Friday, June 25, 2010

Gulf Disaster

First up, this is from World Can't Wait:

McCrystal's out: The war on Afghanistan is as immoral, illegitimate and unjust as ever. ACT NOW!

One war criminal fired; another replaces him to engineer the relentless, endless US occupation of Afghanistan. I see that some pundits are praising Barack Obama for "taking charge" and replacing McChrystal, whom he appointed a year ago. Some say General Petreaus is "better" at Counter-intelligence, a better tactician, and of course he ran the "surge" in Iraq that ended with a victorious US, and a liberated Iraqi population.

Worldcantwait.net has run dozens of articles this year on attrocities toward Afghan civilians directed by McChrystal, who has a long, sordid past running "special operations" on a formula developed in the jungles of Vietnam. As David Swanson asked at the protest we held yesterday in Detroit, did McChrystal get fired for any of those crimes? NO! David argues that McChrystal should be prosecuted for war crimes.

Chris Floyd writes in
McChrystal, Petraeus, Obama: the Imperial Bloodbath Continues: "McChrystal got in trouble for making disparaging remarks about fellow officers and civilian officials -- a military tradition that surely goes back to the armies of Hammurabi (and long before). Yet he faced no reprimand or remonstrance whatsoever for his admission, just a few months ago, that brazen war crimes were being carried out under his command."

Kathy Kelly, who has been to the drone-attacked areas of Pakistan recently, wrote yesterday in
"Americans Don't Flinch" - They Duck,

"We, ourselves, bear responsibility to examine disturbing patterns of misinformation regarding US/NATO attacks against Afghan civilians. In each of 11 incidents since April 9, 2009, US forces killed innocent civilians, then engaged in a coverup, insisting that they had killed insurgents, and, eventually, acknowledged having killed civilians. Generally, US/NATO officials issued an apology. WikiLeaks is expected to release a video that establishes US responsibility for a May 4, 2009, air attack which killed an estimated 86 to 140 civilians, mostly women and children. In the days and weeks after the attack, US and NATO military officials made a concerted effort to avoid blame for this attack. Voices for Creative Nonviolence has maintained a list, assuredly only a partial list, of US/NATO attacks, since April 2009, which caused civilian deaths...' read more

At USSF

While at the US Social Forum in Detroit this week, World Can't Wait hosted workshops, met activists from around the country, and discussed the problems of the hour with many people. Thursday, we put together an anti-war protest to condemn the escalation of the war in Afghanistan.

Several signers of the
Crimes Are Crimes Statement, including Carl Dix, David Swanson, and Sunsara Taylor spoke against the war in Afghanistan, and our responsibility to stop it. A small but spirited group of youth, some on their first march ever, took off for a military recruiting center a mile away, meeting people along the way, surprising the recruiters, and being an immediate part of reviving the anti-war movement.




It's from the e-mail they send up. I'm signed up? Not yet. C.I. passed that over to me.

I asked her if there was anything going on with WCW because it really wasn't featured this week. C.I. said, "Do you realize how many Congressional hearings I covered?"

(I do. Two for the gina & krista round-robin, three for TCI. She did a great job and I know she was exhausted. I also know she really loves WCW and wanted to be sure that it wasn't a snub, just being busy.)

On the Gulf, Richard Simon blogs at LAT: "After the suicide of a Gulf Coast fishing boat captain, Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-La.) on Friday called on BP to fund efforts to address the 'rising number of mental health problems' in the region caused by the massive oil spill." NYT offers a Q&A:

Q. How much oil has spilled so far?

A. The exact rate at which oil is leaking from the well is not known. Although estimates of the flow rate have changed drastically — to 35,000 to 60,000 barrels a day now, from 1,000 barrels a day originally — it is also not known if the actual rate has changed in the two months since the gusher began.

Calculating the spill to date using the current estimate, and factoring in the approximately 365,000 barrels collected so far from the wellhead, results in a total of about 1.9 million to 3.5 million barrels, or about 80 million to 150 million gallons since the rig exploded on April 20.

By contrast, the Exxon Valdez spill off Alaska in 1989 released an estimated 10.8 million gallons of oil.


