Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Panetta's half-right

Stephanie Condon (CBS News) reports:

In what he presumed to be his final press briefing as defense secretary, Leon Panetta today slammed Congress for failing to work with the executive branch and putting the nation's security at risk.
 "Often times I feel like I don't have a full partnership with my former colleagues on the Hill in trying to do what's right for this country," Panetta told reporters. "I don't pretend we always make the right decisions, [but]... what I look for is members willing to work with us. We need to look for solutions. We can't just sit here and b***h... We have got to solve real problems facing this country."

You know, I like Leon Panetta.  But he's part of the problem.  He's playing cheerleader for the Dems and they're just as guilty as the Republicans.

That's the beauty of being a Green, you don't have to whore for the Dems or the Reps.  You can just speak the truth.

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

Wednesday, February 13, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue, the Iraq War he wanted turns profitable for John Podesta, Podesta advises US President Barack Obama these days and last night Barack gave another questionable speech, will protesters go to Baghdad, England's Labour Party takes a step away from Tony Blair's Iraq War, and more.

Felons rejoice, at his company website, Tony Podesta self-boasts, "Many people in Washington can tell you what just happened to you.  Tony Podesta helps you change outcomes."  The company slogan appears to be -- because it's all over the website -- "we are the podesta group. we deliver." -- "the trash" must have been left off due to a lack of space.  Or maybe with the Podestas, trash is just implied? 

In the second most popular episode of Charlie's Angels, season one's "Consenting Adults" (written by Les Carter), Farrah Fawcett's Jill lays down some basic truth with Laurette Spang's Tracy.

Jill:  Okay, let's both stop playing games.  For starters, you can drop the "Tracy."  It rhymes with Stacy and Macy and all those other jive names hookers like to latch onto.

Hookers and con artists frequently have to change their names -- which one is the Podesta Group?  Wikipedia explains the lobbying group "was founded in 1988 by brothers John Podesta and Tony Podesta and has previously been known as Podesta Associates, and PodestaMatton" or, as it's called in DC, "the Podestaphile."  Byron Tau, Anna Palmer and Tarini Parti (POLITICO) reported this afternoon, "The government of Iraq is in the final stages of inking a contract with the Podesta Group as its first D.C. lobbying firm, according to multiple sources."  Really?  One wonders how the Iraqi people will feel about that, their government signing with John Podesta's lobbying firm considering John's Iraq history.

Dropping back to the March 28, 2007 snapshot:

Interviewed by Bonnie Faulkner (KPFA's Guns and Butter) today, professor Francis Boyle discussed how a 2003 exploration of impeachment by the Democrats was cut short when John Podesta announced that there would be no introduction of bills of impeachment because it would harm Democrats chances in the  2004 election.  Speaking of the measures being applauded by much in the media, big and small, Boyle declared, "It's all baloney.  All they had to do was just do nothing and Bush would have run out of money. . . .  The DNC fully supports the war, that was made clear to Ramsey [Clark] and me on 13 March 2003 and nothing's changed."  John Podesta, former Clintonista, is with the Democratic talking point mill (that attempts to pass itself as a think tank) Center for American Progress -- with an emphasis on "Center" and not "Progress." 

Here's David Swanson (in 2009, at discussing Podesta's role in the Iraq War:

Boyle and Ramsey Clark presented the case for impeachment to Democratic congress members on March 13, 2003, just days before the bombs hit Baghdad. Impeachment could conceivably have prevented over a million deaths. The congress members present accepted the validity of the case, but John Podesta and others argued that it would be better for Democrats in the next election to let the war happen. We saw this same cold blooded calculation, of course, in 2007 and 2008, as the Democrats controlled the Congress and claimed to "oppose" the war while keeping it going. While Clark argued for the political advantage of pursuing impeachment, Boyle declined to address that point, preferring to stick to the facts. Sadly, electoral arguments are almost the only thing most congress members care about, and human life is not even on the list.

