Friday, February 20, 2015


In what may be the season finale, Stalker wrapped up season one on CBS this week.

The Maggie Q series deserves a second season.

And it really needs one because the episode that aired was one long question mark.

Ray upped his game.  He stalked Beth when she was Michelle, before she was the cool and calm police star.  We saw her lose her cool at one point when her friend (Tracy -- the one Perry was dating to find out info on Beth) was kidnapped.  Especially with Ray baiting her over the phone.

She's sent home with a unit outside and Ben inside with her.

Dylan McDermott's Jack and Janis were left to follow up on the clues Ray was dropping to Beth.  And they did find Tracy locked in the trunk of a car in a junkyard.

And she immediately told them Ray was going after Beth.

And this was what ticked me off.

When Jack tells Ben that, over the phone, Ben's sure all is well and opens the door to reveal . . . Ray who shoots him.

Didn't we already see that earlier this season?

A police officer is supposed to be outside the door but it was actually the stalker?

So Ben's bleeding and they're trying to restore his heart beat when they arrive.

Beth's gone.

We see her in the trunk of a moving car.  Ray's already killed junior stalker Perry and Beth gasps when she finds his body in the trunk.  And that's the end of the episode.

Hopefully not the end of the series.

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

Thursday, February 19, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, the Islamic State kills a journalist, Iraqi forces spend two days physically attacking journalists in Baghdad, how many US Marines are on the ground in Iraq because Iraqi media has a number and western media plays dumb, CENTCOM whispers about an upcoming assault on Mosul which may involve US troops, Barack's little lecture at this week's failed summit results in criticism from an Iraqi leader who had been seen as a friend of the US government, Nouri continues to reign on Arabic social media (as the most crooked and criminal person on the face of the planet), and much more.

Starting with reporters . . .

Iraqi journalist killed by Daesh: Qais Talal Agha show same respect we give to western journos

Qais was kidnapped last June and executed Wednesday in Mosul with his corpse handed over to his family afterwards.  The Journalistic Freedoms Observatory notes that 8 more journalists are said to be held by the Islamic State in Nineveh Province. Qais was 27 years old.

That murder is outrageous.

It's also all too common in Iraq.

Iraqis may recoil at the actions of the Islamic State but they're not pushed into the arms of their government -- no, not when their government is beating up journalists.

Wednesday saw a reporter and photographer for the Sumerian Channel severely beaten and a number of other journalists were harmed -- they were attacked by security forces in Baghdad who were insisting upon seeing their cell phones.  Al Arabiya News reports:

Several journalists were beaten on Wednesday during a press conference with senior government officials held at the Al-Nahrain Strategic Studies Center in Baghdad, Al Arabiya News Channel reported.
Al Arabiya’s correspondent in Baghdad said the journalists were assaulted by the body guards of National Security Advisor Faleh Al Fayad when some of them demanded more time to film the event, which was also attended by Interior Minister Mohammed Ghabban and Iraq's Military Spokesman Saad Maan.

Alsumaria notes that today another group of journalists were attacked when they openly protested yesterday's attack.  They were attacked by Iraqi forces.  Today's attack took place in Baghdad's Tahrir Square and left several reporters beaten including an Al-Fayhaa photographer.

It's such a public nightmare that even Iraq's laughable Ministry of Human Rights has had to issue a statement decrying the attack.  All Iraq News notes National Alliance MP Hamdiya al-Husseiny has denounced the attacks.  Alsumaria notes that Diyala Province Governor Amer Nostra is demanding that those responsible for the attacks be punished.  Meanwhile the Observatory for Journalistic Freedoms is stating that an apology will not suffice and will not be accepted, that the attack is an attack on basic rights and an apology will accomplish nothing.

All Iraq News reports Speaker of Parliament Saleem al-Jubouri has declared that legal actions will be taken against those who attacked the journalists. While journalists attached to the United Nations in Geneva are calling for an investigation into the "criminal" attacks.

So how many billion has the US taxpayer forked over for the training of Iraqi forces?

Back in January, Loveday Morris (Washington Post) reported on US training efforts and observed, "Years after the U.S. military tried to create a new army in Iraq -- at a cost of over $25 billion -- American trainers have returned to help rebuild the country’s fighting force."


So they can kill journalists more quickly?

Why are US tax dollars being used to provide training and weapons to forces who openly and publicly attack the press?

And does the US press think that if they ignore it (a) they're helping US President Barack Obama and (b) being real journalists?

On (a), probably.

They whore constantly.

On (b), let's remember that when a US reporter dies, the US press expects the entire world to stop and mourn.

But the same press ignored all the deaths of Iraqi journalists.

Their true outrage over the Islamic State, please remember, has nothing to do with what the Islamic State does in Iraq.  It has to do with one American reporter and one American-Israeli reporter being killed by the Islamic State.

When that happened, they went crazy, they put on the hair shirts, they wailed, they wanted 'justice.'

When it's the Iraqis that suffer, the US press really doesn't give a damn.

You can tell by the fact that they don't even pretend to be interested in any of the daily (ongoing) violence in Iraq.

A point this Tweet really dries home.

                           Retweeted 5,517 times

While CNN talks Nutella and Kittens, they ignore the 50 Muslims slaughtered in the streets of Iraq today by the Shia.

In other violence, Alsumaria reports a roadside bombing southwest of Baghdad left 2 parents and their daughter dead,  All Iraq News states over "150 civilians" were executed in Anbar today by the Islamic State.  Margaret Griffis ( counts 196 violent deaths today throughout Iraq.

Still no political solutions in sight to stem the violence.

But Barack's always up for tossing the US military at any problem -- apparently mistaking trained forces for a giant paper towel from a roll of Bounty.

Alsumaria reports US Marines -- about 3,000 -- are now on the ground in Iraq to participate in the upcoming effort to seize control of Mosul (which the Islamic State has controlled since June).  3,000 is not being reported in the US.

Zero is being reported in the US.

In fact, when even the possibility is floated,   MSM outlets tends to avert their gaze and turn their heads.  Jason Ditz ( notes, "US officials are now saying that the offensive against the ISIS-held city of Mosul will be supported by the US, with both airstrikes and “if necessary” US ground troops backing the Iraqi military."

Ditz links to the only MSM outlet noting US troops possibly being involved in an assault to take back Mosul, NBC News' Jim Miklaszewski who opens with:

Iraqi military forces backed by U.S. airstrikes and possibly American ground troops could launch an assault to wrest control of the city of Mosul from ISIS as early as April, a senior U.S. official told NBC News on Thursday.      

Paul McLeary (Defense News) also cites an unnamed CENTCOM official as his source for these numbers, "Approximately 20,000 to 25,000 Iraqi and Peshmerga troops will move on the city to retake it from an estimated 2,000 IS fighters -- an attacking force that will include five Iraqi Army brigades, three peshmerga brigades, and former Mosul police forces, tribal fighters, and Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service troops."

If you're thinking this is a source Paul has cultivated and worked . . .

You're wrong.

This was not a private conversation.

It was a background briefing.

Here's how that works, the Pentagon is the john insisting on his fantasies being played out and the press are the whores working to make the fantasy come true.

At least Nancy A. Youssef (Daily Beast) provides some context when repeating the words the Pentagon wants the news to carry:

That the Pentagon would announce the makeup, time frame, and goal of a military campaign is unusual, particularly against a group considered to be one of the world’s most lethal. Indeed, ISIS stormed Mosul (and took control of it on June 10) in large part because the Iraqi forces stationed there ran away from their posts. ISIS’s swift sweep through Mosul sparked the U.S.-led military campaign.
[. . .]
The CENTCOM official said he was announcing the details of the upcoming operation to demonstrate “the level of commitment… to this upcoming operation.”

Press Association notes that the effort will begin in March . . .

or . . .

. . .  April.

The Pentagon's not sure which.

Doesn't exactly build confidence, does it?

"we are not at war with Islam" says Obama. But he is at war in 5 Islamic countries (Afg, Iraq & drones in Yemen,Pak & Somalia)
0 replies 74 retweets 56 favorites

Good point.  We noted the remark and the perception in yesterday's snapshot and also pointed out:

Today, he decided to speak on behalf of Muslims.
And he's not a Muslim.
How do you think that plays in the Middle East?
The man who's bombing Iraq, the man whose drones are killing civilians in Yemen and Pakistan and elsewhere, this man declared today -- this non-Muslim -- what is and isn't Islam, what is and isn't the proper practice.
How do you think that plays out?
There's a good chance that Barack put his big foot in his big mouth yet again and only did more damage.

How do you think it plays out, Barack lecturing the Muslim world?

