Friday, August 7, 2015

As Doris Day sang . . .

Note this Tweet:



  • Fears amongst liberals in that next Friday protests will take another direction after many people claiming ownership.


  • That's hours away now.

    So I guess we'll see.

    "Whatever will be, will be, the future's not ours to see . . ." as Doris Day sang.


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


    Thursday, August 6, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, 7 US troops have died in Barack's year-long actions against the Islamic State in Iraq, Iraq is a big topic in today's GOP Presidential debate, and more.




    Today, Fox News hosted the Republican Party's presidential nominees debate from Cleveland (Facebook partnered with Fox News for the debate).  The top ten contenders for the party's 2016 presidential nomination gathered on stage.

    The top ten contenders, as Fox News announced ahead of time, were:



    Real estate magnate Donald Trump; former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush; Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker; former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee; retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson; Texas Sen. Ted Cruz; Florida Sen. Marco Rubio; Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul; New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie; and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. 

    Those ten made it onto the stage.  They are not the only candidates competing for the Republican party's nomination.  Fox News also noted:


    But former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and several others will not be on the prime-time, 9 p.m. ET stage. The seven who did not make the top 10 will be invited to a separate 5 p.m. ET debate. Aside from Perry and Santorum, this includes Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal; former HP head Carly Fiorina; South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham; former New York Gov. George Pataki; and former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore.



    Fox News hosts Megyn Kelly, Brett Baier and Chris Wallace were the moderators for the debate.
    Yahoo offers Gideon Yago, Leslie Sanchez, Matt Bai and Jon Ward analyzing the debate.  Fox News offers "voter reaction" here.  (Both links are video.)

    Baltimore Sun media critic (and National Press Club award winner this year, Arthur Rowse Award for Press Criticism-print) David Zurawik critiqued the debate in terms of, among other things, the performance of the moderators and offered:



    Kelly versus Trump was a matchup many tuned in to see. Kelly’s persona is built in part on her ability to take down self-important, sexist, windbag men. Trump is all three of those things and then some.
    “Mr. Trump,” Kelly said, “you’ve called women you don’t like fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals. Your Twitter account …”
    “Only Rosie O’Donnell,” he said interrupting Kelly.
    “No, it wasn’t,” Kelly said as the audience applauded and whistled at Trump’s line.
    Once the applause died down, Kelly, sounding like an attorney on cross examination, resumed by saying, “For the record, it went well beyond Rosie O’Donnell.”

    “Yes, I’m sure it did,” Trump said dismissively. 

    “Your Twitter account has several disparaging comments about women. You once told a contestant on ‘Celebrity Apprentice,’ it would be a pretty picture to see her on her knees. Does that sound to you like the temperament of someone we should elect as president?”



    Iraq came up frequently during the debate and some of the remarks received actual media attention.

    Some.


    Ben Brody (Bloomberg News) notes: Senator Lindsey Graham maintained that the answer for Iraq was to send US troops into Iraq (and into Syria) to defeat the Islamic State and that he did not believe there were partners in the region who could help with this, "These mythical Arab armies that my friends talk about that are going to protect us don't exist.  If I am president of the United States, we're going to send soldiers back to Iraq, back to Syria, to keep us from being attacked here and keep soldiers in Afghanistan because we must."

    For any questioning where Graham stands on the issue, The Daily Caller offers video from the debate of Graham insisting, "We need more ground forces in Iraq."


    Lauren Barbato (Bustle) notes that Jeb "Bush called the Iraq War a mistake" and stated, "I wouldn't have gone in."  This was in direct contrast to his spring remarks that he would have done the same thing his brother did.  After making those remarks -- red meat to Republicans who would be voting in the primaries -- he came under intense criticism and the campaign attempted to have surrogates attempt the what-he-meant-was before he finally disowned his earlier statements.

    Barbato feels he was making "a calculated" response today in an attempt to appeal to Americans.  He may have been.  Or he may have just been trying to avoid a media beating.

    A little over half of Americans feel the Iraq War was a mistake.  That's in the general population.  That number drops when you are polling adults who identify themselves as Republicans.


    Dylan Matthews (Vox) explains Donald Trump insisted he'd opposed the Iraq War and done so since July 2004:

    "In July of 2004, I came out strongly against the war with Iraq because it was going to destabilize the Middle East. I am the only one on this stage who knew that and had the vision to say it. And that's exactly what happened. The region became totally destabliized.

    Of course, the Iraq invasion began on March 19, 2003 — more than a year before the denunciation Trump is bragging about. That's still earlier than most of his fellow GOP candidates, but it's a bit much to brag about one's "vision" in saying that something was going to be a disaster after it had already happened.



    From the debate, we'll note the following exchanges on Iraq:


    BAIER: Senator Paul, you recently blamed the rise of ISIS on Republican hawks. You later said that that statement, you could have said it better. But, the statement went on, and you said, quote, "Everything they've talked about in foreign policy, they've been wrong for the last 20 years."
    Why are you so quick to blame your own party?

    PAUL: First of all, only ISIS is responsible for the terrorism. Only ISIS is responsible for the depravity. But, we do have to examine, how are we going to defeat ISIS?
    I've got a proposal. I'm the leading voice in America for not arming the allies of ISIS.

    (APPLAUSE)

    PAUL: I've been fighting amidst a lot of opposition from both Hillary Clinton, as well as some Republicans who wanted to send arms to the allies of ISIS. ISIS rides around in a billion dollars worth of U.S. Humvees. It's a disgrace. We've got to stop -- we shouldn't fund our enemies, for goodness sakes.