80 million is a conservative estimate. 150 million seems more likely. But even 80 million is mind blowing.

When is Barack going to get it together?

Apparently he's not. At this point, he appears to be just hoping that, at some point, the well runs dry.

But new problems are coming. Carole Rosenberg (McClatchy Newspapers) reports this:

Gale-force winds days away from the Gulf of Mexico spill site could force at-sea workers to abandon their oil-collection efforts for two weeks, the head of the national response effort said Friday.

That timetable would conservatively unleash a half-million barrels of oil back in the sea — twice the Exxon Valdez spill. Using upper-end federal estimates of the leak, 840,000 barrels would gush out. That's 35 million gallons.

The Gulf Disaster continues and Barack is so ineffective.

NYT's Henry Fountain was on Fresh Air (NPR) discussing BP yesterday.

And finally: Community note, Cedric's "Tanks for the memories" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! TANKING!" address Barack's public opinion polls while Isaiah dipped into his archives for "Bully Boy Poster" from 2006. The others did a theme post about what they wanted to be when they were kids so see Mike's "The spy who played pro ball," Marcia's "Reporter," Ann's "Hair stylist," Trina's "Native American or Cher," Ruth's "Nurse," Kat's "Lead singer of the Rolling Stones," Rebecca's "still a witch," Betty's "After sports star fades . . ." and Stan's "Rapper."

That was C.I. in today's snapshot and we're all grabbing that to highlight the community posts from last night.



This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"


Friday, June 25, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, a mass grave is discovered in Iraq, Chris Hill is shown the door (in part, because he'd be unable to otherwise find it), Sunday is PTSD Awareness Day, the Green Zone loses a few perks, corruption gets some press and more.

This Sunday is PTSD Awareness Day. US Senator Kent Conrad's office issued the following:


Washington -- In an effort to bring greater attention to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), the United States Senate last night passed a resolution authored by Senator Kent Conrad designating June 27 as National PTSD Awareness Day.
"The stress of war can take a toll on one's heart, mind and soul. While these wounds may be less visible than others, they are no less real," Senator Conrad said. "All too many of our service men and women are returning from battle with PTSD symptoms like anxiety, anger, and depression. More must be done to educate our troops, veterans, families and communities about this illness and the resources and treatments available to them."
The Senator developed the idea for a National PTSD Awareness Day after learning of the efforts of North Dakota National Guardsmen to draw attention to PTSD and pay tribute to Staff Sgt. Joe Biel, a friend and member of the 164th Engineer Combat Battalion. Biel suffered from PTSD and took his life in April 2007 after returning to North Dakota following his second tour in Iraq.

Earlier this month, Senator Conrad visited the Fargo VA Medical Center and met with physicians and social workers to discuss their capabilities for helping those suffering from PTSD. He also met with friends of Sgt. Biel and presented them a copy of the resolution designating June 27 -- Biel's birthday -- as National PTSD Awareness Day.

According to the National Institute for Mental Health, PTSD is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened. Traumatic events that may trigger PTSD include violent personal assaults, accidents, and military combat. From 2000 to 2009, approximately 76,000 Department of Defense patients were diagnosed with PTSD.

"This effort is about awareness, assuring our troops -- past and present -- that it's okay to come forward and say they need help. We want to erase any stigma associated with PTSD. Our troops need to know it's a sign of strength, not weakness, to seek assistance," Senator Conrad said.
To learn more about PTSD and locate facilities offering assistance, visit the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' National Center for PTSD at
http://www.ptsd.va.gov.
Veterans in need of immediate assistance can call the VHA Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 and press 1.
That is this Sunday, June 27th. Toady, on
The Diane Rehm Show (NPR), second hour, the caller did what the host and guests couldn't: Raise the issue of Iraq. Henry from Florida was the only one aware that Iraq was the locale of an ongoing war. Others were aware of it as a 'fixed' reference point for Afghanistan.

