Thursday. I'm not a Kathleen Parker fan. She's a Washington Post c
olumnist who had a CNN show (which I never caught). I know of her but haven't read her.
I agree with this column
It's about Benghazi. The attack September 11th that killed Tyrone Woods, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty and Chris Stevens. And specifically about then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's testimony to Congress last month.
In this community, her testimony was called out.
And C.I. plays fair. She knows Hillary, she likes Hillary. But that didn't stop her from saying it was an embarrassment especially when Hillary snapped "what difference does it make!" Here's C.I. reporting on that hearing
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appeared before Congress today.
In the morning, she spun before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee,
in the afternoon, she spun before the House Foreign Relations
Committee. Does Hillary live in a bubble?
This morning, her voice broke as she read (from her prepared
remarks), "I stood next to President Obama as the Marines carried those
flag-draped caskets off the plane at Andrews. I put my arms around the
mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, sons and daughters."
Yes, she did meet with various family members. Equally true, a
significant number of them have publicly rebuked her and the
administration. Pat Smith is the mother of the late Sean Smith. She
spoke with Anderson Cooper October 10th for CNN's Anderson Cooper 360.
Here and here for video, here for transcript. Here's an
excerpt of Pat Smith speaking about her son:
COOPER: Do you feel that you know what happened or are you
searching for answers? Have you been in contact with the State
Department? Have they reached out to you and given you details of what
SMITH: That's a funny subject. I begged them
to tell me what was -- what happened. I said I want to know all the
details, all of the details no matter what it is, and I'll make up my
own mind on it. And everyone of them, all the big shots over there told
me that -- they promised me, they promised me that they would tell me
what happened. As soon as they figure it out. No one, not one
person has ever, ever gotten back to me other than media people and the
"No one," Pat Smith stated, "not one
person has ever, ever gotten back to me other than media people and the
gaming people." Charlie Woods is the father of the late Tyrone Woods. October 26th, he spoke with Megyn Kelly on America
Live (Fox News).
Charlie Woods: My son was an American hero. And he had the moral
strength to do what was right, even if that would professionally cost
him his job, even if it would potentially cost him his life. He was a
hero who was willing to do whatever was necessary to respond to their
cries for help. If, in fact, those people from the White House were as
courageous and had the moral strength that my son, Ty, had immediately
within minutes of when they found there was the first attack, they would
have sent, they would have given permission, not denied permission for
those C130s to have gone up there.
The two parents above are not being partisan, they are being
parents. We will note that Kate Quigley told Erin Burnett (Erin Burnett Out
Front) that her family was getting updates. (Kate Quigley is
the sister of the late Glen Doherty.) The families of Tyrone Woods,
Glen Doherty and Sean Smith have largely been ignored/silence by the
media. Even worse, their loved ones have gone unnamed over and over in
reports which usually read "an attack that killed Chris Stevens and
three other Americans."
Hillary did name all four. She also repeatedly noted there was one
DS Agent still in Walter Reed (the agent's name was not given). But I
didn't see anything that indicated this hearing was about that.
Instead, we got a lot of nonsense, a lot of, "You are so wonderful,
Hillary." That's garbage. You were there to ask questions. Four
Americans are dead and I don't think "I am grateful" nonsense from
senators recognizes the reality of those four deaths. Senator Ben
Cardin walked the line very well, taking a brief moment to note
Hillary's accomplishments and not getting lost in it. It's a real shame
others couldn't do the same. Senator Robert Mendez was the acting Chair
of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Bob Corker is the Ranking
Member. ARB is Accountability Review Board. Senator Barbara Boxer
waxed on about how "you stepped up" -- I don't know that the hearing
One key exchange.
Ranking Member Bob Corker: To my
knowledge, no one has been held accountable. Our staff had a meeting
with one of the State Dept officials and I hate to use this word again
but it was nothing short of bizarre as they talked about the
communications. These officials were screaming out for more security.
And I was just wondering if you might mention one reform that would be
helpful so that you would have known of the needs of security that went
Secretary Hillary Clinton: Well obviously, I have, uh, thought
about this almost constantly since that date, Senator, uhm, you know I
do feel responsible. I feel responsible for, uh, the nearly 70,000
people that work for the State Dept. You know, I take it very
seriously. Uhm, the-the specific security requests, uhm, pertaining to
Benghazi, you know, were handled by the security professionals in the
department. I didn't see those requests. Uh, they didn't come to me. I
didn't approve them. I didn't deny them. That's obviously one of the
findings that Ambassador Pickering and Admiral Mullen made -- that these
requests don't ordinarily come to the Secretary of State.
Ranking Member Bob Corker: If we could -- I know -- I respect you
tremendously but we have short amount of time. They did come in to
Secretary Hillary Clinton: That's right.
Member Bob Corker: We did have SST people on the ground at no cost to
the State Dept. They were asked to be extended by the ambassador.
Someone at the State Dept turned that down. They were at no charge -- 16
officers. So I just wonder, what has happened inside to make sure that
never happens again?
Secretary Hillary Clinton: Well -- uh -- several things. Not only
are we, uhm, on the path to implement all of the ARB recommendations but
we've gone beyond that. Uhm, we did, uh, immediately do this high
threat assessment using DoD assets as well as our own. That had never
been done before. Uh, we have asked the Congress to help us, uh,
reallocate funds. The Senate has given us that authority -- we-we don't
yet have it from the House -- so that we can get more Marine guards, we
can get more diplomatic security guards, we can try to put more money
into the maintenance, the upgrades, the construction that's needed. I
created the first ever -- it sounds like it should have been done years
ago -- but first ever Department Deputy Assistant Secretary for High
Threats. I'm also recommending that there be a regular process that
includes the secretaries and the deputies in these decisions because
nobody wants to sit where I am and have to think now about what
coulda-woulda-shoulda happened in order to avoid this. Now, as I said,
we've had 19 ARBS. Only two have ever been unclassified. The one
coming out of the East Africa bombings where there was full
transparency, there was a set of recommendations, many of which have
been implemented, along with recommendations from other ARBS. But this
Committee never had a public hearing about the 17 other ARBS because
they were classified. So we're-we're-we're putting into action, steps
that we think will help the next Secretary be able to make these
decisions, be part of these decisions, have more insight into what is
going on and we would, obviously, welcome the opportunity to work
closely with a subcommittee or a set of members to make sure that that's
That's a lot of words. If you know Hillary, and I do, she's not
a "uhm" and "uh" and "the-the" type person. When she is that? She's
hiding. That's reality. You can admit that or not.
But if you're on the fence about whether she's spinning, grasp that
she used a lot of words. Ranking Member Bob Corker wanted to know --
and asked three times -- what she'd done that would ensure that the
Secretary of State would be aware of the security needs and requests?
And Hillary couldn't answer it. She went on and on. To the point
that Corker pointed out time was limited and re-directed her. She
responded by going on and on and still not answering his question. So
he tried asking it for a third time. And no answer.
That's not just disappointing, that's actually damning.
you need to contrast? Senator James Risch asked her about what's going
on in Algeria. She couldn't talk about it in terms of what it is but
she, explained, she could talk about this ongoing situation in terms of
the information she's receiving (that "we don't have anyway to confirm
it" at present). Hillary didn't stammer once, she'd didn't pause and it
wasn't until the end that she even fell into a "uh" (and there she was
recalling what someone in another department had done). That question
was out of left field. It played to her strengths, she is very
knowledgeable. She is very smart. She thinks on her feet. She was
pulling from news reports and briefings in her head, off the top of her
head, and speaking eloquently and to the point. Contrast that
completely unprepared for moment and how well she mastered it with her
refusal to answer Corker's very basic question -- one she was asked
Another serious issue "we knew we were piecing together what a host
nation was not able to do." That Hillary speaking to Senator Marco
Rubio. Who's insane idea was it that Libya could provide security? How
many billions has the US government spent on Iraq's police and
military? But the protection of the US staff there is US military and
contractors. That issue has not been dealt with adequately by the
press, by the Senate or by the State Dept. Do not say, "Well host
countries provide security." No. Not in Iraq. According to Reuters timeline of the 2011 Libyan War,
October 23, 2011, Libya is declared "liberated." The attack happened
less than a year later. In what world does the US government assume
that a regime not even a year old can provide adequate security? Don't
distract with budgets or authorizations or other nonsense. Answer
clearly who made the decision -- in State or out -- that the militias in
Libya could protect US diplomatic staff?