    PAUL: So, we didn't create ISIS -- ISIS created themselves, but we will stop them, and one of the ways we stop them is by not funding them, and not arming them.


    [. . .]

    KELLY: Well, I want to move on, because I have -- we're gonna get to you, governor, but I -- I really wanna get to a Facebook questioner. His name is Alex Chalgren, and he has the following question:

    (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

    QUESTION: My question is, how would the candidates stop the treacherous actions of ISIS -- ISIL and its growing influence in the U.S., if they were to become president?

    (END VIDEO CLIP) 

    KELLY: Senator Cruz, I wanna talk to you about this, because many of the Facebook users and -- and -- the -- the folks on Facebook wanted the candidates to speak to ISIS tonight.
    You asked the chairman of the joint chiefs a question: "What would it take to destroy ISIS in 90 days?" He told you "IISIS will only be truly destroyed once they are rejected by the populations in which they hide." And then you accused him of pushing Medicaid for the Iraqis.
    How would you destroy ISIS in 90 days?


    CRUZ: Megyn, we need a commander in chief that speaks the truth. We will not defeat radical Islamic terrorism so long as we have a president unwilling to utter the words, "radical Islamic terrorism".


    (APPLAUSE)


    When I asked General Dempsey, the chairman of the joint chiefs, what would be required militarily to destroy ISIS, he said there is no military solution. We need to change the conditions on the ground so that young men are not in poverty and susceptible to radicalization. That, with all due respect, is nonsense.

    It's the same answer the State Department gave that we need to give them jobs. What we need is a commander in chief that makes -- clear, if you join ISIS, if you wage jihad on America, then you are signing your death warrant.


    KELLY: You don't see it as...

    (APPLAUSE)


    KELLY: ...an ideological problem -- an ideological problem in addition to a military one?


    (APPLAUSE)


    CRUZ: Megyn, of course it's an ideological problem, that's one of the reasons I introduce the Expatriate Terrorist Act in the Senate that said if any American travels to the Middle East and joining ISIS, that he or she forfeits their citizenship so they don't use a passport to come back and wage jihad on Americans.


    (APPLAUSE)


    CRUZ: Yes, it is ideological, and let me contrast President Obama, who at the prayer breakfast, essentially acted as an apologist. He said, "Well, gosh, the crusades, the inquisitions--"
    We need a president that shows the courage that Egypt's President al-Sisi, a Muslim, when he called out the radical Islamic terrorists who are threatening the world.


    (APPLAUSE)


    KELLY: Governor Bush, for days on end in this campaign, you struggled to answer a question about whether knowing what we know now...


    BUSH: ...I remember...


    KELLY: ...we would've invaded Iraq...


    BUSH: ...I remember, Megyn.


    (LAUGHTER)


    KELLY: I remember it too, and ISIS, of course, is now thriving there.
    You finally said, "No."
    To the families of those who died in that war who say they liberated and deposed a ruthless dictator, how do you look at them now and say that your brothers war was a mistake?


    BUSH: Knowing what we know now, with faulty intelligence, and not having security be the first priority when -- when we invaded, it was a mistake. I wouldn't have gone in, however, for the people that did lose their lives, and the families that suffer because of it -- I know this full well because as governor of the state of Florida, I called every one of them. Every one of them that I could find to tell them that I was praying for them, that I cared about them, and it was really hard to do.
    And, every one of them said that their child did not die in vain, or their wife, of their husband did not die in vain.
    So, why it was difficult for me to do it was based on that. Here's the lesson that we should take from this, which relates to this whole subject, Barack Obama became president, and he abandoned Iraq. He left, and when he left Al Qaida was done for. ISIS was created because of the void that we left, and that void now exists as a caliphate the size of Indiana.
    To honor the people that died, we need to -- we need to --- stop the -- Iran agreement, for sure, because the Iranian mullahs have their blood on their hands, and we need to take out ISIS with every tool at our disposal.


    (APPLAUSE)


    KELLY: Governor Walker, in February you said that we needed to gain partners in the Arab world. Which Arab country not already in the U.S. led coalition has potential to be our greatest partner?


    WALKER: What about then (ph), we need to focus on the ones we have. You look at Egypt, probably the best relationship we've had in Israel, at least in my lifetime, incredibly important.
    You look at the Saudis -- in fact, earlier this year, I met with Saudi leaders, and leaders from the United Arab Emirates, and I asked them what's the greatest challenge in the world today? Set aside the Iran deal. They said it's the disengagement of America. We are leading from behind under the Obama-Clinton doctrine -- America's a great country. We need to stand up and start leading again, and we need to have allies, not just in Israel, but throughout the Persian Gulf.

    [. . .]


    KELLY: Well, I want to move on, because I have -- we're gonna get to you, governor, but I -- I really wanna get to a Facebook questioner. His name is Alex Chalgren, and he has the following question:

    (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

    QUESTION: My question is, how would the candidates stop the treacherous actions of ISIS -- ISIL and its growing influence in the U.S., if they were to become president?

    (END VIDEO CLIP) 

    KELLY: Senator Cruz, I wanna talk to you about this, because many of the Facebook users and -- and -- the -- the folks on Facebook wanted the candidates to speak to ISIS tonight.
    You asked the chairman of the joint chiefs a question: "What would it take to destroy ISIS in 90 days?" He told you "IISIS will only be truly destroyed once they are rejected by the populations in which they hide." And then you accused him of pushing Medicaid for the Iraqis.
    How would you destroy ISIS in 90 days?


