Saturday, January 11, 2014

Elementary, Dracula and other things

I watched Elementary Thursday on CBS and liked it.

I can remember that much.

That's about it.

I've got the crud.  Is it a cold, is it the flu?

Don't feel bad for me.  C.I. got it from my daughter so it's only fitting that I get it.

I don't know how she's written this week.

I slept Thursday basically until Elementary came on.  I watched it.  I remember a minor character -- an African-American detective -- manuevering his way on to the team.

But I watched and my plan was to write after I watched.

An hour or so later, Elaine asked me if I was done yet?

I hadn't written a word.

I told her to give me a half hour and I'd be done.

She reminded me 30 minutes later and I still hadn't written.

I just couldn't.

I'd stare at the screen and think about it and think I was about to write only to end up forgetting what I was thinking.

That C.I. managed to do snapshots during all this is amazing to me.

I don't have the lack of warmth that she had.  There were times when she couldn't stop shaking, she was that cold.  I don't have that.  I actually think I'm almost over it.

But it's been awful.

I might be able to write about Dracula.  I watched that tonight on NBC.  I usually do watch it.

Okay, so on the latest Dracula, there are new vampires in London, we are told.  We see a devious looking man and an African-American hooker step into the shadows.  She's the vampire, it turns out.  But Lady Jane stops her.  Lady Jane interrogates her but the vampire kills herself to avoid giving Lady Jane the name she wants (Dracula).

Mina tells her father that she'll marry Jonathan but will always have some feeling for Alexander Grayson (Dracula).  She ends up attacked by hoods of Lord Davenport.  They knock her out and then threaten her with acid.  She's barely awake as Dracula shows up and rips the hoods to pieces.

Jonathan goes after Lord Davenport who tells him Grayson is tricking him and doing so to get Mina.  He shows the painting Grayson bought but Davenport stole however when he reaches to pull the cloth off the painting Jonathan shoots him dead.

Then Jonathan sees the paintings.  Two.  It looks like Mina.  (It's Dracula's dead wife.)

Lady Jane has cornered several vampires.  The last one offers that the leader can now walk in the light.  (Van Helsing's medical 'treatment' allows Dracula to be in sunlight for four hours.)  And let's her know it's Dracula that has come to London.

She is beyond words but, upon returning home, is surprised to find Jonathan and surprised to find he wants to resume their affair. WRONG! ADDING CORRECTION: It wasn't Lady Jane as I wrongly wrote, it was Lucy that Jonathan went after.  I just noted that in the post tonight.

While that takes place, Dracula stays at Mina's bedside.

I really do like the show Dracula.

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

Friday, January 10, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Nouri's assault on Anbar continues, rumors of a secret deal surface, Nouri gets more rewards from the White House, Dan Murphy embarrasses himself (again), and more.

One of the points of Nouri's assault on Anbar was to end the ongoing protests in Iraq -- protests against his government -- protests which have lasted over a year.

How'd that work out for al-Maliki?

الجمعة الموحدة في مدينة سامراء: .

That's Samarra.

You may remember Samarra especially due to AP falsely reporting December 30th that the protests had withered away in Samara.  False then, false today.

Brave Iraqis also turned out in Ramadi and Jalawla.

And fearful, scared Nouri resorted to collective punishment again today.   Iraqi Spring MC reports Nouri al-Maliki's air force bombed residential areas in Ramadi today, denied humanitarian aid to Falluja, killed a child named Taha Ayoub Aelchortani and left two more injured with his bombings, bombed homes in Falluja, Ramadi's hospital has received 200 dead or wounded from Nouri's bombings and Falluja has received 150 dead or wounded.  Omar al-Jaffal (Al-Monitor) reports:

Meanwhile, the head of the tribal council in Anbar, Abdul Rahman al-Zobaie from Ramadi, told Al-Monitor, “The army ought to stop the indiscriminate shelling of civilian houses.” He noted, “This has killed and injured hundreds of civilians and destroyed a large number of houses. The government of Anbar ought to expedite measures to meet the needs of the affected families.” 
Zobaie said, “Local police forces are deployed at the entrance of the city, and checkpoints have been established in all areas in Fallujah, [and are] working on protecting the governmental institutions with the support of the tribes. There are no members affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham [ISIS] as propagated by some politicians and the government of Anbar.” 
He added, “The government of Fallujah, with all its tribal sheikhs and dignitaries, are demanding that the central government and the armed forces stop the indiscriminate shelling of residential areas and withdraw the armed forces, as the [local] police are the only party responsible for managing the crisis.”

AFP notes, "The United Nations and NGOs have said that civilians lack access to essential supplies such as food and fuel as a result of a government blockade, while Human Rights Watch has condemned rights abuses by all sides during the crisis." And there's still little clarity for the western press regarding who's in Falluja with guns.   Isabel Coles (Reuters) reports, "Iraqis fleeing from Falluja question whether the masked gunmen who overran their city 10 days ago are really al Qaeda-linked militants as the government says, but fear their presence will draw a ferocious response from the army regardless."  Mushreq Abbas (Al-Monitor) explains:

Neutral sources in the city confirmed to Al-Monitor that four armed groups are deployed inside the city and on its outskirts:
  • Tribal gunmen: This group of fighters is led by former army officers belonging to the main Dulaim tribes — among them the al-Bou Nimr, al-Farraj, al-Bou Issa and al-Fallaha — besides gunmen from the al-Jamilat, al-Jabour and al-Janabat clans. They have been organizing under the banner of the Tribal Revolutionaries. It is believed that Sheikh Ali al-Hatem al-Salman is personally leading them. Their political and religious reference is the Tribal Revolutionaries’ Council, which is likely led by the Salafist cleric Abu Abdullah al-Janabi.
  • Assorted armed groups: These had fought against US forces and later either disbanded, reduced their activity or joined the Sahwa or Iraqi security forces. They include Hamas-Iraq, Kataeb al-Thawrat al-Ishrin, Jamaat al-Naqshbandi, Jaish al-Mujahidin and Baathist outfits. These groups have Brotherhood and Salafist leaders inside and outside Iraq and coordinate with the Anbar Revolutionaries’ Council.
  • Salafi jihadist organizations: These groups follow al-Qaeda but are not part of ISIS, having split from it after its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, rebelled against the global al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri. The most prominent of these groups is Jaish Ansar al-Sunna.
  • ISIS: Part of the ISIS contingent came to Fallujah from Ramadi, as noted above, after battles there against Sahwa forces. From there, they journeyed to Fallujah and were joined by local ISIS members as well as fighters from Abu Ghraib and other Baghdad environs.
The picture on the ground is made complex by overlapping forces. No one can say for sure whether there is coordination among these various groups. The most credible information indicates that the Tribal Revolutionaries is the largest, with thousands of fighters affiliated with tribal leaders and clerics, and is native to Fallujah. Meanwhile, outside Fallujah, besides Iraqi Army forces stationed east and north of the city, government Swat police forces have been deployed south and west of it connected to Ramadi. Tribal Sahwa forces are present in the areas of the Swat and army contingents, but are less influential in Fallujah compared to in other cities in Anbar.

Mustafa Habib (Niqash) reports rumors of secret developments:

A secret deal was done between the tribes of Anbar and Sunni Muslim extremists this week – the result has seen extremists withdraw from Fallujah. But questions remain: Will PM Nouri al-Maliki still react with military force? How did Al Qaeda manage to take over a city like Fallujah in just two days? And why did they react so diplomatically when asked to leave?

Sources from within the tribes in the city of Fallujah in Anbar province say that on Tuesday evening, a secret deal was done by the tribes of Anbar and members of the extremist group, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Sources told NIQASH that the extremist group, also known as ISIS or Daash, said they would withdraw from the city so that the Iraqi army did not invade.  

For several days now Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has been threatening to send his troops into Fallujah to re-take the city; as Iraqi army troops massed on the outskirts of the city he even put out a call to locals to expel the extremist elements themselves - or face an attack by the Iraqi military.
The deal, done in the central city, was reached in order to prevent any further damage to the city. The city is mostly home to members of Sunni Muslim tribes who tend to be conservative when it comes to religion and to tribal customs. And despite their antipathy toward al-Maliki’s government –a Shiite Muslim-led coalition that Sunni Muslims say has alternately sidelined and targeted them – locals apparently do not want to see a repeat of 2004, when the US army stormed the city after the gruesome deaths of four contractors there. 

