Saturday, May 14, 2011

2 of 10




10 guests, 2 were women.

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

Friday, May 13, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, protests continue in Iraq, 'withdrawal' or not-withdrawal continues to be a topic, revelations out of England continue to dominate the British news cycle, the funerals for 2 US soldiers who died in Iraq take place tomorrow, and more.
It's Friday which means protests in Iraq. The Great Iraqi Revolution has posted video of the Baghdad protest here. The protests have been going on for months now. The protesters demands include: an end to government corruption, the restoration of basic services (electricity, potable water, etc.), jobs and freedom from foreign interference (including no foreign troops on Iraqi soil).
Among the issues addresed at the Baghdad protest today? The kidnapping of Omniya Al Sammaraie "-- she is a widow and raises her children on her own -- her parents and her husband are martyrs. She is an engineer and was threatened by the security forces by internet on facebook!" The Great Iraqi Revolution notes, "Omniya Al Sammaraie's sister, Dr. Shems, was speaking live a few minutes ago - she said that the people who came to kidnap her were dressed in black - so it is a militia dressed in black - really this gang of hooligans in the Green Zone is all balck in the face and dressed in black!!!!!" And they add, "Dr. Shems, Omniya's sister, speaking live on air stated that she holds Maliki responsible for her safety , in addition we, too , hold Maliki responsible fro her safety. She also told the - them the goervnment and its hooligans - that they will go on fighting for Iraq's liberation as well as getting rid of Haliki and his goons!"
The Associated Press notes over 500 Iraqis protested in Baghdad. The Great Iraqi Revolution reports a Baghdad chant ("you" is Nouri), "Katthab wu Kahyyif, Menreedek Wallah Menreedek! It means you are a liar and scared and we don't want you By God we don't want you." Among those who turned out were family members of those lost in the Iraqi 'justice' system, "The screams and cries of the mothers and sisters of the detained and disappeared on LOYALTY FRIDAY IN TAHRIR BAGHDAD - ALWAFA'A FRIDAY."
And they note what's going on in Mosul currently, "People are gathering in Bab Jedeed District in Mosul - the army and security forces are surrounding them but they continue to gather." Plus, "‎1000s have come out protesting and demonstrating in Sammara'a - Interior Minsitry's Maghaweer and Army tried suppressing them but it has not worked! They have arrested some young demonstrators. United Prayers for Friday were carried out and the A'immeh from both sects called for this demonstration." And, "Our Correspondent in Ramadi, Anbar - security forces heavily deployed in and around Tahrir and have suppressed protestors as well as people attending Friday Prayers in an attempt to stop them praying! They have also arrested some 12 of our Anbar Youth. 13.5.2011 ALWAFA'A FRIDAY RAMADI"
Justin Raimondo (Antiwar.com) observes, "In Iraq, 'Arab Spring' protests continue, as they have across the Middle East, but -- unlike the demonstrations in Egypt, the civil war in Libya, and the violently-repressed upsurge in Syria -- the Western news media has decided not to cover them. When thousands jammed the streets of Suleimaniya, the supposedly pro-occupation, pro-American capital city of the Kurdish autonomous region -- Maliki and his Kurdish equivalents sent the Iraqi army in to crush the incipient rebellion no less violently than Syria's Assad is now doing in Syria. Yet we hear nothing from the White House, nothing from the media, and nothing from the former leaders of the "antiwar" movement -- yes, I'm talking to you, Leslie Kagan, you fraud -- after they folded up their tents and went off to work for Obama's election (and re-election). "
Some more realities took place on TV. Monday through Friday at 7:00 pm EST,
Adam vs. The Man airs on RT America. "Adam" is Iraq War veteran Adam Kokesh. Yesterday he spoke with US House Rep Walter Jones.
US House Rep Walter Jones: The day I walked to the floor -- it was actually a night -- on giving President Bush the authority to go into Iraq, I did not feel good about my vote. I --
Adam Kokesh: But you did vote for it.
US House Rep Walter Jones: Yeah, I did. And I've apologized many, many times. In fact, that's the reason, after I went to Sgt Michael Bitz' funeral down at Camp Lejeune, one week after we went in, sat there with his wife Janina, outdoor service and that's when I started questioning myself why didn't I vote my conscious? And that started my journey of a -- of a seeking the truth.
Adam Kokesh: Do you think a lot of other Republicans who voted in favor of that authorization for Bush to go into Iraq felt the same as you did?
US House Rep Walter Jones: I think some did but maybe a couple of years after I made my public announcement to leave -- to have a time -- a plan to get out of Iraq. And, uh, from that funeral, I have signed over 10,100 letters to families and extended families in this country because of my weakness to vote my conscious quite frankly.
Adam Kokesh: And what has the reaction of your constitutents been? Most of them military and military families.
US House Rep Walter Jones: Yeah. Well I think on Iraq, most are thinking now that maybe I was right but they won't admit it and I don't expect them to, I don't need people to say to me, "Well you were right and I made a mistake." I'm not looking for that. But, you know, if anybody would look for the truth, you would see that the previous administration manipulated the intelligence to sell the American people. And, to me, that is just absolutely wrong.
Adam Kokesh: So you're saying we were lied into war.
US House Rep Walter Jones: Well absolutely.
Adam Kokesh: Now members of your -- of your district obviously having a unique connection to the military have a different perspective on this. But most Americans now think that, with Obama's policies, the war in Iraq is over, it's winding down, we're just tying up the loose ends and getting out. What do you think of Obama's strategy in Iraq getting us out so far?
US House Rep Walter Jones: I think at some point and time as we continue to downsize, I think that Iraq is going to go back into a civil war situation. I don't think -- I don't really think -- Yes, did we remove an evil dictator? Probably so. But you cannot go into these Middle East countries and change their history and their culture. You just cannot do it.
Adam Kokesh: Well what about Obama's policy right now? We've still --
US House Rep Walter Jones: In Afghanistan?
Adam Kokesh: Well in Iraq. We've still got 50,000 troops or so. I don't know the exact current numbers but that's the thing: Most people have just assumed it's gone away and yet Obama's still got at least several ten-thousands troops in Iraq, he's got hundreds-of-thousands of contractors possibly.
US House Rep Walter Jones: Adam, I'm for pulling 'em all back home. I would tell you the truth, I've learned one thing. You know Ron Paul's one of my dearest friends in Congress and I'm of the firm belief that any country that wants to nation build -- all that try to build, to take their way of life around the world, eventually they collapse. You cannot go into particularly Muslim countries and make them want to be like America. You just can't do it.
Adam Kokesh: Does it bother you to see the so-called conservative Republican Party in the United States trying to promote conservative policy at home and then basically
