Saturday, June 14, 2014

Idiot of the week

The choice for Idiot of the week this week is rather obvious.

Barack Obama.

And just for Iraq.

Iraq's in flames and it's his fault.

He's the one who demanded Nouri al-Maliki get a second term as prime minister.  The voters didn't want him.  Other political blocs didn't want him.

So Barack had the US officials in Iraq negotiate a contract called The Erbil Agreement that gave Nouri a second term in exchange for Nouri promising (in writing) various concessions.

Nouri never honored the contract that got him a second term.

And the White House acted like they'd never heard of The Erbil Agreement.

That's what's destroyed Iraq -- Nouri's second term, the refusal to honor the contract, etc.

Barack is responsible for Iraq's current crisis.

Shamus Cooke is an idiot.

For example, the U.S. has never trusted the Iraqi government. Ever since the Iraqi elections brought a Shia-dominated government to power, the Bush and Obama administrations have looked at Iraq as an untrustworthy pawn of Iran

What an idiot.

Bully Boy Bush installed Nouri in 2006, Barack demanded he get a second term in 2010 (when the true winner should have been Ayad Allawi).

But Cooke is only a runner up because Barack's destroying his own legacy with his gross incompetence and top of that list has been his backing Nouri over and over.

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

Friday, June 13, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Barack talks Iraq, Nouri kills social media in Iraq, Nouri arrests students in Baghdad, Angelina Jolie talks refugees, more people realize Nouri is the problem in Iraq, and much more.

Iraq continues to unravel.  Erin Cunningham Tweets about an important piece this week on Iraq:

"Iraq now seems to be inexorably if unintentionally breaking apart," by WaPo's &

On the White House;s South Lawn this afternoon, en route to boarding a helicopter, US President Barack Obama stopped to make a few comments on Iraq:

Yesterday, I convened a meeting with my National Security Council to discuss the situation there, and this morning I received an update from my team.  Over the last several days, we’ve seen significant gains made by ISIL, a terrorist organization that operates in both Iraq and in Syria.  In the face of a terrorist offensive, Iraqi security forces have proven unable to defend a number of cities, which has allowed the terrorists to overrun a part of Iraq’s territory.  And this poses a danger to Iraq and its people.  And given the nature of these terrorists, it could pose a threat eventually to American interests as well.

Now, this threat is not brand new.  Over the last year, we’ve been steadily ramping up our security assistance to the Iraqi government with increased training, equipping and intelligence.  Now, Iraq needs additional support to break the momentum of extremist groups and bolster the capabilities of Iraqi security forces.  We will not be sending U.S. troops back into combat in Iraq, but I have asked my national security team to prepare a range of other options that could help support Iraqi security forces, and I’ll be reviewing those options in the days ahead.
I do want to be clear though, this is not solely or even primarily a military challenge.  Over the past decade, American troops have made extraordinary sacrifices to give Iraqis an opportunity to claim their own future.  Unfortunately, Iraq’s leaders have been unable to overcome too often the mistrust and sectarian differences that have long been simmering there, and that’s created vulnerabilities within the Iraqi government as well as their security forces.
So any action that we may take to provide assistance to Iraqi security forces has to be joined by a serious and sincere effort by Iraq’s leaders to set aside sectarian differences, to promote stability, and account for the legitimate interests of all of Iraq’s communities, and to continue to build the capacity of an effective security force.  We can’t do it for them.  And in the absence of this type of political effort, short-term military action, including any assistance we might provide, won’t succeed. 
So this should be a wake-up call.  Iraq’s leaders have to demonstrate a willingness to make hard decisions and compromises on behalf of the Iraqi people in order to bring the country together.  In that effort, they will have the support of the United States and our friends and our allies. 
Now, Iraq’s neighbors also have some responsibilities to support this process.  Nobody has an interest in seeing terrorists gain a foothold inside of Iraq, and nobody is going to benefit from seeing Iraq descend into chaos.  So the United States will do our part, but understand that ultimately it’s up to the Iraqis, as a sovereign nation, to solve their problems.
Indeed, across the region we have redoubled our efforts to help build more capable counterterrorism forces so that groups like ISIL can’t establish a safe haven.  And we’ll continue that effort through our support of the moderate opposition in Syria, our support for Iraq and its security forces, and our partnership with other countries across the region. 
We’re also going to pursue intensive diplomacy throughout this period both inside of Iraq and across the region, because there’s never going to be stability in Iraq or the broader region unless there are political outcomes that allow people to resolve their differences peacefully without resorting to war or relying on the United States military. 

