Saturday, November 02, 2013

Idiots and liars: Eli Lake and Josh Rogin

Weekend.  Kat and I are both noting this Sunday broadcast:

  • Now for this week's Idiot of the Week.  It's a tie!

    Eli Lake and Josh Rogin of The Daily Beast!

    And they earned the dishonor with a bad 'report' which, at its all time worst, included this:

    For both Obama and Maliki, a new counterterrorism cooperation package represents a marked change. Until this summer, Maliki had largely spurned American involvement in his country, choosing instead to deepen Iraq’s ties to its neighbor Iran.

    In September 2012,   Tim Arango (New York Times) reported:

    Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions. At the request of the Iraqi government, according to General [Robert L.] Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence.        

    Does that sound like Nouri "largely spurned American involvement"?

    No, and I'm not done.  C.I. often includes this in the snapshot:

    December 6, 2012, the Memorandum of Understanding For Defense Cooperation Between the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Iraq and the Department Defense of the United States of America was signed.  We covered it in the December 10th and December 11th snapshots -- lots of luck finding coverage elsewhere including in media outlets -- apparently there was some unstated agreement that everyone would look the other way.  

    That agreement isn't 'spurning American involvement.'  It calls for, among other things, joint patrols in Iraq.  C.I. reported on it December 6th.  Returned to it when it was finally published (by the Pentagon) on December 10th -- returned to analyze it.

     Joint-patrols!  She must be lying!

    She wasn't lying but she was forced to cover it again the next day due to the hysteria.

    Go over to the Congressional Research Services and grab any of their Iraq reports from April forward.  You'll see that C.I.'s analysis was correct.

    So Nouri's signing on for joint-patrols in Iraq (US and Iraqis patrolling together) and he's 'spurned American involvement'?

    Eli Lake and Josh Rogin are paid for writing.

    And apparently for whoring.

    You go, Press Hookers!

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

    Friday, November 1, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, Nouri and Barack go through the motions as they play tragedy as farce, World Bulletin does the impossible (for the US press) and writes about the poison apple known as The Erbil Agreement, Jalal Talabani's health is part of the farce, the most violent October since 2007 comes to an end, and much more.

    The farce that is Nouri al-Maliki's visit to DC continued today.  A Sunni Iraqi community member e-mails:

    If they are able to pass it [Parliament pass an election law], why should I bother even to vote?  I should go through five security checkpoints in [deleted] to vote?  By foot because it is always vehicle curfew on election day.  I should do by foot to vote only to have the President of the United States again overturn my vote?  That is what he did last time [2010] and it is what he will do again.  He owes us an apology for overturning our voices.

    Barack does owe the Iraqi people an apology.  Instead of providing that, he takes part in the farce Bully Boy Bush started and that he (Barack has continued).  And he'll never be forced to even justify his actions -- let alone apologize -- as long as people like Aamer Madhani (USA Today) play the fool:  "Obama hopes that a new round of elections in which the country's minority Sunni population is more active could help stem some of the violence."  Madhani damn well knew that in 2010, Sunni's turned out.  That's one reason Iraqiya won.  But their votes were overturned by Barack Obama.

    To keep thug Nouri.  Human Rights Watch's Erin Evers (The Hill) notes Nouri's use of torture:

    Earlier this year, interviewing prisoners in Shaaba Khamsa, Baghdad’s death row facility, I met a 52-year-old woman, one of the thousands of prisoners the U.S. turned over to Iraqi custody when American troops left nearly two years ago. She showed me the scars where security forces had burned her with cigarettes, used electric shocks and beat her so badly that she was still using crutches three years later.
    Two courts had declared her innocent of the terrorism charges against her, owing in part to a medical report documenting the extensive torture that led to her confession. A third court, though, reversed these rulings and sentenced her to death late last year, on the basis of “secret evidence provided by the Americans.”

    In September, she was among 42 prisoners executed in Iraq in two days.

    Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is in Washington this week to ask President Obama for warplanes, drones, and other assistance for Iraq’s counterterrorism efforts. The president should send a clear message that the kind of assistance Maliki seeks is not possible as long as his security forces continue their widespread torture – often in the name of counterterrorism.

    Torture and forced confessions take place all the time in Iraq under Nouri.  They're so common, in fact, that people may forget that both are banned by Iraq's Constitution.  Thursday, Nouri al-Maliki gave a ridiculous speech, overflowing with lies, at the US Institute of Peace.  As we covered in yesterday's snapshot, he lied  he had never, ever stepped on the Constitution.  He lied, we backed that up with examples yesterday, refer to that.  Today National Iraqi News Agency reports:

    MP, Walid Mohammadi for Mottahidoon coalition called on the United States of America to " listen to all sides in Iraq, not to a sole side which is considered by a big percentage of Iraqis as the opponent ruling political side.
    Mohammadi said in a statement today: " The statements made by Maliki currently in Washington are amazing and surprising , especially regarding the strictly application of the Constitution,as Maliki alleges, where everyone knows that the Constitution in Iraq, is not implemented but only taken paragraphs which corresponds to the interests of the government, otherwise the constitution is neglected and abused , he said.

    Again, the meet-up between Barack and Nouri was a farce.  Paul Danahar (BBC) predicted ahead of the meet-up today, "And he [Nouri] will no doubt be told in private he needs to rule for all his people - not just those who share his faith or point of view.  He'll probably smile and agree and then ignore the advice while gladly accepting whatever aid he might get."  Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi Tweeted the following yesterday:

  • هناك تفرد في وضع الحكم بالعراق وابتعاد عن الشراكة الوطنية وهناك ازمة يجب ان تنتهي وان نؤسس  يضم كل الشركاء في هذا الوطن الواحد
  • There is no national partnership in . Autocracy is governing and we must build a process that includes all Iraqis.

  • The farce is much more than the notion that the US-installed prime minister is anything but a thug.  It also includes the notion that there is a functioning government in Iraq.  Al Rafidayn reports that Nouri's office in Iraq today announced that Nouri was filing an official request to be informed of the health status of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.

    Last December,  Iraqi President Jalal Talabani suffered a stroke.   The incident took place late on December 17th (see the December 18th snapshot) and resulted in Jalal being admitted to Baghdad's Medical Center Hospital.    Thursday, December 20th, he was moved to Germany.  He remains in Germany currently.

    If still in Germany next month, Jalal will have 'served' an entire year out of the country and he's drawing a salary -- is he conducting any official presidential business?  Let's drop back to the snapshot for Tuesday, September 10th:

    Sunday, All Iraq News reported, Osama al-Nujaifi declared he attempted to meet with the hospitalized Jalal five months ago  (that would have been around April) but was rebuffed.  He states he has again asked for another meeting.  He further states if Jalal is unable to resume his tasks shortly, a new president needs to be named.  Monday, Dar Addustour columnist As Sheikh noted that the Constitution is very clear on what happens when the president can't perform duties but how is that determination made? (Is Jalal performing duties from the hospital in Germany?  He could be.  If he is, the Constitution would see him as in office.)  The Constitution says nothing, Sheik notes, about how long a president can be out of the country.  He reviews the rumors that Jalal has not recovered, that he is in a coma, that he has passed away, that his family is putting up a pretense that Jalal has recovered.  He ends his column with a call for clarity both in terms of the governing rules and in terms of the state of Jalal's health.

    In June, Going Global East Meets West noted MP Hassan Alawi asserted that Jalal was "clinically dead"  as well as "that the images that appeared in Al Cardsat TV owned by the First Lady Hero Talabani were fabricated."

    The photos the MP is referring to include the one below and were published in May.


    You can see three of the photos released here.  You'll note that people are seated to Jalal's left and right but in every photo he just stares ahead with the same 'expression' and the same body position (including hands).  In other words, he doesn't move one bit although the players in the photos -- the pretenders -- they rush to lean forward, pretending they're listening to Jalal.

    In real time, many scoffed, some wags dubbed it Weekend At Bernie's (two young men use the corpse of Bernie to pretend he's alive and have a wild adventure).

    After denying the Speaker of Parliament a meeting in April, visits to Jalal have continued to be denied.  His political party is the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and, as President of Iraq, he's the head of it.   With provincial elections scheduled for the end of September in the KRG, the PUK desperately needed to speak with Jalal and contacted his people.  They were rebuffed. reported August 26th, "Leaders from Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, led by Talabani confirmed that they did not see him since he was transferred to Germany, pointing out that Talabani’s wife, Hero Ibrahim and their two sons as well as his nephew , Sheikh Genki Talabani are the only ones who have visited him, as no one from the party’s officials saw Talabani."  And the PUK went on to have it worst showing in any election.  Attempts to meet with him after the disastorous elections?  As reported October 7th:

    A senior official from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) has revealed that ailing Iraqi president and PUK leader Jalal Talabani’s family won’t let party members visit him at the German hospital where he is recovering after suffering a stroke.
    A few days ago, a PUK official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, complained that no one from his party other than Iraqi First Lady Hero Ibrahim and Talabani’s official doctor, Kirkuk governor Najmaldin Karim, has seen the President since he fell ill late last year.
    "They always says Talabani’s health is improving, but repeating those wards a few times so far has put a question mark on Talabani’s future," the official told the Pan-Arab Newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat.