Although it is unusual for ISIS to react in what may best be described as a diplomatic way, they apparently ad good reason.
“Only several dozen Daash fighters actually entered the city in the first place,” says Ahmad al-Jumaili, one of the tribal leaders in Anbar. “They were only carrying light and medium sized weapons with them. And there is no way they could control a city like Fallujah where all the people of the city have at least one weapon in their homes.”

AFP's Prashant Rao Tweeted the following today:

  • Deadly standoff over major Iraq cities enters second week - :

  • At the Guardian and at BRussells Tribunal, Ross Caputi explains:

    This week, the Iraqi Ministry of Interior's assertion that al-Qaida's affiliate, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, has taken over half of Falluja is being parroted in headlines by almost every major media network. But again, it appears that the role of al-Qaida in Falluja is being exaggerated and used as a justification for a military assault on the city.
    The violence began just over a week ago, when Iraqi security forces disbursed a protest camp in Falluja and arrested a politician who had been friendly to the protestors' goals. This camp was part of a non-violent protest movement – which took place mostly in Sunni cities, but was also receiving some support from the Shia community – that began a year ago. Iraqi security forces have attacked protestors in Falluja and other Sunni cities on several occasions, the most egregious example taking place in Hawija, when over 50 protestors were killed

    While some deal with reality, some struggle with themselves.

    In the church they light the candles
    And the wax rolls down like tears
    There's the hope and the hopelessness
    I've witnessed thirty years
    -- "Hejira," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on her album Hejira

    Case in point, Dan Murphy.  Light those candles, Danny, cause the tears they are a coming.

    Today, the Christian Science Monitor reporter Tweeted.

  • I took on a little of the partisan finger pointing in Iraq and the myth of how great things were post surge.

  • Well that's good, Dan, it's good to know you were objective or tried to be and --  Oh, he wasn't done Tweeting.

  • I wrote today if you're listening to people saying Obama "lost" Iraq well, you're listening to the wrong people.

  • Both Tweets take you to the same article by Dan, "The myth of Iraq's squandered stability."  I'm sorry is this a defense of Obama -- something Dan's already written many times over -- or a look at partisan finger pointing?

    Well it is a defense of Barack written by a devote schoolboy -- it's a bunch of crap.

    He should be ashamed of himself, he's immature brat. He's such a little brat and he can't even get his figures right.  He builds his article around 2008 and Petraeus.  That's when, according to Dan, everything went wrong.  Apparently, Iraq's been on a very slow simmer, with a tilted lid, for the last years and it only now boiled over.

    Dan took one for Barack today.  He's really hoping this did the trick and Barack will ask him to senior prom because Dan's got his eye on a purple formal.

    Like I always say, if you're going to be a bitch, don't be a dumb one.  Poor dumb bitch Dan also Tweets:

  • could have somehow seen to it that Allawi was PM after the election. Nonsense. We had no leverage beyond reoccupying.
    That's beyond ignorant.  And 2010 is the starting date -- it's what his article ignores but what a Tweet tosses onto his face.  There were many things that have been done when Nouri's State of Law lost to Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya in the March 2010 elections.  The White House could have pulled their support of Nouri at any point during the eight months when he refused to step down as prime minister.  They could have allowed the France sponsored position of a UN-caretaker government replacing Nouri, they could have done so much.
    Dan can't grasp that because all he ever grasps is his penis which he identifies with a gun and that with the military which is why he wrote his repulsive and ignorant piece today.  Next time, Dan, just excuse yourself, go off in the men's room, beat off, then come back.  Don't type while all your bloods flowing below your navel.
  • He's such a stupid idiot and fate has a way of ensuring the stupid look really stupid.

    If Dan's weighing in on Iraq today, who would be the counterweight?  That's right Ned Parker, an actual journalist.

    At the Los Angeles Times, Ned repeatedly broke stories of Nouri's human rights abuses and secret prisons.  The Christian Science Monitor still can't write about that, not even in retrospect.

    "Who Lost Iraq?" is the title of Ned Parker's Politico essay.  Remember Dan Murphy's first Tweet?  Pretending he was going to step out of partisanship?  Ned Parker actually does that and refuses to play cheerleader for either the Democrats or the Republicans.

    Here's three early paragraph of the articles, Dan Murphy can study and hopefully learn from them:

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

    With the exception of naming Joe, you can find that over and over here in the last years.

    We've covered it, we've covered The Erbil Agreement.  Dan Murphy can't find either with his one free hand.

    He also can't find the failure that is Chris Hill.  Chris Hill was not qualified to be the US Ambassador to Iraq and he did more to screw than anyone.  Thing is though?  That was obvious at his confirmation hearing and we noted it then.  He had no understanding of Iraq.  He was a joke.  And he only got worse once he was confirmed.  He was so bad he barely lasted a year and, for the record, when a president nominates someone to be an ambassador, they're not assuming they're going to have to keep coming back -- over and over -- in the same term to nominate others for the same position.

    Hill was a failure.

    You can be an idiot like Dan Murphy or you can start looking at what took place.

    The US government installed Nouri as prime minister under Bully Boy Bush (2006) and they demanded under Barack (2010) that the despot get a second term.

    That's too complicated for Dan Murphy so he goes to 2008 -- the last year Bully Boy Bush occupied the White House, pretend not to notice -- and tries to pretend like that's what led up to everything.

    No, this is about democracy, this is about elections, this is about circumventing a Constitution.

    In fact, this is about Dan Damn Murphy.

    I have no problem calling out Bully Boy Bush and the archives make quite clear that, when he occupied the White House, I called him out over and over and over.  Barack Obama has been President of the United States since January 2009.  I don't have a problem calling him out.

    Dan Murphy does which is why he goes to 2008 to explain today's failures (when Bully Boy Bush occupied the White House) and acts as though the last five years don't make a difference.

    And it's that same blindness over the last five years that allowed Nouri to grab more power and to destroy more lives.

    Dan Murphy's supposed to be a reporter.  Looking at Nouri's assault on Anbar today, he's unable to make one pertinent observation in a piece he Tweeted about twice.

    He also insists, in Tweets, that the US has or had no leverage.

    Excuse me, what's Nouri's stomping his feet for right now?

    That's right F-16s.  That's leverage the US has.  They have a lot of other leverage as well.  But for simple minds like Dan Murphy the only way to have leverage is to have 'boots on the ground.'  His limited vision goes to why his 'reporting' so often sucks.  He injects his opinions into the reporting and he's not a very thoughtful or analytical person.

    Now if you're not getting how insane Nouri is, please note that in the midst of all this week's events, he wasn't content to leave other things alone.  AFP reports, "Baghdad: Iraq’s oil ministry sharply criticised the autonomous Kurdish region on Friday for its move to sell oil independently, saying it was a violation of the constitution and amounts to smuggling."  It's one fight after another, Nouri's always picking fights.

    And the US government always caters to him.  Even if Dan Murphy won't face that fact.  Barbara Starr (CNN) reports, "The Pentagon is considering a proposal to train Iraqi forces in counterterrorism operations, a senior U.S. defense official tells CNN. It would be the U.S. military's most significant involvement with Iraq since U.S. troops withdrew from that country two years ago."  Julian E. Barnes (Wall St. Journal) adds, "The commando training likely would take place in Jordan and wouldn't require American troops to enter Iraq, a move opposed by the Obama administration and its toughest critics in Congress."

    Tuesday's snapshot noted this from Human Rights First:

    Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First today praised the Obama Administration for supporting the repeal of the Iraq Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) that led to the war in Iraq after 9/11. The support for the repeal came in an announcement made by National Security spokesperson Caitlin Hayden.
    “While the move is mostly symbolic because the United States is not in an armed conflict in Iraq, it signals the reluctance of the administration to leave endless war authority on the books,” said Human Rights First’s Michael Quigley.
    The administration’s call for repeal of the Iraq AUMF comes amid an uptick in violence in Iraq, and serves as a reminder that the most effective responses to extremist violence will rarely require the status of war, and counterterrorism efforts may even be hindered by a war footing. The administration’s statement also precedes a likely in debate in Congress on the status of the Afghanistan AUMF as the Obama Administration ends combat operations in the country later this year.  At the National Defense University last May, President Obama said he would work with Congress to revise or repeal the Afghanistan AUMF.
    Most Americans are reluctant with good reason to extend the war to dozens of countries simply on the grounds of an al Qaeda-affiliated presence,” Quigley said.  “The debate this year should focus on strategic counterterrorism measures that assure U.S. security with resort to war only as a last step.”