Here's Boyle speaking to Dori Smith (Talk Radio Nation -- link is audio and transcript) from February 7, 2007:

Francis A. Boyle: We just need one person to introduce the bill with courage, integrity, principles, and of course a safe seat. In Gulf War one I worked with the late great Congressman Henry B. Gonzales on his bill of impeachment against Bush Sr. We put that one in. I did the first draft the day after the war started. So in my opinion there is no excuse for these bills not to have been put in already. In fact, on 13 March 2003, Congressman John Conyers convened a meeting of 40 to 50 of his top advisors, most of whom were lawyers, to debate putting in immediate bills of impeachment against Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Ashcroft, to head off the war. There were draft bills sitting on the table that had been prepared by me and Ramsey Clark. And the Congressman invited Ramsey and me to come in and state the case for impeachment. It was a two hour debate, very vigorous debate, obviously all of these lawyers there. And most of the lawyers there didn't disagree with us on the merits of impeachment. It was more as they saw it a question of practical politics. Namely, John Podesta was there, Clinton's former White House chief of staff, who said he was appearing on behalf of the Democratic National Committee and they were against putting in immediate bills of impeachment because it might hurt whoever their presidential candidate was going to be in 2004. Well at that time no one even knew who their presidential candidate was going to be in 2004. I didn't argue the point, I'm a political independent. It was not for me to tell Democrats how to elect their candidates. I just continued arguing the merits of impeachment. But Ramsey is a lifelong Democrat and he argued that he felt that putting in these bills of impeachment might help the Democrats and it certainly wasn't going to hurt them in 2004.

So when the right thing could have been done, when the Iraq War could have been stopped before it started, when everything could have been changed, there was John Podesta arguing to destroy Iraq, to destroy the lives of the Iraqi people, so that Democrats could win the 2004 elections?  (For the record, the whore was wrong even when it came to electability: the Dems lost in the 2004 election -- they lost the presidency, the House and the Senate both remained under Republican control with Republicans increasing their seats -- in the single digits, but it's an increase -- in both houses of Congress.)

The Iraqi people are going to see their public monies go to feather the nest of the Podestas?  Oh, thug and prime minister Nouri al-Maliki may have some fresh problems on his hands.

The ongoing political crises continue.  Fresh off meetings this week with Ayad Allawi (head of Iraqiya -- the political slate that came in first in the 2010 elections) and cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr, Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani met with another official today.  Alsumaria reports he met with US Ambassador to Iraq Stephen Beecroft in Erbil where they discussed the political crises and the issue of the democratic process in Iraq and that Beecroft supports a national meet-up which would be what Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi have been calling for since December 21st -- of 2011. 

Yesterday there was outrage over the arrest of Imam Mohammad Zaidi.  Alsumaria reports today that the he has been released after being held for a little over 24 hours.  His supporters see the arrest as evidence of Nouri's practice of arbitrary arrests targeting those he sees as political rivals.  Mohammed Sabah (Al Mada) reports State of Law (Nouri's political slate) is insisting that Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi is keeping 30 people from being arrested -- that they have warrants and he won't lift immunity (members of Parliament cannot be arrested while serving unless their immunity is lifted).  Iraqiya (political slate Osama al-Nujaifi belongs to) responds that the warrants are an attempt by Nouri to intimidate political opponents.

Moving over to protests, All Iraq News reports a new development in Basra where "hundreds" have staged a sit-in outside a center for the blind.  There are said to be as many as 500 people taking part in the sit-in that's calling for the government to care for the people with special needs (at least 13,000 people in the province are recognized by the federal government as challenged or disabled).  All Iraq News also reports that National Alliance MP Jawad Franck is insisting that protesters elsewhere in Iraq are being supported by 'third parties,' outsiders, foreigners.  More alarmist talk.  The reason?  Saturday, protesters in Anbar Province asked for permission to do a sit-in in Baghdad this Friday.  Nouri's been in a tizzy.  He's held multiple meetings with the National Alliance trying to figure out how to stop the protests.  Al Mada reports Anbar responds today with protesters saying they will go to Baghdad and take part in morning prayers and that Nouri cannot prevent them from entering their country's capital, not these residents and tribes of Anbar who refuse to allow their dignity to be besmirched.