    Are you getting why Iraqis, in ever larger numbers, are assuming their president is dead?

    It doesn't help that the Talabani family originally even denied it was a stroke.  CNN was the first to report the reality there.  Jalal is -- or was  -- grossly obese and 79-years-old.  We've followed his health since 2007 when, after being released from the Mayo Clinic, he collapsed in a US bookstore and it took over six people to lift him.  His stroke was never a surprise.  He refused to listen to doctors' orders that he eat right and lose weight (they were only asking him to lose 60 pounds which still would have left him at over 200 pounds).  For five years, he stuffed his fat face and just put on more weight as he ate greasy and sugary foods and got no exercise.  His stroke was desitned.

    But the last thing the Talabani family has been honest about is that he had a stroke -- and, again, their honesty on that was forced by CNN blowing their cover story.  Every few weeks since December 2012, Iraqis are told that Jalal's health has improved and he'll be back in Iraq shortly.  We're now in the 11th month stage.  When's he coming back?  And when will he address the Iraqi people?  As Nermeen al-Mufti (Al-Ahram) pointed out last month, "According to the Iraqi constitution, Iraqis should elect a new president after 30 days of the presidency being vacant, for example as a result of illness."

    Clearly Jalal is not recovering.  Clearly he is not up to being president and this has been over ten months of fraud, lying to the Iraqi people.  This is fraud if the rumor Rudaw reported in September is true, "Sources tell Rudaw that on a visit to Iran last May Talabani’s wife, Hero Ahmed, sought Tehran’s help in delaying discussion over the position of the Iraqi presidency until the end of the current presidential term. Hero reportedly told the Iranians that such a debate will weaken the PUK’s position in the Kurdistan Region and Iraq. Rudaw tried to verify the authenticity of this information but none of the PUK’s senior officials were willing to comment."

    As Moqtada al-Sadr has been pointing out for over a month, the Iraqi people have a right to know the status -- the real status -- of Jalal's health and whether or not he's able to handle presidential duties.

    They don't know.  But everyone pretends that the country Transparency International has ranked 169th most corrupt country in the world (out of a total of 176 countries) has a functioning government.

    This week's farce has required so much lying.  Here's "senior administration official" providing background Wednesday:

    At the breakfast we just had with the Vice President and the Prime Minister, the Prime Minister had with him his core delegation, and that included his Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, his National Security Advisor Faleh Fayyadh, his Minister of Defense Saadoun Dulaimi, and the Iraqi Ambassador Luqman Fayli, and also the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff.

    Can we spot the lie?  Saadoun Dulaimi is not Minister of Defense.

    He is Minister of Culture.  That's his only legal title.  Nouri nominated him for that post in December 2010 and the Parliament voted to confirm him -- that is how someone becomes the minister of a ministry in Iraq.

    But there is no Minister of Defense.  In January 2011, Iraqiya and its leader Ayad Allawi charged that Nouri was making a power grab by refusing to nominate people head the security ministries.

    Nouri can't just nominate from his own party (Dawa) or own political slate (State of Law).  Parliament won't support that -- in part because there are so many other groupings in Iraq.  But whomever he nominates, if they are confirmed, Nouri can't fire them.  He can't force them to quit.  The only way they are forcibly removed from heading a ministry is if the Parliament votes to remove them.  That's not going to happen in most cases.  (Nouri tried, in 2011, to get Saleh al-Mutlaq removed as Deputy Prime Minister and to get Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi removed as well.  Parliament didn't support it, both men retain their titles.)

    Nouri's broken the Constitution by creating 'acting ministers.'  This means Nouri picks a stooge, say Jay Carney, and Nouri says, "You are acting minister of Defense."  Carney now has to do what Nouri tells him.  If he doesn't, he's not 'acting minister,' Nouri just fires him.  And Carney can't appeal to Parliament because Parliament never made him a minister.

    It was a power grab.

    Back in July of 2012, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observed, "Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has struggled to forge a lasting power-sharing agreement and has yet to fill key Cabinet positions, including the ministers of defense, interior and national security, while his backers have also shown signs of wobbling support."

    In light of that, we really need to look over the whore from Barack's administration's claim -- but let's back up two sentences so we can really enjoy the lying.  FYI, the official has outlined the goals for the US this week:

    And then finally is to support Iraq's overall democratic development and with a key focus there on elections. They just had provincial elections over the last few months, and then they're going to --  they're scheduled to have national elections in April of 2014. And I can talk about that.
    At the breakfast we just had with the Vice President and the Prime Minister, the Prime Minister had with him his core delegation, and that included his Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, his National Security Advisor Faleh Fayyadh, his Minister of Defense Saadoun Dulaimi, and the Iraqi Ambassador Luqman Fayli, and also the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff.

    To support Iraq's overall democratic development!

    Are your sides splitting yet?

    Democracy in Iraq in 2010 started with the Iraqi people voting in the March parliamentary elections.

    It ended there too.  Per the Constitution, Ayad Allawi should have been named prime minister-designate.  His Iraqiya came in first.  But instead Nouri al-Maliki pissed his panties, stamped his feet and refused to step down for over eight months.  Not only did the White House back his tantrum, they ordered US officials in Iraq to broker a contract, The Erbil Agreement, which went around the Iraqi people, went around their votes, circumvented the Constitution and took a dump on democracy to give Nouri a second term.  This contract is what all of Iraq current crises stem from.

    By going around the Constitution, Nouri didn't have to appoint a Cabinet.  The way the position works is you're named prime minister-designate and you have 30 days to put together the Cabinet.  If you can't do it, per the Constitution, someone else is supposed to be named prime minister-designate.  The only rule is to create the Cabinet.

    That's not partial.  If it was only part of a Cabinet, it wouldn't be the requirement to move from prime minister-designate to prime minister.

    The Erbil Agreement, the poison fruit of Barack Obama.

    And yet a cowardly background briefing official wants to pretend the US supports democracy in Iraq.

    And, worse, a cowardly press doesn't want to confront the lies.

    That's a cowardly western press to be clear.  The Iraqi press and the press in many Arab countries have shown repeat bravery and a real commitment to journalism.  World Bulletin deserves applause for their reporting today:

    In his second term he secured his position by sewing division between political elites and set up unofficial, alternative strongholds. When it comes to agreements made regarding the city of Irbil, either he hasn’t applied any of the conditions of the agreement or he has narrated the agreements according to his own stance. He has brought the defense, the National Security Council and the internal affairs of his nation under his control by breaching agreements regarding the appointment of deputies.
    Moreover, he has breached the most important factor of the Irbil agreements by not establishing a Strategic Policy National Assembly, which was supposed to be given veto rights. In weakening independent corporate control institutes and taming the high judicial authority, he is asserting his power to intimidate the nation.
    Iraq’s Sunni vice-president Tariq al-Hashimi has been forced to go on the run after being accused of supporting terrorism, for which he was given the death sentence. The former finance minister Rafi al-Isawi also finds himself in a similar position.
    Tensions are also increasing between Maliki and the president of the autonomous Kurdish regional government of northern Iraq, Mesud Barzani, who has criticized Maliki for taking full control of all aspects of the country. ‘Where else in the world can you find one man who is the commander of the army, head of state, head of defense, the intelligence chief, and the head of the national security council all at the same time?’ he asked.
    Maliki has already been called ‘the second Saddam’ due to the torture and abuses that take place under his American-made authoritarian regime, which threatens and carries out attacks on the press and uses the judiciary not to secure justice, but to intimidate rivals.

    Barack met with Nouri today.  The White House issued a lengthy statement:

    In their meeting today at the White House, President Obama and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki reaffirmed the strategic partnership between the United States and the Republic of Iraq and pledged to advance common interests to support a stable, secure, and prosperous Iraq and Middle East.  They also discussed their shared commitment to enhance cooperation under the Strategic Framework Agreement (SFA). 
    The two leaders noted that it has been nearly two years since the final American troops departed Iraq and the United States and Iraq entered a new phase of their relationship, based on mutual respect and a shared commitment to build a strategic partnership between two sovereign nations.  They recalled the thousands of Americans and Iraqis who have given their lives in our common fight against terrorism and extremism in Iraq.  The President and Prime Minister renewed their determination to honor the memory and sacrifice of those killed by strengthening our joint long-term strategic partnership across the fields covered by the SFA, including security, diplomacy, trade, education, energy, culture, science, and justice. 
    Following the President’s meeting with the Prime Minister, Vice President Biden and Prime Minister Maliki convened the Higher Coordination Committee (HCC).  This was the fourth meeting of the HCC since it was established in 2008 under the SFA.