    For more information or to speak with Quigley, contact Corinne Duffy at or 202-370-3319.

    Today Senator Kirsten Gillibrand Tweeted:

  • Co-sponsoring 's bill to , to end authority for war and prevent more troops being sent there.

  • Thursday, January 09, 2014

    Barack wants to arm a thug

    Eamonn McCann (Belfast Telegraph) has a really great analysis of what's going on in Iraq currently:

    News reports have told that Fallujah has "completely fallen" to the Islamist fighters. Photographs have appeared of heavily armed insurgents celebrating.
    The Iraqi army was poised to retake the city, said Maliki. But people would be "spared" if they drove the terrorists out themselves. He asked Sunni tribes to help.
    Sunni fighters had already taken to the streets, the BBC reported, not to help expel the Islamists, but to resist any assault by Maliki's forces.
    For many of Fallujah's mainly Sunni residents, said BBC Arabic correspondent Ahmed Maher, the Iraqi army was not a national force striving to protect the people, but the sectarian army of a Shia-dominated government.

    Nouri's a liar and a loser.

    He's probably saying the people need to drive the 'terrorists' out so that he can blame them for his failure to drive anyone out.

    Nouri's a hood.

    I can't believe the reports that the House Foreign Affairs Committee is prepared to arm Nouri with more weapons and that only Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey is now holding out.

    Good for Menendez but I can't believe the others.

    Nouri is a thug who has terrorized the people.  This is documented repeatedly.

    And we're going to give him more weapons to attack the Iraqi people with?

    It's outrageous.

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

    Wednesday, January 8, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Barack wants to send Nouri more weapons, supposedly the House Foreign Affairs Committee has caved on the issue, the assault on Anbar continues, as does the assault on Iraqi journalists, and more.

    We start with Bob Somerby because we grab our entry points where we can.  We last addressed him in the January 3rd snapshot.  He knows nothing about journalism.  He reveals that only more so today:

    There was a time when “television personalities” like Gutfeld weren’t allowed on television. We the people got our news from two people—David and Walter.
    Neither man was crazy or stupid or weirdly dishonest. They limited the dumbness to which we were all exposed.
    They didn’t give us mounds of fake facts. For the most part, they didn’t invent ridiculous topics, then invent bogus facts about them.
    But uh-oh! At some point, someone let Imus get on the air. After that, somebody hired Howard Stern.

    We the people got our news from two people -- David and Walter?  Well, We The People had three networks -- four when the DuMont Network was around.  Walter is Walter Cronkite who began anchoring what is now the CBS Evening News in 1962, so let's use that as Bob Somerby's starting point for history.  At that time, "David," David Brinkley was the co-anchor of NBC's The Huntley-Brinkley Report (now NBC Nightly News) and right there you got a problem with Bob's 'analaysis' -- even before you get to ABC (in 1962, the evening news anchor was Ron Cochran), you've got more than two people since "David" and "Chet" were two people on one program.

    What "mounds of fake facts" are Diane Sawyer, Scott Pelley and Brian Williams (not to mention PBS' The NewsHour's Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff) serving up?

    They miss important stories all the time -- some times by accident, sometimes by intent.  Walter Cronkite, for example, didn't report on East Timor or, take another example, one Ava and I made in 2006:

    Much is made of the fact that The New York Times killed their own story on the impending Bay of Pigs invasion. The Nation did report it. Where was broadcast news? As with the case of most stories over the years, no where to be found. That was in the glory period where profits and advertising dictated content far less than they would come to do. So the commentators would be wise to surrender the notion of a golden age.

    I'm not arguing anyone is above criticism.  I am saying making your criticism accurate.  It is inaccurate to claim we had honesty on TV thanks to Walter or David.  Much was ignored, much was covered up.  The same continues today only more so because the networks -- even PBS -- no longer are willing to spend the money required for investigative journalism.

    News, like scripted programming, costs money to produce.

    So TV (and radio before) has long thrived on cheap staples: game shows, soap operas and talk shows.  Soap operas were as good as dead when Susan Lucci used Days of Our Lives in 1979 to up her All My Children salary.  Everyone then followed suit.  And the shows were more costly as a result.  Equally true the cast size expanded because you need more characters to fill out an hour long show than a 15 minute one. Ratings were dropping but it was the cost that has all but killed daytime soaps.  (I think they'll make a comeback, these things go in cycles.) The staples weren't just cheap, they paid for the expenses elsewhere on the network -- including the news costs.

    Let's return to a moment of Somerby's long whine:

    There was a time when “television personalities” like Gutfeld weren’t allowed on television. We the people got our news from two people—David and Walter. 
    Neither man was crazy or stupid or weirdly dishonest. They limited the dumbness to which we were all exposed.
    They didn’t give us mounds of fake facts. For the most part, they didn’t invent ridiculous topics, then invent bogus facts about them.
    But uh-oh! At some point, someone let Imus get on the air. After that, somebody hired Howard Stern.

    When did Don Imus host the evening news?  Or Howard Stern?

    They didn't.

    Somerby doesn't know what the hell he's talking about as usual.

    Walter and David were anchors of evening news programs.

    Somerby's so stupid he doesn't understand that MSNBC is a talk show network.  It's  Virginia Graham, it is Mike Douglas, it is Merv Griffin, it is Dinah Shore, it is Della Reese, it is Ricki Lake, it is Montel Williams, it is Ellen, it is Queen Latifah, it is Wendy Williams.

    Johnny Carson may have been on TV, may have done an on air attack on Jim Garrison, may have done interviews but he wasn't a reporter, he was a talk show host.

    More than anyone, TV talk shows were Phil Donahue.  Last month, he was a guest on NPR's On Being with Krista Tippett (link is audio and transcript).  Phil spoke of many of the firsts he accomplished with his talk show and I think most of us would see this as an advance and agree Donahue is the most ground breaking TV talk show host to this day.

    By conflating reporting and journalism with cheaply made TV talk shows, Bob laments the decay of journalism.  But TV talk shows weren't mistaken for news in the 70s and shouldn't be mistaken today.

    Donahue did an amazing talk show and I will praise it.  I will even allow that it made news.  But it was a talk show, it was not reporting.  Do not confuse the two.

    Somerby wants to know when it all went wrong?  Maybe when his brain was no longer able to grasp the difference between reporting and chat shows?

    But 1967 is when Donahue's show started.  1969 is when Wally George launched his hate-speech career via his first radio show. 1968 is when Don Imus got his first radio gig.


    Where TV spills over from.  Where the original programming models were developed. People with a real sense of history -- that excludes Bob Somerby -- are well aware of Father Charles Coughlin who used his popular radio program first to promote FDR, then to denounce him, then to denounce him and the Jewish people, then to denounce him and the Jewish people while praising Hitler . . .  He attacked Communists and Socialists and many more and his program reached an audience ten times as big as Rachel Maddow's highest broadcast.  No one confused him with a news anchor -- except maybe Bob Somerby.

    His nonsense is really insulting, confusing TV talk show hosts with reporters, at a time when so many reporters around the world are being killed. The close of 2013 saw many updates on the continued violence around the world but, as Dirk Adriaensens "2013: Another year of slaughter in Iraq claims the lives of at least 21 media professionals" (BRussells Tribunal) points out, as bad as it seemed it is actually far deadlier for journalists in Iraq than was previously known:

    In Iraq, at least 404 media professionals have been killed since the US invasion in 2003, among them 374 Iraqis, according to The BRussells Tribunal statistics. The impunity in Iraq is far worse than anywhere else in the world.

    Dr. Yasser Salihee (here with his wife Dr. Raghad Wazzan) gave up his job at Yarmouk Hospital to become a journalist.

