Friday, June 27, 2014

2 things to read

Sarah Collins has a post at Ms. entitled "46 Plays By Women You SHOULD Be Seeing" that is both worth reading and the sort of thing Ms. should be doing always -- carving out space to recognize women.

Also worth reading is Ajamu Baraka's "The Bush, Blair, Obama human rights crisis in Iraq" at the Green Shadow Cabinet:

Democrats, including what is referred to as the “progressive” caucus, the Congressional Black Caucus and other caucus groups, along with the unprincipled and opportunist collection of Democratic party hacks at the Center for American Progress, the New American Foundation, Human Rights Watch and the other liberal and mainstream  institutions and publications who gave direct or tacit support to the foolish Bush era strategy to destroy Syria, all place the blame for the “debacle” in Iraq on al-Maliki. And while many of these elements opposed the Bush attack on Iraq, the moral basis for their opposition to direct war by the U.S. in Iraq under a Republican president failed them in response to the indirect war waged on Syria by a Democrat president. In both cases, it was war that was unleashed, and in both cases outside the parameters of international law and in opposition to the wishes and interests of the vast majorities of the peoples of those nations.
The delusional declaration that the foreign armies of the U.S. would be greeted as liberators in Iraq has been as devastating as the equally delusional support for a “moderate” opposition that would collaborate with foreign sources to wage war on their fellow citizens. All of this was predicted. Many of us who opposed the arrogant and illegal destabilization plan for Syria did so from the perspective that not only would the plan result in massive loss of life in Syria, but that its effect would inflame the entire region, especially since it was clear that the strategy was to sectarianize the battle in Syria. Even reports and analyses from publications on the right to more moderate and centrist publications like The National Interest recognized that the dangerous and incoherent policies in Syria were going to destabilize the entire region.  
And even though for many of us the strategic necessity for opposing the machinations of the U.S., NATO and their GCC client-states in Syria was clear, the confused liberal left faced an ideological and political conundrum: While most opposed the illegal war on Iraq, they nevertheless surrendered to national and racial chauvinism and gave ideological and political support to the illegal war waged against Syria. But now, with the predictable result that the war in Syria has created conditions and a political argument for the militarists in favor of a military return to Iraq, the liberal/left is finding it hard to formulate a coherent let alone morally and politically consistent position on the issue of U.S. military involvement in Iraq.
In light of the fact that policies operationalized over the last six year are responsible for the increased violence and destabilization in the region, the blame Bush position expressed by the defenders’ of Obama’s policy options in Iraq and the ongoing violence and chaos in the Middle-East is unconvincing.

These defenders of Obama are unable to accept that historically when reference is made to the criminal activities associated with the last gasps of empire in the Middle East, Obama’s policies and Obama himself will be linked to the infamous cast of war criminals alongside Tony Blair and George W. Bush – company that he has earned along with a legacy that will forever tarnish his presidency. But he will not be alone, with the blood that is flowing and will flow in Iraq and Syria, the hands of Democratic party operatives and their supporters who collaborated with U.S. power will also be stained with the blood of innocents.  

It's good to see someone in the Green Shadow Cabinet can call out Barack.  I'm getting really tired of all these gas bags who think it's brave, in 2014, to call out Bully Boy Bush while staying silent on Barack.

It's not brave, it's embarrassing.

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

Friday, June 27, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Nouri whines about buying "US jets," militarized drones are reported over Iraq, Hillary can't stop lying about Iraq, we call out Michael Ratner's suggestion of forced deportation of those who got it wrong on Iraq, and much more.

Today's big news?  The Peshmerga, elite Kurdish forces, entered Kirkuk this month to provide protection.  Aslumaria reports KRG President Massoud Barzani declares that action is a form of Article 140 and the issue of who has the right to Kirkuk -- the KRG or the central government out of Baghdad -- has been decided with this action.  Of Article 140,  Chelsea J. Carter, Arwa Damon and Raja Razek (CNN) maintain, "However, the vote never took place because of instability in most of the disputed areas."

That's spin, that's not reality.

First, it wasn't just a vote.  It was a census and a referendum.

Second, in October of 2010, Nouri was backing holding a census in Kirkuk at the start of December 2010.  He only dropped that idea after The Erbil Agreement gave him a second term as prime minister.  Shortly after that happened, he announced the census was being put 'on hold.'  And, no, he did not give violence as a reason.

Dropping back to the July 26, 2011 snapshot for more on this issue:
Of greater interest to us (and something's no one's reported on) is the RAND Corporation's  report entitled "Managing Arab-Kurd Tensions in Northern Iraq After the Withdrawal of U.S. Troops."  The 22-page report, authored by Larry Hanauer, Jeffrey Martini and Omar al-Shahery, markets "CBMs" -- "confidence-building measures" -- while arguing this is the answer.  If it strikes you as dangerously simplistic and requiring the the Kurdish region exist in a vacuum where nothing else happens, you may have read the already read the report.  CBMs may strike some as what the US military was engaged in after the Iraqi forces from the central government and the Kurdish peshmerga were constantly at one another's throats and the US military entered into a patrol program with the two where they acted as buffer or marriage counselor.  (And the report admits CBMs are based on that.)  Sunday Prashant Rao (AFP) reported US Col Michael Bowers has announced that, on August 1st, the US military will no longer be patrolling in northern Iraq with the Kurdish forces and forces controlled by Baghdad. That took years.  And had outside actors.  The authors acknowledge:

Continuing to contain Arab-Kurd tensions will require a neutral third-party arbitrator that can facilitate local CMBs, push for national-level negotiations, and prevent armed conflict between Iraqi and Kurdish troops.  While U.S. civilian entities could help implement CMBs and mediate political talks, the continued presence of U.S. military forces within the disputed internal boundaries would be the most effective way to prevent violent conflict between Arabs and Kurds.

The issue should have been resolved long ago.  Equally true, Nouri took an oath to uphold the Constitution in 2006.  The Constitution said a census and referendum had to be held by the end of 2007.  Nouri blew it off. In 2010, when his State of Law lost the elections, he refused to step down as prime minister and the US-brokered Erbil Agreement gave him a second term.  The Kurds insisted that the contract include Nouri's promise that he would implement Article 140.  He never did.

As tensions increase between Nouri and the Kurds, the editorial board of the Times of India looks at what it would mean for other nations if Iraq split into three self-governing sections (Shi'ite, Kurd and Sunni) and they conclude, "With Iraq's blundering PM Nouri al-Maliki refusing to accede to a national unity government, the US and Iran should work together to stabilise the region and deal with new sovereign entities that may emerge."  AP reports Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has called on Iraq's political blocs to decide on a prime minister-designate before Tuesday's expected session of Parliament.

RT reports, "Jets from Russia and Belarus will hopefully make a key difference in the fight against ISIS in Iraq, the country’s Prime Minister Nouri Maliki said. He expressed regrets over Iraq's contract with the US, saying their jets are taking too long to arrive."

Yes, thug Nouri is complaining that he's been hampered in the tools he needs to attack the Iraqi people. The delay, for those who've forgotten, was to avoid allowing a despot to use them before the parliamentary elections.  All Iraq News notes Nouri declares it a mistake to have "just bought US jets."  A mistake by whom?