    No.  That's not correct and hopefully the Iraqi press will demonstrate the courage that the American press lacks.  Thousands of "Iraqis who have given their lives in our common fight against terrorism and extremism in Iraq"?  Many Iraqis -- Shi'ites as well as Sunnis, even Shi'ites in Nouri's State of Law -- see the lives lost from "terroism and extremism" lost to US troops.  Barack can try to smooth it over all he wants, but there were no roses strewn at the feet of the US military in Iraq.

    The U.S. and Iraqi delegations discussed Iraq’s position as an emerging democracy in the region, leading energy producer, and a nation representing a diversity of social customs, religions, and ethnicities.  The Iraqi delegation described the challenges Iraq faces due to its geography and the legacy of the former regime after decades of wars and international isolation.  In this regard, both delegations welcomed the full restoration of relations between Iraq and Kuwait, expanding energy, security, and commercial ties with Jordan, and improving relations with Turkey.  Both delegations also welcomed ongoing exchanges of high-level visits with Turkey, as well as a strategic dialogue to be held later this month between the United States, Iraq, and other regional partners, with an emphasis on supporting moderates and isolating extremists in the region.
    The Iraqi delegation noted that with seventeen Arab embassies open in Baghdad, the Government of Iraq recently renewed an invitation to other Arab countries to open an embassy as soon as possible.  In this regard, the United States welcomed the participation of the Iraqi Security Forces in joint exercises with regional partners over the past six months, including the Eager Lion exercise in Jordan, and surface warfare and mine countermeasures exercise in Bahrain.  The United States pledged its ongoing diplomatic coordination under the SFA in these and other areas. 
    The two delegations shared an assessment of al Qaida affiliated groups threatening Iraq, with particular emphasis on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). 
    The Iraqi delegation confirmed a comprehensive strategy to isolate ISIL and other extremist groups through coordinated security, economic, and political measures.  This strategy includes security operations coordinated with local officials, and renewed efforts to empower local security structures, such as the Sons of Iraq, to mitigate extremist infiltration.  Both sides emphasized – on an urgent basis – the need for additional equipment for Iraqi forces to conduct ongoing operations in remote areas where terrorist camps are located.  The Iraqi delegation stressed its desire to purchase U.S. equipment as a means of strengthening long-term institutional ties with the United States, and confirmed its commitment to ensure strict compliance with U.S. laws and regulations on the use of such equipment.
    Both delegations further confirmed the need for aggressive political outreach as a means to isolate and defeat ISIL and other extremist networks.  They welcomed the national charter of social peace signed last month by political and religious leaders from across Iraq.  Both parties welcomed calls to reject violence and sectarian incitement, and discussed the critical role of religious leaders as a force of moderation in the region.

    How is Nouri supposed "to reject violence and sectarian incitement" when he's backing militias -- Shi'ite militias -- to kill Sunnis?

    September 28th in print (27th online),  Tim Arango (New York Times) broke the story of Nouri   supporting Shi'ite militias that are killing Sunnis:

    The group, which is backed by Iran and split off from the Sadrist movement several years ago and was responsible for many deadly attacks on the American military when it was here, has seen its political wing welcomed into the government by Mr. Maliki. And as the security forces have proved ineffective in stemming attacks by Sunni insurgent groups, the group’s armed unit, according to militiamen, is increasingly working in secret with the government.
    “We don’t do anything until the government asks us,” said one of the group’s leaders, who gave his name as Abu Abdellah. “We have a direct connection with the leaders of the security forces.”
    In supporting Asaib al-Haq, Mr. Maliki has apparently made the risky calculation that by backing some Shiite militias, even in secret, he can maintain control over the country’s restive Shiite population and, ultimately, retain power after the next national elections, which are scheduled for next year. Militiamen and residents of Shiite areas say members of Asaib al-Haq are given government badges and weapons and allowed freedom of movement by the security forces.

    At the Guardian, Haifa Zangana called out the simplistic narrative that Nouri (and the press -- I'm saying "and the press" uses to portray 'terrorism' while hiding his own crimes:

    The Maliki regime blames all terrorist acts (frequent car explosions, often in markets, cafes and mosques) on al-Qaida, selectively choosing not to mention the regime's own militias: Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq, Iraqi Hezbollah, factions of the Mahdi army, the Badr brigades and the Mokhtar army.
    A common belief among Iraqis is that only agents connected to the nearly 1 million strong army and security forces, and especially to the Special Forces (inherited from the occupation, trained by the US and now attached directly to Maliki's office) could carry out such sustained and widespread campaign of terror.
    Why is it that so many come to the conclusion that most atrocities blamed on al-Qaida are actually the work of the regime, its factional fighters, and regional actors with links to security services? It is because the regime is the embodiment of the sectarian divide entrenched by the occupation. Its constitution and political process, nurtured by the US and UK, has spawned a kleptocracy of warlords, charlatans, and merchants of religion. Yes, al-Qaida is a presence. But the sectarian political parties that mushroomed after the invasion are also fighting each other, killing thousands of civilians in the process. Almost 3,000 people were killed in acts of violence between July and September this year alone with three times that number wounded. Many of those wounded often die due to lack of medical services. Acts of violence are presented daily on Iraqi TV like the weather forecast in Britain. They are destroying the very fabric of society and pushing people who have been living together for centuries to speak and act about "them" and "us".

    Protests continued in Iraq today -- this wave began December 21st.  Iraqi Sprinc MC reports that Bahghdad saw the Association of Imams and Khateebs declare the Iraqi army was infiltrated with sectarian militias.  They also stated that some of the current Iraqi soldiers are operating under sectarianism and not out of love for the country.  They noted the Ministry of Defense estimates 90,000 soldiers have self-checked out.

    Protests also took place in Tikrit, Rawa, Mosul, Jalawla, Samarra, Baquba, among other cities.  National Iraqi News Agency reports:

    Thousands of people flocked from different parts of Fallujah and Ramadi cities , to participate in the unified Fri-prayer.
    Sheikh Mohammed Fayyad, one of the organizers of Anbar sit-ins ,said to NINA reporter : "The citizens participated in the prayers that held in the courtyard northern Ramadi and eastern Fallujah cities , stressing that the goal of this trickle is to send one again a message to the governing in Baghdad that our demonstrations are peaceful and backed by citizens deep conviction.

    As for the White House claim of  rejecting violence?    January 7th, Nouri's forces assaulted four protesters in Mosul,  January 24th,  Nouri's forces sent two protesters (and one reporter) to the hospital,  and March 8th, Nouri's force fired on protesters in Mosul killing three.  All of that and more appeared to be a trial run for what was coming, the April 23rd massacre of a peaceful sit-in in Hawija which resulted from  Nouri's federal forces storming in.  Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk)  announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault.   AFP reported the death toll rose to 53 dead.  UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured).  Equally true, Nouri's forces attacked the Ashraf community.  That actually came up in today's  White House press briefing:

    Q    You have a noisy demonstration out front by Camp Ashraf folks.  Can you tell us how hard is the President going to press the Iraqi Prime Minister on the issue of accountability for the killings that took place in September at Camp Ashraf?

    MR. CARNEY:  Well, as you know, the President has meetings this afternoon with — very shortly with Prime Minister Maliki.  And I’m not going to give you a readout of meetings that haven’t happened yet.  They’ll discuss a whole range of issues; this is I’m sure going to be one of them. 
    But this is an important relationship, and it’s one that in the aftermath of the ending of the Iraq war and the withdrawal of U.S. troops remains important.  And our commitment remains very strong to Iraq and the assistance we provide them in dealing with their challenges from al Qaeda in Iraq, the renamed al Qaeda in Iraq, and dealing with their overall economic challenges as they continue to make progress out of the past that created so many problems for the Iraqi people.

    Q    What’s the current position on who was responsible for that? 

    MR. CARNEY:  I would refer you — well, let me say this.  I’m sure State Department has more on this for you, but I can tell you that we remain deeply concerned about the fate of the individuals abducted from Camp Ashraf as well as the security of the residents remaining in Iraq at Camp Hurriya.  We are pursuing these matters actively and daily with UNAMI, with UNHCR, the government of Iraq and other relevant authorities, to seek information on the MEK members who went missing and to ensure as much protection as possible is provided for the residents who are at Camp Hurriya. 
    So I’m sure, as I said, that these are the kinds of conversations we have with our counterparts as part of a whole array of topics that will come up.