    In memory of Dr Yasser Salihee, an Iraqi special correspondent for the news agency Knight Ridder, killed on 24 June 2005 by a single bullet of an American sniper as he approached a checkpoint that had been thrown up near his home in western Baghdad by US and Iraqi troops. Since May 2005, Dr. Salihee had been reporting on the similarities between the death squads used in El Salvador to obliterate their “insurgency” and the US military’s creation of the “Wolf Brigade” that had been unleashed to eliminate the Iraqi Resistance. Salihee had been gathering evidence that US-backed Iraqi Ministry of Interior forces had been carrying out extra-judicial killings. We believe that he was assassinated because he came too close to the truth. There is serious doubt that the shooting was “an accident”. Nevertheless, the Committee for The ‘Protection’ of Journalists (CPJ) has thrown Dr Yasser Salihee in the dungeons of history.  He doesn't figure in any of their death lists.  

    While Reporters Without Borders lists 11 Iraqi journalists killed in 2013 and the Committee for the Protection of Journalists lists 12, BRussells Tribunal reveals the actual number is at least 21.
    These murders take place, as Dirk Adriaensens vividly explains, in a lawless nation where killing a journalist matters so little that investigations aren't even launched.
    The Iraqi press sees this and knows this and yet still shows more bravery in reporting than western outlets in Iraq do. Nouri has provided no protection to journalists.  Instead, his forces have attacked and terrorized journalists.  Played a 'joke' of pointing a gun at a New York Times correspondent, kidnapped and beaten journalists who covered the February 2011 protests.  In 2006, his first moves as prime minister was to attack reporters.  He tried to arrest them for covering the violence.  He was humored by the world then and he's been humored ever since.
    As a result, each year is deadlier for journalists in Iraq.
          3 January 2014 – The head of the United Nations agency tasked with defending press freedom, expressed alarm today at the recent killing of six media workers in two separate incidents in Iraq and called for measures to bring those responsible to justice.

    The Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Irina Bokova, has condemned the killing of Raad Yassin, Jamal Abdel Nasser, Mohamed Ahmad Al-Khatib, Wissam Al-Azzawi and Mohamed Abdel Hamid in an attack on Salaheddin TV in Tikrit, and of Omar Al-Dulaimy in the city of Ramadi.

    “Once again I call on the authorities to do all they can to bring those responsible for these crimes to justice,” she said in a statement issued by the Paris-based agency, which adds: “The escalation of violence against the media in Iraq is intolerable as it poses a severe threat to national reconciliation and reconstruction.”

    Omar Al-Dulaimy was killed on 31 December, while covering armed clashes in the city of Ramadi, west of Baghdad, where he worked as a correspondent for the Voice of Ramadi radio, a station broadcasting in Anbar province.

    Five members of Salaheddin TV— chief news editor Raad Yassin, producer Jamal Abdel Nasser, cameraman Mohamed Ahmad Al-Khatib, presenter Wissam Al-Azzawi and archives manager Mohamed Abdel Hamid — were killed in a suicide attack on the headquarters of their television station in Tikrit on 23 December. 
    From UNESCO, let's go to UNAMI's statement released today:
    Baghdad, 8 January 2014 - The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq (SRSG), Mr. Nickolay Mladenov, said that the UN is working closely with the Iraqi national and regional authorities as well as with humanitarian partners to ensure safe passage for humanitarian assistance and emergency supplies to both the stranded and displaced families of Anbar province.
    “There is a critical humanitarian situation in Anbar province which is likely to worsen as operations continue. The UN agencies are working to identify the needs of the population and prepare medical supplies, food and non-food items for distribution if safe passage can be ensured. This remains a primary challenge. The situation in Fallujah is particularly concerning as existing stocks of food, water and life-saving medicines begin to run out. According to our preliminary assessment, over 5,000 families have fled the fighting and sought refuge in the neighbouring provinces of Karbala, Salahadine, Baghdad and elsewhere. The UN is working with the Ministry of Displacement and Migration to identify their needs and meet them immediately," Mr. Mladenov said.
    Not a minor point.
    People are dying and, just as in the two attacks on Anbar in 2004, the western press wants to pretend like no one's being hurt except some 'bad guys.'  In November 2004, they lied and pretended everyone was out when the US government attacked.  No one lied harder than the New York Times' Dexter Filkins who even won a little prize for his lies -- while failing to share it with the US military censors who revamped and then cleared his copy (explaining the 8 day delay for it to make it into the paper -- the press moved faster in the days of the Pony Express).
    People died.
    People are dying now.  
    Anbar is a very populated province.  It is thought to have 1.5 million people (Iraq's not had a census in decades).  
    Human Rights Watch realizes there are lives at risk.  They issued a statement which opens:
    Iraqi government forces appear to have used indiscriminate mortar fire in civilian neighborhoods in Anbar province, and al-Qaeda fighters and armed men from local groups have deployed in and attacked from populated areas. Apparently unlawful methods of fighting by all sides have caused civilian casualties and severe property damage. A government blockade of Fallujah and Ramadi has resulted in limited access to food, water, and fuel for the population.
    Based on numerous reports and accounts by local residents in interviews with Human Rights Watch, government security forces responded to attacks by al-Qaeda armed groups on the night of January 1, 2014, with mortar and gunfire into residential areas, in some cases with apparently no al-Qaeda presence. The security forces then surrounded the cities, witnesses said.
    “The government urgently needs to deal with the threat from al-Qaeda, but killing their own citizens unlawfully is not the way,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Civilians have been caught in the middle in Anbar, and the government appears to be doing nothing to protect them.”
    This is a tragedy for Anbar.  It is a tragedy for the Iraqi people.
    This is from the Human Rights Watch statement:
    In Fallujah, the army closed the main eastern, northern, and southern checkpoints, refusing to allow any people, medicine, or food to enter or leave the city through these checkpoints. Fallujah residents said that security forces allowed families with children to leave the city through the two other checkpoints, but only with “extreme difficulty,” and, as of January 8, have continued to refuse to allow single men to leave. Army forces continue to surround Ramadi, but residents reported that they were able to leave the city. On January 8, the Erbil governorate announced that 13,000 Anbari residents had fled into Erbil province.
    Residents told Human Rights Watch that as of January 6, the army blockade and intermittent heavy fighting had prevented residents from getting sufficient food, water, electricity, and fuel. On January 3, the Iraqi Red Crescent reported that it sent convoys with food aid to both cities but could not enter because of heavy fighting. On January 5, Anbar’s provincial council described the humanitarian situation in Fallujah as “catastrophic.”
    In a post on his Facebook page on January 8, a Ramadi resident, Omar al-Shaher, reported that al-Qaeda fighters had fought army forces that afternoon in the city’s Sharia 60 neighborhood. He said the army used drones to fire on the al-Hamiria bridge, which connects the neighborhood to desert areas outside the city. Al-Shaher said that Ramadi’s al-Malaab, Ziraha, Sharia 60, and Albu Jaber areas remained unstable and that residents feared that a “huge battle” was soon to come.
    An employee in Fallujah’s main hospital reported that mortar fire from army shelling had killed 25 Fallujah residents and injured 190 since the fighting began on December 30, 2013, all resulting from the shrapnel, the employee said. The areas of the city the employee said the casualties came from are all areas where, according to residents, al-Qaeda was not present.
    US President Barack Obama's denied giving Nouri armed drones so where did the armed drones come from?  Or is the press going to ignore that like they ignore so much?
    'Analysts' ignore a lot as well.  The Brookings Institution postss:
    Noting that the Obama administration tried to keep forces in Iraq in 2011, an offer rejected by the Iraqi government, [Michael] O'Hanlon said that "I'd be willing to see several hundred Americans or even a couple thousand of special operations persuasions, of intelligence backgrounds, go and help the Iraqis if the Iraqis can decide they want that help."
    Would Michael be willing to see that?  If he's an analyst, he should probably first acknowledge that Special-Ops were sent back in during the fall of 2012.  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 Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence.