But everything's in a state of flux and Ali Abel Sadah (Al-Monitor) reports that it appears the citizens will not be going to Baghdad to march, attend worship or take part in a sit-in thei Friday:
But the widespread deployment of security personnel at the entrances to Baghdad, alongside security checkpoints near Adhamiya, where the Abu Hanifa Mosque is located, prompted the protest leadership to retract the decision to move to Baghdad.
Rafi Taha Rifai, the Sunni Grand Mufti of Iraq, said in a statement obtained by Al-Monitor that the demonstrators’ decision “to go to Baghdad was rejected by the dictatorial authorities."
Rifai called on demonstrators to “postpone the decision to move to Baghdad to an appropriate time.”
Sources close to the leaders of the Anbar demonstrations expected activists to stay at their traditional place, in the “square of glory and dignity.”

By the way, who's supporting 'Ba'athists'?  Nouri's forever accusing protesters of being 'terrorists' and 'Ba'athists' and having connections to Saddam Hussein's regime.  For an example of that kind of propaganda, you can refer to this Ahlul Bayt News Agency nonsense.But Al Mada reports it's Nouri who's paying for the treatment of a Ba'athist in Turkey.  Sheikh Ali Hussein al-Hamadani's medical expenses are being covered by Nouri (which most likely means the Iraqi people are paying the costs) and the rumor is that he's doing it to curry favor with tribal leaders in Anbar in the hopes that they'll call off the protests.

Violence continues in Iraq at an alarming pace with Iraq Body Count offering that through Monday, February 11th, Iraq has already seen 150 violent deaths this month.  Today, Alsumaria reports 2 people were shot dead in Baghdad, a Baquba armed attack left two people injured, a man was shot dead on his farm in Diyala Province's Mukhisa village and 4 police officers were shot dead in different parts of Mosul.

Staying on violence, Saturday there was an attack on Camp Liberty.  Prensa Latina reports, " A rain of self-propelled Katyusha missiles hit a provisional camp of Iraqi opposition Mujahedin-e Khalk, an organization Tehran calls terrorists, causing seven fatalities plus 50 wounded, according to an Iraqi official release."  CNN explained, "The rocket and mortar attack occurred at Camp Hurriya, a onetime U.S. base formerly known as Camp Liberty, which is now the home of the Iranian exile group Mujahedin-e-Khalq. Accounts of the number of people killed and wounded in the attack vary."  Amnesty International issued the following:

Authorities in Iraq must urgently investigate the attack against a camp of Iranian exiles that left several people dead and injured and ensure all those wounded receive appropriate medical care, said Amnesty International today.
The investigation should also look into the conduct of Iraqi security forces in the lead up and during the attack and whether they have failed to prevent any such attack.
Several people reportedly died and have been injured as a result of the attack against Camp Liberty, home of some 3,000 Iranians in exile in Iraq, on 9 February.
“The attack against Camp Liberty is a despicable crime,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa Programme's Deputy Director. 
“Authorities in Iraq must ensure not only that those responsible for this attack are brought to justice but that those living in the camp are protected.”
The residents of Camp Liberty, members of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran which opposes the Iranian government, were recently relocated to a site in north-east Baghdad – after having been settled for 25 years in Camp Ashraf.
Residents claimed the Iraqi forces attacked some of them during the relocation process in 2012.
Today the UN High Commissioner for Refugees' Chief, Antonio Guterres, stressed that the residents of Camp Liberty are asylum seekers undergoing refugee status determination process and as such are entitled to international protection.
In April 2011, Iraqi troops stormed camp Ashraf using grossly excessive force, including live ammunition, against residents who tried to resist them. Some 36 people ­– 28 men and eight women – were killed and more than 300 wounded. Those injured were prevented from leaving the camp to obtain medical treatment.  