If you're still pondering that, All Iraq News reports:

The head of the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council, Ammar al-Hakim, denounced the "double standards of the US towards fighting terrorism, considering these double standards as "helpful factor for encouraging terrorism."
In his speech at the weekly cultural Forum he holds in his office in Baghdad, al-Hakim said "We heard reports over killing a Muslim family in the US for racist reasons but we did not hear any denouncement for this crime," noting that "Even the US President took many days to issue a denouncement for this crime which is considered a clear evidence for double standards." 

That's not Moqtada al-Sadr, cleric and movement leader, speaking.  Moqtada?  The press loves to call him "radical cleric" because he opposes US forces on Iraqi soil and always has and because he's repeatedly called out the US government.

No, that's Ammar.  Ammar who, like his late father, has always been a friend to the US government.

Ammar who many administration officials were saying should be named Iraq's new prime minister (instead it was Haider al-Abadi).

Ammar felt the need to call out Barack.

The xenophobia of the White House is matched only by its hubris.

Again, there are times when, if you're smart, you learn to shut your mouth.

I know Bill Clinton, I like Bill Clinton.  So you can dismiss this observation if you need to.  But when Bill Clinton hosted events -- like Barack's summit this week -- he was more than happy to let others shine.  He was more than happy to let others speak.

By contrast, Barack's got to be the center of attention, the one who knows everything and can't stop talking.  It's a 'summit' in name only.  The entire purpose for everyone to assemble and listen to Barack drone on.

The world did not need non-Muslim Barack explaining what was and wasn't Islam.  In a world in which Muslims are repeatedly persecuted, the last thing needed was a non-Muslim standing up and trying to be the voice -- the single voice -- of a group he's not even a part of.  Pompous doesn't begin to describe it.  And it was and it is offensive.

Mr. Know It All
Well ya think you know it all
But ya don't know a thing at all
Ain't it, ain't it something y'all
When somebody tells you something 'bout you
Think that they know you more than you do
So you take it down another pill to swallow

-- "Mr. Know It All," written by Brian Seals, Ester Dean, Brett James, Dante Jones, first recorded by  Kelly Clarkson for her album Stronger

Barack chose to grand stand and lecture yesterday.  Today, Ammar al-Hakim had words for Barack.  You can be sure others in the Middle East felt even more strongly than Ammar.

The government of Iraq has wrongly claimed the right to Jewish artifacts. The Jews were persecuted in Iraq prior to the 2003 invasion.  Following the start of the Iraq War, the Jewish community was targeted even more and has dwindled to approximately 5 people.  Yet the Iraqi government believes that the Jewish property that they stole or that they forced Jews to leave behind somehow belongs to them.

There's the exhibit that we've gone over repeatedly.  But there's also an artifact that has made it to Israel -- a 200-year-old Torah scroll -- and no one seems to know how.

Some thought the US government might have had it and kept it out of the official archive (that they restored and digitized and plan to hand over to the Iraqi government).

In response to this suspicion, last month the US Embassy in Baghdad issued the following:

Regarding the Status of the Iraqi Jewish Archive

January 28, 2015
The Iraqi Jewish Archive remains in the custody of the U.S. National Archives and Record Administration while plans are finalized on future exhibitions in the United States.  None of the materials in the Iraqi Jewish Archive have traveled outside of the United States.  The United States continues to abide by the terms of its agreement with the Government of Iraq.

The exhibit of the material in Washington in 2013 and New York in 2014 has led to increased understanding between Iraq and the United States, and a greater recognition of the diverse heritage of Iraq.  We look forward to continuing our cooperation with the Government of Iraq on this matter so that the exhibit can be displayed in other cities in the United States.

Again, no one knows how the scroll left Iraq and ended up in Israel.  Last month, Justin Moyer (Washington Post) offered:

How the scroll left Iraq isn’t clear. Jews emigrating to Israel from Iraq were once forbidden from taking cultural objects. But the scroll may have been smuggled out of the country after the United States’s invasion in 2003. The scroll had ended up at Israel’s embassy in Jordan, where Jewish artifacts were often brought after the beginning of the Iraq War. It may even have been salvaged by U.S. soldiers.

But after a mob attacked Israel’s embassy in Cairo in 2011, Jordan didn’t seem like such a safe place for a Torah after all.

We bring up the issue today because former prime minister and forever thug Nouri al-Maliki is more than just one of Iraq's three vice presidents.  He's also the subject of intense debate and speculation in Arabic social media where his criminality is always being discussed.

This week's big Nouri speculation?  That Nouri actually arranged for the scroll to work its way to Israel in a long process that would hide his involvement in the scroll's journey and that he did this for the cash with the Israeli government paying him several million dollars.

Is it true?

Who knows?

I'd guess not.

But Nouri told so many lies when he was prime minister (and attacked and killed so many people) and destroyed Iraq that it's only fitting that whenever anything controversial arises, he is always the first person suspected of wrong doing.

jim miklaszewski
ned parker
nancy a. youssef
the daily beast

jason ditz

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Go read Glen Ford!

At Black Agenda Report, Glen Ford has an amazing essay which includes:

President Obama is a master of military supply and demand. His operatives and allies supply jihadists with enough weapons, financing and, in the case of Libya, a Euro-American air force, to plunge vast tracts of Africa and Asia into bloody chaos, thus creating a demand for intervention by the planet’s only “indispensable” nation: the United States. It’s a diabolical formula for fomenting hell on earth, driven by a simple logic: Since the U.S. is superior to the rest of the world ONLY in military terms, Washington finds its ultimate advantage in turning the whole world into a battlefield. U.S. imperialism in terminal decay sees no salvation except through global war.
Of necessity, Obama is a flame-thrower, a fire-spitter, a pyromaniac on a mission to incinerate humanity’s capacity to resist – a vision shared by the jihadist death cults America has incubated for the past four decades.
ISIS, the Islamic State, begat by Al Qaida, which was begat by Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the U.S. in Afghanistan, now declares sovereignty over portions of Libya, having occupied much of Syria and Iraq and planted the black flag in southern Yemen and the suburbs of Paris, where its token presence is enough to drive millions of Europeans into a decrepit Crusader palsy. A subcontinent of thieves who have plundered the planet for half a millennia vow to send the dark Others back to “their own countries” – as if Europe had not stolen these African and Asian homelands long ago. In the end, however, what Europe will send is more weapons to the jihadists, mimicking Uncle Sam.

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

Wednesday, February 18, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, BBC News blows the whistle on the White House's big summit, US President Barack Obama continues to make everything about himself, US Secretary of State John Kerry tries to sound smart (but doesn't come off that way), State Dept Marie Harf continues to come under fire for her remarks (surprise: we defend her remarks), possible candidate for the GOP's presidential nomination Jeb Bush finds he does have to talk Iraq (including the past), and much more.

Andrew Buncombe and Michael Day (Independent) quote US President Barack Obama declaring today, "We are not at war with Islam."  Of course, yesterday speaking to the National Press Club, as Jason Ditz ( noted, Attorney General Eric Holder declared the US was "not in a time of war."  The full quote actually is, "Now we're not in a time of war, I understand that."

Let's there's Iraq, Afghanistan, The Drone War, still Libya . . .

What world is Eric Holder living in because it's not the rest of us occupy.

His statement is so astounding it could be key in a committal hearing.

But Eric need not worry because what is the current administration if not a living tribute and salute to John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces?

If Vice President Joe Biden isn't garnering attention for groping some man or woman, it's because one of the other members of the administration opened their mouth.

Today, at Barack's big summit, for example, there was John Kerry who appears bound and determined to end his career as a laughing stock.  Doubt it?

Secretary of State John Kerry:  We’re here for a simple, transcendent reason: To safeguard the future for our people, all of our citizens, and to safeguard it from people who slaughter children, innocent children in a Pakistani school; people who pin price tags on little girls in Iraq and sell them into slavery; people who put a devout Muslim from Jordan in a fiery cage for all to see; people who send young women into the markets in Nigeria with orders to blow themselves up; people who murder Jews in France and Christians in Egypt just because they belong to a different faith; people who execute a good and brave Japanese man because his government pledged humanitarian assistance -- I repeat humanitarian assistance -- to help the hurting and the homeless in the Middle East; people who kidnap a young woman from Arizona who perceived God in the eyes of the suffering and who dedicated her life to helping people in need in Syria. 

It's the sentence that never ends.

But long before he's left you gasping for breath, he's already made a complete ass out of himself.

"We're here for a simple, transcendent reason."

Are we here for a "simple reason" or for a "transcendent reason"?

Because, thing is, they're at odds.

It can't be both.

Does John know the English language?

Transcendent is mystical or spiritual or incomparable or peerless or unparalleled or unsurpassed or divine or . . .

None of that is simple.

