Bacon's latest book is The Right to Stay Home: How US Policy Drives Mexican Migration  is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press).  This is from his photo essay "STREETS OF NEW YORK -- Mexican moms of Brooklyn:"

A friend once told me once that when she was growing up back east, if you wanted tortillas you had to buy them in a can from Old El Paso.  It was a big joke since she was from Las Cruces, which is right next to El Paso.  I can't imagine what they tasted like.  When my family left New York City in the 1950s there were hardly any Mexicans there, at least that we knew of.  Even when I went back to live for a while in the early 70s there weren't many.

That's certainly not true anymore.  A few years ago I went to the Cinco de Mayo celebration in Flushing Meadows.  You can still see that huge strange earth globe there, leftover from the 1964 World's Fair, with hollow spaces crisscrossed by metal struts where all the oceans should be.  That year, under the globe lounged all these young cholos and cholas, styling like they were in East Oakland or East LA, their lowrider bikes with the front forks sticking out and chrome all over.

That year they said there were 750,000 people from Mexico living in New York City - enough so their nickname for it was PueblaYork, the way California's become OaxaCalifornia.

One of the big centers of Mexican life today is Sunset Park in Brooklyn.  There Fourth and Fifth Avenues are lined with taquerias, although their idea of a quesadilla, with orange sauce and lettuce on it, is a little different from what I'm used to, being an Oakland boy.  But the stores have as many signs in Spanish as you see in Huntington Park in southeast LA.  I'm waiting to see if we'll start seeing signs in Mixteco or Nahuatl, the way you can in some places in the San Joaquin Valley.  And if you walk just a block over to Sixth Avenue, the language you hear is Chinese and the restaurants sell smoked duck.  And then a block or two over from that the voices speak Arabic.  New York was never really a melting pot -- just a lot of people from all over, living next to each other, but most fighting to keep ahold of their culture.


Read on ...

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Sunset Jackson


sunset jackson


Giving Michael Jackson a run for the title Wacko Jacko?

Little Junior, Little Jesse Junior.

Jesse Jackson Junior's political career ended in disgrace as noted in my November 25, 2012 comic "Sunset Jackson."  C.I. noted:

Jesse Jackson Jr. resigned last week from the US Congress as he noted that he was under federal investigation.  In the comic today, he says, "I'm ready for my perp walk, Mr. Holder."  For more on the topic, Isaiah recommends Betty's "Junior's disgrace," Marcia's  "Crooked Jesse Junior" and Stan's "Make Junior pay the $5.1 million."  Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts.

Last March, the convicted felon got released.  He's now in a half-way house in Baltimore.

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

Saturday, May 23, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, USA Today's editorial board lies for Barack Obama, an insider's account of the fall of Ramadi emerges, Haider al-Abadi is again refusing to allow Sunnis to enter Baghdad, why you shouldn't believe 'truthy' Mike Morrell, we again review the attacks on Jean Seberg, and so much more.

The lies about Iraq never end.  USA Today's dim-witted editorial board fashioned a series of hogwash statements that they hope idiots will applaud -- idiots on my side (the left) because it's little more than self-stroking.  And that the editorial board of any supposed objective paper thinks they can get away with lying demonstrates that the crisis in journalism which helped sell the Iraq War continues to this day.  Case in point:

Obama's policies have indeed made things worse. But in arguing that he should have kept troops in Iraq longer, his critics skip over the inconvenient fact that he pulled out on a schedule negotiated by Bush.

No, that's not a fact.

Here's a fact for the lying whores of USA Today's editorial board: The SOFA was a three year contract.  That's all it was.  It was not the end of the US occupation of Iraq.

I'm sorry that you're too damn stupid or too dishonest to tell that truth.

However, we told it in real time the day the White House released the SOFA -- Thanksgiving Day, 2008 -- look it up in the archives -- we published the SOFA in full and I wasted my Thanksgiving night reading and analyzing it.

I went on to repeatedly explain that this was the replacement for the yearly United Nations mandate.  That wasn't a controversial call and it had been made in the April 10, 2008 Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing by then-Chair Joe Biden and by then-US Senator Russ Feingold among others.

It did not mean that the US left at the end of 2011.  It only gave coverage for 2009, 2010 and 2011.  A new contract could replace it.

For noting that reality, I endured three years of e-mails telling me I was wrong, I didn't know what I was talking about, the SOFA meant it was the end, blah blah blah.

At one point, I got very irritated and pointed out here that everyone who's broken a contract with a multi-national but managed to keep the seven-figure salary, keep standing.  Oh, what, only me?

Yeah, so just stop talking, stop pretending you know a thing about contract law unless, like me, you've walked out on a contract and did so with no legal consequences because you were smart enough to read and comprehend the contract and see where the wiggle room was.

Who was right?  The thousands e-mailing with their 'expertise' or me?

In 2011, Barack Obama began serious discussions about a new SOFA with the Iraqi government.  In 2010, he backed Nouri al-Maliki -- who had lost the 2010 elections -- because Nouri had promised he would allow US troops to stay on the ground in Iraq beyond 2011.  Vice President Joe Biden declared it was a "sure thing" with Nouri as prime minister.

And it could have been. But Barack wanted a smaller number than Nouri did.

Nouri feared a military coup.

Only a military coup.

He terrorized the Iraqi people -- with the Iraqi military and other forces -- and didn't fear them.

The politicians?

The US government had a way of keeping them in line -- a method former Iraq Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi described to Iran's Press TV in 2008 "as a matter of blackmailing" and "political blackmail."

That just left the Iraqi military whom Nouri encouraged to break the laws and disobey the Constitution.  And if they'd so quickly do that, why wouldn't they also launch a coup against him?

Nouri wanted thousands of US troops to protect him from a coup.

US Senator John McCain has repeatedly accused Barack of tanking the SOFA talks.  The reason he makes that charge is because McCain was repeatedly in Iraq including in 2011 when he spoke to various leaders about what was needed to get a new SOFA through Parliament?