    If you can't be honest maybe you should just not say anything?
    Then again, maybe we have to be grateful for partial honesty?
    Retired US Col Peter Mansoor (Defense One) gets it partly right when examining the roots for today's problems:
    Despite this promising beginning, the situation in Iraq began to spiral downward after the election of 2010 when the winner, Ayad Allawi, was sidelined in favor of another Maliki term in a backroom deal cut in Tehran. Sunni Arabs became disenchanted with the political process, increasingly dominated by an authoritarian prime minister who used the security forces and courts to pursue his political agenda. The withdrawal of the last U.S. combat forces from Iraq in 2011 gave Maliki a green light to further these policies; his pursuit of Tarik al-Hashemi and other Sunni politicians deepened Sunni discontent. The way was open for the revitalization of al-Qaeda in Iraq, once left for dead after the manifest successes of the Awakening and the surge.
    Iran can be credited.  They strong armed cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr to drop his opposition to Nouri.  But that's not how Nouri got his second term.  There was still the problem of the votes and the will of the Iraqi people and a little thing called the Constitution.  Barack had US officials broker the extra-constitutional Erbil Agreement which went around all of that to provide Nouri a second term.  Mansoor's told half the truth and it's a sign of just how many lies are out there that I feel like shouting "THANK YOU!" to him at the top of my lungs.
    He's targeted one Sunni politician after another.  But he's just accused of it?  He refused to the power-sharing agreement outlined in The Erbil Agreement but he's just accused of running a sectarian Shia-dominated regime?
    Wow, thank goodness for the bravery of Al Jazeera America.  Next up, they're expose on tooth pastes that promise more than they deliver.
    David Welna (All Things Considered, NPR) plays stupid as well, "At the White House earlier this week, spokesman Jay Carney wondered aloud just what the president's critics might want, beyond the Hellfire missiles and surveillance drones that are being sent to Iraq."
    If you don't know what happened then maybe stop flapping your gums.  Had the White House not backed Nouri for a second term and sided with Iraqi voters, Ahmed Chalabi would be in charge.
    Is he a nicer person that Nouri?

    I don't know.  
    But the US government consensus was he'd be a better and more inclusive ruler.  The Iraqi people spoke in the election of 2010 and spoke for a united Iraq which is why they chose a Shi'ite leader (Allawi) of a mixed political party (Shi'ite and Sunni). 
    Sunni voters alone could not have allowed Iraqiya to beat State of Law.  It was Sunnis and Shias working together for the future of Iraq.  That was a powerful moment, it had been building in the 2009 elections.  The US could have backed up that powerful future.  Instead Barack spat on democracy and let a despot have a second term the people didn't give him.
    And the results aren't surprising.  Barack saw the same CIA personality disorder analysis on Nouri that Bully Boy Bush saw.  These were the liabilities outlined if Nouri's paranoia and narcissism weren't 'managed.'
    And Barack not only gave him a second term, he's armed him while Nouri's attacked Iraqis.  Nouri's over the Ministry of the Interior (in a power grab, he refused to nominate anyone to head the Ministry) and that's who targeted the gay and emo youth, went around to schools encouraging kids to kill them, said that they sucked blood and were vampires -- Now, of course, the Ministry denied it.  And that might have been end of story but both Alsumaria and Al Mada had copies of the official handout from the Ministry that was given to students on each of these 'teachable moments.'  That's only one example.
    Nouri's a thug.  And Barack keeps arming him.  Josh Rogin (Daily Beast) reports:
    As Iraqi army forces prepare to mount an offensive to take back control of the city of Fallujah from al Qaeda’s Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), the Obama administration is in a full court press to urge Congress to allow the sale of dozens of Boeing AH-64 Apache helicopters the Maliki government has been seeking for years. Both the House Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee had been holding up the sales, out of concern Maliki will use them against his domestic political enemies. Senators in both parties also lament Maliki’s increasingly sectarian style of governing and his alleged cooperation with Iran to aid the Syrian regime.
    The Daily Beast has learned that the House Foreign Affairs Committee has now dropped its hold on the Apache sales but one senior senator still refuses to allow it to go through – Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-NJ). Congressional aides said Tuesday that Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns has been lobbying Menendez to release his hold on the sales and Burns has also been reaching out to other senators who have problems with Maliki. 
    I'm not calling Rogin a liar but if the House Foreign Affairs Committee has dropped their hold without making any conditions for Nouri to turn over the seven Ashraf hostages?  I think a number of people may not be serving on that Committee after the 2014 elections.

    A Ramadi overpass was blown up, a helicopter was brought down,  154 people have been killed or wounded in Ramadi during the last ten days, and so much more in the violence Nouri's created.

    Some of the other violence?  National Iraqi News Agency reports an attack on an Odhaim checkpoint left 3 security officers dead and four more injured, 1 Ministry of Electricity worker was killed in Mosul, a Mosul armed attack left 1 Iraqi soldier dead and another injured, a Samarra roadside bombing killed 1 police member, an armed attack in Shirqat left 8 students dead, a Balad sticky bombing claimed the life of 1 police lieutenant, a Siniah roadside bombing claimed the lives of 4 Sahwa and left a fifth injured, a Mosul home invasion claimed the lives of a former military officer and his wife, a Mosul roadside bombing claimed the lives of 2 police members and 1 civilian, 1 "Arab nationality" was shot dead by Baghdad Operations Command, an Adheim roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer and left three more police injured, a Tikirt bombing killed 3 police members, wounded another and "wounding a number of students," a Mosul suicide car bombing left two police officers and two civilians injured, an armed attack in Mansuriya left 1 farmer and his son dead,  yet another suspect billed as "an Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) leader" was killed -- they sure have a lot of leaders -- in Baquba,  and an eastern Baghdad home invasion late last night/early this morning left 12 people dead.

    At today's US State Dept press briefing Jen Psaki declared:

    One other item just before we go to you, Matt. I wanted to read out a call the Secretary had yesterday with Iraqi Foreign Minister Zebari. The Secretary and foreign minister discussed the situation in Anbar province and the Government of Iraq’s efforts to combat ISIL in coordination with local police and tribes. The Secretary noted the critical need for support from the local population and encouraged the Government of Iraq to continue its efforts to empower local officials and tribes to isolate ISIL and drive them out of populated areas.
    He also emphasized the opportunity for the Government of Iraq to focus on political initiatives to increase political inclusiveness as an essential component of the CT campaign as the only path to long-term stability. He assured the foreign minister that we will continue to provide technical military advice and enhancing material support, and stressed that military efforts must be fused with political and economic efforts to isolate extremist groups.
    Foreign Minister Zebari expressed appreciation for the support of the United States under the Strategic Framework Agreement for Iraq's struggle against terrorism. He also expressed appreciation for the international support for Iraq that has been – Iraq has been receiving in the fight against terrorism and its ongoing commitment to support the process of constitutional democracy in Iraq.

    Both leaders – finally, both leaders noted progress on finalizing an agreement under discussion between Baghdad and Erbil on energy and revenue sharing, underscoring that this agreement should be concluded as soon as possible, as it will demonstrate that all Iraqis share equitably in the benefits of Iraq’s natural resources.

    We'll address that tomorrow.

    Tuesday, January 07, 2014

    TV and Fracking

    Elementary, my dear Watson.

    A few of you have e-mailed to note I said I was thinking about covering a show but didn't mention what it was.  I wanted to stream a few more episodes before making my decision.  Its CBS' Elementary which has a new episode Thursday so I'll start there.  It stars Johnny -- I'm tired I'm not going to look up his name.  Miller?  I've met him through C.I.  He's a funny guy, British, used to be married to Angelina Jolie.  And he plays Sherlock.  Watson is Lucy Lui.  And we all know and love her from the Charlie's Angels movies and Ballistic and much more. 

    I like the episodes I've streamed and so that's going to be my show to cover.

    I covered fracking last night.  Community member Sabina e-mailed me this AP report which explains that the fracking in Azle coincides with 28 North Texas earthquakes and so the Railroad Commission is hiring a seismologist to determine if the fracking is connected.

    And it's not just Texas.  Oklahoma.  Charles Q. Chol (LiveScience) reported in September:

    Wastewater from the controversial practice of fracking appears to be linked to all the earthquakes in a town in Ohio that had no known past quakes, research now reveals.
    The practice of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, involves injecting water, sand and other materials under high pressures into a well to fracture rock. This opens up fissures that help oil and natural gas flow out more freely. This process generates wastewater that is often pumped underground as well, in order to get rid of it.