As usual, John's efforts to try to come across erudite not only give them impression that he's stuffy but also that he's deeply stupid.

"Simple" said it all -- both for John Kerry and for the point he was trying to make.

But Mr. Fussy never can leave well enough alone, can he?

Barack's administration's become a lot like the weather -- if you don't like the current buffoon in the spotlight for whatever idiocy or faux pas just wait a few minutes and another member of the administration will take their place.

The embarrassing and multi-day summit the administration has staged is part of the buffoonery -- at least a response to it.

Barack's failure to join other world leaders in Paris for a Freedom March last January left him feeling a little pissy at the global criticism of his absence.  Which, "a former US intelligence official" tells Tara McKelvey (BBC News), is why the summit is taking place: "to tamp down criticism of Mr Obama for not being at the Paris march."  McKelvey reports:

Still the planning seems a bit chaotic. Invitations to the summit went out to foreign embassies on 29 January, a State Department official told me.
At an event at the Atlantic Council in Washington on the following day, European officials said they still weren't sure which minister would be appropriate to send to Washington.
Even those who are passionate about the goals of the summit - combating violent extremism - wonder about the optics - a term the Washington political class use to describe how an event is perceived.
One participant, a former State Department official, says there isn't enough time to coordinate ministers for public appearances - one of the main goals for this kind of event.

The Latin American Herald Tribune notes, "More than 50 countries since Tuesday have been participating in the summit in Washington and on Thursday many foreign and interior ministers will be on hand to share experiences of integration, education and police coordination in battling extremists."  Oriana Pawlyk (Military Times) notes one group that's not "actively" present: The Pentagon. Which might be a good thing for reasons we'll go into later.

Ian Hanchett ( notes US House Rep (and Iraq War veteran) Tulsi Gabbard appeared on Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto and offered this take on the summit:

Unless you accurately identify who your enemy is, then you can’t come up with an effective strategy, a winning strategy to defeat that enemy. My concern here with the summit that’s happening right now in Washington is that it really is a diversion from what our real focus needs to be, and that focus is on this Islamic extremist threat that is posed not only to the United States and the American people, but around the world. From what we’ve heard so far, the administration is really claiming that the motivation or the — the thing that’s fueling this terrorism, around the world, is something that has to do with poverty, has to do with a lack of jobs, or lack of access to education, really a materialistic motivation. And therefore, they are proposing that the solution must be to alleviate poverty around the world, to continue this failed Bush and Obama policy of nation building. The danger here is, again, that you’re not identifying the threat, and you’re not identifying the fact that they are not fueled by a materialistic motivation, it’s actually a theological, this radical Islamic ideology that is allowing them to continue to recruit, that is allowing them to continue to grow in strength and really that’s really fueling these horrific terrorist activities around the world.

You can agree with Gabbard's points or not.  I largely disagree with her (on ways to combat IS) but what's she stated, she's stated clearly which puts her miles ahead of Barack.

Speaking at the close of today's summit, he declared, "My point is this:  As Americans, we are strong and we are resilient."

Anytime you deliver 13 long, rambling sentences and then have to offer "My point is," you've failed as a public speaker.  In a speech, you make your "point" immediately and then develop it.

Here's Barack at his worst, at his most preening and at his most dangerous:

Al Qaeda and ISIL and groups like it are desperate for legitimacy.  They try to portray themselves as religious leaders -- holy warriors in defense of Islam.  That’s why ISIL presumes to declare itself the “Islamic State.”  And they propagate the notion that America -- and the West, generally -- is at war with Islam.  That’s how they recruit.  That’s how they try to radicalize young people.  We must never accept the premise that they put forward, because it is a lie.  Nor should we grant these terrorists the religious legitimacy that they seek.  They are not religious leaders -- they’re terrorists.  (Applause.)  And we are not at war with Islam.  We are at war with people who have perverted Islam.  (Applause.)

Most will miss it.

They missed as Iraq slid into one political crises after another and the Islamic State was able to enter the country and grab a foothold.

We didn't miss it.

And we don't miss the embarrassment in Barack's remarks above.

First on the name "Islamic State."  When the Weather Underground dubbed themselves that, they weren't claiming they controlled the weather or spoke for the four elements.

If that's confusing to Barack he could ask 'just a guy in my neighborhood' Bill Ayers.  Weren't they just at MSNBC host Alex Wagner's wedding this past summer?  Of course, Bill Ayers is a useless little bitch -- arm candy that went sour over the years.  Bernardine Dohrn is the thinker (and the doer) in that couple and always has been.  But, with help from Bernardine, even Bill could probably clarify that point for Barack.

Second, and this is the important part, Barack's not a Muslim.

This has been stated and stated repeatedly.  So much so that some, over the years (Naomi Klein, for example) have noted that the denials come off insulting -- as though there's something wrong with Islam or being a Muslim.

Any religion has degrees.

For example, categories of Judaism in the United States today would include Chasidic, Orthodox, Reform and Conservative.

There are many examples of violent wings of religion in the US.  You have a strand of Christianity who believe its acceptable to kill doctors and blow up clinics where abortions are performed.  You have a semi-lighter strand that doesn't believe in carrying those activities out themselves but does believe in applauding them.

Religion's a complex issue and people can easily get their feelings hurt -- rational people as well as radicals who may or may not resort to violence.

Which is why religion needs to be spoken of carefully.

Barack's not a Muslim.

Why is he speaking?

He claims there's no US war on Islam.

But if you ask people around the world, you'd find a significant number disagree.

Some would point out that Islam has been the chief characteristic for the wars the US has carried out since 2001.

Does that mean the US government is at war with or declared war on Islam?

It doesn't have to.

I don't personally believe that the US government is making a point to go after a religion.  I do feel they're making a point to go after resources but that's an argument for another day.

Whether you agree with the perception or not, that the US is at war with Islam, you need to be aware the perception is out there.

And while a number of us are aware Barack never knows when to shut his mouth and feels the whole world needs him uncesnored on Knaye West, the Superbowl, this and that, the reality is that his inflated ego does a lot of harm.

Today, he decided to speak on behalf of Muslims.

And he's not a Muslim.

How do you think that plays in the Middle East?

The man who's bombing Iraq, the man whose drones are killing civilians in Yemen and Pakistan and elsewhere, this man declared today -- this non-Muslim -- what is and isn't Islam, what is and isn't the proper practice.

How do you think that plays out?

There's a good chance that Barack put his big foot in his big mouth yet again and only did more damage.

Last week, we noted the words of Rania Al-Abdullah, Queen of Jordan.  In far less words than Barack used, she made similar points.  But she has standing.  She is a member of the region.  She is a Muslim.

She has standing.

She's not an outsider finger-pointing.

The White House and the State Dept failed to highlight the very important speech -- which was news in the Arab world -- that she gave.  They were too busy focusing on bombs but, clearly, Barack's speech writer(s) did study Rania Al-Abdullah's speech.

I'm not really seeing how a foreigner and non-Muslim telling the world what Islam is and isn't scores points.  I do see how it might antagonize and how it might backfire.

Barack's become the White man that wants to discuss racism as long as he can dictate the terms and define the boundaries.  Maybe it's his 'typical White person' grandma rubbing off on him?

I have no idea.

But when you're already dropping bombs on Muslims -- civilians as well as your so-called targets -- maybe you don't also get the right to speak for them or to define their religion to the world?

And maybe when you attempt either, you only inflame and anger people who might have been on the fence.  Maybe your refusal to give Muslims the basic respect they deserve only serves to radicalize others?

Last week, we covered the Queen of Jordan's speech in two snapshots because it was so important and so needed.  Again, clearly Barack's speechwriter(s) agreed with that assessment.

But while we covered it, the State Dept refused to even acknowledge it -- the same for the White House.

For this summit to have had any value, the White House should have invited Rainia Al-Abdullah to speak.

Instead of hearing from someone with personal experience and wisdom, Barack wanted to show boat.

I hope his ego got fed because nothing was accomplished with his remarks other than portraying the President of the United States as someone who would lecture Muslims and 'explain' to them what Islam really is about.

In addition, someone should clarify to the White House speech writers that a laundry list is not a speech.  And that for this function, the flourishes should have been kept to a minimum and the focus should have been on what can be done.

The White House speech writers may be paid to listen to Barack drone on but the international audience wasn't.

He needs to make his main points and do so quickly.

Barack wasn't the only one getting attention for a speech today.

There was also Jeb Bush who we were just noting in yesterday's snapshot -- specifically how he couldn't avoid the subject of Iraq -- even in part.