Like Nouri, they wanted more US troops.  (Nouri also conveyed that to McCain but McCain was not relying solely on Nouri's stated needs.)

To put this before the Parliament (the 2008 one went before the Parliament and 'passed' -- it didn't pass, there weren't enough votes for it or members present), they needed to have a sizable force or it just wasn't worth the political risk they'd be taking (the risk being the backlash from the people as well as from Moqtada al-Sadr and his movement which represented the largest and most sustained element in Iraq calling for all US troops and officials to leave the country).

Barack wouldn't budge on the number and it wasn't worth it politically to Nouri who was also getting promises from Tehran that if he didn't extend the US occupation of Iraq, he could count on Iranian forces to suppress any attempted coup which might take place.

USA Today insists, "But in arguing that he should have kept troops in Iraq longer, his critics skip over the inconvenient fact that he pulled out on a schedule negotiated by Bush."

USA Today is the one skipping over inconvenient facts such as the one where Barack Obama attempted to get a new SOFA.  Here's Tim Arango and Michael S. Schmidt (New York Times) reporting in October of 2011:

President Obama’s announcement on Friday that all American troops would leave Iraq by the end of the year was an occasion for celebration for many, but some top American military officials were dismayed by the announcement, seeing it as the president’s putting the best face on a breakdown in tortured negotiations with the Iraqis.
And for the negotiators who labored all year to avoid that outcome, it represented the triumph of politics over the reality of Iraq’s fragile security’s requiring some troops to stay, a fact everyone had assumed would prevail. But officials also held out hope that after the withdrawal, the two countries could restart negotiations more productively, as two sovereign nations.

The tens of thousands is what Nouri stated he would back.  When McCain accuses Barack of tanking the talks, he's making that accusation based on the fact that it was known 5,000 was unacceptable to Nouri.

That doesn't make McCain's accusation true but that's the basis for his charge.

That's too confusing for the editorial board of USA Today.

So let's really underscore that Barack Obama sought to extend the SOFA.  This is from one of Barack's rare press briefings (this one is June 19, 2014) and he's speaking with CNN's Acosta.

Q    Just very quickly, do you wish you had left a residual force in Iraq?  Any regrets about that decision in 2011?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, keep in mind that wasn’t a decision made by me; that was a decision made by the Iraqi government.  We offered a modest residual force to help continue to train and advise Iraqi security forces.  We had a core requirement which we require in any situation where we have U.S. troops overseas, and that is, is that they're provided immunity since they're being invited by the sovereign government there, so that if, for example, they end up acting in self-defense if they are attacked and find themselves in a tough situation, that they're not somehow hauled before a foreign court.  That's a core requirement that we have for U.S. troop presence anywhere. 

The Iraqi government and Prime Minister Maliki declined to provide us that immunity.  And so I think it is important though to recognize that, despite that decision, that we have continued to provide them with very intensive advice and support and have continued throughout this process over the last five years to not only offer them our assistance militarily, but we’ve also continued to urge the kinds of political compromises that we think are ultimately necessary in order for them to have a functioning, multi-sectarian democracy inside the country.

Samantha Power has stated to various friends that Nouri was willing to give on immunity if Barack would increase the number of US troops and, when he wouldn't budge, Nouri wouldn't either.

But right there, Barack saying he was trying to get an agreement.

So USA Today needs to learn how to be factual and how to tell the truth.

The problem the press has is that they suck up to whomever is in office.

They're little whores to the powerful.

FAIR used to make that point but fell silent when Barack took the White House.

It's why they're useless and why everyone can laugh when a Republican is in the White House again and suddenly FAIR is aghast over the press worship and over the amount of money spent on inaugural balls -- when it was Bully Boy Bush occupying the Oval Office, FAIR thought it unseemly -- at a time of war -- to be holding these lavish balls.

I've been talking to several friends -- high up in the Democratic Party -- about the sudden interest in WMD.

It's been explained that this is how Hillary wins.

If the entire Iraq War is about WMD then Hillary can play the "I'm just a little girl who misunderstood intelligence.  I'm only a little girl."

So that's why we've suffered through this talking point for nearly two weeks.

Let's be really clear on something here, if Iraq had WMD, if nuclear weapons had been discovered in Iraq in April of 2003, it wouldn't have made the Iraq War "right," "legal" or "ethical."

WMD is a distraction.

That's all it was in real time.

It was a fear based talking point meant to silence debate and discussion and distract from the illegal nature of attacking a country that has not attacked you.

Hillary's not a little girl.

She's rather heavy and dumpy -- even for her age.  And she's a woman, not a girl.

Most of all she was an attorney.

She has a functioning knowledge of the law -- it's how she so often skirts it successfully and semi-successfully.

Even if the delicate flower was misled by intelligence -- she wasn't -- she still knew Just War theory -- it was very big when she was in college due to what was taking place in Vietnam.  So she needs to be asked about the Iraq War.  Not about the distraction of WMD, but about how someone who knows the law could support illegal actions, a war of aggression.

A lot of people are getting damp panties and jizz in their briefs over the latest 'revelations' from Mike Morrell.


Do you think he's telling the truth?

What are you basing that on?

That's his mouth's moving and words are coming out?

If so, you're really stupid and I'm not in the mood to sugar coat it.

You're pretty damn stupid.

Anything Morrell's saying he is pre-approved by the CIA to say.

His book has already been vetted by the CIA and they've removed anything they don't want him to say.

Now some truth may be coming out.

It may not be.

But what is known is that every word he's saying is permitted by the CIA.

Do Morrell's words indict the CIA in any way for the Iraq War?


They exonerate the CIA.

Since there are so many dumb people so quick to swallow Morrell as the standard bearer of truth, let's walk through that slowly.

Morrell is making a case in public that the CIA is good, noble and accurate and was misused by Bully Boy Bush.

Every word and story Morrell shares has been submitted to the CIA ahead of time and received CIA approval to be repeated.