US House Rep Walter Jones: Yeah.
Adam Kokesh: -- trying to convert other nations with the most liberal policy possible, liberal nation building?
US House Rep Walter Jones: It disappoints me. I'll be honest with you. I do not understand how a party which -- I am a Republican and I'm a social conservative for sure, I'm probably a centrist when it comes to trying to help people -- But, no, it does surprise me and disappoint me because I don't see the Republican party as -- as the party that believes in war and the party that believes in nation building. I just don't.
US House Rep Ron Paul was mentioned above and Adam Kokesh supported Ron Paul's run for the 2008 Republican Party presidential nomination. Jason Notte (The Street) reports that Ron Paul formally announced he's running for the GOP presidential nomination. The Iraq War hasn't ended, Ron Paul has repeatedly and consistently called for an end to the Iraq War. Last month, 11 US soldiers died in Iraq.
One of the eleven is Robert Friese who died in an attack on April 29th. Yesterday the office of Michigan Govenor Rick Snyder released the following statement:
LANSING, Mich. - Gov. Rick Snyder ordered United States flags throughout the state of Michigan to be lowered to half-mast in honor of Army Private First Class Robert Friese on Thursday, May 12. Flags should be returned to full-staff May 13.
Friese, 21, of Harrison, died April 29 in Al Qadisiyah province, Iraq, of injuries sustained when enemy forces attacked his unit with a rocket propelled grenade. He was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment at Fort Hood, Texas. Friese's awards and decorations include the Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal with campaign star, Global War on Terrorism Service Medals, Army Service Ribbon and Overseas Service Ribbon.
There will be an open viewing Friday, May 13 from 2 to 9 p.m. and the funeral will be held Saturday, May 14 at 10 a.m. at Stocking Funeral Home in Harrison.
"This young man served his state and country with pride and honor," Snyder said. "My condolences are with his family at this difficult time."
When flown at half-staff or half-mast, the United States flag should be hoisted first to the peak for an instant and then lowered to the half-staff or half-mast position. The flag should again be raised to the peak before it is lowered for the day.
Susan Field (Morning Sun) reports he "will be laid to rest following a funeral service at St. Athanasius Catholic Church in Harrison at 10 a.m. Saturday, with Father Noel Rudy officiating." Kelly Dame (Midland Daily News) adds, "Fries graduated from Harrison High School in 2007, where he participated in the Army ROTC program. He joined the U.S. Army and enlisted as a Tanker in 2010. In January, he deployed to Iraq as part of Operation New Dawn." LaNia Coleman (Bay City Times) reported yesterday, "
Hundreds of people lined the streets of Clare and Harrison today as the Patriot Guard Riders and Forgotten Eagles escorted Friese's remains to Stocking Funeral Home.
Many waved American flags, placed their hands over their hearts and wiped away tears. Veterans, in caps emblazoned with the insignias of their respective branches of the military, saluted the procession." Kyle Mitchell and Eli Gardiner (9 & 10 News) provide a video report of the procession here.
Another US soldier who died in Iraq last month, Andrew Evan Lara, will also be laid to rest tomorrow. The office of Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber issued the following statement yesterday:
(SALEM, Ore.) -- Governor Kitzhaber today ordered all flags at public institutions to be flown at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Saturday, May 14, 2011, in honor of Oregon Army National Guard Specialist Andrew Evan Lara.
Specialist Lara, 25, of Albany, Oregon, died April 27, of a noncombat-related incident, in Babil province, Iraq. He was assigned to F Company, 145th Brigade Support Battalion, attached to the 3rd Battalion, 116th Cavalry Regiment.
"Specialist Lara died while deployed overseas serving both his state and country," said Governor Kitzhaber. "This is a tragic loss and my thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends during this difficult time."
Tom Hallman Jr. (The Oregonian) notes the 25-year-old will be laid to rest at an 11 a.m. service tomorrow at First Assembly of God Church in Albany and notes, "After graduating from high school, Lara got a job building log homes. He enlisted in the Oregon National Guard in June 2009 and drilled out of Woodburn. He was deployed last September. He was a driver for one of the convoy escort teams, driving a mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicle meant to ensure that supplies arrive safely at their destination." Pat Caldwell (Argus Observer) reports from US Joint Base Balad that a memorial service was held for Andrew Lara on base May 1st and Caldwell quotes Chaplain Jock Johnson (who performed the services) stating, "It is important for (Lara's) family, his mother, to know we are honoring her son in every possible way." The Iraq War has not ended.
Corey Dickstein (Savannah Morning News) reports, "Fort Stewart officials announced Thursday that the 3rd Infantry Division's Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion will be deployed to Iraq in late fall to support Operation New Dawn." The Bryan County News notes the Fort Stewart press release, "It said the mission and location has not been assigned. It was not specific about which commanders will deploy, how long soldiers will be gone and how the mission meshes with a Dec. 31 deadline to have U.S. troops out of Iraq."
How the mission meshes with the deadline? From Wednesday's snapshot:
The big news today? Sinan Salaheddin (AP) reports Nouri al-Maliki declared that "he might ask thousands of U.S. troops to remain in the country next year provided that a solid majority of the main political parties back the request at a meeting this month." AGI News quotes Nouri stating, "The decision concerning the USA's withdrawal is an important national issue. For this reason, I am inviting all political leaders to establish a dialogue to clarify whether we want American soldiers to stay or not." AFP continues the quote: "Aftter that, the government will decide on keeping them, or making them leave." Xiong Tong (Xinhua) notes, "Iraqi political blocs are sharply divided over whether part of the U.S. troops will have to stay amid continuing violence in the country and the region as well, or to leave to assert independence eagerly wanted by Iraqis." Rebecca Santana and Lara Jakes (AP) add, "Equally important might be the nervousness many Iraqis feel at how the U.S. departure will affect sectarian relations. [. . .] Many Sunnis and even Shiites worry that Iraq is falling too much into Iran's orbit, something that will only increase when the U.S. military leaves."
Aamer Madhani (National Journal) wonders what keeping US troops on Iraqi soil past 2011 might mean for Barack:
With American troops scheduled to leave Iraq this year, President Obama may be forced to consider going back on his word and leaving them there now that Iraq's prime minister said his country might ask the United States to leave boots on the ground.
Obama has stood solidly behind his pledge to withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of 2011, as dictated by a U.S.-Iraqi security agreement signed more than three years ago. He's reiterated his intent as recently as six weeks ago, when in announcing his decision to take military action against Libya he noted that the U.S. remained committed to "leaving Iraq to its people."