Henry: Yes, thank you for taking my call. I have a simple question. Did George [W.] Bush not ask his generals when we would be getting out of these stupid wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? Or did the generals not ask him, "Sir, when will we be getting out of this war that you started?" Because essentially that Republicans find it okay for us to be spending whole millions and billions on this war but it's not okay with them to spend on our poor people in this country.

Diane Rehm: Lots of folks have raised those kinds of issues.

Elise Labot: Well Henry raises an issue that's felt about a lot of Americans around the world about how much money we're spending on wars in Iraq, in Afghanistan. We look at the world economy. A lot of the US economy is in the toilet and we're continuing to spend on both these wars. However, both President Bush and President Obama spent many weeks and months talking with the generals about how to win the strategy in Iraq, in Afghanistan. The problem is that these wars might not be winnable. The US can leave the situation in a better place than it found it but maybe not win.

That was Elise Labot from CNN. That was all that was worth hearing. And sometimes, when it's pointed out how pathetic it is that Iraq's not covered on Diane's show, a little whiner will show up in the e-mails. (Friends with that show know not to. I'm not in the mood for this show right now.) And it will be, boo hoo, they have so many topics and they're winging it and blah blah blah. Since the Idiot Kevin Whitelaw outed Diane today, let me as well. On air, he says, "I forgot what you wanted me to say, Diane," in reference to what he was supposed to say. Diane curtly called on Moises Naim to take over. Point? That show's worked out in advance. Only real surprises are the calls -- and they generally know what the call's about before it goes on air (though some callers don't stick to the topic they say they're calling in about). Here's reality on how the show works on Fridays. Diane divies up topics and the guests begin searching (the web) for the topic. Then they speak into the mike on air and act like they did something wonderful. Ask any guest -- ask Roy Gutman -- and they'll tell you that's how it goes. Diane determines the topics ahead of time, assigns aspects of the topics ahead of time, and then the 'non-scripted' conversation takes place. And if you missed it Sunday, read "
Only 30% of Diane Rehm's guests are women (Ava and C.I.)." And any whine Diane freaks, grasp that while Iraq was not a topic during the international news hour, Diane WASTED the international news hour with approximately seven minutes of talk about tennis. Apparently, Diane is hoping to move to ESPN in her tarnished years. No time for Iraq. 7 US service members have died there so far this month but Diane's not interested. Tennis? She's mad for it. It's all about priorities.

Priorities was the question. And isn't it curious that no one -- not the host, not her guests -- while talking about the money spent on the wars -- bothered to mention the numbers? Isn't that rather telling. Diane says a lot of people are talking about this. But apparently not on her show. Not even today. From
Monday's snapshot:

Moving over to the finanical cost of war,
at the start of this month, the Institute for Public Accuracy offered a dollar amount for the financial costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars: $1 trillion dollars. BBC notes that the costs for the UK government in fighting the two wars has surpassed the 20 billion pound mark -- which would be approximately 29.7 billion US dollars. They go on to note, "Critics questioned why the UK was spending so much on conflict when public finances were in a dire state." The US has spent much, much more than that but ask yourself when you ever heard the anchor of the ABC, CBS or NBC news note that anyone might wonder why, when the US' economy is "in a dire state," the government was spending so much money on war? Carl Ramey (North Carolina's Pilot) notes, "Amazing, isn't it? We can talk endlessly about the nation's debt crisis and rampant spending, but nary a word about two wars that are costing us more than $12 billion every single month, and whose cumulative costs, over the past eight years, have already surpassed $1 trillion."