We’ll be monitoring the situation in Iraq very carefully over the next several days.  Our top priority will remain being vigilant against any threats to our personnel serving overseas.  We will consult closely with Congress as we make determinations about appropriate action, and we’ll continue to keep the American people fully informed as we make decisions about the way forward. 

He took a few questions and we'll note this response: "And obviously, our troops and the American people and the American taxpayers made huge investments and sacrifices in order to give Iraqis the opportunity to chart a better course, a better destiny.  But ultimately, they're going to have to seize it.  As I said before, we are not going to be able to do it for them.  And given the very difficult history that we’ve seen in Iraq, I think that any objective observer would recognize that in the absence of accommodation among the various factions inside of Iraq, various military actions by the United States, by any outside nation, are not going to solve those problems over the long term and not going to deliver the kind of stability that we need."

AFP's WG Dunlop offered this observation on Barack's comments.

Immediately after Barack's remarks were aired live, Andrea Mitchell Reports (MSNBC -- link is video) went to a pre-recorded interview with Senator John McCain.

Senator John McCain:  Well our Director of National Intelligence, General [James] Clapper, has already said what is happening in this area of Syria - Iraq has now been dramatically expanded and also has enriched does post a threat for attacks to be planned on the United States of America.  That is the opinion of our Director of National Intelligence.  And I share it.

Andrea Mitchell:  What should the president do?  He says he's only ruled out ground troops.  So he is considering military options.  We're expecting decisions. What would you advise him to do?

Senator John McCain: Andrea, I think that -- I think the national security team should be replaced. But that's not going to happen.  So then, he should bring in other individuals such as General [Jack] Keane, the architect of the surge which succeeded and we had it won, people like the Kagans at  the Institute for the Study of War  [Kimberly Kagan and Fred Kagan], other -- and Ambassador Ryan Crocker.  I think I would put [former top US commander in Iraq] David Petraeus on a plane to Baghdad right now and try to sort all this out.  And, also, Maliki has got to be more inclusive.  He's got to completely change, the way he's treated the Sunni and it may be too late, I don't know.  Maybe it needs to be somebody else?   But now we need to move forward. We've got to plan not only on the military side of it but on the political side of it as well because it's clear that the Sunnis have been alienated completely by Maliki and the way he's handled his leadership in Iraq. 

A few things on the above.

James Clapper?  Could Clapper be right?

Clapper lied to Congress.  The matter should have immediately been turned over to the Justice Dept and Barack should have asked for a resignation.

That didn't happen.

So Clapper has no standing now.  McCain can cite him all he wants but Clapper is a known liar who went before the Congress and lied.  When an official does that, they need to resign.

Clapper could be 100% right that this group of people -- whatever you term them -- are or will plan attacks on the US.  But he's a liar who's disgraced his name and few are going to rush to believe him.

McCain may have seen information -- I'm sure he has -- independently that makes him believe Clapper's assertion.

I don't believe the assertion.  There's no support being presented to the public for it.

There's also no common sense argument for it.

This group allegedly wants to take over not just Iraq but Syria as well.  They're also going to expand to attacks on the US?


Should they take over Iraq, if they also want to take over Syria, that would be their goal.

And if they achieved that?  They'd go for the region.