Meanwhile The Great Iraqi Revolution states, "Secret Agreement between American Embassy and Ministry of Freign Affairs, Iraq for Occupation Troops to remain in 5 Provinces until 2016!" Aswat al-Iraq reports, "The U.S. has the desire to extend its military presence in Iraq for another 25 years, until the Islamic rule in Iran is toppled, an Ahrar MP declared today. Amir Al-Kinani of Ahrar bloc, affiliate with the Sadrist Trend, told Aswat al-Iraq that the majority in the Iraqi Cabinet and Parliament support the extension of U.S. military presence." The Scripps Howard News Service editorial board -- noting the foot dragging that's become a hallmark of the Nouri-led government -- argues that, if US forces are to stay, time can't be wasted: "Starting in August and accelerating through the fall, the U.S. is to send home 50,000 troops and 63,000 contractors, close 100 bases and do something with about 1 million pieces of equipment and unused supplies. Al-Maliki seems confident his government can engineer a compromise -- but in its own time. Perhaps by the start of August." Throughout 2008, Congress would touch on the status of US troops in Iraq after it was learned that Nouri would not go to the United Nations mandate way again. (The UN mandate gave legal authorization for the occupation of Iraq. There was no UN authorization for the illegal war. The UN mandate was a yearly measure.) Not only was it touched on but a few hearings actually focused entirely on the issue.
April 10, 2008, the US Senate's Committee on Foreign Relations, then chaired by Joe Biden, held such a hearing. In it, now-US Vice President Joe Biden declared that if an agreement was not agreed to by both parties, US forces would retreat to their bases and either be pulled home or stay on base while more work went into coming to an agreement. The Status Of Forces Agreement expiring (not being extended or replaced) would mean something similar would happen January 1, 2012 with an exception. The exception is the Strategic Framework Agreement between Iraq and the US which would be used for the US State Dept to supervise US soldiers. It's a shame there's no concern in Congress over this issue. There was real concern in the Senate in 2008. Most Democrats and many Republicans were concerned (among the Republicans, Norm Coleman was frequently the most vocal). But a Democratic Party candidate wins the presidency and suddenly Democratic Congress members no longer seem to care about accountability or ending the Iraq War. As Justin Raimondo (Antiwar.com) points out:
That Republican congressman who yelled out "You lie!" to the President -- and was excoriated by our enforcers of political etiquette (Rule Number One: never tell the truth) -- is vindicated. Yes, yes, I know: this solon wasn't yelling because of our policy in Iraq, but still -- the President is indeed a proven liar, and the way our Iraq non-withdrawal is playing out underscores this irrefutable fact.
Will this be the final straw for the "progressive" left as far as their Hero is concerned? Will the Obama cult implode, will Leslie Kagan's head explode -- will Arianna Huffington add Iraq to her endless round of tiresome complaints about how the Glorious Leader has failed to enact every dot-and-tittle of her political agenda? Don't bet the farm on it.
Politics is very much like religion: a faith that brooks no doubt and punishes heretics. In authoritarian countries, the party line is enforced at gunpoint: in America, there is no need to point a gun at elite opinion-makers and other Washington sycophants of power -- the code of political correctness is self-enforcing. For these people have built their careers on certain assumptions, appealing for their pelf to very specific constituencies: to violate the prejudices and knee-jerk emotionalism behind those assumptions is to court professional disaster.
The increasingly marginalized Moqtada al-Sadr (hard to hold so many seats in the Cabinet and also pretend to be an 'outsider') is in the news today. Aaron C. Davis (Washington Post) reports that Moqtada responded to Nouri's statements earlier this week that if 70% of the politicians agree on the US military remaining in Iraq past the end of 2011, Moqtada would have to go along, "For the first time since returning to Iraq after nearly four years of self-imposed exile in Iran, Sadr took to the pulpit and delivered an unannounced sermon at Friday prayers in his southern stronghold of Najaf. In a forceful political message that prefaced his religious sermon, Sadr employed some of his strongest language yet against a U.S. troop extension." His strongest words yet? We should be quoting that, right? No. And not just because we've established that Moqtada's pattern is strong words and threats followed by caving (as he did twice with the UN mandate and, in 2008, with the SOFA). We don't have to wait for the cave. Aaron C. Davis reports the cave took place as soon as his followers filed out at which point Moqtada admitted that he might not lift the ban on his militia and allow them to take to the streets. That admission may surprise some. If so, they haven't been paying attention to the way he operates.
The Iraq War hasn't ended for Iraqis either. Not only do they have a puppet government forced off on them, they continue to face violence every day. And they face the violence while knowing that there are no heads to the country's three security ministries. Aswat al-Iraq reports:
Al-Iraqiya Bloc MP member said that the question of security and defense nominees will remain unsolved even once the 100-day period elapses, due to political sharing, calling for "a feeling of responsibility to solve this crisis."
Mohammed Al-Da'mi, in a press statement attended by Aswat al-Iraq, added "the insistence of Premier Nouri Al-Maliki to nominate unqualified and unprofessional figures is the main reason, as well as the insistence of his bloc to hold the post of ministry of defense."
Alsumaria TV speaks with Iraqiya's Wehda Al Jumaili, "Al Maliki is capable of dissolving the Parliament, Al Jumaili said. Iraqiya member called to create a state of political balance, otherwise, Iraq will remain in a political chaos, a source told Alsumaria. Al Jumaili argued that it is not acceptable for the Parliament to be manipulated by Iraqiya leader Iyad Allawi and Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki." And they add, "Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki complained of media's corrupt role calling on religious institutions to raise religious awareness through the media in a call that is regarded to be as the most radical stand taken by Al Maliki. "
An Iraqi correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers blogs at Inside Iraq in "Facing Death:"
I don't know how to start this blog. I am still under the effect of the shock that happened to me only less than an hour ago. I was about to lose my life and my lovely son because of being at the wrong place at the wrong time.
I used to bring sweets to my family every Thursday from a close bakery on the main street. Today I did the same thing but I went only about half an hour ago. My son Haider insisted to join me so I took him. In my way back home and Just less than ten steps from the sweets bakery, I hear sound of shooting and I thought that some kids are playing with fireworks. I was shocked to know the issue is bigger than my simple mind. I saw by my own eyes two young boys covering their faces with black scarves holding two pistols and shooting a broker inside his office in a very cool blood and walked away.