Alsumaria reports the UK has announced they will not participate militarily in Iraq.  Unlikey the US which clearly does not fear angry voters the way the UK does.  Today, UPI reports:

Pentagon spokesman Col. Steven Warren said, of the 500 American military personnel in Iraq, "Some of them are conducting an advise and assist mission, some are manning the joint operations center, some of them are part of the [Office of Security Cooperation] and yet others are Marines that are part of a [fleet anti-terrorism security team] platoon."
 All Iraq News notes only 180 of the 500 are 'advisors' so 120 are still en route to make up Barack's 300 'advisors.'

Meanwhile, is Nouri lying about drones or is US President Barack Obama?

Weaponized drone aren't being used in Iraq, we're told by Barack.  However, Duraid Salman (Alsumaria) reported this morning weaponized drones are being flown in Iraq.  And, no, it's not the Russians.  Salman reports they are US drones and sources it to Iraqi officials including MP Abbas al-Bayati who sat on the Defense and Security Committee.  Chelsea J. Carter, Arwa Damon and Raja Razek (CNN) report, "A U.S. official confirmed to CNN that armed American drones started flying over Baghdad in the previous 24 hours to provide additional protection for 180 U.S. military advisers in the area. Until now, U.S. officials had said all drone reconnaissance flights over Iraq were unarmed."

 On this week's Law and Disorder Radio,  an hour long program that airs Monday mornings at 9:00 a.m. EST on WBAI and around the country throughout the week, hosted by attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights) topics addressed include Julian Assange and, it looked like, drones in Iraq. But that apparently would have required too much work so instead a host chose to make an argument that will make anyone's skin crawl if they remember the Palmer raids and the attacks on Socialists in the early part of the 20th century.

Heidi Boghosian: Michael Ratner, at the time that we're taping this show, it looks as though the US might be considering drone attacks on Iraq.

Michael Ratner:  It's hard to believe this country sometimes.  I mean, it's impossible.  Michael and I are the same age, you're a little younger, Heidi -- I don't know, a lot younger.  What are you, thirty now? 


Michael Ratner:  But in any case, not to make fun of this, but Michael and I have been basically fighting against war since we were kids.  I mean, WWII was one thing -- of course, they could have done something by not arming the Germans.  But then we had the Korean War.  Then we had Vietnam.  I mean a lot of other stuff.  Then we have Central American wars.  Then we had the Iraq War -- first number one then number two Iraq War.  And, of course, that's the one that you could argue brought us to where we are now.  Where we had a war that was utterly supported by the press, the [New York] Times, the media, by all these people -- from people like Anne Marie Slaughter who supported it and now regrets it, George Packer "New Yorker liberal" now regrets it, all these people who our friend Tony Judt, the writer from the UK called "Bush's useful idiots."  So you have all of these Bush's useful idiots who supported the overthrow of Saddam Hussein -- which is about all the stability Iraq has probably seen in a hundred years -- and now, they basically -- the Biblical expression is "sew the wind and reap the whirlwind."  So now we're reaping the whirlwind.  And one of the things that we talk about here is how do these people who gave us the illegal war in Iraq and supported it -- including Tom Friedman, our wonderful guy at the New York Times -- all of these people, Bush's useful idiots, how are they put in newspapers, how are they put on TV to tell us again that we have to go to war with Iraq?  Or with Syria?  Or with name your country in the Middle East. I mean these people should be drummed out of the country.  They should [. . .]

We stop there.

That's quite enough.

And those words he said?  That's how we lose. That's how we on the left lose.  Thomas Friedman is a bad writer -- more prone to cornball than Dan Rather.  Forever in search of a cab driver he can mold a column around -- preferably one who repeats what Friedman wants to hear. Anne Marie is a War Hawk and we've long called her out here -- even when she was in Barack's administration.

But I've never said Ann Marie or Friedman needed to be "drummed out of the country."

And it's disgusting that Michael Ratner, of the Center for Constitutional Rights -- Constitutional Rights -- thinks being wrong about a war means you "should be drummed out of the country."

I took a stand February 2003 on the impending war.  I was opposed to it, I spoke out against it.  I never waivered on that.

But, newsflash, I could have been wrong.  History backed me up.  Reality had my back.

But I could have been wrong.

If I had been wrong, did that mean I "should be drummed out of the country"?

What in the world are we coming to on the left.

Anne Marie and Friedman were not in the Bully Boy Bush administration.  As far as we know, the two of them were not plotting the war and choosing the spin.  They chose a side.

Those two, and others like them, always choose war.

And at some point, they'll be right, those are the odds.  (Or if not right -- I don't believe in war -- they'll have the majority of the US population agreeing with them.)

When that time rolls around, I really don't want hear people screaming that those of us against the war "should be drummed out of the country."

That is an outrageous statement to come from the left.

'You can't yell fire in a crowded theater!'

That Supreme Court decision had nothing to do with a fire or a movie theater or a Broadway theater.

It's from Oliver Wendell Holmes' outrageous opinion in Schenck v. United States.  That 1919 case was about free speech.  Specifically it was about brave people -- like Eugene V. Debs (who would spend two years in prison) -- speaking out against the WWI draft.  Holmes was notorious for distracting in his decisions.  A number of people love him to this day because we're really kind of stupid  and tend to praise things we know nothing of instead of just saying, "I've never read one of his legal opinions."   Holmes clearly has no lasting positive impact -- he found rights for property that didn't exist while suppressing the rights of the people.  But what's really going to harm him is that he repeatedly degraded his arguments by making them straw man arguments.

Again, fire and a theater had nothing to do with urging people to resist the draft.

But because he was such a mental midget, he couldn't craft an opinion on the issues.  He would have said he was using 'metaphors.'  No, he was not.  He was unable to argue the points of the case in his opinions so he created straw men arguments.

Michael Ratner is a smart person who made a very offensive statement.

That statement justifies the Palmer Raids and every bit of ugly that attacked Socialists in that time period.

Michael's a Socialist so that really wasn't his intent.

But if he's going to criticize people for opinions, he needs to think before he speaks.

Michael can be one of the strongest and one of the smartest people on the left.  He is 100 times more intelligent than I could ever hope to become.

But what was stupid and dangerous.

This urge to hate and demonize is something we need to be aware of.  We should never, ever on the left allow those impulses to run over the basic principles of speech and freedom we believe in.

Anne Marie Slaughter got it wrong.  I'm not surprised.

I've mocked her repeatedly here.  And, unlike Michael Ratner, that includes when Barack was attacking Libya.  To be clear, Michael called that action illegal as it was.  But there was no time to take on the cheerleaders for those actions.  I can remember being on a campus with an earbud in one ear and a cellphone in another and saying to a friend, "F**k, is there one NPR program that's not going to trout out Anne this week?"  Because she was on every damn one.

And that's the problem.

It's not, "Shut up, Anne!"

She's an American citizen living in what's supposed to still be a democracy.  She can speak as much as she wants and should.  She can write as much as she wants and should.