I don't see where they -- as Clapper believes -- would be making one advance after another in the region and suddenly decide to focus on the US.

It doesn't make sense.

Doing so would slow their attempted march to take over the region.

Doing so would also unleash a response (and hatred and anger) aimed at them from the US and it would mean a full out war.

So I don't see how they'd want to court that anger and the combat response that would follow.

They might.

But thus far, we have allegations only and we have common sense.  And common sense does not back up the allegations.

That McCain would suggest a group that includes the neocon Kagan family (which also includes Barack advisor Robert Kagan and his wife Victoria Nuland who's with the State Dept) isn't surprising (he is right-wing).  But due to other comments by McCain in the past, we should note that he made clear he was not calling for US troops back into Iraq. ("I do not envision a scenario where ground troops are on the ground [. . .] I would not commit to putting American boots on the ground in order to achieve that in deference to that weariness that you so accurately describe.")

The Lead with Jake Tapper (CNN -- link is text and video) notes today:

Hillary Clinton told the BBC Thursday that she is against air strikes in Iraq.
"I agree with the White House's rejection and reluctance to do the kind of military activities that the Maliki government is requesting, namely fighter aircraft to provide close support for the Army and also to go after targets. That is not a role for the United States," Clinton said.

All the hawks are avoiding calling for troops in Iraq because the American people have spoken.  And the Republicans saw that marching into an illegal war harmed their party while Democrats posing as against the war managed to put them back in power.  The peace movement can take a well deserved bow right now for their part in opposing the illegal war and for their part in helping influence popular opinion by speaking out.

We'll note this exchange from Andrea's interview with McCain:

Andrea Mitchell:  So far we have spent years trying to get Maliki to be more  democratic, not be oppressive and exclusionary to the Sunnis.  We've basically driven these Sunnis into the arms of the radicals.  So what make us think that with American help, American airstrikes, more military equipment from the US that he'll change at all.

Senator John McCain:  Well he has to or he has to be changed.  One of the two.  It is an unacceptable situation

I agree with McCain on that.  (I agree with another point he made so much that I'm carrying it over to Third and will nominate it for a 'truest statement of the week.')  Nouri is the problem.  Nouri has attacked Sunnis.  He's run off the vice president, he's attacked a Sunni member's home at dawn leading to the death of many including the Sunni politician's brother.  He's attacked Sunni protesters.  He's attacked the Sunni population at large.

Nouri has bred the violence in Iraq.  Brookings Institute Ken Pollack appeared this afternoon on MSNBC's The Cycle.  Excerpt.

Abby Huntsman:  You even warned the Obama administration years ago that this was coming.  Did they not listen or did they not take you seriously?

Kenneth Pollack: The administration had a different narrative about Iraq, they had a different view about what was going to happen there. And myself and numerous other people were basing our warnings on not just Iraq itself but lots of other civil wars like this over the course of history and what we've seen happen there.  And I think if you look at what was happening there, it was pretty obvious that this was the course that things wanted to go to but the administration wanted to think about Iraq in a as the narrative that they stuck to.  But I think you're right, Abby, that we've got to concentrate on moving forward, on dealing with the situation that we have.  You know, we'll leave it to the historians to sort out, you know, who shot John and under what circumstances. 

Luke Russert: Ken, Luke Russert here in Washington, and one thing I found fascinating from talking to my sources on the Hill, is the degree to which this is Sunni versus Shia and how Sunnis are so just fed up with al-Maliki.  You're not actually seeing remnants of Sadam's old army joining forces with the ISIS.  How much of a problem is that for the US moving forward because this is a very organized, militant group that had military training and knows the country inside and out.