    CRUZ: Megyn, we need a commander in chief that speaks the truth. We will not defeat radical Islamic terrorism so long as we have a president unwilling to utter the words, "radical Islamic terrorism".


    (APPLAUSE)


    When I asked General Dempsey, the chairman of the joint chiefs, what would be required militarily to destroy ISIS, he said there is no military solution. We need to change the conditions on the ground so that young men are not in poverty and susceptible to radicalization. That, with all due respect, is nonsense.

    It's the same answer the State Department gave that we need to give them jobs. What we need is a commander in chief that makes -- clear, if you join ISIS, if you wage jihad on America, then you are signing your death warrant.


    KELLY: You don't see it as...


    (APPLAUSE)


    KELLY: ...an ideological problem -- an ideological problem in addition to a military one?


    (APPLAUSE)


    CRUZ: Megyn, of course it's an ideological problem, that's one of the reasons I introduce the Expatriate Terrorist Act in the Senate that said if any American travels to the Middle East and joining ISIS, that he or she forfeits their citizenship so they don't use a passport to come back and wage jihad on Americans.


    (APPLAUSE)


    CRUZ: Yes, it is ideological, and let me contrast President Obama, who at the prayer breakfast, essentially acted as an apologist. He said, "Well, gosh, the crusades, the inquisitions--"
    We need a president that shows the courage that Egypt's President al-Sisi, a Muslim, when he called out the radical Islamic terrorists who are threatening the world.


    (APPLAUSE)


    KELLY: Governor Bush, for days on end in this campaign, you struggled to answer a question about whether knowing what we know now...


    BUSH: ...I remember...


    KELLY: ...we would've invaded Iraq...


    BUSH: ...I remember, Megyn.


    (LAUGHTER)


    KELLY: I remember it too, and ISIS, of course, is now thriving there.
    You finally said, "No."
    To the families of those who died in that war who say they liberated and deposed a ruthless dictator, how do you look at them now and say that your brothers war was a mistake?


    BUSH: Knowing what we know now, with faulty intelligence, and not having security be the first priority when -- when we invaded, it was a mistake. I wouldn't have gone in, however, for the people that did lose their lives, and the families that suffer because of it -- I know this full well because as governor of the state of Florida, I called every one of them. Every one of them that I could find to tell them that I was praying for them, that I cared about them, and it was really hard to do.

    And, every one of them said that their child did not die in vain, or their wife, of their husband did not die in vain.

    So, why it was difficult for me to do it was based on that. Here's the lesson that we should take from this, which relates to this whole subject, Barack Obama became president, and he abandoned Iraq. He left, and when he left Al Qaida was done for. ISIS was created because of the void that we left, and that void now exists as a caliphate the size of Indiana.

    To honor the people that died, we need to -- we need to --- stop the -- Iran agreement, for sure, because the Iranian mullahs have their blood on their hands, and we need to take out ISIS with every tool at our disposal.

    (APPLAUSE)


    KELLY: Governor Walker, in February you said that we needed to gain partners in the Arab world. Which Arab country not already in the U.S. led coalition has potential to be our greatest partner?

    WALKER: What about then (ph), we need to focus on the ones we have. You look at Egypt, probably the best relationship we've had in Israel, at least in my lifetime, incredibly important.

    You look at the Saudis -- in fact, earlier this year, I met with Saudi leaders, and leaders from the United Arab Emirates, and I asked them what's the greatest challenge in the world today? Set aside the Iran deal. They said it's the disengagement of America. We are leading from behind under the Obama-Clinton doctrine -- America's a great country. We need to stand up and start leading again, and we need to have allies, not just in Israel, but throughout the Persian Gulf.




    Though Iraq came up frequently in the debate, it was a topic ignored by State Dept spokesperson Mark Toner and those attending the State Dept press briefing today.

    With US President Barack Obama spending billions on Iraq -- largely just on bombing Iraq -- it's amazing that the State Dept -- or the reporters covering it -- would ignore Iraq.

    But ignoring Iraq is how the current crises came about, remember?


    I don't have a lot of respect for the Republicans on stage today because they  ignored the gross betrayal of the Iraqi people by Barack.

    Nouri al-Maliki's second term led to the current problems.  We've documented that at length here and done so in real time.

    But Nouri didn't win the 2010 election.

    And until politicians are ready to point that out, US politicians, and that Barack used a legal contract (The Erbil Agreement) to overturn the votes of the Iraqi people and the Iraqi Constitution, I don't really have a lot of use for them -- and certainly no trust for them.

    Supporting Iraqiya was supporting a new Iraq.

    Barack chose to strip Iraqiya of its victory and back thug Nouri.

    This isn't a minor point.


    Nor is Barack's decision to bomb Iraq daily or the year-plus of sending US troops into Iraq minor points.

    Leo Shane (Military Times) explains today, "About 3,500 U.S. troops are stationed in Iraq, and seven have lost their lives in connection to the new military operations there."

    Is anybody else registering those deaths?

    Is anyone else even noting them?

    On the topic of deaths, Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) counts 62 violent deaths across Iraq today.



    ADDED: The following community sites updated:










  • Wednesday, August 5, 2015

    More legal trouble for Hillary The Crook

    David Brock is weeping and stomping his feet.  He's crying and throwing a tantrum.

    He thought he could play with his Hillary Will Be President doll all summer long.

    But now?

    It's all changed.

    And the arms have fallen off his little Hillary doll.


