Friday, March 13, 2015

Iran in Iraq

The editorial board of the Wall St Journal weighed in on the Iran influence in Iraq:

The Shiite militias are being organized under a new Iraqi government office led by Abu Mahdi Mohandes, an Iraqi with close ties to Iran. Mr. Mohandes is working closely with the most powerful military official in Iran and Iraq—the Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guard Corps. Iran’s official news agency last week confirmed Western media reports that Gen. Soleimani is “supervising” the attack against Islamic State.
This is the same general who aided the insurgency against U.S. troops in Iraq. Quds Force operatives supplied the most advanced IEDs, which could penetrate armor and were the deadliest in Iraq. One former U.S. general who served in Iraq estimates that Iran was responsible for about one-third of U.S. casualties during the war, which would mean nearly 1,500 deaths.
Mr. Soleimani recently declared that Islamic State’s days in Iraq are “finished,” adding that Iran will lead the liberation of Tikrit, Mosul and then all of Anbar province. While this is a boast that seeks to diminish the role of other countries, especially the U.S., it reveals Iran’s ambitions and its desire to capitalize when Islamic State is pushed out of Anbar province.

The concern I have is that Barack's ignoring Iran's actions in Iraq because he wants that treaty with Iran.

I don't have any position in terms of the treaty.

But in terms of Iraq?

The Iranian militias need to be out.

Barack needs to make that clear to Haider al-Abadi and if Iraq's prime minister ignores that demand -- and it should be a demand -- then the US needs to let al-Abadi (and Iran) do what they want without US help.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Thursday, March 13, 2015. Chaos and violence continue, the Iraqi forces violence against Sunnis gets serious media attention, CodeStink needs to pack it in having done too much damage (they aren't the only ones doing damage), and much more.

On the Thursday broadcast of ABC World News with David Muir, Iraq was covered:

David Muir: Now to new fall out after our ABC investigation last night. It involves the fight against ISIS known for those awful videos, lining up their victims on the beach.  And now a new concern.  Are some of the Iraqi forces -- trained and paid for by US taxpayers -- using techniques that are just as brutal?  Well the State Dept tonight responding to our report and ABC's chief investigative reporter Brian Ross back on the job tonight.

Brian Ross:  The State Dept called these scenes today serious and distuuing.  Brutal images of what appear to be Iraqi forces and militias carrying out, celebrating, torture and beheadings.  In this torture scene, two US weapons against the wall. This video shows two civilians, pleading for their lives, about to be shot dead.  A man with an American supplied weapon walks by, a gunman with what appears to be the insignia of Iraqi Special Forces caught on tape.

US State Dept spokesperson Jen Psaki: Their behavior must be above reproach or they risk being painted with the same brush as ISIL fighters.

Brian Ross:  The Pentagon says it has already cut off money to some Iraqi units because of gross human rights violations.  But Senator Patrick Leahy says the ABC News report shows the government should cut off money to more Iraqi units.

Senator Patrick Leahy: When you look at at the videos and look at the uniforms being worn, do we really want to say the US condones that?

Brian Ross: US officials tonight tell ABC News that America's top military leader Gen Martin Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, has repeatedly warned Iraqi leaders about the conduct of the Iraqi military and the militias that fight with them -- especially because the US is sending $1.5 billion to the Iraqi army and almost 3,000 American troops to help train them.

At the link, you'll find not only the video report, but also a text article and a photo essay.  James Gordon Meek, Brian Ross, Rym Momtaz and Alex Hosenball did the previous ABC News report on this topic.

The Jen Psaki moment in the transcript above is from today's State Dept press briefing.

Jen is shown looking down at her notebook and reading a pre-written statement.

She's ridiculous and shameful.  Let's move to that moment at today's briefing:

QUESTION: There’s some really disturbing images coming out of Iraq, which appear to show uniformed Iraqi soldiers committing atrocities – beheadings, torture. Are you – I mean, Iraq has said they’re investigating. Do you have confidence in their investigation, their ability to investigate this alone? Will you, the State Department, do any investigating? That’s the first question.

MS. PSAKI: Sure. Well, these are clearly disturbing and serious allegations, ones that we’ve, unfortunately, spoken about many times before, including from this podium, because we’ve been – there have been a range of reports out there for some time about these types of abuses. So we’re, of course, deeply concerned by the reports. The Iraqi Government, as you mentioned, has indicated that it will investigate to determine the facts behind these claims. We urge it to conduct a transparent, thorough, and timely investigation.
I would also note that Prime Minister Abadi, I think including in his inaugural remarks, spoke about this, has stated that he – not about this specifically, but about efforts to kind of address unregulated militias, which is part of the problem – has stated that he has a zero-tolerance policy of human rights abuses by any security element. U.S. officials from Washington and Baghdad continue to raise our concerns with senior Government of Iraq officials, and we have been doing that for some time.
This behavior is clearly – their behavior must be above reproach or they risk being painted with the same brush as ISIL fighters. And certainly that’s a message that we are making clear. But they’ve indicated they’re investigating. There’s no plans for the United States Government to investigate, no.

QUESTION: Okay. But do they not also risk, then, the U.S. sort of cutting off funding and pulling out of the coalition and sort of stopping their involvement?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we have withheld assistance from certain Iraqi units on the basis of credible information in the past. There’s an entire process of review that happens. And certainly if new information surfaced that warranted that – the Leahy law being put into effect, we would do the same thing.

QUESTION: Right. So unlikely that you would – as a result of these types of crimes, if proven true – I mean, there’s images supporting them at this point. But if proven true, it’s unlikely that you would do some sort of broad pullout of Iraq as a result, just stopping financing to certain brigades?

MS. PSAKI: Well, there are laws in place, that have been in place for time, that we have applied to some Iraqi units. And certainly we would continue to apply those if applicable. Obviously we look at any information that was available, including reports and media reports as well. But I’m not going to prejudge what that would mean in the future.

That's not the law and the State Dept looks like a pack of idiot War Criminals right now.

The US government is not allowed to pick and choose -- per the law -- which parts of a military they give assistance to.  The law is that when incidents like the above take place, the US government has to cut off all military assistance.

That's the law.

I thought Jen was leaving.  I thought she was taking her lying to the White House?

After today, she can't leave soon enough.

There is spin and there is whoring.

We've been rather kind to Jen here.  Marie Harf, not so much.  But Jen's largely gotten a pass because she's usually been professional not whorish.

When she stands in front of the press and lies through her teeth about the law -- to cover for War Crimes -- she's nothing but a cheap whore.

She has no shame and she clearly has no ethics.

The Leahy Amendment does not say: If the government the US is sending military aid to has human rights abuses (War Crimes), the US government must ensure that the 'good' elements of the military receive money and weapons.

The law says when these human rights abuses take place, the aid is to be immediately cut.

The State Dept is a disgrace today.

John Kerry's confused himself with Secretary of Defense throughout his tenure as Secretary of State.

It is shameful.

And it should be criminal for a spokesperson to lie about what the law says.

What the trashy liar doesn't tell the press briefing is that the US government is refusing to investigate because such an investigation -- if the charges bore out (and they will) -- would mean -- Leahy Amendment or not -- the US drop all aid immediately or be guilty of supporting the War Crimes, of funding the War Crimes.

This goes beyond the Leahy Amendment and goes to charters and treaties the US government has signed.

Jen Psaki lied.

She disgraced herself.

She disgraced the State Dept (which I'm sure Kerry is happy about because he's become such a liar himself).

She betrayed democracy and open government with the effort to lie and deceive the American people.

Spin is one thing.  We've let her spin in the past and rolled our eyes over it.