"What difference at this point does it make!" she shouted to
Ron Johnson at one point in the hearing looking unhinged,
unprofessional and, quite frankly, uncaring.
It was supposed to
be a dramatic moment that showed her heart. She's a diplomat. Johnson
was doing nothing but agreeing with her but she wanted a big TV moment
apparently. Instead she's flying off the handle in a hearing where
she's gotten more praise than any non-uniformed witness in the last six
years. It wasn't pretty. Nor her attempts shortly afterwards -- during
Senator Jeff Flake's line of questioning -- to laugh about the same
topic ("we didn't [laughter] have a clear picture"). There are four
people dead. I don't need to scream that as she did at Senator
Johnson. But there are four people dead and America doesn't need your
laughter, Hillary Clinton. She did not conduct herself in a
professional manner and as this haunts and taints her legacy, look for
people to step forward and insist it was health related and she should
have waited a week or two longer before testifying. I'm not here to
rescue her, I'm reporting what happened in the hearing and it was
embarrassing. Wally will be covering Johnson's
questions at Rebecca's site tonight, Ava
will cover another aspect of the hearing at Trina's
site and Ruth's covering it at her site (Ruth's offering an overview of
the testimony Hillary offered).
It's public here that I supported Hillary in her 2008 run for the
presidential nomination, that I like her and I know. I've also long
shared that I can't stand Senator John McCain (Cindy McCain is a very
sweet woman). I stated here as early as 2006 that I would not be voting
for him. I would love to be reporting John McCain unleashed the crazy
and Hillary was just amazing. But that's not what happened.
Senator John McCain: Four months -- or months -- after the
Benghazi tragedy -- it's a tragedy when we lose four brave Americans,
there are many questions that are unanswered and the answers, frankly,
that you've been giving this morning are not satisfactory to me. Were
you and the President made aware of the classified cable from Chris
Stevens that said the United States Consulate in Benghazi could not
survive a sustained assault? Numerous warnings -- including personally
to me -- about the security were unanswered or unaddressed. It took a
CNN reporter looking through the Consulate to find Chris Stevens' last
warning. When were you made aware of that cable? When were you made
aware of the attack on the British ambassador? And the assassination
attempts? And the closing of the Consulates there? And what actions
were taken? What were the president's activities during that seven hour
period? On the anniversary of the worst attack in American history,
September 11th, we didn't have the Department of Defense forces
available for seven hours. Two brave Americans died in the last hour.
With all these warnings, all these things took place, we didn't have a
single Department of Defense asset apparently available to come to these
rescue. I categorically reject your answer to Senator Johnson about
'Well, we didn't ask these survivors who were flown to Ramstein [Air
Base] the next day that this was not a spontaneous demonstration.' You
say that it was because an investigation was going on? The American
people deserve to know answers and they certainly don't deserve false
answers. And the answers that were given the American people on
September 15th by the Ambassador to the United Nations [Susan Rice] were
false -- in fact, contradicted by the classified information which was
kept out of the Ambassador to the United Nations' report who, by the
way, in the President's words, had nothing to do with Benghazi -- which
questions why she was sent out to start with. Why is it that the
administration still refuses to provide the full text of the e-mails
regarding the deletions of references to al Qaeda and terrorism in the
talking points? Why do we care? Because if the classified information
had been included, it gives an entirely different version of events to
the American people. Going to the American people and tell them what
happened then you ought to have your facts straight -- including, the
Ambassador said, "al Qaeda is decimated and our consulates and embassies
are secure." So here we are, four months later, and we still don't have
the basic information. Now if you want to go out and tell the American
people what happened, you should have at least interviewed the people
who were there instead of saying 'No, we couldn't talk to them because
an FBI investigation was going on.' And, by the way, as I said at the
time, I just happened to be on one of those talk shows, people don't
bring RPGs and mortars to spontaneous demonstrations. That's a
fundamental. And, of course, the president continued to say, days
afterwards, September 12th, he made a reference to active terrorists,
September 12th on 60 Minutes "too early to know," September 20th on
Univision "we're still doing an investigation," September 24th on The
View "we're still doing an investigation." The President of the United
States, as late as September 24th, two weeks later, did not acknowledge
that this was an act of terror conducted by people who were at least
somehow connected to al Qaeda. And, finally, Madam Secretary, I
strongly disagree with your depiction of what we did after [Libyan
leader before the 2011 assault, Muammar] Gaddafi fell. We did not
provide the security that was needed. We did not help them with border
security. We did not give them the kind of assistance that would have
been necessary to help dismantle these militias that still, to this day,
remain a challenge to democracy in Libya and freedom. You knew Chris
Stevens very well. I knew him very well. I knew him on July 7th, when I
went to Libya to observe the elections. And at that time, on July 7th,
he expressed to me his deep and grave concerns about security
particularly in Begnhazi. And he continued to communicate with the
State Dept -- and I don't know who else was privy to those cables -- of
his deep concern about the security there and the need for additional
assistance. And I will argue -- [will argue] with facts -- that after
that event took place, after the fall of Gaddafi, the so-called 'soft
footprint' was partially to some degree responsible for the tragedy that
took place. The American people and the families of these four brave
Americans still have not gotten the answers that they deserve. I hope
that they will get them.
Secretary Hillary Clinton: Well Senator, I understand your very,
very strong feelings. You knew Chris, you were a friend of Chris, you
were one of the staunchest supporters of the efforts to dislodge Gaddaif
and try to give the Libyan people, uh, a chance and we just have a
disagreement. We have a disagreement about, uh, what did happen and
when it happened, with respect to explaining, uh, the sequence of
events. Uhm, we did get to, uh, talk to the DS Agents when they got
back to this country. We did so. It was not before September 15th. We
had no access to the surveillance cameras for weeks which helped to
answer a number of questions. But with respect to helping the Libyans
-- and that also goes to the question Senator Rubio asked -- we will
provide a list of everything we were doing and were attempting to do but
I will also tell you that since March 2011, Congressional holds have
been placed on programs for many months for aid to Libya. Uh, we've had
frequent Congressional complaints: Why are we doing anything for Libya,
it's a wealthy country, it has oil, disagreement from some sources that
we should never have been part of some UN mission in Libya. Currently,
the House has holds on a bilateral security assistance on other kinds
of support for anti-terrorism assistance, so we got to get our act
together between the administration and the Congress if this is a
priority and if we are serious about trying to help this government
stand up security and deal with what is a very dangerous environment
from east to west, then we have to work together, uhm, so I hope that,
uh, we can have the kind of discussion where we can agree on, uh,
certain approaches that will make a difference. We -- And, again, I
would urge that you look and read both the classified 6and unclassified
versions of the ARP that tries to deal with the very questions that you
and Senator Johnson are raising -- the timing of it and the like. But I
also hope we're looking forward because right now Libya is still
dangerous, it is still in a very unstable status and whatever we can do
for them we at least ought to agree we need to do and get out there and
Again, a lot of words and none of them address the issues
raised by McCain, do they? They do distract. He's asking about the
failures and she's talking about how support needs to be firm for
funding Libya. (Neither spoke of the illegal nature of the Libyan War
-- the US involvement -- but War Hawks never do.)