Stephen Collinson (CNN) observes:

Democrats are vowing to tether him to the controversial decisions of his brother, President George W. Bush, who they blame for starting a war in Iraq on false pretenses and for presiding over a disastrous occupation that cost trillions of dollars, thousands of U.S. and Iraqi lives and destabilized the region.
The challenges of addressing his family's foreign policy legacy are clear to Bush, who is already trying to defuse them.
"I love my father and my brother. I admire their service to the nation and the difficult decisions they had to make," Bush said Wednesday. "But I am my own man -- and my views are shaped by my own thinking and own experiences."

Igor Bobic (Huffington Post) reports:

"There were mistakes in Iraq for sure," the likely presidential candidate said in a Q&A session at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. "Using the intelligence capability that everybody embraced about weapons of mass destruction turns out to not be accurate. Not creating an environment of security after the successful taking out of [Iraqi dictator Saddam] Hussein was a mistake because Iraqis wanted security more than anything else."
"But my brother's administration, through the surge, which was one of the most heroic acts of courage politically that any president's done because there was no support for this, it was hugely successful, it created a stability when the new president came in," he added.

That talking point can be defeated very easily.

It can also be addressed stupidly which is probably how my side (the left) will handle it.

They will insist that the 'surge' was a failure and blah blah blah.

And in doing so they will anger military families and military members and veterans who rightly know that the US military succeeded with the 'surge.'

They did everything they were tasked to do, everything they were trained to do.

But Bully Boy Bush insisted the 'surge' had to take place to allow the political issues in Iraq to be resolved.

Don't we love how Oval Office occupants pretend to care about the political issues in Iraq?

At any rate, Bully Boy Bush had given Nouri al-Maliki (forever thug and then-prime minister) a set of benchmarks to meet so he could show progress in Iraq to the US Congress.

The 'surge' was supposed to provide the room, the space, for the political to be dealt with.

The US military did not fail in the 'surge.'

The White House failed.

Bully Boy Bush failed.

American troops risked their lives -- some lost their lives during the surge -- and did so to provide space for political solutions.

But none came, no political solutions came.

And that White House -- just like the current one -- just accepted it.

Didn't use the diplomatic tool box to force political movement.

Bully Boy Bush sent thousand of US troops into Iraq for the 'surge' and then failed to follow up on what the 'surge' was supposed to allow time for.

That's how you talk about the 'surge' because it's reality.

It's also how you talk about it if you're interested in pulling in voters as opposed to just preaching to your own tiny church.

Jeb could craft a winning response (I'm not here to help a Bush) that would tamp down briefly on criticism -- it wouldn't be a political response, it would be a personal one and he and his team can ponder that on their own.

But note how AP opens their coverage of Jeb's remarks today:

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said Wednesday there can be no diplomacy with Islamic State militants, but only a U.S.-led coalition of Middle Eastern countries committed to "tightening the noose and taking them out."

And that's why he can't avoid Iraq or his brother's actions with regards to Iraq.

He wants to suggest what needs to take place.

Most Americans -- as the polls demonstrate -- believe the Iraq War was a mistake.

He can't suggest future movement and be credible without acknowledging serious mistakes.

It's been noted by many Democratic observers that Hillary can't run on Barack and win.  There's not enough political support in the country for that.  Most -- check the polls -- have felt for some time now that the country was headed in the wrong direction -- on the economy and other factors.

She's going to have to distance herself if she runs for the DNC nomination.  Jeb and Hillary both are going to have to distance themselves if they want to win the White House.

Sadly, these are the two who appear to be the 'hope' for America at this point.

In yesterday's snapshot, we noted State Dept spokesperson Marie Harf and Jen Psaki and this lead to an e-mail from Newsbusters about Geoffrey Dickens' analysis of the lack of coverage on Harf's remarks from the networks.

I have no problem noting that item or linking to it.

But from the e-mail, it's clear I wasn't clear.

I think it's karma that Marie's being mocked.

I think it's fitting.

But not because I think she said something crazy.  This is also where I disagree with US House Rep Tulsi Gabbard who we noted much, much earlier.

Marie's right: Jobs are needed in Iraq.  (And she meant Syria as well but our focus is Iraq.)

Marie's comments weren't crazy.  Not to me.

That Newsbusters finds them so is not surprising, they look at the world from a different angle and that's good and it's good that we are all aware of that angle because we can toss things around in our minds and see what we back up and believe in.

For me, that's Marie's comments.

Her failure as spokesperson to note this in all the months since June go to why she deserves to be made fun of.

She hasn't done her job.

In fairness to her, and to Jen Psaki, the State Dept hasn't done its job.  John Kerry confused himself with Secretary of Defense and Barack has stupidly allowed that to take place -- even encouraged it.

In June, Barack noted the only solution for Iraq was a political solution, not a military one.

A political one involves jobs.

Iraq has a very young population and it has a very unemployed population.

I think we pitched, for three years, that Nouri needed to stop importing nurses from other countries and start educating Iraqis to take these positions.  Nouri finally seized on it after the April elections when he was desperate for a third term.

Iraq has all of these foreigners pouring into the country to do various jobs (and a number of them are victimized -- but that's another story).  This shouldn't be happening when Iraq's unemployment rate is in the double digits.

Marie is correct: Jobs are needed.

There are many other issues that could also help -- this is the political solution that Barack can talk about but apparently never order anyone in the administration to work on.

'They just need jobs' is an oversimplification.  It's not what Marie Harf meant.  She was attempting to speak -- no one ever gets a chance to speak clearly when they're opposite motor mouth Chris Matthews -- about the landscape of changes that could make a huge difference in Iraq.

She's taken a lot of flack for her remarks.

And I don't shed a tear because she and the State Dept should have been selling this all along.  They wait over half a year after Barack's given his 'political solution required' speech (which was a strong one, by the way) to attempt to expand on it.

So that's on them.

Lastly, Margaret Griffis ( counts 194 violent deaths in Iraq today.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Show Holder the door already

I'm not a fan of Barack's nominee to be the next Attorney General (not an enemy either) but I wish the Senate would confirm Loretta Lynch already if only so Eric Holder could retire.

Jason Ditz ( reports Holder appeared at the National Press Club today and tried to minimize and justify the White House's attacks on the press:

Holder conceded that the US is not yet “in a time of war,” but cited censorship during World War 2 as an example of the government’s ability to clamp down on the press when they feel it necessary.
“In World War II, if a reporter had found out about that existence of the Manhattan Project, is that something that should have been disclosed?” Holder asked, by way of providing an “example” of the need to limit media coverage.

Eric Holder has been an awful attorney general.

He can't leave soon enough.

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

Tuesday, February 17, 2016. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, the Islamic State stages a mass execution of civilians, Rand Paul is seen to be using Iraq as a campaign issue, Jeb Bush thinks he may be able to seek the GOP presidential nomination and dodge the topic of Iraq, Hillary Clinton remains the example of how you can't run from the topic of Iraq, Senator Barbara Boxer stands up, John Nichols props up Congressional embarrassment Barbara Lee, Marie Harf becomes a topic of ridicule outside the Arab world, and much more.

Akbar Shahid Ahmed (Huffington Post) reports, "Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is showing signs of trying to burnish his foreign policy credentials ahead of a likely run for president in 2016, establishing himself as a leader in the debate over an authorization to fight the Islamic State and backing away from previous views that critics called too isolationist."

Yes, Iraq will be an issue in the 2016 US presidential race.  It should have been one in 2012 but Mitt Romney, carrying the Republican ticket, was an idiot and the press wasn't interested in truth.  As September 2012 closed down, when Tim Arango squeezed into an article on Syria the news that US President Barack Obama had just sent a brigade of Special-Ops into Iraq in the fall of 2012.

See 'journalist' Jill Abramson didn't think the news was important enough for the front page.  She didn't think it warranted its own story.  She thought the September 2012 revelation was too close to the November 2012 election.

She thought burying a scoop and betraying the paper's own interests were what a journalist did.

Cheap liar Jill is no longer party of the New York Times.

She's sewer garbage.  She'll never come back out of the gutter.

Anytime the little liar tries, she'll find the same stiletto heel on top of her head that ensured her precious Will had to give up his dreams.

Here's what Tim Arango got into his New York Times report on Syria:

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.        

See that was huge.

Unlike Jill Abramson, we didn't bury here.  We wrote about it repeatedly because, though I have many faults and sins, being a cheap whore -- one with really bad fashion sense -- is not among my faults or sins.

See Jill wanted to run the paper but, in the end, she ruined the paper by killing one report on the White House after another because more than truth, more than justice, she wanted Barack to have a second term.  And that's what turned the family on her,  All the documentation on all the stories the paper had that she either downplayed or outright killed.

In the end, her whoring killed her career.  She gives speeches now where she pretends she was a brave journalist.  And somehow, every time she does, whispers to the press -- magic? --  reveal she is lying yet again and that she was lying back then.