You really want to put your faith in Mike Morrell?

Well if you want to be that stupid, go for it.

On the left, anyway, we used to be a lot smarter about the CIA.

Yes, we had name 'academics' on the left who were really recruiting tools for the CIA.

As I've shared before, I know that from personal experience when, in college, the CIA attempted to recruit me.  And that professor is still alive.  And continued to work with the CIA while being seen as a left hero.  (Someone's going to be sweating over this snapshot -- and should.  I get really bitchy when I'm surrounded by liars.  Right now, I'm flicking my Bic lighter and determining whether or not I'll burn the left playhouse down.)

We also had 'reporters' like David Corn who were always, by coincidence surely, breaking favorable stories for the CIA.  In fact, if you remove the CIA from Corn's work, his body of work pretty much is non-existent.  'Reporters' like Corn have always served as mouth pieces of the CIA -- and The Nation and other magazines have gladly embraced that.

Today, ridiculous people like Amy Goodman present CIA contractor John Cole (alias Juan Cole) as a trusted voice.

The CIA has learned from the FBI which long sought out the entertainment industry to portray them in a flattering light.  And too many people will watch, for example, Jennifer Garner's Alias and say, "That whole Rambaldi's tomb and eternal life is fiction" while failing to grasp that the fiction also includes the portrayal of the CIA.

The spy agency that was never to operate on US soil against American citizens is always protected by the press.  We've for years noted it was the CIA and Newsweek (of course, Newsweek which was always a cover for CIA agents throughout the world) who destroyed Jean Seberg.

And we've noted the cover up.

We've decried it here since 2005 repeatedly.

As a result the lie that Joyce Harber destroyed Jean Seberg has been modified.

Modified, not corrected.

Here's Crapapedia:

In 1970, the FBI created the false story, from a San Francisco-based informant, that the child Seberg was carrying was not fathered by her husband Romain Gary but by Raymond Hewitt, a member of the Black Panther Party.[23][24] The story was reported by gossip columnist Joyce Haber of The Los Angeles Times.[25] and was also printed by Newsweek magazine.[26] Seberg went into premature labor and, on August 23, 1970, gave birth to a 4 lb (1.8 kg) baby girl. The child died two days later.[27] She held a funeral in her hometown with an open casket that allowed reporters to see the infant's white skin which disproved the rumors.[28] Seberg and Gary later sued Newsweekfor libel and defamation and asked for US$200,000 in damages. Seberg contended she became so upset after reading the story, that she went into premature labor, which resulted in the death of her daughter. A Paris court ordered Newsweek to pay the couple US$10,800 in damages and also ordered Newsweek to print the judgement in their publication plus eight other newspapers.[29]

They reference a book in their footnotes.  Did they read the book?

I've got that book, I've had it for years and I know the author.  David Richards does not say what they say his book said.

But at least Newsweek is now included in the official account.

As we've gone over repeatedly -- and we always will because I  made a promise decades ago and I keep my promises -- Joyce Harber printed a blind item in May of 1970.  A blind item is when a gossip columnist floats something.  When Miguel Estrada was taken down as a Bully Boy Bush nominee, for example, Media Whore Online was doing blind items that suggested someone a lot like him was gay and trolling an infamous DC park after hours.  Was the item true?  Probably not.

Which is why they didn't name Miguel.  But they made sure anyone reading would think it was Miguel.

Joyce was handed the item by her editor (who got it from the FBI though he's repeatedly lied about that fact and for years lied that he had supplied it to Joyce until he was confronted with a photo copy of the original note where he passed it on to Joyce).  She ran it.

Jean Seberg was a friend.  I liked Jean, I will always defend her.

But most people reading Joyce's column didn't know who the hell she was talking about and probably would've assumed it was Jane Fonda.  Jean was a huge star in France.  She really wasn't a star in America.  She was famous.  But if you were thinking some actress was impregnated by a Black Panther leader, you'd think Jane Fonda because (a) she was working with the Panthers and (b) she was the biggest name in film during that time period with the possible exceptions of Elizabeth Taylor and Barbra Streisand.

Joyce's blind item in May of 1970 did not name Jean (nor did The Hollywood Reporter's blind item in July: "Hear a Black Panther's the pappy of a certain film queen's expected baby, but her estranged hubby's taking her back anyway.").  It was Newsweek, months later, that printed Jean's name -- not a blind item -- and declared that even though she was still married, the father of her child was actually a Black Panther.

This was humiliating on many counts including the fact that she and Romain were publicly a couple, were going to raise the baby as their own and Romain had standing in France that this rumor did not help.  It was also a lie.  She was not carrying the child of any American.  The father was a Mexican activist.

Here she was a woman struggling to have a film career in America and she'd just been branded a "whore" by Newsweek -- that's what saying that this pregnant wife of Romain Gary's is if she's married to him and carrying another man's child.  Ingrid Bergman's film career ended for much less.
Here's what Newsweek printed:

Can a small-town girl from Iowa find happiness in Paris?  It seems so, despite the ups and downs of her marriage.  "It's wonderful," smiled movie actress Jean Seberg, 31, when reporters looked in on her in a hospital in Majorca, where she was recuperating from complications in her pregnancy.  "We are completely reconciled -- ironically just when our divorce pages are finally coming through."  She and French author Romain Gary, 56, are reportedly about to remarry even though the baby Jean expects in October is by another man -- a black activist she met in California.

Our so-called left press and leaders had lied for decades about reality.

They had glommed on a gossip columnist (Joyce) and used her to trash the FBI.

The FBI had nothing to do with the Newsweek article.

And only Newsweek named Jean Seberg.

Their entire paragraph is a lie.

The quote from Jean was made up.  She didn't tell Newsweek that.  Even the 'reporter' (Edward Behr) who filed the 'report' noted he had not been able to speak to either Jean or Romain.  He was in Paris so he also couldn't observe her smiling in Majorca -- not even with a really long telescope.  He was in Paris and his source (one of his two sources) was CIA.