It was an embarrassment and she might have been better off pleading
health problems to avoid appearing before the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee. We'll try to grab her appearance before the House Committee
in tomorrow's snapshot and I also want to return to the Senate hearing
to note something from Senator Bob Casey.
Now here's C.I. reporting
on it the next day:
performance in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing yesterday
should have resulted in her being condemned -- both for how she
presented herself and for what she said. We called her out in yesterday's snapshot. In addition, Wally covered it in "Facts matter, Hillary (Wally)," Ava
covered it in "20 are still at risk says Hillary in an aside (Ava)," Ruth covered it in "Like watching Richard Nixon come back to life" and Kat covered it in "Can she not answer even one damn question?"
Kat admits that she was so surprised and disgusted by Hillary's
performance that she didn't attend the afternoon hearing with us because
she couldn't take seeing Hillary like that again. Ava points out that
Hillary acted out in every negative stereotypical was possible. Ruth
compares her to Nixon when it comes to answering questions. They went
into the hearing expecting Hillary to sail through it in a professional
and adult manner. I did have doubts and by the time Hillary was
screaming and waving her hands -- above the shoulders -- like a lunatic,
I'm sorry. I supported her in 2008. I don't see supporting a
presidential run again.
I have never seen lunatic behavior like
that in a hearing and I was present a few years back when a Ranking
Member stormed out in the middle of a witness' remarks, loudly and
intentionally slamming a door behind him. Everyone stopped -- the
witness stopped testifying -- and we all appeared to wonder, "What the
hell is wrong with Steve Buyer?" I disagreed with Buyer on many things
(he was very right, however, on the burial grounds for military members
who were buried in this country and overseas -- he was a champion on
that issue and deserves praise for it) but I had never seen anything so
rude. I sat through Condi Rice testifying as a hostile witness or at
least to a hostile Congress, I sat through Condi testifying as a woman
with red paint (representing blood) on her hands invaded Condi's space.
Condi didn't scream and yell. In fact, I said to Kat, "I'm sort of
impressed with how calm Condi remained and with the fact that she didn't
try to sick security guards on the woman" (Diane Wilson). (I think
John Kerry responded very well to an outburst in the midst of his
opening remarks at today's Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.)
Some 'press' -- like the Drama Queen at the Washington Post --
are distorting the hearing, especially a key exchange (the one Wally
covered accurately last night). They're rushing to praise Hillary and
calling Senator Ron Johnson a "tea partier." I have no idea what he is
(other than Republican), yesterday was the first time I ever laid eyes
on him. But I don't need to know his backstory to know what happened in
Senator Ron Johnson: Mr. Chairman and
Madam Secretary, I'd like to join my colleagues in thanking your for
service sincerely and also I appreciate the fact that you're here
testifying and glad that you're looking in good health.
Secretary Hillary Clinton: Thank you.
Ron Johnson: Did you, were you fully aware of -- again, I realize how
big your job is, you know everything's erupting in the Middle East this
time. Were you fully aware of these 20 incidents reported in the ARP in
real time? I mean --
Secretary Hillary Clinton: I-I was aware
of the ones that were brought to my attention. They were part of, uh,
our ongoing discussion about the um-um deteriorating threat environment
in uh eastern Libya uh, we certainly were, uh, very conscience of them
was assured by our security professionals that, uh, repairs were
underway additional security upgrades in place.
Johnson: Okay. Thank you. Did you see personally the cable on -- I
believe it was August 12th -- specifically asking for basically
reinforcements for the-the security detail that was going to be
evacuating -- or leaving -- in August? Did you see that personally?
Secretary Hillary Clinton: No, sir.
Ron Johnson: Okay. Uhm, when you read the ARB, it strikes me, uh, how
certain the people were that the attacks started 9:40 pm Benghazi time.
When was the first time you spoke to, or have you ever spoken to, the
returnees, the evacuees? Did you personally speak to those folks?
Hillary Clinton: I've spoken to, uh, one of them but I waited until
after the ARP had done its investigation because I did not want there to
be [laughing] any issue that I had spoken to anyone before the ARP
conducted its investigation.
Senator Ron Johnson: How many people were evacuated from Libya?
Secretary Hillary Clinton: Uhm. Well, you, uh, the numbers are a little bit hard to pin down because of our other friends --
Senator Ron Johnson: Approximately?
Secretary Hillary Clinton: Approximately 25 to 30.
Senator Ron Johnson: Uh, did anybody in the State Dept talk to those folks shortly afterwards?
Hillary Clinton: Uh, there was discussion going on uh-uh afterwards.
But once the investigation started, the FBI spoke to them before we
spoke to them and so other than our people in Tripoli which -- I think
you're talking about Washington, right?
Senator Ron Johnson:
Yeah. Yeah. The point I'm making is a very simple phone call to these
individuals I think would have ascertained immediately that there was no
protest prior to this. I mean this attack started at 9:40 p.m.
Benghazi time. It was an assault and I appreciate the fact that you
called it an assault. But I mean, I'm going back to then, Ambassador
Rice five days later going to the Sunday shows and what I would say
purposefully misleading the American public.
Secretary Hillary Clinton: Well, Senator --
Ron Johnson: Why-why-why wasn't that known? And, again, I appreciate
the fact that the transparency of this hearing but why weren't we
transparent at that point and time?
Secretary Hillary Clinton:
Well, first of all, Senator, I would say that once the assault happened
and once we got our people rescued out, our most immediate concern was,
number one, taking care of their injuries because, as I said, I still
have a DSA agent still at Walter Reed seriously injured, getting them
into Frankfurt-Ramstein to get taken care of, the FBI going over
immediately to talk to them, we did not think it was appropriate for us
to talk to them before the FBI conducted their interviews. And we did
not -- I think this is accurate, sir -- I certainly did not know of any
reports that contradicted the IC talking points at the time that
Ambassador Rice went on the TV shows. And, you know, I just want to say
that, uhm, you know, people have, uh, accused Ambassador Rice and the
administration of, uh, misleading the Americans, I can say trying to be
in the middle of this and understanding what was going on, nothing could
be further from the truth. Was information developing? Was the
situation fluid? Would we reach conclusions later that weren't reached
initially and I appreciate --
Senator Ron Johnson: But, Madam
Secretary, do you disagree with me that a simple phone call to those
evacuees to determine what happened wouldn't have ascertained what
happened immediately that there was no protest? I mean that was -- that
was a piece of information that could have been easily, easily
Secretary Hillary Clinton: But Senator, again --
Senator Ron Johnson: -- within hours, if not days.
Hillary Clinton: Senator, I, you know, when you're in these positions,
the last thing you want to do is interfere with any other process going
Senator Ron Johnson: I understand, I realize ---
Secretary Hillary Clinton: Number two --
Senator Ron Johnson: -- that's a good excuse.
Hillary Clinton: No, it's a fact. Number two, I would recommend
highly you read both what the ARB said about it and the classified ARB
because even today there are questions being raised. Now, we have no
doubt they were terrorists, they were militants, they attacked us, they
killed our people, but what was going on and why they were doing what
they were doing --
Senator Ron Johnson: No, no, no.
Secretary Hillary Clinton: -- is still -- is still --
Ron Johnson: Again, we were misled that there were supposedly protests
and then something sprang out of that -- an assault sprang out of that
-- and that was easily --
Secretary Hillary Clinton: But-but --
Senator Ron Johnson: -- ascertained that that was not the fact.
Secretary Hillary Clinton: But-but --
Senator Ron Johnson: -- and the American people could have known that within days and they didn't know that.
Hillary Clinton: With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead
Americans! [This is where Hillary's crazy hands, like the volume of her
voice, begin going all over the map.]
Senator Ron Johnson: I understand.