This was deceit, this was trickery.

Some are pointing out that the Pentagon had held off funds.

That's even worse.

The Pentagon came to the conclusion that certain funds shouldn't go to certain parts of the Iraqi forces because of human rights abuses (War Crimes).

Those decisions -- which, again, are not legal, legal is all or nothing -- should have been conveyed to the American people.

It's the American people who are footing the bill.

It is the American people the administration is supposed to serve -- Serve.

And they lied.

The Pentagon lied.

It lied by not informing the American people.

This isn't 'national security.'

This shouldn't be 'classified.'

It is the willful disregard of the American people, of democracy and of informed consent that has been the hallmark of Barack Obama's tenure as President of the United States.

He has made a mockery of transparency and of his own claim, prior to becoming president, that his administration would be open.

And Barack himself should have told the American people the news that the Pentagon had learned that certain elements in the Iraqi forces were committing human rights abuses (War Crimes).

Maybe he'll again insist that he didn't know until the press just reported it.

Last week we noted, starting with the March 5th snapshot, Iraqi forces surrounding an 11-year-old boy.  This is video.  It's not in dispute.  The child is sitting in the middle of the street as he is bullied and threatened by Iraqi forces and then they execute this child.

These things are not in dispute.

I long ago noted being sickened by the video where Iraqi forces burned a man alive.

It's over a year later.

Mountains of documented cases of these abuses.


They set themselves up as our saviors on the left.

The nothing but attention getting problem makers.

At yesterday's hearing, one was evicted after screaming about "killing people."

The tired point being made was that any war is going to result in killing -- and that will include populations -- civilians -- caught up in the war.

Yes, CodeStink, we all know that.  We all get that.

The Iraq War's been going on since 2003.

Over a million Iraqi civilians have died of violence during just the early part of the war.

After the CodeStinker was flushed from the hearing, John Kerry went to town.

Because they'd set him up perfectly.

He preened and grinned, he really did, as he tried to act stern and angry and insisted that if CodeStink was so concerned about killings, they should ask the families of the American journalists who were killed and they should consider the Jordanian pilot who was burned alive.  That was it.  Of all the victims of the Islamic State, that was it for Kerry.  Didn't care about the aid workers, for example.

If CodeStink had been doing their job, they would have joined me in calling out the abuses of the Iraqi forces.

But for over a year they've ignored.

Maybe they don't care, maybe they're too stupid.

I think they're too lazy to do the work required and that's why, whenever they talk the Iraq War, they don't have a single thing to say that they weren't already saying before Barack became president.  Six years of the war, the most recent six, are erased or ignored by CodeStink.

So a CodeStinker gave Kerry the moment he wanted where he couldn't pretend he was so moral and upstanding.  (I know John.  I like him outside of his office.  But I'd never accuse of being upstanding or ethical in his work as Secretary of State.)

Now if the CodeStinker had done any work required, the shout would have been, "Why are we funding this war and these forces when they are killing Iraqi civilians!"

And Kerry would have responded.

And since ABC News hadn't broken the story yet and since Kerry repeatedly lied throughout the hearing, he would have lied on this.

And CodeStink could have had credit, in the hours that passed, for setting Kerry up to get caught in a lie.

Instead they're just useless.

Yesterday's snapshot covered the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Cedric's "John Kerry has a hissy" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! AND THE HUFFY BIKE HE RODE IN ON!" humor joint-post covered it, Wally covered it also in "Is there a bigger bitch than John Kerry (Wally)," Kat covered it with "I honestly feel sorry for Barack Obama," Ann covered it with "How afraid of us is the US government?" -- this is about the police presence at the hearing and that was appalling -- and Ava covered it with "John Kerry's become a bully and a bore (Ava)."

Let me start with Ava's real quick.  At, Lucy Steigerwald has a new column tonight entitled "Loving America Means Letting It Go to War" and I thought, "Well good.  Someone else is picking up on the points of the hearing that bothered Ava."  No.  Lucy can't be bothered with the hearing so she does a 'greatest hits.'  She plays the jukebox and there's nothing breathing or alive in her dead prose.  As Ava points out, John Kerry ridiculously attempted to blackmail the Committee.  They had to vote for the AUMF, he insisted, or the terrorists win.  And if Congress votes for it and it barely passes?  The terrorists still win.

Kerry invoked 9/11 and everything else in an attempt to shame Congress into voting for war.

Someone needs to inform Lucy.  Her headline was topical.  Her tired column was not.

I really don't get these people -- and I've called them out for years -- at least since 2006 -- who think they can dust off their past remarks about Iraq and 'repurpose' those remarks into a 'new' column on Iraq.

And it's offensive and it's damaging.

John Kerry lied repeatedly to the Committee.

Never more so than when he rewrote history regarding al Qaeda in Mesopotamia.

And he gets away with it because of lazy whores on the left.

They're not new to my side.

They've been lazy since at least 2006.

And by their constant whoring to blame everything on Bully Boy Bush, they allow a John Kerry to invoke 9/11 before a Senate Committee to argue for further war on Iraq and to claim a link between Iraq and 9/11.

You need to get your heads out of your asses and start grasping -- and talking and writing about -- what happened from 2010 to 2014.  If you can't do that, please,  find another topic because the world cannot afford your lies and stupidity.

You have created an environment in which John Kerry can falsely link 9/11 to Iraq.

You created that by ignoring reality because you're lazy and also because your life's goal is not to help Iraqis but instead to provide cover for Barack Obama.

You're whores.

You're disgusting.

The Iraqi protesters -- not that any of you ever acknowledged it -- called on Barack for help.

And he ignored them.

For example, in March of 2013, activists in Samarra put their message on display.

From Samarra من سامراء

"Obama, If you Cannot Hear Us Can you Not See Us?"

The following month, Sunnis would be slaughtered at a protest elsewhere.

April 23, 2013 massacre of a sit-in in Hawija which resulted from  Nouri's federal forces storming in.  Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk)  announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault.   AFP reported the death toll eventually (as some wounded died) rose to 53 dead.   UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured).

And Barack, the White House and the State Dept could offer nothing but 'we call for both sides to be careful.'

Nouri's forces slaughtered 8 children.

The BRussells Tribunal carried the account of survivor Thamer Hussein Mousa who lost his son Mohammed Thamer, who saw his son killed by Nouri's forces.  What did he say?

"I hold Obama responsible for this act because he is the one who gave them these weapons. The weapons and aircrafts they used and fired upon us were American weapons. I also hold the United States of America responsible for this criminal act, above all, Obama."

So you're tired bulls**t about what Bully Boy Bush did in 2003 is worthless and cowardly.

That's if you're Noam Chomsky, CodeStink, whomever you are.

You have ignored War Crimes in Iraq and provided Barack Obama the cover to ignore them as well.

You cheap little whores -- and, yes, that's you Noam, you endorsed Barack don't pretend you didn't now -- insisted that, if he became president, you would hold his feet to the fire.

You never did.

And Iraq suffered because of you.

You're as guilty as Barack Obama.

You're as guilty as Bully Boy Bush.

You're craven, whorish and shameful.

So stop telling us about 2003 because that was a lifetime for Iraq -- it is a very young population.

Under Barack, things have been as bad and arguably worse.

Iraqis went to the polls in 2010 wanting change.  They voted for Iraqiya.  Nouri's State of Law came in second.  Nouri lost.

But Barack refused to allow the Iraqi people to choose their own leader.  He refused to respect democracy.

When Nouri al-Maliki wouldn't step down, Barack didn't demand it.  Instead, he has US officials negotiate a contract (The Erbil Agreement) which gave Nouri a second term.