One trillion dollars. The dollar amount that was ignored by Diane and company today.
At McClatchy's Inside Iraq, an Iraqi correspondent remembers Yasser Slaihee, "In June 2005 there was supposed to be a sovereign government on June 30, Yasser's birthday, but Yasser didn't live long enough to see the date changed to June 28, they deprived Yasser from a wish that didn't come true even after his death, off course I blame no one for it doesn't matter, the ceremony and the announcement was everything but true on the ground." Yaseer was shot dead by a US sniper June 24, 2005. NPR's Jacki Lyden noted of the journalist, "Yasser was hip: blue eyes, wire rims and a buzz cut, average height, endless smile. He invited me for coffee to meet his wife and baby daughter, and our coffee klatch never ended. When NPR producer Tom Bullock turned ashen, feverish and couldn't get out of bed, Yasser hooked him up to an IV bag hoisted on a camera tripod before he even told Tom who he was." In real time, Ron Brynaert (at Why Are We Back In Iraq) blogged about Yasser's death and, in the excerpt below, he's citing a report by McClatchy's Tom Lasseter:Once again, the Pentagon initially lied about the murder of a journalist in Iraq. "An early report said Salihee was shot by a passing U.S. convoy when he failed to heed hand signals or shouts from soldiers. That later turned out to be untrue." But there are conflicting accounts. "Most of the witnesses told another Knight Ridder Iraqi special correspondent that no warning shots were fired. But the front right tire of Salihee's car, a white Daewoo Espero, was pierced by a bullet, presumably meant to stop him from advancing." FYI, Ron's now with Raw Story. Yesterday's violence included assaults on Sahwa with four members of one family kidnapped in a home invasion and later found dead. Lourdes Garcia-Navarro (NPR's All Things Considered) reported yesterday that the month of June has seen a minimum of 19 Sahwa killed. Sahwa, also known as "Awakenings" and "Sons Of Iraq" are largely Sunni fighters that the US put on the payroll to stop them from attacking US military equipment and US service members, numbered over 91,000 and Nouri al-Maliki agreed to take them and fold them into government jobs, putting them on the Iraqi payroll. That really didn't happen. Targeting has happened, repeatedly. These are Iraqi citizens. Nouri has an obligation to protect them. His refusal to do so goes to the fact that he's not a leader. He can't protect the people and he has refused to call out the killings. Doing so wouldn't violate his attempts to continue sectarian tensions. Nouri's caught in the past and Iraq will never be able to move forward with him as prime minister. Back to Lourdes Garcia-Navarro who reports:Now, the exit of American troops is under way. In 2009, the fate of the Sons of Iraq was left in the hands of Iraq's Shiite-dominated coalition government, which agreed to pay the men and eventually either integrate them into the armed forces or give them civilian jobs. But scores have been arrested over the past year by the government, says Hussam, while others have fled the country, leaving a sense of bitterness among the remaining Sons of Iraq.

Turning to some of today's violence . . .

Bombings?

Reuters notes a Baghdad bombing injured an Iraqi military officer, a Mosul roadside bombing injured four people, a Muqdadiya roadside bombing injured two people, a Khaldiya suicide bomber took his own life (but no one else's) in Khaldiya and, dropping back to Thursday for the rest, a Baghdad sticky bombing injured five people, a Baghdad roadside bombing injured two people and a Baghdad roadside bombing injured four people. In addition, the Times of India reports, "A bomb on Friday damaged the perimeter wall of the Nabi Yunes mosque in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, revered by Christians as the burial place of the Biblical prophet Jonah, police said."

Kidnappings?

Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that Bassim Hussein (an engineer in Kirkuk who was working for the government) was kidnapped yesterday.

Corpses?

AFP reports a mass grave was discovered in Samarra today with 11 skeltons and they are thought to be from the ethnic cleansing of 2006 and 2007.
Timothy Williams and Duraid Adnan (New York Times) note some of the violence yesterday including the Sahwa attack and they note the demonstrations over lack of electricity (which they call "riots" -- a word choice/characterization I strongly disagree with). The National Turk reports that temperatures have gotten close to 120 degrees F and "Hussain al-Shahristani, the current electricity minister spoke of the shortages and said that there was no 'magic wand' to stop the outages on Friday as Iraqi protesters massed in the capital Baghdad over the government's inability to provide essential services in the war ridden country." al-Shahristani is the acting minister and he goes on to state Iraqis should "limit" their use of AC. Maybe he can work on "limiting" the number of 100-degree-plus days. The average Iraqis may get a little more electricity. AFP reports that al-Shahristani has just "revoked electricity privileges enjoyed by government officials as he took temporary control of the power portfolio amid public fury over rationing" -- something you would assume would have been dealt with long ago. Something that never really should have happened to begin with -- directing additional energy to the Green Zone. Nadeem Hami and Liz Sly (Los Angeles Times) add, "Until now, government officials who live in the fortified Green Zone and other specially guarded compounds for VIPs have enjoyed up to 24 hours of electricity a day, while ordinary Iraqis swelter in the heat with only 2-6 hours of power." Rania El Gamal, Muhanad Mohammed, Khalid al-Ansary, Matt Robinson, Raloph Boulton (Reuters) note, "The power protests have emboldened rivals of Maliki who hope to form a government with his mainly Shi'ite State of Law alliance but deny him a second term as prime minister. Talks will likely yet drag on for weeks, possibly months."