Ken Pollack:  Luke, you put your finger on the critical thing that's going on here, alright.  We can't think of this as just being ISIS -- a group of Iraqis and Syrians out of Syria who've invaded Iraq and it has nothing to do with Iraqi politics.  It's all Iraqi politics. First, as I said, ISIS has a very heavy Iraqi component and, as you said, they are now joining  up with all of these Sunni militias inside of Iraq and that is the force that together is advancing on Baghdad.  And what it speaks to is the complete alienation of Iraq's Sunni community as a result of Maliki's treatment of them over the last two, three, four years.  And it's why  if we're going to deal with the problem, if we're actually solve the situation, pull Iraq out of this civil war, it can't be about military operations, it can't be just about bombing stuff because the fundamental problem is political and we're going to have to deal with that and that's even harder than the military one.  [. . .]  The bottom line here is somebody has got to convince Maliki to change his ways.  He's got to change his way of doing things or else has got to  help the Iraqis bring about a new political leadership that will bring the Sunnis back in [to the government, to the process],  that will deal with the problems in the Iraqi military, that will curb the powers of the prime minister so that all Iraqi ethnic groups aren't frightened of another prime minister like Maliki.  And at the end of the day, I think the military component -- the most useful piece of it is, the Iraqis, in particular, the Shia, are desperate for it so that becomes the leverage we have And I think that the President actually put it the right way.  That, if they want our military support, the price for it is that they're going to have to reform their politics.  Because if they don't reform their politics, there's no point in giving them that military system because the problems are not going to abate. 

Ned Parker has broken many important stories from Iraq -- most notably his work exposing the secret prisons.  He appeared Thursday on Democracy Now! (link is audio, video and text):

NED PARKER: Right. I think one of the great tragedies about the United States’ relationship with Iraq, both inside Iraq and here, is that the matter is so politicized that it’s hard to have a real conversation about what needs to happen now in Iraq so that it can be stabilized. The American involvement happened. And what I wrote two years ago, for instance, was talking about, in the time of the Obama administration, the neglect, if you will, of trying to build upon the chances for success after so much bloodshed and, you know, horror during the Bush years. And there was a chance for stability in Iraq in 2010. The decision to withdraw troops on the ground from Iraq, it’s debatable whether that was a right decision or a wrong decision, but I think the core issue is matters of soft power, that don’t necessarily have anything to do with U.S. military troops. That’s—so it’s about building consensus, trying to help strengthen the foundations of democracy.
Really, the Obama administration looked for many, you know, understandable, pragmatic reasons to want to end the troop presence, because of the cost of money, the cost to soldiers’ lives, but in doing that, in disengaging—and the U.S. military, you know, praised Obama for having a responsible withdrawal timeline; they said he did the right thing there. But what he didn’t do was try to fortify a workable coalition that could govern Iraq over these past four years or to preserve the—you know, these issues that Mohammed al Dulaimy was talking about, human rights abuses. Iraq actually had a decent human rights ministry, not perfect but one that exposed secret prisons by—that were run by Prime Minister Maliki’s military. And in the government formation process in 2011, that ministry was gutted and turned into a wing basically of Prime Minister Maliki’s party. And people who had been encouraged, Iraqis, to expose these abuses by the Americans had to flee the country.

So, I think when we talk about Iraq and the failures of the Obama administration in Iraq—and I think that Iraq for America is a bipartisan failure, and it’s not about troops staying or going. It’s about these core issues that are democratic values. The Obama administration looked at how does Iraq—how does the United States get out, and how does Iraq stay stable? And what they chose was Prime Minister Maliki as their guy. And at the time they made that decision, it wasn’t necessarily a wrong choice, but they focused on personalities, and not values and building the foundations of a government that could work. And that’s a large reason of why we are where we are today, both the United States and Iraq, in terms of the implosion we are seeing.

