Saturday, October 13, 2012

Idiot of the week

Weekend.  Don't accuse Barack of not working hard at the presidency! It's just been announced he's doing The Daily Show.  There's been The View, Leno, Letterman . . .

About all that's left for Barack is Toddlers & Tiaras.  He probably would do that show but knows Honey Boo Boo could kick his ass.

Let me also share that I found Joe Biden rude.

I'm talking about the debate.  I usually like Joe.

I didn't last night.  I felt he was too flippant and too quick to be amused (laughing during the discussion of Iran?).  I also felt he was rude to Paul Ryan.

That was common with guys under 40.  We may be taking Joe's steam rolling of Ryan personally.  But I don't think this helped with male voters.  Not under forty by own conversations throughout the day.

I like Joe and maybe that's why I'm not picking him for Idiot of the Week but I really don't think he was worthy of the title.

I found the idiot in a CNBC article:

Obama should talk about how Romney suggested PBS news host Jim Lehrer would lose his job too — and grinning while doing it, said Dick Harpootlian, Democratic party chair in South Carolina.
"There's nothing funny about firing anybody," said Harpootlian. "Why do you smile when you say you are going to fire somebody?"

Is Dick Harpootlian trying to make Barack lose the election?

Have you ever heard such idiotic advice?

First off, PBS isn't that popular.  They aren't watched by most Americans.  They do control the media with their fan base but most Americans don't watch PBS.

So that would be true of any PBS-er.

Now let's get to the fact that Lehrer makes over a million dollars a year.  You do realize that, right?

And he's 78 years old?

And that young people need jobs?

And that if Lehrer would retire, that would be one less job being hogged?

Dick Harpootlian's concern for the welfare of millionaire Jim Lehrer is really the stupidest thing of the week.  Hands down.