The forming of the new government? March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. Three months and two days later, still no government. 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance. Together, the two still lack four seats necessary (or so it is thought) to form the government.
Jim Muir (BBC News) went to the British Embassy in Baghdad for a ceremony and:

As I flitted from one to another, I made a point of asking them all the same question: So who's going to be the next Iraqi prime minister?
Here we were, well over three months after general elections, and the amazing thing was, not a single person had a clear answer.
It wasn't as though they were trying to hide some secret to which they were privy.
They genuinely didn't know, because nobody does.

No one does. But chances are they could guess better than the US Manic Depressive in Iraq. Or US Manic Depressive in Iraq For Now. The
long awaited news was finally officially announced by the White House today:

James Franklin Jeffrey is a career member of the U.S. Foreign Service, grade of Career Minister. He began his current assignment as Ambassador to Turkey in November 2008. Ambassador Jeffrey has previously served in Washington as Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Near Eastern Bureau, and Special Advisor to the Secretary of State for Iraq. From 2004 to 2005, Mr. Jeffrey served in Baghdad as Deputy Chief of Mission and later Charge d'Affaires. His previous assignments have involved the Balkans, as Ambassador to Albania and Deputy Special Representative for Bosnia Implementation, and Deputy Chief of Mission in both Turkey and Kuwait. Ambassador Jeffrey earlier held a variety of assignments in Washington and abroad in the European and Near Eastern Bureaus, including postings in Munich, Adana, Ankara, Sofia, and Tunis. Ambassador Jeffrey served in the US Army as an infantry branch officer from 1969 to 1976, with service in Germany and Vietnam. He has a B.A. from Northeastern University and a M.S.B.A. from Boston University.

Jeffrey's in. And, yes, Chris Hill's out -- as we've noted for two months now. The napping ambassador. At random, let's just pull up a snapshot.
November 23, 2009:

At the White House today, a bunch of trained yammers (with few exceptions) stroked and fondled Robert Gibbs with questions of such easy nature as could he explain "diplomatic entertaining" and State dinners. They had plenty of time to make like In Style magazine but damn little time to make like actual reporters. It was the usual embarrassment everyone's come to expect and that can be blamed only partly on Robert Gibbs. Blame? Hillary mentioned Chris Hill, US Ambassador to Iraq, in her comments and this may have been the first time his name has come up in the last few days. For example, the
New York Times' awful editorial last week didn't mention him when it called out Iraq for the delay. Shouldn't Hill have been on this issue from day one? Yes, he should have. And who picked Hill? Who picked Hill over qualified people -- many, many other qualified people? Barack Obama. So the candy ass White House press corps should have pressed on the issue of Iraq. Instead they wasted everyone's time and, with few exceptions, better hope their editors and producers don't study that transcript. And on Chris Hill, let's remember one more time that the Republicans in the Senate structured their objections to Hill very carefully and very precisely. They knew he could be the anchor that could hang around Barack's neck. But no one wanted to pay attention back then and now it appears it may be too late. If Iraq falls to pieces, Republicans running for office will not blame military generals. They will, however, go to town on a US civilian like Hill. And they laid the groundwork for that back in his confirmation hearing.

