This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Today Gail Burkhardt (Monitor via Brownsville Herald) reports Sgt Estevan Altamirano had spent 11 years in the military and was on his third deployment to Iraq. His survivors include his parents, a sister (Loreda Altamirano), "his wife, Pamela Altamirano, in addition to two stepdaughters. He also has two sons, who live in Kansas".
Instead, the national vote once again is turning into a sectarian brawl in which Shiite parties jockeying with one another for dominance are stirring populist fears of a return of Saddam Hussein's Sunni-led Baath Party. Never mind that Hussein was executed in 2006 or that the discredited Baath Party already is outlawed. The Accountability and Justice Committee, led by Ahmad Chalabi, the Shiite politician and onetime darling of the George W. Bush administration, has been purging candidates who were members of the Baath Party and, in the process, fueling minority Sunnis' suspicions that the real motive is to further reduce their power.
De-Ba'athification was a policy the exiles wanted and the US implemented. British intelligence agencies and military strongly called out the de-Ba'athification process during testimony before the Iraq Inquiry. One of the White House proposed benchmarks of 2007 (signed off on by Nouri) was a reconciliation (de-de-Ba'athification). It was supposed to be implemented. Instead a weak law was passed and there was no follow up (as most observers guessed would happen). In 2010, critics of the Justice and Accountability Commission were repeatedly told this was its last breath. As if this excused the targeting and smearing by the Commission or as if this would bring back Iraqiya's Suha Abdul Jarallah or any others killed in this witch hunt climate Chalabi and al-Lami created. But the commission cleary hasn't take its last breath and it is now set to continue to be a body that will launch smear campaigns against political enemies.
The Kurds and Nouri al-Maliki remain at logger heads over the Erbil Agreement (the political deal that ended Political Stalemate I and the deal Nouri reneged on as soon as he got what he wanted out of the deal), Article 140 of the Constitution (guarantees that a census and referendum will be held to resolve the issue of disputed Kirkuk -- the Constitution mandated that be held by 2007 but Nouri's long refused to follow the Constitution) and Nouri's proposed oil & gas bill. The Kurds have publicly floated the possibility of a vote of no-confidence. If a vote of no-confidence succeeded, it would trigger a new vote in the Parliament for prime minister. Speark of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi visited the KRG yesterday to discuss the situation with the Kurds.
What was discussed? Dar Addustour reports that this morning al-Nujaifi wasn't saying but that the meeting with the KRG president reportedly lasted at least two hours and that al-Nujaifi is now supposed to meet with Nouri to convey the Kurds' viewpoint. Aswat al-Iraq reports, "Nujaifi said that his initiative to solve political bloc's differences, starting with solving inter-conflicts among the parties, including the differences between Baghdad and Arbil, according to a statement issued by his office. The statement, as received by Aswat al-Iraq, added that the initiative has new trends that will eliminate all obstacles that hinder the bases for new Iraq." Al Sabaah reports that a lower level meeting took place in Baghdad yesterday to discuss implementing the Erbil Agreement (participants included Saleh al-Mutlaq and Deputy Prime Minister Ruz Nuri).
Meanwhile there is the Integrity Commission. Nouri recently forced its chair to resign (he did that during his first term as prime minister as well). Al Mada reports that Iraqiya is supporting the reinstatement of the chair over Nouri's objection. This comes as Dar Addustour reports the Integrity Commission is teaming up with Parliament's Integrity Committee and the Supreme Judicial Council to address open files on corruption (files that have not been followed up on). There is talk of as many of 11 arrest warrants possibly coming about from the open files. Meanwhile Dar Addustour reports MP Sabah al-Saadi is stating there is no arrest warrant out against him and that the claims of one stem from Nouri al-Maliki attempting to cover up his own corruption and he states Nouri has deliberately kept the three security ministries vacant and he charges Nouri is willing "to sell Iraq to maintain his hold on power." Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) observes, "The increasing violence is likely to be taken as a further sign of political gridlock in the Iraqi government, in particular the inability of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki to name permanent ministers for the key security posts 18 months after the March 2010 elections."
Meanwhile Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi (Daily Star) reports on findings from documents leaked by WikiLeaks:
One notable case that has come to light from these cables involves the radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. On April 3, 2003, as Saddam Hussein's regime was on the point of falling, the moderate and non-sectarian Shiite cleric Abdul Majid al-Khoei, who had been in exile in the United Kingdom, returned to his home city of Najaf. Just one week later, Khoei was beaten and hacked to death by a mob. According to witnesses, he was first dragged to Sadr's office and then to a nearby roundabout where he was killed.