This is what set everything in motion for the crises today.

We documented in real time.  We've documented it since.

If you can't be honest, just don't speak.

Find another thing to pretend you care about.

Your lies are hurting Iraqis and have hurt Iraqis.

Back to Ann.

So we, the American people, now have to put up with a non-stop police presence at a Congressional hearing.

Thank you, CodeStink.

You're worthless attention getters whose behavior has become self-parody.

And now, thanks to you, we have to have armed police standing in the aisles of a Congressional hearing.

I mean, if you ever accomplished anything with your little stunts, I'd be fine with your actions.

But you're a disgrace.

And it was probably your behavior with Condi Rice that will be cited as the excuse for what's now going to be the new policy at Congressional hearings.

For those who missed, CodeStink's ridiculous Diane -- we won't promote her by giving her full name, we used to promote her book and other things she asked for but that ended after the stunt she pulled -- she wanted to call out Condi.



Even fine to disrupt the hearing to do so.

But here's where Diane crossed the line.

With red paint on her hands -- to symbolize blood -- she stood right in front of Condi -- in the middle of a hearing -- shoving her hands at Condi's face.

I'm not a fan of Condi Rice.  I've never even bothered to learn the spelling of her first name.

I think she was part of a criminal administration.

So I really didn't appreciate Diane making me feel sorry for Condi.

Or Diane making me note how Condi responded to this 2007 outrageous act with grace.

Standing up in a hearing and unfurling a banner is one thing.

Heckling or shouting is one thing.

I can support those actions regardless of whether or not I agree with the message being shouted or on a banner or whatever.

But when you act in a way that makes you look nuts and your actions involve thrusting your hands at someone in a hearing?

If Diane had been tasered (or is it tazed?), I wouldn't have objected.

Her actions were outrageous and Condi -- or security -- could have made the logical conclusion that this crazy woman was a threat.

(They could have done the same with Medea I-Need-Attention Benjamin who refused to leave and made police drag her -- across people sitting at the hearing -- she's not a woman of peace, she's an idiot and a nut case.  You are asked to leave, leave.)

Because of that nutty behavior and so much more, we're apparently -- now that the Republicans are in charge of the Senate -- going to have to endure armed police standing on each aisle throughout a hearing, staring down those gathered to exercise their right to attend a Congressional hearing..

It's intimidating and it needs to stop.

I'm calling out the Republican leadership for doing this.

I'm also calling out CodeStink whose actions have resulted in the Republican response.

CodeStink has outlived its purpose.

Jason Ditz ( notes the Pentagon is denying reports that US bombings killed 22 Iraqi soldiers in Anbar, "Denials from US officials are common, and not always credible. It is hard to imagine, likewise, that the US launched only a single airstrike in the whole Anbar Province in an entire day."  Margaret Griffis ( counts 214 dead across Iraq from violence (read her report and not just the headline before you e-mail me that the number is 208).

Brian Ross

jason ditz

Thursday, March 12, 2015

NSA's illegal spying

This is  Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts   "Hillary's Campaign Slogan"

It's late so I'm going to include  ACLU's:

Wikimedia, Rutherford Institute, Amnesty Among 9 Plaintiffs
March 10, 2015

CONTACT: 212-549-2666,

BALTIMORE – The American Civil Liberties Union filed a major new lawsuit today on behalf of a broad group of organizations challenging the National Security Agency’s mass interception and searching of Americans’ international Internet communications, including emails, web-browsing content, and search-engine queries.

The plaintiffs are the Wikimedia Foundation, the conservative Rutherford Institute, The Nation magazine, Amnesty International USA, PEN American Center, Human Rights Watch, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Global Fund for Women, and Washington Office on Latin America.

At issue is the NSA’s “upstream” surveillance, which involves the NSA’s tapping into the internet backbone inside the United States – the physical infrastructure that carries Americans’ online communications with each other and with the rest of the world. The NSA conducts this spying under a law called the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which allows the agency to target the communications of foreigners abroad.

In the course of its surveillance, the NSA copies and combs through vast amounts of Internet traffic, which it intercepts inside the United States with the help of major telecommunications companies. It searches that traffic for keywords called “selectors” that are associated with its targets. The surveillance involves the NSA’s warrantless review of the emails and Internet activities of millions of ordinary Americans.

“This kind of dragnet surveillance constitutes a massive invasion of privacy, and it undermines the freedoms of expression and inquiry as well,” said ACLU Staff Attorney Patrick Toomey. “Ordinary Americans shouldn’t have to worry that the government is looking over their shoulders when they use the Internet.”

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Maryland where the NSA is headquartered, argues that the NSA is violating the plaintiffs’ privacy rights under the Fourth Amendment and infringing on their First Amendment rights. The complaint also argues that upstream surveillance exceeds the authority granted by Congress under the FISA Amendments Act.

“By tapping the backbone of the Internet, the NSA is straining the backbone of democracy,” said Lila Tretikov, executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, which operates Wikipedia, one of the most visited websites in the world. “Wikipedia is founded on the freedoms of expression, inquiry, and information. By violating our users’ privacy, the NSA is threatening the intellectual freedom that is a central to people’s ability to create and understand knowledge.”

The plaintiffs include human rights, legal, media, and information organizations whose work requires them to engage in sensitive communications with people outside the United States, such as colleagues, clients, journalists, and victims of human rights abuses. The lawsuit argues that upstream surveillance interferes with the groups’ abilities to do their jobs by violating the confidentiality of their communications and by making it more difficult to obtain crucial information from contacts and sources who communicate with them, often at significant personal risk.

The lawsuit is in some ways a successor to a previous ACLU lawsuit challenging the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping program, Clapper v. Amnesty. The Supreme Court dismissed that case in February 2013 in a 5-4 vote on the grounds that the plaintiffs could not prove that they had been spied on. Edward Snowden has said that the ruling contributed to his decision to expose certain aspects of the NSA’s surveillance activities a few months later.

Among the Snowden disclosures were documents relating to upstream surveillance, which has since been confirmed by the government. Unlike the surveillance considered by the Supreme Court in Clapper, upstream surveillance is not limited to the communications of NSA targets. Instead, as we have since learned, the NSA is searching the content of nearly all text-based Internet traffic entering or leaving the country – as well as many domestic communications – looking for thousands of keywords such as email addresses or phone numbers.

One of the NSA documents revealed by Snowden included a slide that named Wikipedia, among other major websites, as a good surveillance target for monitoring what people do on the Internet.                                           

The new case is Wikimedia v. NSA. The attorneys are Toomey, Jameel Jaffer, Alex Abdo, and Ashley Gorski from the ACLU; David Rocah and Deborah Jeon from the ACLU of Maryland; and Charles Sims, David Munkittrick, and John Browning from the law firm Proskauer Rose LLP.

Today’s complaint is at:

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

Wednesday, March 11, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, the Shi'ite forces and Shi'ite militias are said to finally enter Tikrit, War Crimes by these forces get media attention, Secretary of State John Kerry humiliates himself before a Senate committee, and much more.

What happens when an angry Frankenstein faces Congress?

That was this morning at the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing where Secretary of State Kerry,  Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and Gen Martin Dempsey (Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) provided testimony.

Or in Kerry's case, theatrics and laughter.

When not impatiently clicking his pen throughout the hearing, Kerry basically glowered -- as if the Committee were villagers carrying torches.

"I see a real danger of a ground troop creep here  converting this into not the region poliicing its own terrorism but like the air strike campaign that's 80% US, it's a US mission," declared Senator Tim Kaine in the hearing.