To clarify,
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, that day, was speaking at the US State Dept and AFP's Lachlan Carmichael asked her about Iraq. She wasn't speaking with Gibbs at the White House press briefing. But that was November. When Iraq had again missed a deadline for the election law. And that's what pushed the election back to much. It was actually supposed to be held at the end of 2009 but Nouri insisted he needed more time. So it got pushed back to January 2010. But there was no movement on the election laws necessary. This went on for months. With the United Nations publicly warning about these delays. And Chris Hill did nothing. He showed no leadership, he offered nothing. And the elections got pushed back two months (to March) and now the elections have been held and, almost four months later, still no prime minister. Remember the drawdown is going on right now and US forces in Iraq are supposed to drop to 50,000 by the end of August. It's July next week. Chris Hill did nothing.

Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) reports Iraqi officials feel the United States has all but forgotten Iraq and, "Iraqi officials cite instances that they say showed the Americans being caught by surprise: A veto by the country's Sunni vice president last fall delayed elections by two months, and an attempt by Shiite politician Ahmad Chalabi, once a U.S. favorite, to bar more than 500 candidates from running in parliamentary elections that reignited sectarian tensions." An Iraqi official goes on to praise Chris Hill for his work and state that it's not Hill ("bright man") but the White House which hasn't been doing the job. I'm no groupie or fan of Barack Obama but that's not why I included that in this. You better grasp what's being said and why. Hill's been doing -- and this is known, lower levels under him have reported this back to DC and to visiting State Dept staff -- what McCrystal was fired for: Bad mouthing his superiors. He's been doing that forever. And, again, check out that personnel file, he did in nearly every post. He blames his superiors for everything. He sucks up to whomever happens to be standing in front of him at the moment. If that's an Iraqi official who's unhappy (as many are), then it's time for Hill to agree (fine) and then go on to trash his bosses (not so fine).

Chris Hill is an idiot. Chris Hill was always an idiot. We covered the confirmation hearing and it was obvious then -- refer to the
March 25, 2009 snapshot and the March 26th snapshot -- the hearing was the 25th, we spent two days on it. You can also refer to Third's "Chris Hill sings 'Much More'" (March 29, 2009). He's an idiot. He showed up for his confirmation hearing knowing nothing. He had food stains on his shirt, his hair was uncombed and this was when he was trying to make a good impression and get the job. See Isaiah's "The Pig-Pen Ambassador." Right now, as deals are being made to try to end the political stalemate, the Kurds are quite clear what they want from the horse trading: Kirkuk. They'd like it outright but they'll settle on the vote that the 2005 Constitution promised them (the vote Nouri never allowed). This is not a minor issue. Even now, it's not a minor issue. And if it were minor to everyone but the Kurds, Nouri (or Allawi or whomever) could tell the KRG, "Give me your bloc of votes and you've got Kirkuk." "Just an old fashioned land dispute," Hill dubbed Kirkuk in his Senate confirmation hearing -- oil-rich Kirkuk. He understood nothing. He had no background in the region. He didn't even have language skills. He never should have been nominated, let alone confirmed. And the alleged brain trust in the White House missed the boat completely, ignoring the Republican objection and what the really signified. From April 5, 2009:

The GOP senators were offering carefully worded questions, delivered very carefully. Why was that? That doesn't happen in most hearings. No one comes off rehearsed (mainly because few have the time to be). So what was going on there? Turns out, they were preparing for clips that they can air if Iraq goes straight to hell between now and the 2010 elections. Chris Hill is unqualified and has no MidEast experience. Iraq is among the most important diplomatic posts at this point due to the perception that violence is down (and some say gone -- it's not gone, it hasn't even ceased).It is a good guess that Iraq will yet again slap the Operation Happy Talkers in the face and this time the GOP's the one prepared to benefit from such an event. They're going to attack if that happens (I think it will happen) and they're not MoveOn. Meaning? They're not attacking Ray Odierno. They're going to point to Chris Hill. They're going to point to his ambassadorship. They also know that the 2007 benchmarks were never met. Three years later and they're not met. The GOP line of attack is going to be: "Hill had the progress that Peteraues and Crocker built and created and he wasted it. He is completely unqualified and we raised these issues when he appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee." (I don't know Sam Brownback and I have been told his objection is very real to Hill's appointment. I'm not stating or inferring he participated in political theater. I am saying that those Republicans on the committee did.)I think Hill's going to be confirmed. I believe he's unqualified for the post and, based on Iraq events since the start of the illegal war, Iraq will be the same quagmire where nothing is accomplished. The GOP's going to hang that on Hill.