Where there's a problem is when the media doesn't play fair.  They shut out voices all the time.  The ridiculous and non-left Bill Maher is applauded by stupid idiots on the left who never seem to notice that Glen Ford, for example, isn't shy about opinions.  Why isn't Glen Ford, a genuine voice of the left, ever invited on Maher's programs.

I don't like whiners.

I define a whiner as someone who abdicates their own power while complaining about others.

Michael Ratner, you co-host an hour long weekly program heard across the country.  What voices who got it right on Iraq have you featured this month?

Last week, Michael gave  fiery and passionate remarks which I applaud.  This week he offered another commentary.

But it's whining, Michael.

You have the power to book whomever you want on the show.  There are hundreds of people who got it right in real time, book them.  (I've noted this before but to be clear, I do not do press as C.I.  I am very standoffish to the press these days in my real life though I will do favors for friends.  But I do not do press as C.I.)  You can book these people.  You can bring on Janeane Garofalo, Tim Robbins, Debra Sweet, Alice Walker and so many others.  Yes, the start was so long ago that we've lost too many of those voices -- Norman Mailer, Howard Zinn, etc. -- but there are millions still around.  February 2003 saw the largest global protest against a war ever.  Those people are not in hiding.

To Michael's credit, he, Heidi, Michael Smith and Dahlia Hashad booked them in real time when it mattered.  But obviously he thinks it still matters today.  I happen to support him on that.  So book these people.

Because if you don't use your own power, your just whining.  You're not protesting, you're not standing up, you're whining.

Ava and I called out Rachel Maddow for this nonsense in "TV: That awful Rachel BadFoul:"

Watching Rachel Maddow last week, between grimaces and shielding our eyes, we caught something else.
Rachel wants X voices shut out.
It's so unfair, she insists, that those who were right aren't on these shows, so unfair!!!!
But she's got an hour show on MSNBC Monday through Friday.
What guest did she have on last week who got it right?
She had on Condi Rice's former speech writer -- a fact she refused to inform her audience of.
That's rather strange, isn't it?
She's arguing Condi shouldn't be allowed on programs because she was wrong.  But she had the woman who wrote Condi's speeches on Monday's program -- the only guest on Monday's program -- and she never told the audience, "My guest here?  She used to write Condi's speeches."
Instead, she just identified Elise Jordan as Michael Hastings' widow.
Tuesday, she had Carne Ross on.
Here's how she misled her viewers, "He`s a former British diplomat who resigned over the war in Iraq."
He's a regular Ann Wright!
Remember Ann Wright?  State Department diplomat, retired army colonel, who resigned March 19, 2003 over the Iraq War.
Yeah, Ann did that.  Good for Carne for doing the same.
What day in 2003 did he resign now?
What's that?
He didn't resign in March of 2003?  Well the next month then.
Well when?
A year later.

You can add Peter Hart and FAIR to the list of whiners.  FAIR has a 30 minute weekly radio show (they also try TV but only Peter Hart can pull off TV -- you have to have magnetism to succeed on TV).  It's called CounterSpin.

While they have addressed Iraq this week and last week, they didn't have on anyone who got it right.  A young writer who really hasn't spent his career even focusing on Iraq -- check Common Dreams' archives.  And they had on a veteran of the Iraq War.

Hillary Clinton, in her new book, says people can change their minds.  She's right.  They can.  Ross Caputi did.  He can tell you all about his transformation on Iraq.  While Hillary can't which is why she looks insincere at best and, as Marcia noted, there is no excuse for her needing 2013 to 'wake up' to marriage equality.  Gay men and lesbians consistently supported her and it is a slap in the face for her to claim that some indescribable epiphany came to her last year.

But Ross did have a transformation and he can describe it and good for him.

That said, he's not someone who was right before the war started.  Tareq Ali was.  As Betty asked in a different context, "Where the hell is Norman Solomon?" Why didn't CounterSpin feature a whole show of voices who got it right before the war started?

They can whine, they just lack Ross' ability to transform and make something meaningful out of their lives.

They want a different media?  Then they need to show it is possible with their own resources.

But they don't and they won't.

They won't put on the people who were right but they will waste our time whining that the MSM doesn't put on the people who were right.

Diane Rehm can bring Phyllis Bennis onto her NPR program this month -- Phyllis is one of the ones who got it right -- but CounterSpin, The Rachel Maddow Show and Law & Disorder Radio can't. And they can't bring anyone -- not one person -- who got it right onto their shows.  But they want to slam others?

And I'm sorry to call Michael Ratner out.  I waited several days to get into my most calm place to do so because Michael does great work and is someone who is loved by everyone who knows him because he's a good guy.

But what he said was outrageous.  He doesn't need to be crucified for it.  He doesn't need to step away from the microphone.  But from someone on our side, the left, to say that people should be run out of the country for their opinions and/or advocacy?

Emma Goldman was run out of the country.  She was urging men not to register for the draft.  She was thrown in prison for that and then deported out of the country (to Russia).  That was so wrong and went completely the fabric of democracy.  We should never, ever say someone needs to leave the country because of their opinion or advocacy.

We mentioned Hillary, let's stay with Hillary Clinton because she appeared on The NewsHour (PBS -- link is video, text and audio) this week.

GWEN IFILL: I want to start by talking about Iraq. There’s much debate now about what the would-haves and the could-haves and the should-haves. If we had left a residual force on the ground as some critics are now saying, do you think we’d be seeing the collapse we’re seeing today?

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: I think it’s impossible to answer that question. Certainly when President Obama had to make the decision about what to do, he was deciding based on what the Bush administration had already determined, because they were the ones who said troops have to be out by the end of 2011. And I was part of the discussions where we were putting together proposals for the Iraqi government to consider about a residual force that would be there to help train, to provide intelligence and generally support services.
Unfortunately as we all know now, the Maliki government was not willing to do what was necessary for us to be able to do that. So the problems that we’re seeing in Iraq, I would argue are primarily political, but they are of course manifest in this very dangerous extremist group being able to gain ground and hold it. That is only possible in my opinion because the Sunnis, who had partnered with the United States and even with Maliki to drive out Al Qaeda in Iraq, feel as though they have been isolated and excluded. So I think it’s, it’s difficult to say if we had kept a residual force even for a year or two, or three, that we would have had the ability to control what Maliki did, and I think his behavior, his sectarianism, his purging of Sunni leaders, the way he stopped paying the Sunni awakening soldiers and so much else contributed to where we are today.

GWEN IFILL: So Maliki has to go for this to work itself out?

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: Well, I think it’s highly unlikely that he will embrace the kind of inclusivity that is required, but it’s up to the Iraqis to decide who they want to lead them, but of course their decision affects whether, and to what extent, we should be involved  to trying to help them.

Hillary's misleading:

I think it’s impossible to answer that question. Certainly when President Obama had to make the decision about what to do, he was deciding based on what the Bush administration had already determined, because they were the ones who said troops have to be out by the end of 2011. And I was part of the discussions where we were putting together proposals for the Iraqi government to consider about a residual force that would be there to help train, to provide intelligence and generally support services.

Barack was deciding based on what Bully Boy Bush had already determined?

I'm sick of that  lie.