This resulted in a forced chuckle by Kerry.

It didn't result in any real answer.

Of course not.

Kerry can't even get honest that everyone in the administration is waiting on Gen Lloyd Austin's recommendation which the military chiefs expect will be for US troops in an on the ground combat role -- this was addressed -- again -- in yesterday's Senate Armed Services Committee hearing covered in Tuesday's snapshot.  From yesterday:

Senator Lindsey Graham:  Do you agree with me that the best way that you guarantee that you destroy and degrade ISIL is that you have some American ground forces to help the regional forces?

Gen Joseph Dunford Jr.: Senator, uh, right now, uh, I think it's critical that we provide US support.  And I think, as you know, we're waiting for Gen [Lloyd]  Austin to make a recommendation as to exactly what that support would be.

John Kerry found Kaine's question hilarious.

This despite the fact that Kaine's remarks are similar to what many leaders in the region have said and have told Congress.  King Abdullah II of Jordan, for example, has noted this has to be a regional response and not a US dominated one.  For it to work, it has to be a regional response otherwise it is the West again attacking Iraq which only helps recruit opposition forces.

King rightly points out that while Kerry and other US officials insist the current war on Iraq is a coalition effort -- a coalition working with the government of Iraq -- the reality is that 80% of the air strikes are carried about by the US.

So if they can't get honest about that, why should the same US government officials be trusted when they claim that any efforts on the ground would be a coalition working with Iraq?

Most likely, as King points out, ground forces would be US troops with a few Iraqis and a handful of soldiers from other countries tossed in.

Though he can't get honest, John Kerry can lecture and did so repeatedly.

"So as long as we continue to work on the integration," he said waiving his clutched and unclutched right hand  throughout the air, "the  internal inclusivity of Iraq and its government -- to help the Iraqis to be able to do this themselves, help the region feel empowered by it, that is a long term recipe for the United States not to have as much risk and not to have to put ourselves on the line the way we have historically."

But that hasn't been done.

Iraq's Haider al-Abadi became prime minister in August and there's been nothing but empty talk.

He did finally get a budget passed.

Iraq's Parliament passed the 2015 budget on January 29, 2015.

And in August, this was going to happen before the end of September.

Didn't turn out that way.

In fairness to him, there is no 2014 budget.

Former prime minister and forever thug Nouri al-Maliki was never able to pass a 2014 budget.

But that's really all Haider has to point to.

The State Dept attempted to sell an 'oil deal' between the central government out of Baghdad and the Kurdish Regional Government as proof that Haider was being more "inclusive" than Nouri and as movement towards resolving Iraq's many crises that led to the current state of affairs.

However, that 'deal' is still not implemented.

It's nothing more than empty words from Haider al-Abadi.

It's a point Ari Mamshae (Rudaw) made today:

The government in Baghdad, particularlyAbadi himself, must know that if Baghdad wants to manipulate and control the KRG with these policies, it will only drive the separation between both capitals further and faster away. Sadly, Abadi is weak, impotent, lacking support and with many antagonists.  

And like Nouri, he appears to believe he can withhold funds from the KRG in an attempt to blackmail it.  When exactly, John Kerry, is the US working on the political issues because the KRG still doesn't have their share of the national budget?

They also don't have the weapons they need.

Though Kerry, Carter and Dempsey were all in agreement at the hearing that the issue was a thing of the past -- the Baghdad based government refusing to provide US weapons to the KRG.

Those weapons?

They're not paid for.

They're bought on credit.

And the US Congress has every right to ask where they're going.

But instead of getting honest answers, they get lies.  Lies couched in "I believe . . ."  so that when the lies get exposed (and they did when Dempsey and Kerry were lying earlier to Congress that Haider al-Abadi was providing Sunni tribes with needed weapons when he was not doing so), they get to fall back on, "I said, 'I believe,' I didn't say I knew it."

John Kerry has a lot of beliefs.

Too bad, he has so very few facts.

"We're convinced we have the authority," to continue war on Iraq today, Kerry insisted "because ISIL was al Qaeda.  They changed their name and then grew worse.  But for years -- I think it was about 13 years somewhere in that vicinity -- going back to uh, uh, uh, 2011 it called itself al Qaeda in Iraq.  That's who they were: al Qaeda in Iraq.  And, uh, they have, uh, extensive history of conducting attacks against US, uh, coalition going way back during that period of time.  They have had a long relationship between al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.  They viewed themselves -- and still do actually -- as the, uh, legitimate heirs of the Osama bin Laden mantle.  They still view that.  They just see themselves in a more aggressive term and that's why they've had some disagreements in tactics with al Qaeda whom they separated from.  But separating doesn't change where they came from, who they were, when we first enaged in the fight with them. So this -- There is a legitimacy to the 2001 effort because it began a long time ago."

John thinks if he says it loud enough and puts those big old paws in the air, he'll frighten everyone into silence.

But just because he tells a lie doesn't mean anyone has to believe it.

First off, the term "al Qaeda in Iraq" is a western press creation.  When a group existed, it referred to itself as the Organization of Jihad's Base in Mesopotamia which the western press turned into "al Qaeda in Mesopotamia" and the US press turned into "al Qaeda in Iraq."

The group was created by the Iraq War and was a bunch of different groups.  But if you follow its chief origin, you're left with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and the group Ansar al-Islam -- which has nothing to do with al Qaeda and is/was part of a Kurdish separatist movement.  In 2004, the strand led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi declared their allegiance to the group al Qaeda -- three years after 9-11.

There is a simplistic nature to Kerry's revisionary remarks and it bears noting that, when the current administration went to war on Libya, they backed this strand which can be directly traced back to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

The 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force was passed before the group existed.  The group had nothing to do with 9/11 but Kerry loves to lie, doesn't he?

He's the idiot, remember, who was for the Iraq War before he was against it.

In a 2008 debate, when Democrat Ed O'Reilly was challenging him in the primaries, he made even more stupid remarks.

As Ed O'Reilly pointed out in the debate (link goes to footage), Kerry didn't read the National Intelligence Estimate before voting for war on Iraq.

"I did something better than read it," Kerry smugly boasted, he went and talked to the CIA.

Yes, reading is hard.

He never mentioned how wrong his vote was.

He's never admitted it.

He always maintains that was the right vote -- despite Iraq having no WMDs -- and that the problem was how Bully Boy Bush executed the war.

That was his position in 2004 and it was still his position in 2008 and remains so today.

When he does he apologize for that vote?

The only time I remember Kerry apologizing was over the incident where he spoke to high schoolers in California and declared they better stay in school or they'd end up in the US armed forces and fighting in Iraq.

It was an insulting statement to make and it's why he knew not to even try to run again for the party's presidential nomination.

In other words, no one ever swift boats John Kerry better than John Kerry swift boats himself.

Congress -- Democrats and Republicans -- are bothered by the role of Iran in Iraq, by Haider al-Abadi's reliance on Iran and by the Baghdad-Tehran led assault on Tikrit which has found the US sidelined.

"Yes, Iran's influence has spread at this moment and we're deeply concerned about it," John Kerry insisted at one point under pressure from the Committee.  And Ash Carter would term the relationship "concerning."

But again, only after non-stop questioning and probably after finally getting a true gauge of the room they were trying to work.

Kerry went on to declare a little after mid-way through the hearing, "There are several battles taking place right now.  Not just Tirkit.  There are others.  Two out of three where, in fact, we are playing a central role in the other two -- hasn't been as heraled -- but it's making a difference.  And the Sunni Arab are prosecuting that."

Two out of three where the US government is playing the central role?