    Carol D. Leonnig, Rosalind S. Helderman and Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) report:

    The FBI has begun looking into the security of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s private e-mail setup, contacting in the past week a Denver-based technology firm that helped manage the unusual system, according to two government officials.
    Also last week, the FBI contacted Clinton’s lawyer, David Ken­dall, with questions about the security of a thumb drive in his possession that contains copies of work e-mails Clinton sent during her time as secretary of state.

    The FBI’s interest in Clinton’s e-mail system comes after the intelligence community’s inspector general referred the issue to the Justice Department in July. Intelligence officials expressed concern that some sensitive information was not in the government’s possession and could be “compromised.”


    Poor David Brock, he may end up having to find a new doll to play with.


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


    Tuesday, August 4, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, the Yazidis carry out their revenge attacks to do their part to continue the circle of violence, Tony Blair's War Crimes gather attention, Haider al-Abadi appears to be just another Nouri by another name, and much more.




    Worldwide, he may have been so minor that he's seen as Bully Boy Bush's lapdog but in England, he remains a focal point, rallying cry and all around nuisance.  War Hawk Tony Blair's crimes are not forgotten or buried.  The Telegraph of London explains:


     Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn has suggested that Tony Blair could be made to stand trial for war crimes over the invasion of Iraq.
    The veteran left winger said the 2003 conflict was an "illegal war" and that the individuals who "made the decisions that went with it" should face justice. 


    The remarks were made during an interview with BBC's Newsnight.  ITV notes this of the interview:

    Asked whether Blair should be tried for war crimes, Corbyn said: "If he's committed a war crime, yes. Everyone who's committed a war crime should be.
    "I think it was an illegal war, I'm confident about that, indeed (former UN secretary general) Kofi Annan confirmed it was an illegal war, and therefore he has to explain to that."
    Pressed on whether he personally wanted to see Blair put on trial, Corbyn said: "I want to see all those that committed war crimes tried for it, and those that made the decisions that went with it."


    Corbyn is far from alone in terming Tony Blair a War Criminal.  And the Iraq War has attached itself to Tony Blair in a way that rarely happens.  Henry Kissinger is haunted by his crimes and basically fenced in, unable to travel freely throughout the world for fear of being arrested.  This appears to be the fate that awaits Blair at a minimum.

    But there are those who believe and/or hope that Blair will stand trial for his War Crimes.  Jeremy Corbyn's words will give them some encouragement and validation.  Of the interview, Nicholas Watt (Guardian) adds:

    Corbyn said he expects the eventual publication of the Chilcot report will force Blair to explain his discussions with President Bush in the runup to the war.
    He said: “The Chilcot report is going to come out sometime. I hope it comes out soon. I think there are some decisions Tony Blair has got to confess or tell us what actually happened. What happened in Crawford, Texas, in 2002 in his private meetings with George [W] Bush. Why has the Chilcot report still not come out because – apparently there is still debate about the release of information on one side or the other of the Atlantic. At that point Tony Blair and the others that have made the decisions are then going to have to deal with the consequences of it.”



    He hopes it comes out soon?

    Not a smart move to count on the Chilcot report.  The Iraq Inquiry stopped holding hearings in 2011. The report was supposed to have come out long ago.

    Instead, four years later and still no report.

    Four years later and nothing.

    Patrick Wintour (Guardian) reports:

    An impatient David Cameron will demand Sir John Chilcot names the date by which his report into the British invasion of Iraq will be ready for publication.
    The prime minister is expected to tell Chilcot he wants to see the report as soon as possible. “Right now I want a timetable,” he told journalists.


    Cameron, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, points out that he cannot force the independent body that is the Iraq Inquiry to release the report but he can ask for a date for when the body will release the report and thereby create a timetable.


    Dropping back to the Tuesday, July 21st snapshot:

     
    Alsumaria offers video of a Baghdad protest that took place on Monday as people gathered to demand the release of artist Namir Abdel Hussein who was arrested in a sweep that included the security forces arresting over 700 hotel workers when the hotels were stormed.
    Why were they stormed?
    The Shi'ite militias are again in charge, that's why.
    And they don't like a Baghdad night life.
    This happened repeatedly under Nouri -- and it was illegal then.
    Now it's happening under Haider al-Abadi.
    But let's keep pretending he's representing some form of change and a new direction for Iraq.
    The Ministry of the Interior, Monday night, announced that they had released the artist as well as the hotel workers. 

    Friday, Mushreq Abbas (Al-Monitor) covered the subject:


    Despite official declarations such as that of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi July 20, the attacks and violations have not stopped. Before storming the nightclubs, a military force raided the Union of Writers Club in Baghdad June 19 and attacked a group of writers on accusations of alcohol consumption.
    On July 25, an unidentified military force stormed a family restaurant in central Baghdad and attacked patrons.
    The rule of former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (2006-2014) witnessed an array of similar attacks that targeted the same type of sites as well as liquor stores. These places are currently confined to the Karrada district of central Baghdad by the constant attacks against them elsewhere and amid the spread of a religious tide in the rest of the capital’s districts.
    Some of these attacks have turned deadly. In July 2014, armed militias carried out a terrifying massacre, killing about 30 women in a residential apartment in Zayouna district in eastern Baghdad that they claimed were showing "immoral behavior."
    In the latest incident, as in all of the previous ones, the Interior Ministry formed a committee under Abadi's direction to investigate the issue, but no investigations have been announced, and the ministry has not produced any perpetrator of an attack on public freedoms for prosecution, implying some sort of solidarity with the perpetrators.
    Meanwhile, the Interior Ministry claimed that bars and nightclubs are under constant attack because they were never granted official licenses to conduct business.
    Such licenses are usually granted by the Iraqi Ministry of Tourism, which, ever since the change of the political system in Iraq after the US occupation in 2003, has granted no official licenses to sell alcohol or open establishments dedicated to alcohol use. Iraq's Law No. 6 of 2001 regulates these places and was preceded by Law No. 82 of 1994.