Let her downfall be a lesson to the rest of the press.

Mitt Romney's campaign thought the American people were too stupid to process on Iraq.

They wanted to claim Barack destroyed Iraq by pulling all troops out of Iraq.

They saw that as portraying him as weak.

Okay, if that's your campaign point then what would paint Barack as weaker than tying on reality to your talking point?

"He pulled all the troops out of Iraq and now things are so bad he's secretly sending Special-Ops back in.  But he refuses to tell the American people that he did it because he refuses to admit just how much he screwed up."

They could have sold that.

It would have put Barack on the defensive and taken Mitt off (the press was attacking Mitt for his remarks on Benghazi).

But due to stupidity or whatever, the Mitt Romney campaign decided to fight so weakly no one would mistake it for fighting -- or even campaigning.

It's also true that the press didn't give a damn about Iraq.  They were bored with the topic.  Which is why Tim Arango's revelation, which preceded the presidential debates, was never raised in one of them -- not even by 'fact' obsessed Candy Crowley.

They wanted to play, the poor bored press, so overpaid and so underworked, they wanted to offer breezy, superficial coverage on superficial topics -- that's part of the reason they took sides on Benghazi (the side being 'ask no questions!').

But lazy bastards that they are, they're going to have to acknowledge Iraq in their 2016 'coverage.'

Not because of Rand Paul.

But because it looks like Hillary Clinton's going to be running for the Democratic Party's nomination and Jeb Bush is going to run for the Republican Party's nomination.

Last week, Jeb Bush held a press conference.  Philip Rucker (Washington Post) reported that Jeb announced he wouldn't discuss the Iraq War.

And Jeb's supposed to be the smart Bush?

There's CIA Bush -- dogged by all sorts of sexual rumors and predator rumors over the past decades  -- and there's crooked Bush who made money despite the failure of Silverado Savings and Loans.  Then there's terrorist friendly Marvin Bush and there's Jeb who is considered the 'smart' Bush by default?  When Bully Boy Bush George W. is your brother, maybe being the smart Bush requires only that you stand up right and wipe your own ass?

How else to explain his declaring at the press conference, when asked about Iraq and Afghanistan, "I won't talk about the past.  I'll talk about the future."

You don't get that option with an ongoing war.  You do have to talk about the past and how the current reality was arrived at.

That's whether or not your own brother started the Iraq War which, for the record, Jeb's brother did.

Ed O'Keefe and Philip Rucker (Washington Post) report today on how he stumbled in a December speech when he tried to slam Barack on Iraq.

Iraq will be an issue regardless -- Barack's inept response to the Islamic State ensures that -- but if Jeb Bush mounts a campaign for the GOP nomination, he will have to address Iraq.

Meanwhile, there's the Democratic side of the equation.  Hillary Clinton announcing she's running will be greeted with yawns because she's bored everyone with her will-she-or-won't-she for so long.  Dana Milbank (Washington Post) provides a run down of her (male) staff.

In 2008, Hillary's support for the Iraq War was used to destroy her shot at the nomination.  (In fairness to Hillary, the DNC worked overtime to ensure she wouldn't win but Iraq was the focal point of her failure.)

Following her failure to be the Democratic presidential nominee in 2008, Hillary took the post of Secretary of State.  It was supposed to prove she was a team player and rational.

Instead of being seen as rational, she's became one of the most vocal advocates for war on Libya.  Refer to  Glenn Greenwald's  "Hailed As A Model For Successful Intervention, Libya Proves To Be The Exact Opposite" for what a success that Barack war has turned out not to be.

And she ended her State Dept career with an embarrassing performance before the Congress as she snarled and screamed, "What difference at this point does it make!"  [See the  January 23, 2013 snapshot., the January 24, 2013 snapshot,  Wally's "Facts matter, Hillary (Wally),"   Ava's  "20 are still at risk says Hillary in an aside (Ava)," Ruth's "Like watching Richard Nixon come back to life" and Kat's  "Can she not answer even one damn question?"]  Senator John McCain's anger issues and rage issues were used against him in the 2008 presidential race.  And his detractors didn't even have footage of McCain in a calm setting going crazy.

Hillary could have told the truth at any point when she was Secretary of State -- that she wasn't over Iraq.  She was shut out by the administration.  But she wanted to preen and pose and pretend she was all powerful.  So now she really can't point to the White House failures in Iraq and say, "I wasn't in charge."  Though she wasn't in charge to only admit it now would look self-serving.  (Check the archives, since 2009 we pointed out that she needed to get honest about that and that a failure to do so would seriously harm a 2016 presidential run.)

She owns Iraq if/when she runs for the Democratic Party nomination.  That's partly Barack's responsibility and we'll get to that later.

But the Islamic State, even were it wiped away next month, ensures that foreign policy will be a part of the 2016 presidential race.

Senator Elizabeth Warren isn't running and couldn't win if she did.  She has no standing on foreign relations, among other problems.  The only Democrat that could seriously run and take on the issue of Iraq on the campaign trail is probably former US Senator Russ Feingold.

Credentials on Iraq can't be faked again.  A press wanting 'social justice' (their idiotic notion of it) committed to electing Barack and allowed him to fake his 'strong' opposition to the Iraq War. It's doubtful the press could get away with it again.  Nor are they vested in Elizabeth Warren who has a very bad reputation among the press (they see her as "haughty").

Let's turn from the potential 2016 contenders and Iraq to the topic of Iraq and the US Congress.

Today's a tale of two Barbaras.  Senator Barbara Boxer has already announced she's not seeking re-election.  And maybe that's why she can speak a little stronger than her colleagues?  She pens a column carried by the Desert Sun which notes:

President Barack Obama is absolutely correct that our nation must confront these ruthless terrorists. But he was also correct to promise that America would not be sending U.S. combat troops back to the Middle East to fight another ground war.
This is the commitment the president made last June when he said, “I think we always have to guard against mission creep, so let me repeat what I’ve said in the past: American combat troops are not going to be fighting in Iraq again.” He made the same point again during his State of the Union Address last month when he stated, “Instead of getting dragged into another ground war in the Middle East, we are leading a broad coalition, including Arab nations, to degrade and ultimately destroy this terrorist group.”
That is why I was so surprised by the administration’s draft AUMF which would allow this administration and the next one broad discretion to commit American troops in the fight against ISIL. The only limitation is no “enduring offensive ground combat operations.”
At best, this language is vague, overly broad and confusing — and no one has defined the meaning of “enduring.” At worst, it is a dangerous loophole that could lead to another large-scale conflict involving tens of thousands of American troops. I cannot and will not support such an AUMF.

Apparently, she's decided she'll end her Congressional career with strength and conviction.

But then there's the ridiculous US House Rep Barbara Lee who used to be a serious voice -- or seen as such -- against wars in the days before Barack Obama became president of the United States.  In the time since, she's become such an embarrassment that she even lied repeatedly in her ghost written biography (the publisher knew and reworked statements in most cases but it still contained outright lies when it was published).

Last week, we called her out for her weak-ass statement on the AUMF.  Today, political closet case John Nichols treats the statement as if its a series of wonderful responses to questions he has asked  -- most will assume he spoke with Lee for his piece.  It's amazing the lies that this dishonest group tells.  They lie and they lie again and they whine about accountability when it comes to others.

But John Nichols 'distinguished' himself in 2008 by rushing to the defense of War Hawk Samantha Power -- with lies -- while ignoring the real reason she had to drop Barack's campaign (telling the BBC that Barack's promise to pull US troops out of Iraq in 10 months wasn't a promise).  He's never apologized for his lies, he's never even acknowledged them,.  In February 2008, when Barack's campaign was trashing NAFTA publicly while privately telling Canadian officials it was just talk to win votes, John Nichols went on Democracy Now! to insist the story was wrong (AP had broken the story) and it was really Hillary and he had the scoop and he would be breaking at The Nation.

There was no scoop.

He was lying yet again.

As he always does.

But his lies -- and Amy Goodman's help with them -- stopped outrage at Barack and helped change the discussion.

That's what John Nichols does.

This is the man who pulled together a book on impeachment of Bully Boy Bush and yet, when it was published, walked away from it because Nancy Pelosi declared impeachment was off the table.

John Nichols is a joke -- a dirty joke.

It's great that John continues to promote Barbara Lee because, in doing so, he makes it clear that she's a liar as well because why else would he promote her?

Today, BBC News reports 45 people have been "burned to death" in al-Baghdadi which is south of Haditha and to the northwest of Baghdad. Jason Ditz ( notes officials state 30 burned corpses have been recovered so far.