In today's reported violence, Aswat al-Iraq notes a Baquba bombing which injured 3.
As big a lie that the war is over is the one that claims both that the Iraq War was legal and that it had nothing to do with oil. From yesterday's snapshot:
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Moving over to England where new revelations emerged from the Iraq Inquiry. The John Chilcot led inquiry hasn't heard testimony in months but they've released evidence that is in leading the news cycle in England. Richard Norton-Taylor (Guardian) calls the release "devestating" and explains, "A top military intelligence official has said the discredited dossier on Iraq's weapons programme was drawn up "to make the case for war", flatly contradicting persistent claims to the contrary by the Blair government, and in particular by Alastair Campbell, the former prime minister's chief spin doctor. In hitherto secret evidence to the Chilcot inquiry, Major General Michael Laurie said: 'We knew at the time that the purpose of the dossier was precisely to make a case for war, rather than setting out the available intelligence, and that to make the best out of sparse and inconclusive intelligence the wording was developed with care'." In his [PDF format warning] evidence released today, Laurie wrote:
Alistair Campbell said to the Inquiry that the purpose of the Dossier was not "to make a case for war". I had no doubt at that time this was exactly its purpose and these very words were used. The previous paper, drafted in February and March, known to us then also as the Dossier, was rejected because it did not make a strong enough case. From then until September we were under pressure to find intelligence that could reinforce the case. [Redacted passage.] I recall Joe French frequently enquiring whether we were missing something; he was under pressure. We could find no evidence of planes, missiles or equipment that related to WMD, generally concluding that they must have been dismantled, buried or taken abroad. There has probably never been a greater detailed scrutiny of every piece of ground in any country.
During the drafting of the final Dossier, every fact was managed to make it as strong as possible, the final statements reaching beyond the conclusions intelligence assessments would normally draw from such facts. It was clear to me that there was direction and pressure being applied on the JIC and its drafters.
In summary, we knew at the time that the purpose of the Dossier was precisely to make a case for war, rather than setting out the available intelligence, and that to make the best out of sparse and inconclusive intelligence the wording was developed with care.
The JIC is a collegiate body and has not, in any significant way, broken ranks over events.
But now, in the form of Michael Laurie, someone serving just below the top tier has expressed his displeasure about the way events have been characterised and particularly the extent to which those collecting intelligence were blamed for getting things wrong.
He is adamant the purpose of the dossier was, indeed, to make a case for war.
His assertion that there was direction and pressure on those drafting the dossier will be deeply uncomfortable for those associated with it.
Gordon Rayner (Telegraph of London) adds, "The Iraq Inquiry will not produce its final report until September at the earliest, almost a year after it was originally due, the Inquiry chairman Sir John Chilcot has disclosed. "
The statements from Laurie continue to receive press attention but there's a new element in the mix as well. Duncan Gardham (Telegraph of London) reports:
The briefing note from the Chief of MI6's private secretary to Sir David Manning, Tony Blair's foreign policy adviser three months after the September 11 attacks, said there was "no convincing intelligence (or common sense) case" that Iraq supported Islamic extremists.
But it said the "removal of Saddam remains a prize because it could give new security to oil supplies" as well as "engage a powerful and secular state in the fight against Sunni extremist terror."
The briefing note further contradicts the story Tony Blair told the Iraq Inquiry by demonstrating that the desire for and decision to go to war took place long before what he publicly admits. If you need to jog your memory on the official timeline, check out the one provided by the Telegraph of London. Oliver Wright (Independent of London) notes, "Oil was a key motivating factor behind the efforts to remove Saddam. 'The removal of Saddam remains a prize because it could give new security to oil supplies,' the officer writes." Noting the oil revelations, Ian Drury (Daily Mail) observes:
The intelligence service also made clear in newly declassified papers that the 'prize' for removing the Iraqi dictator was 'new security to oil supplies'.
The documents will add weight to critics' claims that this was the real reason the U.S. and Britain went to war, and not because they feared Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction.
The Iraq Inquiry has heard that Tony Blair had signalled that he would be willing to back 'regime change' in Iraq when he met President George W Bush in Texas in 2002.
But the latest papers highlight how the prospect of removing Saddam had been discussed by the then Prime Minister's inner circle months earlier.
Amanda Platell (Daily Mail) observes, "Now, however, the mendacious former red-top tabloid political editor has been exposed. Devastating secret evidence has been declassified which proves that Campbell and Blair lied about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction. There was none." The Evening Standard notes calls for Campbell to face new questions from the Iraq Inquiry. And Ian Burrell (Independent of London) reports:

The editor of the BBC's Today programme at the time of its controversial 2003 report which claimed the Government had "sexed up" an Iraqi weapons dossier said last night that evidence provided to the Iraq Inquiry by the former intelligence official Michael Laurie proved that his team had been right all along.

Kevin Marsh described Maj-Gen Laurie's evidence as "devastating for [Alastair] Campbell", the former Downing Street communications chief, whose furious response to the Today report led to the Hutton Inquiry and ultimately to the resignations of the BBC's director general and chairman. "The thing that rankles with me a little bit is that I thought at the time when [the Today reporter] Andrew Gilligan came with the story was that it wasn't just broadly correct, it was 100 per cent correct," Mr Marsh said.

bbc news

Thursday, May 12, 2011

6 guests, only 1 was a woman

On The Diane Rehm Show (NPR) yesterday, the first hour issue was China and the guests were: Kenneth Lieberthal, John Promfret, John Frisbie and Renee Xia. Diane's probably real proud of herself that, for 'a big issue,' she found one woman to include finally. One. Just one.

Then it was time to talk children and, of course, when you think of kids, you think of men. Men carry the fetus for nine months, they birth the child, they often breast feed, they juggle work and home and why shouldn't they get the time to . . . Huh? Oh. Sorry, I was channeling the idiot Diane Rehm. No, men don't get pregnant, no, they don't give birth, no, they don't breast feed. But Diane does think that when the topic is children the guests should be all male: David Goldman and US House Rep. Christopher Smith.


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


Wednesday, May 11, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, Patty Murray and other senators announce the Hiring Heroes Act, Nouri announces US forces may stay (he'll have a discussion), Nouri and Ayad Allawi remain estranged, Camp Ashraf defenders call for action, and more.
26-year-old Iraq War veteran Eric Smith explained this morning, "During my tours, I gained valuable experience in the medical field under extreme conditions. Despite my knowledge and service, I'm struggling to find a job today. And I'm not alone. Our current struggles are not unique to my circumstances. More than 200,000 Iraq-Afghanistan veterans are unemployed or undermployed in today's economy." Smith served as a Navy medic, working as a doctor's assistant in the ICU. He was speaking in DC this morning and flanked by US Senators Mark Begich, Chris Coons, Jon Tester and Patty Murray. Senator Murray is also the Chair of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee and Murray and the other senators are sponsoring the Hiring Heroes Act of 2011 bill.
Patty Murray: Today with the help of everyone here, we are taking a huge step forward in rethinking the way we treat our men and women in uniform after they leave the military. For too long in this country we have invested billions of dollars in training our young men and women with new skills to protect our nation only to ignore that investment and them when they leave the military. For too long, at the end of their career, we pat our veterans on the back for their service and then we push them out into the job market alone. Where has that left us today? We have an unemployment rate of over 27% among young veterans coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan. That is 1 in 5 of our nation's heroes who cannot find a job to support their families, they don't have income to provide stability and they don't have work that provides them with the self-esteem and pride that is so critical to their transition home. All too often, we read about the results of veterans who come home, often with the invisible wounds of war, who can't find the dignity and security that work provides. We read about it in the sky rocketing suicide statistics, problems at home, substance abuse and even in the rising homelessness among our returning veterans. But I've also heard a lot about it first hand from the veterans that we have failed to provide better job support to. I've had veterans tell me that they no longer write on their resume that they are a veteran because they fear the stigma they believe employers attach to the invisible wounds of war. I've heard from medics who return home from treating battlefield wounds for days on end, in incredible conditions, who cannot get certification to be an EMT or even a ambuldance driver. I've talked to veteran after veteran who's said they didn't have to go through the military's jobs skills training program or that they were never taught how to use the venacular of the business world to describe the job and experience they did when they come home. These stories are heart breaking and they are frustrating. But more than anything, they are a reminder that we have to act now. The bill that we are introducing today allows our men and women in uniform to capitalize on their service while making sure that the American people capitalize on the investment that we've made in them. For the first time, it will require broad job skills training for every service members as they leave the military as part of the military's transition assistance program. Today almost a 1/3 of those leaving the army don't get that training. This bill will allow our sevice members to begin the federal employment proccess prior to separation in order to facilitate a truly seamless transition from the military to jobs in the VA or Homeland Security or many of the other federal agencies that have jobs available. The bill will also require the Dept of Labor to take a hard look at what military skills and training should be translatable into the civilian sector and will work to make it simpler to get the licenses and certifcation that they need. All of these are real, substantial steps to put our veterans to work. And all of them come at a pivotal time when our economic recovery is starting to turn around. You know, I grew up during the Vietnam war and I have dedicated much of my Senate career to helping care for the veterans that we left behind at that time. The mistakes that we made then have cost our nation and our veterans dearly and have weighed on the conscious of this nation. Today we stand on the brink of repeating those mistakes. We cannot let that happen. Our nation's veterans are disciplined, they're team players, they proved that they can deliver. It's time for us to make sure that they have a job and the security that provides them when they come home.
On the bill and the press conference, Senator Murray's office issued the following:
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee introduced major legislation to help veterans struggling to find work and to address rising unemployment among our nation's heroes. Senator Murray's bill, the Hiring Heroes Act of 2011, is the first of its kind to require broad job skills training for all service members returning home and comes at a time when more than one in four veterans aged 20-24 are unemployed. In addition to requiring that each separating service member attend a transition assistance program, the bill will also create new direct federal hiring authority so that more service members have jobs waiting for them the day they leave the military, and will improve veteran mentorship programs in the working world. Read more about the bill here.

The bill was introduced today by Chairman Murray (D-WA) and co-sponsored by Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Max Baucus (D-MT), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Jon Tester (D-MT), Mark Begich (D-AK), Robert Casey (D-PA), Scott Brown (R-MA), and Chris Coons (D-DE).