     
    Nothing's really changed in Iraq.
    Haider al-Abadi replacing Nouri al-Maliki was supposed to mean change.
    But there's been no change.
    For example, today, Al Arabiya News reports:


    Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Affairs, Bahaa al-Aaraji, said the former government of Nouri al-Maliki has wasted around $1 trillion of public funds.
    “The former government (of Maliki) has wasted around $1 trillion. $800 billion came from Iraq’s oil budget since 2004 till 2014 while $200 billion came from donations and aid,” Aaraji told reporters on Friday according to a report by Asharq al-Awsat.



    Nouri is a thug.  And he needs to be held accountable for all the money he fleeced.

    But it's doubtful he will be.

    Despite receiving applause for supposedly attempting to address corruption, new prime minister Haider al-Abadi has done damn little.

    Address it?  He can't even answer a basic question.

    This was obvious last April when Der Spiegel's Susanne Koelbl interviewed him:


    SPIEGEL: Iraq is at war, but it is not the only crisis affecting the country. Many residents of Baghdad use the word "thieves" when they talk about your politicians. How corrupt is your government?


    Al-Abadi: We have problems and the way I am dealing with them is to start by admitting them. Corruption is a huge issue. It has to do with the society, which has changed -- both during the times of Saddam Hussein's regime and after. Also, the sanctions had an adverse effect on society in nurturing this culture of corruption. During the 1960s or 1970s, bribery was very rare in Iraq. The number of government employees was very small and usually they were the elite. But then they incorporated millions of people into the government -- not to better run the state, but to control the people. We are in the process of implementing a number of processes and procedures that aim to curb the extent of corruption.


    SPIEGEL: One of your first actions after you took office was to close the office of your predecessor's son, who is said to have provided huge government contracts to people who were ready to pay the most for them. Young college graduates claim they had to pay officials $10,000 to $20,000 in order to obtain government jobs. Why should Iraqis have any faith in this government?



    Al-Abadi: We need to flip the system. Four years ago, the government tried to stop the corruption at the Passport Office, where people pay $400 to $500 just to get their passport issued. Every day they were arresting so many people and it did not have much of an effect. But if you ease the procedure, for instance making the document available online, it puts an end to it altogether. I don't want to fill our prisons with people who ask for petty cash while we are facing this major terrorist threat to the country. I want to keep these prisons for the actual criminals who are killing people or for people who are stealing vast amounts of money from the people. I want to change how we run the government in Iraq.


    Did you notice it?  Serious talk.

    Until the interviewer notes Ahmed al-Maliki, Nouri's son.

    He never comments on that: "One of your first actions after you took office was to close the office of your predecessor's son, who is said to have provided huge government contracts to people who were ready to pay the most for them."

    He just sidesteps it, ignores it.  He's asked "how corrupt is your government" and responds directly without any offence.  But he can't answer about Ahmed al-Maliki?

    Let's stop pretending anything's changed with regards to Haider.
     

    There's a lot of pretending going on.

    For example, at The Conversation, Tyler Fisher, Muslih Mustafa, Nahro Zagros want to note a year since Mount Sinjar, when Yazidis were trapped on the mountain and being attacked, the incident that led Barack to start bombing Iraq.  The three write:

    The crisis in Sinjar is subsiding, and the Peshmerga have gradually retaken some of the areas that IS had overrun. But the atrocities are still a relentless daily reality for thousands of Yazidis still in captivity, for those in precarious refugee camps and for their relatives abroad, bereaved or longing to be reunited.

    Several thousand remain in the mountains, cut off from humanitarian aid – and the threat of annihilation has not abated.


    Credit to the three for not pretending all Yazidis were rescued.

    How sad that Barack's actions last August have still not paid off.

    But there's another detail and Mitchell Prothero was noting it in his Here & Now interview yesterday.

    Sinjar itself?

    Still under Islamic State control all these months (12) later.

    Twelve months after Barack began bombing Iraq and nothing has changed.

    Sinjar remains occupied, Yazidis remain trapped.
    Some do.
    Some practice vengeance. 
    Khales Joumah (Niqash) covers this under-reported aspect of the story:


    A combination of airstrikes and ground action by a number of different forces has seen the Islamic State, or IS, group expelled from parts of the territory. And supposedly those areas would now be safe enough for the residents to return to, if they were alive and able to. However, as is happening in other areas of the country where the IS group's activities only deepened existing enmities between different ethnic and religious groups, there are acts of revenge occurring and extrajudicial “justice” being meted out.
    Yazidis who lived in the area say that their Arab neighbours didn’t help them when the IS fighters arrived and, in fact, in some cases, collaborated with them. The Iraqi Kurdish military have been faced with similar accusations and criticised for using the security crisis for their own ends – that is, claiming more land in northern Iraq under the guise of protecting locals.
    As a result the situation in the Sinjar area is extremely confused. The upshot of the IS group's murder, kidnapping, abduction and destruction is more murder, kidnapping, abduction and destruction.
    “All the houses in our village look as though a violent earthquake destroyed them,” says Ahmad Ali, who is originally from the Arab village of Sibaya, north of Sinjar mountain.
    In January the 34-year-old fled the village along with 14 members of his family because Yazidis attacked them.
    Amnesty International reported at the time that the Yazidi militia “killed 21 civilians, half of them elderly men and women and children, in what appear to have been execution-style killings, and injured several others, including three children. The gunmen also abducted some 40 residents, 17 of whom are still missing and feared dead”.
    Ali now lives near the Rabia district and in a telephone interview he told NIQASH that he recently watched acts of vengeful destruction with binoculars.
    “In the space of a week, bulldozers, protected by the Yazidi militia, demolished all the village houses, including the school, the health clinic and the mosque,” Ali reports. “Then they went to a nearby village called Sayer. There are other villages that will have the same fate,” he concluded.
    Nothing changed -- even the cycle of revenge remains the same.