Are you beginning to grasp the problem?  At CNN, Derek Harvey and Michael Pregent ask, "Who's to blame for Iraq crisis"? Their answer includes:

For more than five years, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and his ministers have presided over the packing of the Iraqi military and police with Shiite loyalists -- in both the general officer ranks and the rank and file -- while sidelining many effective commanders who led Iraqi troops in the battlefield gains of 2007-2010, a period during which al Qaeda in Iraq (the forerunner of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) was brought to the brink of extinction.
Al-Maliki's "Shiafication" of the Iraqi security forces has been less about the security of Iraq than the security of Baghdad and his regime. Even before the end of the U.S.-led "surge" in 2008, al-Maliki began a concerted effort to replace effective Sunni and Kurdish commanders and intelligence officers in the key mixed-sect areas of Baghdad, Diyala and Salaheddin provinces to ensure that Iraqi units focused on fighting Sunni insurgents while leaving loyal Shiite militias alone -- and to alleviate al-Maliki's irrational fears of a military coup against his government.
In 2008, al-Maliki began replacing effective Kurdish commanders and soldiers in Mosul and Tal Afar with Shiite loyalists from Baghdad and the Prime Minister's Dawa Party, and even Shiite militia members from the south. A number of nonloyalist commanders were forced to resign in the face of trumped up charges or reassigned to desk jobs and replaced with al-Maliki loyalists. The moves were made to marginalize Sunnis and Kurds in the north and entrench al-Maliki's regime and the Dawa Party ahead of provincial and national elections in 2009, 2010 and 2013.

Rebecca Kaplan (CBS News -- link is text and video) covers several hypotheses as to how Iraq ended up in its current crisis and Jake Tapper (CNN's The Lead with Jake Tapper) explores the current crisis with administration officials.

Iraq is finally getting serious attention from the MSM and I'm trying to be nice.  I was nice to Kenneth Pollack in yesterday's snapshot because I genuinely believed, from his writing, that he was sincere in his suggestions.  But that was with him.  With the media, I've tried to be nice.

I've tried to be so nice that I've ignored so much this week.  For example, if you're doing a discussion on Iraq and bringing up Nouri al-Maliki, I'm sorry but you're an idiot if you're calling him "president" of Iraq.  Especially if you do repeatedly.  I was kind.  I just ignored you.  I was kind to the TV network that couldn't find their own ass.  But I'm not a nice person and don't pretend to be.  And even in the "thank goodness they're noting Iraq," I can only take so much.

RT reports or 'reports:"

Even before the latest outbreak of violence and chaos in Iraq, the United States was flying secret drone missions in the country in an attempt to gather intelligence on the movements of Al-Qaeda-linked militants.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the clandestine surveillance missions have been going on since last year with the consent of the Iraqi government. Senior White House officials said the program was expanded as concerns over the possibility of a rebellion grew, but they acknowledged the activity provided little useful information for both the US and Iraq. 

I ignored the Wall St. Journal article because I was trying to be nice and also because few people would see it (the paper has a high circulation but in the online world they've cut themselves off with their paywall).  But now RT is grabbing the article which means many on the left now know about it or soon will.

And what they know?


The Wall St. Journal may have broken a hip (Do they shoot newspapers?) but it didn't break news.  It did flash ignorance.

We've long covered the use of US drones in Iraq.

Let's offer just one example.  From the January 31, 2012 snapshot:

Meanwhile AFP reports on US President Barack Obama's YouTube fest yesterday and his assertion that there was nothing wrong with the drones flying over Iraq. He is quoted declaring, "The truth of the matter is we're not engaging in a bunch of drone attacks inside of Iraq. There's some surveillance to make sure that our embassy compound is protected." 

Do you get it?

Wall St. Journal reported that drones were being used by the US in Iraq! Wall St. Journal reported it this week!

But two years ago, Barack spoke publicly about drones being used in Iraq.

So the big 'scoop' was really nothing.

It does reveal, however, how little attention people pay to Iraq -- including reporters covering it.

Alsumaria reports that Ahmed Chalabi, leader of the Iraqi National Congress, declared today that failures of leadership and wrong-headed policies are responsible for the desertion of military forces when rebels storm an area.  As if to proved Ahmed's point about leadership failures, the spokesperson for Nouri al-Maliki's State of Law declared today that the governments of Turkey and Saudi Arabia are paying people to attack Iraq. So lost in his lies, Nouri can't even focus on the problems at hand.