The bill is also supported by Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, Military Officers Association of America, and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

"For too long we have invested billions of dollars in training our young men and women in uniform with new skills to protect our nation, only to pat them on the back after their service and push them out into the job market alone," said Chairman Murray. "This has cost our nation and our veterans dearly. For the first time, this bill will require that our service members get the training they need to translate the skills they learned in the military into the working world. It will also provide faster pathways to private sector and federal employment so our veterans aren't left in limbo after they leave the military."

"It is tragic our men and women in uniform come back from combat and find that some
federal and private sector employers do not appreciate, or question, how veterans' skill-sets and commitment translate to the workplace. I am proud to add my name to a bill that gives veterans the skills they need to compete for jobs, an opportunity for a non-competitive appointment to the federal civil service, and enhanced vocational vocational rehabilitation if they need it. Actions speak louder than words, and I hope this bill empowers our men and women of action with the skills and the support to hear the words "You're hired,'" said Senator Murkowski, the lead Republican co-sponsor of the bill.
"For too many veterans, especially among those who have served in the Guard and Reserves, the fight does not end when they return from the battlefield and take off the uniform. For some, another ordeal is only beginning. This new struggle is for a decent-paying job that puts food on the table and a roof over the heads of these veterans and their families," said Senator Leahy. "Vermonters understand how much we owe it to those who defend us to make sure they are fully employed when they return, so I am very proud to join Senator Murray in offering this bill. I hope it passes quickly."
"We have a responsibility to support our military men and women not only by providing the resources they need to serve, but also by making sure they have the tools they need to get good-paying jobs when that service is over," said Finance Committee Chairman and author of the VETs Jobs bill, Max Baucus. "If a soldier serves our country proudly as a medic, they are more than qualified to earn a living as an EMT when that service is over. If a service member can drive sophisticated equipment protecting our country overseas, they shouldn't have to jump through hoops to get a job as a truck driver here at home. And all of our troops should have access to the job training they need, when they need it. This bill is a straightforward solution that puts common sense into practice to help our military service members get the good-paying jobs they deserve when their service is over."
"When troops return from often multiple tours of duty abroad, the least we can do is help them find a decent job and land on their feet so that they can support themselves and their families," said Senator Jay Rockefeller, who is the longest serving member on the Veterans' Affairs Committee. "It's a sad truth that too many of our young vets are unable to find jobs when they come home. This is something that we can change, and this bill does that with smart
investments in training and hiring assistance. Veterans in West Virginia and across the
country chose to put this country above all else, and they deserve our unwavering support both on and off the front lines."
"Our nation's veterans are well trained, highly skilled, experienced, and capable," said Senator Daniel K. Akaka. "The Hiring Heroes Act will provide opportunities for those completing military service to get jobs in the federal government, helping them to successfully transition to civilian life while keeping their talent for the benefit of the American public.
This is a win-win for our veterans and the country."
"This country is grateful for the courage and dedication of our veterans, which continues long after they take off the uniform. This bill provides these heroic men and women not just the job assistance they deserve but a path for success in the future," said Senator Boxer.
"The nation has a commitment to our service members and their families to help make sure their transition from military service to the civilian workforce is both timely and successful," said Senator Bernie Sanders. "Meaningful employment is the key to prevent many social and economic challenges we see some veterans facing today."
"Our veterans' service to our country does not stop when they leave the military. From leadership experience to technical and scientific skills, veterans are key to our nation's economic competitiveness. We must honor our commitment to them and empower them to lead our nation in civilian life as they did while in uniform," said Senator Sherrod Brown.
"We have a responsibility to empower America's veterans with the tools they need to find
good-paying jobs after they put their lives on the line for our freedoms," Senator Jon Tester, Montana's member of the Veterans' Affairs Committee. "This legislation eases the transition between military service and the civilian workforce, setting Montana's veterans up for
success. They deserve no less."
"When our veterans are returning from war zones, far too many are having a difficult time finding a job, and that is unacceptable," said Senator Begich. "This legislation is designed to help our service members find employment, get training, and be able to transition home without the headache of a job search. They have some of the best skills any employer could ask for and we need to do more to promote their success."
"We have an obligation to take care of our men and women in uniform not only when they are fighting to keep our country safe, but also when they return home," said Senator Brown, a member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee. "This bipartisan legislation reflects our commitment to ensuring veterans have ample opportunities to find a job when they decide to leave the military, and I am proud to be introducing it along with my colleagues."
"As we bring more and more of our troops home from conflicts abroad to a country still recovering from this difficult recession, it is more important than ever to equip our veterans
with the resources necessary to successfully reenter civilian life," Senator Coons said. "As
they conclude their brave service to their country, we must make it a priority to connect returning soldiers with job training and job opportunities. It's not enough for us to bring
them home -- it's our duty and responsibility to give them the tools and training to be as successful in civilian life as they were while they were deployed."
"This legislation will go a long way toward meeting the transitional needs of America's heroes," said Peter Gaytan, Executive Director of the American Legion in Washington. "Many of our returning veterans have been struggling to find adequate employment at home, and passing a bill that provides them with job-training to help them back into the work force is commendable."
"A veteran's successful reintegration into society begins with employment," said Veterans of Foreign Wars U.S. Legislative Director Ray Kelley. "The VFW salutes Chairman Murray for
this legislation. It not only improves existing programs, it will allow service members to
quickly transition into civilian careers and ensures that veterans who continue to struggle to find employment are given greater access to the system that is in place to support them."
"With high unemployment rate facing veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, Chairwomen Patty Murray's legislation, 'Hiring Heroes Act of 2011,'
will greatly improve employment opportunities for these veterans, especially disabled veterans," said Dave Gorman, Executive Director of The Disabled American Veterans. "With enhancements to vocational rehabilitations programs, mandatory Transitional Assistance Programs, and enhancement of credentialing
and licensing programs, among others, this bill will great improve the transition from the military into the civilian workforce. The Disabled American Veterans supports this legislation."
"MOAA strongly supports this important legislation. In these challenging economic times,
there is no greater good than helping our Nation's warriors, who have given so much over the past decade, transition from military life to a civilian career. MOAA thanks Chairman
Murray and all the co-sponsors of the "Hiring Heroes Act of 2011' for their continuing
support of those men and women who serve and have served our Nation," said Vice Adm.
Norb Ryan, Jr., USN-Ret, President of Military Officers Association of America (MOAA).

