Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Deb needs to answer

Debbie Wasserman Schultz has a lot to answer for.

If you're not grasping her latest scandal, this is from Philip Giraldi (ICH):

On July 25, Pakistani-American IT specialist Imran Awan was arrested at Dulles Airport for bank fraud while he was allegedly fleeing to Pakistan. The reports predictably produced some press coverage before the story died. Yet the speed at which the news vanished has prompted some observers to suggest that there might actually be something more to the disappearance than the operation of the normal media-reporting cycle. A number of conservative websites, including Breitbart, have been sounding the alarm over a possible cover-up that just might even be linked to what we are now calling Russiagate.
To be sure, the tale is a strange one with plenty of unsavory links. Thirty-seven-year-old Awan, as well as his wife and two brothers Abid and Jamal, worked as IT administrators for nearly 30 congressmen, all Democrats, including former Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. They did not have security clearances and it is not even certain that they were in any way checked out before being hired. At one point, they brought into the House as a colleague one Rao Abbas, someone to whom they owed money and who might have had no qualifications at all to work IT. Abbas wound up working in the office of Rep. Patrick Murphy, who was at the time a member of the House Intelligence Committee, as well as for Rep. Theo Deutch. He was paid $250,000.
The process of granting security clearances to Congressional staff is not exactly transparent, but it is not unlike clearances for other government agencies. The office seeking the clearance for a staff member must put in a request, some kind of investigation follows, and the applicant must sign a non-disclosure agreement before the authorization is granted. Sometimes Congress pushes the process by demanding that its staff have access above and beyond the normal “need to know.” In March 2016, for example, eight Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee requested that their staffs be given access to top-secret sensitive compartmented information (SCI). It is not known if the Awans, who were working for several committee members, would have been involved, but Buzzfeed, in its initial reporting on the investigation of the Awans family, repeated the concerns of a congressman that the suspects might have “had access to the House of Representatives’ entire computer network.”
The Awans billed Congress for more than $4 million between 2004 and 2016, a sum that has been reported to be three or four times higher than the norm for government contractor IT specialists performing similar work. The considerable level of overbilling has not been explained by the congressmen involved. In spite of all that income, Imran Awan declared bankruptcy in 2010, claiming losses of $1 million on a car business that he owned in Falls Church, Va. The business was named Cars International A, abbreviated on its business cards as CIA.
As of February 2016, the Awans came under suspicion for having set up an operation to steal and resell government-owned computer equipment. It was also believed that they had somehow obtained access to House of Representatives’ computer databases as well as to other information in the internal computer system that they were not normally authorized to work on as part of their duties. The Capitol Hill Police began an investigation and quietly alerted the congressmen involved that there might be a problem. Most stopped employing the Awan family, but Wasserman-Schultz kept Imran on the payroll until the day after he was actually arrested.
Some of those defending the Awans, to include Wasserman-Schultz and the family lawyer, have insisted that he and his family were the victims of “an anti-Muslim, right-wing smear job,” though there is no actual evidence to suggest that is the case. They also claim that the bank fraud, in which he obtained a home equity loan for $165,000 from the Congressional Federal Credit Union based on a house that he owned and claimed to live in in Lorton, Va., was largely a misunderstanding; it was described by his lawyer Chris Gowen, a Clinton family confidant, as something that was “extremely minor.” It turned out that there was a tenant in the house, an ex-Marine and his Naval officer wife, who were very suspicious about a large quantity of what appeared to be government-sourced computer equipment and supplies, all material that had been left behind by the Awans. They contacted the FBI, which discovered hard drives that appeared to have been deliberately destroyed.

The FBI is certainly interested in the theft of government computers. But it is also looking into the possibility that the Awans were using their ability to access and possibly exploit sensitive information stored in the House of Representatives’ computer network, as well as through Wasserman-Schultz’s iPad, which Imran had access to and connected to the Democratic National Committee server. As Imran Awan was also a dual-national, born in Pakistan, the possibility of espionage also had to be considered. The charge that Awan was actually arrested on, bank fraud, was an easy way to hold him, as that aspect of his activities was well documented. It allows the other more serious investigations to continue, so the argument that Imran Awan is only being held over a minor matter is not necessarily correct.

The $4 million alone is enough to demand answers.

That's not Deb's money, that's our money.

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

Wednesday, August 9, 2017.  The quest for Kurdish independence continues, the brain drain continues, the displacement is expected to grow.

Let's start with the semi-autonomous northern region of Iraq, the Kurdistan Regional Government.

President Barzani: It is an honor to have this meeting w/Kurdistan Muslim clerics 2explain the way forward . Referandum is for independence

Now Preisdent Barzani in Erbil meeting w/1000 Kurdistan Muslim clerics.Referendum is not only for Kurds,for all other nations in Kurdistan.

President Barzani: Iraq failed 2accept Kurdistan partnership. Destruction 4500villages,Anfal, chemical bombardment,genocide, arabization.

President Barzani: The Post 2003 Iraq failed Partnership,no power sharing, 55 articles of constitution violated,marginalizing Sunnis, Kurds.

President Barzani: We contributed a lot to make Iraq a functioning federal state. In 2004 Kurds were 40% of Iraqi Army, now it is zero.

President Barzani: We hav stated many times if Iraq continues in violating constitution,not accepting consensus, we will not b part of Iraq.

President Barzani: those countries who say the referendum is ill timed, what is their suggestion for a good time? What is alternative?

If not now, then when?

KRG President Massoud Barzani makes a good point there.

Repeatedly over the years, various think tanks -- including RAND -- have warned that this issue has the potential to be an explosive one.