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

Friday, October 12, 2012. Chaos and violence continue, Iraq makes the debate between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan (but not because it was a topic asked about it), Nouri's weapons deal with the Czech Republic is estimated to be worth 1 billion dollars, a mother shares how the administration misinformed her about how her son (Sean Smith) died in Libya, a tape -- over fifty minutes -- exists of the September 11, 2012 Benghazi attack and a government body is keeping it from Congress, and more.
Last night in Danville, Kentucky, the media went through the pretense that a vice presidential debate was taking place. If it were a vice presidential debate, where was Cheri Honkala (Green Party v.p. candidate), Luis J. Rodriguez (Justice Party v.p. candidate), Jim Gray (Libertarian Party v.p. candidate), Phyllis Scherrer (Socialist Equality Party v.p. candidate) and Jim Clymer (Constitutional Party v.p. running mate) among others? If this were the vice presidential debate, those people would have been on stage. Instead, Martha Raddatz of ABC moderated a Democratic candidate debating a Republican candidate. (Ava and I shared our thoughts on that this morning.) Martha Raddatz was less than honest when she declared that the event was "sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates." It was sponsored by corporations -- large amounts of corporate money. This is not 'secret' information, it's at the commisson's own website:
2012 National Sponsors
Anheuser-Busch Companies
The Howard G. Buffett Foundation
Sheldon S. Cohen, Esq.
Crowell & Moring LLP
International Bottled Water Association (IBWA)
The Kovler Fund
Southwest Airlines
In addition, it is not put on by "the Commission on Presidential Debates" which makes it sound as though everyone has a say. Also lying is the Commission itself which insists that they are "a nonprofit, nonpartisan" corporation. They are bi-partisan, the officials would not be either Democrats or Republicans now would candidates from those two parties be the only ones invited to these debates. They are bi-partisan.
Iraq came up briefly in the debate. Lu Hui (Xinhua) notes, "The two clashed over how the country has been winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and tried to sharpen contrast on national security and defense budget cutting." Click here for a full transcript at CNN. This is both candidates Iraq remarks and I've pulled out the non-Iraq stuff.
Vice President Joe Biden: On Iraq, the president said he would end the war. Governor Romney said that was a tragic mistake, we should have left 30,000 - he ended it. Governor Romney said that was a tragic mistake, we should have left 30,000 troops there.
US House Rep Paul Ryan: With respect to Iraq, we had the same position before the withdrawal, which was we agreed with the Obama administration. Let's have a status of forces agreement to make sure that we secure our gains. The vice president was put in charge of those negotiations by President Obama and they failed to get the agreement. We don't have a status of forces agreement because they failed to get one. That's what we are talking about.
Some may argue we should include the question. Okay. Martha Raddatz stated, "I would like to begin with Libya. On a rather somber note, one month ago tonight, on the anniversary of 9-11, Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other brave Americans were killed in a terrorist attack in Benghazi. The State Department has now made clear, there were no protesters there. It was a pre-planned assault by heavily armed men. Wasn't this a massive intelligence failure, Vice President Joe Biden?"
No, Martha didn't ask about Iraq. But Joe was attempting to skirt the issue asked about and emphasize instead what he wanted to talk about. (Michael Finnegan and Alana Semuels of the Los Angeles Times refer to Joe's actions as a pivot. This is a 'new' observation by political hacks. There's nothing new about it. Jackie Susann was the master of talking about what she wanted to with the media -- usually her own books -- watch any interview and she brings the topic back to her latest book over and over. It's called self-promotion but those in need of pretending they've just discovered something and bad reporters like Alix Spiegel who would rather yack about nonsense than actual issues are now terming this a "pivot.")
Vice President Joe Biden: On Iraq, the president said he would end the war. Governor Romney said that was a tragic mistake, we should have left 30,000 - he ended it. Governor Romney said that was a tragic mistake, we should have left 30,000 troops there.
As we were noting on Tuesday, that is incorrect. At the New York Times blog The Caucus today, Richard A. Oppel declared, "Little noticed in last night's debate: Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. seemed to go out of his way to alter what has been a high profile -- and unfair -- criticism by President Obama of the Romney campaign's statements about Iraq." He goes on to declare Biden's assertion to be "a little closer to being accurate" than Barack's. But a little closer to accurate isn't accurate and it remains, as he noted, "unfair" and untrue. This is from September 7, 2012:
Making the case that Romney lacks foreign policy chops, Obama twisted Romney's words, claiming, "My opponent said it was 'tragic' to end the war in Iraq."
But that's not quite what Romney said. He was speaking of the speed with which Obama was withdrawing troops, not to ending the war in general.
During a veterans roundtable in South Carolina on Nov. 11, 2011, Romney criticized Obama's plan to remove troops from Iraq by the end of that year. Here's the fuller context of his comments, as reported by the New York Times:
Romney, Nov. 11, 2011: It is my view that the withdrawal of all of our troops from Iraq by the end of this year is an enormous mistake, and failing by the Obama administration. The precipitous withdrawal is unfortunate — it's more than unfortunate, I think it's tragic. It puts at risk many of the victories that were hard won by the men and women who served there.
A month earlier, when Obama formally announced the withdrawal of tens of thousands of troops from Iraq by year's end, Romney released a similar statement:
Romney, Oct. 21, 2011: President Obama's astonishing failure to secure an orderly transition in Iraq has unnecessarily put at risk the victories that were won through the blood and sacrifice of thousands of American men and women. The unavoidable question is whether this decision is the result of a naked political calculation or simply sheer ineptitude in negotiations with the Iraqi government. The American people deserve to hear the recommendations that were made by our military commanders in Iraq.
In December, Romney argued that Obama "has pulled our troops out in a precipitous way" and that he ought to have left a residual force of "10-, 20-, 30-thousand personnel there to help transition to the Iraqi's own military capabilities."
Criticizing the "precipitous" pace of withdrawal and the president's failure to leave a residual force in Iraq is a far cry from calling the end of the war in Iraq "tragic."
"Obama twisted Romney's words" -- yes and now Joe has as well. Now let's go to the idiots -- Oppel is not an idiot. This is a fact check so bad it took five people to do it and they still couldn't get it right. The USA Today no-stars Tim Mullaney, Susan Davis, Jackie Kucinich, Paul Davidson and Aamer Madhani offer these 'facts' on Iraq:
Claim: Biden said that Mitt Romney wanted to leave 30,000 servicemembers in Iraq beyond the end of the U.S-Iraq status of forces agreement that expired at the end of 2011.
The facts: Obama administration officials and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government negotiated for months on a deal that would have allowed a small residual force to remain in Iraq beyond 2011 under a new status of forces agreement. The negotiations, however, fell apart because Maliki believed he would be unable to nudge the Iraqi parliament to agree to immunity for American troops operating in Iraq.
After Obama announced his plan to withdraw the last remaining troops from Iraq in October 2011, Romney said on Fox News in December: "If I were president, I would have carried out the status of forces agreement that was long anticipated that actually (Defense Secretary Leon) Panetta ... indicated he wanted to have as well, which would have allowed to us have somewhere between 10 and 30,000 troops in Iraq."
The only thing more laughable than the above is them on Libya. USA Today cannot tell the truth on Libya, but we'll address that on Sunday. Regarding the above, it gives the impression that Barack removed "the last remaining troops from Iraq." He did no such thing and USA Today should stop lying, they really are embarrassing themselves -- and this is the paper who demanded -- in an editoriall -- that Bill Clinton step down as President for fooling around with Monica Lewinsky, That is what they concerned themselves with, the 'high crimes' of a blow job. And one might think that would be their all time low point but the no-stars are damned determined to aim even lower.
Biden was aiming high himself, "On Iraq, Biden lies," offers Michael Youhana (PolicyMic). Agreed. Let's explore the ways.
Sebastian Meyer (CNN) reports today that Iraqis really don't care about the elections in the US. And why would they? They saw a Democrat replace a Republican in the White House and the war didn't end. Meyer points out, "The Iraq Body Count database estimates that seven people have been killed every single day by suicide and car bomb attacks this year." In addition, US forces remain in Iraq. Micah Zenko (Council on Foreign Relations) observes today, "The United States currently has 225 troops, 530 security assistance team members, and over 4,000 contractors to equip and train Iraqi security forces via the Office of Security Cooperation Iraq."
Or, as Kevin Kervick points out in a letter to the editors of the Seacoast Online, "President Obama did accomplish a rhetorical end to the Iraq war, a development that many of us celebrated during an End of War Parade right here in Portsmouth. However, there are still thousands of military trainers, mercenaries and contractors there who have no plans on leaving. The violence continues to rage in Iraq." [Kevin J. Kervick is running for state representative in New Hampshire's District 30.] As last year wound down, Ted Koppel was reporting that Special Ops would be among those troops remaining in Iraq. Not only did they remain there, more were sent in. Tim Arango (New York Times) reported September 26th, "Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions. At the request of the Iraqi government, according to General Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence."
In last night's debate, Joe was a hypocrite when he ridiculed Mitt Romney as someone who wanted US troops to remain longer because (a) Barack was in negotiations for that and (b) the White House continues to negotiate for that. I like Joe, I know Joe. He's a wonderful person. But he was dishonest on Iraq last night. Very dishonest. Joe also declared of the Iraq War and the Afghanistan War, "I voted against them. I said, 'No, we can't afford that'." I believe he mispoke on that -- my belief -- because he does know his own voting record. His statements were inaccurate and you can say he was lying (I won't say lie on this one because I believe he mispoke) because he voted for both wars. I've tried to figure out how he could claim otherwise? Am I missing some appropriations vote -- after the wars started -- that he voted "no" on? I don't believe I am. But if there were one, with regards to Afghanistan, he declared, "Whatever it takes, we should do it." With regards to Iraq, he may be arguing about his 2002 amendment -- he wanted a second resolution. He voted on the Iraq War in favor but had proposed an amendment which failed. Had it passed, it would have required authorization from the United Nations. Possibly, that's what Joe was interpreting as being against it -- his proposing that amendment makes clear he was against going to war without a second UN resolution, therefore, he can assert that he was against the war that took place since Bush did not get a second resolution. If others want to characterize the voting against them statement as a lie, I'm not going to argue the point. But I know Joe and it's not like him to distort his own voting record. My opinion, he mispoke there or he's interpreting his voting record -- not just the initial votes -- in a way that others -- including myself -- do not.
Again, with regards to the current negotiations with Iraq, on that Joe misled, he flat-out lied. I wish he hadn't, but he did. And I have no problem saying that.
On the topic of Iraq, Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor have an important new book entitled The Endgame. Gary Anderson (Washington Times) reviews the volume today and concludes, "To sum up the book for the reader: A Republican administration blundered into the Iraq War, and a Democratic administration stumbled out of it. Through it all, rank-and-file soldiers and civilian professionals saved our bacon by making chicken salad out of chicken droppings. The devil of the story is in the details, and the authors do a superb job of providing them."
This is me, not the book. Before 2010 rolled around, it was already clear that Nouri al-Maliki was not going to be a fair leader. Since 2007, State Dept cables regularly noted Nouri was paranoid In addition, he was prone to seeing conspiracies everywhere. The book notes Nouri's fetish for conspiracies and his paranoia. It notes that the top US commander in Iraq, General Ray Odierno, felt there needed to be contingency plans before the 2010 elections. Specifically, Odierno thought Nouri might not respect or honor the results. (Odierno looks like a prophet today. He was 100% right.) While Odierno had clear concerns, Chris Hill -- then the Ambassador to Iraq -- was dismissive of the concerns, dismissive of Odierno and saw Nouri in a way no one else did. (Through the eyes of love?) From the book:
At Maliki's ornate palace in the Green Zone, a picture was beginning to emerge from the election returns and it was not one that the prime minister liked. Maliki had believed he was all but assured of victory. He had seen the nation through the surge and led the charge to Basra, formed "support councils" to reach out to tribal leaders throughout the south, and rebranded his political coalition as a nationalist organization committed to restoring and preserving the peace: State of Law. In fact, Maliki was so confident that his populartiy and the dramatically improved security situation would seal his reelection that he had split away from his rivals in the other major Shiite bloc, the Iraqi National Accord, after they announced they would not support Maliki for another term as prime minister. Malliki's aides had assure him that State of Law would win as many as 120 seats and would be able to easily form a government without the INA and Iraqiya. That Allawi and his largely Sunni coalition could dislodge the incumbent prime minister seemed unthinkable to Maliki.
But the contest between Iraqiya and State of Law was astonishingly close and as the results trickled in to Iraq's Independent High Election Commission it appeared that Allawi's bloc might win more parliamentary seats, which could give it the right to make the first attempt to assemble a governing coalition under the Iraqi constitution. On March 17, Iraqiya held a slim nine-thousand-vote lead over Maliki's State of Law with more than 95 percent of the votes counted. The party had even done well in areas of the Shiite south, where they tallied more than 200,000 votes and elected more than ten Shiite members of the parliament. The trend held up when the final results were announced nine days later. Allawi's Iraqiya had secured ninety-one seats over Maliki's State of Law, which had been awarded eighty-nine seats. The INA, the competing Shiite alliance, won seventy seats and the Kurdistan Alliance fifty-seven seats. To govern Iraq, a bloc needed to line up enough allies to control 163 seats in the 325-seat parliament.
As the book make clear, prior to this, Gen Ray Odierno had forseen a power grab by Nouri. He'd been dismissed by Chris Hill. In fact, Chris Hill loathed Odierno and threw a hissy fit to get Odierno shut out of the media. This is in the book.
Not in the book, Chris Hill did not like Sunnis. Iraqis who worked with the US Embassy felt that was very clear and several found Hill's remarks to be disturbing enough that they shared their take of him with embassy staff. This was relayed back to the White House who didn't seem at all concerned. (And, to be clear, the Iraqis complaining to embassy staff were Shi'ites.) Chris Hill gave a very ugly face to America and his 'jokes' were not seen as 'funny' (by Iraqis or by most staff). Chris' hatred of Sunnis is why he worked against Shi'ite Ayad Allawi who was heading the Iraqiya political slate which was a mix of Sunnis and Shi'ites though Hill saw it as Allawi fronting Sunnis. Hill also did not and does not care for Saudi Arabia. This will explain page 620's statement, "There was no Sunni party that was not bought and paid for by Saudis, he said, but he shared some of Odierno's concerns." He was not concerned with a Sunni buy-in of the government, the book explains.
In the book, one of Chris' many tantrums gets noted. He's screaming private, US government conversations in front of non-Americans. Chris Hill was an awful face for the US to Iraq.
Odierno, as noted in the book, had forseen a power grab on Nouri's part and had wanted a detailed plan for various moves Nouri might pull. This was brushed aside. To reach the deadline of the SOFA for all US troops out of Iraq by the end of 2011, Under Secretary of Defense Michele Flourney, Barack and others were eager to support Nouri. Odierno and Hill met March 25th, 17 days after the election, when there were clear problems. While Odierno had concerns and wanted to send a message that the US supported democracy, Hill's feelings were expressed as, "What a stinking country this is."
"What a stinking country this is."
Chris Hill was the worst face for the US in Iraq. And he did a lousy job in Iraq.
Nouri used the Bagdad Iraqi court to 'revise' the Constitution allowing him first crack at forming a coaltion. He did not have that right, the Parliament does not give him a right. Odierno was repeatedly pushed aside. But the votes, the will of the people and the Constitution did not matter to Barack. The book notes, "At the White House, Obama administration officials were not perturbed. They argued that Allawi's Iraqiya would have been unlikely to attract enough allies to form a new government and that it was a political fact of life that the prime minister of Iraq would come from the ranks of the Shiite political parties. But Sunnis saw it as a violation of the very spirit of the vote."
Shortly around this time, Chris Hill's ignorance would be brought to the attention of then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Not in the book, at which point the complaints to the State Dept finally registered as (in the book) Gates takes Odierno to meet with Hillary Clinton and others. Hill should have been immediately replaced. Instead, Barack kept him in place. Even though he was inept. In his more minor role, he continued to insist that Iraqiya didn't need to be brought into the process and repeatedly attempted to undermine Odierno's efforts to bring Iraqiya into the process.
Do you see where that led to? Chris Hill is an idiot. Chris Hill destroyed all the diplomatic work the State Dept had done, all the leadership work Odierno did (Odierno met with Iraqi leaders regularly and spoke of what most would consider universal values such as free and fair elections). Chris Hill -- as we noted repeatedly in real time -- was disrespectful to Odierno, jealous of him and worked repeatedly to undercut him. While Odierno has been polite enough not to air his complaints, someone serving under Odierno is considering a book deal. Chris Hill better be worried. When someone from that side of the equation tells the story, it will be even more clear how Hill didn't understand the first thing about Iraq and screwed up everything. As was described to me by someone in the State Dept, Chris went to Iraq thinking 'success' was forming a friendship with Nouri and backing Nouri in everything. Chris Hill is an idiot who was more concerned with kissing Nouri's ass, undermining Odierno and attacking the US press.
Why the White House backed Hill isn't anything Gordon and Trainor can suss out. No one can. Retired US Gen Anthony Zinni was supposed to be the US Ambassador to Iraq, Barack was supposed to nominate him. Zinni discussed that on the August 6, 2009 broadcast of NPR's The Diane Rehm Show.
Diane Rehm: General Zinni, you almost went to work for the Obama administration. I'd like to hear from you --
Anthony Zinni: Right.
Diane Rehm: -- what happened.
Anthony Zinni: Well, uh, I was called right before the inauguration and asked if I would be willing to serve as, uh, to serve in the administration in a couple of possibilities. And then --
Diane Rehm: By whom?
Anthony Zinni: By General [James L.] Jones, the National Security Advisor. And I said I would given the-the positions he mentioned,. And right after the inauguration, he called and asked if I would serve as the ambassador to, uh, Iraq. And I said I would. And, uh, received a call from the vice president thanking me that I would take that on --
Diane Rehm: Vice President [Joe] Biden.
Anthony Zinni: Vice President Biden. And, uh, I met with Secretary of State [Hillary] Clinton and, uh, deputy -- two deputies. Spent a long time with her in the office. She was asking me what I understood about Iraq, my assessment. I had just gotten back not long before that doing an assessment out there. And then I left that meeting, you know, understanding fully, you know, I was going to be the nominee. I mean I was told to prepare for it, we would move the process forward very quickly because of the outgoing Ambassador Ryan Crocker was coming out very quickly.
Diane Rehm: You shook hands on it?
Anthony Zinni: Yes, we did. I mean, there was no way I left and didn't think this was going to happen. And actually thought I had a very short period of time to get my affairs in order. I mean, obviously, there are a number of things you have to do in your own financial family and all that sort of thing. And for -- a week went by and I was told to stay in touch, be prepared, quote: "Move the paperwork forward." That we were going to move up the confirmation hearings. And nothing was happening. And I tried to contact people and I couldn't get any answers. And finally late -- about a week later -- I finally got a hold of General Jones and he informed me I was not the choice and I was kind of shocked and surprised by it. And then the next morning in the Washington Post, I read that it's Chris Hill and I thought: "Had I not gotten ahold of General Jones, that's how I would found out." To be honest with you, I-I don't, I can understand people changing their minds and I don't object to that. You know that's a fact of life. I-I was just put back by not being called or told by anyone and, to this day, I haven't had anybody explain to me what happened so. But I moved on. Clearly, you know, you have to understand Washington and the way things work and I've moved on from there.
Diane Rehm: What's your best guess as to why you were not chosen?
Anthony Zinni: Honestly, Diane, I don't know. Uh, one of the reasons -- I-I started getting calls that very day from the media, from the press and, uh, people saying, "These are the rumors we're hearing." And they were attributed to senior government officials so that was disturbing. And many of the-the reasons given, I clearly knew were not right because --
Diane Rehm: Such as?
Anthony Zinni: Such as, "Well the Pentagon didn't want you." Or, "A certain general didn't want you." All-all of whom I knew personally and it's just the opposite and matter of fact were calling me upset that-that it hadn't gone through. So I began to be bothered by some of the rumors that obviously were coming out of the -- supposedly attributed by the media to senior government officials.
Diane Rehm: What kinds of rumors?
Anthony Zinni: Well, it was this particular lobby that worked against you, it was this particular individual that-that stopped it or this person. And-and to me that -- you know, to me, many of them I knew weren't true, many of them I thought were only based on rumor and so I thought it important since they were asking me what happened I tried to not engage them but then I finally said, "Well look, let me just tell you the course of events that went by. So there's no misunderstanding that I didn't know or understand that I was be the nominee. And what happened." And-and to this day, nobody's told me what happened. Not that I'm interested anymore. But [laughing] I haven't been told.
Diane Rehm: So even speaking with General Jones, he did not give you a reason?
Anthony Zinni: He did not. Our last conversation, right after that was "Well I'll get back to you as I find out." And, you know, that was in January and then I have not heard anything about it. Not that I'm, again, I'm not interested anymore in what happened.
Diane Rehm: Of course you're not interested anymore since it's over and done with. On the other hand, as a human being, if I had been in your position, I would have felt really stung.
Anthony Zinni: Yeah -- well, yes. I guess the best way to describe my feelings, was I was disappointed because there were many friends and people I respected tremendously in this process and, uh, so that-that created a disappointment and confusion on my part as to what exactly happened.
If it's any consulation to Zinni, anyone paying attention can see that Chris Hill and his 'expertise' did much harm to Iraq.
Al Mada reports that another brigade of of US soldiers have arrived in Iraq to help the others US soldiers who began inspecting Iranian planes crossing over Iraq to Syria (the others began last week). Look for the US press to ignore this news that's been reported for a week now in Iraq. To continue to ignore. Saturday, Al Mada reported that the US military has entered Baghdad International Airport and taken over the inspection of all Iranian planes en route to Syria. In addition, the US is monitoring the Iraqi Centeral Bank (allegedly out of concern that funds are being diverted to Syria). Monday Kitabat reported that on Sunday the US took the lead in the inspections. This may account for the Iranian government's sudden desire to comment on the search policy. Two weeks ago, when Iraqis inspected the first Iranian plane bound for Syria, there was no real comment from the Iranian regime. Suddenly, it's an issue, a very big issue. Hard to believe the reports of the US now handling the inspections isn't responsible for some of the warning statements from the Iranian government. Those who don't read Arabic can refer to this Aswat al-Iraq article which covers the Al Mada's report from last Saturday, "Iraqi al-Mada daily quoted an official that a US force entered Baghdad International Airport and became responsible of searching Iranian planes heading for Syria through Iraqi airspace."
Ali Abdelamir (Al-Monitor) reports that "senior Iranian security leaders" are visiting Iraq including the Minister of Defense Ahmad Wahidi:
According to the spokesman for the Iraqiya List, Haydar al-Mulla, the meetings between the Iranian Defense Minister and Iraqi officials in Samara constituted a violation of national sovereignty. He stressed that "the danger of the Iranian defense minister's visit to Samara lies in his meetings with Iraqi security leaders, which constituted a violation to the most basic concepts of national sovereignty."
Mulla criticized the amicable position of some Iraqi forces toward Tehran, paving the way for Iranian influence and control.
"Iran is addressing Iraq as if it were its own subsidiary, with the blessing of some political parties," he said. "One of the major problems today in Iraq, after 2003, is the double standards and selective application of the constitution and laws. We, as the Iraqiya List, are keen to adopt the best relations for Iraq with neighboring countries, whether Arab or not," he added.