Evan Miller

Specialty Media Director

U.S. Senator Patty Murray

202-224-2834

From veterans stateside to Iraq . . .
Say a little prayer till they all get home
Say a little prayer till they all get home
I knew when we woke up
You would be leaving
You knew when you left me
It might be too long
That kiss on your shoulder
It's me looking over
Close to your heart
So you're never alone
Say a little prayer till they all get home
Say a little prayer till they all get home
-- "Till They All Get Home," written by Melanie (Safka) and first appears on Melanie's
Crazy Love.
The big news today? Sinan Salaheddin (AP) reports Nouri al-Maliki declared that "he might ask thousands of U.S. troops to remain in the country next year provided that a solid majority of the main political parties back the request at a meeting this month." AGI News quotes Nouri stating, "The decision concerning the USA's withdrawal is an important national issue. For this reason, I am inviting all political leaders to establish a dialogue to clarify whether we want American soldiers to stay or not." AFP continues the quote: "Aftter that, the government will decide on keeping them, or making them leave." Xiong Tong (Xinhua) notes, "Iraqi political blocs are sharply divided over whether part of the U.S. troops will have to stay amid continuing violence in the country and the region as well, or to leave to assert independence eagerly wanted by Iraqis." Rebecca Santana and Lara Jakes (AP) add, "Equally important might be the nervousness many Iraqis feel at how the U.S. departure will affect sectarian relations. [. . .] Many Sunnis and even Shiites worry that Iraq is falling too much into Iran's orbit, something that will only increase when the U.S. military leaves."
There's talk of Nouri's position being a reversal at some outlets. In terms of staying beyond 2011? No. Nouri's been all over the map -- publicly -- in the last two years on this issue including in July of 2009. One example, Margaret Talev (McClatchy Newspapers) reported July 23, 2009, "A day after President Barack Obama said that the U.S. was on track to pull its troops out of Iraq by 2011, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki said Thursday that the timeline could change 'if the Iraqi forced required further training and support'." Anne Gearan (AP) and Al Jazeera also covered Nouri's statements in real time. So that's not a change. Did he change in allowing Parliament a say? He's expressed conflicting opinions on that as well. Earlier today Dar Addustour reported on the conflict between Ayad Allawi and Nouri and mainly emphasized Allawi's calling Nouri out for asserting that the decision to extend the presence of US forces on Iraqi soil past 2011 is his (Nouri's) decision and only his. Allawi's comments being made public may or may not have had influence. But today's comments are similar to the ones he made last week and you can refer to Tim Arango and Michael S. Schmidt's New York Times article for that. Their article also gets the reactions of Iraqi people to a possible extension and you can also refer to Arango and Schmidt's blog post at At War.
Amanda Terkel (Huffington Post) quotes Pentagon spokesperson Elizabeth Robbins stating, "[W]e are willing to entertain a request for continued assistance, consistent with our commitment to a long-term parternship with Iraq -- but the ball is in the Iraqis' court to ask." Ask? If this 'request' is anything like the selling of the SOFA in November 2008, look for various US officials to show up with promises and more to close the deal.
Some outlets express concern about Moqtada al-Sadr's feelings because Moqtada is opposed to an extension. As he was exposed to extending the UN mandate in 2006 (it was extended) and 2007 (it was extanded) and to the SOFA in 2008 (it went through). He made threats before. He did not follow up on them. As noted for weeks now, the US (and England and other governments) are convinced Moqtada is currently at his weakest. Which may be why Iran's Fars News can report today, "US special forces attacked headquarters of the Sadr Movement in Iraq's Northern Diyala province and arrested the staff. According to FNA dispatches, US forces have confiscated all the computers in the building. Eye Witnesses said that a number of staff were arrested by the US forces." UPI notes the story here.
UPI also notes the current conflict between Nouri al-Maliki and Ayad Allawi and wonders if political spats in Iraq are temporary? (Answer: Only if a politician's life proves to be "temporary.") March 2010, Iraq held elections. It should have been easy enough. But the UN refused to appoint a caretaker government and Nouri al-Maliki used his position as prime minister to delay and thwart. Nouri's political slate was State Of Law. It came in second. (Some rush to say, it was close! Elections are supposed to have winners and "I almost won it!" is meaningless after an election.) Iraqiya came in first. Even after Nouri demanded recounts. Ayad Allawi heads Iraqiya. Nouri, as prime minister, used his control of the Supreme Court to get the verdicts he needed and, with backing from the US, managed to hold on as prime minister. And since hanging on, he's done nothing for the Iraqi people and he still can't form a complete Cabinet all this time later. The security ministries are leaderless. Alsumaria TV reports:

Iraqiya Party leader Iyad Allawi argued on Monday that Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki's government is working secretly as it passed the nominations of security ministers to Parliament.
Allawi affirmed that his list will not withdraw from the political process if Al Maliki insists on his candidates. "Al Maliki should be keen on national partnership since the political process is not owned by Al Maliki. It belongs to the Iraqi people", Allawi said.
"It has been agreed that Al Iraqiya List will nominate the Defense Minister that should be approved by all political parties while the national alliance would nominate the Interior Minister and state minister for national security affairs", Allawi explained.