He was doing the bidding of the CIA which is what Newsweek always did in that time.  Newsweek's editor Kermit Lansner then ordered that the 'report' be beefed up and included in Newsweek's gossip column "Newsmakers." (Kermit's interaction with the spy community began when he served in Navy intelligence, just FYI.)

Which part of that seems normal?

Leave out the made up quote.

In what world does a supposed news magazine publish the 'news' that a pregnant woman is having the child of someone other than her husband of someone other than who she says the father is?

In what world does that happen when the woman is already in the hospital for complications to her pregnancy?

Find me the journalist ethic that backs up any of that -- there is none.

The FBI wanted Jean destroyed.  They were inept at best.  The CIA took over the operation and Jean lost the child.

We know (some) of what the FBI did to destroy Jean.  We know far less of what the CIA did.  Jean made her life in France, she was harassed constantly.  But a FOIA won't reveal what the CIA was doing to Jean (driving her insane).

The CIA works very hard to shape their image with the entertainment industry.

Next time we cover this, we'll probably tell the tale of how the CIA 'nudged' (blackmailed) an actress to prevent a film bio on Jean Seberg from being made.

Some may say, you've covered this topic before (see this for our first in depth mention here).

But to me this is very important for a number of reasons.

Jean was a friend.

Her son ended up an orphan (Romain took his own life in 1980).

The Nixon administration used the FBI and the CIA and Navy intelligence and other military intelligence to spy on and harass Jean.  Even after 1970.  And, in fact, the harassment continued after Nixon resigned in disgrace so someone might want to pursue whether Gerald Ford continued those policies or whether the agencies continued them without presidential authorization.

It's not a minor story.

It's a very significant story that goes to the government can tear a citizen apart and get away with it and even be assisted by the so-called free press.

When we started calling these lies out online, Steve Rendall and FAIR and the Beacon Hill Press and others were glad to omit Newsweek -- which is the most damaging -- it proves CIA involvement and Newsweek was the only one that printed Jean's name.

So that we've been able to move the conversation to the point where at least Newsweek's actions are noted (if still underplayed)?  I'll take it as a win.

And with the spying going on today, the story of Jean Seberg is more important than ever.

So if Bob Somerby can waste a week (hiding from Benghazi -- the Susan Rice apologist hasn't been so disgraced since he attacked former US diplomat Joe Wilson) yammering away about whether or not a football was deflated and pretending that passes as serious work, we can once again cover Jean Seberg.

On a related note, Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty.  When you make a docudrama, you're always at risk of your sources being wrong.  Kathryn's film is probably very wrong.  It is not, however, pro-torture.  It is also not now a bad film.  Only if you're an idiot who believes the CIA tells the truth, did you take the film as factual.  It's a gorgeous film and it's a moving film.  It tells a story.  I've never claimed that it told the truth and Kathryn's never pretended that her biggest sources weren't CIA -- so I never expected it to tell the truth.  It's a thriller and a little bit more reality based than that awful Matt Damon film The Green Zone which worked so hard to rewrite reality including making the Judith Miller character a reporter for the Wall St. Journal and not the New York Times. Seymour Hersh, "The Killing of Osama bin Laden" (The London Review of Books) is probably closer to reality of what actually happened and, on that, you should be paying attention to those who attack Hersh.  Not question, attack.  For example POLITICO's Dylan attacked.  He wrote a 'summary' of the article calling out Sy for points Sy didn't make.  When things like that take place, you should ask yourself who a 'reporter' is really working for?  Again, people can question Sy Hersh, they can even disagree with him.  But if they're making a point to lie about what he said, you need to ask yourself who they're working for.

Meanwhile, Nour Malas and Ghassan Adnan (Wall St. Journal) report:

While some of his Sunni kinsmen in Anbar province set about working with Shiite militias on a strategy to oust Islamic State, Emad al-Jumaili was making a very different kind of plan.
The tribal elder was busy preparing to guard his home and family from those same militias.

“I have always said I would much prefer to be killed by a Sunni terrorist organization than a Shiite terrorist organization,” said Mr. Jumaili.

And that's where it stands.

Not surprising at all.  In June of 2014, Barack declared Iraq's crises could only be resolved by "a political solution."  But there has been nothing more than empty words provided.

There's been no effort at including Sunnis.  Haider al-Abadi may be the new prime minister but he's operating out of Nouri al-Maliki's old playbook where Sunnis are (at best) treated as second-class citizens.

Dropping back to Wednesday's snapshot:

  • Refugees were totally expected.

    Are we really supposed to believe that Haider al-Abadi was again -- again -- taken by surprise?

    Because it is also very easy to read this as yet another example of the targeting of the Sunnis.

    When Haider pulled this earlier, there was great outcry from all Iraqis -- including Shi'ites.  It was noted that Baghdad belonged to all and that Haider's actions were discrimination and possibly illegal.

    And yet, weeks later, he's doing it again.

    At today's US State Dept background briefing on Iraq, McClatchy Newspapers' Hannah Allam raised the issue:

    HANNAH ALLAM: Okay. First of all, on the refugee issue, what are you – what are the discussions with Abadi about letting people in? I mean, you’ve got thousands of people stranded, four days, they can’t go back, they get killed, they won’t let them in even with a sponsor now.

    SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: So I understand – again, I’ve been told as of this morning that the bridge has been open for refugees with a sponsor with a place to – what that means is that they need a place to go in Baghdad because you can’t just have a – otherwise, you just have a really chaotic situation which can quickly get out of control. So the bridge has been open to refugees with a sponsor in Baghdad. And the UN, again, who is doing just heroic work, is working to set up facilities for those who are on the other side of the bridge. That’s what’s happening as we speak, so hopefully, I’ll have a little more for you in the next 24 hours or so.

    Allam's report on the briefing can be found here.

    Was the bridge opened?


    Hannah might want to try reporting on that.