Meanwhile the September 27 attack on the prison in Tikrit is back in the news.  Kitabat reports that the attack that resulted in at least 16  deaths and injuries as well as over 100 escapees is being claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq.  They claimed credit for the attack, boasted that they had infiltrated the prison and smuggled guns and bombs inside.  Alsumaria adds that today's announcement also stated that five members of the Islamic State of Iraq had been killed in the operation.  AFP states 102 inmates "escaped during the assault, including 47 members of the ISI" and that four were said to have been killed and 23 recaptured which would mean 77 remain at large weeks later.  July 22nd, the Islamic State of Iraq released an audio recording announcing a new campaign of violence entitled Breaking The Walls which would include prison breaks and killing "judges and investigators and their guards." Since they made their July announcement there have been minor and major attacks throughout Iraq.

Part of the reason for the Islamic State of Iraq's successes of late is that they have a cause that is sympathetic when they focus on prisoners due to the fact that the Iraqi prison system has become a labyrinth that few ever escape from.   The disappeared are often impossible for the families to track and often wait years and years for a court appearance that may or may not come.  When Nouri was interested in looking like a leader to the American people -- a portion of 2007 and 2008 -- he spoke about the need to pass an amnesty law.  Nothing was ever passed.  His State of Law remains the biggest obstacle to an amnesty law.  All Iraq News notes that the Kurdistan Alliance is calling for the amnesty bill to contain more guidelines and that Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi has postponed the latest scheduled vote to Saturday.  Al-Shorfa maintains, "The presidency of the Iraqi Parliament on Friday (October 12th) said it will excluse those who committed terrorist crimes from a draft law that could give all Iraqi prisoners amnesty." The Saudi Gazette reports 3 Saudis in a Baghdad prison are on a hunger strike and have been for 20 days.  The three are death row prisoners.  At least 119 people have been executed in Iraq so far this year.
On Parliament, Alsumaria notes the infrastructure bill is also supposed to be voted on Saturday.  The legislative body recently scheduled a month long vacation to begin in November.  Al Mada reports that Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq is calling on the members of Parliament to postpone the vacation until an amnesty law is passed. 

All Iraq News reports that human rights activist Haitham Mohamed Ibrahim has been arrested in Mosul after Governor Ethel al-Nujaifi swore out a complaint against him.  For what isn't stated.  al-Nujaifi is not just the governor of Nineveh Province, he is also the brother of Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi.   In other surprising news, Alsumaria reports that they have official documents revealing vast wasted public funds on a parcel of land that a hosptial was supposed to be built upon in Karbala.  But the big government news for Iraqi outlets continues to be Nouri's weapons shopping spree this week, $4.2 billion to Russia for weapons and an undisclosed sum to the Czech Republic for more.

Alsumaria notes yestereday's press conference in Prague where Nouri announced the agreement with the Czech Republic but was coy on details such as the value of the weapons contract.  Suadad al-Salhy and Jason Hovet (Reuters) estimate the deal is worth "about $1 billion." So the Czech Republic deal and the Russian deal are worth over $5 billion dollars.  Haifa Zaiter (Al-Monitor) offers some interpretations of the deals including: 
Ihsan al-Shammari, a professor of political science at Baghdad University, explains this idea to As-Safir. According to the professor, the Kurds feel the most threatened by this visit. They believe that arms in the hands of Maliki would pose a major threat to their historic dream of secession, which was further promoted when the Syrian crisis erupted.
Moreover, the divide within the Iraqi domestic arena has surfaced again, between those who support an alliance between Baghdad and Tehran, on the one hand, and between Baghdad and Washington on the other. There is another emerging camp, which believes that US influence will not be harmed as a result of this visit, especially given that Maliki is not able to escape from under the US umbrella.
This point of view is supported by Abdel Halilm al-Rahimi, an Iraqi writer and politician, who told As-Safir that Iraq has a "strategic alliance" with the US, and it would not be in Iraq's interest to harm it.


Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 65 people killed in Iraq from violence this month so far.  Alsumaria reports 1 Iraqi soldier was shot dead in Saydiya.   Alsumaria also reports 1 women's corpse was discovered in Nineveh (shot dead) and  1 man's corpse found in Nineveh Province (he had been kidnapped three days before). 
In related news, Al Mada notes State of Law is insisting that the continued absenses of heads of the security ministries is not Nouri's fault.  They insist that he can only take names and nominate them apparently trying to insist that its the responsibility of someone else to come up with names for nominations.  Maybe that's written into the Erbil Agreement?  If not and if we're going by Iraq's Constitution, it's Nouri's job to come up with nominees.  All Iraq News reports that Iraqiya MP Khalid al-Alouni has declared that Nouri only wants nominees from his own State of Law political slate.
Wednesday the US House Oversight Committee held a hearing in the September 11, 2012 attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.  We covered this in the Thursday's "Iraq snapshot" and Wednesday's "Iraq snapshot."  Ava covered it with "2 disgrace in the Committee hearing,Kat covered it in "What we learned at today's hearing"  and  Wally  covered it in "The White House's Jimmy Carter moment."  If we had more room, we'd note variations on the following.
Committee Chair Darrell Issa: More importantly, they held a broad news conference over the phone in which they made it very clear that it had never been the State Department's position -- I repeat, never been the State Department's position -- that in fact this assault was part of a reaction to a video or the like.  This is corroborated by numerous witnesses and whistle blowers.  Contrary to early assertions by the administration, let's understand, there was no protest.  And cameras reveal that.  And the State Department, the FBI and others have that video.
Over and over, we heard about this.  Over and over, in the hearing, the State Dept talked about this.
The press isn't doing their damn job.  If you doubt me on that, please note that not only has the video been widely dispersed within the administration, it is a little over fifty minutes long and Issa, in questioning the State Dept's Patrick Kennedy in open session on Wednesday, established that a government body is keeping the tape from the American people and from the Congress.  That government is not the FBI nor is it any division of "law enforcement."  This was also established in open session.  The press should have run with that, headlines should have asked who has this tape, why is it being kept from the American people and from the Congress? 
The White House repeatedly lied about the attacks.  Claimed it was due to a video.  Claimed it was protesters.  Lie, lie, lie.  A government body now has the tape.  The FBI states they are done with the tape, they have no objection to Congress having the tape.  What body is keeping the tape from Congress?  That's what the press should be asking.  They should also be asking why the tape is being kept from Congress?
Four Americans were killed in the attacks: Glen Doherty, Sean Smith, Ambassador Chris Stevens and Tyrone Woods.  Wednesday night, Sean Smith's mother Pat Smith spoke with Anderson Cooper for CNN's Anderson Cooper 360Here and here for video, here for transcript.  Here's an excerpt of Pat Smith speaking about her son:
COOPER: Pat, I appreciate you being with us. And I'm just so sorry for your loss. What do you want people to know about your son, about Sean?

PAT SMITH, SON KILLED IN BENGHAZI ATTACK: Well, god. He was my only child. And he was good, he was good at what he did, he'd loved it.

COOPER: He loved working with computers?

SMITH: Computers, radios. He was good at what he did.