Saif Hameed, David Alexander, Stephen Kaplin and Gareth Jones (Reuters) reported last week that the city was seized by the Islamic State last Thursday.  Laura Smith-Spark and Jim Sciutto (CNN) reported that the next day Iraqi ground troops attempted to take back the town on Friday and US helicopters and pilots were deployed to help in the failed operation.

The US involvement in the failed operation was sort of pushed under the rug.  Not just because it revealed what a lie Barack's claim that US troops would not see combat but also because it demonstrated that the combined might of the Iraqi forces and the US military had failed against the Islamic State in something as simple as taking back a small town.

Alessandria Masi (IBT) noted that al-Baghdadi was "just 3 miles (5 km) from the Ain al-Asad U.S. Marine Corps base, where roughly 320 Americans are stationed to train Iraqi soldiers." 

Had the White House done their job, right now this would be the end of the Islamic State.

June 13, 2014, he stated:

I do want to be clear though, this is not solely or even primarily a military challenge.  Over the past decade, American troops have made extraordinary sacrifices to give Iraqis an opportunity to claim their own future.  Unfortunately, Iraq’s leaders have been unable to overcome too often the mistrust and sectarian differences that have long been simmering there, and that’s created vulnerabilities within the Iraqi government as well as their security forces.
So any action that we may take to provide assistance to Iraqi security forces has to be joined by a serious and sincere effort by Iraq’s leaders to set aside sectarian differences, to promote stability, and account for the legitimate interests of all of Iraq’s communities, and to continue to build the capacity of an effective security force.  We can’t do it for them.  And in the absence of this type of political effort, short-term military action, including any assistance we might provide, won’t succeed. 
So this should be a wake-up call.  Iraq’s leaders have to demonstrate a willingness to make hard decisions and compromises on behalf of the Iraqi people in order to bring the country together.  In that effort, they will have the support of the United States and our friends and our allies. 

The White House was smart enough to put the words in Barack's mouth, they just weren't smart enough to execute those orders.

And all these months later, people are starting to notice the White House's refusal to work towards political solutions in Iraq.

And now some are being held up for ridicule.

While Secretary of State John Kerry has repeatedly confused himself with the Secretary of Defense, the State Dept spokespersons Marie Harf and Jen Psaki have confused themselves with DoD spokespersons as they trumpeted the bombing efforts of the Defense Dept because they had nothing to trumpet on the diplomatic front in Iraq.  

Sunday, Marie tried to fall back on the political solution is necessary when appearing on Meet The Press.  Maybe because she's spent months ignoring that point, she's being mocked and so is Psaki. At the conservative National Review, Ian Tuttle opens his mocking with:

Never in the history of public relations have an institution and its representatives been so mismatched as at the current U.S. Department of State, where, tasked with articulating America’s position toward Middle East terror outfits, Russian aggression, and the world’s other vicissitudes, are Jen Psaki and Marie Harf, currently in the midst of an interminable Lucy-and-Ethel routine as Foggy Bottom’s spokesperson and deputy spokesperson, respectively. In an administration that has always given the distinct impression of being directed by second-year poli-sci majors from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, Psaki and Harf are the only two under the impression that Legally Blonde was a documentary — one that they are apparently trying to recreate, with little success, at Foggy Bottom.

Matt Wilstein (Mediaite) adds:

Tonight, she joined Wolf Blitzer on CNN’s The Situation Room and attempted to clarify her point.
“I’m not the first person to say something like this,” Harf said. “Military commanders that we’ve had throughout many years here fighting this war on terrorism have said the exact same thing, that in the short term when there’s a threat like ISIL. We’ll take direct military action against these terrorists. We have done that. We are doing that in Iraq and Syria. But longer term, we have to look at how we combat the conditions that can lead people to turn to extremism.”
“So you suggested that maybe if you find these young men jobs, they might not become terrorists?” Blitzer asked, echoing her critics, prompting Harf to call his statement a “gross oversimplification.”
“We cannot kill every terrorist around the world, nor should we try,” Harf said later. “How do you get at the root causes of this? It might be too nuanced an argument for some, like I’ve seen over the last 24 hours some of the commentary out there, but it’s really the smart way that Democrats, Republicans, our partners in the Arab world think we need to combat it.”

The US State Dept continues to stumble.  For example, they refused to have Marie moderate today's briefing -- as if that would vanish the criticism being made.

Of course, the issue was raised in the press briefing and here's Jen Psaki stumbling like an idiot:

QUESTION: Great. Last one: Marie Harf, your colleague, last night I think it was, was on MSNBC saying that we can’t win this war by killing them – when she was talking about ISIS – we cannot kill our way out of this war; we need a longer-term, medium-long-term get after the root causes. She talked about finding jobs for people in these countries where they see no hope. What was she trying to say there?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think, Ed, she – Marie, my colleague, was saying what we’ve said many times, which is this is not only a military solution. A military solution will not bring an end to ISIL. That’s why there are several components of our coalition. Yes, the military component is important, and we’ve done thousands of strikes in Iraq and Syria. That’s continuing to pick up, as you know, and you’ve covered quite a bit. But we also need to delegitimize ISIL. If the ideology is out there and growing, we – ISIL will continue to grow and thrive. We need to cut off their financing, we need to prevent foreign fighters from moving.
And I – she was also talking about, in her interview, not just ISIL but the CVE summit – and the CVE summit that we’ll be hosting – and I know is happening at the White House over where you are right now – is broad; it’s not just about ISIL – that certainly is a part of it, but it’s about countering violent extremism and how to take on this threat over the long term. And obviously there are several components of that as – and the evidence of that is also all of the different breakout groups that are happening throughout the summit. But again, I think this is something we’ve talked about quite a bit, and the need to make sure we’re working with countries to address some of the root causes that have led to the ability to recruit.

Notice how they don't answer the question.

What she should have done was referenced Barack's June comments:

I do want to be clear though, this is not solely or even primarily a military challenge.  Over the past decade, American troops have made extraordinary sacrifices to give Iraqis an opportunity to claim their own future.  Unfortunately, Iraq’s leaders have been unable to overcome too often the mistrust and sectarian differences that have long been simmering there, and that’s created vulnerabilities within the Iraqi government as well as their security forces.
So any action that we may take to provide assistance to Iraqi security forces has to be joined by a serious and sincere effort by Iraq’s leaders to set aside sectarian differences, to promote stability, and account for the legitimate interests of all of Iraq’s communities, and to continue to build the capacity of an effective security force.  We can’t do it for them.  And in the absence of this type of political effort, short-term military action, including any assistance we might provide, won’t succeed. 
So this should be a wake-up call.  Iraq’s leaders have to demonstrate a willingness to make hard decisions and compromises on behalf of the Iraqi people in order to bring the country together.  In that effort, they will have the support of the United States and our friends and our allies. 

They don't reference them because the White House has been unwilling to focus on political solutions.

And that's why, all these months of bombing from the air later, there's no real movement in Iraq and the White House has no lveerage.

Sunnis are more horrified by the Islamic State than ever.  But there was nothing done to reach out to them in all this time.

Instead Barack and the White House have willfully and actively looked the other way as their latest puppet (Haider al-Abadi) has continued the targeting of the Sunnis, using Shi'ite militias (as did Nouri) intent on killing Sunni civilians as 'legitimate' forces in Iraq.

As much as last Friday's US military effort to take back al-Baghdadi failed, an even bigger failure has been the White House's non-work towards a political solution.
Examining the Shi'ite militias today, Liz Sly (Washington Post) offers:

The militias’ growing clout is calling into question the sustainability of a strategy in which U.S. warplanes are bombing from the sky to advance the consolidation of power on the ground by groups that are backed by Iran and potentially hostile to the United States, analysts say.

If the fighting continues on its current trajectory, there is a real risk the United States will defeat the Islamic State but lose Iraq to Iran in the process, said Michael Knights of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Though Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has welcomed American assistance and is calling for more, the militias’ strength threatens to undermine his authority and turn Iraq into a version of Lebanon, where a weak government is hostage to the whims of the powerful Hezbollah movement.

Lastly, Margaret Griffis ( notes 167 violent deaths across Iraq today and "According to the Minority Rights Group International and the Ceasefire Centre for Civilian Rights as many as 10,000 Iraqi women have been trafficked into sexual slavery or for ransom."

the washington post
liz sly

jason ditz

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

We never stand up

Mondays are the worst.

Aren't they?

But if the neoliberals in the Democratic Party have their way that won't be the case.  If they have their way, they'll destroy not only pensions but also the five day work week.  We'll be back to seven days a week of work.  For peanuts, of course.

At what point do we realize this party is betraying us and say: Show us some needed action on jobs and wages or we won't turn out for you?

One election we sat out because they were betraying us, and I bet they'd learn a lesson.