    Yet today's big news?


    BBC reports:

    The RAF Tornado mission against Islamic State militants in Iraq is to be extended by an extra year, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has said.
    The jets - due to be disbanded last March - are to be kept in service until "at least" March 2017 to continue air strikes, he said on a visit to Iraq.


    No real success to point to from August 2014 to the present but the plan or 'plan' is to continue this through at least March 2017.

    Anyone going to have the guts to ask: Why?

    Bill Van Auken (WSWS) reminds:


    It was only a year ago that Obama told the American public that he was ordering air strikes in Iraq and sending in a small contingent of Special Operations troops for the sole purpose of rescuing the Yazidis, a small religious community in northern Iraq, from a supposedly imminent massacre at the hands of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
    This Sunni Islamist militia had overrun roughly a third of Iraq the previous month, routing US-trained Iraqi troops that fled in disarray. This debacle was the product of the past US interventions, which had killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and left behind a shattered society divided along sectarian lines.
    ISIS itself bore the stamp “Made in the USA,” having enjoyed the backing of the CIA and Washington’s principal regional allies, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, in the war for regime change in Syria. It was also strengthened by the 2011 US-NATO war to topple and murder Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi. That neocolonial enterprise relied upon similar Al Qaeda-linked Islamist militias, many of whose members—along with huge stocks of captured Libyan weapons—were funneled into Syria.

    The fate of the Yazidis has long been forgotten. Subsequent attempts were made to sell the new war as an existential struggle against terrorism—that is, against the very terrorists the US had been supporting in Libya and Syria—exploiting the fate of captive Americans beheaded by ISIS.



    A year, billions spnet, so many killed and nothing to show for it.

    Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) counts 37 violent deaths across Iraq today.










    mushreq abbas

    Tuesday, August 4, 2015

    David Brock is peeing his bvds

    Did you see this at Mediaite:

    CBS’s Face the Nation roundtable discussion this morning focused squarely on Hillary Clinton‘s perceived transparency issues, with the panelists each laying out how such concerns are an immediate issue for her presidential campaign.
    The Atlantic politics writer Molly Ball suggested the view that Clinton has transparency problems is “not just a media narrative, it is a fact the Clintons, especially Hillary, are very guarded, very secretive people.” She added that the recent Clinton email dump may be a “charade of transparency” aimed at making the candidate seem more upfront than she is currently viewed.

    National Journal‘s Ron Fournier had perhaps the strongest words, describing the Clintons as engaging in “serial disingenuous behavior” as they push back on stories about investigations into the former Secretary of State’s emails.


    I'm sure David Brock saw it.

    And no doubt had a hissy fit and pissed his BVDs.

    Hillary's problems are Hillary's problems.

    People can pretend it's this outlet or that outlet but in the end she's brought it all on herself.


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



    Monday, August 3, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, protests continue in Iraq, the Parliament makes an announcement, Turkey continues bombing northern Iraq, Hillary Clinton's support for war on Iraq remains an issue, and much more.


    Starting with the US presidential race (yes, the election does not take place until November 2016),
    Stephen Zunes (at National Catholic Reporter) notes Hillary Clinton's still unexplained and unapologized for 2002 vote in support of war on Iraq:


    Clinton is the only one of the five major announced candidates for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination who supported that illegal and unnecessary war, which not only resulted in 4,500 American deaths and thousands more permanently disabled, but hundreds of thousands of Iraqi deaths, the destabilization of the region with the rise of ISIS, and a dramatic increase in the federal deficit resulting in major cutbacks to important social programs.
    Her defenders have characterized her vote as a "mistake." However, it would have been a mistake only if she had pushed the "aye" button when she had meant to push the "nay" button. It was quite deliberate and the implications still raise serious questions.

    Pope John Paul II and the National Council of Catholic Bishops, along with the leadership of virtually every major mainline U.S. Protestant denomination, came out in opposition to the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The Christian groups that supported Bush's call for war were essentially restricted to right-wing fundamentalists, thereby raising some serious questions as to where Clinton is coming from theologically.


    For the record, saying it was a "mistake" is not an apology.  Yes, Hillary again said that last May.  To be clear, when it turned out Bill Clinton did have sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky and Hillary was throwing that lamp, Bill calling it a "mistake" would not have been seen by Hillary as an apology.  Nor should the country, the world, accept her use of the word "mistake" as an apology for voting for war on Iraq.