But before we get to what no one ever talks about regarding the SOFA, Hillary's lying through her teeth.  She reveals in the next sentence.  There were negotiations for a new SOFA stop blaming it on Bush.

I hate Bully Boy Bush.  I dislike Barack but I will use the "p" word there -- President Barack Obama.  I will not do the same for Bully Boy Bush.

So I'm really the last person to defend him.

But I'm sick of all the damn lies.

Barack broke a campaign promise before he was ever sworn in.  He decided to break it within hours of the election.  That's why it was pulled from his campaign website.  The only time, briefly, that anyone ever noted it.  That was back in November 2008.

Bully Boy Bush got the SOFA pushed through.

And did so with Barack's blessing.

That's the detail no one wants to get honest and I'm just sick of all the damn lies.

Hillary Clinton, campaigning for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, declared any SOFA would have to be approved by the Senate -- citing thhe Constitution for why.  Which meant?  Barack immediately said, "Me too!"  Biden had already staked out that ground as the Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The Bully Boy Bush administration met with Barack's transition team to discuss the SOFA.  Not only did Barack like it (and like that someone else would be on the hook for it and not him) but he gave his word that he would not call for the SOFA to be approved by the Senate.

He hadn't even been sworn in and already he was breaking campaign promises.

And, yes, the SOFA was a treaty and should have had US Senate approval.  It mattered to him when he was a senator but it didn't when he became president.

Let's repeat that: It mattered to Barack when he was a senator but it didn't when he became president.  That just about sums up his two terms thus far, doesn't it?

And while we're noting lies, this was a crafty little report by PBS which ignored an American imprisoned in Mexico by making the focus "overseas."

Image from Free USMC Sgt Andrew Tahmooressi Facebook pageThe VFW issued the following:


VFW calls for nationwide boycott of Mexican products and travel until Marine is release

WASHINGTON — The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States is calling for a nationwide boycott of Mexican products and travel until Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi is released from a Mexican jail.
“This combat Marine has been languishing away since he was arrested March 31 for allegedly crossing the border accidentally with three personal firearms that were legally registered in the States but not in Mexico,” said VFW National Commander William A. Thien. “It was a mistake, but so is the Mexican government’s reluctance to release him unharmed back to the U.S.”
As America’s oldest and largest major combat veterans’ organization, the VFW wants to apply economic pressure to the Mexican government because Tahmooressi’s arrest and captivity is mirroring that of former Marine Jon Hammer, who was arrested for carrying an antique shotgun across the border in August 2012, despite having proper American paperwork. He wasn’t released until four months later.
Thien said the VFW tried the politically polite route by twice asking President Obama to contact Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, but a phone call specifically about the Marine sergeant never took place. Now that Tahmooressi is approaching his third full month in jail, the VFW national commander said it’s time to take the gloves off.
"This is about politics, and if my government won’t do anything, then I guess we need to let the power of the purse take over. No products, no travel, a total boycott … then maybe a dialogue will start.”

Turning to violence.  All Iraq News reports violence has forced 400 Christian families to flee Mosul.
 Alsumaria reports 3 young Shabak were kidnapped in Nineveh Province, a mortar attack on a village east of Baquba left 6 civilians dead and two more injured, a Diyala Province battle left 1 rebel dead and two security forces injured, a Samarra mortar attack left 2 security forces dead and seventeen more injured, security forces killed 15 suspects in Latifiya, the corpses of 2 young men were discovered dumped in Kirkuk, and, dropping back to late last night, a Samarra mortar attack left 1 Iraqi soldier dead and eight more injured.  Chelsea J. Carter, Arwa Damon and Raja Razek (CNN) report, "Human Rights Watch said two mass graves believed to contain the bodies of Iraqi soldiers, police and civilians killed by the Sunni ISIS fighters and their militant allies have been discovered in Hussein's hometown of Tikrit."  It's left to Reuters to report that Iraqi forces killed 69 prisoners they were transferring and blamed it on Sunni militants.  Reuters notes, "The deaths in Hilla came less than a week after the killing of 52 prisoners in Baquba, a regional capital north of Baghdad."

Iraq and violence came up in today's State Dept press briefing moderated by spokesperson Marie Harf:

QUESTION: At least two Indian nurses were beheaded by the ISIL and they were serving (inaudible) and the sick and needy in hospitals and around the country. And at least 40 Indians are still being held, and if Indian Government has asked any help from the U.S. or what’s --

MS. HARF: Let me check on that. I don’t know the answer to that. Obviously, both of the incidents you just mentioned really underscore the brutality of ISIL. This is a group that al-Qaida has even deemed to be too brutal for it, which I think is saying something.
So clearly we know there’s huge challenges here. I can check on that specifically.

QUESTION: Marie, on Iraq, this has – we haven’t asked this for a while – but are you aware, since Vienna, I mean – yeah, Vienna and Deputy Secretary Burns’s meeting with the Iranians on the Iraq issue. Are you aware if there have been any more contacts?

MS. HARF: I am not. But let me double-check. I am not, but --

QUESTION: The reason I ask is because the Pentagon now says that, yes, it is flying drones --

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: -- and the Iranians are also flying drones. And I’m just wondering what the mechanism is to prevent these drones from flying into each other.

MS. HARF: I am happy to check and see if there is anything we can share on that.

QUESTION: Okay. I would be --

QUESTION: Any coordination with the Iranians?

MS. HARF: No. None.

QUESTION: Right. But in terms of contacts in Baghdad and --

MS. HARF: I’m happy to check. Not to my knowledge, but I’m happy to check.

QUESTION: All right.

QUESTION: Different topic?

MS. HARF: Yeah.


MS. HARF: Uh-huh. Okay.

QUESTION: Just follow-up on hostages. There are still eight hostages – Turkish hostages in Mosul as well. Do you have any update on that?

MS. HARF: I don’t have any update on those as well.

QUESTION: And on Kurdistan region, last couple of days both the Israel officials and today Turkish spokesman – administration spokesman – again talk about the independence of the Kurdistan region. And they would support or – it’s inevitable. Do you have any change of analysis on the Kurdistan?

MS. HARF: No change of policy here. We’ve said that a unified Iraq is the strongest Iraq, and have said that an inclusive government that includes Sunni, Shia, and Kurds needs to be formed as soon as possible to help deal with this crisis.

QUESTION: It looks like ISIL’s forces are gaining some more momentum around the borders. Do you have any assessment on the --

MS. HARF: We don’t have a detailed battleground assessment to share. Obviously, the threat from ISIL is very serious and we know that it’s very challenging on the ground. We know that units are trying to fight back, but that’s why we’re trying to provide more assistance to help them do that.

law and disorder radio
michael s. smith
heidi boghosian
michael ratner

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Bruce Dixon calls it on Conyers

I meant to highlight Bruce Dixon's commentary on Ta-Nehisi Coates last week.  I'll do it now even though Black Agenda Report has a new week's edition up.

What kind of political movement advances no measures, discusses no plans, takes no responsibility for advancing its own just cause? The answer is that movements don't behave like that at all. But brands do.
Brands neither say what they mean, nor mean what they say. Brands are stories, brands are narratives contrived to get specific emotional reactions, to pull real or imagined memories, sights, smells or feelings from a target audience. To do this brands operate outside of and independent from fact and/or logic. Reparations is not a movement, it's a brand.