Yesterday's snapshot included State Dept's spokesperson Victoria Nuland commenting on Camp Ashraf residents in full.  She insisted that the residents would not be allowed to return to Camp Ashraf (a position Nouri al-Maliki shares).  She's really not the one to make decisions.  The US Committee for Camp Ashraf Residents is calling for the refugees to be allowed to return to their original camp which was more protected than Camp Liberty:

The US Committee for Camp Ashraf Residents (USCCAR), on behalf of hundreds of Iranian-Americans whose loved ones in Iraq’s Camp Liberty were the target of the Tehran-engineered rocket attack last weekend, has written to the US Secretary of State John Kerry to urge him to facilitate the immediate return of Camp Liberty residents to Camp Ashraf where they are far better protected against such attacks.
Saturday’s cowardly attack, which left seven residents killed and more than 100 seriously wounded, attests to the fact that this camp is neither safe nor secure for the residents whom the UN Refugee Agency has recognized as asylum seekers.
In the letter, USCCAR noted that “By all measures, Camp Liberty is a killing field. It is only half a square kilometers in size, 80 times smaller than Camp Ashraf. The camp lacks any shelter or high concrete walls to shield the residents against rocket attacks. The residential areas are consisted of dilapidated trailers that are crammed next to each other. The trailers’ aluminum walls provide no protection at all against rocket shrapnel… In contrast, the sprawling Camp Ashraf has buildings made from concrete and contains protective shelters.”
“We, the families of Iranian dissidents in Camp Liberty and Camp Ashraf, hold the United States responsible for safety and security of our loved ones in accordance with its treaty and international obligations as well as its written guarantees to each and every resident in 2004 that it will protect them until their final disposition,” the letter added.
Recalling Secretary Kerry’s condemnation of the April 2011 attack on Camp Ashraf by Iraqi forces as a “massacre” when he was the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair, the letter urged Secretary Kerry “to facilitate the immediate return [of the residents] to Camp Ashraf before more innocent lives are taken by Tehran and their Iraqi proxies.”
Some 3,100 members of Iran’s principal opposition movement, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (PMOI/MEK) have been living at Camp Liberty, a former U.S. military base near Baghdad international airport after they left Camp Ashraf, their home for 26 years, following US and UN assurances about their safety and security. About one-third of the residents are women and an equal number are former political prisoners in Iran.

The Iraq Times reports today that the Navy Seal who shot Osama bin Laden revealed to the Spanish press that Metallica's music was used in the torture of Iraqis up until the group learned of it and asked that they US military stop using the music because they do not favor violence.  The outlet refers to this article -- so if you read Spanish but not Arabic, you can refer to it.   3News adds, "Interrogators opted for Christian metal group Demon Hunter to replace Metallica, and they were more than forthcoming about being used to wear down terror suspects."

Tuesday, we were noting Tom Harris (Huffington Post UK) ridiculous column moking Sam Parker's column on the Iraq War.  Harris is a Labour MP and, as we pointed out, his column didn't help his party.

Tony Blair left office in disgrace.  Ed Miliband is an idiot if he lets Tony back in.  David is the smart brother (I know them both) and, were he the leader of Labour, he'd be explaining to Tony that he's a liability.  Whether Ed gets the brains to do that or not, Tony Blair is a joke in England and around the world.  There have been repeated attempts at citizens arrest.  He can't escape his War Crimes.  He may escape legal punishment, but he's a joke.  Even his 'religion' has become a joke (specifically, smearing leaves, fecal matter and whatever else on himself and his wife before they 'procreate' has made for laughter around the world).  Tony didn't just leave in disgrace, he poisoned the term of his successor Gordon Brown.  Tony Blair and his lies are the reason Labour's no longer in power (the same way that in the US, the Republicans lost power or why Kevin Rudd's Labor Party -- and now Julia Gillard's Labour Party --  replaced John Howard's Liberal-Democrats).
Harris is an idiot to fail to see that that every political party in power in the three countries at the time of the start of the war are no longer in power.
He's a pompous ass who hurts his own party because what Labour needs to do is to find a way to make up for their appalling position on Iraq, not pretend like it doesn't exist.  As long as Harris is  bitchy, he can count on Labour continuing to have to struggle and to be out of power.
And tip to Harris, I don't believe a politician ever wins a public battle when they mock a citizen.  In fact, that strikes a lot of people as unseemly and undignified, it sort of cheapens the office.