Which would include the bombing of Saad bin Maad Mosque in Muqdadiyah.  Iraq Spring MC reports 25 corpses (burned alive) were discovered in Diayla village (killed by Nouri's forces), Nouri's forces bombed a mosque in Baijia leaving 13 people dead and twenty injured, and rebels shot down 2 helicopters in Baiji, sectarian militias kidnapped 2 people in Baiji.  NINA adds that 6 Joint Operations Command announced they killed 6 rebels in Ramadi.

Mitchell Prothero (McClatchy Newspaper) reports:

The likely breakup of Iraq into feuding ethnic and sectarian bastions accelerated Friday as Iraq’s senior Shiite Muslim cleric broke years of support for the central government and decreed that every able-bodied Shiite man had a religious obligation to defend the sect’s holy sites from rebellious Sunni Muslims led by fighters from the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

Read more here:

Global Research's Tony Cartalucci argues the US is planning to break up Iraq into a federation with three regions.

Meanwhile, Jasper Hamill (Register) reports Nouri's government is blocking Twitter and Facebook:

A Kuwaiti news agency suggested that the Iraqi government's Ministry of Communications has closed off access to the sites to hamper the rebel's communications. Pornographic sites have also been closed down.
We logged on to several Iraqi proxy servers and were unable to access the social networks, while still getting normal access to other sites. However, we did not see the image below, which is being circulated on Twitter. It appears to show that one of Iraq's biggest ISPs has been told to block Twitter and Facebook.

AFP's WG Dunlop Tweeted:

Iraqi Spring MC reports that today Nouri's forces arrested all the student protesters who lived in Baghdad's Adhamiya.  Is this the 'leadership' Barack wants Nouri to demonstrate.

As the situation in Iraq worsens, some are called on to leave.  Alsumaria reports Lockheed Martin is evacuating 25 employees.  All Iraq News reports that the government of Germany is calling for its citizens "to leave Anbar, Nineveh and Salah il-Din provinces and temporarily Baghdad due to the security breaches." ABC News Radio reports, "Americans are being evacuated from an air base in Iraq on Thursday as militants storm toward the area. Several hundred contractors from the northern facility in Balad are being evacuated to Baghdad, a Defense official confirms."  All Iraq News notes:

The United States rushed Thursday to evacuate hundreds of Americans from Iraq and was desperately making plans to rescue thousands of others as advancing al Qaeda-inspired forces vowed to attack Baghdad and topple the government.
There are about 5,000 American contractors remaining in the increasingly dangerous country, including a team that was bailed out Thursday from a base in Balad, an hour north of the threatened capital.

The three plane loads of Americans were mostly civilians who were part of one of the largest training programs for the Iraqi military — which so far has been largely impotent in the fight against bloodthirsty rebels.

Iraq's refugee problem was most noted around 2007 but it's been huge throughout the war.  The violence started off relatively low when Nouri assumed his second term as prime minister.  It quickly began rising and refugees began to climb in numbers as well.  By June 2013Matthew Woodcraft (BBC World Service -- link is audio) was reporting on the issue:

Matthew Woodcraft: ____ explained how he was new to Amman having decided to make the move from his home city of Baghdad to seek refuge in Jordan just a few weeks ago. "Iraq, she is beautiful," ____ said before exhaling a plume of smoke as he rolled the dice across the board.  "Well, she was," he added, "but we cannot be there anymore.  The religions, it's dangerous. More men arrived sounding lively, with shouts of "Salam alaikum, habibi" -- "hello, my good man" -- and handshakes all around.  Amman is witnessing a new wave of Iraqi refugees as the almost daily bombings across Iraq become ever more bloody.  As the click-clack of dice on wood continued, I spoke with **** one of the organizers of the backgammon evening, in a room away from the other men.  I asked him about the new influx of Iraqis.  This initially jocular man grew serious as he explained, "There are many who are still coming and they cannot work.  They live hand to mouth," he said. going on to tell me how the new arrivals are fleeing with little and in desperate need of help.