COOPER: Was that something he had done as a kid? I mean how did -- did he always -- was he always good with computer?

SMITH: Well, when he was a kid, computers weren't out yet. And --


And then they were out and he -- I got a computer and he started playing with them and he started showing me how you could build a flame thrower and -- by just watching a computer and then told you how to do it. So that's how it started.
We'll note another excerpt later in the interview.  The administration promised Pat Smith she would be given answers about how her son died.  She has not been given information.
COOPER: Who told you that they would give you information?

SMITH: You'll love this. Obama told me. Hillary promised me. Joe Biden -- Joe Biden is a pleasure. He was a real sweetheart. But he also told -- they all told me that -- they promised me. And I told them please, tell me what happened. Just tell me what happened.

COOPER: So you're still waiting to hear from somebody about what happened to your son? About what they know? Or even what they don't know.

SMITH: Right. Right. Officially yes. I told them, please don't give me any baloney that comes through with this political stuff. I don't want political stuff. You can keep your political, just tell me the truth. What happened. And I still don't know. In fact, today I just heard something more that he died of smoke inhalation.

COOPER: So you don't even know the cause of death?

SMITH: I don't even know if that's true or not. No, I don't. I don't know where. I look at TV and I see bloody hand prints on walls, thinking, my god, is that my son's? I don't know if he was shot. I don't know -- I don't know. They haven't told me anything. They are still studying it. And the things that they are telling me are just outright lies.

That Susan Rice, what -- she talked to me personally and she said, she said, this is the way it was. It was -- it was because of this film that came out.

COOPER: So she told you personally that she thought it was a result of that video of the protest?

SMITH: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. In fact all of them did. All of them did. Leon Panetta actually took my face in his hands like this and he said, trust me. I will tell you what happened. And so far, he's told me nothing. Nothing at all. And I want to know.

COOPER: It's important for you to know all the details no matter how horrible.

As she knows, she was lied to.  And the White House has made no effort to correct those lies to her.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Fire her

Thursday.  Closer to the weekend but not there yet.  We did get a lucky break tonight, "Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Smack Talking Wuss""

smack talking wuss

Still on the visuals, a nice photo essay of Jane Fonda while she was filming Barbarella is up at Time.  That's a sci fi comedy from the sixties starring Jane Fonda and directed by Roger Vadim.   It became a cult classic.  I think it actually makes it as a sci fi classic.  There was talk awhile back of it being remade with Drew Barrymore.

I like Drew but I couldn't see her in a film remake.  A TV one, okay.

That has nothing to do with her acting (she's great) but everything to do with her 'nudity' in the first Charlie's Angels.  Remember how she's hanging by the sheet after she flies out the window, her sheet comes loose so she's naked and hanging from it? Then the sheet rips and she falls down the mountain ending up in the backyard of a home where two young boys are.  And she picks up like a pool mattress and covers up with that?

Well if you watch that 'nude' scene, you quickly see she's not nude.  She's wearing a body stocking or something that covers her completely the whole time.  She produced the film.  Why produce a film with a nude scene and refuse to even appear nude?  I don't mean we needed full frontal even.  But what I took away from that was, "Now Drew's uncomfortable with nudity."

And if that's the case, you don't remake Barbarella.

Now did you hear about Samantha Pawlucy?  She's a young girl who wore a Mitt Romney t-shirt to school and her teacher went bat s**t nuts on her.  Christine Roberts reports that she's left the school and her parents have pulled their other child:

  Her teacher, Lynette Gaymon, allegedly told her "to get out of the classroom," and when Samantha refused, Gaymon went into the hallway to ask other teachers and students to look at the shirt.
"She said that's like her wearing a KKK shirt," 16-year-old Samantha told NBC Philadelphia.

 The teacher offered an 'apology' that I thought was weak last week but kept my mouth shut because the kid was going back to school and I thought, "If she can live with it, who am I to make a fuss?"

But now that I know she's not okay with the 'apology,' let me be really clear that Lynette never said "I was wrong."

That's the first thing an adult who humiliated a child in front of others needs to do, especially an adult who is a teacher.

She held the child up to public ridicule.

If that had been my daughter, Lynette would have a broken jaw.

She's damn lucky the mother and father are just pulling their kids.

And the school needs to fire Lynette.

This is what this crap is so out of control and this demonizing that the likes of Ellen Barkin do is out of control.  It creates the climate for this to happen to some kid.

I'm not voting for Barack.  I can take the hate mail on that.  I can take the hate mail on how Jill Stein is a wasted vote.  I don't give a damn.  But I'm not a 16 year old kid.  Also, if I get tired of the abuse, I just turn off the computer.

Lynette needs to lose her job and no school ever needs to hire her.