Andrew Grice (Independent of London) reports today:

Ten years after the Iraq War, Labour will attempt to further distance itself from a conflict which alienated many voters by warning against the “ideological” crusade against al-Qa’ida favoured by Mr Blair and Mr Cameron.
The party will say that Mr Cameron risks repeating Mr Blair’s errors in Mali, where 350 British  personnel are supporting the French military operation.
After criticism that it has few policies, Labour is finally starting to show its hand. Ed Miliband will make a major speech on Thursday as he defines what his “One Nation Labour” slogan would  mean for economic policy.

Nick Hopkins covers the same story for the Guardian, "Labour has conceded for the first time that a 'primitive understanding' of the Islamic world caused some of the problems faced by the west in Iraq and Afghanistan, and warned David Cameron his response to the terrorist crisis in north Africa shows he has not learned the painful lessons from those conflicts."  This is a step in the right direction but if Labour wants to attract voters back to the party, this can only be the first step in a series of steps.

Pretty word walking?  Last night, US President Barack Obama gave the Constitutionally mandated State of the Union address.  Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Budget Committee.  Her office issued the following:

Tuesday, February 12, 2013
CONTACT: Murray Press Office
(202) 224-2834

Senator Murray's Statement on President Obama's State of the Union Address

“Tonight the President laid out a robust agenda for continuing to build a more secure middle class and an economy that provides opportunity for everyone. He described how by investing in manufacturing, our infrastructure, new and cleaner forms of energy, our schools, and the skills of our workers we can create the economic growth needed to put Americans to work and reduce our deficit responsibly.

“The President also spoke about the core American ideals of compassion and opportunity that will be so important as we tackle issues that should unite us, like finally passing comprehensive immigration reform. And the President delivered welcome news that more of our troops will be coming home in the coming year. As they do, it is going to be critical that the Pentagon and the VA do more to work together to give these brave men and women access to health care, employment opportunities, and the benefits they have earned to help ease their transition back into civilian life.

“On the tough fiscal battles ahead, the President repeatedly stressed the key principle that will be required for us to make progress: balance. He made it clear that while we absolutely need to tackle our deficit and debt responsibly, the number one priority right now needs to be protecting our fragile economic recovery and creating strong middle-class jobs. This means we need to move quickly to replace the automatic and damaging cuts from sequestration with a balanced mix of responsible spending cuts and new revenue from the wealthiest Americans. And it means that any budget plan we put forward needs to be fair and not call on seniors, our men and women in uniform, and our most vulnerable to bear the burden of deficit reduction alone.

“Families in Washington state and across the nation are hungry for bold solutions to the challenges they see their families and neighbors confront each day. Tonight the President spoke directly to them and reassured them that their daily struggles will continue to drive his agenda. In the months ahead I will be doing the same by laying out a pro-growth budget that that puts jobs and the middle class first, tackles the debt and deficit responsibly, calls on the wealthy to pay their fair share, works for seniors and families, and lays down a strong foundation for long-term and broad-based economic growth.”

Matt McAlvanah

Communications Director

U.S. Senator Patty Murray

202-224-2834 - press office

202--224-0228 - direct

Last night's speech?  As CNN's Gloria Borger observed (link is text with video of the speech and response), "In many ways, what we heard tonight is the same old, same old argument."  The most important critical observation came from Fred Kaplan (Slate) who offered it as a parenthetical, "(As for Iraq, it's so forgotten he didn't even deign to mention it.)"   Here's what he had to say on Afghanistan:

Tonight, we stand united in saluting the troops and civilians who sacrifice every day to protect us. Because of them, we can say with confidence that America will complete its mission in Afghanistan and achieve our objective of defeating the core of al Qaeda. Already, we have brought home 33,000 of our brave servicemen and women. This spring, our forces will move into a support role, while Afghan security forces take the lead. Tonight, I can announce that over the next year, another 34,000 American troops will come home from Afghanistan. This drawdown will continue and by the end of next year, our war in Afghanistan will be over. Beyond 2014, America’s commitment to a unified and sovereign Afghanistan will endure, but the nature of our commitment will change. We're negotiating an agreement with the Afghan government that focuses on two missions -- training and equipping Afghan forces so that the country does not again slip into chaos, and counterterrorism efforts that allow us to pursue the remnants of al Qaeda and their affiliates.