Today on Ronan Farrow Daily (MSNBC -- link is video) actress and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees special envoy Angelina Jolie raised the issue of Iraqi refugees.

Angelina Jolie: It really is quite terrifying as a humanitarian to think of all these people and to see what's happening in Iraq now. All the displacement.  All of the displacement. I've met people from the first Iraq War in Syria -- who then were displaced again back to Iraq -- who will now be displaced again for the fourth time. For the fourth time.

Ronan Farrow:  And 500,000 people on the run, it's a terrifying situation.  Do you in general terms feel that the US should do more?

Angelina Jolie:  That's probably -- Do I -- Yes.  Yes.  But, you know, I'm not here to -- I think it's what we -- I think it's a bigger discussion.  I think it's a bigger discussion about leadership in the world.  And I think it's -- I think it's not to point a finger at a particular person or a particular administration, but to say we are lacking in leadership in the world in general.  I don't think there is a perfect example of extraordinary leadership that is going to break through the stalemate of what is happening in the world today when it comes to intervening, assisting innocent people.  It is a much bigger situation.

The refugee situation was already a problem.  This month it has only gotten worse.  UNHCR notes today:

The UN refugee agency on Friday reported that a shortage of shelter is emerging as a key challenge for many of the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who have fled this week's violence in the northern city of Mosul to seek shelter in Iraq's Kurdistan region.
Local authorities say 300,000 people have sought safety in the Erbil and Duhok governorates and UNHCR monitoring teams report that many arrived with little more than the clothes they were wearing. Many people have no money, and nowhere to go. While some stay with relatives, others are temporarily in hotels where they are exhausting what funds they have. Many families in Duhok are also sheltering in schools, mosques, churches and unfinished buildings.

The UN World Food Programme notes:

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is launching an initial emergency operation to provide food assistance to 42,000 of the most vulnerable people displaced by conflict this week in Iraq.
WFP has deployed emergency and logistics staff to Erbil in the Kurdistan region to determine further food needs on the ground following the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people from Mosul to Erbil and neighbouring areas over the past two days.

In its initial response, WFP will deliver approximately 550 metric tons of food a month support the operation, at a cost of $1.5 million. An airlift of emergency food and other supplies is planned from the WFP-run UN Humanitarian Response Depot (UNHRD) in Dubai and another flight with non-food assistance is planned from Brindisi, in Italy.

Nouri has failed in many things and broken many promises.  For example, he was supposed to implement Article 140 of the Constitution to resolve the issue of Kirkuk.  Oil-rich Kirkuk is claimed by the Kurdistan Regional Government and by the central government out of Baghdad.  Article 140 calls for a census and referendum to resolve who can claim Kirkuk.  That failed promise may not matter because, this week, the KRG took control of Kirkuk.  Fazel Hawramy (Guardian) reports:

Kirkuk was under new management on Friday. No one was quite sure how long it would last. For Kurds, it represented a historic moment: finally in charge of the city and its surrounding areas after the Iraqi army abandoned its positions in the face of the Isis Sunni onslaught. And even for some Arabs there was a sense that security under the Kurds was better than mayhem under someone else.
Mohammad, a Sunni Arab, was six years old when his father, a civil servant, was persuaded by the government to move to Kirkuk from Baghdad. "I am happy for the [Kurdish military] peshmerga forces to stay in Kirkuk if they can bring security to the residents," he said, blaming the government of the prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, for the lack of security in the country. "Maliki has filled the prisons with Sunnis and intensified the sectarian tendencies in the society."
In the Iskan and Rahim Awa districts of the city, Kurdish security forces are visible everywhere and have erected new road blocks every few hundred metres.