    Today Afzal Afzalnia (UPI) shares why he was against Barack meeting with Nouri:

    On Sept. 1 my brother was killed -- brutally murdered by masked gunmen under the command of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
    I ask you, how would you feel if you lost a loved one and only two months later the person responsible for his death arrived as a guest at the White House?
    That is what I am facing Friday, when Maliki is to be received by U.S. President Barack Obama in order to discuss the lasting friendship between their two countries.
    I am not alone in being outraged. Indeed, hundreds, even thousands of people will look on with the same sense of revulsion and betrayal, for my brother was only one of 52 individuals killed in a merciless and unprovoked attack on Camp Ashraf in eastern Iraq.
    Most of these people were shot in the head at close range. Some were wounded first and later executed while they lay bleeding. Many had their hands tied behind their backs before being shot dead.

    Nouri is the new Butcher of Baghdad.  Again, the whole meet-up was a farce.  Back to the White House claims:

    Both delegations also noted the recent resolution from the Iraqi Council of Representatives stating that national elections would be held no later than April 30, 2014.  The Iraqi delegation confirmed its commitment to holding these elections on time.  Both parties emphasized the importance of the Iraqi government’s determination to hold elections on time and its support to the High Electoral Commission to ensure that the elections are well prepared.  The United States offered its technical support in full coordination with the Government of Iraq and the United Nations.

    No, not a resolution.  A statement by Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi that Iraq would hold elections April 30th.  A law needs to be passed for elections.  al-Nujaifi says that it doesn't need to be passed because the old election law can be used.  The Kurds have rejected the use of the previous law. Might they change their minds?  Possibly but they felt ripped off in 2010 and with Jalal and his collapsible spin out of commission you're left with leaders the KDP and Gorran which won the provincial elections in the KRG back in September, you really think they're going to cave on a law that they think harmed the KRG?  It could happen, anything could.

    Kirk Sowell (Foreign Policy) explains today:

    The law is necessary for the parliamentary elections due by the end of April 2014, and since the electoral commission says it needs six months to make preparations, parliament is cutting it close. But with the Kurds and the Arab parties deadlocked, and Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani threatening to boycott the elections, Speaker Osama al-Nujayfi has repeatedly postponed the vote. 
    The core dispute that is holding up the law is between the Kurdistani Alliance and the Arab blocs, with the Kurds wanting a return to electoral systems used in 2005, under which they did better, and the Arabs preferring a modified form of the law used in 2010. But another amendment on which Maliki and his Sunni rivals agree is intended to suppress independent challenges to the major blocs. Maliki, in particular, is keen to avoid a repetition of this year's provincial elections, in which he (only partially with justice) blames losses by his State of Law Coalition to the system used to allocate seats. 

    Back to the White House statement:

    The U.S. and Iraqi delegations reiterated the importance of Iraq’s future energy sector development and economic growth so all Iraqis can share equitably from its resources, as well as the valuable role that Iraq plays in providing a steady flow of energy resources to global markets.  In this regard, the Iraqi side presented Iraq’s new five-year $357 billion development plan and their long-term vision for developing strategic infrastructure that provides energy system resilience and new commercial opportunities, with multiple oil export routes through the Arabian Gulf, Red Sea, and Mediterranean.  The delegations welcomed the opportunity to expand cooperation on energy, including steps to advance these projects, at the next Energy Joint Coordination Committee in early 2014.

    6 million Iraqis live in poverty by the Iragi's government's admission.  When exactly do "all Iraqis" get to "share equitably from its resources"? And at what point does Iraq develop beyond oil? Oh, that's right, the highest official to grasp that Iraq needed to diversify its economy is Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi and Nouri railroaded him out of the country (but not out of office).  Back to the White House statement:

    The Iraqi delegation confirmed its support for the Geneva II process and efforts to forge a diplomatic settlement to the ongoing conflict in Syria.  The United States took note of the important role Iraq can play in helping to shape conditions conducive to a peaceful political settlement.  The Iraqi delegation expressed its increasing concern about weapons coming into Iraq from Syria for use against the Iraqi people, emphasizing the need to take increasing measures to police its borders and airspace against the transit of weapons or cargo proscribed by applicable U.N. Security Council Resolutions, and called on all neighboring states to cooperate fully. 

    Nouri can't help with Syria.  If you think Iraq's inflamed right now, let Nouri choose a side in the Syrian War and then watch the Green Zone really get attacked.  There's no side he can pick that won't either inflame the Sunnis or the Shi'ites.  As for his 'help' that he keeps promising -- I don't know that anyone will take seriously his suggestions for peace when he's only inflamed his own country.

    Back to the statement:

    The Iraqi delegation stressed their desire to harness the U.S. private sector to advance mutual interests in Iraq and the United States.  The delegations noted the signing earlier this year of the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, which will help increase American exports to Iraq and provide more economic opportunities for the Iraqi people.  Both delegations welcomed the steady increase in U.S. companies doing business in Iraq – including major corporations such as Citibank, Ford, General Electric, and Boeing.  The Iraqi delegation expressed hope that U.S. businesses can have a prominent role in their country’s rapidly developing energy, transportation, banking, and health sectors.  In this regard, both delegations looked forward to mutual trade events to be held over the coming months.

    Well, yes, that was the whole point, wasn't it?  "Baghdad Year Zero" was about destroying everything to create new markets and new opportunities for big business.

    Back to the statement:

    The Iraqi delegation discussed their vision to strengthen their nation through education and exchange programs with an emerging generation.  They noted that twenty-five percent of their population – nearly 8 million Iraqis – was born after 2003, and that the Government of Iraq is determined to give this generation educational opportunities inside Iraq and abroad, including at American colleges and universities.  Both delegations agreed that the best way to honor our shared sacrifice over the past decade is to provide these young Iraqis with opportunities never enjoyed by other generations. The U.S. delegation noted that under the SFA and the educational programs established through bilateral Joint Coordinating Committees, the number of Iraqi students studying in the United States has grown to nearly 1,000 – and that a university fair last month in Baghdad attracted 30 U.S. universities and 2,000 Iraqi scholarship students.

    I'm sorry, are we supposed to swallow that one to?  A student exchange program means, for example, an American goes to Paris and studies and a French students comes to the US.

    There's no exchange program.  No US students are going to Baghdad to study.

    The White House really hopes you're as stupid as their spokespeople.  The statement finally winds down with:

    The two delegations closed the meeting with a shared commitment to increase the numbers of Iraqis studying in the United States, in addition to strengthening other institutional ties beyond government-to-government ties, to include cultural, artistic, and scientific exchanges.  Both sides again reflected on the sacrifice that has made this progress possible, while recognizing the very serious challenges that must be confronted together.

    That has to be the weakest conclusion to a White House statement ever.  (And we ran it in full, FYI.)

    With the visit concluded, we'll note Dion Nissenbaum and Jared Favole (Wall St. Journal) observing:

    But while Mr. Maliki worked to persuade American leaders to free up more U.S. military aid, leading lawmakers expressed dismay over the Iraqi leader's repeated insistence that he bore little responsibility for the sectarian violence sweeping his country.
    Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he was "extremely disappointed" by his meeting with Mr. Maliki and said the prime minister hurt his case for new U.S. arms.
    "If the visit was to cement American confidence and support, he certainly didn't do it for me," Mr. Menendez said in an interview.

    On Thursday's NewsHour (PBS -- link is video, text and audio), Margaret Warner reported on this topic:

    MARGARET WARNER: But many critics here and in Iraq say elected Prime Minister Maliki and his Shiite-dominated government share the blame for the rising dangers to their country by monopolizing government power in a way that has rekindled Sunni resentment and anger.
    Arizona Senator John McCain is among them.

    JOHN MCCAIN, R-Ariz.: The major reason for the unraveling in Iraq was Maliki's failure to govern in an inclusive fashion, measures that he has taken which have alienated the Sunni population, therefore, a breeding ground, therefore, then assistance to Syria. I think the genesis was the failure of Maliki's government, and it was taken advantage of by the situation in Syria.

    MARGARET WARNER: Obama administration officials don't disagree, but want to help Maliki anyway. The reason, explains Ryan Crocker, is that there's still much at stake in what happens in Iraq for the security of the U.S. and the wider region.

    We've called out a lot of press this week -- and there were so many we didn't have time to call out -- but we can also offer some applause for one person:  Spencer Ackerman.  From his piece for the Guardian:

    Intelligence sharing still carries a risk: Maliki’s closest ally is the US's regional adversary, Iran. The New Yorker reported recently that Iraq’s rejection of a residual US military force in 2011, an act that resulted in all but a handful of US troops withdrawing that December, came at the instigation of the Iranian spy chief Qassem Suleimani.