Hillary Clinton: Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys
out for a walk one night who decided they'd go kill some Americans!
What difference at this point does it make!
It is our job to figure
out what happened and to do everything we can to prevent it from every
happening again, Senator! Now, honestly, I will do my best to answer
your questions about this but the fact is people were trying in real
time to get to the best information. The IC has a process, I
understand, going with the other committees to explain how these talking
points came out but, you know, to be clear, it is from my perspective
less important today looking backwards as to why these militants decided
they did it then to find them and then maybe we'll figure out what was
going on in the meantime.
Senator Ron Johnson: Okay, thank you Madam Secretary.
you applaud that performance by Hillary I don't know who you are or
what you believe in. You don't believe in the Constitution -- not
enough to support it -- nor do you believe in an informed society. You
do believe in all the b.s. Bully Boy Bush put the United States through
As Wally points out in his piece, there are things
called "facts" that actually are facts but facts are not Hillary
Clinton's personal opinions no matter how loud she gets in hearing.
the issue of Susan Rice came up repeatedly. During other questioning
on the topic, Hillary testified she wasn't present so she can't speak to
that process or what happened or anything. But with Johnson, she wants
to assure him what happened -- what happened when she wasn't present.
She knows those aren't facts, she knows they're at best "hearsay."
she's being asked a basic question. I'd be a real hypocrite if I
disagreed with Johnson because the issue of talking to someone who was
present during the attack before going on TV to pontificate? I raised
that in the November 15th snapshot. And Johnson was right yesterday. You do have an obligation to speak to someone.
never been more disappointed in Hillary or more ashamed. We're not
going to debate the Susan Rice nonsense, it's been covered. We're going
to address Hillary's nonsense and we have to because the press doesn't
want to do their damn job -- as usual.
Hillary said she took
accountability. If you burn my house down and show up the next day as
I'm going through the charred remains and you say, "I take
accountability," I may believe you . . . up until you start yelling and
screaming. If you take accountability, then you damn well learned
something from the experience. Hillary learned nothing. It's a cheap
line ("I take accountability") intended to silence people. You either
take accountability or you don't.
She's taken no accountability.
She's done nothing to indicate she has. She's done nothing to improve
her knowledge of the attack. She's done nothing to secure the
diplomatic staff around the world. On the last one, as Ava so aptly
pointed out in her report, as an aside, Hillary tosses out in the
hearing that at least 20 US diplomatic outposts are currently at risk.
I'm missing the moment where Hillary or one of her staffers rushed
before Congress in the last months to demand funding for these 20 at
Don't lie to the country and claim you took accountability when you so obviously didn't.
Vidal used to praise Hillary for her manners and grace. Neither was
visible yesterday. If you didn't get it from the exchange, she was
being flattered by Johnson, she was being praised. She flew off the
handle and started screaming and acting like a crazy person while she
was being treated with kid gloves. I was offended by her behavior. She
is not just a former First Lady, she's also a former US Senator and she
fully knows how to conduct herself in the Senate. There was no excuse
for her behavior. Senator John McCain was probably the most severe
critic she faced yesterday. John McCain did not yell at her, he did not
fly off the handle. Let's move over to what she said while she was
acting so crazy.
Senator Ron Johnson: Again, we were misled that there were
supposedly protests and then something sprang out of that -- an assault
sprang out of that -- and that was easily --
Secretary Hillary Clinton: But-but --
Senator Ron Johnson: -- ascertained that that was not the fact.
Secretary Hillary Clinton: But-but --
Senator Ron Johnson: -- and the American people could have known that within days and they didn't know that.
Hillary Clinton: With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead
Americans! [This is where Hillary's crazy hands, like the volume of her
voice, begin going all over the map.]
There were four
dead Americans and they died because of failures within the
administration. You can claim to take accountability all you damn well
want. But Ranking Member Bob Corker put one question to Hillary over
and over (three times) and she ignored it. 'You claim you didn't see
any of the various requests for more security.' Corker wanted to know
how that wouldn't happen to you again or the next person in your
position? Hillary couldn't answer him. That's a failure. She refused
to answer him. There are four dead Americans, Secretary Clinton, and
you've done nothing to ensure that when people in the field ask for
additional security, these requests and their outcomes are made known to
the Secretary of State.
I could go on with that. C.I. does a great job reporting on Congressional hearings. And she holds people accountable. She held Hillary accountable for her outrageous actions.
But the press treated it like it was normal and rational. That's why C.I. returned to the topic the next day, because the press wasn't doing their job. They were too busy insisting Hillary had the nomination sewed up, they wanted to insist. No, she didn't. If she was planning to run in 2016, she may have even slit her own throat. That was an appalling performance.
Kathleen Parker calls her out for "what difference at this point does it make!" in her new column:
Well, it all makes quite a bit of difference, though inarguably less
now than it might have just weeks before the November election.
Apparently, Johnson and his Republican colleagues were so hornswoggled
by Clinton's irritation that no one wanted to volunteer.
important is the possibility that those four American lives might have
been saved. More prosaically, it is very possible that President Obama's
reelection might not have been assured had possible incompetence at the
highest levels been highlighted sooner rather than ."‰."‰. now.
She then goes into Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta's testimony this month where he said that he informed Barack as the attack was starting and that Barack told him basically to handle it and didn't do anything else. Parker points out:
As chief executive, Obama may have felt he delegated appropriately. Let
the military handle it. But he is also the commander in chief. When our
ambassador is being attacked, our country is being attacked. Should he
have done more? Might he have made a call to Stevens or someone else on
the ground? Obama didn't hesitate to call Georgetown law student Sandra
Fluke two days after she was attacked on-air by Rush Limbaugh. Two days
after would have been too late for Stevens, of course, but one is a
real-war theater and the other is merely political.
Again, first time reading Parker (who is a Republican, if you didn't know that) so I can't judge her entire work. But she wrote a strong column.
Now this is from Stephen Lendman's column
grading Barack's awful State of the Union Address Tuesday night:
Obama did what he does best. He lied. He’s a serial liar. He supports
wealth and power. He’s beholden to powerful monied interests. They own
him. He spurns popular needs. He prioritizes letting them go begging on
He proposed massive Medicare cuts. In 2010, 2011, and last November he urged more. He’s waging class war on Americans.
He wants fundamental social benefits destroyed. He wants ordinary people hung out to dry. He wants them on own sink or swim.
In 2010, his Simpson-Bowles National Commission on Fiscal
Responsibility and Reform (NCFRF) recommended deep Medicare cuts, higher
Medicaid co-pays, and restrictions on filing malpractice suits.
It urged other ways to end Washington’s responsibility for
healthcare. Obama’s address reiterated support. Implementation assures
disaster for millions.
Healthcare for millions already is unaffordable. Implementing
Simpson-Bowles makes it more so when most needed. Illnesses will go
untreated. Pain, suffering, and early deaths will follow. Rogue
leadership assures it. Obama reflects the worst of irresponsible lawless
Do you ever eat something and it just doesn't agree with you?
My daughter and I had chicken tenders. I spent an hour with her after she threw up. She felt like she was going to hurl again. So I got her to lay down and I just kept a cold wash cloth on her head and talked to her until she fell asleep. And then I went to the bathroom. I didn't throw up, I had the runs. I cannot believe it.
would have chosen something healthy but Thursday nights is when she does her veterans group session so she wasn't eating with us.
Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Thursday, February 14, 2013. Chaos and violence continue, Nouri's Iraq
releases a journalist, the Justice and Accountability Commission removes
the Chief Justice, the UK Labour Party works hard to say 'we're a
different Labour Party than a decade ago,' and more.
Starting in England where Politics UK noted
A new approach to intervening in foreign countries will be set out by
Labour as the shadow Defence Secretary, Jim Murphy, accuses David
Cameron of failing to learn the lessons from Tony Blair’s mistakes in
Iraq and Afghanistan.