Sadly, no one asked him to justify his remarks.

If the US is playing the central role in attacks, I would assume they were leading those attacks -- both from the strategy room and on the ground.

Otherwise, you're just being a glory hog to proclaim that "we are playing a central role."

I'm not accusing John of lying there.  I am accusing him of being a glory hog.  It's a charge that's stuck to him throughout his career in public service.

Long before the hearing started, AP had reported that former CIA Director Michael Hayden had declared at a New America Foundation forum, "I am made uncomfortable by the growing Iranian influence in Iraq.  I am made uncomfortable by the fact that it looked like a Shia advance agasint a Sunni town [Tikrit]. [ . .]  It is clear to me that the Iranian policy is based upon Shia dominance of the new Iraqi state and that effort in itself feeds the Sunni opposition which ISIL then lives off of to resurrect their movement."

Despite that, the witnesses had to be coaxed and cajoled to speak of Iran and their remarks were superficial at best.

Let's note this exchange from the hearing regarding US President Barack Obama's request for an Authorization of the Use of Military Force.

Senator Ben Cardin: First, let me say I supported the use of force resolution that was reported from this Committee in the last Congress as did every Democrat.  And as I was listening to Secretary Carter explain the objectives of an Authorization for Use of Military Force and thought about what we had recommended it satisfied, I think, every one of your concerns.  And I was somewhat surprised because I think some Republicans were reluctant to support the use of force in the last Congress because the administration had not come forward with a request.  In fact, that was said by many of my Republican colleagues.  So I was somewhat surprised that the administration did not bring forward a resolution that was more consistent with what we developed in the last Congress and would have accomplished every one of the objectives that Secretary Carter pointed out.  So let me bring up three concerns in the time that I have.  Some have already been raised but I will try to get through as much of this as possible.  First, dealing with the 2001 authorization and why there is nothing included in your request that deals with the 2001.  Secondly, to deal with the interpretation of "enduring offensive ground combat operations."    And third, how you will determine associate forces.  All three give me concern.  In regards to the 2001 authorization, as has been pointed out, that was an authorization passed rather easily by Congress to go against those who were responsible for the attack of our country on September 11, 2001.  That's what the resolution says.  I think many of us are surprised that that authorization could be used today against ISIS in Syria.  The 2001 authorization is now the longest running use of force in American history -- four years longer than the Vietnam War, eight years longer than the Revolutionary War, ten years longer than WWII.  About one third of the Authorizations for the Use of Military Force passed by Congress have included limitations of time -- that's not an unusual provision to be placed in a resolution because Congress and administration need to work together.  As Secretary Carter pointed out the circumstances change, it's important that Congress and the administration speak with a united voice.  And Secretary Carter, I was very impressed by your comments about the Constitutional responsibilities between Congress and the administration.  And you fully understand a three year sunset on the ISIS specific authorization for the use of force.  Quoting from your statement, "To me, this is sensible and principled provision of the AUMF even though I cannot ensure that the ISIL campaign will be completed in three years."  So Senator Murphy and I have introduced a bill that would limit the 2001 authorization to the same that you have in the ISIL specific resolution.  And if Congress so chose to include a three year specific resolution on the 2001 authorization, would it be your view that would be a sensible and principled provision for Congress to include even though you cannot ensure that the military operation against those responsible for the attack on our country on September 11, 2001 can be completed in that time, that it be up to the next administration to come back as it would in the ISIL campaign?

Secretary Ash Carter: Uhm, uh-uh, Senator, uh, thank you for that. Uh, I, uh, can't give you a clear answer to that question.  Let me say why.  The 2001 authorization use of military force covered al Qaeda, uh, and its successive generations which have now extended for fourteen years.  There's still an al Qaeda in Arabian Peninsula call themselves that and they intend to attack this country and we need to protect ourselves --

Senator Ben Cardin: But isn't that also true of ISIS -- 

Secretary Ash Carter: -- our authority to protect ourselves --

Senator Ben Cardin: Isn't that also true --

Secretary Ash Carter: -- Well there's a difference in your history of the tenacity of al Qaeda and its offshoots and their intent to attack our country and I think you have to take that into account about whether it makes sense to put a sunset on that one.  This one that we're embarking on with ISIL is a new campaign, a new group and so as I said in my statement I-I-I respect the desire uh to have a sunset uh-uh-uh clause that doesn't derive from any characteristic of the campaign that I know of yet that will predict that it will wrap up, uh, within three years.  But I think that we have history in the case of al Qaeda that it will -- it has perdured, it has lasted quite a long time and I think that ought to inform whether a sunset for the authorities contained 

Senator Ben Cardin: . Secretary if this is a new campaign --

Secretary Ash Carter: -- makes sense.

Senator Ben Cardin: If this is a new campaign,  I don't understand how you can use a 2001 authorization to justify the use of force. I think you can't have it both ways.  So I don't understand the distinction there when you're saying that 'it's a new campaign, we don't know what's going on and yet we can still use the 2001 authorization that was specific against the attack on our country

Secretary Ash Carter: I think the president -- I think another way of getting at your-your question, Senator, is the president has indicated a desire and a willingness to revisit the 2001 --

Senator Ben Cardin: And we're trying to help that along.

Secretary Ash Carter:  -- AUMF uhm, which I also, uh-uh-uh-uh, think, uh, makes sense in view of what you think has been fourteen years -- The only thing that I would say -- the only reason I'm hesitating here -- is that we have to protect ourselves against al Qaeda and its successors --

Senator Ben Cardin:  Congress -- 

Secretary Ash Carter: -- as it's still out there fourteen years after 9/11 

Senator Ben Cardin:  And our Congress will meet again and can always take up, as they will,  I assume, if this authorization is passed, and the next Congress with the next administration,  I want to just, uh, get one more question in.  The enduring offensive ground combat troops.  I looked at my Apple -- or my phone right here to get definition of what enduring is and it came up as "lasting permanent" on my iPhone.  So would you tell me why the term "enduring offensive ground combat operations" could not be interpreted to include operations such as our military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan since we didn't intend our troops to be there on a permanent basis, that we were liberating, we were not offensive?  Why couldn't an administration interpret that language to include a ground campaign similar to what we saw in Iraq?

Secretary Ash Carter:  I'll-I'll-I'll let, uh, Secretary uh-uh-uh-uh Kerry answer.  Uh-uh, I'm not a lawyer but the interpretation that I gave to that phrase is the interpretation that the, uh, those who drafted the AUMF, uh, make of it.  It is intended in the first instance clearly to rule out the kind of campaign we waged in Iraq and Afghanistan because we don't see that that cmapaign is necessary and that's one of the things that those words are supposed to cover.  So let me ask uh, uh, uh, Secretary Kerry to add to that. 

Secretary John Kerry:  Well I think the, uh, president, Senator, has been particularly clear about this and, uhm, there's a huge distinction between the kinds of operations that were conducted in Afghanistan and-and in Iraq where, clearly , we committed a significant number of troops for a long period of time to offensive operations on the ground.  The president has ruled that out.  And what he has done is, I think, offered you confining definitions that provide the limitations here.  And I think the English language provides them also, frankly. Uh, I don't happen to agree with Gen Allen's comment here about the two weeks -- two years.  I don't think anybody contemplates years or a year.  That's not in the thinking of the president. nor any of the considerations he's said.  What he's thought of only -- and what Gen Dempsey has been particularly clear about -- is not giving up the option under some particular circumstances where you might want somebody to -- Special Forces nature or embedded nature somehow to be accompanying people, to be assisting in some way.  I don't want to go into all the parameters on that.  