    Max Boot's a conservative and a supporter of the Iraq War.  I'm a leftist and began speaking out against the war to college audiences in February 2003 -- a month before the war started.  I don't think Max Boots agree on much of anything.  Nor do I expect us to.  But he is one of the few who does cover Iraq regularly.  So here's a link to his latest -- I haven't read it, even if I had, I couldn't offer critique because we don't have the room.  Many things are getting edited out but because he does cover Iraq regularly, I will give him a link in this snapshot.  I have not had time to listen to Patty Culhane's audio report for Al Jazeera but we'll link to it as well.  Another non-text link is Ahmed Maher's BBC News report from Sadr City.  Here and Now (NPR) continued their Iraq coverage today by speaking with Iraqi journalist Omar Fekeiki.

    Yesterday, a very violent month for Iraq ended.  As we noted last Saturday, it was the "Most violent October in Iraq since 2007."  Today we have some totals.  AFP's tally: "Overall, at least 743 people were killed by attacks in Iraq in October, according to the AFP tally, more than similar figures for January, February and March combined."  The United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq's toll is 979 dead and 1,793 injured.  Margaret Griffis ( reports, ", which compiles figures using various media sources, found that 1,370 people were killed and 2,361 were wounded during the month."  And  Iraq Body Count notes:


    Turning to today's violence, National Iraqi News Agency reports a Mosul armed attack left 4 police dead, an armed attack west of Samarra left 2 police dead and three more injured, a Jorfi-ssakhar roadside bombing claimed the lives of 2 Sahwa, Nouri's forces shot dead 1 suspect in Anbar while conducting mass arrests, a Falluja sniper shot dead 1 police officer and left another injured, Alsumaria adds a Kirkuk armed attack left one Iraqi soldier and one Operation Tigris Command member injured. and a Taji attack left 1 police officer dead and another injured.

    al rafidayn

    Friday, November 01, 2013


    Hope you had a great Halloween.  We did.  Our first here in Hawaii.  We all got dressed up, Elaine, our daughter and me.  It was fun.

    And talk about fun, two comics from Isaiah in one day!

    Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "It's The Great Bumpkin, Barry O" went up this evening

    it's the great bumpkin, barry o 

    and his "Accountability" went up several hours before.


    The focus of both were ObamaCare.

    Good topic.

    Thomas Gaist (WSWS) does good at the star with the topic:

    US President Barack Obama and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius defended the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Wednesday, amidst criticism over the non-functioning of the web site and news that hundreds of thousands of people will lose their current policies.

    Sebelius testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, while Obama gave a speech at Faneuil Hall in Boston, Massachusetts.

    In her opening statement before the House, Sebelius sought to defend the administration’s crisis-ridden website. “Today, more individuals are successfully creating accounts, logging in, and moving on to apply for coverage and shop for plans,” she said. “We are pleased with these quick improvements, but we know there is still significant, additional work to be done.”
    Yet throughout the hearings, users attempting to log in to were met with a message reading, “The system is down at the moment. We are experiencing technical difficulties and hope to have them resolved soon. Please try again later.”
    The White House continues to refuse to release information on how many people have actually been able to register and enroll in coverage. 

    And then he starts mind reading Republicans and other bulls**t.

    The Republicans aren't the story and it's really sad that even WSWS feels the need to call out Republicans if they dare criticize ObamaCare.

    Honestly, people, grow the hell up.

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

    Thursday, October 31, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, Bob Orr and a CBS 'analyst' compete for most uninformed journalist, Nouri al-Maliki gives a laughable and insulting speech, Nouri meets with the US Secretary of Defense, Nouri is protested by Ashraf supporters, concerns are raised about Nouri's treatment of religious minorities, and more.

    Tomorrow, Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki is scheduled to meet with US President Barack Obama as the White House.  The administration has been very busy this week -- co-authoring Nouri's column for the New York Times, for example.  And they've been very busy lying.

    Hamza Mustafa (Asharq al-Awsat) reported yesterday:

    Prior to his departure from Baghdad airport, Maliki announced that he will “discuss, with American officials, a number of issues including implementing an agreement for a strategic framework, combating terrorism and the Syrian crisis."  

    Reuters noted, "Maliki is urgently seeking military supplies to fight an upsurge in sectarian violence spilling over the Syrian border."  That includes Nouri's long lusted for F-16s.  They're due to arrive in Iraq late next year.

    So explain this State Dept claim reported by Lara Jakes (AP):

    A senior Obama administration official said Wednesday that U.S. officials were not planning to send U.S. trainers to Iraq and that Baghdad had not asked for them. The administration official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief reporters by name.

    Chris Carroll (Stars and Stripes) also quotes an unnamed administration official stating,  "I would not anticipate U.S. trainers going back into Iraqi soil."  At today's State Dept press briefing, it was the source of bemusement

    QUESTION: Hello. The Iraqi Prime Minister is in town, and the Foreign Minister is meeting with Secretary Kerry today. In a background briefing with a senior Administration official just a couple days ago --

    MS. PSAKI: I’m familiar with it. (Laughter.)

    QUESTION: -- yes – the official talked about increased counterterrorism and intelligence cooperation as a topic of discussion during Prime Minister Maliki’s visit with – meeting with President Obama.

    MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

    That's Jen Psaki and I'm so very glad the press corps finds the quote amusing -- it's good to know that they're doing something since clearly they aren't doing their job.

    The F-16 deal is off then?

    No, it's not.  And with the F-16s goes trainers -- as any 'official' in the administration knows.

    When they'd lie about something so basic, they'd lie about anything and those paying attention need to remember that.

    Jakes speaks with Iraq's Ambassador to the US Lukman Faily:

    He added: "We have said to the Americans we'd be more than happy to discuss all the options short of boots on the ground."

    "Boots on the ground" means military forces.

    Samantha Stainburn (Global Post) asserts, "Maliki may be open to counterterrorism training from US special forces and CIA advisers, according to Reuters."  If I thought Steinburn was capable of making sense, this is where I'd suggest someone slap her.  Put dunce caps on Reuters twin idiots Patricia Zengerle and Lesley Wroughton as well -- they're the authors of the Reuters article Stainburn links to.

    Is Nouri open to counterterrorism training?

    Better question: Just how illiterate and uninformed is the damn press?

    Tim Arango -- wait.

    Let's go really slow for the really stupid.

    Tim Arango is the name of a human being. He is a male -- something you can verify by checking his photo on his Twitter feed.

    There you will find, "I am the Baghdad Bureau Chief of The New York Times."  The New York Times is a daily newspaper.  Baghdad is in Iraq which means Tim Arango is responsible for the coverage from Iraq in the paper.  Do we follow that?

    If we can move on, we're now going to September 2012.  That's a month ("September," good job Washington Post!) and a year (2012).

    That's when Tim Arango reported: the following:

    Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions. At the request of the Iraqi government, according to General [Robert L.] Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence.        

    Okay, do we need flash cards, a review, what?

    To me that's very simple and obvious.  However, mainstream and 'independent' media have repeatedly gotten this wrong so there must be something confusing.  In fact, it must be really confusing because not one moderator in the 2012 presidential debates ever said, "Hey, President Obama, what's up with sending US troops into Iraq this fall?"  Not one.  Not even Candy Crowley who liked to present her tired ass as teller of facts.

    Stainburn thinks Nouri might be open to counterterrorism forces . . . based on Reuters.

    Stainburn's an idiot because he's already been allowing counterterrorism forces into Iraq.

    I know reading is hard for the press but they've now had a year and a month to catch up on Arango's report.

    Stainburn can take comfort in the fact that she's not alone and she's not an analyst.  Jeff Zarate is.  And Bob Orr spoke with him for CBS Flash Points (link is video) today.  What 'wisdom' did the analyst share?

    Jeff Zarate: . . .  but the president doesn't really want to re-engage in Iraq.  I mean he's made political hay out of ending the war and our troop involvement in Iraq so there's no way he's going to send troops back or anything that appears to be a forceful presence . . .

    No way Barack will "send troops back" into Iraq?

    Again, Tim Arango from September 2012:

    Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions. At the request of the Iraqi government, according to General [Robert L.] Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence.      

    They're just stupid.

    They're paid money to do a job that they're not capable of.

    They call themselves reporters or 'analysts' and they don't know what the hell they're talking about.

    Speaking of stupid, Nouri al-Maliki made like Madonna performing "You Must Love Me."  No, Madonna, we mustn't.  Nouri updated the tune a little, changing it to "You Must Arm Me."  And, no, Nouri, we don't have to arm you.  He was speaking on Constitution Avenue in DC at the US Institute of Peace.  As we've noted for weeks, the Ashraf supporters were going to protest Nouri's visit.  Not psychic, I see them all the time at hearings.  They stated they would be protesting and they protested today.  As when they are at a Congressional hearing, they wore yellow.