Although Sadr denies accusations of involvement in the atrocity, a senior Iraqi judge, Raed al-Juhi, issued an arrest warrant against him in April 2004, on suspicion of ordering Khoei's murder. One can of course ask why Sadr does not simply go to court if he is so confident of his innocence. In fact, there is a plausible motive for his role in the murder. As Hayder al-Khoei, Abdul Majid's son and a researcher at the Centre for Academic Shi'a Studies in the United Kingdom, has pointed out, Sadr and his followers, whom Hayder's father opposed, wanted to assert themselves as a political force in post-Saddam Iraq.
Today, it can be more easily understood why Sadr is not held to account over the arrest warrant. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki depends on the Sadrists as allies, along with the Kurdish factions, to maintain his coalition government in place. However, until the release of the diplomatic cables it remained unclear why the arrest warrant was not enforced during the tenure of the non-sectarian Iyad Allawi. He was interim prime minister before Iraq's elections of 2005.
And we'll close noting Foreign Policy's Josh Rogin's commentary on Barack's plan or 'plan' to reduce the deficit:
But his time in Iraq began to turn Choi's mind against the American war effort there. Corruption and mismanagement of the rebuilding process was rampant, and as a member of the Commanders Emergency Response Team (CERP), Choi himself had the authority to vet and authorize contracts with almost no oversight. He often paid cash.
"Every week I would fly from Green Zone to the 'Triangle of Death' area and then pass out money," Choi explained, his ready smile on display. "I'd have a million dollars in hundred-dollar bills in my backpack. I was like, 'Wow, I have more than my life is worth.'"
By May, two major forces in Choi's life were waging war on his psyche. On one hand, he had a military career he was fully dedicated to. On the other hand, he had met the love of his life but most of his inner circle still didn't know he was gay. So he started telling them.
"That was probably the hardest time," Choi said. "Being in the military with a boyfriend that I wanted to marry. I thought, 'How am I going to be able to keep being in the military this way?"
Dan Choi joined the fight for equality and became a public face for the movement and what may have still been, for some people, an abstract notion. The courage he demonstrated and the courage of others in the movement is why Don't Ask, Don't Tell has been overturned.
The "don't ask, don't tell" policy banning gays from serving openly will be stripped from the military's rulebook on Tuesday. The occasion could pass quietly. President Obama and the Defense Department have no plans for press conferences or major addresses, and DoD stopped enforcing it in July.
But for gay Marines, official repeal will be a historic day, comparable to the moment 63 years ago when President Truman ordered the services to end racial segregation.
NPR's Rachel Martin reports on the end of Don't Ask, Don't Tell on Morning Edition today. This is a day of pride for the LGBT community who still have battles to fight for full equality. One non-gay man who deserves applause today is former US House Rep Patrick Murphy. He has a column at Huffington Post where he writes of the struggle. He doesn't take his proper credit in that post and is far too modest. He notes he came into Congress in 2007 with the plan to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell. He does not go into how he was humored and misled. At one point, he was told that Senator Ted Kennedy would be leading the effort in the Senate and when he repeated that publicly, we noted here that it was a lie and that Ted was far sicker than the public knew and that it was terminal. Murphy was jerked around repeatedly. And then came the 2010 elections and he lost his seat. He could have washed his hands of the matter. But he didn't. He kicked it into overdrive, called in favors and, with the help of others who supported repeal, was able to get repeal voted on in both houses of Congress. Murphy is running for Attorney General in Pennsylvania.
The more than $1 trillion in defense "savings" that the White House claims is based on a projection the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) put out last March, which found that war costs would top $1.7 trillion over the next ten years. However, that projection was never meant to accurately forecast the costs of the wars over the next decade. The report just took this year's costs for Iraq and Afghanistan ($159 billion) and added inflation for every year in the future.
In other words, the CBO number was the projection if the United States kept the current number of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan until 2020. However, nobody ever thought that was the plan. The CBO was required to do the math that way, as they do with all such projections.
At today's White House briefing, reporters were quick to point out that Obama never planned to keep that many troops in Iraq and Afghanistan for the next ten years. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Jack Lew's response was to point out that the House GOP had used the same faulty logic in Paul Ryan's budget plan.
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