Ten years after the Iraq War, Labour will attempt to further distance
itself from a conflict which alienated many voters by warning against
the “ideological” crusade against al-Qa’ida favoured by Mr Blair and Mr
In his speech today, Murphy declared
Just as important is the need to understand the culture and character
of a specific country. A primitive understanding of the Afghan
population, culture and geography prior to our intervention severely
undermined attempts to work with proxies and our political strategy was
in its conception insufficiently representative. In Iraq there was a
serious deficit in Western comprehension of the Sunni-Shia or intra-Shia
There is rightly much discussion of ungoverned spaces, but this means
absence of a central authority rather than a non-existence of local
power-brokers who must be navigated. Extremists often understand this
and so must we.
Associated to this, as we all now know, the physical disconnection of a
‘Green Zone’ or an ‘inside the wire’ mentality can impede communication
or cultural empathy. Diplomatic compounds, equally, can be isolated
from local communities, restricting the relationships necessary to
The final lesson I want to mention is the need to understand the
interests of the Forces with whom we co-operate, not just our enemy.
They will have their own interests - and not necessarily those of the
central authority. It took too long for us to see the training of the
ANA and ANP as a strategic priority, and we know that de-Ba’athification
left a lethal vacuum in Iraq. When the UK plays a role in training
local or regional forces, it is essential we view them not just as
auxiliaries but as partners who can inform the strategy behind our
And Murphy's remarks in the speech can be paired with what Labour's Douglas Alexander tells Andrew Sparrow (Guardian) in an interview today
Q: You mentioned Iraq. Over the last 10 years, have you changed your view of that conflict and the British involvement in it?
Well, of course I regret the loss of life and accept that there was a
loss of trust that followed. Had any of us who were in the House of
Commons at the time known then what we know now, that the weapons of
mass destruction weren't there, we wouldn't have voted, indeed there
wouldn't have been a vote. So of course our understanding of the
situation deepened and changed because the evidence pointed against the
existence of weapons of mass destruction when the weapons inspectors did
their work in Iraq after the conflict.
Q: It was clear
within six months of the conflict that the weapons had not been found.
But the way events have panned out of the following 10 years has, for
many people, changed their views of the rights and wrongs of the
A: Sure, if you look at the ledger with a
10-year perspective, the negatives outweigh the positives. Of course, I
don't regret the removal of Saddam Hussein, the relative safety of the
Kurds compared with their previous position. But given the lack of
post-conflict planning, the insurgency that followed the action in 2003,
of course the negatives outweigh the positives in my judgment.
remarks come one day before the tenth anniversary of the largest
protest London ever saw -- and there were protests all over England
February 15, 2003 -- not just in London. The demonstrators were calling
for the march to illegal war to be halted. Laurie Penny reflects in "Ten years ago we marched against the Iraq War and I learned a lesson in betrayal
" (New Statesman
Ten years ago this month, millions of people all over the world
marched against the war in Iraq – and were ignored. I was one of them.
For me, at the age of 16, there were a lot of firsts on 15 February
2003: first truancy, first solo trip to London, first time seeing
democracy rudely circumvented.
Tony Blair’s decision to take Britain into the Americans’ war in Iraq
was an immediate, material calamity for millions of people in the
Middle East. I’m writing here, though, about the effect of that decision
on the generation in the west who were children then and are adults
now. For us, the sense of betrayal was life-changing. We had thought
that millions of people making their voices heard would be enough and we
's Matthew Clark also reflects in "Lest we forget: anti-Iraq war protesters were in the right
Supporters of military intervention in Iraq, both then and since,
have variously smeared the protesters for being pro-Saddam,
anti-American, fellow-travellers of totalitarianism and jihadism,
political ingénues and Chamberlain-style 'appeasers'.
Alastair Campbell, the ruthless and cynical apparatchik who did so
much to promote the war, wrote contemptuously in his diary of
encountering "no end of people coming back from the march, placards
under their arms, faces full of self-righteousness, occasional loathing
when they spotted me".
Shortly before the march, his boss Tony Blair made the
characteristically grandiose and narcissistic observation that
unpopularity was "the price of leadership and the cost of conviction"
and insisted that there would be "bloody consequences" if Saddam was not
The protests didn't stop the war but they do exist to serve notice that
not everyone believed the lies, that everyone wasn't wrong and that 'no
one could have guessed.' They prove false the claims by War Hawks and
other cowardly leaders that they were using the best available data to
make their decisions. As Mehdi Hasan (New Statesman) observes
It isn’t the size of our demonstration that those of us against the war
should be proud of, it is our judgement. Our arguments and predictions
turned out to be correct and those of our belligerent opponents were
discredited. Remember the rhetoric? There was “no doubt” that the
invaders would “find the clearest possible evidence of Saddam’s weapons
of mass destruction” (Blair) as well as evidence of how Iraq had
“provided training in these weapons [of mass destruction] to al-Qaeda”
(Colin Powell); the foreign troops would be “greeted as liberators”
(Dick Cheney); “the establishment of a free Iraq at the heart of the
Middle East” would be “a watershed event in the global democratic
revolution” (George W Bush).
Those protesting around the
world a decade ago included people who hoped the rallies and marches
would stop the Iraq War from starting, it included people who thought it
might make a difference, it included people who felt it would make no
difference but wanted to be on the record that a war on Iraq would be an
illegal crime, it included people with a number of beliefs. And it had
an impact. Tuesday on Mornings with Steve Austin
(Australia's ABC -- link is audio), Austin spoke with Just Peace
Annette Brownlie. She was one of the organizers of the Brisbane march
ten years ago that drew between 700,000 and 1,000,000 participants. As
with the London protest in England, the Brisbane march was only one of
the protests taking place in Australia that day.
Steve Austin: You started protesting at the age of 16 against the
Vietnam War. Does it sadden you that this type of protest is still
necessary but still appears to be ineffective?
Annette Brownlie: It saddens me that it's still necessary, for
sure. You know, in an ideal lifetime, you would see the fruits of your
labor. But, you know, history isn't like that, is it? It's sometimes
the really big paradigm shifts in human thinking take much longer than
one person's lifetime. And you think about slavery and just how long it
took for people to accept that this was wrong. Think about women's
right to vote, it took a long time for that to take off. And I'm, you
know, I see what we do in the peace movement as being a continuum. And
at some point, we're going to realize that wars, indiscriminate killing
of people, is a crime and it doesn't achieve what you want and it's
The protests didn't stop the illegal war
did object to it and the objection continues to this day. Which is
why, for example, Labour scrambles today. The three in power and
pushing the Iraq War destroyed their political parties. In the US,
Bully Boy Bush destroyed the Republican Party. It lost the White House
and is a joke today no matter what. I'm not saying all their actions
today deserve to be derided but I am saying the illegal war and their
part in selling it has had an effect not just with the people but also
with the press. (For an example, see Elaine noting how NPR's trying to
rewrite Senator Susan Collns.) In England, Tony Blair was in power.
And when he left, Labour should have remained in power for years. But
the illegal war -- and their inability to address it publicly -- has
meant Labour has scrambled for votes in an economic downturn that would
normally have many flocking to them. They are paying the political
price for the illegal war. In Australia, Prime Minister John Howard's
Liberal Democratic Party remains in shambles for his selling of the Iraq
War. His party scrambles the same way the Republicans do, the same
way Labour is doing. In Australia, he was replaced with Kevin Rudd --
and Rudd was replaced Julia Gillard -- both are members of Australia's
Of the three countries, England's protesters have had the most impact. Sue Wareham (Age) called
this week for an Iraq inquiry in Australia:
Britain and the Netherlands have both conducted such inquiries,
revealing much that was hidden in those countries' Iraq war
decision-making. Of course, the government and opposition will resist,
counting on the resignation many felt for the past decade to shield them
from public pressure. But the demand for an inquiry into what happened
10 years ago can sow the seeds for a democratic capacity to ensure it
never happens again.