But I think it's been very clear how limited it is or an effort to protect or defend US personnel, our citizens, which is momentary

Kerry repeatedly tried to take control of the Committee -- while insisting he respected it.  It was usually on the topic of Iran -- a treaty with Iran, not Iran as related to Iraq.  We may go into that next time.

In their join post, Cedric and Wally note John Kerry called out the letter regarding a possible treaty signed by 47 Republican Senators.

  • Cedric and Wally remind of a time in 2004 when John Kerry was the one being wrongly called a "traitor" and accused of "treason" for declaring publicly that he'd been in multiple talks with foreign leaders (he'd never say who) and they wanted Bully Boy Bush to lose the 2004 election and blah blah blah.

    John Kerry was furious in 2004 when his own Swift Boating Mouth resulted in criticism and false cries that he was a "traitor" and had committed "treason."

    But today he stiffly lurches forward accusing others of the same.

    Botox has given him a new face; however, it's done nothing for his tired brain.

    Margaret Griffis ( notes, "Security forces have made their way into Tikrit and claim to be in control of as much as 90 percent of the city."

    So on day 11 of the operation to take Tikrit, Shi'ite forces and Shi'ite militias finally make it into the city?

  • What a proud moment.

    With more to come, right?

    Because 'liberation' by Shi'ite militias and forces in Iraq is usually followed by attacks on the residents of that area.  Last week, they were caught on film shooting an eleven-year-old Iraqi boy, executing him.

    This may finally begin to catch up with them.

    James Gordon Meek, Brian Ross, Rym Momtaz and Alex Hosenball (ABC News -- link is video and text) report:

     U.S.-trained and armed Iraqi military units, the key to the American strategy against ISIS, are under investigation for committing some of the same atrocities as the terror group, American and Iraqi officials told ABC News. Some Iraqi units have already been cut off from U.S. assistance over "credible" human rights violations, according to a senior military official on the Pentagon's Joint Staff.
    The investigation, being conducted by the Iraqi government, was launched after officials were confronted with numerous allegations of “war crimes,” based in part on dozens of ghastly videos and still photos that appear to show uniformed soldiers from some of Iraq's most elite units and militia members massacring civilians, torturing and executing prisoners, and displaying severed heads. 

    Margaret Griffis counts 226 dead in today's violence.

    Brian Ross

    Wednesday, March 11, 2015

    Who's following The Following?

     First up,  Isaiah's   The World Today Just Nuts "Hillary Teaches Children"is one of the three comics he did on Sunday.

    Hillary Clinton's a disgrace.

    You know what else is?

    Fox's The Following

    The first season was something.

    Season two sucked for the first half and only slightly improved in the last half.

    Now there's a season three.

    Ratings wise, the season opener got more than last year's season ender.

    But the second episode cratered.

    How come?

    We don't give a f**k about Kevin Bacon's sex life.

    If his character isn't going to be with Natalie Zea's character, we really don't care that much about him.

    Despite killing the ratings last year by keeping Zea off for half the season, the show's started with Zea gone.  She's not supposed to be dead this time.

    She's just supposed to have told Bacon it won't work.

    You know what does work?

    This show without her.

    They need to cancel The Following.

    No one's watching and it's nothing but mindless violence -- on all sides.

    It's worthless and has no redeeming qualities.

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

    Tuesday, March 10, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, Iraq gets noted in the Senate, the assault on Tikrit may reach Tikrit . . . some day, 4D PAC emerges to advocate for war (though they hope you're too ignorant to catch on), Jason Ditz sports his  gross stupidity yet again, and much more.

    This morning, US Senator John McCain declared, "Indeed, all four of the military service chiefs have testified that defense spending at sequestration levels would put American lives at risk. Now more than ever, a strong Navy and Marine Corps are essential to our nation's ability to deter adversaries, assure allies and defend our national interests."

    He was speaking at a budget hearing the Senate Armed Services Committee was holding.  Mccain is the Chair of the Committee, Senator Jack Reed is the Ranking Member.  The witnesses appearing before them were Gen Joseph Dunford Jr (Commandant of the Marine Corps), Secretary of the Navy Raymond Mabus Jr. and Adm John Greenert (Chief of Naval Operations).

    We'll come back to the hearing in a moment.

    But let's think about what the Chair was saying.

    Not in terms of the US but in terms of Iraq.

    Nouri al-Maliki was prime minister of Iraq from 2006 - 2014.  There were no real public works programs to repair Iraq's crumbling infrastructure.  There were times when the yearly budget was such that Nouri could have given every Iraqi citizen in the country a billion dollars.  But didn't.

    The money also didn't go to help address Iraq's problems -- such as the severe shortage of nurses and doctors (but especially nurses).  Instead, Nouri was fine with bringing in nurses from other countries.

    This despite double-digit unemployment in Iraq and a severe need for employment.

    Now there was money for Nouri's son to amass a fleet of sports cars in London as well as a bachelor pad where he -- contrary to the strict Shi'ite beliefs Nouri is supposed to hold (supposed to) -- entertained woman after woman.  There was money for Nouri's son to party.

    But there was no money spent on the Iraqi people.

    Nouri created his own political slate and dubbed it State and Law.

    The point being, Nouri insisted, he was law and order and restoring that to Iraq.

    And he ran in 2010 on the (false) claim that he'd restored order to Iraq.

    The one thing he did pour money into was the Iraqi forces.

    (Not the Peshmerga.  The Kurdish Regional Government paid the Peshmerga out of their portion of the national budget.)

    In fact, the Iraqi forces were so 'covered' by Nouri, he was able to say, "I got this."

    He was able to say, "I got this" -- and to refuse to US training for them.

    This was noted in the November 30, 2011 House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia hearing on Iraq.  We covered it in the next day's snapshot (December 1, 2011).  The Ranking Member, US House Rep Gary Ackerman, noted how the US training program was being publicly rebuked by the Ministry of the Interior.  They did not want or need US trainers.  That was made clear.  (There was no Minister of the Interior.  Nouri refused to nominate anyone for the post so that he could control the Ministry himself.)

    They didn't show up for training, these forces.

    What's changed since then?

    Not much.

    CBS News reported Monday:

    CBS News correspondent Holly Williams reports there are already more than 2,500 U.S. military advisers and trainers in Iraq, but Dempsey said their work is being hindered by the fact that Iraqi units sometimes fail to show up for training, or arrive without the proper equipment.
    "Right now we don't need more advisers on the ground," Dempsey told reporters on board the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, alongside his counterpart French Gen. Pierre de Villiers.
    "We've got trainers and advisers that are waiting for some of the Iraqi units to show up, and when they've shown up -- a handful of them -- they've shown up understrength and sometimes without the proper equipment. The Iraqi government can actually fix that themselves," said Dempsey.

    Back at the 2011 hearing when Ackerman was noting the Iraqi forces didn't want US training, he also noted that the Iraqi forces were unable to provide security to the country by themselves as he questioned the State Dept's Brooke Darby:

    Ranking Member Gary Ackerman: When will they be willing to stand up without us?
    Brooke Darby: I wish I could answer that question.
    Ranking Member Gary Ackerman: Then why are we spending money if we don't have the answer?
    [long pause]

    Ranking Member Gary Ackerman: You know, this is turning into what happens after a bar mitzvah or a Jewish wedding. It's called "a Jewish goodbye."  Everybody keeps saying goodbye but nobody leaves.

    When will they be able to stand up?

    Not then.

    And apparently still not now.

    In fairness to them, it turns out some of Nouri's spending was wasted on corruption and on paying people for service that they were not actually performing.

    But the US is yet again working on training.