A centerpiece of the reparations brand is the study bill that Rep. John Conyers has introduced in every one of the last dozen Congresses except the 110th and 111th. In those two Congresses, Rep. Conyers, with four decades of seniority finally chaired the powerful House Judiciary Committee with the ability to make demands or cut deals to move the study bill, or at least the discussion of reparations. If reparations was a political project instead of a brand, he would have done just that. But Conyers put the reparations study bill in his desk drawer until Republicans re-took the House and he no longer had that power. Safely back in the minority again in early 2011, he re-introduced the reparations study bill once more.

John Conyers is a huge disappointment.

On every level.

He promised us impeachment of Bully Boy Bush and then he betrayed us after the 2006 mid-term elections.  Then he insisted that it could be pursued after BBB left office.  Remember that lie?

And Conyers did nothing.

Conyers is a joke.

He had some bravery and some spirit once.

Now he's just another elderly man married to a woman way too young for him.

He's a joke.

This week, Trina's written repeatedly about Charlie Rangel:

  • Yea, Charlie!
  • Waiting for Rangel
  • Charlie Rangel

  • And it all reminded me of how, yes, Rangel may be flawed, but he still stands for something.

    Conyers just wants to hold office.  He's not about helping anyone.

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

    Thursday, June 26, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Barack's lack of plan gets noted, even John Kerry can't define 'the plan,' allegations have been made that Iraq Body Count count this month's total by half today because US officials pressured them into doing so, and much more.

    Starting with this from the Feminist Majority Foundation:

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  Contact: J.T. Johnson
    June 26, 2014
    Statement of Eleanor Smeal, President FMF
    WASHINGTON -- Today, the Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF) is outraged by the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down a Massachusetts buffer zone law as unconstitutional.
    The lives of doctors and clinic staff are being threatened as we speak,” said Feminist Majority Foundation President, Eleanor Smeal. “This decision emboldens more extreme violence, harassment, and intimidation of women and health care providers in the name of free speech.”
    “The Court’s decision failed to acknowledge that the Massachusetts law was enacted after the murder of two clinic receptionists, Shannon Lowney, 25, and Lee Ann Nichols, 38, by anti-abortion extremist John Salvi at two separate clinics in Brookline. Five other people were wounded in the attacks.”
    “The Court wants to believe that these anti-abortion protestors are merely ‘sidewalk counselors’, but let us not forget that initially Scott Roeder, who murdered Dr. George Tiller, acted as a ‘sidewalk counselor’ to gain information about vulnerabilities of the clinic; Paul Hill, who killed Dr. John Bayard Britton and his escort, James Barrett, outside a Pensacola clinic was a ‘sidewalk counselor’ first. Hill was mistakenly thought to be handing them a leaflet. Instead he delivered lethal bullets.”
    “Even with today’s outcome, we shudder to think that this decision could’ve been worse. Four Justices would have gone even further. Three—Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Kennedy—would overturn the Colorado buffer zone established by Colorado v. Hill. That ruling establishes an even narrower, 8-foot, floating buffer zone around individual patients.”
    “Thankfully, a majority of the Court did not overturn Hill. Citing Madsen v. Women’s Health Clinic, the Court also stated a preference for court-ordered injunctions around individual clinics.”
    “But the problem with injunctions is that women and health workers must first endure harassment and intimidation. Why must harassment, intimidation and terror have to be endured before women’s constitutional rights are protected?
    The Feminist Majority Foundation took Madsen to the Supreme Court. This Florida case establishing a buffer zone through an injunction was upheld by the Court in 1994 and in today’s decision.

    The Feminist Majority Foundation conducts the National Clinic Access Project (NCAP). To date, FMF has trained over 60,000 volunteers how to keep clinics open. NCAP is the largest project in the nation defending clinics against violence. NCAP provides legal support to reproductive health clinics across the country, and provides security assessments and equipment to targeted providers.

    Moving over to Iraq, Margaret Kimberley (Black Agenda Report) summarizes events as follows:

    A world away in Iraq, a nation is crumbling under the weight of eleven years of violent occupation by the United States. The once developing nation is now a ruin, with all of its infrastructure and systems from health care to education destroyed by western avarice. The prime minister who was chosen with America’s blessing, Nouri al-Maliki, has now become an inconvenience and faces a bleak fate.
    The Bush administration and now the Obama team determined that promoting one side in sectarian political disputes would make for a smooth running and profitable occupation. Instead they brought war between Sunni and Shia and with goal of knocking down more dominoes, continued to fund jihadists who always upset their plans. Now Maliki is being told to get out of office if he wants help in crushing the enemies that America made for his country.

    A big story in today's news cycle is the CIA and a supposed dropped ball.

    At the longtime CIA media outpost Newsweek, Jeff Stein wants you to know Nouri bega,n spying on and tracking the CIA in 2004.  If true, not surprising.  Supposedly, he was fed info by the Iranian government and fed back to them.  If true, the notion that the White House installed Nouri in 2006 and demanded he remained prime minister in 2010 makes both Bully Boy Bush and Barack Obama look even more stupid for supporting Nouri.  Stein writes:

    According to [former CIA official John] Maguire and another former CIA operations officer, the Iraqis acquired sophisticated cell phone monitoring equipment, probably from Iran, and began tracking CIA operators to identify their spies, especially inside the Maliki government. “It wasn’t so much the agency people they were interested in as who they were meeting and talking to,” says another CIA source, a paramilitary operations specialist who did three tours in Iraq. Although he was not authorized to discuss the subject, he agreed to be quoted on condition of anonymity because he felt U.S. advisers just arriving in Iraq needed to be warned.
    “They are very aggressive,” he says of the Iraqi security services. “They have the best equipment Iran has,” including devices known as StingRays, that can lock onto a cell phone and extract all its data, from contacts to photos and music.

    AP's Ken Dilianianap speaks to CIA spokesperson Dean Boyd who states that "the intelligence community provided plenty of warning to the Obama administration that the insurgent Islamic State in Iraq and Levant --known as ISIL -- could move on Iraqi cities" and Dilianianap quotes US House Rep Mike Roger (House Intelligence Committee Chair) stating, "Anyone who has had access to and actually read the full extent of CIA intelligence products on ISIL and Iraq should not have been surprised by the current situation."

    Dean Boyd is offended by any suggestion that the CIA in Iraq since 2011 have just been sitting behind desks or hiding out.  They've done much more than that and I'm not being sarcastic.  We've noted here at least three different times when drones were spotted flying over Baghdad.  I'm sure they've done many other missions as well.  In addition, they do have the outpost on the Turkish border which allows them fly drones over Iraq and Iran and that's also where most communications -- in Iraq and Iran -- are monitored from.

    Nouri is said to have purged the CIA assets in Iraq.  That's also not 'news.'  The Iraqi press has noted repeatedly in the last two years -- especially Kitabat and Iraq Times -- that this or that official was run off (and often run out of the country) by Nouri who was accusing the official (usually a general) of being a spy for the United States.