    Though her negatives are increasing as she attempts to make a case for why she should be the Democratic Party's 2016 presidential nominee, some see her as presidential.  For example, H.A. Goodman (The Hill) makes a case that Hillary is very presidential . . . along the lines of Richard Nixon:

    Regarding a penchant for hiding behind words and definitions, Clinton and Nixon share many of the same qualities. Like good attorneys, the words of both place great emphasis on technical legal definitions, rather than what the average American would describe as a lack of judgement. While Nixon's focus on "political containment" cost him the White House, a similar type of political containment could have motivated Clinton to engage in using a private server exclusively.
    In 2015, Americans can access the Nixon Library and listen to "a portion of the approximately 60 hours of tape subpoenaed by the Watergate Special Prosecution Force (WSPF)." However, there will always be 18.5 minutes of missing tape, destroyed by someone within Nixon's administration, containing "incriminating evidence" that nobody will ever be able to hear. Clinton and her team unilaterally deleted 31,830 emails, without any oversight, and with the expectation that Americans simply trust that these emails never contained any classified or incriminating data. Basic logic dictates that if the recent investigation of four out of just 40 Clinton emails has already resulted in security failures, there's a good chance that more classified information and security breaches will be found within the 60,000 other emails.
    Like Nixon, Clinton’s "political containment" could lead to an endless legal conundrum, culminating in a political figure being forced to acknowledge that questionable behavior wasn't done in the name of American interest, but rather personal interest. Ultimately, Democrats can't survive in 2016 with potentially classified emails floating around days before Election Day. Since more than 30,000 of her deleted emails are deleted -- but not gone, and still recoverable -- this aspect of the controversy adds an even greater element of uncertainty. "Political containment" is a dangerous thing in today's networked world, or as Clinton calls it, opting for "convenience."



    Last week, the US State Dept released another trove of e-mails to and from Hillary when she was Secretary of State.  The release included an e-mail exchange with failed US Ambassador to Iraq Chris Hill in which Hill called the Iraqi people "truly a collective pain in the neck."


    The true pain in the neck is people like Chris Hill.

    Hill's reign was short.  After there was denying how badly he had bungled his mission, US President Barack Obama asked Hill for his resignation yet today, having secured a post at the University of Denver, Hill presents himself as an expert on Iraq.


    As we noted in the July 25th snapshot, bombing is not helping Iraq and Iraq is not an empty field but instead a populated country with over 30 million people.  Barack's bombing campaign means bombs are falling on people.

    If that's confusing to you, Airwars maintains US-led strikes on Iraq and Syria have killed between 489 and 1,247 civilians. Cora Currier (The Intercept) reminds, "Next Saturday marks the first anniversary of the United States’ bombing campaign against Islamic State militants in Iraq. Over the past year, a U.S.-led coalition including Canada, France, Australia, Saudi Arabia, and other European and Gulf states has carried out over 5,800 airstrikes against the group in Iraq and Syria."


    In related news, Samuel Oakford (Vice News) reports, "The UN said Monday that it is looking into reports that as many as 40 civilians were killed in an airstrike near Ramadi last Friday, an incident that could be the latest deadly attack to hit innocent bystanders in the campaign by the Iraqi government and a US-led coalition against the self-styled Islamic State (IS)."

    Killing people is big business, as Kate Brannen (Daily Beast) explains:

    The war against ISIS isn’t going so great, with the self-appointed terror group standing up to a year of U.S. airstrikes in Syria and Iraq.
    But that hasn’t kept defense contractors from doing rather well amidst the fighting. Lockheed Martin has received orders for thousands of more Hellfire missiles. AM General is busy supplying Iraq with 160 American-built Humvee vehicles, while General Dynamics is selling the country millions of dollars worth of tank ammunition.

    SOS International, a family-owned business whose corporate headquarters are located in New York City, is one of the biggest players on the ground in Iraq, employing the most Americans in the country after the U.S. Embassy. On the company’s board of advisors: former Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz—considered to be one of the architects of the invasion of Iraq—and Paul Butler, a former special assistant to Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld.









    On the topic of air strikes on Iraq, Al Bawaba notes that the Turkish government is denying that their bombing of northern Iraq has resulted in any targeting of civilians:

    Turkish armed forces have rejected all allegations that it targeted civilians in recent airstrikes in northern Iraq.
    Referring to some media reports that claimed several civilians were killed and injured during an airstrike by Turkish jets in Zargala village in northern Iraq, the military in a statement rejected the allegations and clarified that the airstrikes only targeted members of "separatist terrorist organization," the statement said.



    Too bad for them, there is photographic evidence to the contrary.








  • The Turkish airstrikes were raised in today's State Dept press briefing moderated by spokesperson Mark Toner.



    QUESTION: Turkey. On the Turkish airstrikes --

    MR TONER: I’m sorry, I missed the last part. Turkey and --


    QUESTION: Turkey. On the Turkish airstrikes.


    MR TONER: Turkish airstrikes.


    QUESTION: Yeah. They earlier this week – I think it was over the weekend or Friday, the airstrikes killed at least eight civilians in a village in northern Iraq. Do you condemn that?


    MR TONER: I talked a little bit about this last week, but we don’t want to see any civilian casualties and we take those kinds of reports very seriously. We want to see the PKK stop its attacks against Turkey and then for the Turkish Government to respond proportionately. We want to see all that violence end, and we want to see the efforts of Turkey but also the coalition’s efforts as well as the anti-ISIL groups fighting in northern Syria focus on combatting ISIL.
    Please.


    QUESTION: Both the Turkish Government and the Iraqi Kurdistan government have said there were civilian casualties in this specific case. I want to say whether you will – see whether you condemn this and whether you believe what has happened, why the Turkish Government attacked the civilians which are clearly not PKK hideouts?


    MR TONER: Well, again, I don't know the specifics of these attacks, but often – not often, but sometimes, when you have airstrikes or civilians in the area, they can be affected, so – but these are airstrikes being carried out against PKK targets. And again, just going to the root of this, PKK has carried out attacks against Turkey. We have defended Turkey’s right to self-defense in this case, but we want to see the violence end, we want to see the PKK cease its attacks, and as I said, the Turkish Government to respond proportionately.