    AFP notes Saleh al-Mutlaq, a Deputy Prime Minister in Iraq and a Sunni, held a press conference today decrying the closing of the Bzeibez bridge and stating, "Preventing citizens from entering their capital is a crime.  The constitution does not allow anyone to forbid a citizen from entering any province."  BBC News adds, "There are reports of children dying of dehydration in the heat, UN Deputy Humanitarian Co-ordinator for Iraq Dominik Bartsch told the BBC. It is unclear why the Bzebiz bridge was closed, though there have been concerns that militants could mingle with the displaced and infiltrate Baghdad."

    Children are dying of dehydration.  That's who Barack's slipped into bed with this time, Haider al-Abadi.

    This is why Haider isn't trusted.  Things either never happen or that happen only long enough for a photo op.

    The whole point of installing Haider as prime minister -- and he was installed by the White House -- was to give Iraq a fresh start or even the hope of one.

    But he's turned out to be as bad as Nouri al-Maliki.

    No one wants to read the writing on the wall.

    They want to offer excuses.

    They want to claim that he needs to be indulged and shouldn't be held to rules of accountability.

    Remember that?

    When they made the same argument about Nouri al-Maliki?

    And how that indulgence led to the current crises?

    So, yeah, that's a winning 'strategy' -- doing the exact same thing that led to the crises to begin with.

    Reuters maintains, "Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, a Shi'ite, sent Shi'ite paramilitary groups out to Anbar to try to retake Ramadi despite the risk of inflaming tensions with the province's aggrieved, predominantly Sunni population.  But he had little choice given the poor morale and cohesion within government security forces."

    A Kurdish Peshmerga commander tells  Rudaw that Haider's Special Operations forces not only bailed but did so before Ramadi fell and that he personally told Haider what was happening but Haider looked the other way:

    Two days prior to the ISIS attack we had accurate information that the Special Operations had packed up and abandoned their base in Ramadi.
    I personally relayed the information through the chain of command and contacted Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.
    I informed him of the photo and video evidence and location of hundreds of army vehicles and Humvees of the Special Operations forces assembled and about to abandon Ramadi.
    I explained to PM Abadi the exact location of the forces on the map. It was 4am. They flew a plane to the place I told them and took photos of the assembled vehicles. They learned that the intelligence was correct and that indeed the forces were getting ready to withdraw.
    Later that day more than 200 army vehicles abandoned their posts and their withdrawal led to the defeat of all other forces that were in Anbar to fight.
    Why did the Special Operations act this way? I personally think there was a political reason behind it.
    As a military commander, I don’t think PM Abadi or the Ministry of Defense have any authority over the Special Operations. Or it could be that the Shiite forces close to Maliki committed this act in order to embarrass and bring down Abadi’s government.

     Margaret Griffis ( counts 25 violent deaths across Iraq on Friday.

    Read on ...

    Sunday, May 17, 2015

    The Idiotic Susan Rice

    the unqualified susan rice


    From November 25, 2012, it's "The Idiotic Susan Rice."  

    C.I. noted:

    US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice explains, "I broke my silence last week to prevent a moratorium on the death penalty and to explain and insist I just repeated to the American people what I was told to say about Benghazi.  See, I'm more comfortable campaigning for Secretary of State in my 'I'm with stupid' t-shirt and my dunce camp.  U-S-Something!  U-S-Something!"  This is one of two comics Isaiah will have today.  Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts.

    Sometimes a visual comes after the fact.

    This is a talky comic.  I wish it wasn't.  But that's all I could come up with.

    After I started it, I thought of a dunce cap and then the t-shirt which make the comic for me.

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

    Saturday, May 16, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, the State Dept lies about what KRG President Massoud Barzani said during his DC trip last week, the US House of Representatives passes the National Defense Authorization,  Ramadi is being lost but the White House seems unconcerned, we look at the targeting of Sunnis, and much more.

    Monday, Finance Minister Rafe al-Assawi and the Governor of Nineveh Province Atheel al-Nuajaif (brother of Iraqi Vice President Osama al-Nujaifi) were hosted at a Brookings Institution event which was moderated by Kenneth Pollack.  We've covered the event in the Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday  and Thursday snapshots.  We'll continue the coverage today.

    Kenneth Pollack:  As you are painfully and personally aware, one of the problems with the current federal system is that we've had a corruption of the justice process and key Sunni leaders -- again, present company included --  have been targeted by the central government using that judicial system.  How would you think about a future Iraqi system that would prevent that from happening?  How do we go about creating an Iraq in which you and Tareq al-Hashemi [Iraqi Vice President whom Nouri al-Maliki swore out an arrest warrant and who was tried in absentia despite Constitutional protections preventing that] and Ahmed al-Alwani [Ramadi MP whose home Nouri ordered a military attack on during a dawn December 2013 morning -- the raid left several people dead -- including al-Alwani's brother -- al-Alwani has since been convicted to death by the 'impartial' and 'fair' and 'legal' Baghdad court system] and others can't be personally targeted by this system.

    Former Minister Rafe al-Assawi:  And it depends upon Iraqis.  All Iraqis -- Shi'ites, Sunis, Kurds, Muslims, Christians -- whether to live together in a united Iraq, to respect these designations of authorities.  Now for sure there is interferences in the judicial system.  American -- and you, Ken -- can help a lot to restore.  Everything needs to be restored.  Everything is damaged.  So you have to restructure damaged Iraq -- as I indicated in my presentation -- PowerPoint.  So restoring Iraq again means you have to build again. On the corruption side -- which is really in the security and non-security institutions -- part of this is totally controlled by militia.  So money create militia and militia took money.  And it is a vicious circle.  That's why I said the challenge is to restore back again the state.  So it depends on how serious are Iraqis -- including me and my colleagues -- to rebuild Iraq?  Otherwise, if everyone keep only observing's Iraq's burning, saying 'this is not my job,' or  we only keep beating others for participation or giving promises without implementation we will not move any step.