    All of this was known or should have been.  Did the CIA 'fail' the administration?

    The previous administration?  Possibly.  (If they did, they did so by bending to the will of the Bully Boy Bush White House.)  The current administration?  No.

    Let's again note that Jaime Dettmer (Daily Beast) reported earlier this week that the White House had months of warnings about ISIS and the warnings were ignored.  And who's talking about this?  Dettmer reports:

    The prime minister of the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, Nechirvan Barzani, says he warned Baghdad and the United States months ago about the threat ISIS posed to Iraq and the group’s plan to launch an insurgency across Iraq. The Kurds even offered to participate in a joint military operation with Baghdad against the jihadists.
    Washington didn’t respond—a claim that will fuel Republican charges that the Obama administration has been dangerously disengaged from the Middle East. Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki dismissed the warnings, saying everything was under control.
    The Kurds’ intelligence head, Lahur Talabani, says he handed Washington and London detailed reports about the unfolding threat. The warnings “fell on deaf ears,” he says.

    There were warnings.  In addition, common sense told anyone paying attention this was coming.  hWe warned here repeatedly that when people were told they could make changes by votes and their votes were overturned (by the White House in 2010), when those politicians who tried to represent them were targeted by the government, what was left?  The only avenue for redress was protest.  And Nouri labeled the protesters 'terrorists' and attacked them.  And where was the US?

    In March of last year, activists in Samarra put their message on display.

    From Samarra من سامراء

    "Obama, If you Cannot Hear Us Can you Not See Us?"

    That's a pretty clear message.

    And when Nouri began attacking protesters and the US government refused to say a word, that was pretty clear message as well.

    The April 23, 2013 massacre of the sit-in in Hawija   resulted from  Nouri's federal forces storming in.  Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk)  announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault.   AFP reported the death toll rose to 53.  UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured).  And the State Dept had no statement calling it out and the White House couldn't be bothered.  And, step by step, things got worse and worse.

    The current events are no surprise at all.  As Dexter Filkins told Terry Gross (Fresh Air, NPR, link is audio and text) yesterday, "Well, you know, it's pretty depressing (laughing). I mean, these guys are - I mean, some of those guys, you know, ISIS are just full on psychopaths. You know, these are the people that make beheading videos. It's not all of them. But there's a lot of them in there. And, you know, it's sad. I mean, it's not terribly surprising I have to say. You know, I was there a few months ago and it wasn't difficult to see what was happening. You know, I didn't - I certainly didn't predict what would ultimately happen. But everything was really fragile, there was so much anger and unhappiness that it looked like, you know, we're kind of one big event away from everything coming apart. It wasn't hard to see."

    What this is about is that the Blame Bully Boy Bush for problems that emerged from 2009 to the present day is wearing thin so the White House is attempting to push the blame over to the CIA and the CIA is saying, "Oh, no, we're not going to be your fall guy."  It's an internal squabble, a game of hot potato.

    This week's. Black Agenda Radio, hosted by Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey (first airs each Monday at 4:00 pm EST on the Progressive Radio Network),  features a discussion of the CIA's involvement in Iraq with Bill of Rights Defense Committee's executive director Shahid Buttar.

    Glen Ford:  The NSA -- the National Security Agency which purports to be the all seeing eyes and the all hearing ears of the United States, how could the NSA not have known that ISIS -- the jihadist group which US funding has been so much a part of the growth of -- was not about to launch a major offensive or be the spearhead of a major offensive in Iraq? 

    Shahid Buttar:  The CIA has a long history of being on both sides of conflicts and instigating conflicts which we then later sacrifice a great deal to address. And there's any number of places we could demonstrate this from [. . .] Saddam Hussein -- which the CIA supplied his regime for years, Iran -- which the CIA supplied, that's what the Iran-Contra scandal was about -- with the CIA basically trading weapons with our nation's central enemy and the idea that they are under the table, betraying American interests, taking tax dollars to do it, destabilizing our international relations is the short answer to why they hate us -- to the extent anyone hates us -- is the CIA.  It's three letters. It's not that long.  And I think it's very unfortunate that we see in ISIS the recreation of this pattern of the CIA's complicity with people who have been our enemies, will be our enemies, are allied with people who are currently our enemies[.]

    The 5,000-plus diplomatic or 'diplomatic' staff should have also been monitoring things and reporting back to the administration.

    Joe Gillespie (KXNT) reports that Senator Dean Heller "says he recently attended a closed door meeting on Capitol Hill where he was briefed by military officials. He says the focus was on evacuation plans, when to evacuate and how to get the Americans out safely."  Staying with the topic of US Senators and Iraq, Senator Tim Kaine appeared on Morning Joe (MSNBC) today.  Excerpt.

    Mika Brzezinski:  [. . .] it could be further pressure on the White House to carry out airstrikes, something it says can be done without  Congressional approval.  Joining us now, someone who disagrees, Senator Tim Kaine.

    [. . .]

    Joe Scarborough:  Would you like the President to pick up the phone and ask you guys to pass a resolution before we can pull the trigger?

    Senator Tim Kaine:  Joe, you know the issue isn't what I would like, the issue is what the law is.  It's very, very plain that Congress is the body that gets to declare war.  It was set up that way by a great Virginian James Madison for a reason.  The president, once [war is] declared, the president manages it but Congress has got to get involved.

    Joe Scarborough:  Nancy Pelosi says that since you guys have already approved, that the president still has authority from prior approvals. Do you agree with former Speaker Pelosi?

    Senator Tim Kaine:  Joe, I completely disagree with it.  If you look at the two authorizations that were on the table.  You're right there was an authorization done in 2002 to topple the government of Saddam Hussein, that government is gone, we finished combat operations in Iraq in 2011 and even the White House has said that that authorization -- the Iraqi authorization --  is obsolete and should be repealed.  But that, oh, no, now we can revive it and go wage a different war in Iraq with the Hussein regime long gone is a stretch, I think, way beyond what Congress intended.  And second, there's the authorization that was done right after 9-11
    ago that said we could undertake military action against the perpetrators of 9-11.  ISIL didn't get formed until 2003.  The administration has said, 'Well okay but you can go against al Qaeda or it's affiliates.  ISIL is not al Qaeda and, in Syria, ISIL and al Qaeda are at war.

    Senator Tim Kaine's argument is sound.  If you doubt it, let's go the speech US President Barack Obama gave in January 2012:

    Last month, I went to Andrews Air Force Base and welcomed home some of our last troops to serve in Iraq.  Together, we offered a final, proud salute to the colors under which more than a million of our fellow citizens fought -- and several thousand gave their lives.
    We gather tonight knowing that this generation of heroes has made the United States safer and more respected around the world.  (Applause.)  For the first time in nine years, there are no Americans fighting in Iraq.  (Applause.)  For the first time in two decades, Osama bin Laden is not a threat to this country.  (Applause.)  Most of al Qaeda’s top lieutenants have been defeated.  The Taliban’s momentum has been broken, and some troops in Afghanistan have begun to come home.
    [. . .]
    Ending the Iraq war has allowed us to strike decisive blows against our enemies.  From Pakistan to Yemen, the al Qaeda operatives who remain are scrambling, knowing that they can’t escape the reach of the United States of America.  (Applause.)