[. . .]
The administration has no clue what a huge mistake they're making. The Republicans are not going to stick with Iraq forever. We've noted that here in 2007 and 2008. But by naming someone with no MidEast experience as ambassador to that country, the Democratic administration just gave the Republican Party their out on Iraq. It becomes, "We supported it. We supported the work Crocker and Petraeus did. And we stood firm and managed to get the violence down. And then President Obama appointed someone completely unqualified and all the progress vanished." That will be the argument and that will be how Republicans begin walking away from the Iraq War which is now Barack Obama's. And if the GOP plays this well, it takes the only card that Dems have had for the last few election cycles: That they're right on Iraq and the Republicans are wrong.

Doubt that's possible?
Spencer Kornhaber (OC Weekly) reports today on claims made by (Ret) Judge Andrew Napolitano states this week's Freedom Watch (Fox Business channel), which he hosts, features US House Rep Dana Rohrabacher (Republican) stating that (Napoloitano allegedly quoting Rohrabacher) "almost all Republicans in the House of Representatives now believe that the war in Iraq was a mistake, that it was unlawful, that it was immoral, that it wasn't worth the lives lost or the trillions that will be spent." Like Kornhaber, I don't know about the "unlawful" remark -- I consider the Iraq War to be an illegal war, I have not, however, heard any Republican member of Congress say that. I did hear the strategy to hang the Iraq War on Barack via Chris Hill from two Republican senators who stated back in April of 2009 that the Republican Party was going to walk away from the Iraq War and do so publicly on the grounds that Barack screwed it up. (The illegal war was screwed up from the beginning. That is not an excuse for Barack who screwed things up by continuing it. But it is noting that two parties share the blame for this illegal war.)

Laura Rozen (Politico) notes the announcement regarding Jeffrey but is too modest to note she broke the news of his appointment. (We noted Hill was on his way out. I did not know who was being brought in until Rozen's article broke. That was her scoop and she deserves credit for it. Even if she's too modest to grab it herself, she still deserves credit.)


From Chris Hill to the topic of Female Genital Mutilation in the KRG. I was asked to note this on Tuesday (by a PRI friend) and didn't have space. I thought it had aired on Monday or Tuesday. It aired last week when
Human Rights Watch released "They Took Me and Told Me Nothing: Female Genital Mutilation in Iraqi Kurdistan" (link goes to HTML overview, report is in PDF format). The 80-page report documents the continued and widespread practice of FGM in the KRG. (For more on the report see the June 16th and June 17th snapshots.) For The World (PRI, link has audio and text), Marco Werman interviewed HRW's Jessie Graham about the report. Excerpt:


MARCO WERMAN: I'm Marco Werman and this is The World, a co-production of the BBC World Service, PRI and WBGH Boston. Human Rights Watch has found a disturbing trend in northern Iraq. In a report issued today, the rights group says a significant number of Kurdish women in the self-ruled region has undergone female genital mutilation. That's the name given to a medically risky and emotionally painful procedure, often performed on very young girls. It involves the removal of the clitoris and sometimes other genital parts. Human Rights Watch is now calling on Kurdish authorities in northern Iraq to ban the practice. Jessie Graham is with Human Rights Watch; she's also a former reporter for this program and in fact, did some reporting for us on female genital mutilation in northern Iraq. Jessie, how did Human Rights Watch come to the conclusion that so many women in the Kurdish region of Iraq have undergone FGM?

JESSIE GRAHAM: They interviewed women in villages in northern Iraq and actually have worked with an NGO that's been doing work on this for many years that's done some surveys and found that in some places it is almost every woman in a village will be subjected to this. The government itself has done some surveys and found numbers as high as 40% in one district and it's pretty clear that this is a very common practice.