    It's amazing how we'll destroy our only planet to make a few blood dollars.

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

    Tuesday, January 7, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Odierno explains what's going on in Iraq but the press ignores him and distorts him, Nouri continues his assault on the people, if a government has no power-sharing and has no president and has nothing but Nouri it's not a government, and more.

    Let's start with today's State Dept press briefing with spokesperson Jen Psaki:

    QUESTION:  Can we go to Iraq real quick?

    MS. PSAKI:  I have to go up to the bilat in a moment, so --

    QUESTION:  On Iraq.

    MS. PSAKI:  Okay, go ahead.

    QUESTION:  Yes, yeah.  I mean, yesterday the Vice President, or last night the Vice President spoke with Maliki --

    MS. PSAKI:  Mm-hmm.

    QUESTION:  -- and Nujaifi and so on, and reassured both of them that of U.S. support and so on.  But also Iran said that it is willing to send in help and support to sort of – to bolster Maliki’s government and the fight against terrorists.  Do you support such a thing?  Would you look sort of negatively at Iran intervening against the terrorists?

    MS. PSAKI:  Well, let me be very clear here.  We are not working with, we are not coordinating with Iran on any of these efforts.  Obviously, we’ve seen their comments.  We have long rejected violent extremism and advocated a stable security environment, an inclusive political process, and a determined focus on economic development for Iraq to achieve its full potential.  Our goals have not changed.  I don’t think we view them as the same goals that Iran may have.  So we’re focused on our own efforts, which, as you mentioned – let me just give you a little more on the call you mentioned. 
    Vice President Biden spoke with both Prime Minister Maliki and Speaker Nujaifi yesterday.  He pressed for a unified effort in combatting the ISIL threat in Anbar.  We have made clear and we believe Iraq’s leaders agree the only way to fight ISIL is through strong coordination with local officials and tribes against our common enemy.  That was a conversation that he had and we’re continuing to press on our end.

    QUESTION:  Apart from the political posturing over on the Hill about whether the U.S. should be sending in any troops in addition to the missiles and drones that have already been promised, has there been any indication from Baghdad that any such personnel assistance would be warranted or desired?

    MS. PSAKI:  Well, I’d be surprised or interested if you have a particular member of Congress who said that, because I haven’t seen that.  I don’t think anyone is arguing for more troops and going back to put more troops in Iraq at this point.

    QUESTION:  But, I mean, one thing that I think the Iraqis have asked for that Congress has held up --

    MS. PSAKI:  Mm-hmm.

    QUESTION:  -- were the Apache helicopters and the F-16’s, and that’s something that the Administration wanted to provide but that Congress has held up.  It looks like Congress, at least Senator Menendez, has said that he might be willing to lift his objection because of the increased need.  Is that something that you would be – now would be willing to revisit?  Because it did look as if you wanted to do it when the prime minister --

    MS. PSAKI:  Sure, at the time.  Let me talk to our team and see where we are with that.  Obviously, I know Marie outlined a number of resources that we were expediting and putting forward with FMS funds, and obviously that’s underway.  I don’t have any update on the Apaches, but I’ll check on that for all of you.

    QUESTION:  Sorry, Jen, but you’re giving 95 Hellfire missiles.  These are air-to-surface missiles, but the Israeli – the – I’m sorry, the Iraqis have no need to deliver those missiles.  How will they be delivered?  They don’t have the combat aircraft, they don’t have the combat helicopters to fire those missiles.

    MS. PSAKI:  I don’t have any more details on it for you.  I would have you – suggest you talk to DOD about that.

    QUESTION:  Change topic?

    MS. PSAKI:  Sure, go ahead.

    QUESTION:  I just want to know, on Iraq, do you have confidence in the Iraqi Army?  Because you were basically saying that Prime Minister Maliki’s forces is unable to tackle the situation in both Ramadi and in Fallujah, while the Americans tried before in 2004 --

    MS. PSAKI:  Mm-hmm.

    QUESTION:  -- and they couldn’t even succeed, or succeed with a very high price.  So how do you expect Prime Minister Maliki’s government to deal with the insurgency, especially with the existence of ISIL on the border?

    MS. PSAKI:  Well, there has been an effort – as you know, because we’ve talked about it in this briefing room or my colleague talked about it – underway to work with the local tribes on the ground to fight and confront ISIL fighters.  We’ve seen some success with that in Ramadi.  Fallujah, is, as you know, more challenging.  But it would be accurate to assume that that effort has been underway by the central government for some time.  It’s not something that comes up overnight or they’ve just been working on overnight. 
    So our effort is to – our focus is on continuing to work with them on that.  We know the challenges on the ground.  We’ve seen some success.  We mentioned some efforts we’re undertaking to provide more resources.  I don’t have anything new on that right now, but we’re taking this day by day.

    QUESTION:  But would you consider arming the tribal leaders in Anbar like they did before?

    MS. PSAKI:  I don’t have any prediction of that.  I don’t have anything new beyond what we announced yesterday.

    QUESTION:  Or paying them?

    MS. PSAKI:  I’m sorry?

    QUESTION:  Or paying them --

    MS. PSAKI:  Okay.

    Should have been an interesting conversation, much more interesting than Jen Psaki made it out to be.  This wave of violence was kicked off by Nouri's forces storming the home of an MP in Anbar and when Osama al-Nujaifi attempted to lead an investigation into Nouri's actions that left six people dead, al-Nuajifi was prevented from leaving Baghdad.

    This and so much more really going on in Falluja gets ignored.  Kieran Kelly (Dissident Voice) reports:

    Behind the scenes, however, Shafaq News reports that some government sources admit that the claims are a deliberate deception. One source describes the government stance as: “Deliberate confusion in the information and attempts to create a dangerous atmosphere in the city to be dealt with in a militarily way in every way,” but in reality, “Fallujah and even other cities are still experiencing quieter days than before”. By citing Al Qaeda and linking it to the brutal terrorist mass-murder campaign as well as alleged ambitions to create an entire state, the Iraqi government may be working towards justifying unleashing high levels of military violence on Fallujah, but who really is controlling Fallujah?

    Instead of focusing on real issues like Kieran Kelly, everyone seems to be defocusing.

    NewsBusters is a right wing media watchdog.  They often do good work.  They often are outright stupid.  Kyle Dreenen's worship of Bully Boy Bush is as embarrassing as Media Matters worship of Barack Obama.  If Dreenen focused less on rescuing his heart throb and more on doing media criticism, he could have nailed Brian Williams.  The first quote he offers from Williams is, "US fighting forces are gone from Iraq.  But as so many predicted when President Bush chose to go to war there after 9/11, the fighting has started up again."  Well, they're not gone, US forces remain in Iraq and Barack's too damn stupid to make that a talking point which allows the right-wing to clobber him with 'you pulled all the forces out of Iraq!'

    But the important sentence is that second sentence.

    If you were opposed to the Iraq War and speaking out before it started -- I was -- then that second sentence is startling: "But as so many predicted when President Bush chose to go to war there after 9/11, the fighting has started up again."  We were the voices that were silenced by NBC, by ABC, by CBS, by CNN, and by MSNBC  -- though screamed at and derided, we got a better hearing on Fox than anywhere else.  We were the voices Cokie Roberts dubbed "none that mattered."

    Yet now Brian Williams wants to note us?  (And NewsBusters, you're right-wing critique of Williams is that if all these voices were saying it ahead of the war, why weren't they on the media.  You should be accusing Williams of attempting to re-write history.)

    Bully Boy Bush started the illegal war (with the help of his powder puff gal squad Tony Blair and John Howard).  In 2006, the Iraqi Parliament wanted to name Ibrahim al-Jaafari to a second term as prime minister.  The White House refused to allow that to happen.  Nouri had no militia and, most importantly, he had an intelligence dossier that insisted he was easily manipulated and controlled.  So he was installed as the US puppet.  The paranoia that made him so easy to  trick also made him prone to attacks on the Iraqi people.  In 2010, the Iraqi people voted and Nouri's State of Law lost to Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya.  Iraq should have been free of the despot.  But Samantha Power and Susan Nuclear Rice argued that Nouri must have a second term. Barack idiotically agreed.