    They also carried signs.  Some read "MALIKI IS A MURDERER" and some read "FREE 7 Ashraf Hostages Now."  I would estimate there were 42 protesters.   Let's note the background on the Ashraf community.

    Camp Ashraf in Iraq is now empty.  All remaining members of the community have been moved to Camp Hurriya (also known as Camp Liberty) as of last month.  Camp Ashraf housed a group of Iranian dissidents who were  welcomed to Iraq by Saddam Hussein in 1986 and he gave them Camp Ashraf and six other parcels that they could utilize. In 2003, the US invaded Iraq.The US government had the US military lead negotiations with the residents of Camp Ashraf. The US government wanted the residents to disarm and the US promised protections to the point that US actions turned the residents of Camp Ashraf into protected person under the Geneva Conventions. This is key and demands the US defend the Ashraf community in Iraq from attacks.  The Bully Boy Bush administration grasped that -- they were ignorant of every other law on the books but they grasped that one.  As 2008 drew to a close, the Bush administration was given assurances from the Iraqi government that they would protect the residents. Yet Nouri al-Maliki ordered the camp repeatedly attacked after Barack Obama was sworn in as US President. July 28, 2009 Nouri launched an attack (while then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was on the ground in Iraq). That's the attack Lara Logan reported on.  In a report released this summer entitled "Iraqi government must respect and protect rights of Camp Ashraf residents," Amnesty International described this assault, "Barely a month later, on 28-29 July 2009, Iraqi security forces stormed into the camp; at least nine residents were killed and many more were injured. Thirty-six residents who were detained were allegedly tortured and beaten. They were eventually released on 7 October 2009; by then they were in poor health after going on hunger strike." April 8, 2011, Nouri again ordered an assault on Camp Ashraf (then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was again on the ground in Iraq when the assault took place). Amnesty International described the assault this way, "Earlier this year, on 8 April, Iraqi troops took up positions within the camp using excessive, including lethal, force against residents who tried to resist them. Troops used live ammunition and by the end of the operation some 36 residents, including eight women, were dead and more than 300 others had been wounded. Following international and other protests, the Iraqi government announced that it had appointed a committee to investigate the attack and the killings; however, as on other occasions when the government has announced investigations into allegations of serious human rights violations by its forces, the authorities have yet to disclose the outcome, prompting questions whether any investigation was, in fact, carried out."  Those weren't the last attacks.  They were the last attacks while the residents were labeled as terrorists by the US State Dept.  (September 28, 2012, the designation was changed.)   In spite of this labeling, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observed that "since 2004, the United States has considered the residents of Camp Ashraf 'noncombatants' and 'protected persons' under the Geneva Conventions."  So the US has an obligation to protect the residents.  3,300 are no longer at Camp Ashraf.  They have moved to Camp Hurriyah for the most part.  A tiny number has received asylum in other countries. Approximately 100 were still at Camp Ashraf when it was attacked Sunday.   That was the second attack this year alone.   February 9th of this year, the Ashraf residents were again attacked, this time the ones who had been relocated to Camp Hurriyah.  Trend News Agency counted 10 dead and over one hundred injured.  Prensa Latina reported, " A rain of self-propelled Katyusha missiles hit a provisional camp of Iraqi opposition Mujahedin-e Khalk, an organization Tehran calls terrorists, causing seven fatalities plus 50 wounded, according to an Iraqi official release."  They were attacked again September 1st.   Adam Schreck (AP) reported that the United Nations was able to confirm the deaths of 52 Ashraf residents.

    That attack last month?  In that attack, 7 Ashraf community members were taken by Nouri's forces.  The United Nations has repeatedly called for him to release them.  US Senator Robert Menendez has publicly called for Nouri to release the hostages.   He's insisted he's not holding them.  That's what the signs the protesters today were carrying -- "FREE 7 Ashraf Hostages Now." -- were about.

    Nouri spoke through a translator.  It didn't make him come off any wiser.  In fact, he sounded ignorant not just as he said that he had a right to ask for help, that any country has a right to ask for help, that blah, blah, blah.  The worst part of the speech, the section which was both insulting and stupid, found Nouri declaring that the US needed to learn that al Qaeda is dangerous.

    He should have been booed.  If he'd delivered it in English, that would have resulted in booing.

    Though Nouri appears unaware, on September 11, 2001, and on so many days since, the US learned a lot about al Qaeda.

    In a line that will no doubt be greeted with loud laughter in Iraq, Nouri asserted that he had never, ever, stepped on the Iraqi Constitution.

    Was Nouri serious?

    Has he read the Iraqi Constitution?

    Is there any Article he hasn't broken?

    Article 19?  He's broken it.  "The accused is innocent until proven guilty in a fair legal trial"?  But Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi's trial didn't begin until May 15, 2012 -- yet Baghdad judges declared him guilty on Februrary 16, 2012. That's innocent until proven guilty?  Who knew?

    And how the hell was Tareq put on trial to begin with?

    There was no vote in Parliament -- as required by Article 36 -- to strip Tareq of his immunity so he couldn't be tried for a felony -- he was tried for terrorism, that's a felony.

    Nouri is a damn liar and the press lies and whores for him.  He's broken two-thirds of the Iraqi Constitution, I'm sorry that we don't have the time or space to note it all -- including Article 61 which gives Parliament the right to question the prime minister but since 2010, the Parliament's tried to do that twice but Nouri's refused to show up.  I'm even sorrier that a pathetic and cowed media has looked the other way repeatedly.

    Does the Iraqi Constitution matter at all or is it just a rag for Nouri to wipe his ass with?

    If it matters, it damn well should meant no trail against Tareq al-Hashemi.  If it matters, the crap-ass press should damn well be pointing out today that the kangaroo court overstepped their bounds and that the verdicts against Tareq have no legal standing since the trial violated the Constitution and since the judges violated the Constitution by declaring Tareq guilty -- declaring him guilty in public, at a news conference -- three months prior to the start of his trial.

    Certainly, he's shown no respect for Iraqi's Constitutional right to protest.  Instead he's ordered them arrested, tortured and killed.  But the press can't note that, can they?  As Stephen Gowans (Global Research) points out today, "The Western news media have been virtually silent on Maliki’s cracking down violently on a mostly Sunni and primarily peaceful protest movement, yet fevered and voluble in its coverage of the Syrian insurgency, and was, even in the uprising’s early days."

    Nouri talked weapons and 'plans' and again proposed he host a security conference.  He's never delivered security, how can he lead a conference on it?

    Weapons, weapons, weapons, that and violence is all that Nouri has to offer.  Those aren't answers.  A plan or roadmap was defined by UNAMI earlier this week:

    The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq (SRSG), Mr. Nickolay Mladenov used the opportunity to call on the political leaders of Iraq to address the root causes of division, exclusion and poverty and to build an inclusive society that does not fear, but celebrates ethnic and religious diversity. He spoke of the areas where Iraq has seen notable gains, but also focused on the many challenges that remain. "Today Iraq is riven by constant and worsening violence and the prospect of deepening sectarianism casts a dark shadow over the country" Mladenov noted, adding that the social and security challenges "threaten the very fabric of Iraqi society and test the extent of the nation’s social cohesion". He highlighted that reversing the cycle of violence requires "improving governance in ways that give all citizens equal access to security, justice, employment and essential services".

    The editorial board of The Economist pointed out today, "What Mr Maliki needs more than weapons is the will to compromise with his political opponents, especially Sunnis but also Kurds. In the past year Sunnis have felt more and more excluded and harassed. In addition, the civil strife churning up Syria has spilt across the border into Iraq."  FYI, they're also the only ones in the western press who note the defections in Nouri's forces as so many self-check out. Though not covered by the west, Iraqi soldiers have been self-checking out in huge numbers.  Alsumaria reported Sunday that the Nineveh Command has announced that they are extending the grace period for soldiers to return to November 15th.  The extension is because the deadline of the end of the month is approaching and most who have self-checked out of the military have not returned.  The Economist editorial board also notes:

    Too fearful to conduct patrols in the streets, the security forces have been carrying out raids and mass arrests, further enraging Sunni civilians. “At the moment what fuels the conflict the most is the presence of central-government security forces in Sunni areas, where they arrest young men by the hundreds, torture them and then release them after money is paid,” says a seasoned foreign-aid worker. “You can see al-Qaeda benefiting from the heavy-handed presence of the armed forces,” he adds. Hostility to the government is not only sectarian; it is also the result of the government’s failure to do much for its citizens, says the aid worker. The erratic supply of electricity and the blight of corruption make matters worse.

    Nouri was ridiculous.  The whole event was ridiculous and we may call out the Institute tomorrow or next week -- in particular one person.  Let's note that he also claimed he had reunited Iraqis as Iraqis and dared to speak of "allegiances."  Dared to speak?  Your US outlets haven't told you about Diyala and the little pledge to Iraq Nouri's trying to institute there.  Maybe, like the violence, the US media will tell you about the loyalty pledge Nouri's trying to institute -- after all goes to hell and only increases the violence.