WERMAN: One of the disturbing conclusions of the Human Rights Watch report is that for many girls in Iraqi Kurdistan, FGM is an unavoidable procedure, and we're talking often very young girls between the ages of three and twelve. Now you reported on FGM in northern Iraq for our program back in 2006. Is there a typical way that this occurs to a young girl? Does the mother take her to someone? Is a girl even warned beforehand what's going to happen?

GRAHAM: No, the girls aren't warned and the report is called "They Took Me and Told Me Nothing", which I think is very telling. What this report does is it really does tell that story of how unexpected, surprising and really harrowing this experience is for these little girls. Sometimes it's also adult women who are subjected to this. And in almost every case that we heard about, the women are taken to a relative's house or someone, a midwife, comes to the house, they are held down by a female relative and the woman that performs the cutting is using a razor blade. There's no anesthesia. They have to be very stoic because every woman in the community or many women in the community have gone through this procedure. And the understanding is that they have to go through it in order to get married, in order to serve food, in order to be a woman in the community.

Meanwhile, you can't have an illegal war without a lot of corruption. On that beat,
David Beasley and William McQuillen (Bloomberg News) report that Public Warehousing Co (now Agility), which was supposed to be providing food and other services to the US military in Iraq (one the tax payer's dime) is allegedly still overbilling and Asst. US Attorney Barbara Nelan told the judge, "We feel very strongly and have evidence that the fraud has continued." AP reports Agility's attorney is stating that the charges are destroying his client's company. In addition, Guillermo Contreras (San Antonio Express) reports that US Army Capt Faustino L. Gonzales (a purchasing officer) "pleaded guilty Thursday to receiving $25,000 in bribes in exchange for awarding Iraq reconstruction contracts to a company that charged inflated prices."

Non-Iraq. At Third, at Third "
DVD: Plunder (Ava and C.I.)" was a review of Danny Schechter's latest documentary Plunder. Along with the DVD release of the film, he's also got The Crimes Of Our Times, Danny's companion book to the documentary. He has a new website for the film -- this is about the economic collapse -- and you can click here. Community note, Cedric's "Tanks for the memories" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! TANKING!" address Barack's public opinion polls while Isaiah dipped into his archives for "Bully Boy Poster" from 2006. The others did a theme post about what they wanted to be when they were kids so see Mike's "The spy who played pro ball," Marcia's "Reporter," Ann's "Hair stylist," Trina's "Native American or Cher," Ruth's "Nurse," Kat's "Lead singer of the Rolling Stones," Rebecca's "still a witch," Betty's "After sports star fades . . ." and Stan's "Rapper."

TV notes. On PBS'
Washington Week, James Barnes (National Journal), Michael Duffy (Time magazine), Eamon Javers (CNBC) and Martha Raddatz (ABC News) join Gwen around the table. Gwen now has a weekly column at Washington Week and the current one is "General McChrystal and the Gift of 20/20 Hindsight." This week, Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Debra Carnahan, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Anne Manetas and Genevieve Wood on the latest broadcast of PBS' To The Contrary to discuss the week's events. And at the website each week, there's an extra just for the web from the previous week's show and this week's online bonus is a discussion about a new birth control pill which would prevent pregnancy for up to 5 days after intercourse. this week's online bonus is a discussion on the press' latest attempt to start Mommy Wars. Need To Know is PBS' new program covering current events. This week's hour long broadcast (Fridays on most PBS stations -- but check local listings) features Andrew Bacevich on the topic of the Afghanistan War and Hooman Majd on Iran. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:
Blackwater 61"Blackwater 61" is the call sign of a plane flown by the embattled government contractor Blackwater that crashed into a mountain in Afghanistan killing all onboard. The widow of one of the soldiers killed - a pilot herself - says the firm was negligent in the way it operated the flight. Steve Kroft reports. |
Watch Video
Fighting For A CureMore Americans are suffering from epilepsy than Parkinson's, cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis combined. Katie Couric reports on a disease that may not be getting the attention it deserves. |
Watch Video
Cameron's AvatarMorley Safer gets the first look at how "Titanic" Director James Cameron created his $400 million 3-D fantasy "Avatar." |
Watch Video
60 Minutes, Sunday, June 27, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.


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