But, as usual, Nouri makes pledges and promises to get what he wants and then, when he gets what he wants, betrays the agreement. New Sabah publishes a letter Allawi wrote to Nouri. In it, he replies to Nouri's May 6th letter. He also reminds that Iraqiy won the largest number of votes in the elections ("despite the hostile disinformation campaign," Allawi notes without stating Nouri was responsible for that campaign). He refers to the Erbil Agreement which ended the political stalemate after over 9 months of gridlock and reminds that the Erbil Agreement was supposed to be implemented (the Kurds and Americans brokered the agreement). That agreement, apparently had a passage regarding the MEK (Iranian dissidents in Iraq prior to the start of the Iraq War, currently living at Camp Ashraf) and, by Allawi's statements, there was an agreement that the residents would be protected. Allawi notes that he would be the first to call out any political interference by the MEK but that this hasn't taken place. (Nouri and his supporters have been attempting to force them Camp Ashraf residents out of Iraq -- more on Camp Ashraf in a second.) Al Sabaah reports that Allawi and KRG President Massoud Barzani are working together on ensuring the Erbil Agreement is honored.
In possibly related news, Dar Addustour reports that Russia's Secretary of State Sergei Lavrov is meeting with Iraqi officials (including Minster of Foreign Affairs Hoshyar Zebari, Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Nouri) and has stated that Russia is ready to help Iraq in all areas, including military support.

In other news Al Rafidayn reports at least one "diplomat" at Iraq's Embassy in Yemen has been arrested by Yemen authorities and charged with selling passports to known terrorists. Staying with violence, Aswat al-Iraq notes 3 police officers and 1 bystander were injured in a Mosul bombing, a Baghdad bombing (north-east Baghdad) injured five people, a Baghdad bombing (Sadr City) left five people injured, a second Mosul bombing left one police officer wounded, and a Salahal-Din bombing claimed the lives of 2 police officers with a third critically injured.
Turning to Camp Ashraf, an enclosed area that houses Iranian dissidents who have been present in Iraq since before the start of the Iraq War and, following the US invasion, the US made these MEK residents of Camp Ashraf -- these Iranian refuees who had been in Iraq for decades -- surrender weapons and also put them under US protection. They also extracted a 'promise' from Nouri that he would not move against them. July 28, 2009 the world saw what Nouri's word was actually worth. Since that Nouri-ordered assault in which at least 11 residents died, he's continued to bully the residents. April 4th, Iran's Fars News Agency reported that the Iraqi military denied allegations that it entered the camp and assaulted residents. Specifically, Camp Ashraf residents state, "The forces of Iraq's Fifth Division invaded Camp Ashraf with columns of armored vehicles, occupying areas inside the camp, since midnight on Saturday." Friday April 8th saw another attack which the Iraqi government again denied. Thursday April 14th, the United Nations confirmed that 34 people were killed in the April 8th assault on Camp Ashraf. Barbara Grady (San Jose Mercury News) reported that the dead included journalist Asieh Rakhshani who has family in California. The assault hasn't really registered in the US the way it has in Europe. AFP reports, "Urgent international action is needed to avert 'a Srbrenica-style massacre' at the Iraqi Ashraf camp housing thousands of exiled Iranian opponents, a European parliament delegation said Tuesday after returning from Iraq." CBS and AP note US Senator John Kerry has termed the April 8th assault a "massacre." They also note that he's called on the Iraqi government to "hold accountable the responsible parties" -- John Kerry knows Nouri's forces acted on Nouri's orders. Scottish MP Struan Stevenson becomes the latest European government official to write a piece decrying the attacks on Camp Ashraf. His column at the Independent includes the following section:
I remain deeply concerned that another bloody attack could take place at any time, leading to a Srebrenica-style annihilation of the unarmed refugees in the camp. It was clear from our discussions in Baghdad that an urgent solution had to be found to the Ashraf crisis. The UN Secretary General's representative in Iraq asked me to make contact with the leadership of the Ashraf refugees at their headquarters in Paris, to explore possible avenues for a long-term resolution. On my return to the EU from Iraq I travelled immediately to Paris and spent 5 hours in intense discussion with the leadership of the Iranian opposition. Together, we thrashed out a plan that provides the only viable alternative to violence and further bloodshed.
The plan requires the active involvement of the UN, the US and the EU. It recognises the Iraqi government's right of sovereignty over their own territory. But it also recognises the rights of the 3400 unarmed residents of Ashraf to protection under the 4th Geneva Convention. The plan lays the groundwork for negotiations involving the Iraqi Government and sets out a proposal to re-settle all of the refugees to the US, Canada, Australia, Norway, Switzerland and the 27 EU Member States, depending on where they have previous associations, connections or family contacts.
But I have made it clear in all discussions with the Iraqi Government that we are not willing to enter into any negotiations with them unless four key pre-conditions are met. Firstly, the military forces must be withdrawn from Camp Ashraf. Secondly, the siege of the camp which has gone on uninterrupted for more than two years, involving hundreds of loudspeakers blaring high decibel threats and propaganda 24 hours a day, plus interruptions to vital medical, energy and water supplies, must immediately stop. Thirdly, there must be an independent inquiry into the massacre of 8th April with the perpetrators identified and brought to justice. And fourthly, those critically injured during the 8th April attack must be given immediate access to proper hospital care. In other words, the Iraqi government must restore an environment as near to normality as possible in Ashraf, before negotiations can begin on the long-term resolution to this crisis.
Moving to the US where one of the country's leading intellectuals will be speaking tonight. Monday, we gladly noted Noam Chomsky's brief piece entitled "My Reaction to Osama bin Laden's Death" (ICH). And how good is it? Immediately savaged at the Wall St. Journal website. Sean Kirst (Post-Standard) reports:

Once bin Laden died, Chomsky wrote what he calls a "form letter" to sum up his reaction. The short essay quickly made its way to the Internet. It set off a furious reaction that Chomsky referred to as "mostly hysteria" in Western nations, although he said he received thanks from other parts of the world.

In the essay, Chomsky described the action against bin Laden as "a planned assassination." He accused President Obama of "simply lying" when he said investigators established years ago that al-Qaida carried out the Sept. 11 attacks. He said the destruction of the war in Iraq, brought about by former President Bush, consisted of criminal acts that "vastly exceed" those of bin Laden. He asked how Americans would react if commandos from Iraq flew into Texas, shot Bush and dumped his body in the ocean.

Tonight, Chomsky brings those views to Nottingham High School in Syracuse.

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