In terms of the drawdown, it's more honest than what he said about Iraq.   And that's allowed the news outlets to be more honest than they were about Iraq.  Devin Dwyer and Jonathan Karl (ABC News) word it this way, "There are currently 66,000 U.S. troops serving in Afghanistan. Obama has vowed to bring nearly all of them home by the end of next year, though a small contingent will likely remain to train Afghan forces and assist counterterrorism operations, officials have said. " Just like in Iraq, where US service members remain for training and counterterrorism operations.  So, no, it's not really ending.  Senator John McCain speaks with Nicholas Ballasy (The Daily Caller -- link is video) about Iraq, relating it to Afghanistan. I'm giving it a link because it is on the topic.  I'm not transcribing it because I have better things to do than transcribe lies.  This is not about the fact that I disagree with McCain or that I don't like him -- all of that's long established here.  At any hearing I attend where he speaks, he stands a shot at being quote -- both to be fair and because he usually is fairly straightforward in the hearings.  In this instance, Ballasy is either unaware of the reality of the US in Iraq currently or he doesn't care about truth.  I don't know.  But McCain does know the truth and he hedges his responses to tailor to Ballasy.  McCain's basic complaint is that Barack hasn't left a large enough force in Iraq.  That's his opinion, I disagree but have no problem noting that opinion and would note it without even a "I disagree" (assuming -- possibly incorrectly -- that most reading would already know my position on this topic).  But to go along with Ballasy's notion that all troops left?  McCain knows better than that.  I don't have time to transcribe lies.  As Cindy Sheehan noted to Abby Martin October 12th of last year on Breaking the Set (RT -- link is video) with regards to claims of the war being over, "but we both know that the violence continues and we're still occupying Iraq."  FYI, Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox this week features an interview she did with Abby Martin -- if it's the one in the video, it's a much longer version and Cindy speaks about failures within the peace movement -- or about frauds within the peace movement who were really about an anti-Bush movement.  Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) observes of Barack's latest speech:

And appallingly, he defended his drone warfare and assassination policy. “Where necessary, through a range of capabilities, we will continue to take direct action against those terrorists who pose the gravest threat to Americans,” he said. And in the very next sentence, he had the chutzpah to add: “As we do, we must enlist our values in the fight.”
He said his Administration “has worked tirelessly to forge a durable legal and policy framework to guide our counterterrorism operations.” But is it “legal” just because he and his Justice Department say it is?
He also said, in a bald-faced lie, that “throughout, we have kept Congress fully informed of our efforts.” Try running that past Sen. Ron Wyden, who for months has been trying to get his questions answered on the Administration’s assassination doctrine.

A few quick notes.  "Consenting Adults" is the episode of Charlie's Angels which is better known for Farrah Fawcett's skateboarding.  The only more popular episode was "Angels in Chains" -- when Jill, Kelly (Jaclyn Smith) and Sabrina (Kate Jackson) went to a women's prison (other prisoners included Kim Basinger).  None of the post-Farrah episodes were ever as popular as those two.  Farrah was a friend and I was speaking to a mutual friend today who said he'd bet I couldn't find a way to mention her in the snapshot -- he was wrong.  When I told him how I planned to work her in, he noted that Dick Dinman was a guest in that episode and he now hosts a radio show in Portland, Main on WMPG entitled DVD Classics Corner on the Air -- which I promised I'd link to. Dinman played the john that Tracy sleeps with and sets up for robbery setting the Angels case in motion.  In yesterday's snapshot, I got Joshua Key's name right at the top and then in the middle called him "Joshua Long" before going back to Joshua Key.  His name is Joshua Key.  I probably was thinking of a friend (Joshua Long) when I was working on the snapshot (I typed up Joshua's remarks at lunch and dictated the rest).  My apologies.  We should cover a hearing in tomorrow's snapshot -- House Veterans hearing that took place today -- but there's not room to do it today. 

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