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

Thursday, October 11, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue, Nouri continues his shopping spree, cholera continues in Iraq, Barack's lies to voters about Iraq get noted, we return to the hearing about the attack on the US Consulate in Libya, and more.
Yesterday the House Oversight Committee gathered for a hearing.  What was the hearing about?
Committee Chair Darrell Issa:  On September 11, 2012, four brave Americans serving their country were murdered by terrorists in Benghazi, Libya.  Tyrone Woods spent two decades as a Navy Seal serving multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Since 2010, he protected the American diplomatic personnel.  Tyrone leaves behind a widow and three children.   Glen Doherty, also a former Seal and an experienced paramedic, had served his country in both Iraq and Afghanistan.  His family and colleagues grieve today for his death.  Sean Smith, a communications specialist, joined the State Dept after six years in the United States Air Force.  Sean leaves behind a widow and two young children.  Ambassador Chris Stevens, a man I had known personally during his tours, US Ambassador to Libya, ventured into a volatile and dangerous situation as Libyans revolted against the long time Gaddafi regime.  He did so because he believed the people of Libya wanted and deserved the same things we have: freedom from tyranny. 
Issa also noted that some Americans were injured in the attack. Appearing before the Committee were the State Dept's Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Programs Charlene R. Lamb, the State Dept's always less than truthful Patrick Kennedy (Under Secretary for Management), Regional Security Officer Eric Nordstrom, and the US military's Lt Col Andrew Wood.   In yesterday's snapshot, we covered a portion of the hearing.  In addition, last night Kat reported on the hearing with "What we learned at today's hearing," Ava reported on it with "2 disgrace in the Committee hearing" and Wally reported on it with "The White House's Jimmy Carter moment."  What does this have to do with Iraq?
A great deal.  No other foreign country has such a large group of people with the US State Dept in it.  Two weeks after the Consulate in Libya was attacked, rockets were launched at the US Consulate in Basra   The White House falsely blamed the attack in Libya on an "angry mob" that got out of control while protesting a video on YouTube.  There was no protest in Libya -- and as Issa noted in yesterday's hearing, the State Dept stated they did not believe there was and did not advance the notion that there was.  But there was a protest at the US Embassy in Baghdad.  Some may scratch their heads over that.  That embassy is in the Green Zone, a heavily guarded section of Baghdad that most Iraqis cannot even enter.  The protest at the US Embassy was one lone person, an MP with Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc.  Whether it has to do with the lies the White House repeatedly told or with the realities of what went down, the events in Libya could have taken place at the Basra Consulate or at any other location across the globe. As Issa noted in the hearing yesterday,  "[. . .]  there are hundreds and hundreds of facilities similar to this around the world, there are thousands of personnel serving this country who -- at any time, in any country -- could be a target." A point made even clearer today with Jeffrey Fleishman and Zaid al-Alayaa (Los Angeles Times) reporting, "A Yemeni security investigator at the U.S. Embassy here was shot and killed Thursday by masked men on a motorcycle in the latest assassination by militants of political and security targets in cities across the country." (Cedric and Wally covered the Yemen violence this morning.)  
I had no interest in the Democratic Committee members yesterday.  As Ruth pointed out in her post last night, PBS' The NewsHour missed the news from the hearing because they instead focused on turning the hearing into a horse race.  There were not equal sides in the hearing.
You had one side focused on finding out what happened and how.  You had another side focused on creating drama -- drama is what PBS focused on leaving their audience highly uninformed.  I was being kind and just emphasizing what mattered in the hearing -- no Democratic contribution to the hearing mattered.  But if you're not getting how bad it is -- from Wally, Ava and Kat's reporting -- then let's note that nonsense began the minute a Committee Democrat spoke.
Ranking Member Elijah Cummings:  Thank you, very much, Mr. Chairman.  And let me be very clear, you said that your side of the aisle grieves the loss of our fellow countrymen.  It's not just your side of the aisle, Mr. Chairman, it's this side of the aisle and our entire country.
Cummings came in spoiling for a fight.  Issa didn't say "my side of the aisle."  He didn't even say "aisle."  Does Cummings need a hearing aid or is "dais" an unfamiliar term?  The Committee members face the witnesses table.  The Committee members are on a raised platform -- a "dais," Cummings -- and at higher level than the witness -- for psychological intimidation, to be honest.  So Chair Darrell Issa stated, "We join here today expressing, from this side of the dais, our deepest sympathies for the families," and the term was "dais."  This side.  That means all the Committee members (and staff) seated and facing the witness table.  Is that clear now?
So which is it, Cummings?   Do we need to buy you a hearing aid or a dictionary?  Let us know and maybe don't use your time to lecture others that "we should listen carefully" unless you're trying to pay homage to Gilda Radner's Emily Latella.
DC Rep Eleanor Holmes Norton is a joke and makes DC a joke.  Don't give us all a lecture about how the right questions need to be asked when you never ask a question and yield your time.  Don't think an hour into the hearing when you want to speak again that you're bringing up Mitt Romney -- no one else had -- is seen as anything but what it was, partisan whoring.  If you're supposed to represent DC, starting acting a hell of a lot more mature, start being a lot more professional.  We've already had Eleanor offer junk science and get smacked down by the FBI during Barack's term.  She seems bound and determined to top that.  You'd think she'd be interested in trying to appear professional.  Instead, she makes herself -- and DC statehood by proxy -- a joke.  Over 20 years in office, over 75 years old, maybe it's time for her to consider retirement?
Only one Democrat did not self-disgrace, US House Rep Dennis Kucinich.
US House Rep Dennis Kucinich:  Mr. Kennedy has testified today that US interests and values are at stake in Libya and that the US is better off because we went to Benghazi.  Really?  You think that after ten years in Iraq and eleven years in Afghanistan that our country, the US would have learned the consequences and limits of interventionism.  You would think that after trillions have been wasted on failed attempts at democracy building abroad while our infrastructure crumbles at home, Congress and the administration would re-examine priorities.  Today we're engaging in a discussion about the security failures of Benghazi.  There was a security failure.  Four Americans including our ambassador, Ambassador Christopher Stevens, were killed.  Their deaths are a national tragedy.  My sympathy is with the families of those who were killed.  There has to be accountability.  I haven't heard that yet.  We have an obligation to protect those who protect us.  That's why this Congress needs to ask questions. The security situation did not happen overnight because of a decision made by someone at the State Dept.  We could talk about hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts for funding for embassy security over the last two years as a result of a blind pursuit of fiscal austerity.  We could talk about whether it's prudent to rely so heavily on security contractors rather than our own military or State Dept personnel.  We could do a he-said-she-said about whether the State Dept should have beefed up security at the embassy in Benghazi.  But we owe it to the diplomatic corps who serves our nation to start at the beginning and that's what I shall do.  The security threats in Libya including the unchecked extremist groups who are armed to the teeth exist because our nation spurred on a civil war destroying the security and stability of Libya. And, you know, no one defends Gaddafi.  Libya was not in a meltdown before the war.  In 2003, Gaddafi reconciled with the community of nations by giving up his pursuit of nuclear weapons. At the time, President Bush said Gaddafi's actions made our country and our world safer. Now during the Arab Spring, uprisings across the Middle East occurred and Gaddafi made ludicrous threats against Benghazi.  Based on his verbal threats, we intervented.  Absent constitutional authority, I might add. We bombed Libya, we destroyed their army, we obliterated their police stations.  Lacking any civil authority, armed brigades control security.  al Qaeda expanded its presence.  Weapons are everywhere.  Thousands of shoulder-to-air missiles are on the loose.  Our military intervention led to greater instability in Libya. Many of us, Democrats and Republicans alike, made that argument to try to stop the war.  It's not surprising given the inflated threat and the grandiose expectations inherent in our nation building in Libya that the State Dept was not able to adequately protect our diplomats from this predicatable threat.  It's not surprising.  And it's also not acceptable. It's easy to blame someone else -- like a civil servant at the State Dept. We all know the game. It's harder to acknowledge that decades of American foreign policy have directly contributed to regional instability and the rise of armed militias around the world.  It's even harder to acknowledge Congress' role in the failure to stop the war in Libya, the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan, the war in Pakistan, the war in Yemen, the war in Somolia and who knows where else?  It's harder to recognize Congress' role in the failure to stop the drone attacks that are still killing innocent civilians and strengthening radical elements abroad.  We want to stop the attacks on our embassies?  Let's stop trying to overthrow governments.  This should not be a partisan issue.  Let's avoid the hype. Let's look at the real situation here. Interventions do not make us safer. They do not protect our nation.  They are themselves a threat to America.  Now, Mr. Kennedy, I would like to ask you, is al Qaeda more or less established in Libya since our involvement?
Patrick Kennedy: Mr. Kucinich, I will have to take that question for the record. I am not an intelligence expert.
US House Rep Dennis Kucinich: Oh.  You don't have the intelligence, you're saying?  Well I'm going to go on to the next question --
Committee Chair Darrell Issa: Mr. Kucinich, I think the other two may have an opinion.
US House Rep Dennis Kucinich:  Well I wanted to ask Mr. Kennedy.  Next question, Ambassador Kennedy, how many shoulder-to-air missiles that are capable of shooting down civilian passenger airlines are still missing in Libya?   And this happened since our intervention.  Can you answer that question?
Patrick Kennedy: No, sir. I'll be glad to provide it for the record.
US House Rep Dennis Kucinich: You're saying you do not know?
Patrick Kennedy: I do not know, sir. It's not within my normal purview of operations with the State Dept.
US House Rep Dennis Kucinich:  Does anyone else here know how many shoulder-to-air missiles that can shoot down civilian airliners are still loose in Libya?  Anyone know?
Eric Nordstrom:  The figures that we were provided are fluid but the rough approximation is between ten and twenty thousand.
Committee Chair Darrell Issa:   The gentleman's time has expired.  Did you want them to answer anything about al Qaeda growth?
US House Rep Dennis Kucinich:  If anyone there knows.
Committee Chair Darrell Issa:  If anyone has an answer on that one, they can answer and then we'll go on.
US House Rep Dennis Kucinich:   Yeah, is al Qaeda more or less established in Libya since our involvement?
Lt Col Andrew Wood:  Yes, sir.  There presence grows everday. They are certainly more established than we are.
Only Dennis Kucinich conducted himself in a consistent manner.  Regardless of was in the White House, Dennis would have made the same remarks to the same events. 