But with weak scabs like Michael Moore, no one's going to take a stand.

Isaiah took a stand with The World Today Just Nuts  "No Friend To Sunnis."
Haider al-Abadi is overseeing ethnic cleansing in Iraq.

And Barack knows it.

But looks the other way.

And gets away with it.

New content at Third:

And it was created by Dallas and the following:

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

Monday, February 16, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, Haider al-Abadi continues to (at the very least) tolerate ethnic cleansing in Iraq, an assassination of a Sunni sheikh leads to a walk-out, Iran's influence on Iraq garners some press attention, we continue to cover Thursday Congressional hearing on the AUMF, and much more.

NBC News correspondent Richard Engel has long reported on Iraq and recently returned from yet another trip to the country.  Appearing Sunday on Meet The Press (NBC), he was asked by host Chuck Todd about his impressions.

Richard Engel:  I was incredibly depressed, frankly. I knew that Iraq was in bad shape. It was even worse than I thought. ISIS is a huge problem in Iraq, in Syria. But unless you confront the much bigger issues, the issue of will Kurdistan be an independent state? What happens to Sunni areas? Will the government in Baghdad continue to be run by Shiite militias? What happens with Hezbollah? What happens with Assad?  Unless you address these bigger issues, ISIS is still going to be there. I was completely discouraged by what I saw. The Iraqi army has been described as pathetic, little more than a coalition of militias. So, I got no indication that things are going well.         

Iraq is not a country with one crisis, it's a country with multiple crises and that has been the case since Nouri al-Maliki's second term as prime minister.

In terms of fighting/combatting/overcoming the Islamic State, the biggest crisis would be the alienation of the Sunni community.  Nouri's second term was marked by them being sidelined politically, their votes ignored, their protests ignored, their representatives ignored, falsely arrested and imprisoned, Sunni women and girls tortured and raped in prisons, Sunnis attacked and killed by government forces and government welcomed Shi'ite militias, etc.

In August, Haider al-Abadi became the new prime minister.

Haider is, as Isaiah noted in today's The World Today Just Nuts,  "No Friend To Sunnis."

Sunday, Human Rights Watch issued a release which includes the following:

Abuses by militias allied with Iraqi security forces in Sunni areas have escalated in recent months. Residents have been forced from their homes, kidnapped, and in some cases summarily executed. At least 3,000 people have fled their homes in the Muqdadiyya area of Diyala province since June 2014 and, since October, been prevented from returning. In addition to the events documented here, Human Rights Watch is conducting an investigation into more recent allegations that militia and SWAT forces killed 72 civilians in the town of Barwana, also in Muqdadiyya.

Residents told Human Rights Watch that security forces and allied militias began to harass residents in the vicinity of Muqdadiyya, an area 80 kilometres northeast of Baghdad in June, shortly after the extremist group Islamic State (also known as ISIS) took over Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city. The abuses escalated around October, witnesses said, the month after Hayder al-Abadi took over as prime minister, pledging to rein in abusive militias and to end the sectarianism that fed the cycle of violence under his predecessor.

“Iraqi civilians are being hammered by ISIS and then by pro-government militias in areas they seize from ISIS,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director. “With the government responding to those they deem terrorists with arbitrary arrests and executions, residents have nowhere to turn for protection.”

Human Rights Watch spoke to six displaced residents of villages near Muqdadiyya – a largely rural region in central Diyala with a diverse population of about 300,000, including Sunni and Shia Arabs, Kurds, and Turkoman. Five residents told Human Rights Watch that they initially left their villages in June and July, when Asa’ib Ahl al-Haqq militiamen, volunteer fighters, and Iraqi SWAT forces attacked.

In mid-October, hearing that militias had left the area, residents began to return home, only to find that militias had torched many homes. Soon after, militia members who now control the area began kidnapping the returned residents and firing randomly in the street, at homes, and in the air with automatic weapons. The residents interviewed described the kidnappings and killings of three men by militias.

The attacks in northern Muqdadiyya appear to be part of a militia campaign to displace residents from Sunni and mixed-sect areas after the militias and security forces routed ISIS in these areas. On December 29, Hadi al-Ameri, the Badr Brigades commander and transport minister under the previous administration of Nuri al-Maliki, threatened Muqdadiyya residents, saying, “The day of judgment is coming” and “We will attack the area until nothing is left. Is my message clear?”

In October, Human Rights Watch researchers observed militias occupying and setting fire to homes in the proximity of Amerli in Salah al-Din province, following the retreat of ISIS fighters. On December 17, the Wall Street Journal and other media reported that militias were carrying out evictions, disappearances, and killings in the Baghdad Belt after conducting military operations against ISIS. In January 2015, media reported that militias had arrested thousands of men in Samarra without warrants and were preventing them from returning home. On January 26, militias, volunteer fighters, and security forces reportedly escorted 72 civilians from their homes in Barwana, Diyala province, and summarily executed them. Human Rights Watch is currently investigating these allegations.

On December 18, 2014, the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed by Prime Minister al-Abadi in which he pledged to “bring … all armed groups under state control. No armed groups or militias will work outside or parallel to the Iraqi Security Forces.” In addition to ordering a public investigation into the killings in Barwana, al-Abadi ordered an investigation into allegations that security forces extrajudicially killed two Sunni civilians in Anbar and has strongly condemned unlawful conduct by militias and security forces.

The evidence that militias are leading security operations in Salah al-Din, Diyala, Baghdad, and Babel provinces belie this pledge, Human Rights Watch said. On January 1, 2015, Abu Mehdi al-Muhandis, the long-time leader of the Kita’ib Hezbollah militia who now heads the Hashd al-Sha’abi (Popular Front), a quasi-governmental organization, gave a news conference in which he described himself as a military commander and the president of the “militia Hashd al-Shaabi,” and attacked Saudi Arabia and the US, which he described as sponsors and supporters of ISIS. This suggests that despite the prime minister’s promises, militias continue to act with free rein.

“The Iraqi government and its international allies need to take account of the militia scourge that is devastating places like Muqdadiyya,” Stork said. “Any effective response to ISIS should start with protecting civilian lives and holding those who abuse them to account, especially in areas where people have already suffered from ISIS occupation and attacks.”

Since August, Haider al-Abadi has been prime minister.  What has he done to show Iraq's Sunni community that he was different from thug Nouri al-Maliki (who Haider is friends with)?

Not a damn thing.

  • September 13th, Haider al-Abadi did announce that he had ended the bombing of Sunnis civilians in Falluja.  That's a War Crime, deliberately bombing civilians.  And they were War Crimes when Nouri al-Maliki started the military bombings in January of 2014.

    But while Haider got some easy publicity for his announcement, the next day, September 14th, the bombings continued, as they have every day since.

    So much for Haider's word.

    Haider's also refused to supply Sunni forces in Anbar Province (home to Falluja and Ramadi, among other cities) with the weapons needed to fight the Islamic State.  Greg Botelho and Jomana Karadsheh (CNN) report:

    An Iraqi tribal leader said Saturday that ISIS militants are gaining ground in Anbar province, predicting a "collapse within hours" of Iraqi army forces there if tribal forces withdraw.
    Sheikh Naim al-Gaoud, a Sunni Muslim leader of the Albu Nimr tribe, called for more U.S. intervention -- including ground troops, arming tribes directly or at least pressuring the Iraqi government to give the tribes more firepower.
    While U.S. officials have said that ISIS, which calls itself the Islamic State, is on the defensive in Iraq and Syria, al-Gaoud says that's definitely not the case where he is.

    The Sunni fighters against the Islamic State in Anbar have been denied weapons and support.

    They're the only ones who can effectively fight in the Sunni dominant province.

    Even if the Shi'ite militias could get their acts together -- and stop slaughtering Sunni civilians -- any victory they might have would be negligible due to their awful (and deserved) image in Anbar.

    Saturday saw the assassination of Sunni Sheikh Qassem al-Janabi and his son and six bodyguards.  The attack was apparently carried out, in Baghdad, by Shi'ite militias.  The editorial board of Gulf News offers, "Sunni politicians have had a sharp reminder that even if Al Abadi is more secular in spirit, many of the forces in Iraq remain firmly sectarian and are willing to go to any length to wreck any reconciliation. The way forward is for Al Abadi to disband and disarm the militias and show that the government is in charge. Al Abadi has to stop these vicious killings and make sure that all Iraqis have to obey the law."  Hamza Mustafa (Asharq Al-Awsat) adds:

    In another sign of growing sectarian tensions in Iraq, two of the largest Sunni-majority blocs in the Iraqi parliament announced on Sunday they intend to begin negotiating with Shi’ite volunteer militias directly in a bid to persuade them to hand over members suspected of committing sectarian killings for trial.
    Both the Wataniya bloc and the Iraqi Forces Alliance are boycotting parliament in response to recent alleged transgressions committed by the militias, and have now formed a joint committee that aims to begin talks with militia groups, saying they will bypass the government of Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi if it does not take action by the end of this week.
    As well as attempting to convince the militias to surrender those suspected of involvement in massacres, it will also seek to control the movement of arms among them. 