    So the Iraqi people watched as the US government created a legal contract, The Erbil Agreement, that gave Nouri a second term despite the votes.

    Then came the end of the SOFA and Barack bungled that as well.  Because, let's be honest, he's so damn stupid.  I'm glad he is, I'm glad the bulk of US troops are out of Iraq.  But the SOFA fell apart because Barack didn't understand the difference between rule and letter of the law.  Exiting Secretary of Defense Robert Gates had attempted to educate Barack on SOFAs but to no use.  New Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta thought he had conveyed the realities to Barack but he hadn't.  Then again, maybe Barack wasn't stupid, maybe he just didn't want a large number of troops in Iraq either?

    Regardless what was agreed to and could have been implemented to keep around 9,000 to 15,000 US troops in the country was set aside.  A number of forces remained in Iraq after the drawdown (which the press billed as a "withdrawal" and of course he sent in Special-Ops in the fall of 2012.  Today, only Ewen MacAskill (Guardian) can note, "The CIA, which retained a presence in Iraq after the 2011 US troop withdrawal, is reported to be involved in helping with co-ordination of intelligence as well as targeting Hellfire missiles. In addition, there are 200 US military advisers left after the withdrawal."

    As long as he continues to lie about that, he'll continue to be attacked for it.

    Michael Crowley (Time magazine) leads the attack today by noting candidate Barack's promises:

    “We will need to retain some forces in Iraq and the region,” Obama said. “We’ll continue to strike at al-Qaeda in Iraq.”
    Obama made the point repeatedly: “In ending the war, we must act with more wisdom than we started it,” he said a month earlier. “That is why my plan would maintain sufficient forces in the region to target al-Qaeda within Iraq.”
    And in a February 2008 primary debate, moderator Tim Russert pressed Obama on whether there were any circumstances that would lead him to re-escalate in Iraq: “Do you reserve a right as American president to go back into Iraq, once you have withdrawn?” Russert asked.
    “If al-Qaeda is forming a base in Iraq, then we will have to act in a way that secures the American homeland and our interests abroad,” Obama responded.
    Six years later, even with al-Qaeda showing alarming strength in Iraq — and across the border in Syria — nobody thinks Obama will “go back into Iraq” anytime soon. As Secretary of State John Kerry put it Sunday: “This is a fight that belongs to the Iraqis.”

    There are two huge mistakes the US government made with Iraq beginning in 2003.  The first was Bully Boy Bush's decision to invade.  The second was Barack Obama overruling the votes of the Iraqi people to give Nouri a second term.

    Violence continues with a stun bomb in Basra, the Iraqi Air Force bombing Anbar, military helicopters bombing Ramadi, and more.  And what may be most appalling is how little any of this is understood.  The editorial board of the Journal Democrat offers "Editorial: Let Iraqi fight this war" and while their conclusion may make sense, their reasoning doesn't.

    Are we retroactively stupid?

    The editorial board is: al Qaeda!!!!

    In real time it was called "insurgents."  It's as though their minds have turned to mush.  And if we could acknowledge the reality that Anbar has always been a zone of resistance, we might be able to better understand what is taking place right now instead of reducing it to the comic book nature of 'al Qaeda.'

    What's going on in Iraq?

    Here's how the Libertarian Ed Krayewski (Reason) describes it:

    You’d be forgiven if, while looking at recent headlines about Iraq, you thought it was the aughts again. Fallujah, the site of some of the most intense fighting during the U.S. war in Iraq, is again at the center of political violence in that country. Over the weekend, the city fell to Al Qaeda-linked fighters who declared an independent Islamist state there. Iraq’s prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, in power since 2006, has urged residents in Fallujah to fight back. Neighboring Iran, meanwhile, has offered to help expel Al Qaeda from the city while last month Iraq turned to the United States, requesting it send drones and missiles to help battle the Al Qaeda-linked Islamists. Seventy-five Hellfire missiles reportedly arrived in Iraq on December 19, and drones were supposed to be on their way, too. The fighting in Fallujah was a culmination of a year of increasing political violence in Iraq. 

    The periodical is called Reason so is it really too much to suppose they might use reason?

    Nouri picked a fight last week and -- at least  initially -- he's lost. He's now demanding that the people of Falluja do what he could not.  In what world is that acceptable?

    Do they have Hellfire missiles, these residents of Falluja?

    He's already made the residents victims of collective punishment -- collective punishment is a War Crime -- and now he's not saying, "We will rescue you," he's screaming, "Fix my mess!!!"

    ABC News Radio adds:

    Ross Caputi, a former Marine who fought in the second battle for the city and is now an outspoken critic of U.S. intervention in Iraq, told ABC News recently that he’d watched his friends die there “for the purposes of regime change and furthering business interests friendly to the Bush administration.”
    “[Now] Iraqis will die there to further the interests of [Prime Minister Nouri] al-Maliki’s government,” he said.

    Caputi's is a lone voice of honesty.  More often we get the likes of  NPR's Larry Kaplow:

    Yet again, Iraqi civilians are fleeing violence in Iraq's sprawling western province of Anbar. Years of under-the-radar daily tension and bloodshed has erupted into another al-Qaida surge and retaliatory Iraqi government airstrikes.

    I'm sorry, are you a liar or an idiot, Kaplow?  Over 100,000 were fleeing on Friday and they were fleeing the government attacks. Fighters had not then seized control of Falluja (that would come Saturday).  Kaplow had his head up his ass as usual and missed that reality.

    Lauren Hood (ITV News) offers a video report on the battle in Ramadi including footage the Iraqi government released of them attacking 'al Qaeda' -- two lone pick up truck.  Not even enough for a tailgate party but that qualifies for a terrorist cell?  Right-winger Jonathan S. Tobin (Commentary) is convinced that Americans are getting too friendly with Iran and appears to be laying the preliminary groundwork for show trials to come.  Left-wing aymaan30 (allvoices) accepts the ready made construct but at least has the sense of mind to note:

    Iraq needs a representative democracy and it won’t be realized unless Nouri al-Maliki stops Shia-appeasement and Sunni marginalization.
    Moreover, if the United States continues to support a Shia-controlled Iraq and ignores the Sunni marginalization, the march of Iraq into the pit of religious theocracy and sectarian bloodshed would continue.
    Simply developing a holistic strategy to isolate the al-Qaeda would be a palliative gesture. At the same time, Hellfire missiles and drones are not going to solve this problem. In fact, these moves will make it worse. 

    But it's weapons and weapons, billions of dollars worth of weapons.  Amaani Lyle (DoD's American Forces Press Service) quotes Army Col Steven Warren declaring today, "We're expediting delivery of 10 operational ScanEagles for part of the original purchase, as well as an additional four nonoperational ScanEagles, which will be sent to help facilitate maintenance of the original 10."  Yes, that must be the answer.  After all, the US government has only provided Iraq with $14 billion in weaponry and training since 2005.  You might think, "$14 billion?  Doesn't the country just have something like 32 million people?  What the heck?"  Indeed.  The problem isn't a lack of weapons or not enough weapons, the problem is a non-inclusive government which continues to penalize and terrorize Sunnis.

    In yesterday's snapshot, I noted we'd come back to Monday's State Dept press briefing by spokesperson Marie Harf:

    QUESTION: Just to follow up on that, there’s been strong criticism of the performance of president – or Prime Minister Maliki towards the uprising in Anbar long before ISIS showed up. How do you guarantee that all these weapons that you’re giving to him to fight ISIS is not going to be used against his political opponent?

    MS. HARF: In terms of what we’re selling to the Iraqi Government?

    QUESTION: Yeah. All the assistance that he’s been asking them to combat ISIS --

    MS. HARF: Well, it’s to the Iraqi Government. It’s not to any one person in the Iraqi Government. I should be clear about that. Obviously, we’re close partners with them. We work together on all these issues. I have no indication that anything we have given them is being used in any nefarious way. I’m happy to check with our folks.

    No, it's not 'to the Iraqi Government.'  It's too Nouri al-Maliki.