    A month prior, Barack gave another speech we could use.  We're ignoring that one.  A president should never lie to the American people.  But we're focusing on January 2012's speech because it's the State Of The Union address -- the only speech a president is Constitutionally mandated to deliver.

    Carrying out his official and Constitutionally mandated speech, he declared the Iraq War over.  Two years later, he can't claim he can take new military action under authorization for a war he pronounced over.

    As for Nancy Pelosi,  while she has her knowledge base, the Constitution has never been one of Pelosi strong suits -- among the many reasons she could (and did) skirt her responsibility to bring impeachment charges against Bully Boy Bush.

    Today, Alsumaria reports Nouri is praising Syria for carrying out air attacks within Iraq.  Lindsay Wise and Mousab Alhamadee (McClatchy Newspapers) add:

     Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki told the British Broadcasting Corporation on Thursday that he welcomed Syrian airstrikes against radical Sunni militants on the border between Syria and Iraq.
    “There was no coordination involved, but we welcome this action,” Maliki told the BBC. “We welcome any Syrian strike against (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), because this group targets both Iraq and Syria ... But we didn't make any request from Syria. They carry out their strikes and we carry out ours. The final winners are our two countries.”

    Read more here:

    The Guardian puts it this way, "The Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, said on Thursday that he welcomed a Syrian air strike on Sunni militant positions as it left both countries 'winners'."  Arwa Damon, Ashley Fantz, Tim Lister and Raja Razek offer "Why would Syria bomb Iraq?  Your questions answered" (CNN -- link is text and video).

    So for years now, Barack's wanted to topple the Syrian government and back the rebels (which include ISIS) but now he's working with Nouri whom the Syrian government is aiding?

    Is there a plan here?

    Is there even a goal?

    Mousab Alhamadee and Jonathan S. Landay (McClatchy Newspapers) observe:

    After taking a hands-off approach toward the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria for several months, the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad has reversed course and launched air attacks against the Sunni Muslim extremist group inside both Syria and Iraq.
    The policy shift complicates an already tangled situation for the Obama administration by effectively aligning Assad, whose ouster Washington is demanding, with the United States in the fight against ISIS, which was once part of al Qaida.

    Read more here:

    Does Barack have any sort of plan?

    He supports the rebels in Syria -- the same ones he supported in Libya.

    He opposes the government in Syria (and toppled the regime in Libya).

    But he's in bed with Nouri who's getting help from the Syrian government and opposing the rebels Barack has backed in two other countries.

    Not only does the dichotomy not make sense, the action of bombing itself?  That's not helping anyone. Let's be clear what's being embraced.  NINA reports today, "A security source said that six people were killed and 11 others injured, including four women, in an air strike by Syrian Air Force in Rabia border area."

    The lack of a coherent framework was noted today on The Lead with Jake Tapper (CNN -- link is video):

    Jim Sciutto: Clearly, a lot is riding on Prime Minister Maliki to form this unity government.  Is the administration placing too much faith in him?  Do you have any confidence that Maliki will deliver? 

    Senator Ron Johnson:  Hello, Jim.  No,   I don't.  What we're witnessing here is a real tragedy.  It's a tragedy that I don't think had to happen. We've lost the influence we had and we would have had influence if we'd left behind a stabilizing force.  So I'm afraid Humpty Dumpty is broken now.  Unfortunately, what we are witnessing is the establishment of a new state -- Al Qaedastan is what the Wall St. Journal termed it. It's very sad and it's very tragic.  What we need to do now is we need to discuss the situation, we have to not deny reality, actually understand what's happening right now.  As you said, we're witnessing the break up of Iraq  We've got a  couple stable regions now Kurdistan in the north, we need to make sure that we protect our friends and allies.   Jordan, we need to make sure that ISIS cannot attack Jordan. We need to do everything we can to help stabilize Israel.  So this is tragedy.  This never had to happen. But we're in a pretty bad state right now.

    Jim Sciutto: Senator Johnson, I want to ask you because, as the US is waiting, the Syrians have carried out air strikes along the border and some signs that they've carried it inside Iraqi territory.  The Iranian's moving a great deal of military equipment in.  They've got forces on the ground, even drones flying over Iraq -- as the US does as well.  But as this is happening is the US in effect ceding  Iraq to Iraq's nieghbors Syria and Iran? Ones with frankly totally different motivations than the US here?

    Senator Ron Johnson: Well we ceded it when we bugged out at the end of 2011 when President Obama made that historic strategic blunder of not leaving a stabilizing force behind.  So now, right now, our primary goal in Baghdad is to protect the Americans that are there in our embassy.  I'm highly concerned about that. 
    I have not heard a plan of this administration   They better come up with one fast.  They better start acting to stabilize Jordan  They better start acting to stabilize Kurdistan.  And let's not force Israel into any destabilizing agreements. 

    Jim Sciutto: But I have to ask you, Senator Johnson, how far,  I'm familiar with this criticism that has come from you and other Republican senators as well that President Obama did not negotiate a Status Of Forces Agreement to keep  US troops in Iraq after 2011.  But how far would you be willing to go in this current situation?  Would you authorize US combat troops going on into the ground in Iraq again  3 years after they left there?   How far would you be willing to go?

    Senator Ron Johnson: It depends on what the administration puts forth as a plan -- [Crosstalk]   I would be happy to send American military personnel  into the Kurdistan region so we can help stabilize that, I'd be happy to send American military personnel into Jordan to make sure that that doesn't fall to ISIS
    in terms of Baghdad, look at the choices we face right now are we going to ally with Iran, are we going to ally with Syria's Assad I mean all the choices at this point are bad because of this administration's historic strategic blunder.  So what we're looking for our of this administration is a game plan.  We've had the briefings, it's absolutely grim.  You were there in Iraq do you think Humpty Dumpty can be put back together again?   Now it's about stabilizing what is stable in that region and hopefully you learn from the past mistakes.

    Jim Sciutto: But just to be clear you would authorize, you would authorize, you would be in favor of, if the administration presented this option of combat troops into Kurdistan, into Baghdad, back into Iraq, back into the line of fire?

    Senator Ron Johnson: I'm not so sure about Baghdad because I don't know what plan can do that at this point in  time.  I would absolutely support sending troops to protect Americans and evacuate them  if it comes to that and it may be coming to that sooner than we think. I'm highly concerned about Americans in Baghdad because of this rolling disaster now. But I want to see a game plan from this administration, we haven't seen that yet.

    Confusion.  At what point does the White House put together a coherent plan that people can grasp and discuss?  Again, from yesterday's Fresh Air:

    FILKINS: Well, now this...

    GROSS: We're sending in 300...

    FILKINS: Yeah.

    GROSS: Advisers - not really sure exactly what that means.