    As they did last week, the State Dept takes the position that Turkey has the right to bomb Iraq -- not the position that Iraq has the right not to be bombed by Turkey.

    From Saturday's snapshot:


    Protests also took place in northern Iraq's KRG where protesters gathered before the KRG Parliament to lodge their objections to the Turkish war planes dropping bombs on the region.
    All Iraq News reports that Haider al-Abadi publicly declared today that Turkey needs to respect Iraq's sovereignty.
    Alsumaria adds that he declared the PKK (the supposed target of Turkey) exists in Turkey and not Iraq and that the Iranian government is also opposed to the PKK but they (the Iranian government) have not bombed Iraq.



    The US says Iraq is an ally but they refuse to side with the prime minister they installed on this issue. More Iraqi voices are objecting each day (already the Cabinet of Ministers has objected).  In addition,  National Iraqi News Agency reports:

    MP, of the Kurdistan Alliance, Ashwaq al-Jaf described the Turkish bombing to the villages of the province of Kurdistan, as a violation of international norms and principles of human rights, "confirmed "the need not to make the innocent defenseless citizens as victims of a dispute between the Turkish government and the PKK


    Staying with violence, Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) counts 141 violent deaths across Iraq today.


    In other news, All Iraq News reports, "Parliament Speaker Saleem al-Jobouri announced on Monday that parliament is going to host the former Deputy Prime Minister of Power Hussain al-Shihrestani and other former ministers of Electricity since 2003 next week, a parliamentary source said to AIN."  AIN also notes that Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared today that he was going to begin an investigation of "the waste of public money."

    What's going on?

    As this photo at Al Mada demonstrates: Protests.

    Saturday's snapshot noted protests were sweeping Iraq.


    And they continued on Sunday.









  • Middle East Eye observes, "Hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets in Iraq’s southern provinces on Sunday to protest the lack of services and electricity."
    Protesters called for action to be taken against “corrupt” government officials who they hold responsible for continued electricity outages, water cuts and rising unemployment rates.

    And they continued today with security forces in Najaf attacking the protesters.




    القوات الحكومية تعتدي على متظاهري محافظة النجف .




    The protests were noted on today's Here & Now (NPR, link is audio) where anchor Peter O'Dowd spoke with McClatchy Newspapers Mitchell Prothero.  Excerpt.


    Peter O'Dowd: Is the deteriorating infrastructure in Iraq a bigger threat than ISIS is?

    Mitchell Prothero:  Well let's put it this way: one of the things whenever I speak with people who live in ISIS areas, the first thing they say is that immediately the public utilities and things get more efficient.  In a lot of cases, there isn't electricity because the government controls that.  But the trash gets picked up, water, bread, all this stuff comes out. You know, what people need to accept in the post-US invasion environment, the Iraqis have yet to put together a government that's, you know, anything vaguely closely to competent.  The infrastructure in Baghdad has never been improved, billions have been spent, mostly stolen and so, when you do get a spike, because 115, 118 degrees, that's not completely unusual this time of year, but when it pops up to 125 or so and you've basically lost the largest oil refinery in Iraq -- destroyed in fighting, and then you throw in that the government's bankrupt and fighting wars on  several different fronts, the whole thing just comes apart. 



    As Sheik (Dar Addustour) observes that the demonstrations by the people are needed because a corrupt institution does not correct itself without pressure.



    Winding down, today, the US State Dept issued the following:



    Media Note
    Office of the Spokesperson
    Washington, DC
    August 3, 2015

    Secretary of State John Kerry announced today at the Gulf Cooperation Council Summit in Qatar that the United States is providing nearly $62 million in additional humanitarian assistance to Iraqis who have been affected by violence and are in urgent need of assistance from the international community. This new funding brings the total U.S. humanitarian assistance for Iraqis in the region to more than $477 million since the start of Fiscal Year 2014.
    This funding aims to assist millions of Iraqi civilians affected by the conflict – including more than 3 million internally displaced persons and 370,000 refugees who have had to flee their homes since January 2014 – providing them with critically needed relief commodities, shelter, clean water, psychosocial services, medical services, livelihoods support, cash assistance, child protection, legal documentation, and other essential goods and services.
    A range of UN and international non-governmental agencies are receiving the funding, including the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and other international and nongovernmental organizations.
    For further information, please contact Danna Van Brandt, vanbrandtdj@state.gov, or visit. PRM’s website.



     The above was noted in today's State Dept press briefing:


    QUESTION: Iraq?

    MR TONER: Yeah. I’m sorry, yeah.

    QUESTION: So you talked about like $600 million in aid.

    MR TONER: Yes. Hold on, let me get the exact – I don’t want to give you the wrong --

    QUESTION: Sure. Can you tell us specifically where that aid goes – what part of this goes for refugees or --

    MR TONER: Sure. So 62 million, you’re absolutely right. So it’s – this funding, as it often – often, our humanitarian assistance is funneled through and supports the activities of UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the UN Children’s Fund – UNICEF, and the International Organization for Migration – IOM, as well as other international and nongovernmental organizations. It’s going to be critically needed relief, so water – clean water, rather – medical care, shelter, and other necessities by those most affected by the ongoing conflict. We’re talking about hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees in the region. And we’re also going to – the money’s going to go to help provide assistance to host communities throughout the region who are also struggling to deal with the displaced as well.

    QUESTION: So the total is 477 million?

    MR TONER: That’s right.

    QUESTION: Does that make the U.S. the largest donor in Iraq?



    MR TONER: That is a fair question. I believe that’s correct, yes.


















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