    For now, let's leave the lies of Nouri to note some truth.  Here's former US Ambassador Marc Ginsberg from is Huffington Post column:

    By most accounts Iraq is heading toward an unchecked meltdown, and Maliki would like us to believe he deserves a red carpet welcome as the innocent plaintiff in the upheavals he created, not as the felonious defendant he should be adjudged.
    And to top off his disastrous management of Iraq, he wants Washington to legitimate his charade by endorsing his bid for re-election in Iraq's crucial 2014 elections.

    US President Barack Obama is scheduled to meet  with Iraqi Prime Minister and thug Nouri al-Maliki tomorrow at the White House.  The editorial board of the Guardian notes:

    Much of the current tension is a direct result of what an influential group of US senators called the authoritarian and sectarian style of the Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki. He has all but torn up a political powersharing agreement the Americans negotiated with the Sunnis, and driven many of their number into the arms of al-Qaida. This in turn has led to the remobilisation of Shia militias.

    Fox News (link is text and video) notes the interview KT McFarland did with University of Michigan's Professor Emeritus Raymond Tanter who declares of Nouri, "He's going after his vice president, who is a Sunni, and causing the Sunni-Shiite split within Iraq to exacerbate. So this is a big problem. If President Obama doesn’t crack down on Nouri al-Maliki, it will be Obama who lost Iraq."  Bloomberg News points out, "Given this violence, and the enormous investment the U.S. has made in Iraq’s future, President Barack Obama has to be forceful with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki when they meet at the White House tomorrow: More weapons, as Maliki has asked for, will not help end the slaughter. The imperative is for Maliki, a Shiite, to share power with Iraq’s Sunni minority."

    Today, Nouri met with US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel:

    Readout of Secretary Hagel's Meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki

    Pentagon Press Secretary George Little provided the following readout:
    "Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey met with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his visiting delegation from Iraq earlier today in Washington, D.C. During the hour-long meeting, both leaders reiterated their commitment to the United States and Iraq defense and security relationship.
    "Secretary Hagel and Prime Minister Maliki discussed the political and security situation in Iraq, reviewed regional cooperation activities, and considered ways to strengthen U.S.-Iraq strategic cooperation given the challenges in the region. Secretary Hagel stressed the important role that Iraq has in maintaining regional stability. Prime Minister Maliki thanked Secretary Hagel and Gen. Dempsey for the sacrifices made by U.S. troops in Iraq from 2003 to 2011."

    Nouri's a thug by every standard of the term.  The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom issued an open letter to Barack today:

    On behalf of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), we respectfully urge you to use your upcoming meeting to press Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to do more to protect the human rights of every Iraqi, including the right to religious freedom regardless of religion or sect.
    As you know, over the past year Iraq has experienced the worst sectarian violence since 2008, with the frequency and scope of such violence increasing.  This violence is undermining Iraq’s progress and threatening its people’s safety, particularly the majority Shi’a Muslim population, as well as its smallest religious minority communities, including Christians and Yezidis.  The violence also appears to be spreading into areas of northern Iraq that had been previously safer and had become places of refuge for religious minorities.  Regrettably, the government of Iraq has been unable to stop sectarian attacks from occurring and often lacks the will to investigate attacks and bring perpetrators to justice. This has created a climate of impunity and a perpetual sense of fear for all religious communities, particularly the smallest ones. The actions of Prime Minister al-Maliki’s government have also exacerbated the feelings of exclusion and discontent among the country’s Sunni population through political marginalization and prosecutions of Sunni leaders.  In addition, the dispute between the central government and Kurdish parties over territory in the north has led to human rights abuses, particularly against the smallest minorities in those areas. 
    U.S.-Iraqi cooperation under the Strategic Framework Agreement includes cooperation “to promote Iraq’s efforts in the field of . . .  human rights.”  If Iraq is to become a stable democracy, its government must make greater efforts to ensure that the human rights and religious freedoms of all Iraqis are guaranteed and enforced equally in law and practice, without regard to religion or sect.  In your meeting with Prime Minister al-Maliki, we hope that you will stress to him the vital importance of reducing sectarian tensions in Iraq and protecting freedom of religion.  We also hope that you will press him, and offer U.S. assistance as appropriate, to increase efforts to

    provide security to likely targets of religiously-motivated violence and investigate and prosecute perpetrators consistent with due process of law.  Finally, we hope that you will discuss the need for the protection of minority rights and freedoms in the disputed territories. 
    We hope you agree that discussing the problems of sectarian tensions, violence, and human rights abuses in Iraq with Prime Minister al-Maliki is essential.  Without addressing these concerns, religious freedom in Iraq will continue to erode and the country will not have the peaceful, democratic future that its people deserve and the United States seeks to encourage.   
    Thank you for considering our request.
    To interview a USCIRF Commissioner, please contact Kalinda Stephenson at 202-786-0613 or

    Tomorrow Nouri is scheduled to meet with Barack.   Mike declared of this meet-up:

    We are all sullied by Barack's decision to host Nouri for a visit on Friday.
    None of our hands are clean.
    He has targeted Sunnis, he has gone after the Ashraf community.
    Thug is too polite a term for him.
    He is a criminal, he is a dictator.
    And he's US installed.  Bush insisted on him in 2006 and Barack insisted he get a second term in 2010 despite the fact that Nouri's State of Law lost the election to Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya.
    And The Cult of St. Barack bends over and takes it up the ass in silence while blood pours through Iraqi streets.
    I don't have time for liars or fools.  Do you?
    Nouri should be thrown in a prison for War Criminals not meeting with various US officials.  But then we are War Criminals as well, aren't we?  A nation that stayed silent while Nouri's Ministry of the Interior sent people into schools to tell young kids that they should kill and stone Emo youth and gays because both were of the devil.
    That happened under Barack.
    Can you imagine how much outrage there would have been if Bush had still been in office when that happened?

    He wants the US to 'bless' him on a third term.  That's because he's never been Iraq's choice.  Originally imposed on Iraq as prime minister by Bully Boy Bush, he got his second term not from voters or Parliament but from Barack who ordered US officials in Iraq to broker The Erbil Agreement -- going around the vote and the Iraqi Constitution -- to give Nouri a second term.  Ann put it a little more lively at her site, "Violence had declined significantly in Iraq.  Nouri refused to allow the Sunnis to participate in the government.  He repeatedly targeted them and he destroyed whatever fragile gains had taken place. And Barack backed him up.  Barack practically sucked Nouri's cock in 2010 -- as he used the full resources of the US government to give Nouri a second term as prime minister after Iraqis had said no to that at the ballot box."

    Nouri doesn't need a third term.  He's been prime minister since 2006.  Elaine observed last night:

    People better start paying attention in this country.  Nouri is Pinochet.  Back in the day, on the left, we called out despots.  Today the faux left represented by pissing her panties Katrina vanden Heuvel stay silent to protect their titty baby Barack Obama.
    Millions suffer in Iraq so that little whiney asses won't have to call out The Golden Calf.

    As Marcia pointed out, "Nouri's no better than Saddam.  Prime Minister isn't a post for life.  His ass needs to be gone."  The US government was appalled at the thought of Ibrahim al-Jafaari getting a second term (in 2006, he was Parliament's choice) but Nouri may get a third term?

    He's done nothing but incite violence.  He's been prime minister since spring 2006 and he's accomplished nothing to improve the lives of the Iraqi people.  Today on Here and Now (NPR -- link is audio and text), Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson spoke with the BBC's Hadya al-Alawi.

    Hadya al-Alawi: I mean, how can I explain that life there is terrible? There is no electricity, and it's boiling hot in Iraq at this time. There is no water. The basic, main services are not provided in the country. I mean, security is very important. How can you go out about your daily life without knowing that you can come back, actually, to your kids at night? Or how can you go to work thinking I'm going to die today in an explosion, for example?

    Peter Feaver (Foreign Policy) offers, "Maliki's visit forces the administration to talk about Iraq in a way that it has been reluctant to do for a while. The bad news elsewhere gives the administration an added incentive. Perhaps this week we will see a convincing explanation for why business as usual is the best approach in Iraq. Or perhaps we will see the administration make a change, and make a case for that change."