    Iraqi forces, by themselves, are still not able to meet the goals McCain expects from US allies: "to deter adversaries, assure allies and defend our national interests."

    The assault on Tikrit was announced (and begun) two Sundays ago. Kareem Khadder and Ben Wedeman (CNN) remind, "Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ordered Iraqi forces on March 1 to retake Tikrit and Salahuddin province. Tikrit, best known to Westerners as the birthplace of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, fell in June to ISIS, which has captured parts of Iraq and Syria for what it says is its Islamic caliphate."

    BBC News notes Iraqi officials are saying today  "parts" of Tikrit were entered (finally) as the assault reached day ten.

    Mitchell Prothero (McClatchy Newspapers) reports:

    Iraqi security forces and Iranian-backed Shiite Muslim militias on Tuesday pushed to the outskirts of the encircled city of Tikrit, residents and Iraqi officials said, after 10 days of heavy fighting that have seen government-aligned forces take control of two key towns north and south of the city.
    News that government forces had arrived on the outskirts of Tikrit, which has been occupied by the Islamic State since last summer, was greeted triumphantly on state television, with officials claiming the militants had withdrawn from the city and predicting a quick victory.
    But officials have made similar claims in the past about the success of operations against the Islamic State – last summer about a failed mission to retake Tikrit, and most notably last fall about the town of Baiji – only to see the gains they claimed evaporate before fierce counterattacks.

    Read more here:

    On today's CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley, Holly Williams reported (link is video) on the move towards Tikrit:

    Holly Williams [. . .] Iraqi forces claim they're closing in on Tikrit.  Today, they seized the town of Alam -- five miles from the city.

    General Saad Maan:  Now we are surrounding Tikrit from four directions

    Holly Williams:  General Saad Maan of Iraq's Interior Ministry dismissed criticism from America's top general Martin Dempsey [Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff] or Iraqi military's readiness.

    General Saad Maan:  We are not kids in our work.  We have skills, We have a very big amount of experience.

    Holly Williams:  But in Tikrit, progress is painfully slow as ISIS fights back with weapons including mines and suicide bombs

    Reuters offers:

    There have been fears that the Shi'ite-dominated security forces and militia would seek revenge on local Sunni residents for the Speicher killings. In the nearby village of Albu Ajil, local officials said houses had been set on fire by the militia.

    Some houses were also set alight in al-Alam, but local tribal fighters said they belonged to security force members and government workers and were burnt by the retreating insurgents.

    So  Reuters knows that the assault has already resulted in homes being set on fire in Albu Ajil and Reuters knows that some homes were burned in today's seizure of al-Alam.  Reuters doesn't know who burned the homes in al-Alam but they tie a pretty ribbon around it -- an orange one, like police tape intended to halt traffic -- only Reuters' orange ribbon is intended to halt thought and questions.

    The topic of Iraq was raised briefly in today's Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.  Excerpt.

    Senator Lindsey Graham:  When it comes to Iraq and Syria, do you agree with me, when we take ISIL on -- and when I say "we," the United States and the region -- that we must win.

    Gen Joseph Dunford Jr.: Yes, Senator.

    Senator Lindsey Graham:  How many Marines were involved in the first battle and second battle of Falluja 

    Gen Joseph Dunford Jr: The first battle, Senator, was about two regimental combat teams of in the order of 6,000.  The second battle -- and, of course, it was soldiers as well -- The second battle was about 14,000 US forces -- that's Marines and US soldiers.

    Senator Lindsey Graham:  So-so do you agree with me, without that capacity, it would have been very difficult for the Sunni tribes to prevail over al Qaeda in Iraq at the time? 

    Gen Joseph Dunford Jr.: Without?  Absolutely, Senator.

    Senator Lindsey Graham: Okay, so we're about to fight a bigger force and how many members of our military do we have in Iraq today?

    Gen Joseph Dunford Jr.:  Senator, I don't know the exact numbers but I think on the order of 3,000. 

    Senator Lindsey Graham: How many of those are Marines?

    Gen Joseph Dunford Jr.:  We've got about 500 Marines, Senator -- that are actually on the ground --

    Senator Lindsey Graham:  Do you agree with me, both of you, that ISIL represents a threat to us, not just the region?

    Gen Joseph Dunford Jr.: : I do, Senator.

    Senator Lindsey Graham:  Do you agree with that, Adm?

    Adm John Greenert:  I do, Senator.

    Senator Lindsey Graham:  So anybody who thinks that defeating or destroying ISIL was their problem not ours is making a huge mistake? 

    Gen Joseph Dunford Jr.:  I agree with that, Senator.

    Adm John Greenert: We have to prevail, yes, Senator.

    Senator Lindsey Graham:  Do you agree that it is in our national security interests to make sure that not only that they're degraded and destroyed but they don't come back?

    Gen Joseph Dunford Jr.:  I-I agree with that, Senator. 

    Senator Lindsey Graham:  Do you agree with me that the best way that you guarantee that you destroy and degrade ISIL is that you have some American ground forces to help the regional forces?

    Gen Joseph Dunford Jr.: Senator, uh, right now, uh, I think it's critical that we provide US support.  And I think, as you know, we're waiting for Gen [Lloyd]  Austin to make a recommendation as to exactly what that support would be.

    Senator Lindsey Graham:  Doesn't that guarantee the highest chance of success is to have some American capability on the ground enhancing our regional partners?

    Gen Joseph Dunford Jr.:  Cer-Certainly my perspective would be as a link to supporting capability.

    Senator Lindsey Graham:  Do you agree with me that any Marine, Soldier, Airman, Sailor who participated in these operations would be protecting the homeland?

    Gen Joseph Dunford:  I-I believe that, Senator.

    Senator Lindsey Graham: If somebody died trying to deal with ISIL in Iraq or Syria, they would have died on behalf of protecting their nation?

    Gen Joseph Dunford: They would have died in protecting our national interest is clear, Senator. 

    Senator Lindsey Graham:  Do you agree with me that if we don't stop ISIL sooner rather than later, the likelihood of another attack against this country grows?

    Gen Joseph Dunford:  I think it grows but also I think if we don't stop them, there will be destabilization in the region as well as inamicable to our national interests.

    Senator Lindsey Graham:  Do you worry about the King of Jordan if they don't at least get slowed down or degraded pretty quickly?

    Gen Joseph Dunford: I do, Senator.

    Senator Lindsey Graham:  Do you, Adm?

    Adm John Greenert:  I do, Senator.  Yes, I do. 

    Senator Lindsey Graham: So to both of you, and to those who serve under you, I am sorry that some of you may have to go back. I regret it more than you'll ever know.  But I think you know, better than anyone else, why you may have to go back.  And the only commitment that I will make as a senator from South Carolina, is that if you go back, you go back to win and that we get this right this time. 

    Graham supported the Iraq War in 2003, he supports it now.

    He's not alone.

    A Democratic group has remade itself into 4D PAC and they have recommendations.

    Recommendations do not include: "No war on Iraq."

    But that's hardly surprising.  They see themselves as "center-left," others see them as War Hawks -- and saw them that way when they were known as VET PAC.  Back then, they were apologists for the Democratic Party.  They remain such today.

    They sent out a mass e-mail today -- if you donated to a Democratic presidential candidate -- even as far back as John Kerry in 2004 -- there's a good chance you received the e-mail because pro-war groups always have access to big money and this group bought one e-mail list after another.