    Kenneth Pollack:  Governor, anything you'd like to add on the judicial system?

    Governor Atheel al-Nujaifi:  I think that the corruption and all that problems may be solved easier if we are near to the people, not farther away from the people.  Now with controlling everything from Baghdad, they have no interest, no concern what happen in Mosul [which the Islamic State took control of last June] or in Anbar [which the Islamic State controls part of] -- what the people of Anbar want.  They want to found Mosul and Anbar, they want them to belong to them, not follow the problems or the corruption in their cities.  And that's what happened in Mosul exactly before the collapse of Mousl.  The corruption in the army is too much but Baghdad, they didn't care with that corruption, they care that the Mosul people must belong to them.  So I think dividing the authorities as I said [he spoke of the need for a model similar to the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government -- while al-Assawi noted that the division of powers is in the Constitution but it is not being followed] and we can see the KRG as a model, dividing the authorities.  Even if there is a problem between some of the Kurdish leaders and Baghdad, there is no real problems that can't be solved, no problems inside their autonomy.

    Anbar Province was noted in the discussion.  Last month, Haider al-Abadi ordered the start of the assault on Ramadi, a key city in the province.  The assault has not gone well by any measure -- including the civilians left wounded and terrorized.

    Ramadi was a topic in Friday's State Dept press briefing moderated by spokesperson Jeff Rathke.

    QUESTION: Yeah. Jeff, do you have any reaction to the advances made by ISIS today in Ramadi in Iraq?

    MR RATHKE: Right. Well, in conjunction with Anbari tribal forces, Iraqi Security Forces have been confronting ISIL fighters in Ramadi and around Anbar province for several months. Today, ISIL is once again attempting an offensive in the city of Ramadi. I don’t have a battlefield update to provide, but I would highlight that the coalition is supporting Iraqi Security Forces to help protect the citizens of Anbar province and to support their efforts to force ISIL from Ramadi and other cities. We continue to provide targeted air support in ISIL-held and contested areas, and that includes numerous airstrikes in Ramadi today. But as for the status on the ground, I would refer you to the Iraqi Government for their update. And about – for the details of U.S. military support, my colleagues at the Pentagon can share more detail.

    QUESTION: And do you consider what happened as a blow for the Iraqi Government and the Iraqi forces?

    MR RATHKE: Well, look, we’ve said before that there will be good days and bad days in Iraq. ISIL’s trying to make today a bad day in Ramadi. We’ve said all along we see this as a long-term fight in conjunction with our Iraqi partners against ISIL. We are confident that Iraqi forces with support from the coalition will continue to push back ISIL where they’ve tried to gain advantages on the ground. So our policy and our engagement remains the same.

    QUESTION: So is it the U.S.’s view that Ramadi is falling to ISIL, is under ISIL control, or would you say that it’s contested?

    MR RATHKE: Well, I would – I’m not in a position to confirm reports that – I know there have been several reports out there – about the situation in the city center. I’d refer you, again, to the Iraqis for up-to-date information. We have said in the past that Ramadi is and the areas around it have been contested for months, and – but as to the situation in Ramadi right now, we’re working with the Government of Iraq to get a clearer picture of the situation.


    QUESTION: (Inaudible) consider keeping Ramadi out of ISIS’s control a strategic priority, or is this going to be like Kobani where it’s not a strategic priority unless you win, and then it becomes a strategic priority?

    MR RATHKE: Well, no. I think what we said about Kobani was that it was a strategic priority for ISIL. So – but anyway, to switch back to --

    QUESTION: Do you consider this – yeah.

    MR RATHKE: Yeah.

    QUESTION: Do you consider this a strategic priority for the anti-ISIL coalition and for the Iraqis that this does not become an ISIL stronghold?

    MR RATHKE: Well, this is a fight that’s being led by the Iraqis, so it’s the Iraqi Government’s job to set priorities. So that would be their – it’s their country and they need to set those priorities and we support them. Clearly, Ramadi is important and it’s a large city. It’s been contested for some time. And Anbar province – we’ve talked a lot about other actions in Anbar province in recent weeks and months, so Anbar is important, Ramadi is important. I’m not going to place labels on them to try to suggest a prioritization.

    QUESTION: You – this building and this Administration has been a leader in creating a global anti-ISIL coalition.

    MR RATHKE: Certainly.

    QUESTION: Do you consider it important that they – that ISIL not gain what would be a significant victory here? I mean, are you --

    MR RATHKE: No, I’ve just said Ramadi is important. I agree with you. But what I --

    QUESTION: But are you willing to tell the people of Ramadi, the civilians in Ramadi, “We will not let this city fall”?

    MR RATHKE: Well, again, we are – our approach in Iraq is to support the Iraqi forces as well as the tribal forces and all the forces who are fighting against ISIL under the command and control overall of the Iraqi central government. So we – that commitment remains and we are going to continue that support, and that’s not going to change.

    QUESTION: Jeff, on this --

    MR RATHKE: Yes.

    QUESTION: -- do you consider that the Iraqi Government bears some responsibility in the falling of Ramadi since they didn’t provide the tribes and the Sunni militia the arms that they asked for or they need?

    MR RATHKE: Well, first of all, this – I’m not going to start from the assumption that the city has fallen. I’m not issuing that judgment from this podium. With regard to the outreach to the Sunni tribes, this has been a priority for Prime Minister Abadi. He and other senior Iraqi government officials have been reaching out to the tribes to bridge differences and to build trust. We know there’s a lot of history there to be overcome and Prime Minister Abadi has been working continuously to address that.

    So in broader terms, taking a step back from Ramadi, we have been encouraged by the Iraqi Government’s efforts to enlist and to arm tribal fighters in the campaign. They’ve been building on the thousands of Sunni fighters who have joined the popular mobilization forces, as they call them, over the past six months. I would highlight as well that the Anbar governor just last week held a ceremony to induct about a thousand more tribal fighters. So these units are going to be working with and coordinating with the Iraqi army. Prime Minister Abadi last month visited Anbar and delivered weapons to Sunni tribes. Of course, there are more efforts to organize and to arm the Sunnis and to integrate them; those who want to fight ISIL will be needed in the coming months. This is a long-term effort, so – and – but we will continue to support the Iraqi Government in that effort.