Which is why you don't leave it on the backburner.

If this had been addressed in 2007, for example, any fallout could have been addressed by now.

Grasp that the US military remains in Iraq.

Grasp that some will always insist that the US military remains.

The longer this issue of independence is postponed, the longer some will insist the US must remain in Iraq.

KURDISTAN 24 reports:

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has scheduled and insists on holding a referendum on independence for the Kurdistan Region on Sep. 25, 2017, to decide whether or not to secede from the rest of Iraq.
Barzani stated that the move toward independence is part of a peaceful process aimed at deterring violence. “The main purpose [of the referendum] is to prevent further tragedies and wars from taking place[in the future].”
Regarding the timing of the vote, the President noted that if the Kurdistan Region waited for others to accept its decision, the right time would never come.

“Independence is a legitimate claim for our people, and the referendum can rightfully be held, at the earliest opportunity, so the world can be made aware of the will of the people of Kurdistan… We do not want to spend another 100-years repeating the same tragedies tied to the Iraqi state.”

What a change that is from the Jalal Talabani -- the ridiculous Jalal.

Dropping back to the March 16, 2009 snapshot:

Meanwhile Hurriyet reports:

Talabani told a Turkish newspaper in an interview published on Monday that it would not be realistic to believe that an independent Kurdish state could survive as it is likely that neighboring countries Turkey , Iran and Syria would close their borders.          
"I tell my Turkish brothers not to fear that Kurds will declare independence. It is an advantage for Kurds to stay within the borders of Iraq in terms of their economic, cultural, social and political interests," he told in the interview.


Sabah got the interview and they quote Talabani stating, "Iraq will not be separated and the civil war is over" and "The ideal of a united Kurdistan is just a dream written in poetry. I do not deny that there are poems devoted to the notion of a united Kurdistan. But we can not continue to dream." If accurate, Talabani's remarks will spark anger among some Kurds. And it may be a great deal of anger and it may be among many Iraqi Kurds.

Jalal Talabani, the sell out.  The only time he ever fought was to be first in line at the all-you-can-eat buffet.

Regardless of how the vote turns out, no one can claim Barzani didn't try.

Dropping back to last Friday:

In familiar news, Mustafa Habib (NIQASH) reports:
Last week, unknown assailants broke into the medical clinic of Iraqi doctor, Salim Abdul-Hamzah, in the Maamel neighbourhood of Baghdad. In other parts of Baghdad, two doctors were kidnapped: Mohammed Ali Zayer who works in a hospital in the Sadr City area and Saad Abdul Hur who had a private clinic in the New Baghdad neighbourhood. In the same week, a dentist, Shatha Faleh, was killed in a medical centre in the Washwash area.
All of the above happened within the space of just one week in Baghdad. No wonder Iraqi doctors are worried.

“The recent crime wave targeting Iraqi doctors is catastrophic for the country,” Jasib al-Hajami, a senior official in the Baghdad health department, told NIQASH. “The doctors and medical staff are the real wealth of our country and these crimes targeting them will push medical professionals out of Iraq. In fact, many of them have migrated or are thinking about migrating. More efforts must be made to protect them.”
On June 25, doctors in Baghdad and in other parts of the country organised sit-ins inside their local hospitals to protest the crime wave that appeared aimed at them and their colleagues. Their banners called upon the Ministry of Health to offer them better protection and the individuals protesting also warned of a decrease in the number of trained professionals in Iraq.


Longtime observers will read the above and nod while thinking of the "brain drain" as it was called in earlier waves.  Shi'ite militias targeted doctors throughout the Iraq War.  In part, it was a war on science.  The doctors and others with technical expertise that fled Iraq during the waves were part of a "brain drain."

This moring, Peter Schwartzstein (NEWSWEEK) reports:

Since the 2003 U.S. invasion, Baghdad’s intellectual and cultural elite has left its turbulent homeland, fleeing violence, persecution and an economy with fewer and fewer good jobs. Tens of thousands have moved to the U.S., where many have enjoyed considerable success. Over half a million others—including many of the country’s most educated people—have moved elsewhere in the Middle East. And their numbers have increased since the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) conquered up to 40 percent of the country in 2014.
ISIS has since been pushed out of most of Iraq, but many Iraqis aren’t returning. In countries such as Jordan, Lebanon and the Gulf states, talented Iraqi émigrés continue to staff hospitals, design roads, extract oil and lecture students. And as the country continues to bound from one crisis to the next, in part due to rampant corruption and mismanagement, its most educated citizens are succeeding in their new homes—and finding life in exile more and more appealing.
“We needed a safe environment to work and live, and they needed skilled labor,” says Ali Nawaz, a Saudi-based petroleum engineer, who skipped out of Baghdad after a death threat in 2006. “It’s been a good match.”

Whether more will leave Iraq in the coming weeks or not, displacement with Iraq is expected to increase.  NRT reports:

 The U.N.’s humanitarian aid coordinator for Iraq warned of possible evacuations of hundreds of thousands of civilians as the Iraqi forces prepare for three other operations against the Islamic State (ISIS) militants in the country.  
“We think that by the end of those military operations several hundred thousand more civilians are likely to be displaced,” Lise Grande told reporters on Tuesday (August 8) in Geneva.
Grande further said teams are moving to areas near the expected operations in Tal Afar near Mosul and Hawija in Kirkuk province to the southeast and the western Anbar province. 

The following community sites -- plus Jody Watley, DISSIDENT VOICE and PACIFICA EVENING NEWS -- updated:

  • iraq iraq iraq iraq iraq Iraq