    Their e-mail reads:

    As you may have heard, the President’s request for a new authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) against ISIS has hit a political wall.
    The rollout of the President’s proposal sparked such consternation from both the left and the right that leadership in both houses don’t know how to proceed. There's even talk of scrapping an AUMF vote all together.
    That would be a bad outcome.
    Without new legislation, this and future administrations will be able to rely on the near-limitless authorities granted by the post-9/11 AUMF, without Congressional approval. A new AUMF, even if imperfect, could restore Congress’ constitutional responsibility to oversee military deployments.
    4D PAC has identified four core principles necessary in a new AUMF. Beyond these principles, we urge Members of Congress to allow some room for compromise.
    1. Repeal the 2002 AUMF and sunset the 2001 AUMF.
    2. Include a sunset clause for the new AUMF.
    3. Specify that the new AUMF will be the only authorization that applies to U.S. operations against ISIS.
    4. Give the president all the tools necessary to defeat ISIS.

    Read our full memo and help us show Congress that it is in their interest - as well as America’s - to pass a new AUMF.

    Barack's AUMF "has hit a political wall" -- and note that they don't see that as a good thing.

    It's certainly not cause for them to rethink their advocacy of war.

    And they insist it would be "bad" to scrap the AUMF.


    Because, they whine, an AUMF "could restore Congress' constitutional responsibility to oversee military deployments."

    That won't happen.

    Barack, John Kerry, everyone in the administration has made clear that -- with or without an AUMF -- Barack will do what he wants.

    How stupid are they in 4D PAC -- and how stupid do they think everyone else is?

    They insist that the 2002 AUMF should be repealed -- that's the authorization for war on Iraq.  But note that the new one they want -- they just want that one to have a sunset clause -- they also want a sunset clause on the 2001 AUMF.

    Now the 2002 -- that they want revoked -- covers only Iraq.

    But the 2001 one was used to take war around the world and is so would the AUMF that Barack wants.  These won't be revoked, 4D PAC insists, just have sunset clauses attached.

    The February 23rd snapshot noted that week's Law and Disorder Radio,  hosted by attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights), which featured a discussion of  US President Barack Obama's recent AUMF request:

    Michael Ratner:  Now there's three or four points in it that I want to mention because they're so shocking and surprising.  Let's just look at the scenario here.  The Democrats want to put some limits on it -- not very many, but some -- on this use of force.  The Republicans want an ever expansive use of force.  Not much real difference between them but in some of the details.  The first one comes up in what's known as the 'sunset clause.'  We've talked about sunset clauses here with respect to the PATRIOT Act, etc.  When liberals want to vote for something bad but they want to feel better about it, they say, 'Oh, we're going to put a sunset clause in!'  That means that in two, three, four years, whatever the sunset provision is, the law will end by itself and it won't be renewed automatically.  Well we know what happened with the PATRIOT Act -- which we predicted at the time -- was a lot of liberals voted for the PATRIOT Act because it had a sunset clause, that was their excuse.  'Oh, tell our liberal constituents it's going to set in four years.'  And, of course, it did set.  But, of course, before it did set, Congress went ahead and renewed it for another four, ten, whatever number of years.  So this one has a three year sunset clause.  Let's think about that.  One, they can renew it always.  But secondly, even if it sets in three years, the president -- and it won't be Obama anymore -- just goes back to the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force --

    Heidi Boghosian: Right. 

    Michael Ratner: -- which has no sunset.  So essentially the sunset clause is meaningless for lots of reasons except it gives liberals cover.  And for that reason, I oppose the sunset clause because I don't want liberals having cover.  They ought to vote for what they understand they're voting for which is  indefinite war against the world.  So that's one very bad provision. 

    A sunset clause would be meaningless.

    But 4D PAC knows that.

    Which is why they want the 2002 AUMF (only covers Iraq) revoked (their term "revoked") but they want the 2001 AUMF and the 2015 AUMF to have "sunset clauses" -- even though they know the clauses are meaningless.

    The 2001 AUMF and the 2015 that Barack requested have been and will be used as legal cover to allow war anywhere in the world.

    That's not Congress showing their power or exercising their Constitutional duties.  It's Congress signing blank checks for war anywhere in the world.

    4D PAC knows that.

    4D PAC is War Hawk front.

    No one should be fooled by them and they shouldn't be able to escape their past via a name change.

    Let's move to a Tweet.

    Great to embark on USS New Hampshire yesterday! The sub & its crew are incredibly impressive:
    0 replies 2 retweets 1 favorite

    Shaheen was at today's Senate Armed Services Committee hearing and we'll note this:

    Senator Jeanne Shaheen: . . . a lot of the discussions during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq has been about the toll that's taken on our fighting men and women.  And one of the things that was clear yesterday -- not because anybody on The New Hampshire complained about it -- but the toll that the reduction in our ships and their capacity has on the men and women who serve on those ships because the deployments increase just as our deployments increased during Iraq and Afghanistan in a way that I think is less clear to the American public and the toll that that takes.  And I wonder -- Adm or Secretary Mabus -- if either of you would like to speak to what that shortfall in our ship capacity, the impact that that has on the men and women who are serving on those ships?

    Adm John Greenert:  You explained it very well, Senator.  There's a commitment -- a covenant -- that we have for providing ready forces forward around the world to be -- like we like to say -- where it matters, when it matters.  If you have less ships to distribute, those which are out there will stay on the watch longer.

    Let's turn to the topic of stupid idiots.  A real stupid trend is taking place.  The biggest idiot may be this dumb ass:

  • US Senators are allowed to say whatever they want.

    In America, we're supposed to have free speech.

    But members of Congress have it even more so.

    We aren't -- US citizens -- protected from lawsuits if we make remarks.  But members of Congress can say pretty much anything from the floors of Congress.

    We could debate whether the letter was right or wrong -- it's a letter that basically states, "Tehran, any deal you make with Barack Obama?  You need to remember he's got less than 2 years left in his term as president."  -- but no one wants to debate that.

    Instead dumb asses, hacks, human filth like Nancy Osborne want to scream "traitor!"

    That's a really serious charge and you don't make it lightly.

    Dumb ass Nancy says Dick Cheney would have thrown them in Guantanamo.

    She apparently knows Dick so intimately that she knows what he'd do.  Maybe she's been to bed with him?  Maybe she's just been on her knees in front of him?  Maybe she just has sexual fantasies about him?

    But, as a liberal, if you tell me that Dick Cheney would do X, my immediate reaction is I don't want to do anything like X because I loathe Dick Cheney and consider him a War Criminal.

    I've had it with the six years of dumb asses, of temple whores in the Cult of St. Barack.

    I've had it with them soiling the left because they're so damn in lust with Barack that they've confused that with being left or being liberal.  They've confused twisted sexual desire for Barack with an actual set of ethics.

    If you have a problem with the letter the Republicans sent, take out the letter.

    Mock the senators involved.

    Call them dirty names.

    And I won't care one bit.

    But when you start tossing around "treason," you've crossed a line.

    You should actually be expelled from public discourse because you're no longer just stupid, you are grossly immature and dangerous to the free exchange of information.  (It is these cries that took root and lead to witch hunts and 'purity tests' for citizens.)

    During the White House occupation of Bully Boy Bush, we watched this happen over and over and swore we'd never do it.

    But here we are, so few years later and we're doing it.

    It needs to stop.

    And the media needs to do their duty which is to weed out these wackos from the public discourse.

    If all you have to offer is "treason!" screamed at others, you really don't have anything to contribute and you should sit your tired and uninformed ass down.

    And shame on Jason Ditz (living up to his name yet again!) and for refusing to call out these cries of "treason" but instead writing an ahistoric piece of drivel that looks like it came from the desk of attack fetus Paul Begala.

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    michael s. smith
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    michael ratner