The rest of the Democrats came in eager to attack the Republicans on the Committee and eager to discredit the hearing.  It was not pretty and did not speak to the better qualities of the United States of America.  It did not speak to 'obstructionist Republicans.'  It did demonstrate that members of the Committee on the Democratic side were more interested in covering for the White House than they were in demanding answers as to how four Americans ended up dead.  It was not a glorious moment for DC.  Since we're spending a second day on the hearing and since we've already done one day's worth of work on this issue, we can take a moment to note that the Democrats were disruptive and distractive.  And that's about all that's worth noting about their embarrassing behavior.
Let's do two excerpts from the hearing for when the State Dept's Lamb was being questioned. 
Chair Darrell Issa: Ms. Lamb, yesterday you told us in testimony that you received from Mr. Nordstrom a recommendation but not a request for more security and you admitted that in fact you had previously said that if he submitted a request, you would not support it.  Is that correct?
Charlene Lamb: Sir, after our meeting last night, I went back and re -- At the time --
Chair Darrell Issa: First, answer the question.  Then I'll let you expand.  Did you say that yesterday?  That you would not support it if he -- if he gave you the request?
Charlene Lamb:  Under the current conditions, yes.
Chair Darrell Issa:  Okay.  And then last night, you discovered what?
Charlene Lamb:  I went back and reviewed the July 9 cable from which I was referring and that was not in that cable.  I've been reviewing lots of documents.
Chair Darrell Issa: Well we have a July 9th cable.  It's one of them that I put in the record --
Charlene Lamb: Yes.
Chair Darrell Issa: -- that in fact has the word "request."  It doesn't meet your standards of perhaps what you call a formal request, you described that, but it does request more assets.  If you looked at the July 9th cable -- and this less than 60 days, roughly 60 days beforehand -- it says summary and action request, "Embassy Tripoli requests continued TDY security support for an additional 60-days."  Now yesterday you told us, under penalty of perjury essentially, that it wasn't a request, it was a recommendation.  Does the word request mean request?  And are you prepared to say today that they requested these assets above and beyond what they had on September 11th rather than that they simply recommended?
Charlene Lamb: Sir, we discussed that there was no justification that normally comes with a request.  That cable was a very detailed and complex cable outlining --
Chair Darrell Issa:  Right. Well we've now read that cable.  And you're right, it is detailed and in several more places expresses concerns.  The September 11th cable from the now deceased Ambassador expresses current concerns on that day.  Repeatedly in the cables that were denied to us, what we see is people telling you that al Qaeda type organizations are coming together.  Now the problem I have is that the State Dept is basically saying that, "Mr. Nordstrom didn't do his job, he didn't make a formal request with justification. The Ambassador didn't do his job.  He didn't make a good enough case."  And that's what you're standing behind here today?  In addition to saying, "Well there were five people there therefore --"?  A embassy -- a compound owned by us and serving like a consulate was in fact breached less than 60 days before -- aproximately 60 days before -- the murder of the ambassador in that facility.  Isn't that true?  
Charlene Lamb: Sir, we had the correct number of assets in Benghazi at the time of nine-eleven for what had been agreed upon.
Chair Darrell Issa: Okay, my time has expired.  To start off by saying that you had the correct number and our ambassador and three other individuals are dead, people are in the hospital recovering because it only took moments to breach that facility somehow doesn't ring true to the American people. 
We'll jump ahead to right after Patrick Kennedy confirmed that privately he was terming the attack a terrorist attack. 
US House Rep Dan Burton: [. . .] because today, as I listen to people, and you, Ms. Lamb, have described these attackers in a number of ways but you don't mention terrorist at all?  Why is that?  I mean the compound had been attacked once before and breached.  And these people had all these weapons -- projectiles, grenades.  All kinds of weapons.  Why would you call this anything but a terrorist attack?  And why do you call them attackers?
Charlene Lamb:  Sir, I have just presented the fact as they've come across. I am not making any judgments on my own and I am leaving that --
US House Rep Dan Burton: Okay.  Well let me ask a couple of other questions. There were 16 troops that were there at that compound and they requested them to be kept there.  And they sent a suggestion to you that they be kept there.  And then you responded saying that if that was presented to you, you would not accept that.  Was that your sole decision? 
Charlene Lamb: Sir, they were not in Benghazi.  They were in Tripoli.  I just want to make sure that we're --
US House Rep Dan Burton: I understand.
Charlene Lamb: Okay.  And when the cable came in where RSO Nordstrom laid out all of his staffing requirements and needs, I asked our desk officer to go back and sit down with him or through e-mails and telephone conversations to work out all the details and line up exactly how many security personnel, armed security personnel did he need --
US House Rep Dan Burton:  Okay, okay.  But you did not agree with that assessment that they needed those there.
Charlene Lamb:  No, sir.  We had been training people --
US House Rep Dan Burton:  I just --
Charlene Lamb:  -- people, Libyans to replace them.
US House Rep Dan Burton:  No.  Did you not say that if that was presented to you, you would not accept it?
Charlene Lamb:  He was posing --
US House Rep Dan Burton:  Did you or did you not say that?
Charlene Lamb:  Yes, sir, I said that personally I would not support it.  He could request it --
US House Rep Dan Burton:  Why is that? Why is that?
Charlene Lamb:  Because --
US House Rep Dan Burton:  You know about all these other attacks which had taken place.  There had been twelve or fourteen.
Charlene Lamb:  We had been training the local Libyans and arming them --
US House Rep Dan Burton:  Well now --
Charlene Lamb:  -- for almost a year.
US House Rep Dan Burton:  -- let me interrupt to say that the local Libyan militia that was there, many of them that were there were supposedly told by friends and relatives that there was going to be an imminent attack on that compound.  And so many of them left.  They didn't want to be involved in the attack --
Charlene Lamb:  Sir, with due respect -- Wait-wait-wait.
US House Rep Dan Buton:  -- so I don't understand why you say out of hand that there was no need for those 16 troops to be there.
Let's move to the man the Democrats on the Committee thought they were serving -- when, in fact, they're supposed to serve the people and they take an oath to uphold the Constitution.  Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor have an important new book entitled The Endgame.  It's a major book that should be inspiring discussions and agreements and disagreements, the op-ed pages and public affairs programs should be focused on this book.  Instead it's largely greeted by silence because the authors commit a mortal sin: They dare to criticize Barack.
But you can't tell the story of Iraq without taking on Barack and his craven nature.
Maybe it would just be considered a venial sin if it weren't an election year?  But here are Gordon and Trainor telling the story of how Barack lied to people and what a big fake he is.  For example, you may remember then-Senator Hillary Clinton came out against the Status Of Forces Agreement in theory (it had been written at that time).  She stated, rightly, that treaties go through the Senate per the Constitution.  She said it and Barack, who never had an independent or original thought of his own had to play myna bird, began repeating it.  Others were in agreement as well.  Senators Joe Biden, Russ Feingold, the entire Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  That's because the Bush administration was going to by-pass the Senate.  And Congress -- House and Senate -- didn't approve of that.
And then Barack got the nomination and created a little page at the website where he and Joe were going to continue to oppose this.  The Constitution, he insisted, must be honored.
Until, of course, that pesky Constitution might cause a problem for Barack.  From the book:
Another important step to facilitate an agreement [with Iraq] was quietly taken by the Obama team.  Throughout the campaign, Obama and his aides had publicly insisted that the SOFA needed to be subjected to Congressional review.  But that raised the possibility that the Iraqis might make politically painful concessions only to see the Americans balk.  Colin Kahl, a political science professor who had been advising the Obama campaign, had been invited by Odierno to Baghdad to participate in a strategy review in October  And he soon concluded that it was in the campaign's interest to support the negotiating efforts in Baghdad.  The SOFA the Bush administration was working on was consistent with Obama's approach and if it failed now the new president would need to spend the first few months of his administration trying to resurrect the agreement -- or dealing with the chaos in Iraq that might result from a hasty American pullout.  Kahl sent the Obama campaign an email urging that it avoid criticism of the agreement.  "If we win the election we don't want to have our Iraq policy consumed by renegotiating the agreement in the early portion of 2009," he wrote.
Suddenly, the Constitution no longer mattered.  But thought this became campaign strategy in October, please note, Barack (and Joe) would wait until after the election to strike the promise from the campaign site. 
What is easiest for Barack is the road to take.  Protecting the Constitution was the road not taken.  Treaties go through Congress and Barack was a constitutional professor (he was no such thing, but the press did love to lie).  Barack was going to restore the Constitution!  Yet before he even won the election, he'd already decided to screw over the Constitution because heaven forbid that his administration might have to do some heavy lifting and negotiate a treaty if the Bush one fell apart in the Senate.
The deceit never ended with Barack.  The first thing I'll do, my first day in office -- he loved to say that, remember?  He loved to say it.  He just never meant it.  Again, before the election Barack and his enablers found a way to screw over the voters who believed he'd made a promise to pull all troops out of Iraq in 16 months, one brigade a month.  From the book.
While the candidate had billboarded the sixteen-month deadline, Kahl was familiar with the fine print.  There was wiggle room to be had and in a confidential memo to the new White House team Kahl pointed it out.  In accordance with sound bites from the campaign, the White House Web site noted Obama's timeline, but notably did not set a start date.  Aligning the start of any withdrawal with the day the president announced his Iraq plan -- not inauguration day -- would add a month or so.  What is more, Obama had never committed himself to the pullout of all American troops from Iraq.  The candidate had discussed retaining some kind of residual force in Iraq to protect American diplomatic personnel and to target terrorists. 
Gordon knows that because Gordon conducted that lengthy interview.  But most voters only knew the tent revivals Barack offered as he channeled Burt Lancaster's Starbuck in The Rainmaker as he went town to town running his con.
The book's a very important document.  People should be reading it, discussing it, arguing over it.  But it's an election year and the Cult of St. Barack has decreed that thou must not question the Christ-child.
And no one must question why Iraq's on a spending spree and not bringing any of those petro-dollars to the US which, you may remember, has still not recovered from the Great Recession.  Dar Addustour notes Nouri al-Maliki left Moscow yesterday for Prague.  In Russia, Iraq's prime minister and chief thug completed weapons deals valued at $4.2 billion.  RIA Novosti observes, "Arms industry analyst Ruslan Pukhov of the Center for Analysis of Strategy and Technologies, a Moscow-based think tank, said the deal showed Baghdad's desire to break Washington's monopoly of arms supplies to the new government there." Defense Industry Daily offers up "Baby Come Back: Iraq is Buying Russian Weapons Again:"