Instead of simply looking back in horror at how Australia
became embroiled in such an ill-conceived and catastrophic conflict, the
inquiry would seek to identify the steps that led to Australia
participating in the invasion of Iraq, in order to understand the
lessons to be learnt and how to ensure we follow better procedures in
has had multiple inquiries into the war -- the start of it and actions
during it. And now Labour has to work to woo voters. Contrast that
with the US where Dick Cheney's Deputy National Security Advisor is now
the spokesperson for the US State Dept. Victoria Nuland is a War Hawk
from a family of neocon War Hawks. So why does she represent the State
Dept in Barack Obama's administration?
Remember Blackwater's massacre in September 2007? From the Monday, September 17, 2007 snapshot
Turning to the issue of violence, Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reported
Sunday that a Baghdad shooting (by private contractors) killed 9 Iraqi
civilians and left fifteen more wounded. Later on Sunday, CNN reported,
"In the Baghdad gun battle, which was between security forces and
unidentified gunmen, eight people were killed and 14 wounded, most of
them civilians, an Interior Ministry official said. Details were
sketchy, but the official said witnesses told police that the security
forces involved appeared to be Westerners driving sport utility
vehicles, which are usually used by Western companies. The clash
occurred near Nisoor square, in western Baghdad. CBS and AP report that
Abdul-Karim Khalaf, spokesperson for the Interior Ministry, announced
"it was pulling the license of an American security firm allegedly
involved in the fatal shooting of civilians during an attack on a U.S.
State Department motorcade in Baghdad," that "it would prosecute any
foreign contractors found to have used excessive force" in the slaughter
(eight dead, 13 wounded) and they "have canceled the license of
Blackwater and prevented them from working all over Iraqi territory."
dead and twenty injured would be the final tolls. That didn't stop
Gwen Ifill from finding the incident amusing on PBS. From the October 8, 2007 snapshot
:Over the weekend on PBS' Washington Week (or Washington Weak) Linda Robinson of US News and World Reports decided to chat and chew the topic with star Gwen:
Robinson: Well Blackwater has about 800 people who are primarily
providing bodyguard service to the embassy personnel. And there are
about, well there are some thousands of other contractors doing this
exact kind of job. So they're moving around the city in convoys and
they apply very aggressive tactics in general. There are some who are
alleging that Blackwater in particular uses much more aggressive
tactics. But let's just set the stage a little bit. Very, very violent
city. You're driving around, bombs are going off, at any unpredicted
time. So what happens is these convoy drivers uses a tactic: they throw
things at people, they sound their horns their sirens if you don't get
out of the way they will shoot. So Iraqi drivers generally pull over as
soon as they see a convoy. The problem is SUVs cannot readily be
identified often from a distance --
Ifill: Yeah, how do you know it's a convoy? How do you know it's not
the military? How do you know -- tell the difference?
That's the problem. Washington Weak
tells you that's the problem. For the record, Robinson informs Gwen
that it's very obvious when it's the military and it's only confusing
when it comes to civilian contractors. So the question is, were Linda
Robinson or Gwen to be walking to their cars at the start of the day
and a car came zooming through with those in it throwing things at them,
would they see that as a problem? Should Jon Stewart attempt to find
out for The Daily Show? In fact, it shouldn't even be a
surprise. Gwen and Robinson should volunteer for it to prove what good
sports they are. After ten to fifteen minutes of drive-bys where water
bottles are hurled at them (the mildest object usually cited in press
reports) from speeding cars, let's see their smiling, bruised (possibly
bloodied?) faces and find out whether they now think that "the problem"
includes a great deal more than being able to tell if a convoy is
approaching? What's really appalling is Robinson admits to being
selective in her report explaining that's why she "set up" because,
apparently, reporters are not supposed to show any sympathy for the
civilian populations they are allegedly covering but instead are
supposed to be act as a p.r. hack for multi-billion dollar
corporations. And the chat and chew only got worse as it was wondered
if this was all just sour grapes due to Blackwater's "success"?
embarrassing was that broadcast -- which did include laughter at the
assault? So embarrassing that Gwen's vanished it from the show's
archives -- even on YouTube. That doesn't erase it from collective
memory nor does it make it okay. Rule of thumb for Gwen -- and Nuland
as well -- when Iraqis die, take it seriously. Your job shouldn't be to
make excuses for the attackers.
Nuland's repeatedly attacked
Iraqi protesters, insisted they were violent and done real damage on the
topic. Yet the only deaths in protests have come at the hands of
Nouri's forces. From the January 26, 2013 snapshot
Friday, Nouri al-Maliki's armed thugs in Falluja fired on protesters killing at least seven (Alsumaria reported another of the victims has died from wounds raising the death toll) and sixty more were left injured. Alsumaria notes
the Iraq's Literary Federation and the Association for Defending Press
Freedom and the General Union of Writers have all called for the
protection of the protesters, decried the violence and are calling for
early elections. Uday Hadim (Association for Defending Press Freedom)
states that putting the military out there was a mistake to begin with
and now the government and the Parliament must tender the resignations
and early elections must take place under the supervision of the United
Nations. Writer Fahmi Saleh points out that the Constitution
guarantees Iraqis the right to demonstrate and protest. In the KRG, Alsumaria reports,
the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (Iraqi President Jalal Talabani's
political party) has called on Nouri to remove the military from
protests and to show restraint. All Iraq News notes
that the Kurdistan bloc in Parliament also condemned the assault and
called for Nouri to stop using the military on internal issues. They
also note that the National
Alliance (Shi'ite grouping of various slates -- including Nouri's State
of Law but I'm sure they're not part of this) is calling for a prompt and thorough investigation into the shootings. Alsumaria notes
Iraqiya announced they will boycott all upcoming Parliamentary votes
that are not a no-confidence vote or votes addressing the demands of the
Alsumaria reports that the military was withdrawn from Falluja Saturday. Kamal Naama Suadad al-Salhy, Ahmed Rasheed, Patrick Markey, Andrew Roche and Jason Webb (Reuters) quoted Mustafa Jamal, the brother on one of the 7 shot dead by the military yesterday, stating, "Withdrawing
the army from the city is not enough, I do not know how this will
benefit me and it won't get my brother back." The dead and wounded were taken to Falluja General Hospital [. . .]. Al Mada noted that Falluja residents descended on the hospital in large numbers to donate blood. Kamal Naama Suadad al-Salhy, Ahmed Rasheed, Patrick Markey, Andrew Roche and Jason Webb (Reuters) report that "thousands" turned out for the five funerals in Fallluja Saturday. Al Mada adds that the mourners chanted and marches calling for soldiers who executed the 7 citizens to be handed over. Mohammed Tawfeeq and Chelsea J. Carter (CNN -- link is text and video) reported
that Sheikh Ahmed Abu Risha who is a tribal leader and a Sawha leader
delivered a statement on television Saturday in which he "gave Prime Minister
Nuri al-Maliki's government seven days to hand over to Anbar's criminal
court those involved in the shootings." Today the Sheikh tells Al Mada
that he believes the violence was premeditate and planned because Nouri
had declared on TV that the demonstration would be targeted. BBC News adds, "Sunni leaders in Anbar province, where Fallujah is located, had earlier
told the BBC that they would attack army positions in the province if
the government failed to bring the soldiers responsible for the
protester shootings 'to justice'." Now here's Icky Vicky Nuland on January 25th, the day of the assualt
.QUESTION: A very quick question: According to reports,
five protestors got killed today in Fallujah, Iraq. Have – are you able
to confirm – during protests by the Iraqi security forces.