    The US government brokered The Erbil Agreement to give Nouri a second term as prime minister.  In that contract, the other political blocs went along with a second term in exchange for a power-sharing government.  That did not happen.  Nouri didn't keep his word and the US government did not demand that he keep his word.  In addition, failure to nominate people to head the security posts were a power grab on Nouri's part.  Add in that the country's without a president.  For 13 months now, Jalal Talabani has been in Germany.  He's not well enough to hold office and the Constitution has yet again been ignored.

    This all goes to the fact that there is no Iraqi government, there is only a despot named Nouri who has been put in charge.

    As has too often been the case in the last few years, The Economist has a better grasp of the issues than most outlets:

    But the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham has also flourished because there has been passive acceptance by Iraqi Sunnis who believe their government and security forces are against them. The Iraqi army is so unpopular in Anbar that in the summer it withdrew to the outskirts of the cities, adding to the lack of security that allowed extremists to regroup.
    Mr Maliki, a Shia, has largely marginalised Iraq’s Sunni minority, ignoring the demands of protests over the past year. Iraqi prisons full of young Sunni men, in some cases arrested along with their wives and children, political exclusion and lack of economy opportunities have fuelled ongoing protests in Anbar and other Sunni areas.  The final straw came on December 30th when the Iraqi army tore down a protest camp in Ramadi, later arresting a prominent Sunni parliamentarian.

    Mike Dorning and Margaret Talev (Bloomberg News) note:

    Control of tracts of Iraqi territory by Sunni extremists would pose “a serious long-term threat” to U.S. interests if the groups maintain their hold, said Daniel Benjamin, who was State Department counterterrorism coordinator under Obama.
    “Once safe havens are created, they can pretty quickly become hardened, and it becomes difficult to dislodge the militants without a major effort,” said Benjamin, now director of the Dickey Center for International Understanding at Dartmouth College. “These areas become conduits for men, money and materiel, and they give extremists a place to plot, which is dangerous for the neighborhood and, ultimately, for us.”

    Nouri's latest assault on the Iraqi people is part of a series of attacks from an illegitimate leader who was not chosen by the people and who has refused to follow the country's Constitution.  How in the world can someone like Nouri be planning to run for a third term when throughout his second term he has failed to nominate people to head the security ministries?

    And how in the world can the press cover the collapse of security in Iraq today without noting what Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observed back in July 2012, "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."?  That remains true today.  As Iraq sees the worst violence since 2008, it has no Minister of Defense, no Minister of Interior and no Minister of National Security.  Xinhua notes today, "Iraq is witnessing its worst violence in recent years. According to the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq, a total of 8,868 Iraqis were killed in 2013, including 7,818 civilians and civilian police personnel, which is the highest annual death toll for years."

    How can you talk about the violence today and not note how Nouri's power grab has hurt the country's security?

    Or how al Qaeda is not the root.

    al Qaeda didn't exist in Iraq before the start of the illegal war.  Elements came in -- not a large number -- as a result of the Iraq War, it drew them in.  Similarly, Nouri's attacks on the Sunni population are drawing them in today.

    This was made clear by US General Ray Odierno today.

    But you wouldn't know it to read the reports, would you?

    I'm sick as a dog but I drug my ass to the National Press Club today because I knew the press whores would get it wrong.

    No troops to Iraq!!!! Odierno said so!!!!


    That's what you've got from his Q&A?

    I was sick as a dog, what's your excuse -- besides being press whores incapable of telling the truth?

    That's not even what he said but the AP, Stars and Stripes and others rush the lie out across the wires.

    This is the question Odeirno was asked, "Can the US keep al Qaeda's expansion there at bay without having troops on the ground?"

    Gen Ray Odierno:  Well we have to wait and see.  We have trained security forces to do that.  I think the first alternative is for the forces that are there that we have trained to execute that strategy.  You know, one of the things that we did in Iraq -- as well as we're doing in Afghanistan today -- is train about counter-insurgency and how you fight insurgencies.  And I think what we have to continue to do is work with the Iraqi army and others to ensure they understand the basic techniques of counter-insurgency.  And so I think we continue to do that.  We have a very small element on the ground that works in the Embassy that has some expertise that can continue to help in these areas.  And I think it's important that we do that.  It's also important that we continue to ensure that we stay involved diplomatically, which we are, as we work through so -- We got to wait and see. I would say this is certainly not the time to put American troops on the ground.  I think it's time for them to step up and see what they can do.  We have to just wait to see and see if it becomes part of our national security issue to put people on the ground.  But I think right now our goal is to let them take control of this problem. 

    Wait and see.  Read that entire response -- which, you'll note, the outlets don't provide you with.  Wait and see.  At this moment, he doesn't think troops on the ground would help.

    I'd love it if Odierno said, "No more US troops should be sent into Iraq ever."  But that's not what he said and I'm not going to act like a cheap hustler and lie.

    While they focus on that non-issue, the press ignores the bigger issues raised.

    Odierno was quite clear regarding the chicken-or-the-egg,  "And it's this sectarain potential, building of sectarian conflict between Sunni and Shia and then the exploitation of that by non-state actors such as al Qaeda."

    That's what draws in any al Qaeda or al Qaeda-linked or foreign fighters of any nature -- this conflict which Nouri has pursued.

    Credit to James Rosen (McClatchy Newspaper) who may be the only adult member of the press who attended the Odierno event judging by the fact that only he can report on it accurately.

    Here's something else Odierno noted:

    It's disappointing to all of us to see the deterioration of security inside Iraq.  I spent a lot of my life over there.  From the end of 2006 to September 2010, I was there as we continued to reduce the level of violence, and the sectarian violence was going on.  I believe we left it in a place where it was capable to move forward.  We've now seen it because of political issues internal to Iraq, that security situation has now devolved to something that to my mind is disconcerting .

    What's he talking about?  Internal issues?

    Wait, help me out here, ahead of the 2010 parliamentary elections, one US official saw Nouri coming in second and refusing to step down and said the White House needed to have a plan in place to force him out if that happened.

    Who was that official?

    Oh, that's right, it was Gen Ray Odierno.

    He's always known what a thug Nouri is.

    Among today's violence?  National Iraqi News Agency reports 1 Egyptian was shot dead in Baghdad, a Samarra car bombing left two people injured, 2 fighters were shot dead in Baghdad by the Iraqi military, police in Hilla shot dead a suicide bomber, a Kirkuk car bombing left 2 dead and fifty-two injured, 3 Daash snipers were shot dead outside Ramadi, 2 Daash were shot dead by police and tribal forces east of Ramadi, a Baquba attack left two police members injured, Abu Tufail Cauasian, supposed Islamic State of Iraq leader, was killed in Falluja, 4 people were shot dead in Diyala Province, 7 police officers were killed outside of Tikrit, a Baquba attack left 2 police officers dead and four more injured, a Baiji attack left 1 Iraqi soldier dead and three more injured, a Mosul bombing killed 2 Iraqi soldiers and 1 civilian, 1 fighter was shot dead in Latifya,

    Human Rights First issued the following today:

    Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First today praised the Obama Administration for supporting the repeal of the Iraq Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) that led to the war in Iraq after 9/11. The support for the repeal came in an announcement made by National Security spokesperson Caitlin Hayden.
    “While the move is mostly symbolic because the United States is not in an armed conflict in Iraq, it signals the reluctance of the administration to leave endless war authority on the books,” said Human Rights First’s Michael Quigley.
    The administration’s call for repeal of the Iraq AUMF comes amid an uptick in violence in Iraq, and serves as a reminder that the most effective responses to extremist violence will rarely require the status of war, and counterterrorism efforts may even be hindered by a war footing. The administration’s statement also precedes a likely in debate in Congress on the status of the Afghanistan AUMF as the Obama Administration ends combat operations in the country later this year.  At the National Defense University last May, President Obama said he would work with Congress to revise or repeal the Afghanistan AUMF.
    Most Americans are reluctant with good reason to extend the war to dozens of countries simply on the grounds of an al Qaeda-affiliated presence,” Quigley said.  “The debate this year should focus on strategic counterterrorism measures that assure U.S. security with resort to war only as a last step.”

    For more information or to speak with Quigley, contact Corinne Duffy at or 202-370-3319.


    margaret talev