    QUESTION: But – one follow-up on this.

    MR RATHKE: Yes.

    QUESTION: Did you consider that the Iraqi Government is fulfilling its commitment regarding the Sunni tribes, first? And is – or will the U.S. provide the Sunni arms directly without passing the Iraqi Government?

    MR RATHKE: Well, our policy on arms transfers to Iraq is – remains the same. We – all of those arms transfers are coordinated through the Iraqi central government. That’s not going to change. And as I said, Prime Minister Abadi has made it a priority to reach out to the Sunni population in particular in Anbar, and so we support those efforts.

    Namo, go ahead.

    QUESTION: We have seen little progress in Prime Minister Abadi’s outreach to the Sunnis, because – I mean, if you just look at the cities and towns that have been falling to ISIS in Iraq, almost all of them have been Sunni towns. It’s predominately Sunni towns. Does that – what does that tell us? Does that – doesn’t that tell us that the Iraqi army, which is basically a predominately Shia army, is unwilling to protect Sunni areas? Or doesn’t that also tell us that Prime Minister Abadi has failed in his outreach toward – to the Sunnis? Because they have been demanding weapons and also some equipment that they need to defend themselves.

    MR RATHKE: Well, and the Iraqi Government has been providing it. So they --

    QUESTION: But they have failed.

    MR RATHKE: No, but – I wouldn’t accept that characterization. The prime minister has been reaching out. He has made the commitments to enlist and to arm tribal fighters. And those aren’t just the commitments on paper, they’ve been happening. I was just talking about some of the most recent steps in answer to Michel’s question. And so in addition to his personal engagement in Anbar, there was just last week an induction of another thousand tribal fighters. So yes, more efforts are needed but Prime Minister Abadi has focused on this and he continues to pursue that.

    That is Jeff Rathke and the State Dept's opinion.

    It is not fact and should not be mistaken for fact.

    The Congress begs to differ.

    And too bad for the State Dept, Congress can cut off funding.

    Now the White House and the State Dept can go around Congress if Congress cuts off funding -- the White House and the State Dept can do that by (a) breaking the law, (b) creating a Constitutional crisis and (c) courting impeachment of US President Barack Obama.

    If they choose to pursue that, it will certainly liven up the remainder of Lame Duck Obama's final term in office.

    Congress' opinion on the matter can be found below:

    Requirements relating to assistance for fiscal year 2016
    In general
    Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this subsection, the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of State shall jointly submit to the appropriate congressional committees an assessment of the extent to which the Government of Iraq is meeting the conditions described in subparagraph (B).
    The conditions described in this subparagraph are that the Government of Iraq—
    is addressing the grievances of ethnic and sectarian minorities;
    is increasing political inclusiveness;
    is conducting efforts sufficient to reduce support for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and improve stability in Iraq;
    is legislating the Iraqi Sunni National Guard;
    is ensuring that minorities are represented in adequate numbers, trained, and equipped in government security organizations;
    is ending support to Shia militias and stopping abuses of elements of the Iraqi population by such militias;
    is ensuring that supplies, equipment, and weaponry supplied by the United States are appropriately distributed to security forces with a national security mission in Iraq, including the Kurdish Peshmerga, Sunni tribal security forces with a national security mission, and the Iraqi Sunni National Guard;
    is releasing prisoners from ethnic or sectarian minorities who have been arrested and held without trial or to charge and try such prisoners in a fair, transparent, and prompt manner; and
    is taking such other actions as the Secretaries consider appropriate.
    The Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of State may submit an update of the assessment required under subparagraph (A) to the extent necessary.
    The assessment required under subparagraph (A) and the update of the assessment authorized under subparagraph (C) may be submitted as part of the quarterly report required under subsection (d).
    Restriction on direct assistance to Government of Iraq
    If the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of State do not submit the assessment required by paragraph (1) or if the Secretaries submit the assessment required by paragraph (1) but the assessment indicates that the Government of Iraq has not substantially achieved the conditions contained in the assessment, the Secretaries shall withhold the provision of assistance pursuant to subsection (a) directly to the Government of Iraq for fiscal year 2016 until such time as the Secretaries submit an update of the assessment that indicates that the Government of Iraq has substantially achieved the conditions contained in the assessment.
    Direct assistance to certain covered groups
    In general
    Of the funds authorized to be appropriated under this section for fiscal year 2016, not less than 25 percent of such funds shall be obligated and expended for assistance directly to the groups described in subparagraph (E) (of which not less than 12.5 percent of such funds shall be obligated and expended for assistance directly to the group described in clause (i) of such subparagraph).
    Additional direct assistance
    If the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of State withhold the provision of assistance pursuant to subsection (a) directly to the Government of Iraq for fiscal year 2016 in accordance with paragraph (2) of this subsection, the Secretaries shall obligate and expend not less than an additional 60 percent of all unobligated funds authorized to be appropriated under this section for fiscal year 2016 for assistance directly to the groups described in subparagraph (E).
    Cost-sharing requirement inapplicable
    The cost-sharing requirement of subsection (k) shall not apply with respect to funds that are obligated or expended for assistance directly to the groups described in subparagraph (E).
    Rule of construction
    Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the groups described in subparagraph (E) shall each be deemed to be a country for purposes of meeting the eligibility requirements of section 3 of the Arms Export Control Act (22 U.S.C. 2753) and chapter 2 of part II of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2311 et seq.).
    Covered groups
    The groups described in this subparagraph are—
    the Kurdish Peshmerga;
    Sunni tribal security forces with a national security mission; and
    the Iraqi Sunni National Guard.