MS. NULAND: I’m not in a position to confirm numbers,
but I will say that we are concerned about the use of deadly force
during today’s protests in Iraq. We understand that the Iraqi Government
has now issued a statement indicating that they are initiating a very
prompt investigation into the incidents, and that they have called for
restraint by security forces. We obviously stand ready to assist in that
investigation if asked, but we would also say that as the government
and government forces show restraint, the demonstrators also have a
responsibility to exercise their right to protest in a nonviolent
manner, as well as to continue to press their demands through the
The government, Icky Vicky rushed to
assure, and its forces were "showing restraint." 7 people dead. What
does she consider 'letting the gates open' to be?
Today Human Rights Watch calls
for a real investigation into the assault and they note:According to witnesses who spoke with Human Rights Watch, shortly
after noon on January 25, about 10 soldiers at an army checkpoint
prevented people from reaching a sit-in site. A Fallujah resident who
attended the January 25 sit-in, who asked to be identified only as Abu
Rimas, said that the soldiers verbally provoked a group of demonstrators
as they were walking near the highway toward the sit-in. Abu Rimas said
the demonstrators numbered in the hundreds:
The demonstrators were walking past the checkpoints, at a distance,
and the soldiers started yelling at us. They said, “Why are you coming
here to demand the release of the whores [referring to female detainees]
and terrorists? You are terrorists.” This provoked the demonstrators
and many of them started throwing rocks at the army, and [the army]
opened fire. Some of them opened fire right away, into the air . . . but
some of the soldiers fired into the crowd.
He said the demonstrators were close enough to hear the soldiers
yelling, but far enough away that none of the thrown rocks reached the
Victoria Nuland had nothing to say today about
Iraq. She wasn't asked about it at the brief State Dept press briefing
and she certainly didn't volunteer anything.
Strange because if
Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy were declared a 'terrorist' this
morning and removed from the bench, seems like that would be news.
That's what happened to Chief Justice Medhat al-Mahmoud who is also the
President of the Iraqi Higher Judicial Council. Alsumaria reports
'independent' MP Sabah al-Saadi has accused Medhat al-Mahmoud of "crimes against humanity." Ayad al-Tamimi (Al Mada) reports
that the laughable Justice and Accountability Commission has removed the judge from office. He's a 'Ba'athist,' a
Returning to the topic of the protesters, Shafaq News points out
"Demonstrations and sit-ins still continue in Iraq in protest against
Maliki's policies, as the sit-in in Ramadi had entered its 56 day.
Maliki's government is witnessing recently protests in several areas,
including Anbar, Fallujah, Kirkuk, Samarra, Mosul and a number of
neighborhoods in Baghdad to demand reforms and cancel laws that prohibit
some from participating in the political process, as well as cancelling
Article 4 of Anti-Terrorism Act and release detainees especially women
detainees and achieve balance in the institutions of the state." Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) is back in Iraq and offers this take on the protests
Something has broken. Much of Iraq's minority Sunni Muslim population appears to have run out of patience with Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, a religious Shiite Muslim who has ruled since 2006. In recent weeks, Sunnis
by the thousands have carried out a campaign of nonviolent civil
disobedience, closing off the main roads to Fallouja and Ramadi in the
west and mounting demonstrations in Samarra, Baghdad and Mosul.
The rallies are a testament to problems left unresolved when the U.S. military
campaign ended here, and to the new tension that has spread throughout
the Middle East. Angry citizens of other countries have overthrown
entrenched rulers through street protests or armed revolt. In
neighboring Syria, Sunnis have risen up as well, forming the backbone of
the insurgency against President Bashar Assad.
Though the protests have taken Iraq by surprise, they were triggered
by two events no different from many in recent years that have left
Sunnis feeling like second-class citizens: news reports about the rape
of a woman in prison and the arrest of a local politician's bodyguards.
But the original causes no longer matter; they have mushroomed into a
Meanwhile coalitions are forming. All Iraq News notes
that Ahmed Chalabi and KRG President Massoud Barzani have talked and
are saying partnership is the only way to resolve the political crises.
Also partnering up were Ibrahim al-Jaafari and Ammar al-Hakim. All Iraq News reports
that the National Alliance head and the head of the Islamic Supreme
Council of Iraq held a joint-press conference last night to
. . . announce their love? They didn't repeat anything new. Mainly Ammar layered praise upon praise on Ibahim al-Jaafari.
That won't end the political crises or the violence but the two men may have provided a chuckle or two. Iraq Body Count
counts 155 dead from violence through Wednesday. The violence continues today, All Iraq News notes
a Mosul home invasion that left 2 brothers dead -- one a soldier, the
other a police officer. The soldier was part of the security detail for
Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi. In addition, the outlet notes
a Mosul bombing has left 2 police officers dead and a third injured. Alsumaria notes
another Mosul bombing which left one civilian injured (his legs were amputated) and 1 cleric was shot dead in Kirkuk
"French-Australian journalist Nadir Dendoune has been released from an
Iraqi prison after three weeks in custody, Iraqi and French sources said
Thursday. The 40-year-old reported was jailed in January after taking
'unauthorised' photos in Baghdad." As I pointed out when I filled in for Ruth last week
, he's French. He was very vocal about that in a BBC report -- on tensions in France, alienation among the Muslim community. October 31, 2005, he asked the BBC
"How am I supposed to feel French when people always describe me as a
Frenchman of Algerian origin?" -- over five years ago. Dropping back to the February 8th snapshot
Nadir Dendoune appeared before Baghdad's Criminal Court today wearing a
jacket, jeans and handcuffed. Who? Good question because Nadir's not
supposed to exist. Just Saturday, Karin Laub and Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) reported Nouri declared, "There are no detained journalists or politicians."
But Nadir Dencoune was 'deatined' and had been for weeks. From the January 29th snapshot:
As we noted this morning, Nadir
Dendoune, who holds dual Algerian and Australian citizenship was
covering Iraq for the fabled French newspaper Le Monde's monthly
magazine. His assignment was to document Iraq 10 years after the start
of the Iraq War. Alsumaria explains
the journalist was grabbed by authorities in Baghdad last week for the
'crime' of taking pictures. (Nouri has imposed a required permit,
issued by his government, to 'report' in Iraq.) All Iraq News adds the journalist has been imprisoned for over a week now without charges.
Nadir is the latest journalist to be targeted in Nouri's Iraq.
A petition calling for his release has already gathered 15,594 signatures and a Facebook page has been created to show support for him. The Journalistic Freedoms Observatory in Iraq, Reporters Without Borders and The Committee to Protect Journalists have called for his release.Arnaud Baur (Le Parisien) reports
his sister Houria spoke with him today and he told her he was at the
French Embassy in Baghdad, that he has freedom of movement there and has
thanked everyone but he does not yet know when he'll be able to leave
Baghdad. Remi Yacine (El Watan) counts
22 days of imprisonment for Nadir. The Voice of Russia states
he is "freed on bail." Reporters Without Borders released a statement
“The announcement of Dendoune’s release is an immense
relief after 23 days of worry,” Reporters Without Borders
secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “He was arrested simply for
doing his work as a journalist. A campaign by his family and fellow
journalists in France and Iraq has borne fruit. Reporters Without
Borders thanks all the journalists who signed the petition for his release launched by RWB and the support committee.”
Dendoune arrived in Iraq on 16 January to do a series of reports for the French monthly Le Monde Diplomatique and the magazine Le Courrier de l’Atlas.
According to the French foreign ministry, he was arrested near a water
treatment plant in the southwest Baghdad neighbourhood of Dora while out
reporting on 23 January.
Moving over to the United States . . . Dr.
David Rudd: I've included in my testimony the tragic suicide of Russell
Shirley. I spoke with Russell's mother over the course of the last
month. I've spoken with one of his dear friends. And I think Russell
is probably typical of the problem -- the tragic problem which will
occur over the coming years. Russell was a son, a husband, a father.