The first challenge the deal must overcome is Parliamentary. Maliki can sign the deal, but Iraq's legislature has to authorize the money for the purchases in its budgets. There has already been some pushback from that quarter, and time will tell how Maliki fares.
The next challenge will involve fielding, though this an easier hurdle. Iraq never really stopped operating Russian weapons, including tanks, artillery, helicopters, and guns. Some were scavenged and restored from the Saddam-era military. Others were provided by US allies. Still others, like Iraq's Mi-17 helicopters, were bought using the USA itself as an intermediary. What's different about these buys is that they involve a direct relationship with a new source for support, and also involve new roles within Iraq's reconstituted military. Working our those kinks, and training to use their equipment's full capabilities without endangering their own forces, is going to take work and time.

At The National Interest, Paul Pillar is more interested in figuring out what the deal means:

We can draw several implications from this news. One is that it fills in further the picture of what legacy was left in Iraq by the U.S. war that ousted Saddam. The regime that emerged from the rubble is not only increasingly authoritarian and narrowly sectarian and not only chummy with Iran; it also is becoming a client of Moscow. A trifecta of failure.
A second lesson concerns the notion that committing military support to a new regime in the making is essential for having a good relationship with it and to be considered a friend rather than a adversary once such a regime comes to power. This idea is being heard increasingly as an argument for doing more to assist rebels in Syria. We need to get in on the ground floor with the new bunch and accept risks and commit major resources, it is said, in order to be held in favor by whatever regime emerges from that rubble. But the United States got in on the ground floor more than once in Iraq—with the Baathists in 1958 and with the successors to Saddam after he was overthrown. In the latter case it did so with the expenditure of enormous resources. And look how much friendship and influence it bought.

BBC's Rami Ruhayem shares, "Until recently, Mr Maliki seemed to possess a magical ability to keep both Washington and Tehran happy.  But recent events suggest Baghdad could eventually face the unnerving possibility of having to choose one or the other." All Iraq News reports that Nouri has met with the Czech Republic's Prime Minister and explained that they wish to increase economic and military ties.  In Prague today, he's also declared that he hopes to work with the Czech Republic in building oil refineries in Iraq.  AP adds, "The prime ministers of the Czech Republic and Iraq say their countries are negotiating a possible deal for the Iraqi military to acquire Czech-made subsonic L-159 military airplanes."  AFP quotes Nouri declaring, "A certain agreement has been reached."  

As Nouri goes on a weapons spending spree, Iraq still can't provide its people with the basics.  Electricity goes in and out.  Potable water is a dream in many areas.  Potable water is especially an issue this time of year as the annual cholera outbreak arrives in Iraq.  All Iraq News reports that water trucks are being used in Baghdad.  These trucks contain potable water -- safe drinking water.   Al Mada reports that Baghdad is very afraid of a cholera outbreak as Sulaymaniyah and Kirkuk have seen outbreaks and at least two people have recently died due to cholera.  Alsumaria reports that local government in Babylon is assembling a body to address any cholera outbreaks.  A national plan to address the health crisis remains absent -- this despite the fact that the cholera outbreaks are now a yearly occurrence and have been for years now.  Only in Nouri's Iraq.  But, hey, Nouri is stockpiling weapons.
As usual, what Nouri can't address, the KRG has to.  Press TV (link is transcript and video) reports:
Government ministries in Iraq's Kurdistan Region are pulling together to prevent the spread of cholera. Over 70 people are being tested for cholera every day amid an epidemic in the region's Sulaymaniyah province. Those affected are scattered throughout the province, making it difficult to pin point the exact source of the outbreak.
Turning to violence,  All Iraq News reports that 1 lawyer, Mohammed Mjul Sultan, was shot dead in Mosul today and a Mosul roadside bombing left four police officers injured. Alsumaria reports another Mosul bombing left two police injured, another Mosul roadside bombing left 2 dead, 1 corpse was discovered in Mosul, the son of  a Kirkuk police director was kidnapped, and mass arrests saw 77 Iraqis hauled from their homes.
In other news, Focus Information Agency notes the Turkish Parliament voted today to continue -- for at least another year -- "the government's mandate to order military strikes against Kurdish rebels holed up in neighboring Iraq."  Hurriyet Daily News explains, "Parliament authorized cross-border operations into northern Iraq in 2007 and has extended the mandate each year since then. The motion would authorize the government to determine the scale, scope and timing of military action. The current mandate of the motion expires Oct. 17."  The Voice of Russia says Turkish war planes again bombed northern Iraq today.
Meanwhile, it's not up there with one of Chris Hill's many infamous tantrums while he was the US Ambassador to Iraq but it is rather disturbing.  AFP report that Robert Beecroft, the new US Ambassador to Iraq arrived in Iraq today "and was sworn into his new position."  To quickly recap, Brett McGurk couldn't keep it in his pants and he ended up losing his nomination.  (Most were surprised that Barack would ever nominate someone who had savaged him in a column but that's Barack, he only respects the people who don't give him love -- ah, Daddy issues.)  September 11th, the White House announced they were nominating Beecroft for the post.  Despite many being out of DC to campaign for re-election (a third of the Senate seats will be elected in November), Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair John Kerry moved heaven and earth to get a hearing up and going for September 19th.  Days later, September 22nd, Beecroft was confirmed by a voice vote.  Good for Kerry for pulling it off -- the hearing, the vote -- and so quickly but while he was busting his butt, did anyone realize Beecroft was not in any hurry to get to Iraq.  September 22nd he was confirmed and October 11th he arrived.  He has now topped Chris Hill's travel record (however, unlike Hill, he did not tell the Committee that the minute he was confirmed he would hop a flight to Iraq -- Hill did make that promise, Hill did break that promise).
In the US, there's a presidential election weeks away.  The Green Party candidate is Jill Stein.  Libby Liberal is supporting her.  Libby has an action she'd like others to take part in:
I am proposing several actions for citizens troubled by the NewsHour's blackout of third party candidates. A blackout of the issues of the constituencies of third party candidates.
I propose similarly concerned fellow citizens:
Boycott the PBS NewsHour between October 15th and 19th, 5 broadcast days.
Email a complaint to the NewsHour about the lack of coverage of third party candidates (come on, it will only cost you a few minutes):
Send a U.S. snail mail complaint (again a matter of minutes and a stamp):
MacNeil/Lehrer Productions
2700 South Quincy Street
Arlington, VA 22206
Contact PBS Ombudsman, Michael Getler:
Getler's address & phone:
Public Broadcasting Service
2100 Crystal Drive
Arlington, VA 22202
She has an analysis of PBS that you should read but I'm stopping her suggestions there.  She goes on to suggest local PBS stations be contacted.  Great idea if it were the summer.  It's too late for your local stations to do anything.  A few months back, they might have some pull.  But with the elections weeks away, PBS content supplier is the one to contact, not your local stations.  (However, contacting local stations may help local Greens get covered and that might be what Libby's going for.)