Finally, David Bacon's latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which won the CLR James Award.  We'll close with this from Bacon's "Recycling Workers In Their Own Words" (San Francisco Bay Guardian):

  Today:  Recycling Workers in Their Own Words:  Two recycling workers speak out
Yesterday:  Invisible No More:  Threatened by immigration and paid illegally low wages, East Bay recycling workers did the unthinkable: They fought back.

I first applied for a job at the Select agency in 2000.  I'd just arrived from Mexico, and a friend explained to me about the agencies, that they'll quickly send you out to work.   They sent me to some other places before ACI.  Then I was out of work for awhile, and I went down to the agency to ask them for another job.  They said the only job they had for me was in the garbage.

A lot of people had told me that this job was really bad.  The woman at the agency told me, go try it for a day, and if you don't like it you can come back here.  So I went.  At first they put me on the cardboard line.  That didn't seem so bad because it's not so dirty.  It's just that the cardboard stacks up so fast.  But then they put me on the trash line, which was a lot dirtier.  But the thing is, I needed the job.  So I worked hard, and the years passed, and I was still there.

All day every day the trucks arrive, they unload and a machine starts pushing the trash onto the line.  Down below, we start sorting it.  The line brings all the trash past the place we're standing, and first we separate out the cardboard.  The next line takes out the plastic.  Then the metal and aluminum gets taken out on another line. 


the washington post
liz sly

Friday, June 13, 2014

James Risen

I hope you read Elaine's "We are James Risen" last week as well as Ann's "Barack's war on journalism" yesterday.  James Risen is the New York Times reporter who's been targeted by Barack in the war on journalism. 

William A. Cohn (ICH) writes today:

Of course, theory holds that a free and independent press is vital to a democratic society, as the watchdog disclosing information on matters of public concern to the citizens. James Risen is very good at that – having won two Pulitzer prizes for his investigative reporting on dubious acts taken in the name of national security. In 2006 he won the Pulitzer for unveiling the NSA’s warrantless domestic spying activities, and his ongoing reporting on government spying may win him another Pulitzer. And therein lays the problem - those who hold the reins of power in government do not tolerate their national security trump card being exposed as a fraud. Risen is one of many courageous muckraking reporters who have held firm to the principle that a journalist must maintain his pledge to conceal the identity of his sources in order to serve the public; Sunlight being the best disinfectant. But Risen confronts an attack on the free press which is unprecedented.
As Trevor Timm, co-founder and executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation wrote on June 2: “This is the latest victory of the Obama administration in their crackdown on sources, and in turn, investigative journalism. …Make no mistake, this case is a direct attack on the press. The Justice Department has recently tightened its ‘guidelines’ for subpoenaing reporters and the Obama administration claims it supports a tepid journalist shield law, but this was the case where they could have shown they meant what they said about protecting journalists' rights. Instead, they argued to the court that reporter's privilege does not exist all. By going after Risen, the Obama administration has done more damage to reporter's privilege than any other case in forty years.”

Between this and everything else, it's really amazing how many people want to cozy up to Barack, want to defend him, want to act as if he's a great president.

He's not even a good one.

He's dismantling the Constitution and the Cult of St. Barack has allowed him to do this while facing very little criticism.

When countries and democracies are brought down, it's because their citizens are too willing to self-deceive in order to worship a leader.

Hard core Kool Aid drinkers would rather bring down the republic then call out Barack.

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

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

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

Jun 11, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Too bad.  It was an important hearing.

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

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

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

Joe's concerns in 2008 were valid.

They're only more valid today.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more here:

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

That is a very scary proposition.

Nouri could use it to restore order or to terrorize.

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

There wasn't enough to hold a session.

The Guardian offers a photo essay on recent events.

The real indicator of how bad things are in Iraq?

Today's State Dept press briefing.

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

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

That's right, Psaki opened with Iraq.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Guess what?

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jun 10, 2014

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