He was a soldier. He served his country proudly and bravely in
Afghanistan. He survived combat. He came home struggling with PTSD and
Traumatic Brain Injury. With a marriage in crisis and escalating
symptoms, he turned to alcohol. He received a DUI and, after ten years
of dedicated service, he was discharged. And part of the rationale for
the discharge was the increasing pressure to reduce the size of the
force. I think we're going to see more and more of that over the coming
years. After the loss of his family, the loss of his career and the
loss of his identity, Russell shot himself in front of his mother.
Having spoken with Russell, I would tell you -- or having spoken with
Russell's mother -- I would tell you that a part of the tragedy is that
we knew that Russell was at risk prior to his death. We recognized,
identified him as an at-risk soldier prior to his discharge, but yet
there were not adequate transitional services in place that allow a
clean connection from an individual to an individual. And I think those
are the sort of things we need to start talking about, we need to start
thinking about. How do we connect at-risk soldiers -- once we identify
them and they're being discharged -- particularly if they're being
discharged against their -- against their wishes -- into the VA system
and how do we connect them with an individual and not just with a
system? How do we help them connect in a relationship that can
potentially save a life? I've included a picture of Russell with his
two children at the end of my [written] testimony. And the reason I've
done that is I think it's important for all of us. When I read the
Suicide Data Report, the one thing that is missing in the Suicide Data
Report are the names of the individuals, the names of the families, the
names of the loved ones that are affected and impacted by these
tragedies. And I think it's important for all of us to remember that.
was speaking before the House Veterans Affairs Committee yesterday as
they explored mental health care issues. He was on the first panel
along with the Wounded Warrior Project's Ralph Ibson, the Disabled
American Veterans' Joy Ilem and Connecticut's Commissioner of Veterans
Affairs Linda Spoonster Schwartz. Rudd spoke of Russell Shirley's
forced discharge and the loss of identity that took place as a result.
Linda Spoonster Schwartz picked up on that theme.
Spoonster Schwartz: The President's message last night [Barack Obama's
State of the Union address] that we're going to have all of these people
coming down. He [Rudd] mentioned a very important point -- some of
these people who have joined, you have an all volunteer force who has
joined. They intended to make this their career and now you have a
drawdown and that is a loss of identity. As a disabled veteran, I had
to leave military service and I had a long time finding a new identity.
she went through, what Russell Shirley went through, is happening for a
number of veterans right now and is about to happen for even more. Dr.
Rudd portrayed Russell Shirley as someone the military knew, prior to
the discharge, would be someone who would struggle with the discharge.
If they knew ahead of time and still couldn't tailor some program for
him, what does that say about their ability to help those whose problems
emerge at a later date?Chair Jeff Miller: Last night the
President announced that 34,000 service members currently serving in
Afghanistan are going to be back home. The one-size-fits-all path the
Department is on leaves our veterans with no assurance that current
issues will abate and fails to recognize that adequately addressing the
mental health needs of our veterans is a task that VA cannot handle by
themselves. In order to be effective, VA must embrace an integrated
care delivery model that does not wait for veterans to come to them but
instead meets them where the veteran is. VA must stand ready to treat
our veterans where and how our veterans want to be treated -- not just
where and how VA wants to treat them. I can tell you this morning that
our veterans are in towns and cities and communities all across this
great land. The care that they want is care that recognizes and
respects their own unique circumstances, their preferences and their
Spoonster Schwartz noted that veterans sought
care that was closest and that might mean skipping the VA if it was
sixty miles away. She also noted that veterans had more access --
outside the office -- to a private sector doctor than to a veterans
"Something somewhere is clearly missing," House Veterans
Affairs Committee Chair Jeff Miller observed at the start of the
hearing. US House Rep Mike Michaud is the Ranking Member on the Committee.
Member Mike Michaud: Over the years we have held numerous hearings,
increased funding and passed legislation in an effort to address the
challenges of our veterans from all eras. VA spent $6.2 billion on
mental health programs in Fiscal Year 2012. I hope to see some positive
progress that this funding has been applied to the goals and outcomes
for which it was intended and the programs are really working. We all
know that mental health is a significant problem that the nation is
facing now -- not only in the VA but throughout our population. In the
broader challenges is an opportunity for the VA to look outside its
walls to solve some of the challenges that they face rather than operate
in a vacuum as they sometimes have done in the past. One of the most
pressing mental health problems that we face is the issue of suicide and
how to prevent it. Fiscal Year 2012 tragically saw an increase in
military suicides for the third time in four years. The number of
suicides surpassed the number of combat deaths. Couple that with the
number of suicides in the veterans' population of 18 to 22 per day and
the picture becomes even more alarming.
Still on the
issue of health care and veterans, Senator Patty Murray is now the
Chair of the Senate Budget Committee and her office issued the following
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, February 14, 2013
CONTACT: Murray 202-224-2834
Introduce Bill to Expand Health Care for CHAMPVA Children
Would raise maximum age for CHAMPVA eligibility to 26
to bring program into parity with Affordable Care Act
– Today, Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Jon Tester (D-MT) introduced
legislation to adjust current eligibility requirements for children who receive
health care under the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of
Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA). Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
a child may stay on a parent’s health insurance plan to age 26. However,
children who are CHAMPVA beneficiaries lose their eligibility for coverage at
age 23, if not before. The legislation introduced today by Sens. Murray and
Tester would raise the maximum age for CHAMPVA eligibility to age 26 in order to
bring eligibility under the VA program into parity with the private
“As more and
more servicemembers return home from Afghanistan, CHAMPVA will continue playing
a vital role in caring for veterans’ loved ones,” said Senator Murray. “In our ongoing commitment to keep the faith with our
nation’s heroes, this bill ensures CHAMPVA recipients, without regard to their
type of coverage, student status, or marital status, are eligible for health
care coverage under their parent’s plan in the same way as their peers.”
"Allowing young folks to stay on their
parents' health insurance until they turn 26 gives them a chance to finish
school or start their careers without worrying what happens if they get sick,”
Tester. “This bill
makes sure that the children of our most selfless citizens have access to the
same care as the rest of the country."
supports VA-sponsored health coverage for eligible adult children of CHAMPVA
beneficiaries,” said VADM Norb Ryan,
USN-ret., President, Military Officers Association of America. “Such coverage is mandated in law to be made
available for every other qualifying adult child across the nation and only a
technical adjustment to the VA statute is needed to extend it to the grown kids
of our nation’s heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.”
applauds Senators Murray and Tester for introducing legislation we strongly
support, which would grant adult children of beneficiaries of the Civilian
Health and Medical Program of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA) eligibility for
continuing health benefits through age 26,” said Disabled American Veterans National Commander
Larry Polzin. “DAV believes children of severely disabled veterans and of
veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our nation should be able
to enjoy the same comfort and peace of mind of having health coverage into their
young adult years as every other child in our great nation.”
“This legislation is critical to
ensure that dependent children of severely disabled veterans are afforded the
same health care protection as all other
children,” said Paralyzed Veterans of America President Bill
“It is simply unacceptable that the only children who do not have the benefit
of extended health care coverage are those children of the men and women who
have sacrificed the greatest.”
CHAMPVA is a VA health insurance program that provides
coverage for certain eligible dependents and survivors of veterans rated
permanently and totally disabled from a service-connected condition. CHAMPVA is
a cost-sharing program that reimburses providers and facilities a determined
allowable amount, minus patient copayments and deductible. Once a veteran
becomes VA-rated permanently and totally disabled for a service-connected
disability, the veteran's spouse and dependents are then eligible to enroll in
Press Secretary | New Media
Office of U.S. Senator Patty
Mobile: (202) 365-1235
Office: (202) 224-2834
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