    In response to the assassinations, Stephen Kalin (Reuters) reports that 75 MPs are now boycotting Parliament as a result -- this includes "some Shi'ite members" due to Iraqiya being part of the walkout (Iraqiya is a non-sectarian political slate which includes Sunnis, Shi'ites and other groupings).

    The BBC landed a do-nothing interview with do-nothing Haider al-Abadi who insists his forces will "retake Mosul from the Islamic State" . . . not now, you understand, but in a few months.  He also used the interview to launch complaints about assistance from the governments of the United States and Turkey.  Again.

    But while he can call out Turkey and the United States, you may notice -- as has Congress (not that any US news outlet bothers to cover that) -- he doesn't call out Iran.

    In fact, Tian Shaouhui reports:

    The level of economic relations between Iran and the neighboring Iraq should be upgraded to the same pace with the expansion of bilateral political ties, Iran's First Vice President Es'haq Jahangiri said on Monday.
    "The economic relations of the two countries now stand at a proper level, and the volume of (trade) exchange between the two sides is (currently) about 12 billion U.S. dollars," Jahangiri was quoted as saying before leaving for Iraq.

    Alsumaria adds that the two nations have signed Memorandums of Understanding today.  On what? On issues like trade, housing, transportation . . .

    Nothing in there about reaching an understanding that Iran would stop supplying Shi'ite militias with weapons or sending Iranian Shi'ite militias into the country -- Bita Bakhtiari reports on the weapons supply for the Guardian here.

    Nothing in there about the sanctity of life and how Iran would agree to stop targeting the Sunni civilian population.

     Michael Weiss and Michael Pregent (Daily Beast) report:
    Iran’s influence in Iraq since ISIS sacked Mosul last June has resulted in a wave of sectarian bloodletting and dispossession against the country’s Sunni minority population, usually at the hands of Iranian-backed Shia militia groups, but sometimes with the active collusion of the Iraq’s internal security forces. Indeed, just as news was breaking last week that ISIS’s five-month siege on the Syrian-Turkish border town Kobane finally had been broken, Reuters reported that in Iraq’s Diyala province at least 72 “unarmed Iraqis” —all Sunnis—were “taken from their homes by men in uniform; heads down and linked together, then led in small groups to a field, made to kneel, and selected to be shot one by one.”

    Turning to US President Barack Obama's request for the authorization of the use of military force (AUMF) on the Islamic State, former US House Rep Ron Paul has a column at which notes:

    Last week President Obama sent Congress legislation to authorize him to use force against ISIS “and associated persons and forces” anywhere in the world for the next three years. This is a blank check for the president to start as many new wars as he wishes, and it appears Congress will go along with this dangerous and costly scheme.
    [. . .]

    The US has already spent nearly two billion dollars fighting ISIS since this summer, and there hasn’t been much to show for it. A new worldwide war on ISIS will likely just serve as a recruiting tool for jihadists. We learned last week that our bombing has led to 20,000 new foreign fighters signing up to join ISIS. How many more will decide to join each time a new US bomb falls on a village or a wedding party?

    The AUMF was the topic of Thursday's US House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing.  The witnesses appearing before the committee included former US Ambassador James Jeffrey, the Center for a New American Security's Dafna H. Rand and RAND Corporation's Rick Brennan.  US House Rep Ed Royce is the Chair of the Committee and US House Rep Eliot Engel is the Ranking Member.

    We covered the hearing in Thursday's snapshot and in Saturday's snapshot.

    Today, we'll note this from the hearing.

    US House Rep Gregory Meeks: I look at these hearings, as I did back in 2001, when we were endeavoring to understand what was the best thing to do there.  And I also try to utilize where we are now understanding what took place in 2001 and so that we could have  learned from it.  And some times   I think what the President's talking about when you say "patience," etc. -- we didn't have any patience.  In fact, we thought that -- and sometimes we think that -- it was  a quick hit. I remember very well when shock and awe happened and then a few days later we saw the president of the United States say mission accomplished.  We thought that that was going to be it.  Many members of this Committee said, once we got in there, that individuals would be waiving a flag and saying thank you America, and we're bringing all our values to them and they would just embrace it and that would be the great thing and everything would be different.  Ten or eleven years later, we still have troops on the ground and we committed, we have committed more in the region than anyone else.  And still I hear folks saying we didn't do -- No one has lost over 6,000 lives in military combat.  It's us. And then I still here -- and I've heard some testimony here today -- where our allies say, "Well you, United States, you need to get back out there and get some more folks."  Yet in their region, they're the ones who are immediately threatened.  We want to help our allies because they are in our strategic interests but the ones that are in immediate danger are those that are right around there and so we need to back out and say, 'Look, ya'll got to do something too.'  We're losing our lives.  We've put our lives on the line.  We're ready to give you all the strategic help that you can get.  And I think that we should.  The President was very clear: Keep our Special Ops and if we find that there's somebody over there from ISIL -- that their organization and some of our allies cannot get to them?  Well that's when we want to use that limited number that's in the AUMF, that they can go after those guys and absolutely destroy them. 

    We've covered the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on the AUMF in Thursday snapshot and Saturday's snapshot.  Saturday, we called out members who didn't even show for the hearing.

    Maybe worse than not showing would be showing and not knowing what you're talking about?

    Meeks makes a lot of claims.  Few are accurate.

    The debate on Iraq didn't take place in Congress in 2001.  It did so in 2002 and early 2003.

    6,000 US troops have not died in Iraq -- in combat or otherwise.

    The number of US service members the Dept of Defense states died in the Iraq War is [PDF format warning] 4494.
    Bully Boy Bush did not say "Mission accomplished."  The Iraq War started in March 2003 and May 1, 2003 -- not "a few days later" -- Bully Boy Bush gave a speech on the USS Abraham Lincoln, off the coast of California, under a banner which read "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED."
    Back to the 6,000 figure -- who's lost over 6,000?  The Iraqi people.  
    The very people who are not noted or acknowledged in Meeks' remarks except for being portrayed as ungrateful for failing to "embrace" the "values" of the country of the invading forces.
    We could quote him full and also include the actual definition of "resend" which wasn't how he used it.  We can note that there's the AUMF that US President Barack Obama sent to Congress and there's the one Meeks thinks he read --  that would be the one that he thinks contains a "limited number that's in the AUMF."
    Meeks also rushed to praise the War Hawk testimony of witness Dafna Rand.  No one was more off the mark repeatedly on the facts than Rand.  No one had less of an idea what a democracy was than Rand.  At one point, we've already noted her testimony on this in a previous snapshot, she insisted that groups the US government was labeling as terrorist could not be mentioned in the AUMF because they needed to be classified.
    The President of the United States wants a Congressional declaration of the use of military force then the American people have a right to know who the declaration is against.
    Not only did the idiot not understand the fundamental principles of democracy, she also failed to grasp the law.
    Contributing to a designated terrorist organization -- designated such by the US government -- can result in criminal charges.  Yet another reason the American public needs to know who the government (that serves them) is calling a terrorist.
    If you're not getting how stupid Dafna Rand is, she advised then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Libya -- Clinton called for war on Libya -- the position Barack took -- and we all know how well that ended up.  (Those who don't know can refer to Cassandra Vinograd's "Hailed As A Model For Successful Intervention, Libya Proves To Be The Exact Opposite" published at The Intercept today.)
    The witness Meeks praised is the same one US House Rep Alan Grayson demolished with one question after another in the same hearing.
    Meanwhile, despite a legal authorization from Congress, Barack is allowing US forces to take part in combat.  Press TV reports:
    American helicopters have supported Iraqi ground forces battling the ISIL Takfiri terrorists in al-Baghdadi, military sources said on Saturday.
    The US military on Friday deployed Apache helicopters against an assault by the militants on the strategic Ayn al-Assad Air Base about 15 kilometers south of al-Baghdadi, CNN reported citing anonymous sources.
    During the assault, Iraqi troops managed to kill those attackers and the helicopters could safely return to base without firing a shot, the sources stated.

    In related news, AP notes, "More than 4,000 US soldiers based at Fort Carson, Colorado, are heading to Kuwait, where they will take over as one of America’s largest ground forces in the region after President Barack Obama asked Congress to authorize military action against Islamic State militants."  And Margaret Griffis ( counts 68 violent deaths across Iraq today.