    Yesterday Nouri met with US Vice President Joe Biden and the White House issued this after the two-hour meeting:

    Readout of Vice President Biden's Meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki

    This morning, Vice President Biden hosted Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his delegation for breakfast at the Naval Observatory.  The Vice President and Prime Minister had a friendly, constructive exchange.  They spoke about the security challenges facing Iraq and the entire region.  Vice President Biden reiterated the U.S. commitment to equip Iraqis to fight Al Qaeda, and Prime Minister Maliki made clear that he views the United States as Iraq’s security partner of choice.  The two leaders discussed the importance of taking a comprehensive approach to Iraq’s security challenges, to include political outreach to local leaders, as well as targeted security efforts.  They also discussed regional issues and agreed to work to continue the progress Iraq has made in strengthening its relations with Kuwait, Jordan, Turkey, and other states in the region.

    Violence is all over Iraq today.  National Iraqi News Agency reports an armed attack on a Baiji checkpoint left 2 Sahwa dead (a third injured), a Tuz Khormato suicide bomber and a car bombing leaving "39 people killed and wounded," a Baquba bombing has left ten people injured, a Muqdadiya bombing claimed 3 lives and left seven people injured, 1 person was shot dead in Mosul, 1 farmer was shot dead in Muqdadiya, and a Mosul bombing claimed the lives of 6 people ("including four policemen") and left three people injured.  Iraq Body Count notes October's number of violent deaths, through yesterday, stands at 1,056.

    We may grab Jay Carney's nonsense tomorrow. We may grab Jane Arraff's lunatic whoring for Nouri at some point -- or maybe we'll just go point by point over it at Third.  She's not reporting and she's mangling and altering facts.  At this point, she'll do anything in Nouri's good graces. Erin Banco (Huffington Post) has an important report on Iraqi refugees.  Andrew Gavin Marshall (Dissident Voice) offers a serious look at counter-insurgency.  If not by next week, the week after we'll work in the counter-insurgency report.

    Now we'll note that 40 years ago (there's an anniversary DVD), The Exorcist was released.  Gilbert Cruz (The Vulture) notes:

    The Exorcist is a classic. Not a horror classic, just a straight-up classic. And as a result, everyone knows the same pieces of trivia about its production (director William Friedkin would sometimes shoot off blanks on set to keep everyone on edge, he violently slapped one priest-actor in order to get a more emotionally raw performance, Regan’s vomit was made of pea soup and oatmeal) and reception. But there are so many more wonderful anecdotes about that film and its four sequels (or rather, two sequels and two prequels) to be had. 
    [. . .]
    The film's prologue, set in Iraq, was actually shot there in 1972/3. The U.S. had no diplomatic relations with the country, and so Friedkin had to take a British crew to work on scenes with actor Max von Sydow. The Iraqi government agreed to the shoot under three circumstances: (1) Friedkin & Co. had to train local Iraqis in film techniques, (2) they had to teach local Iraqis how to make movie blood, and (3) Friedkin had to donate a print of his Oscar-winning film The French Connection.

    CNN notes:

    The book and the movie open during an archaeological dig in Iraq. Friedkin recalled shooting in Mosul.
    “It was very rare to be given permission to film in Iraq,” said the director, “let along to film on an archaeological dig. Iraq, at that time, was not run by Saddam Hussein, but it was governed by the Ba’athist Party, which is Saddam Hussein’s party. They allowed us to come over here and film on the condition that I would use Iraqi people on the crew and train them in film techniques; and, strangely, that we would show them how to make film blood.”
    The Iraq sequence introduces the exorcist himself, Father Lankester Merrin (Max von Sydow), who is also an archaeologist. The Jesuit priest comes to the realization that he will again fight a demon he has battled in the past.
    Friedkin recalled shooting in the northern Iraq desert.
    “It would often be 130 degrees by 10:30 in the morning,” he said in a commentary on the film’s Blu-ray, “and we’d have to stop shooting and then go into our tents until 7:00 at night when we then had four more hours of daylight in which we could film.”
    The film's based on William Peter Blatty's book and he wrote the screenplay winning an Academy Award for that writing.  Other Academy Award nominations for the film:  Blatty and Noel Marshall would garner a Best Picture nomination, William Friedkin was nominated for Best Director, Linda Blair for Best Supporting Actress, Jason Miller for Best Supporting Actor, Owen Roizman for Best Cinematographer, Norman Gay for Best Film Editing, Bill Malley and Jerry Wunderlich for Best Production Design, Robert Knudson and Chris Newman for Best Sound Mixing (they won the award in this category) and Ellen Burstyn for Best Actress.  Friedkin had won the Best Director award previously for 1971's The French Connection.   Ellen had been nominated for Best Supporting Actress for 1971's The Last Picture Show.  The Exorcist was her first Best Actress nomination, the first of five (so far) and she won the following year for her performance in Martin Scorsese's Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore.  Ellen wasn't the first choice for the role of the mother of the child possessed in The Exorcist.  Writer and producer Blatty had his friend Shirley MacLaine in mind as far back as when he wrote the novel.  She turned it down (she was more focused on the McGovern campaign).  Jane Fonda also turned down the role saying she didn't believe in magic (she was also focused on the McGovern campaign as well as ending the war in Vietnam at that time).  The film has gone on to become a horror classic.  Many in the US viewed it or will view it today because it's Halloween which gives us a chance to note both Iraq's historical importance to that film and to note Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "It's The Great Bumpkin, Barry O" went up this evening and his "Accountability" went up earlier today. 

    Yesterday, the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee held a hearing on pending legislation.  We covered it in the "Iraq snapshot" yesterday, Kat covered it in "A very bad Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing," Wally in "Disappointing Chair Bernie Sanders (Wally)" and Ava in "The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee is not cutting it."  We noted Senator Bill Nelson's S.1296 bill.  These are Disabled American Veterans' Adrian Atizado's prepared remarks on that bill:

    This measure would amend Section 1635 “Wounded Warrior” and veterans provisions in the fiscal year 2008 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), to create a specific timeline and deadlines for a joint electronic health record to be implemented. This timeline would require, among other things, the Department of Defense (DOD) and VA to agree on and create standardized forms for data capture within 180 days of enactment. They would have one year to attain seamless integration and sharing of information and data downloading using the Blue Button Initiative.

    The bill also would require the agencies to consider storage of patient data in a secure, remote, network-accessible computer storage system or a cloud storage system.  This type of storage system would allow service members and veterans to upload their own information and allow their providers to have the ability to see the records at any time. The cloud storage system would increase interoperability and allow the patient to more easily share their information with their medical provider.

    The development of an integrated DOD-VA electronic health record (EHR) has been beset with problems for years.  Efforts to create a joint DOD/VA EHR scheduled to become operational in 2017 came to a halt in February 2013.  The new plan includes both Departments to pursue separate systems and gain interoperability using existing commercial software.

    The plan also assumes that in the summer of 2013, both Departments were to have launched pilot programs on the common interface at seven joint rehabilitation centers nationwide, initially, and eventually to nine sites, overall.  All of the facilities were scheduled to exchange data that is computable and interoperable by the end of July.

    Criticism of this decision resulted in an amendment to the House passed 2014 NDAA to increase oversight of the integrated electronic health record (iEHR).  Notably, Section 734 of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2014 would require DOD and VA to give appropriate congressional committees a plan on an iEHR by January 31, 2014.  This plan would include program objectives, organization, responsibilities of the departments, technical system requirements, milestones (including a schedule for industry competitions), system standards the program will use, metrics to assess the program's effectiveness, and funding levels needed for fiscal years 2014 to 2017 in order to execute the plan.  It would also limit funding for development of an iEHR until the Government Accountability Office confirms the proposed system to be deployed by October 1, 2016, meets stated requirements.

    We note that despite strong and consistent Congressional mandates and oversight over those years, efforts by both Departments remain fragmented and have proceeded at a glacial pace.  As part of The Independent Budget, DAV remains firm that the DOD and VA must complete an electronic medical record process that is fully computable, interoperable, and that allows for two-way, real-time electronic exchange of health information and occupational and environmental exposure data for transitioning veterans. Effective record exchange could increase health care sharing between agencies and providers, laboratories, pharmacies, and patients; help patients transition between health care settings; reduce duplicative and unnecessary testing; improve patient safety by reducing medical errors; and increase our understanding of the clinical, safety, quality, financial, and organizational value of health IT.

     DAV believes the intent of S. 1296 is laudable; however, we ask the Committee ensure the measure is consistent with the pertinent provisions in the 2014 NDAA awaiting consideration by the Senate.  Moreover, we urge the Committee to consider the current capabilities of the Interagency Program Office (IPO), which would likely be responsible for meeting the requirements contained in S. 1296.  The IPO was established by Congress in Section 1635 of Public Law 110-181, the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act as the office accountable for developing and implementing the health information sharing capabilities for DOD and VA.  Staffing challenges within the IPO have been an issue. As of January 2013, the IPO was staffed at about 62 percent of the 236 employees assigned by both departments, according to a February 2013 Government Accountability Office report, which also noted hiring additional staff is one of the biggest challenges.

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