    That's Sec. 1223 of H.R. 1735 which passed the House on Friday (it remains a bill, the Senate has to pass their version) on a vote with 269 members supporting it (41 were Democrats) and 151 opposing it (143 were Democrats) while 12 members elected not to vote.

    Wow, there is widespread Democratic opposition to this Iraq proposal.


    The Iraq issue is the least controversial element of the bill (well the changes related to the registration and tracking of sex offenders is probably the section that has the most support from Democrats and Republicans, but after that, Iraq's the least controversial).

    If you're not grasping that, Democrats are noting publicly their problems with the bill.  Leo Shane III (Military Times) reports, "House lawmakers on Friday approved a $612 billion defense authorization bill for next year despite objections from Democratic leaders and a White House veto threat over plans to skirt spending caps with oversized temporary war funds."

    That makes me laugh.

    For two reasons.

    First, I've been at these hearings, Armed Services Comittee hearings, and heard Democrats and Republicans on the Committee -- both sides -- insist that the military must be sacrosacnt and not part of the sequestration (automatic cuts) and blah, blah, blah.

    And, for the record, in the Veterans Affairs Comittee hearings (House and Senate), we hear the same statements, the automatic cuts should not effect the VA.

    Every committee works to protect its own turf.

    And now Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader, is objecting to fudging numbers because . . . she thinks sequestration should just be eliminated when it comes to the military.

    More money flows to the DoD than any other element in the budget but Nancy is opposed to cut being implemented on Defense.

    Once upon a time, Americans believed in a thing called  "shared sacrifice."

    Meaning we all share in the cuts equally.

    But they don't want to do that -- it's not full of the high drama Congress and the White House count on.

    It's like the issue of the homeless in America.

    Congress doesn't give a damn.

    Unless it's veterans.

    If it's veterans homeless, oh, let's talk, let's do, let's fund.

    But the American citizens that Congress is supposed to represent -- all citizens, not just veterans?

    They don't give a damn.

    Nor does Barack.

    He's promised that veterans homelessness ends this year.

    Well bully for him.

    But when does the US government ever intend to end homelessness in America?

    The crisis exploded during Ronald Reagan's two terms as president.

    And he's more or less blamed for it.

    But Ronald Reagan's not only out of the White House, he's dead.

    What prevented George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Bully Boy Bush and now Barack Obama from seriously addressing this issue and ending homelessness in America?

    The only thing that stopped them was a lack of caring.

    (HW is infamous for stepping over the sleeping homeless while leaving various DC eateries.)

    Paul Kane (Washington Post) offers that "Democrats largely opposed the measure Friday because of their demands for new negotiations to set up different spending limits on defense and non-defense agencies that were imposed by the 2011 Budget Control Act."

    I hope that's clear enough for everyone.

    The second reason I laugh?

    The Iraq measure in the bill was supposed to be so controversial.

    It is to the White House but it's not to Congress -- not to Congressional Democrats, not to Congressional Republicans.

    Well they bellowed, and they hollered
    And they threw each other down
    Down in this valley
    This cruel and lovely valley
    Oh it should have been an alley
    In some low down part of town
    -- "Memorial Day," written by Carly Simon, first appears on her album Spy

    And didn't they, though?

    Didn't the press -- mirroring the White House -- because goodness forbid they come up with their own behavior -- insist that this was wrong, so wrong, so wrong?

    Didn't they tell you that this Iraq section was going to be rethought?  And maybe pulled from the bill?

    Didn't happen.

    Never was going to happen.

    And only idiots who hadn't attended Congressional hearings would have bought and/or promoted that nonsense.

    It passed.

    And it's not the source of Democratic objections.

    Even the White House has sat its wild ass down on this matter realizing that they never had a chance at turning Congressional opinion on that in the first place but certainly not after certain thugs in Iraq -- thugs in the Iraqi government -- thought they could publicly threaten harm to the United States?

    Congress is many things.  Arrogant to be sure.  But it's not a weak-willed president desperate to cave and remain silent in the face of threats from another country.

    More than anything else, those threats solidified support in the House for this already popular provision.

    So the Democrats are bothered that, to avoid spending caps, the bill ups the temporary expendiatures.

    Margaret Griffis ( reports 62 people were killed across Iraq on Friday.

    She forgets that the bill we noted above includes arming the Sunnis.

    Back to Friday's State Dept press briefing:

    QUESTION: Just one question about the Erbil-Baghdad.

    MR RATHKE: Yeah. I think we’re going to need to move on. So yes --

    QUESTION: Just one quick question about the Erbil-Baghdad. Because the – over the past couple of days, that oil deal that the United States has been praising for quite a few – quite a while as a successful deal seemed to have come to the edge of collapse, with the Kurdish leaders accusing Baghdad of having failed to abide by the terms of the agreement. And even the prime minister of the Kurdish region said they are going to take independent steps if Baghdad fails to implement that deal. What is your understanding of the deal between Erbil and Baghdad?

    MR RATHKE: Mm-hmm. Well, we just had very good visits to Washington both by Prime Minister Abadi and the Iraqi Kurdish Region President Barzani. One of the things that was discussed with them was the – were the important issues facing Iraq. And we understand that Baghdad and Erbil remain committed to seeking implementation of the deal. We continue to urge both sides to work together toward resolving the payments issue and fully implementing the agreement that was reached at the end of 2014. ISIL is the main threat, and we continue to encourage the central government and the Kurdistan Regional Government to work together to fight against ISIL and resolve those issues.

    No, Jeff Rathke, that's what the administration 'understands.'

    It's the lie they repeat.

    And KRG President Massoud Barzani was very clear in his public appearances that not only are Kurds not getting weapons, not only is Baghdad not honoring their public promise from last December re: oil revenues, but they are also not receiving their portion of the federal budget.

    That's a huge deal.

    But grasp that Iraq was unable to pass a budget for 2014.

    So the KRG didn't get money then.

    Rathke is less than honest in his remarks.

    But he wouldn't work for the State Dept if he didn't know how to lie.


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