    FILKINS: Well, this is the really - you know, this is what's front and center right now. I think, just to back up a little bit, I think that what people in the White House say is, they say they weren't surprised by the ISIS move into Iraq - that they'd been tracking ISIS and they've watched ISIS kind of take over towns in eastern Syria. And they've - so they weren't really caught off guard by it - maybe by the timing or whatever. But they were caught off guard by the utter collapse of the Iraqi army. They were surprised. I mean, this was an American project, and we spent $25 billion training the Iraqi army. But suddenly, now, the Obama administration is confronted - I mean, it's a bunch of bad choices. They are looking at the map of Syria and all these rebels. And who are the - what's ISIS? It's a bunch of guys in pickup trucks, you know, rolled into these towns. There's not that much you can do. I think that the options that the White House has - the military options are really pretty lousy. And they know that. And so what they're trying to do, and I think they imagine - I think they see that the only possible solution here is a political solution, not a military one. I think, frankly, it's probably going to be a combination of the two but that Obama wants to try, I think, to broker a kind of larger, political settlement between, you know, the Sunnis, and the Shia and the Kurds. And frankly, I think that means getting rid of the current Prime Minister, Nouri al-Malki. I think they see him as being, basically, at the heart of the problem. And so, you know, they'll say things like, this is an Iraqi decision, and it's an Iraqi process. But you can bet, and I think it's a pretty good bet, the administration is going to push pretty hard to try to get Maliki out of there. That's just me talking. But that's my impression.

    GROSS: And Secretary of State John Kerry is talking to the Iraqis about an inclusive government, which the Maliki government is not. The Maliki government has basically thrown out Sunnis from the government.

    FILKINS: Yeah, look. I mean, there's two reasons why all this is happening right now. The first reason is the Syrian civil war, right? That allowed ISIS to have a base, and to get stronger and to kind of, you know, do its thing and then cross over into Iraq. But the second reason is Malki. And it's probably the biggest reason of all. You know, I did a long story on Maliki earlier this year. And I sort of looked at his life. And what I really didn't know and it really struck me was, Maliki has been fighting this sort of Shiite sectarian war against the Sunnis his entire adult life. This is the main war for him. It's - you know, it's not bringing democracy to Iraq. It's bringing down the Sunnis and bringing the Shiites up. And he - you know, he sees himself the as the sort of, you know, the leader of the oppressed, Shiite majority that was oppressed for so long by the Sunnis. And he's been fighting that war his whole life, you know? And he was fighting it before we got there. And then when we got there, you know, he said all the right things, but he still kept fighting it. And so he's driven - he has driven the country to the point where it is. He has so marginalized and alienated the Sunnis. He has so cut them out of the political process. He's arrested or presided over the arrests of thousands of Sunni men, you know, without charges, disappearing into prisons. This is why this is happening now. And Maliki at the - Maliki's at the front of that.

    The confusion?  Even the administration is confused.  That was obvious today on The Lead with Jake Tapper (video), Jim Sciutto spoke with Secretary of State John Kerry.

    Jim Sciutto: You said "sustained and intense" -- US military action would be "sustained and intense"  if the President decides to go forward.  Wonder if you could better define the time frame but also the measure of success if the President decides to go forward.  Is it ISIS destroyed?  ISIS retreating, partial  retreating?

    Secretary John Kerry: That's precisely the strategy that needs to be defined as we go forward.  What I said would be intense would be the support to the government of Iraq and our efforts to try to help rebuild the military structure as well as hopefully support a new unity government.

    "That's precisely the strategy that needs to be defined as we go forward."

    Actually, that's precisely the strategy that needed to be devised, defined and explained before US 'advisors' were sent to Iraq.

    How many were sent elsewhere?  The US government pulls a lot of strings and a lot of spineless people lived to be pulled but first, let's look at deaths.

    Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 1681 deaths from violence in Iraq so far this month.  And --

    Oh, goodness.  Only 1681?

    I'm the biggest liar in the world!  I'm the biggest bitch!  I've said the count was at 3,000 and clearly I'm just a damn liar.

    See, here's a screen snap of the count.

    What a damn liar I am!

    Oh, wait.

    I'm not.

    I pay good money for information.  So today when Martha told me an e-mail came in saying take a screensnap of IBC's count immediately and explained why, I told her to reply that I would be hitting their pay pal account with a generous thank you.

    Here's the count minutes before IBC changed it.

    No, I didn't lie.

    But I'm told -- and paid for this information -- that IBC lowered the count under pressure from US officials.

    I paid for it so I'll damn well repeat it.

    And Iraq Body Count may not like that charge being exposed; however, when you drop a count from 3211 to 1681, don't think no one will catch you.

    I'm sure they'll now try to come out with some alternate reason.

    But I believe what I was told.  That source has been consistently honest.

    More to the point, why does IBC drop their count by nearly half with no note?  Why do they try to hide what they did?

    I am told Iraq Body Count was under pressure from US officials to drop their count and agreed to.  That's what I believe happened but I can't wait to hear the fairy tale IBC intends to offer the world -- and, tip, be sure your lie includes a reason for not explaining at your site that you dropped the count.

    And be sure and explain which nearly 1400 Iraqis came back to life after dying earlier this month.  I'm sure their families must be thrilled and the whole world should share in this miracle.

    P.S. This sort of crap is why we used to ignore IBC.  In better times, when the world cared about Iraq, we could and did ignore IBC.  But they needed money and pressure also is said to have included talk of a donation.  It would be so funny if the talk of a donation didn't pan out. A good whore knows to get the money upfront.

    As long as we're in the land of fantasy, let's note this from today's State Dept press briefing by spokesperson Marie Harf:

    QUESTION: Sorry. There were reports from Baghdad that reprisal killings against Sunnis are becoming more and more frequent. Is the U.S. doing anything at this time to try and prevent this from becoming more of an issue than it already is?

    MS. HARF: Well, we are following the reports closely, certainly. We’ve seen execution-style killings of thousands of Iraqi soldiers, policemen, government leaders, also some of the ethnic minorities and religious minority populations as well. So we are working with our international partners very closely to see how we can deal with this sort of what I would call an even worse than humanitarian situation. We’re working with the Iraqi Government to help on this, also with the UN as well. So we’re monitoring it, and obviously that’s – I think just underscores the notion that Iraq’s political leaders needs a form of government as soon as possible, bring the country together, and use their influence to try and stop some of this.

    Thousands, a jaded (and uncaring?) Marie Harf says, thousands.  Well I guess that answers the question as to whether or not the US is doing anything to prevent them?

    Back in the real world,  National Iraqi News Agency reports security forces say they killed 4 suspects to the north of Ramadi, they say they killed 13 suspects in Baiji, a battle in Mansuriyya left 20 rebels dead, a Kirkuk mortar attack left 3 Peshmerga dead and two more injured, an eastern Mosul battle left 2 Peshmerga dead, Joint Operations Command announced they killed 10 suspects in Anbar Province, and 28 corpses were discovered in Mosul. All Iraq News reports a Mahmoudiya mortar attack and suicide bombing left 12 civilians dead and forty-six injured and 5 people were shot dead when assailants shot up "a shop [. . .] selling alcohol drinks in Zayouna district of eastern Baghdad." And Nouri's War Crimes continue as he continues bombing residential neighborhoods in Falluja.  Alsumaria notes last nights bombings left 3 civilians dead and a fifth injured.